I’ve been feeling totally horrible all week, so it’s hard to get myself motivated to go find interesting things to blog about. So, tonight, I decided to visit some of the sites I find most enjoyable. Before you know it, I’m finding a whole lot of things that I think you’d want to know about.
One of my favorite online publications is SMASHING MAGAZINE. It’s just full of wonderful and amazing articles. It’s primarily a design magazine so it’s a visual treat to spend time with it. They also offer a lot of great freebies and links to terrific tutorials. Two that got me excited tonight were the links to ULTIMATE MAYA TUTORIALS and 50 TRADITIONAL DRAWING TECHNIQUES. Check out the tutorials and dig around in the magazine. It’s worth your time.
One of the great things about being a professor is that I was always getting (and reading) new books. Publishers shipped them to us constantly because they hoped we would adopt them for our classes. If it’s a popular class it can mean hundreds and hundreds of sales. In addition to Review copies of books, it seemed that I was always picking up something or another for class. Something wonderful and exciting to share (to go along with one of the BEST things about teaching, always something new to LEARN). Which leads me to mention my latest reading musts!
I was reading HOW TO WOW IN FLASH on the plane. Written by Colin Smith, the book is nine chapters of the things you most need to know and use when building a flash website … things like incorporating a dynamic image page, a scrolling text box and bitmap caching for faster image loads. Best of all, it’s written from a designer’s point of view. So, it included the code but emphasis is on how it’s going to look and work. Great book. I’m looking for more books like it.
I think I already mentioned the Rockable Press book HOW TO BE A ROCKSTAR WORDPRESS DESIGNER. Still amazed at how accessible PHP, CSS and WP became after reading that book. I’ve taught CSS in the past and, had this book been around, it would have been required reading because it takes you really far, really fast.
While I’m unpacking (groan), I also like to take time to read things for pleasure (gasp). I’m working on the Emily Dickinson story so I’ve got two wonderful pleasure books I’m perusing (now that I’ve got my books unpacked). The first is the Emily Dickinson HERBARIUM, a copy of the 400+ plants and flowers that 14-year-old Emily collected, pressed and labeled in her own inimitable hand. In later years, she would use plant and flower imagery in many of her poems. The HERBARIUM is the genus of her genius. Alec picked this up for me in Manhattan at Strand Bookstore (18 miles of rare books). I love it, absolutely love it.
I’m also reading Martha Dickinson Bianchi’s FACE TO FACE WITH EMILY DICKINSON. The daughter of Austin and Susan Dickinson, the niece of Emily, Martha has the unique perspective of someone who grew up in the presence of these two amazing women. Her firsthand account of their lives is fascinating.
I am getting so much grief about not writing more often. I have been so crazy busy for the last few months, I have hardly had time to breathe much less write on the blog. Closing things up in Arizona, transitioning to California. Packing. Unpacking. It’s been stressful for both Alec and me. We spent the last six weeks in Arizona teaching gifted students in a summer program at Phoenix Country Day School. It was awesome. Two weeks of Maya 3D animation, two weeks of filmmaking and two more weeks of Maya.
The most exciting thing last week was Alec getting a job at Sony (on the Visual Effects Production Staff, on the Sony lot!) working on the film PRIEST. According to the internet, the film was introduced and discussed at Comicon this last week. According to the website, they unveiled the poster which features Paul Bettany. Very cool poster. Back to the story of Alec. He interviewed on Monday and got a call on Tuesday. He started on Wednesday and he loves it, loves it, loves it. He works with the super talented, super amazing Jenny Fulle. He will learn soooo much. It’s looking like it will be about a one-year production position which extends from pre-production through production AND post production. What an education! What an opportunity! What a lucky guy! The funniest thing (in my opinion) is that his Sony ID has his photograph, his name and the film he’s working on … so his ID says, “Alec Hart, Priest” … this is hysterical for everyone who knows Alec.
We spent the last to weeks working with Autodesk Maya. This time, it was at Phoenix Country Day School with students in grades 5 through 11. I am always amazed at how quickly and easily the students adapt to the logic of the software. Within a few hours, they were modeling with polygons, NURBs and subD’s. They were applying surface textures and animating their objects using keyframe and path animation. The thing they liked the most was Learning Maya 6 | Dynamics. They were building bowling alleys, fountains, mousetraps and Rube Golberg devices. It was inspiring, simply inspiring. I’ve read hundreds of (mediocre) Maya books. It’s hard to find good books. The BEST book out there on dynamics is actually published by Alias … and amazingly it was written for version six but it works just as well with the latest versions.