A SUDDEN BLOG POST: How I have Evolved.
“… and I said to myself in the reflection; if you think about it as a job, it will be.”
You live in the world you build, and sometimes – through whatever happenstance of intermingled data – that life becomes the world. In such cases, we all get to see where a person truly lives, even if we can’t see the whole of it. My approach to Real-Time VFX, which I in a slice of errant scribbles around this site have willfully documented when I could, was very flawed. A very few of you have come to be very helpful in my realization of this regard, some of which from super rare moments of reaching out. I thank you. Thank you for the left or right. Your selfless effort has honored me, and truly I can not thank you enough.
Recently I found it was deeper, and in some cases simpler, then I could have realized, and so I’m writing this here because of… here. What it’s for. Why I am here. How I was. How I am. Made so by such a subtle thing, that even when I saw glimmers of it, the whole of it was hard to discern. And I want to speak of it, as I again found myself making actions that we are all prone to, be it early on, or always; which will make more sense in a moment.
I have been reflecting on everything. This year is the third year I’ve been able to go to GDC, and I’ve been thinking back about both where I was then and where I am now. Reflecting on the honest realities of this job I so seek. I wanted it, I really did. I wanted it too much, with out knowing what I wanted. I wanted it, but in the wrong way. I wanted it, but I didn’t know where to start, which all feels so obvious now. So… I pointed my ambitions in a direction and just eyeballed it. For some reason though, this year I dug even deeper into the core of me. The old old foundations where a young self built the me of today with a fearless daring from a jubilation in all things. The finest white marble made tall. Learn History, Learn Art, Learn Math (in the right dosage), Learn Philosophy, Learn… whatever I could. Nothing, not even myself could stop me from learning then. …Man, it has been too long. These stones have been cold too long, sitting untouched in this dark. … You know why? You know what I’ve realized? What I’ve realized and later reaffirmed after requesting to speak of… The VFX Job Realities… to a senior peer? I knew I knew. All knew I knew.
I’m… scared. I’m scared scared scared scared scared. Filled not with dread but humanity.
It’s not a fight or flight thing, nor is it some wholly existential foreboding. I don’t even “feel” scared, yet it’s there. It’s been there the entire time, and I couldn’t see it, or perhaps I didn’t comprehend what I thought I saw. It’s like… why you can for now still always catch the flu or a cold; it’s just different enough where it passes through the checks. I …got… comfortable. Deeply comfortable in my fear. I was tricked by time. I didn’t know, and it had been building for a looooong while. Grown from every next fresh hope in topic, but only sprouting in dead flowers of black. The roots feasting in the silence given upon my dinky little “attempts” I did publish, where I saw not input, nor insult, but nothing. NOTHING. So I don’t post anything, because… why bother . In my state, accustomed to the warmth of the poison I had been sitting in, such things only worked to confirm and taint my fears. My mind fighting in between the longing of a dream made by a child, and a cold reality where the mind weighs on so called worth. A weaponized imagination, set on neither reason nor truth. A loud silence, allowing the mind to fill it with ill whispers.
Worst of all, I was fine. It was just another splinter, just another quirk of the mind and age. Like how sometimes when you go to bed because you are sleepy, your brain goes “Oh hey it’s time to sleep!” then goes on a 4 hour endurance run and drags you along. Just another quirk. Or is that just me? Eh… anyway…
In thinking about my fears, trying to find what brought me to such a point, I found it’s because I never thought nor considered in any realty but dreams that I’d get as far as I have. I’ve crossed into an unexpected territory of possibilities. If my young self could see all the skills I have to bear in this moment alone, he would be… well… would be a mixture of flabbergasted and excited honestly. Would ask me to make something and… hoo boy this is meta. Anyway, I never really comprehended I would hold so much actionable data and with reason. One of them; I thought it mortally impossible for me. My intake then had been slower then my peers (as far as I could tell) and I knew nothing of Art then. 3D, 2D, Realtime, Rendered. That is so much stuff alone without knowing the VFX Reality (which in these last two years I’ve learned and comprehended). And so this VFX thing that I stumbled into out of sheer curiosity of uncrossed & untouched territory was the impossible dream. In reflection, it didn’t even occur to me then that I had done the “impossible” to even get to that point, to even form that “impossible” dream in the first place! A flaw of context. That’s a story for another day. I thought I was never going to be able to do anything like this as a job, professionally. Still might not. Yes you read that right; I still… might… not.
In these last two years I’ve slowly realized as well that Realtime VFX in the capacity I sought is more then a job, it’s a life. If I go pro, this is a life with a direct singular (yet undeniably vast) intent, and I can’t just stroll in the garden. Do I want this as a job? Do I accept those realities? Or simply as a Hobby? What do I want? I don’t know. That scares me too. All of that scares me. Doing just one thing? Even if so vast I… If I knew I was going to live in good heath for two hundred years, then perhaps I wouldn’t be so amiss, but… that sure isn’t going to be the case.
Of what I do know though, I hate –with in reason– limitations. It’s why I’m even speaking (and writing in) full sentences. English may be my mother tongue, but it was never guaranteed for me. Despite third party assistance, I speak and write as I do in part because I grabbed a dictionary, sat down, and studied it to the objection of my mind. Both truth and metaphor. My mind objects more now, feisty bastard.
I’ve come to realize I’ve been limiting myself. Again, in my youth, I used to walk into my fear because I knew that often where my fear was, my greatest potential was too. It’s the very reason I became “I am who I am”. Also, to compound on all of this, psychologically these last two or so years, I’ve been dealt in the least with the heavy weighted blows that all of us must eventually face. Those we love, who helped make us, wrapped in a mortal coil. With the passing in some of those whom I’ve loved, I lost parts of myself – and been pretty stupid at times as well as a result. So with-all-of-this wrapped in one ugly radioactive package, I’ve not been myself.
I’ve not been my potential.
I’ve been asleep.
I don’t care if I get this as a job any more. I don’t care if this just becomes a fun hobby. All of this ambition shit just gets in the way, like a deadline I can never know but always forebodes doom should I miss. The dream was "never working a day", all along. To be payed well to play, learn, discover, and make. To live some visual poetry that I was happy to take. It wasn’t directly VFX or anything else, and in the harsh realities of society I lost sight of that in my ambition. To make, and with the best quality I can muster is the focus, and my aim distracted me from that. Thus, as far as I care if get a job -and a life- that brings me into my element as a result of all this, AWESOME! If not, it’s not a problem, still made the best stuff I could. Still found joy in the creation, in the zen of the craft. Still learning. Still making. If it turns out I don’t know something to that quality I seek, I’ll fix it so I can, best I can. That’s my focus, just as it was… in my youth. Just as it was that even got me to be here at all. The quality of my work in whatever I pursue, be it VFX or anything else that can effect a feeling or doing in atmosphere or impact. A love of ambiance.
I’ve said to myself what I already know. What I already have known; To focus on the quality of my work, and the rest will follow. There are still no guarantees, but what you make.
And of course I have to round this up with…
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. ~ W.E Henley
… Much like Halo, I’ve Evolved. Let’s see what one can figure out and do now.
TL;DR – My VFX Saga to this point. Reflections on things such as why I haven’t really been posting much (if you can really consider any?) VFX content, plus a bunch of really honest perspectives that are rarely(?) put onto the net. Ultimately I expect this to be very motivating to others because… I’m scared too.
Now let’s make.
The Evolve Concept
When you tell me make an Evolve effect, in essence, the first thing I’m going to think of it that you are asking me to make is a Morph effect. To create that effect, I think I would be using things like the procedural nature of Houdini (if I knew how) or morph targets to assist the creation of such an effect.
Yet for this months Official VFX Sketch, as far as I can tell what is being asked for is a state change, and the effects that sell that change. This intrigues me, as well as makes me go… I can’t do that. I don’t know how to do that.
SO! Here is what I’m planning to do, and figure out. I’ve always wanted to do something with the Epic Assets from Paragon. In particular, grab an animation and have effects occur that reflect the motions of such animation. Simply for the reference of the lot of you, I recommend giving Gideon, Kwang, Morigesh, Serath & Sevarog a look. These characters have a few animations that are very vivid casting animations, which as mentioned recently, is very low in supply.
Of those characters, after lots of analyzing and concepting on my part with so many of the animations, I’ve selected “Anim_Emote_Master_Levitate_T3” from the Character called Gideon as the starting animation, which will then transition to “Anim_LevelStart” from the Character called Sevarog.
In other words…
<Cheesy Dramatic 90’s Anime Music> FOOLS! YOU HAVEN’T BEATEN ME! THIS ISN’T EVEN MY FINAL FORM! <Constipated Screaming>
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA <Constipated Screaming/> Character off Screen: Oh. My Goodness. Look… he’s… CHANGEING! … (20 minutes later)…
AAAAAAAAAAAAAA… BUWAHAHAHAHA FOOLS! BEHOLD MY # FORM! <Cheesy Dramatic 90’s Anime Music/>
In otherwords it’s Pokémon, but with more screaming. Neat.
Oh, and one more thing… I’m not going to care about the deadline for this, which honestly is a rather refreshing thing to say outright. I don’t care about the badge thingy, I care about the effect. So if next months subject is cool too, which it probably will be, bummer.
This is done when it is done, not when the month ends.
Things I don’t know / Weaknesses / Potential Problems
Skill – As usual, I’m doing something that feels to me WAY over my head.
Pre-Existing Assets – I’m building off of assets with a set Pre-Set Shader Structure that will make some shader based effects a touch more work then I would like. May present interesting problems.
Blueprints – I only just recently got a foot hold on how this system “thinks”. How it works. I am still very new to blueprints, I expect a lot of my issues will be wanting to do something but not knowing the “Code Node” if you will, the password of what I need to search to find what I need. Or the process of connections. That said, what I intend to do for now with blueprints isn’t too complex – I just want to trigger the whole of my effect animation and all through…
Sequencer – I’ve never used this. I’ve used matinee a little, but not Sequencer. I don’t know how powerful this newer tool is. LEARNING!
GDC’19 – I’m not going to be able to progress on this effect while at GDC 2019.
Time … sort of. – This kind of rolls with the above, as what I have in mind VS what I know means I don’t know if I’ll “Finish” AKA Be Happy With within the month. That said, If I don’t – so what. This sucker is getting finished, as mentioned.
Life – Thus far, each time I’ve come back from GDC “with a plan” life has gone 0-110 REAL quick, and thus I’ve had to focus on other things. I… seriously… hope what has occurred doesn’t become a trend into this year, but if it does – I’ll disappear from this, and this will be unfinished. The exception to the rule.
Looking forward to the processs !
I wanted to post one more small update before we lolly gag about in marryment, or whatever it is we do at GDC. I forgot to mention, FLUID SIMS, which I have very little experience with. In this case from Blender v2.79, which I haven’t really ever used either, so I feel like a fish out of water right now. But… well, so it goes. LEARNING!
I leave this in anticipation of what I can make of it with a metric ton of tweaking (if I choose to use this result… I might still tweak some things).
Thank you. This concludes Update # 1.