Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter update

No real update to add right now as I'm currently on vacation in Arizona right now until the end of the year. I haven't been doing very much which has allowed my mind to wander when thinking about various things including future plans and what the next year will bring. I'll be traveling to Los Angeles again in the first week of January for ALA to do the usual cosplay filming. Going back to the idea of having a lot of free time to think--prominent cosplay YouTube videographer, AcksonL, has been having a lot of issues with the sound in his videos being muted due to copyright infringement. This is kind of a big deal in that a lot of work goes into producing these videos which are oftentimes created and designed with a very specific song in mind. When the audio at some point later gets muted, that becomes a pretty big motivation killer. Next year I want to branch out and produce some video shorts, still currently thinking about what niche I plan to fill though and how that will impact shooting cosplay.

Monday, December 12, 2011

SC2 Spectre Cosplay: Legs 6

The legs are proving to be a ton of work and it almost feels like nothing is really becoming of all the effort that I've spent on them.  The two legs are currently in different states of finish and in the latest picture it's really apparent how dissimilar they are which is pretty annoying.  I don't think I'll be able to get the leg on the right perfect without having to completely remake it--and there's no time for that with so many other pieces left to make.  I picked up a little trial size of Apoxie Sculpt, and used it to build up some raised edges on the model.  I must say that Apoxie is a pretty amazing material to work with and the kneading process you have to do at the beginning is quite therapeutic and feels great.  The cure time is a bit long (24hrs) but that's the price that must be paid I suppose.

I also started work on the shoes or boots by splitting the pepakura model and integrating the pieces with an old pair of dress shoes I had lying around.  The fitment was surprisingly good.  The only issue or concern is that the bit at the rear sticks out a good inch or so at the top and might make it look like im wearing clown shoes--but it might just be a matter of perspective at this point.  I need to decide how to fill the gap in the center of the two pieces by deciding whether to use something flexible or jointed to allow the toes to bend or just rigidizing the piece to a uniform / fixed model with fiberglass.  I'm pretty excited to see how these will turn out.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

SC2 Spectre Cosplay: Legs 5

Sanding and bondo work continued... One of the legs (on the left in the pic) seems to be coming along nicely while the other (the imperfect / warped) one is a major hassle. Because the pepakura model consists of low-polygon count design and the unit in the game isn't perfectly smooth (aside from the portrait) it's hard to determine how smooth to make the legs--that is whether to keep the appearance of sharper edges or to round everything off smoothly. I think I'm going to try and keep the front somewhat sharp and try and smooth out the back. It's taking a lot of body filler though, already went through a small tub of it. Might have to pick up a large gallon size portion for future pieces too.

Still a bit of work left to do on the legs but making slow forward progress I think.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

SC2 Spectre Cosplay: Legs 4

Spend a good part of the afternoon sanding down the legs, got most of one leg shaved and a small portion of the other.  While sanding the second leg I noticed more and more the quality discrepancy between the two, the second leg is 10000x inferior it's almost as if the model is warped.  It's a little disappointing but I'm going to try and make the best of it--hoping more bondo and more sanding will help alleviate the problem slightly.

Sanding down the bondo is a pretty time consuming and nasty process, a respirator and other personal protective equipment is definitely mandatory.  After working on the first leg I was covered in dust and swept up 1-2 cupfuls of fine powder.  The first leg isn't perfect and there's a lot of divots and imperfections in the surface.  I think I'll need to pickup some Apoxie sculpt which is like an epoxy clay to fill in areas, reinforce the leg openings, and build up the edges of sharp surfaces.

Hopefully I'll get to spend some more time working on the second leg tomorrow.  Bondo sands somewhat easily but requires a lot of patience when cutting through thick areas.  I found that rough bondo surfaces destroyed my 80 grit sandpaper pretty fast.  Bondo placement should be deliberate and precise to avoid / reduce headaches later.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

SC2 Spectre Cosplay: Legs 3

Worked on the legs a little bit, tiny progress--sanded the insides of the legs to remove the fiberglass jaggies and scuffed the outer suface of the legs to prep for bondo.  I picked up the 3M "bondo" variant which is technically called "body filler" as bondo is the name of the company from which the material name is attributed.  I was reminded just how foul the stuff smells due to raw styrene monomer present in the material--it's just horrid.  Thankfully much of the smell dissipates after the material is cured.  One thing I don't really like about the 3M body filler is that the hardener isn't a profoundly different color from the "resin."  One is gray and the other is white so when mixing the two it's pretty much impossible to tell if the material is thoroughly mixed like you can with standard bondo.  The 3M variety does cure to a nice light-gray solid though.

I coated the legs entirely with body filler and tried to contour the surfaces as best as I could in an attempt to minimize sanding time.  It was probably a futile attempt.  I also discovered / encountered a bit of a problem with the legs--after laying up the body filler I tried to "put on" the legs... but they don't fit!!  My foot can't squeeze through the opening now that the model is entirely rigid.  I'll have to improvise a solution eventually.  Cutting a slat in the back of the legs that goes through the entirety of the model or at least partially is one idea that came to mind--the slat can be re-affixed with some kind of latching mechanism and shouldn't detract from the look too much.  Tons and tons of painful sanding is foreseeable in the immediate future. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Root beer quest

Was delighted to find this on my desk today when coming into work.  There's some good people that I work with, it brings a tear to the eye :'D.  

I guess I'm a little bit of a root beer connoisseur (or try to be) and like to pick up / try all sorts of varieties so I suppose one of my coworker friends decided to help me on my "quest."  One my current favorites right now is Natural Brew, it has a nice complex taste that's quite different from your run-of-the-mill "chemicals and soda water" root beer.  I'm looking forward to trying this one!

Edit: it's pretty good, very similar to Natural Brew, has a good complexity, slightly more apparent carbonation, it would be a hard pick to decide from the two.

SC2 Spectre Cosplay: Legs 2

Last week I ordered some Epoxamite from Smooth-On to use in stiffening up the papercraft model of the Spectre legs I constructed. There were 3 different hardeners to choose from when buying the epoxy resin (101, 102, and 103). I ordered 102 which is a medium cure-time epoxy and found that the cure time is quite long. Next time I'd get the 101 to speed things up. Basically have to leave the material to cure overnight and then some with the 102.

Coated / laminated the outside of the pep model with a thin layer of Epoxamite and waited a day for it to cure. The rigidity of the model after the coating left a lot to be desired (card stock at large scales is pretty weaksauce flimsy) and the model was still flexible. So I separated the shin bit of the model from the boot bit and cut up some tight-weave (what I had on hand) fiberglass cloth and coated the insides w/ fiberglass. A day later and the rigidity is now at an acceptable level. Next steps will be to trim excess fiberglass and smoothen the inside of the model as the fiberglass is pretty sharp and rough / jagged.

The boot looks pretty hideous by itself. I'll need to make an incision and splice a few inches of length to the final segment so I can meld it to a pair of dress shoes I have laying around. I'm not yet sure how I'm planning to work with the shoes because if there's no flexibility in the model during walking in the toe area, the model will fracture / separate from itself or walking will look incredibly awkward.

Monday, November 7, 2011

SC2 Spectre Cosplay: Legs 1

Spent a good part of this evening working on completing the other (left) leg armor pepakura piece for the Spectre cosplay.  The new piece looks like its of a little better quality than the one I did previously as a result of becoming more skilled at building pepakura models.  Hopefully this won't make any difference after "finishing" the pieces.

Since I constructed these pieces from card-stock paper it's a bit flimsy--so in order to add rigidity to the models the next step will be to do a fiberglass layup.  A lot of people seem to be able to get away with skipping fiberglass and just coating the model with fiberglass resin (essentially epoxy) to add a clear rigid coating to the material.  The downside to using resin alone is the end product may be a bit brittle and not quite as rigid as it would be after doing a proper fiberglass layup.  Downsides to the layup are time and mess due to the hassles involved with having to sand fiberglass.  I have a bit of fiberglass cloth laying around so that's the tentative plan.  Hopefully will be doing that step shortly.

Monday, October 31, 2011

SC2 Spectre cosplay update

Worked with the Spectre boot / shoe model a bit by isolating the mesh and playing around with it in Pepakura.  I measured out my leg and scaled the model accordingly, I noticed that the model of the boot itself is a little on the small side but the height seems to be fairly good.  Printed the pep files for one side (right leg) onto 110lb card stock, cut out the pieces, and taped everything together.

The sizing issue was confirmed in that the boot is quite small--I want to be able to mask over a real shoe with the finished pep piece so I'll have to splice a few inches of length into the piece later on.  The model otherwise seems to be pretty nice.  It's a single unit as it stands and therefore doesn't have any articulation in the ankle at all.  I plan to separate the shoe section from the shin bit so that I can hopefully walk freely.  There is some concern in that during walking, as the ankle rotates, the 2 pieces might grind into each other and destroy themselves.  Hopefully everything will mesh well enough that there won't be a problem, we'll see.

I'll have to make the other leg and then add fiberglass to stiffen up the piece and go from there.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cosplay update and other things

Everything seemed to transition to Fall almost overnight... School is back in session, the weather turned cold, rainy, and terrible, leaves are falling, and the skies are perpetually dark.  Been pretty busy working and trying to find a job.  I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and have a tentative graduation date set for mid March.  I hope to land a job in the meantime.

I sent a few dimensions of my arms and some Spectre 3D models to my bff and he sent me some pepakura files for the arm armor of the Spectre cosplay scaled to my requirements (to fit my arms).  I printed out the unwrapped models and spent a while cutting and folding to build the framework for the armor.  However, while I kind of noticed this when I printed the sheets, there appears to be a "small" size descrepancy with the pepakura model and the size of my arms.  I finished building the pepakura model regardless and took a few pics.  Hopefully we can sort out the scaling issue and have properly fitted arms shortly.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cosplay Project: Starcraft 2 Spectre (Spectreprops)

I've kept it a bit of a secret up till now but me an my bff are doing a cosplay collaboration.  The cosplay is of a Starcraft 2 unit, one of the coolest if not the coolest unit among the Terran arsenal, the Spectre.  The plan is pretty intensive and we were a bit more ambitious than we could realistically achieve for a  first time project so we've simplified some aspects of the project.  However, we are both extremely detail oriented so everything should be top-notch in terms of quality and realism. 

My bff is currently working on a key feature of the cosplay, the helmet.  He's making great progress on it and it's really starting to take shape right now.  The spectre design is pretty cool as most of the armor components integrate with each other, ie: the tubing connecting the helmet to the chest armor.  Progress can be seen at Spectreprops, be sure to follow his blog to receive email notification of updates. 

The Spectre armor incorporates lots of cool lighting elements so I'm excited to integrate these into the design as cool lighting makes everything infinitely better.  A few YouTube videos are below to get a better look at the Spectre itself:

And a full body shot showing the lighting that "courses" through the armor and clothing.  It should be fun.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ridiculous Pug Video

Spent a bit of last Saturday out at a dog park with some friends as they wanted me to shoot some video of their dog doing "dog stuff" or should I instead say their pug doing "pug stuff."  Hopefully this video won't be the black sheep of my YouTube channel, we'll see--it's a bit ridiculous.

On another note, I want to try and move forward with my cosplay project so hopefully there will be some new posts about that coming up in the future.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

PAX 2011 (DD) - 02

Just got back from Denver last night for some job-hunt / job-related activities.  I'll be sure to keep posted if there's some progress with that regard.  Hopefully the stress will start to go away now that some of the pressure is over.  However, I have to fly out to Michigan sometime next month so the stress will probably kick in all over again.

Last video from PAX is posted below:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

PAX 2011 (DD) - 01

Spent a bit of today at PAX again.  Saturday definitely was much more energized than Friday; the place was pretty packed, the number of cosplayers was still low but much better than yesterday, still a cool event as usual.  I picked up a couple derpy swag items before I left for the day too.

Aiming to release 2 videos for PAX, editing is quite difficult for some reason.  Tomorrow I'll be flying out early in the morning for work-related stuff.  Feeling really busy and stressed lately because of it.  Hopefully next week is much better.

First release is below (second vid will probably be out on Tuesday):

Friday, August 26, 2011

Penny Arcade Expo (PAX Prime) is now!

Today was the first day of the Penny Arcade Expo, otherwise known as PAX (Prime).  The event is essentially like a smaller (?) version of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) while being catered to gamers and normal people as opposed to industry and media.

This was my first time attending PAX and I wasn't sure what to expect.  My original intention or purpose for going to PAX was to film cosplayers as PAX is a gaming convention as opposed to an anime / Japanese entertainment convention--so I was hoping to catch some sweet video game cosplays...  I knew that PAX wasn't a cosplay event but given an attendance of 60-70,000 people I figured that there should statistically be a reasonable number of cosplayers to feature... NOPE.  A massive cosplay drought was detected.  Given that I can't really release a video featuring as few as 3 cosplayers it looks like I'll be doing an event montage as opposed to a cosplayer montage. It's hard to pass judgement right now, perhaps all the cosplayers are waiting to make a big debut tomorrow, I'll find out then.

Aside from the shortage of cosplayers, PAX is a pretty cool convention.  If you go with a friend and play tons of new unreleased games you're sure to have a blast.  The developer booths in the exhibition halls are really awesome with lots of gigantic statues, display screens, and fancy lighting.  As I mentioned previously, it's an event for gamers, nearly every booth at PAX has playable games with tons of slots and there's tons of free stuff to be grabbed as well.  I attended the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) last summer and PAX is by far a much more entertaining event (again industry vs gamer).  You could go to TGS and you would be fortunate to get to play more than 1 game.  At PAX the lines were reasonable and many booths had open spaces to play.

I'll probably release whatever splicing of footage I manage to capture tomorrow evening sometime--stay tuned!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

XDC - Seattle

Just got back from doing media work at the XDC Seattle drift event.  All in all it went ok, it was a bit disappointing to find out that media people could only be in 2 areas of the track, either by the starting area or off to the side by a hill.  No media personnel were actually allowed on the course.  Basically what this meant is that the "grandstands" spectator area pretty much offered a better view that what the media people had access to on the track.  I was running an ultra-wide angle lens so pretty much all the shots I took are unacceptable. 

There were a lot of guys out there doing video so it should be interesting to see what they come up with.  I don't plan on doing anything too fancy in terms of editing so should be fairly quick and dirty.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Next Week: XDC

Recently I heard that the Xtreme Drift Circuit (XDC) is having their first PacNW event at Pacific Grand Prix (PGP) next week.  I'm not all that familiar with XDC though from what I understand, it is sort of like Formula D except at a much more accessible competitive level to grassroots / amateur drifters--people like you and me.  I initially hadn't planned on attending this event, however, I applied for a media pass on a whim and it was granted.  So I'll be representing next Saturday with some video coverage.

It'll be my first motorsports / drifting video, which I'm somewhat excited about.  My only apprehension is that when you've seen one drift video it's like you've seen them all as far as content goes.  So I guess my goal is to try and make a video that's hopefully not very monotonous.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Formula Drift: Evergreen Speedway, Seattle (ver. 2011)

Spent most of the day hanging out with a friend at Evergreen speedway today for the main event of the Formula D Round 5 series in Monroe, Washington.  I was able to watch pretty much the entire Top 32 battle which went from 3pm to after 8:30pm with a 2 hour break thrown in there.  The event was PACKED this year, likely due to nice weather we had today.  Clear blue skies with a high in the 70s, it was pretty great weather-wise. 

Then I picked up an acute case of nasty allergies from something in the air and was sneeze city for the entire day.

There's not really much else to say about the event.  I might be getting a little jaded toward competitive drifting as I get older.  Maybe my tastes are changing or I'm just sad that I'll never be competitive without spending an exorbitant amount of time and money for little gain.  Sure it's a fun sport, but is it thousands of dollars per week--fun?  I don't know.

Anyway, onto the pics:

A shot of the starting grid where the two battling drifters get ready to lay down the throttle.

Some crew members, friends, or family scoping things out from high up.

A vibrant Toyota Corolla in the Megan Racing stables.

More crew and driver gatherings at high places.

NOS energy drink girls helping to sell more product.

PACKED grandstands and ground levels.

A wide-angle shot of the track with spectators wanting a personal view of the action.

Matt Powers and Charles Ng battling on the main bank.

Drifting doesn't come cheap for anyone... some more than others.

The top 16 drivers getting ready to line up for their main event driver introductions.

Fredric Aasbo in the Scion tC and Dean Kearney in the hot viper.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cosplay Project Teaser 01

So some of the lights used for the cosplay project I have planned have arrived and they're AWESOME, a teaser is below.  More to come later...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer update

Not much has been going on since the end of AX about 2 weeks ago other than working in the lab and wanting to make more videos.  Next weekend, Round 5 of the Formula D series comes into town at Evergreen Speedway which is always a good time.  Not really sure if I want to make a video out of that event as filming is hard work and I kinda rather go to a drift event and feel laid back and relaxed rather than constantly scoping out potential video shots / talent.
In other news, after filming lots of different cosplayers and immersing myself in cosplay culture, I've decided to try dabbling into the art a little myself.  The only problem is that I don't really mess around when it comes to these sorts of things so hopefully I won't be in over my head.  My bff on the other side of the country will be helping me in collaborating the construction and design.  He's pretty detail oriented like I am so I think it'll be a fun project.  We're planning to start very soon and details including what the cosplay is of (teaser logo above) and updates related to the build will be released shortly.  Also, because I mainly shoot video at events It raises the problem of how I'll be able to both continue to acquire footage and cosplay at the same time.  These issues will have to be addressed at a later time.  Stay tuned...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Anime Expo 2011 Cosplay Video - 04

This is the last video I have planned for AX 2011, it was a fun experience and I enjoyed working with all the different cosplayers featured in the videos. Hopefully I'll be able to make more videos in the future.

Anime Expo 2011 Cosplay Video - 03

Next to last, sadly:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Anime Expo 2011 Cosplay Video - 02

Not much to say about this one, check it out:

Probably 1-2 more videos for AX left to upload.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Anime Expo 2011 Cosplay Video - 01

Spent pretty much the entire day editing way too many video clips... I took waaaay too much video, but I can't really complain I guess. It means I can be more selective with my footage although it also means sifting through all the clips will takes ages longer and is harder to figure out which bits to use.

It took a loooong time but I finally finished my first cosplay montage video for Anime Expo 2011, it was fun to make and I incorporated a few ideas that I had written down a while back. I'll probably be releasing a couple more videos later on, hopefully they will all be good. Check out number 1 below:

Edit: I messed up the framerate with a couple clips in the video so I had to fix and re-upload the file unfortunately.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mikunopolis 2011 Concert Video

Here's a sampling of the Mikunopolis concert experience made with clips from the first 6 songs:

My favorite is Clover♣Club at 8:47 in.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hatsune Miku in Los Angeles, USA: Mikunopolis

Here are a few photos I had the pleasure of taking at the Mikunopolis concert at the Nokia Theater in downtown LA. We were allowed to film only the first 6 songs of the concert but were able to take pictures from our seats afterward. So the actual "concert in progress" shots are from after the first 6 songs were sung.

Taken from the press seating area up (another press seating area can be seen in the middle at the top), Hatsune Miku fans start to stream into their seats in anticipation.

The twins Len and Rin give a duet performance.

Followed by a strong performance by Luka.

Miku as seen from the large TVs on the sides of the theater.

Miku in saihate attire.

What it looks like when Miku changes outfits going into the next song(s).

Concert ends, hopefully Miku will be back next year. The video footage I took from the concert will hopefully be up later tonight.