Thursday, November 27, 2003

Time for Thanksgiving

Just wanted to extend a safe and happy Thanksgiving to everyone I know (and those I have not met yet) who read this blog.

We are having Thanksgiving here at Casa De' Turner with my wife's parents (no weblink for them yet), sister Katie and her husband Mike, Royal and Brad plus anyone else who stops by for today's festivities.

There are many things I am thankful for this year; my wife and the upcoming birth of our son, my employers (without them I could not pay the bills), friends (both new and old), family and the people that I have been given the opportunity to help educate in one form or another. Each one of these things and many more have helped to make this a year to be thankful for.

With another great year behind us, let's focus on the upcoming year ahead and help to make a difference in someone's life. To me that is the true meaning of Thanksgiving, not just being thankful for what you have achieved or blessed with but for the difference you make in other peoples lives.

Enjoy the holiday...

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Green Eggs and Ham?

We went to see the local Christmas parade on Sat. and afterwards went to see The Cat in the Hat. IMHO the best animation in it was the fish. I like the way it always looked wet. I wonder what shader were used to achieve this effect?

Happy Rendering...

Proposals, Scope of Work, Delivery

Writing up a proposal for work is somewhat straight forward. You write a proposal about the project that you expect to perform after learning more details about it. The rough scope and pricing is included and gets delivered to the client for consideration. Once said client approves the proposal and options (I love to put options to show what is possible and the cost associated with the decision) you proceed with a formal contract spelling out each detail and project milestones (if applicable), collect a retainer fee and complete the project in a timely fashion. Get paid and everyone walks away happy.

I mention this because many people who start out in this business do so as freelance artists. You want to learn more and what better way to learn than to get paid for it by freelancing. How do you get the jobs you ask? Beating the bushes to find out about work and writing good proposals. It is often said that beauty is in the details, this is true in your proposals as well. If you do not have good writing skills but you are a great renderer you may wish to find a standard job form document that outlines the type of work you perform. This can be modified to suit your client/job needs, but should cover the general outline of the work you expect to perform.

You will also notice that I put in the project delivery a small step called "retainer fee". I am sure you know what this is, but may be afraid to ask for this when performing rendering work. A wise man once told me "make sure to get a fee upfront", what did he know? Answer human dynamics. If you do not put a fee associated for your time and work on a project upfront your value becomes less. Sure not all companies want to pay a portion of the project fee upfront, but consider why they do not want to do this. Could it be they have little to no money to offer for it. If you wait until the project delivery to bill, are you sure you will get paid?

Let's give a hypothetical story. Our friend M. had quite a bit of work on another project and was not able to finish up a job for a client. Delivery date 1 week late and no project to show. M. suggested that we take over the project and it would pay $xxxx for the whole job and to talk to the president of the company. We leave messages and no return calls from the president. Few days later the project manager calls us to talk about the job and the deliverables. We have a quick meeting to discuss their needs and that it was a rush priority. We mentioned payment and the PM said the boss would take care of that.

Start the project, no contract, no retainer fee and a rush priority so the client can get paid for this work we are doing. See a problem here? Work proceeds for a week and a half, leave a few more messages for the president and get the project ready for review. At this point we submit a fee proposal and payment for one half to total cost to continue. We all like helping others, but there a bills to pay and we need to eat too. Final comments come back and a check for half the fee we asked for (25% of the total). The PM said this was because the boss was out of town and he was not authorized to write a check for more than this and he would have the boss take care of the rest when he returns.

We completed the work and hand deliver it to the PM with a final bill and we notice the boss is in. We are always friendly so we take a moment to peek our head in to introduce ourselves and he apologizes for not calling sooner. A few more pleasantries exchanged and he asks where we are on this. Project complete and bill submitted to the PM. He said he had not seen the bill yet. We being prepared for this just happened to have a copy of all items we submitted. President opens the letter and his jaw hits the floor. He said M. would never have charged this amount and he will only pay half at the most. Now what would have helped in this situation besides not getting involved in a rush job with an unknown client?

If you said contract you were correct. A well written contact spelling out the scope and project milestones is a needed option as it covers the client, and you, should their be any issue. In my experience reputable clients will not be upset with a retainer fee as they should understand that your time is worth something. Just so you know the story above was not really hypothetical, this happened a few years back and M. told me later they like the work I submitted and wanted to give me more. I am not going to tell you the whole ending as I hope you learned from this that it can avoided with a simple contract.

Happy Rendering...

Friday, November 21, 2003

Viva Rock Vegas

Getting stuff ready for the AU trip next week and I am looking forward to the Thanksgiving break and the extra days off we are taking to head to California for some R&R. I am trying to setup a time to meet with Chris to chat over a meal.

As we have no specific destination for our trip only to have a good time. That's the fun part, no deadlines, nowhere to be at a particular time and just some fun in the city.

It is funny how locked into work you can get. Tip of the day:
Take some time to do something not related to your work. This could be something as simple as a bike ride, walk, roller blading or other activity just to help your mind stay fresh. I know I need to use this more in my daily life. :)

Happy Rendering...

Great meeting

The EVAUG meeting last night was a lot of fun and a great learning experience for all. If you missed out the group meets on the third thursday of each month.

Happy Rendering...

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Mobile Dilemma

I solved the issue of constant connectivity to my inbox a few months back after much searching and testing by getting a blackberry. Now I am at it again for testing.

What am I looking for? I find the need to have a mobile system with a decent amount of power not for production work, but for everything else. I am looking at some of the new tablet PC's but need to get a few different models for testing. I am concerned because I need to do a small bit of web development and demos for AutoCad/ADT and maybe VIZ/Max. Not to mention wi-fi connectivity.

Any good products you have used for under $1,900 that you care to share?

Happy Rendering...

AU Wi-Fi

I ran across a posting from Doc Searls regarding wi-fi connectivity in Vegas. I am not sure what the connection will be like in the MGM, but around town Doc offers a few spots to notice during a recent war-drive.

Happy Rendering...

False promises

Ok, I lied the Triple D site received little work this weekend that is worth posting. Most of the intented changes will be navigation structure and full integration of CSS. Why no progress? Painting, water leak, furniture assembly and a small bit of remodeling. :)

With the upcoming birth of our son, my wife and I have taken to changing the layout of our house around. The nice thing is that we had one room that was used very little and now my old study has turned into an extra bedroom and I have a new base of operations for my tech and music gear.

It hardly seems like it but AU is coming up soon and we will be spending some extra time in the L.A./Long Beach area afterwards. If you plan to go and want to get together for a pint, send me an e-mail or look for us around the AUGI beer bust and/or other events.

Happy Rendering...

Friday, November 14, 2003

Binary with a hint of green

I just got back from watching the Matrix Revolutions and was blown away. My buddy Miker the Biker summed the trilogy up pretty well by saying the first and last were the weights on a barbell, and the middle one was the barbell itself.

After the film I kept thinking how life is a cause/effect relationship. While pondering this on the way home I had some great events happen that I am grateful for.

This weekend I will be working on the Triple D site (much needed face lift).

Happy Rendering...

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Pattern Fills

I finally posted an example of how to use pattern fills in photoshop to "fake" a rendering. Be sure to check out the tutorials section. It is funny that the more website and graphics work you do, the worse your own personal site is. I need to rework the site for some CSS and new scripts that I have been working on. All in good time. :)

As for the tutorial, Photoshop is a tool that I use for a lot of post-processing work and if you plan to do any type of graphics work you should learn to use this tool effectively. The pattern fills are a simple tool and can be used in more ways that I share with you here.

Happy Rendering...


Besides being blessed with lack of sleep, I got the chance to upgrade my home set-up to the "new" Microsoft Office 2003. This included the developers package for Visual Studio as well. I have not spent a great deal of time using all the features available yet, but so far I really like the new features in Outlook 2003.

Happy Rendering...

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Blog Check

I mentioned before that Shaan Hurley from Autodesk has a blog that you may find interesting, now with permission here is the link to his blog (no subscription contract is needed to view). As many of you know I am a fan of RSS feeds and since this site is using TypePad there is of course as you expect a feed available. Set your news aggregator to:

For those that do not know, Shaan is more addicted to AutoCAD than I am. In fact Shaan is the technical marketing manager for Autodesk and also manages many of the beta programs. Keep up the great work Shaan!

Happy Rendering...


Things are wrapping up for a web development project I am working on. This will be a great weight from my shoulders when this version is released later this week. For navigation menu work I ran across a great tool that may help you as well. Combine this with CSS and you have a great match in a WYSIWYG environment.

Why the break in posting last week? Great question. My wife and I are expecting our first child (son) at the end of February and with that goes the rearranging and working on our house. Ahh, the feel of manual labor. ;) Things are shaping up here at Casa Da' Turner and there are other great changes on the horizon that look promising as well.

Happy Rendering...

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