Testing Mach Studio

Here’s the result of 1/2 hour (probably less) fiddling around with Mach Studio Pro and  Photoshop to try to see how fast I could produce an acceptable concept image.

I exported the buildings from Maya which took a few minutes, slapped on some materials, threw in an environment light and a spot light. Rendered a frame (which took 0.13 seconds to render) and took it into photoshop where again I just threw some elements together – a sketch filter blended with the CG, some vignetting and color manipulation. It’s not going to win any awards but that’s not the point… I was able to get this image out from start to finish incredibly fast, and that’s despite my being a novice with MSpro.  Very promising…

Gorillaz and Miku. Who can’t resist a cg character performing onstage? Not these people. I dig the leek-shaped lightsticks. (For the impatient, Miku makes her stage appearance at about 5:25 in this video.)

The mocap performance is nice I guess but what really interests me about Hatsyune Miko is that her voice is synthesized, not recorded. Would have been cooler if she was puppeteer-ed in real time ala Henson’s creature shop…

Update – no video available anymore, it was removed from youtube. Bah.

Good news for XSI is good news for the industry.

Mark Shoennagel posted some good news on his blog on the Area a few days ago. XSI’s sales have been quite good of late and the dev team is likely to expand. Why is this a good thing for the industry as a whole? Because let’s face it… Maya is showing it’s age.

Maya Community?

I have to admit, I’ve got a love/hate thing going on with Maya. It’s an industry standard. It changed the world. It broke new ground. And it… well, kinda sucks.

Look, before you get out the pitchforks and torches, Maya fans hear me out. You have gotten used to coping with things you shouldn’t have to worry about. Every dedicated maya user I know has a cornucopia of tricks, scripts, workarounds and fixes just to get the basics done. Want to constrain an object on a curve? Sure, you can. Kinda. If you know the trick, and are willing to think about it, or have a script handy. How about editing the animation curves on an animated texture? Visually? Make particles flow on a deforming surface? The answer is always the same – yes you can. But it’s not going to be straightforward….

Serendipity Reigns

This is what I love about the net… serendipity reigns. A friend and colleague Jentsen Mooney posts a couple of videos of an (excellent) talk by Matt Ditton on vimeo on the need for artists to learn to program.

Matt has a bunch of neat videos of processing applications, which I check out. In one, he mentions an idea came from a computer scientist Jared Tarbel.

So I check out his site. And it’s wonderful. Another victory chalked up by ye olde world wide web.

complexification.net

complexification.net

XSI toon shader

Did some more work on a basic realtime toon shader for XSI (and maya, it’s CGFX.) Here’s a sample…

Me. Me me me. Me too.
It's Agent Smith(s), toon style.

Functionality is pretty basic at the moment: Ink threshold, 2 levels of paint and a hard spec hilight, overall color control, a single point light source. I still need to introduce diffusion and spec mapping, possibly some reflections and bump/normal. Remember, if you see an agent, run.

Playing with NPR

I’ve been playing around with a little app on my iPhone which creates NPR sketch effects from photos (I gather made by Bruce Gooch, who has done a lot to advance the state of the art in ‘painterly’ and ‘sketchy’ image manipulation.) ToonFX

Two of my dogs
Two of my Great Pyrenees dogs, Frankie and Hutch.

The app is simple but with a little effort and insight you can get some good results.