Monthly Archive for January, 2006


This is a “photograph” of my great, great, great grandfather. His name is Richard Garstang and he was born in 1802 or 1806, there are two conflicting accounts, in Preston England. I figure this image is about 150-160 years old. He was my grandmother’s great grandfather. Anyway, we took the picture down when we had the house painted and one of my daughters knocked it over, breaking the glass, but not damaging the picture, thankfully. I got some museum quality UV protected glass for it and re-framed it in its ancient frame. I took the opportunity to make a high quality scan of it while it was out of the frame. The 1850s were early times for photography, and the image is heavily retouched with what I guess is watercolor. That’s why I put “photograph” in quotes. It’s almost more like a drawing. You have to look closely to see the faint photographic image behind the brush strokes. Here’s a detail to show what I mean:

The back of the picture says he was the “foreman of a weaving establishment, Blackburn, Eng.” I’m currently reading David Copperfield (the version I’m reading here, and the Amazon link for reviews, etc. here.), and it’s interesting for me to think about great, great, great Grandpa here living during those times in England, and being a contemporary of the author, Charles Dickens.

Richard is rather stern looking and my wife is a little spooked by Mr. Garstang’s steely gaze, so this complicates the issue of where we hang the picture. I hope he was happy. I know virtually nothing about him. The picture is an interesting thing, though.

Update 1/30/06: I did a little research on Blackburn and weavers during the mid-1800s and got this. It’s no wonder he looks a little surly. Those were horrible times: machines replacing human weavers, unemployment, riots, child labor. Perhaps that had something to do with his son coming to the United States? I may never know.

Previs in 3d animation

I just read a wonderful article on the uses of 3d previs techniques “traditionally” used for live action on animation. I put that in quotes because the “tradition” is about five years old at most. It’s an interesting behind-the-scenes read, and is giving me a further incentive to get my previs sample up on this web site ASAP. It’s funny, I spend 10 to 12 hours a day creating previs and story reel animatics, and yet have none to show publicly. (Incidentally it will be a relief when the term previs gets a standardized spelling. Is it previs or previz or pre-viz? Sometimes for clarification I’ve used pre-visualization, but that’s a needless mouthful.) This article reinforces my understanding that 3d animation has a lot in common with live-action, much more than traditional hand-drawn animation ever could, because it deals with solid objects occupying a solid set or location, with lighting and staging exactly the same as a live-action movie. So naturally live action terminology and film techniques would be employed to get the job done.

UPDATE: There’s another good article about the companies out there now who specialize in previs, with brief descriptions and interviews with the concerned parties. It shows who’s doing what, on a small company level, and where they see the industry going. Very interesting.

These are yet more good articles from VFXWORLD, a great resource for this kind of material. It’s free to register with them, too.

Reading in the hammock

Bada Shanren

Bada Shanren (also known as Zhu Da or Chu Ta) is my favorite fine artist. He lived from the mid to late 17th century in China, but his work always looks to me like it was painted last night. There is something fresh, shocking and balanced about virtually all his ink paintings. He had a strange, tragic life and is sometimes thought of as the Chinese Van Gogh because of it. I first came to know of him while perusing the book shop in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York about 15 years ago. As I flipped through Master of the Lotus Garden every page was like a punch in the stomach – the economy of line, the humor of subject matter, the risk and danger and confidence in his compositions – which defy reason and yet maintain such perfect balance between presence and absence, here and there. I got the impression of the artist running at full speed on top of a very high fence and never falling, in fact skipping and laughing all the way across. Even now, whenever I flip through the book I’m caught off-guard and still amazed by it. I’ve shared this book with other artist friends over the past few years, and none has had the same emotional reaction I had, so maybe I’m nuts; but I cherish this book anyway, almost at times as if it were a joke that only the artist and I understand. There isn’t a whole heck of a lot out there on the Internet about Bada Shanren, and very few books – mostly the two by Wang Fanyu
Some links:
A brief bio
A link to some sample paintings
An image search – some good thumbnails to give an idea of his composition sense.

Happy 2006

First thing this morning I was treated to a complete reading of Frog and Toad All Year.

The Narrator’s favorite plush toy companions sat quietly and listened to the story with me. Here’s to a wonderful new year!