So yeah, it’s been a while since I updated my journal. Seven months to be exact, which is a new record of laziness by my standards.
Can an achievement still be considered as such if what you’re achieving is a new level of regression? I suppose if I was a politician or Manchester United manager I’d be keen to say so.
Whatever – it’s fair to say that somewhat of a transitional period began shortly after my last journal entry. Some good shit, some total shit.
Said transition is by no means complete, but the demands it’s been imposing on time and mental resources have begun to relax. At least to such an extent that I’m able to take a moment to belch some nonesense on here.
Here’s the jist of some of the jazz that’s gone down:
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As you might have noticed, my website is donning some new threads – by threads I mean colours and structures.
Since launching my site back in 2017 it’s gone through a few visual iterations. Anyway, all such designs were variants on a theme. That theme was – put stuff where people can see it. I wasn’t really bothered too much about style, or to be more accurate, I didn’t have time to be bothered.
As I’ll soon detail, things have changed and I’ve enjoyed having a bit more time to put something together that’s more representative of my tastes and general approach to visual design. My plan’s always been for this site to be more of a personal collection of work and experiences than a ‘down the line’ professional portfolio. When I’m alone in a cellar, slowly succumbing to the destructive capacity of time, feeling my grasp on reality diminish and suffering the consequences of the anti-social tendencies of which I’m so proud in the present, this is what I’ll be left with.
There’s a lot of work to be done on improving certain elements, making sure older content still works and updating the portfolio. For now, it’s essentially a reskin of what has come before, but there are a few images and videos added to various projects.
More importantly, if you turn your attention to the little circle in the top right of the screen (next to the menu button), clicking this will alternate the site’s colour scheme.
Which is fun. I suppose.
I work here now.
I’m now a Product Manager
Vicon is a company that specialises in motion capture systems, serving Life Sciences, Mechanical Engineering, Location Based Entertainment and of course, VFX (games and movies).
Their (I still need to get used to saying ‘our’. It’s still not entirely settled in that I’m even here, yet) list of credits is extensive, but the cameras and software have most recently been grabbing headlines for their use in Disney’s The Mandalorian (see below).
As far as my role is concerned, I’m responsible for overseeing the direction of products that make things like The Mandalorian possible. There’s not a whole lot more I can get into at this point, but suffice it to say that the last six months have been an immense learning experience. My focus has been on understanding the needs of the role, immersing myself into Vicon’s culture and engaging with customers on their daily experiences. All being well, early next year I’ll have more to share.
In the meantime, I heartily recommend you check out Matt Workman’s YouTube series, using some of our products. He is a Virtual Prodution Developer who built a small mocap stage in his apartment and has been posting frequent updates demonstrating the performance of our kit.
Dude’s got some dancing skills, too.
Interview with Impulse Gamer
One thing I can mention from the job, is that I did a fairly detailed interview with Impulse Gamer discussing a variety of things relating to motion capture in VFX.
Perhaps most amazing of all is the fact that my other half (allegedly a photographer) managed to get a semi-decent photo of me smiling.
It only took seventy attempts.
Not even joking – she genuinely had to take seventy photos to just land on one that was borderline acceptable. I just can’t get my head around the whole ‘smiling’ thing.
Krupskaya - this is what real men look like, when you lower your standard of definition to 'breathing'.
I miss travelling to make noise
Music is something I tend to have going on, on the side. There is a small project being chipped away at with my brother which I’ll hopefully have something to share on before The Rapture, but aside from that there’s not much going on.
That being said, I’ve been reminiscing about previous Krupskaya adventures and remembered the 2019 South East Asia tour. We were joined by Mike and Riley’s friend, TJ for the first few dates in Europe. He filmed a vlog of sorts which I’m not sure I’ve ever shared on here, but now feel compelled to.
Partially out of nostalgia, moreso because it’s boss:
Eurovision 2021 gave me one of my new favourite songs
On the subject of music and Eastern Europe, I heard one of my new favourite songs this year thanks to… fudging Eurovision.
I know, I know – I’m as ashamed to say it as you are for having read it and swallowed the vomit that promptly began squeezing its way between your lips in response.
Anna was keen to watch it because she’s not quite right in the head and I’d also promised a colleague that I’d do my best to endure… sorry, enjoy what the night had to offer. So we did.
It was tolerable for the most part, but Ukraine’s entry was – and still is – a genuine banger. Shum by Go_A remains a regular part of my playlist, the build up from 01:54 to 02:20 is just the absolute shit. The fact that the mad peacock lady manages to remain composed while annihilating what I expect to be some challenging notes is just the icing on the cake.
Leading on from Eurovision, a couple of days after we got back – Jasper died. Which was wank.
Death is seldom a welcome house guest. I’ve learned that attempting to expediate its departure only strengthens its resolve to remain. If you refrain from fighting or indulging its presence – against the compulsion to do either – and leave it to its own devices, it’ll eventually depart of its own accord and take what remains of your grief with it.
But it’s been half a year and every day still feels like the first we spent without the annoying (wonderful) little (huge) shit (shit). Which I have to admit is a new, unexpected, unwelcome challenge.
The git could’ve at least had the decency to pass before we spent damn near £1,200 on vet’s bills – dick move, Jasper.
But then, I’d have readily spent double to have him around for another half hour. Awful breath and all.
Swings and roundabous. I’ve naught more to reflect on the matter, but to emphasise that he’s sorely missed.
Latest Masters Module = Dinosaur Simulation
Let’s talk about my Masters, which is a slightly less bleak topic of conversation – unless you want me to share the insane details of how difficult it’s been to actually pay for the damn thing. By that I mean literally struggling to get an invoice so I can give them the money. Bananas.
My second module hand in was the same day as my interview with Vicon, which I don’t have anything to share from because it was largely a literature review. For the third module however, I studied modeling techniques for selfish herd theory (cheers to Michelle for some helpful direction on this) and critically, built some initial prototypes for simulating such using Unreal Engine 4.
It’s nothing particularly advanced and was mainly designed to give me some time learning Blueprints. But I’m fairly happy with how they work and have put some videos together demonstrating their development and application.
Getting down and dirty with Unreal Engine 4
The aforementioned work on my Masters has required that I get my brain back into game scripting.
I think the last time I did any such work directly for a prolonged period, was with id Tech 4 (Doom 3) back in 2007. There’s been some dabbling since then, but very little in the way of complete, working systems.
To try and avoid tunnel vision when it’s come to learning this stuff (ie: learning what I need to achieve a specific goal, rather than better my understanding of underlying approaches and systems), I’ve been working on some super rough game prototypes.
These have ranged from a 2D Sharky side scroller where dietry choices impact metabolism and hunting/movement options, to a brutalism-inspired concrete dinosaur simulator, to an interactive version of whale behaviors in response to shipping lanes (as reported on earlier in the year, at The Verge).
Each has been picked up and dropped according to how busy work has been, the demands of the Masters and strength of my interest in creating the desired system(s). It’s always tempting when starting projects like these to immediately dive in and tell yourself “This is it, this is what’s going to take me to the promised land!”, only for them to be cast aside the second a real challenge arises. These have benefited from being very clearly defined known quantities, but depending on how next year kicks off I might share some early builds on here for folk to have a play with.
Towards the end of 2020, Rich Harper and I assisted Professor Neil Brownsword (an absolute legend, incidentally) with some digitisation work at the Wedgwood Museum. The BBC was filming a documentary at the time and asked if we’d do some action shots for use in the program.
Obviously we said yes and even more obviously, the three seconds we’re on screen elevates the quality of the program beyond the realms of mortal comprehension. Catch us on Series Two, Episode Six of Secrets Of The Museum.
More importantly, they featured my crotch in the episode thumbnail. Not until this happened, did I come to understand just how desperately I must have always wanted it to.
New sharky publication
Dr Georgia Jones, Andrew Roberts and myself of collective SharkStuff fame published a new paper: First Record of a Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus) Predating a Tope Shark (Galeorhinus galeus) in the UK.
I’m sure a load more stuff has happened during this time, but the above are what immediately spring to mind.
I tended to go through these patches of inactivity with site updates even before trying to balance a new job with studying, etc. Nevertheless, I’ve been chipping away at a few things that’ll hopefully have some more updates soon.
These include the Siberia 2018 Tour Diary (which looks like it might actually get finished), updates to Digitised Mortality, several commercial web design and illustration projects, and the aforementioned musical work with my sibling.
Some new woodwork stuff is in the pipeline also, as I really enjoyed putting together last year’s Aquatic Aztec Christmas Box for my neice (if she’s hoping for anything of a simliar standard this year, she’s gaen be devo’d) but haven’t had chance for a follow up.
Anyway – lest I fail to make a subsequent update before this year turns to an echo in our collective conscious, wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2022.