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Small business accounting and project management

by Trevor May | 26th November 2006 | Business | Comment on this

This post is bit of a deviation from my usual posts of cartoons and gadgets. At the beginning of the month I took the plunge (perhaps with concrete shoes) of setting up on my own as a freelance designer and every day I come across necessary things which I have no joy in doing (accounting, project management, etc.) which I’d like to take less time to do, and wish were easier to manage.

At the moment I’m looking into something (or a couple of things) that I can manage jobs with. As a consultant it’s a fairly simple process: I quote a client for a job, the quote is approved (or amended and approved), the job is done, the client is invoiced, the invoice is paid.

Fairly simple? Yes. Now, why can’t I find a software application that can help me record that process? I’ve had a quick look at MYOB BusinessBasics but, while it probably can do what I want, it seems overly complicated. Another one that appears interesting is Quickbooks SimpleStart, but they don’t seem to have a downloadable demo. Mark Boulton anncouned an application called Flow a little while ago, which looks quite interesting as well. But that’s not available yet, and I really need something immediately!

If anyone has any suggestions to a suitable solution, let me know. It’d have to work on a Windows machine though. Cheers!

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Time-lapse: London to Brighton in 2 minutes

by Trevor May | 25th November 2006 | Brighton Travel | Comment on this

I did this commute from Brighton to London (and back again) by train every single day for around eight years. If I’d had a front row seat like this I’d have probably enjoyed it a bit more. Well, that and if it *actually* took 2 minutes instead of an hour and a half. They really could have cleaned that windscreen though!

Back in the 80′s there was a programme on the BBC with time-lapse footage of the trip in 3 1/2 minutes — and it’s also on YouTube, complete with awesome futuristic 80′s soundtrack!

Update: I love YouTube! There’s even the original 1950′s 4 minute timelapse footage on there as well. Enjoy!

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Maurice Devereaux’s PMS Survival Tips

by Trevor May | 25th November 2006 | Humour | 1 comment

Don’t worry gentlemen, the Government is on hand to tell you what to do in the event of an emergency situation!

While you’re watching YouTube junk, be sure to check out this awesome Bollywood version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

UPDATE: I’ve just realised that Grid212 beat me with this one!

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John Kricfalusi on Composition in Cartoons

by Trevor May | 23rd November 2006 | Animation Art Illustration | Comment on this

Following his lessons on cartoon colour theory John has started a series on composition. I’ll readily admit that I don’t always agree with every word the guy says on his blog but, once again, these lessons are a treat. Again, many of these lessons can easily be applied to other mediums, such as film, television and illustration.

  1. Composition for layout and background artists
  2. Intersection
  3. Clear staging
  4. Staging groups of characters
  5. Negative vs positive space
  6. Avoid The Middle, Asymmetry is more natural and interesting
  7. Compose your poses together
  8. For Layout and BG artists – Form over detail, lettering, study other artists

Steve Worth is also adding some more valuable stuff on compostion at the Hollywood Animation Archive blog; including the 1960′s Famous Artists lesson: 3. Composition – How to make pictures.

They also have a couple of other Famous Artists lessons on their site, including: 24. Television Art and 16. Animals

Enjoy!

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Sam & Max: Culture Shock hits the road

by Trevor May | 2nd November 2006 | Video games | Comment on this

Sam and Max: Culture Shock

The new, long awaited, Sam and Max game was released last night and I had a quick go. Those that fondly remember Steve Purcell’s dog and lagomorph crime fighting duo from the 1993 point and click Lucasarts adventure classic Sam and Max Hit the Road won’t be disappointed. I was rather apprehensive about their transition from pixelly 2D to 3D but Telltale have managed to capture the essence of the original very well.

It’s easier to pick out the problems, so I’ll do that first. Firstly, I have a 1920×1200 LCD monitor which doesn’t support 1280×960. The problem is that if the game detects you don’t have 1280×960 it won’t let you scroll past it to select 1600×1200! There’s an interim fix on the forum (add a custom 1280×960 resolution using the nVidia control panel) but hopefully it’ll get fixed in a patch soon. There’s another little bug where sometimes the game lets the cursor leave the game screen area and it’ll escape to the Windows desktop, but I think this may be because I’m not running full screen yet.

The voices, while no match to the original, aren’t too far off and I quickly got used to them; Max’s voice does seems to slip a bit from time to time though. Also, the camera often seems to adopt odd positions — I often found characters facing away from you while talking to each other; after I noticed it once I just kept noticing it!

The point and click interface is very similar to Hit the Road though it have been simplified somewhat. There’s no right click to change the type of action; it’s just one click to use/walk/look at, etc. which may just be a case of getting used to. You also don’t seem to be able to combine objects in your inventory, and the biggest omission is the ability to “use Max”. In the original game you could use Max as an item, often with hilarious consequences. It’s a shame they’ve chosen to drop that.

Talking of using stuff, what happened to the fun cursors? The new one looks far too operating system-y. Come on, let’s have Sam’s hand, uh, paw back!

Lastly, I haven’t played it for long but the game seems a bit too easy. One of the first puzzles involves finding some Swiss cheese for the rat that’s stolen Sam and Max’s phone. The cheese Sam has isn’t Swiss cheese… but he has a gun (and no other inventory). It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the solution to that!

That aside, it’s made me chuckle quite a bit so far and so I look forward to playing it through to the end and I’ll be back then to let you know what I thought.

In the mean time, go buy a copy for yourself — or, at the least, give the free demo a try!

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John Kricfalusi’s Colour Theories

by Trevor May | 30th October 2006 | Animation Art Illustration | 2 comments

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John K, of Ren and Stimpy and Spumco fame, is currently doing a very interesting series on his colours theories on his blog. Although he’s talking about colour in cartoons, the information could easily be applied to most artistic mediums.

UPDATE: He’s also now posting some great stuff from early Hanna Barbera colour stylist and background painter, Art Lozzi.

Colour Theories for Cartoons

  1. Garish versus Warm
  2. Pee and Poo colors versus Colorful Greys
  3. Look at the sky before you paint a sunset
  4. What’s wrong with these pictures?
  5. Good color without a lot of money – Art Lozzi at Hanna Barbera
  6. Does cost equal quality?
  7. Will It Ever End?
  8. Eye relief
  9. Steal from anime if you can’t think of anything yourself
  10. Neutral or natural colours
  11. Art Lozzi: Early days at Hanna Barbera
  12. Colour and Background painting reference: Old Golden Books
  13. Art Lozzi: Bob Gentle and Skeeter Trouble
  14. Art Lozzi: Scooter Looter, Paint Technique, BG Painting
  15. Art Lozzi explains some technique
  16. Color isolated from detailed technique: Yogi Bear ‘High Fly Guy’
  17. Art Lozzi: Hanna Barbera starts to standardise

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Tetris: From Russia with love

by Trevor May | 26th October 2006 | Video games | Comment on this

A superb BBC documentary on the history behind one of the world’s most played video games.

“This is the story behind the fiendishly addictive game, a tale of high stakes, intimidation and legal feuds set against the backdrop of Cold War tensions between East and West.”

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Internet Explorer 7 vs. Firefox 2.0

by Trevor May | 26th October 2006 | Asides | Comment on this

The (Overhyped) Web Browser War: Internet Explorer 7 vs. Firefox 2.0: Popular Mechanics says: “Firefox wins!” — No more arguments then.

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Sony admits to buying grey goods from Lik-Sang

by Trevor May | 25th October 2006 | Asides Gadgets Video games | Comment on this

Sony admits to buying grey goods from Lik-Sang “but only for investigatory purposes.” and “Sony denies that its actions had anything to do with the closure of the Lik-Sang website.”

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Seward Street returns!

by Trevor May | 25th October 2006 | Animation Asides | Comment on this

Seward Street returns! The fantastic blog, chock full of animation industry handouts, sketches, tips and tidbits appears to be back from the dead. Wonderful news — welcome back!

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