Saturday, 2 February 2008

Silly Teddy USB drive

I accidentally came across this via Fergie's blog - very funny in a creepy way :-) It looks like it mayhave been just constructed by someone, but it is pretty clever, esp when plugged in. The article and image from engadget.

[funny teddy usb drive - pic from engadget]

Wireless Broadband test

With UNSW about to go live with its new wireless service, the need for us to investigate the idea of going with devices like Optus' wireless broadband is reduced. That said, it is still a neat idea and with the demo Huawei E220 from Optus it is worth looking at least a little. Under Windows it installs just beautifully, finding the software on the device itself and getting you going with a nice little app to control things. Unless I am missing something, it wasnt nearly so friendly on the Mac, I had to download the drivers from Huawei and configure things manually. This worked as I am creating this blog entry via the doodad. Pages like Trevor Long's help in this setup silliness.

After just a little playing I have to say it isnt as fast as I was hoping, I have Optus broadband cable here and it seems much faster (not as fast as UNSW of course, but we have overkill there). I even had trouble uploading the little pic below using the device - something isnt happy (apart from me :-)

test Optus Wireless broadband driving my macbookpro connection
[test Optus Wireless broadband driving my macbookpro connection]

I am tempted (weather permitting) to take the laptop and the device for a little tour of the beach and get a feel for how neato that idea is :-)

Friday, 1 February 2008

TripleHead2Go first look with 138" of screen

With our new suite of 46" Mitsubishi 1080p LCDs we got a couple of Matrox Triple Head 2 Go boxes which let us easily connect 3 screens to a single machine. So we couldnt wait when they turned up and connected 3 of our BIG screens via the box to one of our XPS1730 beasts that we have been using for building the image.
The result was a HUGE display, once the drivers were installed and even though the work bench is pretty big, it felt pretty oppressive at close range. Windows running at 3840x1024 on 138" of screen is quite a sight, and applications are either a looong way apart or really stretched out. Sketchup and things are fun, but perhaps not really useful at this stretchy scale.
The next step was the software to configure the game engines to deal with the display res - there are a bunch of configs built in, CS Source being the one that we already had loaded on the machine. So in we went, looking around the CS:Source maps, solo it was fine, in-game it was really hard with the HUD controls waaaay off to the sides :-)
The immersive feel with the large screens and the peripheral vision is quite awesome. Though the perspective is quite distorted at the edges, you really cant see it and having the 3 screens is definitely step-up from even a single 46" beast.


[images of the 3 huge screens running CS:Source]

We still have to work on bezel management (the software lets us adjust for the gaps between the live screens = the corby effect). We just got TF2 going which is cool and we should play with the driver to handle the wide screen proportions better. Much fun to be had going forward as we fire up our other real-time engines of choice.

Stay tuned for more...

Oscar Shootout on VFX

This year has another suite of heavyweights duking it out for the VFX Oscar. CGSociety have a nice article covering the 'race' by Barbara Robertson. With the winner of the little golden statue to come from The Golden Compass, Transformers or Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - any of them will be worthy winners. I was personally blown away by the effects work of all three, it would have been fun to sit in on the "bake off" - actually it woul dbe neat if we could download the full bake-off set (or get it on DVD even) so we could see the entries from the wider nomination set as well. I like the way the bake-off was described on the vfxphd, how the seamless effects work in something like the Bourne Ultimatum could be overlooked because it is jst so darn hard to spot the effects at all...
The article by Jill Smolin on VFX World gives us a view of things from the night where the 7 films showcased their wares in the bake-off and how awesome the effects work is at this level and in so many films.


[The 3 nominations for the VFX Oscar]

I would really love to see the bake-off footage for myself - seeing it all distilled down like that for the 7 films would be awesome. Who will take out the gold-dude, that is something of a lottery, but I have a feeling that The Golden Compass might actually get the award this time as the Academy might be ready to award the integrated rather than the flashy (which would mean ILM would miss out) - we shall know soon enough.

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Marvel Zombies & Arthur Suydam

Marvel Zombies
Continuing the Comic feel of the last few days, there was obviously lots of fun to be had startng back in 2005 when the concept of Marvel Zombies first reared its half rotting head. Once spawned the idea flourished into a whole suite of crossovers, specials and alternate realities taking in all the Marvel characters much loved by all.
I havent read the comics yet, but by all accounts they are pretty cool - so along with the Dark Tower set I will have to keep an eye out for them when I am next in the city.
The Marvel site has plenty of info for us including a nice gallery of the covers and other deliciously decaying bits and pieces. Most of the covers are by Arthur Suydam and the Botch the Crab blog (thanks Adam) has collated Arthur's covers together for us - here are six to really set the tone (hear the groaning and screaming in your head):


[Arthur Suydam covers from various Marvel Zombies comics from Botch the Crab]

Arthur Suydam
Onto the artist in a touch more detail, Arthur Suydam has his own site (seems obvious these days but so many artists dont). There isnt a whole heap there for us (yet), but he does link us over to Richard Boom's fansite for more. Note that Arthur is one of those completely traditional folk using real paint to ply his craft. I think his style would translate very well to digital creation and all the layering techniques that can fit the Zombie look. Even so, he has a great sense of style and playful disrespect of his characters when requred - here are a few more of his images (even some not of zombies, shock horror) - I still have a heap of respect for his craft:

[More Arthur Suydam covers, various projects from Boom's site]

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Jae Lee and The Dark Tower

Since I am enjoying the ride Stephen King is giving me in The Dark Tower, when I hear that Marvel is making a comic prequel - that really warrants a closer look. Then when I see that the artwork is by Jae Lee - that really gets exciting. I remember Jae Lee's run on Namor with great enthusiasm and WildCATS Trilogy, I am sure they are still sitting in my comic boxes somewhere. Jae brings that dark, scratchy awkward feel to his work that should translate oh so well to Stephen Kings work. The Hellshock site has a series of covers from then and more recently.
Next time I am in the City I will see if I can pick up a graphic novel for the set, no doubt it will be hard to get the individual issues. To give a feel for the fun in store here are 3 of the covers, again from the Comic Vine site.

[The Dark Tower: Gunsinger born covers by Jae Lee from the Comic Vine site]

And by way of continuing the FF theme from yesterday - here is a Fantastic Four cover by Jae Lee - oozing style as always:


-

On a side note, with respect to Google indexing the site - after the name change. It seems quite hard to actually work out what the state of play is. On the one hand if I do a Google Search for "oinkfrog" I get 17 pages of links (if expanded) many of which are direct links to the blog. Lots of these still point back to the old address 3Doinkfrog.etc while maybe 8 or so point to the new one - and they have no real pattern to them.
The Google Webmaster site still doesnt have any data on the blog :(

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (DVD)

As I failed to catch this at the Cinema when it came out, it about time I grabbed the DVD and saw what this second instalment has to offer. The first Fantastic 4 movie I really enjoyed, it wasnt just a fun ride, it had some great dialogue interactions and 'family' issues to work through - just like the books. This idea continues in the second film (Rise of the Silver Surfer), perhaps without the same joy of seeing these characters for the first time, but still a fun ride. The visual effects are on par with the first (no doubt the production team claims they are far better) and we have the usual suite of 3D generated shots including our new CG character - the Surfer himself.

Weta Digital bring us the CG work required to bring the Fan4 to life and indeed the new Silver Surfer. The VFXworld article by Thomas J. McLean covers the digital work required with some nice imagery. The pipeline using at its heart Maya, RenderMan, Shake and Nuke is pretty standard fair, though they do have a whole bunch of goodies running atop and beside them.

[Images of the CG work by Weta Digtal on Fan4.2 from VFXworld]

The full cast is back, Jessica Alba looking at times rather bland, but still able to bring some personality into a scene with s smile or a quirky expression. I liked how Galactus was done, though for me I would have liked some more put into the idea that this is just a force of nature and not evil - that wasnt really played out. Plus we have no real idea what occurs at the end - why couldnt the surfer have done this before - that wasnt this movie's shining moment!

Anyhow, it is a fun ride, without adding to the first film. I am wondering if it will grow on me after a few more viewings - there are quite a few films that do. There are lots of resources for the film online of course: IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Fan4DVD and the Official Site.

---

Fantastic 4 Comic Imagery
Just to give a quick splash of the comic imagery (wizardry even) that the film makers had to draw on with the Fantastic Four. Here are some pics that show off some of the talent that has worked on the books, first the cover of the very original by Jack Kirby, then a serious bevy of wonders from the likes of Jim Lee, Michael Turner and more. All these images are from the Comic Vine Fantastic Four Gallery - check it for more.

[Cover of Fantastic Four #1 artwork by Jack Kirby]



Monday, 28 January 2008

Spirit - Stallion of the Cimarron (DVD)

This Dreamwork's animated film - almost a classic now, (watched it on DVD today - havent watched for quite a while). Spirit is really a masterful piece of 3D and 2D integration. Articles like this one from DigitalContentProducer and this one as well - cover how the pipeline and logic works. I quite like how this artform brings together the dynamic power of 3D and the artistic styling of 2D - this is something I would like to try at some point.


[images from the Running Free site]
The soundtrack (Brian Adams) is a nice mix of orchestral and pop and rounds out a splendid film in its conception, visuals, sound and more.

draft blogger and gadgets

Yes, if you log into draft.blogger.com to edit your blog you get access to the test bits and bobs the mighty Googlefolk are working on. One of which is the ability to add an iGoogle Gadget to your blogger site.
So adding a clock like the one here is just a matter of a few simple clicks - Go Google!
Plus this gives you access to the vast library of such things - but going crazy with gadgets isnt a sane plan would be my recommendation.

Sketching and Fan4

Did a few more sketches while watching Fantastic 4. Not only are the original creations by Marvel very cool, I really like the way it came together in the film. The CG work is very nice, binding together their powers and the live footage. I also jotted down some narrative ideas - it is pretty obvious that I have rather toooo many ideas and project thoughts going at once atm. I should dedicate some time to getting one of them going fully...

-

I note that Google still have just 2 pages of the site indexed still - I am not sure why it takes so long, I would expect it to discover the change and then just spider me. I wonder if Google's search code people are having to deal with blogs differently to the websites we have been used to?