Archive for the ‘3D’ Category

Nike Innovation Arena

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

It’s been a long old road to get this 3D project off the ground. The Nike Innovation Arena just went live. You can download the full build from the site, for Mac or PC. Lee Perry Smith did the capture, Alex Czetwertynski was technical/3D artist, Neville Wakefield was Creative Director and Rassa Montaser worked as agent and co-producer.

Robert Irwin (technology of painting part 2)

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Something about that MOMA Critical Play talk and the comment about painting got me thinking about Robert Irwin, in the incredible “seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees”. On his journey from painting to “light and space”, he starts to question and break down the gestures in painting;

Shapes on a painting are just shapes on a canvas unless they start acting on each other and really, in a sense, multiplying. A good painting has a gathering, interactive build up in it. It’s a psychic build-up, but it’s also a pure energy build up…

…there’s no such thing as a neutral gesture, because by the very fact of being there, it draws a certain amount of perceptual attention. Let’s say it drags a weight of .06 in the overall thing; well, then it’s got to give back- I don’t know how much- and some elements contribute more than others. If it’s drawing .06 in attention, let’s say it’s got to give back .12 in energy. Otherwise there’s no reason for its being there…

…at this point I began to recognize the difference between imagery and physicality, that everything had both imagery and a physicality, and furthermore that for me, the moment a painting took on any kind of image, the minute I could recognize it as having any relationship to nature, of any kind, to me the painting went flat.

The disk paintings (above) were his last works that could be described as paintings. MOMA has one of them in it’s collection, and this is what is written about it on it’s “MOMA highlights” page;

This untitled work is a convex, spray-painted disk held a foot or so out from the wall by a central post. Its subtle, tactile surface modulates delicately from center to edge, and it is softly lit from four angles, creating a cloverleaf pattern of shadow. The white center of the disk can seem to lie level with the white wall, so that the eye spends time trying to understand what it sees—what is nearer and what is farther, what is solid and what is immaterial light, or even light’s absence. For Irwin, the result is “this indeterminate physicality with different levels of weight and density, each on a different physical plane. It [is] very beautiful and quite confusing, everything starting and reversing.”

Evading confinement by the rectangle of the conventional painting, Irwin’s disks literally extend past their own boundaries—spread out into their environment, which is as much a part of them as their own substance. The idea, in part, extends the Abstract Expressionist notion of an infinite, all–encompassing, allover field, but with the qualification that for Irwin, “To be an artist is not a matter of making paintings or objects at all. What we are really dealing with is our state of consciousness and the shape of our perceptions.”

After making this series he abandoned painting altogether and started the “light and space” movement- for example one of his later works;

It’s interesting to think about in relation to a virtual space. The idea of presence. Game designers spend so much time trying to make a space believable, that the idea of creating some kind of perceptual dissonance doesn’t fit with the convention. I guess something like UE4 (in the previous post) will have the capacity to use things like particles, light and shadows in very complex ways. Anyway, here’s the great man giving a lecture aged 80 something;

Unreal Engine 4

Monday, June 11th, 2012

This is proper geekery, but there’s an awful lot to get excited about in the two videos above. Ignoring the very stylized and fantasy look of the demo, UE4 looks like it’s going to be an amazing tool. Realtime global illumination! That’s massive. Millions of particles. The fact that the whole thing is running in the editor! Extending the functionality of Kismet. Which is also a big deal, because it means you don’t have to be a programmer to muck around with game mechanics in the engine. The fact that they intend to give it the UDK treatment sooner than they did with UE3 etc etc…

I’ve been trying to decide on which way to jump on my personal projects, based on my experiences of the last couple of years. In the end I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t care if something doesn’t run online or on low spec hardware. It’s a boring concern, and has the potential to sort of design stuff in reverse, starting with the biggest bottleneck. Also the problem is, in the long run, solvable. So sod it, I’m going to learn UDK, with a view to doing work in UE4 in a year or two.

MOMA Critical Play- technology of painting

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Watch live streaming video from momatalks at

In day one of the Critical Play talks at MOMA (above) curator Christian Rattemeyer, around 1.30.35, launches into a question which leaves the gaming academics on the back foot for the rest of the conversation. He uses Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, that “still looks like an incredibly strange painting”, as an example of the ability of art to propose radical models that “cut so radically against what we imagine to be even the most marvellous moments of contemporary life”. He goes on “…the examples you’re giving in technology seem like they might date quicker… where are those examples in games that have the effect of radically unhinging us from what surrounds us?”

It is an incredible painting, but comes after the technology of painting had evolved for thousands of years. Perspective, the ability to accurately render human likeness, the camera obscura and all the developments in mixing and preserving colour took an astonishingly long time to develop. It reminds me of David Deutsch’s Ted Talk “A New Way To Explain Explanation”. “I bet those prehistoric cave artists wished they knew how to draw better”. The vast majority of painting does not propose a radical model for its time, it simply reflects the prevailing know-how and mental model or world view. Once those practices become so established that they’re conventions, then there’s something to pull down. Picasso was reaching into the past and borrowing from African culture, with all the knowledge of his time and his own immense talent to draw from.

Real time shading, rendering, animation and so on has not yet even got to the point where it’s realistic. It’s all in a state of fairly rapid evolution. Not to mention that there’s no real equivalent for visual primitivism in games- using retro pixellation carries none of the associations. And yet games most certainly are self-referential. Grand Theft Auto, for example, is Pac Man in the simulation of a city. It would not be hard to imagine that some day video games should be able to simulate different mental models and states of mind. Particularly if voice input becomes very sophisticated. Maybe even voice input enhanced with on-the-fly FACS analysis of the player. Input is one of the key factors, I think. If the player is simply navigating a space, then the contexts created by that space are of limited meaning. But if the visual qualities of the space are influenced by emotion and intent, that would be quite something.

Avatar Machine- Marc Owens

Monday, May 21st, 2012

I’ve just been watching video from a MOMA talk, “Critical Play: The Game as an Art Form”. Which I’m loving and is leading me to look into a bunch of people and events put on by MOMA. Wishing I’d been around for the 2011 exhibition “Talk To Me”. The above video is about a piece, “Avatar Machine” by Marc Owens, from that show:

Avatar Machine is a system which replicates the aesthetics and visuals of third person gaming, allowing the user to view themselves as a virtual character in real space via a head mounted interface. The system potentially allows for a diminished sense of social responsibility, and could lead the user to demonstrate behaviors normally reserved for the gaming environment.

Valentino Virtual Museum

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Valentino goes all Second Life. Interesting that it’s a desktop app. You can download it here

If anyone knows what game engine this was done in, please post a comment, ta.

CryEngine shaders

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

This is a scan of Lee that’s had the skin shader for CryEngine 3 game engine applied to it. There’s quite a big leap from having a good 3D capture of an object or place and making it interact with light/the environment in a game engine- and it boils down to shaders and multitexturing. Of all the free SDK’s out there CryEngine seems to have the most powerful shaders. Skin is the hardest surface to do but this shader has stuff like specular, rim light, melanin, subsurface scattering variables built in that can be adjusted in the SDK.

Here’s the same scan with only diffuse colour visible;

A variable for specular dialled in;

And specular plus rim light;

Obviously the point of doing this in shaders is so that as you move in relation to the object, the highlights etc move accordingly. Unfortunately there’s no turntable view of this scan with the shading applied- but to get an idea of just how powerful the shading is in CryEngine, take a look at this- from a yet to be released project by an indy developer;


Thursday, December 8th, 2011

One of the dangers of “from life” 3D capture is that it can look incredibly naff. A bit like that look that photoshop can give to still images, the post-processing and workflow can completely defeat the point of having captured a real person, object or place. When I first saw ScanLAB‘s work it struck a big chord, because they work with the process rather than against it. Whilst at the same time pushing things and experimenting in ways that would have most 3D “experts” saying “you don’t want to do it like that”;

Artefacts, mistakes, imperfections, limitations are all things that can be used to create a look. The grain on black and white film was a limitation of the chemistry, but came to be loved as a mode of expression. There’s no reason why this process can’t throw up equally powerful unintended but controllable techniques. Obviously it’s one thing to say that and another to carry it all the way through to a game engine, but the potential in doing so is pretty awesome…

Lee Perry Smith

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

This is Lee Perry Smith, who’s doing amazing in things in 3D capture. Using Agisoft Photoscan, a piece of three thousand dollar, off-the-shelf software, he’s creating full 360 degree captures as well as 4D motion;

This guy is truly a pioneer, I think, and a little bit of a revolutionary. Not doing new things exactly, but finding new ways to do them and doing it on his own. If the tools to do this are becoming accessible to individuals, albeit extraordinarily highly motivated and talented ones, then it changes the landscape. The potential is very exciting- a new medium that’s the offspring of photography, cgi and video games.


Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

There’s been loads of hacks of the kinect motion tracking system, starting with one that came out almost immediately on the product’s release. The one above is pretty cool because it features sophisticated surface reconstruction- the raw data from the kinect is full of noise and holes. Microsoft Research have released an SDK for Kinect…