Sunday, August 24, 2008



One night while surfing the web looking mainly for Civil War submarines, I stumbled onto a series of links dealing with "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" One of these was devoted to visualizing what the 'Nautilus' actually looked like. It seems that Verne, while giving a lot of details, left a lot to the imagination. And then there was the interior: when constrained by the actual dimensions given, it quickly becomes clear that the rooms could not be the grand Victorian vistas we saw in the Disney film. [Big surprise that!]
One of the pages was given over to enthusiasts who tendered their own interpretations, some 2D drawn, some 3D. As I could never stomach the over-done Disney version of Nautilus, this is my effort. I did, however, omit one salient feature: there are no observation windows on the sides of the hull. My bad.
You will note, on the topside after deck, a vertical pole. I had intended to remove it [Oversight#2] but as things turned out, it was for the best. That pole represents a 6' person. Suddenly, the Nautilus shrinks down and becomes just another cramped submarine...tho' in Vernes time it was, no doubt, a monster.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Farm Cart...

Part of the castle & town design involved buildings and things in it. Which led to the Farm Cart. It was the mono-wheeled cart that later became the mono-wheeled locomotive [below]...and 'Beast', from "The Sentinel" [a smaller cousin, actually.] got drafted to pull it.

The Castle On The Headlands...

This sequence is part of some exploratory design done for an animated children's film. Step#1: The Castle. I wanted to avoid the round towers/pointed roof style of Disney. I started square-edged and sorta' Romanesque and then it started growing until I had a medieval hill-town. I added a rolling-hill landscape and where it intersected with the default ground plane, I suddenly had water and a shoreline. That begged for ships and off-shore rocks...and a harbor for the town.

The tale was written, and takes place in the 1880's...the heyday of fanciful heavier-than-air flying machine design. But proto-dirigibles were getting off the ground, and hot-air balloons had been around for some time. I urged the inclusion of flying machines as a everyday, normal-as-birds-in-the-sky event, and, where it would not contradict the storyline, used to ferry the characters on their travels.

This post is two seperate renders, edited together. Thus, in the second half, with Bill's multi-colored balloon, the ground is much darker.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Immortal...

An age ago, or so, my most favorite of the underground cartoonists, Vaughn Bode', did a one page, four panel strip with two mice; one large, one small. The big one explains that his buddy has been part of a medical experiment to combat aging. The little guy nods agreeably, and in the lasr panel says, "Hey, I just might live forever!" Then the cat gets him.

In '94, as I was getting computer literate, I was sitting in a 3D class, and thought that strip might work with an exotic fish ticking off his fine points and concluding the same, until he gets inhaled by a bigger one that emerges out of the gloomy depths. 'Seemed doable. Remember, in 1994, 3D programs didn't have 'bones' and unlike machine things, organic creatures were nigh impossible to articulate. But I figured I could build a fish and get him to drift and hover in front of the viewer while he monologed.

As time went on, and I worked with different programs, I kept coming back to this simple, short piece. Now, with Animation:Master, it's near completion. It lacks only the lip-sync dialog...which draws closer every day.

So...bear in mind as you watch, that he's explaining how he's got it all figured out, that he is the absolute pinnacle of creation, and...'Hey! He might just live forever."

Early [very] animation test...

A tester piece which is about eight years old. The landmark here [for me, anyways] was making tank treads move. Each tread had 30 plates. Each plate had to be moved to a new position 30 times to go around once. A total of 900 seperate operations. Happily, once the tread was done, it could be copied and duplicated.

Things in orbit...

This is 'The Sentinel's' neighborhood: so far out on the rim of everything that there is scarcely a star in the sky. Look back over your shoulder, and there's only blackness. This was done as an opening 'establishing' shot, as we arrive on Kibble XXI, as the credits scroll.

Shatter test...

Building an expolsion. Never used.

The Sentinel II...

Another look. In this case, a fly-around of Beast with his saddle and equipment. There is a home base [insignificant as it is] for sleep and shelter, but most of our hero's days are spent in the saddle checking various monitoring devices. Making the rounds is mandatory and there are autonomic devices that make life unplesant if he fails to clock in at any station.

The Sentinel...

This is a project that just won't go away. I originally drew 'The Sentinel' somewhere around 1980 when I was involved in underground comics. It centers on a trooper who has been wounded so many times in a long, protracted inter-galactic war that he is as much machine as he is human. Deemed unfit as a front-line soldier, he is shunted off to a spit-ball planetlet on the edge of the universe to watch for the enemy. He has no name, and scarcely any function, except to watch the sky. He receives spare parts, food for him and 'Beast', etc., but no communications. No orders. He has no idea of how the war is going. If his side has lost, how could he ever know? Conversely, maybe they've won...and forgotten about him. He broods. But there are times at which he pulls himself together and affirms that all will turn out well, headquarters knows what they're doing, the enemy will come through this sector, he'll sound the alarm...and be a hero. But his confidence always founders on: "Why don't I ever get any mail?"
After comics, I shifted over to 3D modeling. The Sentinel [and Beast] have been modeled [and re-modeled] several times. One of these days, all the [steadily accumulating] pieces will come together in a six-minute animation. [or thereabouts]

Caustics test...

Underwater lighting test...

Quick 'Run' sequence..

Swimming Tester_01

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Son of "...Zounds!!"

A second view of the locomotive.


A 12 sec. landmark in its own right, this little animation is the first with music and sound FX. Now...on to lip-sync!

Friday, May 09, 2008

...Run Through The Jungle...

The chase, depicted here, crystallized out of pieces [ the Single-Wheeled Engine, my desire to build a jungle, even 'EL Cucaracha' himself...] each of which had its own genesis in thready, wooley daydreams. Just who "EL Cucaracha is, or what he's up to, is far from clear. Similar with the folks chasing him, tho' I suspect their reasons are good ones. I have no idea of the eventual end, but the trip is a fun one. I expect that we'll see a role for the Santos-Dumont 14-bis [see below] and, mayhap, the Caproni CA.60.

All the clips that comprise this 60 sec. [approx.] are in a state of flux. Smoke and steam have to be added to the engine in all frames. There will be an Engineer and Fireman. 'Bugg' needs to be smoothly animated. Trees and jungle will be moved around. This rough-cut is something of an animated story-board. A series of shots, each done for its own sake, arranged to see if I have the beginnings of a visual chase narrative.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

the Santos-Dumont 14-bis

The Santos-Dumont 14-bis [14th attempt, 2nd variant] 'flew' in September 1906...a flight of 23 feet; dismissed as a 'powered hop'. However; it still poses a tenuous claim to 'first'. Technically, the title of 'first heavier-than-air powered flight requires the aircraft to take-off from the ground without assistance, and the Wrights were using a drop-weight to drive a small trolley that the Flyer rested on. [ by the same reasoning, Langley's catapult attempt from a houseboat wouldn't have counted either, though his claim would be greatly strengthened if the 'aerodrome' had flown instead of taking a header into the Potomac River.]

It's hard to say if the Wrights dogged resistance to wheels lasted past September 1906 since they were doing little or no flying at the time. They were keeping everything under wraps until they locked up their patents. [also, they were pestered by a very curious, though disbelieving, press.] The Wright Brothers consistently come across as businessmen, first and foremost. In contrast to Europe, they show little sense of the joy-of-flying.

In any event, 23 ft. is a slender reed to support such a large 'First'. The early pioneers were drunk with the notion of flying, at least in Europe, and by 'flying', they did not mean 23 ft. They meant to soar like eagles. [ In fairness to Santos-Dumont, he did considerably longer flights in the suceeding months.] One historian posed a reasonable benchmark for 'first': namely, that the airplane should lift off under its own power, fly a quarter mile, do a controlled turn, fly back, turn again and land, i.e., fly a closed loop under control. So the Wrights claim is probably safe for a while yet.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Grand Day Out....

This little pastiche of the Santos-Dumont's No.6 Airship in action was modeled and rendered in Animation Master v.15 and edited together in Sony's 'Vegas Movie Studio'. Blogspot balked at the file size, so I reduced Color Depth from 'millions' to 256. This gave the unlooked-for, but not wholly unpleasing, posterized/comic book look.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The first of many

The Caproni CA.60: a nine-winged, eight-engined behemoth designed to shuttle 100 passengers between Italy and America. Built, flown once, and crashed in 1921. Reportedly, it got about 60 ft. off the water, then pitched nose down and crashed. A shift of internal ballast is suspected. A mysterious fire detroyed the wreck before restoration could start.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Mata Grosso train station

First post

This site will be a running account of my 3D modeling and animation. I use Animation Master (version 15) to create my works. Your comments and suggestions are appreciated.