Tag Archives: Site_Update

Happy New Year – World Domination Just Round The Corner…

Happy New Year!

Glad 2011 is over? There’s something magical about a clean slate that, while it can inspire gut-clenching dread, is so pretty and inspirational.

For the last few months I’ve been running around like a headless chicken trying to complete a Showreel (not done yet, but I’ll keep you posted), buy presents (all on time and accounted for!), set up a business or two and work at my day job. Am I likely to be any less busy this year? Doubt it. However I’ll be hanging out regularly on my own blog; I get points for that, right?

What this blog is and the point of it all

This blog will be about making believable effects and 3D. What this means is they can be as outlandish or ‘realistic’ as wanted but they have to be believable.

Tutorials will show how to make specific effects and how to give effects you have more gravity.  Longer topics could be about adding believability to your scripts and scenes – what elements should be there and what shouldn’t.

The point is to enable everyone (me included) to create better effects; ones that add gravity and an extra something to the scenes they’re a part of.

Who is this really for?

I’m really trying to appeal to two different and distinct audiences with this site now. This is for you if;

1. You’re a student, recent graduate or trying to break into the film, TV or games industries.  You’ll probably want to know how to improve your skills, get hired, and make cooler stuff than you currently are. Not quite beginner level, but just creeping into intermediate and feeling your way.

2. You’re already out there creating movies and/or games.  Maybe you’re trying to make a particular scene look more real but there’s something not quite right with your current effects, or maybe the effect just doesn’t seem to fit with the story and you want to find some other way of accomplishing the same result – but better. You’ve been around the block a bit and are just looking for solutions, or a way to improve your workflow in the future.

Why am I bothering?

I’m writing so that I can learn and improve both my writing and 3D effects skills.

That’s all. No money to be made from this yet, learning and building relationships are the main points of this current site from now on. That way if I decide to offer affiliates or advertising later to cover costs I can (and probably will) but its not the main issue.

Why should you read?

Quality content on a real issue that people across the board have; how to make effects more believable within our scenes, shorts and movies. From the writing to completion I’ll be looking at exactly how to do this and anyone reading can use and apply that knowledge to become better and make more awesome things.

Also, it’ll save you time figuring out what the problem is after a while using my methodologies, reduce stress associated, and bring re-known to projects where you’ve added a bit of pizzaz.


After the initial ‘January Scramble’ time frame quiets down you can expect one post a week (on Friday, about 4.30pm GMT) falling loosely into these for topics.

  • In depth theoretical post
  • Review of something useful, fun or interesting
  • Video tutorial on a practical tip, trick, or effect made by yours truly
  • The fun post.

Before the eye rolling (or possibly after) – the fun post will have giveaways, reader competitions, answer readers questions, or even just have an interview with someone awesome.

Open to suggestion there – if there’s someone you’d like me to get in touch with, or some training tool that you’re drooling over give me a shout and I’ll do my utmost.

In addition to all that, the newsletter is going to have its own set of updates and some unique content so if you’re not already subscribed I’d mosey on over before you miss out!

Where can you find me in 2012?

Here for a start! I’m going to be around on my blog and through my regular contacts page whenever for obvious reasons. But in addition to all that I’ll be focusing on these social networks:

I’m likely to completely ignore:

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Other 3D Forums (I may change my mind on this later)

They’re all linked to my profile on each active account for your convenience, feel free to add me to any (or all) of them and say hi if you do!

June Month in Review – Secret Plot Edition

After the dreaded college deadlines had passed and I was left with a bit of spare time my eye wandered up to that tiny bookmark in my FireFox nestled between a Gap Year Underwater Filming course page and a link to SlideRocket.  The one that points to The Dashboard.

Jumping past all the vaguely guilty feelings and banging my head off the wall (not quite literally, but there were moments), I decided to pour some real effort into making things work in a sustainable way.  There are now various schemes and plots unfolding in the background – you’ll learn about most of those later.

Changes on the Record

The two main things I can tell you about – if I didn’t you’d see for yourself in the next few days anyway – are the new site design, and my new contributors.  The site design is fairly self evident so I won’t make too much of a fuss about that, though I am super excited about that other thing.

There are now 8 different people writing material for this blog.  On Wednesdays every week a new tutorial will be posted, written by one of them and already a few have signed up to write multiple tutorials.  Thursday has its very own column run by Jonathan Palencia on the very basics of 3D and using code in conjunction with it.

You’ll get to know all of them really well over the next few months and their stuff really is amazing; I’m honoured that they want to be a part of this and extremely impressed with what they’ve already done.  Welcome guys, it’s a pleasure to be working with you!

Month Ahead

In line with the revival there’s a new post schedule, and I can even share an editorial calendar for July.  Each Monday I’ll be writing a themed feature post; the theme changes each month.  Wednesdays and Thursdays are tutorial and 3D101 days written by our contributors, and Saturdays are now all about news, points of interest, etc (complete with a video each week).

Here’s what July looks like:

A Full Month of Plans!

Want to be ahead of the game?

One last thing before you go – those plots I hinted at earlier?  They’ll start to unfold over this month and next, and to be in the best place to see them you’ll want to make sure you follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and/or LinkedIn.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the plans, site design, plots and schemes so far.

News from the Frontlines

Hey all!

Yes, it’s been forever (slight exaggeration) since I posted anything.  I’m still running on low amounts of time however I do have some really good news.  Well, good news for me, debatable for anyone else. 😉

As of next week making this blog a success has become part of my degree project.

What this means is that, while failing to do so won’t make me fail my course, I’d get a better chance of success by making this work.  Great, I hear you say, but what’s in it for me?

You’ll get your regularly scheduled dose of tips, tricks, concepts, and tutorials for a start (we all missed those, right?).  The writing here will improve out of necessity, and I’ll come interact more often again.  Further, there’s something big going on that’s due to launch in the summer.

Very big.  I’ll start telling you more about it soon but for now I’ll leave you with this one hint;

Tutorials, and this site, are going to change.

Best I can offer you just now folks; once I get my computer back and running (or, at this stage, a brand new one) you’ll be hearing a lot more from me.  Let’s do something fun this year.

Happy New Year!

Thanks to everyone that stuck around (even with the long absences for other work)!

In three days this blog will be one year old.  I can remember setting it up for launch last year, getting it all prepared, and then waiting for the 4th because that was the first Monday and it fit in with my posting schedule.  I didn’t doubt I’d still be here writing, but I also didn’t imagine it’d take so much time.  This blogging lark isn’t easy, that’s for sure.

Keeping it up and running was one of my resolutions last year (well, ‘goals’, I refused to make resolutions).  The rest of them failed after a few months or so when I realised they weren’t quite as important to me as I’d thought.  How did you do with yours?

This year my goal/challenge/resolution/whatever-we’re-calling-it-these-days is to have at least one good-quality post every week.

No schedules, no other rules, but at least one good post.

I guess we could call that my promise to you. 😉

Now I’m going to do the traditional New Year’s thing and ask what the one thing you want to accomplish this year is.  Curious, honestly.  But there’s a lot of these posts around so I won’t hold it against you if you don’t.

Happy New Year everyone, let’s make it awesome!

Month in Review; Wishlist Edition

funny pictures-I'M HIT!  OTTER DOWN!
My picture of the month!  See more Lolcats and funny pictures.

November was tricky on multiple levels.

When I returned it didn’t take long to discover that I was starting with a virtually clean slate and could, therefore, do whatever I wanted.  The problem with that was I initially wasn’t sure of what that was any more.

Added to my new desire to be a social person (you can stop giggling now Dad), and the impact of college projects on my sleeping patterns…  ‘Interesting’ times.  That said, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Progress has been made, subjects have been changed up, and overall we’re leaving the month with the satisfied sort of smile you can only get after pulling a room apart, throwing out one or two things, then rearranging it to your requirements (leaving a huge mess in your wake).

Five Minute Film Review

While there were probably lots more films I watched this month, these three stand out.  Two because I actually went to a cinema to see them (ok technically that was on Halloween, but I’m counting it here) and the last because I went out of my way to find it for class.

3D Saw

I expected it to be far worse than it was.  3D adds a little bit of gore, though the film could have served perfectly well without it and if a 2D option had been available I would have watched that.  The story was typical Saw.  Nice little gore-fest but the elements of suspense that were so well done in the first few films lacked a bit in this installment.  Still worth seeing, but not worth rushing off to cinemas for.

Paranormal Activity 2

First, I never saw the first one so I can’t really compare the two.  Watched this the same night as Saw 3D, largely because I had a few hours to kill before the Edinburgh Ghost Tours I’d booked on.  Late at night, scared people in the cinema, and supreme boredom for the first part of the movie…  followed by some pretty creepy stuff.

Ok, I admit it, the film got to me.  I blame the fact that I was there alone and had to walk about in the dark afterwards.  Wouldn’t watch it again, the ending is pretty anti-climactic and now that I’ve seen it the fear won’t play in again in quite the same way.  I don’t want to spoil the film so I’ll leave it there, but I had one major complaint about the ‘enemy’ character.  Fire me an email if you’ve seen it and we’ll discuss.

12 Angry Men

This film came out in 1957, is shot completely in black and white, and has a very simple premise.  I loved it.  Narrative was well-written and considered, the story had an actual point (oh horrors), and it was also engaging in spite of its age.  I don’t normally watch court dramas but this was well worth the deviation from the norm.

Jump start your wishlist with these 5 goodies

Buying nice new shiny things make me happy.  It’s coming up to Christmas, my relatives want to know what I’d really like (except my Grandparents; they have specific instructions <3) and I want a good excuse to buy these things if I don’t get them as presents.

I’m just kidding.  The main reason for posting this selection is to help my fellow 3D people (students and pros alike) answer the dreaded ‘What do you want for Christmas’ question.  At the time of writing I have well over 200 products in my wishlists (plural).  These are my current top 5 – anyone else lusting after them?

Coming up in December:

    Workflow Foundations
    Review: Risk Assessment
    Inspiration: James Turrell


    Converting your flash program for mobile
    UVW Mapping the easy way
    Mystery Tutorial (possibly something to do with monkeys)
    Create an ice texture in 3Ds Max

Fifth Life Crisis; The way forward

Reading the rest of the series becomes optional at this point.

Cutting the rest of a long story short, visiting another country opened my eyes to what’s possible.  Both of the rest of the world and the potential there, and of myself.  I’ve moved on quite a bit since this site started back in January, and some of my interests and focuses have certainly changed since then!

So why bother writing about it at all?

Well, had I come back and just altered the way I did everything with no explanation I’d have had people wondering if I’d sold the site (not likely, for the record) or gone insane!  This series was my way of making sure we were all starting from the same, new page.  It went on a little longer than I’d originally intended however I had a lot to say this time.  For better or worse I indulged in my own need to talk about some things I’d learned.  My bad.

Statement of Purpose

To provide students in 3D and film (with a particular emphasis on visual effects) with the background knowledge needed to make full use of the tutorials and tools at their disposal.

Changed quite a bit from ‘Tutorials, Reviews, and Advice for 3D Students’!  The reason for this is that you can find tutorials anywhere, many of them as good or better than the ones I’ve had the time to create for you.  You can also find the larger concepts all over the place; the whats, whys, and whens of the art.  Arguably the concepts are far more important than learning any one tool or technique, since they are what allow you to create your own.

They’re also harder to decipher for beginners or those with a minimal amount of time to learn.

And they have the side bonus of being far more interesting to me personally as well.

Commence Evil Plan Beta Testing

Twice a month I’m going to research and write an article (between 1500 and 2000 words long) on one of the key concepts behind what we do.  In those posts we’ll look at what the concept is, what it does for you, how to start implementing it, and where to find out more information.  No fluff – the real nuts and bolts.

Every time I write one of those posts I’ll be learning as well.  Because of that there’ll also be a list of references or further reading at the end of each post.  This means that even if you don’t particularly agree with me you’ll have access to the same material I did.

Extra New Shiny Things

In addition to the main concept posts some of the other site features will keep running.  The Practical Tips series will continue once a week, along with the Student Advice posts.  Not much is really going to change for either of those features except the day of the week they’re delivered on.   Reviews are once a month, other than the frequency they’ve not changed a lot either.

Tutorials will run each Wednesday, however they won’t be written by me.  Guest posters are going to be brought in for the bulk of that (possibly with some compensation, more details on that soon) or, if none can be found for a week, I’ll link you to some of the better ones on a certain topic.  The reason I’m no longer writing or recording them myself is that I’m now in my degree year.  I no longer have time to make independent projects one day a week, every week.  While I do enjoy doing them it’s taking more effort than I really have the resources to give just now, so it’s time to let other people share their ideas with you.  Higher quality, better presented, wider range…  Bonuses all round.

The last new update I need to cover is the introduction of progress reports and monthly roundups.  As some of you are aware, I have projects of my own that I need to complete for college.  Rather than keep you in the dark about these (as I did last year) I’m going to spend a little bit of time once a month showing you  what I’ve worked on.  This can be anything from a short paragraph or two discussing what I did, or examples of my work and how it was achieved.  When a project is finished you’ll be able to see that too.

Those posts will also have details of where else I’ve written over the month, things I’ve found particularly inspiring, and an idea of what’s going to be covered next month.

The Master Schedule

Monday:  The first and third Mondays of the month are for the concept pieces; the real keystone content.  Second Mondays are for reviews, and Fourth Mondays are for the new progress posts.

Tuesday: Evil Masterplan

Wednesday: Tutorials from guests, or links to tutorials on another site.

Thursday: Evil Masterplan

Friday: Practical Tips Series.

Saturday: Student Advice

Full steam ahead!

What do you think of the new schedule?  Any questions or queries?


That’s it.  I’m giving in.  Sunshine, happy things, fun people, beaches, good food…  I’m actually putting the blog on hold.  I’ve just been unbelievably busy (in a good way for a change) and there’s been very little time to even be online, much less write posts and so on.

Will be back properly in September, still likely to stop by now and then with updates or news, and my other background plans will be continuing on (actual launches of said plans are delayed too, though).  Sorry! Vacation was way too alluring.

Hope everyone else is having a great summer!

Flights and Sleep

I made you a blog post yesterday but Canada ate it.

Here now though, and the wather has been beautiful!  Canada’s great, if you’ve not been you should visit.  Seriously.  Anyway, this is really just a quick note to say that the summer schedule will be running properly from now on, that I did arrive safely, and that all is well and according to plan.  You’ll hear more from me a little later through the webcomic too (hilarity will ensue, honest).

Have a great weekend folks!

Summer Schedule

Let’s start the summer a week early! (On here at least)

Ok, so I admit it; this has a lot to do with encroaching deadlines at college.  We’d have been switching very soon in any case though.  As some of you already know I’m running off to Canada until the 8th September, starting next Wednesday.  Much as I love posting on here, and you guys are great (not being flip here, you actually are great and I do love posting) I don’t want to be posting constantly while I’m gone.

So while I’m off plotting to take over the world and unwinding the following schedule will be in place.  Excited?

Monday: Our lovely regular guest poster Eleanor (from Give a Brick, check out her site if you haven’t already) will continue on with her series on children’s literature.
Wednesday: The Practical 3D Tips series will continue on to represent tutorial day.
Friday: Either an older, revamped blog post or some student/life advice from my trip.
Weekend: Summer webcomics will be posting over on the webcomic site; nothing to do with the current story, or much to do with anything else either.

Let me know what you think!  Things are going to be shaken up quite a bit on my return; I have some things in the pipeline for over the summer and a bright shiny new plan for after the summer.  More about that as time goes on.

Anyway, have a great week and I’ll see you again on Friday with the new schedule!

GP: Website in a Weekend; Hacking and Stuff

I completely forgot I said I’d link you!

Over the last couple of days my full story on what happened with our recent hacking has been posted on Website in a Weekend.  Since it was so long Dave kindly split it into two posts;

  1. Silence is Golden?  Not according to Heather
  2. After the Hack, Restore or Start Fresh? (Heather got Hacked!)

Stop by and leave a comment, all ‘secrets’ revealed. 😉