Archive for December, 2010

501 for christmas

Modo 501 is looking fantastic. I downloaded it today, and I can’t wait to put it through it’s paces. I’m especially excited about the revamped painting and sculpting, since it means I can stay in one app as opposed to jumping back and forth between Maya and Mudbox or ZBrush. But more that that, I feel like Modo is exactly where Blender will be once the 2.5 series is put to bed and gives birth to a stable 2.6. Everything is scriptable and it’s extremely simple to make new commands, or commands that properly refire when using interface sliders. I think my favorite part is, I’ve yet to find a feature I don’t like that I couldn’t disable or otherwise change its behavior. Even the default space bar behavior (which switches between component editing modes) is changeable; mine is set to pick item mode now. Not to mention, one of the new guys at work, Rowan, is a Modo master. He’s been invaluable in finding out where things are.

It’s a pretty steep learning curve both modeling and scripting-wise, particularly for someone who’s only really done 3D scripting through the Maya and Blender APIs. Also, while every tool I use when modeling seems to exist in Modo, the names and methods for use are so different that it’s taken me all week to find the first quarter of my usual bag of tricks. But I’ve also picked up a few new ones, like Background Constraint with Vector direction. Holy crap, did I not know I wanted that feature so badly.

Blender’s always going to be there for me, but at least until the 2.5 series stabilizes (and the input manager stops getting stuck when I sculpt, making sculpting impossible), I have a new swiss-army knife for work. Oh, and Luxology: thank you for making my ordering process amazing. I’m not going to say why I’m so happy with you on this blog, but if more companies behaved like you I’d be a happier person all around.

It’s funny, though– I’m not finding with Modo that I fight the learning curve as much as I do when I move to, say, Houdini. Modo draws from all the best parts of Blender, Maya, and Lightwave, so it just works for my head. Here’s to being more efficient with modeling tasks in 2011!

By the way, the new Gorillaz album (the one recorded on an iPad) is up for streaming. I like it a lot more than Plastic Beach. In fact, it feels a lot like D-Sides, which is one of my favorite collections of their music. If you’re a fan, definitely check it out. And if anyone knows what iPad software Albarn used to master these songs, please let me know.

inspiration, part two

It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks. At work I’m back on the DVD project, working on a few of the scripting things I’ve wanted to have done since the first DVD. It feels good to be checking those things off on my list. I also ended up writing a few pipeline tools. Today is a day for bulletproofing them.

I saw both Tangled and Harry Potter 7a recently. Both were terrific. Tangled took its time getting started, but once all the players are in place it becomes a very satisfying ride through until the end. The horse, Maximus, has become my favorite animated feature character of all time. In fact, animation-wise this is the strongest film out of Disney since, perhaps, the golden 90’s. There were some sequences where I’m sure the animators were let run wild with their ideas, and the results are uproarious.

HP7’s effects were out of this world. It’s expected that each Harry Potter outdo the last in terms of visual quality, but this one outpaced all my expectations, and did so with a perfectly-paced plot that followed book seven’s first half quite closely.

Between those two, and the new Avatar Collector’s Edition (yeah, I’m a sucker who just bought the same movie again), I’m to the brim with inspiration. Tangled on the big screen reminded me what I loved about Disney films when I was little, and a bit about why I wanted to become an animator. HP7 reminded me how much fun it is to be able to lose myself in a world that doesn’t exist and, even if only for a moment, believe that somewhere, somehow, those characters and their eventual triumphs are all real.

Long story short, seeing movies like those always makes me feel energized for what I do for a living.

On the musical side, I’ve bought so many CDs recently that I’m almost at a loss for what to listen to because there are too many choices! I finally picked up a copy of 2009’s Sounds of the Universe by Depeche Mode. Not quite Destroying the Angel, but still decent. Duffy’s new disc, Endlessly, is lovely start to finish; if she’s this good now I look forward to her releases a few years down the line. Her sound has changed just enough to invite new listeners without alienating fans of the first disc. She’s also one of those rare pop artists who, in my opinion, manages to keep love songs from sounding trite or contrived.

About a week left before the break. Here’s hoping I get some sleep.