Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone! ๐Ÿ˜€

Well, 2018 is behind us. I’ve heard/seen some people say it was a bad year. I’m glad nobody told me, because I thought it was a pretty decent year. I don’t frequently talk about my work, but I work at Walmart. I’ve been there since the beginning of October 2015, so just about 3 years, 3 months. For over 2 years, I was a truck unloader and then a supervisor over the unload team. I worked 2 PM to 11 PM, or 14:00 to 23:00, for those who use the 24-hour clock. Truly awful hours. Well, back in February, I stepped down from being a supervisor and went to 3rd shift, working from 10 PM to 7 AM, or 22:00 to 07:00. This move allowed me to work hours I’ve wanted to work since I started there, as I’m a night owl and I love being up all night. I also got to get away from that unloading job, which was extremely physically demanding. Plus, I was supervising a lot of lazy people. Not all of them, but probably about 2/3 of the team I was supervising didn’t seem to care about getting stuff done. Also, several were resentful that I’d been promoted, so I got some blow back from them. Stepping down was one of the best decisions I’ve made since I started with that company, as I’m working better hours, have a hell of a lot less stress, and am working with a lot of people that I like. Also, at the time I decided to step down, they were about to send me somewhere else for training related to my supervisor position. I’d been saving money at that time for the transportation to and from, which I had to pay for (I don’t have a car) and they were going to reimburse me for that. I’d already gone for some training back in December 2017, and it was a giant pain in the ass. So, since I was stepping down, I no longer needed to go to that training, so I had some extra money.

At that time, I went to Microsoft’s website at that time to see about maybe buying some games for my XBOX 360, and saw they were having a deal with free games if you bought an XBOX One from the Microsoft store, so I did that. That was a great deal, and I love that console. I’ve made some other good video game purchases over the year too. One of my favorites was the Hyperkin Retron 77. That’s a clone console that plays Atari 2600 games in glorious HD. I was able to snag one off of Ebay a while back, and I also started up a new collection of Atari cartridges. I grew up with Atari, and I love Atari, so this is great. I’d purchased other recent clone consoles from Hyperkin, so I knew what to expect quality wise. I find they’re very well built and work great. I also got some HD cables for my Playstation 2, so now I can play Playstation and Playstation 2 games in HD, and I’ve been working on collecting more of those games to play, along with working on some of my cartridge collections, such as the Sega Genesis. And, finally on the gaming front, I was able to get a Super NES Classic after they hype died down because we had one in stock at work. I also was able to get a NES Classic, which I couldn’t buy back in 2016 because they were never on the shelf long enough for me to be able to get one. I was looking at electronics one day, it turned out to be the day after those were reissued back in the Summer, so I was able to buy one. ๐Ÿ™‚

As for other hobbies, the lightsabers have been going well. I’ve gotten some hilts I’ve wanted for quite some time, as well as some newer releases from Ultrasabers and Sabeforge. I’ve also been collecting more movies and TV series, another great side effect of working at Walmart. I also buy some of that stuff on Amazon, depending on who has better prices. I picked up the first two Captain America movies this morning before leaving work, because Amazon has them for significantly more than Walmart. Another hobby of mine is reading, I love books. I love novels, nonfiction books (on certain subjects) and comics. I went to a giant used book clearance sale back in August and got a bunch of practically brand new paperback novels for 50ยข, and Amazon was having a huge comic sale in the Kindle store at the end of the year, so I stocked up on DC and even some Marvel graphic novels. It was a good end to the year.

So, that’s my take on 2018. It was a good year overall. There were some bad things that happened in the world, for sure. But, there are every single year. Until people stop hating each other and learn to live together, there will always be bad things that happen. Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future can’t come soon enough. But, I try not to focus on the negative, especially on things that I can’t possibly change, and instead focus on the good things in my life. I hope 2019 is as good for me as 2018 was, and I wish everyone a happy New Year and hope 2019 is good for everyone reading this as well.

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Paris Class Pt. 01

So, I all of a sudden got in the mood to do CGI earlier tonight. I decided to do a ship from the Starfleet Museum, the Paris class.

Starfleet Museum Paris class link

At first, I was just going to do a ship based on the design, so it’s currently called “Pre TOS 02” on my computer, but it’s going to be the Paris class, or at least my version of it. I’m taking a lot of liberties with not only the design but also with what’s done on Star Trek ships. I want to be a Starfleet ship, but I also want it to be unique to me.

Anyway, this is what I have so far:

Anyway, it’s a start.

Two More Sabers

So, when you start a serious saber hobby, obviously you need to keep it fresh. Or, at least that’s the excuse I use to keep buying this stuff. ๐Ÿ˜›

So, I ordered an Archon 2.1 hilt from Ultrasabers recently. It’s a really nice Luke Skyalker/Ben Kenobi inspired saber. I’m doing some mods to it, like adding a Graflex clamp to it to make it look more like the ones from the movies:

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Anyway, that’s a work in progress.

So, I ordered that saber unassembled. When you do that, Ultrasabers sends you the stuff in a box. I got all the parts for a stunt, but I wanted a saber with sound. So, later, I ordered a Nano Biscotte V4 from The custom Saber shop, intent on building the Archon with that setup. Then they went and released a new Nano setup, with a power extender (for RGB installs) and a battery/speaker holder installed. So, I switched tracks to wanting that for the Archon. That left me with some parts laying around. I had hilts already, so I built two sabers:

Those were both a lot of fun to do, even with the issues I had with the Xiphos. (it happens) To me, this stuff is more fun right now than CGI. It’s hands on and I’m left with some cool stuff to play with when I’m done. Without a 3D printer, there’s nothing physical to be had from CGI. Plus, I took an electrical course in high school in 1994, I might as well put some of the skills from that floating credit to good use. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Oregon Trail

So, it’s been a while since I posted. To be Honest, CGI just hasn’t been exciting me of late. I have some other projects I want to do, but just getting them started is a chore. I spend a lot of my time off playing playing games and watching movies. On that note, here’s something a little different.

So, anyone who was in school between 1985 and about 2005-ish probably played The Oregon Trail in school. It was first created in the ’70s by a few student teachers who wanted a fun way to teach the history of that trail, and it’s become a favorite since then. It was included on all computers sent to schools by 1985. (at least in North America) These days, you can play it in a web browser for free. Or, you know, play it on a handheld:

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Starship Revamp, Pt. 03

More playing around with specular settings.

If you know what the specular setting does, you may just want to skip this part and go to the renders. For those who don’t know, the specular setting makes an object shiny. It works hand in hand with the glossiness setting to determine the overall look of a shiny surface. Glossiness makes the shine “localized.” A high glossiness setting makes a small super shiny patch, while a lower setting spreads the shine out. For metal that’s not painted with glossy paint (no car paint) and isn’t buffed to a mirror shine, I want a higher specular setting and a lower glossiness setting.

The specular map is what determines what is shinier. Basically, it’s a grayscale image with patterns on it. The shades of gray determine shine, with white being totally shiny and black being not shiny at all. It also creates the individual hull panels, along with a diffusion map to control light absorption. The look we should all be chasing is the paneling from TMP:

tmphd0720

Basically, they used paints and with different shine levels to create the individual panels. The way it works is, in direct light, (light hitting the object from the same side as the camera) the panels are barely visible. However, in indirect light, (light hitting from the opposite side as the camera) the panels are visible. In the image above, the registry light is hitting the hull at an indirect angle, causing the panels to be visible. This is achieved in CGI with specular mapping.

In the images below, the ship is rendered at the same angle with 3 different light angles. The first is direct lighting, the other two are indirect lighting with the light in different positions on the other side of the model. This gives an idea of how it would look if I rendered a flyby where the ship flies between the camera and light. I’m happy with how these look:

TOS_Utility_09

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Starship Revamp, Pt. 02

Well, it’s a work in progress. Taking the stenciled lettering off of the hull is the chore I expected it to be. It’s a lot of merging faces and deleting points. I got all of the registries off of the main hull (saucer.) I still have to take the ones off of the nacelles, but I didn’t want to do it right now.

Instead, I set about getting rid of the greeble trenches. My idea for the other model was to not do those, so I got rid of them on this model. There was a lot of destroying faces and building new ones. It was a chore, but worth it when all said and done. I really like how that looks VS having the trenches. Since this is supposed to be a predecessor to the Miranda class, and not a Miranda, I figure some differences are warranted. I have new greebles planned to go there, so it won’t be the plain dark gray areas you see now.

And, lastly, I dorked around with materials. The last version of Lightwave I used was Lightwave 10.1 or 10.2, something like that. Either way, it was an old version, from 2010. So much has changed since then, that I’m having to figure out all new settings in Lightwave 2018. But, that’s part of the fun. At least I’m doing this with a model that already has textures.

Anyway, this is where it sits:

TOS_Utility_05

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Starship Revamp, Pt. 01

So, I promised a return to CGI, and here it is.

A few years ago, I was part of a doomed fan film. It was called Star Trek: Equinox. This was around the time of the whole Axanar thing, where they bit the hand and crowd funded over $1,000,000 and hired a bunch of professional talent to work on the film, forcing CBS to create a bunch of new rules for fan films. Anyway, this other film was being worked on a the same time as Axanar, but it was being done considerably less professionally. I was the model maker, and there was a bunch of bickering and bullshit behind the scenes. Also, because the guy running the show kept pissing off effects artists, (among other people) I had to do a lot of the animation and rendering for the trailers too, despite just originally wanting to make models for it. (and, let me say, people on Facebook can be real motherf***ers when your stuff isn’t as good as professional artists) Anyway, I wasn’t very happy with the project, which wound up imploding due to a lot of the BTS stuff, as well as the guy running the project and his tendency towards pissing people off.

Anywho, this is the model I built to be the main ship of the show:

TOS_Utility_01

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3 More Sabers

Damn, it’s been a backlog around here. I’ve gotten a lot of saber related stuff lately. Anyway, the last of it is all filmed, photographed and reviewed. So, here it goes:

Ultrasabers Dominix LE V4

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So, that’s what this saber looked like when I first got it, back in early 2017. It was a lucky raffle prize from the first raffle of 2017 from Ultrasabers. It was a 3rd place prize, a stunt saber with lithium ion batteries. For a long time now, I’ve wanted to add sound to it. Due to my issues with my Prophecy that had sound, I put the soundboard inside this hilt. This is the result:

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Blade Plugs

Of my projects I had planned for my 3-day weekend, I had planned 2 lightsaber builds or rebuilds. Well, that turned into 3 lightsabers when my Ultrasabers Prophecy didn’t quite go as planned.

Another project I had was to finally shorten some of my blades. In the early days, I bought 36″ heavy grade blades. I thought the heavy blades would be good, because I might want to duel. Well, I don’t. Aside from collecting and building sabers, I manly play around with them and spin them. I don’t know a lot of spin moves, but I do want to improve. Balance is important in spinning, more so than having the longest blade with the longest reach. A 36″ heavy blade will spin. In fact, once it gets going it’s hard to stop due to it being blade heavy. So controlling and changing directions is more difficult without a well balanced weapon. Also, I’m fairly tall, so I hit the ceiling a lot with longer blades.

More recently, I’ve been buying sabers with 32″ blades. For some hilts, a 32″ heavy grade blade is good for balance. For others, even that is too heavy. My most recent saber purchase was a green bladed Prophecy V3 from Ultrasabers. Already owning one of those, I know a 32″ heavy grade is too heavy for that hilt. So, I ordered that saber with a 32″ midgrade blade, which is well balanced for that hilt, and it makes a great spinner.

So, the question is: what do I do with all those long, heavy blades? Well, cut ’em down, of course. I bought a little pipe cutter on Amazon, which was a little under $20 and can take up to a 1″ tube. That’s perfect, as the blades are 1″ wide. I also bought a hot glue gun at work, to glue the film back inside the blade after I cut it. So, I set about cutting down some of those blades. I’ve cut them down to 29″, 31″ and 32″. That leaves behind some blade pieces. Another thing I’ve wanted to do is make some blade plugs. Plugs can be used when a blade isn’t inside the saber. In the case of an LED being loose, it can hold the LED in place, and also stop someone from doing one of these and hurting themselves:

skywalker_saber_face
(I love that meme)

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Anyway, it really won’t be that bad. However, the LEDs used in these things are incredibly bright. You could damage your retina if you look directly at it while it’s one. (I’ve seen a surprising number of people do this in videos.) The blade plugs, also known as safety plugs, stop you from damaging your eyes by doing this. Obviously, pieces of blade stock won’t do this alone, as you can see straight down that. So, I needed something to cap them. I rummaged around an found some old toys, nothing really fit what I needed it for. Then I thought of coins. A US quarter would be the right size, but that’s not a good idea. Not only do I not have that many on hand (I typically don’t carry cash) but I’m fairly certain it’s actually illegal to use US currency in this way. However, I was rummaging around some coins and I found some old arcade tokens amongst them. Eureka!

Now, for the kids reading this, a video arcade was a place where you could go and play video games. They started long before video games in the home, much less mobile ones. (crazy, I know) Anyway, some of these arcades had change machines, others were more of a pain and had token machines. The video game cabinets were modified to take the tokens instead of quarters. Why I have some of these is beyond me. Most are from ages ago. Some are from a family trip to Reno, NV when I was a teenager. My mom is a bowler, and she went out there for a national tournament. I didn’t want to sit and watch, and I was a teenager and couldn’t gamble (I don’t gamble anyway) so I hit some of the arcades. This was in the ’90s, before smart phones and when arcades were still really hot. I also have one from Chuck E. Cheese. Why? I don’t know. I probably just didn’t use them 20+ years ago. Though, the Chuck E. Cheese one is from 1999, it has a year on it. Anyway, these aren’t money, in fact most say on the back that they don’t have a cash value. Two are silver from the Silver Legacy casino arcade in Reno, the others are brass. I didn’t bother cleaning them up, as I really like how brass ages, I just hot glued them onto the ends of my plugs. I’m really happy with the results:

IMG_0377

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