Saturday, 1 March 2008

Collaboration Studio Wiki

With the new Collaboration Studio (ARCH1392) course about to take on things like Wikis as part of their investigation of teamwork/collaboration in the context of their creation of a realtime environment - it was time to try WikiSpaces. Though firing up a Wiki at FBE or using one of the existing ones around campus is viable, this model lets the students explore options that are out there for their own uses without requiring infrastructure.

So http://collaborationstudio.wikispaces.com/ is born. It is simple thus far and I have only done some basic exploration - I am oping the students will be able to take them places.

WoWing again with TeamSpeex

Back into group gaming (World of Warcraft) again - great fun. We all rolled up new Shammy Trolls on Khaz'Goroth with names starting with Mojo - should prove fun to develop the concept. I like how Mojopogo is going so far and I noted that the Oceanic server as a more Aussie feel to it already. The character and guild names are pretty silly all round :-)

It is interesting how gaming (esp MMORPGs) has evolved into such an interesting example of collaboration. We not only have characters and classes with specific abilities that make working together far more impressive than any single character - but add to that all manner of chat, email and voice tools on top of the armada of websites and tools...

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I am also using TeamSpeex on da mac for the voice with the rest of the gang on their windows boxes. Teamspeak is the standard for such things - esp since the ingame voice client isnt so good for us here in oz.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Alicia Drawings

A post with a difference today, some awesome little pics by Alicia (7). She did these drawing from her head just having fun at morning care over the last 2 days. I was sure she must have used some reference for the unicorn and things - but not.

[Alicia's Drawings]

I put them here not just out of pride, but because it is great to see the unbound joy of the young eye. I quite often find she can draw something with such clarity and style - it comes to her so naturally...

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Collaboration Tools - well a Wiki

With my upcoming involvement in the Collaboration Studio we need to get our heads around tools like Wikis. Rather than spin one up, we are looking at online ones that will not only be good for the course, but the students can even use the same service (if it is good) for other projects

So which (of the plethora of options) are we going to go with... Well there are plenty of sites that list the offerings like the Wiki Host page on Shambles, the Wikipedia list of wiki farms or blog type pages like THIS one. We probably would have dived in with our Google logins to Jotspot - but they still havent brought its Googleised version to life for us...

The ones I am looking at closest are:
Wetpaint
Wikidot
OpenTeams
ClearWiki
WikiSpaces

Tools like WikiMatrix are very helpful here - the site compares chosen Wikis across a nice range of details. Though ones dependency on other sources having their data correct is very high.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

3 SCREENS

We have had the 3 screens setup in the office for a little bit now and they have their first official event as a trio tomorrow morning. We have tested a range of game engines and other things to get the feel of how this huge screen setup can work for us. Apart from the scale and awesome peripheral vision feel to the width the other things I notice now are the desire to have more height and the vast amount of heat generated by 3 LCDs beaming at you.

After a bit of playing I found that 3840x768 was the highest res that would work through the Matrox TripleHead2Go and the Mitsubishe 46" 1080 LCD screens. This res works with the wide aspect ratio of the BIG screens (circles are round even), while the higher ones dont work with these ratios. The Dell XPS1730 we have running the rig works for most tasks we throw its way, but running things at these extreme resolutions is pushing the friendship.

Under Windows the effect of such huge screens is different, you have real-estate to burn, but things are a long way apart at this res - the mouse has a loooong way to travel.

[The 3 screens running multiple windows - all enormous]

One of the neato things in the Matrox kit is the Bezel Management. In the game engines this lest us make the bezels feel just like the framework in a car or cockpit. So things are hidden behind the frame in essence which means that diagonals look straight and things dont 'pop' across that gap. This make the immersion all the more impressive!

[The 3 screens configuring the bezel management]

Sketchup is the modeller taking the place by storm, and it seems to cope quite nicely with the huge screens, interestingly you dont get much benefit from the extreme surround nature of the 3 (rather than 1). A wide model does convey something interesting - take this Opera House model as an example. The performance even on the grunty XPS with this model wasnt too hot - sketchup isnt good this way, but this HUGE res wasnt helping either.

[The 3 screens running a sketchup model]

The Lost Coast was an obvious next choice and it is a joy with the surround feel and the bezel mgt. Though when driving you are concentrating very much on the centre screen, the impact of the extra 2 is quite high, that extra peripheral vision really does increase the immersion. The lost coast has some beatuful lighting, textures, scenery and such that really look the part in this setup - I particularly like the waling through the rusting ship hull.

[The 3 screens running The Lost Coast]

Half Life 2 itself is another great way to experience the immersion the 3 screens bring. The now famous square at the start feels even more special. The colonaide on one side illustrates one of the tricks with such a wiiiiide rig. The perspective distortion on the sides can get really extreme. The wide narrow view we have is a bit like looking at things as if we were an old-school Cylon Warrior. So looking up or down slightly produces the effect below. You get used to this very quickly - but it looks a little odd if you are looking on at someone else drive.

[The 3 screens running HL2]

For something different we got EVE Online going, the epic space scenes look even more engulphing this way.

[The 3 screen running EVE]

Unreal III is an engine we will be taking up alot this year - however it doesnt quite cope with the untra wide aspect ratio. Though we are the correct height in-game the view looks very odd - almost like we are 2 ft tall. It is a pity we havent got this baby working for us.

That brings us to the mighty Crysis. Running at 3840x768 in any of the modern engines is asking alot, in Crysis it is asking the impossible. So even though it looked ok (medium) it was very choppy to play - we could stand relatively still and admire the panoramic beauty which is still mighty cool.

[The 3 screens running Crysis]

Lastly a quick pic showing the carnage on my desk while we were testing on the other. The 2 laptops M90 and my Mac and one of the big screens which is great for working collaboratively with people who come in and I was getting used to it for other tasks (except for the heat)

[One of the big screens on my insane desk]

Monday, 25 February 2008

CG Oscars

Golden Compass took out the Visual Effects statue - ekelent.
Pixar did it again with Ratatouille grabbing the Animated Feature Award.
Animated Short went to Peter and the Wolf...

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hard luck Cate!

WoWing da Mac

Today I finished downloading (ouch) and isntalling World of Warcraft on my Mac (native). This is something that I have been looking forward to - seeing the Mac Platform run games of note.

[WoW launcher on my Mac]

The game runs pretty much just like it did under Windows. We are looking at starting up a 'group' of characters with a theme to try and eek out some roleplay and individuality out of an environment with 10 million players - yikes. Will it be all Shammies or a cluster of Hunters, BE babes or Mojo Trolls...

Sunday, 24 February 2008

AEC Magazine, news on Opera House & GC

The site for AEC Magazine has all manner of news in the CG Architecture front. The topline article at the moment is Greg Corke's piece on the Remodelling of an Icon (Our Sydney Opera House no less). The work Arups have done sounds really clever in not only creating a BIM model for such a complex building, but also integrating that with other systems and schedules.
Have a look at this representation of how they generated the modelled form of the acoustic panels below. I thought our BIM guys here in FBE were playing a role in the project as well - I will have to check up on them...

[BIM model of the Opera House from the AEC Magazine article]

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Oh and with us about to start using GC (Generative Components) in courses this session here in FBE (Go Tam and Jeremy), it is interesting news about its proponent (Robert Aish) from Bently is now an Autodesk human. No doubt this will mean Autodesk will come up with something in this space before too long. The article on the site has more info of course.