Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tell me doctor, where are we going this time?

One of the neat little factoids I've learned in the year I've been working at 8 Hats High is actually about the building our studio is housed in.

Located in downtown Middletown, NY, it may not look like much to many of the big-time city folks but if we take a step back in time...

... we would find the grand olde Bull's Opera House in which none other than Edwin Booth performed one of his most famous roles as Hamlet.

Now while some of you might be disappointed that it was Edwin and not John who graced the stage here, rest assured Edwin was the better actor. Today, you'll find just as interesting a character waiting at the door to greet you...

From here it's upstairs to the old lobby with concession stands and ticket booths. Sadly, these have all been replaced by light tables, computers, scanners, two TV sets and a few fake pine trees. From the one-time lobby, you enter into what was once the theater.

Today, the high ceilings serve to house our Motion Capture system...

... and green screen.

Then there's the lamp post that leads to Narnia, but I'll save that for a later blog...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Will work for work...

With the present state of the economy, I figured now would be as good a time as any to put a little plug in here for myself and more specifically, my work ethic.

About a year ago I was hired by Market America to act as sound editor at their annual convention in Miami, Florida. I got flown done there, put up in a swanky hotel and paid a decent sum to run through hours of audio and cut out anything objectionable (crowd applause, questionable comments, etc.). Then all the audio had to be converted and uploaded to Market America's website by the end of the day.

It was a race against time and distractions were plentiful. The Miami sun, NFL Champion with the Philadelphia Eagles Dennis Franks, yacht parties galore and appearances by J. Lo, Marc Anthony and some younger version of Shakira all tempted to distract me from the task at hand.

But not even when supermodel-turned-fashion designer Kimora showed up did I turn from my computer screen. Now that's dedication! Don't believe me? Check this image out from her TV show, 'Life in the Fab Lane'.

If it's on TV it must be true. Hire me!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why's everybody always pickin' on me?

The other day, while driving to work, I happened to pass by an eating establishment called Charlie Brown's.

Charlie Brown's is a chain much like Outback Steakhouse, Friday's and Red Robin. When this particular one opened up YEARS AGO, my family went out to see what all the excitement was about. I don't remember too much about the experience aside from the fact that we hated it enough to never give it a second thought.

The memory of this was crossing my mind as I stared at the sign while waiting at the traffic light. While reminiscing, I noticed the text below the name: Est. 1966. Then I wondered (and don't ask me to explain this) if there was ever some poor bloke with the last name of Brown who had the unfortunately luck to be given the first name Charlie and if he cursed the names of Schultz and the Coasters every time he opened the paper or turned on the radio.

Then it hit me. I HAD known a kid named Charlie Brown at Park Ave Elementary. He HAD been teased (mostly to the tune of the song) right through to Middle School. And he was the first boy I ever kissed.

My first kiss was from a kid named Charlie Brown.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Get outta my head...

When I got my license (driver's, not gun... still waiting on the paperwork) back in high school, my parents got me a new Dodge Neon. This car has since been (quite forcibly) retired by a solid eight years of use between myself and my two younger brothers. While the Neon maybe the first car that I drove I don't count it as the first car that I've owned. That honor goes to my little Daihatsu Mira that I bought and drove into retirement while living in Japan.

Living on my own there I had to figure a lot of the normal car stuff out for the first time (including how to drive stick-shift... more about that later). See, I really only drove the Neon for a year or two before moving to Philadelphia and most of the maintance was handled by my dad. So, when my Mira suddenly ran out of windshield wiper fluid I had no idea where to refill it, how to refill or what store sold it. There were lots of other issues with this car... like the fact that if I drove over 80km per hour the car would start to violently shake. The AC never worked (not that big of a deal because I loathe AC in the car), the muffler rusted through completely after a year of use (it was already halfway there), tail-lights went out, gages broke... but whatever happened, I had my friendly neighborhood auto-shop to run to (the old guy didn't even charge me half of the time).

Today I own a Ford Focus, bought almost entirely due to the fact that it looked like my old Mira. But now, instead of helpful old Japanese guys, I have helpful young (half) Korean co-workers! Thanks to several folks at the studio (and some guy yelling at us from a pickup in the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru lane), I somehow managed to replace a busted tail-light all on my own! Next, they're going to teach me how to change my own oil! I may even learn how to change my own tires! Oh, the money I shall save...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

While you're waiting...

Start rendering...

I'm basically a freelance animator although I'd rather call myself an animator-for-hire which I think makes my job sound slightly more interesting than it is. I'm sure lots of people think being an animator must be the coolest job in the world (I've met a lot of them) but actually, it's pretty boring.

Take for instance what I'm doing now. Blogging. Why am I blogging? Because I'm rendering. Why am I rendering? Because I've finished most of the tedious and, at times, fun work before I hit that 'Render' button. Then I play the 'Waiting Game' which involves me finding some way of distracting myself for an hour and 20 minutes (at least in this case) till my computer yells at me.

So, what do I do in the meantime aside from the aforementioned blogging? Reading mostly. Sometimes I play a video game. If I have a personal, side project that doesn't demand too much of my computer's RAM I'll work on that. The hard thing is finding something to do that fits in the space of an hour and isn't too far from the computer (cause at any moment, the render could stop).

Finished rendering!

I've never realize how much and how little the space of an hour is.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Another day, another year...

My New Year's resolution this year is/was to actually keep up with this blog.

Problem is I've never really cared about the New Year. I guess that's why so many people seem to have problems sticking to their resolutions. Fortunately, mine doesn't involve my physical or mental well-being (if anything I should make a resolution to eat more).

It's not that I dislike the New Year. I'm certainly not old enough to start viewing each first of January as a ticking time bomb slow counting down to my eventual demise. But I guess I was never young enough to want to stand outside in the freezing cold for HOURS, getting drunk and waiting for a giant ball to drop. A friend asked me to come with her one year and the fact that I even considered it only shows how great of a friend she is.

I don't know... maybe that's just it. I'm boring. You know how I spent the last minutes of '08? In the bathtub. No booze, no blood... just some warm water and one arm hanging out of the tub, like a seal regulating it's body temperature.

That's seal for "Happy New Year"!