Saturday, March 25, 2006

Wrapping up...

Song of the day - "Even Rats" - The Slip I'm a bit tardy in wrapping up my L.A trip, though I don't imagine there's too many people waiting for the close (except maybe my mom, "Hey, Mom!":). For her sake I'll close it off. Monday, I went for another nice jog in the morning and took a dip to swim a few (very few) laps. Then I headed down to meet up with Dave and some old SCAD friends at their studio. I hung out for a bit and Tracy made me draw her a caricature to put next to Daves over her desk (Dave's was better). It's funny what a small world it is. I got to talking to another of the animators there and he was a good friend of my art director on the project I'm on at Midway. Go figure. We decided to go out for a bite and I had cuban for the first time. It was a awesome. I got the Vegetariono (awful spelling I'm sure) that had blackbeans over white rice, carmelized plaintains and some interesting (but tasty) potatoes. To close it off, I had a bit of mango cheesecake which was incredible. I LOVE cheescake. We split up on the way back and I headed back to the hotel and took a little rest - processed some pictures and wrote a couple of emails. My mentor came to get me and we headed to North Hollywood for the film festival part and got there early on my bad intel so decided to get a bite to eat at Pizza place across the road. There was a nice cold drizzle with a rather warm temp (compared to Chicago evenings). It felt nice - I actually like a little cool mist in the air every now and then. When we finished up the meal and chatting we headed back over and saw the festival. There were some amazing films. I especially enjoyed "Tycho's Nova" and "Love Letter" (whose site doesn't appear to be up quite yet). They only showed the first place winners, I'd have liked to have seen the rest. I'm gonna try and track em down on the web when I get some down time. Tuesday, I went for a walk on Sunset Blvd and picked up a couple more books. I was also able to snag an "In and Out" Burger which, though tasty, had nothing on a OKC Johnnie's burger. The flight out was great with a breathtaking view of sunset over eastern California mountains and the Mojave desert. The rest of the week at work was cool. Nothing too crazy. However, Friday the game team went out for some Whirlyball fun. Nothing special this weekend except some freelance and running (both errands and the physical type). Hopefully my brother and I can hook up some iSight video chat so I can see him and the muchkin nephews. Good times. (Disclaimer: Sentimental babbling follows) I had a hard conversation with a friend today. It was hard, but it was good one. A lot of things are like that. Life doesn't have a handbook that makes finding your way easy. Heck, God didn't even really provide one in the Bible - most of it is stories of people stumbing through life just like us, meeting God along the way, and finding what life is like after that. Life is meant to be hard, it's meant to make us who we're supposed to be. I imagine that an easy life wouldn't be that much fun - like playing a video game on easy mode or going back to reading See Spot Run after having worked through Shakespeare. Growth is implied in our existence - we see it in the world around us in plants, animals, even celestial bodies. There's times that God is silent to me and there's times He's as real as my own skin. He's been very real lately and that's a blessing, but I know a time will come when I'll cry to the heavens and only hear the answer of my own echoing voice. I've been there before and I'll be there again. Life seems to be less about stoically marching along some certain path than stumbling through it together - sometimes you lean on another and sometimes they lean on you. The time comes when you find yourself on the precipice again and you don't know exactly will happen if you take that step - will you be dashed against the rocks or plunge into the sea? Only one way to find out. But for now, I've gotta wait.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

L.A. Day Two

What a great morning. I got up, spent some time reading the book of Matthew a bit and went out to enjoy the absolutely glorious weather. So, I threw on my running shoes and was out the door. I started off going north towards some small mountains hoping I could find a way up them. I jogged a couple of miles and found a promising road with about a 15 degree incline and started up it (half way up, my jog became a rather labored hike). The road ended, but I spied a nice deer trail so started up the mountain. When I got to the top of one of it’s forks I took a seat and enjoyed the early morning sun washing downtown Hollywood in a glowing haze. To the east a few small sky scrappers climbed through the mist. To the North rolling mountains progressively turning blue on their march towards the horizon. Glorious. Thanks for the view, God. At that point I was wishing I brought along my camera - that is until I started back down the mountain. I had hoped to find a road up top to take back town but found jack squat except private property security fences so I headed back down the way I came - almost tumbling down more times than I’d like to admit. But, it was an adventure:) The best part of running up hills is running back down them. I love running down hills being on that verge of going so fast you’re going to take a rather nasty spill but not quite there - you’re running faster than you could ever run on a flat stretch. Like I said yesterday, I’m a goob. I ran back past the hotel and decided to run down hollywood strip where all the theaters stand and the star’s stars checker the sidewalk. On the way, I made note of a couple to come back to and headed back to the hotel, worked out a little in the gym and hopped in the pool. I miss swimming. I gotta find a place to go in Chicago. Running around L.A., I’m struck by a few thoughts- 1) many women here seem to have a peculiar allergy to clothing which seems to be particularly heightened at night which presents itself as wearing as little as possible or as tight as possible. 2) men who are young dress to look older and chic and men who are old dress to look young and hip. It’s a city of facades - of wanting to be thought more than one is. However, these are just the thoughts of a midwestern boy who probably doesn’t know what he’s talking about. After I cleaned up, it was time to get out to try out the camera a bit more. So I took lots of photos of stuff - if something looked halfway interesting, I prolly took a picture of it.

Levar Burton was kind enough to offer his star for a sec. This is the closest I think I'm gonna get:)
This little guy was kind enough to pose for me.
My buddy, David Bokser, picked me up around 1:00 to go grab a bite to eat. We were first heading to In and Out burger, but the wait there looked to be anything but “In and Out” so Dave suggested Thai. I think what I had was called “Thai Pad” or “Pan” or something to that effect - noodles, shrimp, chicken, some sort of sprouts and some chopped nuts. It was delicious. We hung out for the afternoon (making a detour to Target to get some black socks as I thankfully checked that morning and realized I didn't have em) then he brought me back to the hotel to clean up and was gonna meet me at the shindig. So, I got dudded up and went to find the rest of the student film makers to find the shuttle to the ceremony. The night was a lot of fun, all the film makers and folk from the academy were talkative and plenty of interesting conversations were just a “hello“ away. We had about an hour of cocktails and I met my assigned mentor and his wife and we had nice chat. Dinner, which is sometimes a bit interesting at catered formal events (not that I have a long list of ones I’ve attended), was really good - some sort of all-natural salad with figs and green leafy stuff I’ve never seen in the grocery store, some deliciously tender chicken and creamy sliced potatoes and book-ended with some personalized apple pie things closing out the courses. The awards ceremony itself was very well done and entertaining. It was great to see the clips of the winners; I can’t wait to see them in their entirety tomorrow at the festival. When my turn came, my heart was beating a mile a minute, but I managed not to trip going up the stage. I said a few thank yous and went to get some pictures taken. After it was all done, we milled about for a bit waiting for group pics. There were lots of celebrities - some I knew, others not. All the ones I had a chance to chat with were very warm and easy to talk to. Dave was excited to meet the director of ”24“ so I snapped pic of them and I met one of the guys from the ”Gilmore Girls” which, I’m a little ashamed to admit, I do watch from time to time. After that, we headed back to the hotel then a group of us headed back out into the night for a little ”after-party-party“ and sat in a cool little lounge bar till 2:00 in the morning chatting it up. By that time I was more than ready for bed and was happily greeted by my king sized sled to dreamland promptly upon return.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

L.A. Day One

First things first, I got my kickin new camera AND my business cards yesterday which was quite the treat. So expect Lots - o - pictures. I started off the day to about 3 hours of sleep on account of scrambling to get some stuff together I had been counting on Kinkos to help me out with the previous evening. (Kinkos, I’m sorry, but we’re done) It would be ingenuous to place all of the blame squarely on their shoulders as I could have taken care of a lot of it earlier in the week, but I didn’t - I’m a goob. So I finished up everything about 3 am and got up at 6:15am or so sans alarm (the internal clock is still beating my digital one by about 40 minutes every day) and went and worked on on the mind numbing treadmill, got up and around and my roommate took me to the airport about 9:45. It’s awesome not traveling on the holidays, it took next to no time to get through security and to the boarding area. I hit the jackpot on my seat in the plane, I was in the first coach row after first class and my seat jutted out in the aisle a little so I had all the leg room I could possibly want (that is for my short little hobbit legs). It’s the mental comfort of knowing IF I was 6’ tall, I’d be just fine. My co-row passengers were a mom and daughter coming to Cali to decide if the daughter wanted to take a job here. They were nice folk and the mom was reading Captivating which was written by an author I really enjoy so we had something to chat about for a bit AND she gave me a stick of beef jerky and some big pretzel sticks so my meal-less fight wasn’t such a famine. When we were done chatting, I through on the IPod and enjoyed one of my favorite pastimes - reading. I finished one book and started another. The second was about a laugh a page for most of the remainder 4 1/2 hour flight. Donald Miller is an author that weaves insight and mirth into a fine tapestry of story that speaks to me in a way few authors do. He’s a bit like C.S. Lewis but more “everyman.” The shuttle ride from the airport to the hotel was entertaining. For one, I saw this:

Heck of way for a dog to get around.
I ended up sitting with an Australian girl named Lea (I think- my memory isn’t the best) who is a nurse and is taking an 8 month holiday. Now, I ask you, why is it the europeans and the aussies take these 6,7, 8 month holidays and we Americans take like a week, two weeks max typically? Is it because we’re too busy? Honestly, I’m not sure I could go that long without “working” but I think taking more time to live life than get ahead isn’t such a bad idea. After I got to the hotel, I dropped off my stuff and headed out to try out the new camera while I waited for my friend and her husband to come pick me up for dinner. Here’s a bit of what I saw.
Lots of expensive cars
But these were more interesting. (They're to the left of that car)
Then, my ride came. Dinner was a lot of fun. I’d not seen Selina since being in D.C. in 2001 and I had never met Dave before. We went to this “in” place called Domick’s with small delicious portions and big numbers on the menu. However, you don’t do stuff like this very often, so it’s one of those, “Eh, I’m prolly never going to do this again, so what the heck.” We got all kinds of stuff. For an appetizer, we got a grilled artichoke and some special spinach. I’ve never had artichoke before and it was amazing though I learned that trying to eat the leaf doesn’t work so well. I’m still not a fan of spinach in any cooked form. For entrĂ©es, Selina got the veal and Dave and I got the spaghetti and meat balls (the meat balls being the size of small tennis balls). We shared a little so everyone got to taste and it was amazing. Desert was even better. We got the triple gelato - banana chocolate chip, butterscotch and (I think) vanilla AND some fritters with chocolate dipping sauce. Wow. It was good. After that, they took me to see San Rodeo Drive and we walked around a bit commenting on the stores and Selina telling us all kinds of relevant pop culture tidbits. We moseyed along for a bit and then they took me back to the hotel where I crashed the instant my head hit the pillow.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

An absolutely gorgeous day....

Song of the day - "This World" - Caedmon's Call - Self Titled Album Today was amazing outside and I was out most of the day to enjoy it. I headed downtown this morning to meet a friend to go to the St. Patrick's Day parade and spent almost the whole day out in the glorious weather. The parade was a little lack luster, however we did see them dye the river green which was pretty cool. It was a green as lime koolaid which is pretty impressive. It was a bit of a let down to see that they just dyed it with what looked like little cups of dye. I had hoped for giant leprauchan cauldrons spilling green goo into the water...but perhaps there were no cauldrons around:) It was a fun day. So I've decided that I'm not drawing enough, so I'm instituting a new rule - No blog entries without a pic or a sketch (we'll see how long it lasts - and hopefully they're better than this one). One of the guys at work was able to get together enough people to pay for a figure drawing class at work. That's gonna start this Tuesday. That should provide some opportunity to stretch the drawing muscles. Technology is a fickle mistress. I can't seem to get my ipod reformatted on my home machine. I keep getting these weird errors. My options are 1) see if it does the same thing on my work pc and or 2) take it in to be serviced. None of the stuff I've found googling the problem have worked. Ug... In general, I'm on a antitech bent right now (so you've been warned). Also, something appears to be very wrong with my computer. I can't seem to access the disk management utilities via the administrative tools and other such weirdness. I'd like to reformat and start from scratch but I think waiting till my current freelance gig is done is a better route to go. Photography has always interested me to some degree. I think a lot of it has to do with good photography's dependence on lighting. I'm something of a lighting nut (if that's not obvious in my cg work). Getting a good render out of the computer is a lot like painting with light. I'm thinking about splurging and getting a good digital SLR to pick up a new hobby and hopefully expand my understanding of composition, light, and quite possibly - candid shots of friends:) This week I discovered a few cool places on the net:

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

That lobster needs a haircut!

I love it when I find stories about new animal species being discovered (I've been a bit of an animal nut since I was a kid). However, this one was especially cool. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Business Cards and Animation

Song of the Day: "Leaving It Up To You" - Jill Phillips - Writing on the Wall Well, I thought I was gonna go to bed, but I just got my second wind. Funny how that works. I've been working a bit on animation this evening and talking to some friends via IM. I also decided I'd best get some more business cards for my trip to LA. My last batch seems to have been lost in the move from Savannah. So I updated my design a little and sent em off to the online press. I used these guys for the last batch and was very pleased. 500 cards - Full color both sides, glossy finish and rounded corners shipped for under $75. That's hard to beat. Last batch I got was a little more purple than blue on the front, but I changed the color a little so hopefully that'll fix it. If not, blue violet (while not my color of choice) isn't as bad as it could be;). Color space issues are not one that I'm nearly as versed in as I should be. If you don't know what I'm talking about, believe it or not, but the colors you see on your monitor may not actually be the colors that images actually are. Isn't that fun to know? Here's the designs: Front Back Since my second wind shows no sign of slowing, might as well get back to it...

Monday, March 6, 2006

Taxes and an update...

Song of the Day: "Shiloh" - Andrew Peterson - Carried Along Album Good golly I dig Andrew Peterson's music. You'd think I'd be sick of it by now having listened to Carried Along most days in the car for the last 2 months. You'd might think that, but you'd be wrong.

It's that fun time of the year. Ah yes, taxes. I really don't have a problem with taxes, but they could make things a little easier to understand. It's one of the only times in life that you can have absolutely every good intention of being honest and doing the right thing and chances are, you're breaking some minutiae of law. A couple years back, I called the IRS cause I had a question. The guy answered it, then added the addendum that the IRS would not be held accountable for his answer and that if he told me the wrong thing to do, it was still my fault.

Fun times...

I've got a little render test from my current gig that doesn't really give anything away but is close to the final look. The lighting needs some tweaks and Tiko's gonna be sped up a few frames, but it's a good first step.

Here ya go.

Suffice it to say, more happens after that. But for that, you'll have to order a DVD from Bitstream when it's done. Not only will you get to see it, but you'll be contributing directly to the "Josh-Burton-Gets-Out-of-College-Debt-Fund" as anything I get is going there. It's a good cause, trust me. That and Tiko needs to eat...;)

Time to throw Toy Story 2 on and get to animatin'!

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Another weekend...

It's been a pretty good weekend overall. Yesterday, the weather was a bit warmer (low 40's) so I went for a nice long run. I even found some trails to start exploring. Yesterday in the 40's, today it's snowing again. Ah, well. I'd been struggling with some tech issues on my freelance gig - namely getting a good particle export into Lightwave using Point Oven. Mark who wrote the transfer app was kind enough to give me a hand and I was finally able to begin experimenting with the look of the effect in Lightwave. Here's a test. It still needs a little umph, but it's getting there. I got the Grease Pencil Script (look at the post two down) running and am using it to working through some animation issues on my gig. I must say it is indeed awesome. Thanks Jason! Let's see, what else is going on...

  • We had our second friends-from-work-poker-night this week. We have a 5 dollar cash in for the night and only bet nickels, dimes and quarters so there's no big losses. I had a repeat performance of losing my more occupation to go on the list of things I could never do for a living - "Professional Poker Player". Check.
  • Work is going well, I'm working on a pretty sweet project. Wish I could show something, but I'm afraid it'll be awhile.
  • Next weekend I'm going to the St. Patrick's Day parade downtown with a new friend. I hear that they dye the river green. Looking foward to it.
  • I'm heading to LA the 18th which I'm pumped about. Speaking of which, I need to get some stuff together for that...

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