Daily Update Ticker
My way of keeping track of the days. This whole quarantine thing has really warped my perception of time!
Dec 20th – Jan 1st
Between preparing for the holidays and New Year and taking an important final break, I couldn’t resist putting in some more time to incorporate the notes I’d received from the grant coaching session and from my fiscal sponsorship facilitator.
Meeting with NYFA grant writing consultant. Got some great tips and was urged to apply to NYFA for their fiscal sponsorship program. This is something I have to explore further.
Took a big step and actually started talking to influential people about how to make this project happen. It’s unbelievable the number of people I will have to bring together for this, but I think this project is worth it!
Did some writing, did some art. I kind of love having these as my primary goals in life.
Dec 7th – 11th
The floodgates opened and my school-related activities dominated most of my week. As necessary as it was for me to do, I really wish I’d gotten to work more on the project write-ups and designs further.
But I did continue figuring out how to make the patterns I’ve been studying. I think.
Attended the Women in Tech Global Awards 2020, where I heard many inspirational women speak of their professional struggles and share what they learned from them. Have I mentioned how much I appreciate virtual conferences?? Honestly, the level of accessibility afforded to us this year because of COVID has really increased the possibilities of a wider level of attendance in so many venues!
New characters, new textures, updated patterns. Having had enough time away from the map drawing, the pattern problems made more sense this time around. I spent half the day painting the map, and the other half fiddling in Blender. And, I added in a painted face on the character. Except it suddenly occurred to me that I could use Blender’s 2D animation sections to animate Babur’s face. I guess my next phase of research has begun!
I had a great idea to add a paper-canvas screen into the ninja flip animation, to make it look like Babur jumps through it into view. This has led me into research dynamics in Blender.
I’m not sure what day to really call this, because I worked so long and ended up staying up till 5am waiting for the render and then combining it into a movie file. I ANIMATED IT!!
Unwrapping, rewrapping, binding, unbinding. I want to make him perfect. His costume has to make sense and truly reflect the tastes of the age.
The next step in my production is to lay out the map. I realized as I was redrafting the script, that I would need to really provide context for the average viewer about exactly where Babur came from. Again, I am in awe of how much of his history is erased in the retelling. Even more amazing is the realization that his bloodlines still exist in Pakistan today. Onto the map-making!
I started writing again and interspersed it with more building in 3D. I’m struggling with making the details just right, and it’s driving me nuts that I can’t figure out the math to get all the architectural crevices down. I may have to admit defeat with that because I don’t think I have the time to learn all of the complex math that goes into building the complex shapes of Islamic architecture.
This morning I dropped off the Lahore Fort book to be scanned at RIT. I got to watch a demo on some new equipment they have received and it is truly fascinating to watch. Now, though, I just have to wait for the files.
In the meantime at home, I decided to figure out the patterns I need to use for the production. Luckily, attending the Adobe MAX conference a couple of weeks ago has left me dying to try out their new tools, so I dove right in and started making all sorts of pattern bases that (I think) will come together to add a lot of visual depth to the finished piece.
Today was back to business. Somehow, now that I’m sleeping with my idea, I’m waking up with new ones. I’ve built my first beat board and dropped it into an animatic, which in turn helped me write the first draft of narration. They’re both too long, but I’m confident they’ll trim down to where I want.
I also collected a bare-bones outline of the wives of Babur. He had four in his lifetime, but not in a skeevy way. I have to say, the more I read about him the more he seems like a real, loving human being. How does one reconcile that with the ruthless general who conquered India?
In Blender, I’ve built the body, but it’s still rough. A little cleanup and some UV mapping will have me texturing him in no time. So, I want to collect patterns now, so I can decorate him and his world.
I never learn. I tried so hard to stop myself from jumping into a full 3D production, yet, the more I design my script for Babur, the more I visualized a 3D character. So, I’ve done the unthinkable and started building him in 3D. This comes after 2 solid days of character design of course, but I now have a rough human model shaped out, and I am starting to rough out a quick texture so that I can apply the Blender rigify tool to see if I can start animating him soon.
So in order to reduce the burden of a full production, I am going to build my sets in a more minimal style, relying on pattern rather than construction to create the look of this world. My impatience is certainly helping me find creative ways to stick to a schedule!
Research. Books, publishers, digital resources and editing my manuscript. (It feels weird to call it a manuscript). I have also spawned a new offshoot of this idea and it might be my best one yet!
The first draft of a script is down; I think I will move into vis-dev because I have no time to waste.
I think I will make this a 2D-3D mixed look, because I’m not versed enough to build 3D characters in Blender yet, and also because the Miniature Art style will not really lend itself to 3D. I will, of course, build 3D worlds to make it a quicker and more unique(?) production process.
Attended the Sundance Collab Master class; “The Social Dilemma: Creating Social Impact Through Storytelling”. It is so inspiring to hear filmmakers talk about their creative journeys, especially when they achieve the kind of impact that you are hoping to do as well.
A new idea has germinated, and a second one to boot! One is historical and the other an interdisciplinary collaboration. Both have the potential to become epic projects.
Adobe MAX Conference has started, I think it’s going to run for 3 days, maybe more. I have a back-to-back schedule to see things. But the virtual setup makes me feel more comfortable, it’s free so it’s affordable and I can work alongside to boot! I’m going to be so sad when life returns to in-person living!
My Guest talk at Ringling College of Art and Design about Cultural Appropriation. I think it went well! I was also able to really understand the kind of hesitancy a topic like this can create. I think we need to really look at how to create bridges between races.
Wedding Anniversary Year 5! We’ve been indulging ourselves for a few days, and today we went horseback riding. I can totally see this becoming a regular thing in life… assuming I have the time and money, of course!
I’ve built a thing. Have not heard from Partner, but I am just moving forward and giving things a nice, skewed look, to get things to match the OG drawings.
Well, if it’s the mold, I’m going to have to destroy my house. The hives are not abating, and in fact, now the medicine seems to be completely useless too. Setting up an appointment with an allergenist, because I just can’t take this anymore.
Started exploring the concept of mold in the house, sprayed stuff on my bathroom faucet. Exploded in a new round of hives. I’m thinking this might be the culprit after all!
I built a chair! I drew out my idea of what the orthographic views would be last night, and then, without using any tutorials or even referring to my notes, I modeled a chair! What a victory!
The funny thing is that I realize now I should have stylized it before I modeling (or as I modeled)… but nevermind! Having done this, I have a feel I’ll be able to work much, much faster as I go forward. Although I did think that I had vague moments of things I think I knew but made-do without, so I will still be running tutorials as I go, but yes, doing that Donut tutorial really got me what I needed! And since then, watching those awful, over-detailed beginner videos is becoming super useful to play in the background so that I can let peripheral knowledge sink into my subconsciousness.
Really got more things up on the website, and set up more videos. I think I’ll be building that weekly animation, and continuing to create stuff in Blender. I think I have to set an end date for when that Blender environment gets built. I want to run my first virtual space test by… Oct 10th?
Bought a car. But I was a responsible grownup about it.
Spent the entire day trying to figure out website building, and I finally got something working. This was on hubby’s site, but I’m very pleased with the final result! You can see it here: http://www.buttonaudio.com/
PS, I only got the first page working.
Still tired from yesterday, but brimming with thoughts and ideas! I think I am going to start taking my show on the road now, because the idea is feeling more mature than before.
Exploring more tools in Blender, I am moving into actively building props for my environment. At the same time, because I want this to be a quirky and designed space, I plan to learn how to make 2D elements appear in this world, and possibly even be animated. So, that’s 3 new areas I’m actively looking into. Not to worry though, I expect things to go a bit quicker in these parts because I’m not quite as lost as when I first started!
Finally got around to fixing the functionality of my blog (yep, this is better than how it started!), and added a bunch of updates that were pending. I also went through some of my previous posts and started adding copyright info on it. Although, now I’m thinking, should I just write it somewhere instead? Hmm.
I started off with the best of intentions, spent the morning discussing my website and figuring out all sorts of stuff, then we had a knock on the door…
Next thing you know, the day was gone <poof!>. But here it is, past midnight and I’m back at my computer because my brain is funny that way.
Getting a lot done in terms of cataloguing my work and organizing my ideas for presentation. This is an interesting thing for me, because historically I have always loathed the idea of actually putting valuable time into packaging my work. I’d much rather just be making my stuff.
I’m done, and deathly afraid to upload everything.
The first of hopefully many more Women of SOFA meetings. Ambarien, MJ and I were able to sit and really explore the importance of a conversation about equality and diversity in our school.
Enjoyed another round of actually understanding how to work in Blender, although I have to say, I am still super impatient, and get really annoyed when I forget a step somewhere in the middle. It’s definitely keeping me slow on work!
Spent time on a diversion, did some creative work for my husband’s work. It was fun!
Working on the Blender front, I got into texturing some, and finally played with the in-scene painting process and fiddled with nodes. Nice!
It’s weird how many epiphanies a person can have in the process of completing something. Be it a project or an application to discuss the project, the amount of work and research that has to be tapped into and distilled into a few sentences is mind-boggling.
I’m starting to create a virtual space, ironically, in After Effects. I figure this is a good way to experiment in a new space and still stay somewhat comfortable.
Another productive day, I jumped back into After Effects, but also! Enjoyed working in VR for a bit. Apparently After Effects now comes equipped with the tools for setting up virtual environments already, so I may take a little detour there. This is mostly also to reduce the load of learning a whole new software as I get my feet wet in this new medium. I’m experiencing some fatigue at the idea of learning Blender and Unreal side by side.
We are seeing the powerful effects of “fake news” and “post-facts” on American society. We know wartime propaganda campaigns have long been understood to be an effective way to rally a country’s morale and spirit and to bear through the required hardship and sacrifice that come. It’s interesting how few people realize the power of art and media.
I have been super inspired about work lately, and so much has been happening at home alongside my creation process. I have to force myself to sleep more though, I’m starting to get really tired during the day. I burn so much mental energy, I think.
I’m unclear about how this “schedule” will come together at the moment though, I feel behind, but that makes sense I guess?
Took a full day off yesterday. Exerted a lot of energy around the house, but did not touch anything creative or technical. And, I’m still breaking out in hives, definitely have to call the doctor…
Recorded more audio for myself, this is turning out to be great for my development processes.
Interviewed as part of the NCA oral historic tradition. I am one of 350 interviews that are being collected into a compilation of high-achieving alumni. The goal is to record how NCA impacted our career trajectories. This also ended up being a great source for reconnecting with the NCA network about my project and cultivating that necessary introduction to set up the preservation project there.
Round Two of creative meetings with another real life miniature artist (also an old friend)!
I’m starting to think that it may be worth it to feature real miniature art in the book, to really consolidate the visual language of the Mughal Dynasty.
Creative meeting with a real life miniature artist (also an old friend), who has agreed to help me define patterns that are era-appropriate and also Dynasty appropriate.
In case I hadn’t mentioned this earlier, I suddenly realized that there were multiple schools of thought that created art in a similar style. If I’m not careful, I’ll end up duplicating the wrong patterns!
Decided to do some courses on Strategic Thinking. This wasn’t a plan, so much as a useful click while I was sorting through my LinkedIn profile. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I put out into the world and how I need to make sure I put out a clear image of what I’m doing. Making sure it’s updated is the worst!
Anyway, I completed the course, which has provided me with a few tools to test out. Let’s see how that goes!
Had an amazing meeting with a contact about prepping this project and getting funding for it. I can’t believe the level of enthusiasm I’m receiving for this idea! I spent the rest of the day on a creative high…
Today, I wrote out clean versions of a number of posts I’ve been drafting. Organized my work and waded through all of my files, emails, and social media to properly stitch together my November timeline. And I’m glad I did, because I really thought I hadn’t done much! But looking back, I have to say that I’ve been getting a lot done in each area of exploration that I am delving into!
This also brings to mind the realization that, when working on larger projects, it is easy to feel like nothing is being done when we don’t see daily results. But in order to build something worthwhile, it is important to put time into that “invisible” work that sets the foundation. This is stuff like refining design, cleaning up script, building (and rebuilding) assets, finding ways to set them together. The more pieces I develop, the more I can envision the shining result. And that, is what keeps a person going.
My next character is up and going with a rough setup. I’m still going to modify him further, but I figure each iteration can count as an extra in the Mughal world. In the meantime, I solved the dynamics issue, and I have a new animated render!
Still high from the animation, now my mind is racing with the lists of all the other things I can/should be building and animating! But Thanksgiving is coming up and my brain is distracted by food.
Okay, I’ve fiddled with him all day, but I added in ears, refined his turban, re-rigged him and set up poses and saved a few renders. Everything else feels like it’s falling to the wayside, but really, as long as I’m waiting for the book to be scanned, it feels fine working on the animation.
OMG I made it work! Babur has been bound, and can move! His costume is slowly looking better, I spent ages painting and adding patterns and modifying UVs until he started to look right! And, I’m so relieved to see that human modeling is the same no matter what the software. And, interestingly, I think Maya may still reigh supreme in the land of character creation.
I fell into a black hole of trying to make complex architecture. I now know a bunch about building gothic architecture, and may be able to use that to make Mughal Architecture… but do I really want to? This is where I have to remember to keep returning to my animatic, or I’ll completely lose sight of my stylistic goals.
Today, I got a scary (and painful) injection of some drug that will hopefully end the misery of this immune-storm that I am experiencing. It’s making me very tired, so I settled for trying to texture the human model I built the other day. It’s sort of looking okay?
The results of the election were announced this morning, and no matter what I tried to get done today, I just kept gravitating back to the TV. I’ve been actively avoiding the news and all forms of speculation up until now, so that left me with a bunch of new items to watch as a retrospective. Perhaps it’s a form of cheating, or just weak of me, but I was not going to add to any of my internal stress by trying to do what everyone else was doing. Plus, I personally believe that the US media’s hyperbolic doom and gloom approach to news is inherently damaging to decision-making. I would much rather receive news late, if it was thoroughly researched and grounded in fact, rather than watch the same set of people stupidly speculating about stuff they have no idea about.
Anyways, what a relief! Now, we just need to neutralize all of the division revealed.
Sparks are flying from all of the inspiration cascading through my brain! In the past few days, I have been writing and editing my book manuscript, and in the process discovered a gold mine of an idea to create small animations to portray the rise of each of the Mughal Emperors. This started first when I realized how unfairly Humayun (the second Mughal) is portrayed in history. Even when I researched him the first time he was only mildly spoken of in a positive manner. Yet, despite the fact that his military prowess was sadly lacking, it seems as if he played a pivotal role in establishing a new realm of growth in the arts and literature of the subcontinent.
Scanning Images… ALL DAY!!
A day of study, research, and later, a bonfire with great company to boot.
It takes a lot of hard work and research to make any idea a reality. I’ve been studying and working for a long time, but I still have a ways to go. The big thing to survive that gap between idea and reality is to keep going, and to surround yourself with people who believe in you, so that you keep going long after you thought you couldn’t.
Today, I joined a colleague to go for a walk around a nearby park. This was originally supposed to be a larger gathering with more faculty, but we missed everyone else and ended up having our own inspirational talk!
Bun Kabab has been indefinitely postponed. My partner is unable to play a big role in the company right now, and time is too precious to wait for things to eventually settle. I think I will have to find my own avenues to continue making my work, and… I have to make sure I do not infringe on the ideas developed in this team setting. So the DA project has to be put aside.
Still, I feel comfortable completing the environment I built, since it is not exclusive to BK. It was always part of my sabbatical research and so, I’m going to complete that.
Pumpkin carving with the Women of SOFA. It wasn’t so talk-heavy, but great as lighthearted relaxation. Definitely something we need!
Painting Textures and painting assets for my background Matte Paintings. This is starting to look super nice! I think this will be a really nice environment!
Chatted with G about her class and my work. Don’t ask about the intervening days, the hives have made my life hell. I had to go off the anti-histamines for 7 days before my appointment, I was ready to die on day 4. Thankfully the doctor called and ruled out allergies as a cause for concern. Things are under control now (barely), so I’m getting back to doing things.
Lots more stuff around the house, and a lot more hives. But things are looking up, and I’m feeling better. And! I have a new render from today, so that’s super exciting!
I’m going to set up the bare bones of two more spaces, outdoors and indoors and then start populating with the props I build. I think I should have some good props by the end of the month?
Women of SOFA hang out in my backyard! That was nice!
I think we are formally going to create a support network for our women and hopefully boost each other in work and life!
Sigh. Days go by and even if I do stuff, I don’t stop to list what gets done.
The coffee-donut thing is done, barring animation, but I think I’m okay with saving that for a later date.
I have wonderful images for the finished product, and now I’m finding new tutorials that cover more areas. Thankfully, I found tutorials that actually deal with topology, so I’m ready to scratch that itch now as I begin modeling props to build my environment.
Step 1: Make orthographic drawings
Step 2: load them into the multiple scene option available in Blender (wow!)
Step 3: establish one scene just to populate the environment, set up environment layout. (find out if scenes can cross-populate.
Played with website, made updates, started digging through files to find animations. Uploaded a bunch of stuff to YouTube. I think this will be super helpful in life.
Had a very fun Zoom Family Reunion in the morning. Got some work down later at night.
More time reading and studying. And I attended a webinar on environment design in Unreal. That was interesting, if only so I could understand that lighting in worlds is very similar to lighting in film, it just uses different tools. Not to downplay the amount of work that goes into it, just that I really do believe such skills are transferrable in spite of the varied workflows.
Did nothing on the computer and a massive thing outside! Killed off a wall of weeds along my fence, and now I’m dead!
I’ve completed the cup and saucer from the Donut series! It looks pretty good too! The advantage to doing this, I’ve plugged a bunch of holes in knowledge regarding being able to locate information and find options in Blender.
I made a cup in Blender. It’s getting easier to work on things, because I’m getting the hang of the new thought process. However, it drives me crazy that there are certain things you can’t get back to once they’re done. Also, little things like “how many subdivisions did that cylinder start with??”
Okay! Productive day! My sticky notes are almost ready to be deleted and replaced with new to-do items. There was a bunch of scanning, some Photoshopping and generally a lot of writing! I think I will be returning to Blender and VR this week to see if I can build assets and populate a space!
Stress, stress, stress! I have 24 hours to submit my application, I have been polishing my words for weeks and everything still feels.. unfinished!!
Signing up for Khan academy’s Pixar on story telling course, and for Adobe’s annual Creativity conference, which is online and free this year in October.
Woke up bursting with energy, and actually put down the script for the first episode of DA. I’m so excited, it’s like I can see the story coming alive!
Today was somewhat intense in a theory-development sort of way. I was part of a big conversation with two of my dearest friends about life, age, and the need to say/do something important with your existence. This is the kind of conversation that one can only have with true friends like these.
Just had a ridiculous time trying to reset my Oculus boundaries. Realized the sensors were malfunctioning because I had Christmas lights on in my living room! Wtf!
Whew! Unbelievable, but I started formally recording stuff 2 months ago, and it’s taken me that long to start feeling comfortable enough with Blender to actually save some files and record a couple of images!
Talking to Saba reminded me that I was so fascinated by the idea of interactive storytelling. Where we create multiple avenues and options in a story and allow the viewer to experience the “consequences” of their actions. Also, if the story is gripping enough, it can potentially bring people back over and over again to keep feeding their interest. This would certainly be a great way to work in VR, where most filmmakers are concerned with losing the audience’s interest, or risking having them miss critical moments of the story.
Reading a few books on Postcolonialism and seeing the ultimate flaws in that concept… watch for some blog posts on that.
I made new designs for the Dynamic Addi’s, and refined the moving logo too.
I’ve been doing some intense studying and reading lately. Apparently, when you build a character that has to represent a culture, you really need to figure out more than a few stereotypical cliches about them.
I knew this from having done the Iroquois Creation Story, but I’m finding it so much tougher to create an identity for a Pakistani female. Some of this is no doubt because I see myself as “a Pakistani female”, but also, because I realize, Pakistan has no clear identity.
This is also something that, I think, all Pakistanis know, but perhaps, we don’t consider it to be damaging enough to fix. Unfortunately, it occurs to me, that if we rely on the rest of the planet to define a Pakistani identity, we will never actually have a core “ideal” self. And without an ideal, what do we try to live up to?
So, an interesting thing happened: I started breaking out in hives! Every evening! It’s getting worse, and it’s driving me nuts! A whole week has gone by in this and it’s really messing with my head.
So after a bunch of research, I started taking antihistamines and finally got a decent night’s sleep.
On the bright side, I started making notes and did some artwork!
I think my attempts at working in Blender should get better now that I’m less tired from my non-study life.