Category: Filmmaking


With the parts in hand, it was time for me to write this love letter to the integrated circuit. I began by moving the included fan from the front of the case to the side so that A- its blue light would show up better and B- it would be closer to everything that actually generates heat (except the hard drives, but screw those guys).

Side fan

No, I did not let a girl attach it for me. What do you mean, “Those look like Ari’s hands?”

Case

There, all done. Oh wait, I forgot to put all the computer in it.

Next came the motherboard, or as no one but me calls it, the Nexus of Power. Actually, even I don’t call it that, except I just did. Drat.

Bare motherboard

I liked the color scheme on this motherboard. Red, white, and ‘Murica.

Northbridge heatsink

Northbridge heatsink with enough aluminum to make a few 12-packs of Mt. Dew cans.

Southbridge heatsink

The southbridge never gets as much attention, or as cool of a heatsink, but hey, be thankful. Some southbridges don’t get heatsinks at all. Now eat your peas.

Random heatsink

I don’t know what this is a heatsink for, but it’s the coolest. It’s between the processor and the ports on the back, so maybe it’s for all the USB/eSATA/ethernet components?

The processor tin was secured with a stick that I’m pretty sure could have patched a leaky dam.

Processor sticker

A dam, I say. This is a full minute’s work with good fingernails.

Open tin

*sound of soda can opening*

The processor went in easy peasy, ushering in a moment of reprieve…

Processor pins

All 942 pins are tiny little spires of silicon cocaine. I mean, that’s what I see. That’s what you see, right?

Thermal paste

Applying the teeny, tiny bit of thermal paste to the processor. I borrowed some aftermarket paste from my bro who just built a box of his own.

Then came the even more unexpectedly hard part: putting the heatsink and fan on. I thought it’d be a simple matter of sitting it on carefully and screwing it in.

I was so wrong.

Happy boy

This is my happy face, but it is also likely the expression the mad scientists at Zalman made when they invented such a byzantine way of securing a heatsink to a motherboard.

After several attempts (and hiring a Voodoo priest), we were able to attach the heatsink securely. The RAM, being the well-behaved child, didn’t give me any trouble, thereby securing its spot as the favorite kid.

Finished motherboard

“Suck it, I’m the favorite.” -RAM
“Yeah, well I’m more expensive.” -CPU
“I’m the best-looking.” -Heatsink/fan
“I’m biggest!” -Motherboard
“Hey, don’t make me come back there, or no one gets ice cream.” -Me

Next in were the power supply and graphics card. They also behaved, so I guess they’re also my favorite children. You can have more than one, right?

Power supply

“Yeah, but I’m still the ‘extreme’ one.”

Graphics card

Not a gamer’s dream, but it renders the $#&! out of Command & Conquer 3 at max settings. Also good for Cycles rendering engine in Blender. It’s somehow even faster at it than the aforementioned 8-core 4GHz processor, or at least was for one project I’ve done so far.

But wait, I have all this nice thermal paste left. What if I were to, say, put it on the graphics card’s GPU?

GPU heatsink removed

Yep, that comes off. Does this void the warranty? Probably.

GPU

The actual GPU: about the size of your thumb’s fingernail. Also pictured: all the hair and dust in my apartment magnetized to it like a cat to its owner when a dog is near.

Believe it or not, the aftermarket thermal paste DID actually decrease the temps by about 5 degrees Celcius. I didn’t test the processor with and without the paste like I did the graphics card, but I assume it produced similar gains over the stock stuff.

Last in were the hard drives. The SSD will handle the Windows and Ubuntu OSs, programs, and certain temp/working files (particularly for After Effects and Premiere).

Samsung 840

SSD: Solid State Domination. Not pictured: old, creaky, 300GB traditional hard drive.

Don’t forget the speakers. These were actually bought from Best Buy, since they were $10 cheaper there. And, you know, it’s right by where I work. I got them like half an hour after ordering them.

Speakers

Does anybody else think of these guys?

Subwoofer

“I just sit under the desk… waiting for my moment…”

With everything installed, it was time to cross my fingers and see if it would turn on.

POST

Yep!

A successful POST! Granted, it took me a few minutes to realize the power supply switch was in the “off” position before this happened, but hey, what’s the Internet for if not editing out the less awesome parts of our life and putting our best selves forth?

I actually copied the contents of the Windows 8 DVD onto a flash drive in advance and installed the whole thing from said flash drive. It actually speeds the process up quite a bit, especially when you, er, forgot where you put the DVD drive.

Windows 8 disc

And mailing the disc here is still faster than downloading the digital version on my Internet connection.

But again, editing! The Windows 8 process was, like the operating itself, markedly different than its predecessors, doing certain things automatically while asking to do certain customizations right off the bat.

Personalize

Remember Windows XP, when there were 3 choices?

Mouse movement

Why don’t you move your mouse into any corner!

And at last, I booted to a fully functional operating system. Some of the new…

Start screen

Behold that which wadded many a panty.

And plenty of the old and familiar…

Desktop

Behold that which some apparently aren’t aware is still a part of Windows 8.

Oh, don’t forget my pal, Ubuntu. GRUB didn’t install at first for whatever reason, but I put on my intimidating voice and it jumped right into action. Nah, I got help. Big thanks to rigved at Ubuntu forums for the answer in this thread.

The finished result is below.

Finished computer

And there was much rejoicing.

And with that, my work is done. Big thanks to Ari, who helped build it like a good nerd wife, and to our cats, who provided needed moral support.

Cats

MORUL SUPORT SHMORAL SUPORT. ALL DIS WURK AN CANT EBEN PLAY WIF DA PEWTER CABULZ.

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Behind the camera, things are perhaps less organized than you might have guessed. I’d like to do Behind the Scenes for my videos more often, but my first priority is making videos of ANY kind more often. Enjoy.

THE FLOOD

It’s a day late, and the behind-the-scenes still isn’t done, but nevertheless, here it is!

I’m not going to say much, other than Darren Aronofsky should watch his back.

Sexy And I'm Noah Promo

More Mario Models

I’ve had an increase in page views since the first post about the Mario short film, especially after posting renders of the models I’d made so far. But I can’t just leave you with those initial models, right? I have to give you…

More.

Agent Smith

No, that isn’t one. Just a reference to Agent Smith’s line in The Matrix Reloaded.

But this is one:

Thwomp

Thwomp now looks like something to be feared. This is a departure from what he looks like in the games, but I am going for a bit of gritty realism when possible.

Earth

My Earth image/animation now has clouds, an atmosphere, and appropriately acting specularity.

Goomba

Much more fleshed out and textured. I need to bring in the cheeks and give him eyebrows so he looks more angry and less bewildered.

Dark Star

Dark Star, an antagonist from the Mario and Luigi series for Game Boy Advance.

I’ll have at least two more posts with more models, but one will contain titles and the other animated things (all the titles are animated, so technically they’ll both be animations).

Mario Models

The only tangible work done so far on the Mario Bros. Trailer has been the 3D modeling (I don’t consider scripts tangible since I’d never show them to someone). Here are some work-in-progress pics of my work so far. Most will only be seen for a few seconds (or less) in the trailer, but that’s the nature of trailers, isn’t it?

Thwomp

Thwomp. I intend to make it a little more gritty/realistic, so instead of just a rocky texture, it’ll actually have random, jagged edges.

Star

Power Star! I have a cool effect in mind for the invincible Mario.

Pipe

A strange pipe appears in a utility closet.

Goomba

A lot more to be done on Goomba, but it’s a good start.

Earth

I’ll add clouds and an atmosphere (and, of course, animation) after this. So far, I’ve just gotten the texture applied (courtesy of NASA) and made it so only the water reflects light.

Bullet Bill

Bullet Bill. Easiest one to make, unsurprisingly. I made the eye texture in GIMP.

Bobomb

This was actually not created by me, but rather a guy at Blender-Models.com. Big thanks to him — he’ll be in the credits for sure (though I couldn’t find his name on the download page).

Expect more models and updated versions of these in the near future. Currently in the works: Dark Star, the F.L.U.D.D. device, Bowser, and several more! I’ve been spending a ton of time on this, and it is SO FUN. If you’re interested in 3D modeling, I highly recommend Blender. It’s free, open-source, and very well-supported. Andrew Price’s Blender tutorials at BlenderGuru.com are really great after you’ve played around with it for a bit.

The Mario Bros. Short Film

Guess what: I’m making a movie! That should be no surprise, as that’s kind of a hobby of mine, but this specific one is something you’ll recognize: the famous Mario Bros.!

Technically, it isn’t a “film.” It’s a faux trailer which will likely last 2-3 minutes. Also, I’m making it backwards.

No no, the final product won’t be backward. The production process itself is going backward. I’m starting by doing a large chunk of the 3D modeling and animation, then will film and record sound for the live-action shots, then will decide what order it all goes in. Makes sense, right? Well, the largest reason for that is that it may be a while before I find the right person to play Mario. I have a Luigi, a Toad, and a Princess Peach lined up (Bowser is animated, as you might have guessed), but since Mario is 50-70% of the screen time, I want to make sure he’s the right guy.

Expect a blog post with pictures (and maybe even video sneak peaks) of the CGI stuff in the next few days! It’ll be work-in-progress photos (Goombas missing eyes, etc.), but hey, that’s part of the fun.

Do

I lay in my bed the other night thinking about myself as a creative. I’d mostly been revisiting thoughts I’ve had over the past several months, particularly in reference to a semester where creative endeavors were constantly shunted aside. “How can I start any video projects when I’m bogged down with more assignments than I can handle?” “I’m barely making enough money to get by now. Shouldn’t I spend my time looking for a full-time job?” “I’m married… can I go out and do daring and crazy things if I have to devote time to my marriage?”

I’m under the impression that most people deal with this, and I don’t think my struggle stands out from anyone else. In fact, the thing that made me snap out of my doldrums on this particular night wasn’t a thought of anything creative at all, but perhaps the most mundane thing possible: cleaning the living room.

This living room has had it rough. The carpet was still wet from being shampooed when we started to move boxes, furniture, and everything else Ari had in her old apartment into it. After several hours and at least five trips using three different cars, we had all her things in, including our cat. The next morning, we left town for a Christmas vacation with her family, followed by a wedding. We returned two weeks later, married, and her giant SUV packed solid with MORE stuff. After about a week, we’d organized and put away enough thing in that living room to bring all of MY stuff over which had been sitting in a room above my brother’s garage for the previous three weeks. The living room was now as full as it could be and still have [some] space to walk through.

This mess of a living room was a constant reminder every time we walked through the door that we needed to organize more, get things in order, and make this place a home, dag nabbit. We hadn’t had anyone over, but we still had daily episodes of, “Oh, I need my sunscreen. What box is the sunscreen in? It’s white? Here, let me try to vault over this ridge to get to it…” Clearly, it needed to be done.

So I did. One day, while we were both reading, I simply walked into the living room and cleaned. I didn’t clean all of it. It was probably only 30% of total floor space in the room.

It was enough.

I lay in bed that night attacked by all those thoughts of things that might keep me from getting things done. More than that, I was plagued by what I’d already failed to do. I hadn’t written a blog post in… how long? I had two or three draft posts sitting there, unfinished. I had planned a short, but audacious short film and then decided against it a few days before due to lack of planning. I’d wanted to start vlogging, but had yet to produce a single one.

But that living room… that had been hard to start, too. In the end, there wasn’t any trick to make it happen. I just had to do it. And in that moment, I realized that I just needed to do a blog pots. A vlog. A video. Leave the heavily-planned short films for later when I have the details under my thumb. Leave launching my own blog at a non-wordpress.com web address for later when I already had a good thing going here at the free one. And vlogging? Well, that one doesn’t need to wait.

So now, here I am, blogging again and simultaneously working on a video (not a vlog or a short film, but it does involve a cat and a remote-controlled helicopter. Subscribe to my channel to be notified when it’s up). I don’t really have any idea how my future as a professional creative is going to work out, but I know that for now, I can do what I’ve been wanting to do without worrying about it not working out. ‘Cause hey, if I can get that living room clean, I can do anything.