Christmas 2008

I will begin my account of my Christmas with the family portrait that I photographed.

Any family members who want a copy of this image can simply click through and download the full res version which I have uploaded.


Windows VS Mac

I think I am much closer to understanding the fundamental difference between working with a Mac and working with Windows.

For most things, they function in almost the same way. In most cases the differences are really only skin deep but I think I might have figured out a subtle yet fundamental design difference.

The design differences are in the taskbar, the menubars, the OSX dock. First I will describe each. In windows when you run a program, it will create itself a window with it's own menubar at the top and a button in the taskbar. When you start a program in OSX, a small light is turned on by the icon in the dock, no new button is created, a window is created, and the menubar at the top of the screen transforms into the programs menu bar. So what does this difference mean?

On a windows computer, when you open up alot of programs, you get alot of buttons on the taskbar, you get alot of windows floating around with a lot of menubars to click at. When alot of things are going on, alot of things are really apparent. In OSX when you have alot of programs going, you get a bunch of little indicator lights in the dock, alot of windows (however they cover each other), and a single menubar at the top. Things remain simpler in OSX.

What are the pros and cons of each system. I find that the clutter that is created in windows serves a purpose. If you have 10 programs open it is nearly unmanageable, and you need to close some. I think this is actually a fairly important way of telling the user that they can't run everything at the same time. All computers have a limit and shouldn't be running a ton of programs at the same time.

In OSX however, it is much easier to ignore everything else that is going on in the computer, if you do have a lot of things running, you can continue to concentrate well on the task at hand, however navigating to what you were doing before in other programs I find more difficult.

So on the windows side you might be being trained to manage your computer well, and on the apple side you are given more of a free reign to work as you please. I think it actually comes down to a personality issue at a certain point. Would you rather work at a giant desk with tons of room that you will need to clean up when you are finished (OSX), or would you rather work in a more confined space that requires continual management to keep it tidy(Windows).


Input Output

I was playing Geometry Wars again and the concept of input/output really struck me. I felt it was illustrated with such clarity when I was playing the game.

INPUT: The crowd of shapes on the screen and the sound effects of the game.

OUTPUT: The position of the two joysticks and the possibility of pressing a button.

Now the really important part is between those two things, that part being myself. I am going to ignore all the sensing parts of myself and my mechanical bits. Those are superficial to what I am trying to explain and understand.

At a certain point the information gets from my eyes into my brain. In my brain the visual image and sound must lead into something like a GeometryWars{} function (for all those who are programmin savy).

What I mean by GeometryWars{} function is a well constructed Neural Web that can take the visual information, the short term memory information from a few moments ago, process it all through the neurons and output the new joystick positions.

What is really important about how I am making this analogy is that it is a really well formed neuron structure probably filled with numerous pathways and the like.

Now in my brain, my GeometryWars{} function must be pretty good and efficient. It is probably really small and compact and short but with really strong pathways. It probably is really well focused in that it only has the correct visual and auditory inputs and outputs and doesn't have any wires crossed with other parts of my brain. All of that leads to me being in the top 500 players on earth.

But there is something else. When I play Geometry Wars, I get the feeling that the GeometryWars{} function is self sustaining and needs no attention from my consciousness. I don't need to focus on the game in the slightest and simply let my mind wander and think (that is where this whole idea came from).

Now to bring this idea into a broader context. Consider my Drawing{} function. I look at a 3d object in the real world and output hand movements which create an image in 2d.

AnalyticalFilmEssay{} function: This is one I am currently working on. I watch a movie (over and over) and output an essay that analyzes it.

Driving{}: Use visual information through a car window to determine steering wheel and pedal positions.

Conversation{}: listen(hopefully) output words vocally

MusicImprov{}: Input is the other musicians music who you are playing with, output is more music.

FilmAnimation{}: Get an assignment, output a film. I'm still in this process.

BlogPost{}: Input life, output blogposts.

Kyler Kelly

Self Sorting Closet

Have you ever wanted a closet that could sort your clothes into the ones you like and the ones you dislike? It is a useful feature, and it can easily be added to your closet.

There is only one main rule that will make your closet self sorting. Whenever you put away your clothes after cleaning them, always hang them up at the same end.

After after many weeks, your clothes will be automatically sorted. The clothes you like and wear most will be at the new end, and the stuff you dislike will be sent to the other end.


Huge Day for HD

Today I have finally seen really HD video on Youtube. Youtube is finally an acceptable quality. It actually looks pretty great. I uploaded an animation I made last year at ACAD, make sure to press the little watch in HD text that appears below the video.
Life Drawing

And while we are on the subject of resolution, I just discovered recently that all of our digital cameras have been lying to us. Due to something called Bayer Interpolation, which I don't really want to explain, all digital cameras(except for certain types of Sigma camera) have make 1/4 of the megapixel resolution which they promise. If you zoom into a digital image which you have made using a digital camera up to 100%, you might notice that there is something wrong, everything is just a little bit blurry, this blurriness is caused by the bayer interpolation.

What I have found is that I could reduce all of my digital images to half of their size and they still look good. It is important to know that I would only want to reduce them by 1/2, and not any weird percentages, because reducing by 1/3 would cause odd types of image subsampling that would make it even more fuzzy.

Umm... I pretty sure nobody really cares, but the lesson here is, if you are ever using digital camera images, know that you are only getting 1/4 the resolution that your being told you are getting.


Color Film

I had the good fortune of being given a 1970s Canon rangefinder camera, specifically the Canonet QL17. My friend got it from a garage sale, and on being completely unable to figure out how to use it, he gave it to me.

The main issue with the camera is that it takes batteries that have since been banned due to mercury content. There is simply no way to correctly meter the exposure value to take photographs with it. My solution nice and complicated. I discovered that I could load up third party firmware for my digital Canon camera. This firmware hack allows me to really dig deeply into the guts of the camera and get at all the settings and measurements.

After many hours of fiddling with the digital camera I discovered that I could get an accurate Ev reading for 100 Iso sensitivety out of the camera. With that Ev reading I could use a chart I found on the internet to correctly set the aperture and shutter speed of the Canonet camera.

So to take a picture with this film camera the steps are.

1. Get EV reading with digital camera.
2. Convert Ev to camera settings with chart.
3. Take photo with Film Camera.

This is an overly annoying amount of work, but I have got so much out of this experience. I have to say that I have learned the most I think I will ever learn about photography from figuring out this whole thing that I ever will.

Here are some of the results, hopefully some black and white stuff will follow, I still need to a find a place to get it developed.


Animation One Compilation

Here is the majority of the animation work that I have done during the last semester.


Drawing + 2d + 1d revisited

I try to go to a free life drawing session every week. This week I tried something different and brought my laptop, my Wacom tablet and Photoshop. Here are the results. I find that my drawings aren't quite as good yet, and seem to have many of the same issues. I think I will continue to work with it as it might really open up a lot of possibilities if I could get really good. I might also try doing 3d models at a life drawing session, see if I can work fast enough.

And with all of this thought about drawing, it dawned on me today what all this drawing practice is about. When we practice drawing we are trying to break the 2d + 1d mental handicap. I see when my teacher draw, amazing things seem to go on in his head and come out on the paper. I still don't believe that my teacher, or any one, can ever truly break free from our 2d brains and function in 3d, but I think with enough practice in drawing, or other mediums, the outcome is practically indistinguishable.


2 dimensions + 1 dimensions

As an artist, I am always trying to make things that people understand. And a fundamental factor in figuring out what people understand is knowing how the human brain can think. And the specific aspect I want to explore in this post is how we think about space.

I think the common conception of human understanding of space is that we can fundamentally understand 3d space. I think this is not the case, and if it is used in any way as a basis for design, the outcome will be marred by it.

Just to clarify, when I say "understand" 3d space, I roughly mean the ability to grasp an objects design in its totality at once in 3d. The ability to make decisions and answer questions about the object.

Now, on to what I think is the how the human brain can work.

We have the ability to comprehend 2d + 1d, in which the 1 dimension is of a greatly reduced precision, and can't be easily related to the other 2 dimensions.

A simple example of this is when you are looking at any regular scene. You can easily see how all the objects are composed in the planar 2 dimensional surface that is your vision. You can see how things line up. You can compare sizes. You can easily track movement with accuracy. You can count lots of object. You can tell an awful lot about what is going on in 2 dimensions. But then there is the third dimension. Even without 2 eyes, or when looking at a picture you can discern depth, yet this information is only accessible because your brain is taking the 2d information and giving you the depth information back with much less precision.

Yet, this can't be true, as I'm sure many people are sure they can imagine 3d objects in their mind. I would argue that this is actually a matter of joining together two or more 2d+1d conceptions. They fit together so nicely that you never notice that it isn't actually 3d.

Where did I start thinking about this? Halo. As a player you can only ever see a 2d view of the game on the screen, yet you need a 3d conception of the space. So in terms of aiming and shooting at other players, that is easily achieved with the 2d space of the screen, and a little bit of 1d knowledge when you throw things like grenade which are distance related(grenades are really tricky because you need to rely on a 1d rough estimate). As for the map knowledge, I always felt it was stored in my brain as 2d top down views with 1d knowledge serving simply as gross differences such as different levels of a building.

So why is this so important? Well for one thing it explains why 2d games are so successful. We can actually easily understand them. 3d games are just a complicated addition that make the process of understand much more difficult, it is not really a natural leap that our brains can make.

It is also important in making art. As depth is very rough, it can be exaggerate or wrong and nobody can really tell. It also means that 3d movies probably aren't the future. They add a little bit of value to the film, but it is an incremental change, nothing that will change the industry.


Time Design

I recently realized how great the design of the clock and the watch is. Twelves numbers evenly spaced around the perimeter with three hands which spin around according to the correct ratio.

I see way to much meaning in it now.

First, as a circle it has no end. Time has no end.

Yet in the same circle, it shows there is a cycle to life, a rythm.

It shows different tempos of life. One that moves every second and cycles every minute. One that moves on the hour and one for the day. It shows how long amounts of time are built out of small bits of time.

The second hand never stops moving. Time never stops. Yet you never notice the other hands moving.

The rotation of the hands mirrors the rotation of the earth.

The fact that a day is split into two 12 hour sections shows how there is an equality between day and night (even though this isn't true every day, it is when things are averaged out).

The way that clocks and watchs are built into glass covered cases suggest that they contain time. That they are uninfluence by the outside world. That there is some sort of magic inside.

The ticking noise of a clock is the heart beat of a tiny beast. It's like a living thing.

I don't think I would ever buy a digital watch again.



When I moved into res, I actually didn't move into res. For the first week our hallway was put up in a hotel across the street because our rooms hadn't been finished. For that week I had a temporary roommate, his name was Stuart. We got off to a bad start when I pulled out my MacBook Pro and he pegged me for a typical art student.

I attempted to prove that I wasn't by answering his choice of computer relate question. I think it was something about L4 cache. I got it right. We could be friends.

We went on a residence organize trip to La Ronde amusement park. And one of the first things we discussed that day (we discussed many things as we mostly stood in lines for roller coasters) was Meyers-Briggs personality typing. He had been trying to peg down what type I was based on the very few things he had known about me.

He guessed INFP based on the fact that I had put my luggage near the edge of the room, the fact I wear converse shoes and somethings I can't remember. He was fairly close, but he was off.

I am actually an INTJ. Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Jugding. It is a binary system in which each of the four options has 2 options. You can however score more strongly, such as being strongly introverted, or weakly extroverted. I've taken online tests twice with the same results, but I think the most telling sign was simply reading the descriptions I have found online.

It always seems eerily accurate when I read it.

At first I felt resistant to this whole type of system. But as I have been living with it, I'm starting to feel how it is useful information to know. It makes discussing things related to other people easier and somethings just seem to make a startling amount of sense.

Well after that week in the hotel, Stuart and I are now good friends. We often play chess and Smash Brothers. He is an INTP and the difference always seems rather clear ( perception VS judgment).

Here is the test if you are interested. I don't really feel a need to explain all of this as it is much better explained on the links I have given.


Long Format

Many weeks ago I started a post. I had a plan to add one word a day for a year. The second day I decided it was a stupid idea and deleted it. At the time I knew I was on to something but I couldn't tell what it was exactly. It was an idea about how the length of time it took to present something, the more impactful it would be.

And I was right. There is truth to the idea.

I just finished reading the comic book collection "Watchmen". This series is going to come out on film this summer. The internet is abuzz. Supposedly this comic book is part of the 100 best pieces of Fiction list.

Yet I was sorely disappointed by the ending. There were some pretty good bits, but in general, nothing that deserved all the hype I was hearing. And something I already knew about struck home.

The difference between me reading it, and those who first read it was the time span over which we had read it. I had read it in about two weeks. I was allowed to read issue after issue the very same day. Those who had first read it, had to wait weeks between each issue. They got to live with every issue for a month.

I'm going to call this type of experience a "long format" experience.

And now that I have really figure out what it is, I see it everywhere.

The "Halo" universe has been a long format experience for me. A trilogy spread out over many year, thousands of games played, a few books read. The games might be eight hours long, but it was presented over years. There were ads on the internet and tiny bits of news from the company every week.

In highschool I walked a few specific ways through downtown everyday. After three years of those walks, they became long format. There was more susbstance to them after that.

I read the newspaper comics religiously for about five years. Alot of those comics aren't good anymore, but there was something of substance in them. Or at least it felt like there was.

One of the greatest long format experiences I have is this very blog. It's been almost five years, I can feel substance in this. None of it is very good, even for the amount of time spent on it. But because it has been such a long process in my life it is long format, it is more important.

Now the question is how can we use long format in art. Gallery shows I see at an art gallery generally only last twenty minutes. Most televisions shows far out weigh there impact simply because they last a few months. Making things of substance really matters to me. It is "the" fundamental piece of being successful at what I would like to do.


Goodish life drawing

Life drawing from class and some free drawing sessions. More drawings if you click through to the album.

I'm actually at a point where I am just about confident in my life drawing.



Why is it that the impossible seems to exist?

It is a simple matter of it's impossibility that compels us to make it. There is no better motivator than the simple thought of "can't".

Sure, masses can be moved and swayed by fully positive messages of "Yes We Can", but always remember that is simply an answer to a message of "No. You Can't".

I think I'm writing this because I've been looking in the wrong places for motivation.



Something very peculiar happened on the street today.

Someone in a car who had decided to be a hooligan today threw an egg at me.

Now that in itself is very peculiar and distressing.

Yet I could only think of one thing afterward.

The miraculousness of the fact that the egg did not break when it hit me.


Obama Ad

I watched the Obama thirty minute ad. It is fairly obvious to anyone in their right mind that if they were American, the right choice is Obama. That is not the topic of this post.

What I do want to explore is the danger that such ads present to the world.

My first questions is: was that ad a piece of propaganda? What is interesting about this question is not the answer, but the fact that I barely could convince myself that it needed asking. It was such a well conceived ad that I almost didn't ask it.

The answer is a resounding yes. Of course, all ads are. It is trying to convince America and the World that Obama is the man of for the job. That he is right, smart, perfect(even when he says he isn't).

So it is propaganda. Does that mean that it is false? No. It means nothing. There is nothing that anyone could ever say in an ad such as that, that can give you any facts about anything.

Why? Because in cases such as this, I always assume the worst. If there were a political party trying to take over America, exactly what would their ad be like? Well for one thing, if they were intent on winning, it would be perfect, just like this one. It is work of art made by writers, directors, actors and artists. I don't believe one word of anything like this. I am willing to questions everything Obama has said about what he will do and what he has done, and what he is like.

So if I don't believe anything that has been said, then how do we decide?

Well I don't turn to belief on issues such as this. There is no knowledge available that could convince me. So I turn to the same part of myself that knows how to gamble.

I gamble and guess when knowledge isn't available. Gambling is when you make choice about things you can't possibly know. But it isn't a fifty fifty game. We have the advantage when making a guess. When I look at this ad, there is no knowledge, no fact, but there are things to grasp at that let me decide. The primary piece of evidence that I have is something that I have already said. The ad is a fantastic work of art. This is a completely subjective observation, with only my best judgment and experience to guide me. But there is true artistry in this ad, and that is the part of it that isn't made up. It isn't fact, or knowledge, it is only something I can feel, and I would only make a bet using it, but in situations like this, I don't think there is anything better to make a decision with.

I'm sorry that this post completely divulged from where it started, and seems to contradict itself. Always assume what I write last is what I think is the most true. I'm not going to edit my changes of opinion because I think it might be interesting to read.


NFB Film Screening

I saw ten new animated shorts from the National Film Board.  Here are my reviews.  Here is a link to the official site

The Necktie

This film was based off of an extremely well known theme, that of growing up and wasting your life doing things you don't want to do at a job you don't like. But it was presented really well. Clean, funny, interesting.

The Forming Game

A much more abstract film that is really about abstract forms and drawings mixed with sound and motion. Again, clean, interesting, good.


An africain story told with cut outs and sand animation. This is the first time that I have seen sand animation that seemed as though the medium of sand made sense. The animation was a little rough, but the animator pushed the poses far enough that they were extremely effective and interesting.

Rosa Rosa
Some sort of love story that I found fairly confusing mostly due to the medium. All real images with white washes and lots of layers. I found it it be confusing and unclear. Even if the images being unclear was supposed to link with the message of the film, that idea wasn't even clear to me. I didn't like this one.

Sainte Barbe

This one seemed alot like someone who really loved Tim Burton. I didn't find the story compelling, about a kid and a grandfather with a magic beard. There was also a very weird design choice of a phallic nose design on one of the characters. I think I heard some laughter of the audience at it. I'm unsure if it was intentional or not, but in any case, I lose faith in the director if something like that gets into a film for a weird reason.


A very weird movie about Hockey. My main feeling was that who ever made it didn't really understand or like hockey. They didn't make anything beautiful or make a point by making something ugly. Annoying, loud, obnoxious. The reason that computer effects need to be used with great care.

Engine 371

A cautionary tale about civilization. I like how strong some of the imagery was that communicated the message, and it was interesting in mis-en scene. But I found something to be off about this movie. The whole thing felt fairly confused and the audio stuck out. It was made with flash which was used effectively in some ways, but I felt it hurt the quality of much of the animation.


Probably my favorite film of the night. It was a mood piece communicating what it feels like when it rains. A masterpiece in communicating the essence of the real world. It was made by someone who was really observed and felt what rain does to the world.


This was a fairly random assortment of animations that morphed one into the next. There were very compelling small bits that really impressed me. A lot of motion in 3d space that I found very enjoyable to watch. Not really a concept or narrative piece.

Drux Flux

An assault on the senses that I did not appreciate. The imagery was too fast and harsh for even me. It was trying to say something about industry and politics but it didn't make sense beyond trying to annoy me. Bad way to end a showing in my opinion, they should snuck it somewhere in the middle, always end shows with some of the best stuff.

Overall I'm really happy with the work put out my the NFB this year. I feel as though there is a movement towards really clean polished animation. I think this is a good direction for animation. If you look at my previous post about animation you should be able to understand why.


Animated Flour Sack

This is my first bigger animation project. We were to animated two flour sacks jumping off of a chasm. One was supposed to be scared, the other not. One was supposed to be heavy, the other light.

I went all out and animated it on ones (24frames per second) instead of twos (12 frames per second) and I went for 12 seconds instead of 8.


Animated Postcard

The theme that we have been assigned for our long term project this year in animation is animated postcard.

What I am currently seeing that as is:

Something Brief
About Being Somewhere
To People You Care About

That was supposed to be three separate points, but they sure fit together nicely as a phrase.

The main thing that I really need to figure out about the above formula is the About Being Somewhere. I know exactly where that somewhere is, it is Montreal, because that is where I am now, and I won't even try fighting the autobiographical tendencies of all art.

If we look back at how I get to know a place, and even how I leave a place, then we should remember that I observe where I am newly arrived and where I am soon leaving. Generally that is done by walking around, looking, listening. It is never very complicated, I generally don't interact on such excursions.

So I'm really not sure what the animated thing I will make will be, but it will probably all taken from life here in Montreal, however I can manage that.


It is interesting to note that this post was made not with the blog itself in mind, but the blog is actually acting as a tool with which I can put my ideas through. I have to type things clearly enough for everyone else to understand, which means later I too will understand. This works much better than me trying to write things down in actual journal form (physical or virtual).

New Digitization Method

Well I have figured out a really neat and somewhat complex method of cleaning up drawings in Photoshop to get them to this really nice black and white and colour state. What makes it special is that you can photograph the drawings with very uneven lighting yet still retrieve all of the drawing. This isn't just a levels trick, there are alot more steps.

Here are some drawings from my new analytical drawing class, and there are some older drawings I tested the method with. More drawings are available in the album if you click through to it.

If any one is really interested I could explain what I have done with photoshop.


What is animation?

This is beginning to become a much harder question for me to answer. It isn't a binary question either. It is related to what to think of as good animation and what to think of as bad animation. These questions concerning value judgment relating to art are always plagued with issues from the start. It isn't so much a question of good and bad art, but really full and rich art versus empty and weak art. So generally I would say that good animation is full and rich, and bad animation is empty and weak.

So what makes good full, rich, wholesome animation. What makes animation something that should become part of the canon of art history.

Here is where I think I am going to really diverge from the normal definition of animation. Animation is the art of presenting content to the part of the brain that interprets visual stimulus. It is not the same as painting, where the content is aimed at the eye. It is aimed at the part of the brain that receives signals from the brain and interprets the changes to understand what is going on.

Animation is not simply trying to show a ball on a screen, that is the job of painting, photography, drawing. Animation is tricking the brain into thinking the ball is moving, bouncing, whatever.

But I need to make a distinction. You could draw a progression of a ball falling in a comic book or story board. I do no consider that animation. In that type of storyboard form, the information from your eyes passes through many layers of the brains process to form the idea of the ball falling. An animated ball falling is impossible for the brain to resist. You simply can't see it not moving, there is no way to distinguish the separate pieces in your mind. Your mind knows that the ball is falling, and that is the art that you have made.

So what does this definition of animation mean to me? Well to being with, it means that I consider film making with a camera to be a type of animation. It is a very specific type of animation, that is really an art form on it's own, but I think it is important to see that film is animation, not that animation is a type of film. It is similar to how painting and drawing came before photography yet all are really just 2d imagery. The big difference was that film and animation came at roughly the same time, and film has had a much stronger backing from society, so it has always been considered the bigger art.

The next really important thing my ideas about animation bring to attention is the question of frame rate. Twenty four frames per second is the speed that normal films are run at. At this speed the brain is generally completely fooled by the illusion that is created by the series of images that make up an animation. However, I feel there is a general trend amongst animators that it is perfectly acceptable due to the large amount of work involved in creating animation to animate at twelve or eight or less frames per second. This is where I think the path towards bad animation begins. When the illusion in the brain begins to fall apart and become apparent to the viewer, I no longer believe that it is good animation.

That is not to say that the product that has been produced is bad, but I don't consider to be near the same thing as animation. TV shows that are really just a series of still images present in sequence should be considered as those. I have seen some really hilarious storyboard like videos on the internet. But they are not really animation.

I think that the question makes a lot of sense to me now.


Sita Sings the Blues

I have gone to my first movie of the film festival that is going on here in Montreal.

The film was called "Sita Sings the Blues".

The first notable feature of this film is that it is feature length and was written and animated by one woman. I don't think that should be the selling point of this film however. It is important in how it affects the movie. It impacts every aspect of this film, from the animation, to the story, to music, to vocals. There are serious limitations in creating a film by oneself, and they imposed themselves strictly on this film.

So I guess I take back what I said about this being a solo work making it a selling point. It truely is the selling point of this film, it is what makes this films form so different from anything that we normally see at the movies. We normally see massive undertakings of giant groups of people, which I think start to dilute some of possibilities that exist in individual people.

So, if you ever see this title somewhere, (which I highly doubt as it is an extremely independant film), than go see it.


Foiled by Vista again

The best thing about running windows vista is that it truly puts my detective skills to the test.

I've been running Photoshop, and it has always been getting really laggy on me. I had all my settings set so that I would get the best performance out of my computer. The main setting that does this is "desktop composition". What this really means is "do you want windows to run in 3d or 2d mode". Obviously the 2d mode runs faster.

Except I discovered in the case of Photoshop. Somehow the 2d mode messes with Photoshop in a such a way that it makes it lag. Therefore to increase the quality of my Photoshop experience, I had to do the counter intuitive choice of reducing my overall performance.

In the end everything has worked out fairly well, but windows truly is annoying. Whenever I get really frustrated with it, I usually end up rebooting back into the Mac side of the computer and everything just "works" (except of course most of the stuff I do only works on my windows side).

It is becoming more and more apparent to me what is so appealing about Macs. However they still don't cover a few essential things, 3d programs, videogames, Picasa. Those problems are deal breakers for me and I don't expect them to be fixed any time soon.

I am however fairly satisfied with having a foot in both camps. I feel I'm fairly well prepared to deal with any type of computing issues (except linux, never really tried it).


City Drawing

Our project in analytical drawing was to draw a city on hills in perspective.

Why the Chimp?

Once again I am returning to Speed Racer.

One complaint about the movie is that there are moments when the little brother and the monkey interrupt incredible key moments of the film. They weaken the emotions that are being built up by the more important scenes. At first I agree with those who critized this type interruption as being bad because it weaken the emotional strength of the scenes.

However, I now have a theory which I think explains why the monkey and brother are actually used in an important way to help the overall film.

My theory begins with basic movie form. Films should be designed in a crescendo form. They start weak and build strength as they approach the climax. The climax needs to be the moment of greatest emotional strengthen. Notice that I didn't just say of "great" emotional strength. I said "greatest". Therefore if there is a moment in the film before the climax which is stronger than the climax, there is a serious flaw in the film's form. The audience is expecting the climax to be the strongest scene, and if it isn't, they will be disappointed.

So to return to the example of Speed Racer. There is a scene about 1/3 of the way through the film in which Speed and Royalton are engaged in a heated debate. It is very intense. In comparison to the climax, I don't believe it has quite the strength, but it is fairly close. However, the filmmakers decided to intersperse this scene with cuts to the brother and monkey messing around. I thinking this was done to intentionally weaken the argument scene so that it more effectively rests within the greater context of the emotional rise of the film.

I think this is a very good example of how film needs to be seen as a whole as opposed to various parts attached together.


Something Like Lightning Rerelease

Something Like Lightning Download

I don't think the last service I used to host this file was any good. So for anyone still interested in download our Jam album. Here it is again.

Hopefully this service will work better. That is what I pay for (free).


Importance of Breakfast

I have a suspicion that the belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is wrong. My evidence: I haven't really had breakfast in the last four months. I haven't felt anything wrong with my body and have actually noticed that I don't need a mid morning snack anymore.

My main theory of why not having breakfast works so well is that by not eating for the eight hours you sleep, your bodies energy system will begin eating away at it's stored energy. If in the morning you have a small breakfast, you will cut the stored energy process off and simply use the new food as your energy in the morning.

By midmorning you will have used up all the energy of your breakfast, and your body will attempt to restart the process of using your stored energy, but it will be of no avail and you will be hungry before lunch.

Therefore there is no point to breakfast. Maybe if I woke up at 6 in the morning, and only ate small dinners, than it would make more sense, but not in my current life.


Residence Revisited

Well Kris just asked for closeups of the drawings on my res room wall. I can do one much better than that. Here is a link to a photosynth of my residence room.

Photosynth of my Residence

Unfortunately you will need a windows PC to be able to install and run the software necessary to view it (parallels on a Mac won't even work, however Bootcamp will). I think they are working to make a Mac viewer for it also, but I wouldn't count on it anytime soon.

For those of you who can't see what I've made. I took hundreds of pictures of my room, and then the Photosynth software has calculated how they all line up in 3d space. It then allows you to explore the images in 3d space.

If you search around the Photosynth website there are videos and things that help explain this concept further.


Tech Era

I've always been excited about the prospect of new technology in the future. I remember when I was little, I felt I would be satisfied if video games were in 3d and looked as good a some early CG rendering I had seen. Those hopes have long been satisfied. This month however, I almost feel as though I could say we are on the edge of a completely new era in technology.

The reason for this is that I got an iPod touch. For the first time I feel as though I can easily carry around most of the abilities I need to exist in contact with the internet. Before this time I would have had to carry around a laptop which simply isn't feasible. Wireless internet is now just about prevalent enough that it can be found almost anywhere (at least in Montreal) with a little bit of searching and luck.

Previously being up to date with the internet made me feel as though I needed to be tied to a computer. I almost felt that with the internet everywhere it might grow to eat up more of my time, but what I have found is that I feel more liberated than anything.

I've always been a technophile, and I am generally willing to bend over backwards to have my technology work. This is one of the first times that I have felt that overall, nothing has been complicated and I have not sacrificed anything.

I guess what actually has just happened is that I have witness a new advancement in the process of memetic evolution.



Here is a picture of my residence.

Unfortunately I was in Montreal for a week before I was actually able to move into residence since my room was still under construction. We were put up in a hotel and had the pleasure of air conditioning.

Staying at the hotel was a stroke of luck since that is where I met one of my new good friends, and we probably wouldn't have met as quickly if we hadn't been forced into staying in a room together.

However, he isn't my actual roommate. My actual roommate is a student from Bahrain (sort of near Dubai), which is pretty neat.

The drawings that are shown in the photographs are the contents of a package I was given to open on the plane between Calgary and Montreal from my best friends in Calgary.



After spending some time in res or at least close to it, I think I have figured a few things out about my character.

The main thing that I have figured out is that I have a very defined personality which is actually pretty obvious now that I think about it. I am fairly introverted, and not really that emotional. I have various other tendencies, but for some reason I always felt that I rose above whatever you could observe of me and that for some reason that made me special.

What I realize now is that I am just like everybody else and can easily be predicted, except of course for the one piece of my personality that I think makes up for it. I have a tendency to force myself to do what isn't inline with my personality. Give me any chance to do something completely different than what you expect, and I that is what I will do. This however becomes redundant since I will end up doing exactly what you least expect me to do, making it much less unexpected.

What this results in is that you should always be on your toes about what I'm going to be up to next.

There is one catch to this however. If I am faced with stress, or am uncomfortable with the situation, I won't have the will power to do the different thing; to do what isn't expected of me. I will fall inline with what I feel comfortable with and that is what I will do.


Boris the Hypnotist

As part of the orientation entertainment, we got to see Boris the Hypnotist. I went into the show with my usual doubts about anything that is vaguely reminiscent of magic and was fully prepared to break apart the show. And I am vaguely right to break it apart, but what I think I've gotten out of it is actually something more worthwhile than I initially expected.

The most important thing to realize is that a hypnotism show is actually mislabeled. It is mislabeled for a reason, but it could be accurately title as something else. I would put into the class of involuntary amateur directed improv. That doesn't sell tickets so the hypnotist title is very important.

To begin with the volunteering bit. A lot of people went up to the stage and sat through the deep sleep thing. And then a lot of people got sent back to their seats. What happened in this process was that Boris was finding out who was receptive to going into the correct state to do improv, and to begin teaching the acting skills necessary for the rest of the show.

The whole deep sleep activity isn't about having Boris to put you to sleep, it is about getting yourself to feel like you need to sleep. It is about forcing your body to feel as you want it to. You remember back to what it feels like to be sleepy, you being to feel sleepy, than you are sleepy. There is no magic, no mirrors, it is all just acting. There is a very important step in this part of the show in which Boris observed and felt each person: lifting an arm or nudging a shoulder. I'm sure that he has so much experience from doing this show that he can feel if someone is pretending to sleep, or acting.

There is an important difference between pretending and acting. When you pretend, it is a very shallow experience, it is probably limited to mental preconceptions that you have. Acting is based upon past experience and reliving those moments, letting them overwhelm you.

So once Boris was finish selecting his cast for the show he simply had to begin doing an entertaining improv show. He had to lead everyone through everything, and had to hold everything together.

Whenever he was telling people to "sleep" he was simply directing them as a director does. He wasn't actually making them go to sleep. As the performance got more and more layered, the show got more and more interesting. Slowly everyone was learning to act better, and the show continue to grow in hilariousness, but also in heart. I was so amazed with how good these "non" actors were at acting. I actually felt fear, danger and anger in them that I rarely see anywhere else.

It is odd because I don't think this experience could exist without the title of hypnotism, yet I feel as though the title cheapens it at the same time.

I am extremely impressed with this show and with the talent of all of those who participated.

I am unsure if I would have been a good participant in the show. I think now that I see the great value this show offers, I think I would do better, but I think it would require a lot more time to get into the correct roles. It would probably take more than the amount of time that was given to the show, but I think I could get into it none the less.

I better take an acting class or something. I have at least read a book on acting already.


Dealing with Departure

Hopefully many of you know that I am going to be leaving soon to go to a new school. I'm leaving Calgary to go to Montreal. This is going to be the first time that I will actually be moving out.

And as I'm sure everyone does, I feel as though I need to somehow deal with leaving this place. At first I thought that this would take the form of some type of going away party.

But I never planned one, and no one is going to plan one for me. I realized that this is perfectly fine since most of the people I would invite, I already haven't seen for about 4 months.

So I sort of felt like I was going to be missing something by not having an organized going away bash. But thankfully the natural flow of things has worked things out and I now realize how I say goodbye.

How I depart is actually very closely related to how I arrive. I find that whenever I arrive somewhere new, and especial when I am nervous, I end up scoping out the area. For example I will walk around the entire perimeter of the building or weave my way through all of a buildings hallways. I find it very relaxing to get the lay of the land before having to actually start doing anything.

And what I have finally figured out is that I do the same type of thing when I leave. I seem to always take a quick tour of the building or campus. I just walk through and look at everything with no particular intent.

And what has happened over the last week is that I actually seem find have taken the tour of Calgary for the last time. I've always been a very mobile person in the city. I also feel very comfortable just walking around and taking the train.

I've been almost everywhere that I feel a very strong connection to.

Only seems like I have moments left before I venture into an unknown place. Surely I will once again wander around to again get the place embedded into my mind.


Something Like Lightning

All summer I have been getting together with various friends and jamming away. Almost right from the start I made a point of recording everything we did. It seems to have given us a bit of focus and a way to drive us forward.

By simply cutting away all the junk, I have come up with an album.

Download Link: Something Like Lightning

This is the album art if you'd like to add it in itunes or something.

Just click the Download this file button.

This is just a free upload service I found, if any one could suggest a better free way of hosting this I would like to know.

Everything is improvised so I suggest listening to this simply for what it is as opposed to hoping it will turn into something better. I would also suggest listening to it on headphones or on nice loud speakers. I'm not an audio tech so most of the texture and interest of this music lies in being able to hear it well. I think a lot of this album would be lost listening to it quietly in the car or on your computer.

Everything about the album has been pretty spontaneous, including the track names and the Album art.

The recording of the album was done all over the place.

Thanks to everyone who jammed with us this summer. Sorry to those who got left out of the credits.


Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2

One of my favorite games of all time is the original Geometry Wars Retro Evolved. And now the sequel has come out and it has proved to be very valuable in exposing what was so well done in the original (and by original I mean the evolved version, not the original original). And what it has revealed has dramatically changed my views on video games.

To begin with here are the superficial differences between the two versions. There are more features, modes and better graphics in the new version. There are some new enemies and everything has been polished just a little bit more. Some of the rules about points have been changed and the way that multipliers are built up is different.

The major difference between the two games is what they become as a whole. The new game has 6 different modes which each focus on different aspects of the underlying game. Speed, dodging, shooting, grouping, and memorization are some focuses in these different modes. Since none of them are the main game, the whole thing starts to feel like a very good training tool.

And this is where my old video theory of video games starts to fall apart. I had said that video games were fundamentally about teaching the player things, such as a new skill. Yet this game, which has become simply a training game is not as enjoyable as the old game. It provides some amusement, but it is not as fulfilling.

I still feel that the teaching, learning and training aspects are still fundamental to the gaming experience, but they can't be the central focus. I see the teaching in video games now as more of the main meat of the art. In painting it is the viewing experience which hold everything together. In books it is the process of imagining. In music is might be letting the beat get into your body. In film it is about getting attached to the stories and the characters.

I see the learning process as integral to video games. Without it there is no interesting interaction and the whole thing just can't proceed. But what I realize now is that there needs to be something beyond that. The learning needs to be there simply to hold the experience together.

In the original Geometry Wars I feel it is the battle and the feeling this main battle produces which causes the experience to be so overwhelmingly powerful. In this game is was you versus an uncountable number of enemies. The game could only end when you ran out of lives. What was exceedingly important was how the game was balanced with new lives. It was designed in such a way that no matter how bad you were playing, it was always worthwhile to never give up and continue with all the focus you could muster. Even if you were down to your last life it was still important to keep trying as you could comeback. There was always a chance of getting a high score. In the new game, after a few minutes into any game you can usually judge if it is worthwhile to continue playing or whether it would be better to simply restart.

This original design caused the game to give me a real sense that it was trying to relate to some of the realities of life. I felt it was based upon the principal of never giving up no matter how bad the outlook. And being a game that always finished with your death, it felt like it had accepted the fact you were going to die, yet it was still important to do the best with whatever chance you get. These games that seem to answer questions about how we should be leading our lives are very powerful to me, even if the designers didn't realize what they had created.

And so in my mind games can't be about teaching, they need to be about something the designers believe, whatever that may be. It probably will be a theme that is being drawn from real life, or else it won't ring true for anyone. The teaching and training aspects are simply the vehicles in which the more important messages and themes ride.

Still Geometry Wars 2 is fun, especially the multiplayer.



Through the complete randomness of the internet, I have happened upon the blog of Mory at I am not....

You may have noticed we have been commenting back and forth on various subjects.

He has released his first video game Smilie. It is very important to understand where this game is coming from. Mory seems to be working in the same manner of the modernist painters. He is attempting to strip away all that is unnecessary from video games to get to their essence. This type of delving into video games has been in the back of my mind for some time and I was very excited that not only was someone else interested, but had actually made a game.

Here is my review and criticism, I would probably suggest to play the game before reading any further as I might spoil your opinion, which I think Mory would appreciate.

The first thing I will discuss is the design of the game. There is nothing extraneous in the experience. Title, credits, player character, non player character, ending. That is it. I don't think there is any way it could have been stripped down any further. Also, the experience is well designed in that it flows smoothly and without interruption. No loading or saving or anything of that sort of pull the player out of the experience.

The gameplay is as reduced as possible. One cursor and one smilie face. I think the choice of having the cursor as the playable character is really interesting as we rarely think of ourselves as the cursor on the screen, whereas in games such as Mario, it is exceptionally easy to realize that you are Mario.

And from what I experienced in the game, the gameplay was simply the interaction between the player's cursor and the smilie face. I could move the cursor in relation to the smilie. I could click the smilie. That was all.

How the game becomes interesting is in the fact that the smilie face reacts to the players input. I thought at first that the game was scripted as the first 2 run through resulted in the same reactions, but this was just coincidence. I have yet to figure out exactly how the interaction is determine.

And it is this apparent randomness, or the fact I can't quite tell what is going to happen which makes this game compelling. Once I don't know what the smilie face is going to do, it crosses the threshold into the space of being a living being. In the same way animators try to bring life to drawings, life was given to this character. And I don't simply mean life through motion, but life through reaction.

From the interaction that occurs in the game a small story will always develop. And from story comes a lot more interpretation which helps tie the game in with life. The strongest story I came across in this game is when I was actually killed by the smilie face. In most games you have more lives when you die and the game isn't over. That is not so in this game, when you die, that is it, just like real life. This type of truth really felt like a genuinely interesting comment on real life. It felt like there was a real message behind the game about life.

I think that is all of the glowing comments I can make about this game. Now for a few suggestions that could help enhance the experience.

I think that audio would be an important addition to the game. A lack of audio suggests things such as lifelessness or space. Since I don't believe these ideas were the intend of the game, I would suggest mininal audio which could be used to enhance the experience.

One of my friends who played the game felt that she lost interest because she didn't understand what was going on. Audio could play an important role in supplying more information to the player without confusing the visuals. Maybe a subtle audio cue when the mouse was clicked would have been helpful in communicating whether or not clicking the mouse is actually a function of the game.

Thankfully Mory has more games planned for the future and I am looking forward to playing them.

Kyler Kelly

Money Money Memes

I came to a very sudden realization about what my life is actually going to be about. I think what I have always felt is that the underlying reason that I need to have a job and a career is because that is how we survive in the world. Early man needed to hunt and gather food to survive. I need a job and a career to survive.

My mind has been changed. It became especially obvious once I saw that my current job helps the world's survival in no way. However my job is perfectly explained by memetic theory.

What I do at work doesn't help people survive. It helps ideas and tons of abstract things continue to thrive.

And this led to an important realization about money. Money is not very useful in helping people survive. Money is the ultimate abstraction of value. Money completely replaces real value with virtual value. The effect of the creation of money was enormous in memetic terms. Since money can effectively come out of nowhere, it can act as a nearly unlimited resource for the creation of memes. Generally replicators will always run into trouble with limited resources. But money allowed for the proliferation of the useless. It allowed things that are in no way related to survival to thrive since value was so thoroughly abstracted.

Money also created very weird situations to develop. A lottery is an especially weird situation as it represents a time when value magically appears out of nowhere and can drive the proliferation of particularly odd and useless memes.

What this means to me now is that money is not tied to my survival. It is tied to how I will affect the memetic movement of the world.

Money is not evil. But it is controlling us and we have forgotten that there are ways of surviving with out it.



I've always suspected that I was never very creative. Give me a white piece of paper and a pencil. It will soon become apparent that I will have no idea what I am doing and I will draw something stupid.

But I'm an art student. So how can that possibly be true. I'm even a good art student.

How can I be an art student and not be creative?

I am using creative in the sense that I think the general public uses it. That I can just make up something on the spot, out of nowhere, completely randomly and it will work.

Thankfully, I have come to the full realization that creativity in that sense simply does not exist.

It has changed how I view the word "inspired". That word is thrown around in art liberally. Things are simply the "inspiration" for a piece. Give whatever is the "inspiration" a nod and then turn your back and focus on how your hand has affected the work.

Art shouldn't be like a simile to it's "inspiration", it should be a metaphor. A drawing of a flower shouldn't be like a flower, it should be the flower. And I am not asking the impossible. A physical flower is already every flower that led up to it. Every cycle of seeds and growth that made it. The piece of art is part of that cycle. It may be a different type of progression, but it needs to be considered one and the same.

To return to the point of creativity. What may appear to be random and out of nowhere, actually needs to be just the opposite. Everything we make comes directly out of everything that is already there. I see most of what I make coming out of what I already have in my head. I don't have the ability to make things at random. Everything will always in some way relate back to what I already knew.

But this is not to make anyone despair. It doesn't mean by saying "we can't be creative" that we have lost the ability to make things that are original. It simply means that the decisions of what goes into our heads, and choosing what we take out, are of utmost importance.


Lake Photography

We went on a short trip to our family's cabin. Here are some of the more interesting photos I took.


Beginning another theory of Everything

Last year I felt that I had a good grasp on the physical world with an exceptionally vague theory of everything. I still stand by that theory and think that it will proven to be fairly accurate once the Large Hadron Collider is turned on and Higg's Particles are discovered.

This year however my focus as shifted to humanity and I have been learning about where we come from and what we are doing here. All of this understanding has been growing out of reading Atlas Shrugged, A New Earth, Meme Machine and various other books. It's going to take a lot more than a single blog posts to get all of my ideas together, but here is a start.

The first idea that I think is important to discuss is that of Universal Evolution. I am not simply talking about biologic Darwin evolution. I am attempting to describe the fundamental mechanism that makes all forms of evolution work. The fundamental piece of all evolution is the replicator. Anything that self propagates itself is the thing that is going to exist. Competition will develop between different replicators and through natural selection the best ones will continue to survive.

The distinction I am attempting to make first is that a replicator doesn't need to be a living thing. It can be an idea, or a way of doing something. It can be an internet meme like a LOLcat. Anything that can cause more of itself, or very similar versions of itself can be considered a replicator.

Replicators are what are around us. Very rarely will we ever come across something that is not a replicator, since by their very nature replicators will be everywhere.


Wall-E comment

I took some time to post a comment about a Wall-E story on Digg, a I didn't want to waste all that effort on Digg, so here it is for your enjoyment.

"I can agree that the animation and graphics of the movie were well done, but the story is not cohesive or great. It completely lacks in truth and depth.

The main conflict of the films is that Wall-E is lonely on earth. So the goal of the whole film is for Wall-E to find love. This plot and conflict are set-up in the first act of the film when Wall-E is on earth.

But a sub-plot of saving the human race soon takes over the film and completely overshadows the love story which should have been the central focus of the film. Pixar should have chosen one or the other, no film can truly support multiple focuses like this. The human story could have been used to support the love story, but I never found that to be apparent, it always seemed to be an equal and separate issue.

What was made worse by the film is an exceptionally weak and deus ex machima climax. The climax of the film was when Eve has to fix Wall-E and save him. When he comes back to life without a personality it is an exceptionally sad moment. But suddenly Wall-E finishes his reboot sequence and it comes back. This is a pathetic and meaningless solution to an amazingly interesting love story.

The meaning I get from this climax is "wait a few minutes and your love with come back to you...". If that is what the creators believe about love than I applaud them on their success... I don't know what they believe about love, but it needs to be something much more meaningful than a reboot process.

I have lost my faith in Andrew Stanton at Pixar, however I still believe at least Brad Bird has the ability to make good film.

If you actually want to see a good film, I suggest finding Speed Racer at whatever theaters it is still playing in. The critics of this film where confused by the faced paced action and colors , it is an exceptional film and in my opinion blows every other film this summer out of the water."


Broken Technology

I've just finished reading the book "Surely You must be Joking Mr. Feynman". It is sort of like and autobiography and anecdote collection of a famous nuclear physicist.

One of the first things that Feynman discusses is that as a child he learned how radios worked and became the neighborhoods radio repairman. I was a little bit jealous since I actually don't know the fine details of how radios work. I know the general process, but I don't know the stuff about vacuum tubes and amplifiers.

But then I realized that I had actually learned to fix problems that are much different than he did.

He learned how to look at something that was broken and knew exactly how to fix it because he knew exactly how it worked. Sometimes the problems were hard to find, but he always knew every step in the process.

But in my lifetime I have always been fixing technical issues in our new computer driven age. The difference is that it is truly impossible to know how any of our equipment works. We are supposed to know what connects to where, or what program does what. But all of the components contain thousands or millions of parts and most computer programs are millions of lines of inaccessible code. And all of the information on these topics is badly spread across internet forums, or doesn't really exist anywhere.

What I've discovered, that even though sometimes I won't ever know exactly what is going on, or exactly what was the problem with the device, I will be able to find a solution. It's almost like an intuitive knowledge of this horrible mess of technology that we have that lets me solve issues. It generally takes along time and sometimes doesn't work, but in the long run it has served me well.



I recently finished reading the biography of Walt Disney. What stood out most in my mind was how Disney actually related to animation. I think the general feeling is that Walt Disney was an animation guru who directed all of the Disney animations and really made the idea of animation what it is today. The feeling is that Walt's greatest achievement and his goal was to do what he did with animation.

What I found after reading his biography is a much different feeling. Walt was obsessed with animation, but only for the periods when he was truly enthusiastic about his animation.

Walt was actually a person who would become extremely intend on whatever he was interested in at the time. He would devote his entire mind and all of his force into whatever it was that truly interested and challenged him. Because of this tendency to throw himself into his endeavors with such gusto, he often not only succeeded, but outshone everyone else in the field.

Walt's interested varied over his lifetime. Comics, animation, film, music, trains, the future, city planning, traveling, family and drawing are just a few of the things that at different points in his life, Walt engulfed himself in completely. It just so happened that Walt's most major and first success was the animation interest. It is only because of the timing of this event that lead the Disney Company to be known primarily for it's animation.

The author of the biography I read, had the belief that Walt had some issue with reality and control, which he felt was the reason Walt loved animation. I felt throughout the entire book that the author was wrong. I know in myself that I have the same tendencies to throw myself into whatever interests me at a certain point. And I know this is simply how I am. It is not the result of some childhood incident about gaining control.

In that way, I felt I related fairly well to Disney. I may be able to narrow focused for moments of my life, but I am definitely going to follow a very convoluted route throughout my life. Thankfully, I am going to be very enthusiastic about it.


Video Game Theory

It has been becoming fairly obvious to me that the video game industry is growing stagnate. Most games are either sequels or rip-offs of successful games. I understand why sequels are actually a good thing since they tend to mean that a product can be perfected. However, most games this year have reached their 4th iteration and show few signs of letting up. I'd say that is mostly a sign of greedy corporations that are scared of innovation and of innovators who are scared to try new things.

There is also a trend towards making games more "accessible", which results in making games too easy. I think game companies try to make their games accessible as to allow for a larger audience, which means more money. This does not however mean the game is any better. In most games the ideas of a "health bar" or lives have been completely eliminated. This isn't a horrible design decision by itself since the idea of having "lives" in a game was weird to start with. I think the decision to removes lives and such was made to reduce frustration. I don't think these type of decisions should be made from the point of eliminating a problem that resulted from the initial game design. The game design needs to be rethought from the beginning to prevent the frustration.

What I am attempting to get at is what I see as the purpose of video games. I see video games as fundamental a method of teaching and then testing the player. The progression through the game is simply a learning process. What I see as the downfall of many video games is that they assume that they are attempting to allow players to "play" a movie. To create for themselves a cinematic experience. I believe that movies and video games are very different media's that shouldn't be confused and video games should never attempt to replicate a film.

If we look at videos in the context of them being learning processes it becomes obvious why some games are successful and others aren't. Why are first person shooters becoming less successful? Because players have been learning the same thing over, and over and over and over and over again. Hundreds of games have gone over how to "push A to jump", "press right trigger to fire". Most games attempt to add in a little bit of a gimmick to this learning formula, whether it is squad tactics or neat powers in BioShock.

But take Rockband for example. This is a dream learning process. Three new controllers to learn to use. Tons of songs that are easily separated into different difficulties and it is easy to test the players on their ability. It is no wonder that this game is hyper successful.

So the question needs to be rephrased for game makers. For a long time they thought they wanted to tell stories, when in actual fact they just keep trying to teach players how to play a FPS. The question needs to be - What should we teach the player?



Well apparently not all things created by Pixar are going to be spectacular. And I am even more confused by the worlds review system. How can Wall-e possibly attain the scores it is getting, and how can Speed Racer be so easily overlooked.

I think the fundamental issue is that when creating you can either simply make things and they turn out to be good, or you can make things that seem good, and most likely aren't.

I was watching a documentary about the making of the film Bambi, and they were reading transcripts of the story meetings that took place. And a one point, one of the storymen actually said something to the effect that "we are doing this to make the film look like a good movie". Many creators fall into the trap of simply thinking if they recreate what they think is great, they will make something great. This is simply not true.

For the first time in a Pixar movie I got the feeling that the creators thought more about what seemed great than what was right for the film.

Here are just a few of the things I thought were well done and not so well done.

Wall-e the character was extremely well done. The animation was funny, and his personality was enjoyable. But that was really all there was to him.

The story was disjointed. At one point I thought it was a love story, but it turns into a very badly resolved story about civilization that detracts from the love story. Pixar was able to make a perfectly good movie about cars that had no humans in it. What would be so hard about keeping the people out of it?

Many parts of the story were mainly focused on gross over-generalizations about the state of our world, but I never felt any real truth about the situation.

The thing I thought was most enjoyable about this film was actually the short that was played before the film. It is the first time in a long time that I have really felt I could appreciate animation entirely based off of the "gag".

Well at least there was one good film this summer. Can't say I am looking forward to anything else.


Believing Yourself

Well I recently have been thinking about what it means to believe in oneself.

According to common knowledge self-esteem is directly related to believing in yourself. And pretty much everything else stems from self esteem.

I've always been sure that I believe in myself and that I have exorbitant amounts of self-esteem. But when I started to delve into the question of believing yourself I hit a wall.

The wall was this. If you can lie to yourself, but you have complete faith in yourself, you will be believing a falsity. And generally, I attempt to stay away from untruths and lies.

So the question has turned into: Do I ever lie to myself? I thought about it long and hard and realized I could easily lie to myself about the question itself. Yes, I do lie to myself.

So, I was then stuck in a dilemma between believing in myself fully and telling myself lies. It was at this time that I began to recognize a new interpretation of what I consider belief in oneself. I no longer consider my thoughts as what I need to believe in. They are going to be both lies and truth, covering a complete range inbetween. The part of myself that I can still hold accountable and which I still believe in is the part that observes those thoughts. The part of me that tries to check every thought for it's validity or for lies, is the part that I believe in. No matter how badly I fail, or the stupid things I say or do. It is so far back in my mind, with such a distance to my external reality that nothing ever comes even close to scratching my belief in it.

It is protected by the knowledge that everything can't turn out right. That I can make mistakes and still have a chance to learn things in the future. It is actually protected from accountability since it never generates it's own actions or ideas, it simple observe those that go before it.

It is me at my most fundamental core, yet you can never actually see it. It like trying to see the inside of a brick. Every time you break it, you only create more surface. (analogy courtesy or Mr. Feynman (he used the brick in a completely different example)).


Car Jacking

A brief story from the road trip.

Coming home we stopped in Innisfail at a mall. When we were leaving, I went ahead to unlock the car. As I approach the car I pressed the remote unlock when I was about 6 paces away from the driver door. At the same instant, a woman approaching from the other side, much closer to the door, started to approach the door and lean in to open it.

First my mind took an account of what the woman looked like. Probably 50 years old. Paint splattered shirt. Frazzled looking hair. Didn't rule out some sort of criminal.

No obvious threat. First action taken. Lunging steps to close distance to the car.

Next thought. How could she steal my car if I have the keys on the outside... I don't know... Some sort of scheme I don't want to see play out might exist... I should stop this right now.

Second action taken. Slam partially open door shut and say extremely sternly "EXCUSE ME"

The women is completely horrified. But immediately realizes her mistake.

I realize her mistake. Threat averted. Begin emergency apology protocol.

There is another black car parked two spaces down from mine, also with remote key unlock. We had pressed the buttons simultaneously and she had heard the unlock sound, furthering the illusion.

At least I didn't tackle her.


Road Trip Anatomists

Tiff, Sarah and I drove up to Edmonton to see the Body Works Exhibition that is being held there.

The Body Works exhibition is probably something that most people should see. There are tons of reasons to go. I won't even go into them.

But as for my reaction to the show, here it is.

I felt a very different reaction to these bodies than the ones that I saw at the anatomy lab. I actually had a very difficult time and never really succeed in seeing any of the pieces as actual people. They mostly ended up seeming to be exceptionally well craft anatomy models. Exceptionally well crafted anatomy models are worth seeing, but they offer something much different than the lab. I felt the lab offered a better understanding of what bodies actually were. They are bags of flesh held together around loosely linked bones, all wrapped in more bags, and filled with some more watery stuff.

The body exhibition left me with more a feeling of chiseled and sculpted forms. They are posed to suggest dynamism, but generally fall short.

I do realize the purpose of these two experiences is different, but I think one is much more powerful.

Here are some notable sketchs from the trip.