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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Andrew vs Alvyn

Alright, remember that video I was talking about in my last post, "Andrew vs Alvyn"?
Well, Blogger has a 100MB video file size limit, so I had to compress my video in order to post it here.

I used Windows Movie Maker to compress the video from 308MB to just 31.9MB.
And as for the format, the video changed from AVI to WMV.
Oh well...

Because of this, the quality of the compressed WMV version of "Andrew vs Alvyn" is not as good as the 308MB AVI version...
It's a tiny bit blurrier, but the image quality is still tolerable, I guess.
Here it is:

Andrew vs Alvyn
video


Well, what do you guys think?
This is my first time actually making a lightsaber duel, so it's not that perfect...
Any constructive criticism from anybody is welcome!

It took me a substantial amount of time to make this video, because the lightsabers in the video are not presets. Point being, there are several processes involved in making the lightsabers. It's not just about simply selecting a preset and plopping it on the video.

Here are the processes:
1. Rotoscoping - Creating and adjusting the main core of the lightsaber.
2. "Rotobeziering" - Adding a subtle curve to the tip of the lightsaber while it's fanning out at high speeds.
3. Applying the glow - Creating adjustment layers in order to create the nice glowing effect on the lightsaber.
4. Applying the obstruction masks - In my opinion, this is the most tedious part. This involves applying masks that block the lightsaber from view whenever the lightsaber is not supposed to be seen. Behind someone's head, for example.
5. Colour Balance - This is the fun part. Adobe After Effects actually lets you tinker with the three main colours, which are red, blue, and green. Using these 3 colours, you can make the lightsaber any colour you want. For "Andrew vs Alvyn", however, I decided to use the two simple colours, red and blue.

That's pretty much it.
After that, it's on to post-production ( converting the files, adding sounds and music, etc ).
And that's all there is to it.
All it takes is effort and determination...

Well, I guess this is it.
I'm gonna go and try to upload "Andrew vs Alvyn" on YouTube, and later Facebook.
Please do not forget to provide some constructive criticism, because I still consider myself to be an amateur and have yet to learn all the skills involved in this kind of VFX thing.

May the Force be with you...

Year 2010 incoming!

Well, today's the final day of 2009.
At midnight tonight, 2009 will end, and 2010 will begin.
In other words, today is New Year's Eve.
Exciting, no?

Besides that, I finally finished my Adobe After Effects Project.
And I'm quite satisfied with the result.

The video file is 1 minute 29 seconds long and is called "Andrew vs Alvyn".
Obviously, it involves me and my brother, Alvyn, dueling with lightsabers.
It took me around 11 days to complete...

I'm planning to post the video on YouTube, this blog, and possibly on Facebook too.
But that could take quite a while due to the 308MB file size.
So, I'm just gonna post some snapshots of the video here for now.

Credits to my father for providing the camera, my brother for choreographing, and of course me for building the lightsabers and creating the visual and audio effects.

Charge!

Honestly, this would have looked much cooler in HD...[ sigh ]

Heh! Lightsaber locks - classic stuff!

Of course, I made this video because I was inspired by a video on YouTube called "Ryan vs Dorkman". If you don't know what it is, just go and type it in the YouTube search box.
It's awesome!
They even have a sequel - "Ryan vs Dorkman 2".

Well, at least the people who made "RvD" and "RvD2" had a HD ( High Definition ) camera.
If only I had one...
Think of all the possibilities...[ stares into space ]
Anyway, I hope that the video won't take too long to upload. Worse comes to worst, I'll just have to compress the video to make the size smaller...

It took me a lot of effort and determination to make this video, so I hope you guys enjoy it!
IF I manage to actually post it somewhere, that is!
Wish me luck!

May the Force be with you...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Avatar, in 3D!

Okay, I really need to return to Adobe After Effects to resume working on my project, so I'm just going to get straight to the point in this post.
Yesterday, I watched the film "Avatar". You know, the one directed by James Cameron...

I watched it at 8pm at the TGV Cinema, Sunway Pyramid.
Plus, my parents decided to try experiencing the movie in 3D!
So before we entered the cinema, some people provided us with 3D glasses.
Truth be told, this is the very first time any of us actually watched a movie in 3D!

So, we went in, found our seats, and put on our 3D glasses.
I thought 3D was gonna be awesome, but honestly, I think it isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
I mean sure, the first few scenes were great. But a short while after that, I had the super strong urge to just take off the glasses and watch the movie normally.

The 3D glasses actually makes the whole movie darker and harder to see than it actually is.
I did a comparison - When I put on the glasses, the movie appeared much dimmer than when I took off the glasses.
This flaw is a real headache, especially during night scenes in the movie.
And I never got to see every detail and aspect of the movie, because everything was so damned dark when I had those glasses on!

Anyway, about the movie itself, it's actually kind of cool.
The human race versus the indigenous Na'vi.
All out war on a fictional Earth-like moon called Pandora in some distant planetary system...
Sounds interesting, no?

Oh, and I can't help but notice that the military hardware that the humans use in the movie are strikingly similar to the battle units in "Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars".
The so-called "gunships" or attack helicopters in Avatar closely resemble the "Orca Assault Craft" in C&C3.
And the "human mech suit troopers" in Avatar looks and behaves exactly like a "Zone Trooper" would in C&C3! It's just that the mech troopers have no railgun, that's all. Otherwise they're completely identical.
But I guess that's all just a coincidence...

Well, I'm not saying anymore.
I don't want to spoil the surprise!
As we all know, everyone hates "spoilers"!

But other than that, the visual effects in this movie were rather impressive.
Simply put, "it's awesome!", as quoted by Ashman.

Well, I guess that's it for now.
I've gotta return to my project now if I'm going to meet the deadline - I have to finish this thing before the new year. Pretty tight deadline, in my opinion...
Oh well...
Only 11 seconds of footage left!

May the Force be with you...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009!

Well, I'm here again...
Firstly, I want to wish everyone out there:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Secondly, I am very proud to say that this is my 150th post on Blogger!
My new objective: 200 posts.
I'm sure I'll be able to pull that off, right?

Finally, because I got straight As for my PMR Examination, my father actually bought me a "Nokia 6303 Classic"!
Yay! I'm so happy!
I'll treat it as my PMR present and my Christmas gift this year.
Thanks, dad! I really appreciate it!

Well, I guess that's it for now.
PS. I'm not finished with my project yet, but I expect to complete it soon. I'm just gonna have to put up a little more effort and determinataion, that's all...

May the Force be with you...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Straight As For PMR!!!

Alright, I'm here, and I've got good news!
Okay, here goes:
I got 7As in my PMR Examination!!!

Here's the whole story...
Every Form 3 student is supposed to receive their PMR results today, like I said in my previous post.

So, I went to school with my parents - My brother didn't want to come for some reason...
My friends were already there, waiting for me in the main hall.
We chatted for a while, and then the teachers got up on the stage.

Then they announced that they were going to read out the names of the students who achieved straight As in the PMR examination.
My friends and I were unbelievably nervous!
The horrible feeling in my stomach was unbearable!

Jabbar went first, then Haziq, then Aimie, then Amir.
At this point, I felt like there were hundreds of butterflies fluttering in my stomach!

And then, Encik Din called my name!
I was both surprised and happy!
I quickly rushed to the stage where all the teachers were waiting to congratulate me.
I couldn't believe it - I actually got straight As for PMR!

Oh yeah, for all the other Form 3 students who got straight As too, congratulations to all of you!
Well done!
And for those students who didn't get straight As, it's alright.
Don't feel bad, kay? You guys did your best.

At least the wait for the results is finally over!

Here's a picture my father managed to snap:
Anyway, I'm not gonna be blogging for quite a while, because I have an Adobe After Effects project I have to work on, and it's gonna take quite a long time for me to complete it.
I'll update my blog as soon as I'm finished with my project...

Well, I guess that's it for now.

May the Force be with you...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

D-Day = 24th of December 2009!

Alright, I just came back from swimming...
And now I'm here, updating my blog once again!
Soon, I'll have posted 150 posts on Blogger!
Yay!

Anyway, I just found out that the PMR results will officially be announced on the 24th of December.
That's much sooner than I expected!
In fact, it's kind of scary!

For those of you who don't believe me, here's proof:
The Star Online - PMR results out on Dec 24

In light of this event, I would like to wish good luck to all Form 3 students.
I hope that all of us get good results for the 2009 PMR Examination.
All the best, everyone!

Finally, for those of you who commented on my 11-storey card tower in my previous post, thanks for the compliments!
I really appreciate it!
I'll try to build a higher card tower in the future, kay?

Well, I guess that's it for now.

May the Force be with you...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Card Towers!

I am now experiencing the "epitome of boredom".
I've got absolutely nothing to do!

I've got no one to play Chess with, there's no good television show to watch, I've got no more books to read, etc, etc...

Then, I found a deck of poker cards.
In fact, I found two decks of poker cards.
I was excited at first, but then I realised that there's no one available to play cards with me...

I stared at the cards, wondering what to do with them.
Then, my brother came along, looked at the cards, went to YouTube, and searched for a video on how to do the "riffle" card shuffle.
Well, in the end, we both knew how to do the "riffle" shuffle - after 2 hours of non-stop practice, of course.
Because as we all know, practice makes perfect!

Anyway, after "riffle" shuffling for perhaps the 100th consecutive time, I got bored again.
So I built a small 2-storey card tower. I stared at it.

Then I decided to challenge myself.
The challenge? - Build a card tower using all the cards from one of the card decks.
I managed to build it without breaking a sweat.

Then my brother challenged me to increase the original tower's height using the other deck of cards I found.
And of course, I did it.

The final tower was 8-storeys high...
Honestly, I was sad to see it being demolished by both my brother and father...
Here are some pictures of the tower before it was destroyed:

This is the 8-storey card tower...
Here it is again, but from a different angle.


The next day, I had the sudden urge to build another card tower, this time taller than the first one I had built the previous day. This idea came from the fact that I had a whole deck of UNO cards in my room. Perfect, I thought!

So, I turned off the fan and turned on the air-conditioning. I was afraid that the fan might blow down my card tower.
It was around 8pm when I propped up the first two cards.
After roughly 20 minutes, I completed the card tower, using 2 full card decks and a deck of UNO cards.

It was 11-storeys high!
The highest card tower I've ever constructed!
I could have increased the height to 12-storeys, but unfortunately, I was short of 10 cards...
Oh well...
Here are the pictures of the 11-storey tower:

The 11-storey tower in all its glory!


Here it is again, but from a different angle...


Just ignore the Darth Vader desktop wallpaper on my computer screen and focus on the tower, kay?


Oh, it's just one of the great Wonders of the modern world! Nah, it's just an 11-storey card tower, that's all...


Everything varies depending on your point of view - This is a great example!


So, ummm, what do you guys think?
Impressive, no?
But if anybody else has built a card tower higher than mine, please, let me know, so I can attempt to construct a higher one! [ smiles ]

Besides that, I got a haircut today.
Hopefully, my hair grows fast enough so that by the time I go to collect my PMR results, my hair will be back to its normal length...

Oh yeah, speaking of PMR results, someone on Facebook says that us Form 3 students will most likely be collecting our PMR results on either the 26th or 28th of December.
I'm NOT sure about this, kay?
So don't take my word for it!

So, ummm, I guess that's it for now...

May the Force be with you...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Giving My Blog A Few Tweaks...

Alright, I'm just here to announce that I've made a few tweaks and adjustments to my blog.

Here's a list:
1. I removed my music playlist - I reluctantly removed it because Mixpod is "experiencing an inconvenience" and can only support MP3 audio now. Plus, the player causes a lot of lag sometimes.

2. I changed my blog header from "Life Is Hard" to "Feel The Force" - Well, it seems only right to change the header of my blog to something that has to do with Star Wars, yes?

3. I changed a few captions - Just some minor changes to the captions on my picture, blog archive, etc. It's not really that important...

Well, I guess that's all of the changes I've made.

Anyway, I checked out "Cafe World" on Facebook.
But this time, players have more work to do: Players have to actually prepare the food themselves!
Plus, there are a lot of other game mechanics in "Cafe World" that are quite unsatisfactory, including the fact that it's very much like "Restaurant City" - unoriginal, in other words.
So, in the end I've decided not to play "Cafe World".

Well, that's it for now.

May the Force be with you...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Meeting Of Masters"

Hmmm, let me try to recall what's happened in my life so far.
Nothing much, I think.
Oh wait, there is something...

I went to a so-called "Meeting Of Masters" at Ashman's house yesterday.
Ashman himself organised it. He arranged for the whole "Chess Gang" to meet at his house yesterday after lunch.

I arrived at his house at 1.30pm. Apparently, I was the earliest to get there. Sehran's supposed to come at 2pm, and Hazwan said he would be "a little late".

Well, anyway, while waiting for the others, Ashman and I played two friendly games of Chess.
He won playing the White pieces in the first round, and I won the second round playing the Black pieces.
And I have to admit, the Caro-Kann Defense is pretty darn effective!
But I better not use it all the time, or else I might become too predictable...

Sehran finally came at 2.30pm.
He and Ashman played one round of "Twister" while waiting for Hazwan.
But Hazwan was still absent.

So, Sehran and I played a game of Chess.
He was White and I was Black. I played the Petrov Defense.
But he didn't follow the main continuation.
Instead, he did something a bit strange and unexpected.

Instead of following White's main continuation line, he played an unorthodox system, and it almost worked against me!
But he got stuck because he couldn't find a way to breach my defenses AND parry my coming counterattack at the same time. In other words, he had no plan...
So, when my mother came at 3.30pm, we agreed on a draw.
And Hazwan still wasn't there!

Oh well...
It's over now.
Nothing much needs to be said about this.
But I wonder, did Hazwan really come to the "Meeting of Masters" after I left?

Okay, I think I'm gonna check out a Facebook application called "Cafe World".
A lot of my friends are using it, so I think I'm gonna see what it's all about...
But if it's just another RC-type game, then count me out! - I really don't wanna to play those kind of games anymore...

Well, I guess that's it for now.

May the Force be with you...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Finally! My Old PC Is Okay Again!

Okay, remember in my last post, I said that my old PC would be brought to a computer technician to be diagnosed for problems.
This is because my newly bought AGP graphics card, an "ATI Radeon 9550", wouldn't work on my old PC.

So, the technician inspected the computer, and in the end he said that it was the "ATI Radeon 9550" that wasn't compatible with my old PC.
Then, he recommended the "NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500" for my PC, again.

Well, I wasn't that disappointed, honestly speaking...
Because last night, I did some research on "Wikipedia", and I found that the "ATI Radeon 9550" and the "NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500" are extremely similar in terms of graphics quality and performance.
If you want to compare the cards for yourself, you can click the links below:
Comparison of NVIDIA Graphics Processing Units
Comparison of AMD Graphics Processing Units

The "NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500" is under the "GeForce FX (5xxx)" series.
The "ATI Radeon 9550" is under the "Radeon R300 (9xxx, X10xx)" series.

If you've compared the specifications of the two graphics cards, you'll see that the "NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500" edges out slightly better than the "ATI Radeon 9550", with a max fillrate of 1080MT/s, while the "ATI Radeon 9550" has a max fillrate of only 1000MT/s.

The core clock and memory clock on the "GeForce FX 5500" is also better than the "Radeon 9550".
Even the technician said that the "NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500" is the best AGP card available for my PC - point being, it can't get any better than this card.

And the card actually works without any problems whatsoever.
I know, because I've tested it out myself.

And the best part is that I finally get to play my PC games again!
So I guess it all turned out alright for my old computer! [ smiles ]

Plus, my old PC got a few more upgrades, other than the graphics card, of course:
1. A pair of swanky, new computer speakers.
2. A wireless internet connection ( I won't be using this one so often, though ).
3. An 320GB external hard drive.

Well, enough about my old PC.
I'm quite satisfied with it.
This whole problem is over at last...

Well, I guess that's it for now.

May the Force be with you...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Very Disappointing Day...

Well, I haven't updated my blog for quite some time now, because I was busy dealing with my graphics card problem.
So, here I am at last!
Anyway, I went looking for an AGP graphics card to replace the old one today.

But first, my family and I stopped at a warehouse sale somewhere near Bukit Jelutong.
It was a warehouse sale, for school books! Ugh!
My parents bought me and my brother a tonne of reference books and activity books for next year!
Yikes!

After that, we went to Subang Parade to look for the AGP graphics card.
We went to all the computer stores in Subang Parade, but all of them had mostly PCI Express graphics cards, not AGP.
And for those stores which do have AGP graphics cards in stock, they only have one model: The NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500, which is exactly the same card that I have! ( The one that malfunctioned, remember? )

So, after that, we went to Sunway Pyramid and began hunting for the AGP graphics card there.
This time, the computer stores actually had AGP graphics cards other than the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500.
At long last!

I found a good AGP graphics card in a store called "ASUS", or at least that's what I think it's called.
The graphics card I found is the "ATI Radeon 9550".
It's awesome! Not only is it AGP, but it's also better than my previous graphics card!
Even one of my PC gaming magazines, "PC Gamer Malaysia", mentioned the card I found as "a good card" and "worth holding on to"!

I was so excited!
But when I got home, all of that changed...
Apparently, the same problem that forced me to replace my previous graphics card is happening to my new one too.
I was puzzled. When I tried to reboot the computer to install the graphics card, the monitor was blank, just like with my previous graphics card.

I called Mun Hoh, one of my good friends back in Puchong, to help me with my problem.
He said that I didn't insert the card properly. In other words, I didn't push the card in the slot all the way...
So, I tried to push the graphics card deeper into its slot. But at one point, I knew that the card could go no deeper.
Then, he decided that I should simply just call a computer technician.

My father agreed to this, and called a technician...

Well, I think you can tell how very disappointed and upset I am after what happened today.
My excitement of getting a brand new graphics card, and finally being able to play my PC games again, was wiped out, just like that.
[ sigh ]
[ rubs forehead ]

Well, my father is going to bring my computer to a PC technician tomorrow.
Maybe tomorrow will bring more promising results...
I really hope that whatever problem plaguing my old PC will be solved tomorrow...

I guess that's it for now...

May the Force be with you...