Saturday, 5 July 2008

Lego art

Have been building a bit of lego with the kids (perhaps to use the figures in a D&D game even). This seems like a good excuse to post some images by people out there who have recreated Escher's wonderful imagery in lego no less.

Andrew Lipson's work is very clever, starting with Relativity, then Ascending and Descending and the more cheaty Waterfall:




[images sets of escher/lego constructions from Andrew Lipson's site]

Check out his neato homepage image as well - very clever.

---

Since we are on the topic of lego - we should visit the Brickartist himself Nathan Sawaya. The work is clever and brings a level of thought as well as artistry to the medium. Much like computer work which might have to built things with limited pallets or low resolutions - the lego work is all the more intersting because of the limitations.


[images of 3 pieces od Nathan Sawaya lego art from his website]

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Diablo 3 and cinematics


[diablo 3 logo from the official site]

Yep Diablo 3 has been announced by Blizzard and it is interesting how dominated the Blizzard site is by it considering the rest of their stable (WoW, Starcraft). The Diablo III flash site is awesome looking of course. I played Diablo 1 a fair bit as it was kinda new at the time (felt a little like a graphical nethack) and had a good replayability about it. Diablo 2 I didnt touch and the gameplay here looks new and exciting though perhaps a little console-like.

The graphics, animation, effects and rhythm shown in the Gameplay trailer really show off how good at games development these guys are. You just want to get in there and control what we see on screen. There are special creatures of course, but some truly excellent action-movie-like moments where everyone's jaws drop. The interface is very clean and simple and has the Blizzard styling all over it. There are some great screenshots, but lets do video:

Here is the Cinematic preview trailer:


Go to the Diablo site for the extended gameplay trailer (or here on gametrailers) - but this little vid on gametrailers shows off the evolution from Diablo 1 through to today.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Office Laptops

We have been looking at laptop upgrades for the office, the budget seems to be able to bear it and they are on schedule for an upgrade. We have grabbed a heap of Dell XPS1330's over the last few months for staff, plus a few desktops for the last bastions of such things for staff. We did grab another XPS1730 where real grunt was needed, but most of us have no intention of carrying something this big around. :-)

The most popular option at present is looking like the 15" MacBookPro for us. This puts a machine in our hands to support the growing number of OSX users (staff and student) as well as our ongoing windows dominated software suite. Given the 8600M GT in the machine we have decent graphics grunt to do the main things which is equivalent to the XPS smaller form factor range. The XPS1730 can have a pair of SLI 8700s which is a significant step up.

Alas going to the droolish Alienware Area51 m15x which can sport upgrades that take the price into orbit isnt an option for us. The fact that the 15" form-factor can sport an 8800M GT is awesome - and the upgrades from there just keep coming.

So interestingly we may have a full support crew armed with Mac hardware soon enough. It would be just as cool to see us all walking around with Alienware University jumpers on - both companies make gorgeous hardware.

[MacBookPro, Dell XPS1730 and Alienware x15m images from their respective sites]

also of note are Dells new Studio laptops which look nifty.

Education from various angles

I have spent a bit of time over the last few days finalising marking for the Collab Studio work. It is really interesting to see the various amounts of energy put into things from the various groups and individuals.

It has been valuable to see IT and education from various perspectives this session, as a Tutor in the studio, as a student of online COFA courses and as IT support for the FBE.

Forum8's Realtime Roads

Last week we had a demo of the UC-Win/Roads software from Forum8 which was all about real-time visualisation of urban areas with a focus on road and transport projects. The software was actually rather too roads centric still, with some nice tools for creating roads and integrating them with the landscape with cut'n'fill, bridges, tunnels etc. The traffic flows along the roads obeying road rules, lights and has some nice controls for traffic types and densities though it isnt a simulation - it is visualisation.
There is some nice connectivity for the Civil3D, 3ds, Exodus, Inroads and LandXML. It seemed quite similar to some demos of SimUrban, but with a road-centric feel a nicer interface but without the same level capability under the hood.

The game engines we have been using deliver far superior visuals, but lack a way to 'play' the map without the software which this one does, though it is a cost per player which becomes just as prohibative.

The cool thing is that it was all live in 3D on her laptop.This is just the beginning of such things still, but this real-time approach still holds fascination for me.


[image of the uc-win/roads software from the Forum8 site]

Monday, 30 June 2008

iTunes now sports TV for OZ

The Aussie iTunes store now has TV shows for us which is a step in the right direction. I liked that the World of Warcraft South Park episode is the top episode on the site - neat. It is just so scary to watch for people who play or know the types portrayed in the show - classic. Alas the actual selection available is teensie so far...

Sunday, 29 June 2008

TMNT on DVD

Watched the TMNT DVD a couple of times after getting it yesterday. It is a craftily created 3D CG film that brings to life these characters while retaining the cartoon styling and visual quality. The total experience is great, the characters fit their superhero like roles, personalities and 'classes'. The story works and the music and production quality bring it all together.
I last looked at this work back in June last year - pics there.

The whole TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) idea is a clever one and it is good to see it continuing.



--

I have been thinking that roleplaying with my TMNT and Other Strangeness rules with the kids will work out better than other options - just need to get my head around the rules again. The film realy captures the idea and inspires for the kids.

Liam Kemp's CG wizardry

Liam Kemp brings technical prowess and excruciating detail to the creation of digital people. His digital women have been prominent in things like Maxim's Cyberbabe feature and articles in 3DWorld mag and sites like 3DTotal etc. He is now working on The Normals, which brings in a level of detail that is quite extraordinary. It is now so hard to tell what it is that makes us not see it as completely real - I cant put my finger on it anymore, everything is there but it still falls short somehow for humans. His male characters in The Normals are a touch characatured, but their components are wonderful.

There is a new CGSociety article by Paul Hellard which looks at the evolution of Liam's work through to the technical and artistic efforts on This Wonderful Life and The Normals. We get a glimpse of the tools (3ds max) and techniques, but he keeps things to himself for the most part.

This Wonderful Life
Here is where he really got going a remarkable piece of animation finished way back in Jan 2003. Here are a few images from the piece (amazing that it is one persons work) and then the youtube version of a chunk of it - for the fill thing go to cgchannel - it is an emotional ride.


[stills from This Wonderful Life from Liam Kemp's site]



PhotoShoot and the Cyberbabe
Following on he created a series of 'photo shoot' style imagery that was obviously enough to get him a call from Maxim to create a vision of their reader's poll for the perfect woman. Note the 'peach fuzz' on the body - really helps take away some of the plasticiness.


[photoshoot images from Liam Kemp's site]


[Maxim's Cyberbabe images from Liam Kemp's site]

The Normals
This is where it is all at for Liam at the moment and his test images and animations are awesome:


[render tests for The Normals from Liam Kemp's site]



What is not to love about this work - ASTONISHING - there will definitely come a point very soon where the cg work on a common scale is indistinguishable from reality. Then as the technology and artistry with the tools of the trade become more accessible - CG will become a visual norm fully integrated with our experience of reality...