Saturday, April 01, 2006

More Boxx

Here it is, dual monitors! And an earlier picture with my poochie (she was dreaming of all the Boxx possibilities to come).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love dual monitors... I can't live without them. A BOXX weekend... that is just pure joy right there. LOL! Yeah I'm a geek!

You know you are a geek when you look at a workstation and you think it is sexy. :)

Mike James :::

8:02 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

Hooray for fellow Geekdome Mike! You know whats funny though, I have them in reverse, not that I want it that way, but since I have another stand alone system on the right I have to have my second dual on the left - so it's backwards! But I don't think it will matter much, since I'll just be used to it that way. Kind of silly huh! Your joke resonates.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

Hey Mike - I'm so excited! I just ran a speed test comparison and here it goes, I made a complex star shape, animated it to rotate and rendered out 100 frames (no mats). If I do that on my older PC system it takes 2:13 minutes. When I do it on my BOXX -scanline- it takes 10 seconds!!! Mental ray takes 16 seconds. So the scanline render on my boxx is about 13 times faster than my old PC! Crazy cool!

11:32 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

Hey Mike what is your favorite or most useful methods for using your dual monitors?

1:03 AM  
Blogger alaphrench said...

Tearsa is sooooo cute!!!! :)

Fun stuff you have going on!!!!! I wish I could "play" with all the fun stuff. LOL Some day, after I win the lottery. hehe Can't wait to see what you'll be creating next!

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Favorite dual monitor use? Just using them :) Seriously. Whatever makes you happy.

I have two seperate dual monitor setups. I have a 21 inch viewsonic on the left which is set at 1280x1024, but the right monitor is 1152x864. That system I run Macromedia Studio 8. The left monitor is where I run Dreamweaver. The larger resolution allows me to see the whole interface of dreamweaver and the full web page.

The right monitor I have set at the lower resolution because I like to monitor email and like to preview the site as I make changes. Most mortals are not viewing at 1280x1024 so I like to keep the monitor at a middle of the road resolution.

A website I just finished is waiting for the URL to redirect. The old site is at:

His new site I based off of his girlfriend's site and is currently online for viewing at:

His was a real challenge. The photos were not done by me. Neither were the ones that are on , but I had to try and make the best of them. I did manage to tool some of Erick's photos a bit. It is a real challenge when a client gives you compressed JPEGs and then you have to resize them and recompress them.

The changes I made on Michele's photos where pretty dramatic in some cases and she was so excited and grateful. And the dual monitor setup was absolutely critical at times to work efficiently and rapidly.

My brother doesn't know it, but I took Erick's site and then retooled my brother's summer camp site using it as a template.... LOL! :)

My brother is a special ed teacher. Very specialized. He teaches slightly autistic kids. The official term is "asburger". They are not as far gone as "Rain Man" like the movie. They can be taught, but only under superhyper care. My brother basically checks in at 8am and never leaves the kids until 4pm . He has aids that assist all day and it is only because of the aids that he can even leave to go to the bathroom.

Three years ago he was tired of making $25K a year and decided to run a summer science camp. I told him I would help him promote it online. So I built him a website and his local marketing and my support online has helped him bump his annual salary to about $40,000 and he loves teaching the summer science camps.

His site that I just revamped by using Erick's site layout is:

Well, enough of the web chat... lets talk VFX now....


Mike James :::

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alright.. lets talk about cool. BOXX is cool. I have a t-shirt that has BOXX on it and I don't even own one. I bought an Alienware laptop in '04, but narrowly opted out of the BOXX desktop. I wanted to be mobile and at that time Boxx was not committed to the laptops as Alienware was (Dell just bought Alienware, but they are more geared towards gamers than vfx'ers).

Anyway. A fast system (as you are seeing) makes all the difference.

It saves time, and really when you think about it............ it gives you time. It gives you time back you didn't have before. Time is money.

I'm sure you are wicked excited about how fast everything is running. I know I am.

I've put together a few systems of my own. I have 6 core PCs that I use for VFX work. 5 running XP Pro SP2 and one running XP Pro 64 bit. I put them together myself cheap. But I take chances that I have NO SUPPORT like you do with BOXX.

The top two systems I am running are over 6 months old. One is a 3.0 Ghz P4 w/HT and 3 Gigs DDR-400 Ram with SATA drives and an nVidia Quadro FX 4500 512mb card and running XP Pro 64 bit. This system only has two apps running.... LightWave 8.5 64 bit and Cinema 4D's 9.5 64 bit.

I'd run Max, but it ain't 64 bit yet.

Gina, you know how combustion is limited by ram when it comes to previews? Well let me give you some really cool and really good news. Later this year there will be workstations out that will be able to handle over 32 Gigs of Ram. And MS Vista is a 64 bit OS so that means it can recognize all that RAM.

What I'm telling you is that in less than a year you and I will not have to wait around for hours waiting for stuff to render and compress. It is going to get hyperfast for rendering, etc. However, that also means that you and I will need to be better and more educated than the average joe on the market. Because as hardware and software gets cheaper, it levels the playing field.

Just look at photography. Back in the day with film it was for experts only. But as Compact Flash and DSLR's came to market at cheaper and better quality points... it erroded away that higher end market.

I don't say this to scare you, but to prep you for the coming years. Stay at the top of your game and stay connected to your niche (as you have been). Because the generalists will struggle.


Mike James ::: VFXPodcast

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to change gears a little with NAB less than a month away...

You know what I heard? That the combustion coding team had been moved over to the TOXIC team. Do you know about Discreet Toxic?

Anyway... this tells me that Toxic and combustion could possibly be merged in some way. I always thought it was weird that Combustion and toxic were so similar but targeted different market segments.

Also, NAB2006 is less than a month away. So everyone is holding their breath right now waiting to see what new toys are announced in less than a month.

And if you haven't figured it out already..... I have some huge renders that are allowing me the time to chat away now! LOL! :)

In fact my second best system (which is 8 months old) is a 3.0 Ghz P4 w/HT and 3 Gigs of Ram running XP Pro SP2 and an nVidia Quadro FX 3000.

I saved a ton of money by putting these systems together myself using eBay and components. For example... the Quadro FX 4500 card retailed for $1999 at the time I built that system but I paid $599 for it on eBay.

And the FX 3000 retailed for over $1000, but I paid $300+ through eBay using very good and reliable eBay sellers.

However, if the xxxx hits the fan, I have nobody to turn to... you do (BOXX). That is a hidden cost/fee that can be well worthwhile.

One thing is for sure. Your system will FLY!!!!!!

6:37 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

alaphrench - I think she's cute too! Thank you! I'm playing a little but mostly I'm still playing phone tag with some zillion odd plug in companies trying to get new install numbers for my program upgrade, they don't make it easy! But it will be worth it in the end. I need to win the lottery too! I'm paying monthly fees for the workstation. I'm hoping it's an investment for the future. There really wasn't any way possible with my current PC systems to be able to generate the large size animation project that I'm going to be working on over the next year or two or.... I couldn't be happier, I still can't fathom that my renders are 13 times faster on this thing! Whew, BOXX ROXX!

2:50 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

Dual monitor - mine are 19s. I'm going to keep my Dreamweaver over here on my old standard, I'm really going to try and limit my programs to only animation and related jazz on the new workstation just to keep it clean and powerful. My webpage directories are pretty vast (nanoindustries and nanogirl), that alone as well as all of the other novel length stuff is reason to keep it here.

Today I was messing around with Combustion, it was nice that the program recognized the dual monitor right off the bat, I can see that the viewport views are easily controlled - still trying to figure out what it can do and how I want it set up. Speaking of that, do you have any insights about how I should render out of Max and combustion for a final render to output to DVD's for viewing on television. As far as resolution and safe frame? I was reading this PDF about the subject today . What do you think? He also goes over file types, but I've been using tgas/pngs successfully.

You very much improved those webpages! They are well organized, have a intuitive user interface and the format gives the pages a real look of sophistication. Good work. Your brothers work is very commendable, my mom works with special needs children as well so I know from listening to the stories how trying it can be and what a special person it takes to work such a job. For your brother to sacrifice so much really says a lot about him. Looks great over there at their webpage as well.

Yes, I am familiar with Alienware. A couple of years ago I was looking at Alienware for the same reason you were, the portability was a factor (needed to take it to animation classes), but I got this Hypersonic instead. It's been good to me but I've really worked it and I think one of the fans is out or about out. Tends to close down. I'm glad to be moving onto the workstation. And, yes, I am really excited about the BOXX! Still getting it set up. Most of the time is due to the fact that I upgraded to Max 8 (I have a sub - so I've had it since it came out, but I was waiting) so, as you know, upgrades and installs can be like hunting for snowballs in July. I have multiple phone calls backed up. On the flip side, I still can't get used to how fast she is, screaming. Even when I am simply opening a program! I notice on this system that CS2 is slow to load, but I've come to find out that it's not innate to the program as it bounces right awake on the BOXX. Extra time will indeed be great, that's actually the most difficult part for me, the waiting, the rendering, the countdown. Especially in the beginning, when it's calculating, it teases, only 13 hours remaining, I go get a glass of water, come back, only 14 hours remaining and so on! That's when I have to walk away for good and not torture myself by watching it increase!

I completely understand what you were saying about Combustion and the previewer, that's one feature that is quite buggy to use and I've even said it out loud many times, so I am ecstatic to hear your news! Sounds like I'll have to upgrade my memory and system when Vista comes out. Nope, not scared, I am a complete technophile my friend and when it gets better, the better it is for me!

Yes, I think Toxik is more pipeline and multi collaborator oriented, but that's about all I know about it. I wonder what sort of effect the merge will have?

Sounds like you've got a pretty serious system there! Hope your render came out okay, sure it did.

2:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW... so sorry it took me so long to get back to you.

I didn't read the whole document (no time) but the TMPG'ish MPEG2 encoder, my friend has used and works well according to him.

The key is to do your edits, compositing, etc... then to take your final work into a dedicated encoder (like TMPG, Sorenson Compression Suite, Cleaner, etc...) Then encode to MPEG2. Then import that MPEG2 footage into your DVD authoring package.

I would generally say you should NOT let your DVD Authoring package do the encoding for you, but rather endode to MPEG2 prior to bringing it into your author of choice.


6:41 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

Hi - I've decided that I'm going to use a 720 X 480 template for the scenes. When I first started with Max I had gotten Cleaner too, and I had asked my teacher (not at Mesmer, this was before I went there) at the time how to use it, but he didn't seem to know! At that time I was still learning (I still am and always will be with animations high and endless learning curve - but you know what I mean) so I didn't really need to figure it out and there for uninstalled it. It's still sitting on a shelf right now. Now lets fast forward to when I was working on the Dermal Display animation, when it came time to render the movie in it's entirety (without compression) it was something insane like 6 gigs, so I ended up getting Sorenson and of course was blown away by the resulting 8 mb file. Since then I continue to use Sorenson as my main compression tool. So from what you are saying DVD is the same going out as it is in. For example when I import footage from my digital hand held video camera I have to convert from mpeg - when I am generating footage for DVD I need to do the reverse, making sure I my final output is mpeg so that it is readable by DVD drives. I just upgraded my DVD Architect, I'm thinking about using it to create the menus and my animation friend says that it should work fine for everything else too.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

P.S. The May 9th issue of PC mag has Windows Vista on the cover and some photos of the ui inside.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I followed you there about the footage/mpeg comment...

Basically once you are ready to output your video or sequence (your edit or animation is complete), then compress to mpeg-2. Then import that mpeg-2 footage into your DVD app.

I don't bring avi or mov files into my dvd app because they don't usually do as good of a job encoding to mpeg-2.

The exception would be in motion menus. Because some dvd apps will recompress the motion menu with the new buttons, etc you add to that menu. In those cases I bring in an AVI or MOV file and then add the buttons/navigation on that motion menu page. Then on the final build the DVD app does the encoding and converts the avi or mov and the button elements to the proper format.

Each app is different so you just gotta know the features and workflow of your dvd app. I don't know the one you mentioned. I've used DVD Stuio Pro on the Mac and Encore DVD mostly on the PC.


1:56 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

Okay, thank you!

1:03 AM  

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