D O N S H O W A L T E R
3D MODELING -- TEXTURE PAINTING -- UV MAPPING -- LIGHTING -- MECHANICAL RIGGING -- VFX
2006-2005: Southwest Research Institute
Project: Boom Operator Weapons System Trainer (BOWST)
Supervisor: Eric Peterson
Overview: BOWST is a next-generation training simulator for U.S. Air Force personnel operating refueling equipment aboard the KC-135R Stratotanker. The simulator uses advanced real-time 3D computer graphics. My initial role, as a freelance sub-contractor, was to provide 7 digital models of aircraft that would be refueled by this tanker. Through the course of my employment and because SwRI was pleased with my performance, I eventually wound up providing 13 of the models and was involved with completing 2 others.
1. Online research: Gathering information and reference photos relevant to the planes I was recreating in order to provide the most accurate models possible.
2. Photo-interpretation: In instances where certain information is unavailable to the prime contractor, I needed to examine the reference photos in order to determine various dimensions and placements of aircraft components in order to translate these to the digital models.
3. Convert Digital Model Formats: In instances where the prime contractor had an existing model, I converted the model from its existing format into one that I could use in my 3D modeling software.
4. Construct Digital Models: In instances where there was no existing model or the existing model didn't meet the prime contractor's specifications, I used Newtek's LightWave 3D Modeler software to construct and UV map digital geometry. In all case, converting or constructing, I was budgeted 25k triangles for each aircraft
5. Paint Texture Maps: Once the geometry for a given model was approved by the prime contractor, I used Adobe Photoshop to paint digital images to be used as color textures for the digital model. The specification for this project called for a very high degree of realism; the goal for my painting work was photo-realism.
6. Build Animation Hierarchy: As certain components of the aircraft (control surfaces, refueling doors) are meant to be movable in the training simulator, I supplied an animation hierarchy of those components that could be interpreted by the simulator's software engine.
7. Make Requested Changes: After a model has been completed and submitted to Southwest Research, Air Force personnel reviewed it and listed changes that needed to be made in order to meet their requirements for accuracy. I was responsible for making those changes.
Rendering of the models I worked on for this project are available at my Gallery page.
Notes: As SWRI is located in Texas and I'm in New York, I essentially worked unsupervised on this project and was largely responsible for overseeing my own work, demonstrating my ability to work productively on high-technology projects under circumstances that require self-motivation.
2004: Indestructible Production Company
Project: "New Captain Scarlet" TV Series; Pilot Episodes
Supervisor: Lee Stringer
Overview: Producer Gerry Anderson was dissatisfied with initial CG work done for the pilots of his new series, so CG VFX producer Ron Thornton was hired to provide a fresh start. Somewhere down the line, Lee brought me on as a freelancer.
1. Condor Cargo Aircraft; convert MAYA subdivision geometry model to a LightWave polygonal model. What could be easier? The geometry, as output from MAYA, contained no surfacing information; as one can see from the images of the final model, this was a rather complex aircraft. I started out with over 2 million polygons of undifferentiated geometry. Also, when the subpatches were frozen into polygons, nothing fit together any longer; there were holes and visible seams literally everywhere on the model. It required extensive rebuilding to clean it all up and I was able to shave off a million polys in the process. Though I was supplied with the textures from the original MAYA model (about 200 images), there were no reference renders to show where they should be applied (remember, the surfacing info was lost in the conversion). I was given some wonderful paintings of the aircraft, produced by Dominic Lavery, the production designer, and these were instrumental in the reconstruction process. As the model did come with textures, I needed to paint only a few for this project.
2. Condor Cargo Aircraft; rig for animation. The airplane had 68 landing wheels (of various diameters) which I rigged to automatically turn when the plane touched the ground. Also, various flight control surfaces, speed brakes and hydraulics needed to be rigged along with the raising/lowering mechanisms of the front/rear fuselage and the wing landing gear pods. Oh, and the cargo ramps needed to extend and lower, and stabilizing "feet" (the orange things in the rendered images) needed to extend from behind doors in the side of the fuselage. All this was rigged to simple sliders, easy for the animator to manipulate.
Renderings of this model are available at my Gallery page.
Notes: This was a rush job with a hard deadline, subsequently met. While the production company was located in the UK, I worked from home in the United States. As with the BOWST project mentioned above, I worked largely unsupervised. Based at least partially on the success of the pilot episodes, the "New Captain Scarlet" series was picked up and a full-season run of episodes was produced.
2003-2000: DMJ MediaLogic LLC
Project: Website design/rollout
Overview: This was a small business in which I was a co-owner. We built/maintained websites for local clients and I was responsible for all the technology aspects of our business.
1. Maintaining our computer equipment, both hardware and software aspects. I selected the components for our computers and built them myself. I also installed and updated all software, including the operating systems. We operated in Windows environments only. I also installed the LAN in my own home office.
2. Designed Websites: I typically used Photoshop to design the general look of a given site and presented this layout to the customer for approval/changes.
5. Upload Websites To Remote Server And Administer: Our remote host was using a LINUX/Apache setup and I was responsible for uploading, via FTP, the sites, ensuring their proper function, setting permissions for CGI files, writing .htaccess files.
6. Updating Websites: Products were often added, changed or removed and I had to keep these changes up to date.
Notes: Although our company dissolved in 2003, I continue to do website work on freelance basis, right up to the present time.
2000: Foundation Imaging
Project: "Max Steel" TV Series; various episodes
Supervisor: Dave Adams
Overview: Team Modeler-VFX Artist
1. After being given an assignment, in the form of drawings produced by the Art Dept. of the object to be modeled, the supervisor and I would go over the script to determine what the model needed to do, based on how it appeared in various shots.
2. Model geometry and paint textures for objects, producing shot-specific, level-of-detail sub-objects as needed (for close-ups, etc.).
3. Confer with animators and rig objects as per their requirements.
Notes: Actually, I was hired to work on a show called "Heavy Gear" which was meant to start production after "Max Steel" wrapped. I arrived a bit early, so I worked on "Max Steel" in the meantime. Unfortunately, at the last minute, the backers of HG awarded the contract to another studio. After having worked at FI for a very short time, I was laid off along with about 100 others. To date, this was the happiest working experience I've ever had.
2006-1996: PC Technician
Project: Right the wrongs, help the helpless, fix the unfixable
Overview: Every group of family/friends/complete strangers has that one guy that can fix computers, right? Nice to meet you; what seems to be the problem?
1. Diagnose and Repair Non-Working Computer Hardware: Use of informed observation and broad-based knowledge of different types of hardware (and how they're used by the system) to pinpoint specific hardware failures.
2. Diagnose and Repair Non-Working Computer Software: Use of boot disks (both floppy and CD-based), and Windows repair tools to bring a machine with a damaged OS back to life. Also, use general knowledge of Windows Operating System to cause specific applications to work as the user intends.
3. Build Computers For Specific Tasks: Select specific hardware to enable a computer to best perform the tasks which the user intends.
4. General Advice For Users: For instance, use knowledge and experience to clearly explain to the user why installing the latest $450 graphics card will not help their Pentium III 500 mhz system (with 64 megabytes of RAM) play the latest games. Also, explain why the technician at CompUSA may be jumping the gun when he wants to wipe a hard drive and reinstall Windows because of a simple spyware problem (see below).
5. Spyware Removal: Use various software tools (for example: "HiJack This!","SpyBot Search and Destroy" and Windows "MSCONFIG" and "RegEdit") to remove deeply-embedded malicious software. Also, explain to users how to avoid such infestations and install preventive software.
Notes: I've always wanted a Ferrari. If I'd been paid for all the PC work I've done over the years I'd be able to afford one...and not of the cheap ones!
I have 9 years of experience as a digital artist and though I work primarily in Photoshop and LightWave, that experience can be easily translated to other software platforms.
As you can see in the "Work Experience" info I've provided, my capabilities in the Information Technology arena are not limited to digital artistry. All that I've learned about computers, from digital artwork, website construction to my abilities as a general computer technician, has been entirely self-taught. I have no degree in any computer discipline but have learned enough through practical experience to operate on a professional level in at least 2 areas of expertise (3D graphics and web design). I believe it's fair to say that I'm a very self-motivated individual, quick to learn, and not afraid of complex technical assignments.
I also have 8 years of experience in Retail Management, coordinating the efforts of teams of up to a dozen individuals. Haven't gone into detail regarding that experience as it's not directly relevant to the work I'm hoping to gain through this resumé. I mention it, however, as my management experience, in and of itself, may be relevant in a tangental manner to some position I may eventually be seeking or offered.
I do not have much "free" time...I like to stay busy and don't care much for relaxing...but I have taken the time to write a novel and have written music (though I've mostly forgotten how to write in notation). I enjoy reading books of all kinds, but particularly history and science fiction. For TV shows, I watch Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" block. Favorite shows? "Futurama", "The Venture Bros." and "AquaTeen HungerForce". For TV in general, I like documentaries...lots of documentaries.
Favorite movies: Anything by Stanley Kubrick.
Favorite music: Electric Light Orchestra, Beatles, Gerry Rafferty, Rainbow...
Favorite books: "The Guns of August" by Barbara Tuchman, "The World According to Garp" by John Irving, "Christine" by Stephen King