Monday, December 12, 2011

More Cross Hatching

Taught my last class of the semester today, so hopefully there will be some time to work on projects. I also need to write an article and will be visiting friends and family around the Holidays, so I cannot promise too much progress in the animation department, but it should be more than during this past fall semester. That flew by: did work quite a bit on a presentation that will be given at SIGGRAPH Asia this week, and spend time on home improvement (installed some new windows) and "gardening" (cleaning up the mess after an early ice storm devastated the tree in our backyard). Here is another look development test:

I created one using projected textures earlier. That technique worked but I was not quite happy with the end result and the amount of manual labor involved. There was no need to properly UV the objects but hand drawing several cross hatch textures was kind of involved. This new test uses a single cross hath pattern, distorted by (a rendered image of) the object normals (and the After Effects filter "Turbulent Displace"). I think I like this better.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Free Culture!

I recently finished reading "Free Culture" by Lawrence Lessig. The actual book from our local public library, not the freely available PDF - that site seems to be down unfortunately. Even though it is written by a law professor, the book from 2003 is a pretty good read. I wonder how depressing the time since then must have been for him, as things have not gotten any better with the presumption of innocence being totally disregarded with the increase in corporate police state like things as the DMCA Takedown notices

Copyright is a subject that has had my interest for quite a while. While at Ohio State I created a website called "CopyRight/CopyWrong" for a class I took ("Cyber Theory and Practice"). At filmschool our brilliant but pedagogically challenged professor Wim Verstappen taught us how to put the © sign in the right place and urged us to always use it. I have put it on all my work since. I am seriously considering changing that by adding the extra c and re-releasing everything under the Creative Commons license, probably CC BY-NC-SA. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Another SIGGRAPH over...

Chuck Csuri
Originally uploaded by Wobbe F. Koning

It went by fast. SIGGRAPH 2011 has already wrapped up. It was held in Vancouver this year, which gave me the great opportunity to combine it with a visit to my sister who lives there.

Highlights? Speaking to award recipient Charles Csuri, who was still working daily at ACCAD when I studied there. Seeing a number of great animation in stereoscopic 3D, including some created by students! Visiting the compact exhibition floor was also pretty productive this year. And I think my favorite session was ILM's production session on Rango. They completely separated out animation from lighting / rendering in their production pipeline. Which seems to be the exact opposite from what PIXAR is doing. So I just had to ask how they handled shadows, for instance in shot composition. They don't. They did not run into any major problems with it though.

I had not actually seen the movie yet, but got that chance on the plane back and it is one of the more interesting animated features of late. By far. The flight was long enough to also view Megamind, but I watched most of it on fast forward. Not my cup of tea. Even though I kind of liked Monsters vs. Aliens by the same studio

Just before I left for Vancouver I managed to squeeze this out:

I think I know where I want to go with this but first we go and take a family vacation. This blog post is coming to you from the waiting room of our car dealers service center. They should have free WIFI everywhere!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Number 7

Yet another moving thingy, glowing this time.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

All Progress is Slow...

..he says to himself in a comforting voice. Getting closing to actually starting to animate with these generated shapes. Just a little more look development on them.

How about a blocky retro look? This is what GIMP churns out when JPEG quality is set to zero.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Frozen Fireworks

I have been working on my basic L-System script (no fancy stuff like a rules interpreter) adding some gravity and randomness. The two on the right are generated from the same base parameters.

Earlier I worked on making these things dynamic, and posted the result on YouTube:

I animated the parameters driving the dynamics, and obviously setting them too high makes the whole shape come apart. So I need to use more points or push them around gently.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I thought setting up a basic L-System to counter the growing tubular shapes would be relatively simple. And I guess it is if you actually are a programmer. Finally got a basic version to work. Again written in Python, generated in Maya.

I did find some examples on-line but that code was rather dense and I need to mess with it. Now let's see how I can randomize this and make it grow. And preferably sway in the wind. So I am wondering again why I cannot be satisfied simply animating a cube...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's Alive!

It's life Jim, but not as we know it:

See previous post (or posts) for details.

Update (4:44 PM): Here's another one, which required some improvements to the Python scripts and Maya Expressions:

Monday, June 13, 2011

That's more like it!

Yes, more of the same. But I am getting close to what I want. I switched to nParticles for the curve creation and luckily my scripts worked with just a little tweaking. They started failing when I limited the lifespan of the nParticles, but fortunately Python let's you "try:" stuff.

And tonight after another hour of intense screen staring I have my desktop render an animation of this shape, simply by animating the size of the particles (the radiusPP to be precise, with an expression using the particleID as variable)

So, YEAH! The real work can start: creating an interesting piece of animation using this technique.

Still Static

I got my curves-from-particles and put-particles-on-rebuild-curves script working. Now I need to take the next step: animating this to create a creepy crawly tubular shape.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More Curved Particles

Today I worked a bit on creating a more interesting particle system to convert into curves. The one to the right is quick result. The geometry is created by simply extruding a circle across the curve that traces the path the particle took over the course of 1000 frames.

The object on the right is created from the same curve, but this time I put particles back on the curve. To get the particles spaced more evenly I first had Maya "redraw" the curve. This is more in the direction of what I am looking for.

I want the particle system to split resulting in a branching of the curve. After yet another hour of tinkering (why are collisions events in Maya not object specific by default?) I think I may now have a particle system that could maybe yield an interesting result. So tomorrow (?) it is back to scripting. The script now traces a single particle, the new one needs to trace many.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Curved Particle

Still experimenting in Maya, I am trying to create an interesting shape (in the first very rough story and incomplete story outline named "Tubular Shape") by putting particles on curves and / or converting particles to curves. I came across this interesting scripting page by a recent SCAD grad, but unfortunately the scripts are not available (Access Forbidden: I did contact him). Those scripts could have saved me some time.

Today I wrote a script that draws a curve through the path a particle has taken. Then wrote it again after it got stuck in an infinite loop and finding out that Maya has no way to stop the execution of a script and yes, I always save but not this time. I think I may be getting somewhere, though as the image shows I need to put a bit more time into creating a more interesting particle system

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Grow Up and Fall

In the process of trying to decide on the next big thing, I tinkered with Maya (and Python) and created this test. I woke up early the other day and came up with yet another project. May be pursuing that one... this could be a development test for it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Node loss

I spent a few hours to assess where I am in porting the Eye Brain character from Lightwave to Maya. The resulting image is a tad dark, but I do like the painterly quality of it.

Note to self: deleting the materialInfo nodes in Maya is not very clever as the objects will loose all hardware shading. So that is what they are for! Ran createNode many, many times...

So where am I on Eye Brain? Many models done but no antagonist yet. Need to scan my hand for that.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The next big thing

What to do, what to do? Next to dealing with some uncertainty in my professional life, I need to decide what creative project to focus on next. I have at least three in the pipeline. Here is a look development test I created for ">Hello World":

Usually NPR cross hatching relies on properly laid out UVs on all objects. For "Seeing Red" I generated the UVs for the ground plane procedurally based on the world space coordinates and normal direction, but that is not an option for most objects. In this test I do not use UV maps at all but in stead project hand drawn cross hatching patterns onto the scene from the camera. Since the camera is moving, there are two projection position (the start and the end) and I had to add one extra to fill in a gap as some of the wall was obscured from both positions but visible inbetween.

But I am not sure I like this look for this project. I may use the technique (but not the look) on an older stalled project in stead: Eye Brain. That is the second project in waiting. A new project is brewing, involving integrating a CG version of this hooded character and some yet to shoot HD video. Or should I do something abstract again? Or maybe think up a project that does not take months to create? Make up my mind I must!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mr. Beam

While researching something completely different I came across this nice projection mapping video. The artwork is created by fellow Dutchman, the Mr. Beam collective.

Skunked Again

To our dismay we found another skunk in our trap Wednesday morning. Since we had to go to work, this one had to wait until the next evening to be set free. I snapped this picture of it, seems to be yet another individual, a small one:

I was stupid enough to not want to swap cars and took it away in our Prius. So now it smells terrible…

Update: this afternoon a skunk who was eerily similar to one I released last week on the other side of a major highway, was strolling leisurely through our neighbors garden!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Left Brain / Right Brain

Yesterday I saw a presentation by Donald P. Greenberg entitled "Left Brain / Right Brain: round two". Quite fascinating. Apart from a computer graphics history lesson (the image to the right shows prof. Greenberg in front of a slide depicting a Lunar Module Docking simulation from 1967) he had a lot to say about creativity versus rationality and the importance of taking Computer Science courses as an artist and to take art classes as an engineer. And how to stimulate faculty working across department and school lines in a interdisciplinary manner.

After the talk he stayed to answer questions from a group of NYIT students (who are taking computer graphics with the event organizer Yuko Oda) and there was some fascinating discussion on whether computers can be creative, and if they need to be self-aware to achieve this. One of the more practical points Prof. Greenberg made that I fully support is that it really helps students to understand what goes on behind the interface of a computer program: you have to "...know what is behind the software so you are not constrained by what you think the software can do".

As representative of the local ACM SIGGRAPH chapter, which co-sponsored the event, I had the privilege to have lunch with Prof. Greenberg and Prof Oda. He is remarkably fit for his age, and extremely sharp. A very inpirational visit to the City!

More Skunks

Oh no, not again! Yesterday morning we again found a skunk in the trap under our porch. Videotaped its release, and it is now confirmed: this was yet another one! His (or her) image is a bit blurry as this one decided to take of quickly once it was released.

So the question now arises: did I catch the first two twice or were there in fact five individuals? The trap is still open for business.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Repeat Offender?

I though this guy really wanted to be on video. The first time I released him after being caught under our porch, I forgot to bring my camera. So it was back the very next day, walking straight into the same trap. The second time I released it in the park nearby, the battery of my camera was dead. The next morning I found our friendly neighborhood skunk back in the trap. So I released it in a bigger park further from home. And brought the recharged camera.

Turns out there are more than one. This morning there was one in the trap again today. Probably the same one I caught the second time. Videotaped (VideoSD-ed?) this one's release as well and it has distinctly different markings.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Paticle Guy

I have been busy, mostly with teaching and submitting my latest works to festivals. But yesterday I found an hour to try out an idea that had been brewing for a while: a character who is more a cloud than a surface shell. A guy we can look inside. So I filled my SimpleGuy Character I use for classes with a bunch of particles. Here is a first test:

Next I need to try using nParticles. Stay away from writing a Mental Ray shader for it I must!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Version 3d DONE!

Finally, finally I have finished the third and final animation in the Multidimensional Eye Virus series. The images were finalized a few weeks back. The audio track is an essential part of these works and now that I have labeled the mix "Final" I can start sending it out into the world (animation festivals and the like).

For the second time I have relied heavily on for source material. What a great resource! As Adobe Audition has been discontinued and replaced by Soundbooth which does not lend itself as good to experimenting with individual audio clips I have this time messed with the sound recordings in Audacity, the open source audio tool. My (audio) editing I have yet again performed in Adobe Premiere.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Earguy Returns

For my animation classes I am looking into ways to make it less technical and more animation. Rigging is always very time consuming, so I will try and use automated rigging. As a test I took an old mesh and rigged him, using DSN RapidRig Basic.

Rigging took no more than an hour, but there are quite a few weights left to paint. Promissing, huh?

Oh, yeah, the topic this week is lattice deformation…

Friday, January 7, 2011

She stole my audio!

Well, not exactly. Through YouTube I received a message from Poland with a request for permission to use audio from my "Multi Dimensional Eye Virus 2.2" animation. It is always nice to hear someone likes your work, and I take it as a compliment that she refers to the soundtrack as music. This is the project in question, like most her work with some quite suggestive imagery:

She saw my animation at the WRO Bienale 2009, and alerted me to the extended deadline for the 2011 edition. I just entered my latest video there.