Robots, 3D Printing, & Stop Motion Film

As a company we are taking a long, sleepless endeavor down the road of stop motion animation for our upcoming project Robotica: Changes In The Air, a story about a lonely robot who leads a mundane life in segregated Priceville with his pup Kurbis when he falls in love with his human neighbor, Zucca. You are probably asking yourself how they are neighbors in a segregated town. In Priceville the robots live on one side of the road and humans on the other, they have to walk on different sides of the sidewalk and some businesses will only serve one or the other. Robotica and Zucca live at the end of their cul de sac with a bunch of fences between them – although the fences aren’t enough to keep troublesome Kurbis out of Zucca’s yard completely. Nothing can stop Kurbis when she smells a pumpkin.

Robotica is a character I have been working on since 2010 when I first dreamt him up while doodling at work. I knew his personality and how he looks but I wasn’t 100% dead set on the storyline. Finding an artist that I trusted with my lil’ nugget was the hardest part but I’m happy to say that six years later I found the perfect artist and visionary who came with her own character – Kurbis. Kelsey has been working with Kurbis for over ten years now and really felt that she deserved to be in a movie. Putting our characters together and seeing how they would interact is how we developed the storyline and collaborated to create Zucca, our love interest.

LtoR: Robotica, Kurbis Zucca

It was fascinating to see how Kelsey was able to take my early sketch of Robotica and utilize the technology of 3D Printing with a sprinkle of ingenuity and create our first prototype last month. We brought him out to the Sunscreen Film Festival‘s first Film Market hosted by Indyoh and set him up on the table, showing people how we plan on keeping costs low by utilizing magnets to attache certain pieces and move them. We got a lot of great feedback from some wonderful people and had a great time unveiling him to the community.

Stop motion is a tedious style of filmmaking that is very time consuming because it is about stringing together still images to create the illusion of movement with the knowledge that the human eye sees 24 frames per second. That is equal to 24 still images in a single second and every image needs to be staged perfectly to have fluid, continuous movement. It is exhilarating and exhausting. The long hours of focus will be rewarded with an amazing finished product.

Now we are entering the crazy world of crowdfunding with Seed&Spark in an effort to bring together a larger budget than our own pockets (which is what we have been using so far) to give this project all the materials and attention it deserves to be something you will want to watch and share with your friends. We are even holding a contest! You can learn about it here:

The contest gives you, the audience, an opportunity to be a part of the film by sketching up a design for a robot and sharing with us on Facebook before Saturday May 21st and we will put your name into a drawing for every dollar you contribute to our campaign. So if you contribute $25 you have 25 chances to see your robot in the movie.

Will you be a supporter of Team  Robotica? Show your love by giving us a share on Facebook or a follow on Seed&Spark!

 

Why China?

I’ve been asked a lot of questions lately about my current plans, most common: why China?

This is not an easily answered question as there are many factors involved in my decision. For one, Asia is a continent I have never stepped foot on and I have a goal of visiting every continent in my lifetime; this would bring me to my third. I live in North America and have traveled on two different occasions to Europe.

Experiencing life in a third world country would be a brand new experience as well and another factor. Aside from the aforementioned places, I’ve been on numerous family cruises to various islands in the Caribbean. These experiences were all luxury type vacations which is not what I am looking for at this time in my life. I would like to live in a place where I can experience a life with different challenges than my own. Where my services can be opening doors into the futures of those I encounter.

All the places I have lived for extended times have been either a democracy, monarch, or a combination of the two. I’ve never visited a communist country let alone lived in one for a year. I find this to be an intriguing factor in my adventure because I am learning what it is like to be a human all across our world.

During my college years, I took a few history classes with Dr. Parssinen who taught me a bit about Chinese history. There is a vast amount of it, but we focused on the Opium Wars for our Narcotic Drugs in Modern Society class. From the Opium Wars to the Silk Road and Marco Polo to the number of dynasties – it is all fascinating. Living on this side of the world will give me the opportunity to learn so much more.

So you see, there are a lot of things that draw me to China; the history, language, culture, political standings, and geographical location in Asia. Just like a cherry on top of the metaphorical sundae, China also pays well and holds teachers in high social regard.

Teaching in China

There are so many things to consider while realizing my need to teach english in China. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and plan on homeschooling my own children until they reach high school. In fact, while abroad I will be studying for the GRE to apply to grad school when I return for my MFA in Creative Writing – which is what I need to become a college professor.  I love the look in a person’s eyes when a concept clicks and they get that light that says they genuinely understand. It gets me fired up.

The thing about China is that I have never been to Asia or a communist country which poses completely different cultural norms and hopefully a huge shock. I’m ready for it and I need it. I yearn to make a difference in other human lives, this opportunity would definitely help bring that credo to life. The experiences of everything from Shanghai to the Himalayans makes me tingle inside. I want to know what life is like on the other side of the world.

What makes me nervous about China the most is that I’m a vegetarian and I don’t know any Chinese. Not even hello. I’m a pleasant individual overall so I think I will get along just fine and I plan on taking some kind of basic mandarin or something. Finding food I can eat to survive while I’m there is very frightening because I can’t say ‘I am a vegetarian, I do not eat meat. Dairy and eggs are okay.’

For a bit that was a deal breaker. Then I came to the realization that while living in the Netherlands I did most of my eating from a grocery store which meant visceral stimulation. As long as I can see it is a fruit or vegetable I am okay. I can cook rice and meals for myself at a lower expense as well.

Once that got me over the major hump, I stumbled upon a few youtube videos that shed some light on the experience for people who eat like me by people who eat like me. This one in particular I found exceptionally helpful:

So this is something I will be practicing for the next few months and am certain I will be referring back to once I get abroad. Now to think about how much I actually plan to bring with me and what to pack in. I was thinking of investing in a 60L pack or something and staying minimal. Perhaps a small checked bag for hygiene products to get me by the first  few weeks and a picture or two of my family.

xxx Sam

Teaching English Abroad

Good afternoon travelers! Have any of you taught english abroad? What countries have you worked in? What was it like? I’m very interested in participating in an opportunity of this nature and need some real information, not just some website that could or could not be a scam. I’m looking for people that have been through the TEFL course and interview process and have already taught abroad or are teaching abroad now. Is that you? Do you have any advice or suggestions?

I’m curious about the cost of the TEFL course, what countries are the best, and where you found the jobs that ultimately hired you. Also, how much money did you leave your home country with and how much did you return with? What kinds of things did you learn?

What’s a Pilgrimage?

The meaning of a pilgrimage through the eyes of a pilgrim:

The journey takes many forms, there can be a religious aspect to it however it is not a requirement. For me, it has more to do with a personal journey and growth. I don’t subscribe to any particular creed. Be happy, be honest, and be kind. That is my mantra. Finding your true soul is a journey that starts inside of you, therefore any one person’s pilgrimage will not match any other. It starts when you allow it to.

Although the Camino De Santiago is largely rooted in a catholic background, the pilgrims on the route of Saint James are of various backgrounds. Any pilgrimage begins when you allow it to, traditionally from your front door. However the traditional route of St. James starts in St. Jean Pied de Port, France and ends in Santiago, Spain. Spending, on average, thirty days walking from France through to the tip of Spain is not an easy feat for anyone. Especially not when you stick to the true path of a pilgrim, relying on the way to support you through your travels. Breaking down both your physical and mental being and building you up again – much like daily life.

You see, a pilgrimage does not have to be some set trail that has been walked for centuries. A pilgrimage can be you getting up from your chair, going out your back door, and walking to another town or through the woods. It may not have much significance to an outsider however on said walk through the woods you may have reached a personal ‘aha!’ moment that alters the way you view your life forever.

I can’t wait to have a pilgrimage of my own, to travel and reach a true transcendental state must be absolute bliss. Although I’m not so sure I can wait until I find my way back to Europe to complete the Camino. That goal will never leave my mind but I think that some preparation is required. Some cultures and religions believe in yearly pilgrimages; so why can’t I take multiple pilgrimages throughout my life? I can and I will!

I want to call myself a citizen of the world and travel across our earth however when looking at my list (I keep a list of places I have been before) I realize that my focus has always been out of the Americas and I never took the time available to explore the land on which I was born. The land that my parents fell in love in and travelled across both together and alone. I need to experience the Appalachian Mountains and the Continental Divide. I need to see what the Rockies look like and the West Coast. I need to know what it is like to breathe in higher altitude, to truly be cold in the winter, and to see Redwood trees that I can’t wrap my arms around. I wish to hike and camp and build fires in as many states as I can. I want to simulate parts of the Oregon Trail and try to understand what the Gold Rush was like. Stand on old battlefields and put myself in the shoes of the people who fought there.

I am a firm advocate that seeing is believing and believing leads to true understanding. Emerson said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” I feel that he uses the term experiment precisely because they are meant to be learned from. Scientists create a hypothesis and then conduct experiments to prove their hypothesis is correct or debunk it. But no matter what, any good scientist will always try the experiment.

xxx
Sam

Road Trips and Clarity

Last week called for an impromptu road trip to the East coast of Florida to beach hop down the coast with my boyfriend, Michael. Packing the cooler with water and snacks, we embarked on our journey at four in the morning. The two of us marveled as the sun came up over state road sixty — greenery all around us and open road ahead. It was glorious. We made a pact to take the back roads as much as possible for any trip we do. We want to see as much of the natural beauty the world has to offer as possible.


Sunrise over 60

Sunrise over 60


 

We arrived on the east coast at 8am ready for some breakfast and a nap. While we ate, we found the nearest beach about twenty minutes away from I-95. Hutchinson Island was delightful; so much different from the beach I grew up on. There are sand dunes with foliage blocking your immediate view of the Atlantic, the wooden stairs were picturesque. They took us over the dunes and down to the beach where the sand was darker than I’m used to and filled with bits of shells that stick to your skin. The roar of the ocean swam through my head as I drifted asleep on the shoreline. A bit colder than the Gulf of Mexico, the waves enticed me in. We watched the storm roll in from the water and decided it was time to move on.


Hutchinson Island D Hutchinson Island R Hutchinson Island L

 


 

We raced the storm and successfully made it far enough south to avoid the rain and hit another beach. Hollywood Beach was a cute little town complete with a fabulous beach front. Instead of dunes we encountered a line of retro, stubby bars and hotels with a stone broadwalk about ten feet wide and two and a half miles long to walk or ride along the beachfront. The ocean was crystal blue with a few patches of brown seaweed, but the water was shallow for a good while which was perfect  for a little crashing around in the waves. The storm was nowhere in sight but as per Florida guidelines it stormed a few hours later and we found ourselves stuck until it passed. Gotta love happy hour showers.


Exploring the Hollywood Broadwalk

Exploring the Hollywood Broadwalk

Michael Lounging

Michael Lounging

Hollywood Beach F Hollywood Beach L Hollywood Beach R

 


 

It is so important to fit in little trips throughout your month to inspire your soul and help you clear your mind. It is a rejuvenating experience embracing what nature has to offer both nearby and far away. Crashing on the beach, driving all day and night, and showering at the beach accesses made me yearn for a cross-country road trip. I am certain that I can live that lifestyle and be completely happy; the vagabond lifestyle has whispered in my ear and I cannot shake it off. I’m convinced that traveling is a drug – heroin of sorts. I don’t care where I get it, but I must go!

xxx

Sam