Saturday, July 30, 2005


Well, it is finally happening: I'm packing up and prepping for my first SIGGRAPH experience! Woohoo! :)

For a large portion of my time there, I'll be assisting with recruiting efforts at the Reel FX motorhome. We have a lot of fun stuff on the horizon, and we're looking to find some killer talent to add to the ranks. If you're interested in joining the crew, or just want to kick back a bit on Tuesday and Wednesday for Happy Hour between 4 and 7pm, stop by the "moho" and say hello!

On Wednesday, I'll be acting as MC for the CGCHAR @ SIGGRAPH "birds of a feather" event. There's a great schedule of speakers lined up, and serving as the announcer for such a mass of talent will probably prove to be both fun and terrifying all at the same time. Overall, though, I'm really looking forward to it!

Around that, I'll be wandering the show floor and going to different events as time permits. You know...typical conference stuff. I just hope my feet can handle it all. Gotta make sure I pack the gel inserts...

All right, gotta get rolling and finish packing. California, here I come!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Photo Friday: Silky

Yeah, I know, this is just barely within the "Silky" week. But it fits. :)

My wife and I stopped in at a nearby nursery the other day, and I took shots of various flowers. I believe this one stuck out to me specifically because of the uber-soft texture of its petals. I tried at first to bring out more detail in the veins, but it ruins the silky soft feeling, so I've left it pretty much as-shot, with only a little sharpening to clean it up a tad.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Animators and telemarketers

Animators know voices.

Anyone who's been in animation for a decent length of time can attest to that. We're listening to dialog tracks hundreds and thousands of times. We can pick up on subtle cues in vocal qualities and speech patterns in a heartbeat. We know voices.

So what does this have to do with telemarketing?

I just got a call from some phone company trying to get me to switch to their service. The telemarketer ("the TM") on the other end started into his planned patter, and the moment he got rolling, I instantly knew I'd heard this dude before. It wasn't a week ago that this same guy called me with the same offer, and I remember that call only because of this guy's voice. The combination of his vocal quality and the pattern and rhythm with which he delivered his lines was so unique that he had unknowingly wedged himself into my head like no other TM before him. I knew this was the same guy. So I called him on it early into the conversation. It went something like this...

Me: "Excuse me, but you called me the other day, and I told you we weren't interested."

TM: "I don't think so, sir. This is the first time our company has called you."

Me: "No, trust me, you called me. I'm not just talking about your, specifically, called me. I remember your voice."

TM: "Believe me, sir, this is the first time our company has called you."

Me: "No, listen...I know your voice, okay? I'm an animator, and I listen to voices all day long. I remember your voice."

TM (trying to call my bluff): "Then what's my name, sir? Tell me, what's my name?"

Me (with no bluff): "Your name? I didn't write down your name, but I remember your voice. I know you were the one who called before, and I told you we weren't interested."

TM (trying again): "What's the plan I'm calling about, then? Can you describe it to me?"

Me (getting frustrated): "Look, I didn't pay attention to the details of the plan, all right? I said we weren't interested. But I know it was you who called."

At that point he was getting a tad frustrated as well, and decided it wasn't any use trying to get me to hear about his plan. He apologized for taking my time, said that he'd make sure nobody from his company called back again, and hung up.

Looking back on it, I probably shouldn't have pushed back on the guy so hard, but there's no way he could convince me that he hadn't called before. That voice, that rhythm, that confident was definitely the same guy.

Animators know voices.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Bobby Beck hits Dallas with a BOOM!

I had the good fortune on Friday to attend an animation masterclass tought by Bobby "BOOM" Beck, President and CEO of In a word: awesome! In two words: really awesome! In a few more words...

Well, it was just a wonderful opportunity to see Bobby talking so passionately about the art of animation. And it was all about the art. There wasn't a single technical tidbit in magic method for fiddling with curves in the graph editor, no insider insight into the best animation software on the market, no super-secret science to getting constraints to work just right. He did share one big, massive secret, though: the ultimate secret of great animation. And that ultimate secret is...

There is no secret.

All the tools and techniques that make great animation have been around for years. They're not the property of big companies. They're all around us if we just take the time to search them out and apply them with care and attention. I must admit, there have been times in the not-too-distant past where I felt I just needed to get my hands on something I didn't yet have...some nifty trick or process or idea that has been eluding me. And the embarrassing realization is that what has been eluding me is, in large part, the proper application of the stuff I already "know." Which clearly means I don't know it well enough yet. Which means I need to get in gear and push myself that much harder! Woohoo!

The cool thing is that, if someone had told me prior to Bobby's class that there is no secret to great animation, I would have gone anyway. As Keith Lango mentioned prior to the start of the class, and as Bobby also mentioned during the class, every opportunity to learn will present things in a slightly different light than before. You never know when something that someone says will be the final push to switch on a certain light bulb. But if you never take those opportunities, that light will stay off even longer. And as I mentioned in a previous entry, I don't want to ever find myself at a point where I feel I have nothing more to learn. There's always an opportunity to learn something new, even if it's hearing stuff I've heard a thousand times. Who knows...perhaps the thousand-and-first time will be the kicker!

Thanks for a great day, Bobby!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Beauty in fireworks

I went to the fireworks show at High Point Park in Plano, TX, on the evening of July 4th. It was my first time taking photographs of fireworks, so in addition to my new tripod, I brought along a bunch of notes I'd found online regarding various camera settings. After taking 120+ shots -- over 80 of which were of the fireworks display -- I packed up and headed for home, excited to see how everything turned out. Not only did the shots turn out well, but one of them greatly surprised me...

Of all that footage, this is my absolute, hands-down favorite: the one that doesn't make me think of fireworks at all.

I didn't even notice the result after I took the shot, as I was concentrating on just shooting as much as I could (had to fiddle with my cam's menu for every shot...long story). When I got home and reviewed the results with my wife, we were stunned when we saw this. There are a few other shots from the evening that also remind us of flowers, but none as elaborate, or as clear, or as beautiful as this.


Monday, July 04, 2005

Photo Friday: Used

"What? Photo Friday? What happened to Illustration Friday? You've missed a couple Illustration Friday topics, and now you're switching gears to photos? What's wrong with you!?"

- The Voice Inside My Head

Short answer: I'm an artist. I'm being "organic." Leave me alone.


Okay, so late last week I bought my first digital camera (FujuFilm FinePix S5100...4 megapixels...lots of manual controls...beautiful!), and now I'm all shutterbuggy and stuff. My wife thinks that it's just the "new toy syndrome" that's doing this to me, and in a way she's right. Then again, I've had this secret, buried hankering for more creative photography for many a year now. Now that I have a with which to satisfy said hankering, I'm simply trying to make up for lost time. Is that so wrong?

At any rate, I'll probably go back and forth between Illustration Friday and Photo Friday as my mood drives me. As much as I love images in motion, I also appreciate the carefully crafted drawing or photo, and feel that experiments with both art forms are valuable ways to stretch my creativity. And besides, they're downright fun!

Wait a minute...I just admitted that drawing is fun (not just fun, but fun!). Better not let TVIMH catch that. He and I have had some downright nasty arguments on the subject...

Oh, and about the photo. My wife has a bunch of old SCA armor bits that she wants to unload, so I laid them all out on the living room floor to take a shot or two for use on eBay. Some of the smaller pieces were collected in an old, metal First Aid box, which instantly lept to mind as an appropriate subject for this week's PF topic. I took about a eight or ten shots from various angles (all macro), and finally cropped out this piece from one of the better images.

Digital cameras. Joy and gladness.

* deep sigh, goofy smile *