Saturday, October 30, 2010

save the humans

i didn't have a whole lot of time to think about a halloween costume this week (tuesday was another all-nighter in the lab, which then pretty much blew wednesday, leaving enough time only to nap before heading for the houston temple, as i'm still getting used to the idea that temple trips are a half-day affair here). luckily, on sunday or monday, my elder's quorum president invited me to join with him and his roommate to be their "third amigo". they had found some mexican costumes at wal-mart and said that if i want to grab one, i was welcome to join the fiesta. great, an idea and a costume, all taken care of for me. works.

but when friday rolled around, i stopped by wal-mart and could find neither the amigo costume of the alternate whoopie cushion idea they had suggested. meh, i think i had my phantom of the opera costume still lying around somewhere, probably in a box in a pile in one of my two closets (which is exactly where i did find it). still, i had ditched my make-up kit when i made the move to the lone star state (had it since high school, been sitting in my hot attic, it was time...)

a block or two from my apartment is a temporary halloween store and i soon had a few options to work with. if you're going to do the phantom, you need to have something nasty to hide under your mask. i considered some rubber wound to apply with spirit gum but managed to find a makeup package that came with monster makeup, several different kinds of fake blood (the phantom doesn't really bleed, but it's fun to play with fake blood...), and a few options for scars. sold.

the scar goo was some really sticky gunk that you rubbed with your hands to make pliable then applied to wherever you wanted scarred. in my case, it was the right side of my face. at first, it looked like i had a fruit rollup hanging on my cheek, but with a little sculpting, it soon looked pretty great. i didn't have much for brushes or sponges and i think i went too far with the rest of the facial makeup. bah.
i put some sickly green makeup on the ride side of my face to augment the horrors hidden under the mask, but that didn't go quite as planned. when i got to the institute, the first person i saw was my hometeaching companion (whom i had just met on sunday) who was dressed suspiciously like a phantom from an opera. i told him we should have planned things better and he said, "don't worry" as he pulled out his phantom mask, to show that we weren't the same costume. i pulled my mask out of my pocket to show that, yes, we were.

so, in polite deference, i decided not to wear my mask, letting him be the phantom for the evening. (besides, it's pretty awkward and stupid-looking to walk around wearing my glasses over that half-mask) this left me having to explain myself for to pretty much everyone i talked to for the rest of the evening, since without the context of the mask, i looked more or less like a zombie in sunday clothes.

i was looking forward to the dance, since i'm generally better at meeting people from church when i'm not actually at church. and i like to dance, too. sadly, it didn't seem like the rest of the ward was as pro-dance as me. still, i found enough people to mingle with that the world didn't end, and managed to move and scoot a little when small groups of dancing appeared for a moment or two.

i got some time to talk with my f.h.e. mom, who was dressed as the fashion police (apparently off duty), and used to opportunity to get a picture to appease the people who were asking for a picture (you sisters know who you are...)

when i couldn't find the amigos costumes, i wasn't too distraught, but once i actually saw them, i was kind of bummed that i did also get a skittles-colored sarape. as a reasonable consolation, i really like my cape (it's got a hood that is long enough to easily drape over your whole face! looks really cool... i just haven't found a costume to use it with, yet) (i really liked the dude from korea who dressed as kim jong il, too)

plus, i met the secretive "we're over 30" crowd. they seemed pretty cool (really good rhett butler and scarlet o'hara costumes) and all this time i thought i was the only one...

tonight, i watched a really crazy pseudo-horror/comedy japanese movie.
and tomorrow, the great pumpkin comes....

Thursday, October 28, 2010


this summer i worked a commercial with a way-cool german guy who was a camera assistant on the pirates of the caribbean movies. he had some really cool stories that made me glad i wasn't on those shows. he had also recently moved to utah and had an impressive experience on how he joined the church. and he said something that stuck with me: "i thought repentance would be the hardest part. but enduring to the end is much harder."

he wasn't being pessimistic or even giving up. it's simply the way things are.

it's one thing to make a decision to make changes, especially when you know that it's the right move. but when you've actually acted on that, left behind what you had in the jump to the better choice, it can be pretty dang rough.
hard to believe that there will actually be a better land ahead.
that the hardships you're going through now will lighten.
that the Lord does indeed see our sacrifices, that the battles we fight in the chambers of our heart are not meaningless, but that we are growing, moving to a better way of life.
that our joy we once felt will not be just returned, but in given in double.

i believe those things. i believe that, although the path has gotten dark and shadowy, that i'm just a little afraid of that dark but i trust that my Heavenly Father is walking with me, keeping me safe and is able to see further than my sudden near-sightedness.

utah, and all the various people there, i miss you.
at times, i wish that at the end of this semester i could pack everything up and be back behind the red door in time for a new season at the international cinema.

deep down, if you really asked me, i know i made the right choices.
these aren't the turns in my path i would have made for myself, but this is where my road goes, and i trust, even in the difficult footsteps.

i've found myself reading in psalms more of late.
and listening to coldplay.

but life is for living
we all know
and i don't want to live it alone

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

secret agent man

i write in code.

kind of.

but i wrote and manipulated 363 lines of code to make this pretty design. and with a little leftover time (before i head back into the lab for another full night of animating) i tried to give it an decent color scheme. it's something.

Monday, October 25, 2010

the scientist

we talked a little about lighting and the look of our project this morning in class. i used "chungking express" at my example. the visual look of this movie is so tremendous it makes me want to scream sometimes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

here today

i went for a walk tonight. i never go for walks. it was a full moon.

when i'm not watching "how to" videos for designing my character, here's a smattering of what i've been listening to lately, at home, at school, at play.

  • elephant by the white stripes
  • automatic for the people by r.e.m.
  • day & age by the killers
  • shepherd moons by enya
  • everything is wrong by moby
  • paul's boutique by the beastie boys
  • dark side of the moon by pink floyd
  • joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat
  • thriller by michael jackson
  • x&y by coldplay
  • dial-a-song by they might be giants
  • comfort eagle by cake
  • radioactivity by kraftwerk
  • a day without rain by enya
  • global underground #30: paris by nick warren
  • around the sun by r.e.m.
  • pet sounds by the beach boys*
*amazon has "pet sounds" available for digital download for just $5 until the end of the month. it's often listed just after "sgt. pepper" as the greatest album ever made. i have no problem with that ranking. check it out.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

is it any wonder?

...that this is one of my favorite movies?

just taking a break from a long day and night in the lab. which is a good thing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

i hate this kid

while i don't regret my decisions, jumping on airplanes to fly around the country to shoot interviews can be detrimental and deleterious to one's graduate studies. i felt this most acutely in my 3-D animation class, which i've come to find out is the steamroller class that always has the first-years scrambling.

in the class, we make a 30-second movie based on a nursery rhyme. we do everything ourselves, from conceiving the story and designing the characters to modeling them (creating the 3-D sculpture in the computer) and then rigging (building a skeleton for it and defining how it can move) to texturing (making the flat gray surfaces look like cloth, bricks, grass, whipped cream, whatever) and animating (you know) to lighting (which is what i'm really here for). that's a ton to do in fifteen weeks.

for the base of my story, i chose "star light, star bright" and pitched two story ideas. the one i preferred (and chose) was a little boy entering his room in tears, holding a fatally damaged teddy bear. he set the bear on the his bed and goes to the window and aimlessly looks up. the evening star is just appearing. realizing the star, he looks back at his bear and then starts to wish with all his might. the last shot pulls back from behind him (still at the window) to reveal a repaired teddy bear sitting on his bed.
i wasn't feeling too swell after my first few weeks in texas and decided i wanted to do something genuinely positive and hopeful.
you can see my storyboards here. (for the record, i cannot navigate myself to save my life on this crazy new age "tumblr" blogger site....)

from there, we had start modeling our characters. it's highly recommended to draw things out before trying to create them in 3-D, so i did some sketches of my little guy.

i liked how my first drawings came out, except that he looked like he was 14 and i wanted someone about half that age. so i played around and found what things to change, such as:
making his neck thinner. a thick neck looked like a tough guy. a thin neck looked like my nephew.
straightening his body. broader shoulders tapering to a thinner waist looked like the popular guy at the school dance. a straighter body looked like he belonged on the playground.
(you can still see my notes to myself at the top right of the paper.)

at the same time, i thought about some other changes to help tell the story as clearly as possible in 30 seconds. i originally imagined him in a typical house, like andy's from toy story. i decided to change it to a mobile home in a trailer park (the last shot will be from the exterior as we hear his laugh with delight), to make his damaged toy that much more dire. also, i gave him baggy hand-me-down clothes to again emphasize his plight and create pathos for him., baggy clothing allowed me to hide poor animation...

from my time as a semi-legal alien at byu, i knew i hated modeling, and we weren't getting along any better now. i built, hated, deleted, and restarted him at least four times. the upside to this was that i would spend two hours trying to design a head or an arm or a shirt sleeve and have it get increasingly convoluted to the point of uselessness, yet learned enough in the process that v2.0 would come out looking much better in about 10-20 minutes.

still, on the big day when all of our models were due, i spent the night flying back from las vegas and then driving from houston to a&m, arriving shortly before class started and having essentially NOTHING to show. it was not pretty.
and i seemed to be falling further and further behind, which made this worse less and less fun, until i told myself i would not leave the lab until all was finished. i didn't think i'd be pulling an all-nighter one month in to school, and there were times when i just sat there, hating this kid staring back at me, but i pushed on and it was such a relief to say he was done around 2 a.m.
i still had five more models to make, but he was by far the most complicated. and i found myself returning to him to make tweaks a few more times that night and even since then. just today i totally redesigned his eyes. they're much better and he can blink very easily, which will avoid some very ugly situations in animation.

creating his hair was a nightmare. i really liked the way it looked in my sketches, but how would i make that in three dimensions? i tried and hated it so many times that i seriously considered making him a leukemia patient, citing my failure to adding sympathy for him. i kept going, though, and found a way that created a look that i'm really happy with, actually. his body is kind of blocky and i'm ok with that, but his hair is pretty much just the way i want it. cool.

i looked at several different teddy bears and decided to base the design off of the one i had a child (and i did consider modeling mickey, for those of you who know (which is most of my readership, i think)).

yeah, the bear is kind of blocky. it was after three in the morning and i had to design another version with the head starting to tear off....

for his bed, i tried to keep it a little lumpy still. he's done his best to make his bed, but likely he has to do a lot of things for himself in the morning and doesn't have a whole lot of time to spend on a perfectly made bed. (the irony was that i didn't either--it was probably 4 in the morning by now--and a neatly made bed would have been much simpler...

currently, i'm pretty much caught up. i spent several hours in the lab today rigging his skeleton, actually kind of enjoying it and being grateful that i have rather low-impact animation in my story.

today our professor reminded us that this class is simply to get us acquainted with the program, not to be experts at it all.
it's a "cbb" project. "could've been better."
knowing that, i can adapt accordingly.

i'll keep you updated.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


five hundred posts.

many publications feel lucky if they reach their one hundredth mark. and that is a notable achievement. i remember editing our centenary post several years ago, feeling the excitement of having lasted six months. we posted more frequently in those early days, when our head writer was more dedicated to the craft. personally, i think he's gotten better over the years, learning the art of brevity (somewhat), although i wish he would respect deadlines as well. still, that's the publishing business, i suppose. and he's just so darn good.

it's been an honor to work as the editor for sheep go to heaven. i try to read several other blogs myself and am often very impressed at the passion, insight, and w;t exhibited in their writings. and yet i'm always happy to "come home", so to speak, and to look at the work we have produced here. looking over the nearly five years' worth of writing, a lot has happened. growth, changes, struggles, tears, frustrations, elations, and general perplexity is there in abundance. i took some time and went through to choose some of my favorites, and also asked our main writer to look the site over and choose his as well. it's quite a journey:

since i've started this blog, i've been to japan, dated and broken up with a girl or two, met sean astin, done a triathlon, shot my first "feature" film in california in a week, seen "the nightmare before Christmas" in 3-D three or four times, watched an entire season of 24 in one day, watched my bathroom flood, ridden in a tiny, tiny airplane, shot my first real movie, saw my sister and best friend get married on the same weekend, had a garden mysteriously planted in my backyard, firsted a feature on film, that refrigerator incident…., worked on high school musical 2 and 3 and several other disney channel movies, attempted to read the old testament, won tickets to see they might be giants, fell in love with tally hall, shot a feature in hawaii where i was attacked by my sleepwalking camera assistant, mourned the passing of a prophet, worked as a film buyer at the sundance festival, dreamt about britney spears, expounded on the glories of the criterion collection, made what i believe to be the right choice at times when it seemed like a long shot and witnessed blessings come from that, surprisingly enjoyed a boy II men concert, went to texas for a wedding, bought a vacuum, donned a pretty great jack skelington costume, shot a movie in a mine, thought about the sabbath, held several muppets and egg nog parties, had my high school reunion my way, talked about bleach and my mission, taken a cold shower, watched my computer die, held movie night, updated my demo reel, talked about easter, bought a vest, summed up several movies in one line, went back to school, decided maine was my new second favorite state, remembered that time my date threw up at the harry potter, learned life lessons from a carnival game at lagoon, made a scorpion teapot, participated in the world's largest game of capture the flag, got signed up for facebook, was put up for auction, arranged for tally hall to play at an elementary school, taught why we should be like darth vader, found the best white elephant gift ever, celebrated tabernash, saw my brother turn 25, started the harry potter book club, drove around important people at the sundance festival, had a wall-e birthday cake, was rejected then accepted to graduate school, went to belgium, had one last apple beer party, moved to texas, thought about that, and managed to keep myself sane during these past four and a half years.

as for me, here are my picks for some highlights as the editor here:

wouldn't it be nice?

reason #256 why i love my sister

i'm a million different people from one day to the next


planet telex at the video store

personal favorites


that's me in the corner….


my life in a tiny box

fond of stratagem or a bit of a coward

le collection fabuleuse de jeff

recommended reading

and it came to pass

jaime's tag: six lesser-known things about me

Christmas card rejects

jen's tag: five things

we close our eyes



i am the otter

these are all posts that i feel, while not the most popular or creative, sum up the spirit and soul of who we are at sheep go to heaven, or at least tell you a little more about our team.

to all of our readers out there, thank for your support and encouragement over these years. we sincerely appreciate your comments and insights and awesomeness.

here's to the next 500.

lastly, are the latest text results:
shaun: 929
jaime: 647
jess: 345
kristin: 179
joel: 135

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

it just works

i'm in three classes: an intro to 3-D animation class, in which i am currently drowning; a class i can only describe as an experimental film class (and the one i am actually doing strong in), and a computer programming for dummies class. i have posts planned for the projects from those first two classes, just not the time to actually author them. but i wanted to share a little from the programming class.

i couldn't write a line of code to save my life. i tried to learn a little this winter at uvu but decided to take a genuine F in favor of snowboarding and don't regret it for a moment. (editor's note: if any future employers are reading this as part of building a character dossier on the author, the actual story is that i was offered work on two movies, back to back, during that time, but he prefers the wild romanticism of the snowboarding story) our first assignment in the programming for dummies class was to install linux on our computers.

in the world of computers, there are two armies: macs (the autobots) and windows/pcs (the decepticons). i have a mac at home that i do most of my work and living on and, last Christmas, got a cute little lappy with windows 7 that cost lest that my cell phone. there is a third operating system, that weird hippy grassroots commune called linux (the quintessons, for those of you following the analogy). linux is what the programmer subculture enjoys, because you can futz with it all you like, amongst other reasons. and so we were told to install it on our machines for class, our teacher providing several safe and stable ways in which to do so.

thinking i was a little more awesome, i tried to circumvent these methods and do it in a "simpler" way that would allow me to partition my computer's hard drive and run both windows 7 and ubuntu, the most widely supported incarnation of linux. partitioning a hard drive is akin to doing brain surgery on your machine and my efforts left my little lappy lobotomized, unable to do anything more than turn on and go it's most uber-basic functions, a warning screen telling me it has "issues."

this went from a tragedy (my cute little lappy!) to an annoyance, thanks to our t.a. who has been working to help me get linux installed on there. over the past month, i have been doing a ridiculously complicated work flow to try and get different variants of ubuntu running on my lappy (which i call eve, since it looks like wall-e's girlfriend). hours and afternoons have been used up waiting for long downloads, having to ask faculty for access on a computer or borrowing some piece of hardware. this wasn't a problem until our first assignment for my class was due last week. i didn't have a working computer to do the assignment. (i'd note not having a computer to do the practice assignments, either, but i probably wouldn't have had time do to those anyway).

staring at my behemoth schedule last week (the week where i didn't go to sleep one night), feeling extremely frustrated by lappy that was giving me nothing but trouble and feeling kind of bad for being careless and removing windows 7 from it (which i actually really liked) like some lacuna treatment gone haywire, i thought of this old commercial:

and i remembered, mac's are unix-based and i can program on my mac.

i went home, downloaded the software, and started work on my assignment.

(never mind that the software took three hours to download, that it was a far more advanced package than i needed and was kind of confusing, that i spent ten hours on the assignment, or that i only successfully wrote one of the three programs; that ruins the mac image that i am working to perpetuate here).

i am writing this post today because, five weeks after the semester has started, i finally got a working version of linux on my lappy. eve is back up, running kubuntu, and i was thrilled, because something finally went right for me this week... ; )
now if i can just get that customer service guy in india (signing his emails "taylor") to let me get my copy of windows 7 home back, i'll be set.

editor's note: our next post, "D", is already planned out. however, because of the demands of the schoolwork (the consequences of our head writer thinking he can just hop on a plane anytime he wants, despite being fully entrenched in graduate school) and the scope of the post, it may be a while. if you're bored, we suggest going back and rereading some of your favorite posts from all of us here at sheep go to heaven.