Saturday, 13 November 2010

Blue Mars

I had a bit of a look around in Blue Mars. The idea of a Second-Life-like world in pieces with the mighty CryEngine technology holding it together is very appealing. So far it is all very underwealming, looking far too much like Second Life. But the potential here is huge, as we adopt more and more use of engines like CryEngine2 (and any moment now, CryEngine3) here in FBE, I can see significant value in approachable persistant worlds built in this technology for virtual gatherings, simulations and visualisation.

There are certainly some nice elements in what people have creted so far, but I have hopes for far better. The Caledonia site has notes on creating content for Blue Mars using sketchup etc and here are some images from Eddi Haskell's blog post covering New Venice:

[New Venice on Blue Mars via Eddi Haskell's blog]

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Trailer Time

Time to look at a suite of cool trailers for films that have just arrived or are imminent (as always these have a CG or animated flavour to them, incredible seeing how seamlessly the technology sits with the live action):

Hologram models

Who doesnt like a good hologram, well Zebra Imaging have created a commercial process for printing large architectural holograms from software like Revit. The idea is to create alternatives to physical models and going by the video the results are very cool and would be super to see in the FBE student design context. This news is coming from the Autodesk University event, great to see this kind of hardware innovation there as well.

After we all watched this at work today, we are intrigued how well it works in person. Holograms are a quirky technology that sometimes is gorgeous to behold and at other times just feels too imperfect, that we need to adjust our preception too much to appreciate the content. going by the images on their site, it just looks stunning - cant wait...

[Zebra Imaging holographic visualisation via their site]

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Blue Mars OTOY Cloud Rendering

One of the constraints around using great 3D engines like the CryEngine is the desktop grunt that we need to make it all work at the quality we desire. Enter OTOY and its ability to render things up in the cloud first then stream the result back to whatever device you have including baby computers, Mac, iPads and smartphones.

Blue Mars is a new 3D environment powered by the CryEngine and their blog entry cover the OTOY technology working like a charm with their software.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Artist: Kenichiro Tomiyasu

The incredible depth, volume and spacial spendour created by the concept work of Kenichiro Tomiyasu is truly inspirational. While I might be thinking of the Moths vs Butterfly forest world, it is great to see work like this pushing the ideas of creators to new heights. Like other talented concept artists, he seems to deliver such incredible detail with such quick and deceptively simple work - the implied detail level is insane.

[Concept art by Kenichiro Tomiyasu via his site]

But lets check out some of his matte paintings as well to see that his skills extend through to completed works in such superb fashion.

[Matte paintings by Kenichiro Tomiyasu via his site]

Augmented Overload

Here is a cool video by Masters of Architecture student Keiichi Matsuda from London. He takes emerging Augmented Reality notions and extends them to the future, showing how the merger of physical and digital spaces could become. The ideas here are strong and the videos are cleverly constructed and realised - great work and highly thought provoking.
Plus the 3D is quite cool (hard on my eyes, but cool).

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

Augmented City 3D from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

District 9

Another film I hadnt seen before was the much talked about District 9. I had heard great things about this South Aftrican film and was looking forward to it. The film is a great surprise in many ways, the storytelling takes a different approach with a semi documentary feel which lends the tale some serious grounding. We see the characters and events much more as real and threatened than we might for characters in a clearly fictional setting. The notion of how we treat our fellow man is core to the film, explored through our relationship with the aliens. This is beautifully orchestrated, delivering a thought provoking experience which hopefully sat with people.

[District 9 imagery via]

I loved the detail of the world created around this slum of aliens, you can see this on the websites where the world is fleshed out even more - wonderful stuff.

The CG work here is top notch as well, the world is completely believable with the pieces of tech fitting in where required without the film feeling like a CG thing at all.

Iron Man 2

The Blu-Ray was my first viewing of Favreau's Iron Man 2. The first film was beautifully crafted and engaging, drawing us in to this world of Tony Stark, both the technological and the human. The second film draws on this but doesnt have the same clarity of the first. The SHIELD pieces in the first film were more quirky, here they dont add to the experience. The clarity of good and bad here is murkier and for a superhero film this (for me) made it less enjoyable rather than more arty or deeper.

[Iron Man 2 wallpaper imagery via the official site]

I still liked all the characters and having a robotic army to battle made complete sense. The notion of Stark having technology that everyone wants is good. The CG work was very classy, now just completely seamless with the actors and their environment. It reminds me of Transformers2, a nice extension from the first film, but lacking the precision as a viewer of the first.

The CGSociety article on Perception and Pixel Liberation's contribution to the film is interesting - all about their work for the HUDs. And the official site is cool.

Perhaps I am being too harsh, it is still a great ride with all the pizazz of a huge action superhero flick. ANother great realisation of comicdom - we have certainkly arrived at an age where filmakers can create wonderful worlds for us. I need to spend some time with the special features actually.


Yes, I have my HP 8740w 17" laptop firing on all cylinders now with its NVIDIA Quadro FX3800 in there somewhere doing a great job so far. Having been on the Mac as my primary machine for quite some time, there are a heap of little differences between the OSs that take a little getting used to. That said Windows7.64 is lovely.

The laptop Dreamcolor screen is something I havent fully figured out yet, but it is lush and vibrant - I almost dont want to drag things up to my new Viewsonic HD VX2439wm 24" LCD. I had to set it up higher on my desk because the 17" laptop screen pushes things up - but all in a good way. I like having the monitor above the laptop like this, though it can make vertical mouse travel a challenge. The Viewsonic screen is all I could ask for even running through VGA as I dont have a Display port adapter to HDMI or DVI. The new LED screens were tempting (for power consumption and extra thinness reasons) this screen was cheaper and better specc'd really (2ms). Everything looks great up there.

My Logitech G700 mouse is super! I dont really need the size as I grip with my fingertips which takes a little adjustment with my wrist rest. I have been playing with the wheel in both free-spin and click mode - advantages to both. I love all the buttons and the dpi changing on the fly is great in Windows as well. Having Cut, Copy and Paste right there is cool - though it is still rediculous that there arent dedicated buttons for this on the keyboard. It is actually quite hard to break the habbit of using your left hand for these operations. Being able to plug the mouse in dynamically to charge up the wireless capability works like a charm, but I love using it cable-free as much as possible. It may not look as wild as Seb's RAT Gaming Mouse, but it will look good for meetings, 3ds Max work as well as charging about in Azeroth or in TF2 or Left4Dead.

The other pieces of hardware around my desk are the iPad (showing off our Holiday pics still), a WACOM tablet, Mbox Mini for ProTools, the Panasonic Lumix TZ-10, my old Canon LiDE100 Scanner, a set of Dell speakers with subwoofer, Sony MDR-XD200 headphones, the trusty iPhone and a few external hard disks (Quite a high cool-tech-density really). On the shelf and beside me are growing piles of 3D World, ImagineFX and Computer Arts Mags plus various comics and ref books that havent found their way back to their homes yet. Behind all this is our nice big Samsung TV and all its home cinema pieces that completes this technozone.

My little workspace is now really only in need of some artwork on the walls and some more figurines for inspiration. Here are some pics of all this hardware in action: