Wednesday, September 28, 2005


I have been updating the Dermal Display webpage by adding media mentions, blog entries and other websites that are covering the animation. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to visit the links. Please, don't hesitate to inform me of any places I've missed! Thanks.

The picture to your left is a graph (from my virtual server) charting how many visitors have been to the webpage. Notice the very dramatic increase since the animation was announced. I've never seen it peak so high.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Dermal Display

After months of work I am so pleased to announce that the project you have heard so much about on this blog is now complete. I had been working on changes to the scene up to the very last minute, so now I am almost in shock that I am done! I was able to upload two Sorenson compressed versions onto my website in .mov and .wmv formats for you to download. I have wondered why Sorenson does not have an .avi option, do any of you animators out there know?

Every frame of this animation was structured and every movement that you see relied on an accurate biological function. When you go to the hospital and you are hooked up to the heart monitor, those moving, wavy lines mean something right? That is exactly the basis of this animation. Robert A. Freitas Jr. (author of the Nanomedicine book series) who directed me, understands the relationship the dermal screen has with the body, and what is actually going on inside of the body. This animation was created so that you could see precisely what you would see if it was functioning on your own hand, accurately. That last word of course, made the project very challenging, as there was no freedom in the frames or the movements. This created a rather large learning curve for me - I would have paid to attend a class where I learned as much. It was a privilege to work with such an outstanding author.
Click here to be taken to the Dermal Display webpage where you can view stills, read more about the animation and download the movie.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Standing on the edge

Since my last post I continued to render out my Max scene as a png sequence. Somewhere around frame 4 thousand, I saw a flash, that pesky little flash. Just as the others, this color shift started at the first frame of this new batch of renders. So I shut everything down, and I started all over, and usually the first time after re-opening Max (excluding one time - I had to do it twice) I would render over the flash frame, and it wouldn't be there. So after I became aware that it could continue to happen, I would render one frame, pause the render, open up my previous batch of renders in Combustion and compare them to this new frame. If there was a flash I would close all down and try again until I didn't see a flash. What is interesting is that for the 4 thousand frames before, there were no flashes, but once I saw it begin, it seemed to be prone to appear afterwards.
So - with that said. I successfully compiled my pngs in Combustion and rendered them out as a .mov, flash free. I used my new Squeeze compression program and if you can believe it, I compressed the original 6GB file to an 8MB file. Mind blowing. The results of this compression tool are worth every cent of the cost. I can now zip my movie and email it for approval at the size of 5MB. Which I did, and of course there was a change requested afterwards. So I watched my flashes for the replacement fix and on the second attempt got it right, glued them together in Combustion, re-rendered the footage and sent it out again.
So I'm standing on the edge of 6 months of work, awaiting what I believe to be my final approval and credit roll instructions. I can not wait to share with you the reward of all this work - that we have been discussing on this blog and at the cg boards. It's odd, it seems like this last email confirmation is taking the longest, even though it isn't. I just can't wait to raise my hands in the air, take a deep breath and smile.

While I was waiting today I made this Moon Goddess image.

By the way, tonight someone on the boards mentioned the Exposure control (Render_Enviroment pulldown) being on, as having a possible effect with these flashes. I'll have to look into this next time.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ever present flash

I came to realize that I sent the disks out for approval when they are on vacation! However, I am happy to have them returned to me because now I could take the time to try and figure out what the flash I mentioned in my last post, is all about. I ran a lot of experimental renders and after many, I discovered when it is happening, although, not why. The shift occurs only after a reboot and a continuation of the rendering sequence. The slight color shift, does not happen if I start rendering, stop rendering while leaving Max open (my system on), and then returning to the render. Only after a shut down. It starts with the very first frame I render and stays with the sequence. These were all rendered in tgas, so I decided to re-render out to pngs instead. So far I have had good results (currently at frame 1300), with no flashing even after reboots. I've been on the boards and there doesn't seem to be a consensus as to why rendering to pngs would solve my problem. But, "if it ain't broke...". With the new png renders I made sure to store my Max file in the same file as the pngs, I also am not re-saving my file after I type in the frames to be rendered from the render dialog. I don't know if this has an impact, but if by some odd reason Max is pre-calculating anything, this could prevent that. I was sort of a disappointed perfectionistic mess yesterday, but things are looking a little bit more optimistic today. We'll see it how it goes, over the next 4 thousand frames.
In the middle of this latest adventure I amused myself by creating a 2d comic strip called "Golly" . I hope it amuses you!

Thursday, September 01, 2005


The Big Project: I was just looking in my tga folder of renders and it looks like the first frame began rendering on the 23rd. I compiled my individual frames and of course needed to work in some last minute edits, burned a full sized DVD and compressed CD and snail mailed them out for approval today. Whew. I'm finished (I hope). Just keep your fingers crossed for me that I don't have to go back in to make any requested changes after the disk is viewed. If I get the approval all I would have to do is throw on some copyright frames.............
Animation purge: I did encounter a strange phenomena during a couple of my "after render" edits. There were two places where I wanted to move my model into a better position inside of Max, so I went back in, made the changes and re-rendered those frames over that original time sequence. I then rendered the tgas out of Combustion. The first edit, had a couple of frames (2) that appeared to flash darker than the originals but I was able to work around it. However, the second edit, had the same dark flash over the entire new sequence (not just 2 frames) - to make sure it wasn't a Combustion issue I pulled them all into Vegas, and sure enough the sequence was dark in there too. So I went back into Max, into the original scene (not my newly modified and re-named scene) animated my object and tried to render them from there, same problem. I started getting worried that it might be my original material that I have applied to the models in Max, but it can't be if the large first sequence came out right and then just one part from the same scene came out with a darkening flash in it (the only thing I changed was the model, not the material). I also wondered if the shading on the model had changed with my new position of my second model in the scene, so I was careful to render out before that was introduced and after it left, but it stayed the same. Out of desperation I also tried using the Discreet color corrector in Combustion on the dark flash frames, but it never matched up with the original. So on that edit, I had to settle and keep the original motion as it is better than color distortion - I never did figure it out.
But lest we not forget, I am done rendering! Now I find out for sure.

P.S. I did make a funny little baby animation the other day.