Happy Birthday to Me!

I cannot thank you guys enough for getting my fifty ninth sixtieth(!) year off to a such a great start. You guys RULE!

Chris and Ben, thanks for being the best of all hosts and for opening the door to your beautiful home. Thanks to Peter and Jane for the excellent conversation, the laughs and the port! Andrew, the sketch is completely amazing. Jeri, your bacon-wrapped shrimp appetizers were the bomb, and your transformation into kitchen commando totally saved the day. And of course, my wonderful wife Kelly orchestrated the whole thing. Thanks so much, Honey!

Andrew & Jeri’s
Dazzling Wedding on the Playa

Surrounded by bees and unicorns, Andrew and Jeri and Ursula and Sophie made it official on Wednesday as the sun set on The Man. With the Reverend Billy presiding, I assure you, this event was more beautiful and spectacular than you can imagine.

If you want more, you’ll find a couple hundred high-resolution images from my trip to the Playa on my Google+ page.

Other coverage of the event:

Richard Lair

My friend Herve had this to say when he saw my shot of Richard.

‟He has a Faulknerian stance, with a sprinkle of twinkling old Mark twain…”

Richard is the world’s authority on the Asian Elephant. He has lived in Thailand for most of his life, and has spent much of that time running one of the country’s largest elephant camps, where 60 or so magnificent elephants live rich lives, sometimes into their 70s.

It’s always a pleasure to chat with Richard and hear the stories of his impressive eyebrows.

iBurn For You

I worked with a 2D file provided by Andrew to create a 3D splash screen for a Burning Man mapping app called iBurn. With it, burners will always be able to tell how far they are from The 7 Deadly Gins or Hungover Camel Hydration Station or even F.A.R.T. Kamp, for when they get the urge to fart into a megaphone.

Weekend Renders

There’s a reasonable chance that I’ll be asked to serve on the board of our Home Owner’s Association in a few months, and one topic that will be revisited again is an update of the interior of our building. A facelift is long overdue, and having a few convincing 3D renders may go a long way to making it actually happen.

I created 3D renderings of some of the building’s unique features with SketchUp and TheaRender a couple years ago, but decided to migrate the files over to Cinema4D. I love the results I get from Thea, but Cinema4D has excellent modeling tools, is faster and more stable. It also runs amazingly well on my iMac.

View a full res version of today’s featured image here.

My 3D Server Room – Yay!

What you see is a fairly accurate view of the server room at work.

If you’re interested, here’s how I created this. Note that the method I use is just one way to accomplish this. There are “easier” methods, like rendering directly inside of SketchUp with any number of snap-in renderers, (I like TheaRender) but the method I use offers more control, and works better with relatively complex files like this one.

The initial 3D model is built with SketchUp Pro. (Unfortunately, the standard version does not allow you to import or export the most popular 3D formats, so you need the non-free version to do this.) Most of the 3D components are easy to find at the SketchUp 3D warehouse. Creating a scene like this in SketchUp is easy, and the SketchUp 3D model is extremely useful in it own right – more useful, in fact, than the pretty 3D rendering. This is due to speed, ease of use and because anyone can install the free SketchUp Viewer and view a 3D file.

Once the SketchUp model is finished, it is exported in a 3D format that works with your renderer. I chose .obj format because the mesh comes across perfectly. Materials are another matter, but that’s OK. I prefer to assign them in Cinema4D anyway.

Final tweaks on the render are related mostly to lighting. A bit of patience and a powerful machine are helpful here.


Frank & Dot are Octogenarians!

We took a short trip to Cambria and Paso Robles to celebrate dual birthdays with the Hunter clan. On the way, we stopped at the spectacular Post Ranch Inn for a tasty lunch with a view.

We both loved the little town of Cambria. Moonstone Beach is lined with cozy hotels, and the pace is nice and slow. The boardwalk is teeming with adorable tame squirrels. The hotel in Paso Robles was wonderful, but the sweltering temperatures made the town slightly less appealing to me. The good news is that there are more than 330 wineries in the area, so how bad can it be? While out for a taste, we found Graveyard Vineyards worth the trip, and especially liked the J. Lohr Winery, who offered free tastings and reasonably priced wines – a rarity these days.

As usual, I took a boat load o’ pictures. Here are few of my favorites.

Happy Birthday, Frank and Dot!


Weekend Render Madness

For fun this weekend, I did one of the Cinema4D tutorials by the amazing Chris Schmidt. I learned so much in the process. The techniques used to create the spherical wire mesh on the microphone are awesome and so much fun!

Thank your Nick and Chris for the awesome tutorials!

Dude mic is based loosely on the industry workhorse, Shure SM58. These inexpensive mics sound great and are certainly indestructible. As ubiquitous as duct tape, I dare you to find a live performance that doesn’t include at least a few of these fabulous microphones.

Here’s a link to the full-resolution render.

This is the first time I ever added a some grunge to the materials. It’s amazing how a few imperfections add to the realism! And, once the mesh is complete, I can’t help but render the image with alternate materials. I don’t know about you, but I’d definitely buy a Dude Mic if it was available with an ultra-shiny iridescent chrome body!