About a year ago I found this company out of California that was about to release what I would call the ultimate device for 3D/6D tracking. They announced back then that they will release this device for the mass market with Razer.
Now finally it seems that the device is about to be released.
To me this device has the potential to become the ultimate device because it uses very reliable magnetic hardware for the tracking. But the most important is that they include two handheld controllers that include buttons but mostly I really like the price!!
We actually went to reputable companies in the tracking industry back in 2003 and wanted them to build exactly this device. Unfortunately we fell about 200k short to have them engineer this on our behalf 🙂
Recently a friend pointed out to me that there is a site on the internet that keeps track of web pages and archives snapshots of them.
This thing is called “The way-back-machine” .
I went ahead and checked out several websites of things I was involved with. One thing I would like to post here is the page of my dear friend and business Partner Dan Mapes who had this up in 2001: Virtual Camera (Be warned: Takes a while to load)
Sometimes I wonder if the Cameron’s of this world get their inspiration from way-back.
Last week I went to Lowes to get wood and stuff to build a bed frame. It all worked out nicely except that I went back to Lowes because all the wood in this country is not correctly marked.
That means, If you buy a 2 x 4 inch piece of wood, it will actually be 1.5 x 3.5 inch… At least it’s consistent across the board. ALL the wood listed at 1 inch thickness is actually 3/4 inch and all the wood listed at 3/4 inch is actually 1/2 inch.
I got very mixed answers on this topic. Reaching from “I should have told you because everybody knows” to the cashier at Lowes that was not aware of the fact. I call that the Denmark syndrome, if yo know what I mean.
I guess t hat’s why Swiss build accurate watches and not Americans 😛
The quality of the wood is extraordinaire I have to say. It’s all Canadian and you can actually feel the power of the bears that lived with this wood when it was still a tree.
I wanted to share some great tools I recently bought.
First there is ShaderMap. ShaderMap creates textures for displacement, normal, ambient occlusion, specular and DUDV maps for refraction. After test driving and evaluating CrazyBump and ShaderMap my choice fell on ShaderMap. First, the price… A full version of ShaderMap is $20 vs. $200 for CrazyBump. But not only the price was an influence. I think the interface of ShaderMap is vay superios than Crazybump. In ShaderMap all the functions are right at your finger tip. All the different maps are in the same pane. I didn’t like the step-by-step approach the CrazyBump interface has.
Both programs create great maps. At the end of the day the interface decided the winner here even though the interface is not scalable it is more organized than CrazyBump.
Sitting and waiting for any 3D app to render is tedious. The word “mental” in a certain renderer is synonymy for the state of it’s users…
I was looking for an alternative to bake AO passes and found one: faogen (Fast AO Generator)
It uses the graphics card to render the ambient occlusion. While the user interface is simple and easy it also allows the more experienced artists to fiddle with more advanced things as the shader that is used to AO bake etc.
I just want nice looking AO maps in no time and that is exactly what faogen does.
The following images show what took me 5 minutes to do. Opening the geometry (A) rendering with default settings (B) and adjusting the settings a bit. The five minutes includes rendering btw.
I took on Unity and rebuilt parts of the fair from the content we have from the AAAS demo.
Unity is a very modern game engine. It supports all the new devices and platforms. It’s very convenient since authoring one game means you’ll be able to deliver on several platforms.
The downside of Unity is the lack of support for industry standards like LOD switching as well as an integrated node based shader editor. For things like that the users of Unity have to rely on the community. While there are tons of such micro solutions out there, there’s no way any game studio would rely on third parties to continuously support such tools on their own. “You get what you pay for” comes to my mind. And “OpenSource is freeware”…
We decided to keep going with Ogre3D mainly because of licensing issues. While all engines provide an EDU licensing scheme, that scheme is meant to be for educational purposes only. As long as you distribute your game for free, you might use the engine for free. But since our final deliverable is going to go into museums where people pay admission, we had to drop almost all of the engines immediately.
Here are some shots of the New York World’s Fair proxy simulation I built. The idea behind this was to get an estimate on how many polygons the Ogre engine can take and also it should be used as a playground to implement gameplay mechanisms.
The 3 LOD’s range from 50’000 (low level, pink) over 1.8 million (medium level, green) to 15 million polygons (highest level, turquoise). If all of either LODs is loaded at once that is.
In most cases only the very close buildings are seen in the highest level of detail.
While visually not very attractive this was a good footprint of the complete product and a great test-bed.
I pulled out my 30 year old 16’000 w/s Broncolor 404 studio flash light system today and shot a few product photos.
I used a Nikon D700 from a friend and set the light table up for the accessories. The table unfortunately was not big enough for the shots of the bars but by rotating the plastic surface around 90 degrees I was able to create a panoramic white surface behind the object i photographed.
Here’s a shot of the setup using the light table. I occupied my boys room and converted it to a photo studio for the weekend.
This video is from the time at LEGO (1995 to 1998) and shows work Dan and I were involved in during this time. It documents what was happening in respect to human interaction in 3D space at LEGO and goes all the way to real time movie making with digital LEGO. It visualizes the vision we carry when we create a product like Xaelander for Motion4U.
The very first bit of the video shows an early prototype that was realized in collaboration with David Small which was at MIT at this point. As soon as the gentlemen in the yellow suit pops up you’re looking at Scott from Multigen that uses SmartScene. In the second part of the video there is footage from the castle demo of the WIZard group at SPU Darwin (actual name of the demo was “Batlord’s Castle”). In there you will also see Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen the owner of the LEGO Group (gentleman in the blue-shirt with tie and the VR headset).
So if you’re in for the short read, watch the vid, follow the links above and check out what you can get out of this today. If you care about background, history and tech-babble … keep on reading 🙂
I just completed recording a small animation in Maya using the new Xaelander X2R2 hardware testing the upcoming Xaelander software release.
I think it documents nicely what the Xaelander software suite is capable off. It demonstrates animating a walk cycle on the primary character and animating the secondary character. The powerful two point 3D camera tracking and animating a special effect by capturing motion onto a locator.
I look at the short video and think “Even if I captured every part ten times, I created that animation in about 20 minutes. An experienced storyboard artist could probably come close nailing that shot in 20 minutes. But a previz animator should never ever have to just float his characters around anymore – they should make them walk around.”
I am involved in project that is rebuilding the New York World’s Fair from 1964/65 in 3D. Read more here…
We are using the Ogre3D engine to render the ‘game’. Producing into a OpenSource engine is not always easy because sometime the tools to export models from 3D modeling applications and many other aspects of a content creation pipeline that is available through the community are outdated or simply don’t work. Ogre3D is a well spread engine by now, but most studios that work with it keep their tools and solutions close to their chest.
In the spirit of the NYWF (New York World’s Fair) project which is funded by the NSF (National Science Foundation) I’m going to provide the solutions we come up on a Wiki for everyone to follow, use or even extend.
Watched the video of the new technology Google announced. This looks really interesting. I love the part about the history in emails and chat. How many times did you have to search through email, sms, skype chat history etc. to find that one statement of somebody or a link to something…
Google Wave will keep track for everybody and everything. Let’s hope the whole conspiracy theory stuff is a myth tho 🙂
Microsoft has started to attack the Wii from Nintendo with the project Natal. Read More…
I remember seeing a video that showed someone sword fighting with his finger and of course I saw Bill Gates Talking at the D5 conference in 2007 about his “last” vision for Microsoft is in Vision Programming.
quote: “So 3D is a way of organizing things, particularly as we’re getting much more media information on the computer, a lot more choices, a lot more navigation than we’ve ever had before. And we can take that into this communications world where the PC is playing a much more central role, kind of taking over what was the PBX, sort of one of the last mainframes in the business environment. That will be a big change that will come to it. And as we get natural input, that will cause a change. … Software is doing vision and so, you know, imagine a game machine where you’re just going to pick up the bat and swing it or the tennis racket and swing it.”
Natal is the first device that will actually release that does marker less tracking in an affordable price range. Of course there was the Z-Cam from 3DV, but now that Natal has surfaced it’s clear why Microsoft has bought them up.
I hope that their developers come up with more creative ways to use the motion interaction as some developers do for the Wii.
Could this be the one that changes the game? Google has released a 3D API, Quote by Google: “O3D is an open-source web API for creating rich, interactive 3D applications in the browser. This API is shared at an early stage as part of a conversation with the broader developer community about establishing an open web standard for 3D graphics.”
We’ve seen many formats and efforts of bringing 3D to the web in the past. At the begining there was vrml 1.0. I was very excited and built a lot of things in Power Animator and exported it to vrml inclusive authoring. Vrml 2.0 had animation, multi textures on one node and many more features like proximity sensors and 3D sound. I was especially impressed by “Floops” (unfortunately I found no usable links on Floops – anyone – comment?) created by Brad de Graaf for SGI (Silicon Graphics).
Later on vrml was replaced by X3D. X3D is an xml based file format and was supposed to widely spread and the plans were to create exporters for many applications in the animation and cad sector.
I’ve played with X3D and the Flux Player. Flux Player now merged into Vivaty but is still available to download here. I will put my experiment online soon… Stay tuned.
I am really hoping that this will finally kick of some serious business for 3D on the web. It’s about time I think. The bandwith, the gfx power on peoples machines and the technology is here. Now that Google has picked it up it has a real chance to succeed. What do you think?