Sunday, January 29, 2012

Have I Told You Lately

Music music music.

The saxophone logs will now be shifted towards the end of each month, as I will take the first few weeks to familiarize myself with each new ballad the forum members decide. And those few weeks will be needed to create my backing track as well. Seems like my theory lessons are slowly paying off :)

I've been asked several times if I intend to take this as a new career, and the answer is no.... The lifestyle of a gigging musician is definitely not what I'm interested in.

What I want to do though, is join jam sessions.

Ever since the last two times I've played in an ensemble, it's just magic. Creating music on the fly in real time with people. Hence: Jam Sessions.

Lots around London. Appear, pick a tune, improvise. Oh yeah. The jams I've been to so far are just waaay beyond my level. To do that, I need to learn the language of music, then I can speak it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

How time flies

Checking out some piano sample libraries at Imperfect Samples, it seems like the downloads are in the range of gigabytes. Like..... more than a single layer dvd! (Ok, so I'm outdated but whatever)

It just brings me back to the old days with my 28.8k modem, when a game *patch* for like mechwarrior 2 or some microprose game, which was like perhaps a megabyte plus took about a quarter hour to download. A megabyte won't take more than a few seconds with today's dsl speeds.

Similarly - RAM. I remember the day I earned enough moola to afford the 8MB ram upgrade so that I could actually play mechwarrior 2 - I'd purchased the game only to realize 4mb of ram was insufficient >.> And look at us now. I have 4gbs on my laptop at home, and at work we get to use machines with insane (to me) ram limits.

How time flies, and technological progression marches on. Now if only we can develop not only technologically, but *socially*, as a species.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wacom Bamboo, 3rd Generation

Time really flies - has it been almost 2 years since I began my journey into learning more about sketching? Even though I only spend about a quarter of an hour a day - as well as a weekly trip for life drawing sessions (this has stopped due to time constraints) - I've seen well warranted improvements over the hundreds of hours spent.

On a whim about two weeks ago, I decided I want to dip a little into digital painting. A tablet makes sense here, and a Wacom tablet is in order then, but the prices of intuos was a major turn off - £250 for the M sized tablets I see littered around the desks of artists at work?

Ouch inducing for a newb! The alternative choice is Wacom's entry level tablets, the Bamboo series, that clocks in at £49. The Bamboo Pen Tablet (CTL-470) is the cheapest of the bunch, and features just a pressure sensitive surface with no frills. It does come with a license for ArtRage 2.6 though.

In use, I can't say it's better than an Intuos or not since I've never really used an Intuos, but it compares well, or maybe better to the Graphire I used to use. One thing I've noticed, is that after learning how to sketch on a pencil, I had a far easier time with the Bamboo, versus back in the day when I could *not* draw - the graphire was a pain to use.

In practice, the Bamboo is well built, and while the feel is far from that of the Intuos (£49 vs £150 for the similar sized Intuos S) and lacks buttons, for the hobbyist it is great. One minor gripe I have is that it uses one of the odd micro usb connectors, different from the types we connect mp3 players and portable drives with - another cable to keep track of.

On OSX, it plugs in and works out of the box. The installation CD leads to a web download of some apps as well as the Bamboo driver. So far, I'm still figuring out how to paint, with ArtRage and Pixelmator. The later, is to me, a pseudo photoshop for twenty quid. Imports .abr brushes, and the menus, panels and layers just work for me.

The issue I found here was the response of the pen did not work for me out of the box - and caused me quite a bit of frustration as I messed about with the pressure settings in Pixelmator to get it to work. It ended up to be a setting in the OSX's Bamboo Control Panel for the pen's stiffness - a stiffer setting worked far better for me.

Tried it on my Ubuntu box, but gave up after a quarter of an hour fiddling with drivers and all. I have much better things to do than figure out software - like harmony and all that jazz. If only OSX didn't have such a crappy interface - I really, really dislike the Finder in Snow Leopard, and the way resizing windows works etc just plain sucks. It's too bad, since I really enjoy how applications and stuff just works. Much prefer to spend my time doing/learning stuff than compiling drivers, seriously. That's me getting old and whiny.

So, to wrap this up, I think for the price the Bamboo is a great buy, and perhaps down the road in a few years, I may upgrade to an Intuos.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Corel AfterShot Pro.... what?!

Last week, Bibble Labs announced that they have been bought over my Corel. I think I snorted out some of the tea I was drinking. Like... what. the. hell?!

Apart from OS upgrades and reinstalls, RAW converter changes annoy me. Alot. Between bibble 4 and 5, they'd made a change to their rendering engine, and whilst it was for the better, I need to re-learn all the tools again.

So what about AfterShot? For the moment, I've got the trial version -  and us Bibble 5 users get to purchase the full version for £14, so it's quite a good deal. Well it had better be a good deal since Bibble is now sold to Corel for goodness sake.

Initial tests went well. Loaded it up, set my icc profile, reset, and tested on some D300 and LX5 files.

Out of the box, AfterShot IS bibble, all the familiar commands are there, and on my Linux box, it actually seems to run smoother, and the UI seems to work better. Props to the team there. Noise Ninja seems to be the full version, but it could also be a system thing since I'd purchased the full version years ago.

In general, the controls I use mainly in B5 have moved over seamlessly to AfterShot. There are some custom curves I have developed over time that I will probably need to port over, but it's not difficult to come up with new "looks".

The D300 raws ran as expected, though I feel that the click white tool *may* work better previously, but it's hard to say. LX5 wise, the click white tool still does not work as expected, and the color balance profiles just don't work. Thankfully, the LX5 has much better white balance detection compared to the D300, and the "As Shot" profile usually gives very good results. Usually. I've had one or two LX5 raw files come in... green.... and it was a picture of a piece of paper.....

This is the thing with digital photography, raws are good and all, but I wonder, I wonder, when will my D300 raws be no longer viewable?

On the flip side, fact: My photographs aren't exactly pro-level "omg awesome" level good, so even losing them won't mean much. Plus, all the keepers are already exported to full sized jpegs, so at least there's that.

Bottom line, the new piece of software works, and time spent agonizing over the D300's raw format is a waste of time. Time better spent say, oh, doing houdini or figuring out chord voicings.

Wolf, out.

Monday, January 09, 2012

RBD Chain Sim

Found an interesting problem on the forums, and had to investigate. Chains, a fully simulated chain. The issue the OP had was with the links penetrating, and testing showed that increasing substeps helped.... but was that it?

Further stress testing showed that the links will still inter-penetrate given certain motion types (like that shown in the example, an animated link lifting the rest of the simulated chain).

Solution was to increase the Collision Passes parameter, *together* with the maximum substeps.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Weekend project - procedural active state sim

Inspired by this video, I did the above sim. It's more or less setup for the particle emission as well - feeling under the weather atm (fever, cold, etc), no mood to do more.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Ikuze, 2012!

The first week of 2012 is over! Dang that was fast. Started on a new shot today, looking forward to Monday to try some stuff I thought up on the way home. If not, it's full steam ahead. 2012, let's make you a great year!!!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

We're all beginners... at some stage

Let's start the new year with an inspirational quote!

What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

Ira Glass

From: writerunderground

Whilst Mr Glass refers to writing, this is obviously applicable in any creative field. Keep on plugging away, chase the dream, make it reality.