Ah summer apathy, now heightened by being at home where internet speeds are strained through a filter of excruciating slowness so that only the most patient browser is rewarded.

Yes, my handwriting really is that bad.
I've been trying to begin writing my script for the 3rd year projects and its proving bloody difficult to the point where I wonder whether I really have anything worthwhile to say. I've borrowed a screen-writing book and that's been a great help in educating me as to what the standard practices are when it comes to character functions, story structure, and theme. Its also reminded me that if you don't have a message of some kind then you have a pointless film, and if you don't have a message that you care about then you have a soulless film. And I don't mean a political, economical, environmental or societal message. You need a message about your character(s) and how they have grown by the end of your story, the trick then is to make the audience care about that growth. I get the feeling I can tell a good story because it's not the first time I've tried, but coming up with a good story from scratch: its hard.

Crazy idea bullet points and visualisations.

So I've set that aside for a short while. I plan to return to it when I go abroad as I'm leaving my laptop behind in an attempt to isolate myself from distractions.
Speaking of distractions, it has been a little while since I got a good fix of renderine so I decided to check out global illumination again in Mental Ray. I used an old scene from the WHAT project to contrast and compare the global illumination (GI) with final gather (FG). The primary difference between the two being that GI uses photons emitted from each light to calculate bounce lighting and colour information. I thought it'd be much slower but turns out rendering begins almost immediately and so it avoids the disadvantage FG has, where it needs to pause and think for a couple of minutes (depending on scene complexity) before painting a single pixel

Final Gather

Global Illumination
From what I can tell, GI seems to do a better job of carrying the colour information of a bounced ray of light and creating a more colourful render, but I still think FG evens out the lighting better and is more predictable, though that could be just because I know it better and have only just started experimenting with GI.

Specimen Paisley
I've also started making some of the many little fixes to my Noel model. Firstly I needed to redo the UV's for the beard so Maya's fur could distribute itself more evenly, and yes Maya actually thinks it needs UV's to grow fur. While this initially seems unnecessary I think its purely to allow for texture based control later with any one of its many attributes. So, that's taken care of, and while I was playing with fur I added the eyebrows I missed the first time round, not sure how. As the hair is fixed to geometry beneath the skin I can imagine this is going to pose all kinds of problems for rigging later. FUN! 
Bearded and Eyebrowed. Doesn't he look cuddly?

As part of my completely fruitless quest to find some work experience over the summer I crafted a new showreel. Tips for anyone trying the same thing, don't ring up double negative and try to blag your way into a conversation with their head of 3D, and get in touch with the smaller companies. Two of these smaller companies have been the only ones to volunteer any kind of response which was heartening, so while there's almost no hope of experience this summer, perhaps in Christmas or Easter holidays? Behold:

Pixel Propaganda
Some exploration of the betrayal, pride, and commitment that one strategy game engenders in the player, and how it takes the concept of 'realtime' to another level.

Some lengthy writing on experiential game prose, but its done with such personality and sincerity that its worth keeping an eye on what they do next.

One blogger plays through Call of Duty: Black Ops and comes to the conclusion that its war porn. I like this person, well worth your time.