“Where Have You Been?” Asks the Internet

WhereBeen_Feature

Ok, so maybe the whole internet hasn’t been clamoring for answers as to the whereabouts of nanobot master and theZEDLAB proprietor Wayne Baker (that’s me). But some out there may have noticed that the website has not been updated in about two months! That’s a long time – though it doesn’t feel like it. So, for those whose curiosity has for far too long been left unsatiated, here’s the scoop…

Aside from running theZEDLAB and overseeing a swarm of nanobots, I am involved in two other outfits: Ghostbungle Industries – film production and some freelance design and VFX work, and Beer Busters – a craft beer podcast and blog. First, the podcast, which is the more recent venture.

Beer Busters Podcast

Beer Busters logoI have a brother. His name is Dan. Dan studied broadcasting, with a focus on radio, at Temple University (in Philadelphia). For several years now, Dan has been interning at rock radio station 93.3 WMMR (also in Philadelphia). When not at the radio station or working his other two jobs (he’s a busy guy), he pursues his dream of creating a many-headed media empire in the style of The Nerdist, the brain-child of Chris Hardwick.

I also have a cousin. Her name is Steph. Steph has been obsessed with craft beer and has been homebrewing her own for many years. She is a member of the local hombrewers club (Berks County Homebrew Club) and aspires to one day open her own commercial brewery. As an elementary school teacher, Steph has earned (and I mean earned, teaching is an incredibly difficult and underappreciated job) the luxury of having a good deal of free time in the summer and spends a lot of it travelling. And visiting breweries. I mean, every brewery within a 100-mile radius of wherever she finds herself.

One day, Dan and Steph decided to combine their powers to create a craft beer podcast, and Beer Busters was born. After the ball was rolling and they had one episode under their belts, they came to me to do some marketing design for the podcast. I did some logos, promotional stuff, social media imagery, etc. They invited me to sit in on the second episode and I had such a good time I never left. My contributions expanded to include building/maintaining the website, managing digital assets, more promotional design, creating content for the show (Happy Fun Time Games), co-host, and, ultimately, full-blown third partner. At the time of this writing, we have six episodes in the bag and will be recording the seventh in just a few days. And it’s been awesome. But it’s also dominated my time, and I could use a little improvement in the time-management area. (I do have to watch TV at some point, right?)

Ghostbungle Industries

Ghostbungle Industries logo

I also have been working with another partner (and cousin), Tom, for several years in a fits-and-starts endeavor to produce short films (and, one day, longer ones), under the name Ghostbungle Industries. Tom has worked with video production and streaming as well as web development at Chester County Intermediate Unit (Intermediate Units are unique entities in the state of Pennsylvania; they essentially provide services to area school districts). He has recently left CCIU to take on the position of Director of Network Engineering at SpectiCast, a regional media streaming start-up.

We have one complete and polished (mostly) short film, an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of AmontilladoSince the production of that film we have drifted from project to project, displaying an uncanny knack at coming up with great ideas, making them even greater, and then collapsing under the weight of our own scope-creep (and the distraction of other projects – and life, in general). We have, in the interim, done some freelance graphic design and VFX works for outside clients. Recently, after a bit of soul-searching, we decided to run with a particular idea, the details of which I won’t subject you to just now. This project represents a make-or-break refresh of Ghostbungle and, as such, will require a committed re-focusing on my part.

theZEDLAB

Beaker_1500x1500So, what does this mean for theZEDLAB? Well, as previously stated, it’s clear I need to be a little better organized at managing my time. It seems I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to do that and accomplish many sundry creative pursuits is to take on more projects than there are hours in a day. And work a regular job, you know, to pay the rent and all. But I am still committed to theZEDLAB and will continue to produce content here.

I have been tossing around the idea, however, of expanding the scope of this site (there’s that scope-creep again) to include more about design in general, instead of focusing exclusively on Blender and CG. I’m probably going to be doing more blog-type stuff as tutorials, while fun and rewarding, are far more time consuming. There will still be tutorials, and I may also start doing image editing (Photoshop/GIMP) and vector (Illustrator/Inkscape) tutorials. But I have many interests related to design and figure why not just write about all that as well.

I’ve written this post as much for anyone out there who might be interested as I have for myself. All I really want in life is to be creative. But sometimes I bite off more than I can chew, sometimes I get needlessly bogged down in details, and sometimes I just plain get lazy. Lately, as all these various pursuits have been clamoring for space in my brain, I’ve realized that now is the time to dig in, get focused, get organized, and get things done. Life is short, after all.

theZEDLAB Site Launch

NanobotsMy swarm of nanobot minions and I have been working diligently for weeks and now our labors come to fruition. This is theZEDLAB, a place for Blender tutorials and resources as well as a blog featuring all things CG.

My name is Wayne, nice to meet you. I have been practicing digital art in many forms for most of my life. In recent years, I have moved into the realm of 3D modeling and rendering, thanks to the premiere open-source, completely free, and surprisingly powerful software that is Blender. You can read more about me and my background on the about page and in my portfolio.

TheZEDLAB is an idea I’ve been pondering for quite some time. Sites like this (or what I hope this will be) are the reason I came to the world of CG. What seemed at one time to be something far too complicated and based on software far too expensive has become a focal point of my artistic endeavors. Blender, which is contantly evolving and growing through the contributions of its users, has put the power of CG into the hands of anyone willing to put in the effort and take the time to learn. For this, I, and the entire Blender community, owe a debt of gratitude, not only to the people who make Blender, and to fantastic educational sources like Blender Cookie and Blender Guru (the two I most frequent), but also to each other. The online community of Blender users is unique in their passion, their support of one another and the ever growing pool of talent from inspired amatures to pros. And so this is my way to try to give back to those who have given me so much and to hopefully inspire others to explore their imaginations, to take on new challenges, to…boldly go where no one has gone before? no, wait, that’s not rigtht – above all, to create.

If you share my excitement at seeing technology evolve to allow whatever is in our heads to be given life, and for that technology to be available to everyone, if you are a fellow Blender Nerd, then I hope you will enjoy what I have to offer here, in this little corner of the interwebs.

What you will find at theZEDLAB

The tutorials will cover a range of topics, from modeling and texturing to lighting and rendering. One of my goals is also to create a library of “quick reference” tutorials; I’ve often come across great little tips and techniques, however many times they’re buried deep in a long tutorial covering an entire scene. Here, I will have quick easy access to such little nuggets of wisdom without having to search through a lengthy video or post. There will also be “project breakdowns”, short videos that demonstrate, concisely without a lot of narration, how different elements and techniques come together in producing a final work.

There will be resources such as models and textures most of which will be freely available to use for any purpose you want, commercial or personal.

And, of course, there will be the blog. I mean, c’mon, I’m not gonna go to the trouble of putting together a whole website and not stick my opinions somewhere on it. This will cover everything from Blender news, cool CG stuff I might stumble across on the interwebs, noteworthy VFX in film and televsion, hopefully some interviews and the like from people who make awesome things, and anything else related to CG, or even design in general, that I feel inclined to bloviate on.

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to like theZEDLAB on Facebook, and follow theZEDLAB on Twitter.

Cheers.

Post Script: What’s in a Name?

You may be thinking theZEDLAB is kind of an odd name. It is. There’s an interesting story behind it. Well, maybe not that interesting, but there is a story. And this is it.

The original name of this site was theMESHLAB. Cool, clever, right? I thought so too. So, I registered the domain themeshlab.com, I set up a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a Google account. I designed a logo and some basic site imagery. All was well and going swimmingly. Then I created a YouTube channel. No problems there. But when I tried to find that channel through my personal You Tube account (so I could subscribe to myself, of course), I came across a plethora of tutorial videos with MeshLab in the title. “Uh oh”, I thought. Turns out MeshLab is an open-source software for cleaning up and editing unstructured 3D meshes generated by 3D scanners. So, not only is there something out there already called MeshLab, that something is also related to 3D graphics.

I could have continued using the name, it is an open-source project after all and not some for-profit software company. The chance of lawsuit or other legal action was slim. However, I chose to change the name for two reasons, one selfish and one rather noble – if I do say so myself. The first reason was, a quick Google search for MeshLab (something I probably should have done long before I began painting towards the corner) yeilds quite a number of results relating to this software and would have overshadowed the interweb presence of my humble website. The second reason was because, being a user of open source software like Blender, I respect those who contribute to such projects. And, to be fair, MeshLab was established in 2005, so they obvioulsy came up with the clever name first. Plus it looks like a pretty cool piece of software. So I yield to them and provide this little plug.

What followed was a grueling couple of days trying to come up with a new name, desperately hoping I could still use “lab” in it somehow so I could keep the little beaker logo and the laboratory motif. There were several I won’t bore you with here (anymore than I already have) and most were either already in use in one form or another or were parked domains asking for thousands of dollars. One I was rather fond of was blend(in), I even made a cool logo for that one. But go ahead, go to GoDaddy and look for blendin.com, you can have it $9,000 plus.

Why theZEDLAB then? Well, first of all it’s not that far away from theMESHLAB. I wanted something that represented CG and 3D modeling and I wanted it to end in “lab”. And what makes 3D art different from 2D art? The third dimension, the depth, the Z-axis. But “zee lab” doesn’t sound very good, and is too close to “sea lab”. So, though I hail from the US, I took a cue from our friends across the pond and went with “zed”. It just sounds better. (Also, if you squint, it looks like “Zelda”)

So there it is, the complete unabridged history of the name theZEDLAB.