I'm back in Pittsburgh (by the way, I know my SIGGRAPH post is a month overdue, so I'll get to work on that, next), well into the first few weeks of a new school year! This semester, I'm on project team Up+ (website currently under construction), working on a retail display for the upcoming Windows Phone 8. While we are based here in Pittsburgh, our client contact, Arnold Blinn, is up in Seattle. We've been NDA'd, so details will be scarce, but suffice it to say that we are only three weeks in, and I'm already super excited for this project!
Outside of school, I've been working on brushing up my UNIX skills and getting back into shell and Python scripting to automate the more time-consuming processes on my computer that I usually do by hand. In an effort to commit to this, I've given up mouse clicks in favor of full keyboard navigation while on my Mac partition at home. I've been doing this for about two weeks, and I'm slowly getting better at cmd+tabbing and cd-ing my way around my computer. Progress!
What I'm most excited about right now is my elective for the semester: Entertainment Design Studio. This class is an independent study, but better. Within the first week, the students choose a goal for the semester, come up with a plan to achieve it, and how it will be evaluated. From then on, it's all about following said plan and getting feedback. We have allotted class time where we can work on our independent studies in an actual classroom, present to the instructor, and get criticism from our classmates and instructor. For my EDS project, I've decided to learn Houdini, and I plan to create a Houdini reel by the end of the semester. I have to say that, so far, Houdini is really fun! I've used Autodesk Maya quite a bit (and 3DS Max a little bit), and while they are both useful and easy to navigate, I've found Houdini's procedural approach much friendlier to my math-oriented mind. The hours I've spent going through tutorials have flown by, and I'm looking forward to learning more! I've already gotten a good overview of the UI and contexts, lighting, rendering, and shading, and I just finished the section on fluids and rigid body dynamics. This week, I'll be diving into my first "assignment." Stay tuned for updates on my progress!