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Journal: Late 07 update

Journal by Thagg

In Catholic Confession, you start out by saying how long it's been since your last confession -- fortunately, I gave up being a strict Catholic some time ago, so I don't have to say how long since my last journal entry.

I'm starting now at Visual Effects Supervisor for Fast and Furious 4, we're bringing back Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and a bunch of the other characters from the first three movies for one more run around the track. I've been involved in the first three as a VFX supervisor for my own company, this time I'm involved from the production side, and it's a whole different deal. Very exciting, a lot more responsibility, a million more things to keep straight. Fortunately, I have a good producer, Lori Nelson, and the work is similar to what I've done in the previous three movies, so I've got a bit of a running start.

I'm finally going to go over to the white side (as opposed to the dark side) and am getting a Macbook Pro to help with this movie. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Linux zealot, but at some point you just want to share information and movies and databases with the world of Mac users...and it's difficult to do that legally under Linux. So, we'll see how it goes! OSX has become closer to Linux over the years, so it's not such a radical a leap as it was.

In other news, my daughter's off to college at Washington University in St Louis, and my boy is in fourth grade, still struggling with autism, but having a pretty good time while doing it. We're still persuing the ABA therapy paradigm, it really seems to be the best program out there. He's taking Lexapro as well, in a very small dose, and it just seems to make everything in his life 100% better, so if you're a parent of a kid with autism, you might try it out.

I promise to update this journal sooner next time. Really.

Thad

User Journal

Journal: Every 2 years, whether I need it or not, I update my journal 3

Journal by Thagg
It's been a wild couple of years. We've done a lot of work on some big films, but the biggest one was The Chronicles of Riddick. For that film, we had to grow the company to 60 people, and some 150 computers. It was by far the best work we'd ever done, but it was also by far the hardest project we've ever done.

We're now looking at a bunch of new projects, some big and some small. It's a pretty quiet time in the FX industry right now.

I'm excited about the new 2.6 kernel and all that comes with it -- it seems to address many performance issues we've had with Linux in the past -- especially in terms of disk and filesystem performance. Right new we're using Fedora Core 2, which has its good and bad points. It is very cutting edge, and has all the latest whiz-bang features -- but it also changes very quickly which can be scary in production.

Thad

User Journal

Journal: Mid-year update

Journal by Thagg

Well, we've finished work on Blue Crush, the surfing movie. The challenge here was to replace the face of the world-class surfer Rochelle Ballard with the face of the actress Katie Bosworth; the star of the movie. It was one of the biggest risks that I have taken in FX, as I have never seen face-replacement done well in these kind of challenging action situations.

Now we begin work on The Core and The Fast and The Furious 2. The former presents artistic rather than technical challenges, and the second has the primary challenge being the acquisition of the photographic material without killing the stunt people.

I'm looking forward to building a small gyro system to track the rotations of the cameras for tFatF2. The Systron Donner GyroChipII seems like the best sensor for this application, although it has been suggested to me that there are new gyros being used in the underwater ROV market that I should look at.

Because it's such a big part of my life, and because journals should reflect that, I'll add a short bit about my son with autism, Thomas. He's almost five, and it's been an interesting three years since his diagnosis. For the first nine months we had him in speech therapy plus preschool, thinking that speech was the primary problem. In July two years ago, we were fortunate enough to have Thomas accepted into the program at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) program; through which he gets about 35 hours a week of behavior-modification type therapy. We've also tried various biomedical interventions, on the chance that they'd work; primarily a gluten-free, casien-free (GFCF) diet and a moderate course of chelation for possible heavy-metal poisoning. For some unknown combination of reasons, he's become remarkably better over the last three months or so, becoming more verbal and socially apt. We're desparately hoping (and planning, and working) to keep him in preschool one more year at the spectacularly good program that he has been in for the last year. Another year of therapy and preschool very well might allow him to go to kindergarten a year from now with minimal assistance.

Aside from work, and taking care of Thomas, there's not all that much more going on -- althogh taking care of Thomas is becoming more and more delightful as he shows signs of recovery.

User Journal

Journal: Academy award for visual effects

Journal by Thagg

Well, I've got another week to get our packet together for the visual effects bakeoff. I think that I'm going to write mostly about the shot fx6, the 'hinge shot', going across the street to then into Paul Walker's car. The whole idea of course is to show that we can do a bunch of really cool stuff, quickly, inexpensively.

We'll see!

Of course, I have my real work to do in the meantime, on Showtime, Surf Girls, White Oleander, The Tuxedo, Final Destination 2, ...

Hmm.

thad

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