Getting Creative

Has it really been over a month already since my last post? Work is keeping me busy. A job in the CG industry is like no other job out there. Whenever I tell people what I do, their eyes light up and they want to know more. When I get home at the end of the day, I am still excited about CG. I finished my last set of personal training sessions last week. After 2-3 months of working out with a trainer, I gained about 13 pounds. The problem with working out a lot is you have to eat a lot. It almost becomes a full-time job. I like eating probably more than the average guy, but the amount I need to eat and the number of times I should eat was getting ridiculous! I picked up some drawing DVDs called The Structure of Man. They’re all about drawing the human form from your mind. I’ve watched the first few videos and it seems pretty interesting. Hopefully, with practice I’ll be at a level where I am satisfied with my own drawings. I basically would like to be able to draw my own character/creature designs so I can turn them into CG characters. I also really like concept art and would like to be able to draw some sweet work myself. And…here’s me in 3d:

Chad in 3d.

Knowledge is Power

The past few weeks have gone by pretty quickly.  Work is still exciting and I learn new things every day.  I started getting into physics simulations and linear algebra programming.  You can do a lot of really cool things once you know a few basic concepts such as vector/matrix math, cross products, dot products, etc.  When you hear TD’s (Technical Directors for you non-industry people) should be good at math, they’re right.  Not all TD’s know or understand this material but they are still really talented.  But the ones that do understand it can go above and beyond creating really cool systems.  I’m finding it a lot easier these days to read a SIGGRAPH paper and actually understand it. I had an interesting conversation today with some of my coworkers about sharing knowledge and source code.  If you’ve read my site before, you probably know that I like to share my knowledge with people and give away code and such for free. People helped me when I was learning and I like to return the favor to others. Someday, I would like to write up some pages on character rigging and coding with Maya but now that I work for a company, it can be a bit more complicated.  If I were to post code and certain techniques, I would now have to be careful that I’m not posting too much that could be deemed sensitive company information.  I realized this is why there are not really any in-depth production worthy character rigging resources out there. Most of the knowledge is learned on the job and most of it is specific to the company’s pipeline. As a result, a lot of this work and knowledge can be seen as belonging to the company.  So what can be shared or posted?  Unless we have specific permission, we could probably only share extremely dumbed down versions of tools or plug-ins. Maybe even break down material into the fundamental building blocks that the material is based on and not even talk about the specific tool at all.  With physics simulations, for example, I could probably only write about the basics such as vector math and verlet integration and then leave it up to the reader to build upon these principles to make complex systems. Now if I were to go out and find a SIGGRAPH paper and implement it and modify it on my own time and equipment, could I talk about that?  Maybe.  But it could be seen as knowledge relating to my work.  It’s a tricky area that I’m not too knowledgeable about.  Once I’m in the industry longer, I’ll probably have a better idea about this.

cvxporter 1.1 Released

Due to popular demand, I continued development of cvxporter. This version has been converted to Python and so only works with Maya 8.5 and above. This release also contains numerous bug fixes and optimizations along with a few more export options. Also, the download comes with the full source so you can modify it, learn from it, or simply be amazed by my wondrous Maya Python scripting abilities. Grab it while it’s hot!

Finding Hobbies

I’m getting pretty settled into work life. Everyday has a challenge and I’m learning a lot. I’ve been digging into a lot of Maya API programming and Python scripting both of which are turning out to be pretty powerful. When I was first starting my job, I was expecting to get a lot of grunt level work but I’m happy to say I’ve been getting a lot of cool assignments thrown my way. After a lot of college jobs serving people, I can easily say that I am happy with my career choice. One of the benefits of not being in school anymore is that when I’m off work, I don’t have to do anything. When I was in school, I was always working on my reel or learning on my own.  Now that I don’t have to do that anymore, I am free to take up other hobbies. To give myself something to do, I signed up for a bunch of personal training sessions with this guy. I’ve been working out at my current gym for a couple years now and at other gyms for the past 6 years but this will be my first time with a trainer.  He said that I have good genes because of my build and I’ll shoot up about 15 pounds over the next 2-3 months.  Whoa! Hopefully, I won’t end up looking like this guy.

My First Week in the CG Industry

I just finished my first week at Imagemovers Digital. All I can say is I love it. Confucius was right when he said, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’ve looked forward to every day of work this past week. Not a day has gone by where I haven’t seen something amazing. I’m surrounded by some of the best in the industry and there’s so much I can learn. It was kind of intimidating being thrown into the midst of so many talented people. But it keeps me motivated and eager to learn more. It’s kind of weird thinking I’m going to spend the next couple years of my life working on a movie. But when I see my name roll up in the credits, it’ll all be worth it.

The Beginning of the End

It’s the beginning of the end of my time at Ex’pression College. I’ve just finished my final demo reel as a student, which you can view on my splash page. I have one last 5-week term and I’ll be done with school. I can’t wait because then I get to start working on my first feature film. It’s going to feel weird not being a full-time student since I’ve been one for the past 21 years.

I’m also moving to a new place with sweet roommates so I’m looking forward to that. Now it’s just a waiting game for the next few weeks until I finish school and move. The waiting game and a little Bioshock will have to hold me over until then.

Welcome to my (new) Blog!

This is my latest site. If you’ve been following along with me, you’ll know that this is something like my 7th generation website. However, all the sites before this one used all my own code as a backend. I’ve decided to ditch about 3 years of stored posts from my old database to move over to the wonder that is WordPress. Never fear, if you’re here for my DirectX tutorials, they’ve all been transferred over along with my Maya exporter.

What’s been going on in my life these past few quiet months? Besides my normal school work and part-time job, I finished a short film I have been working on with a team of my classmates for the past 6 months. It was an interesting experience full of many long and sleepless nights. Last week, I attended Siggraph as a student volunteer in San Diego. I met a lot of great people at Siggraph and made a lot of good friends that were once only acquaintances. With school coming to a close in a couple of months and my major school projects behind me, my life is starting to return to it’s less crazier form. I’m about to graduate from Ex’pression College in a couple of months. When I graduate, I’ll begin working at my dream job at a great new animation studio. I couldn’t have asked for a better job. I guess hard work really does payoff :).

Great job, great family, great friends, a new niece…I pretty much love my life right now. Fjorg! Stay passionate, stay determined, take a chance, and great things will follow.