Sunday, May 21, 2023

Digital Art and Animation Class: Final Project

I have been enrolled in Digital Art and Animation Class this semester and just finished up. Honestly don't care what my grade is as I'm 66, this was an elective (they are all elective), and I felt I did well. The class used Adobe software products from image creation (Photoshop, Illustrator) to video post production (Premier Pro, Aftereffects). Oldest student after me was maybe 22. These kids had been using these products since middle school. I'm never embarassed to ask and fortunately my work station was next to a on the spectrum kid named Lennon who was a wizard.

"Lennon! How do I make it do this? No, tell me, don't try to do it". I got up to speed fairly quickly but nothing compared to what my young classmates were doing. It was humbling. Still, half the class dropped, so there's that.

I'm going to post a Youtube link of the Project 5, my final project. I also had to write a paper.

ART 241

Project 5

”Sometime After The End Of The World”

By John Kurman


This film started from two pictures I made in January 2020 on Adobe Medium, near the start of the pandemic lockdown. Work was physically closed and soon to be online, I had little to do but go for long walks in my neighborhood. Most of the time I would see dogwalkers and moms with baby strollers. At the time, the seriousness of the COVID virus was becoming appreciated, and I found that I treated my fellow walkers with some caution. One day, a fellow and I were walking past each other, each eyeing the other for plague symptoms I suppose, and we warily waved at each other. Mutual suspicion and maybe a mild rancor hidden under a shallow amity was what I got from that encounter and decided to document it as a sculpt (a VR file containing the 3D staged scene). When I got home, I created the sculpt of the two robots and took pictures. So the short film I created kind of took three years to make.

Could 19-year-old Johnny have made this short film? Not without a lot of explosions and pow-pow, blammo, blown to smithereens sparkly special effects. The symbolism (if any) would have had the subtlety of a sledge hammer strapped to an atomic bomb. There is an advantage to age and experience which hopefully makes this short film more of an elegiac narrative than action flick.

After trying out short animations, I decided that a graphic novel format using sequences of stills was more practical and appropriate for the tone and mood I wanted. I created the still pictures from snapshots of scenes I made in Medium by Adobe, a VR sculpting program that is an analog of clay manipulation to create 3D objects. The two robot figures (and crows) were 3D assets that I either obtained from asset libraries off the internet, or used a figurative kitbash method from a posing program called Design Doll. The landscape was created in Medium, but I deceptively used stagecraft, lighting, and scale to make basically two pizza slices of barren hills and snowy plains combined and rearranged for the illusion of a much larger landscape.

The only animated portions (done in Adobe Illustrator) are the internal visor displays of the robots, which, like Chekov’s gun, shown in the first act, used in the third act. I wanted the visor display to convey robot status and intent when things go mysteriously pear-shaped.

The plot is straight forward and linear, two robots on patrol, each the last remnant of a dead civilization, following their algorithms of guarding a now wasted terrain after, I guess, the Last War. The mystery enters when a set of footprints unknown to either party appears in the snow.

The first act is Silverbot’s story, rather hum drum except for a brief wolf encounter (the wolves categorized as harmless). Silverbot runs into Goldiebot, they exchange perfunctory greetings, and the story is handed over to a Goldiebot second act. Goldiebot surprises some crows which were feeding on remains of a wolf kill. Quick cut back to Silverbot, who is surprised by a crow that causes it (him?) to notice a set of tiny human(?) footprints that were not there before.

Cut back to Goldiebot discovering a similar set of footprints. They both go on Red Alert, hightail it on the tracks after the mystery intruders. When they confront each other, they find the tiny footprints stop where they stand. Both apparently have enough wits not to blast each other with their ridiculous laser cannons, and they stand puzzled for a zoom out and fade.

Are they robots or humans in armored suits? Hopefully, the impression is that they are robots sophisticated enough for humanlike interaction and restraint. Two armored humans or cyborgs would probably have blasted each other, which I considered as an ending...

Silverbot is unfortunately just a rip-off from the Cybermen from the TV series Doctor Who. Goldiebot just kind of fell together as I was modifying the 3D asset manikin.

So there you go. About as much as I could do with my winter plague encounter made into a show.

Here is the video: 

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Parasites and Parasitoids

The Almighty must love parasites She made so many niches for them.

Parasite behavior is straightforward: the fork of force or fraud, the salient aspect of predation. Suckle on a host, perhaps to death. Or use host for eggs. That waspish behavior is delightfully more sophisticated. The evolution of the sting from an ovipositer opened a new continent. Parasitoids like to keep their prey alive so healthy babies. That sting includes not just egg, but antiseptic, painkiller, steroids, antifungal.

The host kept alive as long as possible the little babies eat no essential organs. Dan O'Bannon of Alien fame got this down solid. You do not kill right away, and in fact you can put them to work ala Involuntary Ratatouille.

I have seen parasitoid behavior in the business world for how long? To the first time eggs were laid in young throats? Couldn't tell you. Certainly established at the metazoan level maybe a billion years? More?
United Steak of America

A billion year old strategy borrowed by any modern person interested in laying their borrowing eggs in some software or bureaucratic procedure or social network or our monkey superorganism.

So who/what is parasitoiding on us?  Hmm.