Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Day146 Digital Urban, Kaufmann House & MotionBuilder

Digital Urban Blog
This blog ( explores a range of design and visualisation ideas - many of which are realtime and taking on the same realms as we are. To quote the about page: "Digital Urban is written by Dr Andrew Hudson-Smith, aimed at examining the latest techniques to visualise the city scape via digital media it covers a lot of the work going on at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London."
There are lots of interesting projects revealed through the blog and the use of game engines (including HL2 and oblivion) to realise cityscapes and more personal architectures.
Here are a few of the bits that inspired most after spending a few hours digesting:

Papers and Media (
This page lists a heap of reference material that will be helpful later on - the lure of doing some more intensive research in the area is growing as the field grows. At lunch today we were covering the notion of why 'render' when you can 'experience'. That with the capabilities of the real-time engines, why is so much energy still around rendering of static and occasional flythrough output - the scene is ripe and ready.

Panoramic Spheres (
This is another great addition to the Google Earth logic and is really nicely realised here. The idea of adding some immersion to the floaty Google Earth interface is nice - yet it is still part of the same experience. The fact that the same clever idea works in Oblivion as well is very neat. Check out the nice youtube vids on the site. This image shows what the image is that is mapped to the sphere - from inside it feels like a full panorama (that is just soo clever):
[image used at Digital Urban to build a Panoramic Sphere]

Importing into Oblivion (
Taking geometry (and more) into the game engines is what it is all about and this tute covers how to achieve this. It takes the models from our 2 favourite modellers (3DSmax and Sketchup) into Oblivion. I havent tried Oblivion as yet - but will have to take a much closer look now!
Apart from the tute they have some nice vids of the resulting world with a little commentary of what was involved (

Having looked at the marvels of this upcoming engine it is no wonder that IMAGTP (and other no dount) are looking to it for Architectural visualisations like those shown here.

Kasperg's HL2 Kaufmann House
Kasperg ( is one talented guy who has created a whole heap of maps. His HL2 map of Frank Lloyd Wright's Kaufmann House (Falling Water) though is a stunner and shows exactly what the real-time world can do for Architectural visualisation ( This is exactly what I aspire to with the squarehouse project and it shows how it can all come together.

[images from the download site of the Fallingwater HL2 model]

I grabbed the real model now and it is gorgeous. He has removed all the gamey elements altogether and the doors open just by bumping into them etc. This is the kind of model we need to showcase where we are headed - TOP STUFF.
With my taking on Maya soon as part of my MDM I have been looking at associated tools. One of the obvious ones is Motionbuilder ( The student pricing I got from StormFX today isnt all that I hoped, since the licenses are only for 12 months it will only see out half my MDM.
The Motionbuilder site has some very nice videos showing off many of the clever features that MotionBuilder brings to animating including some very nice mocap matching, 2way constraints and a heap more.

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