Samantha Skinner Compositor's blog

Compositing, rigging, and more!

August 17, 2013 | 3D, school realted, Uncategorized, updates | Permalink

Hello everyone!

It has definitely been a while, sorry about that. I have been going through some very interesting classes at my school! Classes I was not only excited for, but also nervous to learn.

Lets start out with my Compositing class.

This class has to be one of my favorites so far. We learned Nuke and while I was taking this class, I was doing some freelance work for a couple people that I can’t quite show yet. That on its own was very exciting but added to the challenge. I had to balance 2 projects, with my class. Let’s just saw during this class I didn’t get a lot of sleep.

With that in mind, I instantly fell in love with compositing. I was excited for everyday, and excited to complete every project (kind of like every class so far). I put a LOT of effort into all of the projects I had going on, and I am proud to say I got an award in my compositing class called: The Course Director Award. This award is given out to students who “…who had showed dedication and hard work as well as the ability to help others throughout the duration of the course.  Many congratulations for you achievement and best wishes. …

I was so shocked and excited! I am glad my hard work was able to be seen by my instructor, who is totally awesome.

I do have work samples from this class, but I have to upload them off of my laptop and make sure I am aloud to share the content before I do. So sit tight! They wi;; be up soon if aloud to be.

Now on to a class all about ZBrush.

I was REALLY worried about this class. I have had no experience (or luck) before with this program. In the class we had many speed sculpt drills, and refine sculpts. I will admit that definitely taught me to be efficient and get base shapes fast!

and-

I loved it.

Here are progress shots of my final for the class, along with some sculpt I am doing in my ‘freetime’ 😀

Final:

Skinner_Samantha_Final_Wireframe_PRM_1306 Skinner_Samantha_Final_Weapon_Wireframe_PRM_1306 Skinner_Samantha_Final_Render_PRM_1306 Skinner_Samantha_Milestone_05_PRM_1306 Skinner_Samantha_Milestone_03_PRM_1306 Skinner_Samantha_Milestone_02_PRM_1306 Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 12.04.01 PM Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 2.43.45 PM

Free time (all still in progress):

CDC 2013-08-06 at 12.18.38 AM torso 2013-07-12 at 8.25.42 PM

 

speedsculpt1_skull

Garrus_Sculpt 2013-08-18 at 12.18.49 PM

Now on to Rigging!

I have always liked rigging. Even though this side is more technical, I really enjoy creating a skeleton of sorts, and making characters (or objects) move.

I am currently in the second part of this class and it is all about the advanced rigs you can have on a character. Scripting in still in this class, but we leared the basics of Python and Mel last month. The class had to code from scratch their own rigging tool set. I really enjoyed that! I am still coding buttons and adding to mine with everyday that passes :D.

I am rigging a character not modeled by me, and will be animating it for a story a partner and I are creating. Once it is completed more, I will add videos. For now, here is what my character, rig, and tool set look like:

Bloop_001Bloop_005

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 7.39.43 PM Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 7.40.05 PM

Other then that, I have been pretty busy but,

I am working on a new cosplay idea! I am planning a Mass Effect cosplay…but it is still in the blue print stage…so I wont give any more details away until I have more planned out mwa ha ha!

I am also finally adding to my portfolio which is waaaaay out of date

That’s all for now!

Thanks for reading! Have a funtastic day/night!

Classic 2D Animation

April 23, 2013 | school realted, Uncategorized, updates | Permalink

Hello!

It’s been a few months and I felt that there was a need of a new update today. So for this blog entry, I will go over my 2D animation class, along with any other quick updates.

2DA

At first when I started my 2D animation class, I was really nervous. I was unsure of my artistic traditional drawing ability to start, then the thought of having to animate my drawings on top of that made me feel even worse! However, on the first day of lecture our teacher made it clear we are here to learn the fundamentals– this is not a class about what your drawings look like, it is about how they move and animate to tell the story. Phew!

I learned a lot in this class and I found it really interesting. I had 2 previous Disney employees teaching the class and I feel they had a lot of knowledge to give the class.

It was fascinating to really have a hands on approach with creating animations frame by frame. I was already aware of this process, but I never actually made any my self. It’s a lot of hard work! But very rewarding!

After a lot of fun but hard projects (a lot of drawings, and a lot of making sure your poses are correct with timing, dramatic telling, and keys etc,), I came to realize I don’t think 2D animation is something  for me personally that I’d want to do for a living. However I certainly enjoyed the class.

I have some work examples I can show you of some of my better work from the class:

Fromt first to last goes through the progression of the course

These are my drawn animations, don’t use them with out permission.

Please click once to open a quick time browser page to view-you might want to play them a few times. I only added my favorites from the class.

ball bounce

Weighted Ball

stick with string

Run

Walk with out arms fixed

Sit to stand

😀

class room Me drawing

In the update field, there is not much new going on. I am doing school, and working on freelance projects.

I still plan on going to DragonCon this year, so there is that! And maybe some other conventions along the way.

No new crafts in the works at this time, but some new personal projects in the brew.

I will be updating my portfolio soon.

That’s all for now!

😀

 

 

 

New year! New 3D models!

February 8, 2013 | 3D, school realted, updates | Permalink

Can you believe it is 2013?

I sure can’t.

It was a crazy, but all in all good year. I can’t believe I have been in university for 1 year also! And some of the amazing opportunities that I was so very lucky to get.

Like for example… meeting Ellen Mclain and John Patrick Lowerie! What fantastic and talented people :)

(more information on that here and here)

I have, like always, been very busy with my school work. I just finished my first character modeling class! It was a hard but extremely fun class!

We started off modeling each body part separate, then combining them together at the end. Keeping in mined the whole time shape, form, and geometry/topology. It was definitely a great learning experience. I never thought I would be able to model a character from scratch in Maya.

We modeled our object in the order that follows:

The Hand (one of my favorite things to model) :

 

Then torso (Got to be quick hard making sure it was round, but to the reference) :

 

Then arms and legs (quite simple and fun) :

then, ear (fun but some topology got confusing) :

Face (really hard, but so much fun!) :

Then put it all together! (that’s where it really felt worth it! But was also really hard to make sure there wern’t any N-gons/triangles!) :

 

And rendered out:

:)

I decided to try and sculpt hair. I never really sculpted anything before…so I think for a first time hair and eyebrow sculpt…they came out okay. The poly count was really hard to keep down, but I was able to drop over 10,000 of them ah ha ha.

AL in all I worked really hard on this and I think for my very first character, he came out really well. I plan to go back in and re-shape him. Improve his face, body, etc. I know of some topology improvements  and some sculpting I can go over and fix. But for now, I am happy with it.

The whole thing took about 1 month to create start to finish. Including the clothing development. I found that also to be really fun, here are some snips form that:

 

Woo!

So that consists of my quick update. I am creating more models in 3D and am also working now with an xbox kinect to make some mocap videos.This character is rigged, and I hope to make some animations with him soon. There will be a post on here about the xbox kinect, since I find it to fascinating for MOCAP!

As always,

thanks for reading,

Samantha

Maya, Oh Maya

November 11, 2012 | 3D, school realted, Uncategorized | Permalink

This is a quick update-I have been so busy with school and work that I don’t even know what to say! My entry’s have been so spaced out, but hopefully still entertaining.

I have had so much fun doing my 3D work in Maya. As I go about  my school work I gather up some side projects to help me along with the learning process. It is one thing to learn something, another to practice. Once you do that, you will start to retain information and put it to good use.

One of the classes I had (that I am proud to say I got an A in) was just modeling. We had to model a whole room from scratch for our final. This is the first real modeling class we get in my school at this point.

Here is a shot of the scene with some of the lighting techniques I am learning now in a different class (there is some aliasing left over):

Before I took both of these classes, I decided to attempt to model, light, and texture a scene before hand for comparison. Here is my tea cup scene fairly done other then some minor things:

I feel this class is very informative and tough-ish class. I am learning lighting texturing, and render settings all in one. What a interesting set of things to learn!

I took it among my self to to do another one of my side projects by getting a ripped model of Adam Jensen from Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I started this a couple of weeks ago and I did pretty much the same thing I did with the Gordon Freeman model; I fixing up the models weight maps and rig to work with. And I started to work in Mud box as well!

I decided to take my scene from above, and put him in it….here is what I have been messing with. (I am not that great at textures (lol) but I wanted to get some generals down…more to learn!) :

And for today specifically, I decided today to model a gun for fun form Deus Ex, and here is what I have so far:

I am quite pleased with how it looks! All modeled in parts with minimal seamless modeling. I want to go in and add some texture detail and some more detail and call it done. Might do that tomorrow or so. I really wanted to model at least one thing today, and I came to the conclusion that I have not modeled a gun yet at all! So there was my challenge. I feel I met it well.

Maybe I will animate it… 😀 should be a fun challenge. Maybe I can do something cool with the smoke in my name….

Anyway,

that is all for now! Thanks for reading this quick update and have a great day/night.

Until next time, my friends!

 

Late Dragon*Con 2012 entry

November 6, 2012 | Conventions, interviews, Uncategorized | Permalink

(sorry this is so late! I cannot stress enough how busy I am with work and school now, but here it is!)

Dragon con was absolutely fantastic! I had such an amazing 4 days, words can’t handle it. Working with Ellen and John is one of the best things to do – ever!

I flew in a day before like with momocon to pick up my “guest of” ticket. That part already blew my mined. To think that here I am at a convention with a badge that says: “guest of Ellen McLain”. If you were to go back in time before November and tell me all this was going to happen, I would think you were crazy and playing a cruel joke.

After getting all the badges for the convention and taking some pictures of Atlanta on the way, I got prepared to not only go to a convention in costume, but to meet for the first time John Patrick Lowrie! and of course, see Ellen again. :)

I awoke at 6:00 am on Friday to prepare for a very fun and long day. For this convention I only brought 2 costumes: my sniper cosplay from team fortress 2 (for John lol) and my Zoey costume from left 4 dead. My Chell costume needed a lot of work so I figured to save time and money, use the costumes already ready to go.

So much happened on Friday I don’t know where to start. John wasn’t coming in until Saturday, but I still decided to don my sniper costume.


When we got to the convention it was about 7:30-8:00 am so nothing much was really going on. It was still really neat to be back in Atlanta and at dragon*con at that. Momocon was at 1 hotel, where dragon*con was at 5!

Eventually, Chris Pope and I decided to grab some food to start out our day so we went into the mini mall that connects to Marta. I got a smoothie and Chris got a epic plate of all breakfast fixings.
After that we headed to the walk of fame to help Ellen set up her booth. I was informed that I would also be helping out Rob Paulson when ever he needed it to through out the convention. He was right next to Ellen’s both, and I was also excited to meet and work with him.


Within about 20 minutes of helping them, the doors openend and fans of everything under the sun started walking in. It was like the calm before the storm…I knew the line would start soon! And I was excited for Ellen (and Rob).

As the fans lined up I turned my attention to helping out with anything they needed, but in the mean tine I got caught up with my friend Sarah and her mom.                                         After a while time seemed to fly by! At 7:00 pm the room closed down and we helped Ellen grab her things and pack up for the night.

After that, Chris, Sarah, and I went to the green room for some snacks and refreshments at around 8:00.

What a cool place! With all this awesome snacking food!

(picture of my weaing my hat the ‘cool’ way)

We got as well rested as we could, and then around 11:00 PM began our trip on Marta.

 

The next day was even crazier! John flew in,  and it was pretty much one exciting blur! We had a quick breakfast together, and went straight toward the walk of fame.

John is an amazing person. So friendly and great to be around. I was excited to now have met the duo that is “John Patrick Lowrie and Ellen Mclain”. I love seeing them both together. It is still surreal to me to have been around them.

Everything else during the convention went like the day before; the crowd lined up, and the day was amazing and fun! And the rest of the convention followed suit. And then…

I got the lucky opportunity to also hear Ellen and John sing!

I can’t describe how amazing that was. I have dreamed of this for years! I have always wanted to hear Ellen sing in person. It is one thing to blare “still alive” on a computer or ipod, but a whole other world of hearing it live. Not to mention I got to hear John play the banjo as well! Life achievement earned!

I took a video of this, but sadly it got a little messed up. The video got cut in half and you can hear me singing along… so for now the link is down. Sorry! However I am sure you can find other versions of it up on line.

So as a closing statement, I would like to thank Chris Pope again for this opportunity and all the previous ones, Ellen Mclain of course as well for allowing me to come here and work with her, and last but not least, John Patrick Lowrie!

thank you again,

and to anyone reading, have a great day/night~

Pre-DragonCon 2012 update

August 25, 2012 | Conventions, Uncategorized, updates | Permalink

Hello everyone!

I would like to start off this entry with a big smile and a sigh of relief. Up until yesterday, I was unsure I would actually make it to DragonCon 2012. Between school and funding I was really getting stressed out. I moved a total of 3 times in 2 months and having this convention in the back of my mind bothered me. I hated not being able to give anyone a 100% yes if I was going or not. But now- It’s a 100% YES! I booked my ticket yesterday evening and now I am frantically getting my costumes together.

In the cosplay department, I don’t have enough time for any serious re-vamps, but I will be bringing 3 cosplays with me: Chell from Portal 2 (might not have my long fall boots fixed), the Sniper form Team Fortress 2 (without my riffle…not airport security safe), and my Zoey cosplay from Left 4 Dead.

I plan on wearing the Sniper one mostly, since John Patrick Lowrie will be there!! I am so excited to meet him! I will be honourd to be in the booth with him and Ellen Mclain similar to Momocon. I definitely can’t express how excited I am to see Ellen again, and meet John :). So come stop by and say “hi!” And if you really want to be adventuresome, spin around in 2 circles while saying it!

In regards to my cosplay, I actually got featured on the website Kotaku a while back. There was a post uploaded about Team Fortress 2 and as I was scrolling through the image gallery, I was shocked to see this picture of me in the mitts of some amazing cosplayers:

Sniper from Shadowcon 2011

You can see the rest of the gallery and read about it here. I am trying to plan another photoshoot soon with my Team Fortress 2 buddys, and also plan a Left 4 Dead one as well. This Halloween, I am going for better hunter make up! (like this and this)

On another note, I just finished my final in my first Maya class. Wooo~

I have never worked in Maya before other then some .smd exports/imports for some Half Life modding. This was the first time I was able to model a character, rig it, build a scene, and a prop. The whole class had a list of an animation to choose form and …animate it. I ended up combining two options into one. A guy drops a crowbar (crowbar….like Half Life…get it? XD) on another guys knee. The characters displays 2 types of rigs: Puppet style, and IK chain.

For the actual animating part, we had about a week. Here is what my final version turned out like:

I am happy with the final result. I never really had a scene like this to animate before, so I really tried to get believable motion, and I think for a beginner I achieved that.

As for other things in Maya, I have a lot to learn. Here are two other things I have created in spare time for fun from tutorials:

I am still getting used to the many differences in Maya compared to C4D, but I am loving every minute of this.

I am back in more traditional art classes, then into another modeling class. SO expect more picture to show up in my portfolio soon along with more entry’s. I am doing my best not to have more then 3 months go by; that’s too long. At the same time school and work keep me quite busy.

I have not played the new CS:GO yet….but I have been playing a lot of Half Life 2 mods….and gmod 13 beta….:3

Well, Thanks for reading, and I will be back with an entry after DragonCon! And this one wont take months to get uploaded!

Bye~

 

What I am currently up to, portfolio and more

June 15, 2012 | 3D, school realted, Uncategorized, updates | Permalink

Hello!

I have been really busy with school just starting up and my transition closer to campus (again). I have been trying to think what my next blog page should be about, then it hit me- I don’t have any of my work on here (My portfolio is here!) Or for that matter, I have not really talked about my work, or what I want to do and why; what I am learning about in school. I know I have some information about me on the “about me” section, but I need to revise that at a  latter date. So, why not go about it in a blog entry!

 

Currently I am a full time student in university going for my Bachelors in Computer Animation. This keeps me quite busy. I decided to get into computer animation after a love for 3D modeling, photoshopping, and Valve. (Those of you who  know me know my love for all things Valve-amongst photoshop and 3D work. I will have one blog entry about just this in the future!) I can literally sit for hours and model/photoshop one single object and be fine with that taking up my day. And when I start to work on an animation? Same thing. If I can’t get it to work, I make it work.

lately I have been doing a lot of work before my enrollment in school and during with Valve models (I have been in school for 7 months in my fundamental classes). It was a long process and a learning experience being able to now take a decompiled Valve model, re-rig (or fix it’s exciting rig), texture it and animate it. Animating it sometimes made me scrap the rig and start over again from scratch.

Now keep in mind, I started this without Maya or 3dS max. I only used Cinema 4D until recently. Boy was that hard!! There are virtually NO tutorials for doing this in cinema 4d. I was able to get all the way through the process until the animating stage….then I had some serious rigging problems. Forced to convert from C4D (I would have eventually anyways, but still) I got my student copy of Maya and Motion builder and I was on my way again! I was able to successfully take an (already made) Gordon Freemany model, adjust the rig, and add a .bvh file to animate it. Then I composed it Cinema 4D and After Effects.

Since Cinema 4D is my native program (2 years of learning this and being citified with it), I went back into it to get the camera angels, and basic render effects needed to bring it into After Effects. I found this whole proccess very fun and frustrating all at the same time.

I basically started with a basic render like this:

And I ended up after many renders and After Effects work with this (in 1080P ) :

 

I am now starting out the plans for an animation featuring Gordon, Alyx, and Barney for Half Life all into one video. I want to either render each sequence separably, or make them all into the same scene. I am not sure yet. There will be entry’s about it at a later date. I want to make something like Thejazzman made:

His animations really inspire me. His first person ones are fantastic! I hope to start making fluid animations like that soon! (not to mention, longer animations as well…) I just have to get better in Maya.

I also do some work in real flow and soon will have some better renders up on my youtube channel.

 

Other then 3D animations, I have been doing my usual work in Photoshop. I was playing through an amazing custom map for Garry’s Mod called “rp_city8_district9″, and I saw a lot of custom posters for the Civil Protection and decided to make one my self.  Here is a screen shot:

And here is what I came up with (warning, big file size):

I am not sure if there is too much going on, or if it is fine. I posted this on my deviant art page as well.

I also got bored, took a picture of my self, and made this:

lol Barney…Edited in Photoshop with a little help form the Half Life series 

 

I have come to a conclusion that I need to make some more (and better) 3D models for my portfolio. I seem to be focusing on animating a lot lately, but since that is in my degree I guess I am off the hook. For now…

I have also realized I need to make my self a logo….

So basically I am working my butt off (straight A’s baby!) and striving to make and take everything out of this education. In fact, for one of my first digital painting I used Gordon Freeman as my subject….Obsessed? Maybe. But I am okay with that.

One thing I do want to point out before I close this entry, is that I do a lot of photoshop manipulation work. As I look at industry jobs, I am not sure there is a need for that. I have not really done any concept work unless you count some of the photoshopped pictures. This kind of makes me worried since I am self conscious about my traditional art. I guess that is something I will work on in school. I do see is that Valve has posted that they are hiring for a computer animator…if only that position would stay there for 3 years, then I’d be laughing…. (:

Well I think this concludes this basic “what I am up to” entry.

Au revoir!

 

MomoCon 2012 With Ellen Mclain

May 11, 2012 | Conventions, crafting, interviews, Uncategorized | Permalink

So if you already did not know, I had a wonderful interview with Chris Pope, Ellen Mclain‘s publicist, a few months back (Feel free to read my entry about it to catch up). I was granted this wonderful and unforgettable opportunity and I will definitely remember and treasure this for the rest of my life. (:

So obviously, this is a really late entry! I can explain! First, I have been swamped with school work. Second, I just moved. Third….I was in Georgia for a while after the convention having some fun. And now? I AM WRITING THIS ENTEY :) be sure to note: I am writing this as if it is the day of etc.
——-
So today marked the first day of momocon2012. I woke up om thursday the 15th at 5:30 am on Thursday, flew out at 9:45 am and got in and landed around 11:00 am.
I had lunch with Chris and I was really excited to meet him in person for the first time. I also got to have lunch with his wife and then later met his beautiful kids.
I checked into my hotel and all is good. I un-packed my stuff, put on the tv, and relaxed. I ended up passing out at 2 pm and waking up at 4:30 pm!
I was then surprised with a wonderful greating by Chris and his family bringing me some snack foods and pop. I was so happy I smile when I think about it.
I am so grateful l that tomorrow I will be meeting Ellen Mclain!
it still hasn’t hit me full force yet. But it will…lol
Friday:
Today I woke up and got ready for the convention. I am very excited to meet Ellen! I am leaving at 2 pm to head to the con. I will be helping prepare the booth and…..see Ellen!!!!! The convention starts at 5:30 pm. I will be bringing my costume to change into when I get there. that way I will be able to help freely and go on the train (yes! A train called marta) with out looking like a…test subject.
I decided to bring not only my chell costume, but my sniper one as well. Surprisingly all of this fit into a backpack Chris brought for carrying stuff.
We got to the station, bought our cards, and off we went!
The train ride was definitely an experience. I feel like the voice that came on taking to you about your destination and your upcoming stops sounded an awful lot like the one in Half-Life….Which made it cool but slightly un-assuring.
Atlanta! What a big and nice city. We got off the train underneath where we wanted to be and grabbed some lunch.
 I have only ever done something like this once. When I went to a Canadian convention in Toronto called anime north.
After Chris and I had some lunch, we headed on our way toward the convention.
As I walked in the front door I could not believe how big this place was!!! And how pretty! This building had to be like….70 floors.
After gawking, Chris and I  continued to get our badges ( I was very excited to get a “guest” badge as Ellen and Chris’s assistant ^^ ) and continue up to meet Ellen.
We went to her hotel room door and Chris directed me to wait by the window to say hi to Ellen first and let her know I am here.
How exciting!!!
There is a video of what happens next: me meeting Ellen McLain! 😀

So once Chris gave me the go a head I was so nervous and started to walk toward her door…and here is a link to the rest!

Oh….my….gosh! How awesome is that!!
It took me a few minutes to calm down and try to relax a bit xD after I was able to do that, we decided to descend to the convention floor. Before we did that, Ellen and I looked over the railing of the floor her room was on and – holy cow! Was that high up! We both thought the exact same thing….the citadel from Half Life and a map in Team Fortress 2! How nice of a ice beaker is that lol.
So we decided to go check out were Ellen’s booth was going to be and descended. That elevator pops your ears going up and down…
It was so neat to take a second and look at all the con goers having fun and walking around. Then taking in the fact I was standing next to Ellen xD
After checking out a few things near Ellen’s booth I met a girl named Sarah who had already met Ellen before. With in seconds her and I become good friends :3 As time was approaching Ellen’s first panel, Ellen, Chris, Sarah, and I all headed out there together. Both dressed as chell.
So after some adjusting, I started to help Ellen out around her booth that night and the next few days of the convention. This was fantastic! I would leave to the panels she was in, but other then that I only left for artist ally then again before the con closed for some last minute items.
I can not stress enough how kind Ellen is.
On Saturday we got together with some other friends (and fans :P) from the convention to have some dinner with ellen. and even that at first my brain did not understand.
(hopefully you guys don’t mined these pictures..XD not one of me in there ah ha ha)
After a lot of work and laughs it was time to depart on Sunday. Ellen worked so hard and I had a blast working with her and Chris (and Sarah!….no Sun puns, okay Sarah?). I can’t wait for the next convention and maybe next time I get to meet John~
I want to again thank Chris, Ellen, and John for everything. Seriously.
I will cut this blog short for now, and maybe re-edit it with more details. But for now, enjoy some photos I would like to share from the experience:
(there are some repeating photos I can not figure out how to get rid of…)

The making of: PotaDOS with Oomoo silicone

March 11, 2012 | crafting, Uncategorized | Permalink

So I decided for this up coming trip to Momocon 2012, I should make something really cool!

Just what.

I started to think about something I could make to add to my cosplay…then it hit me- I could attempt to make my own PotaDOS! Making it would not only be fun and a great prop making experience, but it would also add a new prop to my costume. Besides, I was getting tired of finding the ‘right’ potatoe and using it for only 3 days- Then getting oddly attached while having to disassemble and throw it out afterwords…

So I was then faced with how to make the PotaDOS. I started doing some research on line, then remembered one person in particular: Harrison Krix. He is well known for his prop making (Volpin Props). Harrison has not only made a Portal gun, but also an amazing PotaDOS talking replica. So why not attempt from the expert himself, right? I went right to his page to see if looking at his Flickr stream would help me get started.
Portal gun:
Twins!
and, PotaDOS:
So, how are you holding up?

Now obviously, I was not going to make anything near this callibor. But I sure as heck was going to try!

I was reading the information on the pictures here; he wrote the line: “oomoo silicon 25″ and I decided to look that up. At the time I had no idea what it was, but had a hunch that I would need it. I found out that this is a brand of mold making material by a company called Smooth-On. I did more research on what exactly it was, then I researched the actual process of mold and cast making. After a few days I was able to locate a distributor and drive to them. They were absolutely wonderful and very helpful. I had lots of questions for them, and boy did they have answers. In fact, they did not find it too strange that I was molding a potatoe, only one person was a little curious, so I explained. After a lot of debate on what casting materials I should use, the strength on the silicon mold, etc, I bought my materials and I was off! I ended up with: Silicone mold 30, casting resin 65D, release spay, a seal spray, and some non-sulfer clay.

I left the store well informed and ready to go!

Now the next step: Off to buy the perfect potatoe!

Now for someone like me, this was a difficult task. Not to mention I was a little impatient and wanted to get home to work on making the mold. This picking process took me a good 30 minutes. And I am pretty sure everyone at my local target thinks I am a loon…. but! I ended up finding a suitable potato and going about my way.

I got home and took a picture of all my materials and posted it on my twitter account.

my materials

looking good so far! (even though nothing is actually made yet xD)

Like I said before, I was quite geared up to start that day. I got home around 5:00pm and I am definitely glad I did NOT start it then! This process needs a whole day! And that is just for setting the mold.

I decided wisely to start on my next day off and after getting a few things at the dollar store in the morning (some rubber bands, plastic cups, straws, popsicle sticks, and some rubber gloves,) I started my mold making around 11:00 am.

This process is definitely one that takes time to prepare for. If you plan on using these materials to make something, please plan it out ahead of time! These materials are a little expensive, but worth the price if used correctly.

I first went and made a mold box. Now I asked the people at the store about mold boxes, and unfortunately my original plan for a plastic box fell through…literally. The sides would not stick together. So I used a card bored one, instead. Works just fine as long as you spray the release agent on it before pouring the mold, and hot gluing the edges to keep a nice seal so no material can escape. I then added some tape just to be safe.

Once that was done, I added my non-sulfer clay to the table, then tried to push the potatoe half way through…which was really hard. So I ended up taking pieces of clay, and forming it around to make half. Always keep in mined- you are making one half of the potatoe at a time- So I wanted the clay to expose only one half first. After the potatoe and clay were all set, I added my pouring straw and my air bubble straw (the Smooth-On website has great tutorials as well!). I found out after the mold was done that I wanted a bigger pouring straw…I will get to that later. I also added some registration keys.

Mold Box and air release plus pouring vent

After this step, came the mixing step of the chemicals to make the material. It comes in 2 bottles with a equal mixing ratio. Once the colour was a uniform purple (pouring from one cup to another just to make sure), I poured it very nervously over my potatoe….

the first side done

Now as you can see, you ‘see’ the potatoe. For fear of not enough mixing material (or that I did my math wrong) I left it as it was. It worked out fine, but in the future I will make sure both half’s are completely covered. It makes the mold more durable.

This stuff is very sticky-you are going to want to wear gloves. I got it everywhere on the table, but I had it covered. Heh heh…get it? covered….oh, never mind.

mess

After the allotted curing time (6 hours) I went and poked my mold (by this time it was 10:30 PM). Everything worked fine and I then decided to mix and pour the other half to have the mold completed for the next day, so that I could start casting. I flipped the box over, and started taking off the clay from the other side.

flipped and almost ready for molding

It was a little difficult, and I was very careful not to disturb the potatoe, but I got it done and poured and went to sleep.

I made sure to spray the ease release agent I had purchased because silicone will stick to silicone.

The next morning I had to remove the mold box walls carefully, and separate the 2 pieces of silicone. Every thing set perfectly. I was then onto the casting process. I do not have any pictures of the casting process. This can be dangerous, so please if you do decide to make this wear stronger gloves. These materials get very hot while mixing and can burn you (But it is still fun). :)

I got my materials gathered outside, and again poured them into a cup and began mixing. I read the directions and they mentioned having 2 minutes of working time. When they say 2 minutes, they mean it! This stuff hardens FAST! I actually only got a little bit in my first pour, and had to do it over 3 more times because my pouring spout was way to small (I got a knife and cut it bigger-being very careful. I actually damaged a little part of the mold, but taped it and it worked just fine). Do not leave the straws in once you start to cast with resins-the resin will stick to the straw making the resin set even faster over the hole!

To fix my problems, I made a contraption where I could ‘squeeze’ the resin into my mold. This was my 3rd and last try and I was getting very worried that I would have wasted all of the material. So I started once again pouring my material. This was my last chance to get it to work and slush cast! (slush casting is pouring the resin inside, then turning around the mold on all angles to get the resin to stick to the side walls, and not make a solid replica. This process will make a hollow mold) after I poured all the material, I waited 15 minutes before de-molding…

And!

It worked just fine.

(completely removed):

Tada!

Worked out- to my relief.

Now I am onto the job of painting it and prepping it for my electric parts- MWA HA HA!

Now unfortunetly due to lack of time (as of today, the convention is 4 days away!) I had to purchase a…’cheater’ set of parts from Think Geek. I purchased their potatOS system. Once this convention is over I plan to make all the parts my self, but anyway-

I ordered the set and it came in with in a few days. Everything is working out so far except-

I have to now manipulate their PotaOS to work with out being plugged into a potatoe. Now the unit in general does not actually run off of potateo power, But it does detect when being plugged into one. So now if I put the two end pieces together, she talks like normal. So it works, I just have to figure out making it work properly (which I think I am just going to set it up like normal and add some wire to make the prongs touch to finish the circuit).

So now onto the next part:

Painting, and fitting the pieces together.

I recently bought a dremel so I think this will be somewhat easy, but I didn’t want to jinx my self. My resin potato is pretty strong, but I want to be very careful when drilling into it. I went from small to big, working on the main circle first. After tat was fitted, I added other holes to fit all the other parts.

I traced out the basic shape of the PotadOS unite, and went to work.

started and so far so good…

After what I am sure was an hour, I got the part fitted, then started drilling holes for the detail.

and…

all drilled and happy.

Now I just have to prime, and paint!

Not this was not so hard compared to what was already done. I had already bought the brown paint, I just needed a good primer. So, I decided to drive to my local Home Depot and get some paint. Walked all around the store, got to the front, was getting checked out and I was all happy until I realised I forgot my wallet. My wallet…really? I had to runto my car (which I was now driving with out a license) back home and get it. I felt quite scatter brained, but I think I will blame that on my cold….

anyway, I got it and went about my crafting.

primed and painted- first coat.

:)

So now I am pretty happy with how and where everything is now. I think I can now take my time and hand paint details if I so choose.

Like I said before though:

I do plan on making the electric components once I have time on my hands after the convention. A lot of love and time went into my PotaDOS and I hope it turned out to others looking good as well. I think it looks good to me, but maybe I am a little bias….:)

A little on Momocon 2012:

I am seriously so excited to go. I will be bringing this potatoe and hopefully a few other costumes with me. I can not state enough how thankful I am (Chris! (: ) and how excited I am to meet Ellen. She is my idol. I am counting down the days and it almost feels like I am counting down the seconds. This will probably be the best convention I will go to. Ever. I am also excited that Volpin will be there as well. (I just wished I was able to make the electrical parts of the potatoe and show him more proudly in that department,) but! I am still proud non the less. I would love for Ellen and Harrison to sign my creation :).

thank you to all who read my entries so far. Much appreciated ~

Don’t forget to read my other entry about where I got to talk to Ellen Mclain in a surprise interview!

Portal fans dream come true! With Ellen Mclain

February 6, 2012 | Conventions, interviews, Uncategorized | Permalink

(My interview link with Chris Pope, Ellen McLain, and John Patrick Lowrie from Ellen’s site here to skip my write up )

Back in November one morning I was sitting out on my patio drinking a tea and talking to my mom. I was updating her on topics we usually discuss in the morning. One of my primary topics was the news that Ellen Mclain, the voice actress of GLaDOS from Portal, was nominated for an award at the 2011 VGA’s! Me being such a huge Portal fan, my mom is always well informed on these types of things.  We were both really excited for Ellen. She was nominated for best performance by a human female.

As my mom and I talked back and forth about this, I ended up mentioning the topic “I should write her a letter….or better yet…make her a video”. To be honest, I have always wanted to write Ellen but for some strange reason, never had. I even said the video part somewhat jokingly to my mom. My mom loved the idea and she was the one who pushed me to do it. Little did I know what would come of this little video….

So I got completely inspired!

I started planing the type of video, what to wear, all the funny things to say, etc. I mainly wanted to congratulate her on her nomination, and to thank her for all the inspiration she has caused me (I will get into that later). I planned on posting it to my youtube channel and to pretty much try to see if I could actually get Ellen to see it (which I never really thought was going to happen). I don’t really have views on my channel, or subscribers but I did not let that stop me.

So I started. I got my phone (since it records 1080P) and literally rubber banded it to my tripod and started recording from scratch. Which ended up being a horrible idea… lol. I was nervous about saying the right things, looking good on the camera, not going off track, etc. I probably recorded my self 20 different times no exaggeration. It took me hours and I was really starting to get down on my self.

I eventually gave up. I got mad and thought “this won’t work…this is not at all interesting, none the less something she would want to watch”. I sat for a few minutes at my desk in silence then walked out to my mom to get some advice. She told me to think about it then maybe try again tomorrow. But I was determined to get it done THAT DAY.

So I did. Only instead, I ended up doing a voice recording. I am definitely more comfortable knowing no one can see me. I can just talk and edit if I say something I don’t like. After I got what I wanted to say down (congratulating her on the nomination, talking about how much she inspire me and more), I then had to think of what she would maybe want to look at as she watched this video. I ended up taking a bunch of pictures from my costumes, photoshop, and 3D modeling and making a slideshow in after effects.

Once it was all rendered out and re-watched about 50 times, I finally gave it the OK and uploaded it to Youtube. That is…after I added one piece from my video footage I did like. There was a clip in there of most of my Portal collectable items from toys, to posters etc. I thought maybe Ellen (or other youtube viewers) would get a kick out of it.

After the video was successfully added-and now live- on youtube on the 27th (you can watch below or click here ) I became very self conscious and nervous about it. But I was more concerned with getting her to watch it since the VGA’s were coming up soon.

I ended up basically using every social media service out there to try to link it to her. I was a little worried I might come across too persistent-like I was bothering her, and I definitely did not want that, but I kept doing what I was doing.

I linked it to her on her twitter one day, her Facebook another, and finally even an email through her website which I think was the winner due to timing.

I waited a few days.. Everything was quiet…until.. finally I got an email back!

It was from Chris Pope, her publicist.

He and I started writing back and forth for a few days and we set up an interview date. I really have to give him a huge shout out for this opportunity. Once I received his email about a Skype interview, I was ecstatic! I remember thinking: “Ellen’s publicist wants to interview me? wooooow!” I remember reading one of his emails specifically talking about the stuff we would talk about in the interview:

Hey Samantha,

What I plan to talk to you about is fandom. Specifically fandom involving valve’s Portal series and of course, Ellen.

I get insane amounts of fan mail to go through all week log for Ellen, as you can imagine it can get tedious at times. Part of what I do for my clients like Ellen is sort through mail involving  fans, trolls, and spam. Ellen gets ….  Lots of fan made videos, lots of fan made audio, pictures, you name it, I’ve probably seen it/heard it lol.

Anyway, rarely do I come across a fan as genuine as you. … You are very well spoken, you came across extremely genuine, you left yourself so vulnerable, like your heart and feelings are there for the world to see even though you were truly speaking to Ellen. I was touched at your efforts honestly.

For awhile now I’ve been deeply blessed to work with and talk daily with some of the most incredible, unique, famous … people from movies, video games, tv, theatre, you name it. I’d forgotten what it was like to be a hardcore fan of something/someone.

You reminded me…

I feel you represent the essence of what it means to be a true fan, one willing to put herself out there without fear of ridicule or self doubt. Many probably have the urge to do what you did, but few have the gumption or guts to do it. This is truly why I wanted to talk to you. To give Ellens fan base a glimpse of the passion that some of you deeply posses.

I want to talk to you about some of what you said during the video. About how the GLaDOS character speaks to you as a fan. Why portal excites you. What it is about Ellen’s portrayal of GLaDOS that appeals to you.

 

That email made my morning. I literally read it at 5:30 AM when I was up for work. Not only did it make me feel even more excited for the interview, it also made me feel appreciated-that my effort was seen and heard loud and clear. I could not wait for the interview date to come to be able to talk to Chris about what I love- Portal. And of course, Ellen Mclain. And knowing that Ellen will or has already seen my video.

So soon after I began preparing for the interview, Chris asked me to write down 3 questions I would like to possibly have answered by Ellen Mclain and I jumped at the opportunity. Only now I was not only mentally preparing for the interview, I was also thinking of the perfect questions to ask her. I did my best to try and ask her questions that she has not been asked before.

These are the questions I came up with:

Question 1-
What was Ellen’s initial carrer choice?
in other words, did she originally set out to be a voice actress/singer? Or did she have other goals?
Question 2-
how did she start voice acting? The actual process that went into it, and what was her inspiration?
I was always interested in voice acting, but never knew what actually went with it and how.
And!
Question 3-
Are you actually involved with/familiar with the story of Portal? (maybe more now than in Portal 1 days?) Instead of maybe just doing the gig-knowing the story and getting involved- for example the relationship between GlaDOS and Caroline.

Obviously she was asked 2 of these before, but the thing was- I wanted to hear them for my self; I wanted to hear her tell me or read the answers.

So after I sent off those questions, the count down began and I started to wait for the 10th of December and 9:00 PM. There was really nothing for me to prepare for…I had no idea the actual questions he was going to ask me, all I could do was wait.

Eventually that day came and I re-played through Portal 1 and 2 for good measure, along with a few other games. My mom was supper excited for me as well and she was prepared to be extra quiet when the time came. We have dogs and cats, so I did not want to end up getting distracted by hearing one of them.

 You can listen to the interview here and also read about it.

The interview went really well. I was extremely nervous! But I loved every minute of it. I was supper surprised when ELLEN MCLAIN JOINED IN THE CONVERSATION!! (and so did her husband John Patrick Lowrie!!!!!)

I could not believe it!!! I almost died! (In a good way of course) Chris was bringing up the questions I wanted to have Ellen answer. I had NO idea he had plans for her to actually join in and answer them! I was flabbergasted and so happy that I got to talk to her! I was definitely speechless, too. Then she got John to pop in which just made it better-everyone needs to hear non-teamfortress 2 material say to them in a non specific Aussie accent…>:D (Team fortress 2 joke- if you don’t play the game, sorry)

I am still so grateful for that opportunity. I urge readers to listen to it. If you want,  you can skip ahead to when Ellen joins in which is I think about half an hour in. It was definitely a lot of fun.

 

And yes. Ellen and John watched my video.

And! Ellen won the award at the VGA’s!

Thank you guys!!

and Congrats Ellen!!

 

If you do listen, or have listened to the interview, you will remember or will hear Ellen and Chris mention Momocon 2012. I have made plans and arrangements, and I am definitely going there and spending it with Ellen Mclain! I am a cosplayer and you can fined me on Deviant art here (I a not on it much these days) – I will be cosplaying as Chell, maybe the Sniper, or even Zoey. I may even debut a Caroline cosplay.

I will definitely post more about this on days to come, and after the convention for sure here when I return.

 

Thank you for reading my very first, and possibly most epic and important blog posts. I need to give a HUGE thanks to Chris Pope for EVERYTHING he has done for me. And I want to thank Ellen and John again for taking time to talk with me and for watching my video. That made my…life lol.

thank you (: