Sunday, March 29, 2009

About April

Yeah, so April's going to be a crazy month for me. I'm going to attempt Script Frenzy and I'll be out of town a couple weekends. And when I'm here and not writing frantically I will be building or animating frantically so I can have the NNN pilot premiere in June.

So my posting to this blog will be ever more infrequent than usual. Probably just single item posts whenever the mood strikes me. Maybe photos without context. See November for an example. Anyway, have a good April!

If you get bored, there's always They Fight Crime! Here's one that I could actually see myself using:
He's a scarfaced flyboy shaman with nothing left to lose. She's a wealthy impetuous archaeologist who can talk to animals. They fight crime!

Now in HD

It's not as pretty as Green. In fact, in most cases the HD just makes it easier to see where I had problems focusing and such, but it was possible, so I made it happen.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Back on schedule

1) In the past week my Green commercial has almost 450 views! At first I was disappointed by this number, because in comparison to my most watched video, which has nearly a quarter of a million views, 450 seems like a pitiful amount. But of course that video has been up there for 2 and a half years. 450 in the first week is definitely a new record. When you think about the fact that my friends and family can only represent a small portion of that, that's when it gets cool. The internet is awesome.

Youtube Insight points out that almost half these views are from my cleverly placed external links. (When I launch the first NNN episode my advertising campaign will be even larger.) But I should also thank Lego Diem for blogging it. I have no idea who runs that blog or how they found it, but it was been responsible for 20 views I wouldn't otherwise have. While I still haven't made it on to the hollowed pages of The Brothers Brick, my creations have started to show up on some smaller blogs, so that's exciting.

Also, it came in third place (out of 14) in the contest I made it for. Woo hoo!

2) Because it was Spring Break it was a very slow week at work. At first I had the mistaken impression that I would be able to use this week to catch up on my backlog of projects. I finally got around to starting that on Friday. The front half of my week was hijacked by meetings and allergies. Whatever, it was a nice break from the usual craziness that is our office.

3)I had lunch with Arthur at the Florian on Wednesday (<3 Pesto Chicken Wrap) and we discussed television relentlessly.

4) I stayed at work for 10 hours on Friday, but it wasn't so bad, because the last 5 of them Renee and I were making this diorama. Like I said, it was a slow week.

Professor “Nambunny” is accompanied on stage by President “Zucker*” as he receives the Nobel Prize Medal from the “Sweet-ish” Ambassador at International House on December 10th 2008. The event is filmed and broadcast live by The University of Chicago Media Initiatives Group.
*zucker is German for sugar

Go here to read more about the actual event. Made for this contest.

5) At dinner on Monday we had an interesting debate about finding new music. At least that's what the debate was about for me, for Krista it was about the music industry being the same as ever, and for Tiffany and Seth it was about blogs tainting the experience of finding new music. I'm not going to try to rehash it more than that because it was pretty incoherent. What we discovered is that we saw (or heard perhaps) things in such different ways that we couldn't even have the debate Tiffany and Seth wanted to have in the first place.

7) I had dinner at Paul and Stephanie's place twice this week. On Tuesday we had Cinimin Chikin (which really is that good). On Saturday we had lemon egg soup and chicken fried rice, which were both superlatively delicious. We also watched a bunch of television. See below.

8) Three episodes of The Wire Season 2. The amount of characters and plots is right on the cusp of overwhelming, but luckily my brain is ridiculous and I'm able to keep track of them at least enough to know what's going on in each scene. Ask me what they all are though, I could probably only remember half. THe show continues to be incredible. More than any other show I've watched the rest of the world just seems to melt away when this is on and I always have this weird lurching feeling when an episode ends as I careen back into reality.

9) Four episodes of Dr. Who. Stephanie finished off Season 4. Yay for Rose. Poor Donna. Jack is wonderful as always. Nice appearance by Harriet Jones.

10) Other T.V shows - Office was interesting. 30 Rock was "groin grabbingly" transcendent. I don't know how they keep being so hilarious, but I don't need to know so long as they keep doing it. Doll House had a lot of hilarious moments and well not quite as good as last week's episode was definitely better than a lot of the ones prior.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Running behind

A good percentage of my free time this week was devoted to making that animation. And really that's all I want to talk about, so I'm just going to rush through the other ones.

1) Trader Joe's Sparkling Blueberry Juice
2) The chili Stephanie and Paul made.
3) First Episode of season 2 of the wire
4) Better Off Ted - has promise (and Portia de Rossi)
5) Tree man
6) This didn't find its way into the commercial, but I had fun building this "Gregasaurus"

7) Finished Good Omens - twas hilarious
8) Made potato flag - had leftovers for eternity
9) In preparing the sets for the animation I got to build some really cool things: a castle wall with a secret door, a clothing store, the inside of a space station, a crazy unfurling bridge, this awesome rocket ship:

and a living room with this crazy cool couch, which other AFOLs think is awesome too!

10) Finished a new animation. Yes it took me a full weekend to do, not to mention all those hours preparing. But I was literally squealing with delight as I watched the footage play back for the first time. I love bringing things to life. Also, this movie just blows my past ones away in terms of image quality, so I was excited about that too. I had done a test with uploading HD videos to youtube about a week ago, and I knew I was going to upload this one that way, so I shot everything in widescreen and had much better lighting than previous endeavors. it turned out gorgeous. I have probably watched it 20 times. Anyway, let me talk about the various scenes.

This scene was very straightforward. The only thing unusual about it was that I built a base to raise up the set, because I decided I wanted the camera angle to be upward.

This was the first scene I animated, because I had already set up the lighting and whatnot a week beforehand. I made a few mistakes in this scene and remembered some of my old tricks. Like for instances marking the location of the character's feet so that if I accidentally knock them over I can put them back in place easily.

This one was a lot of fun. But what else would you expect from a tentacled space plant?

In this still you can actually take the time to figure out that the guy is buying the same outfit he is wearing, which was a detail that I put in there before I realized that no one would have enough time to notice. If you watch the pile of clothing you can see it shifting/settling. It was held together by tape, but not well enough.

I tried to use forced perspective here to give a sense of a path leading off into the distance (and forest), but I don't think it quite worked out. You can also see a couple animation issues in this scene. If you watch the left window you will see wire that is powering the lights above the torches. Also if you watch the light above the torch that she pushes you will see it move not quite with the torch. And as the secret door opens, the "flame" is replaces with a flame piece I filed down so it fit through the doorway.

I really like these robots and I was glad I found a way to work the green hair in.

This was the very last scene I animated. I again used forced perspective to try and give a sense of distance to the river. The bridge animation I planned out ahead of time and wrote down fram by frame which hinges moved when. After the bridge unfurled I didn't have many frames left to get them together, but leaving them apart just seemed wrong, so I put in some jumpy running, so they could hug at least. I know it goes by too fast, but what can I say, the emphasis is on green anyway.

This was one of the last sets to be built. Even as late as saturday I was not sure what I was going to do in this scene. I had built everything else and my supply of green pieces was running precariously low. I originally made a bedroom, with a vanity for the girl, but it didn't work well. The couch was a happy accident and the popsicles were almost an afterthought. The girl kicking her legs is the animation I'm proudest of in the whole piece. The cat moves too, though obviously the focus is on the posicles. I considered adding a dog, but it would have complicated things (much like a real dog).

This scene was the second to last to film and it was the hardest to set up. It took me half an hour just getting the lighting on the rocketship set up. And then there were wires all over the place:

But I used masking tape and a small wall of black bricks to hide them

Oh by the way, this is what my animation set-up looked like sunday morning. See how bright it is on the other side of the curtain? That's with the blinds closed in the living room! It was a really nice day out. Great for picnics, bad for animating, but thanks to my new curtains and that blanket I was able to cut out most of it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Green: A better Color for Better Building

This is what I did this week. To answer the inevitable question "how long did it take?" Just the filming of this took about 7 hours (all of which took place in the last 24). But that doesn't include the hours spent building sets or conceiving/scripting/storyboarding/editing/etc. This is my hobby, the time flies by for me.

Edit: Also, to everyone who voted for the Green cast in the poll: Thank you, it was definitely the right choice and if I was left to my own devices I might not have made it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Staying in Hyde Park after work can be cool

1) On Monday I stayed a couple hours later than I would normally to go to a screening/discussion with Encyclopedia Pictura that Fire Escape put on. You really need to watch that Wanderlust video twice. Once in 2D to get the colors and then a second time in 3D to see the depth stuff. I watched maybe half a dozen times that day. It was really cool to hear them talk about making thier movies and how they have worked their way up from complete obscurity to relative obscurity and getting paid to make really cool videos. I can't find their Spore Commerical on the internet, but it was awesome as well.

2) On Friday I went to Screenwriting for the first time in a while and we read through epidose 2 of NNN and the beginnings of episode 3. Got some good feedback, altough it's still weird to be in my old apartment now that other people live there.

3) The middle of the week was the usual wonderfulness of dinners with Stephanie interrupted by a Wednesday. Tuesday we had Cinimin Chikin. Thursay: Peanut chicken w/ fried rice.

4) Wednesday night I did a couple loads of laundry. This is the first time since moving here that doing laundry at night made sense. It has been too cold/dark the past few months.

5) I had a productive Saturday - crossed a couple things of my big to-do list. I got a zip car and went to Target, Jewel and Brown Elephant. I bought curtains and a rug for my kitchen, lights and backdrops for animating, a bunch of cheap DVDs, and a whole bunch of other stuff (economy = stimulated). I also finally donated my old TV.

6) Started reading Good Omens. It's hilarious!

7) Finally saw Catch Me if You Can, which had been recommended to me many times, but I'd never gotten around to it. It was good, light and fun, very obviously a Spielberg film.

8) Found this contest. While I don't really care about the camera that much, deadlines are helpful and my Green commercial would work perfectly for this. So I'm going to try to get it finished by next week. Then I'll finally have part of the NNN pilot animated! And if I don't make that deadline, I'll at least have started. I have my animating area set-up.

It's right in the center of my apartment, so I won't be able to ignore it.

9) I got a lego lighting system and used to light up the Rock Monsters.

10)Other lego creations from this week: A garden for the green commercial:

Then I accidentally built a bunch of completely non-NNN-related things. A bunch of "Tan Fantasy" creatures.

And these aren't specifically for the commercial, but maybe they'll get worked in since they are green. A Galidorian Businessman

A Dragonbird?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Delicious food is delicious

1) On Monday I made Peppercorn Chicken and Lemon Butter Asparagus for Tiffany, Krista and Seth.

2) I really need the sick day I took on Tuesday. I basically slept all day, except for an excursion to Stephanie's house for dinner. Even my memory of that is vague, but it's a good bet we watched Doctor Who and had something delicious. Oh yeah! We had chicken stuffed with spinach and cheese, it was amazing. And we watched one of the funniest episodes of the Simpsons: Lisa gets an A+++.

3) Talking with Adam, who is now back in the USA and once more headed to the farm.

4) The Wire. OMGMYBFFJILL One of the best television shows I've ever watched. Stephanie lent me the first season and I watched through it in 5 days. The rainy weekend was a good excuse, but I probably would have anyway. So amazing.

5) For dinner on Friday I tried out some new recipes that were all really good. To quote Stephanie "David, do you understand how good this is? It's so good I'm making myself ill by eating too much." The recipes I made were Sweet Potato Wedges (from Jenny), Salmon with Lemon and Dill, and Rice Salad with Tarragon Vinegarette (from occasional vegetarian). The sweet potato wedges are incredibly easy and delicious:

3 small sweet potatoes
1 1/2 TBL olive oil
1 TBL rosemary ( this is more than I used since we agreed I could use more)
1/2 tsp salt
some garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450
Cut potatoes into wedges
Combine everything together in a bowl, mix until the potatoes are well coated
Put them on a baking sheet
Bake for 30 minutes, flip them over at 15

6) Office was one of the funniest all season. 30 Rock was good as usual. And Dollhouse was unquestionably good. I've sort of been faking some of my enthusiasm for it in the past, but this episode I was hooked. And we're still in the "crappy" part of the season!

7)The titles of the books I read this week both end with the same word "Nine Stories" and "Haroun and the Sea of Stories", but they are very different. The first is a collection of short stories by J.D. Salinger. It's too bad that Catcher in the Rye is his famous book, all his other stuff is much better. The second is a light fantasy book aimed at children. Lila turned me onto it a while back because of this passage:

He looked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different colour, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity; and Iff explained that these were the Streams of Story, that each coloured strand represented and contained a single tale. Different parts of the Ocean contained different sorts of stories, and as all the stories that had ever been told and many that were still in the process of being invented could be found here, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was in fact the biggest library in the universe. And because the stories were held here in fluid form, they retained the ability to change, to become new versions of themselves, to join up with other stories an so become yet other stories; so that unlike a library of books, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was much more than a storeroom of yarns. It was not dead but alive.

It was quick and fun, but sadly did not explore the Ocean nearly as much I would have wanted. It's no Library of Babel, but there were a couple other quotes that I really enjoyed.

Straight answers were beyond the powers of Rashid Khalifa, who would never take a short cut if there was a longer, twistier road available. 'Khattam-Shud,' he said slowly, 'is the Arch-Enemy of all Stories, even of Language itself. He is the Prince of Silence and the Foe of Speech. And because everything ends, because dreams end, stroies end, life ends, at the finish of everything we use his name. "It's Finished," we tell one another, "it's over. Khattam-Shud: The End." '

8) Went to Dana's on Saturday to celebrate Purim with puppets, hamentashen and alcohol. I really enjoyed making my Hamen puppet. If I had I picture it would go here. There was also delicious coal-fired pizza. It was a fun night. I walked home in the rain, even though I could have easily taken the train.

9) On Sunday Stephanie and I had brunch at Ann Sather. I had fresh squeezed orange juice, cinnamon roll, fresh fruit bowl, and a spinach, tomato and mozzerella omelette. It was heavenly. We ate like royalty.

10) More microbuildings