Sunday, January 28, 2007

The first of the three videos:

Normally I'll try to have the videos available from my .Mac account, however the 640x480 version of this one is 343MB. The 320x240 video is only 20.5MB though, and the quality is still somewhat better than it looks on YouTube. You can get it here: Video 1

Normally I'll try to have the higher quality videos available from my .Mac account, however the 640x480 version of this one is 343MB, which is over a third of my allowable storage space. Fortunately the 320x240 video is only 20.5MB and the quality is still somewhat better than the YouTube video. You can get it here: Video 1 link.

I've found that even worse than the export time is coming up with something to say for five minutes. It seems that when I'm not actually recording I can think of plenty of things to say, but when the mic is on it all flitters away. Last night after about 20 takes and false starts I reached the point where I felt like I was a mumbling moron and stopped a bit earlier than planned. And that was only on the audio for the first movie. As a result I had to extend the end music quite a bit longer than The Coconut Monkeyrocket intended.

The remaining two videos will be posted later later today if I find myself amazingly eloquent, or as the week goes by. If I do this week's theme – "Red" – I won't be recording it.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

About those movies...

They are coming. I'm working on them now. However I got a later start than I had intended and it's not looking like they will be done by today at this rate. Exporting takes a stupidly long time, which I somehow forgot. So I will work until they are done and posted, or until I drop. Whichever comes first. Sorry for the delay.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

IF: "Super Hero" - final

Due to both the time it takes to export the movies, and the fact that I would rather spend the day celebrating Heather's birthday with her than dinking around any more on the computer, the videos won't be up until Saturday at the earliest. As for the videos, I'll be honest, they're a wee bit crappy. First I lost the audio on the movie #1, then on movie #2 I was more focused on getting it done than on talking so the audio was useless, and finally I decided for the last movie to change how it was fillmed. On the first two there was way too much motion with the recoder is set to follow the cursor, so I tried a set stage. You can't see the tools that I select, or how I manipulate the layers as easily so they may be useless for learning from, but you also shouldn't feel the need to barf. I hope.

So, by saturday, I have to make three 9-minute audio tracks to synch the movies to – which will also speed them up... a good thing – and I have to make title credits as well. Fun fun. But I am learning and they should get better and more useful the more of them I make.

So. That said, here's my final illustration for the Illustration Friday topic "Super Hero" (all images are clickable):

IF: "Super Hero" final

Here's a link to where I posted the initial sketch and the YouTube movie of the same being made: Sketch

And, lastly, here's my 7-year-old daughter Jordyn's take on the topic... Streg the Fatman!:


And a cat that she also drew, because I like it:


Have a great week everyone, and be sure to check back sometime later on Saturday if you want to see the "making of" movies. Myooo!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

IF: "Super Hero" - Sketch

Well, that was nothing if not time consuming. Going into this week's illustration friday topic, I had no idea what I was going to do. Knowing that I wanted to record it made it even more difficult to come up with anything. I recorded and trashed two earlier ideas before settling on this one. I would show you how much worse the other two ideas were, but... well... they don't exist anymore, except as rapidly fading memories.

Through it all I realized that I'm just not a super hero kinda guy, I guess.

So, here's the sketch, and please keep in mind that it's only a sketch. It will look better when it's finished. At least it should. I hope it does. They usually do.


If you would like to see how I made it you have a couple of options. You can either watch the cut 320x240 YouTube video that I uploaded (now with music!), or you can download the uncut 640x480 video from this link. Or you can do both. Who am I to limit your choices?

Sketch Video:

Edit: Wow. After viewing how the YouTube video turned out, all I can say is that's horrible. Simply horrible. I think I'm going to have to figure out something else.

Edit2: Okay, I figured out something else. It shouldn't be as bad and it's also a little under 6 minutes long now for reasons that are silly. And there's music. And dancing bears. Okay, no bears. But there is music, so that may help the time pass faster. This is also probably my most edited post ever.

(end edit 2, resuming edit 1)

Oh, and I started filming the finalizing of the drawing last night. Just the head took 27 minutes, although there was going to be audio with it as well. I say "was going to be" because something went wrong and there was no audio when it was all done. And the raw file was 9.7GB. Even after I compressed and resized it to the same settings as the better quality sketch movie it was still 300 MB. I'm looking into how to fix that without making it look as horrible as the YouTube video does. Needless to say, the final video won't be available before Thursday.

After I'd finished the sketch and looked at it, I realized why I had the thought that I'd done this drawing before... well, not THIS one, but one like it:

I guess I have a "thing" for capes and mohawk-ie stuff.

So now the plan is for me to record the finishing steps at some point between now and Thursday. I may have a couple hours to work on it in the morning, and that might be enough. I guess we'll see. I'm also considering recording a voice over with it as well, although that adds considerably to the file size.

Take care all.

Sometime soon: The story about the half-sisters I never knew I had by way of the father I never knew.*


*It's not that I think the silly IF stuff is more important. I just found out about them a couple days ago and I'm still getting to know them. I'll tell you more in due time.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

One crucial step closer to fulfilling my evil plan.

I started this year by dedicating a set amount of money toward getting my home computer upgraded and buying the software I need so that I can start recording tutorials that will hopefully be found useful to you, my readers. Obviously, the usefulness will depend on whether or not you want to learn anything about Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro, Art Rage 2, or how I go about drawing the crap that I draw.

Getting the stuff I needed turned out to be a rocky affair.

On the hardware side of things I decided to get a smaller Wacom Intuos 3 tablet that would be easier to use while at my tiny home desk, as well as upping my system's RAM by 4 GB and getting a new video card. The tablet arrived without hassle, and works great. However I ordered the video card and memory from one online dealer. An hour before I placed my order back in the last week of December the video card was in stock. After I placed my order it changed to "Ships in 9 days". I hoped that I'd gotten the last one. Not so lucky. 10 days later after the status of my order hadn't changed I contacted the company's support department by email and was informed the next day that the card is backordered and it will be another 35 days before it's expected to arrive. So, rather than be like Amazon who will break up your order and ship what they have in stock, they were just keeping my RAM waiting for that sunny, far off day when the card showed up. Oh, and not bother letting me know.

So I called the support, cancelled the card and added another 2GB of RAM since the price had dropped while I had been waiting. All seemed roses, and I got a shipping confirmation, a tracking number and an invoice. My order would be arriving on the 16th of January. Well... some of my order would, as it turns out.

When I opened the package at lunch yesterday I was a "bit distressed" to find only 2GB of the 6GB arrived. Then the follow up call to their support led to me being on hold for 30 minutes and then told their database just went down and they would have to call me back. I was stressing a tinch. That's a mild way of putting it.

After 4pm I got a call back and was told the person who had changed my order made a mistake and that they would be sending the RAM that night. I asked if I could have it by tomorrow (today) and he said he could have it here by Thursday for me.

It actually arrived today. I'm now less stressed. I'll be finally relaxed when I get it home and put it into my G5 and everything runs perfectly. I'm not expecting that, but I am hoping for it.

I also got my iMac account set up for hosting the higher resolution movies. I'll still post them to youTube as well for those who would like to view them without the hassle and pain of downloading them. A link to where they will be found is in my sidebar where it says "Tutorials & More".

On the software side of things, everything should be done. I'll try to put a movie of some sort together by Monday. With luck not having the video card upgrade won't be too much of a problem. There will certainly still be some rough spots to work out, like the fact that I know nothing about iMovie or iDVD and will likely be posting raw, unedited stuff until I get it figured out.

So. That's what's new with me. Anyone have any suggestions for what the topic of the first movie should be? I have a few ideas of my own, obviously, but I'm curious what you guys might like to see.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A cry for help.

As you can see, I've changed my template. I'm now using one of the newfangled modular template doohickies that the Google peeps are giddy for.

All is not roses and sunshine.

Mainly the problems I'm having are with my sidebar links.

The way sidebar links are handled now, all I have to do is add a Link Module, name it and start adding links. That would be lovely, if Link Modules worked like the Archive Module.

If I were able to make it so that next to the name of the Link Module (ex. "Friends" "Blogs Friends" whatever) there was a twirly triangle like in the Archive section that could expand and collapse the link list it would be perfect.

I don't see a way of doing that.

There is an option to limit the number of links shown, but that just makes the rest of the links past that number disappear, which kinda makes it pointless as far as I can tell. I mean really, really pointless. Find me the point. Why have extra links in a list that nobody, including you, can see? Grr.

The problem I have now is if I were to add back in all of the links and all of the sections that I had before "the change", I could quite possibly win the "Longest and most pointless web page" award. I'm sure that award is out there.

So, does anyone know of a way to modify the code in the module to add in twirly triangles for collapsing and expanding a sidebar link list? I searched Blogger help, but it wasn't any. If you think you may be of help, but need the module code, let me know and I'll send it to you.

... Don't get me started on the header. Oh, sure, I can modify the freaking Header Module so that it links to where I have the original f-n-p image on the web instead of displaying the words "Fizzle & Pop", however then the name of my blog changes to that full link at the top of the tab or window that it's viewed in. And it won't let me just throw away the Header Module and replace it with old fashioned HTML like I did before.

The future is annoying.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My first book!

Hah. Not really. I've assembled all of my CliparToons from 2005 into a PDF that you can get for free here: CliparToons 01-63 and 3.pdf.

In it I talk about some of the comics, and say nothing about most of them.

This is the first PDF book that I've made. If anyone has any problems with it, let me know and I'll see if I can fix it.

Have a great week.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Made the switch

From Sprint to Cingular... wait. No. From Blogger to the New and Improved Bloggergeddongettendamerung. God help us all. Or at least me. You're probably just fine.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ringing in the New Year with a fist full of cash.

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year's Eve, and an even better start to 2007. Me? I played games all night and went to bed at 2:30 in the morning. Then on Monday afternoon I faced a moral dilemma.

The day started with me waking bright-eyed and eager-to-go at 10:22. I had received a call on Friday from the Saturn finance guy saying that he finally had the last of the paperwork I needed to sign for my car, and asked if I would be able to come in that day, Saturday or Monday since they would be open. I told him I wasn't driving anywhere on Friday – another blizzard, dontchaknow – and on Saturday I had other running around to try to do on the other side of town. So that left Monday. And that's why I was up at the ungodly hour of 10:22 a.m. on New Year's Day.

The final signing went smoothly and I decided to stop and get groceries at Safeway on my way home, since we were almost down to eating the plaster. Blah-blah-dull-dull. Anyhow, after spending $140 on noshies I was wheeling my overladen cart through the wind and the slush to my car, looking down to navigate the best I could. I did a double take. There in the slush to my left were several $20 bills. I looked around, snapped them up, shook the water off of them and stuffed them in my jacket pocket. It felt like there were at least six of them. So for the rest of the trip to my car my mind is racing. What do I do? Keep it? See if anyone is looking around? What?

By the time I finished with the groceries I knew I shouldn't keep it. It was too much money. One or two twenties I could keep. Maybe three. But this was too much. This was money someone needed. I really should at least see if someone is looking for it. So I started to look around the parking lot. If I found someone looking worried and scanning the ground I would give them the money and be on my way. If not I would keep it. Instead I found a few more twenties. Apparently the stack was bigger when it first hit the ground and the wind had tossed what didn't stick in the slush along. So now I was looking for more twenties, and a worried person. Mostly for more twenties. I figured a worried person would notice me searching and come to me.

I followed the path of the wind toward the hill that sloped down from the store where several kids were sledding. I was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, finding a twenty here and a twenty there. One woman was eyeing me as I walked around her car as she was getting in, preparing to leave. I found two twenties a few feet behind where she was parked and after I moved she backed out of her spot giving me a pissed look – I imagine because I'd been in her way – I found one more near her driver's side door and two more in the bushes right next to her. Off she drove, oblivious.

As I continued the search I noticed that one of the sledding kids was watching me. He was about 10, at a guess. After he saw me pick up a couple more bills he walked up to me and said, "Hey. Are you finding money?"

Well, crap. That's all I needed was a group of kids searching for the money and running off. Because, at this point after much flip-flopping of thought – do I keep it? nonono! But?! NO! – I'd decided that I would be turning in the money to someone. I just hadn't figured out who or how yet. There was no way someone lost this much cash, all crisp – yet damp – twenties, straight from a bank that could afford to have lost it. Not in that neighborhood at least.

So I said, "Yeah. The wind caught it and blew it away and I'm trying to find where it went." That way I implied it was mine without saying it was mine, and hopefully he wouldn't just get his friends together and mug me. So he watched me search for a few more minutes, during which time I found a couple more twenties. Then someone from the store came walking up to me and asked, "Did you lose some money?"

Well, crap again. The kid was still there watching. What do I say now? If I say yes, and he gives me the money he found, how the hell will I turn it in later? Or worse, if I say yes and then while I'm searching the real owner shows up, then what? Crapcrapcrap. So I said something along the lines of, "No, I found some over there and a bit more over here, so I'm looking for any more before I turn it in," which was true, but not optimal in the presence of the kid.

My attention was entirely on the man at that point, so I have no idea what the kid did when he heard the news. The man's shirt tag labeled him as an assistant manager. He said, "Oh. I found $80 a bit ago, but while I was looking I lost my Safeway card. Have you seen it?" I told him I hadn't, but I would keep an eye out. While I was talking I was still looking at the ground. I glanced over toward where the kids had been sledding and they, along with a couple of adults who were with them, were looking our way and talking to each other.

Not good.

Then I found another twenty and I barely had the water shaken from it before the assistant manager took it from my fingers. So that's how it is, eh?

A minute or so later an old woman came up to the guy and said that she'd found his card. He thanked her, looked at me again and then went back toward the store. I spent about ten more minutes searching my way back to the store, found one more bill, stuffed it in my jacket and then went in. I asked the guy at the counter to page the assistant manager. After he did I heard one of the cashiers laughingly say, "He's still outside, looking for money." But he wasn't. I saw him walking toward me from the side offices.

Now here's where my details get fuzzy for a couple of reasons. Partly it was because I was getting bad vibes from this guy. It started with the snatched bill outside. I asked him what would happen to the money if nobody claimed it, and he said that store policy is they can't keep any money they find. So, that wasn't really an answer. Would they burn it if it wasn't claimed? I doubt that. Then when I took the wad of cash out my pocket I could swear I heard him say "cha-ching!" Okay, probably not, but that's the feeling I got from him. I started counting. When I passed $300 my hands were shaking a bit, so he took the money from me and counted it out himself. It came to $400. With the twenty he took from me earlier, that made $420.

The other reason was, if nobody claimed the cash I wanted it back. I'm not a total idiot. So the thoughts chasing themselves through my head as I counted were, "store policy be damned; if nobody claims this he's going to keep it. I just know it. Look at him." He didn't even ask for my name and I wouldn't have been surprised if he put it in his pocket when he was done counting. You know, to keep it safe. I know I should have gotten the cops involved by this point, but I just wasn't thinking clearly. Instead I said, "If nobody claims this, when can I get it?" I wish I could show you the look that passed over his face. He could tell I wasn't just going to walk away, so he said he would write down my name and number and call me if nobody claimed it, but "unless it was drug money I can't imagine that happening. Ha ha!"

Yeah. Right. So I gave him my name and number and said, "So, how long will you wait to see if someone's going to claim it?" Again a look.

"You can call us in 24 hours."

"What number should I call?"

I'm certain he could tell by this point that I didn't trust him, and it seemed to piss him off. I was also thinking to myself, "It's not my money. I know it's a lot of money, but it's NOT MY MONEY. I'm not out anything besides the time it took to find it. Why should it bother me so much if he decides to keep it? It's on him then."

For some reason he suddenly became efficient in what he was doing. He gave me the store phone number, he had the guy who was working the help counter sign the paper with my name, number and the amount of the money that I found, and even made a point of including the twenty he took from me in the parking lot in the final amount. Then he photocopied the note, gave me the copy and sealed the original in an envelope with the money. He told the guy, "This is too much money to leave out. We need to put it in the safe." Then they both went into the back room to "put it in the safe".

I knew someone would be looking for it. Hell, if it was me I would be frantic. I really wanted that person, whoever it was, to find it because I knew they would need it. But if they couldn't, I did NOT want this guy to keep it.

Minimally satisfied and certain that I would never see the money again (which on the one hand is fine since it wasn't really mine, and on the other hand it was $420.) I left the store thinking that I really should have had him call the cops. I almost went back in to have him do it. But I didn't. I looked around the parking lot one more time, just in case I missed anything. I figured that unless I found a whole lot more I would keep anything I found until I either heard back from the store or the owner of the money. But I didn't find any more. I noticed that all of the sledders were gone by this time as well. Hmmm.

I drove all the way home with the thoughts rattling around my head, "you should have kept it; no, you did the right thing; that guy is totally going to keep the money; so what? it's not yours; maybe I missed some; maybe it blew down the hill" and loop.

Pulling into my parking spot I nearly slid into Heather's car due to all of the ice that was forming from the melt off coming from the pile of snow the plow had left by my car. I unloaded the groceries, thoughts still buzzing around my mind. To try to distract myself I got Justin and we went out with a couple of shovels to try to bust up the ice behind my car. That was exhausting and did the trick. At least for distracting me. There was still a lot of ice behind my car. Still, I managed to put the money out of my mind until the phone rang at about 4:30.

A woman asked if I was Collin. I said I was. She thanked me profusely for turning in the money. It turns out it was her rent money, which was one of the possibilities I'd considered since it was the first of the month. She asked me for my address and I gave it to her. I asked her if she got it all back, thinking it wasn't too likely, but hoping. She said she was still missing $120, but luckily her landlord was understanding. I told her about how the wind had blown it all over and about the kids that were sledding on the hill. She said she looked around the hill as well but didn't find anything. She thanked me again and said she was grateful there are still honest people out there. I didn't tell her how close I had come to keeping it or how much I'd wanted to. We said goodbye and hung up.

Then I started thinking again. This is what it's like to be me: I was thinking, "Does she think I kept some of the money? If I had found some on the second sweep, I know I would have told her and given it to her, but she doesn't know that. She doesn't know me. I hope she doesn't think I kept it. Etc." It's just how I am. I guess it's guilt from the days long passed when I was someone who would have kept the money. I have a guilty conscious because there was a time when I was guilty and nothing I can do will change that. Oh well.

I managed to put it out of my mind until I tried to go to sleep last night, but then it all resurfaced. I have no idea what time I finally fell asleep.

So, that was most of my first day of the new year. It was certainly an interesting day.

How about you guys? How was your day?
"Boring a hole in the patient’s head creates a door through which the demons can escape, and - viola! - out goes the crazy."