News Music

One of my lesser known hobbies is composing music. I haven’t been that active in recent years, but I’m trying to get back into it now. I thought it would be fun to recreate one of my first pieces. Also, I’ve never really shared any of my music before.

Some time in high school, about ten years ago, I got into music composition. I had played piano when I was younger, but I was no music expert. I know very little about music theory, but do have a pretty good ear.

Anyways, I eventually obtained a MIDI setup with some actual orchestration software. Initially I made attempts at recreating some existing music I liked, then a few simple original pieces. Then came my News Theme. It was for some dumb school project, where we had to record a brief news-like summary of a current event. All I cared about was the cool intro, which would be overlaid with my score.

I still have the music from that project. Because I was using my keyboard as a virtual instrument, I had to record the composition by playing it back and recording the audio output back through my computer, or something stupid like that. I didn’t really know what I was doing. Now I only slightly don’t know what I’m doing.

While the audio quality is lacking, I am surprised by how much I don’t hate it now. Usually when I look back at art I’ve created more than ten years ago, I cringe a bit. Having said that, I won’t argue that its a little cheesy sounding.

Now that I have some more proper setup, with some quality instruments, I decided to rerecord this piece, and give it the sound quality it deserved. I lost the midi files, so I had to do it by ear. I present my first original composition, fully remastered:


Sandwich Theory: Part II

Last year I described a classification of sandwiches and their relatives: Sandwich Theory, which I still believe in. However, I recently came across this image in an imgur post:

It made me realize that there were several classes of sandwiches I overlooked.

First, I must address a common class of sandwiches I also overlooked, the club. A club sandwich is a subset of the true sandwich, but contains an interior slice of bread. You could also consider a club to be a compound sandwich, which means a club is actually two sandwiches combined together as one.

What if I added a third  layer? I would call that a double club. And so on, as more layers are added, generalized as an n-club (a term I just made up).


This leads me to a new class of sandwiches, which I will generalize as Complex Sandwiches

Complex Sandwiches

You could keep adding layers to infinity, which is fine, but there is no rule that the bread slices’ faces must be parallel, nor be opposite facing. This means you could build an n-club that looped back around, forming a loop.


This poses an interesting question: is it still a sandwich? As far as I know, there is no requirement that the outer faces of the bread must be exposed. If this is true, I can reduce this to a toroidal 1-club, which is topologically the same as the bagel in question!


So there we have it. The bagel is actually a toroidal peanut butter and jelly club sandwich

Taking this one step further, let’s remove one of the slices. You now have a regular toroidal sandwich, where the the outer faces of each slice are simultaneously the inner faces of the other slice. This however, does not technically qualify as a true sandwich, as there is only one piece of bread:


It is known that it is possible to create a mobius bagel, in which the a knife is rotated 360 degrees while slicing the bagel. This results in the two halves being linked.

You can also do the same, but only rotate the blade 180. Again, this is not a sandwich, because it is a single piece of bread

Of course, so far all of these are physically possible to create. If you remove the limitations of physics, there are so many possibliites…

What if instead of connect the outer faces, I connected the edges? I would get a “tubewich”. If I removed one of the “slices”, It would become an open face “tubewich”.


While this seems like a new concept, The “tubewich” is actually topologically the same as a bagel


If I connect the other two ends of the tubewich I get a toroidal tubewich


Or similarly a Kleinwich, where a single piece of bread forms both sides of an enclosed sandwich. Again, because it has a single piece of bread, it is not a true sandwich, though it does require technology to allow bread to phase through itself.


Or a Spherewich


Of course, none of these are as elegant as the Triwich, or the Double Fold:

In conclusion, in the absence of gravity, and in cases, reality, sandwich possibilities are endless, a small slice of which have been presented here


Favorite Music

I guess I should get back to this blog thing. Here’s a random post to start things off.

My taste in music is fairly limited. I listen almost exclusively to film scores, with a few exceptions. So here are my favorite pieces of film music.

Jurassic Park – Main Theme

John Williams is pretty legendary. Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies. The music a big factor in that. The main theme is flawless. Dinosaurs.

Hand of Fate Part 1 – Signs

James Newton Howard is one of my favorite composers. His work on M. Night Shyamalan’s film is like, amazing. There’s something satisfying about the build up to this one’s ending. Its kind of unsettling for a moment, then cuts to an emotional moment, then fades back into some really tense stuff, then ends in relief. Also check out Part 2, which is the continuation of this track.

Shenzou – Gravity

Steven Price did some pretty amazing stuff for Gravity. Since it was largely a silent film, the music had to convey a lot of the emotion. In one of the final scenes, Sandra Bullock is plummeting toward earth in a burning space station.

Adagio in G Minor – Sunshine

Its kind of cliche, due its often reuse in other media, but it just makes you feel like you’re gonna win.

Ecstasy of Gold – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I admit, I haven’t actually seen this movie, but this track is so perfect, you can listen to it over and over and never get tired of it.

Honorable mentions

Your Father Would Be Proud – Rouge One

Asteroid Field – The Empire Strikes Back

The Orange Man – Unbreakable

The Wreck – Unbreakable

Time – Inception

The Vote – The Village

Gravity – Gravity

Monthly Movie Review: June

I watch a lot of movies these days. It keeps me distracted when I’m home from work. I thought I might try a monthly movie “review”. The word “review” shouldn’t be taken to seriously.

Here are some of my top picks from June.

Eye in The Sky


This drama about a drone strike operation in Kenya is surprisingly riveting. Much of the film centers around the ethical decision whether to strike, when a young girl innocently enters the blast zone, to sell bread. Its an interesting look into drone warfare, and portrays a single decision that stresses everyone involved, creating a lot of emotions.

10 Cloverfield Lane10 CLOVERFIELD LANE

This was really entertaining and well made. Very suspenseful, and good acting. Its mostly played as an abduction film, but the motivation is some sort of possible  disaster above ground. Its much better than what the apparent “Cloverfield” link suggests. Goodman plays a seemingly deranged doomsday prepper really well, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is good as always.

The Ones Below

ones_below_dinnerAn expecting couple moves in to the lower unit of a duplex in London. There’s something off about them to the couple who lives upstairs, also expecting. An incident leaves the wife of the new couple to lose her child. This sets up an intense psychological thriller with some unexpected twists.


clown-eli-roth-imageThis is a bizarre horror movie about a man who finds a clown suit in one of his real estate properties, and wears it to his son’s birthday, after the clown they hired doesn’t show. After the party, he realizes he can’t get the suit off, and discovers that the suit is not what it seems. I appreciated the fact that a premise as ridiculous as this could be pulled off so well.

Midnight Special

MIDNIGHT SPECIALThis is a sci-fi drama. It was a bit slow for me, but it has an interesting story. A boy with mysterious abilities is abducted by his birth father from a religious cult. At the same time, the FBI is searching for the boy. The cult sees the boy as some sort of god, while the FBI sees him as a weapon. His family just wants to protect him, as they, and the boy himself try to understand his purpose in life.

I went through all the movies I’ve watched this year so far. Here they are in rough order of rating (the middle of the list gets sort of fuzzy):

  1. 10 Cloverfield Lane
  2. Eye in the Sky
  3. Room
  4. The Invitation
  5. The Martian
  6. Krampus
  7. What Lies Beneath
  8. Truth
  9. Shaun of the Dead
  10. Hot Fuzz
  11. Hush
  12. Predestination
  13. Brooklyn
  14. The Ones Below
  15. The Wave
  16. Deadpool
  17. Django Unchained
  18. Now You See Me
  19. A Million Ways to Die in the West
  20. Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow
  21. Dead Silence
  22. Moon
  23. Hide and Seek
  24. The Witch
  25. The Other Side of the Door
  26. 4th Man Out
  27. Ant-Man
  28. Clown
  29. Valley Uprising
  30. The Heat
  31. Identity Thief
  32. The Ring
  33. London Has Fallen
  34. Crimson Peak
  35. Annabelle
  36. Mama
  37. Spectre
  38. Mission Impossible II
  39. The Orphanage
  40. Camp Takota
  41. The Lovely Bones
  42. The Purge
  43. Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles
  44. Midnight Special
  45. The Boy
  46. In the Heart of the Sea
  47. The Mothman Prophecies
  48. Spotlight
  49. The Others
  50. They’re Watching
  51. Chernobyl Diaries
  52. The Forest
  53. Hannibal Rising
  54. Red Dragon
  55. Blade Runner
  56. Event Horizon
  57. The Visit
  58. 12 Monkeys
  59. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  60. The Awakening
  61. The Faculty
  62. How to be Single
  63. Zoolander No. 2
  64. Intruders
  65. Sinister 2
  66. The Ring Two
  67. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  68. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
  69. Sisters
  70. The Funhouse Massacre
  71. As Above, So Below
  72. The Presence
  73. The Frame
  74. The Grudge 3

“The Grudge 3” was one I particularly dislike. “The Frame”, had potential, but ended up feeling like a pretensions student film.

Sandwich Theory

It is not uncommon for lunchtime conversations to evolve into the endless debate over what counts as a sandwich

I decided to create an infographic explaining what I believe the proper classification of sandwiches is, since I enjoy infographics, classifying things, and sandwiches.

A true sandwich is described as two unattached pieces of bread that hold one or more ingredients between them. This implies that the bread is the key to determining what a sandwich is, and how they are related:



Darth Vader Mask Build

A while back, in college, I had modeled Darth Vader for a project that ultimately never got finished. I spent a while making it as accurate and faithful as possible. A few months ago, I was thinking of projects to do, and remembered I had this model sitting on my computer. So I decided it might be fun to do build a paper-craft version of it. I documented the build process:


Just like my Baymax project, the original helmet was modeled in Blender, then made low res, and sent to Pepakura.


I originally intended to use cardboard, but I realized it was too thick, and had too much of a bias along the corrugation, making it difficult to bend. I switched to a thinner mat board. It’s much easier to bend across the grain, and allowed for finer detail. Also, it comes in black, which lends to the final look.

Something I didn’t anticipate was the poor strength of the boards layers. I ended up having to re-glue a lot of areas to re-enforce the attachment.

For the the side tubes, I rolled up black art paper. The metal knobs on the front are….thumbtacks…

I lucked out with the mouthpiece grates, though I had to sacrifice a portion of my ironing board, which was made of the perfectly sized metal grating. Sometimes you just have to make sacrifices for art…


I got a bit lazy with the eyes. I had a paper covered plastic ornament, which was just about the right size for the eyepiece. Of course, you can’t see through them, though, it was never really an intention that this would necessarily be wearable. Even though it was already black, I painted it with a coat of “glossy” acrylic, to make it shine, and cover up ugly seams.

Stuff I do at Work

I try not to show off that much, but..It’s that time of year. This past year, I helped bring Zootopia to life. It was a very stressful and challenging project, but I’m super proud of the work I did on it, and that I got to be part of such an amazing and beautiful film.

Anyways, I don’t often get to show some of the behind the scenes things I do at work. Yesterday a Great Article was posted on Engadget that focuses on some of the technology that we use in Look Development, which includes fur grooming and rendering, and vegetation. I was surprised to see this image, which I put together for a press presentation last month:


One of my big tasks on Zootopia was to help develop the vegetation and look of the rain forest environment. This was a particularly fun task for me, since I love plants, and procedural modeling. I used our in-house plant modeling tool, Bonsai, to create all of the plants in the image above, and XGen to place them in the set.

I’m a look development artist, which on paper doesn’t really include software development and programming. We primarily create textures, materials, groom hair and fur, and populate sets with vegetation and debris.

In fact, when I started at Disney, I had little interest in writing code. Over the last few years, I taught myself Python, and dabbled in some C++. As I began to play with a young version of Bonsai, I saw its potential, and somehow got myself into actually helping to write code for it. The main developers and TDs were great about helping me learn and have me contribute to the software. There’s something satisfying about being able to build a tool, then actually use it to complete your work. I like the challenge of the problem solving that coding requires, but It also enabled me to focus on the creative aspect of my job.


I also did a bunch of character work. Here’s a few of my favorites:

I was primarily focused on the hair and fur groom, shading, and texturing. For something like a lion’s mane, we use a plugin to sculpt volumes that feed into XGen, and shape the hair groom. Inside XGen, we can apply procedural effects to add noise and clumping, or even attach things to the hair. I may have hid some things in the Yak’s hair.

On Big Hero 6, I solely worked on environments. I did some large scale landscape work, including Akuma island, the look of the Bay water surface, and the look of all of the residential buildings in the wide city shots.With these types of large scale environments, there is some fuzziness between Modeling and Look Development, particularly with organic elements, like vegetation and terrain.


For the city buildings (the smaller ones), I developed a set of procedural materials, which essentially made every single one unique. I probably made the renders take much longer than they should have been…


We’ve come a long way, even from just a few years ago, on Frozen. Below are a few of the things I worked on.

The tool we used to create Anna’s braid is the same I mentioned earlier, which I used on the Yak, and Lionheart, albeit, in its infancy. Braiding hair is much easier in real life.

Turning Anna into ice as fun challenge. Besides making her feel like ice, I had to figure out how to visually show this transition. To do that, I employed procedural/map based approach, involving much math.

It’s weird to think about the things I’ve worked on in just that past 5 years. Just 5 years ago, I was about to graduate college, having no real job plan. In fact, when I was contacted by Disney later that year, I had actually forgotten that I applied there.