Johnny’s Workshop

February 12, 2009

What’s it been? Six months?

Filed under: Vue 6 xStream,Vue 7 xStream — april15th @ 5:39 am
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Thought I’d write a new post … much though I loathe the idea of spoiling you people.

By the way, what is the deal with screenwriters establishing a character’s history with the phrasing I used for the title of this post? As in: “Hey, Mitch … you’ve been on the force for, what, twelve years?” or “You’ve been working on that novel for how long? Eight years? When are you going to face reality?”

I’d really like to create a montage of shots that use that exact phrasing; it really bothers me for some reason.

Incidentally, the “UFOs at the You Yangs” project has not been abandoned or anything. I’ll be sure to post an update very soon — perhaps as early as next week — because it is something I’m keen to prioritise. In recent months, though, both the need and desire to learn more about Vue has taken precedence.

I can’t believe it’s been, what, five-and-a-half months since my last post? All that time I’ve been learning cool things, taking photographs, crying for no reason, and conducting all sorts of CG-related experiments. Though I haven’t taken the time to write, I’ve always had plenty of things to write about. Just now, for example, I noticed one of the pictures behind me was hanging at an angle. Interesting!

Most of my studying time has been devoted to Vue and because I like to practice as I go, I’ve been slowly-but-surely accumulating a weird array of experimental images and video clips.

This time last month, I spent a couple of days learning how to simulate depth of field (the distance between the nearest and farthest parts of the ‘sharply focused’ area of an image). When you’re taking photographs with a decent camera, you can achieve a lovely depth of field by using a combination of aperture and exposure settings. Like so:


Vue allows you to achieve a similar effect by specifying a blur percentage and range of focus:

Ship - Depth of Field Settings

See those dotted lines to the fore and aft of the ship? They outline the depth of field. The settings in that screenshot (12m Focus, 15% Blur) yielded this:

Ship - Depth of Field - RT-6h5m2

For the sake of comparison, I also rendered two versions of an X-Wing, one with depth of field and one without:

Cool, huh? Now, how about a row of pyramids at sunset:

Pyramids - Depth of Field, 10-passes - RT-53m11s

Boy, do I envy people who wear glasses. All they have to do is take them off and they get to see the world that way whenever they want! Lucky

Another awesome thing you can do with Vue is create EcoSystems. Generally-speaking, they’re the means by which users create natural-looking forests, rock formations, cities, etc. but you can also use EcoSystems to create all manner of cool-looking shit:

(You can click on most of those images for larger versions, so … go nuts.)

I’ll leave it at that for now but before I sign off, I’d really like to congratulate the WordPress code monkeys on coming up with the most insane image-management system yet. Every incarnation is more aggravating than the last. Nice going.


August 23, 2008

UFOs at the You Yangs (Part 1)

Filed under: Vue 6 xStream — april15th @ 5:04 am
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Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of UFO footage.

Enough to warrant the design of a simple, hierarchical classification system?

Err … sure, why not?

You may have noticed the absence of a category for crystal clear, non-hoaxed footage of extra-terrestrial spacecraft. I’m afraid that’s because I’ve never seen any footage that would warrant the inclusion of such a category. Find me some and I’ll update the system, otherwise I’m sure whatever you’ve seen could easily find its way into one of the pre-existing categories.

Here are some examples:

Type 1-Ai1, 2, 3,

Type 1-Aii1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

Type 1-B1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

Type 2-A1, 2, 3, 4,

Type 2-B1, 2,

I’ll keep adding links until there are at least ten for each category. If you want to nominate any, just let me know and I’ll do an update.

Now, I’m not saying spacecraft flown by extra-terrestrials have never been filmed by humans; only that I’ve never seen any conclusive footage. All the high-quality UFOs videos I’ve seen have been hoaxes or artwork.

Why are there no high-quality videos of the real thing? I know what Occam’s Razor would have us conclude … but that’s no fun. I’d rather believe the government has seized all the best footage and kept secret our regular contact with extra-terrestrial civilisations. Bastards!

I’m probably coming across as skeptical to the point of being close-minded but I’m not. Honestly. I would love nothing more than to be provided with unassailable proof of the existence of advanced extra-terrestrial civilisations; it’s because I’m so taken with the idea that I can’t settle for lousy footage of some tiny, blurry shape in a distant cloud. Nor can I settle for eyewitness accounts because I have no way of knowing whether or not people are reliable / honest / capable of distinguishing between oil refineries and flying saucers. There’s a huge difference between seeing something incredible with my own eyes and merely wanting to believe the testimony of an eyewitness.

The reason I brought this up is that I’ve decided to create CG footage of a UFO (or two) at the You Yangs. I’m going to make the entire video CG and strive for photorealism but I’m not going to try and pass it off as real. Mine will be Type 1-B footage; a project undertaken so that I can learn more about visual effects.

I’ll post blog entries as I complete each stage of the project. Partly to keep you, my loyal reader, in the loop but mainly because I’d like to receive feedback and ideas throughout the video’s development.

Sound good?

August 17, 2008

To the xStream!

Filed under: 3ds Max 9,Vue 6 xStream — april15th @ 6:53 am
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Although I’ll be using 3ds Max throughout the foreseeable future, lately I’ve been flirting with Vue 6 xStream and getting a feel for what it can do. So far, I’m impressed. Even the shit I rendered whilst working through my first set of Vue tutorials could be passed off as carefully-designed desktop wallpaper:

Click to enlarge:

Okay, maybe not the rocks … but each of those scenes required fewer than five minutes to set up and the rendering times were surprisingly fast. Everything’s a cinch with this new software.

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