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Oh my poor ignored blog...

As Artic Monkeys plays "Do I Wanna Know?" in the background I sit here and feel bad for  I've ignored you baby.  I'm sorry, honey, you know I love you.  I was just... well... distracted with other things baby.  I never meant to hurt you. Did you think we'd be together forever?  You had to know this was gonna happen... 

I'm sorry baby.  Maybe we can be friends?

Ill see you around.


Autodesks Digital Magazine

I was interviewed for an short article in Autodesks digital magazine.


3dsmax 2014 Main Toolbar 24i

Yes, you know what this is.  A classic version of the main 3dsmax toolbar.  Drop this in yout 3dsmax2014/UI-in/Icons  folder and get some color and contrast back to the main toolbar! If anyone fixes other toolbars let me know and Ill post them here


Grimm Behind the Scenes


Removing the Viewport Background Image

Today, someone asked me how to get rid of a reference to a bitmap that was put in the viewport background and I thought "Yea, I know this.  Its a quick script line where you reset the filename to an empty text string "".  

However, I once again cant remember the exact variable that i have to reset.  imageviewportbackgroundfilename?  Soooo, after looking it up again, I'm posting it here spo I can always just come back and look it up.  I should do that more with things I always forget...

BackgroundImageFilename = ""



HDR Image Pack on TurboSquid

Someone was asking me about good HDRI's for Vray lights the other day so I thought I'd repost this one... Studio Lights

I love using Vray lights for soft shadows and reflections, but often they look very artifical and fake.  Adding and HDR image to your area light make your stuff look so much more natural.

Here's a reflection in a car with a simple white Vray light plane. 

It's nice, but the light gives a perfect square of light.  No hot spots, and perfectly clean edges.  Now take a look at some examples of using HDR images of some studio lights.

The great part is that they are HDR, so you can turn them up and down to adjust the hot spots and intensity.  I published my top 6 favorite HDR images for use on Vray lights up on Turbosquid. ($10)

I use these images on every project I work on.  I captured a bunch of stage lights and use them on Vray lights to get much more realistic reflections and lighting on my CG. Studio Lights


"From the Sea" Kickstarter Project

A friends of mine has started a kickstarter project to do a music video for a local band.  Join kickstarter and donate just a few dollars to support  them.  I swear, you'll feel good about yourself today!


Tweaking the "Freeze Transform" macro script

Here's a little tip for making the hidden secret "Freeze Transform" tool just that much better...

Normally, after "Freeze Transform" on a characters control rig, (Alt+RClick) you will want to put the character back in its original pose with the coresponding "Transform to Zero" action.  

Sometimes, you will select some objects that might not have had their transforms frozen and  "Transform to Zero" will throw an error. You will then see this dialog warning you that something was never setup up with the"Freeze Transform" action in the first place. 

And, you might get this dialog 12 times.  Wouldnt it be more helpful if it told you what object was the problem?  Well, with a swift line of code in the macro, it can. Simply open the macro from the 3dsmax\ui\macrosricpt folder and change this line.  (The original line is remakred out -- in green)



And now, when the script fails, it will throw the object name into the messagebox and you can write down all the ones that failed and deal with them individually.  (Cause not all character rig things should be frozen! Dont be trying to freeze your IK bones and Handles.) BTW... Whats with the stupid white bar across the dialog where the ok button is?   




Reasons I Hate the Slate Material Editor

Ive always seen that 3dsmax had a "node" based material editor from its inception.  It just didnt have a graph interface to go along with it.  Instead it had an older tree view along with a "UP" and "OVER" buttons to jump around.

The idea of a graphical node interface to deal with materials seems obvious, but its also a large design project as in how it works and what it's workflow is.  To me, it fell short, and like everything else in 3dsmax, it will be abondoned and ignored, instead of tuned and improved.

I've been building more complicated composite's in my shaders layering mudbox bitmaps over each other to dial in my looks and tonight I thought I'd give that old "Slate" material editor yet another try.  As I undergo the task of jumping around bitmaps and shader settings to dial in my creatures skin for a render, I'll see if this tool can asist me in a journey i am already familiar with.

One of the big reasons I dont like this tool is the branding.  "Slate" material editor.   It's got a fucking name?  WTF? Am I to belive that this technology is so god damn brilliant that not only was it patented and given awards, but it's got  its own name too.

I open the "Slate" material editor. Ok, good start.  Lets grab the material I already started.  Oh, eyedropper icon, I got that. Ok, lets look at what I have. I had a composite shader, with 3 bitmaps connected to the diffuse component. As I look at the screen, it occurs to me that while the old interface shows the maps stacking bottom to top, the "Slate" material editor has them in opposite order, top to bottom?  Oh great.  so which "layer" is on top?  immediate loss of confidence that anything is right from here on out.  

I accept this flaw, just as the modifier stack is opposite of the track view's take on the modifier stack.  But still, a good design should dictate he proper view on data.  I see that everything is names "Map #44" or whatever so i decide to rename things.  This goes fine for the bitmaps, but over the composite material, I right click to "reanme" the layers and NO.  This is rename for the node itself!  You must rename the layer using that other interace.  The rightside up one.  Ok, I get it.  This composite material was made a while back and doesn't know how to talk to the new "Slate" technology. Lame...

Ok. Whatever.  Im a trooper, there could be some amazing thing that improves my workflow here. Right? Ok, lets add a couple other bitmaps i made in mudbox.  OK, lets clone this bitmap here and replace its path with a different bitmap.  NO.  No copy and paste in "Slate" material editor. Wait, let me double check that.  Yea.  I dont see a way to copy and paste a node anywhere.  What about dragging a bitmap over to the material pallette area?  You know, the one with sliders on the side that show the tiniest window of materials?

And whats the the damn bitmap icons in the composite material?  First of all, they don't apply 3dsmax system gamma properly so mine always look super dark.  It's also really slow.  Like those images are rendered live everytime you see them.  As I jump around that shader map always has to re draw it's icons.  How about an option to turn off the icons then?  I can name my stuff and deal with it that way.

I don't blame the engineer for these problems.  I can't even blame the designer that worked on it.  I could only assume that to do this toolset right, would have taken more time than the company would allow for.  


Oregon Film and TV News Clip


Grimm - Season 1 FX



End User Event 2012

For those of you who don't know this event it's called the EUE. It's an event held in Utrecht, Netherlands.  It's decribed as having a "mini Siggraph" with 250 of your best buddies, held in a pub, and has none of the commercial stuff, but all of the talks.

I was just announced as the next speaker for this conference and Im stoked to be a part of it.  I'll probably be speaking on redering skin with Vray or a nuke production pipeline or working with hair-farm.  If any of you live out that way, register for the EUE- I hear it's a blast!



GRIMM - Tarantella

Check out ther latest effects my team did for Grimm. The fluid work on this one came out great!  Check out the fox dude too.  We did some beaver characters in this episode along with some more subtle acid fluid effects.


Grimm - Of Mouse and Man

Another great episode from my Grimm team. Way to go gang, this one looks fantastic!

Game Ogre

Game Ogre bitches!   Some great creature work from my Grimm team...



Happy Holidays - Gingerbread Wishes

Happy Holidays!

Just like they replay Rankin and Bass each year, I'll post gingerbread wishes again this year. Have a great holiday everyone, no matter what it is.


GRIMM Episode 107 'Let Your hair Down'

Worked on another Grimm episode.  Man, doing realistic skin full frame HD is tough, but I like that way Monroe came out.  Check it out...



GRIMM Episode 106 'Danse Macabre'

Hey, look- there's a cool new episode of Grimm airing Thursday night at 10 pm. Im not saying I had anything to do with it, but something tells me it's gonna be pretty cool.   How would I know this?  I don't know.  Maybe cause they came up with this awesome techinque using crowd systems with a pre-cache technique for simulating hundreds of rats?  Maybe cause they managed to integrate computer generated rats, right next to real rats?   Something tells me it's gonna be hard to pick out the real rats from the cg rats.

Anyway, a little bird that's been working late over the past few weeks tells me it was all worth it.  Here's a link to a teaser video on the Grimm website.



RED Epic-X Arrives

We got our new RED Epic-X cameras today. (Sorry for the crappy iPhone photos.) The camera head is so small it fits in a case smaller than a lunch box.  The menus are all supposed to be on the screen for quick changes to the camera settings. (The Red one had this little joystick which tended to loosen and fall off)  It's all stored on solid state chips and it has a high dynamic range feature called HDR-X which givs you even more latitude.  And did I mention is captures 5K resolution?

I know it seems lame to get excited about a camera, but digital filmaking has been taking leaps and bounds over the past few years and I think RED has been a big part in driving the prices down and technology up. 

Now that I've learned Nuke, I'm excited to do some tests with the Epic-X's HDRX technology and high speed cpabilities.  After I'm done working on this TV show in December, I'll try to do some tests and post my findings.


Jingle All The Way

Bent Image Lab recently did a half hour stop motion Christmas special for the Hallmark channel.  Here is an article about it along with the trailer.

I supervised a team that did digital set extentions of the town. I also did a couple small effects shots for show along with the generation and compositing of falling snow.  Your kids are gonna love this one. Get them the Plush animal and interactive storybook to go along with it.

Click here