This is the first day in almost a month that I have had completely to myself. Nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to call, no clients to please... nothing that doesn't interest me and me alone.

God, I needed that. Sleep. If sleep could be defined as anything else, I'd say this: "Sleep is that state of recharging, like laying down in a giant, formless battery for the soul, body and mind." I am totally revitalized. Bring it on, world!

When I finally got around to waking up, the first thing I did was turn on my home computer system. I don't have Internet access at home anymore (why deal with the distraction and extra expense?), so it was real easy for me to focus on something I've been working on a lot lately. 3D design and animation. I'm taking baby steps with it now, but I'm slowly expanding my horizons. To wit, Bryce 4 and 3D Studio Max 4 are the only real 3D rendering programs my system can stand to run. I want Maya like nobody's business, but 1) it's expensive, and 2) Maya would take one glance at my system's hardware and laugh- mockingly. "You wanna put what? Where? Ha! Fat chance, geek boy."

The animations I've been doing lately is just really simple stuff. I've downloaded a truckload of Star Trek and Star Wars meshes (3D models). First I dicked around with just creating still images, to get the feel for texturing and lighting and camera angles. Today I did a full animation/scene rendering. It lasts only 8 seconds, but it's a start. It's rendering now, as I type this, and I look forward to seeing how it turns out. I've done minor animations with only one active model, but this one has two models in motion! Lordy-be! I'm moving up in the virtual world I've created for myself.

I've got to say that there is a lot to learn about 3D rendering and animation. Getting the backdrop correct, camera angles and motion, lighting, shadows, motion paths, collision physics... it's like being a director, artist, special effects chief, strategist, mathematician, physicist and architect all in one. I've only been at it for a month, but I shudder to imagine what else there is to learn. Will it be more of the same, only refining the process, or will there be stuff I haven't even thought of yet?

Well... there is the actual creation of original meshes, which is something I've never even tried to do. I've got to do some more research to see how that's done. I mean, it has to be possible- otherwise I wouldn't have been able to download those nifty models in the first place, right? Then comes model texturing and mapping, which is just as mindboggling as creating meshes...

How do people do this for a living and still stay sane? I guess they love it. After having done this for a short while, that's the only answer I can come up with because, let's face it, 3D modeling and animation is a labor of love.

My ultimate goal is to get good enough to create a movie-length animation on my computer. Perhaps I can, one day, animate the book I'm writing. Isn't that every sci-fi writer/geek's dream? "Not only did I write the damn thing, I made it into a movie on my computer!"

Heh. It's nice to dream.