Friday, February 29, 2008

3D Software Maya turns 10 today!

As per Cory Mogk's Maya blog, the glorious 3D Animation software Maya by Alias Research Inc, then Alias|Wavefront, then Alias, then Autodesk... turns 10 years old today!!!!!!

Maya of course being the awesome software that I worked on when I was at Alias, then programmed for at Pixar, and now program for at ILM. Man it is awesome. And for such a legendary and important software product to the entire 3D industry, it's pretty insane that it's ONLY 10 years old. And even Maya version 1.0 here in this image from Cory's blog is running on an IRIX operating system. Well before the major switch to Linux and Windows... so crazy.

Maya Version 1.0 on IRIX!!

That is sooooooooooo awesome.

Bill Gates visits Waterloo Campus

Bill Gates visited Waterloo's Campus last week! Again, it was his only Canadian stop on this college tour. Awesome.

Bill Gates rockin' a Waterloo sweatshirt!
Pretty awesome stuff.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Amazing article on Ray Harryhausen, master of stop-motion animation

This article on Ray Harryhausen is REALLY awesome, and talks a lot about the legends at ILM and the inspiration they got from Harryhausen's movies. Amazing.

Busy week!

This week is nuts!!

Work has been super awesome and very busy this week with some new work and collaborations that our team is doing. Pretty awesome stuff.

Also the start of the week was crazy with the news that I've now worked on a freakin' OSCAR WINNING FILM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahh I still can't believe it, that is sooooooooooooooo awesome!!

I've been watching the political debates a lot, and the last one in Austin, Texas was one of the best so far. Obama is on the ball, what a legend. The tables are really starting to turn, and I think we're going to be sitting pretty if Hillary loses again in the upcoming few states.

This weekend I am planning on sorting out my taxes if my form from Waterloo ever arrives, and also trying to take my bike in to get a new non-racing style headset for it. Maybe I'll head downtown for some ferry bldg, I haven't been there in quite a while. Or maybe go biking with Matt Parrott. Or maybe just stay home and continue sorting out my stuff in my apartment. Lots of fun possibilities. I should also finally buy a dustbuster or a vacuum.

Anyway last weekend was great cause the party was awesome, and it forced me to clean my apartment like crazy. So at least that is done for a while, and on the weekend I can focus on the boxes again. I'd really like to get my toys out of there and get them to my desk at work so they aren't taking up so much space in my apartment. :)

In the last 2 minutes I just ordered a Wired Magazine subscription! Check this out... for a year subscription... it is usually $10 on Amazon, and there was a special this month... $5?!?!?!?! For a year?!?!?! Ridiculous. These magazines are usually like $6 each. Amazing. I love the USA version of Amazon. :)

Anyway it's like 3am again. I've been going to bed too late this week, there is too much going on and I am staying up way too late to try to do it all. Oh well. I am going to have a pretty chill weekend though, so it's all good. I kinda want to see the new Michel Gondry movie, "Be Kind Rewind", it looks hilarious.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ratatouille wins the OSCAR for Best Animated Feature Film!!

Man, the Oscars tonight were AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is the first time ever that there has been a movie in the Oscars that I've worked on and been credited on... in fact it was my first credit ever!!!!!! And it WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What an awessssssssome recognition of Brad Bird's totally brilliant filmmaking and storytelling. The story work of Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava and Jim Capobiano was just so fantastic, the story was so strong and powerful and inspiring... and I think it really shows how an animated film can talk to people of any age. So so so so awesome.

Congratulations to all my friends at Pixar and everyone who worked on Ratatouille. It was such an amazing experience to be part of such a cute film that has inspired people all over the world.

Good work everyone, and might I say... well deserved.

Cheers to the power of a good story and the passion and drive of 1000 talented computer scientists and artists to make that dream a reality. Wahhhhhhhhhooooooooo!!!

Jason Reitman - what a mensch!!

This guy is awesome. Just for this great attitude on life (and of course, you know, making such an awesome movie)... I think he should get best director at the Oscars tonight. :)

Check this article out. Awesome. I love his response to the question, and I feel like this dude has the same outlook on life as I do... Jason Reitman was born in Canada to immigrant Jewish parents... sound familiar? :)

LOS ANGELES -- Jason Reitman says his dad, filmmaker Ivan Reitman of Ghostbusters fame, is not the jealous type. Montreal-born Reitman has an Oscar nom as best director for Juno, which is also up for best picture. Dad has never been nominated.

"I don't think my dad is jealous at all," Jason Reitman tells Sun Media. "My father's over the moon for me. And my father recognizes how hard it is to be recognized for a comedy." Reitman senior has been married to Quebec actress Genevieve Robert since 1976. They have three children, including Jason. Both his sisters have acted. "My parents made me who I am," Jason says. "I wouldn't know anything about storytelling, I wouldn't know anything about family, I wouldn't be the man I am, if it wasn't for them. So this is as much their nomination as it is mine."
What a mensch.

Housewarming Party #2: ILM Edition

Last night was my Housewarming Party #2: ILM Edition!! It was awesome!! It was really fun and about 20 people showed up which was great. I learned some pretty useful stuff at the last housewarming party like the need for ice, a plastic bucket for drinks, soft drinks and bread. The party was a lot better organized than my first party, people brought lots of wine and Cary brought me a plant for my apartment!! Awesome. We had lots of different kinds of cheese here and some more tasty food. It was a great time and at the end of the night, almost everyone was gone and then Frank stayed here for a couple more hours so we could chill and watch Indiana Jones. Good times!!

The late night grocery shopping

Trying to move all my stuff into the closet

Nice clean main apartment room

Beer and wine

Cheese!! Gruyere, Cheese Ball, Brie, Smoked Gouda, Muenster

Limes and drinks

Clementines, grapes, crackers, carrots, cookies, chips, sourdough bread, baguettes, and cheese

Mmm... cheese


Matt and Ian

Matt workin' the Jutan-style pose

Rachel, Yisheng and Jianmin

Haha great picture

Stephane, Katherine, Jess and Josh

Matt and Ian

Workin' it

Some heavy political conversation?! :)

The "main room" crew

Me and the famed Mr. Matthew Atabet Parrott

The smart people chillin' around the food table

Vivek, and I think that's John back there

Jacob making "Bananas Foster", this fancy butter, sugar, banana, rum mix that you light on fire?!!!

Matt, Jianmin and Cary banana fostering

Cary (and the house plant in the background!)

Jacob and Kat enjoying the fruits of Jacob's cooking effort

Sweet unhealthy tastiness

Zazengo - a Social Action profile

This is really cool. Yesterday I had coffee with Vicki Saunders, who I worked for about 11 years ago at KidsNRG/The NRG Group in Toronto! Pretty awesome stuff!! So Vicki and Richard now live in Santa Cruz, California and Vicki was up in San Francisco at a conference so she came by my area to visit. It was great to chat with her and catch up after quite some time, and it was really fun to tell her about my work history since she knew me when I had a plan for my University and where I wanted to work, but well before I even got into Waterloo. Good times!!

So Vicki is now CEO of a new startup called Zazengo. It's really cool, a sort of Social Action profile for yourself to track your effect on the community. Great idea and the Beta site looks great already. Check it out!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Late night grocery shopping

So it's 11:10pm, but I need to grocery shop for my party tomorrow night and I need a car since I'm buying a ton of heavy stuff like cans and bottles of drinks and so on. So... hook up the ZipCar action. Thankfully it's also ridiculously cheap after 12 so it's like $4 an hour. It's gonna cost about $9 to rent the car for an hour and a half like right now. Awesome.

I just got home, but off I go again for a bit of the 'ol late night grocery shopping. Thank goodness for 24 hour grocery stores. :)

Lots of fun old stuff

Tonight was great, spend hours sorting out some more boxes and old childhood stuff in my apartment. I am having some friends over from work this weekend and so I want to make the place decent before they get here. That means sorting out at least the boxes that are still on my floor. :)

Anyway, found some great stuff. High school newspapers, hilarious excited notes from when I met my first girlfriend when I lived in Oxford, England... haha, so funny. It was great to sort though all this stuff and I threw out a ton of stuff but it's nice to just keep the stuff that is still meaningful (and not every movie ticket to every movie I went to in 1994) :)

I even found the movie ticket to the movie I went to on my first real date ever with Monica Owens in 1994... to (wait for it)... the BRADY BUNCH MOVIE. Haha! I remember I wanted to be all macho and take her to see the Will Smith movie "Bad Boys" but you had to be over 14 to go to it in England, and we were both 12. Haha, how funny. I also found a note in some diary talking about that, saying it was my first date ever and "it was great - movie was crap". Well said, 12-year-old Jutan.

Central Secondary School Jazz Band hats

Hilarious Saxophone-related puns

A "Raider" choclate bar wrapper from Norway... like a Norwegian Twix!

Ohhhhhhhh man this stuff was good, Milk Chocolate from Norway

Prices at McDonalds in Norway... in 1997 (listed in Norwegian Kroner)

Some take 1 board from a cheese company

Ontario Science Centre make your own paper

Random cool tickets from Broadway shows in London, England

The movie stub from my first date ever

Beavers Canada pencil

Tickets from Conan O'Brien in New York City and Broadway shows we went to on a school trip

Playbills from the shows I went to in New York City

AMAZING!!!!!!! Sherwood Forest Public School Canadian dollar and "House Points"

Random picture of me in a Hummer??

And another random picture of me in a Hummer?!?!

Star Wars Episode 1 ticket stubs

The progress so far

Thursday, February 21, 2008

GDC 2008

Today I went to the Game Developers Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It was awesome!! I started off the morning pretty early, heading down to the Moscone Center around 8, and I got there just before 9am. I headed to a lecture that I could attend on my Expo Pass, but it was canceled so they told us we could go to anything. I ended up going to a lecture called "Master Metrics: The science behind the art of game design."
Master Metrics: The Science behind the Art of Game Design
Speaker: Chris Swain (Professor, University of Southern California), E. Daniel Arey (Chief Creative Officer, VisionArey Entertainment)
Date/Time: Wednesday (February 20, 2008) 9:00am — 10:00am
Location (room): Room 2001, West Hall
Track: Game Design
Experience Level: All

Session Description
With the dramatic increase in game complexity, production costs, and team size in recent years, teams and team leaders are more than ever in need of valuable and repeatable development processes, tools, and metrics to create, define, manage, and measure the vast number of play elements that make up a hit game title. But up until now, many of the development processes used by some of the best game developers have been either obscure, unknown, or undefined as an unknowable soft science behind the "creative process." We believe these processes can in fact be defined and learned, and that there are patterns and approaches to game development that dramatically increase the chances of a game's success. This talk is designed to compile and share with the audience the "best practices" of some of the industry's best practitioners. Under the auspices of the University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts, Interactive Media Division, we have asked some of the top Game Designers and Producers across the game business to share their techniques on how they define and measure that elusive thing called "play" and how others can benefit from their approaches and tools to make better games. Compiling these best practices to game development, and by defining how they can positively impact game production, we will present these tools and techniques to the audience and GDC body. We at USC feel this type of cross-pollenization is vital for the whole industry to grow and mature, and to reduce the wasteful process of reinventing of the wheel, as top developers share and raise the state-of-the-art for everyone.

Idea Takeaway
Audience members will receive and be instructed on between 10-15 valuable and repeatable techniques and tools as used by top game designers to develop their games, covering a wide variety of development stages, from concept inception to final play test. Each process and approach will be defined with examples to shown how they were applied to the game they were used on, and how they can be used for future development. Audience members should at the end of this talk be able to use and share these techniques and practices with their own teams, games, and companies to help them in their own development pipeline.

Intended Audience
This talk is designed for game designers and producers at all levels of ability and experience.
It was a reaaaaaaaaaally interesting and cool talk. They showed some really cool ideas like a heat map method of demonstrating which part of a game level caused most difficulty for the person playing the game. They talked about the evolution of the game controller, and a bunch of other really interesting ideas. Rachel from work randomly showed up and sat down almost right beside me!! It was really funny in a room of like 2000 people to see Rachel walk in, haha. So after that we took off to the Expo Floor and I chatted with a bunch of Autodesk people, John Yee was there, Jason Walter and a few other familiar faces. Good times!! I got a bunch of free shirts (good stuff), saw a THX 7.1 Game Surround Sound demo, saw a cool 3D scanner from Wacom and some guy modeling in Autodesk Mudbox with a Wacom tablet, pretty cool stuff. So after a bunch of walking around, it was time for a sandwich, and then time to head into work for the day. :)

Conference room

Hey, it's Rachel!!

Sony booth

Rachel and I bustin' a move on the Expo Floor

Hip hop flava meets Autodesk

Sweet Autodesk booth

This awesome 3D desk scanner from Wacom

A guy tweaking the scanned model in Autodesk Mudbox

Hey, it's the THX guy!! This used to be a costume!!

Crazy car seat controllers

This was cool, a Nintendo Wii Yoga game pad. Someone was using this controller for a Wii Sports ski jumping game too!!

Some live action mocap translated onto the screen

Blizzard booth

LucasArts booth

Sweeeeeeeeeet Maya shirt I got last night

Cool "" shirt, a company pushing for more game companies on Prince Eduard Island in Canada

Sweeeeeet Playstation shirt

Flashing THX buttons and a reaaaaaaally cool Force Unleashed Lightsaber bottle opener. :)