Thursday, January 28, 2010

But can one bake an egg on it?

To keep up with the Joneses I thought I would have to throw my two cents in about the Apple Tablet and it's awkward name. But I think I just limit myself to posting the Mad TV sketch from 2005 (via NPR-All Tech Considered)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Next Dimension Test

Trying to figure out an interesting way to create the next dimension by relighting on image of the object now flat on a plane, using a normal map. Needed to install Mental Ray nodes to get it to work, from Jan Sandström. Unfortunately there is no 64 bit version for my laptop. The source code is included though... time to download Visual Studio? Do I really want to be that much of a geek again?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Got a chance to see it.

See what? Well, Avatar of course. I must say it did not disappoint. The 3D was really good, both the stereoscopic 3D and the 3D computer animation. Somehow the stereoscopic effect seemed to work better with the life action footage, must be some camera Mr. Cameron helped create. I think this has something to do with the depth of field, but I may be wrong.

Maybe I am getting old, but I could have done without the all out war. Bit too much testosterone aggression here and there. The Epic destruction had a strong 9-11 feel to it and was very impressive though. Some plot points were rather predictable, but I agree with the friend who gave me the opportunity to go and see the film by looking after my son for the afternoon: great to see a movie where the scientists are not the bad guys!

Now I can go and read the article in last months Computer Graphics World (printed in Stereo 3D!) to see if my observation is correct that they only used Sub Surface Scattering on the hero characters and even then faked most of it, or if there was some other reason these blue monkeys did not look all that "fleshy". May have been by design, or just to keep render times in check, or both! Yeah, I could not help myself but look at the technique of this amazing bit of cinematography most of the time. It is not the type of flick one goes to see to be deeply moved by the character development, but one can get engulfed in the action and occasionally loose oneself in the spectacle and forget about professional observations for a moment.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Another test

The thing to do now: take this into the next dimension!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Duplication

Still Reading Gene Youngblood's "Expanded Cinema" and came across an interesting section on television and the gallery oriented art world (p292):

"The traditional triangle of studio-gallery-collector in which art historically has thrived is slowly being transformed. The psychological effect of television's totally immaterial nature may be largely responsible for the contemporary artist's awareness of concept over icon."

The operator of a "television gallery" (Fernsehgalerie), Gerry Schum, is quoted:
" '&hellip After the broadcast there is nothing left but a reel of film or videotape. There's no object that can be seen 'in reality' or be sold as an object.' "

This immateriality, the absence of an object to be sold, is even more pressing for digital artists. Back then the original video tape master was the highest quality original, any copies would be degraded (generation loss). Digital copies on the other hand can be identical to their original. The original? The file in which the data was stored for the first time? Is that file not a copy of the data that was stored in memory first? One step further back and one could argue that the original is the input data from which the computer calculated the output data, the manifestation of which is the digital work of art. Which brings me to The Big Paper I may never write: "The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Duplication". Maybe it is time to read Benjamin again.

Unfortunately the Art world transformation never materialized. Video artists in stead created objects: installations. Still enjoying reading the optimistic text though!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

From the Wobble TV Archive

I had been planning to do this for a while, and since my new years resolution for 2009 was to stop procrastinating in 2010, I have uploaded some of my first computer animations to the WobbleTV YouTube channel.

This was my first ever character animation, created in 1999 using Houdini while I was a student at ACCAD. But it was not my first 3D animation ever. That I created some thirteen years earlier, at The Netherlands Film and Television Academy:


I never wore hoodies. When I was a teenager they were not really around much and never having paid attention to fashion I never got to wearing them. Until recently: I went to buy an expensive coat, which turned out to be less than half the original price during the After Christmas Sale, and the one that fit best had a hoody. A detachable one, so not much risk there.

When it is cold and windy, and the wind chills have been fierce lately, it is actually real nice to pull the thing over my head. But I did notice that it is almost like wearing what in Dutch are called "oogkleppen" (blinders, the things they put next to a horse's eyes to limit his field of vision). With a hoody on your head you get a kind of tunnel vision, and you peripheral vision, the part most sensitive to movement, gets no stimuli whatsoever. That feels weird, a bit claustrophobic. I notice I turn my head more when I wear it. That is the one thing I do not like about it. The same reason I do not like to wear small spectacles: your view is limited by them.

And so this character came up in my mind, wearing a extended hoody for true tunnel vision. With headphones on top to block out audio. While sketching, I discovered he is riding a skateboard while checking his so called smart phone. May turn up in an animation, like "Hello World (Working Title)"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back to the Future

By Leo Hourvitz, a friend from the SIGGRAPH Systems Managers team, I was alerted to YouTube user VintageCG who posted a plethora of clips from the early days of Computer Graphics. Which of course includes a lot of stuff from my Alma Mater ACCAD, like this 1982 demo reel for Cranston / Csuri productions

Real interesting stuff, amazing at the time, very crude and sometimes cheezy for todays standards. A great bit of history, my student should all see this stuff. Would it be possible to convince them that back then it was really hard to make anything in 3D?

I think it is about time I follow through with my plans to put my own vintage stuff on the WobbleTV YouTube Channel. I will keep y'all posted!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back to Basics

After loosing myself for a while in vector math, trying to make the generated line not to intersect itself while moving in interesting swirls, I went back to basics. Sine curves that is. By generating a couple of these lines with the same amount of points, they can be morphed into each other (shape blending) and made to move.

Maybe this is the first real test for a new rendition of an old series: Multi Dimensional Eye Virus 3D!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Wishfull Thinking

I opened up Gene Youngblood's "Expanded Cinema" once more and was amazed by the optimism in the book (it was published in 1970). On page 260 he writes about the coming expansion of the amount of channels available to viewers and how the advent of Community Antenna Television (CATV) will offer customers as many as eighty additional channels. He states: "Much of this programming obviously will constitute the personal aesthetic work to be discussed in this book". Video art on cable, multiple channels of it no less? Sweet! But didn't happen of course&hellip

The closest thing to a channel of time based art I have seen was broadcast on local cable in Amsterdam in the nineties and only at night time. That broadcast encouraged viewers to tape the entire show, stating "Steal This!". There may be quite a few now obsolete VHS tapes out there filled with Video Art.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Now I get it!

I always enjoyed animation but now I should also be able to comprehend its deeper meaning. Last night I finally finished reading Paul Wells' "Understanding Animation". There seems to be quite a bit wrong with it, but that did not keep me from enjoying it. There are not that many books out there taking a serious look at animation. If you do not mind having to skip pages, you can read most of in on Google Books

I did find it rather odd that he often referred to an animation as "text". Somehow his tools are not entirely adequate for the subject matter. Maybe that is why he in those instances focuses on animation which can be described, whose story can be translated into words. Cartoons that is. The book does cover a lot more though!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Eye Brain in Maya

I had been working on my Eye Brain animation in Lightwave 9.6. At school we switched to Maya, and so have I. To get an idea how much work it is to port the whole thing, I exported the last Lightwave Scene I created as FBX (using the standard settings) and imported that into Maya. Not too shabby! The first render came out all white since all the lights, which were all spotlights with falloff and shadow, were imported as point lights with no shadow or falloff. Most UV maps even came through, unfortunately only one per mesh though. Oh well.

To get everything back to where I was is going to take a while though. What to do, what to do…

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hello World (Working Title)

As promised, sketches for my new project that is currently filed under "Hello World (Working Title)"

These images of the initial character design and a pivotal scene from the beginning of the animation (the walls of the room / large cubicle fall down to reveal a big open space) were created during SIGGRAPH 2009 in New Orleans. The story has evolved somewhat, but is nowhere near finalized. The screen is no longer attached to the guy, may be floating. The chair still is.

The world that is revealed could contain the Eye Brain…. The whole thing should be somewhat dream like.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Animate I Must!

And a happy 2010 to you too! I do remember last years resolution, so I had better get going and create new work. Now, I do have three project I could work on. Since it is (or was last week) the season for lists, here is one:

  • The experiment that created the image for the previous post could yield a Multidimensional Eye Virus 3D, created in a 3D package in stead of a motion graphics package.

  • I could convert the Eye Brain to Maya (The original brain model I created in Maya 1.0 back in 1999) and work on that animation. Do not like the story I have for it now though.

  • I also have a new project in development. I am working on sketches, storyboards. Will need to build a lot of assets for it though, so will take quite a while to complete. Will post some of the stuff I have been working on for this project soon, the working title is "Hello World"

Whatever the project: Animate I will!

The image is taken from the University of Bremen and shows that there is no sea ice where my wife is heading. She left today