Espresso …?

December 17th, 2007 - Comments Off

espresso machine

Here’s a 3d model I made of my favorite little espresso machine. OK, so it’s not candy colored in real life, this is just a test shot.

I’m working on a new “virtual product display.” It’s like a combination of video games, marketing and the web. When done, you’ll be able to learn how to use this machine by watching it in 3D action on your web browser. Check back for the results.



Experimenting with different render engines

December 15th, 2007 - Comments Off


3D Alien Bust

November 20th, 2007 - Comments Off

3D Alien Bust
(click to enlarge)

On the left you see the base model I sculpted, comprised of only 790 polygons (those little squares.)
On the right you see the finished model which has about 6 million polygons. I painted the texture on using a digital paint software package and a pen mouse which works just like a paint brush.

Dodge Sample

October 17th, 2007 - Comments Off

This isn’t a finished commercial. It’s pieces from a script which will be combined with a new voice over track, narration, music, backdrops and an animation by another company of a huge block that gets chopped, then splits.

What was new for me in this piece was lateral movement, pointing and kicking towards the camera. It might look cute and simple, but their are over 75 different parts hand drawn for each character. Just think of every word spoken, blink of the eye, turn of the head or body and on and on.

It’s crazy to think that one “three second scene” can take a solid week of planning, drawing, animating then tweaking, just to get the motion right. Just look at the credits of any animated movie or even your favorite saturday toon, you’ll see up to a hundred names of animators it took.

This twenty seconds took almost a month to complete, but now that all the parts are drawn, things should go faster from here. Until the next script calls for something else.

And now the 2D version

August 22nd, 2007 - Comments Off

It’s the first part of the script, then replayed in slow motion.
The third guy will be chopping a block of “high prices.”

To separate everything out, I put a blur on the background and a slight blur on the two middle characters. But that’s just a matter of preference. I could easily strip the blur and sharpen everything up.

Below is an actual frame from the animation.  The blur makes the “chopping” character really pop-out.

still from animation

And here is a no blur.
No blur

fod back

Commercial Test

August 14th, 2007 - Comments Off

The Agency I did this sample for does their own sound, so I just threw in a simple track so it would have something. All the voices are me - sorry.

- Each 3D character took about a week to model, UV Map, paint and rig. Then phonemes had to be built for each mouth shape so they could talk.

- Then comes animating each character, frame by frame. So a few seconds of animation could take days to animate.

- Last comes RENDERING.  And rendering means “quality of image.”  I have over fifty hours of render time in this, and that’s using a two computer render farm.  But, considering PIXAR will spend up to 90 hours rendering one single frame (that’s 1\30th of a second,) my fifty hours isn’t bad.  The trick is finding a balance between time spent and quality.

The good news is, now that the characters are built, they can be re-used over and over. And posed any way you want for your Print needs .

Here’s an easy way to create your own 3D caricatures:
Just show the computer a picture of whomever you want to model, press a button and seconds later it’s ready to go.   Shah!!!  YOU WISH!

I’ve studied traditional portraiture (painting portraits by hand) since I was a kid, so that makes capturing a likeness a little easier.

Just imagine building these models with a chicken wire frame, paper macheing it, then painting. That’s what building a 3D model is like.

If you think your paper mache model would look like crap, so would your 3D model.

Have fun.

Posing pose2posed adventure

Here is an actual still from the animation, just to give you an idea on resolution.

Can this guy play?

May 29th, 2007 - No Responses

Just goofing around here. The song is red house by Jimi Hendrix and the guitar dude is an actual company logo brought to life. I’m just seeing what kind of animation looks I can get out of him.

Anyway … I hadn’t been home to see my pretty baby in about ninety nine and one half days … or so the song goes.

test - Driving Directions

May 9th, 2007 - No Responses

Watch Now:
.. ..
icon for podpress  test [0:08m]: Play Now

In this test I wanted to simulate driving directions. I chose a simple route, but it could get as detailed as need be.

The road sign didn’t pop out enough until I stopped for half a second and extruded the view. At one point I had cars buzzing up and down the road, but it seemed to distract from what we were doing.

For your business, I would have to have pics of the actual road signs, maybe a few of actually traveling to your location and some shots of your building and it’s surroundings for the model. Remember: the more detail and realism you want, the more hours I’ll have modeling and animating.

New Movie Trailer Test

April 2nd, 2007 - No Responses

*sound byte sample from sounddogs - clip for demo only.

Who says farmers can’t dance?

What you’re seeing is live action recorded from a dancer and then applied to my 3d model. He’s warming up for an appearance in a new movie trailer spoof I’m working on.

Humble beginnings.


After some rough sketches, he begins to take shape. These are then used as patterns. I can pull them into my 3D modeling program where I start building the mesh.

And here is the wireframe of my mesh. It’s like building a paper mache model over wire.


After the mesh is built, it has to be “textured” or painted. At this point he looks right, but he can’t move or talk, so now it has to be “rigged” or given an actual skeleton. Believe me, there’s just no “gimme” step in this whole process.

This model took me two years to complete. Just kidding. But it does take up to a week or more depending on the complexity of the model.

final still

So anyway, he’s still not finished, but this should at least give you an idea. And I can tell you it’s really weird to see your idea go from a sketch to a goof dancing around like that.

And the last step - the hardest. Phoneme morphs have to be made so your character can speak. That means the face mesh has to be shapped into an “o” mouth and an “a” mouth and an “f” mouth, etc …

Animated Commercial Test

March 30th, 2007 - 2 Responses

Here I’m working out the motion of the character. Good motion just takes time, and in some instances, you have to do some good old fashioned Disney style “frame by frame” motion like when the characer is pointing. At that point his hand has to morph from pointing forward to up. So being able to draw is essential.

The hand morph happens so fast it’s hard to catch, but if it’s not there, our eye tells us something is wrong.

The background wasn’t important here, so I just threw in what I had. But this could have live video behind it, text, a photo or whatever you need.

In doing a spot like this, all I need is a wave file for voice over, the script or storyboard and front and side photos of the actors face, if it’s a caricature. Then I can deliver uncompressed on DVD or any format needed.

The dropping 3D text needs some dust and a good “thud” sound, but it still works with our character.

3D Caricature

March 24th, 2007 - No Responses

Here’s a 3d Bono I’m working on.

3D Bono

Soon he’ll be able to walk, talk and of course … talk more. The odd part about making him talk is that I have to build a “MORPH” or new mouth shape for every phoneme, so that means I have to study his face and find how it moves when he speaks and try to duplicate that.  I mean, Bono’s great and all, but I can only look at him so long.


March 14th, 2007 - No Responses

Here’s a little experiement in realism. It uses a technique called radiosity, which lets the light bounce around the room.

RadiosityFrank Relaxing

Looks like I need more light directed towards Franky’s face.

Surreal 3D

March 11th, 2007 - No Responses

I don’t know what’s going on here, but I like the feel. Plus, nurses and UFOs add to any scene.

So Real

I like this look OR I could “make do” with it because it’s sparse and renders fast. And rendering time is a huge consideration for animators. So what is rendering? It’s the time it takes the computer to “finalize” a 3D image.

For example: If you’ve seen a Pixar movie, you’ve seen some heavy rendering! Just think: one second of film is made up of 24 individual frames or pictures and each one of those frames has to be rendered.

So how long does rendering take? From a few seconds to like … ninety hours. Let’s see, if one second has 24 frames, and each of those frames takes hours to render, and a movie has an average of 5,400 seconds … it could take a while. But that’s why there are “render farms.” What’s a render farm? Hundreds of computers linked together, sharing the load of rendering.

My “render farm” is more like a garden, or better yet a potted plant, but it gets the job done for me.

So the next time you see a cute little 3D character in a movie or commercial, you’ll have an idea how much time and effort went into “cute.”


leopard header


anim box background

Matte Painting Sample of Santa Fe

March 11th, 2007 - No Responses

Here’s the before …

Matte Painting before

… and the after …

Santa Fe Matte Painting Sample-3

I added an evil lair up on the mountain high just for giggles. And considering those peaks would be about thirty thousand footers, the “lair” would be one of the largest pads on the planet. And then the pre-historic tropical rainforest makes for an interesting drive by.

So now I’ll explain, when shooting a movie or commercial or whatever, you don’t always get the scenery you want. Here’s where I come in. I can take your footage, match the camera movement and lay in a 3D version of whatever scenery you need.

And here’s one mistake I made: the shadows cast by the Palms don’t match up. Look at the direction and length of the car’s shadows. But don’t worry, it would be an easy fix.

I could keep going and add an inland sea, ten thousand marching robots and a breeze to make the palms sway, then do an seven second fly through that leads up to the Lair - but you get the idea. I bet the guys driving by hope the light changes - fast.

New Animation Looks

March 10th, 2007 - No Responses

Here I’m blending 2D and 3D within a 3d environment. But now I’ve found a way to make the 2D character cast shadows as though he were there.

2d in 3d

This might make a nice look for an animated feature. What do you think?

Ice Age 3D Sample

March 7th, 2007 - Comments Off

Here I rebuilt a shot from the movie “Ice Age.” It’s late afternoon with those warm glows and long blue shadows.
And I know-I know, there were no triceratops in Ice Age, but I didn’t have a wooley mammoth made.

My Ice Age

I know kung fu.

March 6th, 2007 - No Responses

Just a little test to see how Frankie moves. What you’re seeing here is motion captured from a live subject, then applied to a 3D model.

Matte Painting

March 5th, 2007 - No Responses

What is it? Think of those lucious glacial views on Lord of the Rings or the jungles in Pirates of the Caribbean. Most or all of those shots are 3d and exist only on a computer.

Here are some of my still samples. But check back cause I hope to have some animated versions soon. It’s just that one - seven second shot can take a week to render or finalize.

If you have a shot spoiled by hi-line wires, highway or whatever, I can layer in full or partial 3D that move or pan with your camera.

3D tropic sunrise. You might recognize some corn plants down low.


Here’s a sample dealing with caustics which attempts to scatter and filter light.


The cliffs are textured or painted, while the foilage below are instaces of two different tropical trees.

Matte Painting Sample

Compositing Test

March 3rd, 2007 - No Responses


Here’s Frank composited over a city scene. Special care was given to lighting him so that he fits the shot. Click and have a look.

Currently I’m working on camera matching live video to an animated scene. Hopefully I’ll have some good animated shots of that soon.