Mid-July 2019 Post

Well!  How is everyone today.  There’ve been some new developments in the world of projects and other works.  I did start another painting, but it’s not going quickly.  Here’s a WIP, colors are way off but, you know, WIP.  As you can see, it’s the same old stuff.

(Remember when I did the PaintBlogs?  I should really try another one of those, but I just don’t pick up the brush that often.)

The animation project mentioned last month is still proceeding, with more sequences done and artwork created.  There’s a Vegas project going that already has the opening pretty well mapped-out, but that’s still evolving (sigh).

I heard of a fun contest which I’m going to enter.  I’d show you the latest stage, but as it’s a contest I’m not sure I can.  No hope of winning, but it’s fun to work on.

Also, the air-conditioning has been fixed, so I shouldn’t have to suffer either temperature-wise or financially.  Always a plus!

So, keeping busy and trying to keep comfortable.  And I won’t bother you with the health worries.  Thanks for stopping by, and I may see you later this month.

June 2019

So, it’s the end of June.  How are things progressing?  Well, the script group is kind of in endless rehash mode, but I’ve got five scripts in various stages, so there’s that.

The editing thing has been abandoned.  I’ve been working too much on my own stuff, which is the ambitious animation.  I’ve got several sequences finished, and will probably be able to post a “part one” in July.  Here’s a shot of an impact crater, cobbled together from a dozen or so different images.

Also, met an interesting person.  Possibly more to say on that later.

As always, thank you for stopping by.

May 2019

Well, I see it’s time for the monthly update.  Well, I’ve got four projects in various stages of completion (none of them really close to that, though).

One is a script for a group, and I’ve kind of soured on it.  Sometimes shorter is worse.

The second is a possible edit for a film for the same group.  Barely started on this, already thinking it’s futile.

Third up is a new painting, which has already stalled.

Finally, we have a new animation that may be too ambitious for me.  Haven’t done much lately on that, but it’s still in place.

So, that’s that.  I hope to update this more regularly, but we’ll have to see.  As always, thanks for stopping by.

Stupid Flash Tricks, Part 3

Well, I finished up another Flash project–basically conceived and finished in ten days time.  Considering the last one took weeks, I’d say that’s some kind of progress.  Unlike the last two, everything (except for the audio) in this one was created entirely in Flash itself, with no PhotoShop imports.  Flash is still very primitive as a paint program, but I am slowly figuring out how to do things in Flash…something I never thought I’d say.  It’s nice to feel that I can do good work quickly–a nice feeling of accomplishment.

Here are some stills:

And the entire thing can be found here.

See you later, and thanks for stopping by.

Stupid Flash Tricks, Part 2

Hello!  I hope everyone had a good Christmas and is looking forward to the new year.

I believe the first entry in this “Stupid Flash Tricks” series was over a dozen years ago  (I’m not going to look it up).  Since that time, Adobe’s Flash animation package has gone from ubiquitous hero of the internet to abandoned pariah, with some browsers (Google Chrome) saying they will no longer support it.

Naturally, this is the time I choose to decide I need to attempt to learn it again.  Much like PhotoShop, once you gain a slight understanding of how Flash works, you can appreciate the difficult curve you just rounded.  Unlike PhotoShop, though, Flash remains obstinate in its refusal to cooperate.   An errant mouse-click can undo all manner of carefully arranged work.  Things seem designed specifically to be time-consuming and confusing, precision is an absolute must, and in two key areas of film–sound and editing–it remains bafflingly primitive and difficult.

Sound–better have the sound just the way you like it before you import it into a project, because there’s no way to edit that sound in Flash itself.  Yes, you can’t even change the volume if it’s too loud.*

Editing–movies are made by shooting one scene, then another, and so on until you have the footage you want.  You then edit these scenes together to tell the story.  Within Flash, the only way to combine two different scenes (i.e., two separate animated scenes) is to sweep your mouse across all the frames in your second scene, copy them, open the first scene, and paste them into the frames after the first scene ends.*

Anyway, despite that, here‘s my latest Flash project, that I’ve been working on for ages.

   

It’s called “Look at me,” from the only line of dialogue in the whole thing.  Enjoy!  And as always, thanks for visiting.  Happy New Year!

*As indicated, I’m still strictly a novice in Flash, so there may be ways to do these things within Flash itself.  However, I did search for those ways diligently, and found nothing.   Third-party solutions are no way to go through life, son, but they do allow one to work.

ND Photography

“ND” refers to “Neutral Density” filters.  These are varying densities of gray, designed to block varying amounts of light in order to have long exposures during the daylight.  Normally, having an exposure time of 4 seconds or so would just give you a blank white image; that amount of time in sunlight would just saturate the camera’s CCD.  ND filters are designed to counter that.

The two most prevalent types of images taken with ND filters are those of running, foaming water (it gives the water a misty, dream-like look) and public attractions like monuments (long exposures mean that the people milling around never stay in one place long enough to register on the image).

You can find an excellent article on using ND filters here.  That same article also discusses a different way to get the same result–by using two polarizing filters, a circular one attached to the lens, and a linear one attached to that filter.  That gives one a bit more flexibility than a standard ND filter, which is usually a single strength.

So having read the article, I decided to try my hand at it.  My camera is a Nikon D70, and my lens is a Quantaray 18-200 zoom.  The filters are Kenko (linear) and Promaster (circular).  Of course, all of the shots below were taken using a tripod.  I couldn’t think of any local monuments, and I also couldn’t remember any areas with interesting running water, but I chose the latter nonetheless.  None of the shots below have been enhanced in any way.

The above was taken with the camera on Auto.  Exposure 1/125, F/5.6.  Below is the same area, also at F/5.6 but with an exposure time of 4 seconds.

In addition to making bubbly water mist-like, it can also smooth water surfaces.  Below, an “Auto” shot at F/5.6 and 1/125.

The same shot (slightly reframed, mostly via zoom) at 4 seconds, and F/32.

The reason for the reframing was (I think) something to do with the angle of the light.  Because when I tried to do the ND shot with the original framing (20 seconds at F/11) I got this–

–which is, in its own way, quite lovely but not really what I wanted.  Even messing with it in PhotoShop* didn’t really get me what I wanted.

So, it’s definitely not an exact science.  Which is one of the nice things about digital cameras–mistakes don’t cost you anything, and in fact are a good learning experience.

A few more examples below.

6 seconds at F/9:

20 seconds at F/16:

20 seconds at F/18 (slightly tweaked in PhotoShop for exposure):

15 seconds at F/20:

Now, to find some waterfalls…

Thank you as always for stopping by.

*The folks referenced in the link above make a really nice image editor called Zoner Photo Studio.  It has a lot of the same functionality as PhotoShop but is a lot less expensive.  It’s well worth checking out; alas, I’m pretty well wedded to PhotoShop for the foreseeable future…but I do have a copy of Zoner.  Who knows what might happen in the future?

Pipe Dream

Apparently there’s another rumor floating around that I’m dead.  Well, damn it, I’m not dead yet.  One of these days, though, I will be and you’ll be sorry that you laughed with me all cold and blue and rotting and starting to stink and hungering for brains.  Better shovel me into the trash when you can!  HEY WAIT STOP I MEANT WHEN I’M DEAD.

Anyway, here are some photos from the half-pipe that I built all by my lonesome.  The first photo shows the five pieces after they were cobbled together, but before they were assembled into one monstrous organism.   

Each of the end pieces (the two curved sections) is actually made of two parts, that haven’t yet been shackled together into oneness or something hippie-esque or equally unpleasant and in need of bathing.

In the shot below, the plastic covering has been put under the wooden bits, and they’ve all been assembled into one coalescent being.  The plastic is there to prevent moisture, grubs, worms and HORRIFYING ZOMBIES from damaging stuff that shouldn’t be damaged.  Mostly I like the angle on this one…

…because the picture below pretty much shows the same thing. 

Below, you can see the plywood flooring applied, as well as the plastic tubing stuff that goes at the top so, um, the, er, plastic tubing stuff can work.  And stuff.  And like that.

Finally, below is the finished product with the back fence-things applied.  AND IT WAS DONE AND FINISHED AND THE LORD DID SPAKE AND SAY YEA IT IS GOOD, THAT THING YOU DID, THERE.  AWESOME DUDE.

And I am still amazingly sore in all available limbs.  But not that sore GET THOSE SHOVELS OUT OF MY SIGHT!

So, I built a half-pipe.  And I lived to tell the tale.  (Soon to be an epic poem by Coleridge.) And yeah, sure, I’ll build one for you, too.

For fifty thousand dollarsHeh heh heh.

Just kidding.  I wouldn’t charge that much, and I’d never build another one anyway.

Speaking of anyway, next we’ll have more anime stuff!  Thanks for visiting, as always, and as always, GET THOSE SHOVELS AWAY FROM ME YOU OVERZEALOUS GHOULS!  Can’t a guy rot in peace?