In order to kickstart back my Houdini spark and get into learning some new techniques and challenge myself with something which I felt was over my head (not way over but still), I figured I'd participate in SideFX's Mardini Challenge, which essentially was about creating an artwork a day on a specific theme.
Could've been an animation or an image, I opted for the latter primarily due to time constraints. In addition, post-processing of renders was technically not allowed (although compositing in Houdini was), therefore all my uploads were "as rendered". That having said, I uploaded on instagram post-processed versions and sometimes additional renders, which you may find here.
During this time, I've learned a number of new tools in Houdini and tricks, especially in regards to meeting the set deadline (which was about 2 PM Australian time). For the first time, I've utilised Vellum, Flips, Pyro and pushed other tools further than what I would usually do in regards to VDBs, RBDs and nibbled a bit with DOPs. Tweaking Renderman shading options was one of the trickiest parts, knowing I could not do any post-process, it was a lot of fiddling with settings to strike the optimal image colors while maintaining the lowest noise levels.
While there were many way by far more better entries than of my own, the entire time I spent working on daily entries was both very challenging and inspiring and I feel I managed to come up with a quite varied selection of entries that looked good in the end.
For a semester, I was doing FX and shading RnD on an animated short "Spirit". The work was done in between Houdini, Renderman, Katana and ALA Renderfarm.
Part of the work that ended at RnD phase was animated paintings, the idea was to take an aboriginal painting and make it animated and potentially converge it with assets in-motion. Very painstaking work, that took lots of me asking other people for help constantly.
The other part was shading a Thylacine model, which I perfected to the point it could work in between different applications yet the same rendering environment. Unfortunately, I had to leave the school in trimester 2 and my work had to be continued by other students.
At a point in time every one and each of us becomes subjected to a bolt from the blue. In this case it was my Unity teacher from Parsons who asked me whether I wouldn't be willing to teach his class VFX Graph. I was in a point in time that was, well, heh, just heh. So I gladfully took the offer and kept in touch to make sure it is to expectations and that I end up having the cohort taught something new.
And so there was the bare basics of VFX Graph, the assets, how to set up the project and some comparisons with the standard particle engine. Oh and I also induced some super basics of C# to make things just better.
And the next time I was asked to be a crit for the final projects for the Storytelling class. And gotta say, was quite impressed with what the students whipped up in the end and provided a balanced feedback on what I thought was great, what I was unsure of.
I participated as seen to the left in a very cool project. Severely burnt out after semester 1. Depressed seeing the world covid events and some other stuff. I wish I contributed more at the time, yet in the end the focus was on establishing a pipeline, scripts and merging assets with the addition of some lights and FX. I had to leave eventually the project, which got installed a new life with Paul's Unreal and Substance skills.
But looking back I guess I did a fair bit of work in the conceptualisation phases and contributed on-paar with other members and really tried making strides to do good.
Well, primarily due to my accomplishments in form of exchanging bloody all over the world, I received a so-called Global Citizenship Award. In the end, to get it, you gotta be an active student, so participate in student-activation forms in all sorts of formats, volunteering, working overseas etc.
I was a bit surprised as I was not eligible straightaway, you know, I mean, who else if not me, a shining star of travelling everywhere and being all over the planet? A had to complete a few online courses and dig out some materials to get through all the hoops. But hey, now I'm a Global Citizen. Amazeballs. Gesundheit. 감사합니다. Zajebiście. Merci sth sth.
Graduation Show round 2. This time I had a fair bit to present in fact. Although I was a bit creative about it. Today it might not look as much but bear with me.
Presented my flagship Reflection project, in which I combined real-time VFX with motion capture and sound. Honestly, even with VFX Graph being know more widely, not everyone can do this even today. Then a different version of the same project but actually showcasing the real-time power of it, because as you speak or clap or do whatever, well, you will see the particles emerging. Proof-of-concept, yet visualised so that people know I'm not bamboozling them.
And AT from Inventing The Future, stripped to a single computer and a volumetric camera. The stripped premise, was, to speak to it and say: "I want butterflies", which would turn you into butterflies. You could request particles, or yourself, I prepared a handful of commands which worked surprisingly well considering the noisy environment.
No bamboozle, whoever folk seen this, were fairly astonished in the end. I think?
For a unit of study I did not claim credit for, I worked on something to bridge particular disabilities with technology and health professionals. As part of the entire project I was involved with a Disability Scholars Research Group, consisting primarily of PhD students but also some professors.
At the end of semester, they hosted an event during which they talked about their work and, I figured, why not, I'll whip up something as it may be something interesting to the audience. Knowing fully that it's not either fully functional nor in the end likely the best approach but a proof-of-concept and seeing the UX methodology? Might be of interest.
At the end I was told this looked like a PhD project worth 4 years of time. Nice to hear.
Long story story, I helped out with setting up the environment for students to showcase their work on. I also helped out some students with their research on how they worked, as you can see to the left. One needs to take the job of being a volunteer seriously. Seriously.
Other than physical work of spacing out the area, setting up chairs and tables etc. I also provided some technical feedback to some students, I mean, considering my experience from MIDEA I guess I could've been of some help. And in free time, mingled with other ex-MIDEA students.
Good Times. Oh, sometime around this time I also volunteered to promote Sydney International Exchange among outbound Sydney University students for Sydney Abroad Office. I mean, it was great, why not share the news? :)
This one felt like cheating. My local gallery basically was looking for entries from exchange experiences and students from my faculty frequent these, apparently later on in large numbers. But I completed 3 exchanges, so I was eligible to pump my entries from 10 to 30 images. Two were chosen in the end. But damn how high quality of entries I got to experience in this gallery was beyond my wildest dreams.
I liked the ones they picked, although I did carefully select my entries. The chosen ones were from Seoul and New York. One classic and one creative, as Parsons is.
I heard some of the images hosted at the gallery weren't exactly taken on exchange as there were no exchange agreements with, say, New Zealand or Turkey :). But I guess that's ok as long as the overall exhibition was great and damn, I was enthralled by all the other entries. Such a pleasure to have my work exhibited amongst them :)
Well, after the exhibition there was a call-out for new members, figured I'd rock up and check out what's up. And what was up was a cool bunch passionate about photography and hanging out and being a bit sad about the lack of new members rocking up.
Have no fear, I joined and apparently there was a designer vacancy, so I hopped right in. I didn't end up doing too much of design work other than a few leaflets and you all know how covid messed stuff up eventually. But I contributed with ideas in zoom calls and hanged out a few times for the executive meetings, apparently I was an executive as well.
Full of spunk after leaving Parsons, happy with what I've accomplished, I felt it could be a good idea to submit some of my past stuff for exhibitions that were taking submissions. I submitted before to Photosoc but never got in. This time, however, I did.
I couldn't be more surprised when I was which entry was chosen, two guys walking up Olympiaberg in Munich under the theme Forward? I guess it fit perfectly.
Became only a finalist but you know, I guess it's hype when it's exhibited at a publicly open space in a private gallery. Free beers were nice as well :)
And the hype that I got exhibited as well, although I mostly kept this to myself.
I was wondering whether I should be posting this but personally, I think this is really big.
One practical thing was a hackathon done in Brooklyn Navy Yard. The other was the final presentation, yet beforehands a handful of presentations hosted on top prestigious schools: Parsons School of Design, Columbia University, New York University, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY and at last: Cornell Tech.
This one was very scary, as at last notice I was notified a final prototype was expected to be presented. And this was essentially the only project I'd be assessed on. The team from hackaton I worked with, I was not in touch unfortunately. So I had a go alone.
And damn, have you ever tried putting together a fullyfledged prototype in a matter of a few days? I was already drained from everything else I was committed to..
But in the end, I grew a few tons in my balls that even if prevented my movements, I rocked up to a very tightly timed presentation schedule. And thank F***, cause I had an automated presentation uploaded on youtube and despite the incredible stress and pace of the presentation I smashed it. As in, it was an extremely unexpected success, got an A.
I mean, this mean must something, being David Caroll's unit. We even had a chat after.
"Educational Technology and Design Thinking is an interdisciplinary educational partnership between Parsons/The New School and Learning Community Charter School. Together with the Baykeeper of New York and New Jersey, we used different media forms to proclaim that “Everything is Connected.”"
So... is there anything else I should add? Oh, perhaps just the crazy hours logged into working towards this project towards the key deadline :)
Very intriguing project, a 360 Projection Mapping hosted in a dome that gets to be viewed accordingly to 3D Glasses' colours: red - you see pollution, blue - you see the nature, both - you see what it is in the Hudson River. Crazy scope, intensely stylised. And a success. Exhibited in Jersey City.
I think that's a fairly big one to mention. During my exchange at, at the time, 3rd best Art and Design school in the world, I had a unique opportunity to receive induction for a wide array of state of the art fabrication labs. I was like: "I gotta do this", despite how little time I had for virtually just everything.
Would I eventually end up using any of this? Mm, not really actually. I did end up abusing my Motive Optitrack Motion Capture Studio access on a weekly basis, though.
From other stuff, I did: Vinyl, Risograph, Casting, Ceramics, Lasercutting, 3D Printing, Silkscreening, Woodworking (tier 2), Metalshop, CNC, Dyeing and weaving, Vacuum Forming. Bit sad I didn't get an embroidery induction. Can you guess which sticker is what?
Well, I was invited to help setting up a stall for one of the exhibitors for a VR Game Project. This was an extremely busy semester but just about at the start of it, so, why not.
I got to man the stall for a bit at times. And in free time I'd go out to see the lectures and mingle with other industry professionals. First time I learned of Unity's VFX Graph which blew my mind and spearheaded the rest of my semester towards VFX.
On other hand, free food and drinks were a big yes, since I was just beginning my exchange student journey on a very tight student budget in a very expensive city which New York is.
But I guess you're not here to read about food, other than I got in without breakfast since I had to rock up at about 7 am I believe and the commute was about 1.5h, provided I got in time for my ferry (every 30 mins) and the metro functioned semi-functionally, which, anybody who experienced NY, knows it semi-does. But hey, everything turned out fine and I even got some souvenirs like a Unity winter hat. Cool beans.
I was asked by a friend to create a website for his business. Honestly, I wasn't 100% sure why, as he seemed to have plenty of clients already. But he wanted one and was paying money so I was like, well, why the hell not. And he's paying (I sound like a materialist now).
Fear not, I spent a fair bit of time researching his needs, his business outlook, who his clients are and etc. All the standard UX bonanza to get the idea, I produced mockups and prototypes and some updates followed eventually as I did two photo sessions with two different DSLRs. The original logo was mine, the new is not.
You know, even despite the pandemic, this guy's working like crazy with scheduled filled to the brim. Not sure if that's in part to my work or not but I think he's got a neat website to entice more clients if he ever decides to clone himself.
A very small gig, I basically packaged Design Kits with the University of Sydney's, Architecture, Design and Planning's UX Design Toolset book.
I so would have wished to have one back in the day, although one sort of existed and I quickly forgot about.
Well, is there anything else I should add? Perhaps not. I guess just feeling rewarded for having the opportunity to contribute to the world of Design, in a way, well compensated too.
Kind of landed two gigs bit too my surprise, one to man the Point of Sale for University of Sydney Union memberships and helping out with any issues and another as a photographer for an event. Totally honest, first paid Photography gig this one.
And in the end, today I understand how important it is to have a color-calibrated monitor, as at the time I just made things too dark. But I had a solid DSLR for the job, took lots of time to post-process, though. And I mean, how do you even photograph a bubble soccer event?
I've mostly done landscapes and architecture by this day. But hey, great experience, got paid and have some cool shots of a bit weird yet fun day.
Uhh, I was kinda busy with everything else that I kind of dropped the idea of pushing any of my stuff through. In the end, only three things were kinda in the exhibition: a VR project, which had lots of problems at development stage and then at the exhibition, the projection mapping on the Quadrangle, which was slightly not as luminous due to all the illumation hosted at the exhibition and a browser-based project, that eventually I think someone just did not include in the exhibition. I was still in the catalogue, though.
And hey, I got to brag about the Quadrangle model I got to work on how I came up with a digital walkthrough of the gallery exhibition itself! Not to mention the drinks that day...
Ah, yes, the show. Lots of work. What I focused on was curation, although primarily in the form of arranging everything in a digital form via Unity, very novel at the time and received in mixed ways by other students participating in the course. Perhaps they didn't know how to do this? I pumped well over hundred of hours into the prototype, though. Loved it, since you could show other students how it would all look like by the use of their phone or even in VR (with google cardboard, though).
The other part was fabrication of the Quadrangle Building to showcase our past Vivid Projects. I primarily worked on fabrication assembly of an about 2x4 meters model cut-out. Certainly largest fabrication work I was ever involved in, until this day at least.
Uuuh, not sure if I should even actually mention this, it's an accolade but not quite of a form that I could call it as one.
But was I interviewed for a German TV/News thing? Sure was. I think I was casually just munching on my salad at my favorite Munich's Mensa cafeteria or was it, a cuppa chai latte? I mean, does it even matter?
What matters, I introduced the interviewer to an interesting concept of Australian political system, in which citizens get penalized for not voting (I experienced this myself with an enforcement order that found my way to me, despite current address not being current)
Very brief encounter as I figured I'd explore what else was around. In the end, some folks figured it could be idea if I was posting some stuff on Instagram in English and they sort of enjoyed what I was doing in Grasausschuss.
So I uploaded some pictures of nearby grocery stores, food outlets, the village itself and cool spots to hang around by. So, I guess at this stage..
You must be thinking, this is pretty pointless, right? But you wouldn't know students then, lots of them busy, lots of them don't even know they have a greengrocer 100 meters away from where they live. I had limited time so I eventually stopped posting (exams and GRAS) but opening eyes isn't as trivial as one may see it and as it would seem.
I guess I just can't run out of big things to talk about, hey?
Not very motivated to contribute and participate at first due to my upcoming exams, eventually I figured a change of pace would do good to me. I was basically behind the bar for one night and manning a door as security for another. I would also help here and there with different stuff like at the wardrobe and other logistics.
In the end it was a vast carnival complex comprised of, practically, 4 venues: a bar, a disco, a lounge and a big-library-transformed-into-a-concert-hall + the halls interconnecting the entire complex.
I also did my usual thing: photo and video documentation. I think a year later it was of quite help to the organisers of future events, despite handheld-quality, these still did a quite good job of conveying how the event was like.
Personally, a big one again. A student organisation that essentially, primarily rents out paint for students to paint their bungalow accommodation. But is that all, well all wondered?
I got lots of freedom to do whatever I wanted. And so I did: I managed social media accounts aliased as MMO on facebook and instagram, I designed promotional materials such as leaflets and posters, co-organised community activation events by setting up chairs, tables, food, drinks, utensils etc. Shared and promoted events such as BBQs, mulled wine and some events that were co-organised with other organisations from the Olympic Village. And the entire thing, I'd document by taking photographs, videos made traditionally and in 360 format as an experimental method I purused. I would also document the art crafted by students painting their bungalows and add a description of my own to entice other students to paint more bungalows and keep the Olympic Village Vibrant.
Yeaaah, now that's a handful now, isn't it?
I'm a simple guy, someone needs help especially at the university and provides even a reimbursement, I'm in, especially I wasn't a wealthy student.
Again, this event was something I "just" volunteered for, not knowing of its caliber. I manned a small gallery for a few nights and got on a boat ride through the Sydney Harbour and got to see some presentations within Media Architecture context and assist attendeed on the event's final day and when off-the-clock, I mingled with some other volunteers and hanged out after hours when the right people announced what-and-what.
I guess I shouldn't have been so humble ever since I had a piece exhibited during vivid...
But there was a plethora of great stuff I saw also in the gallery I manned as well.
You know, I felt there wouldn't be a second opportunity in life to your own radio show broadcasting. Sure, it was a student-run show hosted online but on two of the semesters I got to work in a, I think professional-grade studio and a student-arranged one.
A friend got me into it and I should take him out for a case of beers for this. As, despite I was remarkably terrible at doing a show of my own (he was great, though), I still managed to whip up two seperate shows on (with titles)• Broadcasted an untitled TV Show themed Radio Show (played OSTs)
Perhaps I should've kept this one secret :) But how can one not smile upon seeing events such as "Cafe Bloody Cafe", "Death Metal Doritos", "Heavy Metal BBQ/Rock Climbing"?
I rocked up fairly early after it got established, popped in n' out for meetings, the bunch had lots of great ideas like starting a radio show and they subsidised concert tickets.
I wish I got involved more, although I did write an article for “THE PIT” magazine on the music scene spanning across Poland, Australia and Germany while I was on exchange in Germany, so I guess something quite productive stemmed out from this :)
Mm, very big one this one. It's a funny one as well, as I had no idea really what caliber of event I was working towards, especially that at first nobody told us that it would certainly end up in Vivid. It was a student-project for a unit of study in the very first semester I attended at University of Sydney. There were some minor and some massive issues arising during the production of this but in the end, looking back, I think it still speaks for itself.
I co-created and co-exhibited a projection mapping piece "I Am Waterfall" which was showcased on University of Sydney's iconic Quadrangle Building for about 2 weeks.
I'm talking an entire building, likely over 50 meters long and few large stories high for people to enjoy on evenings. Still boggles my mind to this day.
Ah, yes yes I know what you're going to say. Bad Fuad, Bad Fuad for working on works that contributed to the world of politics. I mean and the grand scale of things! I mean, this guy won a seat in the local Warsaw elections and is still I believe in the capital affairs, although in opposition in the city, part of the nation's current ruling party which has heated takes from all its citizens. And I am a heated critic of that political party myself.
But you know what? My position is that in the end one should vote for a person and I know this guy, haven't been in touch in a while but if I didn't feel like he's got some good that he'd like to do, I wouldn't have taken the job. It was just right when they were about to be taking over and I think the guy himself is solid, considering he survived one big smear campaign a few years back :)
Other than this? Yeah, it was an interesting and a bit of a perfectionist job as there were many, many revisions. And I learned a few critical things in the process. Even a friend was surprised when he heard the leaflets he was giving to people were in fact designed by me :)
One of quite ancient things, yet, it pops up in my facebook memories every once and a while. At the time it was a cool event that I attended and thought I'd forget about yet looking back and fast-forward to present, I guess there are stuff that I took out from there.
Such as, learning how a museum actually operates, looking behind the scenes in depth and even having a go at, well, "dripping" technique of "painting" on canvas. It was certainly an event targetted towards the younger folks, like myself and a good opportunity to meet some other folks interested in art.
We also had a project during which we "curated" a tour in which we'd talk about specific artworks that were already exhibited at the museum. Years later, I'd be working on curation of a graduate exhibition. Go figure.