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Monthly Archives: January 2008
Vintage Photography Collections from the Library of Congress – now on Flickr

Filed under Found on the Web

Vintage Industrial Photography

I’ve been watching the resources at the Library of Congress’ web site for years now. They’ve published a lot of vintage photography, posters, and other materials, most of which were produced by government agencies. In general the government-produced work, like posters and photography from the Depression-era WPA projects, are in the public domain (though it’s necessary to check the status of a particular work, and easy since they most often include the rights status of these images).

But now the Library of Congress has branched out into Flickr streams. There’s a large selection of images in (so far) two collections: 1930s-40s in Color is a rare selection of over 1600 color photographs from that period, while News in the 1910s includes 1500 out of the Library’s nearly 40,000 glass negatives from the Bain News Service, circa 1910-1912.

Easy enough to get lost in those virtual stacks. Leave breadcrumbs!

Vintage streamline cars and trucks by 3D modeler Niko Moritz

Filed under Computer Graphics, Found on the Web

vintage truck model

3D modeler Niko Moritz has a portfolio site that’s populated with a series of wonderful streamline cars and trucks (and, well, planes and boats) based on designs and prototypes that weren’t always put into production. There are some real gems here.

streamline moderne truck designAbove is his model of a fuel tank truck design that was patented in 1937, but possibly never built. He’s based it on a period White coe truck, also the foundation for the teardrop marvel shown at right. Both are based on designs by Alexis De Sakhnoffsky.

Other highlights include the classic Cord 810, Jaguar XKE and XK120, and the Hupmobile Skylark. Oh.. and there’s some modern gunge, too :).

Twin Turbo Jet Pack from German aerospace companies

Filed under Found on the Web


It’s hard to imagine a situation in which I would not want one of these. It would have been awesome back when I was commuting over 50 miles in Southern California – in those days, I wanted a personal airship – but since this jet pack is meant for parachutists and doesn’t allow you to take off from your driveway, I guess it wouldn’t have been the perfect solution.

Anyway it’s amazing; two small engines power what’s otherwise a glider that allows a parachutist to travel up to 200 kilometers through the air after leaping out of an airplane at 33,000 feet. (An unpowered version promises 50 kilometers of travel, and is quite a bit lighter, to boot).

Since the powered version weighs at least 80 pounds we’re looking at a new upside to having special forces paratroopers invade us, wherever we happen to be – they’ll probably have to leave their awesome jetpacks behind. Woot!

“Big Lug” Robot, textured, with a Turntable Animation

Filed under Computer Graphics, Works in Progress

Here’s the textured version of my “Big Lug” retro robot, a new character for my world of Retropolis. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s durable, but he’s not what you’d call the brightest bulb on the chain. This is the famous Mark II Big Lug, the most successful industrial robot to come off the assembly line at the Ferriss Moto-Man plant in Retropolis. You can get a Big Lug in just about any color – the default factory finish is shown here.

The picture above links to a 9 megabyte Quicktime “turntable” animation that I’ve used to see how he looks all ’round, as well as the way light plays across him. What remains to be done is to skin him to a skeleton. I’ve mentioned before that skinning makes me want to throw myself out of high windows. Really, I do mean that in the plural; I’d like to throw myself out of as many high windows as possible, by the time I’m done. But thankfully it’s much easier to skin a robot than it is to skin a human character.

“Big Lug” is now just over 211,000 triangular polygons. There’s some waste in curvy but indistinct areas like his armpits – but I’m not sure how much more optimization I’ll be doing in there.

[tags]Retropolis, retro robot, "Big Lug", science fiction, space opera, retro-futurism, 3d, character, turntable animation[/tags]

“Big Lug” Retro Robot, continued

Filed under Computer Graphics, Works in Progress

Still loads of texturing to go, though I quite like this basic steely thing he’s wearing. I’ve realized that “Ferriss Motomen” sounds like an instant noodle soup, while “Ferriss Moto-Men” is amazingly better. What a difference a hyphen makes.

New Retro Robot Character and – and last! – 64 bits

Filed under Works in Progress

retro robot model - I don’t have a rational reason for modelling a new robot, but I’m doing it anyway. So sue me.

I guess I do have a sort of an excuse, since I want to do some work on the new computer even though I’m not highly motivated to do any of the things I really ought to be working on. So that leaves me with my new Ferriss Motomen “Big Lug” Mark III.

I was having some fun with him until I dropped that head on him, at which point I really started having some fun. Hands, head gizmos and textures to follow.

I think it took me longer to put together this computer than it ever has before: a few case fit-up issues, unfamiliar connectors, and problems with installing some software and devices in a 64 bit OS. Or maybe I’m just getting old and slow. Anyway I’m awfully happy that I can now feed twice the amount of RAM even to 32 bit applications – the first bit of anything worklike I did was to successfully render the preview of a scene I’d been working on, which had bombed out due to insufficient memory before. The memory was there, but no one program could use it all in a 32 bit OS.

And I’m still thinking about that new desk. It could happen.

Desk of the Future that Still Might Be

Filed under Works in Progress

retromodern desk design

Okay, I pretty much never make anything for myself. But I’m about to build a new computer, and that’s got me thinking about the new desk I still haven’t made even though I’ve been in this house for two and a half years.

The workspace I’ve got is pretty functional but doesn’t fit well in its room. So while I wait for my new components to arrive I’m tinkering with a layout for the room and its potential desk – complete with a retro-futuristic self, since I don’t have a character model that looks any more like me – and, who knows? I might even build it. I’ve optimistically thrown in next year’s new monitor, but I’ve also used a scale model of my current 24″ CRT to make sure that everything fits.

I’ve placed speaker covers on the sides, which use the same perforated sheet steel I’ve used for the desktop (though under glass, there) and I think I’ve more or less puzzled out how I’d handle the pedestals with their veneer. At the rate I’m going I ought to be sitting at this desk within a decade or so. Though probably not in that outfit.

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Down in the Basement. Where it Strains Against its Chains and Turns a Gigantic Wheel of Pain, for all Eternity. Muahahahahaha.