Inside Impossible: A Factory Tour

We were lucky enough to get an glimpse inside the Impossible Factory in Enschede a couple of weeks ago! With way too much on my plate right now I didn’t find a chance to post this until now.

Setting off at 4am from London we first flew over to Bremen,  from where my friend Oliver was kind enough to drive us 200km over the border to Holland. Thanks, Oliver!

What can I say – it was a blast! All our questions about Impossible material were answered, we were shown how it’s made and how it all came to be. We had an amazing chat with Andre Bosman who took literally hours being the perfect host and tell us everything us fans wanted to know (he’s also CEO and Co-Founder of the company).

Thousand thanks go to the entire Impossible Team who made us coffee and nibbles so we felt right at home. Let me show you some pictures mere mortals (and Polaroid enthusiasts) can only dream of: let me take you Inside the Impossible.

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Happy Halloween

Julia carved this wonderful pumpkin – it looks amazing! In the evening we were contemplating a tea light on the inside but decided the back light from a bicycle would be much nicer (and won’t burn the pumpkin). Since it was so late in the day I decided to take a long exposure with one …

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More Zenbrush Sketches

This sketch started out as a face but ended up being a chicken instead. Then I moved on to faces. The last one reminds me of Zoidberg from Futurama.

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Dolby E Decoders in Cortex

So we’ve got these Dolby E Decoders and Encoders at IMG MCR.

We need to use them more and more for various client requests – but for the last year or so Richard Bagnall was the only human in Chiswick who understood how to make them do something useful. We all had a look at them and most of us are still clueless as to how they work.

In many attempts he was kind enough to explain to me what we as operators need to do in order to utilise them, and I’m exicted to say that last week something made CLICK in my brain when I understood the magic behind them: they’re not complicated as such – they’re just incredibly badly labelled ni the Cortex system!

Let me pass on this essential knowledge in this guide and assure you this: if you know how to work an Axon Shuffler, you sure can operate one of these Dolby Cards!

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Zen Brush Sketch: Spike

I’ve done done some more drawing exercises and came up with this little character: Spike (due do this hair style). I’ve started him in Manga Studio and can’t stop drawing him now. Julia says he always looks like he’s in trouble (I’m still working on the happier expressions). This sketch was done in Zen Brush …

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It’s a Kodak World – Welcome!

I’ve finished another sketch in Manga Studio, still trying to come to grips with it. This time I’ve used my trusty old Wacom Bamboo tablet. It’s handles just as nice as my Intuos 4. Doug TenNapel was right: the hardware doesn’t really matter that much (even though I love my Intuos). Thats great news as …

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Wacom Intuos 4 = Happiness

A couple of weeks ago I ordered us some proper Wacom Intuos 4 tablets – a small one and a wireless medium one. It’s love at first touch 😉

I’ve had a first generation Wacom Bamboo before and thought it would come in handy for touch up work in photo retouching and some other pen related activities, and even though it worked I never quite warmed to it. That was in 2008.

Back then I even invested in Manga Studio EX4 which had just come out thinking that my drawing skills would improve when I rtied the two together. Unfortunately the software is so unintuitive and the tablet was so basic that I soon lost interest in further explorations.

With the Intuos 4 that has all changed: it’s like drawing on a piece of paper with incredibly accurate feedback. It even recognises the angle of the pen to the tablet and changes the brush size and stroke accordingly. Whoa!

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How to render with Alpha Channel in Anime Studio 8

We’ve been playing with Anime Studio 8 Pro and love it – for years I’ve been bombarded with “special offer” emails that told me how amazing this programme was so we finally gave in. I’m glad we did – Julia and I are having lots of fun creating 2D animations.

The included tutorials are great, but I believe they’ve been made for previous versions of the software. Some features have changed, and this is one I’ve had trouble funding on the web:

How to render an animation while retaining the Alpha Channel.

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Woody dancing at the office

Woody is our favourite wooden artists’ manikin. He currently lives on a shelf with two woolly ninjas (Blackberry and Blueberry) but we though it was time that he was brought to life. I was delighted when I found him in the additional content for Poser 7. I animated him using Animate 2 in DAZ Studio …

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Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5 – my personal hands on review

To complete my migration from PC to Mac I’ve downloaded the trial version of the latest Premiere Pro CS 5.5 yesterday. I bought CS 3 a few years ago and haven’t regretted it, but at work we have CS 4 and now CS 5 and I can see the feature improvements and benefits to our workflow.

As last time, this is a rather large expense for me (£285 for the upgrade, which is still better than £810 for the full version) – however Premiere is a fascinating powerful programme and I know how helpful it is.

My old version has made its money back many times over so I’m sure this version won’t disappoint me either. In fact, I’m quite excited about the new options in version 5.5 and the idea of having it on my laptop.

Here are my hands-on notes, my first impressions and my two cents about Adobe’s rival to Final Cut Pro.

For the geeks: I’m using Premiere on a MacBook Pro with 8GB of Ram, 64 bit OS (Lion) and an Intel Dual Core i7 processor at 2.7 GHz.

Read moreAdobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5 – my personal hands on review

Dancing Robot Splash Screen

I thought I’d share a couple of Splash Screens I created for my (since rejected) iPhone Apps. Splash Screens are loading screens which are shown while the sometimes lengthy startup process would show a black screen – unless you provide an image. Makes for a much nicer user experience.

Dancing Robot (above) is lovely cartoon figure called Klank by 3D Universe – I absolutely love their style! I have a couple of other figures made by them and I’ll show you some pre-production artwork a bit later.

As you may have guessed, Dancing Robot is essentially the same app as Dancing Alien with a different character, an animated background and different music. Guess I won’t be submitting that one to Apple…

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Twitter for Beginners

In a surprise move, my wife Julia has just joined Twitter. Welcome, @Julia_V1!

When I was at that point a couple of years ago I remember thinking “why oh why would I even consider joining this… er… movement?” I admit it’s hard to explain what makes it interesting. Twitter needs to be experienced to be appreciated.

Here’s a little how-to guide about the language and conventions used on Twitter, I thought this may be useful for other newbies too.

Grab a coffee while I tell you everything I know about the (apparently) hottest social network in the blogosphere.

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Steve Jobs resigns from Apple over the rejection of my Dancing Alien app

On Tuesday, my “Dancing Alien” App has been rejected by Apple on the grounds that “it wasn’t very useful”. They pointed me to Section 2.12 of their submission guidelines which explains this.

Today, only a couple of days later, my good mate Steve Jobs resigns from Apple, probably as a direct response to this appalling decision. This is the second time in his career that he had a falling out with management over decisions he’s just not 100% behind.

I’d like to say from the bottom of my heart: thank you so much for your support, Steve – but this wasn’t necessary. I appreciate the gesture though, and I’ll put you on my list of Beta Testers so you can run t he app anyway.

I’m already planning my next app which will include the alien, so I’ll let you know how that’s going. So please, nobody else needs to quite their job over this!

Read moreSteve Jobs resigns from Apple over the rejection of my Dancing Alien app

How to change your Playstation Network Password after “The Incident” (even though Sony mess you around with a link that doesn’t ever work)

Months after “The Incident” at the Sony Playstation Network happened, many users are still having problems resetting their password.

This mandatory security procedure is necessary says Sony, and I can understand that.What I can’t understand is why they keep sending you to the same link to change your password, when all said link does is bring up an error message stating that the site is down.

Let’s take a look how we can remedy this.

Read moreHow to change your Playstation Network Password after “The Incident” (even though Sony mess you around with a link that doesn’t ever work)

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Creating Dancing Alien v1.0 – Release Notes

It’s been an exciting day here at The Render Farm: we’ve decided we wanted to release our first app by tomorrow evening, and the next thing we knew was that Julia’s soundtrack was ready for it. Not even half an hour later we previewed stunning animations with several characters… we couldn’t believe it ourselves – since we’re neither musicians, animators or coders!

I had conducted several tests based on the ImageHop exercise from SAMS Teach Yourself iPad Apps by John Ray, all OK but implementing several views really was hard. I’ve decided instead to keep it ultra simple and literally only have one view for Dancing Alien and one lone “i” button at the bottom right as an About / Credit page with link to our website. Works much better, is much simpler – and more to the point it’s possible to implement by tomorrow evening.

Read moreCreating Dancing Alien v1.0 – Release Notes

London Riots Business Idea

With Anarchy breaking out in London over the last few days, I had a great business idea: sell remote controls for TVs that have been looted! We can also sell chargers for laptops that went walking from PC World & Co. We’ll create an interface where customers can pop on the serial number of the …

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Objective-C: The Final Frontier

It’s been a tough couple of days with my head spinning and – as my wife says – me being not very happy. This is because every book i read about iOS developing appears to be hopelessly out of date. My fault for wanting to get my hands dirty with bleeding edge shenanigans.

Book No. 1 “iPhone Apps for Absolute Beginners” is written really well, however 9 out of 10 examples don’t work. Outdated code, code not reprinted properly, instructions are for Xcode 3, you name it. There’s only so much frustration you can take until you put this to one side and look elsewhere.

Book No. 2 “Teach Yourself iPad Apps” started out a bit tough, but now that I’ve got my head buried deep in this matter sounds more promising by the minute. At least: the examples work, even if they’re based on Xcode 3 too. The author was nice enough to include an updated Xcode 4 chapter on his homepage.

Frustration and agony to one side, let me share with you the exciting things I have managed to build these past few days.

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My first Test App: “How ya’ll doin?”

It’s exciting times here at the hacking front: I’ve deployed several test apps today and had a closer look at Xcode 4.1 – the latest coding environment for iOS and Mac.

After having spent most of the day downloading and installing Mac OS X “Lion” I found out the hard way that Xcode 4.02 was no longer working… so I had to download that as well. Once it was all working I found no major changes had been made in the software other than a spurious error message because I didn’t sign up for the Mac Developer programme and some library couldn’t be downloaded. Let’s ignore this message, shall we?

Read moreMy first Test App: “How ya’ll doin?”

iOS Development: Let the journey begin

It’s only been 4 weeks since I’ve bought my first ever Apple product. We now have SIX in our household and my ISP has just informed me that I’m now downloading over 40GB per month (and should really pay more). I have to admit: iPad, iPod Touch and Apple TV have forever changed our lives for the better.

So much so that last week I went out and bought myself a Mac Book Pro for one simple reason: I want to write iOS Apps. For those of you who don’t know it’s the stuff you can download and run on your iPhone and iPads. Should have jumped on this project a year ago when I had a hunch that this could potentially be super cool.

Getting my teeth into this will be a challenge beyond belief, and I thought it would be a nice idea to jot down my progress here. I’ve done this with the WP Guru site where I write down notes so I can remember a few weeks later (I have a short attention span you know…). I shall call this category iOS Dev Diary.

Let me start by telling you all about what I want to do and why I’m doing it.

Read moreiOS Development: Let the journey begin

Freehand Sketch

I’ve tried out two new apps here: the first one is Procreate, a drawing app for iPad. It’s up there with SketchBook Pro and Brushes (which I haven’t tried yet). Procreate is a very nice and fairly simple drawing programme with high-res canvases and unlimited undo functions. It has a very cool smudge tool and …

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Shading Exercise

I remember the very fist lesson in Art Academy on the Nindento DS is to draw a circle, turn it into an apple and apply basic shading. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at it and I tried to recreate it from memory – here’s the result. I need a lot more practice to …

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Racist Bug

We found this weird looking bug lose to the beach one day and took some pictures. An orange thing with black spikes sticking out – an amazing creation. When I looked into the custom Sketchbook Pro brutes I found EXACTLY that bug! Wonder what he’s called and if he’s still alive…

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Sketch of Aimee Morakot

I’ve only just started using Sketchbook Pro for iPad and I love it! I’m trying my hand at many retrace and freehand sketches. This picture of Miss Thailand Universe came up in the popular section on Instagram. I loved the moody shot of a figure and thought this would be a great drawing exercise. I …

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The VIENETTA Challenge – Part 2

Ray was kind enough to give me a statement on how his preparation for the biggest ice cream eating contest in the known universe are coming along. He also talks about portion sizes and that his plan is to eat SIX packets. Shot using the 8mm HD app.

National Grid: They know how to wire up the lights

Recently, the National Grid have torn down a couple of buildings around the corner from us in an old industrial estate. They want to build a tunnel for some more electricity cables to ensure future supply in our neighbourhood. Every month they seem to overtake yet another building, which leads me to believe they’re actually …

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