Thursday, February 26, 2009

COSC 260 Assignment #2

Here is an image of the sculptures that I designed for this assignment.
Click here to view the .max file.
All in all, I had some fun doing this exercise. I got to play around with 3D modeling and test my abilities for this first time; I didn't have the textbook directing me, so I was on my own and able to see what I can do with this program and what I need to get better at. The purple sculpture was created using extrude, while the circular form was created with lathe. The pinkish structure started out as a combination of two cylinders and two spheres united together using proboolean commands.
To go beyond the technical goals of this project, I did additional work on the sculptures by combining modifiers and techniques. After I finished creating the booleans, I turned the resulting object into an editable poly and then I stretched spikes out of the two spherical sections, making it look more unique. I also applied turbosmooth to the purple structure, which initially was hard and blocky-looking. The added modifier makes the sculpture look more at home in the surroundings; more like it is a part of the environment, and not something mechanical.
I had some difficulty with the lighting effects needed for this project; at one point, the the omni lights I had created were brightening out the skydome background to the point where it was not even visible! I had to spend some time re-adjusting and re-positioning the lights so that, while they brought out the detail in the objects, they weren't too bright, and they didn't effect the background of the image.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Introduction to 3D Graphics Presentation

Image used in PowerPoint

Taken from the second interview

The video
Starcraft II cinematic teaser
Internet sources
Nick Carpenter
-Interview #1
-Interview #2
-Career history
RenderMan software
Link #1
-Evidence of Blizzard's conversion to RenderMan
Link #2
-Wikipedia article on the software
References and artistic inspirations for Starcraft series
Link #1

The vast majority of the information that I gathered for this project was attained from interviews with Nick Carpenter (Cinematic Creative Director at Blizzard). Once I located a name that was attached to the game's cinematics, finding all the information that I needed was easy. The second interview listed above gave me all the technical information that I needed regarding the way that the teams work together, and the areas that the software has advanced in. The first interview (as well as the site that lists all the games that Nick has worked on) gave me some insight into his career as a cinematic designer. The rest of the sources were picked up to evidence facts stated in my presentation.

My presentation makes it clear that the most notable step forward Blizzard is taking is the incorporation of movie-level CGI rendering into StarCraft II. I became very excited after reading about this, and I feel that it truly will impact the future of 3D graphics for videogames; as said in the presentation, if it's difficult to tell the difference between CGI models and actual human actors in movies today, then how real could this technology make videogames appear? One of the smaller details I acquired that interested me was the information on the art direction of the game; it is interesting to point out all of the designs and artwork that the StarCraft series has borrowed from previous Science Fiction outings. When reading Nick's statement about how the graphics are a vehicle that is sent towards crafting excellent characters and storylines, I found myself to agree with him completely; I felt that I had to put that statement into the slideshow. If the game features poor gameplay and a bad story, good graphics are basically useless by themselves. Overall, I found this project to be quite enjoyable; it was fun to research one of my favorite gaming companies, and I think the class will enjoy my findings, as well.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

COSC 260 Assignment #1

Above are the images that I created for this project. Below is the movie I made.
I used the auto key feature to capture the movements of the swinging sign. This is my first foray into 3D animating, and many of the things I learned while working on it will be used in the future. For some reason, the text displayed on the board was not present in the file I opened, and the matching texture wasn't either. To make my animation different, I made the sign swing back and forth before detatching from part of the post and dangling from it.