Modding updates, workin’ on ST

My "Project Time" is working out really well so far. I have drafted storyboards for the first two scenes in Surviving Together and started the third. There are a total of 4 scenes. I’m finding it quite difficult to storyboard. It’s difficult to imagine characters in a setting, decide on camera angles, and have it all make sense. I’m also trying to reuse shots whenever possible to save time in the animation stage. Also I’m trying to avoid showing any characters walking because that’s difficult to animate. I want to get this first episode done. Then I can work on more challenging animation shots. Right now I’m being as conservative as possible. Once I have the boards together I’ll scan them all in and create an animatic to share with a few people to give me feedback. More updates to come.

I’ve spent some considerable time the past couple weeks reworking the tools the Moderators use at PaperDemon. We’ve been short staffed as of late and there have been a lot of submissions coming in. I figure if I can improve the tools to make it easier to mod and have it take less time, we can get more done with less staff. The tool uses a lot of nifty AJAX. I just learned XML and XSLT at a 1 day class at work and am trying to put it to good use. I have a php script that generates the XML file and an XSLT style sheet that states how the file should be formed. Then I use Sarissa to submit post data of my form, get the xml back from php, and then apply the style sheet to the data.

So far the only problem I’ve run into that I can’t solve is that it doesn’t work for some reason in IE 6. I haven’t tried it on 7 yet. Sarissa has trouble applying the XSLT on the XML for some reason. It  doesn’t make any sense because if I access the XML file directly and put in a line in there to use my XSLT file it outputs the formatted HTML correctly without any errors. Is this a problem with Sarissa? I tried searching the net but haven’t found a solution yet. Works just fine in Firefox.


2007 Reflections, 2008 Goals

I figure my first blog entry of the new year should be about reflecting back on the good times in 2007. Overall, I feel this was a pretty satisfying year. Particularly the second half of the year.

In the first half of the year I was going to school and interning at my company full time at the same time. Whenever I wasn’t at work I was working on an independent project for my senior class, the club website forShrunkenHeadMan. I completed almost everything that I set out to complete with that site. Then finished up a few more things in the summer.

In June 2007 I graduated from San Jose State University after 6 strait years of school there with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration/Animation. Then, I transitioned from an intern to a permanent employee at my company and its a great company too.

I took two weeks off to celebrate my graduation and spent a few days at Disneyland. [user284] and I met up in person for the first time at the Magic Kingdom. Mike, EvilbunnySlippers, and I had a blast there. It was cool to meet a good friend that I had known for so long through the internet in person for the first time. Mike and I intend to go every summer now. I hadn’t been there since I was like 10 years old and at that time I was too chicken to go on any of the roller coasters. Going as an adult the rides weren’t scary like the ones I’m used to now but they were some how more fun. I think its because of the themed aspect. Space Mountain was my favorite. I didn’t know much about it and was blown away by it. I had never been on anything like it before.


All of my free time from September and October I sacrificed to working on my Twilight Princess Link costume. I said that I was going to go back to it and make the chain-mail, boots, possibly another sword and other improvements. I haven’t worked on it since October but I’m thinking I might start working on it in February. My costume came out fantastic though I am not yet satisfied with the photos I have of it. Once my costume is completed I might hire a professional photographer to do some nice shots. I’d like to have the costume completed by Fanime but I’m not sure if that will happen. Depends on a lot of factors. Even though it’s incomplete, it doesn’t look incomplete. It’s at a stage where its good enough to wear to Halloween and Fanime and it is still my greatest cosplay achievement to date.


 This hasn’t been such a great year for the PaperDemonMedia’s website, but it has been a good past couple months for the PDM staff. In about November we started to commit to working on our new Anime Spoof show. We’ve been meeting at least once a week to brainstorm ideas, work out scripts, character designs, storyboards, and voicing. No one on the team cares too much about recording the final episode for ZMT so I’m afraid that it might never get done. But we are making a lot of progress on the new show. The first episode is 95% finished with voicing and storyboards. I’m about 90% done with theanimatic which I’ll have completed by the end of tonight. Tomorrow I will start working on backgrounds and animation. I’m not quite sure about the sprites for the main characters. I want to make some more changes because they aren’t perfect yet but part of me thinks I should just move forward. I am going to make lots of these throughout the course of the season and I don’t have to commit to the same sprites the whole show. So I think I’ll just go with it. It’s not likeZMT where each character only has one body and 3 or 4 mouths. This show each character will have different symbols for different angles. I only have two characters drawn out so far in illustrator.

It’s kind of funny. It used to be that I couldn’t draw in Illustrator for crap and I used Flash for all of my vector drawings. But now that I’ve been using Illustrator so much at work I can’t even do any vectors in Flash and I much rather prefer Illustrator. So for all of the drawings in the new show they will be done in Illustrator and imported into Flash.

The PDM team decided that we were going to release our episodes for the new show in video format rather than flash format. I’ve been concerned that the Flash animation would get off sync with the sound. We had that problem withZMT at about the 5-7 minute mark and ZMT had the most basic of animation. Since this show is much more complex, I figured that I’d do each scene of an episode in a separate Flash movie. Then export it without the sound. Then bring together the voicing, music, and movie files into Adobe Premiere and use Premiere for all of the editing, transition effects, credits, etc. Doing these movies in video format will allow us to showcase the episodes onYoutube where we think we’ll probably have greater success than we did at Newgrounds. We may still post short clips at Newgrounds to include that audience but our focus will be Youtube.

Also its important to note that we decided that we are not going to start releasing the episodes until the first season is completed. As we are working on episodes for season two we will release episodes from season one. I predict that we will get around 6 episodes done per year. I could be wrong on that. It’s too early to tell at this point. The first episode obviously takes the longest to make because all the characters have to be drawn out and designed and sprited. We have not yet decided on a name for the show yet. As soon as we do a new section will be created on the PDM site for it. We’ll also have some finished footage by then and should be able to put together a nice trailer for it. Something far more fulfilling than the teaser for Surviving Together I’m sure.

Speaking of Surviving Together, I intend to return to that this year. The progress I’m making on the Anime Spoof show is great motivation to work on Surviving Together project. Since PDM staff are having regular meetings every week it will be easier for me to show them story boards and bounce around ideas for that project in between working on episodes for the Anime spoof show, though they are far more excited about the spoof show than Surviving Together. They are more into comedy, not romance.

This has also been a great year for In the summer we saw a lot of popular artists who were fed up with DeviantArt join PD and bring along all of their friends. Ever since then our site has been very active. Our traffic has been up to around 30,000 unique hits per month. We also upgraded to a better server because of memory issues and other problems possibly related to the traffic flow. I was very excited to see that we were finally starting to get back the kind of traffic that we had in early 2006. Some how once I started my job in summer 2006PD’s traffic went down the drain, perhaps because I wasn’t there as often to keep it going? I actually don’t know what happened.

But anyway, we got that nice boost in traffic. We had to recruit several more moderators to keep up with the pace. In November the moderators and I started to seriously fall behind in reviewing the artwork. Our "queue" was often above 100 entries. By mid December it reached over 300 artwork entries and we had to lower the submission limit from 15 per day to 8 per day. I didn’t really want to do it but I felt it was necessary because of how behind we were. Then within the past two weeks two new Junior Mods, [user52] and [user2462] started and helped the other moderators pound through the queue. At the time of the writing of this blog post, the queue forunreviewed artwork is at ZERO. Of course, now the Senior Mod queue is as high as its ever been with 148 entries. I’m going to give the Senior mods and I a chance to catch up before increasing the daily submission limit back to 15.

This hasn’t been a very big year for PD as far as site improvements and feature additions as compared to years past. Mostly because I’ve been very busy with work and now the new show. Also throughout September and October I was busy with my costume and didn’t work on PD much then. But we did do a few major improvements. One, we released the blog feature in time for Christmas, introduced a new menu system for browsing galleries in Art and Writing, created a new interface for selecting galleries in the members area, and the Comics section launched. We also changed the site design in April to a theme inspired by The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess. The design is my favorite design we’ve had so far and I have no intentions of changing it in 2008. Though I may feel different by the time April rolls around. Usually I try and update the design template at thebeginning of each year to keep things fresh looking. But I think I’d rather make changes to other parts of the site to make it fit better with the current design. There are still some areas that have things based on the design template from 2006 that need to be updated.

Which leads me to my focus for 2008. This year I would like to spend time refining the site, fixing the little things here and there that don’t match and are legacy code from back in the day. There are a lot of things that could use improvement. There are also things that were started and never completed, such as the Groups section. I’d like to finish up the feature and make it open so that anyone can create a group and create galleries for it. But in its current state its so incomplete that its virtually impossible for anyone to really run a group unless its me because it involves a lot of manual data entry in the database. The little bars that appear aboveevery one’s profile I think will probably end up being revamped (you know those things that show your avatar, username , and links to your art, writing, etc). I also want to make profile skins reflected across more areas of a user’s content. Like when you are viewing their gallery and writing submissions. But it means it will end up being more work to create new skins. Oh well I’ll figure something out. There are things in the members area that could be more user friendly as well that I intend to fix. In addition to that I want to improve the exportability of my code so that it can more easily be used for other projects. Page loading time is also of concern as it seems many of the pages are taking longer than they should to load, so benchmarking and improving speed are goals for me in 2008.

Drawing life

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I have done a few drawings lately. I find that pencil and paper still gives me the best line art for most of my personal art. I have a few entries that I still need to finish up and color. I’m glad to be back and drawing again.

Personal Life

So in my personal life, back in September I moved out of my Mom’s house and into an apartment with my boyfriend Mike. Things have been going pretty well. I’m learning to cook. Last night I made roast chicken for the first time, all by myself! And underneath the rack with the chicken was potatoes, carrots, and onions getting flavor from the chicken drippings. Oh my, it was delish! I wish I had taken pictures. Mike likes that I’m taking on some of the domestic duties. His mom is also a lot of help. She’s Italian and often gives me recipes and advice. Which works for me because Italian is my favorite type of food. I hate cleaning though so I let Mike handle a lot of those duties. If I cook, he has to do the dishes afterward. I think that’s pretty fair. I also handle all of the grocery shopping. We’re working it out.


My music stinks right now. I haven’t been playing piano lately and I’m starting to forget some of the songs I used to play all the time. It’s been like this for over a year now. I just sort of lost interest. I think its because I haven’t been trying to learn new music. I also wasn’t listening to new music.

So now I’m buying more music. I’m getting really into Kelly Sweet. My favorite song of hers is Giorno Dopo Giorno. I think I’ve listened to it like 10 times today. I can’t get it out of my head. I also recently got Sasha Lazard’s Myth of Red and I’m enjoying that quite a bit. I hope to record some new tunes by the end of this month. I’ll certainly be needing music for the new show and I’ve alsocommitted to working on an OCR project. So hopefully I’ll have some new music up on by March.


Maintaining progress

For those interested, there’s a new piano arrangement available in the Music section called Magi Homeland. Be sure to check it out. I’ll have more music posted soon within the coming weeks.

So at work we do these things called Snippets every week. It’s just basically a list you email out on Mondays showing what you accomplished last week and what’s on your plate for this week.

I like doing these snippets so much that now I maintain a personal active snippets page for keeping track of all of my personal projects such as, Zarbon’s Masterpiece Theater, and Surviving Together.

I’m working a second internship full time at Google again. And I convert to a permanent employee as soon as I have my degree, which will be sometime in May. It’s pretty sweet to have a job lined up for you right after finishing college.

But back to the snippets thing, I’ve tried so many different types of strategies to keep track of my work. I’ve tried planning things out on a calendar. That didn’t work because I didn’t like being held to a set schedule. I’d rather work on the projects I feel like working on when I want to. With the snippets thing, I can work on whatever I want to from my To Do list. I still have the flexibility to work with my moods but still get things done. I think this strategy will be the one that sticks.

I’ve started working on Surviving Together again. LavenderGoddessV has just finished posting a revamped version of part one of this awesome fan-fiction trilogy. I will be working from this new version to create my animated rendition of it. This means I’m back to square one on a lot of the project but that’s ok. I’m totally fine with starting over. I love the new version much better anyway. So I’m working on adapting the fanfiction to a screen play. I’ve already completed chapter 1, which wasn’t too hard. But other chapters will be more of a challenge because there are parts where the characters are describing key events in the past tense which means I’ll need to write dialog and other stuff to make all the events happen in present time.

I’ve finally gotten around to programming one of those images with numbers thingies that prevents spam. I’ll implement it soon on my blog so that I can reopen the comments feature. Look for that in the coming weeks.


I bought new music software!

Ok so I finally have the money to support my projects and one of the first things I bought was this midi music program called Reason. I heard about it from some members over at OC Remix.

It’s definitely a step up from my shitty Cakewalk program. Reason is so amazingly powerful. I can’t believe the quality of the songs that I’ve heard come out of this program.

But with power, comes complexity…

When I first got it and installed it I tried doing some simple stuff with it like taking some of my piano midis and putting a nicer piano sample on it but I was having trouble doing something as simple as that. o.O I found out about a Reason beginner’s workshop in San Fransisco and I signed up. The workshop was 6 hours long and was only $165 bucks. And it was worth every penny!

If any of you are thinking of trying out this workshop, I highly recommend it. It’s very reasonably priced and you will learn a ton. :thumbsup:

The sequencer part of Reason was pretty easy to figure out because my other MIDI programs, Cakewalk and MIDI Orchestrator Plus have sequencers that look and function almost exactly the same as the one in Reason. But the part that was tripping me up was all the hardware racks and wiring. I have absolutely no experience with audio engineering. A lot of the terms are based on the actual physical hardware that is used when audio engineers create music. All these terms I really didn’t know. :question: The workshop really gave me enough information to really get started working with the program.

As a result I have a new piano piece available in the Music section! :bounce: It’s a piano rendition of the main theme from Surviving Together. It is an original composition. The midi was recorded with Cakewalk a few months ago but the piano sound is from a Reason piano patch.

Reason just came out with a Piano’s Refill pack. I’ve tried multiple times to order it from their online store but for some reason it isn’t going through 🙁

But when I finally do get it, I will use it on some of my existing piano songs in the music section and submit them to OC Remix. I’ll also record some new songs.