A telephone is wasted if all you can do with it is talk to people.
After redesigning the Website using Adobe’s Flash, I was eager to do a short film in the same medium, as a warm-up to doing more ambitious projects. (I have since updated my site using WordPress, so it is no longer a Flash site.)
Having enjoyed watching many exotic B Movies I find that’s where much of my inspiration comes from. Carstairs and Wilkins are characters I had developed a while ago and I thought they would be perfect for this project. The characters were designed and animated in traditional pencil, applying all the usual production steps. They were then scanned and imported into Flash.
I used a drawing tablet with Flash to trace and finish the drawings, but as I progressed, I found I was able to create many elements directly within the program.
Flash has many amazing features and powerful tools as well as some unexpected pitfalls to work around, as it is mostly designed for Website development. Another advantage is that it outputs a very small file size, which is very beneficial for fast downloads from the Internet. (It turned out that flash wasn’t ideal for exporting video, so I have moved on to other products to create animation since this project.)
After recording multiple takes of the dialogue lines in different voices, a story structure appeared in my mind and I completed a storyboard, which I followed very closely, embellishing the visuals further at every stage.
During the production “Carstairs”, many other story lines sprang to mind, so who knows? A sequel could be in the cards.
A scene from the film, “Carstairs” which can be found here: (Flash plugin required) I have plans to post the video version some time in the near future.
UPDATED OCT 02, 2016
This project was originally created for New Years Eve, back in 2006. I modelled and animated the character using Blender 3D, an open source software package. It also resides in the Screening Room in the old flash site. It was animated a few months after Coffin Capers.
Happy New Year!
Recently I’ve been using Chromecast to watch “The National” (CBC) on my TV. I do not have cable, and my antenna can’t pick it up over the air. (It works well with the Knowledge.ca and TVO.org videos as well.)
To use it, I open up the tab on my Chrome browser, enable the Chromecast icon on the top right corner, and then maximize the screen. It works reasonably well as long as your WiFi is fast and isn’t too busy.
Some websites, like YouTube have a little icon that you click on to enable video casting. With sites that do not have this feature, as in the examples I mentioned above, you need to cast video from a Chrome tab.
Chromecast is basically a small inexpensive piece of hardware that pugs into an HDMI port on your TV. I don’t see it as a replacement for the Roku 3, which I use most of the time for streaming, but you can actually do a lot with Chromecast, including watching YouTube videos and cast video from Tablo.
Here is the documentation and a video: https://support.google.com/chromecast/answer/3228332?hl=en-CA&ref_topic=4602553
I still use the original Chromecast device. Amazon delivered it in a few days. There is a new model out, but according to most reviews, it’s not a huge improvement and not a reason to upgrade. http://www.cnet.com/products/google-chromecast-2015/
Originally posted on OCT 25/2006 – “Coffin Capers”, a creepy 3D animated greeting returns just in time for Halloween. It was modelled and animated using Blender 3D, an open source software package. It also resides in the Screening Room in the old flash site.
The character you see is one that I have been developing for many years, originally as a comic and a 2D animated character. When I bought an Amiga computer in the 90’s, I made some early attempts to model and animate it in 3D using a program called Imagine (which was abandoned by the developers years ago}. This was before Toy Story existed! Eventually, I discovered Blender 3D and found that it had matured as a useful program in 2006 and this is the result. I completed another short project for New Years, which can also be found in the Screening Room.
I found myself busy with several jobs after that and other 2D projects of my own. I may revisit this character again as I have so many assets to work with.
“Cutting the cord” for under $50.00 per month
Your various digital habits such as phones, cable and internet can be costly on a yearly basis. A couple of years ago I looked into changing that. I often get asked about this, so decided to share these notes. I currently pay less than $50.00 per month for my Phone, TV and High Speed Internet. There are some up front costs like installation fees and purchasing modems and the Tablo. (Cell phone not included, which I will explain later) Within a year, all those up front purchases will pay for themselves with the money you are not paying to your old providers.
Think about what you can do with all the money you’re saving!
High Speed Internet
After years with Bell and a year with Cogeco, I discovered TekSavvy. I find they have reasonable rates and I am allowed more data per month than I can use. (Uploads are always free. This is important when I have to deliver a lot of animation content for jobs.) I bought their modem and it was pre-configured to hook up myself. I found their customer service to be very good. There are different plans but I found this one suited my needs:
Cable 6 Lite / 150 GB Monthly Usage Limit / $29.95 per month plus taxes.
It uses the existing Cogeco cable at my house, which TekSavvy has an arrangement to use. You should be aware that any Cogeco service outages will affect your system (including internet phones), but TekSavvy will assist you with those concerns.
I added my own router for WiFi. There are many kinds to choose from. An “N300” type is a good start and works reasonably well for streaming video across the house. I think I got it for $50.00 Many gigabit WiFi routers are on the market offering faster speeds. I haven’t felt a need to upgrade but they could be less expensive by now.
When adding the router and you have a telephone modem (see the part about Telephones, below), the best practice is to plug the router into the telephone modem (which is plugged into the internet modem). If there is no telephone modem, plug the router directly into the internet modem. This can be critical if you find your phone isn’t working correctly.
Again, I was looking for a low priced alternative to the other companies, and still wanted an inexpensive land line. You might prefer to do away with a land line and get a cell phone. I still have a Nokia flip phone and pay the minimum $100.00 per year for the Rogers Pay-As-You-Go plan. It’s fine for occasional use and emergencies. The battery stays charged for weeks!
Since I was switching to TekSavvy for my internet services, I decided to use their internet phone service, which works with their high speed internet service. I bought their modem for the phone as well. This is the plan I use:
Tek Talk Premium /$14.95 per month plus taxes/ Unlimited local calling, 100 minutes of North American long distance and dozens of handy features. (call display and answering machine)
I decided to discard my cable account with Cogeco, as I found I was paying for many stations that I do not watch. There are a few good alternatives.
STREAMING FROM THE INTERNET – You can find a lot of free content online, or subscribe to pay services such as Netflix or AcornTV. I use the Roku 3 hardware to view the internet streaming content on my digital TV screen. There are other brands but the Roku 3 model is highly recommended. I haven’t used the pay services yet as I get more content than I have time to watch with my antenna. (For this reason, my internet usage is very low and the data plan I have is more than adequate. If you do a lot of streaming, you might need a data plan that reflects those needs.) The greatest advantage is you don’t need to bother with an antenna, and you have a wide selection of on demand programming.
HD DIGITAL ANTENNA – With a cheap Indoor antenna I can get several high definition stations with my digital TV for free. I use an RCA Digital Flat TV Antenna. Even an old set of “rabbit ears” might get you a few channels. Check TVFool to see what over-the-air stations are available in your area. You can get better results with an antenna on your roof or in your attic, but I have enough stations to watch with this setup.
Finding a good installer for an outdoor antenna can be a challenge. There’s a few around and you have to find someone who will make sure it is installed correctly. Some people do it themselves. The screws need to be sealed properly to avoid leaks in your roof if, and the antenna should be well grounded in case there is a lightening strike. Then there is the possibility of falling off the roof. Many people find good results when they place an indoor antenna in an attic, or by a window. You get better results the higher you go, and if there are no obstructions from trees or buildings.
RECORDING YOUR SHOWS – I discovered a great DVR (Digital Video Recorder) called a TABLO – made in Canada. They also have a lot of documentation about digital antennas too. You need to buy an external USB hard drive to record your shows. Their website and online forum will help you with this choice.
This article is meant to be a starting point, and you might find other alternatives when you do some research of your own.
Plan carefully in case you need a stable land line for your 911 calls, and if you rely on the technology for dispatchers to locate you.
I assume no responsibility for injuries or damages as a result of improper installation, although the level of risk is mostly low, unless you are installing an outdoor antenna.
I do not work for or own shares in the companies mentioned.