Yearly Archives: 2016

If you can’t see your Kindle content on another device

I have several Amazon accounts: one in the US, one in the UK, and one ein Germany. Every now and again I de-register one of my Kindles from one account and register it with another one. Depends on what content I’d like to read and on which account it’s available.

The other day I switched my Kindle Fire from my German Amazon account back to my US account, my main account, containing all my my english content. To my surprise, the device registered fine, identified itself as “Jay’s Kindle”, but none of my content was showing up. Likewise, the device was not showing as registered on my web interface.

What was going on? Where was all my content? This had worked not too long ago!

I tried installing the Kindle iOS app on my iPhone and registered it too – only to find it behaved exactly the same way: no content, and the device was not showing itself on my Amazon account.

After getting in touch with Customer Service, I can now tell you what happened – and a neat trick of avoiding it, should it happen again. Interested? Read on! Continue reading If you can’t see your Kindle content on another device

How to cure Kindle Fire sync issues

Back in 2011 I bought a first generation Kindle Fire in the US. It hadn’t been released anywhere else, and this device started the whole Kindle Tablet business for Amazon.

It’s still working, and I’m still using it as a “bedside” Kindle (my Kindle 3, or Kindle Keyboard, doesn’t have a backlight, so the Fire is my “reading in the dark” companion).

Trouble is, the Kindle Fire doesn’t always sync my books with other Kindle devices. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it does not – and I never really knew what to do about it.

Until some online research gave me the solution that I’d like to share with you. Just in case this happens to your device.

This fix may work with other (Android based) Kindle Fire devices too, but I’ve only tested it with a first generation Fire (serial starts with D01E, Firmware 6.4.3).

Continue reading How to cure Kindle Fire sync issues

How to combine an Image Sequence into a video file with Blender

Did you know that Blender has a built-in video editor? We can use that to turn an image sequence into a movie file. I’ve described how to do this Photoshop here, but I thought it would be fun to try the same thing in Blender.

Here’s how to do it: Continue reading How to combine an Image Sequence into a video file with Blender

How to display a movie on a plane in Blender (Blender Render)

To show an animated video clip on a plane inside our scene, we can texture our plane object accordingly. Here’s how to do it using the Blender Render. engine (this won’t work in Cycles).

  • select the plane object and create a new Material on it (in the Materials Tab on the Properties Palette)
  • under the Shading Tab, select shadeless
  • leave all the other settings alone here

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Head over to the Textures Tab next to the Materials Tab and create a new texture. Set it to Image or Movie and select your video. You can also pic a single image or an Image Sequence here.

Under Image you can select at which frame your movie should start. Hit Match Movie Length to choose all frames in your movie (because we can’t tell how long it is, but Blender needs to know).

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Peek at the Preview section to see our video show up. Never mind the repetition or distortion for now.

In our final render, the background will probably look a little washed out. To combat that, head over to the World Tab and set the Horizon Colour to black.

How to hook a track to a vertex in Blender

Hooking is a technique with which you can attach one vertex to follow another object. This can be useful if the outline of an object (such as a plane) needs to be distorted when it follows tracking markers.

Here’s how to do it:

  • select the the object you want to track (such as an empty that follows a track)
  • now SHIFT select the object that you want the previous object to follow
  • switch into Edit Mode (TAB) and select the vertex you’d like to follow
  • now select CTRL+H and choose Hook to Selected Object

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The selected vertices will move with the hooked object.

How to combine a 3D render with a background image in Photoshop

In this video I’ll show you how to render an image in DAZ Studio and compose it onto a background image in Photoshop.

We’ll use the Shader Mixer and a Shadow Catcher in DAZ Studio to make the figure cast a shadow but be otherwise transparent. In Photoshop we’ll add artificial depth of field to an arbitrary background picture using Smart Objects, and I’ll introduce some techniques to blend both images together for extra realism (all non-destructively).

The final picture is going to look like this (featuring the 3D Universe Toon Crab and a new lifeguard tower in my neighbourhood). composite

The whole video is nearly 40mins long, so grab a cup of tea and enjoy.

Combining a DAZ Studio Render and a background image in Photoshop

In this episode I’ll show you how to render an image in DAZ Studio and compose it onto a background image in Photoshop.

We’ll use the Shader Mixer and a Shadow Catcher to make the figure cast a shadow but be otherwise transparent in DAZ Studio. In Photoshop we’ll add artificial depth of field to an arbitrary background picture using Smart Objects, and I’ll introduce some techniques to blend both images together for extra realism (all non-destructively).

Enjoy!

Catch this episode on my 3D Podcast:

How to use the Grappling Hook in XIII for GameCube

unknownI was playing XIII again the other day. The US GameCube version this time. I remember enjoying XIII on the original Xbox back in the day, as well as on PC.

Even today, there’s nothing quite like playing these old style shooters with blurry textures and blocky unsmoothed 3D objects.

That aside, I had a tough time making the Grappling Hook work, mainly because the controls on the GameCube version must be the most terrible in the history of console gaming. Sadly my copy did not come with an instruction booklet, but at $4.99 with free shipping I’m not complaining. I found no instructions on the internet either, I’m probably a lost cause and too late for the XIII party anyway.

For future generations, and my future self, here’s how the XIII GameCube control work (from what I could figure out). Continue reading How to use the Grappling Hook in XIII for GameCube

How to create a translucent shader in Blender (Cycles)

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-14-24-08By default all our 3D objects are opaque, meaning light does not pass through them. Like a brick wall. But many objects in reality let some amount of light through, like a piece of paper or a glass of lemonade. This partial transparency is called translucency.

In the picture above, light passes through the leaf, partially illuminating the ground underneath it. We can setup such a shader in Blender like this:

  • in between the Diffuse and Material Output node, connect an Add Shader
  • create a Translucent Shader and connect its output to the second input of the Add Shader (top or bottom does not matter)
  • connect the Color Output of your texture to the Color Input of the Translucent Shader

Here’s what such a shader looks like:

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In the above image, I have combined this translucent setup with a transparency shader, so that the leaf can be “cutout” using the texture’s transparent background. Here’s what that looks like:

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How to create a Shadow Catcher in Blender (Cycles)

shadow-catcher

Setting up a Shadow Catcher in Blender is a bit more tricky than in other applications, but nevertheless straightforward if you know what you’re doing. I certainly did not when I first tried it, but thanks to this short YouTube video by Nonsense Blender Tutorials, I was able to set this up.

Here’s how to do it:

Continue reading How to create a Shadow Catcher in Blender (Cycles)