Article on 80 Level


I wrote an article for the game-and-vfx website 80 Level a while back, and it’s gone live. The topic is Hooke’s law as implemented in Popcorn FX (and Unity’s VFX graph.) It’s brief but has been well received, I appreciate the feedback I’ve gotten. A second article for 80.lv centered around Newton’s universal gravitation as implemented in PopcornFX (and Houdini this time) is in the works.

See you, Softimage…

Well, they did it. Autodesk killed Softimage, despite it’s huge potential and growing audience using ICE. Sadly Fabric Engine has disappeared as well. My response? Return to my roots for a while and make fine art glass. A complete change from CGI but a lot of fun! But don’t worry, there will be more CG discussion coming up as I dive into Houdini and explore!



Soylent Art, its made from people.

Since at the moment I am heads-down in production and can’t share the art I’m working on, I thought I would take a second to share someone else’s art – in this case a favorite piece by the wonderful and whimsical dance troupe, Momix.

While I have been lucky enough to have seen Pilobolus, The Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Martha Graham, and even some rare offshoots like Iso and The Bobs, I have never seen Momix live. If you like good art and have an opportunity to do so yourself, don’t pass it up.

And while I’m mentioning performance artists of the kinesthetic sort, if you live on the west coast and haven’t spent an evening with the Flying Karamozov Brothers, good lord – what’s keeping you?

Minor Pipeline Tools- Change background of all viewports

The most common email I get from people who have visited this blog is inquiries about the dark color of the background in the screenshots. No it’s not a custom UI, I just have a custom menu with a bunch of stuff including two ridiculously simple scripts… one which cycles the background color in all viewports and one which sets them to this dark grey.

Its Your Friend, Dark Grey

I chose this color for a couple of reasons.

  • With a darker color, particles are much more visible, meaning I can display them as single pixels.
  • The color is dark but just light enough to easily see black wireframes.
  • Have you ever opened Softimage in a dark room full of people using Maya and Nuke? It’s like switching on a searchlight. The light grey color scheme of the Softimage UI is waaaay to bright.

These two little scripts go a long way towards my personal enjoyment of the software. I won’t bother to display them in the post (wordpress kills the formatting), but here’s a file for each…



Since we’re on the topic… Softimage needs a new UI. It’s elegant and functional in many ways, but dated. The light grey is glaring, the huge arrow button looks absurd to new artists, (they’re right) and I have a strong suspicion that it’s a major factor which keeps new artists from Softimage. Just my $0.02.

Higgs Bosons and why you should care.

I’ll get back to some CGI related posts soon… But in the meantime, what’s all this about the Higgs Boson, and why should we care? I mean, the math seems impossibly deep, the experiments staggeringly expensive, and then when we ask physicists to explain how all this matters to us in our daily lives they mumble stuff about the beginning of the universe and dark matter.

I know, it’s annoying, right?

Instead of asking physicists, who understandably are up to their waders in some pretty deep stuff, we should ask some engineers why we should care. The answer becomes something like this:

“If you want to see a day where perhaps things like pod racers or gravity skateboards are a reality, this matters. This is an important step which will help us know if such seemingly fanciful devices are even possible.”

Suddenly, the staggering costs and daunting math make a lot more sense. All this is about advancing knowledge that ultimately lends humanity more capability to DO stuff, from feeding ourselves to making iPads.

This video does a pretty good job of putting the “discovery” into some context:

Coming soon.


Update: It’s out, but Disney marketing seems to have melted down and the result has been poor box office returns. A pity, because it’s actually quite fun and well worth a watch. Seriously, it’s a good film – watch and see for yourself. :D

Comfort and the Sony HMZ-T1 HMD – A Tip

You have the HMZ-T1. It’s awesome. The picture is incredible. The stereo is stunning. Wearing it for more than 3 minutes makes you want to scream. It presses on your nose.

Many people on the AVS HMZ thread, which has become a defacto go-to resource so far, have done a number of mods to make their HMZ more comfortable, and came up with the idea of a “bridge” strap between the forehead pad and the upper strap. The folks at blazin3D even make a simple (and quite nice) package of straps using this idea – but they are constantly behind demand, with a waiting list. What to do?

Well, before you get too far into modding, or make any significant purchases, here’s a fast way to see if this whole “bridge” bit will help you, comfort wise: Get a wiimote replacement wrist strap. They cost a couple of bucks. Then do this:

Hey, two bucks and it doesn't harm anything, give it a try.

It works surprisingly well.

HMZ-T1 OLED display – $800. Two bucks to make your $800 gadget MUCH more comfortable? Priceless. (Does this even make sense?)