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The modo 601 shader tree can be a very powerful tool once that power is unlocked. Combined with the vast array of procedural textures that modo ships with, the shader tree allows for the possibility of adding untold realism to your CG creations without the limitations often associated with traditional texturing methods. To that end, I have created a new video with which you will go deep into the processes which make the shader tree such a powerful tool, and learn how you can take advantage of it to add incredible detail, weathering and realism to anything you wish to create!
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Following up on the email I sent out concerning forgetting the rules, I really did something. After looking at the little clips and shorts that Kevin "Q" Quattro had done, I really got inspired. For those who were unable to find his Youtube page, you can search under the name "pixelsmack". His short videos and animations are sometimes funny, sometimes serious, sometimes just expressing an idea. It's the idea that's the important thing. With that in mind, I decided to just make something.
You can see it on its own media page by clicking here.
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As mentioned in the previous two posts, I have arrived in a new place and have opened the door to the possibility of new focus on my projects. In celebration of this new beginning, I am starting the Autumn Super Sale which gives you outrageous discounts on everything available here.
This sale gives you 50% off most items in the store, with some specials, like Final Independent Animation Training , the best course there is for learning how to draw anime, over 66% off! Take advantage of this incredible sale while it lasts and get the training to help you get your projects done today!
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Secondly, as some already know, there is the modo 601 Interior Lighting and Scene Setups video. This video is both about how quickly you can setup scenes due to the speed of using the modo content library and bringing dynamic realism to your scenes through lighting. You can see that trailer here.
That's not the only new thing to report though. As mentioned in the last Indiegen video, I have once again returned to Guizhou Province in the south of China and Dede and I have found a new place to setup shop and really begin focusing on my projects. This place is amazing and the environment is very conducive to creative endeavors. The cost of living is so inexpensive that it makes the independent life a true dream.
As you can see from the trees outside the window, this place in not in a huge city like Shanghai. It's not exactly out in the country, but probably as close as you can get and still have all the comforts of modern life. With the rent being $110 USD for a fully furnished, 3 bedroom apartment, with a patio we can barbecue on, you can imagine why I am so excited about the future I can create here. That, of course, is not all.
I finally have my own perfect little space which I can setup to be my studio. There's not much there now, aside from the cool desk and shelves built into the wall, but of course I will deck this place out with everything I need to make the shows I want to make and continue to show you how to draw anime. One of the things I will surely be decking this place out with is the Samsung 10.1 inch Galaxy Note.
With this tablet solution, I won't be limited to working at my desk of course. I will be able to work anywhere. With the 3G model, that anywhere means staying connected while doing so. I guess I wouldn't be able to keep making updates to this site from out in the field, since I use Apple specific software for that, but I can do just about anything else I want for that. Who knows? Like I did in Korea, I may add a web based way to continue to add updates as was done while I was in Korea. Now that I think about it, there is a software extension to this web design tool that allows that. That is something to worry about later though. Right now, I am basking in the delight of new things, starting anew on ld projects, and creating a new life!
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This is something that has been a long time coming. modo 601 has finally given me the tools I need to really do the projects I was meant to do. After floundering around on the best technique with which to create Paragon, I can finally say I have found it! Even though modo 601 was release back in March, it took some time for me to really grasp all that this release meant. It meant being able to go back to the ways of Chaos. It meant being able to do all that was possible back then and more. Look for another Indiegen video with further explanation of all that is happening now.
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I believe in taking risks. I obviously took a big risk in coming out here in the first place. I am not just talking about coming to China, but leaving California in itself, as I did four years ago, and traveling around seeking my dream. I feel like I possibly allowed that adventurous spirit to get lost somewhere. I forgot my PURPOSE. I got too settled into things which, in the end, were not MINE. The result, as always, was that my true projects were not getting made.
Here is something interesting. Over a year ago, in the first post on this new site, I wrote, "I remembered days gone by when I just did my thing, and didn’t spend all my time on the internet, posting in forums, chasing down leads, managing ad campaigns, or worrying about internet marketing. I am still quite certain I never want to get back into that. I just want to create. I have stories to tell, and images to get out of my head and onto the screen." Nothing has changed since then, as far as my feeling, but part of the problem is also that NOTHING HAS CHANGED. This means I am still doing those things I supposedly never wanted to do.
In the second post on this new site, still over a year ago, I talked about media. I said I am an artist and that I want to create. My plan was to populate this site with media. The problem is, aside from GMO Shoujo and the first chapter of Paragon, that media page has not changed much in the year since I wrote that. What happened?! I suppose I could make a million excuses, but none of that matters now. The point is that IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. I didn't create. The media page did not get populated. I let things get in the way.
The solution to Paragon is simple. I wrote in the production blog for that show that, since modo 601 has introduced all the character animation and cel shading tools, that would allow me to do everything that was done back in the days of Understanding Chaos, Paragon will be done with this technique and no other. I spent enough time waffling on the best way to get that project underway. The best way to get any project underway is to GET THE PROJECT UNDERWAY. Task a risk. Stop thinking. Start doing. I write this as much for myself as for any reader.
As you might be able to tell from my writing I am very unhappy right now. That is why I am going to take another risk. I am going to make a big change. I am going to try something new. If I don't go down in flames, then it will mean this site can finally become what it should have always been. I can fill in that gaps that have been missing for the last few years and, wasting no further time, begin populating this site with the content that those readers who still come here looking for something can appreciate and then SHOW HOW IT WAS DONE. I remember that mission. That is how it began with Understanding Chaos. That is also how it will end.
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I am very excited about what has been happening over these last several weeks, but the things I foresee coming, in the next few weeks, are even more exciting, possibly challenging and, like my explanations of my experiences when I was actually there, more mind expanding!
Remember, back then I said the experience was life changing. I found I had less interest in the things that used to clamor for my attention. I found myself wanting something different from life, from work, from everything. Now, it seems, some of those desires are actually coming to pass.
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Only 2 days remain for you to get Final Independent Animation Training, and learn how to draw anime, at this incredible discount! Chances are it will never be offered at such a steep discount again. Don't miss out on this chance to experience over 50 hours of animation training, giving you everything you need to know to get your project made. Time is swiftly running out! Get it today!
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Only 3 days remain for you to get Final Independent Animation Training, the only course that will teach you everything about how to draw anime and make a complete show, at this incredible discount! Chances are it will never be offered at such a steep discount again. Don't miss out on this chance to experience over 50 hours of animation training, giving you everything you need to know to get your project made. Get it today!
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I have learned an incredible amount just this year and I am still learning. The evolution of my own production processes and those I have learned working with teams here in China will surely change the way I do things forever. Some of these things will be elaborated on in my Indiegen video casts. Others may appear in the Paragon production blogs. Still, others may appear in a new book, an update to Animation on a Shoestring, if you will, for our new, highly mobile world.
I have high hopes for the independent future. In fact, I see it as the only future for the creatives of our generation. Join me in making that future draw nearer to us everyday! I look forward to the amazing things that are coming.
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Here in the first, though it very well may also be the last, video blog segment, I talk about the E3 debut game titles Watchdogs and Last of Us, and what we as independent creators can learn from them for our own creations. Unfortunately, getting this simple little video done was the biggest hassle I have ever experienced in my life. You can hear some of the noise I experience even in the video. Getting it edited was another story, though. The noise was such that I could barely hear myself think. We will see if there will ever be anymore.
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I read an article once that said that no other species on the planet has to PAY to live here. The world has been so organized that any normal man or woman needs a considerable amount of money to live anything approaching a happy or even normal life. We live in a world which is disconnected. People don't know their own neighbors and some don't even know their own family. I was completely a part of that world some years ago. Things changed when I began to travel and see a different world.
In my travels I came across simple villages where people still lived in a manner approaching the ancient ways. I saw people who grew their own plants, and washed them in the river, a river so clean and clear you could see to the very bottom. People were truly alive and happy in a way that I never saw back home. This literally made back home feel like The Walking Dead. You know what I mean by that. People in the west go about their routines and their lives like it were little more than a slightly interactive video game.
What brought me to these thoughts? WINE! Seriously, though, I was trying to record some videos this weekend. You know, the videos I said would soon replace my writing on this blog. Well, on the first day, I went to the office, with the idea that it would be relatively quiet on a Saturday and I could quickly get things done. I was wrong. I arrived only to find a number of people there, playing games, watching movies, loudly and talking and laughing. Disappointed, I left in a matter of minutes and returned home to sleep, feeling I had no place in the world.
Today I decided again to give things ago. This time I would forsake going to the office and just do it in home. It is summer now, and closing all the windows and turning off all fans and air conditioners for the purpose of recording was only the beginning of sorrows. Before getting a minute into the first video I began sweating visibly. Halfway through the recording, it seemed a construction crew decided to rebuild parts of building in which I lived. I am not exaggerating when I say that. Drilling, hammering, sawing and every other manner of sounds one associates with throwing up a new building destroyed all chances of continuing. I won't even get into the noise from traffic and the never ending stream of fireworks, even though there is no special event I am aware of.
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I APPLAUD THIS SENTIMENT! Now, don't get me wrong, there are a lot of rumors going around, even such that he chose to resign simply to avoid being fired. It has also been suggested that he commanded a $2 million per year salary, which led to the corporate bean counters wanting to axe him. I have even read comments to the effect that the company had been doing everything in their power to make life miserable for the "old guard" or veteran employees, in the hopes that they would leave. I am, of course, no stranger to this idea.
I read that Keane spoke of his future plans in a video, saying about the famous Disney traditional look, “It’s a style that looks that way because of a technical limitation.” He goes on to say, “I thought if I ever get a chance, I want to animate something where my original drawing stays on the screen.” My own sincere hope is that he goes off and does something Bill Plympton style, rough lines and all, that is ENTIRELY HIS OWN CREATION. Can you imagine what GREATNESS, what ARTFULNESS, what CREATIVITY... I truly want to see that.
There is really something to that line of his about animation being that ultimate art form with endless territories. I fully intend to explore these territories myself. Those video updates I mentioned will be forthcoming, and projects like the one above will be explained. More importantly, though, something about this Glen Keane story has really inspired me to EXPLORE those territories rather than just talk about it.
I have seen comments on the internet that suggest some fans desire him to follow Chris Sanders, the director known for Lilo & Stitch who left Disney and found himself at Dreamworks Animation doing How to Train Your Dragon. As much as I love that movie, the last thing I want to see is Glen Keane going into that company and doing 3D. I want to, like he said, see his original drawings on the screen!
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So why haven't I been writing? Well, perhaps that fire has gone out. Back in the old days, when I populated my previous blog with over one thousand articles, there was a fire behind that writing and it flowed so naturally. I never had to think about writing. I never had to think that I should write. I simply did it and, at the time, I had a lot to say. I remember I would even, while coming back from work at UFO, stop in my favorite Thai bar and post to my blog from my Sony PSP. Nowadays, though, I sit down on this blog and I feel I have absolutely nothing to say, at least that I want to write. As such, this may be my last post.
You know? People's interests change over time. As you know, I have been traveling for four years now. I've been through the Philippines, Korea, Japan and now China. Throughout this journey I have had many experiences, met many new and different types of people, and seen many things I could scarcely imagine before my departure. As a result, the things I was interested in back then hold little, if any, value to me today.
Let's talk about the iPhone. I got the first one that came out back in 2007. I even waited in the long lines which wrapped around buildings. At the time it really seemed worth it and, for a while, it was the coolest device I had ever owned. I did everything on it, even work on my site. Some may remember I had another site devoted to creating comics specifically for the iPhone screen. Two of those comics still survive in the media section on this site. As they say, though, all good things...
I should note that I am not knocking these devices. I still like gadgets and technology. I am particularly interested in tablets these days, especially if I can draw well on one of them. That fire, however, is not like it was when these two devices first came out and totally captivated me. I would not, again, consider creating content specific to a device like that. Who wants to bank on a device that may not even be here two years from now?
So what do these examples have to do with my writing? Well, in the same vein, my experiences during my travels, and the slight shifts in perception that come with them, had the same effect on my writing as on the toys I once loved. I would say the biggest shift was getting into Facebook. That was probably the beginning of the end for my writing. I spent so much time on there and was so connected with everyone it seemed only natural to update through those little one line status blurbs rather than writing a blog. Of course, now I no longer have access to Facebook, so once again I see how it is such a waste to get attached to any of these things.
After I arrived in China and new things were happening every day, I thought I would be excited to write about it, but that was not the case. Everything had already changed. The writing fire simply wasn't there. Maybe if I had a Twitter account I would throw little blurbs on there, but true blogging was no longer in me.
So what, then am I interested in?! Well, one thing I am certainly interested in is video. I may very well continue updating this site through the use of video. This may come in the form of a series like Anigen, my first series made to teach you how to make anime, or simple video updates, tips and information like the clips I do on Japancast.net. So I didn't mean to imply there would be no more updates to this site. I suspect they will simply be approached differently. Aside from that, I am very interested in drawing!
I have been drawing more in recent weeks than I have been in the last four years it seems. A lot of that is for the development of Paragon, but that is not the only project in the works at the moment. I am actually quite surprised how much I have still to learn as an artist. I am discovering great new things to this day. I suspect I will continue to make discoveries the more I create. I feel a challenge in it, and that is exciting. It makes me want to create more.
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After seeing the Japanese live action production of Space Battleship Yamato, based on the 1974 anime TV series marketed in the west under the title Star Blazers, I hope to never again see a Hollywood remake of any anime show. I know there are a few either in the works or rumored. The previous efforts by Hollywood to turn anime into big screen western entertainment, such as Dragonball Evolution were dismal failures on so many levels. Recent Japanese efforts, though, have more than proven that they have the technology to do their own projects as live action, and do them very well.
I just watched the Space Battleship Yamato film earlier today. This film is of great importance to me because I was really sucked into the original 1974 series, though I saw the heavily edited english dubbed version Star Blazers. It wasn't until many years later, around university time that I saw the second animated film. You can imagine what it was like to see the sequence of the Yamato launching from the water, while that original theme song played, after not having seen the show in over a decade. Now, still many years later, I see this live action version, and again hear that amazing theme song and watch a realistic, live action Yamato launch from the scorched earth and fire the wave motion gun. It felt like I was a kid again!
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This is not to say I have anything against video. I very much enjoy making videos and some things are certainly better demonstrated by video. If, for example, you wanted to learn how to draw, watching a video or a show like The Joy of Painting, will take you further than reading about it, even if the book has pictures. Learning 3D software by way of training videos serves far better than the manual in almost every case. There is no question that video is better for a number of things, but that's not what I am really talking about either.
With the partial exception of mainstream news, we have seen blogging and article writing descend into tweets and Facebook updates. We are seeing video pop up everywhere and it seems there is no one without a Youtube channel these days. We also have more people consuming online information via their smart phones or tablets. Everything is becoming instant and bite sized and few seem to take the time, or even have the time, to sit and read anything.
All of this makes me think about how I convey information here, and whether or not this site would be better served by making the move to video. This doesn't mean going so much in the direction of the original Anigen, a series built to teach you how to make anime, but perhaps something a bit similar, a way to disseminate the information, tools and techniques to readers, or viewers, and meet them where they are. If viewers would, in fact, rather watch a quick three minute video clip, than read a long and informative article, I would certainly prefer to make said video clip. In fact, I've been doing it already, as can be seen by the clips I do on the Japancast.net video episodes.
It seems that with the Youtube generation, there just isn't a lot of reading going on. The comics industry has been steadily declining and viewership on animated content has never faltered. Even comics in the digital realm, now revitalized on tablets like the iPad, are trying to add elements of sound and motion. What does that say about simple reading? Well, we all know there are different audiences for different mediums and the success of independent authors on Kindle shows that there are clearly people with no interest in mainstream books that will come out in droves for something more catered to their tastes. Still, that's not the internet, which is where we are now. It seems that video may rule the roost when it comes to web, mobile and tablet content. Am I wrong?
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I wrote before about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 inch tablet and my desire to draw on such devices, considering my experiences on the Mirage Nomad tablet I used in the days of Anigen. That tablet is, however, not out yet, and I certainly wouldn't want to postpone drawing until it should arrive. I however, was not entirely happy with the small tablet I had been using. It was great for its mobility and easily transportable in my bag as I travelled, but the drawings I was producing on it were not up the quality I desired, certainly not compared to what I could do on paper.
I may have mentioned sometime ago that Wacom invited me to test the Inkling some months before its release. As a thanks for that testing they gave me a much larger Bamboo than what I had been using. Since mine was also near 4 years old, the newer Bamboo featured 1025 levels of pressure, as opposed to 256 and a larger 16x9 drawing area. I hadn't really used it much though.
Recently I decided to bring it out and develop what I could on it. Thinking about what Robert Rodriguez would say, you have to make the show you can with the tools you have, right? So I began to practice, and every day I improved a little. Now I am quite satisfied with the drawings and animation I can do on this new tablet. My speed is increasing as well. It makes a big difference in my creative process. Thanks to the new brushes I have been exploring in TVPaint, I am even developing new methods of drawing and painting backgrounds which I had not delved into before and I am happy with the results.
While I agree with the sentiment that one must make the best show they can with what they have. There is some measure by which you must have the right tools. Nothing could, for example, make me be satisfied with the drawings done on that small, old tablet. And one does need to be happy with their creation if a project is ever to get finished. While waiting for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 inch tablet may not be advised, sometimes it can be beneficial to at least wait for something that is good enough.
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One of the things I have spent some time working on lately was backgrounds. I wanted to develop a method that had a nice look and was a good fit for the type of animation I desire to do. With that in mind, I began further exploring the painting tools. Of course, I knew where they all were and how they worked, so I proceeded to simply use them and work on developing my skill rather than worry about tools. What that meant, though, is that I didn't check for new tools.
Having some time on my hands today, I decided to continue my practice. Aside from the default tools, there were a couple of natural media style brushes that I used from the custom panel. Today, though, I noticed one of them was not there! Eventually I found that it was still there, it had simply been renamed and had a new icon. Noticing this, though, also led me to see that there were many new brushes of which I was wholly unaware. I began testing them.
Many of the new painting tools deliver the most natural and realistic effect I have ever seen in digital painting. It reminds of an old TV show I used to watch called The Joy of Painting. I learned many techniques that I continue to use in my own painting from that guy with the afro on the program. The most interesting thing is, for the first time since I have been using digital painting programs, these techniques really work just as they did in the real world! Had I not taken the time to just experiment and try these things, I would never have found this out. It really pays to explore your software and find out all of the cool things it can do. Don't get too set in your ways or your own workflows. There is always something new to learn!
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The mass media infects people with ideas, whether they be true or not, that are difficult to get out of their heads. Even when those same media outlets retract their negative stories, or they are proven to be outright fabrications, the damage has already been done. Those who wish to believe the original negative story will continue to do so. They would rather follow sensationalist hype rather than listen to the experience of someone on the ground, who has been there. All the writing in forums, even with pictures, is never going to change that.
There really is only one way to counter this. That is to show a new image through art. It won't happen writing in forums and arguing the points with people there. One has to create something. That is what I hope to do. What I have to say, I will say here. What I have to show, I will show right here. Those who come here and read may find something new and counter to the information often presented out there. I am no longer, however, going to chase people down and try to show them what's out there. Those who wish to follow and validate their outmoded beliefs will continue to do so regardless of where I meet them. Those who wish to see another picture may find it here.
In my next project, I will begin to show some of the things I have experienced, and present some of the images I have seen. I want to show the character and heart of the people and places I have visited and lived. Animation is a great way to do that. Even with my current project, Paragon, which is undergoing some change at the moment, some of these ideas may be injected into it, because they are so close to me. As much as I like to write, I feel it serves so little purpose, and from now on will only so so here. I welcome those who continue to read.
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To look at this image and just imagine seeing it in motion, with the same quality of motion seen in the Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoons, which was often choreographed based on real martial arts experts, gets my blood racing. This would be a show that I rush to see, like when, as a child, I would race my bike at top speed to get home in time to see Robotech on TV. I miss that feeling. I haven't felt that way about a show in ages. Maybe that means something. If I can imagine a show we don't have and wish for it, maybe that gives a bit of insight into where my own creative passions lie. This is not to say I have to, or even want to, do a Star Wars cartoon. The elements I mention, which get me so excited, can be applied to any cool science fiction or fantasy show. The idea is merely a starting point.
As I am sure you know, Katsuhiro Otomo, when he started his master work Akira, began with the idea to do his version of the old popular showTetsujin 28. His character Tetsuo, which means iron man just like tetsujin, even had the number 28 stamped on his arm. Still, Akira became its own entity and grew into something wholly different from what he originally envisioned. His own creative spirit came in and drove things in a new direction. Perhaps this is another means by which inspiration works. Who knows? Since I am in China, maybe I can find a martial arts expert or two to shoot some video reference for me!
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It really is starting to seem like this is the tablet to get, for now, but my main reason for getting any tablet is to be able to draw on the go, like having a real sketchpad, and ditch lugging around the laptop. What I mean by this is that if you remove the pressure sensitive stylus, and any real drawing features, I would surely get an iPad too.
The reality of my situation is that I am not going to take my laptop everywhere I go. I don't even want to. I use it at home and I use it in the office, but if I am taking a bus to the country to visit people, the laptop is not going with me. A tablet, however, would! Also, once you add the need for a separate wacom tablet to the laptop, it is no longer as portable as one may think. I use it set up on my desk in one spot. I couldn't lounge around in the living room and draw if I chose to. Lately, I have been doing that with a pencil and sketchpad. The tablet would open these doors as well.
I would love if the tablet had phone features as well, eliminating yet another device to carry around, but it has already been stated the new Galaxy Note will not have this. Samsung appears to be positioning this as their iPad Killer, and their reaction to Apple CEO Tim Cook's remarks against Android tablets indicates they are certainly concerned about this competition. Every Android manufacturer is really. HTC added a pressure sensitive stylus to their Flyer and, from what I read, it didn't go over very well. From my standpoint, as an artist, any 7" tablet is just too small.
Somewhere I read that Wacom themselves will be jumping into the fray with tablet really targeted at artists. Considering Wacom's track record, I imagine this one will be one to watch, but I also imagine it will be priced well out of the range of most users, who likely wish to combine the artist friendly features with those of other tablets on the market. No matter what features one throws on a tablet, once the price starts going over $500, people will begin to question how useful this device is, and will certainly measure it up against the iPad. One of the greatest arguments of competitors to Apple in the past has always been that they offer more features and functionality for a lower price point that Apple's expensive products. Some of these Android tablets seems to have completely forgotten that. Very few people will buy a $1000 tablet when all the marketing messages are sticking the name "iPad" in their head before all others.
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For nearly ten years now modo has been a big part of my overall workflow. This is apparent in both my Final Independent Animation Training as well as my Anigen Final Secrets method of creating animation, both of which involve the use of this tool. It all started because of a project I was working on all those years ago, called Daniel: Visions and Dreams. At the time I was using a different toolset for creating models and ran into some issues with a temple I needed to build for one scene. I just couldn't do it. With little to lose, I decided to give it a try in that first version of modo and was met with shock. This model, which was giving me so much trouble, and which I couldn't wrap my head around, just happened in a few minutes. The toolset in modo was that different!
Now, so many years later, we arrive at modo 601, which has to be the most comprehensive upgrade to this software yet. Gone are the days of modo being a simple modeler and renderer. Over time we have seen the addition of complex environments, sculpting, an animation timeline and the famous replicators. Now they have gone even further with the addition of bones and character animation tools, volumetric effects, particles and even dynamics. This puts modo in the big leagues, right up there with the major players in the industry.
I haven't personally tested these new features, but on paper it seems there is little lacking to make modo a possible tool of choice for all of one's 3D animation needs. Of course, we live in an age, now, where using many different software packages to achieve the final result is common. That doesn't mean it wouldn't be great to see some of those tools fall by the wayside. For me, one tool which may be falling out of use will be Vue Infinite.
For years, I absolutely loved Vue Infinite and the power it gave me to create natural scenery, especially for the fantasy style backgrounds I like to do in animation. Still, it was one more tool adding complexity to the workflow. When they came out with version 6, which introduced the amazing clouds, which had a look that always reminded me of the skies in Macross Plus, I was hooked. Great as the results were, though, Vue was far from easy, and certainly never fast. Over time, as you can see in my modo nature video tutorial, modo began to add the tools which created fewer and fewer reasons to go to Vue. Now, in modo 601, they have gone over the top.
The new volumetric rendering engine has brought amazing looking clouds to modo. Of course, it doesn't stop there. The new volumetric rendering in modo is in combination with replicators and their new particle engine. This means you can do smoke, fire, and many other fully animated effects which are not as easily achieved in Vue. When you look at what is possible with modo's surfacing, via the shader tree, the replicators, the environment system and now with real volumetric rendering, you can actually do more than was possible in Vue and you don't have to deal with the incredibly slow renders or flickering.
Needless to say, I am very excited about the new modo 601, even if just for what can be done on the nature side of things, or for backgrounds. When you factor in the new developments in character animation, who knows where this can all go? I haven't actually played with it myself though, so we will see how things develop in the near future.
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As I am sure you know, especially if you want to learn how to make anime, my Anigen Final Secrets video delivers the fastest, easiest and most versatile system for creating high quality animation that I have ever developed. Still, what if there was a way to add even more power to this amazing technique? Well, there is, and it is not anywhere near as expensive as one might think.
I have been hearing about Microsoft Kinect for some time, but I never really took the time to look into it deeply. I had even heard it was used for low cost motion capture, but I had no idea how low, or just what was really involved. Now that I have looked into it, the results I have discovered are nothing short of amazing.
The Kinect device itself is something of an innovation in its own right. I was surprised to learn that its original purpose wasn't really for motion capture per se, but as a type of human movement driven game controller for the Microsoft XBox 360. Basically a player could stand before this device and their on screen character would copy their motions in realtime. You can imagine how this might work for a boxing or tennis type game. Apparently, many people imagined this because it sold something like 10 million units in a very short time, becoming the fastest selling consumer electronics product in the world.
Someone at the company Ipi Soft, however, saw a different possibility with this machine. They saw a means by which you could use this device to do motion capture, without the need of spandex suits and markers, and without multiple, expensive infrared cameras. With this one device, and their software, you are ready to go, and you see your results in realtime! They export to all the popular mocap file formats and it works in just about any tool you might want to use, including Poser or even the free Blender. Imagine what this means for the world of independent content creation and those who want to learn how to make anime! The techniques of Anigen Final Secrets, combined with the most affordable mocap system ever devised is a sure win!
When I talk about affordable, this Kinect device costs around $150 USD. The software, which does have a 30 day free trial, ranges from $395 to $895 depending on which version you need. That's it! You are up and running with your own motion capture studio! They call it motion capture for the masses and it seems they are not kidding. Go to Youtube and search Kinect Motion capture and you will see plenty of samples of what is possible. This is really the future. You don't need millions of dollars or major studio backing. This statement couldn't be more true than it is today!
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Back in the office, I can begin to think about the next steps, and here I will try to give you a rundown of some of the things I am contemplating, and some of the motions I intend to make. The first on that list is Paragon. New technology has made it possible to achieve an even higher quality that I originally envisioned for this show. That technology is Poser Pro 2012. The new innovations in this software will bring a lot to the table. Those following the Paragon production blog will so more on that as it develops.
The budget for this show, through the crowd funding website, did not reach where I had hoped, but that is not going to stop this production by any means. I have always said you don't need millions of dollars or major studio backing, and I am going to continue to prove this to be true, producing the best show that can be done with the available resources. It does mean I will have to intersperse its creation with other projects and time in the office, but doesn't that seem to be the way labors of love always work out? Either way, there are no limits today, only time.
There certainly are no limits when it comes to technology, and that brings me to my next issue. As you well know, the iPad started something of a tablet revolution and now every major electronics manufacturer has some form of tablet based product. Among those, that majority of which are very similar to the Apple model, are a couple which sport pressure sensitive pens, much like the Wacom tablets or Tablet PCs of old. You may remember the days when I was constantly drawing on my "Mirage Nomad" Tablet PC. Even though these modern tablets are underpowered compared to todays desktops and laptops, I suspect they might perform well against that older computer, and I want to put this to the test.
So what exactly will I be drawing on this tablet? Well, that gets into future projects, not the least of which will involve the things I have seen and experienced during my travels. The ideas and inspirations which have come to me as a result of my journey must be put to the screen. Of course, this will take time, but I am excited at all the new possibilities. On one hand, I honestly feel that something was lost upon my return to so-called "normal life". Still, I know there is a lot to be gained in getting down to some serious production and creating new things.
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I stood in a village, high among the clouds, and wondered what life was really about...
INSPIRATION PART II
If there is one thing these experiences have given me, it is focus. I like to call it creative focus. I can see so clearly how to apply my skills for best results rather than dissipate them on too many endeavors. I can see more clearly what I must create, and that I must create to find any sort of fulfillment. Although there may be pockets of fulfillment in all corners of life, things must eventually narrow down to that one main goal, that one thing that you know is your task. When you have discovered it, this is the thing you must devote yourself to fully.
My time in this fantasy world, and in this unreal life, will soon come to an end. I will be back in Shanghai among the maze of great skyscrapers, video screens and gadgets in every hand. I will not, however, be the same person that walked those streets before. I am more focused, and with new goals in mind I will move forward, ever so determined to create more of what I should create, rather than being pushed and pulled by perceived market forces and outmoded ideas. I have talked to the people that have done it, and are doing it. They do exist. Perhaps now my life among the rigors of big city and back in the office will be the one that seems not real.
Thanks to all that I have learned, the motions made over the next few months will be big. You already know about Paragon, and some will follow its production, but there is so much more on the horizon. It will not, however, be rushed. Nothing will be. I have already made that mistake and will not repeat it. This blog may not be big enough to describe everything going through my mind these days. Projects big enough to do that are on the way.
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Here in the south of China, in the province called Guizhou, I have seen many amazing things. This really got me thinking. Where does inspiration really come from? The day before yesterday, I travelled to a small city called Duyun, about forty minutes from where I am currently staying by bus. On the road to this city, moving along an often elevated highway, we passed through many areas of beautiful country. The scenery was astounding, sometimes appearing like something out of fantasy. I had a similar experience when I first arrived here, viewing misty mountains hidden in fog with but the tips of trees peeking out.
I can imagine that artists like Hayao Miyazaki and his staff visited places of similar wonder as they gathered reference material for making a fantasy epic like Princess Mononoke. The location itself visits upon you idea after idea of mystical creatures, magic and hidden treasures. Of course, this doesn't happen only in nature settings. Our purpose for visiting this town was primarily to see the lantern festival, which is a tradition that runs throughout the Chinese new years.
It is not, however, only the things you see with your eyes that can bring inspiration. It can also come from experiences, particularly the more outstanding things that happen to you in your life. A few days, we took a similar trip to another small town. This time, we were not on a full size bus using the highway. We took something more like a small van along narrow, winding country roads. Once again, one can imagine an artist who experienced such a travel wanting to capture that feeling on film.
One the way back, shortly after we left that town, our van broke down. We were sitting on the side of a little country road in the middle of nowhere. There were a few seemingly abandoned buildings around, but almost no people. I immediately began to imagine bandits riding down the hill to loot the unsuspecting travelers. Luckily, that didn't happen. What actually came down the hill was a herd of goats!
There was a man walking along that road with a large bucket. He began to shake the bucket, rattling the contents inside. This apparently alerted the goats that it was feeding time and they came streaming down the mountain to where he began to throw out, what I guess was some grain, on the ground for them to eat. We all decided to get a good look at them while waiting.
Eventually, another van stopped and gave our driver something in bottles. Maybe it was oil or gas, I don't really know. In order to get back on the road, though, we had to push the van until it was on a downhill slope before it would start again. This worked, and though it soon became dark, we were back on the road. The driver continuously apologized and rather than take us to the bus station, he actually drove us right up to the front gate of our building.
You can't put a price on real experiences. The number of things I have seen and done, since I began my travels, eclipses practically all of my previous experience of adult working life. Inspiration is not likely to strike while sitting in front of a computer or television. It's out there. It is waiting to be experienced.
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I am currently in the south of China in a province called Guizhou participating in their Spring Festival. This is also known as the Chinese New Year. The event is marked by the getting together of families on every level for food, fun and a lot of fireworks. In the day, I was gather with 18 people, a family ranging from grandparents, parents, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, cousins and even babies. It was quite an event. We set off a large line of fireworks and then set down to the ultimate. Later that night, as 12:00 rolled around, we prepared for the spectacular fireworks display you saw in the video above.
Unlike a major fireworks show often associated with events like this, in this little town, everyone is doing it, not just an organized group. Normal everyday people are shooting fireworks on the level of a huge Independence Day parade. This means they are everywhere, all around you, and if you're not used it, it might seem like you're in a war zone. I can scarcely describe how amazing an event it was to witness and experience, and then it got me thinking.
It was January 23rd. A new year? I can imagine many of us are used to December 31st rolling around and making all kinds of plans and resolutions about how we will make next year the year of our success. We are finally going to start that novel, get that new job, create that new animation. Usually these resolutions don't last two weeks. People start off all fired up and ready to really change their life, but after a short time the flame is more like a cigarette.
What if, however, you could do it all over again without waiting another year? Imagine, in just 23 days, after the first, another new years celebration rolls around. You have the opportunity to look at where that fire started to go out in the past three weeks and rethink things. Go over your accomplishments so far this month and you will get a fair idea where you stand. How do you feel about it? If you feel like making change, Happy NewYear!
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If you consider the domestic box office of a very successful movie, and also take into account the price of a movie ticket these days, even the movies which gross hundreds of millions of dollars are, in fact, viewed by less than 10% of the population. Some of those tickets sold are likely to people who view popular movies multiple times also. I can also imagine that when it comes to the huge, FX driven films now common in Hollywood, it is very likely the same 10% that is watching these films. What, then, are the other 90% of people watching?
Let's take a look at the HBO series Game of Thrones. This fantasy is definitely not Harry Potter or Dungeons&Dragons. The show contains a lot of gore, plenty of nudity, graphic sex and is very slow paced. In the entire first season there are only two or three monster appearances and only one CG creature. This show is heavy on the drama and characters. It is also hugely successful, having picked up for a second season after just one showing of the first episode. I am willing to bet that, while there is some audience crossover, this caters to a very different crowd than the typical Hollywood summer movie.
In the world of games, Nintendo began to find entirely new audiences with products like Nintendogs and that cooking game. Suddenly, housewives and the elderly were playing video games. Facebook has a number of very popular games among people who don't consider themselves gamers, and they are nothing like what is generally considered popular in the mainstream market. The mobile market, especially the IOS market has opened up entirely new avenues to reach entirely new players.
There is no reason to believe that you have to make what they are making in order to be a success. You don't have to follow Hollywood formulas or feel that you need to make a Disney or Pixar clone for your animated movie, just because everyone else is doing so. Deviating from this doesn't mean you are attempting to make an ice cream parlor in the cold north. We have the internet at our disposal. It may take you bit longer to build up, but the people who would most love to watch what you want to make will eventually find you.
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How certain are you that you really want to do the project sitting in front on you at this moment? How do you know that it is really yours and not something that you think you have to do, for whatever reason. I began to consider this because I, once again, read Steve Jobs commencement address at Stanford University in 2005. In it, he talks about quite a few important things, but two stand out for me. One is, of course, finding what you really love. The other is about knowing that you are going to die, and what that means.
As to knowing that you will someday die, he says that your time is limited, and so you should not spend it living someone else's life. I completely agree with this. Most of us, go through the usual levels of school, go to university and then get jobs because that's what everyone else is doing, or what our parents and society say we should do. Some of us get married and start families thus further entrenching us into that lifestyle, making it ever more difficult to change, eve if we come to the realization that we, somewhere, made a mistake.
For the independent animator, the normal pathway really doesn't work. Of course, we hope to support ourselves and even our families by our creative efforts, but these efforts require a considerable investment in time, which one may not have if they are stuck in a 9 to 5. What if, however, the 9 to 5, the bills, the mortgage and everything else is simply the trappings of someone else's opinions? What if the project you think you want to do is little more than the same?
When Steve Jobs talks about knowing you are going to die, he asks the famous question that if today was your last day on Earth, would you want to be doing what you are doing right now? He says that if the answer is "no" too many days in a row, then he needs to change something. It's a good question, but it doesn't quite work well for the animator. A day is not enough time to do much, right? That, at least, was my first thought.
If I had a day left, would I even draw at all? Probably not. I would spend it with family. Give me a week, though, and now it becomes a little bit more possible to make something, but I still might fight the temptation to go to a great vacation destination and party on until my time is up. With a month to live, though, I could really make a short film, leave something behind. I could do it in three weeks and still spend a week in that vacation destination before I go out happy! With a year, now we are really talking. I might spend 11 months making the most kick-ass animation I can fathom and then spend the last month in partying in that vacation spot.
In the end, the question still shows what I really want to do. Even if a day or a week is not enough time to consider it, there is no doubt where my time should be spent. Right now, however, I am spending it in far too many other places. That gets back to the issue of being trapped in the opinions of others. There may be those who are relying on you, even counting on you to provide them with something. The question you need to ask is are these obligations really yours? I am not talking about walking out on your family, or anything, I am really talking about your choices. It is your choices that have really landed you where you are today. It doesn't matter what influenced those choices or even if they were made with faulty information. They are still your choices. You can choose to make new ones, right now today.
If your choices have landed you in the wrong location, the wrong job, or worse, the wrong life, you may have to continue in it for some time, but there is a way out. The best way to change is by growth, not by making a hasty getaway. Still, everything that makes up your current situation can also contribute to making a new one. Use your current job as a way to get to another better job. Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote stories like Tarzan and John Carter while working as a pencil sharpener salesman. There is always a path from where you are to where you want to be with but a little patience and imagination.
It's a new year, right? Take a good look at your current project, or anything else you are involved in. Is it really yours?
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Get ready to experience the fastest and easiest method of creating 3d, cel shaded anime I have ever devised! You don't need millions of dollars or major studio backing! These secrets will give you all you need to create stunning work in minutes! Yes, minutes! The tools and technology are here today and you can do your dream project right now! CLICK HERE!
As many readers will know, I have been working on and updating my 3D, cel shaded, anime techniques since Understanding Chaos over 10 years ago. YES, over ten years! Can you believe it? Well, it really has been that long and the technology and techniques have come a long way since then. I have gone through different software packages and tried many different ways, all with the idea that I could achieve the dream of doing a series.
What I finally came upon was the fastest, most powerful technique I ever encountered. Like many things I did in the past, I am sure it involves stretching the software in directions the makers probably never intended for it to be used, maybe even that they never imagined. The result, though, is a method that really makes the dream possible. If you thought doing 10 minutes in a month, on Understanding Chaos, was an accomplishment, you haven't seen anything yet. I won't even tell you how much is possible in month with this technique. You wouldn't believe me. You have to try it for yourself.
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