February 7, 2019 : Hood Cowboy Bebop

I’m not sure what is weirder: that I found this or that I didn’t do so sooner:

The video has the Bebop vibe through and through, and Spike nailed it. The real Spike wouldn’t have smiled as much, but it works. The dancing through me for a loop at first, but I loved it; and while the sound quality could be improved, having the intro theme song playing on top of the action sequence was perfect.

posted by Pi Visuals at 8:43 pm



January 20, 2019 : New DBZ Movie Killing It

I vaguely remember hearing about the new Dragon Ball Super movie, Broly, but I didn’t realize it opened up this past week (January 16th to be exact). I don’t remember seeing this trailer, but it looks pretty sweet.

Despite clearly dropping the ball, it sounds like the movie is killing it, pulling in over $7M opening night – the biggest opening for an event film in the US. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will be able to watch it at the theaters, but I’m sure I’ll catch it eventually. As it is, I’m still very behind with the series. Not sure how many episodes at this point, but it’ll take some time so Broly will have to get in line.

posted by Pi Visuals at 12:32 am



December 28, 2018 : Gaomon In Practice

Last month, after much procrastination, I decided to purchase a drawing tablet – the Gaomon PD1560. Even though I ordered it shortly after that decision, I didn’t get a chance to use it until a few weeks ago.

When I did finally crack it open, it took a little time to set up and figure out the settings; but for the last few weeks, it was heavily used for some storyboarding. Below is one of the boards:

Overall, I like it a lot. For starters, the tablet is very friendly with Photoshop, which is what I used for the Storyboards. Creating everything digitally from the get go also sped up my process considerably. In the past, if I needed a hand-drawn Board, I would have to draw them by hand, clean up the drawing, then scan it into my computer, and then clean it up digitally. Very tedious.

Being my first drawing tablet, I thought it would take a little time to get used to the sensitivity of digital drawing. However, that did not prove to be the case.

While I don’t have anything planned at the moment, I hope to use the Gaomon again soon. At the very least, I would like to do some recreational drawing on it. It is relaxing, plus it will help me better familiarize myself with Photoshop’s brush capabilities.

posted by Pi Visuals at 9:24 pm

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December 8, 2018 : Live Action Cowboy Bebop On Netflix

It isn’t much of a secret that Cowboy Bebop is my favorite anime. That is why the news of Neflix making a Live-Action series piqued my interest.

In the past, I would have been skeptical about things moving forward and actually coming to fruition. However, with Netflix’s recent tweet, it seems like it’ll happen.

Personally, I don’t think it will be anything incredible, but I’ll definitely give it a shot – especially since Watanabe is on board as a consultant. Of course it’s not a shocker to learn many people on the Interwebs think the idea alone is sacrilege. In either case, it won’t diminish the greatness of the original series (because it’s awesome).

On a side note, I just found out (or maybe was reminded of?) that Netflix made a Live-Action series of Death Note last year. Sounds like it didn’t light the Earth on fire… or destroy it. So there’s that.

posted by Pi Visuals at 4:16 pm

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November 14, 2018 : New Purchase On The Horizon? A Drawing Tablet?

For a long time, I wanted to get a drawing tablet. Way back when, I had a 4×6 Wacom; but in addition to being very small, there wasn’t a display on the screen. As such, it really wasn’t meant for drawing. Not wanting to spend upwards of $2K on a Cintiq, I resigned myself to doing without.

However, I was recently informed that significantly cheaper options exist, which admittedly is something I should have looked into and realized on my own. In either case, I did some research and believe I found the winner… the Gaomon PD1560:

There were definitely a lot of options… and resources that linked to the possibilities. One person suggested getting the new iPad, and I even tried it out since said individual had it. While it was really cool, it goes for $1,200, which is still a bit out of my budget.

Ultimately, I landed on the Gaomon due to the price point and reviews. I also liked the size of the screen (15.6″). I plan on ordering it in a few days, with the expectation of receiving early next week. After that, I hope to give it a whirl and see if having a legit drawing tablet is all that I dreamed it would be.

posted by Pi Visuals at 8:33 pm



October 27, 2018 : Someone Actually Understands (And Likes) The Matrix Sequels

It’s been longer than I’d like since my last post, but things have been pretty crazy (a common theme these days). As penance, I figured I’d share a Matrix-related link. I often check out Just Write’s channel since it discusses writing and story structure.

In the link below, he analyzes the Matrix sequels. The general narrative is he hated them originally but re-watched them and now appreciates it… and even likes it (?):

I can see the “their target audience were 13 year olds… with PhD’s in philosophy” descriptor; and the saturated exposition is one of the reasons it soured me. Ultimately, I felt the first movie’s story structure was very tight, while the latter two meandered.

However, I did find the analysis of the sequels intriguing, and it gave me some clarity for them (and even some appreciation?). Although, I still find them a disappointing follow-up to one of my favorite movies of all-time.

To be fair, I was originally not a fan of the Reloaded, but it did grow on me in that I at least liked what the Wachowski’s were trying to do with the world they created. It was just the execution left me unsatisfied. Plus, it didn’t help that they wrote Tank off…

posted by Pi Visuals at 1:05 am



October 10, 2018 : The California Raisins And Its Connection To Laika Studios

About a week ago, Will Vinton passed away. I didn’t recognize the name, but it was on several animation blogs. While his name didn’t ring a bell, his work definitely did. He was considered ‘The Guy’ for Claymation – having coined (and trademarked) the term as well as animating notable figures such as the California Raisins.

However, I came across this interesting article, which started on Vinton’s beginnings but then went into detail about the studio he formed after gaining notoriety. Not being complacement with just Claymation, they delved into CGI and was behind the work on the M&M spots.

I also learned that his Studio eventually turned into Laika Studios – although without Vinton involved (having been forced out). It was an interesting read into the latter studio’s origins, formation, and growth.


posted by Pi Visuals at 10:48 pm



September 22, 2018 : Welcome Aboard, Trunks

It’s a few weeks late, but I wanted to welcome the newest member of the family… my digital family that is. I finally got a new laptop, and his name is Trunks:

My previous laptop is about 8 years old, and running my production programs has become rough. Onsite work for clients was an exercise in patience.

I considered other brands, but Dell has been solid for me in the past. As such, I got the G7. It’s a gaming laptop but has the specs required for motion graphics related software. The price was reasonable (and per Kramer, can be written off) and has been great from a performance perspective.

Trunks accompanies my desktop, Piccolo. Naming wise, the order of DBZ related computers from Oldest to Newest is: Vegeta, Gohan, Tien, Piccolo, Trunks. Vegeta has long since left this world, Gohan is on his way out, and Tien is strictly used for back up (he was received second hand).

I’ve considered gathering the Dragonballs to resurrect the computers of yore, but who needs 1GB of RAM with 20GB of space? They might as well get renamed to Yamcha…

posted by Pi Visuals at 1:28 am

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August 24, 2018 : Print Problems – Ink Saturation Levels

I don’t often work in the print realm, but I enjoy challenges – which is why I was happy to illustrate a Children’s Book for a client last year. Overall, the project was a fun exercise in illustration. However, it did come with some challenges… specifically, Ink Saturation Levels (the sum of the CMYK Percentage Components).

The printing company my client used has a limit of 240%, a threshold that can vary dependent on the type of project and equipment. While a limit as high as 280% is not uncommon, this was something not on my radar while designing the characters in the book. So when the printing company came back detailing issues with the submitted files, I had to do plenty of research on the topic of Ink Saturation Levels.

It turns out Adobe Acrobat has the ability to highlight colors above a pre-determined limit. Below shows an example of the output:

The next step was determining a course of action to remedy the situation. The more thorough (and tedious) solution would have been going back into Illustrator and change each offending color. However with deadlines and workloads as they are, I ended up importing the pages (in PDF form) into Photoshop. From there I was able to reduce the ink density and re-export the PDF’s. These were than recompiled to form a revised Master PDF file.

Overall, it was an adventure into the Print Realm, and the lessons learned were invaluable for future projects. As for this project, the hope is that the book will begin printing in a few weeks, and I am looking forward to seeing the final product.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:27 pm

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July 25, 2018 : Walking Through A Portal – Animation Testing

Building off an earlier post, I spent some time having a character walk through my cartoon portal. Below is the end result (with sound effects):

You might recognize the character from a previous animated short, which was actually the inspiration for the portal idea. That earlier project is nearly 5 years old (?!). Since then, I have made numerous improvements to my rigs. However, I didn’t feel it prudent spending time creating a new or updated character at this juncture of testing.

Overall, I like how things came out. I might tweak a few things when I actually create the portal for realsies, but I like the After Effects portions used. Plus, I feel the audio really pulls everything together.

posted by Pi Visuals at 3:35 pm

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