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. 😛

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. 😉

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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Future Sabers

So, this is a saber company I’ve been wanting to try and finally did. Future Sabers.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/FutureSabersLLC

And, now that I have one, I’m glad I did. Of course, now the have the all black one in stock. When I ordered, they only had the all silver and silver and black. But, that’s OK. Anyway, it’s a really nice saber. But, I’ll let the video do the talking:

Book Sale

So, when I changed the format of the blog sometime back, I said I would cover other hobbies besides CGI. Well, two of my oldest hobbies are books and movies.

I love movies from all decades, I have them from 1931 (Dracula) all the way up to 2018. (Super Troopers 2 and The Death of Superman) I don’t go to the theater so much, mainly because I work 3rd shift and don’t have a car, so it’s rough cutting a large enough time out of my evening (when I wake up) to take buses to the theater to see a movie, and get back home before said buses stop running for the evening. But, I do sometimes get to the theater if I tag along with people who are going. For example, I went to see Solo: A Star Wars Story shortly after it was released and I’m going to see Mission: Impossible: Fallout on Tuesday. But, I love DVDs and Blu-Rays, and I have quite an expansive collection. In fact, I need to organize some stuff as I literally have movies everywhere. I work at Walmart, which has really enhanced my movie buying, mainly due to the ease of buying new releases, especially since I’m there at midnight when they release, as well as older films that are reduced.

As for books, I’ve been reading adult books since sometime in my early teens. When I was in high school, I’d usually read a few a week, my particular favorites were the Star Trek paperbacks. I still enjoy reading, but it takes me longer these days to finish a book with other distractions. One thing I like is having a Kindle e-reader, as well as the Kindle app on my phone, which makes buying out of print books easier. However, another thing I love are used bookstores. One that’s near me is Half Price Books, which has over 120 locations spread all over the United States. I’ve been shopping at HPB since sometime in the ’90s. Half price is usually the most you’ll pay for something, I’ve gotten many used hardbacks there for $5 or so. Great store. They also have movies, music, video games and various knickknacks.

So, every year for the past few years, they’ve been doing clearance sales. They rent a giant room somewhere and there are just huge tables of books, movies, games and music. I’m set up on games and I usually buy digital music , but I prefer physical movies and I love getting books at reduced prices. They rented an arena for this weekend, and my parents were going yesterday, so they asked me if I wanted to go. I wasn’t working last night, so I was like: “Sure, I’ll sacrifice some sleep for that.” Yeah, it was worth it:

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No, the lightsaber isn’t something I bought yesterday, it was there, so I left it for ambiance. Also, it’s sort of sad that my bed was the only uncluttered space to take this pic, aside from portions of the floor.

Anywho, 11 paperbacks. At 50 cents a piece, they were a steal. There were other Star Trek books, some of which I have already, and I stayed away from ones that were part of series, (which left out the Star wars books they had) as tracking down the rest of said series at decent prices would involve the Internet, where you have to take someone’s word for it that they’re in good condition. As you can see, the ones I bought are in like new condition. Aside from trade ins, HPB also gets inventory from close out sales and whatnot. So, it’s doubtful most of these have been read. I got mostly numbered TNG novels. Some I read back in the ’90s, so I won’t remember them, others this will be the first time. I also got one TOS novel, 2010: Odyssey Two and a cool Terminator novel that’s a better follow-up to T2 than T3 was. There’s another one by the same author that I’ll have to track down. So, good buys. 11 paperbacks for $5.50.
Amazon charges list prices for Kindle books, so I couldn’t get one for that much money.

The DVDs were just what I found that I like and didn’t have. Lots of comedy, especially Adam Sandler. I watched Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo again last week on Hulu, I’d forgotten how funny that is. It was Happy Madison’s first movie, though Adam Sandler isn’t in it (his voice is.) I got a few films he is in, Happy Gilmore is my favorites of his. Jay and Silent Bob Strike back is just dumb fun, I watched that again this morning. And, I got some stand-up comedy. My mom found the Jeff Foxworthy DVD, and
let me know about it because I’m a big Foxworthy fan. Plus, she’s gonna want to borrow it. The absolute best movie I bought is Tarantino’s first film, Reservoir Dogs. I’ve been wanting to watch that again, so it was the second DVD I put in last night (after Jeff Foxworthy.) And, The Italian Job because it’s a fun heist film, and some Sci-Fi (naturally.) The good Pirates of the Caribbean film, and somehow I didn’t already have Superman Returns. I’m a big Superman fan, so that was an essential buy. The copy of Highlander is, unfortunately, one of the old laserdisc transfers with the shitty non anamorphic widescreen, but for $2 who can complain? So, 14 DVDs for a total of $28.

All said, including a 99 cent cloth tote bag to carry everything (that sumbitch was full too) and taxes, $30-something. So, I really cleaned up.

Afterwards, it was the Olive Garden for dinner. Then, back home for some DVDs and gaming. I always clean my discs when I buy them used, as well as cleaning or replacing the cases, condition determines which it is. I have spare cases, due to transferring a bunch of movies to a CD binder when I was in the Army (for portability) and that “went missing” when I was in Afghanistan (damn thieving roommate) so there was nothing to return to the cases when I got out of the Army. So, I use the cases to replace worn out ones for my used movies and games. I cleaned up the Foxworthy DVD first, which is why it got played first, while I was cleaning the others. 🙂

So, just a fantastic day, so I thought I’d share.