Dec 25, 2008

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me.....

Merry Christmas everyone!

Although Phoebe and I agreed that we would not buy gifts for each other this year, I secretly bought her a huge stuffed monkey a few days ago to surprise her on Christmas midnight. Judging from her immediate affection for the now christened "Dai tou bok" (translate: big head...something) monkey, it was worth every penny and trouble that I went through to buy it.

Not to be outdone, Phoebe also conspired to pay me back - in double, literally:

She knew I have been eyeing these Star Wars - The Clone Wars figurines for some time now but haven't got the heart to shell out the cash for it, so she thought this would be a great way to exact "vengeance" on me :P

So, it has been a very Merry Christmas for the both of us. Have I ever mentioned I adore her to bits?

Dec 17, 2008

Dec 8, 2008

Somebody is coming to town

Here's an early greeting for my readers (however few, that is..)

If there are any doubts: yes, the snowflake was painstakingly modeled in 3D. Geez, you geeks.

Nov 11, 2008

Dragonball - live action suckfest

Hollywood has proven many times that they have the uncanny knack to bastard-ize whatever original IP from the orient they can get their grubby paws on. One of the latest, and by far the worst, is Dragonball.

This live action adaptation of the iconic manga has apparently been in production for a while. Not only they decided to cast western actors in the place of the original, easternly characters (Justin Chatwin, the f*cking annoying emo son of Tom Cruise from War of the Worlds, as Son Goku), the producers saw fit to make it so that all the characters are almost unrecognizable from their hand drawn counterparts.

Point in case: in the early volumes of the dragonball saga, Goku will transform into a giant ape when he sees the full moon. In the movie, the giant ape has turned into a ogre from a dungeons and dragons game -

If the image above has not scare you away, point your browser here for the trailer. I have tonnes of respect for Chow Yun Fatt, but what in Pete's name is brother Fatt doing in this movie!?

Next up! Akira will be the next victim. Already there are news of the story being set in New York instead of New Tokyo, Tetsuo's name has been changed to Travis and god knows what other heretical "fixes" have they introduce to the movie.

The prevalent mentality of hollywood producers is that they know best how to make an already successful IP "better". While it is fair to say that for an adaptation certain changes has to be made to make it relevant to audiences today, that's not an excuse to arrogantly force those changes simply because you think you know better; As the old adage goes: if it ain't broken, don't fix it.

I shudder to imagine which property they are going to butcher next.

Oct 28, 2008

One of those days

I just had a serious mind-lapse, which I've been having alot lately.

Just 2 minutes ago, I found that I couldn't remember my age!

OK, more like I was confused about it, so much so that I had to subtract my birth year (Thank god I still remember that) from the current year to make sure I got it right.

I need a new brain.

Oct 24, 2008

Mawi - Perempuan

Before you close this window wondering why am I blogging about Mawi: No, this isn't about Mawi, at least not the way you think.

Circa 2005 or 2006, when I was still freelancing, I was looking around for some interesting animation projects to do. It happens that a client of mine directed a couple of Mawi's music videos, and wanted to do an animated one. Naturally, I jumped at the chance, not knowing what I was getting myself into.

It was a fully animated 4 minute video, with only 1 month to do it and an equally miniscule budget. But I was a struggling artist then (still is now...) so I figured this was my break. I managed to deliver the video (with 3 different endings) in a month, plus another 2 months (!) of changes and tweaks.

As you probably can see, the quality is, for lack of a better word, Crap, although I was immensely proud of myself then because I did 95% of the whole video alone, working through endless nights and even the Chinese New Year holidays even though it was apparent my animation skills sucked then.

Nonetheless, the awful quality meant that I won't be impressing anyone so I opted to leave it out of my showreels. To date, this is still the only music video that I have done and it was a unique experience for me, although I couldn't help but wish I could've done better.

Sep 23, 2008

Armored Core - For Answer cinematic

Armored Core 4 had one of the best looking cinematic intro video and was one of my favorite CG game cinematic along with everything produced by Blur, Digic and Blizzard.

Then when you wonder how much better can giant fighting robots look, out comes the cinematic trailer for Armored Core: For Answer.

Watch/download Hi-Def version here.

While you're at it, enjoy the much revered Armored Core 4 cinematic as well:

Sep 18, 2008

Sausage omelette

Phoebe's latest tea time endeavour, the sausage omelette sandwich.

So stop asking me why am I gaining weight :P.

Sep 15, 2008

Download Red Alert for free (Legally !)

In anticipation of Red Alert 3's launch on the 27th of September and to commemorate 13 years since the release of the original game, Electronic Arts has made the first Red Alert game available for download on the Red Alert 3 website, effectively rendering it freeware.

To download, point your browser HERE . Also included on the site are instructions to run RA properly on Windows XP. Have fun!

Sep 14, 2008

Movie - Vexille (Possible spoilers !!)

The film has been release over a year ago, but more on that later.Vexille is a 3D anime movie about a dystopian world in the future, something like the Appleseed films, so be prepared for some comparisons.

In year 2067, the UN declared a ban on robotics and cybernetics research. Japan, under the influence of the Daiwa Industries, protested against the ban and subsequently shut off all contact with other nations by means of a high tech physical and electromagnetic barrier around the archipelago country. A decade later, a US police task force named SWORD was alarmed by an android incursion and a secret meeting between US politicians and a representative from Daiwa Industries. They decided to infiltrate Japan, the country that has now become an enigma to the outside world.

The titular character is the female protagonist of the movie and a member of the SWORD team. When her team is seemingly wiped out and she finds herself in the custody of an underground resistance group in Tokyo, she discovers the horror that has beset the nation of the rising sun since the isolation.

The basic premise presents an epic and intriguing setting, even if it bears some striking similiarity to Masamune Shirow's works. Unlike Appleseed or Ghost In The Shell, however, the flick fails to develop the Vexille as the main character that we are suppose to empathize with. The relationship between Vexille and her lover Leon, who is also her team leader echoes that between Deunan and Briareous in Appleseed. Unfortunately, the romantic aspect was severely underdeveloped even when it was one of the main motivation for Vexille's actions in the film. In fact, I wouldn't know that they are a couple if not for a scene of them in bed together early in the film.

On the other hand, there's also this Maria character who is the leader of the resistance and has a history that was far more interesting than Vexille's. The film could've been named Maria and it would've made more sense.

In terms of visuals and animation, it's a mixed bag. Generally, I find the quality to be a slight notch above Appleseed, though the motion captured actions and facial expressions are somewhat lacking, if not disturbingly stiff in extreme cases. The shading is a hybrid of regular smooth shaded and cel shaded with anatomically correct character design, though I prefer Appleseed Ex Machina's stylized characters and the painterly look. However, what won me over was Vexille's art direction, cinematography and the AMAZING attention to detail (IMHO easily put Appleseed to shame). In many cases, it was the cinematography that saved an otherwise zombie-like motion captured scene.

All in all, I thought it was a solid production. Back to the topic of the film's release: unlike Appleseed, I did not come across any marketing materials related to this movie. No trailers, no nothing. Ironically, I only came across this movie when I was looking up information on Ex Machina and has been looking for a while before I finally bought it. Considering the production value, I'm surprise nobody bothered to come up with a decent marketing campaign!

On a very unrelated note: I also just watched M.Night Shyamalan's The Happening. What a mess. Ever had one of those conversation where you're sure you're talking about a specific subject, but the other guy keep rambling and mumbling on and off topic incoherently? This film is like that.

I cannot imagine how much worse his films can get.

Sep 6, 2008

Emergency Evacuation

Another update on the in-house project. The scene below depicts a serene rooftop amidst the chaotic emergency evacuation in a major city in the USA.

If you follow this blog, you might find the gramophone and the helicopters familiar.

I spent a lot of time working on the shading and textures (including the billboards which were blurred to hell, I don't even know why I bothered...). The rendering time was awful because of the raytrace refraction, reflection and shadows, exponentially compounded by the use of radiosity and ambient occlusion.

The final image was composited and DOF blur applied in Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.

Aug 28, 2008


Meet Jack. He's a disembodied head and has no hair....

....or, he was an exercise in modeling and texturing a photo-real head in Lightwave3D.

In terms of modeling, let me just admit that Poser models make great references as far as topology and polygon flow is concerned.

For the shading, the simple skin SSS material node in LW was also a godsend in this case: it was fairly straightforward to set up and although I did went through the trouble of painting separate maps for the diffuse, specular color, Epidermis and subdermis color, one could have simply used just the color picker in the node and should still get some fairly good results.

I can foresee some limitations, though I figured there would be a workaround some way considering the immense robustness of LW's nodal surface system.

Aug 20, 2008


Helicopters for the in-house project that we're doing. Basically they are near-future versions of helicopters that are currently serving the US military forces. The image on the top of each pair is the 3D render, while the bottom image is the real helicopter which it was based off.

These 3D models will be seen constantly moving from quite a distance away in the film, so I have left out the details while leaving enough visual noise that it should look fairly realistic even at medium distance.

Based on the iconic tandem rotor CH-47 "Chinook" heavy lift helicopter. I have conveniently christened my version the Chinook II.

Based on the MH-53 "Pave Low". Some might recognize the "Pave Low" chopper as the first Decepticon's (Blackout) alternate mode in the Michael Bay Transformers film. The "Pave Low" is in turn a variant of the HH-53 "Super Jolly Green Giant". I picked it as the basis of my design simply because it is a big ass helicopter.

Aug 18, 2008

Bomber man

I've been playing Bomberman (aka Dyna Blaster) a lot these days. I dunno, there is this mesmerizing calm that overcomes me when I blow things up, old school style. Anyway, I couldn't sleep so I cooked up this rendering.

Everything from modeling, texturing to rendering took about 6 hours.

For those who want to play this game again, check out for all your nostalgic needs.

Aug 11, 2008

Lighting's a Bitch

While decent modelers and animators are aplenty in the field of CGI, competent lighting artists are hard to come by.

Lighting scenes is a sophisticated and tedious business. New renderers and advanced global illumination / ray-tracing algorithms doesn't make the work easier; they only give you more buttons to push, albeit with potentially better results.

Basically, a lighter's workflow goes something like this:

  1. insert light, guess the position and intensity.
  2. Render a test, wait 2 minutes, get coffee in the meantime.
  3. study rendered image. tweak intensity by 1%-2%.
  4. Render a test again, wait 2 minutes, pick up a magazine from the rack in the mean time.
  5. study rendered image. rotate light by 4.6 degree.
  6. Render a test again, wait 2 minutes, spill coffee on the magazine in the mean time.
  7. study rendered image...
....(repeat 20 times)

Repeat the same process for every other lights in the scene, with the rendertime increasing everytime you add a new light. It is even worse when you need to match the lighting against a live action plate.

Fortunately, once in a while some neat tricks and plugins come along to mitigate the mindnumbing-ness of the process. Image-based lighting (IBL) is one such thing. Using radiosity, the renderer uses an image (High-dynamic range, HDR or regular Low-dynamic range, LDR) as a light source.

For instance, the blue sky in the image will cast a bluish light while the dirt ground will cast a brown-yellowish light. It is the quickest way to get rich and accurate light colors, and definitely the easiest to match the lighting to the background plate simply because the background plate *is* the light source.

Radiosity, however, is inherently slow to render (though with more computing power this problem is gradually becoming a non-issue for simpler scenes), compounded by the fact the HDR images occupies quite some memory space. So the blokes at HDRlabs came up with an ingenious way to use IBL without the rendertime hit of using radiosity.

Enter LightBitch, a nifty plugin that plugs directly into Newtek's Lighwave3D (LW). It basically extracts key lighting information from a HDR or LDR images and builds a lighting rig into the scene using LW's native light types, eliminating the need for radiosity.

The setup is relatively customisable, allowing you to control the amount of lights, radius and light types.

Radiosity IBL: rendertime 74 seconds

LightBitch: rendertime 49.3 seconds.

Note: Both lighting methods uses the same background image as the base. There's a marked difference in the lighting directions, so I could be doing something wrong. (background HDR image from

The rendertime difference might not be that significant in my test scene, but I suppose the benefits would become more obvious as scene complexity increases.

What I love most about it is that unlike radiosity based IBL, I can tweak each light individually if I want to, apart from using the master intensity controller in the rig. If I'm feeling creative, I can even paint a custom background in Photoshop and get LightBitch to quickly generate the rig based on the painting. I can already think of a few current and upcoming projects that can benefit from this tool.

It is, however, unwise to mention this plug-in in front of the clients; They will think you're just being rude.

Unfortunately, the plugin is for Lightwave3D only, so users of other apps will have to look elsewhere for a solution, or find a way to import the rigs.

Aug 6, 2008


Also known as a phonograph. A little prop for an in-house production that got too much of my attention than it deserved. I did enjoy texturing it though, still trying to get into grips with Lightwave's surface node editor. I particularly like how the wooden base turned out.

A touch of Beethoven

Jul 26, 2008

Movie - Journey to the Center of the Earth

The center of the Earth was....shiny

First of all, I did not enjoy Journey to the Center of the Earth. It was cliche, corny and the romance sub-plot was downright cringe-worthy. It is basically a re-telling of Jules Verne's adventure epic with a modern twist and fancy CGI, but lacking any originality and imagination. According to the plot, Verne's literature turns out to be every bit the truth, which was the perfect excuse to lift the settings straight off the book and apply it in the film without having to come out with anything new.

I was never eager to watch it, having viewed the trailer which did very little to hide the fact that it is just another Brendan Fraser action-adventure comedy drama (what a mouthful). The only reason I watched it at the cinema anyway was because it was the cheapest 3D movie in town.

This being my first 3D movie experience, I was hoping that the visuals would help me ignore the awful storyline. Unfortunately, the 3D glasses provided by the cinema was not ergonomic to say the least. What made it worse was that I was wearing glasses, so the 3D glasses was actually hanging precariously on the tip of my nose all the time. I ended up using my finger to hold the 3D glasses up throughout the whole movie just so it won't slip off.

Wearing the 3D glasses also darken the visuals somewhat. Considering the story spent a significant amount of time in relative darkness, I found it at times difficult to discern anyting on screen at times. The problem was compounded whenever there were fast moving scenes which made it even more difficult to follow.

I was expecting a fresh cinema experience with literally popping visuals, which is what 3D cinema is all about. What I got in the end was an strained finger and a mild urge to throw up.

Jul 15, 2008

Signs of overworked

I had a dream last night.

I was in a snow covered mountain, wielding my l33t Kung Fu skills against Polar bears (!) and Pandas (!!).

Then I glanced towards the top of the mountain, and realize that I forgot to paint the proper transparency mattes for the Fir trees in the distance.


Jul 4, 2008

Do you know a psycopath

We read and hear about it, we knew it was a derogative way to call some one. Chances are you'd probably have a very different intepretation of what a psychopath is. This is an interesting article about what they really are, a clinically classified behavioural disorder.

"...The concept of the psychopath is only the latest and most refined in a long string of attempts to account for a certain pattern of conduct. In the 19th century, psychiatric clinicians began to notice patients in their care who fit no known diagnosis, but who nevertheless displayed strange and disturbing behaviors. They were impulsive and self-destructive. They had no regard for the feelings and welfare of others. They lied pathologically, and when caught, they shrugged it off with a smirk and moved on to the next lie..."


"...The psychopath does not merely repress feelings of anxiety and guilt or fail to experience them appropriately; instead, he or she lacks a fundamental understanding of what these things are...."

Remember, the article has based on actual research and not just any casual observation.

"...roughly one man in every 100 is born a clinical psychopath, as well as one woman in every 300. They are so common that every person reading this sentence almost certainly knows one personally; indeed, a significant number of readers are likely psychopaths themselves..."

Now that explains some of the clients we encounter.

Jun 30, 2008

Fountain thingy

An abandoned fountain that is no longer working.

Jun 29, 2008

Diablo III announced

PC RPG fans worldwide cheered and chanted in unison yesterday like a Red Indians on Red Bull(or so I imagined), as Blizzard entertainment announces the third installment of their RPG hit Diablo.

Blizzard has been teasing their fans for days with different illustrations everyday on the splash page of their website, fueling wild speculations and unprecedented anticipation as to what is the new game that they are going to announce.

Me, I've never really been a big fan of Diablo or it's sequel Diablo II. Having my Amazon killed on the first quest of the first act really didn't do it for me. Nonetheless I would be eagerly looking forward to the awesome game visuals and cinematics that has always been the cornerstone of Blizzard games. Oh, the same goes for Starcraft II.

The announcement comes with a cinematic trailer available at this youtube page, as well as gameplay videos here and here. Of course, real fans go to Blizzard's Diablo III page to get the high res videos.

Jun 14, 2008

Short Film - E.T.A

A nifty little short by Junkworks, titled E.T.A.

Include major tributes to the Alien and Robocop Films. Get the high res version from here.

Jun 12, 2008

Movie - Kung Fu Panda

Bought this from McDonalds. I was tempted to get the whole set (eight characters in all, if I remember correctly), but I decided I need petrol more than toys. Note Michaelangelo and Leornado flanking our ass-kicking Panda.

I was half expecting the panda to wake up and say

"I know Kung Fu..."

and Shifu replying

"Show me..."

Of course, there wasn't a scene like that. That's what set it apart from all other Dreamworks Animation films: it did not rely on contemporary celebrity and pop references to make it's laughs, something that sourly plague their other animated features such as Shrek and Shark Tale. It managed to stand on it's on feet with it's own brand of humour

Jack Black was fantastic as the voice of Po, the titular character, so was Dustin Hoffman as his master. The animation was great as expected, but the visuals was simply stunning, emulating the epic vistas and vivid colors seen in the 2002 Chinese movie Hero.

It has been receiving raving reviews so far, some of them going as far as hailing it to be the best Dreamworks animated feature to date. I've seen it, and I like it, so there.

Jun 4, 2008

New laptop

Got it last weekend, yay!

Lesson learnt: Avoid buying FreeDOS laptops (Laptops that come with the FreeDOS operating system than the usual bundled OS eg. Windows).

I didn't want to install Windows Vista either, so I opted to install XP myself. Sounds straightforward enough: pop in installer, format HDD and run installation. Except for the fact that even fresh off-the-shelf XP installers does not come with a SATA driver and hence failed to recognize the HDD. Vista installers wouldn't have this problem, but like I said, I didn't want Vista.

After a bit of research, I disabled the native SATA mode in the BIOS settings so that the HDD will run as an IDE. Windows installed, no problem. Then I read in a few forums that Compaq / HP computers were notorious for their lack of XP support. They have a full collection of hardware drivers for Vista on their website, but most were missing for XP.

What's more perplexing is that the XP drivers were available elsewhere on the net. After a fair bit (4-5 hours) of scouring, Phoebe and I manage to get all the neccesary drivers from various websites. What's that about, HP?

Anyway, after much trial and error, I have finally managed to install all the drivers and got all the hardware to work properly. There were a few nail-biting moments especially when I was attempting to install the controllers for the SATA HDD and reboot in with SATA mode enabled.

At the end, I finally got a fully working laptop in 6-7 hours, with no less than 4-5 re-installations. Needless to say, I do not want to do that again...

May 28, 2008

See-Saw - Anna Ni Issho Datta No Ni

Here I am working alone overnight, when I decided to drop by youtube and look up some songs to break the silence.

This is one of my all-time favourite anime theme; I still remember having goosebumps whenever the opening of the song plays at the end of each episode of Gundam Seed. What I didn't know was that the band See-Saw is actually two ladies well into their 30's - 40's, which I just found out.

The music video is a bit wierd: it's like watching two aunties, dancing like aunties, while singing my favorite J-pop song. hmmm...

Anyway, if you still don't know, the name of the song means "We were so close together..." (lyrics and translation here.)

Apr 28, 2008

Go Speed Racer Go!

There are so many ways a live action adaptation of the cartoon can go wrong, in fact there are already many reasons to hate it from what we can see from the trailers.

But if you're a 80s baby like me who woke up early on weekends to catch the cartoons, there is some sort of guilty pleasure to be had. Especially when I found that many elements from the cartoon was faithfully recreated eg. the car, the campy uniforms and if you watch the music video below, you would recognize the pose from the picture above.

Of course, all that in addition to the over the top automobile action and fancy CGI.

I think one can only love or hate the bright colors and stylized action. But hey, what do you expect from a movie where the protagonist's name is, of all things, Speed Racer.

Apr 9, 2008

TM does port blocking

Old news, but still news to those who are not yet affected.

Effective since December 2007, TM has blocked all outbound SMTP traffic or port 25 traffic from dynamic IP addresses in their effort to curb spamming activities. They are implementing it in phases, starting from the brickfields area and gradually to the whole of Klang Valley and the rest of the country. The only way to send out emails would be through streamyx or TM's email service.

You can read about it here.

I came to know about it when a couple of days ago I realize my outbound emails were not going anywhere, so I fired a complain to my web host and they pointed me to this bit of information. Fortunately, they have open another port for outgoing emails from their users.

To be honest I have no idea about the technicalities of such an action, as long as I can send my emails I'm giddy. My beef is that neither TM nor my webhost has taken the initiative to release a notice to inform their users.

On the other hand, apparently, TM's action has drawn some flak from their users. You can read about some of their responses here.

So if you are using streamyx or TMnet and suddenly discover that you can't send any emails, contact your mail service provider (eg. your webhost) who should already have a solution for this.

Mar 8, 2008

Why I adore her?

As things at work becomes increasingly hectic lately, healthy meals is starting to go down our list of priorities. This evening Phoebe decided to cook up a nice meal for the both of us, which is a much welcomed break from mamaks, instant noodles and microwaved food...from restaurants.

It's no gourmet, but it's more than enough to brighten up my long, tiring day (and week!). Now, if we can get a place with a big enough kitchen so that she can cook more often :P

Website thingy part II

The finish product from this post.

It is a little interactive screeny where you can click on certain parts of the image and be transported to the corresponding section, with a 1-2 second transition video in between.

I just finish authoring it for our showreel's DVD and I'm running into some technical hiccups. Hopefully will get it done next week.

Mar 6, 2008

Movie - Appleseed: Ex machine (Spoliers !)

If you know Appleseed, then you would about the first CG anime movie released in 2004 of the same name. Ex-machina is the sequel to that movie in name and storyline.

The basic premise is still the same: half of Earth's population were wiped out in a non-nuclear war. After the war, men created Olympus, a sprawling high-tech city governed by artificial humans known as bioroids, engineered to possess no emotions of hate and anger, serving as mediators when it comes world affairs.

Humans, Bioroids and Cyborgs live harmoniously in Olympus (it is implied that ONLY in Olympus that these kind of "racial" tolerance exists). Yet despite all the technological advances, this time around something that they have created in the past would come back to haunt then.

Just like the previous movie, the plot explores how technology changes the human society. Obviously, the film does this in a exaggerated fashion, but some elements does strike a chord with the current times. Like how quickly and effortlessly information can be disseminated by it's users and how certain quarters with malicious intent can manipulate such infrastructures without the users being any wiser. I can't help but wonder if the Connexus device is a futuristic interpretation of current mobile devices eg. PDAs and mobile phones (in terms of, their owners don't go anywhere without it, and reluctant to part with it even when it is banned).

Technical-wise, the visuals has undergone a total revamped. It looks like a cross between hand paintings and photorealism, a marked departure from the it's cel-shaded predecessor. Personally I think the new visual style makes it easier to appreciate the designs, as cel-shading can be kinda ambiguous when it comes to minor details. As usual, character animations are largely motion-captured which makes it look odd at times due to strange deformation and (ironically) stiff movements.

The visual effects are much better now. Clothing are animated with cloth dynamics this time around, as are the hair. Notably, I find the clothes to be very well modeled and shaded. For those interested, a couple of Deunan's clothes were designed by Prada.

The movie was produced by John Woo, as evident with the generous use of dual-wielding gunnery, slow-motion and of course, doves. This time around, though, the doves actually serves a purpose beyond just aesthetics.

All in all, I found it enjoyable to say the least. Despite some slower parts, it is basically action sequence after action sequence with heartstopping choreography and corny drama typical of animes. If you like Masamune Shirow's work, give it a go and you won't be disappointed.

P/S: Does anyone else find it weird that towards the end, the movie sudddenly becomes a cross between Star Trek(Borgs!), The Matrix Revolution and Final Fantasy 7(Huge swords!) ???

Feb 13, 2008

Not so happy CNY

Chinese New Year celebrations are (almost) over, for me, in a rather sad note.

A good friend of mine lost a member of his family just before the Lunar new year, and I only found out, in total shock, on the third day of the new year holidays.

I knew his family quite well, who are all friendly folks. I haven't been able to get in touch with him just yet, save for a text message to convey my condolences to him and his family.


Feb 5, 2008

Happy CNY

Here's a greeting before I go off for my CNY holidays.

Enjoy your holidays!

Feb 4, 2008

Game snapshots in 3D

If you're into 3D like me, chances are you would often play a game and wonder how you can extract those gorgeous game models and load them into your favourite 3D program. There are user or official apps that can do this, though most often than not it only works with a particular game and the workflow could be rather convoluted.

I came across a nifty app called 3D ripper DX when I was browsing through the CGtalk forums, . What it does is that injects itself into the game as you run it (you either launch the game through the app, or use a global monitor that runs in the background as you launch the game independently), and with a keystroke it will take a "snapshot" of the geometry and texture data in the current render call.

in-game model (Need for Speed Carbon)

captured and imported into Newtek Lightwave3D

In its current version, it only works with DirectX 9 games and comes with a plugin for Autodesk 3DS Max only. If you are using other apps, fret not as it also exports to the wavefront .obj format, which should be compatible with almost everything else, although the obj export could be distorted and requires you to dig into the file to change some parameters. Another nitpick is that I can't seem to import the models with their UVs intact. I haven't gotten a chance to test the Max plugin because I don't have the software.

Be warned though, depending on what game you're running, the captured geometry could be quite heavy.

Of course, the assets you captured from any game are the intellectual property of their respective developers, so use it responsibly.

Feb 1, 2008


The thing that makes Cloverfield unique is the same thing that made Spielberg's War of the Worlds unique (which makes them no longer unique...whatever...): The story is told from the point of view of ordinary people who found themselves caught in extraordinary events. And like ordinary people, you wouldn't know what is happening until much later. It is this kind of anxiety and fear of being in the dark about the all this shit going on around you that makes the film immersive and captivating.

In a nutshell, the film was purportedly extracted from a video camera found in a place "formerly known as central park". It documents the story of 4 young adults who found themselves in the middle of a battle between Manhattan and a giant monster. The premise is like Godzilla, except your experiencing it through the eyes (or camera lens) of this 4 individuals who are on the run for their lives. You don't know what's going on, you don't have the big picture. You see what they see.

Despite my misgivings, I have to admit they somehow pulled it off; Particularly in the opening scenes with all the destruction going around, all you see are buildings toppling over and a weird roaring sound before being surrounded by smoke and dust. Then one of characters who saw the monster, apparently traumatized, tells you "It was eating people.". It was the filmmakers' goal to create the kind of horror like 9/11, and they did it. The monster was not just a monster, it was also an event.

The movie is not perfect, it offered no explanation how the camera managed to record for 7 hours straight on a single battery charge. Also, if you have not vomitted lately, go and watch this film; The shaky camera work will probably bring you to the brink of hurling chunks in the middle of the cinema.

All in all, I thought it was a decent film. It has achieved what the filmmakers has set to
do: to convey the terror experienced by ordinary people like us in the face of catastrophic disasters, death and loss of hope. Just don't watch it after a meal.

Jan 25, 2008

Sheer hot-ness on wheels

If you're a petrol head, here's something to add to the list of cars-I-want-but-probably-can-never-afford :

This is the Lamborghini Reventón (Pronounced Re-ben-ton), the latest in Lamborghini's line of exotic sports cars. Although it is essentially a Murciélago LP640 under the hood, the Reventón is styled after a F-22 Raptor stealth jet, with distinct angled lines, LED lighting and my favourite: rims with angled spokes designed to draw air in to cool the brakes. However, the theme does not end with exterior.

The designs of the interior dashboard's digital display are also inspired by fighter jet cockpit displays, including a G-force meter in the middle, to name a few.

Unfortunately, it is reported that only 20 units will be manufactured, costing about a million euros each (about RM4.7 milion) hence making it the most expensive Lamborghini car ever. Seems the only opportunity to drive it is if it gets included in the next Need For Speed game.

But hey, if you're looking to buy me a car, I'd settle for a Murciélago if it means less trouble for you :P

geek P/S : Considering how many hobbyist 3D modelers like to model exotics, plus the off-the-scale coolness associated with this car, I would expect 3D models of the Reventón to be all over the CGI community soon. Let's see if someone comes up with a Transformers version :)

Jan 17, 2008

Blender - the UI from hell

For the uninitiated, Blender is *the* open-source 3D software that is quickly catching on in the CGI industry. It was initially developed as an in-house tool that was released under the GNU General Public License when the studio went bust. It is currently being developed and updated by the Blender Foundation: a coordinated user community that contributes in improving and developing new features for the program. They have even released an animated short named "Elephants dream" (titled the Orange Project), created entirely using Blender with other open-source softwares; a second movie project titled "Peach" is in the making as well as a game project called "Apricot".

For a free software, it is amazingly choke full of features. This was one of the reason I downloaded it the other day and see if I can blend it into our pipeline (pun intended). I was looking for something that Lightwave 3D lacked in it's current incarnation, namely advance UV mapping tools, fluid dynamics, sculpting tools and so on. Heck, it even comes with a built in game engine and a node-based compositor.


I knew Blender was notorious for it's difficult user interface; now I know why. In the past I was able to pick up a new software and become productive in a matter of days (OK, not that proficient, but enough to handle the tasks at hand). Yet with blender, I honestly had no idea where to start. Granted, I haven't got the chance to go through the tutorials and manual, but in my experience it really shouldn't be so difficult.

Maybe I'm too old for this, or maybe it'll just take more time than I anticipated. I believe Blender is still a promising alternative for production quality softwares, if not better, in certain aspects. Best of all, it is totally free!

Now, if I can just get past the damn interface....

Jan 15, 2008

anim watch: USAVICH.TV

It's a Japanese site; I don't understand japanese but thankfully it doesn't have any dialog. But here it is: cute, weird, funny and disturbing all in these 1.5 minute episodes...

The Japanese do comes up with the darnest things.

Website thingy

A little something-something I'm working on very diligently (perhaps a bit TOO diligently).

As I said, it's still a work-in-progress so it looks sorta bland right now, I'm looking to finish it by the end of the month. Kinda happy with how the glass bottle turned out, but all those raytracing bells and whistles just for that bottle took the render time way over what should have been for a relatively simple scene.

Jan 5, 2008


Another prop for the short film:

Some sort of futuristic PDA but roughly the size of an A4 paper. Why gadgets like this grow bigger instead of smaller? so that you can touch the screen with your finger instead of poking it with a bloody stylus!

Geeky details:

You might not see it here but the screen is actually transparent, the user can look through to the other side when using it. I designed it so:

- The device can interface with it's environment or other electronic systems when the user holds it up and "look" at the subject through this device. Imagine looking through the screen and snapping a picture, the picture will be captured just the way you saw it through the screen.

- The user can hold it up and read sms'es while driving. (not advisable)

Jan 4, 2008

Bread maker

One of the props for my "planned" short film.

What is this?
A thermo nuclear explosive device. Or a metallic banana.

What does it do?
It blows up and sometimes vaporizes people.

Is this an accessory to your darkest fantasy?
No. If it is, it would be a Cougar with my high school computer class teacher's limb in it's jaws. Did I say that out loud?

Jan 3, 2008

Street Fighter IV

I was never a fan of fighting games, but this one got my attention.

I'm really digging the shading style employed in this game. Basically it's 3D fighting game (what isn't 3d nowadays...), but it retains the hand-painted look of the original games instead of just the oh-so overused normal-map shading .

Kudos to the look-dev department for coming up with such a unique style that, IMHO, set it apart from other fighting games in the market.

Download the gameplay video here

Jan 2, 2008

Happy 2008 !

Here's something for my geek readers to reminisce about

Have a good one this new year!