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Holidays and Japan!

December 24, 2008 •

Red Flag LAN #24Hello again! I’m already 2 days into my holidays and enjoying it very much! It’s been pretty busy so far, so I thought I’d post a bit of an update on what’s going on.

Last weekend was RFLan #24. As far as RFLans have gone, I think this was quite possibly the best one yet. Thankfully, we toned it down a bit since last time, and only roughly 230 people came instead of over 300! We thoroughly planned to power and networking systems this time, and as a result, we had absolutely no issues whatsoever. Because of this, I was luckily able to get a lot of quality game time down! I played mostly Left 4 Dead and TF2, as well as made a few new Steam buddies.

The revised version of the shot

Next up, I’ve spent a bit more time working on my main shot for Cosmos. It’s taken a day or so of work, but it’s definitely taking shape now! Since my last update, I’ve refined the animation much better, remodeled some bits of the patrol ship, changed some of the colours, as well as added some more visual effects. It shouldn’t be too much longer before I can lock this in for a final render!

If I get time after this, I’ll see about writing up a bit of a brief of how I’m doing all of it. :)

Finally, I figured I probably should announce this on my blog now, it’s one of the main reasons I made it hehe.

I’m going back to Japan again!! :D

It’s all my father’s crazy planning, he wants to go check out the town I worked in last year since he loved the photos I have of it. So we’re going back for 2 weeks, one of them being a ski trip, and the other being a week of playing around the country… mainly Tokyo. I’m very happy about this since it’s already been more than a year since I last went to Japan.
I’m also trying to see how feasible/expensive it would be to travel down to Osaka from Tokyo so I might be able to catch up with all of the friends I have down there. :)

In any case, when I go, I intend to ramp up the number of blog posts I do here to document everything I do over here hehe.

Should be good. Gotta start packing!

Lights, Camera, Render!

December 19, 2008 •

w00t! And so the holidays begin now! :D
Over the past 2 or so weeks, I’ve been pretty much solidified on getting SteamerCard to work properly so it would stop cramming my email inbox with thrown exception errors, which thankfully… I’ve succeeded. Moreso, SteamerCard just hit 100 users on Facebook! Gratz to my friend Stephen’s hard marketing work no doubt. XD

Anyway, so with that totally out of mind (for now), I’m migrating to a new project. I’ve known of this project for 2 years… but it’s only recently started to come to fruition.

‘Welcome to the Cosmos’ is a science fiction television series that will be released over the internet. It basically revolves around how 4 normal humans are accidentally swept aboard an intergalactic space ship that was passing over Earth during a botched mission. It is currently being shot in Melbourne, and will be released in full 1080p HD. There is also an official production blog online which can be viewed from http://www.welcometothecosmos.com/

I became a good acquaintence of the director of WTTC a few years back when I volunteered to do some animation work for another of his projects, and so this time around, he asked me back to see if I could help out with some of the computer generated sequences. Naturally, I jumped at the chance. ^_^

So now, I’m a CG artist for an online television series… cool. From the looks of it, the stuff I’ll be doing is mainly animation and compositing work, and quite possibly a little bit of 3D modeling. Naturally, it’s all going to be done in my platform of choice, LightWave 3D. ^_^

Thankfully, the majority of the 3D assets have already been created, so I don’t really have to stress over those. The two major elements are a ‘scout ship’ and a ‘patrol ship’. The production quality of these 2 assets is ridiculously high, as they have both been made by very high-end LightWave artists who have previously had work featured in such prominent shows as the new ‘Battlestar Galactica’.

Scout ship by Alain Rivard

Patrol ship by Fabio Passaro

So… starting from these holidays, I’ve been assigned the task to create several fully CG shots involving these ships. The shots will need to be in 1080p and will need to be able to stand under heavy scrutiny hehe. Sounds somewhat tricky, but I’m down for the challenge. :)

I’ve already started work on the first shot, which I’ll post a little tidbit here. :)

At this point, I’m still working on refining the motion of the scout ship, so I don’t think this shot is anywhere near complete yet hehe.

In any case, I’m very glad to have been given this chance to contribute. I’ve always wanted to put my 3D skills towards a professional production of this magnitude, and so I’m going to try my very best!

It’s over!

December 7, 2008 •

The exam is over.

It was hard.

There was lots of kanji.

And there were lots of really complex words.

I need to practice this crazy language more.

But… I’m remaining cautiously optimistic that I did alright. XP

T-minus 15 hours

December 6, 2008 •

Yup, here we go. The time’s finally come haha. The JLPT level 2 exam for 2008 is on at 12:00pm tomorrow!!

Studying for this exam has been pretty damn weird. I don’t really know if there is a clear-cut way of trying to cram one’s head with 1000 Chinese symbols and 3000 words in just under a year, and if anyone knows of a really good way for next time, please tell me hehe.

I spent the majority of today pouring over my kanji chart updating it with the kanji that I learnt from Kumon in the interim, the practice exams and from my iPhone’s kanji trainer. All in all, I know roughly 350 symbols now, so we’ll see how that goes.

At the moment, I’m feeling very ambivalent towards this. Not really nervous… but not excited either. That’ll probably change tomorrow, but here’s hoping my feelings are the right ones for this kinda thing.

Either way, I think I attained what I wanted out of this exam, and that was motivate myself to improve my Japanese ability, even if it was a little. Because of this exam, I went to town with my Kumon lessons, I sat down and watched tonnes more Japanese TV than I normally do, I took part in several interesting Japanese events around Perth and made some new friends, as well as I just sat down and wrote stuff… which I usually don’t do… ever. I’m hoping this is becoming apparent in the Japanese entries I’ve written on this blog as well hehe.

That being said, passing it would be icing on the cake, but I won’t be very disappointed if I don’t.

Well… apart from the fact that I’d probably have to go through all of this again next year as well. XD

To all of my friends I know who is doing the JLPT exam as well this year (especially the crazy hardcore ones doing JLPT1!!!), I wish you the very best of luck!

Here we go!! :D

One week to JLPT2

November 30, 2008 •

Ookay, as of writing this, it’s now officially less than one week until the 2008 JLPT exam. :O

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam (ie JLPT) is an international exam held world-wide every year that non-native speakers of Japanese can undertake in the hopes of gaining a professional qualification on how l33t one’s Japanese ability is. The levels range from Level 4 through 1 where 4 is the easiest, and 1 is exceptionally difficult, even for most Japanese people.

This year, I figured on choosing level 2 which is usually gauged by having to know approximately 1000 Chinese symbols and approximately 4000 words. It’s a significant leap from level 3 which is something like 300 Chinese symbols and 1000 words only. :P

As of right now, it’s pretty much sunk in on how totally screwed I am for this exam hahahah. XP

As much as I hate to admit it, after going through as much material as I can, my Japanese is no where near that level. In the practice exams I’ve taken so far, every right answer was basically dumb luck haha. O_o

So… I’m taking a step back and considering my position now.

I’ve pretty much resolved myself to that even if I do pass this exam, it would probably be by luck, not my Japanese ability. And if that’s the case, then that’s something that I truly do not want.

For a time, I was also wondering if maybe I should have done level 3 instead. Level 3 is significantly easier, so much so that I got 100% on one of the practice exams I tried. So with that in mind, level 2 is the only way to go. There’s no point in aiming for anything if you’re not aiming up. So with that in mind, I do not regret not choosing level 3. ;P

So, I’m remembering back to the promise I made to myself when I sent the application form away. It doesn’t matter if I pass this exam or not. If by doing this it improves my Japanese ability, even by a little, then it is totally worth it. :)

On that note, this isn’t a decree of giving up. It’s a decree on how I plan to try my best still and if necessary, go down with all guns blazing. :D

There’s still a week to go and I’m going to give it my all to the best that I can muster hehe.

And anyway, there’s always next year! XD

22nd B’day Par-tay!!

November 24, 2008 •

Ugh…. midnight on the next night, and I’ve only just recovered enough to actually write a blog post. XD Whoo what a weekend!

So, Thursday night was the family celebration, and Saturday was the celebration between me and my good friends. :D

My parents had left for the weekend to go down to our holiday house, so I decided that this year ’round, so I figured, we’ll do it at my house, but this time I was going to take matters entirely into my own hands. This time, I’ll set up the house, I’ll buy all of the food, I’ll prime the entertainment systems, get the cake, and eventually do all of the cooking. :)

So, invitations were sent out about a week out beforehand (and sometimes less for a few who I couldn’t contact straight away lol) and the planning went underway. Dad was kind enough to sit down with me and help draw out a huuuge shopping list of stuff to buy including meat, salad, meat, cake, meat, chips, wine, coke, beer and all that stuff and on Saturday, I went out to Garden City to go and buy it all. :D

It took a good hour or so of return trips from my car to the shops and back, but finally, I got it all loaded into my boot, and safely back to my house. :D

It took some pushing, and shoving, but I somehow managed to cram all of the perishables into the fridge. I’m not quite sure how, but I did (TARDIS fridge…? XD )

30 minutes later, the guests started to rock up! One of my friends, Peter also brought some ingredients along as he was going to help out by cooking his world famous Bagna Càuda, quite possibly the most delicious as well as unhealthy foodstuff known to humankind. XD

After the majority of the people rocked up, we opened the presents! This year, I was very lucky to receive a copy of KoToR 2, Dirty Minds, a dirty game involving clean words, a copy of books and manga, Red Steel, as well as a plushie version of the virus, Chlamydia. XD

We played the Dirty Minds for a bit (of which I reeeeally couldn’t help myself but to blurt out extremely profane words :P ), and after I won the first round on account of the cards not being shuffled correctly, I raced off and set up the games room, and started the food.

Once all of the guests arrived, the cheese was promptly dispensed and we played some video games. The first game we played was Taiko no Tatsujin on the PS2, and after which we played some Rock Band. After that, we kind of drifted away from the games and focused more on chatting. By now, Peter was looking at putting together his deadly dish and I was going to cook the meat.

Sadly, some of the guests had to leave at that point due to jobs and other commitments, so we took a quick snapshot (sans one who had to dash) and the remainder of us set out to dinner. :D

After a bit of futzing around on the barbeque and putting together the salad, we finally came up with a full course meal, including Bagna Càuda for starters, followed by the main course which was steak and sausages with a side of potato salad and Caesar salad.

By this point, we were well and truly stuffed, so much so that the concept of the birthday cake itself made our gag reflexes twinge. XD So… we decided to go off and watch Futurama to let our stomachs empty a bit.

After an hour or so, we came back, lit the candles, sung obligatory songs, and then extinguished said candles on the cake. Sadly, we were still quite full, so only a smidgen of the cake actually got cut at that point. XD

And finally, at which point, it was time to pack up, and everyone went home… with full bellys and thankfully happy thoughts of the day. ^_^

I’m very proud of this birthday. Normally for birthdays, we usually go to a restaurant (Where people cook for us) or have it at our homes, where the parents refuse to not help haha.

This was truly the first time that the entire event was my own machination, and the fact it didn’t blow up in my face makes me glad.

On reflection, I definitely bought too much food lol. At the end of the party, there were still around 45 bottles of beer, 2 bottles of wine, a full platter of sushi, 2 liters of ice cream, 3/4 of the cake, as well as half of the supply of meat and salad was left over. I suppose too much is better than too little, but I think this was pretty ridiculous haha.

Either way, when my parents returned today, they said they were very glad to see all that food, and they’ll glady help get rid of it post-haste. XD

All in all, I think that was a good 22nd birthday. :)

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