Saturday, September 30, 2006

Shooting postponed

Hopefully only until Tomorrow.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Shooting tomorrow.

I build the second lightsabre and shoot the video tomorrow. Here, not at Woodbury. This will mean dubbing in the narration separately. I think that iMovie can handle that.

May the Force be with me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Free/Open Source rotoscoping deliciousness...

I have been looking all over for tutorials in how to use the GIMP (GNU Image Manipulator Project) to do lightsabre blades. The GIMP has a Hollywood cousin called Cinepaint. Both are F/OSS and run on just about any and every platform capable of doing the job. (PC+Win32, PC+Linux, Mac OS X)

I'm putting the links down here and putting down for the night but I want to play with this and show you what comes of it. I have the perfect pic to do a test with (my most recent sabre creation in its full-length pictorial debut) and it should be a piece of cake to get rid of the tell tale shadow that says "no, that isn't a real lightsabre."

Here's the GIMP tutorial for stills...
and here's the Cinepaint tutorial for video rotoscoping.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Right Hand sabre just about complete...

It's beautiful. It fits my hand. It hangs better on my belt. It's great.

Here are the pix!

Gotta give 'nuff respect to Ryan at Random Sabers. He made this possible.

I think I might try to greeble the control box a little, but the approach I used last time won't work. Control box is way too small for a SO-DIMM. I'm thinking ICs clipped off of a non-working circuit board.

This is sort of a before-and-after pic.

Now you can see the reason why people were talking about "wookiee sabres" with regard to v1.0, and how these are just more in scale with me. The drain-pipe sabres would be just fine for a taller person with bigger hands. These are more like it for me.

Of course, I'll be recording the build of the left handed sabre.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Naked sabres! Naked sabres!!! (SFW)

Yes, these pix are safe for work. Now you see what I will be working with with regard to the new HSJ tutorial.

The old and new sabres, for scale. Note how big and klunky the first version of the sabres turned out. The next version should be a lot more elegant.

The greebling job will be quite similar to the original, except there will be only 5 of the aircraft part nurnies at the top, and there will be no faucet handle pommel. Otherwise I will be attempting to get as close as possible to the look and feel of the original in a more streamlined version.

Look how graceful they are! The pics don't do the blades justice...they are translucent iMac Indigo blue. Sweet. Thanks, Random Sabres!!!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Opening things back up again: Version 2.0 is coming...

Hi everyone...

Yes, I said in May that I was not going to post here again. However, some opportunities have come up and I'm going to roll with them.

The folks at Random Sabers put out a new product: the practice saber. Basically all it is is a basic 1 1/4" aluminum tube, 11" long, open at one end, closed up on the other end with a basic pommel. The tube can admit either a 3/4" acrylic "blade" or a 1/2" carbon fiber "blade" with an adapter. The tube has a hole drilled in it, so the "blade" can be secured with a set screw.

This product is intended for people who choreograph fan films and who do SW influenced martial arts, to have something they can whack around with and not stand a chance of damaging their fancier stunt sabres, something the Random Sabers guys have become famous for. However, with one look at the product, I realized that they would be ideal to use to create an improved version of "the twins" I built earlier this year.

The people who have watched the tutorial and who have commented on the tutorial have made some interesting observations. The first is that the resulting sabres seem to be too big and clunky. Upon reflection, I would have to agree. They aren't quite "in scale" with me. I'm a short person with small hands. Someone made the comment that the sabres might be better off in the hands of wookiees. While I don't entirely buy that, I agree that maybe they would work better in the hands of someone bigger and taller.

I made contact with Ryan from Random Sabers. I ordered two practice sabers, but specified that he use 1" diameter aluminum instead of 1 1/4", and make them 9 1/2" long instead of 11". I also ordered two 30" blue acrylic blades. I let him know that I would pimp his stuff like crazy on my next and hopefully improved tutorial. He was amenable, I sent him what he asked for via PayPal, ($51 for everything including shipping -- such a deal!) and he says he'll deliver by the end of next week.

Hopefully the more petite sized sabres will be more "to scale" with me. I suspect they will also be lighter on my belt than the current two. After all, those drain pipes are made of brass with a liberal amount of chrome, and so are the faucet handles. Brass is dense. Brass is heavy. Aircraft aluminum, which is Random Sabers' stock in trade, is light. Those aluminum nurnies that give my sabres their distinctive look seem like they're substantial and heavy but they are really quite light. For the whole thing to be made out of that nice light aluminum will be a real pleasure.

I will hopefully try to film at Woodbury. It's quiet. It's scenic. It doesn't have a major thoroughfare right next to it and a structure that acts as an audio lens. The tutorial that exists now was filmed in the patio of my apartment building, a standard SoCal apartment building with a central atrium/patio area. I also now have a proper shotgun mic, which is like the sonic equivalent of a telephoto lens. This will be more likely to allow me to be heard and not pick up extraneous noise. You might hear birds. You might hear the tolling of Woodbury's bell on the hour and half hour. But you won't get the distracting noise that people have been complaining about.

The finished product will not only hang from my belt, but will also be able to be used for kata. I have a martial arts background, although my active training ended with a bus accident in 1986. I still practice some of the stuff I remember from 20 years ago. And whenever I get a chance to show off a little, people make the comment that the simple stuff I do looks pretty good. The acrylic rods will help me judge where my moves are going, something very hard to do with one's imagination. Maybe it won't be as pretty as an illuminated blade, but it will look impressive and also provide a guideline for retouching in a blade in pictures.

This is going to be fun, folks. I'm looking forward to the new project.