The SIGGRAPH Showfloor [Part II]
August 28, 2006 12:20 am
As you can imagine, the Showfloor is one of the most fun places to be during SIGGRAPH. From my personal point of view, this is the place where the real interaction takes place. Unfortunately, with so many things to see you are left wanting more time to see everything.
One of the companies present at the showfloor was Massive. You have surely seen the work produced by Massive in films such as "Lord of the Rings" and, more recently, "King Kong." It was impressive to see the amount of work that was generated using Massive. Everything from crowds, traffic and even the birds flying were generated with Massive.
Another thing worth checking out was the SensAble booth. I had the chance to test ClayTools and I have to say it's an extremely powerful tool. I even dare to say that it makes zBrush look like a toy (keep in mind that is my personal point of view).
What's so special about ClayTools is that the "pencil" can be moved in 3D space, which means you can modify your object from any direction, even if it's not normal to the camera (you can even model on the parts that are facing away from the camera). The device outputs the "contact with the virtual model" by generating pressure on the arm, so if you touch the object, you will feel that contact force that doesn't let you go through it unless you push really hard.
I am not much into modeling, but I definitely have to get one of these.
In case you didn't know, I have to say that we now have a "Virtual Teyon" in Poser (displayed on the photo). You can also see the real-life Teyon running a demo for a guy that seemed very interested in Poser.
This year, Vicon didn't have a motion capture stage, but they were showing a nice reel on what their motion capture systems can do. Outside the booth, the "sister company" 2d3 had some computers where you could test their camera tracking software packages, including Moujou.
They also unveiled Boujou 4, so if you are interested in camera tracking (and you can afford it) this is something you may want to keep your eyes on.
Reallusion also came up with a few good surprises. They released CrazyTalk 4.5 and iClone 1.5 (I will be writting reviews for both programs soon). iClone 1.5 allows you to edit camera animation as well as character animation using tracks. You can combine animation tracks to create your animation easily. It also lets you create some very dramatic lighting and shading effects using a new render engine. Keep in mind that is rendered in realtime so even with these new features, you can still have pretty quick renders.
There were also news on the upcoming iClone Studio Pro, which will let the user layout an scene and animation and then export that using the FBX format. iClone Studio Pro is meant to be a realtime previz software. All of its data will be able to be used in any major software package. This means that you will be able to use the iClone data as a starting point to create your final shots.
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Animation Alley is a regular featured column with Renderosity Staff Columnist Sergio Rosa [nemirc]. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and cinematography fields.
August 28, 2006
I can explain how ClayTools works, but I can't give you a full software review because I'd need more time to play with it (and testing it would be very difficult, specially since they'd have to ship me the Phantom haptic device as well). You use the Phantom device to manipulate the object, but it also serves as a mouse for the ClayTools interface. You can select, tools, click menus and all that directly with the Phantom. In ClayTools you create your shape from scratch, pushing and pulling parts, very much like clay. When you have the basic shape you can then start refining the areas that need it, from coarse to fine detail. ClayTools can display an object with unlimited level of detail without worrying about polycount, because surfaces are not polygons, but "virtual clay". Since we are working with virtual clay, we don't have to worry about the "wireframe flow". When you are ready to export your object you can use a pen tool to draw square patches. ClayTools then exports them as NURBS (you can decide on the level of detail for the exported model). In Maya (or any other software) you can import that model, convert it to polygons, do the UVmapping and whatnot and then you export that again. Then in ClayTools you can use that new model's UVs to create UVs for your clay model, and then the "extra detail" can be exported as a displacement map for the Maya model. This workflow is somewhat similar to what you'd have to do with ZBrush, but in ZBrush you are limited to work in 2D space, since you are using a mouse, while in ClayTools you can actually work in 3D space thanks to the Phantom device. As I said before, getting used to that device is a little difficult, but after a while you find it to be a really fun tool to work with.