Tuesday 31 May 2011

Random Shoes

No relation to the Torchwood episode of the same name.  I just couldn't be bothered to think up a clever title for another anthology post.

1) A painting that I somehow ended up not posting when I first did it:

#00A: Another Day

Yes, that serial number is in hexadecimal.  Because I can.  Interpret that fact (and the rest of the painting, for that matter) as you will.

On a related note, I've started painting the kingfisher, but it's not really worth uploading another photo yet as I've only done the sky so far.

2) CGI robots!  Another one.  I've had this idea at the back of my mind for a while, for a computer-animated short film about dolly mixtures, called Golden Cube.  A few months ago I finally managed to work out what was going on with the story (with some help from a friend at church), and then started experimenting with production design.  I re-used a load of elements from a previous CGI project which had fallen through, including the robot which was meant to be the main character, but the robot design just never looked right.  So over the weekend I decided to throw it out and start again from scratch, taking more than a little inspiration from Dyson vacuum cleaners in terms of the elemental geometry, the semi-exposed gubbins and the bold colour schemes.  Here's the latest render of the new droid (still WIP, I might add - the eye needs a lot more work, and the arm is mostly missing), along with a piccy of its spiritual predecessor, courtesy of the internets:

Ancestor on the left, Descendant on the right

There's probably a bit of WALL-E in there somewhere as well, but that's beside the point.

3) Arbitrary Stopframe still hasn't officially ended.  I've sort of got a plan for Episode 8, and I've had Odom the Grud sitting on my desk for about a month, in intermittent peril from marauding hamsters (I'm not sure if hamsters like the taste of plasticene, but I haven't left Odom within range for long enough to find out), waiting to film, but there are one or two little creative obstacles to be overcome first.  My apologies for the ridiculously long wait.

4) Cylinder and Miserable has its fifth anniversary a week on Thursday.  It's been half a decade (as close as makes no difference) since I started writing it.  And for once, it feels like it.  To be honest, it doesn't really feel like it was only yesterday, or any of that stuff.

I feel all old and decrepit now, saying things like that...

- The Colclough

Friday 20 May 2011

Fresh Air and Canvases

I mentioned back at the end of March that I had decided to alter my morning routine to include a walk.

Well, yesterday, as I was pootling along the bank of the River Blackwater on my self-imposed programme of perambulations, I was faced with a fork in the path.  The main path went off to the left, while the smaller one followed a meandering bit of the river off to the right.  More Direct vs. More Interesting?

I chose More Interesting, and shuffled off down the smaller path.

Turns out that was a good choice.

About half-way along More Interesting, there was a splosh noise, followed by a vivid-blue streak leaving the water and heading for a nearby branch.  The kingfisher was even decent enough to spend a couple of minutes just sitting on the branch, right where I could see him, before he headed off again.

So I decided to paint it.  Not a photographically-accurate, taxonomist-pleasing portrait, mind you, more an impressionist rendition of the moment of the dive.  I've had a 32" x 12" canvas under my bed since Christmas, when I was given it along with my brushes, acrylics and canvas 'doodle pad', and I've kept wondering which way up it should go, and what on earth to put on it - after all, 2.66666 : 1 is a pretty extreme aspect ratio.  But now I have a plan.  Rather than bothering to explain the plan in words, I'll just show you a photo of the canvas with the planned image sketched onto it:

Untitled Kingfisher Painting (work in progress)

I might even post a photo of the finished product eventually, if you're lucky B]

- The Colclough

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Which Fifty was Which?

Okay... it's been forever (translation: well over 3 months) since I made my 50th post on here, featuring "Fifty Facts and Fifty Fibs".  Exactly one person offered me their answers/guesses, and it doesn't look like anyone else is going to bother now, so I've decided to mark my 60th post on A White Horizon by supplying you all with the answers, however disinterested you may be in them.  Here goes...

  1. I was born in Southampton.  FALSE - Portsmouth, actually
  2. If you follow my dad’s-dad’s-dad etc line back far enough, one of them was a second cousin of Henry VIII.  FALSE
  3. I hold Australian dual citizenship.  TRUE
  4. I am the oldest of 5 siblings.  FALSE - there are only 4 of us
  5. I have a high-functioning autistic spectrum condition.  TRUE - we're talking Asperger's Syndrome or something similar
  6. I’ve always been single.  TRUE - and no wonder, what with me being so geeky and awkward and number-5-being-true-ish and all those other offputting traits and habits I've got
  7. I got dumped once, but it was a bit irrelevant because I didn’t know I was in a position to be dumped from.  TRUE
  8. My eyes are green.  FALSE - they're brown
  9. I need glasses because I’m long-sighted.  FALSE - I'm short-sighted
  10. I am a morning person.  VERY FALSE
  11. Breakfast, for me, is usually some sort of cereal with milk on it.  FALSEI always keep the cereal and milk strictly separated, and sometimes I even have toast instead
  12. I’ve got a random patch of hair on my lower back, and I’ve never been able to work out whether it’s meant to be there.  TRUE
  13. I’ve never had a filling, blood transfusion, broken bone, braces, piercing, tattoo, hangover, or basically anything.  TRUE - unless I had something when I was 2 or younger and nobody's ever told me about it
  14. I hate having anything tight around my neck.  TRUE - ties are a nightmare, and I will only wear them for weddings and funerals or under torture
  15. I am allergic to lavender.  FALSE
  16. I have an irrational phobia of spreadsheet software.  FALSE - I love spreadsheets
  17. My favourite colour is white.  TRUE
  18. I have three left feet.  FALSE - but I do have two of them, as I’m sure Hannah can confirm after a certain incident in Kent back in January…
  19. My first home was in Havant, near Portsmouth, but we moved to Bristol when I was 3 weeks old.  TRUE
  20. After leaving Havant, we lived in Bristol for six years.  FALSE - only five years
  21. One of my earliest memories is of getting scared to death by the unexplained presence of a small, stuffed E.T. toy in my bedroom when I was about 2 or 3.  TRUE
  22. One of my clearest memories from my early childhood in Bristol involves our old Peugeot 104 breaking down in the carpark exit at Asda.  FALSE - the Peugeot was real, and it did break down a lot, but the Asda incident is fictional
  23. During my three years in primary school, I earned notoriety for accidentally flooding the men’s room.  FALSE
  24. One of my oddest memories from primary school was when my class was taken to the staff room and fed turnips.  I can’t remember the reasons, just the vegetables.  TRUE
  25. I used to be an avid roller-skater.  FALSE
  26. I set fire to my hair once, I think when I was 7 or thereabouts.  FALSE
  27. I’ve lived in a hotel room for about three weeks.  TRUE
  28. I once had an ice-cream birthday cake which turned out to be sesame-seed flavour.  TRUE
  29. I’ve lived in Hong Kong for two years.  TRUE
  30. While living in Hong Kong, one of my most prized possessions was a two- or three-inch-long snail shell which I found in a gutter.  TRUE
  31. Throughout our stay in Hong Kong, we had to get a non-air-conditioned bus to and from church, because the bus operator never bothered putting any on that particular route, the lousy so-and-sos.  FALSE - they did start putting air-con buses on Route 85 about half-way through our stay
  32. I was forced to learn to touch-type when I was about 8 or 9.  I resented it a bit at the time, but I now find it extremely useful, so I’m retroactively grateful.  TRUE
  33. In my previous house, I had a playroom in the garage conversion.  FALSE - it was in the loft
  34. I once helped to fell a giant conifer which had been irreparably damaged by a storm.  FALSE - the tree was real, and got felled about 10 or 11 years ago, but I wasn’t involved
  35. I have been to France, Germany and Poland in the last ten years.  FALSE - I've never been to continental Europe
  36. I studied the piano (not sure whose idea it was) for a few years, but gave up after passing ABRSM Grade 4.  TRUE
  37. I was once in the same room as one of the guys who designed the basic audio-handling layer for the MPEG-2 video coding algorithms.  I didn’t get to speak to him, as I don’t know any Japanese, and the translators were busy.  FALSE
  38. I’ve been involved in three road accidents since passing my driving test in September 2007.  TRUE
  39. I only have a driving license for automatic cars.  FALSE - I currently drive an automatic (it’s Mum’s car, and she had a bad relationship with its predecessor’s clutch pedal), but I’ve got a full manual license
  40. I’ve had a week’s work experience with the BBC.  FALSE - it was with Sky
  41. I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Production.  FALSE - it's a Bachelor of Science degree
  42. The most expensive film I’ve been involved with was a final-year college project which cost just under £500.  FALSE - I was involved in two or three films that cost well over £500 each
  43. I spent all three of my final-year Media Production theory exams rambling on about Avatar, after having seen the film just once, and ended up getting a First in the module even though I hated it (the module, not the film).  TRUE
  44. I’ve been to five consecutive Root Hill camps, and have no intention of stopping if I can help it.  TRUE
  45. If I had to pick a favourite bit of the Bible, it’d probably be the last two chapters of Revelation.  TRUE
  46. The Screwtape Letters is one of my favourite pieces of literature ever.  TRUE
  47. I own four Rubik’s Cubes of different sizes, and can solve any of them within 10 minutes.  FALSE - I don't have a single Rubik's Cube, or the faintest idea how to solve one
  48. And I know the solution to a 2x4 Rubik’s Magic too.  TRUE
  49. I have met Ratatouille writer/director Brad Bird.  FALSE - I wish
  50. My favourite animated film is Kung Fu PandaFALSE - I'm not sure what my favourite is, but Ratatouille and WALL-E are strong contenders... and I've never seen Kung Fu Panda
  51. Shrek 2 is the only animated film which I’ve seen at the cinema more than once.  TRUE
  52. I have seen some episodes of The Simpsons, but never seen any FuturamaTRUE
  53. I have seen all 74 episodes of Doctor Who aired since the show restarted in 2005 (i.e. Rose onwards) at least once each, and several of them twice or more.  TRUE at the time of writing - they've aired 78 episodes now, and I've seen 77 of them, but I haven't seen The Doctor's Wife yet
  54. Continuing the point about Doctor Who: I can even remember who wrote each one.  sad, perhaps, but TRUE - and in many cases I can remember the director and/or producer as well
  55. The Lord of the Rings is the only multi-film series for which I’ve seen every instalment on the big screen.  FALSE - I've also seen all 3 Narnia films at the cinema
  56. I have all six Star Wars films on DVD.  TRUE
  57. I own exactly three films on Blu-ray: Inception, Up and How to Train Your DragonFALSE - at the time of writing I didn't own any films on Blu-ray, and as of now, I've got one (Avatar 3-disc collector's edition); haven't seen Inception
  58. The composer responsible for the greatest number of CDs in my collection is Howard Shore.  TRUE at the time of writing - I have 5 CDs of Shore's film soundtracks, but since my birthday in February I now also have 5 CDs each by Murray Gold (all of them Doctor Who scores) and by Karl Jenkins
  59. Continuing the point about CDs: the second is Lady Gaga.  EXTREMELY FALSE - if I had a Lady Gaga CD, I would see it as my moral duty to incinerate the thing and help purge the world of the ghastly mess that is pop music
  60. I am a fan of 3-D film technology, and one of my ambitions is to obtain a 3-D camera.  FALSE - 3-D cinema does nothing for me whatsoever, and I'd prefer a good 2-D camera any day
  61. I once made my own pair of 3-D glasses and used them to watch a DVD.  TRUE
  62. I went to the UK premiere of TRON: LegacyFALSE
  63. I have never used a computer with a Linux-based operating system.  FALSE - I briefly tried out a Ubuntu live CD on our usually-Windows-XP laptop... and I liked it
  64. When I was younger, I used to like building towns out of wooden blocks, cardboard boxes and Lego, and I’ve got photographic evidence to prove it.  TRUE - it was called LittleTown, and in its final incarnation it was a bit of a misnomer
  65. I used to have a model railway in the garage, but I gave up on it in the end because the board warped, the tracks kept getting stupidly dirty and the trains never ran very well.  TRUE
  66. Both of my current computers are iMacs.  FALSE - I dislike Apple in general and hate iMacs in particular
  67. I did some C++ programming once, but I’ve forgotten nearly all of it now.  TRUE
  68. I have dabbled in computer games programming in Visual Basic.  My biggest project was a Breakout clone.  TRUE
  69. I am proficient at coding web pages in PHP.  FALSE - I know HTML and CSS, but not PHP
  70. The bus I used to get to sixth form was so unreliable that I wrote a poem about its failings.  TRUE
  71. I have produced a series of small sculptural works from a broken Shloer bottle.  TRUE - the glass got smashed into little granules, placed in channels in a pre-fired bit of clay, re-fired and melted down
  72. I have built a 5 x 7 ft mosaic, using over 400 custom-designed and hand-crafted tiles.  improbable, maybe, but TRUE
  73. I sometimes like devising writing systems for the languages spoken in my fictional worlds, and in more recent years I’ve made a point of never giving them 26 letters.  Ossirow has 23, Dyngarria Eribit has 30 (well, sort of 29 and a half), and Grud Ballum has 24, 27, 38 or 41 depending how you interpret the system.  TRUE
  74. I have written nearly 2000 comic strip episodes, and the total is still climbing.  TRUE at the time of writing - the total has now passed 2000
  75. I can draw geometric stuff, and cartoon people, but I tend to fail epically if I ever try to draw a realistic picture of a human.  TRUE
  76. I’ve been known to draw something, and have absolutely no idea what it’s meant to be.  TRUE
  77. I have owned three camcorders.  FALSE - there've been about five in the family, but only the most recent one is actually my personal property
  78. One of my life ambitions is to make a big-budget film adaptation of The Pilgrim’s ProgressTRUE
  79. I have a vague, half-baked contingency plan in case I ever get invited to write for PrimevalFALSE
  80. I have a vague, half-baked contingency plan in case I ever get invited to write for Doctor WhoTRUE - but be ye warned: 'half-baked' is the operative phrase here
  81. My bedroom walls are yellow.  I chose the colour.  TRUE
  82. I love Marmite.  FALSE - Marmite is not edible.  Point blank.  People who eat it are ignoring basic physics.
  83. I once took six months to eat a Bounty bar.  TRUE - although I should point out that I spent most of the six months doing other stuff, with a bit of the Bounty bar at each end
  84. I dislike Creme Eggs as I find them too sweet.  FALSE - there's no such thing as 'too sweet', IMHO... well, not in terms of confectionery anyway
  85. Most of my favourite foods are French.  FALSE - they're mostly English (cooked breakfast, Staffordshire cheese and bacon oatcakes, etc) or Italian (pasta and pizza)
  86. Most of my socks are green or brown.  FALSE - they're various shades of navy, grey or black
  87. I dislike centaurs – not for any philosophical reason, just because their physiology is so badly thought out.  TRUE
  88. I have a basic first aid qualification.  FALSE
  89. I have eaten kangaroo.  TRUE - just a tiny little bit, in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Sydney Tower, when I was 9
  90. I go swimming two mornings per week.  FALSE - I don't even like swimming
  91. I like watching jellyfish.  FALSE - I find jellyfish creepy and disgusting - I think it's because of the see-through-ness and the pulsating-ness
  92. Guinea-pigs freak me out.  FALSE - I don't like them much, but they don't freak me out or anything like that
  93. My favourite town in the world is Exeter.  FALSE - it's a nice enough place, from what I've seen of it, but I don't have any special attachment to it
  94. I’ve got an old diary (started when I was 7 going on 8), whose cover features some remarkably well-preserved petals from my back-garden sunflower crop of 1995.  TRUE
  95. One of my friends is an Oscar-winning film composer.  FALSE - at least for the time being, but I wouldn't be too surprised if that changes a few years down the line
  96. I once got a 50p coin from Gibraltar in my change.  I’ve kept it ever since.  FALSE - it was a £1 coin
  97. I have an antique fibre-optic lamp, on indefinite loan from my Grandad.  TRUE
  98. I usually vote Labour.  FALSE - I've voted Tory, Lib Dem, UKIP and No in various different elections, but I always make a point of not voting Labour, after the hideous mess they made during the parliaments of 1997-2010
  99. I firmly believe that you are never too old for Lego.  TRUE
  100. This is my fiftieth blog post.  FALSE - it was my 50th post on A White Horizon, but there were 20-something posts on my previous blog at the now-defunct Tailcast

So there you go. The truth is out.

Were 100 questions just too much? Would I get more answers if I made it shorter next time? Just wondering.

- The Colclough