Saturday, 15 March 2008

Akama Studios - CG Kit Kat Ad

The French "Ultimate Break" Kit Kat ad created by the Akama Studio has a Pixarish feel to it in terms of quality and character. The feature article on CGSociety by Paul Hellard takes us a little closer to the inspired piece. We get to see the process and production-pipeline used to create such splendour in a paltry 8 weeks.
“On this project our pipeline was composed by 15 Quad Core workstations and one render farm of 80 processors. The modeling was made on Maya, Silo, 3ds Max, the maps on ZBrush and Photoshop, the animation and rendering on 3ds Max with V-Ray, the final compositing and editing on After Effects.” Cedric Jeanne
Having done a 15 second animation last session for my MDM, I can attest to the sheer class shown here. The CGS article has the finished piece (better quality than the youtube embed below), production shots and info for us. For such a short production time they have nailed all the elements, not just getting them done, but pushing in each one. The shots are clever, the characterisations edgy and evocative, the animation engaging and the rendering smooth.


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Akama Studios
If that didnt inspire you to check out the Akama Studios site - then you should! There is plenty more class within, with their amazing portfolio of CG work set in a neato flash site. Check out the Twinings and Rapt Soda ones for example...

Vector Art - Illustrator goes to town

This article by Basang Panaginip, on her blog, showcases some truly amazing pieces of digital art. Titled the World's Most Photorealistic Vector Art, we see examples of peoples skills with tools like Adobe Illustrator - to create far more than simple cell shaded images. These examples from the blog entry show some of the range and quality on display.



[Images from various peoples Vector Graphics work from the Basang blog]

I am yet to take the time to dive into Illustrator, seeing how proponents of the art can wield this piece of softare - I would love to one day.

The images above arent photos, they are vector cg art - look closely . . . cool huh.

Crystal Palace (old, new and cg)

Way back in 1851 Joseph Paxton designed the amazing Crystal Palace to house the Great Exhibition. Though it was built I have been reflecting on it as an interesting piece of Architecture to model up in one of our real-time engines. Crysis would be fun, as you can see from these shots we are talking about parks and lots of trees even inside the structure.


[Sketches of the Crystal Palace from the Wikipedia entry]

In looking quickly online for people who might have already done this I have found very little. Though the SDSC did create some renderings of their model - rather barren as they are.

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But wait there's more...

London Architects Wilkinson Eyre have created a design for the original site that would also make a fascinating project to build (perhaps both!). The huge hovering glass bubble is an interesting re-interpretation of the 1851 Palace while being distinctly of the 21st Century. Other projects by the award winning firm can be glimpsed at their website - some of it looks quite inspired. The new design possibility is covered in several articles (Crystal Palace - Sculpture Park , BBC News and the WilkinsonEyre site including pdf even). The Virtual Norwood coverage is most extensive including the visualisation images from the Architects. London has a flair for signature buildings, perhaps this one will join the fray.


[Images of the proposed New Crystal Palace by Wilkinson Eyre from the Virtual Norwood site - shrunk by me for this blog]

SPORE coming in 2008 - to the Mac even

Last night, as I charged around merrily in WoW with my Troll listening to all the chatter in teamspeak, it was pretty apparent that I was very happy in my Mac OS for gaming as well - provided the game supported OSX that is.

Well the long awaited might of SPORE is coming and according to the report by Daniel Terdiman on cnet it will be released under Windows and OSX at the same time. Though EA has been touting its dedication to the Mac platform, it hasnt gone completely smoothly thus far. I really like the idea that the shipped media has both OSes catered for out of the one box/dvd.

And just to wet ones appetite for this game further here are a couple more shots from the spore site:

[More neato screenshots from the upcoming SPORE from their website]

Friday, 14 March 2008

Luciano Neves' CG Work

There is plenty of talent out there in the world of CG, to highlight this - check out the amazing work of Luciano Neves (this is a profile of his work by Lisa Thurston). He can wield apps (like 3ds max) to do wonders in terms of modelling and the final texturing, lighting and rendering.

His showreel now on his CG Society Portfolio gives us a packaged glimpse of the awesome work under his belt and it is great to see Architectural work being done to inspire all the 3D artists. His site (InfinityCG) is also worth a visit to flesh out more of what he has been up to.


[3 images of Luciano Neves' CG work from the CGSociety site]

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On a completely different note, I just had a thought that the outlooks/entourages/gmails etc of the world should check to see if I use the word 'attached' in an email that it should not send until I actually attach what I intended to (or at least check with me first I guess).
Think of all those emails that get sent every day without their little attachments - maybe there are other words that could be used to check for such intent as well...

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Unreal Engine Architectural Application

I am looking forward to seeing what the teams in the Collaboration Studio can achieve armed with the Unreal 3 engine, 3ds Max, CS3 and more.

HKS
The article by Matt Vela at Business Week showcases how the giant US Architectural firm, HKS, is using the Unreal 3 engine in its practice. They have embraced the technology enough to not only use it in all their large projects, but now to license the software including the source. I found it interesting that adoption of technology like this dint just allow new perspectives of the schemes and afford clients a better feel for them - it also generated more dollars for HKS per project.
(Though not using Unreal3 - the animations on the Heartwood Studios site is neat as well)

Unreal 2004 Arch Vis
This Youtube vid shows off an Architectural model, apparently done by a 5th year Architecture student (perhaps even of their design work).

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

3D World 102 and Haze

I like the way 3DWorld 102 gives us one huge tutorial showing how Steve Lambert took the concept designs for a dinosaur through the Weta pipeline of modelling, rigging, texturing, animation, lighting and rendering. Though there are other part to the puzzle this still gives a great insight into the process in huge detail with a DVD to boot.

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Haze
The article by Jon Jordan on Haze a new (and interesting) FPS game for the PS3 which is doing great things, not only with the visuals, but also the meaning behind the combat-centric gameplay. I like the discussion on shaders esp in reference to my watching of the Unreal3 video tutes which show off the shader density view you can choose on the viewports.

[Here is one of several youtube vids for the Haze]

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Online Courses x 2

One of the reasons I opted in the end to take these 2 online courses for my MDM this session wasnt just that it makes some of the timetabling headaches go away - it was also to experience the online learning environment. Though I have done tiny things online before, I havent done anything on this scale before, and definitely not 2 at once. This is an important point, for should degrees become more online in nature students will be doing say 4 courses concurrently this way. How do the courses get their identity going through a common tool, how do students keep the momentum going in each and how is the diversity of the education to be maintained.

By taking part in these 2 courses I will also get an intimate feel for the Omnium platform and potentially the benefits it may hold vs the Blackboard Vista v3 still running at UNSW. So far I have tried to get in there and start, even though it is layed out sanely in both courses it still feels awkward for me, what to read and do when where how etc. Apart from a few tech glitches I am at least under way and one interesting thing is how much more important it is to have clarity online vs the much more forgiving face2face environment.

Monday, 10 March 2008

MDM courses begin

With my courses at COFA both being online this session, they have both started already. I am looking forward to see what both these courses with have me doing, both from an online education perspective as well as their specific content. Contemporary Aesthetics in Digital Architecture is very close to home, and will give me some specific clarity around the topic which will be helpful around FBE and in the Collab Studio. Visualising the Past has great potential to link a whole host of my interests as well.

Both are running inside Omnium, which looks slick thus far.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

iBand

Right from the off there were plenty of reasons to drool over the iPhone (Apple have created another super piece of kit here). The 3 clever folk (Marina, Seb and Roger) at iBand have used some custom music apps to create music using the iPhone or iPod Touch - adding vocals etc as well. They have some cool pics of their work for us on their site (and the vids of course on Youtube).


See also SMH article, how long can I hold out on getting one of these...

Farewell Gary Gygax & some D&D memories

It was only a few days ago that one of the founding brains behind roleplaying died (see SMH article). Gary Gygax along with Dave Arneson not only created a game that in its day sparked much controversy, the legacy that it spawned in RPG's now on the computer is something to behold. To my mind the RPG and MMORPG are still pale shadows of what Dungeons and Dragons was, the freedom of a game bound by rules that ignite imagination in a fantasy setting.

It wasnt just the idea of D&D that was so special, it also created a whole genre of illustration and honed the thinking of what a 'fantasy' world was - how it worked. Detailed worlds like Greyhawk came into being and all who have trodden those paths share something special. I have many fond memories of those long AD&D adventures of Oldrin the Organon. Following long in the large footsteps were plenty of other games including gems like TMNT and Deadlands.

Here are 6 images from the Monster Manuals which shows one of the critical aspects of the game - all those amazing creatures that we battle.



[images from Monster Manual I & II from the Wizards of the Coast site - shrunk by me]

With D&D now owned by Wizards of the Coast, we have the 4th edition which
has come a looong way from my first encounter with things. I still have my copy of the 1983+ Basic Set somewhere - but it was the parallel might of AD&D that really created what we know of the genre (though I cant recall exactly when we started). Wikipedia has an excellent history of the game (of course).

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I have a fond spot for the bewildering array of Golems that popped up in the game - I think creating a game around the idea of golems alone could be very cool actually [brain begins whirring] ...