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Portcon 2008: Mecha-Portcon!

Posted by MEMAP.ORG under: anime; events; manga.

Laughing Man
Mecha Portcon go! Ready your favorite cosplay gear, dust off your Magic cards, and bring money to spend on anime, manga and other Japanese flavored fantasy goodness. We’ll be there, and Mark may have something to show for the months of inactivity. (Stay tuned…) In the meantime, check out the Portcon 2008 web site.

Link (Mark)

(clipped from their site…)

“PortConMaine is Maine’s biggest and longest running Anime & Gaming Convention! Fan run and for fans, the convention has succeeded year after year to bring anime and gaming funs events such as: a cosplay, anime music videos, two anime theaters, a video game room, panels, discussions, workshops, CCGs, miniature events, RPGs, board games, an auction, extreme geek, Cthulhu, karaoke, an artist ally, contests, free stuff, Dance Dance revolution, vendors, and more!”

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MorphX: Retro Fun

Posted by MEMAP.ORG under: animation; graphics; vfx.

By Matt LeClair, MEMAP.ORG

MorphXIf VH1 ever did an “I Remember the 80’s” show for geeks, it would include morphing. Morphing was a special effect commonly used to show a magical transformation from human to animal, or human to monster. Before morphing, such transitions used cross dissolves and clever jump cuts and the imagination of the audience (remember the Bill Bixby to Lou Ferrigno Incredible Hulk transformation).

Morphing used computers to actually show the transformation without cutting away. It may not sound like a big deal now, but at the time it was so new and so exciting that it became all the rage. The horror movie The Howling was essentially a vehicle for the special effect, and an entire TV series, Manimal, (widely regarded as the worst SciFi series ever made) was made just to use that special effect.

I remember how excited I was when Gryphon Morph came out and we could create morphs on our own desktops. Sadly, by this time morphing had gotten so overdone that only us hardcore geeks really cared. Few people cared when Gryphon Morph became Elastic Reality (though from what I hear it was an outstanding product. Nobody noticed when Elastic Reality was bought by Avid and killed as a stand-alone product, though the technology was integrated into Avid’s other products. The special effect itself became an embarrassing cliché. The last time I saw it was in a music video by some has-been rapper who mumbled a lot. Mercifully, I can’t remember much about it, but it had people morphing into dogs or something.

A year or two ago I was feeling nostalgic, so I went to Versiontracker and did a search for morphing software, and found MorphX. MorphX is freeware for creating morphs between two images. What a parable of technology! Yesterday’s revolutionary technology is tomorrow’s freeware. Nostalgia aside, MorphX is a great piece of software!


Apparently, MorphX has been around for years, starting on the NeXT platform and ported over when NeXT was turned into OS X. If you have tried MorphX before, it is time to give it another try. The latest version, which runs only on OS X Tiger, is a simple and elegant solution. It is fast, offering real-time previewing that immediately shows what effect any change you make has on the image. It has lots of nice features that are hidden out of the way until you need them, and you don’t need to know anything about them to use the program. Best of all, it is easy and fun to use.

In MorphX, you drag your before and after pictures into areas that are labled “Drop an Image here”. Then you click on either image to create morph lines. As you click one image, a corresponding line appears in the other image. The lines essentially say, “From here, to here.” Once the lines are placed, you can move them independently in each image. The image warps and stretches to move the pixels from one area to another, corresponding to where the paired lines are… It is much harder to describe than it is to actually use it, so just go download it now and try it for yourself!

Click to view morph.

A couple quick MorphX tips: the more similar the two pictures, the more convincing the morph. Human to animal morphs aren’t as convincing as human to human. A great morph to do is between pictures of the same person as they grow up. Also, pay attention to the background. Try to get the both subjects in front of a solid color background, because the background morphs, too, and will distract you from the subject.



Wikibook “Blender 3D: Noob to Pro”

Posted by MEMAP.ORG under: animation; graphics; resources.

Wikibooks is a collection of open-content textbooks that anyone can edit. Apply that methodology to the open-source collaborative development of Blender (probably the most popular multi-platform software “distro” for 3D animation on the planet) and you have a marriage made in heaven for the aspiring 3D artist. If you are an aspiring 3D artist curious about getting started with Blender be sure to check out the wikibook, “Blender 3D: Noob to Pro”

“This book is designed to be a set of tutorials arranged in a sequence to turn the newbie user into a Blender pro. The tutorials attempt to increase in difficulty along the learning path that a user will likely take, so that intermediate users can jump in at whatever tutorial is most suitable for their knowledge and can continue along the sequence. Unfortunately, this is difficult to do because of the incredible functionality of the program and the many learning paths users may take. That being said, we will do our best.”

[ via Wikibooks ]

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