********** 12/13/97 8:50 PM  Forum CO
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | OK.
                            | Welcome to our monthly VOUG meeting.
                            | Brief on rules
                            | Please type "?" to get in the question queue
                            | and get a turn
                            | Wait until you see your name followed
                            | by "GA" (Go ahead)
                            | to make a comment or ask a question.
                            | If somebody shows up late and jumps in
                            | please tap their shoulder on a private chat
                            | window
                            | I see the room is filling up.
                            | I will ask Neil to introduce himself briefly
                            | and will open the
                            | question queue for turns.
                            | Neil, GA, and introduce yourself.
       Neil Blevins         | Geez, doesn't everyone know me already :)
                            | Ok, here goes
                            | My name is Neil, I'm a computer artist...
                            | I use MAX a loooooot
                            | I'm still in school, so I'm yet unemployed
                            | but I hope that will change once I graduate
                            | hobbies include making big scary monsters and
                            | playing guitar. GA
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Type "?" to get a turn to... question queue
                            | is now open
                            | Neil, please type "NEXT" when you are done
                            | responding to a
                            | question.
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Neil, where were you born?
       Neil Blevins         | Montreal, Canada, up in the frozen north
                            | (well, not really frozen)
                            | In fact, I''m still here, ga
       Paul Sanford [LVL5]  | What are your greatest strenths, and greatest
                            | weaknesses?
       Neil Blevins         | In rendering or in life? :)
       Paul Sanford [LVL5]  | ha! in MAX and such
       Neil Blevins         | I think my greatest strength would have to be
                            | lighting, texturing, and coming up
                            | with original concepts
                            | or at least slightly original concepts
                            | My biggest weakness is definately animating,
                            | because I don't have the time or
                            | resources to do the really complex animations
                            | I'd like to do yet.
                            | Emphasis on yet.
                            | Next
       Stefan Didak [Anima  | Neil, we know that you are still pretty young
                            | and are already doing pretty cool stuff in
                            | terms of CGI,
                            | but at what age did you actually start to
                            | discover CGI/3D and felt it was something
                            | you'd like to
                            | continue into?
       Neil Blevins         | I started with computer graphics when I was
                            | 12 or so
                            | I was doing art pixel by pixel in paintshop
                            | Boy was that painful
                            | Then I started using POV-Ray back in 94
       Stefan Didak [Anima  | LOL Pixel pushing.
       Neil Blevins         | That's what got me into rendered art
                            | I really started enjoying it when I realized
                            | I could
                            | get all these images that were in my head to
                            | look realistic on the computer,
                            | something that eluded me using traditional
                            | methods.
                            | And so here I am.
                            | next
       Stefan Didak [Anima  | Sounds like you got a 'traditional'
                            | background there... pixels, POV/ASCII, etc.
                            | Cool. Keep up the good
                            | stuff.
       Neil Blevins         | thanks, hope to
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | What is your current major?
       Neil Blevins         | Design Art, but I was in computer science two
                            | years ago, and was in pure and
                            | applied science before that
                            | next
       John Stetzer         | Who are some of the traditional artists who
                            | have influenced
                            | your style?; can see a little bit of Giger in
                            | some of them :^),
                            | anyone else?...
       Neil Blevins         | Giger definately
                            | Also a local artist called Heidi Taillefer
                            | she went to the same art class I did (5 years
                            | older though)
                            | she did these really cool paintings of
                            | mechanical beasts, and although my
                            | work really doesn't look anything like her
                            | style, she did have a major influence
                            | on me
                            | Also, I'm heavily into comic art, like Dale
                            | Keown, Marc Silvestri, Michael Turner,
                            | etc
                            | next
       Paul Sanford [LVL5]  | Do you plan to stay in Canada?  Or head to
                            | US, or
                            | overseas?  Work for a shop, or go solo?
                            | Teach?
       Neil Blevins         | I plan to stay in canada until I finish my
                            | major in a year and a half
                            | Then I'll probably got to California for a
                            | few years to work for some studios
                            | doing films and video games.
                            | Later on in life I'd like to try and live off
                            | my art by doing books, posters,
                            | collections, etc
                            | But I'm not sure about that. I guess I'll see
                            | what life brings me.
                            | Teach? Maybe one day.
                            | next
       John Stetzer         | Do you find yourself doing more work on the
                            | computer as
                            | opposed to more traditional media? And what
                            | traditional
                            | media do you prefer working in?
       Neil Blevins         | I tend to do more work on the computer, but I
                            | do a lot of traditional art
                            | In fact, most of my computer images start off
                            | as drawings, then get converted to
                            | max.
                            | as for traditional mediums, I do watercolor,
                            | ink, pencil, and acrylics (really biiig
                            | acrylics)
                            | I'm not sure if I prefer any medium over
                            | another, it depends on what the image
                            | needs IMO.
                            | next
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Neil, have you used sound in your work?
       Neil Blevins         | Actually, that's a funny story
                            | My first animation had sound
                            | I recorded it in a friend's basement along
                            | with some other musicians on this
                            | really old tape deck
                            | (reel to reel)
                            | It sounded pretty bad, but it worked with the
                            | animation, and the song was pretty
                            | good
                            | even if it was destroyed by our bad playing.
                            | Then my reel to reel broke the day after we
                            | recorded it. Ahhh!
                            | I also got into a car accident that night,
                            | <editors note - a very small accident>
                            | when we tried to drive our drummer
                            | home
                            | It all worked out in the end though. But I've
                            | never used sound since.
                            | next
       Paul Sanford [LVL5]  | Have you used any MIDI controllers with MAX 2?
       Neil Blevins         | nope.
                            | There's a zillion and one things I'd like to
                            | try in max, just never seem to have the
                            | time.
                            | I'd definately try it out though if it were
                            | the only way to achieve an effect.
                            | next
       Stefan Didak [Anima  | Given the style and content of your images I
                            | wonder what you'd prefer in terms of work,
                            | the games
                            | and entertainment field, the broadcast field,
                            | or if you lean more towards movie production
                            | work?
       Neil Blevins         | Ohhhh, that's a tough one
       Stefan Didak [Anima  | :-) All of the above...
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | or design Viz
       Neil Blevins         | Well, I've seen several inspirational films
                            | recently like Starship troopers and
                            | Alien 4, which would mean I'm leaning towards
                            | films, but I do like the other
                            | kinds of media out there
                            | I used to play a lot of videogames, so I
                            | would also like to work there for awhile,
                            | as long as the games are dark, scary, and
                            | involve big nasty monsters
                            | But really, one thing I'd love to do is work
                            | on fully computer generated movies.
                            | Sort of like Anime, but computer generated,
                            | with monsters, blood, the whole
                            | deal. I really haven't seen anything in this
                            | genre yet, and I think this is an area
                            | that needs some attention.
                            | next
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | What do you think about "Toy Story?"
       Neil Blevins         | I loved toy story
                            | (yes, even though it was jolly)
                            | It was a breakthrough film, and I own a copy
                            | that is 4 feet from the place I'm
                            | currently sitting.
                            | I'm just sorry that disney seemed to get so
                            | much of the attention, when it was
                            | really pixar who did all the work.
                            | next
       John Stetzer         | Since you mentioned anime...what style
                            | (genre) of anime do
                            | you like best?; favorite anime?
       Neil Blevins         | Well, I'm currently completely addicted to
                            | Ninja Scroll
                            | Just bought a copy.
                            | I used to watch Goldorak and all those old
                            | animes where you basically had a
                            | big robot fighting a new monster every week.
                            | Those were my first cartoons.
                            | and they definately had an effect on my work.
                            | Ghost in the shell was also good.
       John Stetzer         | Prefered 'SpectraMan' myself :^)
       Neil Blevins         | I'm just starting to get back into the genre,
                            | I'll have to check that one out. A local
                            | comic shop (which also rents anime) just
                            | moved and their film section is huge now.
                            | I just need time now to watch all these films
                            | and render at the same time. :)
                            | next
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Do you work mostly at school or home?
       Neil Blevins         | I have never done any rendering at school
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | I mean "play" ;-)
       Neil Blevins         | play what?
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | What is your MAX setup like?... play with MAX.
       Neil Blevins         | all my max work is done at home
                            | my school only has a macintosh lab, and I
                            | have no desire to use "Strata Pro" :)
                            | There is an alias lab that just opened up,
                            | but they're only letting graduate
                            | students use it
                            | I hate school politics
                            | my max setup is a P100 with 64 megs of ram,
                            | and a 1 meg video card. Pretty
                            | pathetic by the standards of most people, but
                            | there's that darn money issue
                            | next
       John Stetzer         | Which plugins do you prefer to use (3rd
                            | party); see a lot of
                            | RLF effects, as an example...
       Neil Blevins         | Yup, I do use rlf a lot, it's a much better
                            | plugin than lenzfx IMO
                            | I also use character studio, and metareyes
                            | I own radioray, but I don't have a fast
                            | enough computer to do anything useful
                            | with it.
                            | I also own just about every free plugin in
                            | existence
                            | Peter's stuff is usually really useful
                            | and I've been using push a lot
                            | I've been fiddling a lot with metareyes
                            | recently because I'm trying to do some
                            | organic stuff.
                            | You'll see some of that in the near future.
                            | next
       Paul Sanford [LVL5]  | If you dont use MAX at school for anything,
                            | how do you
                            | justify paying "educational" pricing?  I
                            | taught myself 3DS
                            | at home as you did..., but at full price.
                            | And I too have a
                            | P100 with 64 MB of RAM.  Are you also paying
                            | Eductional
                            | pricing for all your plug-ins?  I know our
                            | first forum
                            | exchanges were over ed. pricing, just
                            | wondering what you
                            | think nowadays.
       Neil Blevins         | Geez, you remember that far back
                            | :)
       Paul Sanford [LVL5]  | hee-hee
       Neil Blevins         | I started out using eductational software,
                            | but I own a full commercial version of
                            | max
       John Stetzer         | Some do :^)
       Neil Blevins         | I bought a used copy from someone on the
                            | forum, then upgraded it, so I've
                            | never been in the educational max market
                            | hence, all my max plugins are full commercial
                            | versions
       Paul Sanford [LVL5]  | Suerly R3/4 was educational?
       Neil Blevins         | yes
       Paul Sanford [LVL5]  | Care to speak to ed. pricing in general?
       Neil Blevins         | I think that student pricing is important
                            | first, if your course requires you own a
                            | copy, educational pricing is a must
       Paul Sanford [LVL5]  | I agree
       Neil Blevins         | if you don't have a specific course using it,
                            | then the educational price is mainly
                            | just a helper, since most people 14-16 don't
                            | have the money for a full version
                            | Anyway, when you try and upgrade to a full
                            | commercial
                            | version after you finish school, you still
                            | have to pay about $2000
                            | , so educational pricing, if you want to stay
                            | in the field
                            | is really nothing more than a loan.
                            | That's the way I see it anyway
       Paul Sanford [LVL5]  | Well, I've certainly been offered a ton of
                            | ed. stuff myself...
                            | for Professional use
       Neil Blevins         | I really don't approve of that
       Neil Blevins         | if you're making money (like I am now) off
                            | the software, you should have a full
                            | commercial copy
                            | , but people will do what people will do, and
                            | there's very little we can do to stop it
                            | next
       Paul Sanford [LVL5]  | thanks for elaborating... glad you're
                            | breaking into the field,
                            | you do great work!
       Neil Blevins         | thanks paul
       John Stetzer         | How long in general does it take for you to
                            | bring a picture to
                            | completion?; know there have to be some
                            | filesize limitations
                            | due to youe system...
       Neil Blevins         | depends on the image
                            | usually about 2 weeks
                            | some of my more complex stuff like factory
                            | which has millions of polygons can
                            | take months
                            | (mainly due to screen redraw times, which can
                            | top 4 to 5 minutes)
                            | School has kept me really busy recently, so
                            | several images I've been working
                            | on since september
                            | but I hope to have them finished during my
                            | christmas break (which I've just
                            | started, BTW).
                            | next
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | What do you miss most from R3/4?
       Neil Blevins         | Nothing, actually
                            | I really love max, the way it's designed, the
                            | way it functions.
                            | I can't really think of a single plugin that
                            | I don't have now in max that I had in the
                            | original 3dstudio
       Stefan Didak [Anima  | Building on Emmanuel's question, what is it
                            | that you might feel is missing from MAX?
       Neil Blevins         | I have a pretty vicious wishlist for R3
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Can you whet our appetite, Neil?
       Stefan Didak [Anima  | LOL! Who doesn't? ;-)
       Neil Blevins         | Some pretty crazy stuff
                            | It needs some more powerful particle systems
       Neil Blevins         | Hair (which is being worked on by some 3rd
                            | party people, I know)
                            | some stuff for controlling large numbers of
                            | objects simultaneously,
                            | biped for 4 or more legged characters
                            | displacement modifier with adaptive
                            | tesselation.
                            | I have tons and tons of wishes. But max is
                            | doing pretty good already. The next
                            | big thing I'm waiting for is the advanced
                            | nurbs package
                            | That's still sorely missed.
       John Stetzer         | What one thing do you feel is currently
                            | lacking in Max,
                            | compared to other products out there?
       Neil Blevins         | advanced nurbs :)
                            | I know you've been doing a lot of work with
                            | Rhino
                            | I'd really like to see a lot of that
                            | functionality directly in max.
                            | Metareyes and other metaball modellers are
                            | good but for really smooth characters nurbs is a
                            | must
       John Wainwright      | Have you tried Organica?
       Neil Blevins         | which plugin was that again?
                            | Was organica that thing that GreG uploaded?
       John Wainwright      | It's a new interactive metaball modeller from
                            | the people who
                            | did Imagine.
                            | It's about $149 I think and there's a free
                            | demo on their web
                            | site.
                            | Looks pretty cool
       Neil Blevins         | Oh ya, I did try it out
                            | It has some nice options, but Im a little
                            | spoiled and wish it were a max plugin
       John Wainwright      | Quite so.
       Neil Blevins         | Also, I find the metamuscle (or metaspline as
                            | it's called in clay studio)
                            | is a major time saver.
                            | I'm interested in seeing what new stuff
                            | comes in metareyes 4.0
                            | which is really the last plugin I need before
                            | I drop R1 of max
                            | next
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Neil, any tips on learning MAX from scratch?
       Neil Blevins         | The manuals are really important :)
                            | I feel sorry for pirates who have no manuals
                            | and are trying to learn the 10000
                            | features or so that max has
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | What order would you recommend?
       Neil Blevins         | actually, I guess it serves them right
                            | When I learned max, I played around with it
                            | for a week
                            | then I did the tutorials for a week
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Any books you like?
       Neil Blevins         | then I played around for another 3 month
                            | period
                            | I finally got to read the manuals during my
                            | summer vacation on the beach
                            | the beach is a great place to learn about all
                            | the max stuff you didn't know
                            | As for books...
                            | I own the character animation in max book,
                            | and that Tutorials from the masters
                            | book
                            | . Both have useful information, but I think
                            | the real important thing
                            | is to just make images, lots and lots of
                            | images. Practice makes perfect
                            | next
       John Stetzer         | Music preferences :^)?
       Neil Blevins         | Oh John, you know the answer to that already
                            | :)
       John Stetzer         | Some might not :^)
       Neil Blevins         | Lets see, early Metallica, Pantera, Fear
                            | Factory, Strapping Young Lad,
                            | Meshuggah, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation,
                            | anything really heavy and evil
                            | I also listen to some softer music like Steve
                            | Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson
                            | Most of the music in my collection most
                            | people will never have heard of
                            | but that's ok, I never followed trends in the
                            | music industry
                            | just music that spoke to me
                            | please don't exclude me because I'm different
                            | :)
                            | next
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Hey Neil, you don't dress like the music you
                            | like ;-) Stefan, GA
       Stefan Didak [Anima  | Any chance you'll be digging deep into
                            | MAXScript? (Monster tools, of course). Nice
                            | choice of music
                            | by the way, I'm not surprised. <g>
       Neil Blevins         | Emmanuel, actually, I had all the appropriate
                            | t-shirts. But no, I don't have long
                            | hair and tattoos
                            | Stefan,
                            | I'm starting to get into max script now
                            | Looks like John W has left, he's truly the
                            | man as far as I'm concerned
                            | Maxscript is really powerful, but my
                            | programming skills leave something to be
                            | desired
                            | maybe this summer I'll get into it a bit more
                            | (and yes, most people sorta figure my music
                            | tastes from the art. It all goes
                            | hand in hand)
                            | next
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Do you mean T-shirts at SIGGRAPH?
       Neil Blevins         | yup.
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Gotcha.
       Neil Blevins         | they were all black, and evil shade of black,
                            | black as my soul, ahhaahaha!
                            | Sorry...
                            | just kidding
                            | sorta
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | What is your favority R2 feature or tool?
       Neil Blevins         | My favorite feature...
                            | hmmm
                            | I liked shapemerge a lot
                            | since a good boolean is tough
                            | I like the raytraced material, but it is slow
                            | on a P100
                            | I think my favorite feature really is all the
                            | little improvements that make working
                            | in max a lot easier and quicker
                            | next
       John Stetzer         | Speaking of lurkers.... any preferences in TV
                            | programs?
       Neil Blevins         | ummmm
                            | hmmmmm
                            | welll
       Neil Blevins         | babylon 5 would have to be up there pretty
                            | high
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | For the CGI?
       Neil Blevins         | I also am completelyt addicted to the simpsons
                            | I can receit the scripts of just about every
                            | episode
                            | And I'm really into southpark recebtly
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Ay caramba!
       Neil Blevins         | emmanuel
                            | I got into B5 because of the graphics
                            | but by the 2nd season, I realized "my god,
                            | there's an actual story in there!"
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | <LOL>
       Neil Blevins         | And it's a pretty darn good one. Most people
                            | were put off by the bad acting in the
                            | first season
                            | and that's a shame, because the stuff they're
                            | doing now is spectacular
                            | both in CG as well as story and acting
                            | Everyone should watch this show
                            | next
       Stefan Didak [Anima  | Not really a question, just a note... it
                            | wasn't until the 2nd season that it had a
                            | story. :-)
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | B5 is only shown on cable TV in LA area now.
       Neil Blevins         | Stefan,
                            | Actually, a lot of the first season stuff is
                            | completely necissary to understand the
                            | later seasons, so I have to disagree
                            | it's just it wasn't presented in a way
       Stefan Didak [Anima  | That's OK. :-) It was just a bit hard to
                            | follow.
       Neil Blevins         | that most of us were used to
                            | The reason its hard to follow is really
                            | because of the complexity
                            | I don't know how anyone can be sure of
                            | everything going on
                            | unless they've seen every episode
       Stefan Didak [Anima  | True. Miss one... and it gets weird.
       Neil Blevins         | Even I can't get everything, and I own every
                            | episode
                            | next
       David Cheetham       | Hope this hasn't been asked already, but
                            | where to from here?
       Neil Blevins         | Actually, it has, but to recap
                            | I'll probably be in CA sometime mid 99,
                            | then I'll see where life takes me
       David Cheetham       | Are you using 2.0?
       Neil Blevins         | Yup, have been for awhile. You?
       David Cheetham       | Na it hasn't arrived in NZ yet!!!
       Neil Blevins         | Really. That sucks
       David Cheetham       | sure does.
       Neil Blevins         | Maybe you could have ordered it directly from
                            | the states
                            | would have probably shown up faster
       David Cheetham       | No you can't do that
       Neil Blevins         | Really, why not?
       David Cheetham       | You can but adesk doesn't like it
       Neil Blevins         | Well, I get all my stuff from the states, the
                            | only authorized dealer around here
                            | doesn't know his hand from his arse
       David Cheetham       | An o/seas copy is not upgradeable
       Neil Blevins         | overseas stuff isn't upgradable. Hmmm
       David Cheetham       | I might get a copy this week
       Neil Blevins         | I think there's some improvement to be made
                            | in the way max is distributed
                            | but alas, I have no control over that
       David Cheetham       | Need something to do this Xmas
       Neil Blevins         | well, all the new max2 features will
                            | definately get you lots to do.
       David Cheetham       | I think Adesk Australia are the problem here
       Neil Blevins         | I knew those australians were up to no good :)
       David Cheetham       | How's the guitar?
       Neil Blevins         | Doing fine.
                            | Really loud
                            | Just got new strings
                            | (this is an event for me, I only change them
                            | everyy 4 months or so)
                            | are we out of questions emmenuel, we could
                            | just turn this into a free for all
       David Cheetham       | oops, thought it was. Sorry
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Free for all sounds fine.
                            | I can smell dinner... so the timing is
                            | perfect!

********** The rest is just idle chatter, with the following interesting bits...

       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | I remember you promised to share the secret
                            | family recipe ;-)
       Neil Blevins         | As for my recipe
                            | that's still a family secret
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Is ambient light = 0, in your work?
       Neil Blevins         | yes
                            | I like real black
                            | as for sharpness, a lot of it has to do with
                            | my textures, and that's just the way I
                            | see things. I fiddle with textures until they
                            | look that way
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Do you scan custom photographs or create with
                            | a paint program?
       Neil Blevins         | I usually use paint programs
                            | and a lot of procedurals mixed together
                            | I rarely use scanned stuff
                            | unless it's something specific.
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Which procedurals?
       Neil Blevins         | I use noise a lot
                            | Also, dynoskin by blur
                            | And when I use noise, it's usually layers of
                            | 5 or 6 different types of noise, each
                            | with mattes
       David Cheetham       | Noise is great.
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Hmmmmm...  Would you be interested in
                            | teaching at Autodesk
                            | University next September in Philly?
       Neil Blevins         | I would be interested, but I'm back in school
                            | then
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Bummer. Sounds like you would do a great job
                            | with special effects...
       Neil Blevins         | If there are summer courses, I might be
                            | pursuaded, otherwise, you'll just have
                            | to see me at Siggraph.
       Neil Blevins         | Is everyone here going to Siggraph next summer?
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | I am.
                            | I hope the parties are as good.
       David Cheetham       | I'd like to but it's probably gonna be too
                            | difficult.
       John Stetzer         | Going to make a better try at it next year,
                            | since the other feel through this year
       Neil Blevins         | Last years was really great
       Emmanuel [AUGI]      | Yes, it was.
       David Cheetham       | I might try to get the user group interested.
       Neil Blevins         | You'd better be there John, or I'll send a
                            | bomb your way :)
                            | David, it would be nice if you could come
                            | trust me, I know it's expensive
                            | but it's so worth it
       David Cheetham       | Problem is I have to explain what it is to
                            | them first
       Neil Blevins         | not just to see all the new software
                            | and stuff
       John Stetzer         | Ooooooh, I'm Scaaaared ;^).
                            | Yeah, going to definately make it this year
       Neil Blevins         | but because you get to meet all these cool
                            | people
                            | I really like the max community we've got
                            | going
                            | hope it stays