Saturday, 4 August 2007

Day212 MDM Goals, Maya and Readings

MDM Goals
In the introductory parts of the MDM I found myself talking about what I was aiming to get from the program and indeed more specifically from individual courses like the 3D Maya course. This is where I find myself:

To build a suite of understanding and capability empowering my ongoing contribution in the creative nexus of visualisation, narrative, design and gaming.
The thematic flavouring of this nexus in the fields of research, education, application and then entertainment is the goal.

Another more specific goal that is forming for me starts with the idea visualisation in and around the Architectural arena has a very functional feel. Approaching this same thing with the ideas of narrative, mood, meaning, cinematics and such should enhance this field and will be great to be a part of.


Maya Project
Worked through soe more sketch ideas for the Parisite composite idea - lotsa fun modelling opportunities hidden in a myriad of sketches.

I also started to look for reference material for the compositing part of the project as I know bugger-all about that - apart from some shaky base logic.
This link from Digital-Tutors covers the Use Background Shader and compositing into photoshop. The video tute covers the ground very quickly, but the basics look simple and very powerful indeed. I wonder if it will actually be this simple Perhaps I am underselling just how nifty this actually is - check it out:

[image from the digital tutors site]


Screen Culture Reading
Not the fastest text to read through, but I like this little quote so far:
"...twin preoccupations of contemporary media: the transparent presentation of the real and the enjoyment of the opacity of media themselves" Bolter and Grusin 2000.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Day211 Maya UV tute

Maya UV Tutorial
Worked through the built-in tute for UV polygon texture mapping. Kinda simple really - though the UV reading hinted at much more chaos to come with more complex models.
I had a look around to see if there was a way to auto-fix non-planar quads. But it seems that apart from finding them and splitting them yourself you just have to live with them. This seems to be no real issue if you render out through Maya - but if you go to a realtime engine then things arent so good. Perhaps just splitting the whole thing into tris instead at the start could get around this...???


Big Screen Demo
Despite my efforts I had a very small turnout for the final harah for the big screen today. The few of us that were present did talk about the implications and possibilities which was all great anyhow. Now to go to the next phase...

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Day210 McLuhan Williams and Proj ideas

Screen Culture = McLuhan and Williams
Anna's lecture today covered quite a bit of Marshall McLuhans ideas today. His ideas are somewhat hard to latch onto, perhaps that is just me after struggling through the first reading which was all his words - yikes. The third reading covered hid ideas in contrast to Williams and being a third party suite of authors was much better going than McLuhans heavily academic minefield of text. It is certaily interesting to see McLuhan and Williams positions which have been at opposite ends of a debate - and yet amongst us MDM students afterwards our colective reading is that both approaches come together quite nicely in the middle for us...
I am looking forward to the tute next week to flesh this out.

I did start doing my Mediation reading for week 5 as well - eek.


3D Project Ideas
I took some time to think through some ideas for project 1 and 2 for the 3D Maya course. Though was (and should be) concentrating on ideas for Project 1, some of them may be better suited to the full animation to come at the end.
Some newer ideas:
  • Eggcup dude with crack for a mouth and a spoon for attitude
  • The potato peeler thing - kitchen setting
  • Sink thing - bathroom sink, creaure holding aloft the retrieved hairs - nice reflective settng, and pretty funny
  • The Parisite - this should be very funny - a Paris Hilton ( loving creature gleefully tearing another paris article from a mag for his collection. This one has some modelling fun and the texture UV work on the magazine and creature. Coffee table setting perhaps also. What expression should the 'creature' have? How manic should it be and should it be lumpy and soft or more robotic in nature maybe almost like a living piece of media (a media junky)...
    Lots of commentary going on here - should go down well...

[Paris Pics from her myspace page - just to show how much pop culture could be shown here]

My idea for the cable tanglers also got some fleshing out as well. Now we have 3, one lightbulb, one speaker and 'the third' from whose perspective we see the manic fun the others have in tangling cables. This mix gives us the nervous newby perspective and at the same time the fun of the others (including lighting and sound effects galore).

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Day209 Screen Demo and Project Brief

Screen Demo
I gave a demo to Deano's Multimedia class (Director) and it was fun showing them all the fun that can be had and the potential of not only the hardware medium, but also where the software leading edge can be found. I hope they took away some of the thinking around how interface design on a touch sensitive huge screen could be different or explored.
I was good to see the student perspective on the tech as well - big staff demo tomorrow for contrast...


Maya Project 1 Brief
Got the brief for our Camera Matching and Compositing project. It came with 3 examples and shows that there will be plenty of design, learning and work (lotsa work) in the coming weeks. I have always been intrigued by compositing as a concept as well as multipass rendering - well now I will get the chance to do the real thing. The result is a still, so no animation required, but I will still need to deliver a complex model.
Now to start thinking of ideas - hmmmm
  1. A little creature living amongst a tangle of IT cabling
  2. A lightbulb creature
  3. A paintbrushy creature
  4. A combo of 1 and 2
  5. A creature getting zapped by an electrical device
  6. A potato-man scared of a potato peeler
actually I kinda like several of these already - time to start sketching...

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Day208 COFA and the Panel

For The Birds
When I was grabbing Luxo Jr. I couldnt help grabbing "For the Birds" as well. I got it from iTunes as well, but there is also info over on the Pixar site ( I had somehow seen this one somewhere many moons ago and it is a great more modern reference for me. Th
e little birds explore plenty of human social qualities with a fun/goofy mask.

[screengrab from my copy of For the Birds]


Maya Class

We went through some of the concepts of Texture Space today in my 3D class. The UV stuff makes more sense now and I am keen to get onto the texture tute now.


Screen Culture
Another tutorial of setting up really - but I did end up with a Presentation in Week 5 on 'Remediation' or the reuse of media ideas into newer media as they evolve. This could be tricky as this is the same week as my Maya Project 1 - eeek. Plus I have a response to do in week 7 on the Military History of the Computer Screen.


Screen Demo
We had more bunches of people through the office again today exploring the screen and how software feels at this scale and with the touch as well. I am setting up a more formal demo of the tech for Friday morning which I should prepare for better.
Speaking of which I said I would give a demo for Deano's multi-media class tomorrow afternoon as well. This is my current plan as to what to cover:
  • Introduce self
  • Scope (environment, hardware, software, future)
  • Detail, Opportunity (current state, pinup vs digital, IT penetration)
  • Digital Studio (teaching, reference, presentation, discussion, jury, review, exhibition)
  • Hardware description
  • Software on the panel (powerpoint, web, sketchup x2, google earth -> 3D)
  • 3D game engine tech - current state (HL2-Fallingwater, Garry's Mod x 2)
  • Future of 3D Crysis, Unreal3 and more
  • Panel - interactivity change - reference to multimedia and interface design.
should be fun.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Day207 Maya, Animation and Big Screens

Maya Tutes
When I first heard that modelling in things like Maya could all be done starting with a simple primative like a cube I was pretty inspired. The helmet tutorial walks us through a nice example of exactly that - starting with just a cube we end up with this - very cool. The high res proxy of the simpler mesh is a nifty concept.

[screenshot of my helmet tutorial towards the end]

I started the nurbs tutorials as well and they are fun.



Luxo Jr.
First off, I downloaded the Luxo Jr. animation (for a price I might add) from the iTunes store. At least I have this little gem now and it is great to show this to people (on the iPod even) as a wonderful trip down memory lane and a wakeup-call for just how amazing it was fr us to see this way back in 1986! {tips hat to Pixar}

Tricks to Animating Characters with a Computer
By Pixar's John Lasseter as presented at SIGGRAPH 1994
This article extends from the previous one quite nicely and adds a few ideas around story telling and thinking characters that are insightful. I can see that getting all these elements to gel successfully is no mean feat, where teensie little errors make the whole thing fail - eek.


Big Screen
More casual demos of the big 46" touch screen today, since it is running off my M90 laptop I even get to check my mail on this bohemouth which is definitively overkill. The notion of working from a huge screen like this is only foreign as we havent been exposed to the idea and have become accustomed to computers having little screens. Why shouldnt we have screens the size of walls and visions laid out before us rather than layered in windows.
I am giving a more formal demo on Wednesday and perhaps another on Friday - should be fun.


Apple Screen Capture
This page has the Mac screen capture built-in basics:
In summary form:
Command-Shift-3 >> capture full screen to desktop
Command-Shift-4 >> capture selection to desktop
Ctrl-Command-Shift-3 >> capture full screen to clipboard
Ctrl-Command-Shift-4 >> capture selection to clipboard


Sunday, 29 July 2007

Day206 More Priciples and Maya

Principles of Traditional Animation applied to 3D Animation
This paper by Pixar's John Lasseter [From ACM Computer Graphics, Volume 21, No. 4, July 1987] walks us through the Disney created 12 Principles of Animation while referencing 3D work - in particular Luxo Jr. Link:
This telling doesnt have the same craftsmanship in the wording as the Disney original, but it gives great examples of how these now age-old ideas are required for delivering good animation in 3D as well. The idea of animating transformation-to-transformation in 3D work as opposed to pose-to-pose is interesting and it will be fun to explore this as my course goes along.

The idea of animating with frames that are so exacting is still foreign to me. Even though I had to use this type of thing in Flash, I was never that comfortable with the idea. Here everything is one frame for this, show this for 2 frames past that, dont extend this past a single frame for this reason etc etc. All very frame-centric.

In the last section of this paper he covers 'personality' and the words here seem truly relevant to where my course is heading this session - I will endeavor to apply all of this.

Luxo Jr Peek:


These references would make good follow-ups:

Tricks to Animating Characters with a Computer, also from the mighty John Lasseter this time from SIGGRAPH 1994 (

How to Succeed in Animation by Gene Deitch is a different type of paper from SIGGRAPH 2001 this time - see chapter 4 for reference to the 12 principles. (

Luxo Jr dates back from 1986 and this little site shows off a bunch of landmarks either side of that:

[still from Pixar's Luxo Jr. short, image from the jpatch site]

Working through the tutorials - making the helmet is very nifty.


Other things touched on today included rebuilding my notebook, watching X-Men2, and enjoying having an iPod out on my bike. Actually it would be good if I found some 3D related info to listen to - I was hoping that my lectures would actually be available this way .

Note to self - go watch ALL the pixar shorts!!