Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Super Mario Questions

Have you ever had one of those ideas that you just couldn't shake and the only solution was to just do it?

I do, I did:

If you don't know, its a question block from the original Super Mario Brothers. Its 16x16 blocks, or pixels, just like the original art (or a best as I can determine). Interestingly, the top right and left "pixels" are missing. So what your seeing in the picture is 254 2x2x.5 (really ~1.5x1.5 inch) blocks. I spent about an hour sawing then with Aidan and Nathan helped paint them.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Words from the Young

Aidan, addressing his friend was was just sent home after roughhousing.

"I'm deleting you!"

"I'm putting you on the girls team!"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Overworked, Overstressed, Undersleep

I've spent too much time at work. These silly projects that I can't really attach myself to. The only reason I work is for the money. I've so much as said that although I may only be 75% effective after so many hours, at least I'm getting paid. It sucks that I only get straight time too, not double pay or whatever others may get if they work OT.

Last week I worked 72 hours. This week, I only worked 52, but I took Friday off (kids and wife sick, vomit in my wife's purse to prove it).

In my case, anything over 45 hours gets paid straight OT. So my 72 hour week means I'll make an extra $500 or so after taxes. All that time and effort, lost sleep, lost social life, lost family time. It adds up to so little. Is it worth it?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reformat the Planet

Being an indie filmmaker, 30 something, a love of video games (classic and new), and a love of techno, you can't blame me for finding the documentary BLIP FESTIVAL: REFORMAT THE PLANET interesting.

Tonight I found myself on the internets like usual and landed on Pitchfork.tv. They had a link to a short video playing for one week only so I figured I'd check it out. Little did I know it was the entire movie for the documentary about a niche music culture known as chiptunes. Essentially, geeked out people who make music with old game consoles like the Nintendo Gameboy. Simply put, 1 bit to 8 bit type music. It was really quite impressive. I wish I had some musical skills.

I strongly recommend you check out the trailer.

BLIP FESTIVAL: REFORMAT THE PLANET trailer from 2 Player Productions on Vimeo.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Retro Evolved, 21st Century Arcade

No I don't mean Geometry Wars 2, though I did beat a friend on the first game mode after like 5 hours trying, so I'm pretty pumped about that. I mean a legitimate evolution of the arcade machine. My friend sent me a link to an artist who took inspiration from the old 1971 Computer Space arcade cabinet (an ugly thing IMO) and made it into a modern version. It's really quite cool looking, which means I'm going to have to modify my arcade design to match it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


There is nothing like a death in the family to put the heavy on. My aunt, my dad's only sister, passed away this week. I've had aunts and uncles die on my mom's side, and although tragic never really felt this way. This is the first on my dad's side (other than my uncle who died in Vietnam). It was really heave to see the whole thing, with all the brothers sort of acting weird, as if it were a family function like normal, but with weirdness maxed.

I'm not a very emotional person, my wife can attest to that. The thing I was able to connect the most with was my aunt's husband Jeff. He obviously loved her and is in a place I hope to never be in. His words at the funeral really sent my mind into a whirl. Death is so heavy. It's a wonder how we all go on. We just keep going, always pushing mortality to the end of the list as we get gas for our cars and go about the drudgery of everyday life.

My aunt was lucky. I don't want to seem morbid about it, since she struggled with cancer for so long, but she was lucky because she was able to take her life into account and put her eggs in the baskets she wanted. That may be a mixed metaphor, but she was able to extend her love to everyone in a proper way.

At the same time, I hate to think she was lucky. Honestly though, that is how I may want to go. Able to extend myself to my loved ones, to express my love, to extend my concerns, to help put things in order. Getting hit by a bus, although quick and potentially painless, leaves more to scar I think.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Working 95

I've been super over busy at work lately. I've got two projects that both come to a head on Aug 21st. One is a video project, which beyond the fact that my job really shouldn't be about making videos, its been hell. The other is a scripted simulation project which also has been hell. 72 hours this week, with more fun to come next week.

The video project is hell because its not mine and my boss thinks I love this stuff. The major difference between playing with video as a hobby and doing it for work (in my case) is that I get to make what I want how I want it. At work, this is not the case. My customer for the video is using others to write the script and has had little control/feedback/input regarding my script suggestions. He's obviously managing hoping that educated parties will make it work, which is fine management IMO, but he does need a backbone to support the guy who's making the video. In the end, sections that I warned would be boring and out of place and phrases that were repetitive and/or confusing, continued to persist in the script regardless of my continued and cordial comments to that effect. So I said fuck it, and gave them what the script called for. A 9 minute video full long and boring pockets of weird stuff. The customers response was "Wow, why so long?" To which the script writers response was to remove all the sections I had previously claimed as useless or repetitive drivel. Seriously, there was 40 seconds of a guy reading numbers that were arbitrary (just imagine imaginary directions to an imaginary building, useless). Essentially, I wasted my time proving that I know what I'm doing.

The other thing consuming my time I call scripted simulation. "Scripted Simulation" is the phrase I came up with for animations done within our visualization software using our scripting interface. Essentially, it isn't simulation really as its just playing out events that are done via keyframing methods, so the result is playback in real time as events occur, but its still just an animation. I hate it when people call my work animation and I hate when I have to make animations. I hate it more when they call it cartoons. This hatred is based in fact though I realize, as most of my work over the last few years has resulted in little more than marketing fodder.

Sound Me

For a video project at work we hired a professional narrator and I got to tag along to the studio. It was really interesting to see how it's done. The picture isn't very good, but you can see Tom, the narrator, in the sound proof booth in front a microphone. Interesting thing about Tom is that he's a narrator who's also blind.

I'm so connected to visual things, it was interesting to hear him work, and talk with him. You could almost "see" the different way in which he lives. He's good at what he does, and can do things on the fly, remembering complex and strange phrases without much added effort.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm Cool with Proof

I hit 1600 gamerscore (Xbox 360), aka Nerd Points, last night when I beat Crackdown and with some additional help from Geometry Wars 2.

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is pretty dang fun. I had tried the first one in demo form and didn't connect with it, though friends were telling me it was an awesome game. A number of the podcasts I listen too all seem to praise it so I tried it again with my 5 year old last night. Maybe it was his genuine excitement that helped me, but I'm drawn in. I spent about 2 hrs trying to reach/beat my friends top score before giving up for the night.

I think I know where my piece of mind is going (to Microsoft).

Friday, August 8, 2008

Busy Enough

As if I wasn't already busy enough, I won/signed up for a membership in Toastmasters. Toastmasters is a speech club, I think that's the easiest way to explain it. It's at work, which makes it somewhat convenient. Its intent is to help people develop their speaking skills, and even some leadership skills. I hope to do both. I've been in the group for a couple months now, I even won some "impromptu speaking" awards.

On Thursday I had my first speech, the Ice Breaker. It went really well. I presented with a Open Office Powerpoint with pictures and bullets about myself and my filmmaking background. The evaluation said I did really well with a few exceptions: I should be more active with my hands and not keep them behind my back, I should get out from behind the podium (a problem of the room and the projection system makes this hard and was noted), and watch for crutch words like ahh, umm, etc.

All in all, for the amount of preparation and practice (next to none) I think I did really well.

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