19 December 2016

Behemoth site update

I finally got the nerve to dump Dreamweaver and bought Sparkle, which I wrote about earlier this year. I don't do much internet design anymore so it's mostly just my own site and a couple others I maintain. I thought it would take weeks to months to get it right, like a Dreamweaver reboot would have but it honestly only took a day to work out most of it. After a few weeks I went back and changed a few things after thinking harder about some of the features.

Also, I added my dew doc, Village Gai, my new animation Cool Air and a couple of the science shorts I do for Dr. Christopher labor at Mouton No More. I updated my CVs too so its all up to date for 2017.

08 December 2016

Affinity Photo 1.5

As promised, Affinity has released a HUGE update to their photo app and it's pretty amazing over all.  Already giving Photoshop a run for it's money, this version fills in many gaps and requests from users and really puts it level with and in some cases above Photoshop now in terms of usability and useful features.

Is it perfect? No at all. What it is is a robust, professional photo editing app that has most of what any pro might need. I really like the new stacking features and the focus stacking outshines Photoshop in my opinion  easily. Where it needs work is the HDR persona. I am an avid user of the NIK?Google suite of plugins, especially HDR Pro and that is still king for my work in HDR. It's hard to even get similar looks for comparing the two with the same images. One feature all the NIK/Google plugins have is the pin selection tool which is put genius for selecting areas to affect changes to. I don't know why no one else has taken this approach because I would use it for just about everything. The pugs for the most work well in Affinity Photo, the improvement being part of this update so I was hoping i could import an HDR and then tone it using HDR Pro... didn't really work well. It looked fine in HDR Pro but didn't import back into Affinity photo. Maybe this is something that will be addressed in  the next update (which come fairly often).

Right now the price is lower so I would say buy it if you don't have it already. Updates are free until they get to version 2.0 I think and with Adobe's monthly rip off scam and price, getting this now is a no brainer.

A 4 image focus merge taken with natural light:

HDR with Affinity Photo:

Similar shot, taken minutes apart with HDR Pro.
I really couldn't get them much closer. I had better luck using HDR pro in Affinity Photo with just one RAW file.

03 December 2016

Cool Air

Cool Air from Vincent-louis Apruzzese on Vimeo.

My third and maybe last Lovecraft animation, at least for a while unless I start getting paid to do them. I want to do something funny next!

Final Cut Pro 10.3.1, Motion 5/3, Affinity Designer 1.5

I am still waiting for some software to come out (Affinity Photo 1.5, Obduction, X-particles potential update) but that doesn’t mean nothing has been updated. 

Apple did a huge update to Final Cut X that as full of good stuff overall. The autoscrolling timeline still isn’t  there… I don’t get it it’s in all their other software even iMovie. The new layout is confusing at first but as I get used to it it’s makes more sense. I like the preset layouts especially over two monitors. I have found it more stable and faster on my system at least. The new audio tools were really needed but finding my sound effects from external files is little screwy now and needs to be sorted out. 

Motion also got an update. Well as much an update as it ever gets. It’s a good software that merits a lot more love than Apple gives it. Basically it works better and looks like the new Final Cut X. It is in desperate need of new features, basic ones. I personally could use a vector motion blur and Z depth filter for my 3D work but I will have to wait for a Boris plugin update to get those at 200$ which is a lot to add on to a 50$ program as a plugin. 

Affinity Designer 1.5 got a large update and it’s pretty sweet. I don’t do much internet layout in it but the flexible layouts is a big improvement for that. I have been using it over Illustrator more and more for my professional design work and I'm not sorry about that in the least. I can’t recommend the Affinity products enough these days. The company is responsive, quick to fix things and open about their development. The two products released are reasonably priced, well featured and always improving. 

01 November 2016

documentaire - Village gai

Mon nouveau documentaire, Village gai est fini!

28 October 2016

Vector experiment

When I was a kid, my cousin and I would make comic strips using the Fischer price toys we had as even younger kids as characters. It was weird and we still do little things with it now and then.

In any case the originals were obviously done before computers so they were drawn on typewriter paper and the text was typed out then glued on the images. Colour comics were coloured with pencils, watercolours... water I had around. Maybe were black and white so I used the new Super Vectorizer 2 to convert one of the pages then coloured using Affinity designer... sort of using some ideas I stole from Mike Luce who had a little live drawing show I would tune in to when he did it. He make sit look so easy... it's NOT!

You learn a lot more doing a project than playing. I think so anyway.  The vectorization was not as clear as I would like but since Illustrator CS5 isn't so stable anymore and CS6 tracing sort of sucks, this will be part of my Adobe replacement plan.

I did make me want to do more.

18 October 2016

Music of Erich Zann at film Indiefest San Francisco

I can't seem to stop posting this week! The first animation in my Lovecraft series will be presented as part of the Another Hole in the Head section of Indiefest in San Francisco. If anyone is in the area, go and tell me how it went!

Showing In
Shorts - At the Movies of Madness
New People CinemaTue, Nov 1 9:00 PM
Film Info
Director:Nomi Apruzzese
Running Time:4 min.
Year of Release:2016

17 October 2016

Look Kool - the TV show I work on - nominated for an Emmy

Cannes/Mipcom, October 17, 2016 - Nominations for the International Emmy®Kids Awards were announced today by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences at a press conference at Mipcom. There are 28 nominees in 7 categories. The full list of Nominees follows this release.

Nominations span 13 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

"Nothing in television is more important than what children watch everyday and the Academy is proud to be the preeminent platform for remarkable and notable kids programming," said Bruce L. Paisner, President & CEO of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. "We congratulate the 2016 Nominees."

The International Emmy® Kids Awards at Miptv presenting partners are: Ernst & Young, Miptv, Shaw Rocket Fund, TV Kids and WDR.

Winners will receive their award in Cannes, France on Tuesday April 4, 2017.

Kids: Non-Scripted Entertainment

Novel Entertainment
United Kingdom

Look Kool
Apartment 11 Productions Inc.  / TVOKids

Tem Crianca na Cozinha (Guess Who's Cooking?)
Gloob / Samba Filmes

Ultras Sorte Kageshow (Baking in the Dark)
Danish Broadcasting Corporation

Barn Cat drawing

this is he fastest drawing I have done in along time, maybe because I kept it really loose and the focused the details on the head and let the rest be more fluid. I didn't add any additional shading with greys or chalk or anything and just kept ti to pure line work with a little bit of stippling.

30 September 2016

Space Station test/update

Some projects I just use as tests, seeing how the render with a software or hardware upgrade or if they can be improved as I acquire new skills. This is one of those projects and I am pretty happy with it at the moment.

The station takes about 20 hours to render, far too long but it has a lot of details in case I ever want to do a close up shot. The earth has improved immensely since the first try at this and looks pretty real, I think, in this version.

27 September 2016

Sparkle web design app

In my quest to replace Adobe products with more affordable and better made applications that don’t charge me for the privilege of using them them every month, I may have finally come across  Dreamweaver alternative that works for me. 

To be clear, this is not a program for coders… in any way shape or form. It’s clearly for people like me who are designers and want something that works closer to a page layout program. While it is not as flexible as many might like, it basically covers all the bases and will improve with each iteration in response to what the users say they need. 

I am currently re-working the Behemoth media site with it and almost immediately came across a bug. I contacted Sparkle, got a reply in a couple hours and a solution minutes after I sent in the file for them to look at with promise to look into the bug right away and a quick tip baed on the file I sent that was more than a little helpful. So it is fair to say they won me over fairly quickly over the poor service I’ve reviewed at Adobe over the last many years. 

Using the application is very simple to figure out and not having to work in tables and place everything where you want, even over other elements without having to think of the technical aspects is very freeing as a designer. I haven’t found any templates available, which to me at least is a good thing. nor have I found any plugins, though you can embed code using a an embed object that might allow to insert Hype animations at a future date. The gallery feature is basically and easy to use, very clean looking with limited but useful adjustable parameters. This could be said about almost all the features offered at present.. clean, useful, uncomplicated. 

I am just starting with this software but I already love using it. I swear a lot less and work much faster. I don’t do much web design for clients these days, that business all went to the drag and drop companies a couple years back, so something like Sparkle handles all my current needs very well and I assume it will only get better from here on out. 

Update: behemoth media site updated with Sparkle

17 September 2016

Software I am looking forward to

I am not really someone who just buys and tries lots of software. What I have already is complicated enough to keep me busy but updates and occasionally new software catches my attention and gets me excited. 

Affinity is producing some really nice stuff so far, I have both Designer and Photo and I am really looking forward to a couple of new things from them. Photo is getting a big update, soon, not sure when exactly and it will fill some of the remaining gaps with Adobe Photoshop… making it much easier to stop using Photoshop in future. They will also be releasing a page layout program to compete with Indesign and I am very curious to see what they do as it’s one of those core softwares I can’t do without and will need ago replace when my current Adobe stuff eventually stops working because I refuse to pay them a ransom every month. Also in the works is a program to organize files, like Adobe Bridge does now and that would be amazing. 

I am not a big gamer, but I have been waiting years for Obduction, the Myst-like new game form the makers of Myst. It’s technically already out, just not for the Mac so I have to wait. It looks fantastic and the early reviews have been stellar. 

3D Coat is something I am deciding to add to my Cinema 4D workflow as it that is one application I am not updating anytime soon. Too much money for too few new features and it still misses basic functions even free software has nowadays. Maxon is so terrible now with their updating that 3rd party plugins basically take me me far beyond what even their next version upgrade will be. X-Particles is getting much better fire and smoke simulations we are told, something no version of C4D can do at all and the current 3D Coat surpasses even the coming updates in Body paint for texturing. So I will be stuck C4D version 16 a long time. I have been seriously looking into Blender to see how easily I can replace C4D if need be in the future. 

Since I made the switch to Final Cut X it has already made some big improvements but it really needs to settle some existing workflow problems and with a rumoured update in the works I hope it and Motion get some of the attention they deserve from Apple. If Motion had a way to read a depth map I could basically abandon After Effects for all of my 3D animation post and most everything else.

Hopefully I am not setting myself up for disappointment but so far all the stuff I am excited about looks like it will be great. I wait hopeful and eternally for the Mac version of the LCARS project to be released. It exists for Windows and the Mac version is announced for the next update but as it’s a free thing done by fans, it’s anyone’s guess when I will be geeking out over the LCARS OS  on my two screens. 

28 August 2016

Pickman's Model - finished

Pickman's Model from Vincent-louis Apruzzese on Vimeo.

This went faster, much faster than Music of Erich Zann (which took 5 years to get done) but I think I managed to improve in several areas. The characters talk, there is depth of field in the shots and I think I boiled the story down to its essential elements. My voice is terrible, of course, but what can you do?

Problems still abound. The character modelling is not much more advanced than the last film, the rigging is better but still not where I think it should be. Texturing of the sets is fine but I am looking into a way to hand paint characters and objects with a software outside of Maxon's C4D Bodypaint which I have yet to get to work right.

Always so much to learn and improve!

27 August 2016

pendaison -hanging

I managed to quickly take some photos of some street acrobats, in poor lighting conditions, during the fierté celebrations in the village this year. The acrobats were much more "raw" in their presentation, using only a couple supports and their bodies so it was a change from the bigger productions I use for inspiration during "Montreal Complement Cirque".

Not sure I got the tension in his arms as well as I would like, but I wanted to concentrate more on his face and less on the body as I normally would for these things.

10 August 2016

Pickman's Model - well into production

I finally have some time to start animating my second Lovecraft inspired short, Pickman's Model, a follow-up of sorts to last year's Music of Eric Zann. My goals with these personal projects is to try out new things, or refine older techniques I have issues with. I still have problems making and rigging characters, but in this film they are slightly more advanced and actually talk. I worked out some of the rigging issues from last time but many still remain. I am hoping the next project will let me pin down for good a few snags I still have to deal with. This is the first personal project I am going outside Cinema 4D for the motion blur and depth of field, deciding to use plugins in After Effects instead. This saves me days of render time and as a one person studio with one iMac to render with (I can use team render with my laptop but find it buggy at best) I have to save time and simplify things as much as possible.

My good friend, Boston actor Micheal Z Keamy provides the voice of Thurber and I will try and voice Pickman myself. If that works out badly, I'll beg Mike Luce again like I did for Eric Zann. I am sort of saving that for my next project where I'd like him to be the main narrator again. Can't wear out my welcome on these vanity projects!

I am also deciding on wether or not to update to version 18 of Cinema 4D. If I get version 17 by the end of this month (1000$+ upgrade) I will get 18 free when it ships and not be 2 versions behind. If I had big contract coming up, I would do it in a heartbeat but since I live on so little money as it is and this update doesn't address much I haven't already addressed with plugins... it's not so black and white.

18 July 2016

Move to Amazon Video Direct - both good and bad

Createspace will no longer do the video sales of my films, they are now being moved to Amazon  Video Direct in process that will take (me) some time to complete. They all have to be in HD, even those made well over 15 years ago in standard def video. That is annoying, but not so bad as this service will potentially get the films to a larger audience. The big problem for now is they also require close captioning which is not super expensive for most people, but is for me. To do all three films I will need between 700-1000$ to get the files made. Considering all three films have made about 1000$ over the last 10 years.... you can see the problem. It basically wipes out ALL the money made from selling them.  I will have to get this done. It will take a while. If my Indie go-go campaign had gone a lot better, this would not have been a problem... but it didn't go that well so I'm stuck using my house funds to finish off my films - as usual. Uploading the films will tax my bandwidth limits too and that can add more costs.


14 June 2016


Renarldo_danse_maniac from Vincent-louis Apruzzese on Vimeo.

Not sure why I did this exactly. I am working on making my own cartoon characters and rigging them as it's hard to find work as just an animator these days. It will help me in my private projects as well and add little spice to my demo reel... I hope.

26 May 2016

abandoned house in Vermont drawing

This was a puzzler for me to figure out how to draw. I picked it for the details, obviously, but what isn't so obvious is how much detail to draw and where. There were several false starts and changes of direction in getting what was in my head into the image.

I work from photos as a rule, have for decades. I don't know many people who can sit in one place for days or weeks to make a drawing or many people who can pose for that period of time keeping the same crazy expression you want on their face. This makes some people think there is no difference between the photo and the illustration which is never the case. So to make the point I decided to show the reference photo.

As you can see I don't draw "every leaf and blade of grass" though it might seem that way at first. Background and foreground elements are often eliminated or changed to fit what I have in mind. In this case I could have gone with a total black silhouette for the rear trees. I decided to go a textured route (but not follow what was there too closely) so the building would stand out more. I also, maybe by laziness, decided that drawing a million weeds and plants was a little much and would take away from the house itself. I also thought of adding reflections in the windows but liked the pure black as a contrast and - maybe-  over emphasized the distance of the broken blinds to add some dimension to the front of the house. I also did not draw some details I thought were distracting like the misc. wires, pipes and weeds hanging off the building.

Finally, I added a light grey wash to the rear trees so darken them further but not lose the details in the texture.

The images can be enlarged by clicking on them and this place was something I saw along my bike trip to Colchester Vermont last fall.

13 May 2016

the Picnic... on sale now!

My new documentary, The Picnic, is now on sale as Amazon.com!

This is the story of the Million Year Picnic comic book store in Harvard Square, Cambridge - on the world's first stores dedicated to comic books and the like.

This was a long-term project, over 6 years from when I started researching to now when all the interviews are done and it's finally able to be seen. We are looking into a premier at the Brattle cinema, across the street from the store, at some point sooner than later. If it happens we will try and have a question and answer panel afterwards for those that are interested.

If you buy a copy and like it, PLEASE leave a review with many stars. If you don't like it... well don't tell anyone you saw it.

09 May 2016

De-VFlicker plugin from seed.

MOntreal_laspe_fliker test from Vincent-louis Apruzzese on Vimeo.

First 8 seconds are untreated, then the video after the effect was applied. It's quite a difference.

This new plugin from Seed came to my attention from FCP.co today and after asking if it worked with time-lapse video and getting a positive response.. I bought it immediately. De-flicker plugins cost 100s of dollars as a rule, for too much for me to buy just in case I need it. This is only 29$ USA for Final Cut X so it's well worth it.

11 April 2016

The Picnic - the trailer

Things are getting serious with the Million Year Picnic documentary these days as I try and get it a showing and prepare to put it on sale at Amazon.

I am also preparing a digital version for those who gave money on Indiegogo so long ago and have been so patient as i try and get this thing together.

31 March 2016

Look Kool demo reel

Look kool_demo reel 2016 from Vincent-louis Apruzzese on Vimeo.

A demo reel from my first two seasons of the TV show Look Kool. I tried more technical things the second season, like water and smoke simulations and gave my character, Kool Kat a huge upgrade in movement and expressions. If needed, I could even make him talk... but i'm glad he doesn't since that is a nightmare to pull off well! He also got a robotic arm and was rendered as  a 2D animation in this season!

10 March 2016

Discovery from the past...

This one of several pages of notes I took on the 80s during a Super 8 film class I was taking at the time. I had just bought a beautiful bell and Howell camera that did single frame, so I could animate, it had sound and could do 18 and 24 frames per second if I remember right.

That's right children, grandpa had to know long the roll of film was to know how long he could film a scene !

05 March 2016

Plugin Odds and ends

Echo remover

This was on sale as a new plugin from Crumplepop and as I had decided 500$ was too much for the only other noise remover for Final Cut X, 50$ seemed very reasonable. It has only  couple sliders but I found it to be effective and did what it said it does. I am sure the more expensive plugin had tons of features but as I am not a sound pro, this was really perfect for making the sound on the Million Year Picnic doc a little nicer. 

Turbulence FD (with X Particles)

I have just stared to use this plugin, which produces realistic smoke and fire effects in Cinema 4D, but it has already been useful in the Look Kool, the Tv sow I do effects and animation for. 

It was far too money for my tastes, but C4D has no way to do smoke,water or fire (unlike pretty much every other 3D program now, including free ones) but it produces great results, quickly. To really get the most out of it, you need to couple it with X particles, bing the total price to almost 1000$ CAD! I already had X Particles so I took the plunge and am hoping to get more effects work as a result. Everyone loves explosions. Besides the high price, another negative is Jawset provides links to tutorials, but doesn’t provide any themselves and many of the tuts listed cost more money. They look great but for the fee Jawset charges, there needs to be at least some basic training included. 

Reelsmart Motion Blur

This is a pretty amazing plugin. It does one thing, which is to put a motion blur on things in After Effects, Motion etc (each program added costs more). Again, not cheap but C4D motion blur can look great but at a HUGE time cost in rendering and this basically adds a almost nothing in terms of render time and has a lot more control. For the TV show this means a clip that would have taken 2 hours to render out can be reduced to 45 minutes and I can play with the amount using keyframes and test blurs without having to re-render in C4D. Plus the site has quite a few video tutorials to take you from knowing nothing to very competent in a  short period of time. 

11 January 2016

Sketchbook pro 7

I wasn't going to buy this version as I was happy enough with the last one and pissed off enough they had raised the price and made the app store version a rent only application, following in the rape your loyal customers trend Adobe started a couple years ago.

Then why buy it now? 2 reasons. The end of the month they will stop selling the stand alone version online, only the rented version will be available and Autodesk had a huge sale, bringing the price down to what it should have been to start with.

Version 7 isn't much different for the previous version in everyday use. There are some for the better interface changes and new features that could be useful or at least interesting to play with. Perspective grids and a flip book feature for animations among them.

The most welcome aspects of this new version were not mentioned in any press release I have seen, however. A HUGE problem has been the locked layers in earlier incarnations. Now there is a default background layer which saves time, and the locked layers stay locked when you exit and restart the program (finally!).

Its hard to say how much improvement there is in the pen and brush tools as they were already way above any other software I've drawn in but there were improvements there as well.

So unless they change their marketing strategy , this will be the last upgrade I buy. Hopefully by buying the newer version, I will be able to hold on to it though the new few years of OS updates.

06 January 2016

New Acrobat drawing

I have a chance over the last couple weeks to do a new drawing in between my current TV show contract. I had started another but it was not coming out very well so I decided to do yet another acrobat. I will have less and less time to even think about my own work as the next couple months play out so it was really important I get something done while I could.