So I've been a little busy....

People like to say, "You never know where the world is going to take you.", and even though that has a nice - go with the flow - attitude about it, it's not really been my philosophy this year.  My wife and I are planning to leave the nightlife of New York City and move to the Pacific Northwest, where the sky gets dark at night.  So this summer, we did some research and mixed our future planning with a dash of present adventure and came up with a 3 city tour, 700+ mile bike tour down the Pacific Coast Highway!  Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco were the big three stops where we'd interview with folks in our industries, sample the local fare, and imagine life there for a while.  It was an amazing trip, and the region was great to us with it's hospitality and weather.  We got hooked by the relaxed pace of the Northwest, the beautiful environment, and the food, oh you would not believe how good the food was.

Wish you were here?

Wish you were here?


Since we've gotten back, the hunt has begun for work on the West Coast, but I've also started my NYC Nuke User Group (we have our first meeting on November 6th).  No matter how much longer I'm in the city, I'm excited to finally have a place to share skills and ideas, and meet other artists in the city.  


I know is might seem strange to start something when I just plan to leave, but I'm all about making the best of any situation I'm in.  Let's see where this take's me..... damn.  Didn't I just say something about that?

Teaching at NYU

Cool news - I'm teaching a class this semester at NYU called "Live Action CG Integration" with my friend Jake Slutsky.  It's a Masters level course that focuses on VFX Supervision and Compositing.  We are both very excited to share some things with the students including some of the photogrammetry work I've done with Jesse Speilman and VSFM!  Jake is going to cover the 3D side of Supervision and I can't wait to sit in on his classes and pick his juicy, juicy brain.  Jake has a cool workflow for photogrammetry using 123D Catch and getting the cameras from Mari.  From there he can bring them right into Nuke!  I can not wait to learn it.  Woo-hoo!  I love the future.

I am not as smart as Jesse Spielman

So a little while back I was shown a handy little free app called 123D Catch.  It's a photogrammetry app offered by Autodesk that uses cloud computing to build 3D models from photos taken from your phone.  It allows you to upload up to 40 images of a subject, then combine and compare the images to find the contours of your subject, calculate them in 3D space, then texture the model (with your images) and kick it back out to you.  Yes, I know - we live in the future.  

The app is also available as a web client and as a full application (with some important features) for Windows.  It's basically designed to be used by non-professionals and enable people to 3D print the entire planet, one tiny figurine at a time.  It blew me away once I started using it and realized that this could be used for VFX purposes.  I am a compositor for a reason.  I can model just about as well as my 3 year old cousin, so if it doesn't look like a pile of cubes, it's above my skill level.  This tool could give me a reasonable mesh, with exact projections that I can use to relight or place in a matchmoved scene.  Better than that, it can give me room dimensions for a set or location that you may be shooting on, so that when you get back from set, you have a layout of the entire location in (very rough) 3D space.  This could be a great tool for almost any VFX Sup to use to grab rough Geo of the set for modelers, lighters, and compositors alike.

It's not nearly as exacting as LIDAR data, but it's much easier to get and interpret.  It's not meant to replace those incredible point cloud scans, but it's ON MY DAMN PHONE! I can use that thing anywhere.

By the way, I think I should also note that this is not LIDAR.  Scott Metzger does a beautiful walkthrough that proves he is a one man VFX team.  You can watch it here because of the generosity of FXGuide: 


                    ....I get very excited about it.   So, I show it to everyone.


the Colosseum in Rome (me being a nerd on my honeymoon)

the Colosseum in Rome (me being a nerd on my honeymoon)

One of the people I showed it to was the ultra-capable Jesse Spielman.  I've known Jesse for a bit and know that he does not like to be boxed in by any program limitations.  He saw the Matrix for what it was and realized that this technology was everywhere.  I mean, if you can put in on a phone, it had to be available in other places as well.  He took a little vacation and we kept talking about my scans and tests.  He did more work on his vacation than I can sometimes do on a job and he made this post on his site about open source and free solutions to desktop photogrammetry.  

Jesse's method can control the density of the mesh, the number of images you need, and doesn't require any sort of login or cloud service for the calculations.  He has several options for creating and solving the mesh that he explains in his incredibly detailed post.  I read the whole thing - twice, and came to the same conclusion both times.  Jesse Spielman is smarter than me.  This is not a problem.  I'm glad that Jesse is out there, and that there are even more Jesse's making amazing tools that make my life easier and my dreams closer to reality.  I'll read the post one more time and see if he can walk me through running his method on the Mac (he'll roll his eyes and tell me again about the beauty of LINUX).  Until then, I'll keep designing my website through a template and typing while looking at the keyboard.


Museum Culture

It's strange to be in a place where the past is preserved above the present. Where there are frescos but no windows. Volunteers wear ties, women have beards, and rubber gloves are not for medical use. Everyone whispers almost as if afraid to wake the bureaucracy dragon that guards the book vault deep beneath these marbled floors. Yes it's odd, but who am I kidding? I'll wade through any swamp as long as it smells of old books. Once the Kindle starts incorporating the smell of these same ancient tomes, then I'll be completely converted. But until then, I'll stick with the pulps of yesteryear.

Nerd Valhalla

All of this month I'll be fulfilling a lifelong dream of mine and working in the planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.   The sensation that you feel when you have to pass African elephants, stegosaurus fossils, and Egyptian artifacts - just to get to work - is indescribable.  I'm not sure what is a better perk to this job. The fact that I have access to the museum before and after closing hours, or that I get to see a planetarium show every single day. It's not much of a contest, because either way I win!

I have no idea what I might ask Neil deGrasse Tyson if I see him in the hallways.  But I think that man deserves a high-five, and I'd be more than happy to give it to him.