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It’s 2015…

Well, at least according to the Lightwave 3D group. In what I consider a not so smart move they have adopted Autodesk‘s and Adobe‘s bad habbits and now use the year to distinguish their latest version, so the users shall forever be confused and anybody trying to help people on forums get into the habit of having a copy & paste “Can you tell us the exact (build) version down to the decimal point?” handy. Utterly ridiculous nonsense and a waste of time, if you ask me! That aside this seems once more a reasonable update to an already pretty comprehensive package. Interestingly enough it seems that every time I see a glimmer of hope for Cinema 4D‘s renderer, looking at those beautiful images from other programs makes even the best Cinema renders look like old cheese (strictly speaking the Standard/ Physical Renderer here, not VRay et al). Oh my…

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I’m on (Sap)phire!

If you’re following this blog, you of course know about my obsession with lens flares and I’m sure you’re one of those guys who even have downloaded some of the free ones. Now creating these little buggers can be quite an ordeal and so I’m always hoping that someone will create “the ultimate lens flare tool” (no, Optical Flares isn’t it) or at least add more features to existing ones. Aside from some tweaks and the renovated preset browser this hasn’t really happened in Sapphire 8, but there are a few other nice things. I had a chance to play with it for a while now and you now can do  the same with the Public Beta. I’m gonna spare you the sales pitch, but in the long run the effects builder could actually become pretty useful. It’s just a bit rough around the edges and doesn’t really replace a genuine nodal compositing app, if that’s what you were hoping, but being able to stack effects in there and then only selectively expose required controls should make life a lot easier in After Effects‘ effect control window.

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The Freedom to be myself

Over the last few days there have been a few incidents where people gave me flak for stuff written here on my blog like my modo vs. Cinema 4D comparison or my opinions on MOX and I think it’s time to once and for all set a few things straight.

First, everyone have their eyes on the tag line of this blog. It says “The world as a strange place and my views on it.” Yepp, exactly that. If you come here for ultimate wisdom, then you have wrong expectations. All of what you can find here is my own personal opinion and my own nerdy, but still limited understanding of some things. I cannot tell you what’s wrong or right or what’s good for you. Hell, I often don’t know what’s good for me. You still have to make up your own friggin’ mind and at best use my own confused ramblings as a guide.

Second, I never made any claims or pretense that any of what I write here would be “neutral” or “objective”. To use a quote from my beloved Babylon 5‘s episode The Illusion of Truth: “The objective journalist is a myth.” So yes, everything is filtered, biased and colored by my own experiences and perceptions – just like your blog would be/ is. I leave out stuff that is not relevant or think that nobody is interested in just as I don’t tell you my darkest secrets.

Third, and that is probably the biggest issue, don’t assume I’m writing this stuff here just to ruin everyone’s day. The way I tick, I keep running this stuff through my head over and over again. That of course often means that I get lost in my own over-analyzing of things and appear as the eternal fountain of unhappiness because I’m never satisfied with anything or may even arrive at completely wrong conclusions. Add to that my awkwardness of expressing some things and not choosing the right words, some articles taking days and weeks to write and me simply losing track, not having enough time to investigate all details and you can imagine what a bloody mess this can be. I can only promise to try and do better, but I would ask that instead of picking apart my posts in pointless discussions on forums you add comments to them here or contact me directly and I can see how I can provide a more balanced view or correct stuff that is wrong. Also, just because I think that e.g. some feature in Cinema 4D is garbage doesn’t mean that I would be able to rewrite the whole program myself nor is it necessary. People all too often forget that you don’t have to be Rembrandt and can still be an art critic.

Finally, people often accuse me of peeing on their lawn for no reason. Do I? I don’t know. I don’t think in those terms. Yes, I don’t get along easily with other people because my mild case of Asperger makes it often extremely difficult to interpret the subtext of some responses and the other time I simply don’t care because the trivialities of life don’t interest me, scare me or are simply too confusing and overwhelming. The world out there for me is a strange place indeed. Still, I don’t think I’m a complete monster. While it may be a learned social behavior, I have actually reached a point where I get along with people and can start a conversation and joke around when I pick up my bread rolls at the bakery.

That’s also something some seem to forget: The virtual world is different from the real counterpart and there is a lot of misunderstanding due to language issues, cultural differences and other folly that ensues. Not everything should be taken that seriously – something that is meant in the best possible way can of course sometimes be offensive to someone when spoken with carelessness. Beyond that I have to take other people’s word for it – I’m actually easy-going and sometimes even funny to be around. I hope that wherever you are, you are, too, and that despite all the silliness you’d be the person to have a drink with after even the most heated shouting at one another….

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Mischievous Buying Spree

You have to hand it to The Foundry – when you think you have figured them out, they surprise you with an unexpected move. Buying Mischief and thus the underlying technology is an interesting, if surprising move. Let’s admit it – very few of us will even have heard of that app before. While the FXGuide article goes into some of the technical details, of course for us as users the thing that is most relevant is what comes of it and how we can actually use the technology to make our lives better. Some of the potential applications are:

  • Sculpting with almost infinite detail, both texture and volume based. Yepp, this could be potentially big and the demo embedded on that page is interesting. I would caution against expecting it to appear in modo too soon, though. There are a few other things that need to be ironed out firs in my humble opinion.
  • Of course the obvious use for all this is any form of 2D painting and I’m specifically thinking huge matte paintings and composites. With 4k/ Ultra HD becoming the norm even for more ordinary workflows and some filmmakers going crazy on IMAX you need plenty of headroom because your plates in post production need to be even larger than that.
  • Similar to the previous, of course large textures with almost unlimited detail come to mind. Be it just your ordinary slap-on UV texture or a sky dome HDRI, there is any number of uses for this. We all know situations where we zoomed into our 8k texture and it still looked crude. Multi-level OpenEXR files and LOD (level of detail) can help of course, but the memory demands, file sizes and other things like “jumps” between the detail levels are still an issue. Loading data more adaptively as needed could improve such workflows considerably.
  • While we’re talking EXR, the one thing that jumped to my mind immediately was deep compositing. Similar to the previous point one of the big issues with “deep” files is their huge size and all the problems that come from that like slow file access. Having smarter compression and data reduction no doubt could work miracles here.

There could be any number of additional uses, but we’ll have to see how this unfolds. I was also pleased to see Taron mentioned on that page. I worked with him on ZBornToy, if anyone remembers that little plug-in for After Effects a long time ago…

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XFroggier

Early last year I published some icons to make your XFrog objects look a bit more appealing in Cinema 4D and now I’ve given this another spin. I tried to make them even more consistent, but as always I could probably do another 20 variations and still not be 100% satisfied. I’ve also included XL versions to support high-DPI displays, but it seems the plug-in isn’t actually using them and resorts to the standard versions. I guess I’ll have to bug the XFrog people about it so they adapt their resource files. Head over to my download page to grab the good stuff and decide which version of the icons you want to use.

XFrog Icons

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Awesome Fusion

A few weeks ago the news of Blackmagic acquiring Eyeon and thus Fusion made quite an impact and everyone immediately started speculating that there would be a free of charge “Lite” version similar to Resolve or at least they would considerably slash the price so it becomes affordable. and what do you know? They did exactly that! Yepp, you can now get a completely functional version at the cost of exactly zero bucks. While they ripped out some features, the good news is that they left everything intact for compositing up to 4k. The stuff that is missing is mostly only relevant for bigger facilities and commercial production, anyway, so the Studio monicker of the paid version is more than appropriate. Otherwise you have plenty of cool things to explore and a pretty complete package. I’m not going to lie and pretend that I would not prefer that this was actually a free Nuke – there were are some oddities and quirks in Fusion that can drive you batty, but hey, for a free dinner I’m not going to complain too much. This is even more welcome since it now really puts pressure on all the others to make their apps more technically sophisticated (After Effects) or affordable (Nuke)…

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"Why are Humans afraid of us?"

After yet another dull week in the hospital I had on of those rare opportunities to get out and meet with a few friends and while zipping through the mall I ended up browsing a book store. There this little children’s book jumped to my eye.

Die kleine Spinne Widerlich

Die kleine Spinne Widerlich © Bastei Lübbe

The title translates as “A Little Spider named Disgusting” and this is going to make a wonderful present for little Tim who – like most children – isn’t really friends with those little critters. I love those cute illustrations and at 6 Euros for the CD-sized mini edition it’s an okay price. Love that stuff, anyway. I always have a hard time restraining myself to not buy every kiddy book just because of the sheer beauty of the artwork…

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