Friday, January 31, 2014

Making of "Year of the Horse" Greeting video

Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year 2014. It is the year of the horse. If you haven't done so already, go check out the greeting video I created for this.

The story of how this video came to be goes back over 12 years...

Happy Chinese New Year - Year of the Horse

Wishing everyone a Happy Year of the Horse!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Additional Workflow Issues in Blender - Followup for Previous List of Limitations

After mulling over this for a few days, I realised that there were a number of items which I'd actually left off my initial list. So, here goes...

Blast from the Past - Reviving my first computer (Windows 98)

With the Chinese New Year looming in a few days, I got the idea to revive an old project I worked on some 12 years ago: an interactive greeting for the Chinese New Year. Just like this year, it was the year of the horse, hence the impetus to revive the old project, which I ultimately didn't manage to distribute at the time due to various technical issues - namely, having used an absolute path to the character file needed to power the entire thing! There was just one problem: all the files for this were stuck on the oldest of my computers...

My Windows 98 Desktop - As it looked for many years when I still used the machine. The layout shown here is the one I'm most familiar with. Subsequently though, the layout would end up getting trashed everytime daylight saving changes rolled through.

So, for the past few days, I've been trying to find a way to transfer the files off the machine in question, my Windows 98 computer - the first one I had at home and which I learned to program on, among other things. However, with the ways that technology has evolved since we got this machine in early 2000 IIRC, it soon became apparent that making this happen would be quite a challenge.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Blender + FFMPEG - Notes on Getting Usable Video Output

Everytime I work on a video project after not doing so for a while, I'm eventually reminded of just how sucky the situation with Blender + FFMPEG video output really is. In many ways, it is really quite a frustrating exercise, though admittedly already much better than it was a few years ago. (For starters, it now crashes a hell of a lot less, though I've also only been trying relatively "common" and "sane" format configurations this time).

This time, I had specific requirements for the types of acceptable formats I needed to output to, which helped narrow down the field a bit. Specifically, I needed .mpg, .mp4, or .mov output (with the associated "default" codec/encoding schemes associated with those). To keep things simple, the aspect ratio used was "basically" HD (i.e. 75% HD, to keep the rendertimes on some of the more intensive shots down).

In this post, I list out the results of some experiments I did to find something that would work well enough across various players.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Goodbye Bubu

Last night, my beloved goldfish passed away, having lived a relatively happy life (though marked by a number of traumatic incidents).

Here are a collection of some of my favourite photos of Bubu taken at different times during his life:
 Perhaps my favourite shot of all - August 2012

Another from August 2012

Trapped - August 2011

A typical pose - October 2010

The wallpaper on my Toshiba for many years - May-July 2010

Saturday, January 18, 2014

RIP Bubu - 24 December 2009 - 18 January 2014 (23:40)

Learnings from Promo Video Project - Improvements Needed for Blender

In this post, I'll go over some of the problems I encountered while working on the promo video, along with some proposed solutions for some of these. As always, this process has only highlighted the need for developers to seriously use the software they (and/or their fellow devs) write: it's only through such exercises that we can really pick up on things that are a pain in actual usage (vs any largely hypothetical assumptions we may hold/have held).

NOTE: At least one of these improvements is now in trunk. Namely, the "reverse" option for the Build Modifier (5c74ac2). More details later...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

EBook Promo Video - Recent Advances Towards Improved Phytoremediation of Heavy Metal Pollution

As you may have noticed from the lack of posts on this blog (and commits/bugfixes in Blender), I've been somewhat busy working on various projects over the past few weeks. Last night I finished work on my main project over that time: a promotional video for dad's new e-book, Recent Advances Towards Improved Phytoremediation of Heavy Metal Pollution.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

A somewhat belated Happy New Year from New Zealand (it's now just after 5pm)!

A sampling of (blotched) fireworks shots from last night, after setting the wrong shutter speeds. Last year's were much better (albeit, I can't remember what settings I used, and those shots are still currently on my other computer). Nevertheless, these still make some fairly neat abstract art specimens ;)