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View Profile Pahgawk
I'm an artist and programmer. I make websites, music, paintings, games, apps, and of course, animations.

Dave Pagurek @Pahgawk

22, Male

Ottawa, Canada

Joined on 2/8/09

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Pahgawk's News

Posted by Pahgawk - July 2nd, 2012


Well, to start off, I finished my entry for this round of NATA, and you can see it here. It's definitely not the best video I've ever made, and it admittedly doesn't have the same appeal that another big metaphor movie would, but I sort of like it. It was nice to make a movie that doesn't actually mean anything. If for some reason the Newgrounds video player still takes too long to load for you (although I personally see no problem with it now), you can also watch it on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLi0kbN1noc

Ok now that I've got the obligatory self-advertisement out of the way, on to the other stuff.

I've been so focused on animating on schedule to meet deadlines that I've barely done anything else. So far, NATA has been a great experience. It's provided an unbelievable amount of practice which leads to improvement, I've met some awesome people, and it's fun. However, I've noticed that I haven't actually done much else recently.

I should start out by saying that I start my new job tomorrow. I'll be teaching kids at a science, engineering and computer science summer camp. This will involve teaching grade 2-6 kids a bit about about Flash, Photoshop, and HTML, among other things. I'm not entirely sure how it will go, but it will be interesting, anyway. I have a feeling that no matter how much I plan this out, there's going to need to be a lot of flexibility, due to the nature of the smaller children. Funny story: Part of the training involved being given offensive things little kids might say, and we would have to say how we would respond to them. One example: "Little Jimmy sees an attractive girl walking by and says, 'Boy, would I like to bang that shit.' What do you say to Little Jimmy?" It was very hard to keep a straight face. Anyway, I think it'll be a fun job.

I would also like to start painting again. I think it's been half a year since I have even picked up a paintbrush. I took art class in the first semester of grade 10, and since then, I haven't done much art just for the sake of art and not specifically as an asset for an animation. I have a set of brushed and canvases and paints that I got at the end of the first semester, hoping that I would then use them, but I haven't touched them. In fact, they sat on my desk for so long that one day my sister just waltzed into my room while I was gone and took all my art supplies and used them. I didn't even notice for a few weeks until I needed to get a pencil, but noticed that the area where I keep them seemed unusually empty. I think I didn't use them because, to put it simply, I just didn't want to paint. I find that if I don't want to make something, if I'm not inspired enough, or if I find it boring, the end result will be boring and bland and bad. That was one issue I had with art class. I don't feel inspired every single day, yet I'd have to work anyway. Now, though, I actually want to, so it's a different story. Maybe I'll start to use the art portal. We'll see how it goes.

And, lastly, I have to also remember to continue practising music. As you may or may not know, I play the flute, and you can hear a little bit of that in the soundtrack for Masquerade. I typically forget to take out my flute at all over the summer since music class is over, but that's not a good thing because I'm not very good to start with and it never ends well when I don't practice. This year, though, I took the initiative to get a bunch of photocopies of my friend's RCM studies and pieces (around grade 6/7), so I'll have that to look at. Also, it sounds sort of silly, but I've been looking into some jazz flute stuff, like Moe Koffman. (He made the song used for the theme of As It Happens on CBC, so you might know his music if you're Canadian even if you haven't heard of him.) I'm hoping to maybe make some more songs using real actual instruments since pretty much all of my friends at school play something, and they are, for the most part, really good. It'll just take a lot of extra planning and forethought, not to mention time to transpose everything for different instruments.

So that's what I have been and will be up to, Newgrounds.

Dave out.


Posted by Pahgawk - June 4th, 2012


So, first off: My entry to the NATA novice round is complete, and you can watch it here. I'm proud of how it turned out, but long story short, there's a lot of stuff I tried that I probably won't continue with any more.

1: 3D. I found that, although working with 3d is fun, it doesn't mix that well with my style of 2d. Specifically, things animated in 3D that are part of the foreground just look out of place. So, I won't be doing much of that again. However, I found that 3D in the background worked somewhat well. If I make a full 3D model of a set I'm going to use, I can render out various angles of it using a toon shader and it looks surprisingly like the way I do backgrounds normally. Of course, this only works for geometric things like offices and trains (what I used 3D backgrounds for in my entry.) Trees and clouds and stuff I'll add in drawings for.

2: Limited colour schemes. I used them for a video or two, and that was fun, but now they seem boring to work with. For the sake of keeping me interested in what I do, I'm moving on from them.

3: Vignettes. I thought I'd try to put a subtle vignette over (almost) every scene. It did add a bit of visual interest, but I can't help but notice how static it looks. I originally tried having a different sort of texture of vignette for each scene, but it just looked weird. Next time I think I'm just going to let the visuals in the animation do the talking on their own.

Anyway, in terms of other stuff I've been up to, school is drawing to a close and I just finished my computer science final, which is a game written in C++ with the Allegro library. It's sort of crappy, but you can download it here if you want to try it out. It's sort of inspired by games like the Jumper series, which frustrate you an awful lot, but not quite enough so that you don't lose interest. I hope to accomplish something similar.

Some things to note about it:
1. It's a beta version made for this class and the deadline the project has. I will most likely continue to work on this, so feedback is welcome.
2. Some features exist pretty much only so it fits with the rubric that it's being graded with. For instance, high scores and save files are saved to an unencrypted text file, which is incredibly easily editable. In the final version, either the local copies will be harder to edit, or the high scores will be stored on a server.
3. The music is definitely not final. It's just that the game needed sound to get full marks, so I quickly threw on a soundtrack I had lying around. It doesn't exactly fit.
4. The boss is really only there because we needed to have nested structs/classes for something and a boss made up of a bunch of particles is the only thing I could come up with in time. He may or may not stay for the final version, but if he does, his levels won't be the last ones (there's more to come.)

And then I made another quick little flash game for a friend's birthday. You can play it here. Since my friend hates wall jumping, I made a game where the objective appears to be all about wall jumping. In reality, it's about NOT wall jumping in creative ways. Sort of.

I won't be doing a whole lot else from now on (except for possibly the next round of NATA if I happen to make it through. It will be close.) I somehow managed to get a summer job, so I'm both excited about that and freaked out. It's great because I'll be teaching at a computer science summer camp, which is fun and awesome, and it's scary because OH MY GOODNESS IT'S LIKE I'M SORT OF AN ADULT NOW AND OH MY GOD I CAN LEGALLY GET A DRIVER'S LICENCE AHHHH EXISTENTIAL CRISIS

so tl;dr I've been busy recently and I will continue to be for a while.

Bye!
-Dave


Posted by Pahgawk - May 4th, 2012


Earlier this week, I participated in the provincial 2D Character Animation competition for Skills Ontario in Waterloo. We were given the prompt "it happened all at once" and we made this video:

My partner and I ended up getting seventh, and we will not be advancing to the next round.

This was pretty disappointing for me for a few reasons. Firstly, we came third at the national level the year before, and everyone expected us to come back even stronger this year. There was an enormous amount of pressure to succeed, and a corresponding amount of feelings of failure when we didn't. Secondly, animation is pretty much the only thing I'm any good at, and I'll admit that it really hurt when we didn't even place. I mean, it's not like we came second and narrowly missed advancing to the next round. We came in seventh, which was unexpected.

When I try to analyze it, I think that maybe it had something to do with the cartoon violence in our movie, which may not have been acceptable at this particular venue. It could have had to do with our dull colour scheme and our lazy backgrounds. I'll admit the limited palette worked much better with the vibrant reds we used in our last video at the Skills Ontario regional level than it did with the boring blues and purples in this one. It might have had to do with the fact that the frame-by-frame was a bit sloppy, but that was still better than the frame by frame in last year's, which fared significantly better. It also could have had to do with the bad sound editing, but we had little time and we only had a microphone and Audacity (plus we were in the middle of a very large and noisy room with hundreds of people.) Okay, so I got defensive and tried to explain why those last two points might not be valid, but I still know in the back of my mind that excused won't help. Frankly, I'm still a bit confused as to why it didn't do so well, but the past's the past, and I guess I have no choice but to simply move on to the next thing and make the most of this. If you want, you can offer constructive criticism of the movie so that I can make a better one next year, because then I can get something positive out of the situation.

So now my time is pretty much free since I won't be on any more trips for anything. I'm glad I finished my entry to the NATA open round (which can be seen here) early, though, because when I got back my motivation level was zero. This whole experience was sort of a turnoff from animation for a day or two. Now, however, I think I'm past that stage. I think I'm at the point where, instead of feeling like a victim of some sort, I feel like I want to pull back into the game and prove myself. I expect that when the next round of NATA starts, if I make it through to round 2, I'm going to put even more effort into it than before. That's one good result of this for sure. I just think that I probably won't be able to make something that's very funny for it because I guess I am no longer in a very funny mood, so expect something with a bit more meaning behind it next (like my video Masquerade did) if I do make it through and if the theme permits it.

So that's all I have to say for now. I guess you can't win at everything. Life will carry on as normal. Hopefully I'll learn from this experience.

Thanks for being here when I need you, Newgrounds!
-Dave


Posted by Pahgawk - April 15th, 2012


Yesterday I went to Kingston, Ontario for the regional level of the Skills Canada 2D Character Animation competition. In case you don't know, Skills Canada is a nationwide Canadian competition for skilled trades. Animation is one of its categories, in which teams of two are given topics and a day (or two, if it is at the national level) to create an animation. Usually, sound is a component, but at the regional level it isn't.

Long story short, me and my partner won, and you can see the video we made here:

The topic this year was "it was never going to be an ordinary day", which is significantly better than the one they gave us at this level last year ("your friend is being bullied. What do you do?") At least this time there is a lot more room for interpretation. The way the contest was organized made sure we created storyboards first, because they were worth 25% of the final mark for the video and we weren't allowed to touch the computers until the first hour was up. Once that was done, we had four hours to do everything else. Because of the nature of the competition (limited time, no sound, etc), I'm not uploading this is a flash on Newgrounds, but as far as these sorts of contests go, I'm proud of it. I think it turned out really well given the time we had. I'll be moving on to the provincial level in Waterloo at the end of this month.

Anyway, on the topic of Flash animation, I discovered another issue with Flash's quicktime exporter. It occasionally messes up the frame rate/keyframes on YouTube and other video uploading sites, causing stutter and the wrong frames being held. I eventually discovered I could make a much better export by writing a little script that makes a PNG sequence out of an SWF (including actionscripted sections such as the particles when the kid is vaporized in the above movie.) Then, using ffmpeg (a free command line video conversion tool), I could string together all the frames, plus an exported WAV from Flash if I wanted to use sound. Great quality, too. I think I'll eventually publicly release the image sequence editor I made along with a batch file with the ffmpeg commands used if there's enough interest.

Also, NATA (formerly TOFA) starts tomorrow. I'm going to be participating in that, as well as the guy who made the animation for Skills Canada with me. It's my first year participating, and it seems quite fun, especially given all the time we have for each round. Good luck to everyone else joining in!

-Dave


Posted by Pahgawk - January 17th, 2012


Last month, I went on an insane programming spree. I tend to do this every year in the month of December. Somehow, I have made it my tradition to make little games for my friends as gifts, which I suppose started because if I focus on nothing but programming, I can get stuff done relatively quickly and effectively, and it would probably be more meaningful than if I made a silly card or something. Anyway, I worked at about a game a week, and I finished on time. None of the games are terribly exciting, original, or long, so I didn't put them on Newgrounds, but the whole experience tends to improve my skill as a whole. Just in case you're interested, you can see the ones I am most proud of here:

http://fav.me/d4k37si "Corporate Rampage." Basically you run around an office destroying as much as possible without getting caught. I learned a lot about optimizing code to make it run efficiently, as I was dealing with more objects onscreen than I am used to.

http://fav.me/d4k3949 "Just a Head." Now, this was really fun to make, because it is motion-controlled! Plug in a webcam, adjust the calibration, and start playing. Walk around and, as objects change position based on parallax, try to make certain things connect on the screen.

...anyway, I might upload some of these to Newgrounds at some point if I decide to turn them into full-fledged games. However, I think I will focus more on making new animations. If you haven't seen it already, I made a new one recently:
http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/
587288

To be honest, I've sort of squeezed a lot of my creativity into this, so I probably won't have anything new too soon. I'm spending my time nowadays teaching some people at my school how to animate in both Flash and, soon, Blender, so I might have some collaborations with some of them up at some point, but it won't be my usual sort of flash. It won't have any deeper meaning, and it will most likely just be a practice for the animation skills of the people I'm working with. On the other hand, it's almost exam period, which I really like. I'm not good at exams or anything, but I find that whenever I need to study, I start having all these great new animation ideas. The problem is that I usually start working on them rather than working on schoolwork, but hey, at least I'm getting SOMETHING out of it, right? ;)

Anyway, that's all for now, folks.
Have a nice day!


Posted by Pahgawk - July 28th, 2011


Hey folks!

So, I've been doing some work creating things with Actionscript 3 recently. I'll start doing something because I'm bored, but then it might turn out to be useful, so I will continue developing it until I can actually put it to practical use. One of these things is a particle system that creates a bunch of "bugs" that follow and swarm around a given point. You can see a demo of it and get the source code for your own use on my website. I haven't actually used it in an animation yet, but it will most likely be in my next one (or the one after that, depending on how fast I finish it.)

Another thing I have been trying to accomplish is an automatic music generator. So far, it has a structured but random drum kit that picks either 3/4 or 4/4 time depending on the selected genre (e.g. rock, jazz, blues). That works relatively well, and it will even put in fills and drum solos. What I'm having slight difficulty with is the melody. My main problem is a technical one: How do I play the sounds? It would seem like too much work to go and make a sample of a whole bunch of notes for a whole bunch of instruments. Does anyone know of a sound library that is relatively easy to work with that is capable of generating good sounds? I tried programming my own, but all it could do was a sine wave, and it sounded really crappy. Any suggestions would be welcomed! :) As for the actual melody-building, it is coming along surprisingly well. It can make chords, play a blues scale, solo, and structure itself into choruses and bridges. It just sounds crappy. But hopefully if I can easily generate the sound with a library, this will be fixed.

Also, you may have seen that I have a new video. Let's Go Fly a Kite was the first of what I think will be two "practice" submissions of mine that I am using to develop my frame-by-frame skills. There are some things that I tried that I probably won't do again, such as the textures on the shirts, pants, and hair. But I do like the "watercoloresque" backgrounds I put in, so I think I will do something of the sort again.

Oh, and one more thing. I came third in the SkillsCanada national competition! It was pretty fun. The people there are cool. Check out Conkertheking22, who came in second, and also happens to be on Newgrounds.


Posted by Pahgawk - May 6th, 2011


Hey, this is my first news post ever! Does anyone read this?

Anyway. On to business. So I've been doing some cool animation stuff recently. In Canada, there is this thing called the "SkillsCanada" technical competition. Pretty much, people from all over the country (there's a high school category, which I'm in, and a post-secondary education category) go to compete in various skilled trade fields, ranging from robotics to welding to, you guessed it, animation.

What they do for the animation category is this: They give you a theme, a tablet, a microphone, some headphones, and a Windows 7 computer equipped with various software, and then they stick you in a room for a grand total of five hours (and feed you pizza every once in a while) so you can make your movie. Yup, that's five hours total. You are forced to stop after that.

So, in case you didn't know, I'm a high school student in Ottawa. So, my friend and I (we needed a team of two) got together to try this out. So, we first went to Kingston, Ontario for the regional competition and we came in first. Then, earlier this week, we went to Waterloo, Ontario for the provincial competition, and we won there too. By the way, here's the movie we made in Waterloo:

The theme was "Where am I?" and although they were supposed to supply us with legit music and sound effects, they didn't, so we had to make our own from scratch in Audacity using the "generate tone", "generate white noise" and a few other effects (which is time consuming and doesn't actually sound very good, by the way :P). But now we can officially say that we have bragging rights as the best high school animators in Ontario.

So, since we won, we're going to Quebec City at the end of this month for the national competition, where we actually get a full TWO days to make the movie instead of one!

I'll post some more updates after the fact!