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Buddy of DoQ: Thoughts on Life, Machinima, and Everything - SummerTech is Self-Empowering
Buddy of DoQ: Thoughts on Life, Machinima, and Everything
SummerTech is Self-Empowering 
Saturday, January 21, 2006, 03:29 PM - Everything
Summer is rolling up PDQ, and it's time to start thinking ahead, so here are some facts to help you out a bit:

In my 6 week stay as a SummerTech staffer, I:

Ate Better. Grilled instead of chicken-fried, breakfast instead of...nothing, no cornerstone runs for soda and junk food. I ate cold cuts, fruits, veggies, and even attempted some seafood. (unsuccessfully) and I ate LESS.

Played Better. I played doge ball, soccer, Frisbee, mile-long CTF, ran, walked, and all much harder than I could on my own. I even did katas before I went to bed, to stay flexible. I forged my body into the best shape it's been in years, just by dedicating my self to the regular SummerTech schedule!

Managed Computer Time Better. The time I spent on the computer went from what it is now (all day goofing off, with very little breaks) to only 1/3 of the day. The SummerTech schedule reduced the time I spent playing games and surfing the net, and focused on constant Machinima filming and preparation. I made much better use of that time than I could on my own schedule.

Made friends. It's always good to get out and make a new set of friends, and thanks to SummerTech I did just that. Kids, adults, Japanese college girls, I made all kinds of new and interesting friends that I simply cannot wait to see again this year! Meeting people with similar interest that actually love and act on them provokes one into working harder to make a real contribution. Less focus on the self, and more focus on the team, to see a worthwhile project done, and done right.

So when asking for your SummerTech package this year, recall these important facts and cite them to your financial backers. They are real, valuable, and to which you can put no price. SummerTech is Self-Empowering.


And be sure to tell them I sent you!
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Getting Ready! 
Wednesday, January 11, 2006, 03:28 PM - Machinima
Getting ready for the transition from Pre-production to Production.

Planned Tools:
Laptop (P4 Intel + WinXP pro) Production work done here
Desktop (64bit AMD + Win2k Pro) Editing, audio, and other Post done here
Wacom Tablet (A digital Pen you can use instead of a mouse)
MiniDV Digital Camcorder for Foley Art. (Records digital audio at high rates, not just video!)
XLR Karaoke Mic for all audio. (Cheap but effective)
I have a 7800GT PCI-E with VIVO (Video In, Video Out) coming in 3 weeks, donated to the cause by Thomas. I will use this to print video to VHS for archival and presentation purposes, in addition to playing games during my breaks on freaking SUPER ULTRA MEGA mode.
Motion Capture Studio courtesy of Texas State Technical College.

Planned Software:
Painter and Photoshop for concepts and art.
3D Max (8?) for pretty much everything 3D.
Torque (Shader Engine?) as my rendering engine.
Torque Lighting/Modeling Tools
Quark, Worldcraft (Hammer,) or 3D World Studio for sets.
Audacity for audio editing/conversion.
Adobe Premiere for editing.
After Effects? (Special effects, powerful, but unclear if I need it for this project.)

Locations:

Mesquite: Apartment so I can lose my self in the work, and house to have social contact at least once a week. (Or risk insanity)

Waco: Mike’s place to crash while at TSTC for mocap animations!

The Rodeo: Sound effects, animal voices, and creature motion studies.


At the moment, I am finalizing the last outline, and getting ready for my script. I do not expect it will take long, it's a rather quiet film, but I am giving my self a few weeks. In the interim concept art and technology test are aplenty.
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Looking back and stepping forward. 
Tuesday, January 10, 2006, 03:27 PM - Life
Ok, I tried really hard not to do this, but one can only read so many articles looking back at ‘05 and ahead to ‘06 without wanting to do the same for your own blog.

Read on for highlights of ’05 and peeking into the future with ’06 (It’s a lot, so get ready!)

January ’05: I was coming out of personal low with enthusiastic applaud for ’05, with that gut feeling of “This year’s going to kick ass! Even if I don’t know why!” at the annual New Years Lan party (which was held in Waco that year.) I was unemployed and kicking out resumes to local game devs when deadonque.com went blank. My entire HTML portfolio went down right after I sent dozens of application e-mails with an e-mail address suddenly no longer valid. It didn’t come back online until May! Desperate for pocket cash and resigning to the fact that I may not land a dev job straight out of school, I picked up the local paper. I saw one bit that looked interesting. I did two interviews (one a follow up by committee, which was rather fun,) and by January 31 I was employed at a nearby Elementary school as the Computer Lab guy. Thing about jobs, and me, is I can always get one right when I need it, the first time. I’ve never had an interview where I didn’t get the job. Sometimes, they even come to me, like in…

February ’05: I was just getting cozy in my new big red chair at the school when I notice a post at Machinima.com. One Machinima Teacher for SummerTech, June-Aug.! It took about a 24 hours before it sank in that I might be able to do it, having summers off from work. It’s not something that dawned on me right away. So I e-mailed Jim and he referred me to Steve and before I knew what was what I was filling out paper work! Another 2/14 went by without a girlfriend, I didn’t even notice.

March ‘05: I don’t even remember much of March save that I was still feeling ‘new’ at work after the week off for spring break, and that my birthday still got me all depressed as it has for the last several years. I don’t know why, but I think of all the people I can never meet again. Looking at my document dates, it seems I did a great deal of writing during March. Most of it Soul Meridian, not much of it survived…

April ’05: If a month had the ability to flash by in a blink, it would be April. They always go by at ludicrous speed. I do recall this being the time where I hit my stride at work, and began to really look forward to SummerTech. Word got out about my award wining filmmaker status. Ego boosted 110% more than normal.

May ’05: This was it, the last month before SummerTech! My filmmaker status almost came to kick me down when I was almost asked to do a MASSIVE project for graduation. Even with my mad editing skills, getting the legalities out of the way, as required, would have taken two months, much less two weeks. I got lucky and the boss came to the rescue, respect levels for the people at work go up even more. I count my blessings that the school has been such a wonderful place to work, I make sure they know that while I may be in NY for the summer, that I WILL be back in August. I dropped a wad of cash on a gaming level laptop from Acer. It would come to save us all before the summer was done.

June ’05: Hugging my Ford Contour SVT (Special Vehicles Team; read: kick ass little sports coupe) goodbye, I hopped in my pal’s jeep and we headed out to DFW Airport. I turned to Pepper before I got out at the gate, “What the hell am I doing man?” “You said it your self my friend, Adventure!” My first time flying in nearly 10 years, at first I was a bit nervous (not at flying, I love that part) but I soon became rather pissed at some of the security changes. That jerk was trying to feel me up I’m sure, I asked him if he knew a Mayor McCheese, he just waved me on so I could tie my shoes. Jerks. I got to meet my Aunt and Uncle for the first time in too many years, but only for a few hours. They helped me round off my rations and camp supplies before the long drive to Purchase. After a bit of phone tag with Steve we finally made it to Manhattenvile campus.

SummerTech June, July, and the first bits of August: I’m going to highlight main events/thoughts, as it all blends. You can read the play by play in the archives of this blog. ?

1) I arrive a day or so early, exploring the dorm halls and watching anime. Looking to the stars and sill flabbergasted at how things just seem to come together like they do. The vibe that this will be a life-changing place is heightened ten-fold.

2) Staff: I’m not sure what more I can say about the staff at SummerTech that would raise them in your minds to where they deserve to be. Lets just say that I’ve never met a more interesting and supportive group of people. To call them friends would not quite place them properly, but I don’t know a stronger word. I cannot wait to see them again next year; I was as much their student as any of the kids.

3) Dodgeball and Red Drink: For the first time ever I was eating right and working out properly 2-4 hours a day, EVERY DAY. By week 6, aside from being a bit sick, I was in the best shape I had ever been. Something clicked, and I found my inner-child in the daily rounds of dodgeball, and the subsequent shots of red drink.

4) Machinima, Machinima, Machinima! The kids were awesome! They really floored me at the kind of movies they made, or were working on. By the film fest at the end, I couldn’t have been prouder of anyone. They did what so many can only aspire to, putting everything else on hold for the love of making the movie. It was so inspiring, that I can still feel it as strong today as I did while I was with them. We also get an e-mail from Bioware, they were referred by Hugh from Strange Company but turns out they really wanted a programmer… But at least they know about us now!

5) Tokyo: Ok, I’ve never really held much interest in the pursuit of the ladies, but when 30 some odd 18-20 year old babes from Japan flew in down stairs, it was like a high-school dream come true. I couldn’t just sit idle and let them study English without me. With Brian and Lee as my ringside support, I checked my girl-shy hat at the door and managed to have dinner with two lovely ladies, Aya and Midori, (I found myself to be very attracted to Midori) for several nights of the last two weeks. On the last week, the three of us were invited to a cultural-fair thanks to Aya and Midori. We were the only three guys at what turned out to be “games and dancing,” with about 40 foreign young ladies; to call it a major highlight of the summer (LIFE) would be an understatement. Midori sneaking out past curfew just to hang out with me on the last night ultimately overshadowed it, however. After we waved and said our “see ya’s” I started up the stairs, realizing that I may never get to meet someone like her again, I turned right around and ran to her room, buzzing past several other girls, all yelling after me, “What’s wrong!” I’m sure I said something, but I forget. I would have killed for a kiss, but a stroke of rational (respect?) kept me from taking it, I simply asked for a hug and made damn sure to say goodbye properly, no silly waves for me.

August ’05: Two days after being home, my Contour completely dies. The wiring corrodes and destroys the electrics. I’d be super depressed about it, but I’m still high from SummerTech. I get the first of many e-mails from Aya and Midori, thrilled at having pen pals, and one from a girl I liked, I begin to take up photography as a way to spice up my own e-mails. The auto shop calls after a few weeks, the cost of repairs is $4,000, and I decided to sell by owner AS-IS.

September ’05: Pepper and I scheme to acquire a big 2-bedroom apartment somewhere in Mesquite. Pepper in need of a bill-splitter, and I in need to get out of the house. I found my self unable to concentrate on Dead on Que work with the family around all the time. I seem to spend more time with them now than I did while at the house, but with a quiet place to fall back to work in. I manage to sell my car before the month is out, for about 2,500 or so.

October ’05: After searching desperately for a 89-92 Toyota Supra and failing, dad refers me to the 93/94 Lexus SC400, basically the same car only Lexus. Not as edgy, but with a V8 and $50,000 dollar yuppie car amenities. I found one on first try, and buy it right out after one test drive for 5 grand. Other than the radio going out, a superb car, the engine is immaculate. I buy Torque, and prepare to use it for Machinima.

November ’05: The Machinima Film Fest! It was a nice little adventure, one that will live with me for a long time. I was a big distracted by the idea of going back to NY, being the hopeless romantic that I am. Big thanks to my uncle Eddy for playing host and showing me his spots on the lower east side. The Fest was a blast, and I a TV interview, several newspapers and students asking for my story, it all felt rather good. I even got reunited with Zach, Ben, Ben, and Steve from SummerTech!. A big thanksgiving with the family at the house, Grandma, aunts, and ankles came in from all over. I actually had a good time! The next week Pepper and I started moving in to our new place. He hesitated, so I snatched the better of the two rooms, the one in the back away from the front door.

December ’05: Christmas shopping, unpacking, building my home stereo, and playing lots of console games! I become enthralled with Shadow of the Colossus, and can’t turn it off until I beat it. Soon it was the 25th and before I know it, it’s today!

2006 What does the future hold for me and Dead on Que? I don’t know much be here she is:

1) Return to SummerTech. I can’t wait. I’m so thrilled about this year, for many reasons I choose not to reveal just yet. Half course related, part adventure, but mostly for dodge ball.

2) OMG Movies! We have the tech, we have the freedom, we have the power, and by god you better believe we’re going to use it. We’re doing things this year that will make the best of last year look like kids stuff. Will it work? I don’t know, but as long as we make what we want to make, I’ll sleep a little sounder at night. The last time we were this motivated and on the ball, we were fresh out of high school working on a little Fake Science.

3) Road Trip? Pepper and I have decided, that we should go on adventure in Japan. So we’re saving our pennies and looking to see if we can afford to go before SummerTech, we should know for sure by February exactly when or if we can do it. I plan on plenty of Domo-Kun merchandise, direct from source anime and Nintendo DS games, and maybe, just maybe, meet some old friends for Karaoke.

This was all very personal, and maybe a bit dull for most folks; I promise the next post will be more technical, about machinima techniques I’m exploring. With the recent system rebuilds I haven’t had a stable platform to work with.
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Bouncers, Kebabs & Ruby Murries! 
Sunday, January 8, 2006, 03:26 PM - Machinima

Bouncers, Kebabs & Ruby Murries!


A top rate Machinima film broken into chapters, telling the story of the most kick-ass club Bouncer in the world and the brutal, if comical, mobsters and their lackys surrounding him. It's gritty, stylish, and impeccably well paced. Of the Machinima films I've seen in the last year, this is far and away the best of the bunch, and best of all, everything is custom made!

So, register over at the movie's site to be sure and get the highres versions, and tell your friends. If you enjoyed it as much as I did, you can leave a comment for the creators, and they'll even reply!


...

Yes, it's that good.
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Down Time 
Thursday, January 5, 2006, 03:25 PM - Everything
So, I sent my laptop in for repair last week, and pretty much since I moved my desktop has been dead. I've had a fair bit of down time this week, though I somehow managed to have my New Years LAN party with only one real no-show. (NEXT TIME TURTLE! NEXT TIIIIMMMMEEE!) We even had two extras come in at the last second to round out the team based games. I had to gut my future file server for parts in order to play, and that really pissed me off. So, I did what working class types like my self do in times of great peril and down time: UPGRADES!

AMD 64 3700 + Motherboard
19in LCD (8ms)
Razer gaming laser mouse (The blue one!)
1gig of Ram (2x512 XMS to replace the 4x256 cheap value ram I had)
It all came in yesterday afternoon, and the format took all night so I still have to run software upgrades and like before I can play again.

And I just got an email that the laptop is fixed and on her way home!

*psst, if for whatever reason this interest you, keep reading!


The laptop is my primary development machine. It's small yet powerful, can play most games just fine, I can take it around town and never leave my studio. Rock on! (wifi)

My new desktop (pending it's still working when I get home) will be my gaming rig. Nothing but game. Game, Game, Game, Game, Game. Firefox, drivers, and Games. Nothing else. I won't even put it online unless I need to game there. (wifi)

When the dust settles I should have enough parts to rebuild my file server, that's where the movies and music will go, it'll be linked to the home stereo setup. (wired)

Ok, that sums up my PC status, complete with the bitter irony of posting this from a Mac.

In other news, the roommate and I have taken up Hiragana/Katakana in preparation for a proposed journey to the far side of the earth. Appropriate funds pending. It’s both much simpler and more complicated that I had anticipated. Logic rules Hiragana, with much fewer special cases as is common in English, but when your brain works only in ‘special cases’ it can be a bit hairy. Symbol recognition is light-years away for me still, but as I gain understanding of the written language, the spoken becomes clearer and recognizable.
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