Monday, December 29, 2014

Grease Pencil - Stage II Roadmap

With "Stage I" of the Grease Pencil revamps in master now, it's time to start talking about "Stage II" :) This list is currently still a very preliminary, but it should give an idea of what is planned. There may be one or two things I've forgotten off this list though...

Integrated keyframes display + editing in the Dopesheet

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Season's Greetings - Christmas Tree

Here's a small selection of shots showing parts of our tree this year :)

I've been having a lot of fun playing around with varying levels of focal blur and interesting angles to capture some of the interesting ways that light was interacting with the various shiny things on the tree - the particular twinkling "snazzle" of the tinsel is still something rather elusive to capture though!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pretty Things - "Dressed in Dew"

Phew! It's been a hot + humid day here in Christchurch (an especially rare combination, since it's rarely humid, and fortunately not too hot either most of the time). Heck, it even warmed up again around dinner time - having cooled off to 23/25 deg C mid-afternoon from 27 around noon, it went back up to 27 after 6, and was still 22-27 in patches around 10pm!  (Even now, at 1am, it's still hovering around 20 deg C)

I imagine that the opposite probably applied when the photo below (NOT mine) was taken!

"Dressed in Dew" by Stefano Coltelli, San Miniato PI, Italy 

Seeing this, the first thing I thought of were some of the characters/scenes from the Gooseberry project ;)  It's kindof amazing how it looks like both a waitress-insect in a white skirt, and a dragonfly/butterfly at the same time!

PS: On another note, I finally got around to having some fun setting up our Christmas tree today... with lots and lots of sparkly shiny things (Yay! Tinsel + shiny baubels FTW!), a different way of getting the chain of lights on to the tree (which seems to look quite nice too, with half the effort and pain), and strangely, not quite being able to fit an entire box of ornaments (ones which I usually include, though aren't really that "essential" I guess) onto the tree this year!

Sunday, December 14, 2014


The dates for the last two days have been quite interesting: 13/12/14 (or 12/13/14 if you're American) and 14/12/14 today. I'd originally been planning on announcing some new features or some sparkling new tools I'd been working on....

Having just pushed through the Grease Pencil changes for 2.73 (which, is only "Stage 1"... I've got a bunch of other cool features lined up for "Stage 2" when I get time, to take this up another level still), and currently knee deep in some intensive brain surgery for the new depsgraph code (which should be landing in the depsgraph_refactor branch in the next day or two), that idea kindof had to slide.

Instead, the little scene above (made using, you guessed it, the new GPencil tools - so that I could have a play around with some of the cool ideas I've been seeing for myself). For now, that's all there is to show, but hopefully I'll manage to squeeze out a little skit out of this :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

How Time Flies...

Wow... how time flies. Another year has almost passed!

Some strawberries from last year - This year we also had a bumper harvest which filled up an entire container. In fact, I'm writing this after munching my way through a sizeable chunk of those XD

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bye Bye Linux... For Now :(

After postponing for several weeks to let the dust settle down on several projects/commitments, and also to get hold of some external hard drives first, I've finally purged the Linux partitions from my HP Envy 17.

That "H" partition was where my 2 Linux partitions used to be... now reclaimed for storing all my stuff instead (and maybe home to some future Linux virtual machines instead).

Grease Pencil Art Demos

Since releasing the Grease Pencil improvements to master, I've been enjoying watching new demos and videos of artists playing around with the tools coming online. It's always amazing to see what happens when you place powerful tools in the hands of creative people :)

Mikhail Shablin

Jason van Gumster

I'm not sure how much the new tools were used, though I do know that he was using the branch at the time to sketch out the frames required. Check out the write up for the workflow used here

Friday, December 5, 2014

Depsgraph Glitches - The Eye of Blender

Presenting... "The Eye of Blender"!

... actually, just a buggy export of the dependency graph for Koro's rig file (from Caminandes). There are still heaps of dependencies which aren't getting hooked up properly still, which explains part of why this graph is degenerate in several parts.

"For You" - Grease Pencil Animation Test Released

Earlier today, Daniel M. Lara (pepeland) released his latest short film, "ForYou",  animated entirely using the new Grease Pencil editing tools (being released with Blender 2.73)!

"ForYou" two diferent versions and scene overview from psl on Vimeo.

It's a wonderful demonstration of what's possible with the new tools (see the demo at the end of the clip) and a fun film in its own right. For me, seeing this reminds me of why I love doing what I do - it's really inspiring seeing artists create amazing projects using the tools you've built in ways you never imagined.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Depsgraph - Dev Fund Work

Some of the eagle eyed out there may have noticed already, but today I can finally announce that I'll be doing some dev-fund work for the next 2 months on getting the new Depsgraph up and running. I'll mainly be concentrating on areas I know all too well - namely animation, drivers, constraints, bones, and object transforms. If there's time to spare, I'll also move into hooking up the rigidbody integration and various update issues :)

An example dependency graph (just the operation nodes), from an exploration of how exactly these should be getting cued up. Prizes for guessing what this shows, and/or what some of these nodes are (HINT: this diagram is taken from a draft doc I have posted online, and captures a number of things riggers have been moaning about for ages)

I'll have more updates later when there's some actual progress to report. Expect at least one on some of the dev workflows and/or setup work that needs to be done if you're planning to play around with this (which isn't recommended at this stage yet!).

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grease Pencil Dev Updates

Here is a quick update of some of the things I've been working on with the Grease Pencil integration since my last update.

EDIT: Now in master

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hooray! Back again...

Yay! After an eventful 48 hours, I've finally gotten the last of the big remaining hurdles for this year over and done with, leaving me with more time to spend working on fun projects again :)

Some of our Slim Whitman daffodils from a few months back :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Silvereyes - Low Key

Here are some shots of the silvereyes from a particularly good day last week, taken just before a hail storm passed through. There are quite a few shots here I'm quite happy with :)

"Grafitti" Eggplant

I'm not really a fan of eggplant, but this "graffiti eggplant" certainly looks interesting - like some kind of exotic ceramics or gumboots!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Regarding the "Experimental Testbuilds" Workflow/Setup...

I've never been really comfortable with the workflow that's in place for doing the experimental testbuilds using the buildbot infrastructure on Specifically, there are two weaknesses in the current scheme (and also the previous one):
  1. Needing to push squashed commits and revert them via a publicly visible branch, on the canonical reference repository when using a distributed version control system is quite ugly. It amounts to polluting the project history (which everyone has a copy of) with 3 commits per build, in order to satisfy the arcane requirements/limits of a centralised single-instance service/tool - which, not everyone can really use to create builds.
  2. The sequence of steps required  to generate one of these test builds is convoluted and prone to user error. I've gone back and counted them, and there are seven! Yep, 7 individual steps - and that's provided there are no conflicts/typos which mangle things up at some point and require more drastic interventions.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Text Editor Project Started

With a long weekend holiday here, I finally bit the bullet and started work on building a new text editor for myself. This comes after years of trialling different solutions - including giving some of the latest newfangled web-tech based ones out there a second chance with an open mind (in the end, a combination of critical quirky flaws and horrid colour schemes inducing eye pain - including one nasty bout of red-eyed discomfort for a few hours) as replacements or "secondaries"... Unfortunately, nothing is quite cutting it anymore :/

So, introducing "Nippy" - a PyQt + QScintilla based text editor, heavily inspired by Notepad++

Currently, there's not much to see. It's only a single-document text editor window right now, with a lexer hardcoded to treat everything as Python code, and with no session storage. But at least I can use it to load up any of the code for my Python-based projects, and use it for some simple coding tasks (bookmarks, duplicate-lines, move up/down, go to line, tab-based indentation, and file open/save all work, with the rest provided by QScintilla already - in other words, the bare basics I need from an editor to do stuff; a working function list + find in files + multiple tabs would just make things easier).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Violin Improv Clips

This afternoon, I spent a bit of time mucking around with my violin for a while. It's been quite a while since I've played (probably several months from my recording logs), but today the time seemed right to do this. As with all these recordings, these are completely improvised on the go, and without any warmups/practice/whatnot in ages...

Dev Ramblings - Grease Pencil OpenGL Render Exports

While doing some testing of the Grease Pencil functionality last week, I came across some weird/unexpected behaviour regarding how some of the OpenGL renders were working. As many will know, these are currently the only way to get Grease Pencil drawings out of Blender. And as I found out, there are quite a few annoying quirks that I came across, the most serious of which is shown below:

Blegh! What is up with those regions that are completely transparent, and fringed with light gray?!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Silvereyes Bonanza - An Afternoon Feast

This afternoon, I had an absolute blast capturing a bunch of shots I'm quite pleased with. It was slightly overcast, a "conveniently located" branch of the bottlebrush was starting to go into full bloom, and I still had my camera in 8fps AF drive from yesterday's bread-feeding frenzy...

These are just some of favourites from the set.. More are included down below

Friday, November 7, 2014

First Silvereye Shots of the Season

Although the silvereyes now come to our garden a lot more often these days, November is special - It's what I call: "Silvereye Season", as the bottlebrush right outside my window starts to flower, attracting the silvereyes to come in quite close.

Today marked the first day I was able to get some decent shots (on previous days when they had come, they were mostly foraging around near the ground, so it wasn't too fruitful on those days).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Matching Colour Food Macros

Here are some food macros from yesterday. It's interesting how so many complimentary coloured things happened to be around to be conveniently added to these shots.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A walk around Riccarton House gardens

With the nice fine weather today, I spent some time outside walking around the Riccarton House gardens - the first time I've been there since the earthquake remediation works were completed.

Friday, October 31, 2014

What a day...

Following quite a tumultuous day, we had a nice and pretty sunset this evening (though it was starting to get quite chilly too)

Grease Pencil Dev - Filled Strokes

I've just committed an initial version of support for drawing filled strokes to the GPencil_FillStrokes branch on (NOTE: I accidentally pushed that branch to gbo in a bit of a sleepy haze, forgetting that it wasn't set to default to using the GitHub repo instead). No harm done though, since it'll all end up in master eventually ;)

It's still an initial implementation which just uses the native OpenGL "polygon" drawing mode, with the associated problems when trying to draw concave shapes (i.e. the cause of those overlap artifacts). But, for most cases where fills are required, this hopefully shouldn't be too much of an issue... Next up, checking if the Blender scanfill code can do a better job and for realtime usage :)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Grease Pencil Dev Roadmap

Since several of you have been asking, here's my roadmap/plan/todo-list of things which will be happening with Grease Pencil development in the near to short term (with the aim of release in 2.73). There are also some longer-term "wishlist" items which others are free to try picking up.

RIP Baby Silvereyes (WARNING: Graphic Photos)

Today is bit of a sad day... I woke to find a bird nest with two dead babies lying motionless on the ground lying by our back door. It turns out that this was the very same silvereye nest that had been high up in our tree just last night :(

Making it all the more galling was the nest was found on the opposite side of the house from the tree, the branch where the nest had been built was snapped at the base (and hanging limply from the tree - with small snapped branches all over the ground under the tree), and that there was a large splotch/splash of blood on the ground near one of the bodies.

I have little doubt that this was an act of savage cruelty on the part of some twisted, rotten soul. Whoever the perpetrators were (and it's likely they are the same culprits who have to date vandalised 4 chains of solar lights by tearing/ripping some of the protective covers off one of the LED's and proceeding to sever the cables), DAMN YOU!

(WARNING: What follow are some somewhat graphic images... Carry on at your own discretion)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Yay! The silvereyes are here

For the past few days, I've been hearing the distinctive metallic chirping of some baby silvereyes crying near a tree in our garden, but couldn't figure out where exactly the nest was. This afternoon, I finally saw it: a really small, compact little messy cup, adorned with heaps of leaves from the tree, and rather well hidden high up on a flimsy side-branch of a side branch of the lychee tree. Woohoo!

A silvereye briefly resting on my pine tree - After so many years, they finally consider it a tree! Yay!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dev Test - Using GLU Quadrics for Drawing Grease Pencil Strokes

While playing around with ways of implementing stroke-filling, a thought occurred to try experimenting with using GLU Quadrics (specifically, the disc primitive) for drawing the 3D points too (and perhaps for the strokes themselves).

Without further ado, here's a little demo vid showing what the effect looks like:

If you want to get your hands on this to play with it, you can find this on my GitHub Blender Repo:

(Just to clarify things: the main branch for Grease Pencil stroke editing tools is still on -
The GitHub branch is purely for experimental hacks at this stage)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Grease Pencil Stroke Editing - An Update

Here's another update on what I've been up to with the Grease Pencil tools:

See if you can tell what's different from yesterday's screenshot ;)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Development Sneak Peek - Grease Pencil Stroke Editing

Here's a sneak peek at some stuff I've been having tons of fun hacking away on over the past few days...

You can try this out from the branch - GPencil_EditStrokes - on the repository. Beware that there may still be bugs (it randomly crashed at one point this afternoon). I'll have more details in a later post as it's getting late now, but hopefully this will give you a taste of things to come...

Ahh... it feels good to be going on a hacking spree in the Blender codebase again :)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Blood Moon

Woohoo! I just got back from watching the total lunar eclipse (aka "Blood Moon") for the first time this evening. Usually, whenever there's stuff like this in the sky, there will be lots of cloud that night here in Christchurch. But lo and behold, tonight, it was perfectly crystal clear!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Illustrations of Wing Movement Patterns

I just came across the following set of illustrations, which may be of some use to animators out there - especially if you've got anything with wings ;)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Blender Dev Tip: Modal Keymaps for Select Circle

Doh! The answer in retrospect seems so simple (and it was, if I'd remembered this quirk from the last time I'd encountered it several years ago), but you'd be stuck if you didn't know where to look...

For a bit of a fun break from the work I've been doing recently for my research work, I've been hacking some new features for Blender. However, this evening, I ended up wasting quite a bit of time trying to figure out why the circle-select operator I'd been working on was not working. Namely, it wasn't responding to any events once activated.

Long story short: If you're coding a "Select Circle" operator, you need to add the following line at the end of gesture_circle_modal_keymap() in wm_operators.c:

This basically says that the modal keymap needed by these operator should be used when doling out events to your operator. Otherwise, the events simply won't get passed down, and you'll be left wondering why it's not working...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Canon 7D - Blue-Green Twilight Color Balance - Revisited

In a post last month, I discussed a new tool for fine tuning white balance in-camera: White Balance Shift. Since then, I've been playing around with this setting on a numerous occasions, with mixed results (notably, for the tail end of the sunset on Aug 20). Last week, an opportunity to use this came up, with a crisp clear night and the fickle blue-green twilight that had eluded me up till now...

Finally, I think I've nailed it! The shot above was all in-camera white balance (no tweaks applied, as far as I can remember). The settings for this are as follows:
  • White Balance Mode (aka "Base" WB) = Shade
  • WB Shift = B7, G6
  • Exposure Compensation = -1 1/3
Contrary to my initial belief, it was necessary to bias the WB towards blue (instead of amber) to really draw out those rich bluish-green hues. Otherwise, you just get purple blue, with all the green-bits turned to white or faint orange-yellow. So, there you have it! The recipe for capturing blue-green twilights.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tonight's Sunset

Following a day of blustery norwesters, we had yet another interesting sunset this evening. Originally, it didn't look too promising, as there was just a lot of blue sky around everywhere. But, around 6:15, I caught sight of a large pink cloud formation out to the east. Heading outside, I quickly discovered that besides the interesting cloud to the east, there was also some interesting action going on to the west!