sky_hye: (003)
Captions have been the bane of my life. They drove me so crazy, I had to take a break and sew for a while. Perhaps this was helpful, because while I was sewing, I thought of a new way to attack them. After getting a couple garments finished, I started back on them. Before, I was attempting to hand write them into the printed manuscript under the illustrations. No room. I tried typing them into a separate document. For some reason, my brain did not let this work. There is something about reading the manuscript, then looking at pictures, then trying to write something about the pictures that simply didn't sync up.

The solution I found was to create a template in Filemaker Pro that allowed me to identify every illustration (there are hundreds) and dictate the captions with Dragon Dictate. Talking about the illustrations was easy. At first I thought I could hand the dictation off to Max and let him work out how they would be referenced in the manuscript. To make everything easy for Max, I printed the captions to display on pages opposite of the manuscript pages with the illustrations -- In other words, every page of the manuscript. With everything all nicely organized, I sat down and looked at my handy work, and realized that I was the best judge for modifying the manuscript. I found it quite easy, although time consuming, to insert changes and improvements, move a few things around, and polish the caption writing. Page by page, I worked through the manuscript until finishing it a few minutes ago. Well, okay, there are a few more pages in the extras sections, but their illustrations are not settled yet. They should not be too much trouble when I am ready to get to them.

With captions and manuscript more resolved than ever, I can now establish and standardize the presentation of the manual. That is what I will dive into the next time I sit down to work. The change will be welcome.

Orthodontic update:
I am still in braces. It's been over three years. There are an unknown number of months to go, yet. The psychological misery around braces subsided when I totally gave up on attempting to speak or grin for long periods at once. I also figured out that I have a sensitivity to the latex in the elastics that must be used. They caused horrible painful raw welts in my cheeks and inflamed my gums wherever they touched. Once I figured this out, I was switched to plastic elastics, which was a big relief. Right now, I am dealing with a hideous sharp bracket that was placed on the tongue side of a tooth last month. It rips at my tongue as I eat. I can't wrap this story up with a string and a bow yet. I'm sure new horrors await, but I agreed to this project and I accept whatever consequences it brings.

So, in case any of my former students still read this journal, I want to assure you that the dvd project is happening. I am making progress as fast as I can, and I cannot do public things around it for a while. I still hope to see it finished this year, but it is starting to look more like not until next year. I can't stop now. It will be finished.


Mar. 7th, 2013 12:18 pm
sky_hye: (004)
Ugh. Captions. This is one of the parts of the manual that I do not enjoy working on.
It all has to do with my first urge... That is, to explain what I see with, "Just look -- It's self evident!"
Nope, it never is. Teaching. It's not soaring. It's not free, joyous, grand, like painting is.

All of this said, I must report that I had a former student drop by this week to show her what I have been up to for so long, and she was blown away. I think it was one of those too much to take in experiences for her. From the characters and parts all customized and made from scratch, to the concepts behind the whole plan, and the manual underway, she was hugely impressed. That's good.

Now to get this sucker done with.


sky_hye: (005)
Last week, my father passed away after a short stay in the hospital and a few days back home. He was 93.
It was the first time in his life that he was seriously ill.
He was an extremely private and eccentric man. Confronting the reality that he was dying was not easy for him. It was extremely difficult for all who were there for him. He was furious.

My father was a very lucky man. He reached every goal he wanted to achieve. He lived according to his own terms. Except for his last month, he was completely independent.

I do not understand what it was like to be my father, yet many of my attitudes are like his. He loved cats. I love cats. He loved Nature. I love Nature. He was diligent. I am diligent. He respected the Arts. I am an artist. He loved animation. I love animation. He loved gourmet cooking. I love gourmet cooking. He loved Science Fiction. So do I -- but I don't devour it like he did. And it goes on...

Sadly, my father will never see my current project finished. He asked about it every week. Before the end of 2013, I expect to know how it will be received. I would have liked to share that with him.
sky_hye: (006)
I am in a new stage of the project. I feel it.

I printed out the script with associated illustrations that were taken from the animations, and passed it to Max to adjust the writing to read like a book, add references to the illustrations, and write captions. Meanwhile, I highlighted key terms and phrases, and have begun to write definitions and elaborations for aside comments in the book. Just having those terms highlighted caused a huge change in my sense of this project. It's as if I can see the entire content as a crystallized structure.

It looks like the manual will be about 150 pages. It is picture heavy. I'm not sure how to deal with this reality. I may have to publish it only as a digital document and let the owners print it for themselves.

The manual writing will inspire a few changes to the script, and I found a need for yet more changes to some animations. But these changes are not significant. It is only natural that changes will continue until the finish. Fine with me. I still have braces. I think braces will come off in about two, maybe three more months. That will give me time to wrap up the manual, all except for the parts that require material from the yet to be filmed footage. After I get the braces off, I will do video and final voiceover.

This thing is so unique, I have to wonder how it will be received. I hope well.
sky_hye: (007)
So much time has passed since I last posted. Perhaps this is because I entered a phase in the project that was equivalent to crossing a vast, featureless landscape. Anything I could report would replicate any previous or subsequent report. I deplore monotony, so I've had no desire to subject my readers to it.

Every day, I get up, get breakfast, feed kitties, then sit before the computer and force myself to do something, anything, on the project. This usually entails finding and fixing weak writing, discovering an animation requiring tweaks, fixing animation, followed by adjusting the writing, sending drafts to Max for review and changes, re-recording and placing new voiceovers to reflect changes, having Max watch and listen for inconsistencies and weaknesses, making corrections, re-reading script to find weak writing, and then it starts all over again. Boring, but required.

Over the last month, I've been developing the manual. I must say, it looks quite good. Everything looks good. When people finally see this, I think they will be very impressed... possibly blown away -- drinking from a fire hose blown away.

This work is so grueling, I am extremely vulverable to distractions, and the easiest distractions are from garment design and sewing. I posted a mohair coat concept some time ago... That coat is still not made. I had to think carefully about additional notions, part details, and such, to make it. I finally found all of the parts, so when I am ready to finalize the design, I will be able to go straight to work on construction.

Meanwhile, I have been sewing many of my new designs. I made a vest, three shirts, knit tops, pants, some scarves. Everything fits just right. I'm also working on the "lecture jacket" design. Soon, I'll make a 1/4 scale model of it, so I can examine its overall proportions. Once everything is right, I'll make a muslin mockup in full scale to see what details need to be adjusted. Then I'll make the jacket.

Finally, I have decided to stop resisting the urge to embroider. I have never embroidered, but it seems so closely related to drawing and painting, I expect it to be an easy hobby to take up. I love how embroidery transforms garments into something covet-worthy. I want to design my own image icons, but I suspect I will incorporate some traditional imagery with it. I don't know anything about embroidery yet, but two books are on the way as I write -- after a little study, I'll be able to verbalize this better.

On the way

Dec. 15th, 2011 04:59 pm
sky_hye: (008)
Those three nasty paragraphs and the other parts of the closing section are roughly in place, but require greater finesse. It's time for fresh eyes, so I am passing the job to Max.

Man! I can't believe it... there is very little left to deal with. Any new animation I might need, if any, will be trivial. It seems like I could run out of stuff to do, unless I start final voice over. I think I'll go ahead and start VO next week, braces notwithstanding. The most fun part of the project will be synchronizing all of the sound to the animations and VO. I played with that early on, just to see if the concept was coming together. It was thrilling to see how music and sound effects could exponentially enhance interest with a dry topic. In fact, I found that music and sound effects could mask weak writing and graphics. I did not want fluffy content, so I removed music and sound effects while I worked, so I could develop the VO and animation without deluding myself. In fact, I strived to make the script understandable without any graphical support at all. Naturally, the subject is about making pictures, so to fully understand the content, graphics are required. And on the flip side, I made the animations so clear, no words are needed.

On the garment design front, I'm tweaking my personal sloper with test muslins to get the best possible fit. For whatever reason, just inserting my measurements does not provide a perfect result. The sloper is almost done, so I can proceed with real projects soon. I have settled on the design for my "authority jacket" in the video footage. It is sort of a cross between an executive chef jacket and 18th-19th century men's frock coat in dark blue. Hopefully, it'll give a smooth and flattering look to keep eyes on my face. I might also make a nice smock-like blouse to wear without the jacket. Something simple and artistic, again, non-distracting. Not sure about the pants, yet.

This clip is from a segment in my dvd about line quality on the external contours. Line quality is controlled in part by the slope at volume edges.

sky_hye: (009)
I wish I could report great progress since my last post, but for some reason, three stupid paragraphs have me completely stymied. They transition into the encore section of the dvd. They highlight a new topic/step that follows measuring. They explain how this topic is distinct from measuring. They tease that measuring is a mere tidbit in a full course of study. One of these days I will finalize this [under 2 minute] speech. What a relief that will be. Meanwhile, I breezed through several entirely new and illuminating animations that support the encore section. It is an important ending. It must be right. I only wish I could be a better writer.

It does seem like I am on the home stretch with my braces. My bite is getting closer and closer. Perhaps I will be done in a month.
sky_hye: (010)
Sheesh! It took long enough! I can say with reasonable certainty that the animations for this dvd project are out of the way. I suppose there might be something I can change, but even if I don't, there would be no problem. Sometimes the maker of things -- that would be me -- must know when to accept imperfection, and this may be the day.

After I last reported on the project here, Max and I reviewed and changed several parts of the script. He recommended a couple changes to the animations, and I came up with several changes of my own to handle. All of that is done, now. The script is pretty much set in stone, all except for a couple of brief sections at the end. Those parts will be synchronized to footage, not animations, so I feel confident that the intensive graphical part of this thing is handled.

I feel a great deal of relief!

Meanwhile, I have become obsessed with clothing design. I got some software that lets me design custom sized-to-me garments. For the first time, ever, I can wear designs I imagine are best for me, and that really truly fit. I always altered my store-bought sewing patterns, but never quite got the curves to the armholes and crotch area and so-on adjusted just right. I also was never completely happy with the assorted options that came with any given pattern. This software lets me get exactly what I want and fit it right without struggle. It's new to me, so the first pieces are not as complex as I expect things to get, but I can already tell it works. I have a pile of fabric that was waiting to work with patterns that never seemed to come along. Now I can pick out a chunk of fabric and design just for it, and match the yardage I happen to have.

One nifty feature is the ability to print out pattern pieces at any scale I like, so I did a 1/4 scale model of my future plaid mohair trench coat. It allowed me to consider certain design changes without wasting materials. By making a mockup and overlaying details in photoshop, I could see if I like the proportions and check how the trim I want to add will look. Very helpful! As it turns out, this helped me see that the neckline should be wider, and I believe I will make the collar a bit bigger. And I can see the trim will work the way I planned it. The illustration here makes the edging look very thick, which it won't be. It's a crude mockup, but does the job.

sky_hye: (011)
When I reach my limit working on the project, or when I'm waiting for an animation to render, I sometimes sketch my kitties. Here are some examples...

I'm glad I have them to keep me company.

sky_hye: (012)
I am crushed under the weight of this mega-project, but progress is being made.
The major work is over! I finished the primary graphics with animations over the weekend. Yes, there will be modifications, but only in minor places.

The script is all but final. I am scouring through it now, matching the flow to the newly placed graphics, which look great, by the way. When that gets all neatened up, I will make the final voice-over. That could start in the next few days. My script/voiceover calculator tells me that there are just under two hours of voice over to record. Additional graphics and sound will stretch the dvd out to a little more than 2 hours. Recording the voice over may take a few days.

With final voice over, I will synchronize all of the sound to the graphics and animations. I imagine that will take a few weeks, perhaps a month. Once that's done, I can develop footage for the talking head scenes. I'll probably be out of braces by then. Also, I think I will sew my own outfit for the talking head scenes. That way, I can look snazzy for a low price.

I can't stand how long this is taking, but if I keep going, I'll finish!

sky_hye: (013)

This is to illustrate how one might imagine the nose as transparent like glass,
so the location of the eye corner can be estimated.

The portrait section continues to be very painful to work on. Very nit-picky! Sometimes all I can do to sit in front of it and wait for inspiration to strike. I do something every day, even if it is just plain bland. Eventually I will be past this. All downhill from there. No doubt about that!

sky_hye: (014)
I've reached the most difficult part of the dvd. I didn't know it would be difficult until I started it. It's the section about capturing and marking the features of the face. Getting this right is likely key to its salability. This section is full of animations that jump between the model and drawing. In action, it takes seconds to set up the face, but it's taking weeks to piece together for this dvd. I'm suffering excruciating resistance to it. Earlier this week, I found a distraction to obsess about – a sewing project. The last thing I need is to sit at a sewing machine, but I found some extremely cool designer coating that I had to have, so I ordered it. Now I'm designing the coat. I promised myself it will sew up quickly, and besides, I deserve a little recreation. Nevertheless, this dvd needs to finish, so I can get my life back.

My teeth finally mesh enough to chew more foods. I still can't manage thin stuff like lettuce, but I can process most foods at a normal speed. No more 1 1/2 hour dinner ordeals. I was able to visit with Max's relatives without fear of having a meltdown over inedible foods this Christmas, so that's progress. I haven't been doing anything social for over a year. Even at this point, social contact remains less than ideal, as I don't like complaining about the hideous contraptions in my mouth. I don't mind being seen with braces, but the pain and the several infections they caused so far end up as subject matter when I'm explaining why I haven't been around. People are wondering if I don't like them, because I've been avoiding them. So uncomfortable.

I wonder what life will be like when this dvd is done and my braces are off? It's hard to imagine.

sky_hye: (001)
I'm working hard over here. This is a tidbit from this week's timeline:

As with previous tidbits, this is all rough placed and subject to lots of revision. The voiceover is placeholder quality, only.

sky_hye: (002)
I've been adjusting to my new computer with new software, finding various bugs and issues. Although a slow process, I find rendering is fast, so once everything is ironed out, things will move along smoothly and quickly. However, I can see my finish date has moved out to at least summer 2011.

I created an animation of 1000 frames which turns around a close-up of my artist model. The model is made of a head from one character atop the body of another. An unavoidable seam forms between the two. I'm currently in the process of blurring the seams in all 1000 frames, which is tedious. On top of that, the result is not attractive. Since each seam must be blurred individually by hand, small differences are detectable across frames, making the animation jumpy around the neck. Yesterday, thinking the seam was caused by a surface orientation difference, I made a smoothing bridge between the head and the neck. First, I built the bridge in Silo, then I textured it with Photoshop's 3-D texturing module. It looked great attached to the neck in the Poser 8 scene, but when I rendered it, there was a clear abrupt seam on both edges. It would double the work to repair, so I lost an entire day of work in the name of saving time.

Here's a picture of the seam and repair on my digital model's neck.

sky_hye: (003)
I'm very slowly examining my newly installed software. The first thing I see is that several of my final cut files are incompatible with the new version, so it appears I must rebuild certain things from scratch. Perhaps that was going to happen anyway, as I am now in a position to replace much of the rough placed material with final quality stuff.

I mentioned how excited I was that Second Life is about to introduce mesh import. Unfortunately, however, I won't be able to play with any of that for the time being -- the beta viewer for mesh crashes every time I start it up.

sky_hye: (004)
With nothing else to do, I fell back on one of my favorite pastimes, namely, pondering the mysteries of the domesticated cat. This time, the question was, why do our cats make that chattering sound when they see prey that can fly?
Example 1
Example 2
I know the usual theories, and I don't like them. One explains it's the housebound cat's frustration at not being able to catch a bird through the window. Another suggests that the action simulates the instinctive kill bite cats so badly want, so the sound is simply an accompanying side effect of the movement. I don't like either of these. I have seen many cats chatter at prey within their reach -- for example, while watching a fly on the wall. The sound they make is not simply smacking sounds from teeth against lips, but a quick series of rapidly released compressed air in the throat. Sometimes, squeaks are emitted, as well. These are not sounds a kill bite would induce.

Is this instinctive behavior a leftover from our cats' wild ancestors' hunting practices? I have long wondered if the domesticated cat once had flying prey that could be lured by this little noise. Entering few keywords today, the Great Lord Internet provided tantalizing results. The domesticated cat's nearest relative and probable ancestor is the African Wild Cat of Africa and the Middle East. These cats hunt small mammals and birds. I did not find a specific list of their prey species, nor did I see any mention of their hunting behaviors. It would be ideal to know if African Wild Cats chatter while hunting birds, and if so, which birds? Undaunted, I took a leap and searched for small birds of the region and found sound samples for a few. One candidate emerged -- a thrush that skulks about on the ground and in low shrubs. It is the White-browed Robin-chat (Cossypha heuglini). Listen to its "alarm" call. It is quite reminiscent of the domesticated cat's flight-capable-prey inspired chatter. I'm not in a position to press my theory much further, but I like it better than the current ones shared across the Internet. I'm not saying the White-browed Robin-chat is the bird, but I am suggesting that one like this might have been the reason for our cats' instinctive reaction to prey that can fly.

sky_hye: (005)
As I wait to work again, I've been previewing an incredible list of new capabilities my next machine will allow. I'll finally have an up-to-date Adobe Creative Suite, and the latest Final Cut Studio. My current Photoshop is pre-3D texturing capable. I'll be able to import obj files, then paint, apply image textures or bake-on lighting right in Photoshop. This will save all kinds of time. There is also an insane new command in Photoshop that can read surrounding image content, make astute calculations, then fill a selection with data to make seamless repairs. Illustrator's new drawing tools are very slick. And InDesign now includes mind blowing built-in animation and interactive features that scream to be played with. Final Cut Studio will finally have certain basic features I needed since starting my project, and I'm sure other features I haven't thought of will find their way into my animations, too.

On top of that, Second Life has finally developed a way to import mesh objects, including the ability to replace our avatar meshes. This is incredibly exciting. Mesh import is still in Beta, but my friend Transparent and I have been checking everything out, and it looks good. I can't experience it for myself yet, as my poor bumbling computer lacks the right architecture. Some day soon (I hope) I will be able to test mesh import. As yet, there is no information about how to replace one's avatar that I can find, although it may be in the forum -- another thing I am blocked from using. With any luck, I'll get to celebrate Halloween in Second Life -- but if I miss that deadline, it doesn't matter, because every day is Halloween in Second Life! :D

Update: I found something about rigging a mesh

Meanwhile, on the orthodontic front, my teeth continue to drift into place. Although I still can't chew, it's getting close. One of these days...

sky_hye: (006)
I ordered the long awaited workhorse. Then it was impaled on a forklift during shipping. There goes another week! Blah!!

sky_hye: (007)
One thing I notice about not being able to chew is, my appetite is completely different. Before I started braces, I worried about cravings for my favorite foods, but I haven't had any. Instead, I find smooth bland foods utterly delicious. Every morning, I make a big bowl of oatmeal with honey, fresh ground flax seeds, a spoonful of slippery elm bark powder and a little milk. Pre-braces, this would have been okay, but these days, it is deeeeeelllllliiiiiicious! And you know what is really tasty? Big, fat lima beans with cottage cheese. Lucky for me, previously yummy stuff, like pizza or crispy cookies, are completely unappetizing. Last week, I had a new adjustment at the orthodontist. He was shocked by the warp to my lower teeth. Now I have an elastic pulling them back where they belong. Anyway, I hope that's what it's doing. Meanwhile, I still can't chew.

Low point

Sep. 14th, 2010 12:41 am
sky_hye: (008)
I just wrote a nice long post and then clicked a link from the editing page, came back, and my post was gone. <poof>
Too much work to write it again.
It was more of the same from the last post.
I may do some home remodeling for a week or two. Not sure.
Finishing the dvd by late spring 2011 is beginning to look iffy.

Nuttn' much

Sep. 4th, 2010 05:30 pm
sky_hye: (009)
I was making big strides forward for a few months, but it's been a rather frustrating time since my last post -- best described as a two-steps-backward sort of time.

Mainly, it's two things.

I'm still unable to order that new computer. There is no news on the extra features, yet to come out, even though one of these is promised for September. Hello! It's September now!

The other thing is, my bite has been getting progressively worse for the last two months. Things drifted after my teeth meshed for the first time in years. The mesh lasted only about a week. I explained this to my orthodontist during my last adjustment, but whatever he did, it did not reverse this maddening drift. Chewing is just not possible. I am so sick of this.

On the bright side, as long as nothing else goes wrong, my bite will eventually improve and the new computer will someday arrive. Meanwhile, I am rewriting the script, and then rewriting that. It's not busy work. It had to be done no matter what, so I may as well do it now, while I wait for the new computer.

sky_hye: (010)
Things are settled down again, since Max's return. One of his sailing friends wrote up an interview, found here.

I've been working, of course. That's as it should be. Getting the new computer is delayed until some accessories for it come out next month. I also need to know more about the new version of final cut pro, coming out soon, before I can determine how much computing power I can actually use. No need to buy the most expensive machine, if the software can't use the power.

I've been rewriting the script in the head and portrait segment of the dvd. To better compose the wording, I created the visuals for it over the past week. I'm liking the results. Here are a few images from the process...

I can't seem to embed images from flickr at this time, so I am using links for now:
It was fun building this simple wrap with elastic top and draping it to the model. The wrap was built in Silo and the draping was achieved in Poser 7's Cloth Room.

I built construction line models in Silo and placed them in Poser, attaching them to the model. Shown here is the external contour center line of the face. The model is a morph I created in Silo from the Poser character, Sydney.

In this image: Using the Sketch render feature in Poser 7, I attempted to give an egg volume any amount of transparency to reveal the center line inside, but doing so created a bizarre artifact within -- that imagery inside the egg on the right is the figures and objects in the scene whose visibilities were turned off! Their orientation did not reflect their positions in the scene, either. No tinkering resolved the bug, but the resulting renders were fascinating! The left egg has 0% transparency.

sky_hye: (011)
Max just called me from his cell, six miles out from the Golden Gate. He says he'll be at the marina by around 5 p.m. He sounded happy and relaxed. Just before he got off the phone, he said, "Okay, I've got a big ship coming my way, about to run me over, so I've gotta jibe and get out of his way. Bye!"

sky_hye: (012)
Things are chugging along over here. I'm about a day away from completing a major portion of my how to measure the posing model segment. Once finished with that, I will start on the how to add a head section: with the face so complex and head so symmetrical, special treatments need mentioning there. That will lead to a further bump up in detail -- how to measure for portraiture. One last part will suggest approaches to final contour. The last topic will cover learning to measure without any device. It seems like things are still on schedule.

I just got news that the computer I was waiting for will be available to ship in August, which is better than September. After I get the new system together, I will finally be able to make this project behave. It is possible that my first rough placement of the timeline will be complete just before the new system arrives. That'll be so cool. All difficult decisions will have been tackled, leaving my mind clear to clean up and finish the project.

sky_hye: (013)
I had an adjustment at the orthodontist yesterday morning. I woke up this morning to find that my teeth mesh! This is the first time in at least 3 years that they fit together! Mind you, it's not perfect, but omg! I have up to another year in braces, but this is major! What will I eat, what will I eat, what will I eat? Decisions, decisions....