Monthly Archives: March 2010

Treetop Walk

We didn’t have a lot of time to do things because the trip was so short, but one of our tourist excursions was through North Vancouver to check out this suspension bridge and treetop bridge walk (trees being one of my favorite things about the West Coast)… The thing that surprised me perhaps the most was that this was practically inside the city. It was sort of like the BC version of the zip line and suspension bridge tour that we did in Costa Rica. Costa Rica was a million times fear-of-heights scarier, so while there were other visitors feigning fear, the whole thing seemed overly safe.

I have to admit by the way, that with Caitlin off at a hockey game tonight with her boss, all I really want to do is get back to the rock that I push up the hill every day — the animation software — and spend the rest of the night drawing all the things I thought about while I was away… But I think I should do this before it goes to the bottom of the pile… Here are a few quick pictures, and I’ll post some others later.

Mutation is fun to draw over and over

Caitlin and I leave on our trip to Vancouver tomorrow… I’m not sure yet if I’m going to bother bringing my [netbook] computer… I’m kind of thinking that I’d rather not, and just bring my camrea and my Kindle instead (and I’ll check my email on Caitlin’s iPhone if I do that). It’s not just that I am going luddite, it’s that I trashed the Windows installation by uninstalling a bunch of essential stuff, and it needs to be completely set up again from scratch. That said, Caitlin recently installed Ubuntu’s netbook remix OS and seems to be liking it — since it’s a very quick install I may go ahead and do that.

I’m working on a new project, a Gregory Corso poem (“Bomb“) set to music and then animated by me, and came to realize that one of the problems with using what is just barely into beta, as Pencil is, is that many rather important features are missing… There are no automated tweening features, and all-in-all I’m OK with that, but with that in mind I would like to have some sort of a symbols library or even just the ability to have a nice cut and paste with the ability to resize and rotate — and I can’t do the latter, and the rest of it is awkward at best. I discovered that the easiest solution is to draw my master image onto a piece of transparent plastic, holding it up to the monitor with my view window sized as needed, and it makes a really easy template/symbol library to work with as I trace it by eye!


This trick worked well, and I have had a chance to do some initial ideas and sketches for the animation. It’s about 95% incomplete (some doesn’t have motion, all doesn’t have detail, and most isn’t even drawn), and while I’ve had fun with it so far, it’s rather time consuming so I may well shelve the project for some time — at a minimum I won’t be able to dedicate much more time to it until the end of Nefarious’s March Break school holiday, since she gets back from California the day after we get back from the West Coast as well.

Anyway, the audio is a little weird, but I think with some tuning it’ll work out just fine… I had to slow it down to half speed and then increase the pitch to compensate, so it has a sort of a flange effect as well as a intoxicated mood, but if I didn’t do this, the whole thing just goes by too quickly. Unfortunately this also reduces it to 7.5fps, so I might decide to insert some more interstitial frames. Speaking of beta issues, the audio support for the Windows Pencil is rudimentary, so the sync work had to be done by hand by taking notes on the taming of keyframes with the aid of another free software tool, Audacity, a great sound editor.

As always, I had fun, especially with the mutation segment.

Well… our plane leaves in the morning and I have not yet begun to pack — let alone install Ubuntu — so I suppose I had better stop messing around with my blog and get at it. See everyone when I get back! Don’t think about robbing the studio because we have a guest-slash-housesitter.

Walking and Flying

I was doing a motion test, trying to see if I could animate walking and have it look somewhat real… I think it turned out alright, although I admit that it’s a bit drunk and clumsy looking. I also ended up fiddling with filters in Photoshop afterward, which is easy to do since I output the animation as a series of still images that are then stitched together into a movie, so before that it’s simple to run a batch filter on them… So in some ways this is more of a filter test than a motion test. But yeah, I really enjoy this Wacom Bamboo tablet and am very happy that I got it.

And, woo woo, Caitlin and I are off to Vancouver for a few days, the first time I’ve been there — not counting airport stopovers — since I was four or five years old. I don’t know exactly what our plans are, but we might take a day trip to Victoria and go take a walk in the neighborhood I grew up in… There’s so much to choose from, so if anyone wants to recommend stuff — be it a nice beach or be it a great gallery or whatever — we’re all ears. Expedia gave us a great deal on a five star hotel — I suppose some sort of winter discount that they’re offering in despair after getting used to the Olympic sold-out season, wishing that they were still so full, referring those seeking a room to mangers in the stable — scenically overlooking the harbor and I sure am looking forward to taking this time out.

Hopefully the clutch issue on my car can be dealt with while we’re gone…

The Eternal Doodle (my new animation)

First of all, from the comments in one of my previous video posts (the super-headless-girl), you must check out Cutthroat‘s own amusement DIE DIE DIE video that he made messing around with After Effects (a product I’ve never used personally). Totally hilarious and as well done as some B-movies. That reminds me, he has a new sideshow DVD that you should also check out.

Anyway, here’s my latest doodle animation. I know I say this for all my animations, but I really did have fun making this. The software I used was Pencil for the animation and Magic Pic2Ani to automatically stitch the images into a video, and the music is from one of John Zorn‘s amazing Filmworks albums.

One of the things I really like when I post my animations is seeing the recommended videos that Youtube puts alongside mine, and I’ve gotten to check out all sorts of fun amateur and student projects, also along the “doodle animation” theme. For example, today I had fun viewing “Long Story Short“, “Funny Doodle Animation“, and “Artist Vs. Drawing” (and Part Two), which were presented alongside the above. Oh, and this one is not that good, but gets points for the enormous effort it must have taken to use a Magna Doodle as its canvas (and Windows Movie Maker to stitch all the photos together)!

Oh, and speaking of animation, Nefarious, Caitlin, Saira, and I braved the rainstorm which has turned the driveway into a canal and went to see Tim Burton’s 3D Alice in Wonderland. The storyline is a little too Disney for some people perhaps, but visually it really was incredible, so psychedelicly lush and full of the perverse joyful dreams that Burton always showers you with, and does a good job capturing both the original Disney version, and the 1865 book as well. I’m really glad we went, and Nefarious gave it top marks, and perhaps because of the film’s overly sentimental family vibe, she curled up in my lap fifteen minutes into the movie even though we were in a public theatre, and at the end gave me a big hug and said, “that was wonderful… thank you so much for taking me, daddy!”

And any movie that ends like that gets top marks from me as well.

There is no better experience for a father.

I was a little nervous as to how the 3D would turn out, because it wasn’t shot or animated in 3D at all, but instead was faked in post-production, essentially by people tweaking the images to separate different parts of it into “layers” which were positioned at different depths. I wasn’t sure if this would look like a weird sort of pop-up book, like the whole thing was cardboard cutouts, but it totally worked. I know a lot of people write the whole thing off as a gimmick, but I love 3D movies and it totally gets me back into the theatre. Personally I think it adds to ANY movie — it doesn’t have to be something that’s a visual spectacle. Hell, I might even line up for Gigli 3D.

Anyway, tomorrow evening Nefarious goes to visit her mother for much of March Break. I really want to go somewhere with Caitlin — probably staying inside Canadian borders though, to avoid the nightmare, albeit short-lived nightmare (which was part of the nightmare!), we had in Cuba — so I think I’m off to check out the travel deal sites to see what the options are.


If you would like to enjoy this hard to photograph image of an ice carving of the Taj Mahal, then just keep on staring. If, on the other hand, you would like to enjoy the sort of potty humor that a six year old might create at the end of a fun day of skiing and perhaps having the occasional “watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow” moment, then you ought to click “CONTINUED” for an animation that I thought would be better off not being put on the entry page of the blog.