Where’d Mr. Bluesummers Go?

Written May 2nd, 2010
Categories: Blog

Hey all,

Right now I’m still working on parts of the new 3dCodex.com site. Take a look at the mocks below. Chaos Group got back to me with a demo version of the latest VRay, and I’ll be unboxing that tonight and giving it a thorough investigation. I’ll start writing out a final review and posting it here.

Expect some movement this week!

More Tutorials Pending

Written April 23rd, 2010
Categories: Blog
1 Comment »

Hey all,

Wanted to let you know that I’ll have some more tutorials coming down the pipe soon. I’m also working on the 3d Codex project again so I’ll have updates on that later this weekend.

For now, you can check out my posts on 3dTotal.com and CGSociety.com. I put up the entire Monday Movie lineup and it looks kind of cool to see all of the preview images in one big column.  Feel free to grab your favorites for your blog as I’ll continue to host those images indefinitely.

Sweet Inspiration from NatGeo

Written April 20th, 2010
Categories: Blog

There’re some great photos of the Iceland volcanic ash cloud being posted over at National Geographic.  Check it out.

Incredible- and great inspiration, too.

OCZ Solid State Drives, RAID-0

Written April 12th, 2010
Categories: Articles, Blog

I’ve installed two OCZ Vertex Turbo 60GB solid state drives and created a RAID-0 array.  I want to share my experience with you.

From the top

This has been quite a weekend.  I’ve lost most/all of my data including my Monday Movie resources, music, movies, software, and other irreplaceable this-and-that.  At the very least, I should write about why this all happened and encourage others to carefully try the same.  It’s really given me a snappy computer setup and, despite the crippling cost, I would probably do it again.  Probably.


Here’s the rundown:

  1. Two OCZ Vertex Turbo SSDs (2.5″): $200 each.
  2. Two Icy Dock 2.5″->3.5″ HDD converters: $20 each.
  3. Backups are critical- take offsite backups, or at least store data in an external drive and disconnect it.
  4. Enable write-back cache to enhance performance.

So let’s take a look at what I did, how I did it, and how you can profit from the process without having to pay the agonizing cost I did.

Gearing Up

Learn From My Mistakes- Take Backups

I backed up my data on another hard drive that is attached to my computer.  However, I didn’t unplug it and the RAID system I created might have mucked with the boot sector.  Successive attempts to repair the problem made things worse.  Long story short, just buy a passport.  At $150 for a terabyte of data, you’ll never run out and it’s a great place to put data while you’re working on your rig.  I have a smaller one that wasn’t suitable for some of the stuff I needed to back up so at least I have some of my documents.

The OCZ Solid State Drives- Purchase and Unboxing

For starters, I bought the drives from Newegg.  Again, these were the 60GB Vertex Turbo 2.5″ units you can find here.

Unopened OCZ 60GB Solid State Drive Front

Unopened OCZ 60GB Solid State Drive Front

Unopened OCZ 60GB Solid State Drive Back

Unopened OCZ 60GB Solid State Drive Back

Alright.  We’re ready with the drives.  Let’s open them up and take a look!

Alright.  We’re ready with the drives.  Let’s open them up and take a look!

OCZ 60GB Vertex Turbo Instruction Manual

OCZ 60GB vertex turbo carefully placed on top of the drive.

The OCZ Vertex Turbo 60GB Size Comparison

The OCZ Vertex Turbo as compared to an ordinary pen.

Now initially I had bought mounting brackets- probably like you’re planning on doing because they’re cheaper.  Do not do this. The brackets do not increase the length of the drives, which is what really matters in some cases (like mine).  Take a look at the following images.

OCZ Vertex Turbo SSDs and Mounting Brackets

The SSDs and mounting brackets in their packaging.

Mounting Brackets on OCZ Vertex Turbo Solid State Drives

Mounting brackets attached…properly?

OCZ SSD with wrong mounting brackets

This…isn't going to work, is it? Nope- the adapted drives are wide enough,but not long enough.

Tape-mounted solid state drives

Drive mounted with tape. I know, but I'm not going to Frys again.

Now I didn’t leave them tape mounted.  Once I confirmed that the drives were working, I went out and bought the two Icy Docks to hold the drives.  They convert the size to a full 3.5″ hard drive specification which is what my case is expecting.

Once the hard part was over, it was time for some benchmarking.  Note that I am not tech savvy compared to some other people out there so if I can do it, you can do it.  Here’s some performance metrics for the two OCZ Vertex Turbo drives in Raid-0.  I know they’re not comprehensive- you can find more details elsewhere.  I just want to give you an idea of what an ordinary human can do.

Solid State RAID0 Reading Performance

File reading performance graph for solid state RAID-0 array.

Hard Disk Drives in RAID0

These are two Seagate HDDs and their RAID-0 Read Performance

The two Seagate drives are Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3320620AS 320GB.  Take a look at some random access stats:

HDD Random Access Performance in RAID-0

HDD Random Access Performance in RAID-0

OCZ Vertex Turbo Solid State Drives and Random Access

OCZ Vertex Turbo solid state drives and random access- a match made in heaven!

You can see that the solid state drives provide a lot in the way of random access.  Overall they’re faster, but they really shine in accessing and moving small files.  The kind you’ll use in rendering scenes that need to page textures and assets.  The kind you’ll use in running games that need to reach out to map files and textures often during level changes.

And that’s the overview.  This was a pretty easy operation, everything considered.  I’m looking forward to really pushing the limits of this system with some gaming/rendering!

Damage Assessment

Written April 11th, 2010
Categories: Blog
1 Comment »

Alright guys,

The damage is looking pretty bad. I’ve lost all of my original footage to the Monday Movies, the bumper resources (intro, outro), and original scenes. This is in addition to personal stuff like documents, music, videos, etc. I’m in the process of a last ditch effort to un-RAID one of my original drives and try to recover the partition but my magic 8 ball says the outlook isn’t good.

Once I’m done grieving, I’ll try to push out some written tutorials for you while I clear the rubble and rebuild.  Just please, remember, rule #1 of any serious project is to keep offsite backups.  At $50/year/200Gb with Google Docs storage there’s no reason not to.

Looking Good

Written March 30th, 2010
Categories: Blog

The site is starting to look more like what I want.  The next steps are going to be getting back on track with the Monday Movies and re-tagging the posts so that their easier to find.  Please feel free to use the feedback box I included in the side bar- it really helps me aggregate what everyone’s looking for.

So far I’ve only gotten about 4 respondents and they said they want more Modeling and VRay tutorials so I guess that’s what I’ll do.  Tonight I’ll wrap up the latest episode and see if I can get to work on another one.  I’ve got some good stuff lined up for you so stay tuned!

Wroking on it!

Written March 29th, 2010
Categories: Blog

I know, there’s a lot that’s borked right now. I’m taking care of it now. 🙂

EDIT: Repaired pagination and the missing tutorials issue.
EDIT: Stripped “Related Posts” from tutorials until I can figure out how to scale that stuff.
EDIT: Repaired missing images from some tutorials.
EDIT: I’m probably going to remove the pre-roll static ad and the overlays from the videos. I thought they’d be…more tasteful than that.
EDIT: Stripped away those ads. Contacting LTV tomorrow to find out what’s wrong.

New Chrome Ad (Mac)

Written February 11th, 2010
Categories: Blog

Found one today.  ^_^

Eden Hotel Images Update

Written February 4th, 2010
Categories: Blog
No Comments »

Just wanted to let everyone know that I updated my Eden Hotel images post.  Turns out the script I ran left behind about half the images I wanted to put up, so the collection is even larger than what you saw before.

P.S. Sorry about the recent downtime.  My host is having some trouble keeping the site up.  We’re running PHP on windows hosting on a shared server, and that stacks up all kinds of complications.  I’ll probably migrate this thing early next week so that’ll clear up a lot of issues (and maybe even speed things up a bit).  Also, I know I owe you another Monday Movie- I’ll try to hammer out that extra one as soon as I have extra time!

Steampunk Hotel Eden Photos

Written February 3rd, 2010
Categories: Blog

Hey everyone,

So I took a trip to Argentina about a month ago, and I wanted to upload some of the sweet photos I took of the Hotel Eden.  It’s basically this massive hotel that was built back in the late 1800s and early 1900s and it just screams spooky steampunk from every angle.  I took as many shots as I could.  The originals are in high resolution (2500px wide) but below you’ll find some thumbnails that click through to the higher resolution versions. Be sure to click the “More” link- there’s TONS of images!

Eden Hotel Balcony 01

Eden Hotel Balcony 02
Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Make a Deal

Written January 25th, 2010
Categories: Blog

Hey all,

This week doesn’t have a Monday Movie lined up just yet. I got pretty sick over the weekend, so I haven’t done the recording. I just slept and didn’t eat anything. I’ll try to make up for it next week with a two-parter to keep week parity. Maybe two videos on VRay?


First Impressions of VRay

Written January 20th, 2010
Categories: Blog
First Shot at VRay

First Attempt at VRay

Hey all,

I’ve been having trouble finding someone who has VRay that would be willing to let me borrow it, so I’ve decided to just download the trial version and work from there.  Within the first 20 minutes of fooling around I managed to create the image on the right.

My first impression of VRay is positive.  The interface is tight and flows smoothly from lighting, to materials, to GI and depth of field blur.  I felt at home very quickly since everything feels like it’s in nice, logical places and the settings respond in reasonable ways.  On the downside, I’m noticing a distinct lack of presets and quick settings that prevent you from really going into second gear.  This is something that the mental ray renderer discovered several versions ago and corrected for.  Also, it has a really annoying habit of turning off GI and caustics settings between renders.

I’ll add more as it happens, but so far it looks like there may be VRay video tutorials in our future.

EDIT: I noticed also that the demo version is SP2 while the documentation is for SP4.  There are a lot of features missing- I’ve e-mailed the ChaosGroup to see what we can work out.

First Round of Transcriptions Complete

Written January 18th, 2010
Categories: Blog
No Comments »

Hey all!

I’ll have my next 3dsMax video tutorial up shortly.

In the meantime, I wanted to announce that the first round of transcriptions are complete.  I’ll be adding these in batches if they prove to be useful.  I’ll monitor the next few weeks to see if there’s any improvement in site traffic corresponding to the change.  Below is the list of updated posts:

Happy Holidays

Written December 25th, 2009
Categories: Blog

Hey everyone,

Hope you all are having a great holiday and a happy new year. I’ll be on vacation until Jan 11th so I may not be able to respond to comments or e-mails as much. On the bright side, I’m queuing up some Monday Movies for uninterrupted website service.

Remember to hug your family and tell them you love them! ^_^

Best wishes,
–Alejo “Mr. Bluesummers” Grigera

Quick Anouncement

Written December 1st, 2009
Categories: Blog

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that some changes are afoot.  In the short-term, I’m encoding the latest Monday Movie now, so I should have it up by 8pm Pacific Time (~5AM Paris).  I have to go to work, that’s why there’s such a long delay.

Now the bad news is that I’m going to be deleting my YouTube account, and all the movies inside.  It’s going to be a big shift, but it’s important because I need to redo a lot of the videos in there.  The good news is that after all this is done, I’ll be going back through all the videos and

  • Re-encoding them to maximize quality (if the original footage exists),
  • Re-uploading them with robust, consistent metadata, and
  • Uploading them in multiple places, and broadcasting the posts to different communities.

Anyway, just a heads up.  I don’t want anyone to worry when all the videos disappear for a while.  I’ll try to keep the downtime to a minimum by getting all the uploadable videos ready ahead of time.

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