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Showing posts from 2013

Thanks for the Acknowledgement

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When you work in movie post production and visual effects, sometimes you feel very little appreciation... and in recent years, a lot of that appreciation has to be fought for.  In recent weeks, I personally felt the sting of lacking acknowledgement when, along with several of my colleagues, I was omitted from the screen credits of the Marvel film Thor: The Dark World.  Now to be clear, this was far from the first time I felt this particular sting. No matter how long the credits are, it seems some/several VFX artists always get omitted, and this wasn't the first time for me. However,the first Thor film was the first really big blockbuster I worked on, and my name is in those end credits, as well as the end credits of The Avengers. That being said, the on-screen version of Thor's little section of the Marvel Universe has a rather special place in my heart. After several frustration-filled, hard-fought 40 to 85 hour work weeks of making the Dark World look cool, I honestly don&#…

A Neglected Piece of Me

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Not many people know this about me, but one of my favorite books is 'The Art of War' by the ancient Chinese General Sun Tzu.  Every once and a while, I listen to this classic on audio while doing work, and sometimes, it causes me to ponder different things about my life. Tonight, what I take to ponder from The Art of War is a commonly added side note from the philosopher Tu Mu that implies there are five types of men in this world:

The employer, the brave man, the wise man, the stupid man and the covetous man.

These five types of men are very simply defined in that the wise man delights in establishing his merit, the brave man loves to show his courage in action, the covetous man is relatively quick at seizing advantages, the stupid man fears nothing, and the skillful employer knows how to utilize all of these men effectively.

At different points in my life, I believe I have taken on the roles of each of these men.  I have been brave, I have been wise, I have been stupid, an…

Goodbye Old Friend

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I was just informed of the passing of my dear little friend Merl.  Although frequently referred to as "my cat", Merlin O'Connell was a Maine-coon feline that lived with my parents and he was a quirky little puzzle piece in the eccentric eclectic Massachusetts collective that I call my family.  We adopted him as an abandoned kitten in the summer of 1999; shortly after he was rescued from kids a few blocks away who would chase him around throwing fireworks at him. Everyone in our house took to Merl right away (more or less) and he quickly made himself at home. Merl was a kind and silly little creature, and while anyone who reads this may question the sensibility of referring to a member of the Main-coon breed as "little", I continue to refer to him as such, just as I will always insist that my teenage niece is cute little girl. 
Merl had a sense of affection and simplicity of nature made him more worthy of love and loyalty than so many of the human beings in my …

What's Been Keeping Me Busy...

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This post is sort of an I'm sorry to most of the people (especially relatives) who have been trying to get a hold of my by means other than Facebook or text messaging, since I've returned from my recent trip to Asia.  Since I've been back in the US, I've been working very long days helping my colleagues make this movie look extra awesome...


As soon as I can, I will try to return all phone calls and long emails and such, but until then, bear with me... oh, and tell people to see this in 3D!  ;)

Yo Joe.

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Another Brief Return to Asia

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Once again, I amazingly found a way to briefly escape my life in Southern California take a nice trip overseas.  This time, I spent a week in my former home of sunny Singapore; where I reconnected with dear old friends, attended a really nice semi-traditional Chinese wedding and made concerted (but possibly futile) attempts at professional networking.  


Whenever returning to some place that you once lived, it's always so surreal. Lots of things are still the same, and barring the occasional minor memory lapse, you have no problem finding your way around. Also, it's not uncommon to feel a wonderfully strange comfort from hearing certain slang or accents, or detecting a random familiar scent in the air. However, when things are different, be them places, attitudes or people, it can be surprisingly mentally jarring, while adding just enough of an alien element to make an old stomping ground unfamiliar and possibly even a little adventurous once again. 


To add to the adventure as…

Adapting with Animation

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Adapt and overcome is the mantra of perseverance and survival. For a long time now, I've been putting off the task of learning how to use the 3D software package known as Maya. Sure, I've taken frustrating little cracks at it here and there over the years, but never the solid effort it deserves, given that Maya has become pretty much the global industry standard for many of the creative jobs I would like to try at some point in my life. The following video represents my first 3 or so days of really dedicating concerted effort to understanding Maya 2012.

This video is basically a work-in-progress animation exercise that shows some of the results of teaching myself how to use the animation, rendering and IK rigging features in Maya. The first 4 seconds of the Ninja Turtle's animation are performance capture, recorded with a dual Microsoft Kinect setup. All of the rest of the animation seen here is hand keyed. Disclaimer: I did NOT model either of these characters. The Spider…