The Glenrothes at Foreign Cinema

2010 January 18
by Xray

If you look closely at this video, you’ll catch a brief shot of Mikee and me enjoying a drink of The Glenrothes.

Kobe Wall of Whisky

2009 December 26
by Xray

Attempted panoramic shot of the bar back at Bar Alco-Hall in Kobe. Click on the pic for hi-res!


Kobe Whisky Otaku at Alco-Hall

2009 December 26
by Xray

This one goes out to Mikee and all my homies at the Hamilton Whisky Society.


After dinner Santa Gundam and Rie lead us  to a small whisky bar called Alco-Hall.


For relaxing times...

I proceeded to totally geek out with the proprietor, Nashimoto-san, over all things whisky. He’s a total whisky otaku and the bar has one of the most amazing collections of whisky I’ve ever seed in one place. He probably has over 1000 bottles in his stash. We made a few selections and also tasted his recommendations.


Nashimoto-san is also the regional Glen Livet whisky ambassador and shared a little bit of Glen Livet new make with us. Oishii!


Lots of pictures of whisky bottles after the jump!

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Kobe Beef Foodgasm – Xmas Day

2009 December 25
by Xray
Kobe Beef Meat Locker cooled with blocks of ice

Kobe Beef meat locker. Cooled with big blocks of ice.

Santa Gundam, AKA Inappropriate Santa, lead us on a beef and whisky expedition to Kobe. We took the Shinkansen to Kobe for a gourmet Kobe Beef foodgasm. Had a bit of a delay as Santa Wrong Station bailed off the train one station early but we made up for lost time had one of the most amazing dinners ever.

Blow by blow after the jump!

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Tokyo Respite – Xmas Eve

2009 December 24
by Xray

Went to Nakano with Paul. Checked out the otaku collections and ate takoyaki at Gindaco. Yum!

We found a sort of Tokyo version of Philz Coffee called Wada Coffee.  Not quite the same as Philz, but enjoyable. Mom and pop shop. Pop heats water  over an open fire in a metal kettle and strains it through a filter one cup at a time while Mom does the table service.

Met up with various Santas to check out the Team*Lab design studio.


Very cool stuff. It’s sort of a tech incubator and hacker co-op. Our host Takashi Kudo introduced us to the team. They have been working on some impressive CG animations that retain the look and texture of traditional Japanese art. First we watched “100 years sea” then they showed us a project called  “Flower and Corpse” which was recently on display at the Louvre. We had a nice round table discussion with some of their animators, designers and developers.

One of their creations, SketchPiston, combines crayon physics with various interactive techniques. I think my favorite is the SketchPiston V.4  Bamboo Play Room they made for Wacom. It’s a music synthesizer combined with crayon physics. Way cool!

Ate a nice dinner of Kaiten Zushi near the hotel and dropped in to a seriously epic karaoke session in Shibuya before hitting up the Maruhachi Izzakaya for some late night eats.

Yamazaki and Our Man in Osaka

2009 December 20
by Xray

The day after SantaCon we met Nori, our Man in Osaka for a tour of the Suntory Yamazaki distillery near Kyoto. We took the Hikari #505 from Tokyo to Kyoto then transferred to the Kyoto line for the trip to Yamazaki Station where Nori met up with us. Nori is a great guy who showed us around Osaka and the Nissin noodle museum last year.


Panorama of one side of the Suntory Yamazaki distillery

After the distillery tour we visited the whisky tasting room where we sampled Yamazaki and Hakushu 12 year old whisky. It was delcious. The Yamazaki is one of the smoothest most drinkable whiskies out there.



My friend Satoru Shimizu arranged a gift of 10 year hakushu in a very nice bottle for me and my friends. After the tour we hit the gift shop with gusto,  procuring several expressions of Suntory products that you just can’t find in the states including a cask strength 15 year old and several cask strength sample expressions, each aged in a specific wood meant to be a component in the final Yamazaki or Hibiki product. I also picked up a small bottle of the corn grain whisky they use in the Suntory blends.

After shopping we went downstairs to the Yamazaki Whisky Library and tasting bar. I wish I could get a library card and check out bottles from this library. It’s an amazingly extensive library of whisky from all over the world.  I guess I’ll just have to be content with photographic evidence for now.



We spent a couple of hours and quite a few yen trying out the different whiskies available with The Yamazaki 25 year old at one end of the spectrum and the New Make at the other end. It was a fine time and by the end of the afternoon we’d worked up quite an appetite so we revisited Aoki-san, the Taisho at my  favorite restaurant in Kyoto called “Okariba” for some of his Omakase specialties. You can see my earlier post about Okariba here.

This time our meal consisted of the following items:

Grilled Wild Boar Skewers

Steamed Bear Shoulder in lemon shoyu

Smoked goose


Horse Sashimi (Basashi)

Misoyaki Vegetables


Bees and bee larvae

Okinanwa Snake Whisky

Giant Killer Bee Whisky

A Very Large bottle of sake

As much beer as we could drink.

We made it back to Kyoto station in time to catch the last Hikari Shinkansen of the evening back to Tokyo. We called it a night since we had to get up early for our flight to Okinawa the next day.

SantaCon Tokyo 2009

2009 December 19
by Xray

SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 dovetailed nicely with SantaCon 2009! You can read about it at the CG Society web page!

Here’s Santa Magari’s Tokyo Santacon web page!



Santa Magari did an excellent job dis-organizing the event in spite of the difficulties involved. We gathered at the traditional spot in front of Hatchiko at Shibuya station and headed over to the LABI electronic store to the wide eyed stares of kids and their parents. Santa loaded up on cheap booze at the next sleigh stop, the DONKI store. After getting his drink on Santa marched through Shibuya to Yoyogi Park where there was some kind of Eco/Peace/DJ Techno festival thing going on. Things looked pretty grim until Santa took the stage and danced for about an hour. Santa passed through Omotesando on the way to the sleigh to Odaiba. Arriving at Odaiba a hungry santa stopped to grab a bite at the FamilyMart and proceeded to walk down the beach. There was a group of amateur astronomers who encouraged Santa to check out Jupiter and her moons on the way to the mall. Santa promply made an ass out of himself at the mall then headed over to the 1/5th scale Statue of Liberty anchored in Tokyo Harbour before calling it a night. The Santas went their separate ways. I ended up at Andy’s Izzakaya in Shimbashi with Santa Sneery, Santa Mike, Santa Sasha, Santa Naoko, Santa I-chan, Dr. Santa and several Santas to be Named Later.

More pictures after the jump!

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SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 – Crowd Course

2009 December 18
by Xray

Today we gave our presentation on crowds during the courses sessions at SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 in Yokohama.  I was very happy with the content and variety of  presentations. I owe a debt of gratitude to each and every presenter who agreed to be part of the course.

A Fuzz of Crowd Animators L to R: Mihai Cioroba, Paul Kanyuk, Tak Yoshida, Marc Salvati, Stephen Regelous, Xray Halperin

A Fuzz of Crowd Animators L to R: Mihai Cioroba, Paul Kanyuk, Tak Yoshida, Marc Salvati, Stephen Regelous, Xray Halpein

After the talk Paul, Tak, Mihai and myself went back to Toki for a celebratory noodle dinner and coined the term “A Fuzz of Crowd Animators” to refer to a group or herd of crowd animators. It’s sort of like “A Gaggle of Geese” or “A Murder of Crows”.

More pictures after the jump…


Stephen filling us in on Massive 4.0

SIGGRAPH Asia – Yokohammered

2009 December 17
by Xray

I spent the second day of SIGGRAPH Asia attending the conference and getting ready for my presentation on Friday. In the morning I went over to the exhibiton hall and caught up with Leyla, John and Richard from Side Effects Software. My friend Matsuno-san from OxyBot came to the show. We went over to the nearby mall for an Indian food lunch with Tak, Mihai, Paul, Matsuno-san, Soren, M. Kennedy ans Stephen.

In the afternoon I attended a session called Chiptune Marching Band which was a great workshop run by Jamie Allen and a Japanese guy named Joe. They walked us through building a oscillator and amplifier circuit with the parts they provided and then circuit bending it into a musical instrument. It was a stellar workshop! You can check out their web page here:


After the workshop we marched through SIGGRAPH Asia playing the instruments on the way to the art gallery to include them into a presentation on Chiptunes. Later, I donated my “Xrayzaphone” to one of the particpants after the instrument she built mysteriously disappeard. The thing looked like a bomb anyway, so I’m not entriely sure I would have been able to get it on the airplane.

That evening we attended a nice reception held by NVIDIA, spent some time talking to Laura and Dominic then headed out to a small club in Yokohama for a party organized by Polygon Pictures. The music was a lot of fun with a techno drum trio as well as a Residents “cover” band called “The Yokohama Residents”. I used the word “cover” loosely because while they may use the Resident’s visual tropes and audio inspiration their particular brand of music was much more dance friendly… but still enjoyable.


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Siggraph Asia 2009 – Epic Sushi

2009 December 16
by Xray

This morning I spent some time catching up on correspondence and updating the blog. Hooked up with Tak, Mihai and Paul for lunch and took them back to Toki. It was just as good as last night. Superb noodles.

Headed over to the conference to catch part of the Autodesk users group, but it was all in Japanese. Went over to the Nvidia users group and met up with Laura, Dominic and Wil.

Bumped into Marcos at the Nuke users group meeting then headed over to the Papers Fast Forward, meeting Sebastian along the way.

The papers fast-forward presentation was excellent. There were a handful of papers relevant to crowd animation and lots of other interesting material. One presentation was done in rap, another was done like an episode of South Park and yet another concluded with, literally, a pie in the face.

After the presentation I went out for sushi with Colin, Thomas, Andrew, Keith, Paul, Tony and Bill  from Pixar, Leo from Polygon Pictures  and Stephen from Massive.  It was a truly epic dinner. Ten gaijin sitting around a table carved from a very large tree. Mounds of sashimi including a still wriggling lobster. A plate of big yaki-ebi, bowls of ankimo, very large pitchers of beer, plates of Tai heads,  miso made from the leftover bits of live lobster and final serving of nigiri sushi and various maki. Everyone rolled out of the place stuffed.



Walked back to the Seamen’s hall with Paul and made it back around midnight.

Looking forward to tomorrow.