Code Geek

tech

Code Geek

I don't recall exactly when I started programming, but it was somewhere around the age of 8. Computers were fascinating to me in the early 80's. My dad was in the Air Force and brought home his "lap top" from time to time, a huge Compaq brick machine with a monochromatic 8" monitor and two 5 1/2" floppy disk drives, and would pay me about 0.25¢ an hour to type in his FORTRAN, or whatever code it was, from dot matrix printed sheets and save them onto floppy disks. Within a very short period of time I eagerly learned BASIC and started making my own little programs.

The early days of the internet was comprised of Bulletin board systems that required you to dial in to a specific computer through a modem that literally took advantage of an old style rotary phone, and I ate it up, connecting to any phone number I could get a hold of. As my love of computers and technology grew, I was introduced to the idea of using computers to create 3D graphs and rudimentary images. I ate it up, and wanted nothing more than to learn how to make those incredible magic pictures myself.

As I got older I branched off from BASIC and started learning a little PASCAL to up my coding game. I made it only a short way in PASCAL before something changed, and I briefly left the world of programming. As computers got easier to use, the applications became more interesting than the language used to write those applications, and suddenly I was more interested in the hardware than the software. I got into small hand held devices, early smart watches, and other gadgets and stopped programming anything.

Then something changed.

Years later, I was working at a college as a graphic artist. The college was still doing everything on good old pen and paper, and thus many of the forms that we recieved from both students and faculty were almost always illegible. Being a techie, and gadget guy, it quickly occurred to me that with a little programming we could not only solve the unreadable paper forms, we could streamline our entire process with computers.

Working at a college it was easy to take a Javascript, SQL and web programming class, and at the end I started developing systems for my department at the college. They worked! They worked so well in fact, that other departments started coming to me requesting digital versions of their paper forms. I obliged, and soon became known as the guy who was automating the college.

As I grew in this venture I started getting in to CG and the world of 3D animation. All of this changed my passion for computers, and changed my focus in life. However, even the CG realm had a place for programming. Although, that isn't where I started out.

When I decided to start studying 3D Animation full time, I still needed a way to pay the bills. I knew Javascript, VBScript, ASP, SQL, a little PHP and HTML, so I started working at various jobs as a web developer while I went to college for Computer Generated Imagery. This worked well, since it helped develop my programming chops while paying the bills at the same time.

In 2003 I got hired by Insight.com / Direct Alliance to start programming their intranet, and designing logogs for clients. Their system was based in ColdFusion, but they felt that since I knew ASP and SQL that ColdFusion would be a breeze for me. They were right. In fact, as far as web development went, I fell in love with ColdFusion, and to this day I do all of my higher end web development in that simple, yet robust programming language.

In the meantime, I was working hard to learn and improve my skills as a CG animator and visual effects artist. It didn't take long for me to realize that 3DS Max had a scripting language that was eerily close to VBScript, and I started using my web programming chops in my more artistic work in the CG realm.

One thing led to another. As I learned Maya, I expanded on my knowledge of Max Script, and recognized that Maya's MEL script was incredibly similar to Javascript. Once again, it became an easy language to learn. However, after years of working with MEL, I became ever more curious about Python and Java.

I spent a short time learning Java, but never had an occasion to use it. Python, however, became an incredibly powerful tool for me an my go-to language for almost everything. As my Python skill improved in Maya, they also became relavent in Nuke, and now I was developing artist tools for both Maya and Nuke. It wasn't long before I learned how to move that beyond Digital Content Creation and expand it into whatever I wanted.

Now I program for entire pipelines, developing tools for Shotgun, NIM, Maya, Nuke, Photoshop, Houdini, and a whole host of stand alone applications that make our lives easier in the Visual Effects Community. These days, there are very few problems I can't solve with a few lines of code. It doesn't matter what the challenge is, I always find the solutions.

Here's the thing. Computers are taking over our world, and if you don't speak the language, you're likely to end up at the bottom of the food chain. I solve problems. Let me help you solve yours.