Want some Bits of Blender (training)

Did you know???… CartoonSmart’s long time instructor John Nyquist occasionally gets on the mic with his 3D protege / son to record short, impromptu (and often hilarious) micro-tutorials on Blender… Check out his YouTube Channel at Youtube.com/user/BitsOfBlender

Also John’s mulling around future Blender tutorials as a followup to A Blender Game Character. So if you want to throw an idea out there, leave a comment with your suggestion. Personally, I’d love to see some basic level design for 2.5D side scroller. A little modeling, a little texturing, a little shading. Something like this, maybe?…

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 11.32.05 AMAnyone agree? Disagree?? Let us know.


Milk is gross…but this Got Milk site is not

Sorry farmers, I just think its weird to drink anything from a cow. But someone might say the same for the half gallon of soy milk I chugged down in the past day. And I guess the California Milk Processor Board members who paid for this very cool 3D Flash site are realizing they need to do whatever they can to win over a younger generation that is feeling the same icky vibe about milk. And what else says “we’re cool” like a fancy Flash game. Here’s the site… GetTheGlass.com . Everything is very well done, but in particular I like the option to do a 3D spinaround to explore the island before playing. And I really liked how the dice bump off the entire stage in fullscreen mode.

3D Flash game site

Animate Pro test with “true 3D”…

Toon Boom Animate Pro Test: (with shameless self promotion )

Click to Play: Toon Boom Animate Pro Test: (with shameless self promotion )

Alrighty, this animation is my first real testing session with Animate Pro. I installed it a couple weeks ago and as quick as possible turned some jpgs on their sides, rotated on the x, y, & z just to see the promised “true” 3D that Pro boasted…. Well today I managed to find a few hours to myself to really do the program justice, and I’m very pleased how my first test project came out. 

Animate doesn’t have 3D Primitive shapes but faking one like the box in the animation above turned out to be very easy. I already had the art done for these boxes, so I just exported out a few JPGS, imported them into Animate Pro, and had the box assembled in less than 2 minutes. Even though I didn’t really need to do this I parented all symbols for each JPG, into a Peg Layer, and later into a Group for the Network (more on that later) 

The camera move was next. Basically the same setup as in the non-Pro version, except this time with 3D enabled so in the animation above its the camera thats turning (vs. the box art moving around). Only thing I cheated was the shadow, you’ll notice it starts and ends on both sides that the camera is facing. So it skews slightly from start to finish. 

Okay now the REALLY cool part about Pro that I discovered today ( but I know there’s more to be found) was the Network and Module Library. Together these two new windows really make me feel like the software is living up to the name “Pro” First timers to the program might find the Network window a little crazy, but once you get used to it, it is very simple. Or lets put it this way, if you have trouble connecting your DVD player to your TV, you might be confused by the Network. And thats probably a good way of describing this window. It connects together Effects, Cameras, Objects on stage, basically any kind of element you use in the animation and gives you a graphical network (hence the window name) to identify each thing and plug them together by dragging a line from one object to the next . So for example a Glow Effect would be connected to a symbol of a light bulb. PLug them together, the bulb glows. OR say you got your Glow Effect perfect but want to use it for a different object, then just drag a line from the Effect to that other object. Very quick and easy.

Click to embiggen: Network and Module Library are new additions

Click to embiggen: Network and Module Library are new additions

And yes, a free tutorial on everything I learned today, is in the works.

Oh and if you’re curious, there is a Gaming Package now. =)

Eep! The Animate Pro pre-order is close to expired…

Oops. I probably should have mentioned this sooner, Toon Boom is offering $1100 off the price of Animate Pro but for only another 24-48 hours. This is an awesome program. I’ve had a chance to use it already and tinkered with some of the 3D camera and object aspects, and was very impressed. So much so actually, that I had a kind of upper-downer moment where I sat around thinking I’ve been out of college for close to 10 years now and haven’t done any serious short animation. Should I have won an Oscar by now. Probably not. Should I have done ANYTHING by now. Probably definitely. That was the downer. The upper was that now that I’ve got some kick-ass animation software, its actually kicked me in the ass and I’ve already started story boarding something I want to produce in Animate Pro.

So think on it!

Animate Pro Preorder

Ivy $12.99, Sky Bus $5.07, Water Flow $8.11…


Does that title read like I’m a berserk hobo rattling off anything that comes to his mind?… Well, close. Those are some of the prices at Cornucopia3D.com where they’ve clearly pinpointed their profit margins down to the penny. For $8.10 they won’t be in-the-black selling 3D water. But for $8.11, its shoe shine time, baby!

Despite the weird pricing, I’m sure this is a very cool site. How can it not be! And what a great business model too. Create something one-time in a computer, then sell in duplicates for no extra cost. I’m jealous, I need something like that. =)

I bring up this site because Brad M. pointed out that the super cool Motor0la site mentioned here a few days ago, probably used a site like Cornucopia to quickly develop the very textured and detailed 3d city in their mini-site. And if thats the case, then more power to them.  I kinda forgot that sites like Cornucopia3D existed, and thats something to keep in mind if you ever get offered a job that seems above your 3d skill level. Of course just having access to already-made 3D objects isn’t a 100% shortcut, since there’s still lighting, animating, rendering, and more to be done. But still, its something to remember.

And speaking of remembering… with the help of Wikipedia, I’m reminded of a book I read in college called The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. And although I might have come across this Phil Dick book at my own pace, this one was actually required reading by The School of Visual Arts as part of a Science Fiction literature course. Which was an excellent course. I owe some thanks to the nice lady who taught it around 1997-98. But she owes me too, because I was usually the only student that read any of the books and talked in class (your welcome). Anyway, to the point…

Part of the book involved taking a hallucination that made you trip out and live in this mini little world. Actually, Wikipedia can describe it a bit better….

Most colonists entertain themselves using Barbie-like “Perky Pat” dolls and the multitude of accessories manufactured by Earth-based P.P. Layouts. The company also secretly creates Can-D, an illegal but widely available hallucinogen that allows the user to “translate” into Perky Pat (if the user is female) or her boyfriend Walt (if male). This allows colonists to experience an idealized version of life on Earth in a collective unconscious hallucination.

Actually, my explanation was better.  There was this whole collectors market for super detailed tiny items to trip-out with.  Just like dollhouse furniture, there were small microwaves to buy, couches, tables, etc. Obviously the price was to scale too. So the more unique or popular the minituarized-item, the more it cost relative to what everyone else could afford. An itsy bitsy convertible Porsche was still a luxury item since most people could only afford Saturn’s. So if you took this hallucinogen with your girlfriend, and “translated”  into your micro self, and all you had bought for your dollhouse was a couple folding chairs, that was a pretty unimpressive date. You still needed the  fast-car, the tiny restaurant to go to, the micro Lookout Point. Cool guys had entire worlds in their apartments, where they could race from one city to the next to entertain a woman.

Anyway, kudos to Phil Dick for in his own weird way predicting a subculture buying into the super Small, whether that be bits of music data, 3d cars, a new room in Second Life,  or even software tutorials. Its all crushable within your fingertips.

Give that book a read too. It might f*** ya up a little.

Perfect isometric 3D animation!

This animation, Subprime by Mike Winkelmann is amazing. Lets get that obvious comment out of the way. Please watch it because the still shots below do not do it justice and I think its important to understand what’s so unique about Subprime. But if you don’t get it just from watching it, here goes…

Mike’s camera is constantly swiveling around this iso-world, and YET the rules of iso-symmetry are somehow still VERY intact. What rules do I mean?… well, we all know on paper (or in your 2D illustration programs) isometric art conforms to an infinity parallel grid. So every iso-artist begins by drawing out a ton of diagonal straight lines that are equi-distant from each other and uses that as a guide for every line to follow. The Grid is God, whether or not it lives to be visible in the end of the piece, its still the law. And if you grew up playing Paperboy by Atari (or grew up centuries ago before artists used perspective lines) than you probably have some serious love for isometric art.  Which is why its so painfully ugly when its done wrong.

Remember this post I linked up a couple weeks ago about Comcast’s s**tty attempt at doing something similar. Kris left a comment that summed up better than I could what was so wrong about it…

…the real people/isometric idea is upsetting to me. Upsetting in a obsessive compulsive way. When one of the real people are at a slightly wrong angle, I just want to stick my hand through my monitor, grap them, and twist them so they look right. Unfortunatly, I didn’t lay down the dimensions in my pixel world, and in doing this I have now made a tree look like it’s at the wrong angle. So I twist that. Now the dog looks bad. So I….AAAAHHHGGGG!

Well put. When watching Subprime, I have zero urge to reach in there and force everything back to conforming to the Grid. And yet, if you told me before watching Mike’s incredible piece that some dude made an isometric world in 3D and spun the camera in circles the entire time, I’d be like “How can it NOT look f******?!”

What else raises the Love-Meter for me?… watching the transitions from constructing to deconstructing and back again are hypnotic. I’ve watched this 5 times already and it feels like a different animation each time. I haven’t worked in 3D in years but I know there’s no “magic button” for doing the things Mike has painstakingly crafted here.

Conclusion: I’m going to buy that house for sale at the end. Oops, spoiler.

Subprime (Isometric animation)