Saturday, July 28, 2007

Daz3d Project Top Secret

Daz 3D are looking for beasts.

Their new 3D game needs assets created by you. The game looks to be anime style with players breeding and riding beasts of various forms. With the range of models, Hexagon, Carrara, DazStudio and Bryce they should have everything needed to achieve such a project and with a large number of people regularly visiting the site I'm sure the standards will be high. The project is also backed with a website, forums, mentors, design guides and some industry experts.

Read more in an interview with David Perry who is directing the project.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Distributed rendering?

I was just reading about Microsoft's Compute Cluster and how it used the Message Passing Interface (MPI) protocol to share the work across the nodes. This caused me to wonder what kind of protocols the various distributed rendering solutions used. As far as I can tell the network rendering in Carrara uses a proprietory solution that uses broadcasts TCP packets over a Lan. Piovra one of the Blender network projects uses TCP sockets and custom commands. For software such as Maya there also seems to be no standardisation.

The advantage of introducing some form of standardisation is that there will be more tools for debugging, analysing and possiblities of performance increases by swapping in newer libraries. The developers can concentrate on writing code for dealing with the graphics and UIs rather than on writing low level code for networking and distributing processes.

Given that Blender, DazStudio, Vue and Poser all use Python as an internal scripting language, they could use the Python version of MPI although I am slightly puzzled by some of the comments in their manual that implies that the messages passed from here would not be compatible with the C versions. There would also need to be a standardise language for describing the rendering processes.

2/8/2007 Update

Mac OS X supports MPI in it's XGrid and a demo of using this with POVRay was done a few years back.

There are several other python MPI implementations at SourceForge and another example of Povray.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Aardman News

I've kind of been stockpiling Aardman news so here's a whole bunch of announcements together.

Aardman's been making a few changes internally, new writers Matthew Graham, Peter Baynham and Ashley Pharoah have joined and Sarah Smith in the Aardman Features. Sarah has been promoted to Creative Director.

The Creature Comforts US series has been cancelled before CBS has had chance to show all of the episodes. You can join the petition to get it back on air. CBS claim that it was looking for higher ratings. However some lucky people got to see an unaired episode at Platform International Animation Festival in Portland.

Shaun the Sheep however goes from strength to strength by winning the Cristal for Best Television at this Annecy International Animation Festival. 'The Pearce Sisters' by Luis Cook won the Special Jury Award. You can watch a couple of clips of the harsh life by the sea that these sisters endure on the Aardman website.

The new projects in the pipeline are:

'The Cat Burglars', a comedy heist that follows a gang of milk-pilfering stray cats as they pull off their biggest ever job - the 'Great Milk Float Robbery'. Steve Box directs this claymation film

'Operation Rudolph' an action-adventure comedy set on Christmas night. It shows the North Pole operation as an exhilarating ultra high-tech military procedure on a massive scale, revealing how Santa and his huge army of combat elves can actually get round the whole world in one night.

'Pirates! Adventure with Scientists' will be directed by Peter Lord.

The story from Gideon Defoe sees the Pirate Captain and Charles Darwin travel from the pirate dens of Port Royal to the streets of Victorian London stumbling on his arch-rival Black Bellamy and the Elephant Man in a plot to save the last dodo from the dining table of Queen Victoria. Gideon Defoe is working on the script with Peter Lord and Gnomeo and Juliet writers Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil

A new (non Wallace and Gromit) project from Nick Park and 2 other projects.

For those of you who followed the "Purple and Brown" series on Youtube, you should love the new series Pib and Pob that is now available on Atom Films.

The latest Pib and Pog films are directed by Peter Peake who directed the origional film back in 1993/4. He's also been involved with a big selection of other Aardman projects including Creature Comforts and Rex the Runt.

Finally, Aardman films should also soon be available on Joost.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Heath Robinson Contraptions

Heath Robinson Old Woman
William Heath Robinson is famous for making over elaborate machines held together with string and made from old brooms and pieces of furniture. He illustrated the Professor Branestawm books by Norman Hunter and has been used in advertising things such as Guinness. One of the automatic analysis machines built for Bletchley Park during the Second World War to assist in the decryption of German message traffic was named "Heath Robinson" in his honour.

Geoffrey Beare has edited together a collection of the wackiest machines in this newly published Heath Robinson Contraptions book.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Plain figures

I saw these figures in ModelZone on the way home this evening. They have great potential for stop motion animation as they can be painted to requirements and are very posable. They are made by Sideshow collectibles and come in grey, caucasion or African American in male and female varieties. The sizing is a little smaller than an action man/barbie but I would expect that clothes could be modified to fit more easily that making clothes from scratch. These figures have much more articuation than their child's toy equivalents and they are much cheaper too.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tales from Earthsea

Studio Ghibli's latest film comes to the UK on August 3rd.

Goro Miyazaki's latest creation contains all of the elements expected, fantastically detailed painted backdrops, colourful characters and fantasy animals. The story is based on the book series from Ursula Le Guin. The film will be shown in both subtitled and dubbed versions. The English voice artists include Timothy Dalton, Matt Levin and Blaire Restaneo.

The UK website was not working when I tried it last but here's the Australian link that will give you access

London International Animation Festival

The London International Animation Festival is back this year at the Curzon Soho and the dates have been set for 21st August to 26th August. Over the six days 200 films will be shown from 28 countries. The programme has not yet been finalised but I'm sure it will soon be appearing one their website.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Take a step to the left

In the latest animation sequence of the Flea Circus Film, the Ring Master turns to the left and takes a step closer to the table to peer over the ring.
This proved to be a rather tricky maneuver in Poser. Because the leg moves and pauses I knew that it was likely to be affected by the issue with splines that I had back in February. However the key issue was that to rotate a figure in poser, you rotate their hip and the rest of the body follows. When turning people rotate around the foot that is on the ground not around the hip. As per usual I sought help from Renderosity and as per usual LittleDragon and PhilC came to my help with some suggestions and ideas. One of these was to parent the actor to an object that was at the point of rotation and rotate that. One of the issues with this is that an object can't change parents mid animation. Also the IK functionality does not help here with the feet sheering off when rotated.

However these technique seemed a little too manual for my liking and I wondered if it could be done with Poser's Python scripting language. In a moment of clarity, I thought back to my A-Level Maths days and remembered something like the following:

"that a rotation, about any point, is equivalent to a rotation (by the same angle) about the origin combined with a linear translation"

The Poser Python documentation that comes with Poser6 is not very user friendly, I was hoping for a graphical object model but the document is just a straight list of values, objects and methods in PDF form. There's also no examples with it (although there are some on the web). So the net effect is that I've not had a chance to get coding. I'm not sure if the Poser7 manual is any better and there does not appear to be any books for sale on this topic although there are plenty on Python and Poser separately.

However in the process of investigating Poser Python I stumbled across PoserSpeak a Windows based product that uses SAPI to add voices to your poser characters.