In my sculpture class, Prof. Borders basically told us to let the Foam block speak to us. Don’t dictate to the foam, let it tell us what it wants to be. So I started listening to the green foam. This is what it is so far. Wow. I’m really digging this class. While we’re sculpting the foam with our fingers (subtractive), Prof. Borders gives guidance constantly. Most of the guidance is philosophical and motivational with occasional direct input. Whatever the case… it works. Good stuff.
This is my first piece of furniture created via Maya. Fun. It’s a Barcelona chair, circa. 1920. They tend to to be more expensive so you see them in banks, doctors’ and lawyers’ offices. This was a “quick cheat” to give a nice impression, not a perfect build. It’s a great way to fill a virtual room when you don’t need tremendous closeup detail.
It’s all about the flow of the line. Draw a curved line on the page. Set your shoulder and hip. Indicate a ribcage and head. Flesh it out. This is the beginning of finding expression of movement. All these images were all done from my imagination, but the next class will be sketches of live models. I have some understanding of the human body, but I expect to see things I’ve never seen before when looking at a model. I hope to be more aware.
In my drawing class tonight, Toms talked about basic anatomy. You cannot cheat on this. It doesn’t matter what kind of freak you are creating, the same basic principles are always at work. Although a giraffe has a stupendously long neck, it still has the same number of vertebrae in its neck as we do. It looks like a horses knee is bent backward to an amateur, but we all know that it has exactly the same parts as we do. The only difference is in which bones are elongated and bear the weight.
We also did our first flow studies. We drew some basic squiggles on a page, located the shoulders & hips, then sketched a figure in action. I always find this stimulating. You can play around with different body-types and extreme actions to make some really useable stuff. It reminds me of my favorite drawing book, How to Draw the Marvel Comic Way. I think that’s the name of it. It’s a basic drawing book by Stan Lee the Master of Marvel Comics, creator of everything from Hulk to Spiderman to X-Men. You’ve seen him cameo in all the latest superhero movies. He’s da Man!!! And Graham Toms is right up there with him. Look at what he does as easily as you and I speak. Left hand or right, if there’s something to make a mark with, it’s sketching.
Professor Alicea is a fun guy who really knows how to break things down Barney style while maintaining attention.
The other day we sat around and took a computer apart, and talked about what does what. Then we had a contest to see who could build the cheapest and most expensive computers online. In the graphics field Mac computers tend to be king, but in 3D animation PCs dominate. It became evident as we built the richest computer with great specs, why gamers and builders choose PCs. The team that was building on newegg.com built an amazing computer for around $1700. A computer from newegg.com with the minimum specs was only $1100. A comparable Mac was much more. I have done this in the past and still came up with a cheaper Mac with the right innards, but you really have to buy it right to justify it. My current Macbook Pro with a 2 GHz Quad core i7 processor was only $800. Nice! Otherwise the minimum specs for a decent 3D animator’s build would be:
- CPU: i7 Quad Core 2+GHz
- Ram: 12Gb
- GPU: 2Gb
- Monitor: 24″ 1920 x 1080p
Let’s face it, professionalism isn’t always getting it done in the prettiest fashion. It’s all about getting it done fast, efficiently & right, while maintaining the bottom line.
Carlos Lucio is my set design and modeling professor. He’s a local architect and interior designer with exceptional rendering skills. He’s currently working on his Masters of American History. Smart guy. He’s very low key and patient.
Our first project is modeling a room that we’ve chosen. I picked a relatively easy room with views of all walls and a basic floor plan. I plan to stay up and finish all the basics tonight. I have the walls and ceilings done and on layers. I need to name the polygons. He likes names & layers. He hates having to work on someone else’s project, but having to clean it up before starting. I need to learn this process. It makes perfect sense. I want to work on projects that are bigger than just myself. Therefore I’ll be considerate and keep it clean and organized.
Professor Borders is my Sculpture 1 professor at UIW. He’s from Louisiana, loves good food and has an epic beard. I was impressed with how clean and orderly the studio was when I first walked in. This guy’s attention to detail is renowned.
Things he said:
- Attend all classes – don’t be late.
- We are searching for a truth.
- Erase all visual static.
- Excuses are for weak individuals.
- If you work in shit you create shit.
He likes quotes. We are expected to have a meaningful quote at every class. We’ll do 2 projects in his class – a foam one and a wood one. The foam will be subtractive. The wood will additive. We’ll provide the materials and a box to keep and transport it in.
The works will be based upon or similar to the work of Henry Moore and Hans Arp.
Graham Toms is my Drawing-for-Animators teacher. He’s from Ireland and just started a batch of new beer before class. It sounded like a good IPA. I’ll hit him up for a sample in a couple weeks. He’s been around in the industry for quite some time, previously at Disney.
Some of the things we discussed in class:
- Narrative is always important as an underlying element. Paint pretty and have a story.
- If the poly flow is beautiful then the model will work.
- HDRI – look it up.
grahamtoms.wordpress.com, also on youtube.
Next class have an 18 x 24 sketchbook, 2 types of charcoal (willow & compressed), opt. pastels and a razor.
This guy sketches incessantly and paints about 70 works every year. He sells most. He said to never throw your sketches away; they come in handy. He has an interesting approach of sculpting a scene in 3D then painting it. Nice results.
This is my new college, the University of the Incarnate Word. I went on terminal leave from the Army this week and now am a full-time student in the 3D Animation and Game Design course. It is a 4 year course & a big leap for me. I already have over 130 credit hours at other institutions with no degree to show for it. This is going to be a bit of a challenge, providing for my family while I get my BFA. It is the most time-intensive degree at the University. More than half the 3D ANGD students change their major after the first semester. Only 1 out of 10 are expected to receive their degree. It’s gonna be tough. I’m gonna be incredible. My measly little demo reel should be exploding by leaps and bounds when I have time to edit it.
When in the midst of a career, one is required to demonstrate his abilities, a demo reel is a obligatory. I shall periodically update this reel to demonstrate my growth.
These are just a few demonstrations of my talent that I am at liberty to present.
There were three major events that thrust the United States into the arena as a world power. Our commitment to World War One was our first real test. At the end of the Second World War a key decision was made that really benefited our workforce. Finally, the election of President Ronald Reagan put a nail in a proverbial coffin. When I think of an event I do not think of progression of events such as a war or a philosophy. Those are effects of a certain cause. I will describe what were the three major causes of our world dominance.
It was the decision to finally enter the First World War and stay until it was won, that was the first major world-power event in our short history. There were many factors that brought us to that decision in spite of President Wilson’s campaign promise to remain neutral. The sinking of the Lusitania was upsetting, especially since Americans had no clue that she was heavy laden with munitions. Submarines off our east coast was unsettling. The “Zimmerman Letter” that was decoded and released to the public describing an alliance between Mexico and Germany was the last straw for many Americans. The fact that the Allies owed us over $2,000,000,000.00 whereas Germany only owed us about $56,000,000 was probably a bigger factor than we like to admit. Yet the fact that we committed, entered the war, stayed until the end and had an influence in the Treaty of Versailles made us look like one pretty big dog for the first time in world history. Never mind the fact that President Wilson’s “14 Points” were largely disregarded in favor of punishing Germany and setting the world up for another big war.
Before we dropped the bomb on Japan and demonstrated our technological might to the world, The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act in 1944 poised us for economic world dominance. Don’t get me wrong, the atomic bomb was big, but maybe not as big as we historically like to think it was. One would think that the first one would have been big enough to convince the Japanese to surrender. We waited. We waited. On the third day we decided to do it again. That second one was somehow a little more convincing. More than instruments of war, the “GI Bill of Rights” that provided multiple benefits to veterans of our armed forces, proved to be the deciding factor of our true dominance. It was our brains not our brawn that made us strong. Within a few years of the war we had the most educated work force in the world. Within 10 years over 2 million veterans had degrees and over five and a half million had gone to trade school on the government’s dime. Our education made us productive and wealthy. The whole world has benefitted from the GI Bill.
The election of a single man was the last great event in a very colorful history that proved to be our most dominant decision as a nation. We elected President Ronald Reagan, an actor, to represent our country in the seat of the presidency. Before Winston Churchill described the Iron Curtain to America, Communism was already beginning to form a cancer in the hearts and minds of the Soviet Union and the world. The Cold War that developed between the United States and the USSR brought us close to total annihilation through a policy of mutual nuclear destruction. President Reagan resolved to win this Cold War. He built our nuclear armament to ridiculous levels forcing the Soviets to compete in an arms race they could not win. It was a risky game that pulled them “all in” as it were. Communism, he felt, was a failed system that could never be sustained, and rather than let it linger and die slowly he drove the nails into the coffin and insured a quick demise.
As I stated, there were three main events that thrust us into world power. By choosing these three events I am not diminishing many great people and events in the past century. I am not even choosing political sides. People often love to lambast great men as being complete imbeciles. I don’t think one could rise to the seat of President of the United States if he were an idiot. Unlike President Reagan though, others simply didn’t have an opportunity to culminate something as important as the Cold War. Certainly the atomic bomb was more spectacular than the GI Bill, but did it truly make us great as a nation? No it did not. It was not our entrance into World War One as much as our resolve to finish the war that made it a worthy event. Together these three events made us strong as a nation, perhaps stronger than any nation in the history of man.
Henretta, J. A., R. Edwards and R. Self (2012). America: a Concise History, Volume Two: Since 1865. 5th ed. Bedford/St. Martin’s (ch 21)
Ibid (ch 24 & 26)
“Ronald Reagan.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. <http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/ronald-reagan>.
Hundreds of submissions all boiled down to about 70 videos watched at Army Entertainment in JBSA Ft Sam Houston. These were the cream of the crop that made it to the video auditions for the US Army Soldier Show. A room full of civilians, Enlisted and Officers all judged these Soldiers‘ ability to present themselves on video. We will all see in a couple weeks how the “chosen” will present themselves to a live audience.
I am always amazed at how much the scores vary. You would think that, with the sheer amount of criteria that these Soldiers are judged upon, the scores would be similar. Not at all. People have different tastes. One may see a character flaw before another. One may detect a hearing deficiency in a few short bars that another judge didn’t pick up on. One judge may see that slight rhythm glitch that a perform displays.
In the end, because of our well-rounded board-members from various walks-of-life, I feel that we have chosen the best of the best to come to the live auditions. They have a pitch sense, a sense of rhythm, and an artistic sensitivity that is unparallelled. They are all romantic artists. Of course! Who is more romantic than a Soldier? Not many people will die for a way of life… an idea. Soldiers capture the heart and soul of America. We are America. No wonder the Soldier Show continues to draw crowds wherever they go. It’s terrible to see the hordes of people turned away with tears in their eyes when there is no more room left in the house. Some of these people will travel many miles to the next garrison simply to see what they missed – never to be disappointed. This is THE SOLDIER SHOW. Come early. Don’t miss it! To be in that room with your Army Family, shoulder to shoulder, side by side, one unified body with one understanding – life at its fullest – nothing compares to this experience.
My Nutrition Basics – My Philosophy, Not Science
Many views abound when it comes to Nutrition. How can this be? Aren’t we all made of simple cells with similar needs? Absolutely not! All people are complex creatures with various deficiencies and genetic predispositions based upon their ancestry. Maybe my ancestors ate little meat and lots of grains. Well, I probably should eat a similar diet. Maybe my ancestors were hunters and ate lots of meat and veggies. I should follow their lead. How can you know? Some people are lucky enough to be pure-breeds. They can go back to the land of their ancestors and see how their people lived and ate. Most of us are pretty much mutts. We’ll have to do a little experimenting to discover what is right for our bodies.
I generally tend to operate according to a few basic philosophical principles when it comes to nutrition and diet:
- God didn’t mess up. What comes from a farm is better than what is manufactured.
- We didn’t evolve to become big-brained humans by excluding whole classes of foods. We are omnivores, not carnivores or herbivores.
- Generally moderation and balance are the key… unless your goals are extreme. Then an extreme, yet healthy-ish approach is in order.
- Clean eating is great. The body has systems that remove toxins. Don’t worry about a few toxins; they keep the systems running properly, but don’t overdo it often. Don’t test God.
- Don’t be too picky. If you only eat the choice parts you will miss lots of nutrition. Eat a hotdog occasionally… and gnaw the ends of your chicken bones.
- The body will repair itself if you provide the nutrition it needs to fix the issue. That being said, if you lose a finger because you carelessly thought you were tough enough not to get frost-bite, you’ll heal. But you’ll still only have 9 fingers.
- Yes, some people are gifted and can draw nutrients from a rock & still look like gods. I’m not a god. I have to think about what I eat.
- I live a vigorous lifestyle and eat accordingly. If you aren’t willing to chase a large beast, tackle it, overcome it, murder it and eat it, maybe you should eat a more docile diet. Otherwise you probably are not hormonally set to digest it properly.
- People who are “into” artificial sweeteners and fat substitutes are killing their natural instincts of satiation. They will never be satisfied. They live a life of deception, fooling themselves, and often find comfort in tricking others into eating their unnatural non-foods with delightfully tasty recipes. It’s like a religion to these people. Don’t try to change their religion, just lead by example and maybe they’ll catch-on.
- My good old-fashioned 93 year-old grandfather grew up eating potato chips dipped in lard, chased down with a gallon of sweet tea daily. And more salt than you can imagine. How did he survive past 35? Is it possible that fat, salt and sugar are not as bad for me as “they” say it is?
- When you see articles about vegetarians outliving omnivores, remember that I, who eat lean meat and lots of veggies, am lumped into the same category as those who eat fast food for every meal. Don’t trust that kind of shaky science.
- Jesus said that His people were the salt of the Earth. I don’t think he was saying that His people were bad for the other inhabitants. I also think he was in favor of having more of them. In that case, I’ll have a little more salt, please.
- I eat real butter, real sugar and real fat. I think they are food and I would rather have real food in me than something that was manufactured to take its place.
- I don’t think God messed up when he made a cow. I drink whole milk. Besides, the doctor won’t even let my babies drink the lighter milks. And, no; we are not the only animal that drinks the milk of another animal. Likewise I eat whole eggs because God also didn’t mess up when he made a chicken, and I don’t want to insult God.
- I have heard all kinds of stories about pigs being dirty animals and why I shouldn’t eat pork. Chickens are just as disgusting. Fish are too. Think about where eggs come from. Honey is bee barf. Milk is pre-digested food. We’re human. We eat weird stuff. Shut up already!
- I like my food cooked, generally. There are fringe obsessions with raw foods based on shaky science and faith. Those guys are the exception not the rule. Humans generally universally prefer their foods cooked. Maybe we were supplanted here by aliens and need our food to be cooked. Whatever. We all do it except for the freaks. There must be a reason.
- Alcohol and caffeine are mysterious substances that occur naturally and have been proven to be of some cooky health benefit to us. Take them in their more natural forms. When you start drinking energy drinks instead of coffee and tea, and straight liquor instead of beer and wine, you are fooling your body like those zealots who prefer food-substitutes. You’re only a couple steps from smoking crack. Beware!!!
Now that’s family-building. OK. Bad pun. That’s my family. We just built our first gingerbread house together. It was awesome fun. I really cannot believe it came out so great-looking considering how much input we allowed Zsolti to have. From the mixing of the batter, to the roll-out, to the assembly and decoration, we all played a part. Well, Gabor did very little besides add a lot of love and slobber, but we don’t plan to feed it to anyone else.
Being in the Army and a Soldier who’s away from my family half of every year means, Christmas is a time of catching up. We don’t mind if the boys make a mess. We’ll clean up. We don’t care if they get too tired and whine a lot. We’ll tolerate it and get to bed early. Heck I have PT at 0630 in the morning anyway. Christmas is fun and nothing is gonna spoil it.
Zsolti got the race-car he wanted. He was soooooo funny when he woke us up this morning. “Daddy, you gotta see this. You gotta see this!” He got just what he wanted. Of course he did. Tunde PsyOped him into wanting exactly what Santa was going to bring him. My wife’s got SKILLZ. Gabor was happy as snot about everything. Lots of sweets. Lotsa toys. Nothing else matters.
Well, it has come almost as slowly as Christmas but it is here – the deadline for application packets to the Soldier Show. We’ll be presenting a lot of great talent to the selection board in January. Everyone keep your fingers crossed!
Hahaha! I love coins from 3-stars!!! LTG Mike Ferriter congratulated the crew of Operation Rising Star for a job well done for the 9th annual Army-family singing competition. This international production was a success because of a bunch of Soldiers who aspire to rise above and stand strong as beacons of professionalism in an Army that you can trust to get the job done. They, with the help of some key civilians at Army Entertainment made the impossible happen this past week. On a shoestring budget, with almost no outside help (Thank you for your support AKO.) a professional production was broadcast around the globe for the morale of our Army Family.
It was such an honor to be a part of this year’s Operation Rising Star. I am proud to be associated with such a motivated group of Soldiers who really know how to get the job done. A production of this scale would have cost a fortune if done by civilians. Who needs ‘em? We did a professional job with professional Soldiers! We rocked it!!!
The contestants were the top 12 army-family singers from garrisons around the world. They converged to battle it out at Ft Sam Houston, Texas for a grand prize of $1000 cash and a demo-recording package worth $18,000. Many thanks goes to Navy Federal Credit Union for sponsoring this annual competition. Without them it never would have happened.
Sgt. Drake DeLucca only had to introduce himself to get the crowd going at the Armed Forces Celebration Week’s Soldier Show.
“I’m not only the multimedia manager,” DeLucca said from the stage to a packed audience at the July 24th show at the Von Braun Center’s Concert Hall.
“I am a fellow Alabamian! Roll Tide!”
And with that, he got a roar from the crowd like no other…
This was the most incredible article I think anyone has ever written about me and our Show. I really appreciate all our peeps in Huntsville and around the Redstone Arsenal area. They are the greatest!
A Professional Production, Like No Other
There is nothing like working with Army Entertainment.We have been in production for the finals of Operation Rising Star. Every year around the globe, garrisons hold singing competitions. Every year in December, the finals take place in San Antonio at Ft Sam Houston. Amazingly, the Soldiers at Army Entertainment, with the guidance of a few very gifted civilian staff, produce an incredibly professional broadcast production, similar to what you might see on one of the major channels. I am so proud to have been a part of the excitement this year. Tune in to http://oprisingstar.com/ to watch the unfolding of the winner. The talent from our Army Family was extraordinary. The online voter turnout totaled near 130,ooo. I won’t tell you who the winner is because I have sworn not to tell. Go to oprisingstar.com to see for yourself.
Genienne Samuels is our spokes model. I was on the tele-prompt. The judges were some of the best in the industry – internationally renowned country artist Michael Peterson, Debra Byrd from the Voice and Idol and the 12th SGM of the Army Jack Tilley. Together with our online voting audience, we have a new Rising Star. What a blast we had!
I literally see hundreds of videos every year of Soldiers who would absolutely love to be in the US Army Soldier Show. I am always amazed at how many Soldiers have some tremendous talent that they’ve been using to lift morale in whatever unit they happen to be assigned to. Soldiers are such a romantic lot. I guess it takes an idealistic mindset that would send a soul running through hell and high water for nothing more than an idea – a way of life.
That being said, sometimes our Soldiers are still a bit rough around the edges. Often the videos we receive just don’t do their talent justice. So in case you were wondering if your video measures up… here are some do’s and don’ts to help you produce a nice simple video that compliments instead of distracts from your talent.
Common Video Submission Mistakes and Tips
- Denying your true talent – SPC Grainger in this video, thinks he is a serious singer but doesn’t respect his own great dancing ability. On the other hand, if you sell yourself as a dancer but are too timid to sing even though you can, you are denying your gift. Ask your peers and mentors their opinions. Maybe your perception is skewed because you can only see your flipped image in a mirror from one single direction.
- Poor Lighting – Make sure you are well lit but not washed out. The most common mistake is too much back-lighting. I literally have videos of silhouettes. The only features I can see are the whites of their eyes and their teeth. Who is that? I don’t know.
- Rejecting your audience – Don’t state who you are with confidence and then turn away and timidly sing to the corner of the room for your entire song. Likewise, don’t close your eyes and block me out. If you need to communicate something to me, you better acknowledge my presence, stand strong and sing TO me. I may be on the other side of that camera, but you need to be singing TO me, not just in my presence.
- Poor wardrobe choices – Wear something that compliments you. Don’t do your video in your PTs or with a silly cap on. In addition, we are fit, healthy Soldiers who look sexy naturally. If you distract the eye with your skimpy, blatant sexuality, it WILL detract from your performance.
- Not enough variety – If you do three songs that are similar in rhythm and style and mood you demonstrate your inability to adapt to new situations. That is definitely not an Army mentality.
- No musical track – Acapella songs are great, but if your submission includes no songs with accompaniment track, how do we know you can match pitch and sing in tempo?
- No solo footage – It’s wonderful to see someone who HAS and CAN work well in a group, but how will we know which performer is you? What if someone else completely outshines you? What if I call you to find out who that other person is on your video?
- Audio distortion – We know you are professional Soldiers and not professional entertainers, but have a little pride in your talent. Often we have adequate auditions done on high-end phones, but they better be in a proper setting. (see the notes above on poor lighting) If you are in a small room, too close to the mic and the sound is distorting, then you will annoy the listeners instead of entertaining them. We’ll skip to the next video.
- Obscure song choice – Hearing a familiar song is like seeing an old friend. An audition is your one opportunity to grab your audiences attention. You don’t have time to introduce them to a new song. Grab them with something they will recognize quickly so you can jump straight into the good part of the song immediately without the set-up.
- Have fun! – visualize being in a low-stress environment where you wouldn’t care so much if you make small technical mistakes. I see auditions where people are so nervous that I feel nervous as well. Is that how you want to make your audience feel?
- Be yourself – Don’t try to be someone that you are not. It’s one thing to alter your state of mind and walk a mile in another man’s shoes, but if you’re trying to “act”, look, sound or be some other entertainer, you better be unbelievably believable or no one will trust you.
- Rehearse at performance level – There is a time to break things down “Barney style” for technical skill. but once you know a song, practice at performance level. Imagine yourself in front of 10,000 people. When you get the chance to actually perform in that setting you want to definitely be prepared for that situation. So do the Soldier thing – train like we fight.
- Leave them wanting more - Often we have video in excess of 10 minutes for a single talent. When was the last time you sat and watched an info-mercial? When was the last time you had a marathon viewing of dozens of info-mercials, one right after the other? Have pity on our selection board; edit your videos. Show only what you want them to see. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Over and out.
- Be a story-teller – You are a leader. You are in front of people to convey some message, moral or story. Communicate with them. Be “IN” the situation that you are conveying so they can simply empathize with you. Don’t “try” to “feel” it. For instance, the National Anthem. Remember how you felt when you peered between the cell bars that early morning and saw, by the light of the bombs bursting in air, your beautiful, tattered flag still waving? If you cannot remember that moment, sing something else.