Saturday, 9 October 2010

Gloopy Electronics

The Telegraph in the UK have photo galleries that are regularly updated and often present a gorgeous window on our world. I keep up with additions here via their twitter feed, I really like Twitter in this role, I dont use it as a conversation type thing. This image is one of my favourites, showing an electron microscope view of an EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory) silicon microchip from a new book, Microcosmos.

[Microcosmos image of EPROM chip via the Telegraph Picture Galleries]

Here are some related galleries that show us more of these fascinating visions of our miniature world:
Nikon Small World 2010
Creepy Crawlies Up Close
and X-Rays of Flowers

Friday, 8 October 2010

City of Heroes Going Rogue

The latest expansion for City of Heroes has arrived and Going Rogue adds a fair bit to this veteran of the superhero MMO landscape. I still hold that the most actual role playing was to be found there, combined with the awesome character creation and I have fond memories of the game. Here is the launch trailer showing off the fun in Going Rogue:

The game has clearly been evolving through its Issue expansions and the major ones to introduce more ways to individualise your superhero or villain bringing more and more classic comic goodness to the game. If I had more time I would be in there in a flash...

Here are some screenshots that show off the comicy goodess:

[City of Heroes Going Rogue screenshots via the official site]

Thursday, 7 October 2010


With new workstation laptops ordered, I now have the agonising wait - so why not fill that with crazy thoughts of mice!

[Razer Tron mouse products via the official site]
Razer - what better place to start than with their range of mice, from stylish gamer to ultra-geek. Razer make some beautiful mice, with specs, features and capabilities beyond where more normal mice fear to glide. Check the Razer site for all the details, but high precision, polling rates, optimisation combine with ergonomics, lights, branding, lotsa buttons and gamer-style.
There are also the special edition models for WoW, Starcraft2, Tron and more with matching keyboards, mousemats and other tricks up their gamer sleeves.

[Razer mouse products via the official site]

Logitech may have a more normal feel about their brand, but they make lovely gear and these mouse options are good examples of that.

[Logitech mice via the official site]

Microsoft have had sidewinders for some time and look they have a little notebook mouse that flips over to become a wireless presenter as well - very clever.

[Microsoft mice via the official site]

Roccat are all about showy mice, with the lights and customisations - look great dont they.

[Roccat mice via the official site]

Lets leave the final word to the crazed designers at CyborgGaming who bring us the R.A.T. and for ood measure the F.L.Y.

[CyborgGaming mouse and joysticks via their official site]

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Art, Staples, Cities, Demons, Cams and Images

This post is something of a grab-bag in the end, but I thought each of these little things deserved at least a little airplay. Lets take this journey and see where we end up, starting off with our protagonist wearing a new Looxcie bluetooth headset and webcam. This is actually quite a stylish piece of kit and the idea of having a video feed from your POV is quite interesting, we could take flanking positions as we move into the reactor where the aliens have taken over, eggs, acid blood and carnage all around.

[Looxcie headset via their website]
Out of the corner of our eye in amongst this Aliens flashback we might think we are in a computer game, and there might be CG demons instead. The GameArtesans site is a great source of inspiration for such things. ZhangXiao's Rock Magic demon was crafted with low polys and does a great job of showing the amount of detail that can be handled. All the scales, spikes, scars and bumps can be seen in a hero shot.

[ZhangXiao 3D demon via his GameArtesans Gallery]
Picking up detail in a piece of art, be it digital or physical is one of the nice things, seeing up close the fingerprints of the artist, so to speak. Taking the streaming detail approach we are used to with Google Earth, the Haltadefinizione has a web app that present mega-hi-res images of a range of their artwork. These shots of (Sandro Botticelli, Nascita di Venere (1482-1485), Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi) show how close we can get to all the cracks in the surface, but from there we can see the number of layers and subtle colour textures that combine to make the whole thing so beautiful.

[Haltadefinizione hi-res artwork viewer in action]
With fine art on the brain, it is always fun to see artists turn their attentions to the mundane objects around us - then do something clever with them. Well, Peter Root took a large number of staples and created these city-scapes - wonderful. Check out his site for more cool imagery.

[Peter Root staple city artwork via the inewidea blog]
To finish up, lets think about those images for a moment. With the JPG file so ubiquitous, we dont think much about alternatives. Google it seems have their WEBP format and this article on Vizworld also covers the newby HIPIX format which promises significantly smaller files drawing on the H.264 standards and code libraries which is quite clever.

[Image format comparison via Vizworld]
There, our segway journey is complete...

Nano Watches

When I first saw the idea of an iPod Nano Watch, it was such a clear arrival of a long held notion of geeky coolness. A touch screen video-capable thingo on your wrist doing the time and all manner of other cool digital things is here. I dont have one yet, but that doesnt stop me admiring the suite of people designing the watch bands to go with the Apple gem.

Here are a few that have caught my eye:

The ilovehandles Rock Band -- simple and elegant:

[Rock band via the ilovehandles site]

The Incipio Linq -- more watchy:

[Rock band via the ilovehandles site]

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Grunty Laptops

With laptop upgrades continuing for the graphically exciting folk in FBE, I thought it was a good time to look at graphics laptops again. While most staff in FBE set out armed with nicely spec'd HP 8540w machines, we have a growing number of HP 8740w users. These machines are armed with 3800 graphics cards, good processors and more besides. Check out the spec sheet from HP which shows we can now get the NVIDIA Quadro 5000M card in there for some serious Fermi goodness - not sure what the cost there might be, but the future looks good.

[HP 8740w promo pic via their site]

Dell Alienware still have the most stunning looking graphics workstations sporting either SLI FX480s or paired ATI Radeon HD 4870s. I would still like to see more standard offerings in this category for sold state drives combined with a large (still fast) storage drive.

[Dell Alienware M17x promo pic via their site]

In a similar vain spec-wise there is Origin's Eon17. This beasty laptop can unleash a Intel® Core i7 Extreme Edition 980X 3.33GHz Six-Core Processor (12MB L3 Cache) on everything we do and a multitude of fast HDDs, SSD and hybrid drive options to go with everything else.

[Origin Eon17 promo image from their website]

Lastly we should say hi to the Asus ROG (Republic of Gamers) G73Jh. This is a hard-core looking machine and has serious power to match. The ATI Radeon HD 5870, 1G GDDR5 VRAM card is cool and doesnt fall prey to any SLI compatibility issues we do see.

[Asus ROG G73Jh promo pic via their site]


I still use NotebookCheck's Gaming Performance Chart to get the best idea of how these various graphics firepower options might cope with the real-time work being done. CryEngine is still the tool of choice for such things here in FBE...

Monday, 4 October 2010

Butterfly Concept

Following on from the Moth concept a few days ago, here is a Butterfly using the same method. Once again I took a J. Scott Campbell image, this time of Storm from the X-Men flying which was handy to get the more weightless feel. Below I have the WIP images from that point, but first here is the final image showing off how the Butterflies are all about sunlight, colour, vibrance and their use of constructed armour, jewels etc. I have her helmet up so we can see her eyes and I hope she comes out as vibrantly on other screens...

I think I would do cut gems next time around and try to get more intricate tracery into the armour and jewellery. These WIP images show how the base form of JSC's image is still there in all its glory, though I didnt capture some of the more subtle elements of his work by a long shot. I think this shows how the Butterflies will look, each with their own armour and wing patterns to help tell them apart, just like their Moth counterparts.

Sunday, 3 October 2010


The Blender Institute has released its latest short film, Sintel. With previous proects, Elephants Dream and Big Buck Bunny they certainly showed that the Open Source software and pipelines could do the job. This time they set the bar far higher, and thus needed a much bigger team, reading through their production struggles in the 3D World #135 actually gives me even more respect for the finished result. I do find myself watching the animation, modelling, rendering, effects and such though, maybe because it is a Blender project.

The result is beautiful. The end script is tight, and works so well as a short film - following the Exposition, Conflict, Resolution pattern. Clearly Blender 2.5 and a suite of supporting applications have held up to the task...

The site is crammed with stacks of production images, video and commentary. You will find concept art, rigging videos and plenty more, here are a few final image shots to admire the visual quality of the film:

[Sintel images via the official site]

So here it is, the finished piece: