Underwater Image of the Week
Two more screencaps from the animation I am working on at work.
The images above are screencaptures from an animation I am working on for my university. The video is 2 minutes long, with 5 scenes showing the Northwestern Hawaiian Island and its beautifully pristine coral reefs.
Took about 1 month of preparation, 2 month of modelling and animation in Blender, and 1 month of lighting set up and compositing work to get to where we are today.
GameKit: The Most Understated Game Engine
Admittedly, the Blender Game Engine has its flaws. It’s old, slow, and has some licensing restrictions that makes it incompatible with many of the mobile devices out there. But Blender is such a wonderful tool at creating games, should we just abandon it?
Gamekit is fully compatible with Blender, runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android. It uses a non-restrictive license so you are free to sale your game without worrying about copyright issues.
But chances are, you’ve never heard of Gamekit.
Despite a simple website and a whole bunch of confused users who want to try gamekit but don’t know how, gamekit is pretty darn functional already. Within half an hour, you can make a simple 3D game that compiles and runs on an iPhone. It also supports shaders, physics, animation and lua scripting. If you a looking to replace the Blender game engine with something lighter, faster and more modern, take a look at this game engine.
Sure the documentation is a little sparse, but as more artists start using this engine, hopefully we’ll see more literature on the topic.
More Raytraced Cycles Eye candy!
Rendered with Cycles by me, the beautiful Audi R8 model is provided by Ethan Luo.
The new Cycles rendering engine in Blender really made it easy to create hyper-realistic looking images with so little effort. This model was prepared for Cycles rendering in less than an hour. The rendering took less than 5 minutes per frame on a GTX580 GPU.
Rendering in Cycles
In case you haven’t heard, Cycles is the new experimental rendering engine for Blender. It is a physically accurate ray-tracer that is superfast. As you edit the scene, it will continually update the rendering, progressively refining the image for as long as you allow it.
This almost interactive method of rendering allows the artist to work much faster than before, since they no longer have to wait for the entire image to render to see the result. Even better, Cycles can take full advantage of Nvidia’s CUDA GPU acceleration. This means lucky owners of top-of-the-line graphic cards can now enjoy a non-stop 16 hour work day. No more rendering-breaks!
All of the image in this post is rendered on a Geforce GTX 570 video card at 1920×1200. Rendering time never exceeded 5 minutes for each frame, which is phenomenal considering the quality.
Someone told me that this car will be shown at FMX Germany in the next few days. So check it out if you are nearby.
Jaw-dropping online 3D Map
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Paul Debevec published his seminal work on image based modelling in 1997, just over 14 years ago. By taking multiple images of an object from different angles, he was able to reconstruct the 3D geometry of the bell tower at UC Berkeley. Programmatically generating 3D models from 2D images! It was so revolutionary at the time that the sfx team behind the Matrix movie worked with Paul to use this exact technique in the film, the Matrix.
Pretty impressive eh? Now imagine going this for an entire campus, or an entire city, or the entire world. Without human intervention. At 10cm resolution.
This is what C3 Technology and Nokia came up with, and it runs inside your web browser.
A better writer might be able to describe to you the magnitude of what you are witnessing, but I am truly at a loss at conveying the significance of this to the future of mapping. Click on the image to see the demo for yourself. You’ll need to install a plugin, but it’s well worth the trouble. Someone less technically might not fully appreciate the complexity of what’s going on behind the scene, and as someone who only knows enough to be dangerous, I am still not convinced technology like this should exist today.
Realtime GPU Accelerated Raytracer
I discovered a lot of mind-blowing technologies this week. First I test-drove Ian’s OpenCL fluid particle implementation by pushing 1 million physically-accurate fluid particles around in realtime. Then I ran across the jaw-droppingly detailed Ovi 3D map. And now, thanks to Brecht’s latest work on the Cycles rendering engine for Blender, I am doing raytracing on the GPU in realtime.
Above is a rendering of my now ubiquitous BMW. The total rendering time to get to this quality is less than 40 seconds. (Compare to over 3 minutes using the old Blender renderer) Even more impressive, is that the rendering takes place in the 3d viewport directly, in a progressive fashion. So one can edit the scene while the rendering refines itself.
No more F12, rendering just went realtime!
Here is a snapshot of what I’ve been working on this year at UBC’s Fisheries Centre. Entirely rendered. The only touch-up I did was some minor color corrections.
The second image is a screen capture from a video production I worked on 3 years ago at the same project. It even got us to the ‘Finalist’ position at the International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.
What bothers me is not how bad the earlier one looks, but the fact that I didn’t realize how bad it was at the time. Well, I am also a bit troubled by the fact that there is less fish in the ocean. But not nearly as embarrassed about it as the huge gap in quality.
But it’s pretty exciting to see my own achievement this way.
The other artist behind both of these production is Dalai Felinto. So I can’t take all the blame credit.