Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bust the posts out my blog

1) Robert came over and we ordered Pockets and watched Bubba Ho-Tep & Howard the Duck. Bubba Ho-Tep was great. But what else would you expect from a movie with Bruce Campbell as an elderly Elvis teamed up with an old black man who thinks he's JFK fighting a mummy that is terrorizing their nursing home? Howard the Duck was awful. We were hoping it would be so terrible it was good (like Freejack) but it was just plain awful. The first five minutes were the best.

2) There's a new fad sweeping the lego fan community: Cube Dudes. I made a Sherry Tiles one and will eventually make a Phil (when I regain some free time)

3) I likes this brickfilm- "Alles ist dies noppe"

4) Best part of Episode 3 of Glee was "Bust your windows" (episode 4 of Glee was much better storywise, though no musical numbers of the same caliber)

5) Stephanie and I started playing Little King's Story. It's awesome, very much like pikmin.

6) Changes are finally starting to happen at work. Thought they aren't fun I'm still hoping they will be for the best.

7) Paul and Stephanie had an excellent Wine and Cheese party

8) I bought new shoes!

9) Went to a potluck with Robert. It started out on a roof top, but then migrated inside where there was warmth and cable and cheesecake.

10) I finally spent the money to register a domain name and started putting together a NNN website. It's still very unfinished, I've only begun to carve out the sections I want and listing some content I'd like to put there, but the overall design is more or less set. I'm very happy with the way the banner turned out. You can see what I've got so far here.


1) The most important item from this week is the fact that Robert and I are now dating. We went on another non-date on Thursday to the Modern Wing at the Art Institute since neither of us had been and the museum is free on Thursday nights. We saw a bunch of art. I’m not going to try to describe it here. We did not get to get across the sky bridge, sadly. Then we went to Noodles and Company and it was delicious. Then as we were waiting on the train platform I asked Robert, “So what do you think about us dating?” And he said, “I think I’m ready to give it a try. (pause) Though, I’m not entirely sure what that entails.” Well, figuring that out is the fun part.

2) Robert and I went on our very first date the very next night. Guthrie's was super crowded, so we went to Trader Todd's for karaoke night and I sang "These Boots are made for Walking" as I am wont to do. Then we went to Berlin for a little while and then we got the awkward first kiss out of the way.

3) The new South Campus dorm is awesome. I spent some time this week helping make a video tour of it. I did not operate the camera or do most of the editing, but I was there to walk around and help the videographer figure out what to capture. The place is gorgeous. I am jealous of the students who get to live there.

4) I introduced Krista, Tiffany and Seth to the glory that is Freejack. It is one of the best worst movies ever. Emilio Estevez stars as a racecar driver who is kidnapped to the dystopian future (November 2009) where he is hunted by Mick Jagger so that Anthony Hopkins mind can be transplanted in his body. Check out this must-see chase scene & a short clip from the climax.

5) I had a dream that week that involved solving a mystery (in the Mystery Machine) with Jerry Seinfeld and some assorted teens. I was describing this dream to Tiffany and Seth and we started trying to imagine who would be on my Scooby Doo dream team. (By Scooby Doo Dream Team we mean if someone was making a movie about my life and there was a dream sequence where I had to solve a mystery, who would be on that team. The question of who would be on my ideal mystery solving team is another matter entirely.)

Obviously Jerry Seinfeld is going to be on it because he was in my actual dream. The next obvious addition is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which we later refined to Sarah Michelle Gellar so she could be both Buffy and Daphne. We were originally going to keep Scooby-Doo, but then decided to replace him with Brak. And I have to be on it since it’s my dream. We couldn’t agree on the 5th team member. I was pushing for Carmen SanDiego, Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast also came up as an option, I would have put Jack Harkness on the team, but that would have quickly derailed the mystery solving. I welcome your suggestions.

6) I challenge you to watch this video of kids trying not to eat marshmallows and not smile.

7) We had our yearly Communications Retreat on Friday. This year it was at Navy Pier. While it was a nice way to remind us how we are all connected to a larger goal, I was disappointed that there wasn't more room for conversation about the strategy stuff. Still, the food was good and the boat cruise made for a nice afternoon.

8) "Guise will be Guise" was my favorite episode of Angel season 2 to date. Wesley pretends to be Angel, hilarity ensues.

9) On Saturday night I went with Tiffany, Seth and Stephanie to see Mike Birbiglia. He's hilarious. Here's one of the stories he told during the routine we saw.

10) Then we went to Yogen Fruz. So delicious.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pro-Green Commercial

You've probably already seen this, but now it's officially released. :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hiking is awesome

1) The best part of putting up an animation is the ensuing wave of comments/e-mails/IMs/messages from people who’ve watched it telling me what they liked about it. I even got a phone call from one of my friends who had just watched it. The consensus seems to be that the music is the most note-worthy thing. Followed by the buildings as dominos and ROBOphelia’s energetic behavior. And of course the best part was watching it with Stephanie on Tuesday and hearing her laugh.

2) While we’re talking about lego stuff. I finally got around to tking pictures of all the microscale buildings I made for the animation.

Click on the picture to read my full write-up about them on MOCpages (w/ more pictures). Also I made the most elusive couple ever.

Man, Carmen Sandiego is so awesome, it’s hard to handle sometimes. I guess that’s the benefit of being fictional, you don’t have to get bogged down worrying about what ‘s possible. Here’s a great quote from the cartoon where she was voiced by Rita Moreno, “Think out your plan like a woman of action, then act out your plan like a woman of thought.”

3) One last lego thing. Since I’ve already finished the next NNN video I’ve got some time to relax before focusing on making the next one. So instead of building sets, recording voices, storyboarding, or animating this weekend I finally attacked one of the bins of unsorted lego where I throw the remnants of sets after I harvest the pieces I want from them. I put in some DVDs and spent a few good hours doing that Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Also did 4 loads of laundry, now I’m ready to spend the next few weekends working on animation.

4) So what were the DVDs I watched you ask? Well I rewatched Spirited Away, the plot was much easier to follow the second time through, not as ridiculous as I first thought. I wonder what the process for making a Miyazaki movie is. Does Miyazaki just think of different scenes/characters that would look awesome and then slowly stitch a story around them? I mean this movie is beautiful, and it’s certainly not a poorly stitched amalgam of isolated scenes and plots or anything like that. I just wonder if he thought “Alright my next movie is going to have a train that seems to glide across the surface of an ocean, also a giant muddy monster that gets a bunch of pollution pulled out of it, a bunch of adorable soot monsters, some dragon (or sky snake as Stephanie and I have dubbed Eastern dragons) riding of course, and let’s not forget the giant baby.who lives in a pile of pillows and later gets turned into a hampster. Now how do I put those together?“

5) The other thing I watched was the first disc of Angel Season 2. It’s off to a good start. I haven’t cared much for the individual plots of any of the first few episodes, but the show just knows what it’s doing now. Lorne (that’s the lounge-singer demon/psychic who can tell you your future, but only if you sing karaoke first) is starting to pop up regularly. They’ve moved their office into an abandoned hotel, which is way more stylish than the last place. Gunn is actually being integrated with the rest of the cast. Darla is making me care about Angel’s existence, though right now it’s only to be annoyed with him. And Cordelia continues to be awesome and is certainly benefiting from not having to carry the entire show any more. And for this week’s clip of Angel doing something embarrassing – singing Mandy.
6) I’ve run out of segues so I’m going to revert to boring old chonology for the rest. On Thursday I hung out with Robert. We were going to try to go to Target free Thursdays at the art museum and see the Modern wing. But he ended up having to show his apartment to potential roommates. So instead I went over to his apartment and we had dinner sitting on the carpet and played a few games of Fluxx.

Fluxx is a card game where the rules and goals are constantly changing. About a fourth of the cards are cards you play to change the rules – how many cards you draw and play per turn, how many you can have in your hand or on the table etc. My favorite rule was “first play random”. There are also action cards that let you do things like steal cards, pull cards out of the discard pile, eliminate rules and generally cause mayhem. Then were the cards you played on the table, they were just nouns like cookies, dreams, the brain, etc. They did not do anything exciting. The goal cards usually involved collecting two specific nouns, although there were a couple more inspired ones as well. While the game is not as crazy as Mao, it is still pretty cool.

7) Then he showed me these two awesome hilarious faux-informational books – Science Made Stupid and Cvltvre Made Stupid. They are basically modeled on textbooks, but everything in them is utterly and hilariously false. Oh how I laughed and laughed. I still haven’t read through the culture book, but for the Science book at least I agree with Robert that the more you know, the funnier it is. Allow me to quote “OVERVIEW OF BOOK” “BAGELS” “etc.” And the thing I can’t to justice to are the hilarious illustrations of imaginary animals, ridiculous diagrams and fake advertisements. But don’t take my word for it, you can read them online here. (You could order them, but they are out of print and therefore very expensive).
8) Last Friday I went on an awesome recording for work. We were interviewing my color vision professor about his latest research into how colors are represented in the brain. It was awesome and made me remember what I loved about studying Neuroscience.

9) Crazy 3D-seeming murals (via Seth)

10) I rented a Zipcar from Friday night till Saturday night so Stephanie, Paul and I could go hiking on Saturday. On Friday night I used the car to go to Target and buy a new microwave (my old one became possessed), a lamp for my bedroom, and other such Target purchases. I also went to Trader Joe's. On Saturday morning we drove up to the North Branch trail system and then we hiked about 5.5 miles. Along the way we ventured through Bugopolis, pumped water by hand lost the yellow trail briefly, saw hoodlums on bicycles and debated about chipmunks (among other things). Then we had a lovely picnic of chips and pita and hummus and salsa and grapes and mini muffins and rice pudding. We saw a Bald Eagle! Then we drove back and took naps. I took the car to Jewel for more groceries before returning it. All in all it was an awesome day.

other things from the car - target and lots of groceries

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Let's talk about the animation! Oh and some other things too

1) Making the animation. My mom was asking how I matched the movement/action to the sounds and I was telling her about the notebook where I write down how many frames are between each important word/emphasis point. Here's a page that corresponds to a 22 second long shot (starts 51 seconds in).

That was probably the most complicated shot in terms of matching actions to words in this episode, since there are two people on screen and for some parts they are both moving and also because ROBOphelia has so many little exclamations and such. I am really happy with the way it turned out, I like the way she extends off screen at "oh my!" and her nervous laugh /arm twitch immediately following. And her "hmf" coupled with a head turn and a little leg bounce at the end of the shot might be my favorite ROBOphelia movement in the entire episode. (Though extending her magnifying glass while saying IN-TRI-CATE-LY LAID PLANS? gives it a run for its money)
The scenes between ROBOphelia and Persephone had some complicated gesture animation, but they were pretty light on set-up since they all took place in one room. I reused as many set-ups as I could for Malifios's schemes (e.g. the Octopus machine wide shot and the scene where he rages at the plane) but the 7 second scen in which 12 buildings fall down (starts at 2:00), for instance, took over 2 hours to set-up (though less than 10 minutes to actually animate). Here is the base I built during that two hours.

I had all the building on cleverly concealed hinge bricks that made toppling them easy. The octopus machine stuff was pretty straightforward and the hay fire one was somewhere in between (Malifios's feet did not stick to the baseplate very well in that one, also if you watch the torch closely you can see it slowly drifting up in his hand, a consequence of me rotating it around every other shot so the flame would flicker.)

Small details you might not notice otherwise:
The movie theater at 1:55 is playing "The Franky Job" (refer to this old post for the why)
At 0:48 "woman" in Persephone's titlebar is scratched out and replaced with "brick"
After getting kicked by the cow at 4:14, Malifios lands in one of the hay piles in the background

It's been up for less than 12 hours and already has close to 200 views. That's pretty awesome.

2) On Wednesday Tiffany, Krista and Seth came over for dinner. We were later joined by Daniela. In honor of Krista's real birthday Tiffany brought cupcakes from Molly's cupcakes. The one I had was delicious though structurally unsound. I really ought to go to Molly's Cupcakes. I meant to go a long time ago, but still haven't made the trek.

3) I talked to Jenny (her birthday was the week before but we played phone tag for a bit). We talked about our jobs, Isaiah, legos, and ice cream pie among other things.

4) This weekend was the one year anniversary of moving into this apartment. To celebrate the fact that I wasn't moving I had my friends over and made potato flag and butter beer. We played Boom Blox.

5) On Sunday Night I went over to Paul and Stephanie's new place. It's really nice. We started the Wire season 5 and had cinnamon chick peas. Om Nom Nom.

6) Then Stephanie convinced me that rather than go grocery shopping or animating I should go to Yogen Fruz and watch The Dark Knight with her. I am glad I listened to reason instead of doing something foolish like going to Jewel.

7) On Monday Krista had a BBQ. I used it as an excuse to make ice cream pie (talking with Jenny abou it just make me want it). It was awesome. Chocolate and Cookies and Cream (Krista doesn't like mint things)

8) I finished Angel season 1. Here are the episodes I liked the best "Rm w/a Vu" " Bachelor Party" "I will Remember You" "The Prodigal" "Five by Five" & "Santuary" and "To Shansu in L.A." 7/22 isn't bad. Another third of the season was mediocre and the last third was terrible. If you are ever inclined to watch through Angel Season 1 don't feel obligated to watch "I Fall to Pieces" "Sense & Sensitivity" "Expecting" "She" "I've got you under my skin" or "The Ring" Just read summaries and move on with your life. There's probably a whole disk you can skip in there. Most of the time I just had Angel on in the background while I built lego stuff for the animation. It was perfect for that as very few episodes actually commanded my attention.

9)Now that the animation is done, I was able to clean up my apartment. It is neater than it has been in quite a long time. Yay!

10) Other things? I don't remember... let's check facebook. Oh! There we go! Look at all these links! (via @qikipedia, Robert and Stephanie respectively)

Oh hey I just remembered something cool I did at work last week. I went with Tiffany into the construction site for the Mansueto Library (a.k.a. giant glass bubble with robots) Here are some pics I took trying to show how deep it is. Of course, being two dimensional they don't really give a good sense of depth. If only I had a stereo camera!

Look! It's Tiffany's elbow!

SVELT Interview & Failed Plans of Malifios

Look! I finally finished the post below this one!