John Hughes Films

John Hughes unfortunate untimely death was reported in the news yesterday, may God rest his soul.  The televised reports have consistently said that he will most be remembered for his coming-of-age teen movies of the 80’s, but it’s not those films that I will remember him for. Rather, I will remember him for the travel adventure comedies.

Today, the focus of comedy films seems to be complete irreverence, innuendo and blatant raunchiness.  It’s not say that John Hughes films didn’t deal with adult themes, they did, but it was delivered in a more meaningful way, not for the shock value.  His movies were goal driven and commonly featured a destination that seemed nearly impossible to get to due to all the obstacles thrown in along the way.  By the end of the movie the goal has been reached and viewers are left with a positive heartwarming experience.

One of my all-time favorite comedy movies, whom he wrote, produced and directed is Planes, Trains and Automobiles starring Steve Martin and the late John Candy. The film not only was full of humor but it had a lot of heart which is hard to find in today’s Hollywood comedies.  The film starts out with a man, Neal (Steve Martin), trying to get home for Thanksgiving who runs into an obnoxious traveling curtain ring salesman, Del (John Candy), who takes it upon himself to help Neal get home.  Neal goes from being a mild-mannered businessman to an enraged lunatic because he can’t seem to get away from accident prone Del no matter what he tries. In the end, Neal finds out Del was really a lonely man with nowhere to go and he invites Del to thanksgiving with his family.

Other notable films from John Hughes for me were:

Google SketchUp 3D Challenge #088 – Skyscraper

I took a break from the challenges for a while to focus on my entry for the Design It: Shelter competition which is co-sponsored by the Guggenheim and Google.  It was coming along nicely so I decided to do the Skyscraper challenge in the meantime

Here’s my entry for Challenge #088 – Skyscraper. I have designed it to stand 5280 feet tall (1 mile). The skyscraper would be zoned for mixed use including office space, retail space, restaurants, apartments and condominiums. This would likely be the largest structure on Earth if it were built and would be the showpiece for the city it resides in. There are a total of 395 floors on the main tower with 132 floors on each of the 4 sibling towers for a total of 923 floors. There is an immense spire that extends from the top of the sibling towers to the top of the main tower then extends a quarter mile above that. The footprint of the pedestal base is more than 6 1/2 acres in area and the tower would sit on a 10 acre city block.  See the model here and see the image gallery below:

Google SketchUp 3D Challenge #085 – Submarine

For the submarine challenge I had the idea for one that had wings designed for underwater with the propulsion units built into them.  I had been thinking about designing a modern jet with the engines inline with the wings but when this challenge came up I decided I could do the same with the sub.  Below is the description I wrote for the 3D Warehouse:

This submarine is modeled to resemble a fish. Its propulsion system features large propellers contained in ducted cowlings that are designed to create a vortex enabling the sub to travel at high speeds through the water. Each propeller housing is attached to a wing that pivots up or down to ascend or descend in the water. When the wings move in opposite directions they allow the submarine to roll and turn much like an airplane does. Varying the speed of each propeller also assists in turning mobility.

Take a look at the gallery below or download the model.

Google SketchUp 3D Challenge #084 – Art Adaptation

This week’s challenge was difficult because we had to recreate a well-known work of art in SketchUp.  I chose to do Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks oil painting.  Big mistake as it turns out.  It’s looks great as a painting but if you go trying to recreate it in 3D and take care in dong so, it is practically impossible.  It’s just that the physical perspective of the painting does not translate to any form of reality.  If I was recreating a photo, then no sweat, but a painting isn’t a photo, it’s an impression of someone else’s perception of something real.  Had Edward Hopper traced a photograph onto canvas it would have made it easier but that’s not his style. I didn’t have enough time to add all of the details and definitely not the time of the capability to model the people.  To match the painting perfectly I would have had to put way too much work into it.  Did I do it justice?  You be the judge.



Tutorial: Export Multiple Scenes Quickly

I just finished creating my first SketchUp related tutorial.  It has been posted to the SketchUp page of my website.  I discovered an easy way to export multiple scenes using the animation exporter so I decided to share what I found.  Please leave comments on the tutorial page if you have something to add.

Google SketchUp 3D Challenge #083 – Concept Vehicle

For this challenge I designed a two-seater two-wheeled car. It balances on its two parallel wheels in the same fashion as a Segway scooter. The vehicle is driven by 2 large efficient electric motors (one for each wheel) allowing one wheel to move independently of the other allowing for greatly enhanced maneuverability. The car is powered by either the solar cells in the roof during the day or by the hydrogen fuel cell in the floor during the night or other low light conditions. The large wheels surround the entry doors which open by rotating backward on an offset axis allowing for a spacious opening.  It is designed to have a minimalist interior free of a cluttered dashboard.  In place of the dash is a large translucent view screen that rises out of the floor when the vehicle is on.  The view screen provides area to display it’s virtual gauges as well as controls for the navigation system and media player.  The vehicle is controlled by two joysticks on the armrests of both seats.  Both passengers have the option of driving the vehicle with either the left or right palm joystick and controlling the rest of the car’s functions with the opposite joystick.  There is also a generously sized cargo area in the back that expands for additional space when needed.  Take a look at the gallery below or download the model for a closer look.

Google SketchUp 3D Challenge #082 – Energy Saving Item

I decided on this challenge to create a virtual replica of the Moisture Vaporators seen on the Lars family moisture farm in Star Wars.  I normally create something completely unique so perhaps this time I took a short cut by modeling something real.  Okay, not so much real because it’s only a prop.  And if it were real we would need a droid who could speak it’s language just to get it working.  C3PO isn’t real either… hence the real problem.  If c3PO were real then people wouldn’t waste time yelling at inanimate objects when they don’t work, they would just have their custom programmed protocol droid do it.  Anyway, there are real machines that work just like a Moisture Vaporators and thankfully they don’t use binary brain units.


What’s on my DVR?

  • Star Wars Episodes 1-6 from SpikeTV HD broadcasts – Who could have guessed?
  • 16 “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” episodes – Impressive…
  • “Myth Busters” – It seems they’ve gone bananas this time…
  • “Pitchmen” – Billy Mays here… …but wait, there’s more.
  • “American Chopper” – SR and Paulie at it again…
  • “Heroes” – “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I guess I’ll go cut off the top of Clint Howard’s head…” -Sylar
  • “Medium” – “I’m a ghost and I messed with Joe’s business partner by making Allison dreams lies.” –Some Ghastly Ghost
  • Old episodes of “Whose Line Is It Anyway” – The quacking elephant episode to name one.

What’s on your DVR?

Updated Star Wars Section

I just updated the Star Wars section of my website by moving “My Collection” to a sub section and added an additional “My Wish List” sub-section for things I’m looking to add to my collection.  On the wish list I added Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Outcast on Audiobook CD as well as a couple statues from Gentle Giant Ltd.: the Wampa and Stormtrooper Deluxe Statue.

Star Wars Crawler

I decided it would be a challenge for me to recreate the Star Wars Ep.IV opening prologue crawler in Google SketchUp and I think I pulled it off.  There is no music playback and the timing isn’t perfect (yet) but it looks very close to the real version.  At first all I wanted to do was the crawler text but ended up adding the Star Wars logo that zooms and fades out to it.  Once I added the logo I realized I didn’t have the opening text that says “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” so I added that.

When I went to compare it to the original I found it was very close but with one major mistake.  I initially had the crawler text fading out in the center of the screen, however in the movie it rolls all the way to the top as it fades out.  So, it went from moderately tedious to hard just like that.  It took me a little while to figure it out.  Instead of having the text flat on the “ground” I had to tilt it forward by 30 degrees and adjust the field of view from the standard 57mm to 43mm to get the proper perspective.


The eventual scrolling effect was created through the use of multiple scenes using the same perspective repeated but positioned slightly lower on the screen per each scene.  After I had the entire text image in proper perspective and zoomed to its extent.  It then involved creating rectangles spaced apart approximately 6 seconds apart each.  I’m sure you’re wondering what I mean by that because seconds aren’t even a unit of measure in the program.  Basically I determined the scrolling should take 78 seconds until the fade out.  With the scene transition time set to 6 seconds, I needed to use 13 scenes for the scrolling.  I created the yellow text on a black background in Photoshop using Franklin Gothic as the font and imported it into SketchUp.  I then tilted the imported text image downward 30 degrees and zoomed to the extents of the image with the front view selected and changed the POV to 43mm to create the proper perspective.  I then created a rectangle the same size as the text image as a group at the same angle and moved its bottom edge to the top edge of the text image.  I then made a line from the top of the rectangle group to approximately the center of the text image and divided it into 12 segments.  I then copied the rectangle group and positioned its top left corner one segment on the line down.  I repeated the last step until there were 13 total rectangles spaced apart by one line segment.  I then created a scene for each rectangle using the perspective I created earlier by zooming to its extents of each rectangle at the 43mm POV.  I put the rectangles in their own layer and turned off the layer to hide them.  I then updated each scene with the style I created with the star watermark and the last scene with a style that had an all black watermark with the star watermark on top to create the fade out.

As I finish writing this blog post, I have decided to write a full tutorial on creating this.  It will be posted on this blog when it’s ready.