Saturday, March 31, 2007
I was working super hard today because I wanted to go out to another VOC party tonight, and that was pretty fun. We went for about 3 hours or so, and it was great. The people had an amazing software DJ program running on the computer downstairs and it was connected to a nice speaker system. Pretty cool stuff!! The program was called Virtual DJ, this looks like the website, http://www.virtualdj.com, it was totally awesome!!
The party was fun and good to see some more of those cool VOC people. Tomorrow I gotta go hang out with them for a bit and then off to the mall to get my tax forms back from H&R Block (because they can't do them for me, see previous post for my rant about how this was a pain to deal with) then my roommate Yung has a choir recital/concert I am going to check out with my other roommate Nick. Good times. Looks like I'll have to do my own taxes tomorrow night, so I gotta get onto that asap.
I just found out that someone online posted pics of Nintendo Wii characters called "Miis", based on characters from The Office. This was so cool that I figured I'd better post them.
UI Crane Assignment
Crane rotated with one of the sections selected
Haha, a Dwight Mii from The Office!!
Jim from The Office, hilarious
Friday, March 30, 2007
Whew. So what a schlep that was. Anyway I gotta go grab those tax forms now, probably have to take the bus over to the mall this weekend and pick them up. It's a bit of a pain but anyway, I guess I'll just bite the bullet and do them myself. I gotta get onto it though because taxes are actually due pretty soon. I'd better do them this weekend.
UI has one more assignment which is actually pretty awesome. It has to do with applying Affine Transformations along a hierarchy (sounds familiar, yep just like Graphics A3) but it's pretty straightforward and really fun too. I started today and in 3 hours I've done a good 2/3 of the assignment I think. Just need to sort out some details tomorrow and I should be rockin' and rollin'.
Tonight Joel invited us all to Morty's for some food and a nice little party. Lots of people said they were coming on the Facebook invite, but we still got a good 30 or so people there. It was great. Eventually we got downstairs to the pool table area which was sweeeeet.
I was working like a fiend today on UI because I want to party with VOC people tomorrow night, they are really awesome as always, I love the fellow Frosh Leaders and this is one of the last times we'll all get to hang out so I want to make sure I get my homework done this weekend.
In other news, it's Pesach (Passover) this coming week. the Jewish holiday where we don't eat "leavened" food for 8 days to commemorate the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. There is a big meal called a Seder next week so we're heading to a nice family in Kitchener who are going to hook up the hungry students with a legendary awesome meal. This is going to rooock.
You know what's crazy? I can't find Matzah here in Waterloo that is Kosher for Passover (i..e made in the current year so it hasn't risen so you can eat it during Passover), but almost every grocery store has a Kosher section in it which sells Matzah which is "not for Passover"?!?!! Haha that is hilarious. I can't say I know anyone who wants to eat Matzah outside of Passover, I think the point is that it's kindof dry and it's generally supposed to be an exercise in self-control: by living without certain things for a week, you come to realize their importance and how much you appreciate them in your life. I think you'd have to really want to prove this to yourself if you ate Matzah even when you weren't supposed to!! :) Seems crazy I reckon!! But, on the other hand... Matzah ball soup?!! This is a completely different story. Any day, any time. Hook it up!!!! That stuff ROCKS.
Ok well it's getting late so I better get to bed. Lots of planning yet for Europe. I gotta decide when I am going to Paris and where I am going to stay. There is so much going on still at school that I've hardly had time to think about it. It's a bit nuts but I guess eventually I'll get it all sorted out.
Alrighty time for bed. Watch out for a mikejutan.com update in the next little while. Not too huge, but I've got a couple things I want to change around on there.
The impact of 3D animation software on modern filmmaking
Written by: Mike Jutan
The majority of people would agree that computers have revolutionized the practical technologies that we use in our day-to-day lives. Telephones, microwaves, and even coffee makers now use computer technology in some form or another. The effect of computerization on practical, everyday technologies is perhaps a clear expectation, but it is somewhat unexpected that the arts have also been so heavily impacted by computer technology. The area of animated filmmaking and visual storytelling through the medium of computer animation and visual effects is an incredibly exciting area of computer science and has numerous ties to the development of software solutions for 3D graphics. The multi-billion dollar entertainment and storytelling industry is expanding as 3D animation software becomes more accessible to small animation studios, and, along with large animation studios and visual effects studios, the boundaries of computer graphics and animation are being constantly pushed forward.
To describe computer animation software, first the idea of animation and entertainment itself must be discussed. Animation is, first and foremost, the art of storytelling. Animation acts as an inspiration for millions of people from around the world. To quote myself, from the Intern (Co-op) experiences page on the Pixar Animation Studios job site:
“One day, we had lunch with Ed Catmull, the President and Co-Founder of Pixar. He told us that we are and always will be a storytelling company. Our job is to make timeless stories that inspire people, make them cry and make them laugh. We are not here to just make a quick buck… [Pixar] is much more than just a cool place to work. It is a place where you can live out your childhood dreams of storytelling and filmmaking, and know that your hard work is inspiring people of all ages, all over the world.”
Modern animation has existed for over one hundred years, and is not limited by the methods of computer animation. Computers act as a means for artists to develop creative ideas though a medium that is currently popular with the mass market. Computers are therefore simply a tool for artists to use to inspire audiences. This essay outlines the technology behind animated storytelling, and clarifies some of the technological aspects of 3D animation software on the market today. This essay also discusses the impact that this software technology (and thus computer animation) has had on society, and includes both positive and negative consequences of the development of 3D animation software. Finally, this essay makes some predictions on how industry professionals can make the best use of this technology in the years to come.
Pencil, paintings, charcoal sketches, pastel drawings and initial 2D Photoshop computer graphics are many styles of concept art that are created well before a computer animated feature-film is translated into 3 dimensions. Pencil sketches are scanned into Adobe Photoshop™, a 2D computer graphics manipulation program, and layers are added, blended, removed, and tweaked until a desired artistic look is acquired. Storyboards, along with low-resolution 3D characters and environments, are created early in the idea generation process so that potential problems and design possibilities can be ironed out. Pixar’s motto “Story is King” is followed as the artists and writers work very closely with each other. These two teams propose ideas to the director and combine their visions of comedy and cinematography into a single unit, well before the animation is created. John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of Disney Feature Animation and Pixar Animation Studios, who also acted as the Executive Producer for Finding Nemo says, “At Pixar, we’re not digital purists.” The final movie will be computer generated, but concept art and storyboards begin with limitless blue sky, and the quickest route to an idea is still humble pencil and paper. He continues, “The art challenges technology and the technology inspires the art. It’s this wonderful yin and yang.”
Once a story has been ironed out, scene details have been discussed, and characters and sets have been designed, the 3D portion of the animated film process can begin. Typically, this requires the use of a 3D Animation software product, such as: Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3Ds Max, Avid Softimage XSI, Side Effects Software Houdini, and more. Sets and characters are modeled (sculpted) in a 3D modeling environment, using techniques borrowed from the Fine Arts discipline. After 3D models have been digitally sculpted, textures and shaders are applied to the model to increase realism and believability. Shaders are often procedurally generated through a scripting language such as the RenderMan Shading Language (RSL). The shaders define the surface material of an object, and how the properties of this surface material change with modifications to the view, or camera eyepoint. Some shader types, such as metal materials, are view dependant. This means that when viewing a view dependant surface, the resultant colour or material properties will be different depending on the location of the camera. Once the 3D object has been modeled and shaded, it can be rigged. Rigging is a process in which an underlying skeleton of bone structure is attached to a 3D object, so that animation applied to an underlying skeleton structure is translated effectively to its parent object. This ensures that muscles and facial features react to the movement of the character’s skeleton. After rigging, animation occurs. Animation is the process of keyframing and tweening. Keyframing is reasonably self explanatory – the process requires the animator to set the key frames of the scene. These poses are set at effective moments along a virtual timeline. After keys are set, tweening (or “in-betweening”) occurs. In the past, this was a painstaking process that was usually carried out by interns or less-experienced animators. Nowadays this process has been somewhat automated, and can be accomplished by interpolation between animation data points, and the manipulation of animation spline curves. After animation, particle effects are added along with hair and cloth simulation, special effects (eg. explosions, snow, rain) and lighting. At the end of this process, the final set of images are rendered. These images are played together in sequence at a rate of 24 frames per second to create the final animated film.
Further advancements in computer hardware technology have fueled the development of computer animation software. The consistent decline in hardware prices over the years, coupled with a consistent increase in computational power has allowed for rapid improvements to animation software technologies. One benefit of the wider accessibility of animation software has been the expansion of operations in smaller, Canadian-based animation studios. Smaller production companies now exist with the goal of creating special effects for films or advertising, along with short-length or feature-length computer animated films. Locally, these companies include Toronto-based Topix (http://www.topix.com), Toybox (http://www.compt.com/), DKP Effects, now Starz Animation (http://www.dkp.com), and CORE Digital Pictures (http://www.coredp.com). Recently, The Wild, the first Canadian feature animation was created by CORE Feature Animation, and was released and marketed through Disney Pictures.
There are usually both social advantages and disadvantages caused by the adoption of new technologies, and this is certainly the case for 3D animation software. The field of animation has benefited from the recent surge in 3D animated films, and the technological push to create these films and improve upon existing software solutions. In 2001, the
“Unfortunately, these systems [Computer Animation tools] will also enable people to produce more bad computer animation. Much of this bad animation will be due to unfamiliarity with the fundamental principles that have been used for hand drawn character animation for over 50 years. Understanding these principles of traditional animation is essential to producing good computer animation.” 
Another negative response to the increasing public interest in 3D animation was that some studios, such as Disney, decided that they thought the public was no longer interested in 2D Animation. The result was the closing of Disney’s 2D Animation unit, starting with layoffs in 2000. The idea that 2D animation is an old technology and the public now enjoys only 3D films and is thus no longer interested in 2D films is simply incorrect. With the recent purchase of Pixar by Disney, John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, the former heads of Pixar, are now in charge of animation at both the Disney Feature Animation studio and Pixar Animation Studios. One of the first announcements that John Lasseter made was that Disney would be re-hiring those traditional animators who had been previously fired, and that Disney would start producing hand-drawn animated films again. He said that recent 2D animated films have been unsuccessful because they lack the kind of stories that exist in classic Disney films such as Snow White, Bambi and The Lion King. The negative impact that 3D animated films had on the 2D animation industry is slowly being reversed. Disney plans to release The Frog Princess, a 2D animated feature film in 2009, marking its first foray into traditional hand-drawn animation in 5 years.
The future of 3D animation is extremely bright. Areas such as AI will continue to benefit computer graphics as crowd simulations become more common and software such as Massive is used by more studios to create crowd effects. There is an ongoing precedent set for technical innovation shown by companies such as Pixar and Dreamworks. Personally, I believe that we will see two major schools of animation in the future, each taking advantage of different areas of the software and hardware technology. The first will be a continuation in striving for realism at studios like Pixar. These studios will continue to push the technical envelope, and incorporate more and more complex effects into their films, with the ultimate goal of inspiring the audience and producing effects that are innovative and original. The other school of animation I believe will stem out of the ever-expanding real-time gaming industry. The line between films and computer games is growing closer by the day, and the distinction between these two technologies is becoming blurrier. I think that some studios will be drawn into the immediacy of real-time animation, and once this technology becomes closer to rendered animation in terms of quality, this style of animation will be adopted by smaller studios that do not necessarily require precise, physically correct simulations in their films.
To summarize, the effect of 3D animation software on the animated film industry is astronomical. 3D modeling, shading, rigging, animation, lighting, effects and rendering tools are necessary pieces of the 3D animation process. Due to the success of 3D animated films, studios such as Disney shortsightedly closed down 2D animation production when they incorrectly assumed that audiences no longer were interested in 2D films. Fortunately, this trend is reversing itself, and 2D films are beginning to re-gain some popularity. The important fact for consumers to remember is that animated films are good if they have a good story, and the medium (2D vs 3D) has very little to do with the enjoyment the customer can expect to have from the film. The future of the animation industry is exciting and full of many possibilities and interesting areas for research. Toy Story, the first feature-length computer animated film was released in 1995. Twelve years later, over 34 major feature-length animated films have been produced in the
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007
So that is totally nuts. Today I finally submitted my US taxes to H&R Block so hopefully I get those back soon enough and I can get my (hopefully) massive refund which will be great and helpful for my Europe trip. Sweet deals!!
More importantly, I found out that the Cannes Film Festival is happening in Cannes, France while I am there. It's a bit far from where I was planning to be at that time, since I thought I might spend some more time in Normandy, Burgundy etc before going down to South-West France where Cannes is. But... I can always backtrack as necessary and this seems pretty ammmaaaziiing. I gotta find out if I am actually able to go as I need to be accredited as an "Industry Professional" first... as long as that is possible I think I can probably move around my schedule based on the festival... insane!!!!!!!!!! It's kindof expensive for the ticket (299 Euros) but if I have the chance to go, it would be pretty nuts not to. Also this gives you access to all the screenings and 2 galas per night for the 10 days of the festival. Insane!! Well I am going to read a bit more about it first, but this certainly sounds coooool.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Mike and Sulley Cars toys
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
Man... what a crazy day!!
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I was surprised that in fact there are only 12 episodes total of the entire show. They have impressively told the whole story in much less time than the American version. It's way more depressing and serious than the American version, but of course the American version is still going and is already at around 45 episodes so it has a more in-depth flavour. You also get to know the secondary and tertiary characters a lot better in the American version rather than just the main four characters as in the UK version.
The UK one is hilarious as well, but it is definitely harder to understand than the US one for North American audiences I think. It's really funny but there are lots of little British phrases that I usually miss on the first "go" and if I rewind and watch a part again I still don't know what they are talking about. Still really funny though.
So yes, Matt, I'm pulling the classic Mike Jutan style, and staying up until 4:12am watching The Office... seems necessary!! Good times. I love this show. I might start watching Entourage now too if I have a chance, I also want to start watching Curb Your Enthusiasm and Extras (the new Ricky Gervais show) but I don't have a lot of time at the moment for more TV. When I have a chance I'd definitely like to check those shows out.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Good times. My Mom just sent me a few photos so here they are! As expected my Mom brought lots of ILM-related stuff for my congratulatory breakfast (pirate hat for Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter plates, Yoda napkins, all the fixins.) Haha my family rocks.
Me and Ben, my sister's new cat
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Tonight we went to see 300 and maaaaan it was intense. The backgrounds and sets are just fantastic. I really liked the slow-motion camera work too, they used it quite well and it looked pretty intense.
I got most of the things done that I wanted to do this weekend, but I guess I still need to do my taxes. I should be getting some US moolah back which is fantastic, and I am going to spend it all in Europe this summer. Soooooo excited for that. I gotta keep going on the trip plans too. But anyway lots going on. I see that the new Ninja Turtles movie is coming out soon... I wonder if that is going to rock??!
The enduring nature of Jewish identity in Nazi Germany
The history of the Jewish people is fraught with slavery, racial hatred and intolerance. There have been many accounts of the persecution of Jews – the Exodus from
This essay will outline the intentions of Jewish educators to maintain, within their pupils, a strong bond with Judaism. Both elementary school and adult education curriculum will be discussed, and related back to the theme of the enduring Jewish identity. Some of the Nazi laws against Jews will be outlined, and the resilient response from some Jewish communities in
Jewish public elementary schools in pre-WWII
Jewish adult education facilities also were aware of the growing problems for the Jewish people and sought to ensure that the Jewish community bound themselves together and helped each other through tough times. The Study Institute for Jewish Adult Education noticed a significant increase in participation from the community, and thus was aware of the growing necessity for Jewish brotherhood and sisterhood. “For those with an acute ear, the Study Institute always served as an indicator of the level of spiritual problems of the Jewish intellectual…” Also, these education facilities strived to maintain a sense of shared Jewish heritage and common purpose amongst the community, with the purposes of ensuring the survival of the Jewish religion. As Martin Buber stated, “The issue is no longer equipment with knowledge, but mobilization for existence.”  The importance of keeping the bonds strong between the community and their shared Jewish heritage is explained quite eloquently by Martin Buber, who describes this connection as “the spark.”
“Persons, Jewish persons, are to be formed, persons who will not only ‘hold out’ but will uphold some substance in life; who will have not only morale, but moral strength, and so will be able to pass on moral strength to others; persons who live in such a way that the spark will not die. Because our concern is for the spark, we work for ‘education.’ What we seek to do through the educating of individuals is the building of a community that will stand firm, that will prevail, that will preserve the spark…”
As the years progressed, the political aggression against the Jews increased. On
In spite of the relentless Anti-Semitism of the Nazi party and the increasing laws against the Jews, the powerful bond to Judaism in some Jewish communities increased in its resilience. As the Proclamation by the Central Committee of German Jews for Relief and Reconstruction stated, “There is great distress in German Jewry… The purpose of a community reveals itself in times of trouble… In times of distress the community must grow anew, gain life and existence. It is from the community that the individual must draw the strength to live and be active.”  The Jewish people in these communities were strongly encouraged to band together, and to respect their fellow Jews who were even less fortunate than themselves. The need for charity from those fortunate enough to still have jobs was explained, and those in the community who were more fortunate were asked to support those in the community who were not. The emphasis for direct action from the community was clear. “We must not be the cause of making one of our own people lose his job or his bread!”  It was also implied that emigrating from
The ongoing optimism and underlying strength of the Jewish people is stated in a powerful, yet unexpected manner in the article Wear it with pride, the yellow badge. This article displays another example of the drive to keep the flame of Judaism alive, and the brave political defiance of the Jewish people. In this article, Robert Weltsch states that the Jews must come to terms with the reality of the political climate. “We live in a new period, the national revolution of the German people is a signal that is visible from afar, indicating that the world of our previous concepts has collapsed… in this world only those will be able to survive who are able to look reality in the eye.”  The Anti-Jewish boycott of
The final article that will be discussed in relation to the theme of the enduring Jewish identity, is a prayer composed by Rabbi Leo Baeck for all Jewish communities in
“We shall examine our ways before Him. We shall examine what we have done and what we have failed to do… We stand before our G-d and with the same courage with which we have acknowledged our sins, the sins of the individual and the sins of the community, shall we express our abhorrence of the lie directed against us, and the slander of our faith and its expressions.” 
“We believe in our faith and our future,”  continues Rabbi Leo Baeck in his Yom Kippur sermon. As explained in the thesis of this essay, the history of the Jewish people is fraught with many accounts of persecution. This history is taught to schoolchildren and to adults, in the hopes that these Jewish people will band together as a community and uphold the pillars of their faith. The mentality of enduring hard times, in spite of all odds, is visible in the subtext of Rabbi Leo Baeck’s sermon. There is a clear hope expressed for the resilience of the Jewish religion and identity. The painful memories of Jewish ancestors are indirectly referenced, and thus the plight of the Jews in the past is used as a ray of hope for the Jews receiving this sermon.
“We stand before our G-d: Our strength is in Him. In Him is the truth and the dignity of our history; In Him is the source of our survival through every change, our firm stand in all our trials. Our history is the history of spiritual greatness, spiritual dignity. We turn to it when attack and insult are directed against us, when need and suffering press in upon us. The Lord led our fathers from generation to generation. He will continue to lead us and our children through our days.” 
The strength and resilience of the Jewish people and the Jewish identity was again threatened and tested to the utmost of its limits during the Holocaust. Once again, the Jewish people have used their commitment to each other, and their undying optimism and determination to survive, against all odds.
C.V.-Zeitung. (1933). Proclamation by the Central Committee of German Jews for relief and reconstruction. In Yitzhak
C.V.-Zeitung. (1933). The position of German Jews, as seen by Alfred Wiener, of the leadership of the Centralverein. In Yitzhak
First Circular Letter of the Center for Jewish Adult Education. (1934). Martin Buber on the tasks of the Center for Jewish Adult Education. In Yitzhak
Jüdische Rundschau. (1933). “Wear it with pride, the yellow badge” Article by Robert Weltsch. In Yitzhak
Reichsgesetzblatt. (1935). First regulation to the Reich Citizenship law
Report of the Central Committee of German Jews for Relief and Reconstruction. (1934). Instructions for Jewish Public Elementary Schools, January 1934. In Yitzhak
The Attorney-General of the Government of
Völkischer Beobachter. (1933). Organization of the Anti-Jewish boycott of
 From the author’s [Mike Jutan] personal experience with Jewish culture and history, through teachings from
Rabbis, family and friends.
(University of Nebraska Press, 1999), p. 65.
(University of Nebraska Press, 1999), pp. 65-66.
(University of Nebraska Press, 1999), p. 66.
(University of Nebraska Press, 1999), p. 52.
(University of Nebraska Press, 1999), p. 51.
 Ibid., pp. 51-52.
Instructions given by the National-Socialist party (University of Nebraska Press, 1999), p. 32.
(University of Nebraska Press, 1999), p. 80.
leadership of the Centralverein (University of Nebraska Press, 1999), p. 50.
 Ibid., p. 50.
and Reconstruction (University of Nebraska Press, 1999), pp. 47-48.
and reconstruction (University of Nebraska Press, 1999), p. 49.
 Ibid., pp. 49-50.
 Ibid., p. 50.
(University of Nebraska Press, 1999), p. 45.
(University of Nebraska Press, 1999), p. 45.
 Ibid., pp. 45-46.
 Ibid., pp. 46-47.
 Ibid., p. 87.