Wednesday, December 26, 2012

More Text GIFs

Two things I learned since yesterday. The GIMP filter I used was Animation > Waves, not Animation > Rippling. It just looked like water ripples to me.
The other thing, which was helpful in combining the elements, was the Animation > Blend filter. At least two layers and the background are needed. There doesn't seem to be a limit to that number. Running the filter will output the required number of frames in the transitions.
The banner has been redone in the same way.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Get Ready for Spring

It has been a while since I created another banner. Once again I resorted to GIMP for the animation. What I wanted to try most was the rippling filter.
The last time I used this filter, it was directly onto the image. Now I wanted to incorporate it as an element in the banner to cycle once. This I achieved by applying the filter to the layer which was the flower image you see. The resulting ripple appears over an area of the banner.
Next, the text can appear to fade in with a blend filter.
Since it was created to loop, there was more frames there than I actually needed.
The finished banner is a result of a combination of these layers. I had to erase parts of the text layers to reveal the image under it, but that was easy enough to do.

Next time, I will be attempting to add multiple ripples to an image.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Best Wishes for the New Year

The last few years, I have prepared animated gifs for sending electronic greetings. Several weeks ago, I decided to use this marionette I purchased from the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) to make a movie. Thus began my getting acquainted with its controls.

It was really a display model, but the strings do work the puppet. Over the weeks, while waiting for enough natural lighting to film, I learned to simulate dance or rather skating moves. A couple of days earlier I found the shoulder strings could mimic this.

Now, the difficult part was how to manipulate the puppet with one hand, either left or right, when I have to still operate the camera. That entailed practicing through watching the camera's flip screen.

Without too much planning, I proceeded to capture random scenes, with the final frame being the puppet fallen as if it had crashed into a gift box. Included background audio from a Christmas CD. I snapped a still image of that last frame for a gif to achieved the desired transition. Fortunately for this video, I just needed the first and last image, since I used a WeVideo preset style. Good to know that WeVideo now provides editable transitions and effects as well.

I was rather pleased with the results. As I have yet to make my dream paper puppet come to life, I was happy with the staging involved in this project. It's back to making animated gifs, until next year.

In case you were wondering. This was sold as a Pinocchio. My snowman marionette would have been a more appropriate choice, but this one works better.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Trying to Make It Grow

Trying to Make It Grow by cin_kong
Trying to Make It Grow, a photo by cin_kong on Flickr.
At the risk of smelling like algae, I got elbow deep in fish water to arrange the new live plants I bought. I've had nothing but anubias (the low lying things anchored on the rocks.) With the amount of excrement these four goldfish output, I am hoping the plants will do well. The algae already do. It's takes forever to remove even with a snail and a plecostomus. If it works out, it's bye-bye plastic plants for this aquarium.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


If it is not a mistake, it could have been a copy of what you find in a real M*A*S*H. I often wondered why they would have a Chinese sign with the characters for telephone switched around like that. The correct order is 電話, written left to right, right to left, or descending if it was vertical like in the photo. They do show this set dressing over and over again, that's why it stuck with me. Having translated a few documents recently, it's hard for me to ignore. As is, it could have a different meaning altogether.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Warden Woods Walk

I took some photographs when I went to Warden Woods Park. The experience was special because it was also my first in all the years I lived in the area. I noticed fall foliage the day before and could not really pass up an opportunity to see it up close. Nature is literally at my doorstep and I hope to take advantage of the free time I have to capture the scenery whenever I can.

The title image was created in Pixlr Express. Pixlr filters are quite handy for making a cover page. Mostly, I just really like the composition with the bridge and the surrounding trees. It was also a good one to edit.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Stages of Imaginings - Why People Fall from the Sky

If I had to describe what inspires me, it is every time I stare outside a window.

The earliest I could remember noticing the world outside was shortly after starting school. It had been raining. The streets were flooded, water yellow with muddy run off from the mountain. When a tire floated along, the first thing that came to my mind was where's the car. Now I was little, so I didn't know that there could just be tires lying about. More importantly, I made my first connection.

The world was full of strange ideas. And school can be a place to find them. For instance, the way religion was introduced through film. It was too long ago to remember. I remember seeing someone named Jesus. I supposed that was an Easter film. What do you suppose I see when I look out the window then? People falling from the sky like rain.

We talked about Christmas at home too. Back then in Hong Kong, I knew where the presents came from. It  didn't come from some old man dressed in some red suit. I saw my father hide them on the top bunk. Since it was bad form to spoil it for little kids, it was fortunate that I said very little then, huh?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Character Descriptions in The Living Bride Returns

I was getting nowhere in the plot of my story. The setting had been difficult to nail down. It speaks to my inability to embrace it as I once did. So in order to reignite my interest in the project, I have spent time on honing the descriptions of the characters in the core of the narrative. This is what I have so far.

The matriarch of the Chen household. She is a progressive woman, noble to the bone, but holds onto one traditional belief to keep a dream of her son alive. He was her only tie to the world and ripped from existence in a far away land.
When Meifeng and Chen Fu become embroiled in a scandal so harmful to their family name, she orders Meifeng's death in a public drowning to save face. At Li Li and Chen Fu's pleadings Meifeng is able to leave and runaway with Leo.

Li Li
The last of the Chen family's servants. An orphaned raised by the matriarch herself, her main station in life is to be Chen Fu's wife. Nurturing, she took over primary care of young Chen Fu when he out grew his nursemaid. She keeps the peace in the family.
Meifeng's return symbolized Li Li's insecurity. She knows about the history she had with Chen Fu and fears that Chen Fu's love for her had never been resolved, thus destroying the relationship she had struggle to build between them.

Chen Fu
The master's son with his mistress. He was brought home as an infant, after his mother's death. Raised by Li Li, he spent the formative years of his life away at boarding school. He was a robust youth when he completed his education. He and Meifeng maintained a close friendship that grew to be more at the chagrin of the matriarch. Unable to marry for love, he fell into a depression that drove him to military service until he succumbed to consumption. The illness left him sterile when having children meant a great deal to his role in the family.
Learning of a daughter he had never knew born abroad complicates matters. It causes him to lash out at unexpectedly at his wife.

The older of two brothers that Meifeng first met. He became a newspaper man's apprentice. After reuniting with Meifeng years later, he moved to another city with his new bride.

A diplomat's son. He was one of the suitors vying to be Meifeng's living husband after she officially married the Chen family ghost. He would have been had Chen Fu not win her heart first.
Meifeng accepting to be his wife was the happiest news he ever had.

Chen Yuan
The immortal form of the Chen elder born. He appeared to Meifeng when she awakens in the underworld facing final judgement. He stands in her defense and gives up his immortality so she may live. The events she experience could had been a dream. No one can say for certain about superstitious beliefs.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Horner Little Lady

Full size harmonica next to the Little Lady
I knew I had to buy it when I first saw the little pendant harmonica at the mall years ago. How could I resist? It plays just like a regular sized pocket harmonica with only a limited range of notes. I took it out today when I was looking for the tabs for Oh Susanna. I have forgotten how to play it. That happens. Have a listen

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Confidently So

When I decided to skip detention and sneak away when I did, I was wrong to assume there would be no consequences. I was in the second grade after all; I thought I could do anything.

What I did that day was bold. I have never did anything like that again. It was perhaps bolder than walking into the boys' washroom, to use their toilets, when the ones in the girls' washroom were out of order. What I did bordered on disobedience in a big way. It alone was a punishable act, but it was better than being disciplined for something so harmless as handing in a poorly written calligraphy script.

I would never have did when I was six years old, when I was in the first grade. I had not really developed the good sense to think independently then. Since I already had the strap, I did not really care to relive the experience all over again.

Getting a slap on the hand wasn't so bad. It is the least severe form of punishment any parent could inflict on a child. But at school, though rare, it is the worst thing... next to getting too much homework, of course.

What made it worst... I did not deserve it. It wasn't entirely my fault that the boy I was sitting next to bumped my elbow and threw off my stroke.

I did not feel at ease until I finally arrived home at our tiny apartment. There was no need to tell anyone about what had happened. I had succeeded in escaping the teacher's ruler as well as the vice principal's metre stick. The only thing left to do is to go back to class the next day and face the full consequences of my actions.

I sat quietly in my seat, when Miss Wong arrived to teach the math lesson. I tried my best not to make eye contact with her, hoping she would not notice me. Her most intimidating feature was a lack of a smile; this made her even more unattractive than she actually looked.

As much as I tried to remain invisible, however my efforts proved fruitless, for Miss Wong did notice. Not only did she notice me, she wasn't going to let me off that easy. She instructed me to remain after class. Fortunately, it was just the one ruler, but it did hurt nonetheless.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

First Winter

What is it?
So smooth and cool
to the touch.
You say it is dirty.
Yet when I feel it,
my hands do not soil.
You say it is slippery.
I did not understand,
until I fell on my bum.
All because I had never seen
this... ice.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Living Bride Returns - Story

It has been months since I started writing this. I got stuck obviously. Unable to come up with a hook, I started to think about motivations for all the characters in my story. To that end, I have an outline of sorts.

Meifeng has been haunted, during the day and at night. She feared it has to do with failure to fulfill her part of in a marriage contract she consented to when she was young. She is certain to find a resolution in going back to the ancestral home in China.

While Lili, her old friend may welcome her home, it would be a painful reminder for Chen Fu, the younger illegitimate Chen son and father of her child. It would be an uncomfortable reunion, especially since an accident left Chen Fu mentally unstable.

After staying the night in her old room, Meifeng goes into town to look for a hotel room and notify her friend Leo where to find her.

Before Meifeng can make the call though, she is involved in a terrible accident, fate unknown.

Waking up in some sort of underworld, Meifeng encounters the spirit of Chen Yuan, her husband in name only. He is an immortal and is as young as the day he died. He has spent the years since his own mother's death learning about his destiny with Meifeng.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fan Expo 2012: The Year X-Files Made Contact

UPDATE: There is a slideshow of all the photos at the bottom of this post.

If you were me and saw the program schedule, you would wish there were 2 of you. Fan Expo has gotten that big. Despite having a fill-to-capacity meeting hall spill onto an already crowded venue, I like to commend the volunteers for their tireless corralling duties. It could have been a lot worst if they did not keep people moving. When I was not sitting at a Q&A, I was in the dealers room. There were some pleasant surprises along the way. I believe I may have broken a record for the shortest wait time in acquiring autographs in under 3 hours.

The only show panel I attended was for the Canadian time travel series Continuum. American audiences are going to have to wait until January 2013 to see this show. News of the summer show's renewal was announced in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

And then there is my personal favourite celebrity Q&A, which always brings me back for more year after year. I was really excited to first learn about Gillian Anderson's appearance this year. It is really a rare event. She has admitted to this being her second convention.

I was really anticipating Gillian Anderson

For those celebrities who I cannot possibly see or meet, I can always catch sight of them signing autographs. This year, I literally ran into a couple on the dealers room floor. The creator of Captain Canuck, Richard Comely, was signing stuff for free. It was a treat to have him explain to me the origin story of Canada's own fictional superhero.

Got to show Gillian Anderson drawings I did when I was younger.

It is a convention for everything under the sky after all. I try to have my camera ready to catch the moments of spontaneity.

Do you see Batman on the ground?

The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibit

Slideshow: Fan Expo 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kate Mulgrew

Kate Mulgrew by cin_kong
Kate Mulgrew, a photo by cin_kong on Flickr.
Pic of the weekend. She loves the fandom and she loves Canada. It was when she told the production to leave her hair alone, she owned the part of Captain Janeway.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Six Degrees of Star Trek: Before and After

This is the bottom half list of guest actors in Star Trek roles other than what they were famous for. It includes everyone appearing in the different series, in no particular order.

Before he was Zephram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact, James Cromwell guest starred in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. In the episode "Birthright I & II", he was the most unrecognizable as a Yridian.

Gwynyth Walsh's Lursa made it to the big screen in Star Trek: Generations. After her long stint as a Duras Sister, she was a member of a telepathic race in Voyager's "Random Thoughts". I can't help but notice that parts of her uniform appeared in previous episodes as well.

You all knew him as Kang. After playing the Klingon, Michael Ansara was Lwaxana's husband. Their marriage was annulled, when Odo took Lwaxana as wife so she may keep their unborn son in "The Muse".

Scott MacDonald actually started acting in television in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Before he was Tosk in Deep Space Nine and the Xindi Reptilian Dolim in Enterprise, his first role was a Romulan in "Face of the Enemy". To see what he really looks like, watch Voyager's "Caretaker". He was on the bridge.

I have more, but these are the more notable of characters.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Royale Kittens in Pencil

Here is an old drawing. The Royale kittens. As you can see, I have a preference for negative spaces. White fur made for an interesting shape. Although, I do not like the shading the kitty on the left, I can't help but be drawn in by the eyes.

Commercial Art Logo Concept

This was the original sketch for the design I submitted for the logo contest years ago. It was drawn on a piece of scrap during my commute to work. That is why I keep paper in my pockets. I see now the finished product kept a lot of the same elements on the pineapple.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Betta Colour Characteristics As I understand it, iridescence occurs naturally. Only black and red are pigments. The best way to see the refraction is by shining a flashlight on the red betta.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Anne: Journey to Green Gables

A few years ago, when I was browsing my IMDB page, I saw two different credits appear for Anne: Journey to Green Gables. There is a very interesting story to go with that.

After Walt Disney Animation Toronto closed, I took over as Design Coordinator for a former colleague. This was my first production job, so I was naturally very green. Not long into this contract, I had a previous obligation to another job. Regrettably, I had to quit before the end of the project.
That other production did not last either. Over a year had past before I connected with this studio again. I had called the producer for 'lunch'. Instead of networking with her, I was offered a job. That is when I came back as a Production Assistant.
Now, it had been a while since I had seen the movie. There was just the screening at the Royal Ontario Museum, after production wrapped. I had no way of reading what was on the screen then. Until CTV started airing the Anne of Green Gables series Sundays this month. That is when I got to see my name appear twice. Considering this was not part of the live action mini series, I was very surprised to find the film streaming for a limited time. To think, this was the only feature for which I could not find the DVD.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Goldfish Camera Settings

This is the one. Shutter speed 1/15. ISO 100. It has been so hot lately, there is nothing like being in the basement, perched in front of the aquarium. Wished I could have used a tripod for this, but I have to hold the camera close to achieve the details on the eyes and fins.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Paper Model: Seated Figure

This is a scratch model of a seated figure in a dollhouse chair. The purpose of which will be for scale as I work out the design for the next version of paper cut man and woman. This was measured specifically for the little chair. The body was cut out as one piece and the head is a standard cylinder.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dog Walk Cycle

Dog Walk Cycle via Stop Motion Animation
Here is something I was thinking of doing with the scraps left over from making paper models. It turned out OK. The full walk cycle for dog or any quadrupeds require 8 frames, but cutting by eye resulted in too many frustrating mistakes. I captured the images upside down with my laptop webcam. This is good considering the paper and size of the model made it too difficult to stand upright. Stay tuned for more original paper creations.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Goldfish Too White

Goldfish Too White by cin_kong
Goldfish Too White, a photo by cin_kong on Flickr.
I used ISO 400 for this shot, however the white on the fish body will allow for ISO 200, and obviously less noise. Definitely, the aquarium lighting will be sufficient. Now if only I can get the patterns on the other side of this fish.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Six Degrees of Star Trek: Before And After

Inspired by all the recent retrospectives in the Star Trek community, I am compiling a list of guest actors in roles other than what they were famous for. I will start with the first season of The Next Generation.

Long before he became Quark on Deep Space Nine, instead of a Ferengi, Armin Shimerman was just a talking box containing Deanna Troi's bonding gifts in the TNG episode "Haven".

After being Ben Childress in the TOS episode "Mudd's Women", Gene Dynarski came to serve Starfleet in the 24th century in the TNG episode "11001001".

Before he became Admiral Forrest in Star Trek: Enterprise, the first Star Trek alien that Vaughn Armstrong played was a Klingon in the TNG episode "Heart of Glory". He was a tough guy. It took more than one phaser blasts to bring him down. We also get to see the Klingon death howl for the first time.

After appearing in the movies with the original cast, Merritt Butrick and Judson Scott butted heads in the episode "Symbiosis". Well, they shocked each other with their hands.

Before Henry Darrow became Chakotay's father, he had the distinction of playing the first Vulcan male in the 24th century, in the TNG episode "Conspiracy". He also attempted a neck pinch on Riker. I don't think it was very effective as Riker did not even pass out.

Before donning any Cardassian make-up prosthetic, Marc Alaimo was one of two 24th century Romulans first seen by Starfleet, in the TNG episode "The Neutral Zone". BTW The way outposts on both sides were destroyed is the first prelude to the Borg.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Goldfish, No Flash

Goldfish Gathering by cin_kong
Goldfish, No Flash, a photo by cin_kong on Flickr.
Using ISO 400 to achieve the natural lighting. I am still working on reducing the noise, but it is good to know there is a way to photograph without flash.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Now A Video With Goldfish Too

Tank was too dirty to show before. When does it ever stay clean? Maybe after the fish are gone. Did you know the common goldfish can live indefinitely? World records had one living 43 years. All it needs is nutrition and good filtration. Mine has gone through some adverse conditions. Only the size of its environment will be a factor here. Now, I can't wait to get a calico and black variety.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Goldfish, No Lights

A Good Morning by cin_kong
Goldfish, No Lights, a photo by cin_kong on Flickr.
This image exists on the internet in two ways. I could not decide which crop I liked best. This version leaves out the more noticeable streaks on the glass and creates a frame around the fish.

About the composition. It was before the aquarium lights had turned on, and I wanted to check on the goldfish and the snail. The fish always seem skittish otherwise. After I scraped off more algae, I wanted to get in as much camera time as possible. They are a challenge to capture.

Under the circumstances, it was hard enough to see the subject much less find them in the viewer. I certainly did not expect that it was possible to even get a shot. To my delight, this has resolved the problem of reflected light I usually have with goldfish.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fish Videos

I was wondering what to do with the videos I took recently. There was no professional set up, but I must admit they turned out great. I was able to use the editing tools in Youtube to unify the screen resolution from different cameras and add an acoustic track, among other things.

Update: The videos themselves was edited in Windows Movie Maker. I used it to split the clips. After I upload the video to Youtube, I add the text and transitions.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Grimm - Season One Overview

Ever since his Aunt Marie told him with her dying breath to hunt down the 'bad ones', Detective Nick Burkhardt has been discovering a strange legacy as a Grimm. Up until now, Nick has been able to keep his new found responsibilities from his partner Hank and girlfriend Juliette.

Other than the Grimm Guide that is available over at the NBC site, I hope that this article will prove helpful for anyone watching the first season from the start.

The season finale (1.22 "Woman in Black") will, in some way, serve as a summary for all that had occurred previously.

What we know is this, so far...

WESEN are species that exists within us. They are not aware of what they are until they reach adolescence. (1.06 "Let Your Hair Down") Despite trying to lead normal lives, sometimes they have trouble avoiding their natural instincts. (1.11 "Tarantella") Wesen can be seen when they transform or WOGE during emotional surges. (1.21 "Big Feet") While some are dangerous, most wesen are good people. For a long time, a Grimm has only been a myth. In Portland, the wesen think of Nick as their defender and friend. Monroe, a blutbad and Rosalee, a fuchsbau are two of his biggest allies.

The VERATT is an old world order. They ensure the purity of wesen kind. We are told that they are bringing a war. Nick got in the middle of the conflict when a hundjager was sent to kill a rebel lauffer. This was the first time Nick is told about the SEVEN ROYAL FAMILIES his kind served. Unbeknownst to him though his superior police captain Renard is one. (1.18 "Cat and Mouse") Whatever the relationship was before, it must appear to any wesen that this Grimm and this royal is behaving out of character.

REAPERS kill the Grimm. With Munroe's training, Nick was able use the weapons of his ancestors to survive his first encounter in a fight against two deadly assassins. (1.19 "Leave It to Beavers")

Nick's investigation involving ancient gold coins (1.13 "Three Coins in a Fuchsbau") led to the discovery of the wesen who killed his parents.

Where we left off... [Spoilers]

Adalind Schade is a witch / hexenbiest and Nick's nemesis. She has been after a key that Marie entrusted to Nick found in Aunt Marie's trailer full of Grimm stuff. Her plans to obtain it has caused Hank and Sergeant Wu to fall under her spell. After Nick stripped her of her powers, she cast a spell on his girlfriend. Does Adalind plan on using Juliette to get the key that way?

Nick's mother is apparently still alive. She was on the trail of her supposed killer Kimura. Was she looking for the coins too? Hopefully, we will find out why she is showing up, after all these years.

How Do Wesen Know Nick is a Grimm?

Throughout the season, there has been one burning question that most viewers have wanted answered. Nick doesn't appear different or do anything to announce that he is a Grimm. How do the wesen know? Well, here is one explanation. If wesen only let people see them when they want to, then I believe they are unable to conceal their true nature in the presence of a Grimm.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Paper Model: Titanic

I did it! 
Today, I finally put together the RMS Titantic paper model. How was it? It is missing a few details, like 18 lifeboats instead of 20. I built this to see whether it was possible to work on something with such fine details. As it turns out, I was less than successful at it. Anyway, I am happy with the results, even if it did rip some during cutting. It would have been done a lot sooner, if the daytime lighting had not been so dim of late. If anyone is looking to challenge themselves, click on the Currell logo in this post and hop on over to the website to download the free model.

Onward to something bigger.