Thursday, 25 December 2008

CGSociety Year in Review

A fun way to close off is the CG Society CG Retrospective for 2008.
The countdown of some of the coolest pieces of CG news and creations is lotsa fun.


[Kung Fu Panda is one of the elements and this image is from the CGS article]

Holidaying and Games Workshop

Well - it will be a little quiet here on the Oinkfrog Blog for the next week as I enter more remote locations - Armidale. I thought it worth mentioning that I have been assembling and painting various Games Workshop model forces with the kids over the last week. I am enjoying the physical nature of the game - there is something great about tabletop gaming that really appeals to me. There are growing forces of Tyranids and Orks and now some Glade Guard on horses to round things off :-)


[Tyranid Carnifex model WIP from the Games Workshop site]

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Star Wars at the Powerhouse



The Powerhouse Museum is playing host to the Star Wars Imagination exhibition at the moment and I took the kids yesterday to see the fun. To be honest I was a fair bit more excited than they were as a fair amount of the exhibit was made up of the original costumes, models and props used in the creation of all six films. This is an amazing thing for any fan of the films and in particular the creation of them.

Seeing the original models from things like the opening scene from Ep IV in all their detail is something I love. Even though I am largely buried in digital tech these days, I still adore the physical models, made just well enough to carry themselves on-screen. The original Millenium Falcon and plenty of other ships were on display with running footage of the films creators talking about them, the sounds and effects deployed in various sequences.

To support the spacecraft models, there were props like the light-sabres which shows their evolution from the original films through to the class of the most recent versions for Palpatine and Mace Windu. There were droids of all shapes and sizes and costumes to admire. Seeing the huge size of Wookies in the flesh (or should that be fur) is very cool, esp when combined with their weapons and other gear.

There is plenty of real-world science and engineering along for the ride as well, with a look at maglev trains, robots of various types and more. I liked the little helper robot designed to float around the space station helping astronaughts there. When you combine all that with all the other neato things at the Powerhouse - you cant go wrong! So here are some of the pics I took (in trying conditions for my little Canon camera):




Arty Flasks

For some presents this year I quickly created some unique thermos flasks. The first is a rendered tracing of my hand holding on. It was feeling a little grim, but some of the dots are little smilies and that makes all the difference. The second is a more cartoony piece which plays with the idea of clouds and trees being one and the same in this little world - cool.

Lotsa films, even a Clash of Titans

As it is kinda holiday season I have been watching plenty of little bits and pieces, from my very few Blu-Ray films to a plethora of others on DVD from Tomb Raider to Spy Kids... Plus there have been fun things on TV like Clash of the Titans, a real throwback to stop motion effects - awesome!! Way back in 1981 I remember thinking it was pretty cool, bringing the fantasy world to life.


[Clash of the Titans poster via the Wikipedia entry]

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Monsterpocalypse

I was pottering around in The Tin Soldier today, as one does, and saw some guys setting up a new collectable 3D tabletop game from Privateer Press by the name of MONSTERPOCALYPSE. This has been a growing trend in gaming, coming from the merger of collectible card games like Magic and the longer running miniatures games of various ilks.

I personally like the creative process of building and painting models for things like Warhammer 40K, but this is a much more approachable format for all and sundry. I didnt get to watch the game, but the setup looked fun and the idea is cool. They had lots of stuff to build up their city and creatures etc - must have been a fair bit more than a starter...


[Images of one of the monsters and giant dudes you can control via the monsterpocalypse site]

I think it is good to see these games continuing to see the light of day, rather than more and more digital games - there is still something nice about a board game experience.

Plus, since these could easily have been modelled on the computer, I like the intersection they represent...

Friday, 19 December 2008

Dell XPS Studio 13

It seems like only a few days ago I was hassling our Dell rep about the XPS line-up, that models like the 13 hadnt been keeping up with developments in tech. Well, I see today that Engadget has a nice little leaked set of pics for the upcoming new release of the Dell XPS Studio 13. It certainly looks slick and I hope the leather trim isnt just for show, but hides some serious grunt under the hood. I liked that the XPS range were great little graphics machines - but we will have to wait to see what they pack into the nice casing no doubt.
There is a nice gallery from the article with plenty of nice images...


[Image of the upcoming Dell Studio XPS 13 via the Engadget article]

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Placebo Effects

There is a little article in my 3DWorld 112 showing some architectural visualisation by Placebo Effects - a Norwegian vis house that has some fun stuff to look at. Their site has a simple but elegant slide show of their work with a few pieces of video thrown in - but fails to give all the juicy details of the projects that we would love to see.

Anyhow, you can get a feel for things with a few images like these:


[some of the architectural visualisation project images from the Placebo Effects site]

There is nothing remarkable about the work - so I guess this is a reflection of the good standard, rather than anything way above the curve. That said, I would love to create some work like this - just need to squeeze in the time...

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Gisele's water dress

Following on from looking at the Mattoni water dress commercial, here is a quick look at supermodel Gisele and her graphic ads for her sandals. Her flash website for the eco sandles is a pretty affair but doesnt include any of the images of the water dress campaign.
The water dress images are very nicely done and have to stand the scruitiny of still images and even life-size cutouts in stores. I am not sure what tech was used to build the effect, the mixture of 2D and 3D in the final product - but the result is excellent. The images included here are via the brief coverage on the JustJared site.




[Images of Gisele's ad campaign with the water dress via the JustJared site]

Monday, 15 December 2008

Mattoni CG Water Dress



[images from the Mattoni water dress ad captured from the Motionographer vid]

I saw in my 3D World 112 some images from an ad for Mattoni mineral water by Velvet and Black Mountain Studios featuring a fluid water dress. The CG team have done a great job of integrating the stunning water dress with the live action footage and the supermodel. According to the 3D World notes, the dress was created in Maya, with particle forces used to manipulate the form. Houdini came into the picture then for the transformation to liquid and the rendering.

The Motionographer coverage has a few other details and a link to a quicktime video version. Here is the youtube version:

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Brittany Bell Design


[Brittany Bell Image from her blog]

For a graduating NZ Interior Architecture student, the gorgeous and refined work of Brittany Bell is something to admire. Russell Lowe was explaining how he taught her in first year and we can see the ongoing blend of digital and hand production on her blog. Her blog doesnt detail her journey to this point but does have some nice images of where she is at. Here are a few above and below (shrunken versions):


[Brittany Bell Image from her blog]

Then there is her grad project (Seed Archive) which shows some great control of designed 3D form, digital creation and expression. She has a nice presentation of the design on the DeZeen architecture site which should get lots of publicity her way. The images show a nice dedication to the idea and some talent in weilding the tools of her trade. There are plenty more than the shrunken samples below on her site.




[Images of Brittany Bell's Seed Archive Design via her blog]

Airport Webtrack

Seeing the growing number of ways we can see our world unfold around us is great fun. Things like Google's Earth, Maps and Streetview show us our world in a very accessible way. Enter the Australian Air Services - they have created a site that tracks the flights around all the main airports in the country. The new WebTrack aircraft tracker allows us to see all manner of info (noise included) about flights as they arc their way around the airport.

Link straight to Sydney


[screenshot of the Sydney flight WebTrak site]

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Bolt is coming and coming fast

The upcoming new CG animated feature from Disney titled Bolt is looking absolutely stunning. With legend John Lasseter at the helm we are set for a treat in terms of endearing characters with animation that glues us to the screen.

Disney and Pixar Bolt Ahead is a great little article on CGSociety by Renee Dunlop. We get a suite of finished renders and more showing the initial sketches and modelling. Getting a glimpse of the process and the intention of the creators is great and the finished product just looks amazing.



[Images from Bolt via the CGSociety article]

The characters are clever and full of the pixar/disney emotion and animated in a robust cartoon style that works with the overall feel of the graphics etc. Just look at the beautiful fur and the close-up shots show there is some great depth of detail in the eyes and textures. Beneath that a pretty cool set of rigs which allowed the animators to get some nice looking poses and facial expressions as well.

Monday, 8 December 2008

City of Heroes - Issue13

The latest update to City of Heroes is live now, not that I have played for a looong time now, but it is still fun to see the additions and changes come. Issue 13 delivers a bunch of new functionality to a game that I always felt was ahead of the curve on many things and a world which generated the most role-playing I have seen in any game by a vast margin.
I like the way the game is evolving with additional powers as well as gameplay elements. I would love to dive in there again - but the key to these games is having other people playing along with you and with everyone else WoWing along it would feel lonely in there :-)
I think the graphics could be better - but they do have a nice comicy feel which works. The video page has a bunch of trailers which present features, story arc elements and gameplay.



[images from the City of Heroes Issue 13 expansion via the official site]

Sunday, 7 December 2008

CGSociety Stempunk Challenges

The crowd at CGSociety seem to have the steampunk look on the mind, with one challenge just completed and another starting based in the style. I love the look of steampunk, how it brings a hand-made decorated look to complex machines and cotraptions. It is technology pushing the boundaries, where everyone is like a test pilot and there is a unique wonder in each mechanical construct.

The recent Star Wars Steampunk Challenge had contributers take the steampunk aesthetic to the expansive universe that we all know and love. It always amazes me how much energy these guys hurl into these challenges across multiple categories. The vote/winners thread has final beauty renders, WIP and wireframes of the winners, all of which ispire me!!

The winner was Albert Gomis' Steampunk Stormtrooper based on a concept sketch by Bjorn Hurry. The WIP thread details its creation from this point through to the final work. I love the detail of the model and how the character of both the stormtrooper and his steampunkiness both shine. Star Wars lends itself rather well to this mixture of high and low techs.



[Albert Gomis winning entry in the CGSociety Star Wars Steampunk Challenge]

---


[promo image for CGSociety's Steampunk Myths and Legends challenge]

Next comes CGSociety's Steampunk Myths and Legends Challenge. This is a bigger stage and with all the prizes as well there will doubtless be people from everywhere trying their hand at this nifty concept. This is how they describe the challenge idea:
This challenge asks you to render traditional myths and legends in the steampunk style using elements of gears, springs, brass and steam power. Re-imagine legendary characters from some of the world's most ancient stories, such as a steam-powered minotaur, or a Zeppelin-mounted Thor, hurling lightning bolts from the sky.
fun fun fun!

Comics


Went off the the sale at Kings Comics today. Came away with only a few pieces - though I could have come away with HEAPS more. I would love to have some of the figurines around my desk for some 3D inspiration - but the good ones cost a fair bit. I have been a fan of Kings for ages now and though I dont actively collect anything, it is still great to pick up something inspirational now and again. They have some books on the creative process and collected gallery type books as well, which would be great to have.

Anyhow, I now have an X-Men t-shirt and the Marvel Zombies TPBs 1 and 2. There is something simultaneously cool and funny about having all the marvel characters eating flesh and brains. Plus there is Marvel Zombies 3 to look forward to as well!!


[Marvel Zombies 2 cover from freakcomics.com]

Friday, 5 December 2008

External Graphics

Well, it was over a year ago that I was looking at external graphics adapters for laptops. Fujitsu, as part of their new AMILO Notebook 3650 has released an external GraphicsBooster. The little box sports a 512 Radeon 3870. This is a pretty good idea in many ways, rather than all the weight and heat and size and power and such that a big graphics sub-system needs onboard all the time - having a little box for when you need it has merit.


[Image of the Fujitsu AMILO 3650 and external GraphicBooster via Ubergizmo]

Going by NotebookCheck's rankings for the two cards you would see a BIG improvement.
The built-in shared memory ATI Radeon 3200 scored ok with 1446 in the 3Dmark06
While a Radeon 3870 scored 8421 which is awesome, but I'm not sure if all of that translates through the external connection logic.

MobileTechReview list the specs of things quite nicely and Engadget have their coverage of course as do UberGizmo if you prefer them.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Old Advert

The might of photoshop is brought to bear on a whole heap of things these days. It was interesting seeing the work they were doing in BEES on body image and beauty by manipulating photos at the UNSW Creative Media Showcase.

Anyhow, the images below are from an ad campaign in Ecuador called "Nobody is Younger than You" for the Coronado Beauty Center. Koenig and Partners created adverts showing some famous hollywood celebrities as old women. I dont know what the legal implications of such a campaign might be, but they are interesting pieces in their own right. They chose a slightly gloomy looking Ang photo, but the work is pretty good. I find it interesting that when you squint they still have the same basic structure of beauty, I wonder if that will actually change over time as well.

I found these via TrendLand, Coloribus and ScaryIdeas.


[the 3 images of the Coronado Baeuty Center Ads from the TrendLand site]

Darth Toaster

When Mal first mentioned this baby, I thought it was such a great idea. Not just in the cool patterns like this that toasters should be able to make, but also the vast array of Star Wars references that would be opened up at breakfast. Check out the fun the guys had covering the toaster over on neatorama.


[image of the Darth Vader Toaster via neatorama]

---

So this begs the obvious follow up question - I have a bad feeling about this - perhaps a programmable toaster is the next iteration. Being able to print out on toast your own designs seems like something every household should have. Be it an internet aware toaster that you can ask to throw a random or most popular image on for you, or whether you have your own library or perhaps it takes its cue from your iTunes library or even the latest news - where will it all end???

Do not be too proud of this technological terror you have constructed, the ability to toast pictures onto bread is insignificant to the power of cereal. hmmm, I think I will leave the Star Wars refs there before things get worse.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Colors on the iPhone

My newest little app for the iPhone is Colors (yep, the American spelling). This little app delivers a painting style interface into your hand. It feels very much like the MillionMasterpiece web creator with its controls over the brushes and the awesome playback facility. This interface is pretty basic by artistic creation standards, but for a phone it is simple, intuitive and most importantly, driven by your finger.
The app gives you access to the sites gallery so we can al marvel at the skills of fellow artists or just be dumbstruck by how much time people have for such things.

Here are a few samples from the web interface to the app showing the awesome creative talent some people can bring to such things. There are many more on the site to check out and be sure to watch the 'playbacks' this adds another whole level to the appreciation.



[Images created with the Colors iPhone app as presented on the gallery site for the app itself]

I have only done a bit of playing so far - I guess the next step is to create something neat with this very cool toy.