Friday, July 29, 2005

Nemo, Siggraph, Pixar Booth... and life

I haven't blogged just for the sake of it for a while so I thought it was about time.
Tonight my roommates and I watched Finding Nemo and were once again blown away by just how absolutely gorgeous it is. I haven't seen it in a while and I forgot really how amazing it is. The little specks floating in the water, the rays of light, and the bright colours and glowing fish are just amazing. The story is SO solid too, the painful opening to the movie and the almost instant development of the story's amazing characters... it's a wild ride. I love it.

I have been going on a book-buying spree for quite a while. Today one of my new books arrived called "Digital Domain - The Leading Edge of Special Effects" - I saw it in Toronto for like $65 but I got it here on (Ebay owns and shipping is really cheap to the States) and it was $10 including shipping. Amazing. Digital Domain does Live-Action special effects shots, and did some stuff in X-Men, Fifth Element, Apollo 13, Fight Club and some more. It's a pretty sweet book showing a bunch of details about how Digital Domain does compositing and camera work etc. I don't know much about the camera work required for these kinds of films, and the pictures and renders are really sweet so it'll be interesting to learn something new.

My buddy Alex Finlayson from high school (he works at Alias now in Canada) is coming down to San Francisco tomorrow night to hang out for the weekend and then we head to Siggraph. I am pretty excited about Siggraph because this will be the first one I have been to, and it is probably one of the most important (and awesome) Computer Graphics Conferences of the year. It is in LA, so Alex and I are going to check out Berkeley, hopefully hang out with some of Salim's friends from EA in Redwood City and just enjoy San Francisco and the area for a few days. Then we are flying to LA and staying at a really fancy hotel ($120 US per night, crazy!!) That'll be super fun. We are just there for 2 nights and hopefully we'll get to enjoy LA as well as Siggraph.

I can't believe the people that are going to be at Siggraph, there is a Star Wars Retrospective talk, and Dennis Muren from ILM is talking, man for me that is even better than seeing a movie star, so cool... I've seen a bazillion interviews of him talking about sweet effects in Star Wars and the progression of effects since the "early days" - I love how the "early days" in effects is like 30 years ago. Hehe awesome.

Apparantely Jim Blinn usually shows up, and that is pretty nuts. Jim Blinn, as Wikipedia explains is a "graphics pioneer" and I saw a quote about him: "There are about a dozen great computer graphics people, and Jim Blinn is six of them." Taylor (one of the other guys at Pixar) said he got to meet him briefly last year at Siggraph. That is NUTS dude. Wow. For the past few years, every August I think how cool it would be to go to Siggraph and I never go because it is a far trip from Canada. But now that I am here I am definitely looking forward to it.

Ok let's see what else is new...

Talking about Siggraph (for a change, hehe), anyone who is there please come visit me. :) I will be at the Pixar booth from 9:30am-Noon on Tuesday, August 2nd. If you come and say Hi, I'll see if I can get you one of the Pixar Renderman teapots. Cool.

Anyway long post today but just wanted to talk about what has been going on lately. Busy times at work but very enjoyable. I have finally stopped making excuses about working out and I am now going every single day (most weekends too) and doing the Elliptical machine for cardio and weight loss and weight lifting every 2nd day. This is coupled with a way-reduced food intake (usually I am an eating machine and I have cut back a lot, hehe) so finally I think I am getting rid of some of the, uh, well-upholstered-ness. Probably a very healthy choice. Lots of green tea at work, and lots of granola cereal and healthy food. The States is awesome in regards to Iced Tea I think, all of their Iced Tea has no sugar by default here, that sure is, uh, "sweet." (or perhaps not?) Yeah I am psyched about that because rather than drinking Pop (aka "Soda") at work, I can opt for Iced Tea that is truly just cold tea. It's great. So healthy times in the exercise and eating departments, which is always good.

I am both nervous and excited for school in the Fall, I am sure it'll be fun as usual but work is always way more fun and less stressful. I have some interesting classes the Fall, including a class on Jewish Mysticism and a Fine Arts 3D Modeling and Animation class which will be absolutely awesome. I am considering being a TA for the Math Faculty too but I am not sure if I will or not. I get a letter every year (but lots of people get them) and I am not sure if I have the time, but I might do it anyway. If I can TA something that I am good at like Stats, that would be good because I will be able to answer questions naturally. I think probably I should opt out of TA-ing if they want me to do TA-ing for Combinatorics (aka hardest course ever made) hehe.

I am sure I will take lots of photos at Siggraph and in LA next week. Taylor is going to have his car there and we might go to Santa Monica beach and hang out there for a bit. We were talking about going surfing, so if we have a chance we might do that too, or just go to the beach. SideFX software (makers of Houdini) are having a party at Siggraph one of the evenings and I hear it rocks, so hopefully we can go to that. Unfortunately I am missing the Alias party and the AGUA (Alias Global User's Association) event, but I am sure I will be seeing lots of the Alias crew there anyway.

It sure is hard to be away from home for this long. It's super amazing here but I am also definitely looking forward to seeing everyone when I get home too. I think at some point I need to just go home to London and relax for a while. I always rush 4 months back and forth to work and school and never really have a moment's rest, ah thus is the life of a Waterloo Computer Science student. I get home at the end of August and 2 days later I am moving to my new apartment in Waterloo, and seeing my parents and another day or two after that, I start Frosh Leading again. I am going to be a group leader for first-year students at Waterloo again in September and it's always a lot of fun to help the new set of Waterloo people get a great first impression of their new home. I loved Frosh week when I was in 1st year so it's always fun to re-live the good times.

Well I think that's enough writing for a while, I've been typing for like 40 minutes. :) Anyway I better get some sleep cause tomorrow will be a busy day, I am working extra hard this week because I am taking some time off next week for Siggraph.

I hope everyone is well and happy.

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