Saturday, 18 August 2007

Day226 SMASH! and Mayarising

SMASH!
The Sydney Manga and Anime Show/Convention was on today at UNSW's Roundhouse (http://www.smash.org.au). I am glad I took sime time to head over and see the fun - in fact it would have been good if I could have spent longer ad got more involved.

[banner pic from the SMASH site]
There was plenty of fun filling up the roundhouse with cosplay in all directions and artistic endeavour revealed and honoured. I saw lots of people (artists and visitors) sketching and colouring - quite inspiring. One of the main stage event saw 4 artists creating images on Cintiq and Intuos Wacom tablets. They had a random set of words drawn from a bag of balls which ended up being 'tentacles', 'vampires' and 'love'. The results were very impressive given that they had only 20 mins and it was fun seeing them work with the tech so fluidly (in fact they use it very much like physical media in many ways - one even used blue sketchework first).

There was an interesting little panel session by Greg Whiley who has been in the Aussie gaming industry for a long time now working on all the Warlords titles with SSG. He talked about how to get into the gaming industry and what might be involved in how to get a game idea up. He was rather critical of the companies that control the industry and stressed that everyone should protect their IP (or at least get value for it). He covered briefly the logic of using Modding as a way to prove capability.

W. Chen Chan (Chewey) had the next panel in this room covering Storyboarding. He had worked on the boards for Superman Returns and Happy Feet (I will have to see if Will knows him).

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Maya Modelling Continues
Actually only got a bit of the modelling done today - but here is where I am on the Knight.

[work in progress pic of my knight]

I did some work on my Screen Culture seminar coming up in 2 weeks. I created a page on my GooglePages site which I have started to populate with examples and structure:
http://oinkfrog.googlepages.com/remediationtute

Friday, 17 August 2007

Day225 More Modelling and Online Community

My Maya Modelling
More modelling in Maya today. Managed to get my bishop looking ok, though I would have liked to get a nice little curve on the slot - but that just wasnt working for me. The finished piece is still nurbs which is good. and with the darker wood should go with the pawn nicely (actually I think I will make the pawn much lighter in the end to get the contrast up.

[image of the bishop ready for compositing into the table scene in a few days time]

This is my attempt at the knight - perhaps the most complex of the chess pieces. I started by converting the bishop to polys then removed the top and edited the base. To build the horses head I started with a nice squished poly cylinder and then manipulated it somewhat like the supergirl tutorial.

[image of the knight under construction]
Here we are a little further along - enough for today anoyhow. The shape is coming together now and armed with more polygons under command the detail is starting to come.

[another work in progress image of my knight]

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Online Community Thinking
One of the interesting things happening here in FBE this session is Russell's first year class using Sketchup and realtime engines for their design work. Apart from the interesting work on the application side - what has evolved online is really very nice. Each student and tutor has a blogger page and the tutors link to each other and to each of their students. The result is a very nice navigational 'web' around the various peoples work, thinking and resources. The result has been far better than anticipated I think - and even in its infancy was showing not only potential but real value. The students 'work in progress' is still presented in this format and isnt just brought along to class - very nice work from any of them as well who arent being held back by the technical content.
If we start at Russell's blogger page (http://www.russelllowedotcom.blogspot.com/) we can then explore to our hearts content. The work being done is just gorgeous - but it is all the better for the fact that it is up for us to see - infact everyone to see and it has some freedom and endurance around its independence.

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My nifty little 30GB iPod went all silly today and was stuck on the "Do Not Disconnect" screen. It was even stuffing up my Mac startup. No big issue in the end, I just followed these instructions to reset it (http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=61705). I am wondering if it was something to do with Vista under Parallels that confused it???

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Lego Youtube Fun
Just for entertainment everyone should check out videos like this one:

There are other lego things in the youtube world as well - explore and enjoy!

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Day224 CG Vids, Chess Tutes and Mayaing

CG Vids
I downloaded all the animation finalists from the Architectural 3D Awards (http://www.cgarchitect.com/3dawards/) from yesterday. The are a real eye opener in that they are a nice mixture of narrative, personality, expressive thinking, exemplary modelling and skillfull control of all the cinematic aspects like sound, framing, motion, lighting etc. Often animation in the Architectural Visualisation area falls flat as simple fly-throughs or somehow ends up so 'arty' that the content is downplayed. These vids did a great job of occupying the middle ground here.
I am contacting them to see if we can get a DVD of the content in nice high-res versions for showing off to people here in FBE.

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Chess Piece Tutorials and Reference

Tutes
I am taking a different tack today, I was thinking of diving into some Maya tutorials for creating chess pieces. But now I think I will grab tutes on chess pieces that arent done for Maya as then I will have to re-apply the logic to the toolset I am trying to learn - cunning plan.
So here are some online tutes that have something to offer that I have found:
Youtube Pawn : vid of modelling a pawn in 3Dmax.
3D Nuts : 3Dmax poly modelling pawn - also has a tute to make it glass.
King : Cagedflame 3Dmax king tute.
XSI Knight : Tute for XSI modelling a knight.
Sketchup 3D Challenge : discussion on doing the chesswork in sketchup.

Reference Images
I dived into Google (as we all do) and grabbed some reference image locations that should prove helpful for various chess piece designs. Here are 4 links of note:
http://www.geocities.com/dermot_rochford/Antique_English_Chess_Sets.htm
http://www.chessngames.com/Chessmen.html
http://www.chesscentral.com/sets-pieces-chess/heritage-chess-set.htm
http://www.ukgamesshop.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=chluset

Cool Chess
Check out Thinking Machine 4's online chess game (http://turbulence.org/spotlight/thinking/chess.html) that shows us visually the analysis of the computer players thinking - very coooool.

[image from their site of the game in action]

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My Maya Chess Modelling
Well armed with a few hints from tutes and the reference image from Dermot I re-created my pawn and ended up with the images below. The modelling (simple nurb surface revolve from a curve) worked out fine and the timber and felt textures seem to look ok as well.
I then set about making a bishop, but am not sure exactly how to go about creating the slot in the top yet.

[images of my Maya modelling progress with a simple pawn]

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Day223 CGsphere, Maya modelling & 3D Awards

CGsphere
Through our 3D class I was introduced to this little gem of a site (http://www.cgsphere.com/). The idea is that people take this standard scene with just a sphere in it and then model/render up something for all to see. This is a nice community way to get people together with the wide array of software and styles into a nice closed set of parameters to show where the industry is sitting. Anyhow a picture truly tells a thousand words - so here are a few that caught my eye:


[4 images/entries from the cgsphere site]

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Maya Modelling
Well since I am going to model up some toy related things for the compositing project I thought I would play with the good old chess piece first up as as a use of nurbs surfaces. Well this isnt quite as simple as I thought either and my material control is pretty aweful thus far. Anyhow as a test this shows promise for days to come though modelling will need to do something nifty if I am going to do a King or Queen.

[test image of chess piece]

Online Maya Chesswork: I was hoping to find zillions of online tutes for the making of chess pieces in Maya - alas it seems not to be the case. When I have another bash at glass I will have to refer to sites like this or this or this or this to help me get it under control.

Plus I did come across this fun chessy CG image on deviantART (http://evilhomer145.deviantart.com/art/Chess-Globe-v3-9996475) - it should inspire me further! This image works well today as well as the spherical nature links nicely with the cgsphere pics above.

[image from deviantART site]

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Architectural 3D Awards
Following up on my looking at CGArchitect - they have their 2007 winners for the 4th Architectural 3D Awards (http://www.cgarchitect.com/3dawards/).
The site gives us the awesome 'still' and 'animation' category winners which certainly set the bar nice and high for the budding Arch Comp students here at uni. It does validate the entire enterprise however and show that the visualisation arm of ArchComp has lots to offer still.
Realtime visualsation isnt covered - obviously we havent come that far as yet. Plus the less glamorous things like BIM and modelling dont get a look in.
Look around hte site in detail to take in the animation and even winners from previous years.
I love the narrative feel of some of the animations - a far cry from nice digestible fly-throughs.

[3 images of the 'still' winners from the cgarchitect site for the 3dawards]

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Day222 MDMing and Maya Compositing

MDMing
Screen Culture tute went well again - I am actually quite enjoying the theory stuff so far. Perhaps it will get more intense when it comes to my presentations and they review. Speaking of which I will have to make sure some of my examples are good and funny :-)
The tute discussion covered a great deal of sound in cinema and it was interesting to see how the early adoptors of sound in the film itself were pushed backwards in the tech of cinema in general until sometime later. The narrator or Benshi is another nifty idea that warrants some follow-up.

3D Animation class was ok as well - my attempt at the superwoman seemed to have been appreciated. There was plenty of discussion about the sheer amount we have to do between now and our submission in week 6.
3-point lighting was covered (in a whirlwind kinda way) which means I at least know what Fill, Key and Rim lighting is about.

Maya Still Compositing
In class we went through a fair bit on lighting (I like the fog light) before moving onto some camera matching. It was stressed that we neeeed to keep this part simple - emphasis on getting the lighting and matching right rather than the complexity of the environment.

My Camera Details:
First step after taking all the images is to find out all the juicy details about my camera with respect to compositing. My camera is a nice little Canon IXUS 65 and its info is at: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Canon/canon_sd630.asp
Sensor size: 1/2.5 " CCD & Zoom: 35 - 105mm (images taken at 35)

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Architectural Visualisation
I was hunting for an image or two that might get across some of the ideas of the digital, design, architecture, computational, visualisation etc that might apply to the new Architectural Computing program.
So I found myself at places like:
CG Architect (http://www.cgarchitect.com/) which has lots nice work - though I was looking for something dramatic - nice and hypermediated!!
OP Digital (http://www.opdigital.net/) also has plenty of their work for us to see.


[image from CGArchitect by Ronald J Love as a Hugh Ferris winner]

Monday, 13 August 2007

Day221 Character Modelling Tutes etc

Another Compositing Spot
I took another set of images for an indoor composite with lotsa cute fluffy toys left about after the kid's party :-) The logic of this setting is much simpler to replicate and get an object or two of my own into.

[image from the set showing the gray ball this time]

Maya superheroine tute continues

There is definatively an art to modelling with polys as this tute process reveals. There is no static procedure that can be followed to arrive at a wonderful model - simply guidelines and some principles.
In the same way that very minor changes in linework and positioning in a cartoon or drawing can have a significant impact on the reading or quality of the result - so to I am seeing this in the 3D character modelling. If I get the shape out by what seems like nothing the result is quite a different feeling character - this is accentuated by working with a human figure, but the issue would be present for any model I would think.
I have played a little with adding detail here using the ref image below which is altogether too low-res for this task - but was a start. Plus I am stil intrigues by sub-divs - the render here is using a proxy sub-div without any further work - kinda nifty.

[where I am after another night working on her]

Reference Image sites
The 3D.sk site (http://www.3d.sk/) seems to be the definative source of reference images - pity it isnt free for me then. This same site goes by a few other names as well with things like anatomy for artists in the name somewhere.

But the Human Anatomy Pictures for Artists (http://fineart.sk/index.php) site seems to have plenty to offer me at low res which is a good place to start.

[image from the Human Anatomy Pictures for Artists site]

3D Tutorials.sk Site
http://www.3dtutorials.sk/
This site has a wealth of 3D tutorials many of which delve into the sphere I am trying to get into through the MDM 3D Maya course at present. Here are some to get started:
Female Anatomy Tute: http://www.3dtutorials.sk/index.php?id=103
Face Texturing: http://www.3dtutorials.sk/index.php?id=109

The mesmer tute
This is another suggested as part of the 3D Maya class actually. The modelling target here is more cartoony - but it covers plenty of ground in terms of modelling logic and types.
http://www.mesmer.com/ (Navigate tutorials: databased tutorial > Maya Character Modelling for Games)

ImagineFX tute
I wonder where my latest ImagineFX issue is - seems to be slow sometimes. Anyhow, the site has tutes in this realm of course like this one: http://www.imaginefx.com/02287754332833119818/create-a-sci-fi-character.html
I include this one here as a reference of difference as the model comes straight into Poser here and shows what can be done with perilously little effort if one takes this road.

[pic from the ImagineFX tute]

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Day220 Maya, Cars and Harry

Maya Tute
My ongoing work on the Superheroine tutorial. The logic of working with quads and entertaining any thoughts of keeping them planar seem beyond me at present. I also struggle to keep my meshes working for me in terms of joins etc. There always seem to be oddities that seem to take ages to work around. I am geting more comfortable with the generic process.
I found that despite the seemingly logical manner in which I created things - along the way some areas had reversed normals - eeek. So after fixing that a bunch of issues were easily fixed and on I went with actually modelling - YAY.

This is where I am heading - well trying to - Ant has done a nifty job and with the re-aligning of the vertices it really looks good even with no texture at all. This comes from here.

[Inspirational image of Ants final version of the tute model from his site]

And this is where I am upto now. The image shows where I ended up with the rectilinear vertex arrangement at least resembling the form.

[image of where I am upto on the Ant tute]

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Cars
I Watched Pixars mighty Cars (http://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/animatedfilms/cars/) on TV - just as good as I remembered it. The animation, modelling, rendering and effects work is simply inspired as we have come to expect from the Pixar dudes.
This "A Route 66 Guide to the Cars Movie" article has some nice images from the film relating them to actual cars, scenery and architecture as well: http://rwarn17588.wordpress.com/2006/06/09/a-route-66-guide-to-the-cars-movie/
There are so many ekelent bits in the film that are showcase work in this digital realm that it is hard to pick them out. I will have to get the DVD and drool over the extra features someday.
Here are a few inspiration images that I got from movies.about.com:

[image from the Cars movie from the Pixar site]

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Harry
I find myself at chapter 16 of the Deathly Hollows now that other family members are giving me a turn. This last hurrah for Harry is a real ride so far, full of intrigue, emotion and exposition.