Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Go See Incredibles 2!

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

MachIncredibles2It’s been years since I’ve worked at Pixar. But the very first Pixar movie I worked on was The Incredibles and I’ve been eagerly anticipating the sequel for a while. I was an effects artist on the original movie and did Violet’s force field, Frozone’s ice walls and ice bridges, and a bunch miscellaneous effects like the explosion in Edna Mode’s suit test room. So I was very curious about the new version of those effects.

Well, I had a chance to see an early screening and they look amazing. Also, the movie is a blast. The action sequences are exhilarating, there are lots of laughs, and the family dynamic is just as strong as ever. It’s funny, so much has happened in the 14 years since the first one came out. I’m a dad now and I can relate so much more to the challenges of work and family. Someone asked me if I thought the sequel would struggle now that there are so many super hero movie. I don’t think so. The Incredibles movies are really about that family and their love for each other. It just so happens that they have super powers.

Funny story: I got an email a couple years ago from my friend Vincent Serritella who still works at Pixar. He was starting to work on the sequel and wanted to know if I remembered how I did Violet’s force field. Unfortunately, I have a terrible memory. But I did remember that Sarah Vowell, the voice of Violet, came to give a talk at Pixar around the time I was working on the first movie. And I thought, it’s kinda cool that I get to hear her talk since I worked on the effect for her character. And then I thought, it’d be neat if I got her to sign a copy of the shader code that I wrote as part of her force field effect. She thought it was pretty funny and graciously signed it. Years later, lo and behold, I still had that signed copy. So I scanned it and sent it to Vincent.

I don’t think Vincent or the rest of the team actually used any of the code. But it’s kind of neat to think that a part of what I did there lived on in spirit in the sequel.

A Cappella THX Logo Theme

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzVXFTGy2OY

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine shared a post that THX made showing a score for their Deep Note sound. It turns out that the score isn’t totally accurate, but it’s still pretty representative. So I wanted to see if I could do an a cappella version of it.

I’m not a great singer but most of the notes were more or less in my range. So I went into GarageBand and for each note at the end, I picked some random notes in that G2 to G3 range, and sorta glissando-ed to the final note. I doubled the tempo because it seemed a little too slow as written. There were 30 tracks in all (3 tracks each for most of the final notes and 2 each for the bottom 3 final notes) so that took a little while. I dropped the top note by an octave and raised the bottom 3 notes by an octave so I could sing them a bit better. (I think the bottom notes are outside the range of human vocal chords.) And then I recorded me singing with each of those 30 tracks playing in my earbuds, pitch corrected the 4 notes in Final Cut Pro X, and edited the whole thing together.

Anyways, by the end of it, my throat was pretty sore but it was a fun experiment to recreate an iconic sound from my childhood.

March Madness

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

https://www.youtube.com/edit?video_id=7KyrH8vtt3A

I know almost nothing about sports. But I had this idea for a video where I make a prediction about some sporting event and then a followup video about how my prediction came true. It happened to be towards the end of March Madness (it’s an American college basketball tournament) so I scrambled to make it happen in time.

If you check out the publish date for the first video, you’ll see it actually is from before the final 3 games. And then this next video is after that when the prediction comes true:


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

So how’d I do it? I just made every single prediction (so 8 videos in total), briefly published them all, unlisted them, and then made them public again after the final. I guess that’s a lot of work for something I don’t think many people will ever notice. But I thought it was a neat idea.

Another idea I had was to make some sort of choose your own adventure type series. So this is kind of a test of that as well. Some facts I discovered about YouTube’s end screens are:

  • They can only start after 20 seconds of your video.
  • They have to be at least 5 seconds long.
  • They can’t start any earlier than 20 seconds from the end of your video.

In other words, they only work on videos that are at least 25 seconds long and for maximum flexibility, should be at least 40 seconds long. I ran into this because my original versions of the “Yes to adventure” and “No to adventure” were actually less than 25 seconds long.

New YouTube Partner Requirements

Sunday, March 4th, 2018


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KI0XduyaVas

I got an email the other day that said I was no longer eligible to put ads on my videos because they changed the requirements. Now you have to have at least:

  • 1000 subscribers to your channel and
  • 4000 hours worth of your videos have to watched by people in the past 12 months

It’s not a big deal since I only made, like, a couple bucks a month off YouTube. Mostly, it was kinda funny to be able to say that I was a professional YouTuber. So I was curious how close I was to the new requirements and I was surprised to find out that I actually had already met the first one. That’s surprising because I don’t know of anyone that’s subscribed to my channel. My wife doesn’t even watch my videos. I was also surprised to see that I was actually about a quarter of the way to the second requirement. So that’s what gave me the idea to do this video.

My kid asked me why it takes so long to make a video. In his mind, if it’s 7 minutes long, it should take 7 minutes to make. Well, here’s a rough breakdown for this video:

  • 1 hour for the script
  • 1 hour for prep (costumes, accents, locations)
  • 6 hours for principal photography (costume changes and many, many takes because I mess up a lot)
  • 2 hours for post (adding music and editing)

My revenue is typically a little under $1 for 1000 and I generally get 100-200 views per video (which is about 99-199 more than I would expect). Even if I could put ads on this video, I’d guess it’d generate about 25 cents of revenue, which is a hilariously low return for 10 hours of work. So that joke in there about it being less than minimum wage at even 125 times the revenue is true.

So why do I do it? I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing a lot lately. When I started, I had these fantasies about being able to do this kinda thing for a living. And I’d get kinda stressed about it. But now, it’s just a fun thing to do. I think having a good job and stable finances is a big part of it. The tricky part is finding the time to do it all because, as you can see, I’m pretty slow at this. But as it turns out, Dyson had a track meet and a kid birthday party to go to this weekend and my wife was fine with taking him on her own.

Oh, about the “music” in the video: I just made up the “outro” thing and improvised the cheesy piano thing at the end. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they were things my unconscious remembered hearing from somewhere else. These are things I’d be concerned about if I were doing this professionally. But one of the joys of doing something as a hobby is that you don’t have to worry about these kinds of things.

A Japanese Haircut

Monday, February 5th, 2018

https://youtu.be/tkp8XPG_6Fc

I’ve been cutting my hair more or less the same way for a while so this time I decided to switch it up a bit. I think the biggest difference is that I kept it a bit longer on the sides.

On a meta note, do people even blog anymore? Or has it all gone to social media? I have no idea if anybody even reads this site but even if they don’t, it’s kind of a nice way to record stuff I did, for myself.

I do Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube and at some point, I might even Instagram but it’s all over the place. So it’s nice to have one collection of everything I’ve done and a blog seems well suited for that, even if no one else ever sees it.

Selector iOS Update

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Selector icon progression.

Ooh, new flat icon style. So modern…


I’ve updated my iOS app, Selector, and you can get it now on the iTunes store. Years ago, I made this simple little iOS app where a number of people touch the screen and it selects one. That’s it. Oh, it also has a clock, a compass, and lets you draw because … reasons.

It’s a modest app, getting a couple downloads a week, but I hadn’t updated it in years and people were getting notices that it would stop working on future versions of iOS. Surprisingly, I even got a few emails about it. So this past weekend, I decided to do something about it. I mean, how long could it possible take?

11 hours later…

Well, okay, that took a little longer than I thought. Here’s what it entailed:

  • Downloaded the latest Xcode and updated all the provisioning stuff.
  • Fixed aspect ratio by updating the launch image with a storyboard.
  • Updated NIB files.
  • Created a new icon.
  • Switched from deprecated UIAccelerometer to CMMotionManager.
  • Replaced deprecated AudioSessionGetProperty() function calls.
  • Updated screenshots.

Psychic Retirement Planning Services

Saturday, May 6th, 2017


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXqhWo55-vw

I was chatting with a friend a while back and had this silly idea: what if the person helping you plan your retirement was psychic? I didn’t do much with the idea until this weekend when my wife and kid were out for the afternoon and suddenly, I had time to actually do something with it.

So I wrote a quick script, figured out my second location, and then shot the thing. It took a few hours because I kept on messing up my lines. (It’s hard being the director, cinematographer, and actor simultaneously!) And then came the editing, which I thought might be interesting to talk about. Take a look at this bit of the timeline from my project (in Final Cut Pro):

PsychicRetirementTimeline

Notice anything? “Charles” is the more laid back character and “Tyler” is the more frenetic one. You can see that in the where because Tyler starts his lines before Charles even finishes. It’s a pretty subtle effect but hopefully adds to the overall flow of the piece.

And this has been your director commentary for a 2-minute short.

Kitten Quest

Friday, February 17th, 2017

WorkInProgressI made a children’s book! For an audience of one, that is.

Dyson wanted a kitten for his birthday but I’m all, like, noooo, kittens are so much work. But then I thought, hey, maybe the kid could do it. And then I remembered that Tracy bought these blank books for Dyson to write stories in and I had this idea of writing a story about a knight who goes on a quest to prove he’s responsible enough to take care of a cat, complete with checklists for some chores he has to do, first.

So … a few days of penciling, inking, and coloring later, I had a children’s book. Some notes:

  • I didn’t want the ink bleeding through the inside pages, so I used a ball point pen.
  • Watercolor based pencils are lots of fun. Mostly I just used them like pencils but I also used a brush dipped in water in a few places.
  • 8 pages takes a long time to fill up.

Powerup Haircut

Sunday, December 11th, 2016


https://youtu.be/tM5fPH2E0RQ

Our team had a company party on Saturday. The theme was “Past and Future” so I figured I’d wear my old-fashioned kimono and do something “futuristic” with my hair. Then I figured I’d try to make a quick video out of it. What I didn’t count on was the power going out for several hours in the middle of all that. So … that’s why there’s one really dark scene in the video.

Anyways, here’s me in a kimono!
mekimonobluehair

The Halloween Video I Didn’t Make

Sunday, 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.