Monday, August 25, 2014

One Year Older, But Maybe Not Wiser

Today I caught myself pondering. 23 years on this earth gave me a lot to think about. Where I am now is definitely not where I thought I would be say 10 years ago or even 5. Although my life isn't perfect and I've had my down moments I can safely say I've had a pretty good life.

I was born in a free country and I was lucky enough to have a great childhood with loving parents to raise me and teach me (yay homeschool! :) ). I managed to get through school without taking out loans and went to a college that taught what I wanted to learn. I have a good job working with some pretty awesome people that provides me a stable income that can cover my current expenses plus an occasional pair of headphones. :) I have a great family both immediate and extended that have, no matter what, been there to support me through the good times and the bad.

My life may not be perfect but I'm dept free, living in a city I love, surrounded by amazing family and friends. Sometimes I lose sight of what's really important in life, getting caught up in the heat of the moment feeling sorry for myself and despairing over the unknown, but my friends and family were always there to comfort me and give me that safety net that kept me from truly losing all hope. I have been incredibly blessed both directly and indirectly.

So what I've just wanted to say is thank you. Thank you for letting me get to know you, whether it was only through digital space, or in person. I believe everything happens for a reason and there is a reason that I know all of you. You might have taught me something, comforted me, laughed with me, been a good listener, or been a good talker, distracting me from my own troubles. So I am so grateful to have met you all.

Thank you.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Beyond . . . .

Well, me writing another post this soon is either a good sign or a bad one. Either I'm more motivated in general or I'm just more bored with life. I can't quite put my finger on either one, so maybe it's a little of both? Anyways, whatever the reason, here I am writing this so I might as well get some stuff off of my mind.

First, I played with some of the settings for my DAC and found out that Windows (7 at least, not XP, not sure about 8) has a "Bass Enhancement" feature that allows the lower frequencies to be boosted. I was a little apprehensive since most "Bass Boost" EQs crush the sound quality with a boot of bloated, over-bearing bass. After trying it I was very pleasantly surprised. I couldn't hear a drop in sound quality and the bass is much more pronounced! You can amp any bass frequency you want but since there is such a nice depth to the bass I amped 50 hz by 6 db and that seems like a sweet spot for my 990 Pros. I still get the amazing detail from the other frequencies but get a much better, tight kick from the bass. I'm actually starting to like the sound better than the "midnight" mode on my surround receiver, which I didn't think would ever happen with this amp. Anyway, that's one of the updates.

The main thing that's been bugging me is Beyond: Two Souls. I watched stuff about it, trailers and such, it looked awesome so I decided to pre-order it. I wouldn't have done it except that I was able to upgrade to the special edition for free from GameStop, which included the soundtrack and a DLC along with some smaller things like some avatars and a theme.

I pre-ordered the game without playing the demo because I wanted the
game to be as new as possible to me.
The morning it came out, October 8th, I laid in bed scrolling through the day's news stories on my phone and I saw IGN had a review for it and from the title it sounded like they didn't like it.
"What? I thought this was going like The Last of Us and just blow everybody away!"
I opened the story and scrolled down the review, reading bits here and there, most of which were along the lines of, "I had a really hard time giving this game a score."
"I was really frustrated by this."
"It was really confusing."
I was flabbergasted when I saw the dismal score of 6/10 at the bottom. I started to get that pit in my stomach that happens whenever I waste money on something that I regret.
"Can it really be that bad?" I thought to myself.

I scrolled through some more stories and saw Joystiq gave it a terrible score of 2.5 stars. In an almost panic I went to to see what other reviews said about it. It had a cumulative score of about 75% and after seeing some of the scores I saw that it got 9s and 6s. It's very unusual for a game to get a score that are on both end of the spectrum. I felt slightly better after seeing that it did get a couple of 9s so I decided that I wouldn't try to cancel by pre-order (which I'm not sure I could have done even if I wanted to since it was already out).

This is a picture of the special edition steelbook. I will say that the packaging
is pretty much super awesome. I wish I had The Last of Us in a steelbook.

I drove to the store, went in, and told the clerk that I had pre-ordered it. As he was getting the game ready he starting telling me that  it was an awesome game. I was slightly surprised and I asked him how he already played it, he told me that he got an advanced copy since he was the manager of that GameStop and he had already beat the game and loved it. I told him that I had heard mixed reviews, to which he responded by asking if I liked Heavy Rain (a game made by the same studio) to which I said that I did. He assured me that I would like Beyond since it was better than Heavy Rain.

Heavy Rain was an awesome game but it was kind of psychologically
disturbing in quite a few ways. 

I left felling a little better about my purchase although I realized it was in his interest to try and get me to buy the game since it would help the store. I went home and did some work that I had to do that day, the game weighing heavily on my mind. I knew, however, that I needed to finish Mass Effect 3 first before I started Beyond since I was so close to beating it. The ending of Mass Effect was interesting, but that's a story for another entry. After beating Mass Effect 3, it was around midnight but I decided to give my new game a try anyway. By the time it installed and I had downloaded the bonus content it was getting pretty late (or early depending on how you look at it) so I just played a few minutes of it to which I was very impressed with Beyond: Two Souls.

I really liked Mass Effect 3 but I thought Mass Effect 2 was a better put together
game with less technical hiccups. But the cover of Mass Effect 3 is reversible,
either male or female Shepard. How cool is that?!?

I beat the Beyond: Two Souls today, and I couldn't disagree more with the reviewers. The Last of Us is hailed by everybody that I've talked to for being a masterpiece and I agree. After finishing Beyond: Two Souls it felt almost identical to when I finished The Last of Us. I was a little conflicted with the ending like The Last of Us and thinking back playing the game felt similar too even though the games are very different.

If you haven't played The Last of Us, you are missing out on a great game!

Beyond: Two Souls is a technical masterpiece. It blows every game this console generation out of the water. The only games that even comes close is The Last of Us, Heavy Rain, and maybe Uncharted 2/3. The character models are fantastic! It's so realistic you can even see the pores on their skin, scars, dirt, snow, mud, blood and anything else that makes it onto their face or clothes. The facial animations of the characters, especially Jodi, are mind-blowingly realistic. Very few video games can do water or tears on skin well, but Beyond does without a hitch, literally. Aside from the characters, the environments and everything else (like creases on a piece of paper that casts shadows!) is on the same level of fantastic with how the characters look. I played through the game and there was never a frame rate drop, stutter, or clipping of any kind. It rarely had to pause to load which boggles my mind considering the detail the game has. Smooth transitions, and fluid framerates all around!

This is the AMAZING level of detail the characters have in the game. And
yeah, that's an in-game screen shot. Blown away yet?

The sound was also fantastic from the voice acting to the Foley. When walking on the carpet you can hear the carpet fibers crush. When looking through papers the sounds are all synced up and sound super realistic. The only game that has better sound would be The Last of Us which isn't a surprise considering how much of the game depends on sounds. Lighting and particle effects also deserve a mention. A building in full flames complete with embers floating through the air while there is a full blown blizzard going on outside. Did I mention that the frame rate never dropped? Oh, also no v-sync issues. All frames were synced with no tearing at all . . . ever. The level of polish from a technical standpoint is simply amazing!

This is one of the most impressive scenes from a technical standpoint.
Fun fact: they did the particles for this game in Maya! :)

The graphics alone should put this game in the sevens or eights, but the story is also great. Following Jodie through 15 years of her life you see her grow up and mature. Many people didn't like how the game swings from when she is older to when she is younger, I personally thought it added to the story. She says at the very beginning that was going to try to remember her life so that someone knew what she had been through and that it was hard to put it in any particular order. In addition to that, at the end she gives a very compelling reason for the story line to be fragmented. It make perfect sense after you play it. If they had added more narrative of Jodie telling a story with her voicing over in between chapters I think it would have helped more people accept the story line order.

You follow Jodie though her life. This is a life story, not just a game. You can't
put a life story in a genre. Stupid reviewers . . . .

Others also had issues with the lack of big choices. But you make some pretty important decisions near the end and if it was her telling the story having less control over the direction makes sense, to me at least.

The only thing that I had issue with was that the controls were kinda wonky at times since there are just interaction points on the screen that you move the analog stick to and sometimes it was hard to tell which direction. Also, I was terrible at the fighting sequences that required stick controls in the right direction to punch or block but without prompts (like an arrow flashing on the screen for which way to move) you just have to figure out what to do and sometimes it's hard to tell (I think I might have had a harder time since my tv is kind of dark). Part of this was my problem since I usually panicked and didn't pay enough attention to what was going on.

Time slows down when you fight giving you a little time to figure out what
action to do. I suck at this kind of combat.

Anyway this post is getting really long-winded so I'll finish this up. Overall I feel that Beyond: Two Souls falls squarely in the 9ish range. I would say it's a solid 9.4/10. While this is a lower score than I would give to The Last of Us (10/10), if I was making a list of the best games I have every played, Beyond would be up there and it takes the cake for the best looking game ever. If not for The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls would be the best game this year in my opinion. I liked it better than Heavy Rain although it got a 9 from IGN and Beyond only got a 6 . . . . Go figure.

Between The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls that's more than enough reason
to buy a PS3 right now! Not to mention all the other awesome games there are. :)

My final thought is playing Beyond: Two Souls is like looking at a fine painting or reading a really good book, it's not about the player and their choices or personality, it's about Jodie and her life. Beyond: Two Souls is a one-of-a-kind experience and truly a masterpiece. I can't say the same about most games. Anyone who didn't like it, missed the point of the game, in my own humble opinion, it's more than a game, it's a life story.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Magni & Modi Sound Impression . . . .

So one of these days I am going to update everyone on my life, but for now, I'm going to give the impressions of my new DAC and amp stack, the Schiit Audio Magni and Modi. I tried them with three different headphones, the AKG K240s, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s, and the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro.

First, a picture! :)
Here they are, right after I un-boxed them (they were packed very well by the way).
The Magni (amp) is on the left and the Modi (DAC) on the right.
Before I get into the sound I want to talk about the size of these. If you take an Altoids tin and place it long side to the side of the amp, that's how deep it is. Take another tin and place it next to the first, long sides together, that's about how wide the amp is. Now stack two more tins on the top of each on the lower level (so you have two stacks of two next to each other) that's how tall it is. All in all each piece occupies about the same space as 4 Altoids tins.... Sorry if that was confusing. Now, onto the sound.

AKG K240s 55 Ohm Headphones

These were the first high-end (meaning more than $30) headphones that I ever bought. And, quite frankly, they have had the snot beaten out of them... more than once. They are currently glued in several places and the wire is so stiff from the oil on my skin it won't go straight anymore. Anyway, my point is, they are very well used.

The thing I noticed right away is how dark these sound. Not much bass, lots of mid, and not a ton of treble. These benefit from this stack as opposed to unamped out of my mp3 player (Zune).  The biggest gain these get is in bass extension. Listening to these unamped, you would think that they can't produce bass... at all. However, plug 'em into the Mangi and there is bass, just not a ton of it. The mid on these phones is over powering. Pretty much all you can hear is warm, dark mid tones. Good for NPR or documentaries but not so much for music (according to my taste). I do, however, like these much better amped than not, I'm just not fond of the sound signature overall now that my taste has refined.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50s

Out of the three headphones that I tried these have the fewest hours on them. Since they are my portables, I don't wear them when I'm sitting at a desk, that's what the Beyerdynamics are for. I would use them more for that use except that they get uncomfortable after a while since pleather, skin, and heat don't go well together.

I didn't expect much from this since these are advertised as an amp-free audio solution, but I tried them anyway. First thing I noticed was that the bass was there. Now the signal coming into the amp is flat (no EQ) and the sound out of my Zune 120GB is flat. However, the bass from the amp was much more than that mp3 player. But, that being said, I can achieve almost the exact same sound on my Zune 30GB with some EQ (this is the best EQ that I ever heard in an mp3 player). So out of the three, these benefited the least from the amp but they also have the most bass out of the three as well. The mids and highs were pretty much unchanged. They maybe gained some soundstage space and clarity but it was minimal.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

These headphones are my go-to headphones whenever I'm not outside. They are super comfortable since they have velour ear pads. It's like your head is getting hugged by a stuffed animal. I never sweat with these and since they are cloth, they are washable! The DT 990s have some serious use but have been treated better than the AKGs. "Well broken in" is the phrase I would use to describe it.

These had the biggest change, I feel, out of the bunch. However, not all of the change was to my liking. The amount of change is understandable since they have the highest impedance out of the group (250 Ohm), so, by extension, need the most power to drive. They gained width and breadth to the sound stage. Better accuracy and extension on the treble. I also started hearing more imperfections in my music... However, the thing I'm most disappointed with is the bass volume. The bass turned in from a monster's roar to a cat's meow. It's there, but not in the front at all. Granted, the bass extension greatly improved. The stereo that I was using to power these had more bass but it missed some of the bass frequencies, especially the super low stuff (20-30 Hz range). Now all that is there (Yay! No more missing bass), but it's in the background (Boo!). When a sliding bass scale is played, all the bass is the same volume, from 20-80 Hz. This shows that it's a good headphone but it's not nearly as fun to listen to with dubstep. :(

The midrange also gets a boost from this amp, which, in turn, makes the bass harder to hear, but add clarity overall. Out of the three the 990 sounds the most reference and neutral which I was not expecting at all. I guess if I want a boost of bass I can always pop in my ATH-M50s to get my bass fix. That's the beauty of having lots of headphones! :)

Well, if you endured my ramblings, you deserve an award. Since I can't give you one, here is a picture instead. :)
This is the combo in action! They look pretty nice together and not bad with
good 'ole faithful DT 990 Pro
Anyways, keep it real people. And remember, life is too short to waste it listening to crappy quality audio equipment! :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Of Scouts, Graduations, Moving, and Jobs . . . .

So... I have been a bad blogger lately. I guess there are more important things than blogging in life so maybe my priorities were in the right place? Anyways, lots has happened since my last entry. The last time I left you I had just redesigned my blog. Pretty neat, huh? About the same time I also decided on a design for my portfolio site. It can be found here. It is still a work in progress since I still am working on finishing up the final renders for my portfolio in addition to the additional objects that I want to make for it. That being said, I'm happy with the design and layout. What I'm most proud of, however, is that I made it compatible on every browser that supports @font-face (IE 8 and up). That was really the only limitation. It works on mobile browsers just dandy and Opera, Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Dolphin, IE, etc. So hard to do, if anyone was wondering.

In other news I got a girlfriend.... NOT! There was a girl that I liked who came into the lab every once in a while who I called Headphones Girl in my head because she would always be wearing a pair of white Sony headphones. Sadly, however, as soon as I decided to ask her out, she became scarce and I was never able to break the ice with her and thus set up a date. Small potatoes, I guess, in the grand scheme of things. She was really cute though.... Good at art too.

If you want the biggest news, skip this paragraph. I took senior project this past semester and for that project I decided to do a character from concept art in Maya. Here are some of the results.

This shows the original concept art on the bottom and the finished, final character on the top.

My favorite of the renders that I did. I added a dead tree for additional wasteland effect.

I spent about half of the allotted time (75 hours) doing the modeling and the other half was spent texturing.

Each piece of armor has its own 2k map with about 20 layers total of scratches, dirt, chips and paint.

I am happy with the result although he isn't perfect. Hopefully he will impress potential employers.

If you look closely at his exposed arm on this side you can see veins that I added in.

This is probably my favorite part of him is his air hose and the glowing terminals. It reminds me of Dead Space.

This is his life support backpack. Pretty neat, huh?

I continued the glowing theme with his grenades.

This probably showcases the maps on the armor the best.

This was the only main project that I finished during the semester due to time constraints. I did, however, do a series of 45 tutorials designed to take students through all of the necessary tools to complete the Maya modeling class as Dixie State University. They can be found here. They took a surprising amount of work and without the help of my two good friends at school, Bryan and Kraig, it might not have gotten done on time.

Stop scrolling here if you want to hear the biggest news. I'm happy to announce that I graduated from Dixie State University with a Bachelor's of Science, Visual Technologies emphasis, with Summa Cum Laude honors! My final GPA was 3.96. I am also proud to announce that I got a 4.0 my last three semesters giving me the hat trick that I was shooting for.

From the left,
Back: Kraig, Rob
Front: Tyler, Me

To go along with this would be the sad fact that I would be moving away from the St. George I love. In the last few weeks of school, however, this was changed. My mom got a job at Dixie Regional Medical Center and my parents move down to St. George this weekend! I'm helping them move (Boo!) but when I come to visit them I can see some of my friends that are living is St. George (Yay!). It will be great. I really like the house that my parents bought and I'm super happy that they aren't living in the Crazy Town (Spring City) anymore. There were just getting to be too many overzealous end-of-the-worlders who were convinced that there was going to be some horrendous disaster and they were going to be ready with their rifles and 100,000 years of food storage. News flash! If there was a calamity like that I would rather die than live through it, but that's just me. Oh-so-glad to be out of there for good. I will post pictures of my parent's new house later when I have access to a camera and the house.... :)

The last news of the day is that I have officially applied for two jobs!!! One is in New York (ouch! >_<) and the other is in Bellevue, WA (slightly less ouch!) The one in New York I would be modeling objects for a 3D printer to print, which would be pretty fun. It would be super daunting to move all the way across the country, however, especially for my first job. The other one is an environment/prop artist (my dream job!) for ArenaNet (they make Guild Wars). This is really what I want to do for a living and they use Maya so it sounds ideal, I just hope that (if I get the job) I could handle living in Washington state for 5 years minimum. I would actually feel safer living in California just because I could be much more sure that I would like the weather. I will be applying for more jobs soon, they are just so time consuming to apply for since they require you to sign your life away.

Anyways, if any of you read this entry from back to front, I am impressed. I should really update more often and then I wouldn't has such a long post. Although, honestly, most of this stuff happened in the past week so it wouldn't be that much shorter. Well, have a good day/night/morning/evening/whatever! :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Future . . . .

Starts now. In honor of finally redesigning my blog I decided to write a post to commemorate the event. It won't be a very long post, or very interesting, but a post nonetheless.

Because I don't want all of you to feel slighted by the brevity, here is a picture.

"It is better to die for the Emperor than live for yourself!" --- Various Space Marines
(I made Mortifax ---this chainsword--- in Maya)

Stayed tuned for more posts.
Keep it real folks.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Miscellaneous . . . .

I have mostly neglected all of you since the semester has started. This was out of necessity it's not because I don't like you guys anymore or anything. :) This semester has been mostly horrible. I am attending 20 credit hours of classes (although I only have 15 credit hours of homework), working an average of 15 hours per week, and 4 of my classes are upper division. I haven't had time to breathe, let alone update my blog.

So you may be wondering why I'm writing this entry today then? That is because I'm at work (in the computer lab), I'm sick of doing homework, and no one needs very much help. So I'm sitting trying to make the last hour of my shift fly by. At the moment it's crawling.

I have been kinda enjoying the Javascript class this semester, it's been really challenging but rewarding at the same time. It's a mostly easy language to work with and it has intuitive things about it. The first semi-interesting project that we did was make a game of breakout. This was written entirely with just Javascript.
You can view it here. The next interesting project that we did was photo gallery. Now I know that there are a lot of photo gallery apps, plugins, and programs, but I wrote this one so it's cooler. :) It is also the project that I'm most proud of. You can view it here. I also just finished a calendar project that took a bazillion hours and that I hated. You can see that here. On a slightly related project, had to do an instructional paper for my English class. I use Javascript to make it look nicer. Hopefully it will impress the teacher and I will get a good grade. That can be found here.

I have also been doing a lot of things with design lately. In my Print Production class we had to make a 2 or 3 color band poster. I chose to do Linkin Park. I went with a grunge feel to go with their "underground" feel.

This is the Linkin Park poster that I made for my Print Production class.
I had fun with this assignment.
I am also working on a whiskey bottle label for that same class. I haven't finished it yet but I have some comprehensive proofs done. Which of the three to you like most?

The first one was my original idea, and so I'm partial to that one.
However, I do like how all three of them turned out.
I have also been sitting in on the 3D modeling class that uses Maya. The nice part about it is that it gives me an excuse to work in Maya three days a week and not feel guilty about it. Since it's just an hour here and an hour there I don't have a ton of work to show but I have a few things.

While the rest of the class was doing their logo assignment, I resurrected my
old logo and gave it a new skin and did some better renders.
After watching a video explaining how to do portal lights in Maya, I was
dying to try it. This was my attempt. I have to say that I'm not displeased
with the result.
This was a product of my messing around with refractions in class.
This was me just messing around in class. This is Fred the Robot and he is
made only with polygon primitives.
I wanted to work on something doable for a while so I made a stand for my
Samurai sword. The little arms are even covered in felt so it doesn't scratch
my scabbard. :)
I made this yesterday because I wanted to figure out how to use translucence
in say a lamp shade. I like the way it turned out. 
Well, I hope that this post gave you a little window into my world. Keep it real, people! :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

In Case You Missed Me . . . .

It's been awhile since my last blog post, but my summer has actually been pretty busy despite not having an actual job. So last I left my readers I had just finished my Desert Eagles. I have since completed five more projects. This will hopefully give me enough content for the majority of my portfolio.

After I did the Desert Eagle I did a samurai sword. Geometry-wise it was pretty simple, especially compared to the over-sized pistols. One of the big reasons for it was that I wanted to practice my texture mapping skills because most of the jobs that I looked at was you to be proficient in modeling and texturing if for no other reason than to layout the UVs better for the surfacers. Some jobs (especially the character modeling jobs) require you to be the one solely responsible for texturing your creations, as well as modeling them.

Here is my sword! It is in the scabbard in this picture. This is my personal favorite. It looks so elegant when it's sheathed.

Here is the sword stuck in the floor, I know it's harder to tell from this angle that it is.

This is some close up detail on the blade and handle.

The pattern that I used for the handle, scabbard, and hilt was actually a maze texture that was came from a maze generator that I wrote in Python my Sophomore year. 

I guess I should have made a stand for it, but I was feeling lazy that day.

When I completed the samurai sword, I decided that I wanted to do some sort of architecture. I thought of maybe doing another room or perhaps a building. My father helped me look at house plans and he found a really cool, small Victorian cottage. It was small, so that's what I undertook. The basic geometry was fairly easy (except trying to keep everything quads). It was the details that took me the most time. The house has over 7,000 individual shingles. I could have just mapped on a shingle texture, but I wanted it to look as real as possible, and since I did the geometry it could be easily converted to a displacement map and mapped on if I had to save on polygons. The house ended up being a bigger undertaking than I had anticipated simply because there were so many things that I had to do. I left off the really small details (such as gaps in the siding etc) and I did not do the inside either which would have been very difficult, especially since I had to change the outside/floor plan of the house in order for the outside to look aesthetically pleasing. Forgive the grass quality, it almost crashed my computer trying to render that much.

This is, by far, my favorite render that I did of the house. The lighting is great and you see the most detail in the shot. That is a willow tree on the left.

Those are Spanish Cedar shake shingles in case you were wondering. That is an Oak tree on the right and a cherry tree on the left.

I changed the lighting for more closely resemble late in the day (about 8pm).

This is a picture of the back deck (which was very time consuming to do, in case your were wondering).

This is a shot of the front porch. Yes, the porch was really that small in the house plans. I really liked how the columns  "turned" out. :) Putting the detail geometry on the house was actually more fun than I thought it would be.

With my house finished, I needed to do something that was smaller and not so stressful or time consuming. I decided that I was going to make an iPod (everyone knows what one of those looks like, right?) and as an extension do some headphones (my Beyerdynamic DT 880s). That way, the two projects would go together quite well, but still be independent pieces of my portfolio. It should be noted that this DOES NOT mean that I approve of Apple (or their business practices) or would ever buy one of their products. The only reason I did an iPod classic instead of my Zune 120 was that more people (namely, people that are going to be looking at my portfolio) could more easily recognize it. I challenged myself with this project. I decided that I was going to make the iPod (and texture it) in one day. I did it, but I probably worked on it for 16 hours straight, which was rough. I got it done though, complete with a screen that can be turned on and off! :)

This is with the screen off. These are just rough renders but I had two people tell me on Facebook that they thought I took a photograph of an iPod. I didn't think I was fooling anybody, but I appreciate the complements anyway. :)

This is with the screen on. The song (in case you can't read it) is "One Winged Angel" on the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children soundtrack.

The next logical extension of my previous project would be to make my headphones to go with the iPod I made. These took much longer than the iPod (no surprise there) and some of the geometry was actually quite challenging such as the curved forks, the headband, and the wires. The geometry wasn't overly complicated (they are pretty minimalist headphones both in construction and design), it's just that none of it was straight or square and so it all had to be bent and smoothed. The texturing on these was also very difficult. For instance, the label on the side of the earpiece had to have a reflectivity map, transparency map, color map, and bump map. All of those maps had to be made in Photoshop and  attached (correctly, paying attention to UVs) in Maya. They then had to be tweaked endlessly to get right. The fur on the earpads was also difficult to get right. The color is still more grey than the real velour (the real one has more blue in it), but it looks close.

Here it is! The iPod is plugged in and playing. I reused the same room (child's room that I made last year) but I added a window seat, which is better than the table (used for my Desert Eagles) because it's easier to get the sun to shine there because it's closer to the window.

You can really see the velour shine in this picture and the nice reflections on the metal grill on the side.

This picture is to show off the back of the iPod (and that I went through all the effort to make correctly).

The plug (at the end of the chord) was actually pretty difficult to do, but I really like the way it turned out.

Here is a good example of the metal texture on the side of the earcups. This is probably one of my favorite shots out of the bunch.

This is a higher angle. I probably should have made a stand for the headphones but I guess I can always add that later.

People were giving me crap because the picture out the window doesn't look that great, so for my Vorpal Blade project I "upgraded" it.

I always play around with my objects in a checkered box, so I can see how the materials are going to reflect. Several of the test renders looked decent, so I decide I would post them.

I played around with the light in this one.

I cut squares out of the ceiling for the light to come through. I like the effect if gives.

This one is on a pure black background. I was shooting for a watch ad look. I think I missed. :)

I was trying to figure out what to make
while playing Alice Madness Returns,
when suddenly a light bulb went on in my brain.
After I finished the headphones, I decided that I had time for one more small project. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to make and was playing Alice Madness Returns, when suddenly, a light bulb went on in my head. I decided right then that I wanted to make the Vorpal Blade (Vorpal Sword in the Jabborwocky poem) that is one of Alice's main weapons in the game.

It has very intricate carving on the handle and etching on the blade, so it was a good demonstration of my skill with texture mapping in Maya, Photoshop, and Illustrator. The actual shape only took 3 or 4 hours to get right. The other ~20 hours was spent making the texture maps and doing the rendering. Now I know why there are less modelers in movie and game productions, and roughly double as many texture artists. The stand only took an hour or two. Rendering took 45 minutes per picture to render since I tried a new rendering technique.

This is my favorite render that I did. Like I said before, I used a new rendering technique for these but paid for it in time. It roughly doubled my renders times.

It took me 3 or 4 hours to layout the pattern on the blade alone. The handle took another couple. If you care to look at the pommel, there is a heart on the end. That was on purpose. Queen of Hearts. . . get it? :)

I have since fixed the landscape's square-like hills and grass patch problems, but I still like the view out the window in this shot. I moved the trees around (this was the same landscape that I used for the Victorian cottage) for this series of renders.

Since the game as a strong Steampunk theme, I figured the checker was appropriate. :)

All told, I have almost worked full time this summer in Maya. Although it's only an estimate I think I just short of 380 hours (full time is 480). A few weeks short, I know, but here is my logic. Desert Eagle + Samurai Sword + Victorian Cottage + iPod + Headphones + Vorpal Blade (160+30+100+16+40+25) = ~380. I could be overestimating some times, but the desert eagles took me a whole month, and I worked on it quite a bit. That encouraging to me, since I will being doing stuff like this full time for a career. Let me know what you think of my work! :)