Doing Some 3D Work at Home

It has been a while, leaving my rendering and animation hobby sit on the shelf for nearly a couple of months now. I was not too busy for it, but I did have other “likes” I wanted to pursue first before I jumped back into doing 3D art work. So, being I was talking a one week holiday, this week, from my “real job,” I made it a week of rendering on my 3D software. And rendering I did.

So I completely recreated it from scratch, again, my Egg Head character, but this time making it as a female. So, her she is, Ms Egg Head.

Those first few steps were hard. 3D Blender is not an easy piece of software to learn on. Setting up the rigging for the mesh, I had to go right back to my help files to relearn the process, as I completely got stuck with the Inverse Kinematics settings on the armature. The other issue I had was setting up the mesh, so it matched the armature the way I wanted it to–that took a day to get it the way I wanted it to go. But, I was pretty happy with my results. The mesh, and rigging, took less that an day, and I was doing basic animating the next day. The stuff I am doing here is “kindergarten” stuff to what the software can do. You can do Motion Picture grade work with 3D Blender–it is everywhere.

Anyway, I am currently rendering out a small “Dance” video. We will see how well that goes. More to come.

The Long Weekend is here: We Made it for Another One!

I have been basically preparing for it, getting as much done ahead of time as I can, here at my work, so the short week coming up will be a smooth one. Normally, I get the “Friday Rush,” as everyone else from other businesses, that I deal with, are trying to do the some thing. My Friday was filing up with just the little items of work that normally precede a long weekend. October 8th, will be Thanksgiving Day, here in our neck of the world, so most of the country will honour it; there are few places that are hold-outs, but I am sure the people will stand and demand it too as a statutory holiday. And finally, rain, it is happening, the clouds have moved in above, and there is the odd sprinkle when I drove home. The badly needed moisture could, once again, soak us, giving the forest the rain it needs. All of this is making the next seventy-two hours looking great!

So, work, I was feeling great when I locked the doors for the weekend. As you know, I deal a lot with logistics, so getting all my shipments out to their destinations, is a big part of my day. But I received stuff too, and the normal rhythm of every long weekend is getting hit with an extra amount of incoming goods to process. Hey, I do it too, as I go through the shipping flurry, on long weekends too, no doubt causing extra grief to my counter parts in the valley. Today, was different. My receivings was just like any other normal work day–just a few items, taking only a small part of my day them processed. I will say that this is just part of the season, though my experience is still short, comparing to last year, it was a slow time too. Nonetheless, I was happy knowing that I have no loose ends to deal with when I come back on Tuesday.

Apparently not all of Canada celebrates Thanksgiving Day with a stat. holiday. I was, some what shocked, to learn that there are provinces that only “observe” it: New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. But we are also several weeks early from our neighbours down South too, from when they celebrate it, but my point is, it is nice to have it off from work. I do believe we will be having turkey also on Saturday, so Monday is just a day for getting rested up, and doing lots of household cleaning chores.

The rain has come. So far, just overcast skies with the odd sprinkle here and there, but we are scheduled for some significant rain showers throughout the long weekend. The Skeena River is super low, and many here in the valley are noting that too–finally. And the mountains all look like the Southern mountains becuase they have no snow on the tops of them yet, just dry and dusty looking. This is not normal to go so long into the fall season without seeing snow covered mountain tops here in the Skeena Valley.

Well, I must go and get organized for the day. I am doing laundry right now, having a few issues with the washing machine–dealing with that right now. Everyone, have an awesome, super great, long weekend, (you to on East Coast) and Happy Thanksgiving!

Some Like it Hot, and Some Maybe Not.

Having lived in Ontario, and the last twenty-five years in the Lower Mainland, hot up here on the North Coast, is a walk in the park. I have been to Spain, France and Brazil, during their summer periods, and have experienced heat beyond belief, so you might have to excuse me if I am not too overly excited about our warm weather. The air is hot, but nothing close to the extremes that I have experienced. Yes, I have been in weather that would make lawn furniture melt–I am not kidding.

There are tricks to keeping cool that I find really work, like drink lots of water, and keep to the shade, but sometimes an air conditioned room is the best place to be. For me, it is sleeping at night, during heat-waves, that is the problem. If it is hot and muggy, sleeping is rough, and I never get that quality of sleep that I need. I am also lucky that my work is in doors. I used to work outside, or in closed in warehouses, and found that learning to sweat was a big part of it, and dealing with heat rashes too. In general I slow down and take it easy, and sometimes telling the boss “I quit,” as part of that process, when they want you to double their production of shipping air conditioners out. Either way, dealing with the heat means doing everything you can to keep cool and hydrated.

Back on Monday, I heard of some kids, at one of the summer day camps here in Terrace, trying to fry an egg outside. It did not work for them as well as they thought it would. I guess it was still not hot enough for that. Perhaps next Friday, as rumour has it, we could get our hottest day yet, a whopping 34C, but I fear that might even be hot enough to fry an egg on the side-walk.

I for one will be enjoying this very nice weather. I have some time booked off from my work, so I might stick around town for it. We have our week long River Boat Days festivities then, so this might be an awesome time! Oh yeah, summer time!

I Solved My Sci-Fi 3D Art Issue – Happy Friday The Thirteenth!

First, Happy Friday…, the Thirteenth. I know, for those of you who are supper superstitious, I feel for you. I really do. But it is all psychological. Trust me. Now that we got that out of the way, I finally solved my 3D art issue with masking 3D objects onto a photograph, or movie clip. Actually, I am kind of embarrassed about it because I learned this a long time ago, but completely forgot. So I had to relearn how to use the compositor all over again. My argument, 3D Blender has a very steep learning curve, and you just do not pick it up in one day–it is that huge!

So, here is my image. Obviously it is a composite, or as they say in the U.S., a fake image. But I think if we had a large planet, with rings, very close to us, this is what it would look like. So I was going for as “real” as I thought it would be like, as possible.

My issue with 3D Blender was getting the 3D image, the planet, behind the mountain, which I shot in Rosswood, BC. I had the Mask working, but I could not figure out how to get it work properly. My solution was to use the Alpha on the background, or Alpha out the World View, making the background fully transparent. It worked, and it worked even better then I would have expected it would. I am happy with this.

Now I just need to work on better textures and colours for the planet, and get some better stock photos that I have on my hard drive. Hope you like the photo.

Crazy Camera Effects (Shooting at Lakelse Lake, BC)

We had left town (Terrace, BC) for a trip out to the lake to walk the beach. We head to Furlong Beach, on Lakelse Lake, one of the usual spots we like to go. I brought the camera, thinking that I would try and get some shots of the water lilly that grown near the shore, but noticed that the “Function” button started working on my Sony A77. Now, for the record, the A77 is a nice camera, and with its faults, the shutter button breaking, I still keep using it. The reason why I never got it fixed was that Sony charges half of the camera is worth to fix it, so I just use it as a general use camera. Last year, while shooting fireworks, the shutter button broke, and the focussing set-up stopped working working, so I had to use the manual focus instead. Then that started working, but the camera itself is not working at one hundred per cent.

When I was noticing that I could get into the Function settings on the camera, I started re-exploring all the different filters and effects I had on it. The first one I wanted to shoot with was the “Miniature” mode, of fake Tilt-Shift lens effects. Even the way my camera was handicapped, the images were nothing short of awesome. None of these images were given any post production, other than the digital water mark I added.

The above shot was actually a mistake, as I was trying to adjust the colour filter in the Miniature settings, so I had to point at different light sources to see if histogram was reading right. Right-a-way when I opened this image on my Desktop, it screamed out, Mermaids (jokingly of course)! Like I said, this shot was just one of the test shots I made while setting up the camera.

Here is where the power of the filters shines. Once I got all the filters and effects set-up the way I wanted, this was first shot. This is one of the “cottages” that dot along the lake that you can see from the beach. It does look like a miniature hose inside a model country side.

So I was getting very creative–layering the filters settings , and adding the miniature effects with it. Remember, this was al done with the camera alone. What I really like is the way I could bring out the various colours, like the reds and greens and blues at specific wavelengths.

Anyway, it was a great at the beach, and I did get lots of shots of the water lilly, but I sort of lost track of time when I saw I got all my functions back on the camera working. After all it has been nearly a year since the shutter button broke on the A77, and it seems to be working again. I just will not press the shutter button so hard from now on.

The Machine Heart (Years of Neglect Catching Up)

Well, this is shocking. I just learned today that one of my neighbours just had an implant put onto his heart a few weeks ago, and he just got back to his home on Friday. Sure, I do not really know the guy, and I perhaps talked to him once or twice since I have lived here, but I see him every so often, so that must count, I guess. Anyway, he looks to be about the same as when I last saw him, but he does show his discomfort. I guess what really jumps out at me is his age–the man is only in his thirties. That is quite young to have heart implants, you think?

So this got me thinking about my mortality, and lifestyle. My poor neighbour’s lifestyle choices are poor one, from what I have seen in these last few months. He is over weight, and stays inside his compartment almost 24-7. I hear he plays video games–a lot. I know he smokes, and I hope he has quit by now, but I am sure his past has caught up to him. And I know for sure that he does not do regular exercises. And I I have seen the pizza delivery service at his door on numerous occasions. So I look at my life. I do not smoke, and I try to get out as often as I can, and I try and eat healthy. But I am also in my fifties, so I feel I have lead a good life, and I am on the “home stretch,” as it were, in my life.

Anyway, I am sitting here, thinking about this, having just received the news, so I thought I would compose this Weblog Post.

Not Enough Tom

It is beginning to cloud over, with a sprinkle or two, here in the Skeena Valley, this after an awesome two weeks of sun fill days that could cause a suntan if you are not careful. It is hard to believe it is still May here on the North Coast. Awwwww, climate change, marvellous. But that is not what I am going to blog about today. No, this is my monthly round up what is going on in my little corner of the neighbourhood. This month, I call it, “Not Enough Tom” to go around. Between the needy around my place, and all four levels of Government, my hard earned money is being targeted like Mexico paying for the “Trump Wall” along the Southern U.S. border, I keep saying “No,” but the “please” keeps sounding in my ears, louder, and louder, and louder. In our free and democratic country, the need for Taxes grows ever stronger, where “asking” turns into “taking,” and like the Internet scammer, the sound has become more demanding than ever before. The root cause in my mind is, the needy get less back from the Government, so both Government and the needy turn to the Middle-class for more. I ask, “What part of NO don’t you understand?”

In my everyday routine, the to and from work part, I get asked at least once for “something” by my neighbours, in my neighbourhood. It may vary, from hard cold currency, to material items like tobacco or access to the Internet, but in all cases, the asker is someone who is either self medicating or mismanages their income in varying degrees. Whenever I enter my car, or leave it, that is usually where someone will ambush me, and the asking starts. I am an easy target here in the Thornhill Ghetto: I drive my own car, and it is shiny and black, and I have a job–a regular job–yup, paint a “bull’s eye” on me. Even the Government is asking for more, but I have been able to hold them off for now through tax loopholes and investment incentives through reputable programs, but that is still money I can not spend for myself right now. So here is the list: from “least,” to “most often.”

ONE: The Internet scammers are working harder than ever. In the last month (April 15 to May 15, 2018) My phone has logged up an impressive twenty-six callers that use “spoof” I.D. on the call displays. Yes, I screens my calls, and if it is “friend or foe,” it either goes to voice mail, or I answer it back–but “picking up” is almost a no-no.

TWO: The Taxi service out here in the Skeena Valley is very expensive. Unless you are disabled, either through health issues, or through intoxication, walking is the only true and tried method of getting around without a working and licensed vehicle, on a pauper’s income. Most do not like walking, especially if you live way out in the “sticks,” and you want to bring back that “twenty-four Pack” from the Beer Store, to your home. If you do not have money for a Taxi, then you target your buddies who own a vehicle. I get asked at least four times per week for rides. There are only three of us who have our own vehicles here in the Ghetto. I give no rides, becuase once you open that gate, then the flood begins. We have transit, yes, real actual buses that for a small fee, and it gets you back and forth from town–and it works becuase I know from first hand experience. Forget the Taxi Service and take Transit!

THREE: Being asked for money is the most often need I get asked for by my neighbours of all. Usually, it begins with, “I need food,” while they puff on their cigarettes, to “I need money for Cigarettes.” Sadly this is a reflection on the State of Canada’s economic well being, and those who made poor lifestyle choices. We are heading down the path of great economic disparity between the rich and poor. Lines are drawn between the old and the young, the Educated and labourers, all while those who are property rich cling to prosperity, and the “property poor” pay more and more to live in shacks. We have to learn to live without, and adapt to this economic change. We have choices, and drugs and alcohol are easy once to make, you just need the willingness to do it. But most of all, food should be made the first choice over Cable TV, and so on. To date, being asked to give money is by far the most often request I get here in the Ghetto.

In closing, I like say this: there is just not enough Tom. Yes, I save, but it comes with great sacrifice, but I do it. I plan, and it comes battling forces who try to disrupt my goals to their means, but I still plan anyway. For those who do not save up for their future, or plan for it and set goals, then these upcoming days are going to be your hardest ever. The poor need to ask the Government for more, not from me, becuase Government is taking so much as it is, and they make the rules. So, there is not enough of me to go around.

Yay, It’s May!

Well, the first day of May is here, and with it, not too shabby of a day. It is sunny, warm and hardly any clouds to worry about. In all, the makings of a great day. Though rumour has it, we are going to get overcast, and some possible sprinkles are expected. Right now, I am just happy that it is May. I am so looking froward to the warmer days ahead.

I was looking at the weeds outside at my work, and noticed that the dandelions were out in fool bloom, while the flowers in the planters were just sprouting. Funny how the weeds do great, while the flowers you plant suffer. Maybe we got it all wrong, and we should be growing those weeds instead. Anyway, the trees have leaves on them, and the grass is green, what more could you ask for!

The Sun is beaming over the mountains now as I drive into work in the mornings. I keep forgetting that the days are a lot longer here than they are in the Lower Mainland. Here, on the North Coast, it is one extreme to the next; either lots of day light, or just dark. Here, during summer, you can see outside all day, as the sky never turns dark. Now that is a summer.

Yay, it is May!

Tuesday Morning Wakeup – Day Two – Vacation

As weird as it may sound, I woke up just about at my normal start time as if I were just starting my work day, but remember, I had only three hours sleep. Perhaps psychologist would argue that my body is fixed to the daily rhythms, and all that stuff, but I think it was just gas. LOL I got up and washed, figuring that I should at least do something, now that I am up and sort of a wake. So off I went.

My first stop was the tire shop. I decided that I would keep the one set of rims, and just swap over the summer tires on the rims, and just take the winter tires off and store without rims. I wanted to buy another set of rims, so all I would do next season is just change the tires, but my car has these air senors on each tire, which are about sixty-five dollars a piece: a little pricey right now for me. So I will just keep everything on the one set of rims I have now, and deal with it next time.

The brain is slowly running out of steam.

Next I went to the Post Office. I was looking for rates to ship about six kilograms down to Vancouver, BC. This was something I thought I could do more efficiently at the facility in town, but that affirmed that doing it at home over the Internet was what I have should done in the first place. Anyway, to send something that heavy was a little price. I may price out some other carriers this week.

Brain, down to a crawl. Just enough brain activity to drive home.

Nice – coffee. Slurping away on some Dark Roast beans I picked up yesterday. I am thinking about doing a short nap since my appointment time at the tire shop is 2:00pm, and Suz., will be busy until 1:00pm, I might as well log in some horizontal time on the foamy-bed. After all, I am only living on a few hours of sleep. This coffee sure is good.

Brain just started running at normal speed now. Must be the coffee.

Heck, I might as well just watch some You Tube videos while I am up, after writing this Blog Post. Who can sleep with this much caffeine coursing through my veins. LOL

Vibrating. Coffee induced coma. Bra….

The “Meh” Moment

Yes, I am having a “Meh” moment, but in a good way. I was sitting back in my comfy-cozy chair wondering about what I am going to do for the next ten days, when it finally dawned on me that I am in “Vacation” mode from my work. I will not have to get up on Monday morning at the melodious sound of my alarm clock going off, waking me into oblivion, as my muscle memory instincts propel me out of bed, and off to my place of employment–all while still in deep sleep. Actually, it will be the lack of routine that will disrupt me the most, come to think of it. Added to that, it costs so much in Canada to go on a “real” style vacation, the kind where you leave for a tropical paradise, and drink from a coconut with hallucinogenic properties in it. So, thus born the poor-person’s “Staycation” where you simply do day trips, or stay at home to either save money for the mortgage, or you have no where to go because you have no money to travel with. I am sort of in between these two extremes, as far as money goes.

So I figure, this “time off” from work will be a kind of a hybrid of “time off,” when I will do a little of both: travel, and stay at home. No doubt I will spend some money, but not locally. In fact, I have no plans on making any huge purchases. I would rather save my money for that rainy day that might greet us here in Thornhill, BC. That was a joke, by the way. There is that dilemma of a lack of services that directly manipulates the “cost of living” in a very small community becuase you are fairly isolated from the rest of civilization. Thankfully, we have the Internet, and with it E-Commerce, to help us through this situation.

This is tire changing season up here in the North Coast, so I need a set of summer tires, now that the winter like season is over. This is a double edged sword that most people of the North have to obey if you need to drive on the highways–it is the Law of the land to switch from one type of tire of another based on the changing season. Sure, if I live in town, a set of All-Seasons Tires would do, but you do it at your own risk. You could even do the “Lower Mainland” life style and just drive with summer tires on, if you live and commute in just the town limits, but that would just plane stupid, and silly with forty centimeters of snow on the ground. And oddly enough, I was hard pressed to discover that I could NOT find any Summer type tires around, this after going to four tire shops and inquiring. So when in a market where Laws determine what you can and cannot have, expect a level of gouging from one region to another. All you have to do is go on the Internet to price shop to see this. So, not summer tires are available, just all seasons and winters. I just heard a cash ring somewhere out in the Great White North. LOL

Back to my “Meh” moment. I am fortunate to have a partner to be with. Most probably, and ultimately, this is highest level of gratitude one could ever have while living on this planet Earth. To have a friend to share this time with at the most finite level, is truly the highest point-of-being we humans may ever have. And to go even further, life no longer lingers at the level of “boring,” but becomes exciting, with new discoveries, and enlightenment, emerge from where once ashes were piled. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons learned from all of this, is to share, and by that I mean, every dimension of your life: space, time, concepts and one-another. There is peace to all of this; where uncertainty and chaos abound, calm and passiveness now exist; no longer challenging it all, but accepting everything as it is. Where Kingdoms and Religions lay claim to this, they only distort, and diminish it, while they pale by its power. Where tragedy and comity are separate on stage, in real life this friendship encompasses it all as a whole. The mountains, trees and lakes, never looked so great when sharing that view with another. In a nutshell, this is truly awesome. So this is what ascension in life feels like.

Now time to start my day. I have no idea what is on a agenda, per se. I do know, I would like to have some ice cream at the Chill, our local ice-cream parlor. The root-beer float flavour seems to tickle my taste-spuds at this very moment. I will put in a request for that as part of our itinerary for today. Other than that, the great tire hunt for my vehicle. Yay, vacation-here we come.