Saturday, 26 May 2007

Day142 Spiderman3

Spiderman 3
About time I tackled this blockbuster, after seeing it last night, hearing from one of its creators earlier in the week and reading the feature in 3D World 92 - here is my take on Spiderman 3.

The whole.
First up my feel is that as a movie it doesnt succeed as well as the first two in a few areas. The introduction of Venom and Sandman while duplicating Spidey and keeping Eddie's Goblin around made for just too many supers (plus they added other characters like Gwen). They basically fell into the same trap that the Batman movies did, having to develop multiple plots and characters and then artificially intertwine them to make a whole story. The first Batman movie (classic as it is) had a single villain, then they got greedy. In Spiderman 3, this leaves each new character or idea unfilfilled in comparison to the first 2 movies where these plots could evolve much more naturally. If they cut out one of these major characters altogether it would have been a simple and effective way to make achieve alot of this. If we lost Sandman then we could have had more about the symbiote, the science, its effect, the CDC, the evolution of venom, etc etc - certainly plenty enough stuff to flesh out a movie. The same applies if we just had Sandman, we could have explored this emotional character in context with the emotional threads of Peter, Mary Jane, Eddie, Gwen and co, plus his 'origin' could have played a role (is he stable, is he dangerous to his daughter, can this transformation help her, etc etc).

Apart from this it is still an amazing experience where we get some memorable moments, the scene in the jazz bar is one of these, the crane rescue sequence is one of my favourites, pitting spidey against the natural chaos of the city.

[stills from the movie from various sites where I could grab them]

The CG.
Well there is no doubt that it is an incredible achievement for CG - stunning scenes throughout the movie, where the effects work that would be amazing in other films, are pushed to the background here by some standouts. The $250milliom budget goes a long way introducing effects that are simply beautiful, like the sand. The sand, the sand, the sand - simply gorgeous. The new code (is it really 10 man years worth) that drives the sand in so many ways is a great achievement. In the side-by-side shots of real sand vs BG you cant tell and the CG sand can do so much more. The animation of the sandman and his sandy physique really makes him feel like a man of sand. There are many many more CG elements in the film just waiting to be drooled over, from the flight/swing sequences, the goo, the venom transformations, the web etc etc etc.

Roundup
So for me it is still a great addition to the Spidey movies delivering a bewildering array of new CG work. Though I think the movie would have been far better with a simpler cast and more focus - it still works.
lastly here are some development images - sketches, proofs and such:

[dev images from http://www.firstshowing.net/2007/03/07/incredible-art-of-spider-man-3-photos-of-venom-and-sandman/]

Friday, 25 May 2007

Day141 Blink3D

Blink3D and 3D worlds
The article by George Lippert on Renderosity (http://www.renderosity.com/news.php?viewStory=13604) talks about the space in which Blink3D operates and some of the initiatives in the realtime 3D world area. The fact that IBM is throwing $100Million at the area is testament to that. Pelican Corssing's Blink3D (http://www.pelicancrossing.com/ProductBlink3D.htm) is in many respects alot like Second Life, but this time has a web-centric approach. Rather than a virtual world, it has a world built into the web instead which is explored via links and through the browser (with plugin or actually using the offline player).
It doesnt say where the 3D engine comes from, but it does sport the PhysX engine which is nifty. It has a builder application (limited as it is - no orthographic view - silly) but supports importing via various methods from a handful of other applications like the Mayas and Maxs of the world.

[screenshots of Blink3D in action from their website]

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The idea of having a 3D world intertwined with the web via the browser is a good one. It could allow a regular web visitor to click on a link whereby they end up in a 3D world where hopefully they then click on an 'in world' link to another 3D area and again on another link which takes them back out to the regular web to continue their browsing. I am not actually sure if it would work this well but the idea is sound.
This new logic is also nice for us to deliver a 3D experience without the unpleasant side that a world like SL brings - all the users see is the bit we want them to and then we can bind it together using the link-logic of the web. It also ties in better with search engines, archiving and other internet tools like forums, blogs and wikis.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Day140 GMod LUA start

GMod adds some serious LUA scripting capabilities to HL2 and the GMod site (http://www.garrysmod.com/wiki/?title=Lua) has some kick-off info for using it.
This should all be fun to play with (just need those extra hours inserted into the day!)

Oh and if this thread is anything to be believed we cant play with the colision models in any simple way - darn it (http://forums.facepunchstudios.com/showthread.php?t=248631).

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Day139 GMod Extras

GMod Extras
I dove onto the Garry's mod site again today and decided to give all these babies a whirl. They all relate to the changes we are thinking about for Architectural type design and visualisation. Some are for in-game editing control, others to de-combat the feel or give us better mod controls.
These 3 were built for GMod10 and work like a charm following the instructions for where the files should go:
Align Tool [http://www.garrysmod.org/downloads/?a=view&id=3686]
This works, but is very limited as it seems to only operate in the 1 axis for me. Since the standard physics gun (using SHIFT-E) can do 45 degree snapping anyhow - this tool has some way to go before being super.
Smart Snap [http://www.garrysmod.org/downloads/?a=view&id=10354]
This tool looked at first to be awesome, but all it really does is grid things up for snapping on things like balloons, ropes etc. It would be far more useful if you could use it to snap in spawned objects as well.
Smart Welder [http://www.garrysmod.org/downloads/?a=view&id=4479]
This is a simple time saver, so once you get things where you want them - having a tool like this to bind them in one hit means that you wont accidentally miss one before you unfreeze them all :-)

These 2 are addons for GMod9 and I just need to work out how to get them into a folder that will pick up the weapon additions/changes.
Measurement Gun [http://www.garrysmod.org/downloads/?a=view&id=199]
Physics Gloves [http://www.garrysmod.org/downloads/?a=view&id=1049]
The first would just give us some dimensional clarity and the second allow us to physics away with gloves rather than weapon looking tools. If this is simple enough, then we can replace all the tools etc with gloves of varying types/colours to make it all less 'combaty'.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Day138 Crysis

Crysis
Crysis (http://www.electronicarts.co.uk/games/8456/) is EA's next super FPS based around the Far Cry engine - well in this case CryENGINE 2. The zero-G combat sounds interesting and brings the physics into gameplay still further. I like the idea of being thrown about because of my own gun recoil. The video is beautiful and shows a lush environment for us to adventure in. The water, vegetation and structures all work together, but add the physics of the falling rocks and such and it steps up. The aliens and all the animation work is already very advanced - if the game itself can match this, it should be droolishious.
There isnt alot more info really, so here are some images (well screenshots actually) from the Crysis site that show how stunning a treat we might be in for when it arrives.


[screenshots from the EA Crysis site]

Monday, 21 May 2007

Day137 Autodesk Event and "Phillip"

Autodesk Event - Lustre and Maya
Lights, Camera, Action, and More here in Sydney was the start of Autodesk's digital film event tour. We got to see two main presentations, the first by Tracey Williams who showed off their use of DI (Digital Intermediate) to adjust the lighting and colour across more traditional film work using Lustre. The second presentation was by Chuck McIlvain from Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI) on the wonders they creating, particularly focused on Spiderman 3. He showed off some show reel type work from a range of films including the Spiderman series, Superman and Monster House amongst others. The bulk of his presentation was running through the technology and process involved in making a whole host of shots. I was mighty impressed with the capability and technology employed in abundance everwhere in the film. He genuinely enjoys the work he does as well as the finished product - inspirational. Product wise there was plenty of focus on Maya and the MEL code they have developed to do the extra bits.
One thing that came through clearly though was the specialisation required on a production of this scale - everyone has very narrow and defined roles (say rigging) and even that coul dbe a team of people.

The venue was cinema 8 up on level 3 of the Hoytes complex at the Entertainment Precinct (old Fox Studios) and I was very impressed with how a setup like this can work. Autodesk brought with them a fair amount of kit to make it all happen, but having the seating, lighting, sound and the huge screen was perfect for such a thing. Plus there was a catering section for afterwards - have to keep it in mind for later.

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"Phillip"
A short film by David John Kelly. Well this is a big leap for Dave and shows that he now has access to people and resources to get a project like this all the way through. I couldnt be more proud of the piece, it is nicely put together and reveals quality everywhere - but it is the whole that shines through the minefield of improvements that one could desire. I can see possible integration of CG into his projects in a future yet to be written - that would be awesome.
Plus Vroomy made a great Principal.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Day136 Starcraft2 & RoboBlitz

Starcraft2
Yes Blizzard has a sequal coming for the might that was starcraft - enter Starcraft2 (http://www.starcraft2.com/). One of the excellent things that the original Starcraft gave us was the variation in the style and feel of the 3 races in the one game. I liked maps with scarce resources that invited decisions to be made - speaking of which a random map option was a major problem for me.
The Blizzard site has actually been taken over by the announcement of this baby and their site is super. The game bits look interesting but very much in the vain of the original with the 3D changes you would expect in a new title.
For me it is the trailer that has me excited. These Blizzard guys sure know how to wield a CG trailer!! I like the patience of seeing the marine slowly come into being and the solid reality feel of the process and the character is gorgeous (just like the WoW equivalents). The animation works very well blending the mechanical (both heavy and gangly) and the relative softness of a hardened criminals flesh, muscles and tendons. I like the weight effects on the marine, like his feet and when his arms are lifted. The music, shot selection, lighting etc are all top notch as well - I wonder when we will get a game that could deliver this sort of experience from them (or anyone actually).
Here are a couple of images from the site - just to show what they are all about - but it is the trailer that does it for me.

[screenshots and imagery from Starcraft2 found on their site - got these versions from the IGN site though as they grabbed them out of the flash already]

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RoboBlitz
Found this little title on Steam - RoboBlitz (http://www.roboblitz.com/). This little baby uses the Unreal3 engine to deliver all its physics and graphics fun. The site says it comes with the Editor - droool cant wait to try that. Now just need to wait for the download... [taps foot impatiently]
Well the game is smooth and pretty fun actually - only got through the first main puzzle thus far - and though I can see polish areas that a big professional title would have - for a little game it is beautifully realised in teh U3 engine.
Here are some ingame shots for you showing what a little title can do with the engine:

[Screenshots of RoboBlitz from their site]

UnrealEd
I got as far as firing it up and having a look - there are sooo many tools there that it will take some learning. I opened up one of the maps and had a look through some of the assets - looks great.

[screenshot of one of the included models/maps inside the editor]