Saturday, September 29, 2007

Massive - first impressions!

I just started to do some tests with Massive and read the tutorials. I must say that it is much more technical than what we had been told about. After working with it for several hours, I see that I have to get back to my math books to read about Fuzzy Logic again. Massive is all about Artificial intelligence and Fussy Logic is the way to go. Just look at the picture to see And gates and other stuff in compacted form!

And here is the AI diagram for sitting and standing part:

It's much more complicated than I had imagined!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Method Studio's Diorama film

Page Link

Method Studio creates a whole new Halo 3 experience by making a film with dioramas. In the film nothing moves until the very last part. It is "almost dream-like ground-level tour of a battlefield frozen in a moment of a time."

As it might be questioned that there is no visual effect involved in it, yet actually there is. The VFX supervisor participated in the project, by doing pre-visualization and planning of the whole shot entirely in CG environment. They build the whole scene in CG with buildings, effects, and characters in it to previsualize the settings and number of dioramas they would have to use in really shooting.

It is amazing they Method Studio applied different approach smartly- sculpturing the diorama, planning out in CG-to make this astonishing piece. Even the characters and explosions in the film doesn't move (not until the very end), yet it is still very dramatic and the story is told compellingly.

Click here to view the film.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Displacement is the way to go!

Using Displacement we can add geometric surface details, those ones that are difficult or impractical to build and work on in the 3D scene. Displacement shaders move vertices in render time based on parameters you can define in shader. These can be as complex as shaping and forming an entire object to simple things like bumps.

Here is an article I wrote in 2006 about True Displacement for Pixar Renderman/Maya.

It’s interesting to know that it is not yet very practical to make a whole city using displacement. As Prof. Eric Hanson has mentioned at USC DADA VFX and Visualization seminar on Sep 5th, they actually had to have the whole New York city modeled by modelers and not some smart coding or displacement:

It seems that Mental Ray is also able to do some nice displacement job. I'll try to post some displacement results with mental Ray soon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Une Charogne

A friend of mine introduced me his group project-Une Charogne (2006) done by students from Supinfocom. This film is very impressing in the way they composite and it is also very visual-effect oriented, as you could see the hair floats and even twitch in a very bizarre and peculiar way, which suits the style of this film. There's also a lot of "growing things" done in paint effects with some further coding as I heard.

I am impressed the way they interpret Charles Baudelaire's Une Charogne into a vivid animation peice. The "growing, ivy-like" things that forms the tree, dogs, the falling of "words" are proper elements that contribute to the appeal of the film.

Ps. une charogne acutally reminds me of William Shakespeare's Sonnet 1 as well.

Here's the linke of the film:

Une Charogne by Charles Baudelaire:

Pixar graphics library

Here's a cool link about Pixar's study with visual effects. In the website it has quite some introduction concerning the combination of graphic aesthetic with visual effects. Some articles might be more technical oriented-coding and mathematic formulas. In addition to visual effects, it also has an essay about "Articulating the Appeal", which is one of the twelve animation principles!
I love it. They are must read!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Prof. Tony Michaels speech about Visualizing science

Here is a part of Prof. Tony Michaels speech at our group seminar on Sep 05 2007 about Visualizing science and how artists can help scientists to come out of what he calls “invisibility to public”. He is the Director of the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies and Professor of Biology at USC. Prof. Tony Michaels is very interested in visualizing science using creativity of artists here at USC school of Cinematic arts.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Getting to work with Massive

We are going to use Massive software for several scientific visualization projects here at USC. Massive software was first developed and used in the Lord of The Rings movie and since then it has been used in a number of movies and commercials. While it was used to simulate a large number of crowds of people in the scenes like what we can see in the battles of Lord of the Rings movie, it can also simulate the behavior of mass number of anything from human to animal to plants! Now they have added robotic controllers to massive as well so that it won’t be used only on screen. "Massive is the premier 3D animation system for generating crowd-related visual effects for film and television. Using Massive, an animator or TD designs characters with a set of reactions to what is going on around them. The reactions of the characters determine what they do and how they do it. Their reactions can even simulate emotive qualities such as bravery, weariness, or joy. The agent reactions can control key-framed or motion captured animation clips called actions. Characters that perform on their own in this way are referred to as agents. Massive is a system for designing and running such agents. When scaled up into the hundreds - or hundreds of thousands - the interaction within the crowd that emerges from these individuals is highly realistic. By building variation into an agent, the Massive artist can populate a scene with individuals who are unique in everything from physical appearance to how they respond." More information:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Future of Animation and Visual Effects

Theory: The animation and visual effects tendency is towards smaller organizations, and eventually individuals to make feature films; Films that soon might be possible to be made easier and more economical than the ones which employ real actors/environments.
As time passes and technology improves, new tools are being made every day that enable artists to work more efficiently and get the end-results faster and easier. A scene that could have employed 20 people to work on a few years ago, might be done individually today. Every year the number of CG-featured movies is increased. More and more movies employ computer generated characters and environments instead of real ones; Characters and environments that even a trained eye might get confused by watching them wondering whether they were computer generated or real. Will there be someday soon that the majority of characters/environments are computer generated instead of real?

Monday, September 10, 2007

USC Animation and Digital Arts program - Visualizing Science and Visual Effects

Based on University of Southern California John C Hench Animation & Digital Arts program Seminar class activities (CTAN 522), this blog is created and will be maintained. Here, we’ll have discussions about cutting-edge technology and solutions in Visualizing Science and Visual Effects arena.

Here are our team members for fall 2007:
Sepehr Dehpour
Melissa Fontanini
Chao-Tung Huang
Wyatt Poist
Kendra Ryan

Come and join us in the discussion.
Hope you enjoy it!