Review: Eat3D's UnrealScript

As with all recommendations a lot depends on what you want to do and what you already know. My programming experience roughly is advanced MEL, some Python, Java, JavaScript, and familiar with C/C++ syntax. I've already gone through a lot of Allars Awesome Blog, all of wildicv's and The Guild Hall's youtube tutorials. Still, I wanted to get Eat3D's UnrealScript - An Introduction and Application to help fill in gaps and felt it was worth a check out being from Eat3D.
If you're like me, with some programming background, then I'd say its still worth it despite being an introduction. Just realize you're mostly paying for the second half. I'm really happy with the skill level and quality of instruction. I still recommend it, b/c he has production knowledge and good examples. Its nice to have them b/c I'm sure I'll re-reference the second half again and again.
I give this DVD a 3.75 stars out of 5 (4.25 if you have less experience). Great, full of useful information, He doesn't explain a few delete & adds in the weapon example, but does a great job explaining most other things. I'd highly recommend this in combination with the other two tutorial links above. Each one has its strengths and together fill in each others gaps to make a nice big picture.

Fluid simulations are hard

I would think this post might be sarcastic like CG is hard :'( but no. This post is to explain why fundamentally fluid simulations are hard to control.

Real World Example: I give you a bucket of water and a variable speed fan. For a 3 second shot I need you to get the water swirling at just the right speed, not too fast not too slow. You have 1 second of "run up" time. Go. You take the fan, turn it to a setting try it the water splashes all over you and the floor. Nope too fast. Slower, water splashes all over you again. You feel like an idiot. Slower, The water splashes all over you again. Now you're mad, REAAADLLLY SLOW!!! the water doesn't move. ok little faster, water doesn't move. Ok little faster, water moves right for 1 of the 3 seconds. turn it on and off. 2 of the 3 seconds.... Ok that was a 40x40x40 now you get the titanic sized engine, and a small lake. Turn on the engines! 3 seconds! This should be easier b/c remember all your experience from the bucket? Huh, that's not really helping now is it? no. Not really. In fact its so different the titanic sized engine isn't really the best thing for this. Maybe you should find another way, 1000 motorboat engines! Its expensive but its fast to turn on and off! 2 weeks of trying and it doesn't move much water even tho there are so many. Well that was an expensive test. how much does it cost to bring the titanic engine back in here?
Here's the kicker. That's just 1 setting, magnitude. there are hundreds of settings. Think you are tweaking the right one?

Morpheus, "and that's air you're breathing? huh... AGAIN."

Review: Gnomon Unreal Development Kit: Materials

Unreal Development Kit: MaterialsAn Introduction with Waylon Brinck is great. Just finished this DVD and wow, what a ton of information. I didn't think I really needed this DVD initially since I knew well how to work in the HyperShade in Maya and the Material editor in UDK is similar.
I'm really happy with how much I learned and how many gray areas were cleared up. I love how he broke down the math in a clear way. Some points I was like ARGH of course! now that makes sense! For example how the math behind how "levels" works in Photoshop. Not as complicated as I thought, totally get it.
This DVD is great for beginner-ish to advanced artist comfortable in another 3D app who want to get a solid base for materials in UDK.
This DVD well worth it. Only negative is the lessons are a little dry. I could only watch a few chapters a day, even tho I wanted to watch more.
4.5 stars could only be better with some jokes spattered in there. Top quality instruction, lots of practical, useful examples. Very happy with this purchase. Recommend.

Review: Gnomon Visual FX for Games

I'm a big believer in continuing education. As I continue to push from film FX into the game world, I buy anything I can get my hands on if it looks good. I took a risk on this one, The Gnomon Workshop: Visual FX for Games, I wasn't sure. It started off really bad, and I was afraid I wasted my money, but it quickly got really good.
I think the description is a little misleading, they push the software aspect of the DVD, like saying "Fume FX" where there is only a reference that "this was made in Fume FX". Very little how to do things explicitly. Its not even that engine centric, so this would definitely work for other engines as well.
Maxime walks you through a wide range of FX, breaking down how they're made and what to consider when creating them. He's got a lot of tips and tricks, and general good to know stuff. As a seasoned film FX artist I wondered how eye opening that would be. Some key areas I was like damn, I don't know if I would have thought of that!
Overall I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars, not for everyone, but highly recommend and well worth the money for FX artist. Best for people who have a decent grasp of a game engine like UDK, and a 3D package.

Edit: I think I might give it 4.5 out of 5 since this is the only DVD I've gotten (ok Lighting too) that I've watched again. Its pretty good. Lots of little tips that with a re-watching you catch. Its a great resource as long as you know what to expect. Its a breakdown of game FX not so much how to make them from scratch.