Friday, 22 February 2008

Kuwait's Khabary Future City

After looking at some of the Architectural wonders coming to life in Dubai and Beijing lately I was intrigued to come across this huge development in Kuwait. The Khabary City is a vast complex of new buildings forming a new area with a common Architectural styling.

The design for the ten million square foot masterplan is thanks to James Thomas from Make Architects. The scale of the forms in the place are impressive, given that similar ideas could have been attempted previously, but definitely not like quite like this. The article in AEC Magazine covers the design and CG work nicely for us. Below are images from this article and one on the skyscraper forum.

[images of the Khabary Future City in Kuwait from AEC Magazine and Skyscraper Forum]

DesignHive in the UK created both the branding and the visualisations for the project. The animations and stills were created in 3ds max with VRay as the renderer. Interestingly they used Combustion to composite things together to retain the visual quality of stills through their larger animations.

The Khabary website is all Flash and promos the site with video and commentary! The youtube vid here is one of them and shows off the scale of the project and the animation work of DesignHive.


Kuwait has other super projects like the 'City of Silk', obviously oil is providing these nations with the capital to finance simply humongous works like these.

Russ' Art in Newcastle

The installation artwork by Russell Lowe, Adrian McGregor and Richard Goodwin was a great success at the recent Back to the City art event n Newcastle. Their work consisted of a shipping container with a digital interior where the machinima component was.

When we were helping Russ with the filming inside GMod, we (like most actors) had little idea of how the whole thing would come together in the end. I dont have a copy of any of the footage to show off here (yet). But if you can imaging GMod modified to have the Pascha Bolka on the beach, Trojan cargo containers, trucks, tractors, mutants and more all projected inside a shipping container with a floor of GM grain - then you get the idea.

[image of the Trojan Container from the Back to the City event]

Thursday, 21 February 2008


I still havent had a good go of Poser and Daz Studio, but the ads I get each week show off the impressive array of content created for them, like Aiko. I have looked at Aiko 3 (it was a freebie with something else). Anyhow the DAZ site now has Aiko 4 for us as well as giants like V4. Indeed the V4.2 base is required for Aiko4 now - she is built on top. This shows in the skin, body and tones, but does mean she doesnt seem to have quite the same anima like feel of Aiko 3.

EDIT: There are some nice morphs for A4 now like Keisha and Naime.

Here are a few images from the site - some arent anything like this good...

[3 promo images of the new Aiko4 from the DAZ site]

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

MDM second session

After a fair amount of indecision and changes at the COFA end I am now lined up with my 2 courses for S1.2008. While I should really be doing Digital Theory and Aesthetics with Anna Munster again, I will have to catch her course at another time due to the spread nature of the timetable.
So after working with Erik Champion I am in Introduction to Game Design. Though at one point I was in Narrative and Gameplay - but these courses have merged now. I am looking forward to diving more fully into the game theory and design.
The other course I am picking up is Contemporary Aesthetics in Digital Architecture which is one of fully online offerings. I am keen to see how COFA (presumably using Omnium) runs these courses and to get a better appreciation for studying this way. The course should be very relevant to my FBE role and indeed link in nicely with Game Design and progress on the realtime environments. The other courses I was severely tempted by were Creative Character Design (to get my head into personalities etc) and Visualising the Past (which explores the use of digital models to visualise past architecture and culture).

Here are the Handbook descriptions for the 2 courses:

Introduction to Game Design
This course outlines principles, theories and processes for the design and evaluation of computer games. Concepts of game mechanics, gameplay, rule and system theory, AI for games, level design, prototyping, play testing, serious games, and ludological issues and themes are covered to allow students to develop, analyse and extend game design and contribute to the industry and academic related debate on the relative merits and future of computer games both in Australia and internationally. Because of the detail and complexity of the skills involved in this subject, students undertaking this work will be expected to devote a significant portion of their time outside of classes to progress with this work in a satisfactory manner.

Contemporary Aesthetics in Digital Architecture
General everyday objects like ipods, sneakers, cars and mobile phones are continuously updated with new models in the current environment of accelerated cultural change. In this fully online course, you will examine how emerging technologies are influencing how architects aim to reinvent the way buildings look and feel, not only to answer humanity’s next challenges, but also to continue telling humanity’s stories through aesthetics.

Through reading, examination of images, reflection, discussion, analysis and writing, you will learn how futuristic architects are styling tomorrow’s built and landscaped environments. Inspiration from fluid dynamics, science fiction films and structural systems in plant life contribute to what is referred to as a culture of ‘convergence’ by the tying together of several creative disciplines. These processes will be studied, and expectations of what will constitute future built environments will be examined. Automation, smart buildings and intelligent designs operating as a science of design detection are all key factors that will be explored.

The course content will lead to an understanding of why built environments look the way they do, resulting in an in depth analysis of successful versus unsuccessful contemporary architectural examples.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

VRay vs Mental Ray

VRay is the darling of Architectural rendering with a real dominance of the 3ds Max visualisation in this area. That said 3ds Max ships with Mental Ray and soon enough we will have MR in Revit as well. We have been looking at the VRay plugin for Sketchup as well, so how do these renderers compare...

The generically accepted position is that Mental Ray is powerful and flexible, but comes with a mighty steep (and long) learning curve. This means that people can dive into VRay and get beautiful results far more quickly and easily - this is a real asset for students and this pattern seems to hold true in FBE. Obviously MR comes along with the ride with Max, which should really count for alot - but VRay is just loved by this industry - and that is for a reason.

What does the web and the vast blogosphere have to say and show (ignoring all those comparisons from eons ago). Well the consensus is definitively that MR is hard work in comparison, but more powerful in the long run - sound familiar... Indeed the number of seriously happy VRay people out there is notable - definately not the same joy for MR except perhaps when I see people talking about the lastest (2008) releases. I almost get the impression that if people can get nice results from MR, then that is a real achievement, whereas people just expect it from VRay. Oh and there are the fans of other renderers like Maxwell out there as well.

Threads of note (hit Google for more):
Autodesk Forum - battle over GI
CGArchitect handling large poly counts
Simply CG MR examples doing the VRay thing

Unfortunately I failed to find a real comparison of the two renderers and what they can do side by side in terms of complexity, time and quality - esp with the current versions. (We have to do some!)
The only exception was this neato threat using Max9 by Noe2 on Evermotion (aka Dian Maulidi). Below are first the VRay versions and then the Mental Ray ones (pretty similar huh. Perhaps the VRay ones are a touch more refined, but at the same time less punchy - which is the VRay way):

[Noe2's Vray Renders from the Evermotion site]

[Noe2's Mental Ray Renders from the Evermotion site]

Monday, 18 February 2008

Rappelz Art and More

I came across Rappelz, a free fantasy MMORPG, via an ad featuring the lovely Concept art. The game actually looks pretty good considering the cost involved in playing others. Check out the video trailer on youtube.

Here are a bunch of the concept art pieces from the site - there's more (not that I can see who's work it is which is a pity):

[concept art from the Rappelz site]

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The continuing telling of the Star Wars story is about to take its next step with an animated feature film and ongoing TV series. While we've had several series of the 2D animated Clone Wars this new suite of tales from the same period brings another update in animated styling - now 3D throughout.

[trailer for the new series - this time from VEOH]

The original 2D stylised animations were full of character and while exuding the feel of the saga delivered their own new take on things. There have been other takes of course through the comics and illustrations etc. Check out these images from the first Clone Wars series.

[Images from the first round of Clone Wars from the AnimatedTV site]

The Star Wars site has plenty of vids and info on all manner of things, including the new Clone Wars. The animation ties in very closely to the visuals and the editing and shots of the saga films. We have the new stylish 3d game engine styling, but the character is very much like the cinematic films - which should be great. The look isnt in the same class we see from the likes of PIXAR, it is much more like TV animation, but with effects thrown in and nice editing. If this was really meant to be seen as more than just some fun, then the animation would need to step up to the elite - it instead has the feel of a 3D cartoon rather than a cutting edge animation. That said I think it could be fun to watch - time will tell.

Here is some of the imagery for us:

[Images from the new Star Wars Clone Wars from the Star Wars site]

The blog entry by Pete Vilmar has a nice intro to the art of CG Animation for everyone covering modelling, rigging and such.


Oh and since it is all rather cg-game-looking, feel free to check out game trailer vids like this one for Star Wars: Force Unleashed.

VES Awards

It is awards season and the VES Awards (Visual Effects Society) is another of them which showcases the great work in visual effects. CGSociety's Rene Dunlop covers the event on the site and it certainly has the feel of the much bigger budget events. Her coverage details the interesting thoughts expressed by both Eric Roth (VES Executive Director) and Stephen Spielberg (who received the Lifetime Achievement award).

I like these statues with the reference to the effects work on 'La Voyage Dans La Lune' and here is a vid from the VES site showing some of Mr Spielberg's press conference: