Sunday, December 31, 2006

In 3D, lighting is everything

Consider this stunning figure. Cartoony, but a striking female character, yes?

Then consider this one:

Isn't it just evocative of the handiwork who is unable to make pleasant images of humans, just sardonic charicatures of them?

The main difference is the lighting. In the nice-looking version, the lights are:
 light_source{<000,150,500> rgb 1.5  rotate 60*y shadowless} 
light_source{<000,100,500>, rgb 0.3 rotate -60*y shadowless}
light_source{<000,100,500>, rgb 3 rotate -120*y shadowless}


3D Animation vs. the common good

I have a case of bronchitis. It's really bothersome. I rebuffed my wife's suggestions to take medication early on in the cold, thinking that good ol' hydration and vitamins would do the trick.

The funny thing is that one of the things the doctor prescribed me is an over-the-counter medication I'd seen advertised on TV. At his recommendation and after reading the Uses on the box, I am kicking myself for not having started using this stuff at the first signs of sniffle. I'm almost wondering if I have harmed my long-term health by not having purchased this pharmaceutical product earlier. Now here's the rub.

I like cartoony 3D animation, in case you couldn't tell already. I have seen on TV a commercial for this very product perhaps a hundred times. But the commercial screams of being over-produced by disingenuous snake-oil salesmen, and the use of the 3D medium may have contributed to that impression. It was not a presentation I could trust, so I took it off my radar screen of things to do when I get a bad cold. Now I'm paying the price.

Does use of 3D ultimately degrade from the seriousness or trustworthiness of a presentation?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford, R.I.P.

As a kid I saw Gerald Ford on some talk show like Donahue and listed him as one of my heroes. May he rest in peace.

Sojourners' blog quoted from Gerald Ford's Inaugural Address:
"I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our Government but civilization itself. ... In all my public and private acts as your President, I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end. My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over."

Then for just a moment, I imagined what if 9/11 had happened during the Ford Administration, and what the world would have been like five years afterwards. All sorts of visions of sugar plums were dancing in my head.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

About to sit down for Christmas

Sometimes I have more fun looking at the mistakes mid-composition than I do the final version. Here I'm about to get all the characters to sit down in a church service together.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Oh, so now Holocaust denial is suddenly uncool.

There's a neoconservative point of view that folks are alright until they try to get the government to solve their problems. Advocate a minimum wage, an estate tax, a 55 MPH speed limit, a ban on indoor smoking, or some other meager regulation of commerce, and you've just supped from the cup of Stalin and Hitler, they say. People don't harm people, this view goes, government regs harm people.

This worldview would also have to make claims about just how things got so screwed up in Nazi Germany. It wouldn't be so much that people (average, decent, middle-class, church-going people) are inherently Fallen and corrupt, but that somehow they gave up too much power to the State and It forced an evil upon them.

Entering into the fray a few years ago came Daniel Jonah Goldhagen with his Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. Goldhagen documented how German culture going back decades if not centuries was full of racist propaganda and violence against the Jews. I read Goldhagen as saying the holocaust may have started before the turn of the 20th century.

The neocons were livid. See some objections at the Amazon site for the book. I specifically remember Richard John Neuhuas expressing outrage at the book. For someone like Neuhaus who would have been trained in a church tradition that believes in a Fall and Original Sin, I don't see the problem. I do see how Goldhagen's thesis of a completely fallen humanity, one ready to commit genocide at the fall of a hat, confronts the political view which relies on trappings of the Noble Savage to fight government intrusion. Perhaps Goldhagen's book makes it easier to believe in Hobbes' view that man is vile and corrupt and maybe a few meager regulations of commerce are to be tolerated.

Perhaps there are other reasons for reacting in this way to Goldhagen. I see the opposition to Goldhagen as a statement that the pre-Holocaust wasn't so big a deal.

Playing around with light groups in povray

I'm trying to get a comic book look in feel for povray. I want shadows on the ground, an otherwise flat color out to infinity (for a plane), and a three-lights system for the characters. It's a tough bill. I thought I had a perfect way to do it using not only light groups but a two-component floor. I had one floor of a few hundred units wide with default ambient and 0.001 units below it a plane with finish {ambient rgb 1}. So far I've failed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The eyes have it!

I created a goofy character just for fun a while ago. To my horror, i recently realized that the eyes do not function as normal rotating eyeballs! That is, the only way for it to look in a different direction is to turn its head. No problem, I say, I'll just fix the character on the fly while I'm re-designing my scene. And whaddayankow, it behaved entirely differently. I decide to go back to the old design and fix it at some later stage.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I don't like bad ballet

I went to see a production of the Nutcracker yesterday. It was a joyous time. We had front row seats-- the kind of seat where the performers were making eye contact with you. The fact that I enjoyed myself at ballet reminded me of all the times I'd said I was too redneck to appreciate this classical art form.

Then it hit me. I realized that there were quite a few times where the dancers were jumping and twirling that had nothing to do with the theme or rhythm of the music at the time! This was perhaps some of the most delightful classical music ever, and the choreographer had them (perfectly, mind you) executing jumps and twirls just for the sake of it.

Mind you, I'm one of those blokes who believes that a good dancer should practically stand still during the extremely slow moments of Everybody Dance Now!. I realized that I don't hate ballet, I hate cheezy choreography.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Scifi-like image for my new comic.

Took forever to get the media effect in povray. Forgot to make the cylinder "hollow". Got a few tips from Christoph Hormann's site.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How (not to) succeed commercially in Linux: the passing of Kanotix.

Kanotix was at one time my favorite distribution of linux. I note with a sense of dread that the Kanotix team's main developers are splitting up. In an article entitled, "The KANOTIX distro implodes," says:
As of today, the KANOTIX distribution is...not dead, exactly, but most definitely without a firm direction. Its co-developer has left, its Paypal donation link is down, and it's not clear what's going to happen with it in the future.
. Indeed, "Kano", for whom the distribution was named after, has said:
Since financing Kanotix through donations has proved a failure and I am planning restructuring to a more stable base (be it Ubuntu or Debian will have to show in tests) and I myself regard Debian/Sid as unfortunately not compliant with a more commercial orientation, he has left the project.

Here's my advice on how not to succeed in engendering donations for your own distribution in linux. I myself had made PayPal donations to kanotix on two occasions, the total being about the order of magnitude of the cost of a Windows XP upgrade. I had often received help from the kanotix user forums and IRC channel, including from Kano himself in both places.