Code for Sacramento

I attended my first Code for Sacramento hackathon tonight at Hackerlab. I sadly missed out on the kick-off meeting last week. After everyone had arrived, the groups convened over pizza and got down to business, picking up where they’d left off last week. There seems to be some cool projects bouncing around, including: encouraging the people of Sacramento to contribute to Open Street Map, Hashtag mapping of tweets within certain districts of Sacramento, and an Adopt-A-Thing scheme. You can read more at

I’ve been tasked with designing some logo concepts for the Open Street Map Project (Hack the Map). 

More info to follow. 


After some experimentation I’ve decided that the best way to create the terrain for the HUD is to create it from scratch in World Machine. I can generate a mesh as a wavefront object that I can open in Photoshop. I don’t know whether Photoshop can handle either tri or quad polygons but World Machine can export meshes of both types so I should be safe either way.

Once in Photoshop I can apply a simple texture and then I have the flexibility of being able to rotate to any angle in order to suit my composition. It has the added bonus of cutting down on render times too.

The images I’ve attached are of the terrain I’ve built for my project. The image shows the devices I’ve connected in order to create the terrain. I’ve attached them to a heightmap output device in this instance so you you can see a clearer thumbnail of the terrain. The mesh output device is just above.

You can see a far clearer snapshot of my terrain in the 2nd image.

My glasses should be represented

As my glasses are an obvious physical feature I think they probably should be represented in some way. I’d rather have an interpretation than actual glasses though purely because I hate wearing them and hate how they make me look and the way people see and treat those who wear them.

Perhaps I could depict them by giving my character four eyes?


After watching the mixer brush tutorial I tested out the brush and chose skin tones because they’ll form a large chunk of the painting in my persona and I find them challenging. 

The top image sows the final piece produced, whilst the bottom one is a screen grab from Photoshop showing my layers and how I’ve organised them. As you can see, I’ve started to colour code layers in an attempt to improve my file organisation.

No green screen required

Now my animated persona project only has close ups I don’t need to use my green screen. Instead I can use a large sheet of white card as my background. This alone will save me a lot of time because I won’t need to key or roto to remove and replace the background. I’ll be free to concentrate on the roto to to paint over the top of the footage for my desired look.

A1 should do it and can be blu tacked on the wall in my flat for filming the face and side view shots and placed on either the floor or a table top for the POV shots.

As a bonus I’ll be able to use it to set the white balance on the camera.

Meeting with tutor today

This afternoon I had a short meeting with my tutor to discuss my progress on the animated persona brief. He liked the idea, however, he suggested that it was perhaps a little too ambitious at this stage and was perhaps more of a final first year project so suggested I scale it back to something realistically achievable in the time frame. Even though he’s open to me proving him wrong I feel happier to take his advice and scale back because he knows what he’s talking about.


  1. Simplify my idea
  2. Thumbnail storyboard my updated idea
  3. Email idea and thumbnails to my tutor

Deadline: 31/10/12

Font Research

I browsed through the fonts I already have installed for something that may be suitable for the project and created a list in Photoshop. SF Movie Poster is the one I used in my HUD test, which I really like, however I also like BN Deep Blue, Good Times, and Neuropol. all would need their tracking increased and quite possibly their character width too because the letters are very close to each other.  MY HUD test revealed that to be true of SF Movie Poster where it became more legible when I made the adjustments.

Legibility in a short space of time is a must for my final font choice especially when it comes to the one I use for my name which is only likely to be on screen for a few seconds.

Animated Persona: Email to lecturer


I’m stood in a white room. The ink from the tattoo on my back expands and pours around me, morphing into my long leather coat. Using the HUD in my glasses I build a landscape around me.


The ink snaking across me and morphing into my coat would be more crudely painted than a VFX shot and the “morph” could be cheated by using a gentle dissolve transition between the last frame of ink and the first frame with the coat.

The HUD could be shown just in a POV shot and could be kept very simple in terms of animation, unless I’m allowed to use After Effects to create it. It can still be comped into the final shot in Photoshop.

To get the painterly look I was planning on manipulating the live-action footage as well painting on top of it before applying the final colour grade. So I can be in a white room I’d need to film against green screen, which is possible as I have a 10’ by 5’ one in my flat. The lighting wouldn’t be ideal, however, given the end result I’m looking for I believe it would be adequate in this instance.

Visual Style

I was thinking of creating it with a painterly look which is inspired by one of my favourite artists: Paul Gerrard. I’d take his use of a limited palette and apply that too. For the sci fi elements I’ve been inspired by a lot of the films and shows I’ve seen such as Iron Man, Star Trek, and Transformers, as well as Jaime Jasso, one of the artists who worked on Transformers 3.

The landscape I’d build in Vue and World Machine and wouldn’t take too long to construct or render as I’d be using a less complex lighting system than usual. Normally I aim for photo real, but this project doesn’t require that. Just in case you’re panicking, thinking I’m taking on too much, have a look at some of previous landscapes. At the moment I’m leaning toward something with a series of mesas and canyons.

Initial Ideas for Animated Persona

First is something based around the tattoo on my back and having the black fill up and pour round my body (cheaply painted, not high quality VFX) and morph into my ankle length leather coat. - That’s as far as that idea developed.

The second is for a sci fi piece where I’m in shot and extend a piece of landscape with tech, possibly a transparent tablet PC. An alternative to that is going Matrix style and having me in a white room then creating a digital landscape through tech to surround me.

Animated Persona Brief

Today we were given our Animated Persona project brief:

Create an animated self portrait that engages and communicates the extent of your creativity to your audience. I’ll need to reflect my personality through my hobbies, interests, and inspirations. This can be done through a combination of graphics, live-action video, photography, and illustration. It needs to contain audio too and must be completed using the timeline in Photoshop.