Airplane stories past and future

Having finished up some deadline work (well, just about, anyway), I’ll take a moment to fill all in on what I alluded to in an earlier post.

Last Tuesday, Mark (director and DoP on Alex’s short) came over to talk about a project we’d like to get off the ground – yes, an airplane picture. He is meeting a producer Friday and we thought that creating a little video would help express the emotion and excitement of the thing.

We would create mechanima – meaning we’d use a game, WarBirds, to generate the footage – but this wasn’t going to be a run of the mill YouTube quickie. I wrote a script with some meaning to it. The game limits dialogue to voiceover, but I was able to build quite a bit of character in the few lines I allowed myself.

Mark had left town Friday, and I’m leaving town tomorrow, which limited the window in which to accomplish this.

There are two primary variables to filming in WarBirds: the technology of recording and the use of human pilots versus computer pilots.

I decided to run a test Friday night with human pilots. I don’t have a digital camcorder, so doing it myself with AI wouldn’t work. I had a player set to record the video for me on his camcorder, but he lost his DSL connection and could not.

I had to settle for ACMcam files, which record flights for later playback in the game. It sounds like a good idea, and lets you view the same flights from a variety of (camera) angles, but it’s just too jerky to use in a pro pitch.

Our session, helpfully set up by IEN (the company that owns WarBirds) went for nought – other than lessons learned. I can program the game to fly our choreographed fights by itself and record those, but I can’t figure out how to get it to operate properly within the game. I can run the results in the Mission Builder, but there’s no sound there.

Regardless, we won’t have anything for this Friday but the stills in this post. They do look cool. Grognards will be able to discern our subject from the photos alone; pasty-white writers will not.

The near future also holds airplanes for me. I fly down to Anaheim tomorrow morning to attend the IPMS USA 2007 convention (plastic scale models) and my book launch there.

Come by and say hi. (Directions and map here.) I should be at our booth most of the day Thursday through Saturday. Look for the Israelis in the red caps with winged-skull logo. Or just look for the short guy who looks exactly like the South Parkian image to the right.

Dog stories

After the final T-ball game, we headed to Cornwall to spend the weekend with some friends at their annual pig barbecue.

We took our new old van. We acquired a 1997 (I think) Honda Odyssey. It has a few spots of rust but is otherwise in great shape.

While following another van along the 40 between Vaudreuil-Dorion and the Ontario border, I spotted a dog ahead of us. The animal was your average size dog, mostly white short-hair with a brown saddle. The face resembled a pug/boxer/Boston terrier. It was trotting toward us on the gravel shoulder.

Noting the potential for trouble, I slowed down. Good thing. The dog inexplicably turned around to run after or into the blue van ahead of us and absorbed a powerful blow in the left hindquarters. It hurtled six feet into the air, rolling quickly. Its legs whipped around and around as it flew over the shoulder to land in the soft grass alongside the highway.

We saw no blood or any sign of injury but that dog could not have enjoyed the flight. The van that hit it braked and pulled over, so we kept on going. I’ve been in animal-vehicle collisions before (never as a driver; it’s a funny story, but not for all the deer involved) but the choreographic beauty of the flying dog will stick with me for a while.

We had our own dog in the car (that’s him in the photo). He got to play with three other visiting dogs at our destination. In fact, for the balance of the afternoon, a female poodle kept mounting him.

Bonus work update:

I spent much of late last week working on a film project. I haven’t had time to blog about it, but I will soon.

Business card and T-ball wrap-ups

Here’s what we came up with. At this resolution, the document doesn’t show up well – it’s a page from a logbook.

Also, this morning the Reds took to the T-ball field to contest the league championship. Like the similarly miraculous Bad News Bears, the Reds lost. Unlike the Bears, the Reds lost by a lot. A whole lot. 34-18 lot. Yes, the defense converted fourteen outs over 48 at-bats.

Next up, hockey!