Saturday, 19 April 2008

Indy IV

It is getting closer every day. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull arrives in May. Harrison Ford is mighty old these days (Indy III was back in 1989) - but still looks set to pull it all off armed with Speilberg, Lucas, Williams and co at his back.

[poster art - again in keeping with the originals - super]

The trailer is pretty good and shows they have built a new film which blends very well with the feel of the first 3. The sound and music are a key component of all this. I am not sure how much CG there is in the trailer, plenty of effects work - but it looks great.

Wahoooo, Dr Jones and his hat are back!

Gears, Air, Light and more

There is something of a war going on it would seem as all the big guns try and snare the market in extending the web based applications we now know and love beyond some of the constraints of the browser - even onto the desktop.

I dont understand the implications of all this yet - but it certainly looks like it deserves some more investigation. To kick things off here are some links:
Adobe AIR
Microsoft Silverlight
Google Gears

Some emotive coverage of the 'conflict' is on these sources: ZDnet,, BeyondWWW, rdews, FlexDJ, RubyOR and on Blogs like this.

WPI Real-Time Campus Map

The guys at WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) have built a real-time campus map using UT2004 (and Halo by the looks). This is a great idea and it would be stunning to see the UNSW campus fired up in the Crysis engine. The WPImap site lets us download things, or there is video and screenshots along with plenty of info as well. I havent actually tested this in the engine yet btw - that will come soon.

[screenshots from the map from the WPImap site]

Libeskind Museum

Things have been very Architectural here lately - given my COFA courses this seems sane. I was looking at Daniel Libeskind's Royal Ontario Museum and thought I would post a few images here. One of the course submissions required us to look at evolution in Architecture from modernism to the newer digital works of today. Daniel Libeskind's works are certainly provocative and emotive of the times.

[b/w image of the ROM from Liberskind's site]

The Royal Ontario Museum Extension - the Crystal opened in mid 2007. The contrasting high-tech clean crystalline juxtaposition makes a cutting edge statement about the role of these new forms, materials and aesthetics.

[images of the ROM from Liberskind's site]

Quite a few of the images on the net for the ROM are during its construction. Interestingly the building seems to look just fine with half assembled bits, cranes and scaffold everywhere. Here is a passage from Daniel Liberskind's writing on the project:
The program of the Royal Ontario Museum provides a wonderful opportunity for dramatic new architecture and the creation of a great public attraction. The centrality of the site intensifies the profound relationship between history and the new, between tradition and innovation. The historical buildings, complemented by forward-looking and bold architecture, form an ensemble which regenerates the urban significance of the Museum, solves the complex functional issues, and dramatically improves exhibitions, facilities, programming and amenities. The Crystal, a structure of organically interlocking prismatic forms, asserts the primacy of participatory space and public choreography. Its image, function and structure turn this important corner of Toronto into a luminous beacon, a veritable showcase of people, events and objects, transforming the entire museum complex into a world-class destination.
Royal Ontario Museum on e-architect
Project on
DeZeen images during construction
Torontoist look inside

Thursday, 17 April 2008

COFA Work and Arup Journal

I have spent plenty of time lately on my COFA Courses. Having lively discussions is pretty essential to making online courses live and breath I think. I am not sure that a handful of discussion threads is really enough to do this for me. If I want to really engage with a topic then it looks like I am taking over. There needs to be a way for the back-and-forth to occur much like in chat and IM without flooding the medium.


Anyhow, my work in Contemporary Aesthetics in Digital Architecture has me delving into not only current trends in architecture and the words/phrases used to articulate it, but also the relationship to the modernism of the 20th Century. There is certainly alot written and plenty to learn.
In one of the lectures there was as section on Intelligent Design and for some reason I debated with myself as to whether I should really make a statement here about the validity of that. So I did, but made a reasoned statement I think. This is one of the areas where further to-and-fro discussion would have been great.

One of the papers I have used extensively is one from the Arup Journal. CDO: Computational design + optimisation in building practice by Chris Luebkeman and Kristina Shea. This nifty little piece covers Arup's work on several projects and shows how they are using computer models (even then) to create simply staggering numbers of design options/iterations. I will have to explore more of the Arup Journal now...

[some images from the article]


Visualising the Past sees us building data sets and thinking through interpretation which is fascinating actually - is a fun course so far.

Sydney 2030 vids

Through the CentreForSydney we have a nice animation illustrating many of the ideas in Clover Moore's Sydney 2030 vision. The animation (good work Jack) zips around the city showing schematically the evolution of various parts of the city proposed, including Circular Quay, George st, Central Station and Darling Harbour.

Animation Link (not on youtube ... yet)

[screenshot from the video]

The SMH Article ahead of talk by consultant Architect Jan Gehl has the vids as well.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Word or Tag Clouds

The idea of Word Clouds or Tag Clouds is a fascinating one, bringing forth lots of ideas around representation of data and making greater use of visual coding than just text. There are some nice word clouds out there including software to compare texts and create other views.


The State of the Union Addresses site on allows us to see the evolution of words through the various speeches using word cloud visuals.

[Part of the wordcloud comparison site for the US AoU Addresses]

There is a another version of this here on as well.
Indeed the debates with the presidential hopefuls can get similar treatment.


There are plenty of sites out there that use tag clouds in various ways. They are an interesting window into how sites and services are used. The Flickr tag cloud for their massive image repository is here (lots of wedding, family, party etc etc). have their own version.

There are Tag or Word Cloud generators out there for us all to use which is great now. Places like: TagCrowd, MakeCloud and SnapShirts. So a quick test later and I got the results below which tag the front page of this site (not sure how to get things to go back in time as well yet).

[Tag Cloud from Snapshirts just click on Custom on their site]

[Tag Cloud from TagCrowd - well an image of the HTML it creates]

Mighty Spheres

There are a couple of architectural projects is the possible winds that give us giant spheres (think moon, globe, ball, death star etc and your on the right track). Using this most sublime of geometries in architecture is nothing new, nor is the idea of diving right in and creating a spherical building.

Joshua Foer on Cabinet has a great article: A Minor History of Giant Spheres where he traces some of the large and huge ideas in spheres. This shows the idea has had literally 'large scale' appeal for a long time now.

[image from Foer's article showing √Čtienne-Louis Boull√©e design for his Cenotaph for Newton]


1982 brought us the Epcot Centre part of which was the huge space-age sphere: Spaceship Earth. The Disney designed Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow project was (maybe thankfully) never realised, but the park at least gave us this super sphere...

[EPCOT Spaceship Earth image from its Wikipedia entry]


Lets not muck around - take a look at the truly enormous sphere articulated by OMA as part of their masterplan for Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. Rem Koolhaas and Reinier de Graaf from OMA have created a design that should have the rebel scum quaking. This gigantic sphere and bar would make a grand architectural statement indeed, despite Rem's words:
So far the 21st century – in a desperate effort to differentiate one building from the next – has been characterized by a manic production of extravagant shapes. Paradoxically, the result is a surprisingly monotonous urban substance, where any attempt at ‘difference’ is instantly neutralized in a sea of meaningless architectural gestures.
RAK is confronted with an important choice: Does it join so many others in this mad, futile race or does it become the first to offer a new credibility?
This project represents a final attempt at distinction through architecture:not through the creation of the next bizarre image, but through a return to pure form.
Architect-speak at its best. Check the article on the project over on DeZeen.

[images of the RAK project by OMA on the DeZeen site]


The Nevada desert may soon have this impressive sphere hovering above the landscape with world leaders contemplating their role in the grand scheme of things within. Robert Booth's article in the Guardian gives us some nice details of the vision that Chetwoods Associates have designed.

[render of the Chetwoods scheme for the Universitas Leadership Sanctuary from the Guardian article]

This would certainly make for a striking scheme...


Another source for the sphere-deprived is cgsphere of course where people are creating spherical cg imagery and nothing but.

[a sample sphere image from cgsphere by anpel - just gorgeous]


Lets let art have the last word here, Jonathan Schipper created a sphere of tvs and video cameras that you could roll from the inside - clever. His site has images of it under construction and even video of it installed...

[image of the tv sphere by Jonathan Schipper from his site]

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Jean Nouvel, Pritzker Prize and the Louvre

We have a new Pritzker Prize winner, 2008 gives us France's Jean Nouvel. His site features a nice flash vision of his works, past present and future. Some of them look fascinating and certainly worthy of a closer look. One potential stand-out is the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, with its frame-like dome. Lets hope the reality lives up to the CG imagery which looks quite stunning. There is a definitive trend towards this style of architecture (like the birds nest, water cube, OMA's work and plenty of others). Have a look at Marcus Fairs' article on DeZeen and some stunning images included below.
"We have covered it with a large dome, a form common to all civilizations. Made of a web of different patterns interlaced into a translucent ceiling, the dome lets a diffuse magical light enter the space in the tradition of great Arabian architecture." Quote from Ateliers Jean Nouvel.

[Images of Jean Nouvel's design for the Louvre Abu Dhabi from the dezeen article]


And if you think that's amazing - check out the design for the Dubai Opera House which takes this idea somewhere even more ... well ... remarkable ...
DeZeen has a nice page for this project as well.

Sketchup and LightUp

With our copies of Vray for Sketchup coming any sec now, we are hoping to see even more inspiring student work. Some of the students have already been using it and it lifts the quality of the stunning work they produce in sketchup.

Anyhow, via the Digital Urban blog we have another player in the field that turns Google's mighty little piece of software into a more realtime lit visualisation. This new functionality is coming from the beta of LightUp. This new plugin from the UK gives us lightning fact ambient occlusion, instant compositing with textures, area lighting calculations and full skydomes. The videos on youtube tell the story for us:

Digital Urban and the Crysis Engine

The Digital Urban blog has a pretty continuous stream of nifty explorations into all manner things in the intersection of CG and Architecture - indeed technology and cities. They have been working with game engines for quite a while now, doing some pretty nifty things with Oblivion for example - check their site for plenty of examples.

Well now that we have Crysis and its mighty CryEngine2, the Digital Urban guys are trying it out as well. They have been importing their sample city and a range of other models of their own and even from the GoogleWarehouse. Diving into exactly this area is high on my todo list after my two current COFA courses are done.

These are the most relevant posts:
Crysis - Importing Architectural Models
Cities in Crysis Sandbox Editor

Check out these vids of their progress with the engine:

Eragon DVD

This much loved novel came to the big screen ages ago, but I hadnt seen it until watching the Eragon DVD. Comparisons with the might of things like the Lord of the Rings is perhaps unfair, yet it does tread much of hte same ground. Things have none of the same class, yet they are still enjoyable and the CG (esp the dragon) holds up.
The dragon works ok for them here as it is far from human and its interactions with the live actors small. Eragon himself gets to ride all over Saphira, but with a few good shots and plenty of cuts and close-ups it does work. The battle with the shade at the nd on his demonic bat thing is quite fun. Indeed it continues a line of recent dragonish splendour includide LoTR, Harry Potter and Beowulf.
There are several good articles on the CG in the film:
Viewpainting at ILM on CGSociety
Eragon: Conjuring A Compelling CG Dragon on VFX World

[Images from Eragon from the VFX article]