Wednesday, December 22, 2010

(bis) Courses (in class) at the NAD!!

There, I've completed a 5 days class on Softimage and I've also done a 2 days class on Mudbox, at the NAD center. Now, there's only ZBrush missing (that should come in February 2011)

For now, I'm not sure which of the two software, between ZBrush and Mudbox, that I prefer (both works alike, meaning that you work in 3D a bit like if it was digital clay, which is less technical and more intuitive). I still haven't seen everything with ZBrush, that's a fact... but in the other hand, I haven't experience much with Mudbox... but here's my impressions for now:

Each, ZBrush and Mudbox, has strength and weakness.

ZBrush (bads)
- Complicated interface (few hours of tutorials are needed to understand it)
- Unique navigation... meaning different than other 3D software or even photoshop (so, we're lost... or mix-up... which is not practical)
 ZBrush (goods)
+ Better usage of the computer's memory (lighter to work with)
++ ZSphere, which is a structure system to put under the "3D clay" and which seems really cool to do modeling from scratch, directly in ZBrush (haven't tried it yet though...)

+/- =  Textures. With both software, we can paint textures directly on the models. I found that... because of the interface and the "unique" navigation of ZBrush, it's harder to paint texture in ZBrush than Mudbox... but I haven't done the full formation (3 days) in ZBrush, so I'll wait before I'll pronounce my final critic of it!!  =P

Mudbox (goods)
+ Simple 3D Interface (easier and more intuitive).
+ Navigation similar to the other 3D software from Autodesk (same company), so easier to find yourself in it.

+ 3D "layer" system, which adds a lot of malleability and freedom (it's also easier to go backward if you fail a step).
+ Uses "Vector Maps" (which allows, among other things, to do super cool brushes, like, to paint 3D mushrooms or 3D hears, etc.)

Mudbox (bads)
- No "structure" system; it's harder (impossible?) to start from scratch for complex models, such as full characters... (for the moment, we have to do the complex part mostly in another software, than to import it in Mudbox to do the modifications).
- We need a super high deluxe graphic card, otherwise, it's "heavy" to work with... - The "pose" system (which is new from the 2011 version) is not super... I haven't compared it to ZSphere yet, but having played with it, it's... not convincing... I rather still re-import the model back in the other 3D software (in my case, Softimage) to do a real decent "bones" system and give better controlled poses to characters.

On that, happy holidays and I'll get back (I hope) with news about writting and drawing ^_^

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Courses (in class) at the NAD!!

There's been a while since I've mentioned the NAD center.

Well, it went really fast... I wanted first of all to take a formation ZBrush, but there's not enough people to start a class... So I'm waiting since a few months. I have Mudbox classes scheduled for some time for mid-December. I was talking, like that, to the person in charge for the professional formation at the NAD center, and I've mentioned that I'm interested by the Softimage course. Not even a full week after, I received an email informing that the Softimage formation would start... the week after!

So, this Wednesday (December 1st), Thursday and Friday, I as at the NAD to start the 5 days formation; next Thursday and Friday for the second part.

I was told that those courses would be intensive enough, that we would cover many things per days and all... which scared me a bit... So I've assured myself that I would be ready for this, which took me 3 months of autodidact exercises. I was happy to realized that I what I have succeed to do myself in the modelisation and textures modules, was up the level of the class (which didn't prevent me to learn new things in those modules!)

It gives me back some self-confidence on my own capacity to get up-to-date by myself, among other things with ZBrush; maybe I won't need a formation for it, after all... although these classes gives me certifications that I can put in my resume; a toms-up to help me find a job after...   =)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fourth "full time" month on my projects

It's demoralizing!

For the past month, I spent one week to watch tutorial on Digital-Tutors to understand what I need to know about textures, in ZBrush, in Softimage and understand how to apply what I have learned.

Remember? After I've done the model in Softimage, I've exported it in ZBrush and I showed you the result of the modifications I did...

So, I was to bring the model back into Softimage... The exportation between ZBrush and Softimage never perfectly succeed (and I don't think that would be the fault of the softwares... but mine, the user who doesn't understand yet all the details...) Few major details didn't work out.

Anyway, listening to some commentary I've received, I have corrected some of the facial of my character in Softimage (to give her a more feminine look, among other things).

Next, I spent several days to research and understand methods to do hair in 3D. There's many, of course... but I wanted to follow the one used for the Final Fantasy kind of characters, because it is said to be very efficient and light (size of the scene) or faster to render.

Here some examples of Final Fantasy XIII characters:

The technique for this kind of hair, is simply polygons, "grids" or "planars" with a hair texture on, applied in transparency on the grids (we see the texture, the rest is transparent).

So, I spent about two weeks to model polygonal hair... I found two tutorials for this kind of technique:(this one (text) et that one (video on "Blender" software)), but nothing on "big tutorials website"... which is better than nothing... The rest was exploration, with a lot of time loss in between (try a thing... not so good... try something else... better... keep going... don't need that much... go back... start over again...)

It was super long, super boring to do. And most of the time, I was stuck by technical details... In brief, I wanted to finish this step before I update this page, in order to have something to show after all that time... to have the feeling that I'm moving forward... But I keep stumbling and tripping against technical obstacles that I don't understand and I can't find the information on the web... My boyfriend helps me when he has the time, but I don't always understand what he does, meaning that I may not be able to reproduce by myself what he's doing...

So... for now, since it's been 3-4 weeks that I'm working on that and that I can't find any fun to do this character anymore (I'm holding the impolite words!)... I'll show you where the project is, without the buggy texture...

The things  with "strait angles" on the neck are the "grids" that should hold the hair texture and should be invisible...
 (A week after writing this post)....
I had one late thing I hadn't tried... I was feeling like dropping everything right there... but on the other hand, it was sad to have spent all that time for nothing... So, I tried it, with lips pinched and fits tighten... and it worked!!

And I was able to un-bugged the texture... (I had to use the magic and all my talent of "photo manipulation" in Photoshop in order to do it)

So, here it is again, up-to-date:

The silly expression on her face is the method to prepare models for animation...

Once again I repeat: I don't have fun doing this character anymore!
It was a first try, it helped me understand many technical things and all, but I'm loosing my head over this, so... knowing that it's not perfect nor "pretty", I'll finish the character (the head is always the hardest part to do; the rest should go faster) and then, I'll stop there. I wish to do other things. And most of all, I'd like to have fun to work on these, and now, I'm not on the right path! I need to find another work flow...

At least, I'm happy to have passed that damn obstacle that was holding me that long and to be able to show something that looks closer to be finished...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Third "full time" month on my projects

I'm presently blocked with technical details (user problems) v_v and there's a couple of days I can't do what I'd like to... I've lost patience (again) today. I've decided to step aside... so I thought it would be the best time to do an update.

If you remember, I showed you a sketch, about a month ago (bottom of the page). I'm working on the same projet. Here were I'm at:

On my "DeviantArt" page, I've put the details of the project evolution.

I think that the most part of my problem, is that I have the feeling of not going as fast as I would like. So I'm trying to go faster... but I'm not at that level yet... I need to take the time to follow my tutorials at large, in order to better understand the overall of the softwares... Yes, I'm impatient lately... I need to calm myself a little...

Alright, tomorrow, no coffee, only a good chamomile with honey and I take the time... One step at the time... *Sighing*

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cancelled classes...

After a period of few weeks organizing some important events, cut in between with days with my daughter who is often sick lately and suffering with teething (she's having 4 new molars one after the other, which is  comes mostly with successive colds) and live those events I was preparing (which were a great success), I had to follow a three-day workshop at NAD Center, given by Scott Eaton on traditional artistic anatomy for digital artists. (For those interested, the description of the workshop is here ; Read more about Scott Eaton here).

So the same workshop described in this article was to take place again from October 18th to 21st, but it has unfortunately been postponed. On the monetary and vitality side of view, this is relatively a good thing... It seems to be my turn to get sick and I'm really slammed from my last three weeks of organizations and events...

But on the other hand, I was really looking forward to this training. I've heard about the first time in March, when Mr. Eaton came to Montreal and I was already looking forward to follow it (but back then, I was still working and I was far from being ready to get any 3D training)! When I've learned he was going to be back in Montreal, I immediately registered...  but I've learned last week that the workshop was postponed to an unknown date.

Anyway, it is not that serious and there surely will be other opportunities. The course is only postponed. And with any luck, maybe I could follow the formation of ZBrush before his return, which would be to my advantage!

When I was inscribing, I asked if the knowledge of ZBrush is a prerequisite to this workshop... because, I already opened the software, I played around with it, but nothing more! I haven't done anything concrete with this software and I'm really not comfortable with it yet... I was told that it might be a little difficult to follow the practical part of the course, but once in the course of ZBrush, I would have a head start... I think it's a little like doing things on the wrong way around... like... you pay for a course to learn: if we lack some basic, you'll miss the details! No?

Anyway, it's okay! Now I will heal my cold, rest and have a chance to catch up in ZBrush for next time! ^_^

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New "version" of the story

I've started to write a few pages, like I've mentionne in my previous post...  The researches were not very advanced and I knew that it could become a problem and that there was a risk to start over again. But I had stories to tell, I wrote what I had in my heart and I've enjoyed doing so.

Eventually, I had to face reality and do my "home work", meaning some researches. I've surf on the web to peek where robotic technologies are now. With the Robotics Portal on Wikipedia, I was able to read some interesting articles, like "Robotic" or ASIMO (please note that I've did my research on the french version of Wikipedia, so articles may be different in the English version). Already with that start, I've decided to push the dates... well, in fact, to pull them... I mean that, without mentioning a precise year in the book, knowing that it "in a near future", let say that to match with what exist as today, maybe it's on a "nearer future" that I've first planed. Which doesn't change much the plot in general...

I also touch the subject of cybernetic organism (cyborg). My boyfriend found some articles that were quite useful, starting with this one, "Morning Discussion", very brief and general, that leads to this article: "What's a cyborg?" This article also talks about how the idea of cyborgs have started fifty years ago? And how that idea has evolved in time? And different versions of the cyborg on known science-fictions? There's also this article "Cyborg Realism: IEDs, Prosthetic Limbs and Military R&D" that comes with videos that I've also enjoyed a lot, on the military development of cyborg, today. Those are mostly prototype projects for heavily wounded war veterans, but soon available to the public.

Those articles put many of my ideas on the floor about one of the three main characters of the story. I have already written about this character and I feared that sooner or later, I would have to rewrite the whole part. I let myself go on writing anyway, but more I was writing and less the story of that character was holding together... I think I needed an imaginary drudge to relief myself, but with one step backward to quickly check the overall, there was too much of free-cruelty, not explained and unexplainable around that character; it wasn't making much sense...

So, I have to revise the reason of the cybernetic, revise the past of the character, which, necessary, modifies the time line, which modifies certain decisions from that character through the story... which, at the end, changes about everything on the tangent of that character!

Then, when I was looking at the direction the "romantic" side of the story was taking, it wasn't holding all together either! I could compare it to a romantic-comedy from Hollywood, where, at the end of the movie, you just don't understand why the girl changed her mind and start getting interested into the guy... and you seriously wonder how long that relation, in real life, would hold (6 months? 2 months?). Briefly, I was feeling far from my objective to reflect likely human emotions, on which we could all identify truly, despite of the "science-fantasy" barrier...

In order for the love story to work out, the two protagonists have to meet differently, on a different circumstances... and I have to modify slightly those characters, to make them compatible one for the other.

So, with all those changes on the horizon... well... This is a new version of the story! I don't have to start all over from the beginning, but I have enough grand  modifications to say that about the half of it has to be redone from scratch...

I have some friends who have the impression that it's "really bad" or "depressing" when I get to this kind of situation, but I don't think so! It's motivating! The story evolves and I seriously prefer redo some parts, or even to do all over again, instead of sticking to the plan (that doesn't work) and write a story that doesn't make much sense! ;o)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Second "full time" month on my projects

So there it is, the second "full time" month working on my projects has passed.
So what's new?

Well, it's fall and my daughter had colds back to back. She also has a new mole that grows and makes her very irritable (this is the second in a short time) and, for some reason I couldn't explain, she always has a cold (or at least symptoms of colds) at the same time...

So I often had to stay home with her. As I told my boyfriend, even if on occasion I wish he could replace me here and there to care for her (missing work, staying home with her), so I could work on my projects... well, I'm still working from home, so this wouldn't solve the problem: she would make a crisis to play on my computer or to make me get off the computer, even if her dad was with her!

In brief, the last passed weeks, I worked about 1½ to 2 days per week, which is really little! But as mentioned in my last post, I found time to make my novel project progress forward. To put to the test, I took the Word file of my science-fantasy novel and I removed all the "summarized-plan" parts and I kept only what is "actually written" (the "summarized-plan" part are like: "He meet the redhead again. He is nervous because of what happened last time. When she sees him, she only wants to strangle him. They fight on the topic of the dog (focusing on the fact that his dog has peed on her new floor). They are interrupted by the ringing phone. It's her mother, all excited, which tells her what just happened (on previous chapter).") ;o)

So basically, all summarize of the story removed, the project than began only six weeks ago has already 70 pages written! Sure, I'll have to revise the text, add here, remove that, rephrase passages, etc.. But I think it's still impressive as ardor! In general, when I start writing a scene that I have in mind, I'll hit around ten pages a day. I'd be happier if I could make fifteen or twenty... but hey! Ten, it's still very good (I can't get any faster... either by distraction, or because I have to do a little research in the middle... like, I didn't though about the breed of the dog when I wrote the plan of the story...), or because the scene is not yet clear enough in my mind, so I have to "compose" the story, while I should just write it...

After a "long period" of writing (long on the calender, but strongly cut with "sick days-off") where I've written everything I had in mind, I switch back to 3D . I had no desire to complete the interior design tutorial (I understood where I was going to...). So I chose to check out the character "next-gen" video (modeling a character for video game). My goal this time is not to reproduce the character exactly like the one presented on this tutorial, I think I'm advanced enough to watch the video and directly try to apply the technique on a personal project.

Right at the beginning of the lesson, Digital-Tutors mentions the importance of the sketch in order to model the character, including all the technical details that these sketches should include. I've chosen pictures as references for my first character, but I did not have any sketches (I want to do 3D, so I have not really taken the time to make a 2D drawing...). Here are pictures of items that I chose: Ref 1 and Ref 2. Theses are "stock images", so they are meant to help artists as references, as soon as they are not used to make profits at the expense of the photographer, and the photographer is also aware that they were used (give them a copy of the final artwork).

So, from these images (and others), I started last week to draw a 2D sketch. Since my new computer setup (with two screens), I have not really made any 2D work... I've installed my tablet and that's about it... I noticed recently, using my tablet in 3D, that I have a lot of trouble working with it and I thought it was the aging... It's an old tablet... I'm also rusty, I haven't drawn (with a pencil) in so long! But in front of photoshop last week, I quickly realized there was something more... I had so much trouble drawing curves (what was happening on screen was not what I wanted to do)... Without going into technical details, I went into the settings of my tablet, I made adjustments and then: tada! It was perfect! = D And suddenly, I was working so much better, so more quickly and efficiently!

So, I'll show you where I'm at with this sketch (see below). Of course, I must do the sketch to then be able to model it in 3D. One of the most widely used technique is the T pose (the reason is very simple: it is easier in stages after modeling, to prepare the model for animation)... Regarding the position of the hands, palms are usually facing Earth. I decided to make them with the thumbs facing up. When I'm taking the T pose myself, it seems to me that the hand position like on the drawing is more natural (with fewer "rotation" of the bones in the arms and wrists).

Like all the photos I had for references have artistic poses (never fully face, with swaying hips, etc..), I had to improvise a little, by using other references. For example, the part of arms / shoulders, there was simply nothing close I could used, so I took pictures of myself to complete; as for the face, the model in the photos is wearing a helmet, but I want to do the full face (I'm not sure I'm going to do the helmet on my 3D version), so I looked for other references for the full face...

My goal is not -- really not -- to ensure that viewing the 3D model, we could recognize the model of the pictures, no! I haven't yet reached that level! The goal I'm aiming for now is simply to make a character that looks good. Period.

Now, I have to make the profile of this character, in full conformity with the proportions (the eyes should arrive at exactly the same height, etc..) before they can start modeling in 3D.

When I realized I had to do 2D drawings to reach my goal, I first thought "Oh no!"... I must admit I was a bit scared... of failure! I'm having trouble drawing since a while now (it's not a complex!!). Well, you know, I'm impressed! Not only have I enjoyed doing all the anatomical research, proportions and reference photos to make my sketch, but I also really enjoyed drawing! (Especially once I solved my tablet problem!)

And I must say I like working this way, meaning: to write when I have a clear scene in mind, then draw when I have nothing more to write. Right now, I would not know what to write and I would lose a lot of time to compose my text. Instead, I draw and I think about what's next (in details) in my story... when I have enough elements of my story in mind, I'll write for few days, clear my head, then go back to drawing. For now, I think it's the ideal schedule!

See you soon! ^_^

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The "Lost Pages" have arrived!

More than once, I mentioned the idea to do a file of "Lost Pages" where I would present short stories or other anecdotal stories connected to a book or a series project I'm working on.

Well, I've started to post the first "Lost Pages"!
For now, they are on my DeviantArt page, in a new section ingeniously called "Lost Pages".

In the French one ("Pages Perdues"), there are three texts already, but only one has been translated... by myself. As you know or might have noticed, English is a second tongue for me, so it's possible that the translation is not perfect... but surely better than what the internet automatic translator would give away.

As for the 2 other texts "La Fontaine d'Onyx, Part I and Part II", which is way longer texts, will be translated... but just not yet. I'll come back and announced them here when they'll be translated.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The "Paper Pensieve"

It's been a while since I did an update on my projects, so I'll take a moment to write few words here.

Last month was marked by colds and other minor discomfort. I often had to stay home with my sick daughter, so I really feel like my projects haven't progressed fast during that time.

Regarding 3D, I've tried ZBrush and the part I always had trouble understanding is still present ... This is the part where it's not a real 3D software; the interface is not in 3D ... So it's a bit like trying to do 3D with Photoshop ... what ZBrush calls 2.5D. I find this approach uncomfortable, although the software itself is powerful in its possibilities.

My spouse who works at Autodesk told me about another lesser known similar software, which is Mudbox. Like ZBrush, in Mudbox, we are working the 3D model as if it were a lump of clay that we model with the fingers, here replaced by a mouse or a tablet. With Digital Tutors pane Mudbox, I watched several videos to compare with ZBrush. The two software are actually very similar in tools, except that Mudbox has a 3D interface, which to me seems more comfortable on the navigation level. The choice, of course, is still very personal, though I haven't had time to try Mudbox... but I installed a version of it... this is a matter of time.

On the other hand, I started a new project of tutorials, an interior design with Softimage: Since I'm modeling the scene as it is shown in the tutorial given at the same time I listen to the videos, it is relatively long to do and the project is not finished yet (I did probably about the half of the project).

Meanwhile, I had a lot of time to think about my new Science-Fantasy writing project  I mentioned in my previous post. This project really fills my head. I had moments where I could not sleep because my mind was busy telling me parts of this story. It reminds me of the time where my mother was putting me to bed too early, so early that I wasn't falling asleep until 1-2 hours later, but I was so afraid to stand up or turn the light on to read or play in my bed ... I was doing the only thing I could do in the dark at 8 or 9 years ... I was telling myself stories! That's how I started writing: my head became so filled by many scenarios, I had to empty it on paper. I started at 9 years writing "seriously", meaning in a goal of making a movie or a published book out of it.

So I had moments of great fatigue, taking an hour to fall asleep because I was telling myself this story in my head, then my daughter would wake up 2-3 times during the night because she had a cold or a mole that was growing, which asked me 5 to 45 minutes to put her back to sleep and then I could not get back to sleep myself because I kept the script of my book in my head going... Then one day that my daughter was at the daycare, I sat at the computer and I wrote that scene that became an obsession. Oh, I've finally felt free and I was able to sleep well again ... Write, I already said it, is a NEED for me ... is for me, like Dumbledore's Pensieve!

Last week, I spent much time with my daughter who was stock with a cold, so I worked very little and had a lot of time to think. Yesterday, I had another emergency to write, not a scene this time, but the full plan of the story. In one day (approximately 10 hours), I managed to really put all the summarized ideas I had in mind on paper, in chronological order. The plan is not complete yet, it still missing about one third of the story I think (hard to say for the moment), but this part is not yet very clear in my mind. The doors are open for upcoming events of the story, the elements are in place, but the sequence of events are not clear to me yet, so tempting to write it would take me an eternity, so I prefer wait to feel an urgency to write it before I throw myself on the writing of the end of the story.

In short, I'm happy nonetheless to see the projects progressing anyway.
I also spent many happy moments with my daughter; even sick, she doesn't lose her smile. She's a real love!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another project?

Well, during the week-end, I took a decision for the 3D. I'll now switch to ZBrush tutorials, and push futher my "organic" modeling.

I also have a little "confidence" for you... About two weeks ago, I did one of those dream that sometimes inspire me. When I woke up, the story of that dream was interrupted, but I've tried to tell myself the part of the story missing... It became almost an obsession! The story has grown, and grown... and later, I was able to sew it up to an old and incomplete idea that I was keeping in back-up in a corner of my memory... When I mentioned that I have 4-5 writing projects in mind, this "old idea" is one of them.

Although I'm glad that this project develops, I'm also a bit discouraged... It seams that I have a hard time staying focused on one project at a time, which must be one of the reasons why I have trouble finishing anything (I have too many ideas and I wish I could do all at the same time). I'm trying to lay my ideas down on paper in the order they are coming, so I don't forget them, but now, I'm working on two projects at the same time, which is not working very well. I need to focus, to channel my energy on one or the other... I really feel divided in between; I don't know which one to pick...

This new idea is a shorter story; it could hold in one or two books, while the series I'm talking about since February, the first tome will have 4 or 5 books... without mentioning that the second tome would probably have as many, maybe more... More than once, I've been advised to start with shorter projects, to forge myself some experience, because I'm not at the level to write long series yet. Anyway, I'm not sure what I'll do...

To avoid mixing things, the series project that I'm talking about since February, is a Fantasy. The new and shorter project, it's a Science-Fiction or a Science-Fantasy, like some say; which would be more accurate. ^_^  I'll keep you updated...

Friday, August 20, 2010

A month after the return from vacations

I've just realized that it's been 1 month this week since I'm back from vacations and that I've started my update in 3D. This would be a good time to do a recapitulation of what I've accomplished since my new start in 3D.

The first week, I did some really basic tutorials, to remember how to navigate in Softimage and the base of modeling. The following week, I've undertaken "Introduction to Modeling in XSI" (4 hours and 24 minutes in 28 videos). I've taken notes and I've also followed step-by-step all modeling stages for the Swiss army-knife that we see on the link's images. In between, I was feeling like modeling something personal and I did the magic staff of the previous post "First Finished 3D Model".

After that, I took the time to search on the listing of tutorials offered by Digital-Tutors, put some on favorite to create a kind of "tutorials to do" and I finally chose to do a cartoony character, as shown on " "Modeling a Character for Rigging and Animation in Softimage", 3 hours and 8 minutes in 19 videos. Though it's shorter in time than it was for the Swiss army-knife, it wasn't obvious to do this one step-by-step. The ears region, and then the eyes (with the eyelids ready to be animated and all) asked me a lot of work and re-working. The two last videos are tutorials to do a very simple texture and how to apply it on the 3D objects (there was nothing like this on with the Swiss army-knife tutorial).

I have to say that I'm really happy about what I'm doing, how I'm filling my days; it goes well for now and the plan is working well (and I don't lack money).

Through those steps of 3D, purely by coincidence, I came across a critique of my very first short-text in two parts, that been published for the amateurish magazine Brins d'Éternité (#16 & #17), written on Alexandre Lemieux's blog (2007 archives):

The Onyx fontain by Démie Lecompte
Here is the first part of a exotic fantasy short story. Everything is very well narrated, with a good control of literary tools. The structure is simple but effective, well-developed. We follow a fugitive slave to whom the past catches up anyway. The atmosphere of the one thousand and one nights that emerges is refreshing and I can not wait to read the second part. Luckily, I should receive the next issue of Brins d'Éternité one day to another.

(If I recall well, Alexandre Lemieux is someone who has assisted to Elisabeth Vonarburg writing workshop at the same time as I did).

Unfortunately, I couldn't find the critique for the part II of my short-story (on the blog, Alexandre is going from issue #16 to #20)...

By cons, the positivism of that critique (compared to some others he did) gave me some wind in my sails and gave me a strong feeling of keeping going on my series. I had some time to work on writing more plans and make more research. I have a better idea of how was working metallurgy at the time of end of Bronze Age and beginning of Iron Age and how they could have lived. Few times, I was sitting down in front of the computer, willing to simply start writing the story and never mind the rest, even if that means to throw that to the garbage later... the goal was to write for the pleasure of it.

Bah... It's hard! That damned first line! Rah!
But the exercise was practical. Small reminder: I added a whole book before the initial planned starting point. I realized that though I wrote plans of the story, they are not yet enough detailed, because I didn't know exactly where to start the story in this new episode.

To do a long story short, I had two choices for the opening and I took the time to think about which one would be best. I think I did the right choice. Also, other majors details for the plot and development of the story really took form in my mind, so overall, the project is going well... though I still have nothing written (as a book) yet.

Where I did loose time during the month... I was sick after I've eaten something that my body didn't appreciated... I've regurgitated all night and I couldn't eat much the next day... And on top of things, I was in my period which always drain my down of my energy and bring me in a mood where I feel like no food could please me (whereas I'm someone who normally enjoys eating well), followed with a short phase of light depression where I feel like "doing nothing". Added to the mini-intoxication, I've spent five days straight felling K.O. and where I really wasn't well productive et where I did lack discipline... =(

To come back on 3D subject, since I've just finished a new level, I'm on a decision period, asking myself what will be the next step. I'll let the weekend pass to think about it. My choices are:
There, see you soon! =D

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

First finished 3D model

A quick update to show the evolution of my work in 3D.

It's still a "work-in-progress", meaning that only the modeling is finished, there are no color yet, no materials, no textures and no effects...

Here are some print-screens:

In all, it took me about 4 hours to modeled, which is too long ... but hey, it's my first!
I'll take speed of execution as I will remember the modeling tools and get used to them again!

I'm open to constructive critics to help me improve this model.

See you later!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A new start in 3D

Monday July 19th, I re-open Softimage for the first time in 6 or 8 years. Back then, it was Softimage 3D (last version). Then there's another generation, XSI, which has climb up to version 7 and now 2011 (since it was purchased by Autodesk, XSI is now taking back the name of Softimage).

Obviously, there's been many changes on Softimage in 6-8 years! But at least I had an ear opened to hear about them (especially that my spouse works for Softimage since 6 ½ years now).

In front of the interface of Softimage 2011, almost identical to what it was in my memory, I timidly tried a few things... I remembered how to get a primitive (cube, sphere, circle, lattice, etc..), I still know how to make basic changes (scalling, rotation, translation). Then when I tried to move the camera... the short-keys are not the same... Woops... I stood frozen at the immensity of the software and the little I have been able to do without upgrading my personal knowledge...

The software has changed and evolved, but the rest too! Among the rest, there's the internet! Back when I finished school in 1999, our small school-demo had to be on VHS, because the DVD was not yet installed everywhere. We had to have everything on paper, because it was not all companies who had Internet access (not to mention the fact that very few people knew how to program websites at the time, and the cost for a web design was high enough...). At the time of "everything on paper", we needed color copies for our pictures, our portfolio... and that too, was not what it is today... It was expensive to get color copies of a beautiful quality!

Today, with internet, email, standard DVD burners on computers, many things change and our lives is easier! Among things, my spouse told me there is a multitude of tutorials on the web, from the most simple applications to very complex ones.

I was still head-frozen in front of Softimage; I opened an internet window and I followed some links. I came across the website of "Digital-Tutors", at the page "Artist's Guide to XSI 7", where I had access to eight hours of free videos! I started to watch them from Tuesday July 20th. Obviously, this was not only 8 hours of video for beginners, but I'll say I spent the rest of the week with these videos, listen, understanding every details, take notes and practice on the software.

Friday July 23th, I made a quick sketch of a magic staff to modelize in 3D, to practice the techniques I've seen so far. I spent the day doing things very simple. The camera isn't handled it the same way as before and I'm always on the wrong short-keys, but at the end of the day, with patience, I worked already better.

After about 5½ hours, I had to stop to eat and then the routine of life had to take back its course, like going at the grocery. I was not too happy with the results of my model, especially because he did not follow exactly the sketches (and it is something important in 3D, to find a job, to be able to reproduce 2D images into 3D models!!).

Monday July 26th, I restarted my model. The first time I did it in two pieces. The second was made with four pieces. In 1½ hours, I managed to do exactly what was on my sketch (for one ending of the staff... to do the other end, I'll have to wait to have more knowledge).

Let's go ahead, I'll show you the first pictures!

First model, 5½ hours, two pieces
Not satisfied with the result...

Second model, 1 ½ hours, 4 pieces
Satisfied with the result!

After that, I did all I could as basic, the rest of the videos were too advanced for my level and was jumping to many steps. So I went back on Digital-Tutors. As clearly shown from the front page, there are tons of videos, for just about any software about computer graphics, 2D, 3D, video editing, etc.. To see the more, you need a paying account. It is possible to pay per month for six months or a year to have access to thousands and thousands of other videos.

Having spent several days with free videos, I had a good idea of the quality of the tutorials. I'm speaking french, but I'm so glad that I understand English that much, it helps me a lot in life to have both language! The videos are clear, the English is well articulated and well spoken (some people can be harder for me to understand than other, but basically, it's not like the "any English from the street" kind of speech), and indeed, it would be possible, I think, for about anyone to do any complete formation with these videos... The downside is not having a teacher who asks questions; but today, there are forums on the internet, such as that of Digital-Tutors or CGTalk, where we can address these questions.

All those things did not exist a few years ago, which is changing everything for me today, which makes me believe that today, I'll be able to do this 3D software upgrade by myself, while I couldn't before...

I think that if someone has never done 3D, if s/he has a slightest artistic touch in the soul, a copy of the software needed, a computer strong enough to work with images (usually, a station for video gaming relatively recent can do), access to the internet and understand English, s/he could potentially become a 3D artist with these tutorials! It does not give diplomas, but if s/he agrees to start at the bottom of the ladder, I was told more than once that in this field, the portfolio is more important than studies... basically, we don't give a damn if you have a doctorate or if you've self-educated... As long as you can make beautiful things, in an acceptable execution speed, you stand a chance.

For now, I took a subscription for one month, to test the options. I don't know yet if I'll keep this monthly and stop when I'll have seen all I need and start working on personal projects for my portefolio, or if I'll switch to 6 month. I don't know yet; we'll see...

I chose "Introduction to Modeling in XSI" and I am following the exercises (so no more personal modeling for the time being). It really "basic" for me, most things shown are known to me, so it's slightly boring, but mostly they are things that I have forgotten or it doesn't come to my mind before they talk about it, so it's a necessary revision. Here and there, there are tools that are new for me, or explanations for things that I did not realize at the time. In time, I'll get to my level and it'll be more fun!

In short, I really enjoy these days and I love what I'm doing now. I keep in mind that I don't have money incomes now, so I must not dwell, but I like it! I especially like being at home, saving 5-8 hours per week in transportation (which gives me time to exercise a bit, which I didn't have time to do since I was pregnant three years ago now!) and do some deep cleaning, put my things in order on my desk... I bought some cheap cabinets from IKEA to place my things, because my desk was flooded with paper, books, pencils, drawings, CDs, etc., I couldn't even see the color of it!

See you later with more pictures maybe! ^_^

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back from Vacations

We landed in Montreal Sunday at noon. We had less trouble with jetlag on the way to France!

I will not give personal details of my vacation here; I'll remain on the subject of my projects.

Going to France, I made an appointment with a friend living there, Jean-Claude Dunyach. He's a writer and was editor. He's also a friend of my mentor Elizabeth Vonarburg. He introduced me to his city, Toulouse and we (my spouse, my daughter and me) was invited to eat at his home. I've never seen a house with so many books inside in my life! And mostly science-fiction and fantasy books! He has so many that he wanted to give away some titles: he has given me nine-volume of fantasy and science fiction, and the six books of his collections of short stories that I had trouble to find in Quebec. All together, they must worth at least $300! It's crazy!

We discussed about writers we know in person and their latest works, the experience of Jean-Claude as publisher in Bragelonne... Among anecdotes, Jean-Claude said that in the field, with the beginning of a project done (detailed plans and say... 100 pages of manuscripts written), it is possible to send to the publisher and to have a publishing contract before the project is finished writing, with (I think) an advance to provide financial support to the author. I don't know if other publishers do this, and most importantly, I wonder if this practice applies to novice writers (never published professionally) like me ... But that makes me dream! =)

Another writer friend who works in the reading committee for the publisher Alire, told me that in Quebec, after four publications, it is possible to ask for a subvention to fund for the next project. As this conversation happened several years ago, I can't remember the details, such as: Does this apply to non-professional editions (fansines, for example, where I have 2 non-professionnal publication)? If we have published four short stories, can we receive this subvention for a novel project? I don't know... We'll see...

Among others things, we also discussed about writing. After several days of writing workshops with Elizabeth, where I had several monumental revelations about writing a story, it was refreshing to have a different opinion on some technical points. And also reassuring, because Elizabeth is so meticulous, precise, perfectionist, and so on, sometimes you may feel that you'll never be able to write a decent text! But we must remember that when Elizabeth publishes a book, she wins all the literary prizes! ;o) My goal is not that high; I'll be happy to be published; the rest will only be extra! ^_^

This reminds me of when Guy Gavriel Kay was the guest of honor at Boreal Congress 2006 (as of now, Kay is one of the authors I most admire).

Kay spoke about "penny dreadful and dime novels". He told us that the 19th century, a novel was worth a dime (which was very expensive at the time and often, only nobles and maybe bourgeois could afford them). These novels had a certain quality. On the other hand, many publications of poorer qualities were sold for a penny, price affordable to most scholars of the time. According to the critique of the time, they were for most of them dreadful.

Both penny dreadful and dime novels relate to stories of popular fiction. The "dime novels", more expensive, were sold in less quantity, but were Art, while the "penny dreadful", cheap, were selling most, without much quality.

Following this story, Kay explained that it is a choice that every writer should do: write for the Art of literature or for massive sell.

Art does not interest necessarily the general public. It might even be misunderstood by the general public and could be appreciated only to a certain elite. These works are more likely to travel through time and to be studied in the history of literature, like the great writers of their times, such as Victor Hugo.

On the other hand, there are works that gives more smoke and mirrors, subjects are more simplistics, less worked sometimes, or maybe naive, but sell well. Things may be changing now, we won't be in the future to say, but from the past, more than... I don't know 99% (?) of them will go a certain time and then sink into oblivion.

So basically, we must choose if we wish to write for literary art, or for sale. And yet, sell... it is a big word! How many writers are living from their writing? I could not even try a percentage, but in Quebec, for sure, they are little... may be more or less 1%.

In short, I think we all aspire, secretly or openly, to make history, but more fundamentally, for the most part, we simply love to write and for that, it takes time... The ideal to maintain our passion, is to make it our livelihood. The sale is inevitable, we need to create a product that sells well, even if sometimes we have to lower the quality because that is what the public demands.

It is too early for me to located in this choice, but as I am a novice at the moment, I do not think I can make great literary art one day ... =P

During the holidays, free from working, I thought a lot about the outline I have in mind. I can not remember if I talked on this blog or on a forum ... Recently, my spouse came across a special article on a subject quite rare... a topic that long ago, I wanted to take as background for this series... but as I lacked documentation, I let the idea aside. The article, really interesting, revived that idea. I went on vacation asking myself if I would put the topic back in the series... which would add so many adventures. Those adventures would also allowed me to graft another series over it, making even more adventures!

Upon reflection, I decided not to put it... well, not in this series! I'll keep the idea for another project later. My thoughts are clearer now. Rather than make a series of too many books, I will separate them. For now, it makes me three distinct series projects. There is a fourth topic that I'm not sure yet if I'll insert it into one of these three, or if I will also put aside as a fourth... We shall see! One series at a time!

I really have to write, because ideas accumulate over time, I don't lose them, I add them up! I have too many books in mind, it's heavy! I must write to clear my head!

And I also have to think about updating my computer graphics skills and look for a job!
(I've started my training on Softimage right this Tuesday; I'm so hooked that it took me everything to put it aside and finalize this post!) ^_^

... And I surprise myself thinking that maybe I'll just work on my writing project (with income)... it is unlikely that it works as well (since I'm not yet known, professional, etc..) and unlikely that it would pay me well (because it is a genre literature, less sold... but also and mainly because I'm in Quebec, where the audience is even smaller) ... but hey, I'm dreaming! =D (and again torn between writting or drawing...) ;o)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A little fast post

Yesterday was my last day of work, woot!!!

Today, I'm in the bags and other preparations for the travel. I feel free and "stressless"!!
Tomorrow, we're going to see my dad with the cats; he'll be the "kittysitter" during our absence.
Monday, we will be in the plane for Toulouse, France, to see my in-laws. =D

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Build on solide ground

"Custer" wrote the following comment on the previous post "Change in the Wind":
It's a difficult stage in the writing project – there is going to come a time when the preparations have to be put aside, and Chapter One has to start.

Of course, the research/preparation stage could include some shorter stories in the same setting, either connected to characters from the main tale or almost completely unrelated, to help you get used to the world you are creating... maybe the wise old mentor had some adventures when he was young, or your main character's parents met in an interesting way?
Thank you, Custer for leaving me a message!! ^_^
Allow me to answer by telling the story of the story I'm writing... Ô_o'

The very first time I finished a book for that project, between 2002 and 2004, I had NO preparation, NO plan ... only outline in my mind. I started with nothing, I wrote as I saw fit and I simply let the story become what it wanted to be. It was the first time I worked that way and ... I didn't really enjoyed that method.

I found annoying to be at the stage of writing and come to wonder "what happens next?", and then having to stop writing for several days, until I found what'd be next in the story. That project, of course, didn't work (got refused by publishers for several newbie problems, including poor structuring).

The research and preparations are not as thrilling as the step of writing the story itself, that's true. By cons, this is not what's most boring! I personally find that working as an accounting clerk is – by far! – a lot more boring than doing my research to make my project more solid! It is the same for preparations. Of all the steps to bring a manuscript to publication, the one I dislike the most is the last one: the correction and adjustment of the text – "polishing" and once I finished my part, if a publisher accepts my text, s/he'll ask me to do even more correction, adjustment and polishing... but I won't complain if it is to have my book published! =P

At the point where I am in the preparation, I am not yet ready to start writing the book itself. There are too many dark corners.

At a Boreal congress (about french science fiction, fantasy and fantasy (SFFF) literature in Quebec province), someone told us, to us beginners: "I'll show you the length of the preparations that Elizabeth Vonarburg writes for her novels; it is longer than the novels themselves! " *lol*

On this side, it doesn't scare me to do a lot of preparations. I have few failures under my belt, but I've also attended to several writing workshops, I have contacts with other Quebecois and French SFFF writers, I have gained experience and I learn from my mistakes, though I know I still have much to learn.

Writing a book, finish a book, millions of people do it. It's easy. Every finished book is unfortunately not necessarily publishable. Publishing a book is to write in a professional manner. It's a bit like constructing a building, while the structure is not yet safe and strong... it won't hold.

The other point to consider, is that I'm not a part time cashier anymore, with most of my time free for hobbies (when I was a part time cashier, I had a verbal agreement with my managers that if there were no customers in the store, and all my tasks were finished, I would write for my personal projects. I have never – never! – gave a bad customer service; I always dropped my things as soon as I saw someone close to my cash register, and unfortunately for the store, but luckily for me, 75% of my time in the store was allocated to writing).

Now, with a child and one full-time job – where I have to work for real – necessarily, the project is not moving at the same pace... So perhaps the time matter seems more monumental than it actually is. If before, I could work 2 to 8 hours per day on my project, today it's more around 2 to 8 hours per week, at the max (when I'm lucky)! That's very little!

The last Boreal congress I've attended to, was most outstanding because I met the editors of the publisher I would dream to work with! One of them would probably be "closed" to what I do (as a novice) because, as he confirmed to the public of the congress, he prefers to publish experienced writers, even if that means only to translate and no longer encourage the writers of the Francophonie.

The second editor, however, was most interested in new talent in SFFF. By cons, his experience led him to ask (for projects in series, like the one I'm working on), to see ALL the books written at the first submission for publication, to avoid future issues (structure and continuity problems between the books...

If I spent two years writing my first project that received a refusal... I'll well take ten years (or even more!) to write the whole story in my head, without any insurance to publish! That would be totally absurd, in my opinion! What I understand of his comment is that he wants the proof that everything it thought ahead and nothing is left to hazard.

For that reason, among others, I intend to make complete files for the characters, tribes, islands, religions and beliefs, how magic is working, politics and sociology, etc. and also detailed plans of every books that completes the series – meaning ten to fifteen pages of "summary" per book. So when I'll be ready to start writing Book One, I'll know precisely how Book Two will end, what happens in Book Three, Four, etc. At every important passage, I'll know which words to choose to echo something else that will happen in another book or two later... See what I mean? (I know I sound Utopian in the way I explain this... I just mean that when I'll start writing, most of the period of reflection will be completed for all books).

Another thing that changed with time: today, I personally know 3-4 writers as friend or mentors, to whom I could easily ask to read what I write and ask to help me in the writing (one of them worked for the publisher I quoted in second). In time, I could write Chapter One, send it to them, and right there, they would be able to comment on my writing style, my way of weaving the plot, in order for me to adjust the text before reaching the point where it's discouraging and painful to start over again.

Regarding the second portion of Custer's comment:
Of course, the stage of research and preparation could include some short stories in the same frame, is connected to the characters of the main plot or completely independent, ***to help you get used to the world that you create***.

Yes, you're absolutely right! =)

I realized it when I wrote the first version of this project... I was not sure where I was going, I was discovering on the way... Then, when I tried a second writing (still without preparations), I knew my characters so well that it was much faster and smoother to write.

According to my dear Elizabeth, a book should be written several times before publication, since at the first writing, we don't know the story or the characters well, and reversals of our own plot can sometimes surprises ourselves! By making very detailed plans, I would begin the process of writing the same story several times.

It took me two years to work on my first version and once sent to a publisher, it took six months to receive denials. For me, it is clear that I would NEVER be finished by Christmas 2010... or even Christmas 2011! The editor of Solaris, Joël Champetier, said it took him five years to work and publish his book "Le Voleur des Steppes" (but it's a long time for a professional writer...but like many writers of SFFF in Quebec, unfortunately, writing is not the #1 source of income for Joël (his a publisher too; Elisabeth is also a translator, and so on for most writer I've met)...)

For now, I have no idea how long it's going to take me to work and submit Book One to a publisher, but in a situation where I'm working on something else for a living, for sure as I have for at least two to five years!  =S

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Change in the Wind

I had some days off (with the St-Jean-Baptiste, Day of the Quebec province, which fell on a Thursday, I took Friday off to give me a good four days off!) I was able to do some family activities and to work on my project!

I'm at the stage where I'm writing in details the descriptions of the major islands of the story, people who live there and how they live (cultural, agricultural and other products).

Between two events, I tried to sit down and write something. I have so many parts of stories and I can't wait to write the story itself ... but I couldn't do it... I was not in the right ambiance, or the right mood (!), I could put myself  in an introverted state, which is necessary for me to write something structured... I was a bit disappointed, because not only am I rusty, I also have so many things in mind, I'm too excited, I do not know where to begin! It is the opposite effect of "white page syndrome", but it has the same result ...

Afterward, I thought I could develop the characters files. I thought that if I'm taking the time to select the relatively important characters of the story, and write their part in the story (their story), according to THEIR point of view, not only would have a chance to write while developing my pre-production and my preparations, but in addition it would allow me to better know and understand these characters.

My project is progressing surprisingly well all of a sudden! =)
I also started research on shamanism ...
Tomorrow it's back to work, and I only have four days and then after, it's freedom!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Time Obstacle

A long time ago now, I saw the movie "Girl Fight" (featuring Michelle Rodiguez; at the time she was completely unknown). In this film, I don't even remember in what context, there was the message "Quitters Never Win. Winners Never Quit." It inspired me a lot.

Later, I had a profound reflection about the "obstacle" because I was feeling like I was hitting a wall at every turn. With my dear "de facto spouse", we came to the fact that (in that period), I was seeing obstacle as an insurmountable burden, while I should try to see it as a challenge, or as a springboard (not easy)!

Strangely, a few days later stood my first writing workshop with Elizabeth Vonarburg and one theme of a text written there was "the obstacle". We saw several symbols of the obstacle... "The obstacle is the other, the conflict, the monster, the infernal tour, the imprisonment, the labyrinth, the hole, the wild forest; I had taken the mountain (insurmountable) (we were fantasy, fantastic and science-fiction writers).

In short, the subject dropped at a relevant point in my life and although I'm still having a hard time to see obstacles as a springboard today, I can at least take it as a challenge. If I quit on something, it's because it wasn't that important for me...

Recently, at my work, I went into another department, where someone had posted "Defeatist see obstacles as a dead end. Optimists see it as an opportunity." Again, it dropped on an moment where I needed to head this, because I was questioning myself and some days/weeks later, I decided to quit my job and return to my artistic roots.

Since my last post, very little have advanced in my project, except perhaps ideas in my head, without having the time to write them down... Very slowly, when I can, I advance my research too. I have finished today reading the book I was talking about in previous posts.

I've mentioned the obstacle in the introduction, because I'm facing one... For once, the problem is not the project itself.
If I was "not well" at the time I took my decision to quit (a month or two ago), I'm now starting to have the first signs of mini-depression. (I know for sure because I already made a major one!) It is fortunate that everything is almost over! I don't regret my decision.

As I been there before, I now know my limits and I know I'm on a slippy slope... so I've started to take it as "easy-going": I see friends or family on weekends, I do what I gotta do and my job is no longer a priority, and let-go on many things (I don't do the dishes every night, if my daughter wants a hug, I can give her for how long as she wants, even if it means for me to be late, I often fall asleep early, I listen to movies ...)

Speaking of my daughter, I stopped breastfeeding her last week. My goal was to let her decide the time of weaning. Well, we were at 2 mommy's-milk per 24 hours... she was forgetting one here and there... Last Saturday (the 5th), she forgot one, then Sunday she has forgotten both. Monday morning, I had almost no more milk, then she shoved me to drink her cup of rice-milk.
All week, she was less independent than usual, probably because of this is a new phase of detachment with the mother ... When she was in my belly, we were one, then after the birth, we had a connection with milk, then I returned to work, she started the day care, and now that the link of the milk is cut, I think that she needs a new period of adjustment to the separation...

It was also a week of cold (for herself and her dad ... me too, but very slightly), week slipping was difficult for everyone. With the mini-depression, if everyone does a classical insomnia, I do the opposite: hypersomnia! Meaning, I can sleep 12 hours straight, but I wake up as tired as when I went to bed, mostly because the sleep is to light; it's like if I have almost not slept ... but I've lost 12 hours anyway... Just to mention that I'm a person who gives more value to time than money, so losing my time is a major irritant for me!
I had to run to complete my daughter's passport (we had to go to the passport office three times in the week! it was well annoying!), The dishwasher broke (with water damage), I'm training a colleague to take over my job and try to catch up the backlog. My grandfather (the last one of my grandparents still alive) is not well at all and I have trouble finding time to visit him at the hospital ...

Edited June 18th 2010:
This week, we saw it wasn't a cold that my daughter caught, but measles; I've missed 3 days of work to stay with her.

In short, this is why my project is not advancing. There's things more important in life at the moment.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bronze and Iron Age

In my last post, I was talking about a research I started on Celtics, at the Bronze Age and Iron Age. Since then, other than working, spending time with my family and reading this book, I don't have much news. On the other side, this reading put in place several ideas.

I was right to think that I needed a bit of research to inspire me more (even though my world has not much to do with ours and our history). I realize now that without this research, some elements of the social context of my story would have seemed naive. I still have some pages to read before finishing this book and then I would like to read a little more about mines and forges (of that time, of course) because the metalwork is relatively present around some characters. However, I have no book on the subject, so I'll see what I can find on the Internet.

The last time I talked about the series itself, I said that I discovered new pages to write about a character "important by his absence". My research on the Celtic Antiquity has given me some new ideas. I still don't know if this part of the series (which I'll call for the moment the episode 0) will be in the final version, but I think my new ideas add up to the story and I realized that some important characters can be seen in this episode (which happens 40-50 years before episode 1), which advantageously deepen the story on the social context. I'm not sure if it is relevant to the series to add this episode, but I feel like writing it. We'll see later for the rest. Period, I'll do it.

Besides that, I still have one month to work where I am now, then we're going on vacation in France (see my in-laws) and when I return, I'll start my update in 3D. I am now well installed, with two working monitors, ZBrush and Softimage installed on my station... The only thing remaining is... the time to start! =D

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What atout the project?

While I was meditating on my choice, while I was crossing the steps that drove me to quit my job and update myself in 3D, what did I do for my project? Not much, of course, since my mind was occupied elsewhere, but still, I always have a little room for evasion.

Last time I spoke about my project, I said that I've developed the past of a character who, in the series, shines by his absence. I needed to know him, to know where he comes from and why the story changes by the fact he's not there. His story became so attaching for me that I thought I could add it to the series, or write a short story that will go in the "lost pages", (I'm not decided yet about that point; I'll see when the project will be more advanced) but either way, I will write it. I also mentioned that his story was now clear enough in my mind I could almost start writing it right away.

Well, no. During my evasions into my imaginary world I'm building, I came to a more concrete level, what would I write, where would I start... I let myself go and listen to the dialogues, see the scenes, fell them, enter under the skin of my characters, what do they think about, how do they fell, what's their purpose?

There's still something missing, that bloc me. I have the main lines of the religions, but not for that tribe. I'm also missing a historical depth. Where, in time, the story takes place? I know what will happen in the futur (I wrote it the first time I tried to published), but what did happen before? I need a stronger cultural and historical context.

Don't worry, I haven't bloc very long, because I took a book I bought during a travel in Scotland (that's almost exactly 10 years ago). I start studying our own history, the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age, to understand the period I'd like to work with. Of course, my world is not taking place in this world, religions are different and the evolution also. There's no Rome nor fall of Rome, so no medieval time... all is different. But it doesn't change that I feel the need to know better our history, for the influence and inspiration.

Through all of that, of course, I'm really REALLY looking forward to leave my job. This is the main emotional tram I'm stock in. I feel on the edge of depression or nervous breakdown... I have decided to leave in July, to be half way better the classes in fall and now. I knew I couldn't wait until autumn, but it would have been really unreasonable to leave too early... But in the end, I think it's going to be a horribly long two months...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I resigned

I  took information, I have calculated, I looked at the calendar, I have read, I left a message to my father ... The job is killing me, another morning of nausea, I have no desire to go there; I never have the desire to go there, leaving my daughter in the care of someone else, to go do what I do, while I could do better. The separation with my daughter is too hard every day. It's spring, it is more beautiful than ever outside and I must leave her to the care for someone else, while I would rather stay with her or at least earn our bread with something that would give me air instead of choking me. I need to create.

My father called me back, returning from the bike tour of New York. I told him that I made my mind, that I would quit my job. I explain what I wrote in prior posts. He knew my mother, of course, she who wanted to become a lab technician, to whom the father replied: "You're a woman, if you want to work, you will be a dressmaker or a secretary, otherwise the role of a woman is to stay home and wipe the children". My mother had no gift for sewing, she was better as a secretary. But she hated it. Then she was coming back home, exhausted from work, exhausted to believe she had to live the life that was not hers, for money, for the house, for her child, for her father... For everyone except her? But then comes overstrain, nervous breakdown, the bottle of wine, martinis, the broken home. My mother had no gift for motherhood. But she did what she could with the cards she had. And when she lowered her arms, cancer took her away.

Was I nervous about what my father would think? Yes. Is my father the type of person to tell me to sacrifice all that I am for others. No. Among other things, because he knows I'm too rebellious to hear that. I don't listen, I never wanted to listen. I should, however, sometimes. So long ago, my father tried to tell me that my choice of schooling would open through a career, and that career should lead to an income. If money does not buy happiness, it brings the bread on the table, he brings a home, which is important in a country where it's -20°C in winter and +30°C in summer. I didn't understood at the time, I couldn't hear. I was a princess, unhappy on the side of my mother, but spoiled, because free on the side of financial security.

I have been stubborn and I chose the wrong cards. Bad bet. Bad deck. Bad game. Survival game. Between cancer and depression, he had to keep my heads off the waters, breathe, avoid choking. Was my hand that bad? No, because I had many things to resolve before moving on to serious things. Get over with the depression, make peace with my mother, finding a good man worthy of trust. This is no small matter when a heart is already as teared.

I've tabled the cards. I won. I lost. Game over. Change the game. Change the cards, better cards. New cards.

My father told me that after completing his expensive schooling (like mine), he could only find a job as a parts clerk. After a while, he realized he was well paid, but that was not what he wanted, it was not the direction in which he had studied. He had left everything behind to take a job in his field, at the other end of town, poorer salary... But he has climb the latter so highly today, he is renowned in his field, which is something that would never be possible if he had stayed at the better-paid parts clerk job. And he concludes by saying: "I have never regretted quitting that job, even if at first it seemed unreasonable."

To have or not the approval of my father would not have changed my decision, only my emotion; I would have felt in conflict with him. I would have felt misunderstood. But I would have done it anyway. I've always been stubborn.

I resigned Tuesday - I would have done it Monday if they had time for me. My last working day will be July 2nd. A little less than two months.

It doesn't change that I'm still scared. Afraid to leave the stability, financial security, fear of not being able to find my Fine Arts Muse, fear of failure... Ah, the failure, one of my greatest fear. You're still there, before me again. Yes, you're there. I see you, I feel you. And yes, I'm still afraid of you. But no, this time you won't stop me. Since my depression, at the bottom of my well, I saw you, you've never stopped intimidating me. Not anymore. Depression is over, the failure is behind me. The game fell down; I need new cards. I don't know if I found my Muse, but at least I know I found here, now, another piece of myself that I accidentally dropped during my depression.

It has been a long time since I took a bold decision, to drop everything and choose risk.
It has been a long time since, in front of an impasse, I decided to make a U-turn, to soak myself into cold water.
But I did it often before. I reconize myself doing this.

I'm not sure if this text makes any sense for you. My writing is always... different... past a certain hour (plus, this one was even harder to translate for me!). For me, it makes all its sense, too much sense. It might be better, in fact, to have said it in mid-word... Maybe one day, when en in-between the lines will be known, it will become understandable.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Information about NAD Center

 Following my last post, I have contacted the person to have information for the 3D classes. To put the right words, the school is the NAD Center, well deemed in Montreal for 3D. It was a good idea to call him, since it seems there are a lot of freelance 3D artists who goes there for the updates. So, there are classes for those not in company and not in a group (they make the groups themselves).

I have two options. I haven't choose yet, since each has its advantages and disadvantages...

Option #1.
Choose customized classes; you select on a list of classes/software that I would like to take (with the option to take them all if I'd like!) Each class are 2 or 3 days at school. For example, for 3Ds Max, the classes you can select are:

  • 3ds Max Essentials Techniques
  • Animation Rigging
  • Character Animation
  • Modeling and textures
  • Lighting and renders
  • Special Effects and simulation
  • Maxscript
According to the classes schedule, I could start right in mid-May, or at fall. Since I already have a trip to France this summer (to go visit my boyfriend's family), I think it would be best to wait fall trimester. Furthermore, to start classes in 3 weeks, it would be very short notice! If I chose to go back to school, I intend to quite my job, where I need to advise two weeks in advance...

This option is more affordable, short, and I think there's no exams, so no grades, no stress. On the side of inconveniences, I would be relatively left to myself (the classes being really short, like workshops, I'll have to study and work to deepen my knowledge, at home, alone (okay, not exactly alone, since my boyfriend is ready to help me =P), I'll have to be very self-disciplined to practice the softwares and build a folio by myself. Once those steps done, I would also be by myself to find a job and I don't have much contacts in the fields... Since the nature of the classes/workshops, I would not be allowed to loans and grants like for a "full class"

Option #2. To do a Baccalaureate of 3 years. The 3D courses are normally at the level of college (here) and it's the first time that I hear they go to university. It seems that the NAD is already offering Certificates (1 year university) and now, they are opening the Bacc. It's so recent that I have trouble getting all the information! For example, I can't find the cost of that program, nor the inscription date. The next briefing for the Bacc. is May 27th.

On that hand, the advantages and disadvantages are directly the opposite as the Option #1. The formation is very long, so long time without job / income, plus the fees for university (if the college's level program is 16,500$, I would expect that it would be double or triple for the Bacc!). But, I would have a solide folio, a lot more coaching during the period of learning, a better diploma that would open more doors, and wouldn't being garantie, I would also have more chances to find a job through the contact of the school... And it's an official program, so I would be eligible for loans and grants.

So there, I'm plunged in an intense reflection, calculating costs, etc. On one side, quicker, cheaper, but less chances to find a job; on the other, very long, very expensive, but a lot of chances to find a job...

Right now, I think that 3 years without income, at this point of my life, seems a little... absurd! Three years! If the program starts this fall, my daughter would be 5 years old when I would finished, ready to go to kindergarten! And necessary, no other babies during that period, otherwise I would be in the deep bottom! Anyway, nothing is planed yet...

P.S. Since the last 72 hours, I have accumulated so many ideas!! I recently said that I don't have much ideas for visual projects... I think I wasn't putting myself in the "context" to do anything. Now that I am, I'm submerged by ideas (which can be dangerous to target too high and do bad 3D because the project was to complex for my level or abandon because I'm not satisfied...)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dead End

This week was shaken by news reflections...

Did I ever mentioned before that I don't like my job? I have to precise: it's not a Calvary; it's secure, with an incoming that is not misery (though it could be more...), I'm permanent and all, and though I don't have friends in my department, those people are not bad or mean, on the contrary! It's simply that I don't like what I do now. I never liked to play with numbers, even if I have the ability.

For the last month, I felt bad: I'm tired, sometimes exhausted, I have frequent nausea, headache (which is rare for me!), etc. At Easter, I started a cold; normally, it would have affected me for few days, maybe a week... This time, it's still kinda there (I don't feel infected anymore, but I feel my lungs still irritated, I have a bad cough that accentuate my nausea, or sometimes, I regurgitate. It's as if I'm pregnant, despite it doesn't make sens with my cycle. My boyfriend already bought a pregnancy test, but I have to wait the right moment in my cycle in order to be more accurate. A long week plunged into doubt. More than once, I told my boyfriend: "If I'm not pregnant, I don't know what I have, but I don't feel right!"

Two weeks ago, I was seeing my best friend. She was telling me, once again, how it was unfortunate that I have a job as opposed to my talents and passion, and most importantly, a job that underpaid (according to her opinion) ;o) She helps me in my reflection to find something else, but still... The studies I have in my resume are obsoleted, I have one small work-experience on that field, but so long ago now... On the other hand, I have no schooling for the things I do have work-experience. I'm on a dead-end! I'm not attached to the company I'm working for, but I receive no call when I apply else where, which I think is normal, if you look at my path... Who would want to hire a secretary / receptionist / accounting clerk who studied in Fine Arts or 3D computer graphics? Who would want to hire a digital artist that has almost no experience and who the schooling is older than 10 years past? You see what I mean? Dead end!

I was going through a phase where I was trying to go with the flow, with the element I have. My objective is to buy a house, I was putting money aside like a squirrel... enduring the killing boring job, telling myself that it's worth it, for the house, the family and all... I have to accept that my situation is not that bad (even if it's not was I was dreaming of...)

Everyone, friends, parents, repeat to me that EVERYONE hates his/her job. My dad, who enjoys it, rather says: "Even when you do like it, 75% of your tasks won't be pleasant..." and I haste to reply: "Yes, I know ... When I write a book, I like to write it, but I hate to correct it and retouch it... The writing takes me about 30% of the time, the rest is revisions! But at least I know it's for a project dear to my heart and if I don't do it, I'll have to live with an unfulfilled project or badly done... It's already much more pleasant than working on something that I don't like at all!"

This Thursday, I was speaking with a good friend who, his own way, pushes me to help me getting out of it. His brother works at Ubisoft Montréal; he (my friend) already proposed that I give him my resume, so he would leavet it to his brother. I was excited at first (it was during winter), but after reflection, I don't believe I could... I mean, it's been so long since I've worked on a digital project, or simply a drawing, I wouldn't be able to get that job full time and hope to be up to the deadlines! I need to take the time to get back to it, do somethings, and furthermore, the 3D methods changed so much since I left school, back in 1999... To be realistic, it won't work!

Telling it so that way, to my friend, this Thursday, he simply asked: "Then, why don't you take an upgrade class?"; effectively, this could be a solution... But you know, you think about it twice, when you're a mother, before leave everything behind like that! Ten years ago, even 5, it would have been possible and maybe easy (if I don't count the fact that I wouldn't have been able to pay for those classes), but now? Then he told me that there is an assistance program of "last resort" for people in the impasse that need a return to school. He was a cook once, for 4-5 stars restaurant, and then he developed an allergy to seafood. He has used this program to redirect his career.

What would we do without friends?? =) I've search to web for that program, but I haven't found anything yet. I would need to contact the "employment insurance" to have more details.

I also started to look for upgrade classes or other formation that could please me, keeping in mind that the goal is to find a relatively stable job, that would permit me to purchase a house. The first time, in 3D, I didn't understand the consequenses of my choices, on the long terme. I was so persuated that I would succeed; I have been so stubborn. I must not let myself go and do, for a second time, the wrong choices!

I found digital classes for the press, also 3D classes with the latest software, and video editing classes...

I went on an excited wave for the movie editing, but I'm so bad with sound mixing that I'm not sure I would be great in that... I'm also afraid of the number of job offered in Québec, but that, I don't know, I never checked... Never thought of it before.

After, I asked myself if I wished to go back in 3D... I never showed you... Here's some stuff in 3D that I "dare" showing; it's old, 2001. (I will not retrace my student 3D demo, because... I'm not sure I would be able to stand it!)

I need to precise that I was in team to do those images. Following the client request, I did the sketches. Someone else (today, my boyfriend and father of my daughter ^_^ ) did the 3D models, then I came back for the textures and materials (in other terms, coloring and emboss). The adjustments of the camera and lighting, we did together (he on the technical side, me on the artistic side).

Yes, I would probably be pleased to do 3D again =)  I was looking for schools in Montréal and I got stroked by a truth: I already did the class! Dah! I already did the tests for the entry selection and all of it... I don't want that again! Not again! I simply want an upgrade, to be up to date! It seems there's only one school that could give that kind of class... for company! I'm alone... Well, I think I wound still contact them and ask about my case... see if I could got through that door...

Then, Saturday evening, 22h (10pm), looking for other avenues, other alternatives... I fall on a school (I heard about it before, by reputation; I simply forgot about it), that offers classes for "the writing of movie". I stood speechless! I had tears in my eyes! At nine year old, I was saying: "When I'll grow up, I'll write movies!", I chose 3D movies a bit to follow that dream, but meanwhile, I also discovered the novel and the writing for novels, which also please me a lot. But scripting classes... I can't say why, how, I don't know... I always though it wasn't existing! I snuffed myself swearing about my own stupidity, I read the program... the deadline for the entry (and the submission of a project) is May 12th. May 12th!! Normally, when I present myself for the inscriptions for classes, it's the drama of my life, I'm ALWAYS few days late, and I have to wait a whole year or so for the next entry... But this time, I'm two weeks and a half ahead...

I immediately wrote an email to my dear Elisabeth Vonarburg. I needed her opinion... because the Quebec cinema is not really on the side of fantasy and science-fiction... I won't hide it, it wouldn't be worth it, here, now, with my objectives, to go back to school if there's no job when I get out! I was feeling as excited as when I started in 3D, wanting to do everything, see everything, try everything, no matter the cost; I badly chose the 3D school the first time (20% of the students were accually finding a job in the area of 3D; I'm on the 80% that did not succeed on that part... though, it's in that school that I met my boyfriend, in 1999; I'm still with him and we now have a beautiful baby girl!), school that I think closed... It would be really idiot from me to get on my big horses and redo the same mistakes!

Following my email that had an overwhelming lenght, poor Elizabeth (she's a writer and translator, she's not afraid to read, but still...) I went to bed. It was past midnight. At 2 o'clock, my daughter got up to see me, she was sick, the poor one. She regurgitated several times in the bed ... while my boyfriend was changing the sheets, I changed her pajamas, mine, and I tried to relieved her... The night was short.

Right the next day, 9am, I had the answer from my dear Elisabeth. This woman, my mentor, is really incredible! She took the time to mention that she is presently overwhelmed and that she is quickly answering back... but her email, on a Sunday morning, was as long as mine! ^_^ You have no idea how much I worship her, for her talent, for her wisdom, for "her" and how small I feel compared to her generosity!

To say it simply, she answered what I needed to hear. The cinematic reality in Quebec is not the same as in the U.S.A. Although I think it would be exciting to do this course, I don't think it would be a good idea for my goal of the moment, meaning to have a training, to get a job (not to follow a girl's dream that could lead me in another dead end after turning in circles for over ten years!). Perhaps it will be for later, the scripting class. =)

I know, my text is getting really long... But there was still an important detail to verify before engaging myself in anything: the pregnancy test! This morning again, nausea... I had to eclipse myself to the bathroom; I had nothing in the stomach, but it wanted to get out anyway... I first wanted to wait to Monday for the test, but I couldn't wait any longer... According to the recommendation of the vendor, more we wait in the woman's cycle and more the result will be accurate. I needed to know. Hell, for one day in a whole month! It's negative.  At last, now I know!

So, I think I feel sick because of my job. In her response, Elisabeth was talking about the choice between "risk" and "security", choice that everyone faces one day or another, or several times. If everybody who's telling me they don't like their job, it seems that for me, it's really destructive. I still need something somewhat safe to have a roof, heat during winter, food on the table, especially when there's children around the table. I simply hope to get something in the middle... something relatively stable, relatively secured, while following, at least a bit, my passions and keep the head off the water.

For the moment, I can't wait for the week to beginning, not to go to work but to get in contact with the school that offers upgrades for 3D professionals; I'll check with them if there would be a solution, though I'm not in company or in group... =)

Thank you again Elisabeth! =)