Going for a CAD upgrade

If you’re an experienced 3d modeler in any profession, you rely on certain tools. Being such an open source nerd, as well as just cheap, I depend on plenty of free tools.

Professional 3d modelers spend their careers keeping up with the tools that are in demand at movie or television studios which makes most of them scoff at free tools because of their simplicity or feature set.

But a key component lacking in entertainment work is dimensional and engineering accuracy. You can animate the universe in Maya and make it pretty, but good luck getting an accurate engineering visualization out of it.

And that’s something I looked for in other 3D CAD tools lately – sure the Hollywood boys an girls get all the glory on screen. But I’ve said this before since getting into 3d printing – NONE of the models usually made for the screen translate seamlessly to the printer. The demands on either are are very different.

There’s is some shared space between them in the concepts of creating profiles, polygons, extrusions and the like. But the meat an potatoes of creating something that actually works when manufactured? New ball of wax.

Dimensional accuracy, tolerances, the Shore scale of material usage, material density to weight ratios, etc. There’s so much more to worry about when turning a 3d design meant for actual use in the real world than there ever was in merely making something pretty onscreen. I take it back, but only a little – we’ve all worked for THAT director at some point. The one that things the weight of the world depends on THAT ONE PIXEL.

If only they knew.

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Own it like a Girlboss

SO I am on hiatus from the day job at the moment. The last shots wait for notes, and there are always notes. Shots rarely come back from QC (quality control) but when it does happen, it’s usually something very essoteric and usually easy enough to fix in a few hours.

SO the show is called Girlboss, the fictionalized version of the rise of Nasty Gal – the vintage clothing web sensation. Doesn’t sound like my usual does it? No – and that’s why I kind of loved the experience.

While shows like Battlestar Galactica and Defiance had tons of visual effects, shows like those get a lot of leeway in a strange way in that they often show you things you for whiich you don’t have a complete reference. You can get away with a lot because of the amount of “real” gets taken away. In a show like Girlboss, there is nowhere to hide, everything has to be as close to real as possible because MOST of the show doesn’t depend on spectacle. It depends on drama, performance, and humor.

I haven’t really had a job in my career like it – no monsters, spaceships, or other spectacle.

Last year, I had a brief shot at working on Star Trek Discovery, I got a call from a friend and producer I’d worked with before asking if I was interested. TO be brutally honest, my heart really wasn’t in it. My old mentor, supervisor and friend Gary Hutzel had passed away and I know people always say move on and get new experiences but this was after all, my choice.

I decided not to pursue the lead, I had my own goals that were starting to have a lot less to do with prestige jobs and more with my own storytelling. Not getting any younger, etc.

I recently learned the entire in house visual effects team for Discovery had been let go without ever finishing a shot. Kind of feel like I dodged a bullet there.

One of my least favorite things in life is pouring my effort into something that never gets seen. I had already been through that on Blood and Chrome which I worked on with Gary. Through no fault of his own, almost all of my work was edited out of that show. Nine months of work never got seen. It was down to a producer making a broad change to sequences to fit his vision and my work ended up being redone after I had already left the production.

It happens to everyone who works in television or film – massive amounts of work ending up being cut or worse. Actually I don’t know what’s worse and I have never been satisfied with the attitude “at least the checks cleared.” That’s never been why anyone who loves this work does it, so why should it be the rationale for the times it goes horribly wrong. Silver lining? Few people can tell the difference between cheap tin and overpriced silver, and they don’t call it “visual effects” for nothing.

My heart goes out to that team. I know, have worked with, and truly love some of the guys on that team. I know these guys can fly, I also hope they land just as well at other facilities.

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