Renaming this blog

Looking over my last several entries I couldn’t help but notice a pattern of vivid, glowing, colorful things. I guess I just like the bright and shiny. And really, who doesn’t? But it reminded me of a phrase my friend David Oppenheimer told me years ago upon returning from a trip to Nepal. He had learned that the Nepali language has this interesting property, where a word can be pluralized or emphasized by repeating it, but changing the first letter. Like how in English, you can say “taxes, schmaxes!” Except that there’s a certain pattern to which letters change into which other letters. It was totally fascinating to a linguistics-minded kid like me. I’m probably misremembering the details, but it was cool.

Anyway, the example he used was the word rang, which means “color”. Double the word and change the first letter, and you get rangi-changi, which means “splendor, display”. The word cij, “thing”, becomes cij-bij, “things”. Put it all together, and you can make rangi-changi-cij-bij, which loosely translates to “a whole mess of colorful stuff”.

So that’s the new name of my blog. A whole mess of colorful stuff, transliterated crudely from Nepali to English so you can enjoy how it rolls off the tongue: Rungy Chungy Cheese Bees! Say it loud! Okay, maybe not that loud, people are staring.

Hacking the alphabet, sketchy-style.


Here’s a project after my own heart. Ricard Marxer Piñón has been using the proce55ing language to make beautiful pseudo-calligraphic variations on your favorite TrueType fonts. His technique appears similar to the one I used for my Loose and Sketchy rendering style: a virtual pen loosely follows the outlines of the letters, sometimes overshooting as it rounds a corner, other times missing a turn completely. He’s done a nice job coming up with interesting variants on the physics of the simulation, and the results can look like anything from frenetic chicken-scratching to leaves drifting down a languid stream. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the interactive applets or the videos to work on my computer… but the still images look quite appealing!

(Thanks to Spot for the link.)

LED “Throwies”


Okay, this may be the coolest little hack I’ve ever seen, and simple enough that even a non-engineer like me could do it: LED “Throwies”, brought to us by Make Magazine. They’re basically little LED lights connected to a battery and a magnet, which you can attach to any ferromagnetic surface simply by tossing it at it. Ever wanted to see your name in lights? Now’s your chance! Be sure to check out the excellent video by Resistor and Fi5e.

(via BoingBoing.)

The role of the individual, and: can we stop hating CG now?

Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi at Cartoon Brew are rightly sad about the demise of the big-budget 2D feature. But to me, they seem to be taking it a little too far. It seems like for every bit of news that comes out, they must somehow find a way to use it to denigrate CG animation. When CG films get shut out of the Oscars, it puts a big smile on their faces. Because, you see, CG animation lacks the animator’s individualistic (sic) personality.

Kevan Shorey rightly points out that this just isn’t true. Any halfway-decent animator puts a lot of himself into his shots. When (very occasionally) people tell me they see my body language reflected in the way my characters move, I’m thrilled–nothing could make me happier. And a great animator, well… I can tell a Dan Wagner shot from looking at a single frame, his faces are so memorable and unique!

Everything you make bears the mark of your individual hand. That’s why, even in CG, directors and animation leads still hand-pick certain animators to handle certain shots: they can sense each animator’s affinity for one character, or one kind of acting, over another. What differs between 2D and CG is that in CG, the animator is only responsible for the movement of the character, not the design of the model. But there’s still plenty of room for individuality in the way a character moves.

The question is, is this prized “individualism” really what’s best for the film as a whole? Michael Barrier doesn’t think so. The model of casting-by-shot, he worries, is to blame for the lack of consistency in a character’s performance over a whole film:

…if a half dozen different people animate what is supposed to be the same character, in the same film, then at some level, in some sense, that film is going to contain not six slightly different versions of the same character, but six different characters who look and sound a lot alike. Such variations undermine an audience’s acceptance of the reality of a film’s characters

San Francisco in Jell-O

Goddess of Fog

Originally uploaded by otherthings.

Seen at the Exploratorium: a scale model of a chunk of San Francisco landscape made entirely of Jell-O. Not visible here is how it shakes and jiggles, but you can imagine. More surprising to me was the delicious fruity aroma! The piece was created by Liz Hickok, who keeps it in sections in her fridge when it’s not on display. Shown here is the artist’s mother, who spent the evening pouring dry ice fog over the cityscape for a proper San Francisco ambiance.