Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Animations Galore!


Originally, I was gonna break these projects up by the class, but today's a blogging day according to my calendar. So I figured why not spend a bit more time with one big post today about all my animation projects instead of spreading them out... >.> I got time. ... I love saying that.

Sooo, where to begin...??

We'll go with my 3D animation projects. ^^

And, no, we're not talkin' Pixar status here. I swear, I will never view those movies the same ever again. The amount of time and effort that goes into this kind of work is EXCRUCIATINGLY wearisome. And the big Mac computers (lol bigmac) could barely handle the short animations we were putting together. I can't even imagine what kind of system is needed to produce a professional movie of Pixar's caliber. 3D modeling and 3D animation were two different classes I took as we saw in earlier entries. Had to take the modeling first, 'cause of course animation was just built off that knowledge.

Not gonna lie, I was pretty miserable throughout both courses. I realized the skill is valuable and highly sought after, so I signed up for the classes. And...pretty much, they made me hate life. Just so tedious, and it's like making art with numbers. SO MANY THINGS can go wrong. And with my luck, if something can go wrong, it does. And it did.
Software crashed, my geometry got screwed up beyond repair, somehow I missed a step or something wasn't working the way it should so the entire project was screwed to hell, or I couldn't remember how to get a certain function to work...omg...all on a regular basis. I wanted to throw the computer out the window. Rendering in high quality took hours if not days. Literally. We had to leave the jobs running over night, so it was impossible to get things done in a timely manner. I was in the lab on weekends, even...by myself...trying to get everything done. You can just tell how happy I was about that...

And because of that time issue, I missed out on an opportunity to have my work showcased in a big museum because I had to change something I was told would take 2 hours........and it ended up taking 10 hours to render. I hated it.

Instead of 3D animation, I kinda wished I'd signed up for Advanced Electronic Art so I could become more familiar with web design instead of stressful animation crap.
I'm not entirely regretful.
I can learn web design on my own if I need to. Okay, technically, I can learn any of this stuff on my own, but it'll be nice to say I got formal education on 3D art.

Anyway, let's finally get started with the work. lol

Disclaimer: My instructor (Ms. R) was partial to abstract work, so that's what we're gonna see here. If I even dared represent something at face value, all hell would break lose. :| Kinda like with Ms. S in drawing.

This was the first animation I did - everyone's was different. We were given the assignment to test out all kinds of deformers, and make a composition with various ones. I went for a strange squishy, breathing cylinder-thing with a diaphragm that was blowing a spinning disk into the air. lol No, I had no idea what I was doing, but prof liked it, and that's what counts. I used 3D models I'd created of certain objects I like to draw on a regular basis. It turned into a huuuuuuge motherflippin' project we weren't expecting to take half the semester, but it did. x_x Basically, we learned new things each week, and were tasked with updating the animation with something showing what we learned. Deformers, motion key framing, motion paths, camera paths, color changing effects, etc.
Eventually, the assignment was to develop the thing into a conceptual piece (we weren't told this directly, but prof expected us to have an idea behind our work every time it was critiqued), and I was like...great...wtf is this supposed to be?? So, I went with critique discussion about how this composition looked like it was alive, and changed the color scheme to red to make it seem bloody/fleshy/alive/what have you. I liked my first red version best, but prof wanted me to do more with the blood basin...thus the second one was born with the red liquid hanging out upside down as per her suggestion ... -_- I don't understand how she thinks sometimes, but all I wanted was to stay on her good side. There are sacrifices to be made in art classes sometimes if you want a good grade. ART IS SUBJECTIVE...as dangerous as that is, there's no getting around it.
Also went with the checker board world from my Alice and Wonderland-esque model done the previous semester to keep my work cohesive (also suggested).

You'll notice the diaphragm has an image mapped onto it in the first version and is more of a chrome material in the others. That was a fluke. Our render farm was ridiculously buggy and could not get that right for the life of itself. You'll also notice the ocean jiggles in the first version. It was supposed to do that a lot more, and in the others, too...but again, the render farm couldn't handle it no matter what I tried. I worked on that damn jiggle for at least two months to no avail.

Prof also wanted me to add a breathing sound effect or a heartbeat or something for added depth (she doesn't usually like music in pieces, btw), but I got caught up in other class priorities and just had to put my foot down about it being done.

Moving on.

I actually had a bit of fun with this next one, and love it to pieces. Gasp. :p

After our first project was finished, we were told we had to do another complete animation for our final. And we were like...uuh...it just took us 3 months to make that damn thing, and now you want us to make a better one in a month? LOL YAAAAaaaaaaaayyyyy.....fuck.

I was in trouble. The workload piling up from my other classes around finals was already driving me into below the ground. I don't think I have to remind you about those entries filled with me crying about feeling like death with no escape. = | I had to think of a way to save myself in any way possible.

I talked to prof about using the 3D model of a mystical pond I'd created the previous semester as the base for my animation to save on time. I also asked her one more favor she agreed to, but I won't mention it 'cause I promised I wouldn't. :P Basically, I wanna highlight that she understood my screwed situation and helped me out a bit by allowing me to do certain things. And I'm very grateful. Rest assured, I did all the work you see here.

Of course we're not allowed to create mindless works of art, so there's a concept. I knew I wanted to keep the mystical feel of the pond. At first, I had the idea of animating a gold fish (as seen in an animation I'll share later) that would emerge from the water and swim up to the sky, creating bubbles of life that defined who I was in each. The bubbles would then become the stars in the sky. BUT THEN I GOT A BETTER IDEA. Since the fish didn't have much to do with me personally (and prof is always encouraging me to make my work a reflection of myself) I decided the bubbles would act on their own.

The pond is the unknown from which we develop. Dark, mysterious, and foreboding. Within, we are undefined. There are aspirations which arise in our desire to grow and break away from that darkness, and some of them don't flourish. But certain aspects we carry do take flight, and end up defining who we are. Those are the bubbles that rise and become stars. Stars have been symbolic in my life for a long time. Sailor Universe's tale highlights stars as how we should strive to be - lights in the dark, shining brightly amidst the overwhelming darkness/odds against us. There's a lullaby in the story that I wrote toward the beginning of my college career - the first part reads as follows:

When you lie awake, gazing at the stars
Tell me what you see, my dear, they show you who you are.
In the dark of night, behold the shining light
Summoning the glow of dawn despite the rising odds.

And that's where the music in the animation is from. I actually started fooling with Garage Band on my MacBook Pro, and found out how to create a simple tune. It doesn't follow a beat, I regret to say, but I was in a bit too much of a hurry to figure out how to make it perfect. I still like it!

So, everything in the piece is made by me, and represents something extremely import which is why I like it so much. Luckily, the creation process went a bit more smoothly than usual. I actually freaked out at how well it was going ... it was a little scary, I thought something devastating was about to happen as per my luck. xD
I used Adobe After Effects for the objects inside the bubbles. Using effects and filters, I gave the illusion of them being inside the 3D bubbles while they're actually on top. The speech audio was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro.

The first bubble holds round, colored lights, representing the watercolor paint palette I was holding when the audio was recorded (I was 2 years old - 1992). The bubble is symbolic of my artistic side that's been with me since the beginning.

The second bubble portrays a bright light already like a star while the Lord's Prayer is read. This represents my spirituality which is literally what has lit my path ahead.

The third bubble contains purple smoke. While I'm singing the song "Stand My Ground" by Within Temptation, my favorite band, the purple smoke is a tribute to my favorite singer, Amy Lee, who often appears on a stage themed in purple these days. This bubble symbolizes my inspiration.

The fourth bubble entraps a feather, which, if you know me, of COURSE represents angelic influence. :] The line being spoken is from Uni's story."Sailor Universe…is what I'm called. And I am not bound by the borders of worlds…or dimensions." -from Our Providence; chapter II. This is symbolic of so much more than it seems. Yes, Universe can travel across worlds and dimensions, but that's how I also feel about my artwork and my world views. Not bound by what's only taught, not conforming to what's expected, but reaching for the seemingly impossible and embracing the supernatural. I also feel my creativity is limitless. And this also brings a new meaning to why I identify as Uni in the art world. The bubble symbolizes my enlightenment.

The final bubble holds a burning fire as I lead Air Force cadets in reciting the Airman's Creed (audio retrieved from this video). Officer training was the toughest challenge I've ever endured along with college, but I persevered with honor. Powerful determination is a prominent trait I carry with me into every endeavor, and that's what this bubble symbolizes.

The bubbles as a whole are also a significant cohesive factor in my work as I've been known to use spherical shapes in other projects to denote importance. I.E.  :

...to name a few.

The animation was featured in the Senior Art Ball on campus. :]

2D Animation~

So much random crap. lol Okay, here we go.
The Intermediate Electronic Art course I took this past semester was all about exploring digital 2D animation options. We used Photoshop, After Effects, Flash, and combinations of the three.

I was already familiar with animating in Photoshop and Flash, so those came pretty easily to me. After Effects took a bit to get used to, but it literally is almost just like Photoshop. Same filters, layers, and everything...very cool. For our midterm project, we had to animate a collage kind of work. And prof wanted us to sync it to music...her music...everyone did the same damn music. And after hearing this a million times over in critique, you go kinda crazy.

Yes it had to be random as hell, and filled with action. :v I did some frame-by-frame illustration, there was some nested animation which was a new thing for me, I created those Zelda fairy and rupee gifs in photoshop, of course there are some animated gifs in there I brought in from online, but most everything's mine. Including that pretty sakura background. :3 Don't ask about the plane creature...that was a separate assignment we had to incorporate that I kinda hated. And yes, that's me dancing at the beginning. 

I wanted to include rockin' Mario, but couldn't find a good place. >.<

Next, we have one that was animated solely in After Effects, although I used Photoshop to comprise the graphics. It's called "Impossible Space" because the assignment was to create a world with impossible dynamics, and animate it as though we were going through it. There were some pretty creative ideas, like a world on the palm of someone's hand, and abstract worlds within a lake reflection and such. 

So, I had a surface city under the ocean where pencils grew and planets and planes flew. lol Then I take you up into space where the fishies are, and you eventually find out you're in a cosmic fish bowl within a marble in an abyss of nothing. xD How's that for impossible...
Those fish were a blast to animate, though...stagnant images put to motion by means of the puppet tool. Pretty neat thing.
All stock images were free for use.

And last, but not least...the stop motion animation.
Yes, the type of animation where you take a million photos and put them together to create a motion picture. I only took 400+, but it was still a hassle.
The semester before this last one...when I found out how horrid my workload was going to be, I went to Ms. R and asked her what I could start on over winter break to alleviate the burden a bit during the semester. The only thing I could really work on was the stop motion, and get a head start with the photo taking...which...does take quite a while. So, that would explain the Christmas theme. 
However, this also had to have a sensible concept behind it, and I tried many ideas before Ms. R would let me settle on one. By that point, break was almost over, so I had to rush. -_- Stop motion is generally choppy, but this one is extra choppy due to rushiness. You've been warned. 

We've had these translucent M&M Christmas light covers since before I can remember. When I was little, I used to make them go on little adventures around the Christmas tree and interact with ornaments. Funnest thing ever for a kid. :] But I got the idea to bring that to life again in this project. In case the ideas wasn't clear, the little red dude is visiting ornaments that symbolize significant moments or things in my life throughout the ages. Hence...Memory Tree. 

Animating the project came with all KINDS of problems. This was a bunch of photos...not video. So, I couldn't put a filter over top of it to edit lighting or anything. I had to take all 400+ photos into photoshop and put them through an automator action. but when they saved again...for some reason they were all out of order. I have no idea why. Simple folder arrangement wasn't working. Cue the Mac's Finder automator. Messed everything up even more for some inexplicable reason. It took me hours to separate all the scenes into folders, rename them, and put them in order manually. Then, After Effects wasn't importing the images correctly, files kept going missing during import. Had to rename some again. Then it was going too fast and it took be a few days to find a way to slow the frame rate. By that point, I'd had it...and really don't care that there's a slight pause after every 10 frames. = | I don't know why it does that, but any slower would be WAY too choppy, and faster doesn't give you a good idea of what's going on. -__- Dude. If I EVER do this again, it better not be when I have to rush things.

But, that's it for now. We're pretty much up to date on my class animations. If I find some obscure exercise animation I wanna share, that'll go up another time. :] 



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cherry Blossom Festival~!


I'm bringing this blog back to life! SO much has happened since that last entry, and I've had to literally keep a huge, long list of all the things I've wanted to blog about because there was no time. ;~; I semi-died during finals week with no sleep and very little food, then I graduated...somehow (yay!), then I was immediately thrust into cleaning/packing mode and finalizing degree + apartment paperwork, visiting old friends I won't see again for years, training for a physical fitness assessment, MORE packing and cleaning, and getting ready for another big life event. It was overwhelming. And then I still didn't get a break after taking care of all that, because right afterward, we loaded up the vehicles, and my Dad and I drove across the continent to my new home. ^^; I'll blog about all that later, but for noooow...


A dream come true for me. I have a couple friends to thank for accompanying me - it was really awesome of them. ^_^ San Francisco is a crazy place, and I don't like braving it alone.

The last time I was in Japantown was 2005 for my 16th birthday.
Aaww, lil' 16 y/o me (on right)~ :3

The place has changed so much since then, it's pretty crazy. The mall is now divided into two buildings, and the landscaping's been changed up. The Kinokuniya Bookstore is now located inside of one of the branches instead of having its own building.

The festival itself went on for two weekends in April, but I was only able to attend the last Sunday it was happening, which was also when the Grand Parade took place. What an adventure~!

Before I went, I wanted a flower hairpiece to go with my yukata. Definitely wanted it to be white, sort of large, an have hanging pearls and sakura-like flowers. I think I pulled it off alright - definitely festive. :] All my materials were found at Joann Fabrics.

Luckily, it went well with the outfit!

The car ride over was uneventful UNTIL WE CROSSED THAT BRIDGE. lmao
As soon as we got onto the bridge, there was a woman in her car next to us with her window rolled down just like mine. As we were waiting in the bridge toll line, she looked over and I hear, "My, don't you look lovely!" I got a kick out of it...told her thank you before we moved on. Then, passed the toll, traffic was very slow moving, so we ended up slowly crawling next to this dude in a truck with his window rolled down ... and we're talkin'...beat up pick-up, TOTALLY redneckin' it there in SF. I try very hard not to make eye contact until, "Ain't you purdy." I just turned to my friend driving with a look like: awkwaaard... Drawing too much attention isn't my thing. It's just so ridiculous how much difference a dress can make. Earlier already that semester I'd been sexually harassed on campus, so things were still pretty uncomfortable when it came to guys looking at me.     
BUT THEEEN, once the traffic got moving again, we saw this guy in his car next to us...LITERALLY...drinking...and driving. Like, he had a mothaflippin' beer bottle to his lips...flyin' over the Bay Bridge in some clunker of a vehicle. We were just floored.

And then before we got to the parking garage, we were stopped at a red light when a homeless man...drunk as hell...peered into my open window. He made his hands into a rectangle shape like a camera in front of me, and asked, "Are you always dressed up so pretty-like?? Let me tell you I-" an then we dove off... 


When we arrived, there was a really talented singer on stage - I was surprised at how not many were in the seats listening to her. But it WAS extremely hot out. And people were pretty preoccupied with the mall, cosplaying, and parade stuff.

Inside one of the mall branches, is a hall that looks like a traditional Japanese alleyway. I don't think it was like that last time I was there.

Pink, but WHO CARES! I got my sakura dangos ~ so good! Made one of my friends try it, and he hated it. lol It does have a very different texture/flavor than what we're used to in America - as I mentioned in my video on it a while back. This package of about 8 dango sticks was about $10... :'D Yeah...so worth it, though.

And theeeen we checked out the anime shops. ^_^ It was mostly me freaking out over the merch, one guy I was with didn't care for anime, and all the other cared about was DBZ, so I indulged mostly alone. Window shopping mostly...keep in mind I was/am very broke. Had to forego some groceries for this trip already. T.T

I loved this design - didn't like the pink, tho.

Bamboo SM poster! And Kenshin Live Action movie!

We watched the parade for only a little bit. It was slow moving, and we were hot. I couldn't BELIEVE those poor people had to march through that thing for 3 hours! They looked so miserable. Kimba was in it, too! She dressed up as Sailor Jupiter, and was featured in the anime section of the parade. I'd met her at a few conventions prior to finding out that I was classmates with a friend of hers, and another friend of hers was an admirer of my work online. Small world! Was glad she remembered me when I ran into later. :]

There was a lot of Japanese dancing and singing. Of course, brightly colored costumes. It was slightly awkward when you had the occasional white person doing these traditional Asian rituals, but hey...it's all about cultural appreciation, right? lol
I was lucky enough to find a ledge to stand on and film a bit. It was very crowded.

Saw some really pretty dishes and chopstick holders. ^^

Been wanting this type of chime. If only it wasn't pink!
Compare the below image to the one at the top when I was 16 to see some of the changes they made. :]

Taken with an iphone... ;.; I want one...
 We really hated that checker-style flooring, so I made it all one color in photoshop. ^.~

Watching the parade~

Took this photo just for the horror. xD Hello Kitty invasion!
 Story time!
So, once upon a time when I was little, there was this episode of Sailor Moon in which Usagi and Makoto were eating some kind of delicious looking pastry, and I wanted to try it SO badly.

(start at 4:30)

After digging around later in life, I learned they were called crepes - and the Japanese make a specific kind that's pretty popular. Well...at the festival, I FOUND some! They had a couple shops, but we went to the first we saw. $5 for one, I think it was...but one of the guys with me told me it was worth it. He'd been stationed in Japan and got to try them, so I took his word for it.

This guy was pro!
There's a real art to frying the batter just right.
I got one with vanilla ice cream and strawberries and whipped cream inside, but there were sooo many options, I was overwhelmed. Kiwi, bananas, peaches, blueberries, gummies, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, strawberry syrup, strawberry icecream, chocolate icecream, green tea icecream, M&Ms, chocolate chips...endless! It was a very heavy snack, though, digestively, and I had to go slow with it. No wonder Mako-chan talked about getting a stomach ache!
They made faces on them~!
Then, the window shopping continued... Can you tell what I was drawn to...? :P

Found the Kinokuniya Bookstore! That's where I bought my Japanese
version Zelda mangas before they were officially translated into English. 

Advertising for my usual con~
The flags were all at half-staff because this was very shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings happened. My friends n' I were all pretty wary of the whole thing...being in a crowded place, n' all.

Two fine gentlemen. :P

You see the straaangest things in big cities...
And I wanted to take something home with me other than the sakura dango which wouldn't last. So, what better than a sakura-themed Kenshin poster?? It was only $3!

So yeah...

I'm really, really glad I got to go before I left Cali. Great experience, and a wonderful stress reliever during that hellish last semester of college. :]

I got plenty of compliments on the yukata, and surprisingly, most were from elder Japanese women... Do you know what an honor that is?? I was so worried about wearing it right, and being respectful, so I'm really glad they liked it. ^^ 
Unfortunately, we had to walk a mile or so through a different part of town to get back to the car, and it got me more unwanted attention. 
It was so funny, though...one dude literally stopped his conversation with someone to watch me walk by. I ignored him while my friend behind me gave him a weird look back, and said, "Really dude? This wannabe Asian?" (he's asian himself, btw, referring to me) I spun around and was like, "How dare you!" But, hey, he succeeded in making the guy laugh instead of stare. ^^;;
Another guy driving by looked at me, and called, "Moshi, moshi!" ... 
= | That time I called back, "Seriously?" Moronic. 

Anyway, I gotta get to bed. Workout in the AM, followed by commissions, and hopefully more blogging. W00t~!
I am so happy to be out of school ... T___T