The Halloween Video I’m Never Making

November 13th, 2016

So I had this silly idea for a Halloween video with my kid:

INT. HOUSE -- EVENING

TYLER is working on his computer at home when he hears a knock at the door. He walks over, opens the door, and sees KID VAMPIRE.

KID VAMPIRE

Hi!

TYLER

Err ... hi?

KID VAMPIRE

Can I come in?

TYLER (SUSPICIOUSLY)

Are you a vampire?

KID VAMPIRE

No.

TYLER

Oh, okay.

CUT TO:

INT. HOUSE -- EVENING

TYLER is lying on the floor and KID VAMPIRE is biting his neck.

NARRATOR (V.O.)

Although vampires can not enter a household without first being invited in, they can, in fact, lie. Protect yourself by following these precautions:

CUT TO:

TYLER is shoving GARLIC towards KID VAMPIRE, outside the door.

NARRATOR (V.O.)

Garlic.

KID VAMPIRE

Hiss!

CUT TO:

TYLER is splashing HOLY WATER on KID VAMPIRE, outside the door.

NARRATOR (V.O.)

Holy water.

KID VAMPIRE

Hiss!

CUT TO:

TYLER is waving a CRUCIFIX on KID VAMPIRE, outside the door.

NARRATOR (V.O.)

Or a crucifix.

KID VAMPIRE

What’s that?

NARRATOR (V.O.)

Note, crucifixes may not be effective against heathen vampires.

I thought it was cute. I told my wife about it and she thought it was hilarious. So she asked Dyson if he was excited to make a video with Papa and he said, “I don’t want to.” And that was that. I mean, I tried asking a couple times after that, even offering bribes of video game time. But if you’ve ever been in a contest of wills with a six-year-old, you know how it ends. Also, making videos is my thing, not his.

I’ll be honest. I was a little crestfallen. I had visions of us having fun together making silly videos like this, especially at this age because he’s adorable. But he takes after his mom and he hates performing. He’s much more interested in baseball and running cross country, which I have no idea where he gets. Fortunately, he’s really into video games and cartoons like me, so we bonded over that instead.

Anyways, it can be disappointing when things don’t turn out the way you hope, but you can’t control other people and it’s important to focus on what you can do and what is good.

And yes, this has been a metaphor for how I dealt with the election.

The Making of “Undecided Vote”

October 8th, 2016


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0p285-58zQ

I haven’t made one of these in years. But then I had a stupid idea and a free afternoon, so here we are.

It was a good couple hours for principle photography and a few hours of editing. The trickiest part, by far, was getting the 3-way split screen shot. It’s incredibly challenging to say lines timed with imaginary performances of yourself (for me, anyways). I was nowhere close so I had to fix a lot of it in post. But it helped a lot to have a rough script written. Other challenges:

  • Finishing principle photography with a kid in the house.
  • Finding three locations in my house that looked different enough.
  • Pronouncing the Russian. I took a bit of it in college, but I’m really rusty.

Dyson and I play Beethoven

August 4th, 2016


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y44bTC–XiQ

We have a digital piano at home and one day Dyson asked for piano lessons. I think he’s starting earlier than I did. So he’s probably better than I was at that age. And if he keeps up with it, he’ll be better than I am now.

It kinda embarrasses me / fills me with me pride, but there are already things he’s better than me at:

  • Running continuously for 2 miles.
  • Playing Connect Four.
  • Holding a plank position.
  • Being cute.

Fortunately, there are still things I’m better at:

  • Playing the piano.
  • Playing chess.
  • Programming computers.
  • Public speaking.

Well, at least … for now. As time goes on, the top list will grow and the bottom list will shrink. I suppose that’s ever the way with being a parent. I just didn’t think it’d start happening when he was six!

Demo Reel

June 13th, 2016


https://youtu.be/NyCYPr7pfOk

I used to work on effects in the entertainment industry and when you’re in effects, you create demo reels to show what you worked on. This was mine from 2002 (plus some other stuff).

Most of the footage comes from this movie called Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s because nobody went to see it in the theaters (it premiered in third place after Legally Blonde and Cats and Dogs), and so the studio I worked for closed down which is why I needed to make a demo reel in the first place. The rest of the stuff came from a short film called Final Flight of the Osiris, which was part of a series of animated shorts in the world of The Matrix.

It was a lot of fun working in computer graphics those days. It was early enough that you could pretty much do anything in that area and be the first person to do that thing. Like, I think I might have written the first volumetric shader with lighting used in a feature film. But there were only, like, 5 other CG feature films out by that point. Making iPhone apps in 2008 and working on virtual reality stuff now feel kinda similar. There’s something exciting about being on the frontier and exploring, working with other people trying to figure out how it all works. It’s a little scary and exhilarating at the same time.

Stars Easter Egg in Cardboard App

April 3rd, 2016


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zajBXAAxAlc

Short version:

  • Download the Cardboard app either for iOS or Android (it’s free!).
  • Launch the Cardboard demos.
  • Look up at the sky.
  • Tap the screen or push your Cardboard viewer’s button.
  • Exit the stars by either looking down at the ground or by rotating your phone back to portrait.

Longer version:
Well, you can just watch the video but I made an easter egg for the Cardboard app (iOS or Android)! It’s loosely based on an old app I made called Starfield 3D.

The video doesn’t really do it justice. It’s way more immersive in virtual reality. So if you have a Cardboard viewer, try it out! If you don’t have one, you can buy one through http://g.co/cardboard. They’re, like, 20 bucks.

Oh, also, if you did try it out and you liked it, please rate it on the store! That really helps my team to know that people liked it. Thanks.

Pneumonia and Paris

March 31st, 2016

This is what my lungs looked like as Death approached.

This is what my lungs looked like as Death approached.


It sucks to get sick. It sucks even worse to get sick right before a scheduled work trip to Paris, which is what happened to me a few weeks ago.

But then I started getting better and I thought, “Hey, I think it’s just a mild cold and I’m almost well, I’ll just power through.”

So I took a bunch of NyQuil, packed my things, and went to Paris! And that’s how I developed double pneumonia. I don’t think it was Paris per-se but the 11-and-a-half-hour flight, lack of sleep, jet lag, and all the running around to get to where we were staying. Apparently the body has limits.

Being sick sucks. Being sick in a foreign country where you barely speak the language … well you get the idea. But between my feeble attempts of “Avez-vous des NyQuil?” and the pharmacist’s much better command of English, I was able to get at least some relief.

So, lessons learned:

  • Don’t travel on a long international flight if you’re sick. It’s not worth it.
  • A week of not being able to sleep properly will make you delirious.
  • On the other hand, the pastries are to die for! Well, maybe not literally.
  • Paris is a wonderful city and I’m sure it’s much more enjoyable when not on the verge of death.
  • Modern medicine is amazing. I managed to make it to a clinic back in the States and they were like, “Yup, you’ve go pneumonia, like, rilly bad.” Then they shot me in the butt with antibiotics and I started to feel a little better immediately. I almost wept. Then they prescribed a bunch more stuff and I finally started to recover.

On the plus side, Tracy and Dyson got to see a little bit of Paris:

Dyson and Tracy walking the streets of Paris.

Married Half My Life

January 27th, 2016

WeddingPhoto As of today, I’ve been married half my life! I can’t think of much else that I’ve done for as long.

I guess it’s kind of an accomplishment of sorts, but I didn’t particularly do anything for it. I married the first person who was willing to go out with me (come to think of it, she may have been the last). So I think I just got lucky.

If I were to have any advice for the heterosexual ladies, date short guys because they’re more likely to do more housework and less likely to get divorced. And for the heterosexual guys struggling to find dates, apparently Black women respond the most.

Also, communication blah, blah, blah.

Happy Holidays!

December 10th, 2015

Every year, my brother does an amazing Christmas card from his family. He takes a beautiful SLR camera photo of them and uses image editing software to put in “Merry Christmas” somewhere so that it looks like it’s actually part of the background.

I don’t know how he does it. I barely have the energy to snap a vaguely Christmas themed shot of my kid. But I did find this neat website that takes that hastily taken photo and turn it into an interactive holiday card. It starts with a circle and then you swipe or drag across it to split it into smaller circles. Continue until you reveal the picture. You can click on any of the images below to try it out yourself:


koalastothemax

You can do the same thing with any image on the web by typing in “http://koalastothemax.com/?<YOUR_URL_HERE>” into a web browser. For example, here’s what I used to get the link above for this source image.

iPhone 6s Unboxing with Dyson

December 7th, 2015


https://youtu.be/jytdF55FUrE

Wow, has it really been over 3 months since I’ve posted anything here? I guess things have been pretty busy at work. Thankfully, things are almost under control.

I actually got an iPhone 6s through work in the first week they were released. So I thought, hey, I’ll do one of those “unboxing” videos and put it out there before they’re more readily available. But then there was a big crunch at work (on top of commuting up to 6 hours a day) and I just kept on not having enough time to edit the whole thing. Thankfully, things are getting a little more sane at work so I’m starting to get through a backlog of stuff I’ve been meaning to do, including this video.

Things I learned this time:

  • If you’re going to do an “unboxing” video, you should probably show the act of taking it out of the box.
  • What’s up with the bathrobe? I mean, come on! It takes, like, 5 minutes to put on a shirt. Show some professionalism, man. Well, at least the kid is cute.
  • Making videos with a 5-year-old is very challenging.

PocketMe 3D Portraits

August 29th, 2015

PocketMeFiguresOne of the parents of a friend of Dyson’s started up a company called PocketMe to do 3D portraits. It’s a pretty cool setup. You go to their shop in Berkeley and stand in a cylindrical enclosure surrounded by a bunch of cameras, which all take a picture simultaneously. Then they process it, 3d print it out, and a couple weeks later, you get a little figure of you.

Dyson and I stopped by and did a session and now we have little mini versions of us! They’re very cute. If you happen to be in the area, check them out. They take appointments 7 days a week but they also do drop-ins on Saturday from 1-5pm.

They give you digital versions of the models, too! If you click on the models below, you can actually rotate them around.

PocketMeSetup