Categorytech & sci-fi

Vestax VCI-300 DJ Controller

Vestax’s new USB DJ controller uses Serato’s “ITCH” for some pretty impressive results. It also looks like an updated VCI-300MKII model has been released. I must get my hands on one… at least to try.

A big concern with more sensitive electronic equipment, is finding the safest way to carry it around. Mostly, looking for something that will help protect the digital knobs. On this Serato forum thread, someone points out this German company (Magma-Bags) that makes carrying bags. Specifically, the DIGI Control-Bag 300 is demoed with the VCI-300.

However, I’ve been thinking about purchasing a piece of foam and just laying the foam on top and slipping it into a large sleeve.  This keeps it more modular, and I could bring the the device alone or slip it into a larger back with my laptop.

Making of – “Milk” (Sad Princess)

These two videos show the making of Psyop’s “Milk” advertisement, generated using Softimage’s “ICE”.  Here’s a link for the full add.

Making of ‘Milk’ – Lighting the Waves from Florian Witzel on Vimeo.

Making of ‘Milk’ – Rigging the Waves from Florian Witzel on Vimeo.

Jesse Schell on Video Games of the Future

Venom’s Lab – Blender Training DVD Teaser

Did my bi-yearly check on Blender to see if a simplified customizable interface has been implemented yet. Looks like another open source movie is also in the works.  This one’s called Durian…   like the funky/stinky pod fruit**?  No associate intended, I hope.

Blender has some training DVDs coming that look presented, assuming as much work was put into the DVDs as was put into this trailer.  Venom’s Lab – Training DVD Teaser from Pablo Vazquez on Vimeo.

** I’ve had the durian fruit a few times.  It STINKS…  but tastes amazing.

More Houdini Created Environments

Although I do update my “Recent Thoughts” (forwards from my identi & twitter feeds), I shouldn’t let me think that can be considered “keeping my website updated”.  Because it’s not.

I just ran across this video at  A VERY slick road generator.  Now what CAN’T this program do.

Yay Twitter

Twitter is over capacity again? As the system grows, it will just get worse and worse as they are forced to cut back on features.  Yet another reason to switch to a free, open source & decentrilized alternative.

I *heart*

twitterdown – Twitter’s Free Alternative

“But I thought Twitter was free?”   It is, till they decide it’s not.  We’re talking “free bird” here, not just “free beer“.

Why do I use WordPress?  Because it’s free and open source.  I can archive my entries locally.  I don’t have to worry about the proprietary service (aka Livejournal) shutting down, and denying me access to my entries.    I can fully customize the look and function of my blog.  I can… well…  I can do anything. If I don’t have the time to setup my own WordPress server, I can go to and get a free account.  Then, when I do eventually get the time to setup my own server, I can archive ALL my blog entries and upload them to my own server.

This type of thinking applies to just about everything I do.  If I can find an open source alternative, I’ll use it… or at least give it a try.  My latest discovery was Identi!

Identi, an alternative to Twitter. Laconi (on which Identi is based) is open source & more scalable than Twitter.  What’s that mean?  You can download the software and set up your own server.  Also, Laconi servers can talk to other Laconi servers.   I mean, that’s kinda the whole idea behind the web, isn’t it?

Till another better, more free alternative to Twitter pops up, you’ll be hearing me talk a lot about Identi, so get used to it.

Don’t feel like downloading Laconi and setting it up?  Then just go to and and open a free account.   Don’t want to leave your Twitter followers high and dry?  Well, you can have your account update your Twitter account, automatically…  while you migrate.

Sorry about that… I just get pretty excited when people share through open source.


Dear Voxel, Where’ve Ya Been?

Anyone remember the voxel?  Gamers used to remember voxels from the Voxel Space engine that was used in Comanche: Maximum Overkill and Delta Force. Or maybe there’s some gamers out there that played Outcast?  (maybe?)

In any case, it looks like voxels are not dead…   but taking a little vacation.  It’s only a matter of time till someone exploits the hidden potential.  Real destructible terrain w/ density!  Hellooooo?  Well, one person seems to have figured it out and disguised his tech demo as a game called Voxelstein 3D.  I can’t tell you what hope this game gives me.  Imagine not just blowing chunks off off buildings, in pre-cut peices… but actually being able to carve into terrain.

Seems like the medical field hasn’t let this technology unused.  A few Siggraph’s back I was able to get a demo from one of the software engineers of this intuitive application, but on ATI hardware.  He moved points around to adjust the density and appearance of those densities in order to zero in on the skull and (with a little tweaking) the brain.

Lucky for me, Houdini has voxels in it…  voxel fluids.

Looks like there’s still some money to be made in software & hardware using voxel technology.

Still wondering “What are voxels“?  Well Wiki seems to have the usual depth, including a list of games that used the technology, like Crysis & Worms 4 Mayhem… ?  Ok, now we need an update to Scorched Earth, but with voxels.  Mmmm  MMmm good.

3D curve sketching

With a tool like this, maybe there wouldn’t be such a strong aversion towards using NURBS in the entertainment industry.

ILoveSketch from Seok-Hyung Bae on Vimeo.

Thanks to Drawn! for the link.

Emily is Not Real

Believe it or not, she is not real.  I recommend going to Youtube and clicking the “Watch in High Quality” link.  Image Metrics Tech Demo is showing that we’re getting closer to “bridging the gap uncanny valley.  For once it’s spooky because it’s so close to real, not spooky because it looks like animated plastic.  Of course, you can still tell…   after the second viewing.  😉

More info @ Creative Cows, Times Online & a video interview w/ Image Metrics on VideoSift.

Radiohead – House of Cards

“Geometric Informatics scanning systems produce structured light to capture 3D images at close proximity, while a Velodyne Lidar system that uses multiple lasers is used to capture large environments such as landscapes.”

The making of this video can be found here. Thanks goes to Simon and Dan for this one.

Softimage’s ICE


Softimage has introduced ICE (Interactive Creative Environment) in XSI 7. Taking strong cues from Houdini’s procedural workflow, ICE finally brings XSI a particle system and much much more.

Despite what the general public thinks, there is a LOT that can be done on a 3D production that does not require a programmer. Using node networks, we are attempting to keep it that way. However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t some serious logic puzzles to figure out, it just means that the keyboard and typos are less prevalent.

If you are a 3D professional that is curious or if you’re a newb that wants to see a slick way produce do 3D effects, please take a look at Softimage’s XSI 7.

– = UPDATE =-

The Softimage community website has a list of videos with some jaw dropping examples of how ICE is being used. You can dissect the IK solver? Uugh… geek heaven.

The Sigularity: Documentary Human 2.0

One day movies and video games will meet in the middle, just as the boundaries between brains minds and machines will fade. Of course, this assumes we don’t blow ourselves up and out into space.

Human 2.0 Documentary (48 minutes)

Wired magazine’s articl on Ray Kurzweil was an informative article on the singularity. Specifically the section entitled “Never Mind the Singularity, Here’s the Science” did a pretty good job in discussing the possibilities and also the unlikelihood that we will see a real-life Ghost In the Shell anytime during our lifetimes. I keep hearing that I need to ready some Vernor Vinge very soon.

Thanks again to Planet Damage for the video link.

Ghost in the Shell 2

Nope, it’s not a sequal, but a digital update of the original release. Does that mean there’s no more green holographic images? Well, according to these screenshots, it seems so. And all this time I thought they wanted it it to look retro. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the upgrades. The only question is, “Do I need to own two copies of the same movie?” Maybe… maybe.

Checkout the 2.0 trailer below.

In other GITS news, I broke down and picked up this little beauty. She sits next to Walter on my desk at home. Also started watching the Stand Alone Complex episodes. Though obviously not the quality of the films, they do a good job of providing me with my Ghost in the Shell fix.

Thanks to Planet Damage, a pretty killer cyberpunkish blog.

Trusting “Trusted Computing”

Simple little short that does a good job of explaining the abuse of the term “Trusted Computing”. We tend to pay more attention when there’s a slick presentation.

UI Design: BumpTop 3D Desktop Prototype

Could this make file management tasks enjoyable? They just need to throw in some batch renaming tools and pretty much anything that ACDSee does, and it’ll be purrrrrfect.

Evoluent Verticle Mouse

your arm will thank youLast night was the first time in 2 years, where I could bust ass in Maya, with ZERO pain or tingling sensations in my forearm. Been using the Evoluent Verticle Mouse for about 2 weeks now. It took me about 4-5 days before I felt like my speed an accuracy were up to where it was with a traditional mouse. However, it felt comfortable the very first time I relaxed my hand on it. One thing they fail to mention on the website is how your wrist is less restricted when flapping, instead of trying to move side to side. This is a BIG factor in it’s comfortable use. Because I’m able to swing my arm around more comfortably, I’ve lowered the mouse speed so it’s not as sensitive. On a traditional mouse, I usually work with a pretty high sensitivity, to limit my wrist’s side to side motion.

The Evoluent V3 has just come out.


It’s been over a year now and I still use the Evoluent. I’m still a fan and I’ve seen a few popping up around the studio as well. When I’m forced to use a normal mouse, I shiver.

King Kong Dynamics

Without a doubt, there’s going to be some serious destruction in Peter Jackson’s rendition of King Kong. Word is, Weta Digital is currently using BlastCode to handle some of the tricky dynamic simulations. I’d highly recommend checking out some of sample movies they have in the gallery. Yeah. YEAH! NUKE THAT HOUSE!!! I love the smell of… the hum of computers simulating… boom.

Plastic Animation Paper

Finally gave Plastic Animation Paper a try and HOT DAMN is it fun and simple to use. The free version functional enough to have fun with although it doesn’t include the blue sketch pencil or the ability to import sound. I hear that the application runs in 8 bit mode, which is probably why sketching runs so smoothly. Also, no prerendering is neccessary to view your animations. Currently I’m using it for my gesture sketches. I have a slideshow running in ACDSee and I sketch in PAP. I just tap a single key for a new cell, every time a new pose pops up. A home version of the gesture sketches often done in life drawing classes. Haven’t tried this on a single monitor setup yet.

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