Posted on October 25, 1999
Some people might try to learn new 3D software by modeling something simple, like an apple or a bar of soap. I chose something a little more ambitious for my first Inspire 3D project. The result, “Rogue Element”, is now available for your review in the Posers gallery and the WIP.
The battlebot in R.E. was modeled entirely “by hand” in Inspire 3D, using no prefab parts. My first attempt (thumbnail/hi-res) was completed Saturday, but it couldn’t be saved in Inspire due to my ignorance of “point econmics” (i.e., the mesh was too complex). I managed to export that first robot as a OBJ file but he was still too complex for Bryce to handle. Luckily for me, Vue d’Esprit handles hi-res meshes with great applomb so I was able to at least render him once to show you.
My second attempt involved my old standby, Metacreations Poser 4. Basically, I opened up the default skeleton (as you’ve seen before in “Don’t Look into the Light“), and then replaced all of his bones with the robot parts I had designed in Inspire. This took quite a few hours to get right, but eventually I had my own custom robot which could take advantage of all of Poser’s cool features. You can check out, for example, this animation of the robot running (zipped AVI, [an error occurred while processing this directive]) or this “character sketch” showing a few different poses.
He’s not perfect, but I think he’s a good first effort. You’ll note that he is a far cry from my very first robot attempt (using Amorphium and Bryce). Hope you like “Rogue Element”, and don’t be surprised if you see him again in another wallpaper somewhere down the road. Comments definitely welcome.
Posted on October 23, 1999
Last night I attended a fascinating lecture given by Doug Chiang, the Design Director for ILM and one of the main brains behind Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. It was a real eye-opener in terms of how much I have yet to learn in this field. The lecture consisted mainly of Doug showing slides and commenting on the different designs he created for Episode I. There was also a lengthy Q&A afterwards, but I really couldn’t think of anything intelligent to ask (though that didn’t stop others).
Most of the lecture was very inspiring, especially the parts about how different animals influenced the design of certain vehicles in the movie (for example the Federation battle-tanks were designed to look like pouncing lions and the troop transports to look like charging elephants). It was really kind of scary to hear him talk about the creative meetings with “George” where sometimes only 10% of the designs presented were actually approved. I don’t know how long I would last under that kind of attrition (understandably, it was Doug’s love of Star Wars which saw him through).
One of Doug’s comments stuck a dagger into my heart though. He said that people today rely too heavily on computer aided design, and are sorely lacking in the artistic “fundamentals” of free-hand drawing. Of course he was describing me perfectly; I can barely write my own name so people can read it. I won’t let that keep me from trying to improve though 🙂
Doug was pretty careful not to let out too much about Episode II or III. He did say, tantalizingly, that the designs would become more “familiar” as the story progressed. My heart, as you can imagine, started beating the “Imperial March” at the thought of massive computer-animated fleets of Star Destroyers hunting down the Jedi. I can’t wait.
All in all it was a wonderful evening. I know all this is kind of “off-topic”, but I thought some of you might be interested.
Posted on October 20, 1999
“Modern Prometheus”, sort of a Halloween pic I guess, is new today in the Posers gallery and the WIP. For those of you who use Poser 4, the “Monster” is a Poser figure deformed by the Magnet tool.
Almost ashamed to tell you all this, but I bought myself a new computer yesterday. My original plan was to pick up a decent sub $1000 box to help me render the print versions of my images (these are taking a week or more on my P333). Lately, however, Windows 98 has been acting up on me (more than usual) to the point where I’ve been losing files and the hours of work that went into them. Win98 simply can’t go where I want to go today.
So instead of buying some cheapo Celeron to act as my renderbox, I’ve decided to demote my current machine to that position. Taking it’s place will be a Dell Precision 410 workstation with dual PIII 600 processors, 1 GB ECC SDRAM, and a 36 GB SCSI disk. The machine will be running Windows NT, which I’ve heard is a great deal more stable and powerful than 98. I didn’t feel like messing with Athlon processors right now, even though they’re supposedly much faster than the Intel chips. Xeon processors were a little pricey for my blood, and I’m not sure what benefit they provide for the extra money.
I’ve purchased a copy of Inspire 3D, the “Learning Edition” of Lightwave 3D. Inspire, so I’ve read, has about 80% of Lightwave’s features for only 25% the price. I plan on using Inspire to cut my teeth on the Lightwave interface before I get the full edition.
Why’d I chose Lightwave? Probably because 3DS MAX doesn’t have a $400 “Light” edition and I don’t want to be overwhelmed by features when I’m trying to learn. I’ve seen some really cool work done with Lightwave (ever seen “Titanic” or “Babylon 5”?). It’s also what my idol, the Digital Knight, uses 🙂
Why do I need all this horsepower? The simplistic answer is that the more CPU you have, the closer you get to that mythical “instant feedback” which all 3D designers (myself included) crave. The more memory you have, the more detailed your world can be. The two are inversely proportional, so more of one means less of the other. Somewhere in the middle is 3D nirvana, and that’s where I want to go today.
Hopefully all this will mean cooler graphics for you in Y2K. After all, you paid for the machine with your membership fee. All I ask from you is a little patience while I climb the learning curve.
Posted on October 18, 1999
Posted on October 17, 1999
I’ve been working on a little search engine for the member’s gallery, so you can easily find the image you want without wading through all the gallery pages. It’s in beta mode now (I spent yesterday afternoon working on it), which means it’s ready for you to test out. It doesn’t do keyword searches (yet) so you’ll still have to know at least part of the image title (i.e. “Afterglow”, “Overlook 1999”, etc) in order to find anything. All the seasonal images are now included with the main member’s gallery and you can use the search engine to list them out by holiday (type “halloween”, for example, to get at all my halloween pics).
Speaking of Halloween, I have done two additional halloween renders but I’m not quite ready to post them. They’ll probably be ready by tomorrow morning when I open my free halloween gallery to the public. Of course, I’ll preview them here first.