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Showing posts from 2009

Remembering a pioneer in PC animation software: "Autodesk Animator"

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Two months ago, October 2009, marks an interesting anniversary for animation: It’s been 20 years since animation software was available in any meaningful form for the PC platform. Around October 1989, Autodesk released an extremely well written and revolutionary MS-DOS art program that worked on even an Intel 286 chip: Autodesk Animator. Everybody hates it when old people start saying “I remember when,” but you cannot imagine the excitement I had when this software was first released. It literally made me buy my first computer: A Packard Bell 286 computer from a catalog-department store called Service Merchandise. The computer had a 40 megabyte hard-drive and 1 megabyte of RAM. You young people need to pause for a moment and consider what I just said: My dream computer had less than 1/8000th the amount of RAM present in your pocket mp3 player. It did NOT come with a mouse, monitor, modem, network card, sound card (they actually barely existed then until SoundBlaster shook up th

Big Day Today for Disney and Toon Boom

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This is a big day for Disney and Toon Boom.  Too many years have passed since Disney released an actual hand-drawn motion picture.  Today, the studio releases "The Princess and the Frog" to rave reviews. What's especially cool about this release is knowing the studio did the entire production on the same Toon Boom software I use to create my animations.  It looks like Disney has remained true to its long tradition of high quality drawn animation.  Let's hope it does well at the box office.

End of Year Top Health Stories of 2009

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End of year lists: Top Health Stories of 2009 included the following: 1. Health Care Reform dominated the news with talk about "Death Panels" terrifying seniors who feared being bumped off early to make way for younger patients.  It was, of course, total nonsense.  The mere fact that anyone took it seriously is a sad commentary on the state of our nation. 2. In second place, H1N1 dominated the news.  Patients became frantic about getting vaccines for both the regular flu and H1N1.  The fact that children were at greatest risk for death from H1N1 did not deter older adults from pushing to the front of the line.  3. Breast cancer recommendations took a leap into the bizarre as women under 50 were advised against mammograms, defying all previous guidelines.  Since my practice partner had her cancer caught at age 48 by a mammogram (link to story), we took particular offense at these recommendations. 4. A story that got a lot of local attention was the banning of smoki

The Curse of the Scrambled Cursor..... is SOLVED!

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Since Windows 7 arrived, Tablet PC users working in portrait mode have battled the curse of the duplicate and scrambled cursor.  It was confusing, headache inducing, and annoying.  It remained through multiple beta and final revisions of Windows 7.  Much to our horror, it remained in the final release. The appearance looked like: Now, the solution has been found! Go to Control Panel Find "Mouse Properties" Go to "Pointer Options" Put a check mark in the "Display Pointer trails" Slide the bar over to "short" Apply the changes and then restart journal. This problem seems to have been solved. I am a heavy Journal user and this has driven me CRAZY!!!

It’s the “Windows 7 Rant!”

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I’ve been listening to the non-stop computer press love affair with Windows 7. Upgrade your PC’s! Don’t be afraid! This time Microsoft has done it right! Well, not exactly… We have a lot of laptops in our office and home. We try to stick with major brands and configurations. A few built desktops are in our home, but mainly we have Tablet PC’s, which tend to stick to basic Intel Motherboard and Graphics configurations. Thus, you would think these would be easy to upgrade. Guess again! Again, these are major brands: Lenovo, HP, Toshiba, Fujitsu. These have all been best selling tablet pc’s. Microsoft should know these machines! Here are the issues: 1. Portrait mode on a tablet PC creates a double cursor. These machines were designed to be held and used like notebooks, using the tablet feature and Windows Journal or Office One Note. It’s usable, but you often get confused by the weird double cursor. This bug appears in every tablet we have and was present from even the Beta On

Toon Boom Event

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This week, I attended the "More for Less" event in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Toon Boom , the makers of animation software. In the 1930's, Walt Disney was not content to only create an animation studio. He wanted to form an "animation community" to foster and enhance the art of animation. His efforts resulted in some of the finest animation of all time and, of course, ultimately led to the creation of the entertainment powerhouse we know so well today. Joan Vogelesang, CEO of Toon Boom is attempting to create and foster a similar community, using the miracle of worldwide interactive communication. Animation is experiencing global growth. Skilled animators are now in short supply as studios across the world are created and expand. Yet, technology has changed the model. Animators no longer must congregate in a central Burbank, California headquarters as in Disney's day. Today, an animation studio can be virtual and literally span the globe. The chal

H1N1 News Conference

As if to emphasize the recent bad press regarding the unreliability of "the cloud," YouTube Video has managed to become unreliable in hosting some of my animations. Here's the H1N1 update animation posted on Dailymotion: H1N1 Update Report 01 <br /

H1N1 News Conference

This is very serious. Please watch this carefully.

Website fixed

After several years of patching up the same home page, it was becoming a slow-loading bloated mess. I've redone the page from scratch. I can't code direct html like Andrew, but I can fumble in Front Page and embed YouTube videos!

Healthcare Debate

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Okay.... Here's my input to the healthcare debate...

Save Wilderness Battlefield!

The new animation to support the effort to save the Civil War Battlefield in Wilderness is finally finished. This short little 30 second spot took a lot of animating and uses the great new features in Toon Boom's latest software: Animate Pro.

DEVO is back!

All is right with the world. Good news, America! Everything is going to be okay again.... "DON'T SHOOT" - DEVO from DEVO Channel on Vimeo .

Studio 5 Announced

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Holy Cow! There’s a sudden slew of software announcements coming from Toon Boom. The latest news: Toon Boom Studio version 5 is coming. It looks like the added features allow you to do more with imported video and rotoscoping. I’ve played with rotoscoping in the past and found the effects to be interesting. Improved export options will be available. Frankly, Studio has always been very good at exporting video to different formats, so I’m having trouble imagining how this could be improved. It sounds like it will be more seamless in interacting with web video services. It’s their lower end animation product, yet it does things and has an ease of use that is unmatched in more expensive programs from other companies. This is a program for professionals, regardless of how they portray it. If you are just starting in animation, Toon Boom Studio is the place to begin your adventure. Then you can upgrade and you lose no money in the process. Go ahead! Make the leap!

Animate Pro.... I can't wait!

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When Toon Boom comes out with a new animation product, I immediately use the product to create my next animation. This often feels like plunging into a cold swimming pool, such as when Solo first came out, but once you get used to the program, you really can get to know it well as you work out the kinks. When Solo first came out, I used it to create the cell phone animation where the girl goes “blah, blah, blah” while driving. There were times that I felt I was immediately pushing the software to its limits and I certainly pushed my tablet pc to its rendering limits. When I was done, though, I really felt like I’d learned a lot of the program, though certain elements still remain a bit mysterious to me. When Digital Pro came out, I repeated the procedure. Just for the heck of it, I also use the lower end product, Studio, for projects when a new update comes out, just to play with the program. Studio is still an amazing piece of software for the price. Now, I’m anxiously awaiting A

EMR... We're all DOOMED!

A somewhat modified version of the Electronic Medical Records animation.

Animate Pro announced! HOO HA!!!

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Great news for animators! Toon Boom has announced a new program to update "Digital Pro." It's called "Animate Pro." The coolest part of this program will be the ability to manipulate drawings in a 3-D space. Several of my animations featured cars driving with the background moving from front to back. This simulation of a 3-D camera was actually a real pain in the neck with the current available programs. True, there is a limited 3-D capability in both "Digital Pro" and "Toon Boom Studio," but there are serious limits on the camera moves. On some of my animations, there are strange artifacts that start to appear with the cars on the road that I tried to conceal with character placement. The 3-D camera will be very helpful in adding drama to limited animation. Yes, limited animation is wimpy, but when you are a lone animator and want to crank out a commercial spot quickly, you can maximize your quality by dramatic zooms or subtle perspecti

Intuit Quick Books is trying to kill me

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Intuit software makes Quickbooks Pro, the standard for company accounting. It's pretty much a mandatory piece of software that must be updated regularly. We started the company with the 2002 version, updated in 2005, and were advised to update to the current 2009 by our bookkeeper I've dreaded this moment. To put it simply, Quickbooks updates its software for one major reason: It wants to turn your company files into an incompatible format that will require everyone in your management: bookkeepers, accountants, etc. to also update the software. This keeps everyone paying an annual ransom of $100 to $200 per year per machine installed. Quickbooks also demands that you physically call the company to activate the product. You cannot use that new fangled internet thing. First, you wait on hold because all operators are busy. Then, you must try to spell “Mussey,Sarber, & Associates, P.C.” to some poor underpaid guy in a third-world cubicle and hope he doesn't mistake you

The Amiga Computer: After all these years we still miss it!

This is a magnificent animation by Amiga Animator Eric Schwartz that tries to describe the incredible fondness many animators and video specialists held for the Amiga Computer in the late 1980s and early 1990s. If you never had an Amiga, you would never understand it....