Sunday, September 25, 2016

Useful Tip: Changing command line prompt on Windows

I just came across a useful little trick this afternoon for making the Windows command line prompt (i.e. the one you get when running cmd, which shows the current directory) much shorter  (heck, you can set it to anything you like even!), so I thought I'd just note it here so that I can look it up again should I forget in future.

prompt [new_prompt_goes_here]

That's it! Just type this little command, and it will change the prompt that gets displayed.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Annoying Habits of Computer Science/Software Engineering (Students) Designing UI's...

Over the past few years, I've had the opportunity to have a front-seat view of how groups of 3rd year computer science/software engineering students approach the problem of designing a UI. It has been said in a few places (citation needed) that ultimately, the way group projects end up taking place for class projects and in real life are largely similar(ly awful). Thus, given that many of these folk will end up in the workforce in the next few months to a year's time as the newest batch of "professionals", if what I've seen is anything to go by, no wonder we're kindof perpetually doomed...

It's also no wonder then that we're often burdened with so many absolutely terrible systems for what-should-be-mundane/trouble-free processes like activating cards or making use of various services for the first time, etc. Or, nastier problems like the current religious dogma + regime of "automatic software updates" that regularly foist themselves at you every other day, usually at the least convenient times, and from time to time leaving a colossal mess behind when they're done.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Grease Pencil - Reproject Strokes tool

Yesterday, inspired by Matias's blog post about storyboarding using Grease Pencil, I hacked together a little tool to fix up your Grease Pencil sketches when you find that you'd accidentally moved the 3D cursor around while drawing, causing all the strokes to be splayed out in weird places in 3D space.

Here's a video showing off how and when to use it (thanks to Matias for letting me use the file from the blog for testing :)

From the video description and commit log:
This operator helps fix up this mess by taking the selected strokes, projecting them to screenspace (i.e. "flattening" the strokes back on to the screen), and then putting them back out into 3D space again. As a result, it should be as if you had directly drawn the whole thing again, from the current viewpoint, but without losing the pressure/strength info.

Unfortunately, if there was originally some depth information present (i.e. you already started reshaping the sketch in 3D), then that will get lost during this process. But so far, my tests indicate that this seems to work well enough.

Friday, August 5, 2016

GPencil V2 Has Landed

In case you've missed the news, Antonio's "Grease Pencil v2" branch landed in master earlier today. Check out the upcoming nightly builds for the new goodies :)

And now for some obligatory doodles I made while giving the tools a bit of a shake down :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Siggraph '16 Paper - Fish Swimming Simulation

This video just popped up on my Youtube feed this morning:

It's the video accompanying a paper that was presented at Siggraph 2016 last week (pity I couldn't be there... there were quite a few talks/production sessions I'd have liked to attend), describing a system they build for simulating how different types of fish swim. They also discuss how this method can be used for simulating schools of fish swimming and interacting to various forms of shaping controls (e.g. for art directing the results), including doing so interactively!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Violin Layering Songs - 20160730

Here's another bunch of songs I recorded for fun (and a break from "work-like" things) this afternoon.

This time, I tried to keep things a lot more "tonal" than in previous recordings, so hopefully more people will find it less unsettling to listen to. Another thing I was playing around with here was tweaking the left/right balance and relative volume levels of each track (apologies in advance if one or two are a bit on the "loud" side) - I ended up optimising for headphones (tracks "8" and "3" in particular really sound a lot better this way; in particular, "3" only seems understandable this way).

My personal favourite of this set is the first one on the playlist ("8 - Horse Riding"). While there may have been a few places where the timing isn't quite perfect enough, the overall effect is quite nice, and really gives off that equine "galloping" feel to it :)

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Sea - Music inspired by a visit to the beach

It's taken a few weeks to get around to it, but I've finally gotten around to uploading the set of tracks I recorded for use as a soundtrack to a bunch of clips I filmed while spending some time out at Sumner beach watching the waves. You can see one of those clips (a real-life homage and fan-art for Pixar's "Piper") and the track I specially recorded for it here.

It was really relaxing spending time just staring out at the waves as them came crashing in to the shoreline. While the picture above shows the tides as they started to recede, they were initially much higher, and would come in thick and fast.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Seagulls vs Waves Clip

Keeping with the theme of "fan-art" of sorts, here's a little video I put together from footage I shot while out a Sumner beach on Saturday afternoon...

From the video's description:
A pair of seagulls hunting for food along Sumner Beach, between the receding tides. Filmed yesterday during a relaxing stroll along the shoreline out at Sumner, after a great lunch. The sea yesterday looked as I've never seen it - the water level was really high, and the waves just kept coming in thick and fast.

The scene reminded me a lot of Pixar's amazing short film "Piper" (showing in front of Finding Dory). It's one of my absolute favourite shorts! Great story, wonderful animation, amazing rendering, and OMG cuteness overload!

While this shaky phone-cam (at reduced resolution to save disk space) doesn't hold a candle to that, this clip is still very much in the same spirit!

The soundtrack here is a little track I recorded specially for this footage. It's done using the "Violin Layering" techniques I've been playing around over the past month of so - basically, I recorded the first pass of the music watching the video (via my phone), and then worked on recording extra tracks for it while keeping in mind the general mood I was going for (in addition to the key beats of the clip). It's not quite 100% there yet, but as a first attempt at doing this, I'm overall happy with the results!

Mid-Week Doodle - Blurry Tree-Lined Path at Night

Another little doodle/painting session to relax a bit, inspired by the experiments I'd been doing this autumn with deliberately defocussing my lenses to get an optimal "painterly bokeh" look. (Long-time followers of this blog may also remember that a few years ago when learning how to use GLSL, I mused about developing a "disk splatting" technique for rendering bokeh-filled scenes; this was basically another attempt at achieving similar results, except in the real world ;)

This image started by being just an attempt to test the "disk splatting" blurry-tree technique I'd been interested in trying (especially after accidentally "discovering" a way to achieve that look in Krita using a particular circular brush, playing around with different combinations of Opacity + Size settings). However, seeing the result and feeling that the result still somehow lacked a bit of the "oomph" the foliage needed, but not being able to quite pinpoint it, I started blocking in some background (in the hope that it might help), and before long, I'd ended up with this scene.

It is partially drawn from somewhat idealised memories of the annual Lantern Festival in Hagley Park (this particular setting is a bit closer to this year's layout, leading to the area where they had the fireworks). However, it is probably influenced more by the beautiful work of Leonid Afremov - he's one of my favourite painters, with his unique style chunky blocks of bold + vibrant colours, which he paints by using a little triangular knife to scrape lumps of oil-based paint onto the canvas. In that case, I guess you can probably consider this an example of some crappy "fan art" of sorts ;)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Doodle (+ Additional Music Mashup)

Just a random doodle on a cold and dreary Sunday afternoon, playing around with Krita's Multibrush tool... It's quite bizarre using this tool, yet sometimes, you can get some funky effects (like the middle bit, which was quite captivating to draw).

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pyne Gould Building Collapse Simulation Video - Blender Bullet Addon Demo

What strange times we live in: I just came across a video for a Blender addon for simulating building collapses using the built in Bullet (rigidbody simulation engine) tools.  What I didn't expect though was to open the video link, and be confronted with was this:

Woah... I know this place...

This is the Pyne Gould Building, that collapsed during the Feb 22 2011 Christchurch Earthquake. It was one of the two worst hit buildings that collapsed that day, killing and trapping people. The other one was the CTV building (also in the CBD), where over 100 people died (including the mum of a classmate from primary school) when it pancaked. In other words: not really something us Cantabrians want to remember/dwell on...

Friday, July 8, 2016

Boom! New Animation Features - 7 July 2016

Boom! I've just pushed a bunch of features I've been working on to master. Some of these are things that you've been asking for for a long time too, so be sure to keep an eye out on the nightly builds coming out soon :)

Here's a quick list of the recent highlights:
* Animation Editors: Object datablocks are now sorted alphabetically by default  - I suddenly figured out a way to minimise the potential performance hit of having this enabled, so now you don't have to suffer with having you objects ordered however the old depsgraph thought they should be ordered (yes, that's the reason why the old ordering was as crazy as it was... blame the old depsy!)

* Dopesheet: Added "Moving Hold" as a keyframe type - Note that this will also automatically show "long keyframe" indicators between these keyframes (as you get with normal holds), so you can see at a glance where these are

* Dopesheet: Keyframe size can be adjusted as part of theme settings - For those who've been saying that by default the keyframes are bit hard to select

* Delta Transforms
   1) Added operators to make it easier to "Freeze" the current transform (either Loc/Rot/Scale together, or just Loc, Rot, or Scale by itself) into the Delta Transforms, leaving the normal transforms zeroed out again. These can be found in the Apply (Ctrl-A) menu
   2) The "Animated Transforms to Deltas" tool is now located in the Apply menu too, to make it easier to find it relative to the new tools

And from a few weeks back (for good measure):
* Ctrl-Shift-C: Made it easier to add constraints between bones in different armatures  - When the second object selected is an armature in pose mode with an active bone, the Ctrl-Shift-C operator for adding constraints will be able to pick the bone in the second armature as the target. Previously, it would only go as far as using the object

* FCurve Auto Colours: "XYZ to RGB" works for Quaternions too now  - The "W" channel uses a Yellow colour (blended from the X and Y axis colours).  (Note: If I knew what I know now, we would have had some stuff in place to ensure that colour animation was done in any colour space other than sRGB - even HSV as used here would be a lot better for a lot of people)

* Dopesheet: Circle and Lasso select now work  - These were relatively new additions to the Graph Editor (like only added in the past 1-2 years, from Gooseberry or so), so that's why they weren't there for the dopesheet yet

* GPencil: Eraser respects "Selection Mask" when in EditMode

I've got a bunch of other stuff planned, but for now, I'm not sure when I'll have time to get around to them yet. Hopefully soon (fingers crossed) :)

Happy animating!