Archive for September, 2012

Tears of Steel

Blender is an open source 3D package, very powerful for its price (free). The Blender Project premiered recently their 4th “open” movie (free source footage, project files etc), titled “Tears of Steel”. The Blender community has been very positive about it after seeing Blender’s abilities on a real movie, rather than in pure animation. The shot tracking is very good (an Achilles’ heel previously for Blender), but I personally did not like the quality of the VFX or the animation (let alone the acting/script/direction, but these are beside the point here).

The CGI still looks like VFX animation and not realistic. It looks fake. Camera tracking is good, modelling seems ok, but lighting and animation aren’t. There are no shadows to talk about, everything it’s too HDR-ish. If that’s what Blender can do in 2012, then color me unimpressed. That’s no Hollywood-worthy CGI. And let’s not forget that this movie was produced by the Blender guys themselves, with hand-picked Blender artists.

Unfortunately, that quality is not even good enough for TV anymore. Sure, there have been worse VFX on TV than what Blender can do, for example the re-imagined version of “V”, but thing is, there have been better ones too. Back in 2010, Stargate:Universe had some amazing VFX in some episodes, more realistic than anything I’ve seen on TV, before or after. An even more important point for TV is the time it takes to do things with the app (since their deadlines are extremely strict). Blender is not that easy to use, Maya can do better in almost half the time.

That doesn’t mean that Blender is useless. It’s not. You can’t beat its price and features in the advertising sector (which doesn’t require extreme realism, it mostly needs some animation tricks), schools (for obvious reasons), or as a hobbyist artist. Blender can also prove to be a life-saver for indie filmmakers who primarily have the time to deal with Blender (rather than the money to buy other packages). So it’s got its uses in the world.

It’s just that I don’t see it being able to compete for Hollywood movies and serious TV shows. It kind of echoes The Gimp, actually. Good-enough to doodle around, good-enough to do something worthwhile if you have the extra time, but if you’re really serious, you better get Photoshop.


I’m proud of this collage. Higher res at FlickR, print at Society6.

Fate is a rough sketch

Here is some philosophical quantum physics for you: Fate and its possibilities through a variety of setups.

For some illogical (?) reason I believe that certain things are supposed to happen in life, one way or another. But the setup and the machinations that lead to them are not written down. Fate is nothing but a rough sketch. The details are filled up by the players. Us.

For example, if a woman is supposed to get married at a certain age (in order to open a new chapter in her life), she would get married, but there might be 2 or 3 or 4 men who would be competing for the position *without* any of the parties knowing about it. Each one would just live their lives, but depending on their choices, they would be the ones meeting up with the woman (and eventually marrying her) while the others wouldn’t. The others would remain completely unaware of the woman forever, even if fate had offered them a close chance with her.

The problem arises when someone actually becomes aware of the situation. When someone truly feels inside his head that if he makes certain changes in his life, things will change in a radical way (further than the direction he makes changes to). And the things become even more complicated when he “feels” that there’s indeed such competition, and sees and recognizes the said competition, but it’s so far away from the strings he controls, that he can’t do anything to stop these threads of possibilities.

This my friends would be mental torture. To know that you tried your best, but still end up as the loser, just because someone else was able to get a small step ahead of you.

I always try to make people around me see the big picture, but that type of big picture, no one should ever have to know. IF any of that quantum physics crap is real, we are better off living in total unawareness.

John Maus – “Lost”

Unofficial music video for John Maus’ track “Lost” from his album “A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material”.

Original video footage by Rowan Lee Hartsuiker. Footage is used with permission, and was re-cut to the beat of “Lost”. Rowan shot this on a Canon HV30.

A review of “Revolution”, NBC’s post-apocalyptic sci-fi show

JJ Abrams is at it again, this time at NBC. His new show, “Revolution”, is set to premiere at Sept 17th, but it’s already available online for free viewing — if you live in the US.

The premise of the show is rather simple: all the world’s sources of power have gone dark, and after 15 years of living… in organic farms, local militias have risen.

The show feels like LOST having sex with FlashForward. Everyone’s actually kinda lost, there’s a plane, a text-mode computer, some mystery, and a universal blackout. There are a lot of scientific inaccuracies, while everyone’s hair and clothes are still banging after all this time.

The show was interesting, but it was super-flawed. Not in terms of the overall idea, but in terms of execution. It has the exact same problems as FlashForward had: poor execution. The plot showed us a small version of that world, it was not grand and emerging to the viewer. The stakes were not big. Except the main mystery (why did the lights went out), there’s nothing else to keep the show together.

The biggest problem for me was the cutting of the show. Either this show needed a different editor, or an additional 5-6 minutes, or a two-hour pilot instead of an one hour. Everything just felt rushed, Jon Favreau could only do so much with directing.

The only thing that worked in this show was the fight scene. Personally, I give the show no more than one full season to live. Just like with every other network show, it just can’t bloom the same way cable shows can. Not enough time in 43 minutes to tell a proper story, and not with the FCC checking every word and scene.

1 year of Paleo

It’s been a year exactly. 3rd of September 2011 was when I found back my health, after 10 years of hell and seclusion. The Paleo diet saved my life. I have already written the good things I got from the Paleo diet, first at 6 weeks on the diet, then at 4 months. Here are the remaining problems/fixes a year on:

* Sleep apnea: GONE.
* Asthma: It was coming and going for a few months, now it’s completely GONE.
* IBS-D: It’s very rare to have an incident of IBS-D now, it only happens if I consume over 200gr net carbs for a number of days in a row.
* Period pain: Comes and goes, but I have found that I have an “atypical” fibroid, and a polyp (both existed pre-Paleo apparently). I will have surgery for those soon, and then my period pain should just go away for good.
* Alopecia: More hair, although not way too much. Definitely an improvement over a few months ago.
* High blood pressure: I got this in August because of a medicine I was given for my fibroid (that’s being here pre-paleo). When the medicine went away from my system, so did my high blood pressure. I’m not worried about this.
* Weight loss: In one year I lost 25 lbs. I still have another 30 lbs to lose, but I’m one of these people that their thyroid freaks out if they go too low carb (ketogenic), and sends them to hibernation (excess rT3). 95% of the people won’t have this problem though, I’m a bit of a special case on this (I guess my lineage is Neanderthalian…).
* Fatty liver/high triglycerides (they go together): Still there, because weight loss doesn’t happen to me as easily as for most other people (although I didn’t try to lose weight very hard, I was eating normally). I’m thinking of going raw vegan for most of the day, and Paleo in the evenings to combat this. It’s possible that genetically I have the double e4/e4 APoE gene, which means that I can’t digest/use fats properly. The problem in this case is that half of the researchers about this say “eat more fat”, and the other half say “stop eating fats”. Go figure. Update: I got tested, I’m APoE 3/3, so all is ok in that front.
* B12 deficiency: due to a bad gut all these years I can’t absorb it (I found out about this deficiency in May). It’s gone with supplementation now, and my gut heals over time anyway. Soon I won’t be needing supplementation.

Everything else is peachy. 🙂