March 2013

Phun Stuff

Many years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I wasn’t making movies, my dad introduced me to a very interesting piece of software: Phun.

Phun was the first “real” piece of software I’d ever really used, and I spent many happy hours experimenting with it back when I was young(er). Blender came along, and I used that a lot more, but recently I went back to Phun and made a few physics simulations that I thought I would show you.

Phun has less features than Blender, but that is, for the most part, a good thing. John and Isaac can easily build things on Phun, without having to watch hours of tutorials and memorize reams of keyboard shortcuts.

Phun has no built in video export, but that was easily overcome with Quicktime screen capture software. All of the clips you see in this movie are run at what would have been real time if I wasn’t screen recording at the same time. The screen capturing hogs a lot of processor power, so there were times when I had to speed up the simulations that involved water.


How to Solve a Triangle Puzzle- Blindfolded!

Some of the best VFX are the simple ones, the ones that trick your brain because it has never seen something like it in the “real world” before, so your brain interprets what it sees on-screen as something way more complex than what actually is going on. This trick is like that.

All we did was reverse the footage we shot, but it works quite effectively.

The only giveaway to this trick are the reversed sounds, which are opposite of real life- they fade up to a sharp ending rather than having a sharp beginning that fades out to nothingness. You could probably spend several hours flipping the sounds and matching them back to the movements they came from, but that would destroy some of the fun and usefulness of this quick-and-dirty effect.

Dry Ice Cream

Our dad checked a book called Mad Science out from our library last week. It was written by Theodore Gray, the author of the Gray Matter column in Popular Science magazine. All of the experiments in the book were cool, but most involved high heat (as in well over 1,000 degrees) or toxic chemicals like Mercury or Chlorine Gas. As these experiments were a little bit beyond our league at the moment, I looked for some experiments that wouldn’t kill, maim, or seriously injure us if they went wrong. We found the perfect one: Dry Ice Cream.

We’ve used dry ice before and we figured that this experiment would be perfect, because, as Luke said “it combines two of my favorite things, science and food.”

It was surprisingly easy to make this ice cream, and it tasted very good (although it had a slightly carbonated taste from the Dry Ice). The ice cream was extremely creamy, since no ice crystals had time to form in the 2-3 minutes it took for our ice cream to completely set up.

Everyone in our family was very impressed with the dry ice cream, and wanted more. Maybe we could do liquid nitrogen ice cream next time…..

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