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  #1  
Old 05-23-2003, 07:36 AM
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Sculpture and Computers

Let me start a new thread on a completely different topic. This could bloom into a section of its own, depending on input. Computers - we all know how much they have changed our lives, from helping with resume and inventory or pricing, to the Internet we are using this instant, to cell telephones, to microwave ovens, and on and on. Let’s limit the topic to sculpture and visual art to begin.

Here’s an image I scanned from the New York Times “Circuits” or computers section of May 15, 2003. It’s from a current computer game, and to me it says at least two things.

One, computers are altering the visual landscape fast. I barely have used similar games myself, but I think these figures are composed in three dimensions like sculptures, and they move through three-dimensional landscapes. That makes them virtual sculptures.

Two, these games are altering social perception radically and with force. This particular game has women outcompeting men in combat, and you can see for yourself the body image it projects.

More ideas?
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Old 05-26-2003, 09:11 AM
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Game models tend to have much less geometric information than the types of digital models used in sculpture production or prototype development. A lot of their visual impact is a result of the graphic textures or images applied to their surfaces. The workflow for producing digital models and characters for film is actually much closer( and here I am speaking only technically, not aesthetically or critically) to how dig. models are used for sculpture at present: actual models are sculpted , scanned, and digitally modified or remodeled to acheive various effects. I think digital technology is especially helpful in the development of project presentation and visualization( as it has been in the architectural and scientific visualization worlds for the past 20 years or so).

Please excuse the appearance of my site as it is...I have only put up my digital stuff which is much more on the commercial side of what I do and my creative sculpture and commissioned work page is coming soon.
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Old 05-26-2003, 04:36 PM
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Heres an irony - as you say for film models are usually made by traditional methods and transcribed into the computer. However a friend of mine worked for Ardmann / Dreamworks on The Chicken Run, where all the scenes where worked out digitally first, then when they were happy, the whole thing built and animated by traditional methods.
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Old 05-26-2003, 07:34 PM
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State of computers in sculpture

I’ve followed use of computers to generate figures casually for some time, as I've worked with them beginning in the summer after my junior year of college - 1957. I caught one of the late-night TV shows when Kevin Bacon’s movie, “Invisible Man” or something of the sort, came out 6 - 8 years ago, and he was describing how he personally was scanned (nude) by laser for the infra-red visualization scenes.

I had seen similar descriptions of bodyscanning earlier in connection with formation of computer models of body articulation and computerized analysis of motion. Many of these research studies have been described at SIGGRAPH conferences over the years, which I also have followed infrequently from a distance. (I forget the root of the acronym, something like Special Interest Group in Computer Graphics.)

It seems to me that costs of personal computers are dropping so fast, individual artists might be able to afford to do reasonably accurate modeling of human form in the not-infinitely distant future. That’s one motivation for my questions. Any slant on this?
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Old 05-26-2003, 08:20 PM
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Computerized figures

jfmenna - Many thanks for getting back on this subject so soon. I especially wanted to ask you how you created the figures in your rendering, particularly the Michelangelesque male, the one full figure I saw in the first look at your site.

Was that done as you describe here, modeled in clay and then scanned, possibly with modification? Or was it created totally within the computer? And if you are able to modify internal (computerized) figures, how is this done. By “catching” wireframe models and pulling or pushing as with Bezier surfaces, or in some other manner?
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Old 05-26-2003, 08:22 PM
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There are many modeling packages available to any sculptor/artist interested in modeling realistic figures or otherwise. I think the most intuitive software for sculptors would be SensAble Technoligies FreeForm Modeling system(www.sensable.com) but unfortunately it is also probably the most expensive(last I checked about $25-35,000.00). There are other packages(some primarily used for animation, but their modeling modules are better than some stand alone modeling programs) such as Maya, XSI, 3DS Max, Rhino which can be purchased for about $1,500 to $5,000. There are even free learning versions of some of these packages, most notably Alias/Wavefront's Maya PLE (goto www.aliaswavefront.com and look for the Personal Learning Edition link) which can be used for sef-education but not actual projects as the save/export functions are disabled. These are the types of programs that interest me as they allow for the creation of original models from one's imagination and still rely heavily on one's traditional skillset i.e. if you can draw or sculpt like hell you will kick @$$ with these programs. Scanning is an option less open to one with only desktop computer access. There are small scanning units that can be used to scan small maquettes and the like which are only a few grand but to have full body scans you would have to search out some type of digital service bureau that is capable of doing life-sized scans. This type of work could cost anywhere from about $1,000 and up depending on where you go. Of course all of these options are only for the designing end of CG Sculpture...milling or prototyping are the output side of the process but I think I'll leave it at there for now since I'm about typed out for one sitting!
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Old 05-26-2003, 08:36 PM
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repy to fritchie

All of that Michelangelo looking stuff was exactly that...copies of classical stuff that I did entirely from scratch. When approaching learning 3D digital modeling I figured the best way to learn how to model would be the same way I learned how to sculpt and draw at the Russian Academy in St.Petersburg(formerly the Mukhina Institute) where we honed our skills by drawing from plaster casts and the like. Any of the stuff on my page can be done with programs such as Maya or Rhino once one has ridden out the learning curve and has a command of whatever program he or she feels most comfortable with(or can afford!) There are no real modeling for sculpture sites on the web that I have found as yet so I have done a lot of studing on various Computer Graphics sites that cater more towards the entertainment industry: www.cgchannel.com, www.simplymaya.com, www.vfxpro.com, etc.
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Old 05-26-2003, 08:42 PM
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to gordonrogers

Yeah Gordon, ...the type of digital pre-production work your friend is probably talking about is animatics, where in addition to traditional story boarding, film makers do digital run throughs of scenes, including camera angles and movements, shot run throughs, etc to work out the film before actually shooting. This template is then used for the rest of the film whether is be live action, cg animation, or a combination of the two. I don't have a friend in the industry but I do however have a helluva DVD collection where I've learned a lot of the stuff I've posted thus far in the behind the scenes sections of the disks.
Cheers

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Old 05-28-2003, 05:49 AM
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More on figure creation

jfmenna - Can you give a little more information on creation of the Michelangelo figure? I can think of several ways this might have been created, depending on capabilities of the program or programs available.

You might have started with a sphere and pulled out tubes for head, arms and legs from that, either straight at first with bending later, or with bending at appropriate times. Or, since early CAD programs let objects be assembled from collections of geometric objects, you might have constructed a basic human form with a large flattened cylinder for a torso and attached other cylinders for head, arms and legs. All this with extra shaping at appropriate times.

One main question, if a person wants to construct more than one figure, is whether the figure can be made to bend at appropriate points. For instance, could you take the Michelangelo - Medici man and have him stand up by straightening out the bent leg and rotating him into a vertical position? I’m guessing that rotation, at least, would be easy. Could the leg be straightened by either straightforward bending at a designated position, or by cutting it at the knee and pasting it back on in a new orientation? I guess all these things might be done in different ways depending on the program.
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Old 05-28-2003, 11:46 AM
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I completed the M. models as learning exercises and never used the same method twice. For realistic modeling techniques I would recommend "Maya Feature Creature Creations" by Todd Palamar. It covers a lot of what I posted before. While geared exclusively for film content creation...the modeling techniques are great, including sculpting patterns, scanning, direct modeling, etc. It is available from Charles River Media press. They publish a variety of 3d instructional stuff, including modeling for games, animation, and more. I spent about a year and a half studying comp. modeling and now enjoy it as a useful extension to my professional a personal studio activities. I really don't make 3d models as ends in themselves so much as use 3d stuff for sketching out ideas and developing presentations. No matter how cool this stuff is, I still prefer water clay, pencils, and paper.
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Old 05-28-2003, 03:18 PM
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jfmenna: Great stuff. Can you post wireframes of the Michelangelo models?

fritchie: Some links:

http://www.thehumanhead.com (click on approaches for a modelling overview)

http://www.cgtalk.com (huge 3d forum)

http://www.raph.com (the best 3d gallery)

http://www.wings3d.com (Excellent free modeller. Download and try yourself.)
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Old 05-28-2003, 11:16 PM
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lowpoly - Thanks for the links. I took a quick look at cgtalk, and picked up a few terms. Nurbs (B-splines) are the Bezier functions I asked about earlier (actually, I remembered afterward that originally Bezier referred simply to lines).

I think we ought to keep this ISC talk generally low-tech, but your references give a good place to survey what is going on. My first search for “Nurb” just to try to see what it meant brought up several views of a very good head. Again, thanks, and for anyone with even a cursory interest in computer modeling, here are some good places to start.

And I took a quick look at your website. Some very nice work. I’m impressed that you did the clay hand in only a day. Shows the importance of having a good mental image of what you want to do.

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Old 05-29-2003, 06:04 PM
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Bezier means that the control points have handles... But it's the same family.

Polygons outweigh NURBS by far for organic modelling for games, movies and the like.

For state of the art read this thread at the Digital Sculpting Forum:

http://cube.phlatt.net/forums/spiral....php?TopicID=9
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Last edited by lowpoly : 05-29-2003 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 06-03-2003, 07:54 PM
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Articulation of virtual figures

Posted below is an image showing the capture of human movement for digital analysis and mimicking. It is a Warner Brothers photo published in the New York Times of June 3, 2003, and it illustrates a scene from “Matrix Reloaded”. Keanu Reeves, the principal figure, is on the left and is battling a group of four clones on the right.

The small lights attached to each actor’s costume define the essence of his movements and, after capture on film, are used by computers to reproduce his motion in virtual scenes, or even to create additional realistic movements. This photo shows the advanced state of current motion analysis and reproduction. Each helmet seems to carry four lights, which give a good picture of head motion. Other lights define the upper chest, midline of the back, shoulders, upper and lower arms, wrists, hands, hips, knees, ankles and feet. Altogether, each costume appears to carry about twenty-seven lights. Reeves’ staff holds at least one large light, and possibly two.

When computer analysis of human motion began about 1970, each figure typically was defined by six points, at that time reflective disks attached to shoulders, hips, and feet. Even with six points, the relative width of shoulders and hips could differentiate between male and female figures.

Techniques of this sort are developed for general research purposes and as aids in the medical field, computer games, and the motion picture industry. Artists who might be interested in reproduction of virtual humans, either in fixed and realistic positions, or in movement, might watch growth of this field.

If others can add artist-oriented discussion on this subject, I’ll certainly appreciate it.
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Old 06-03-2003, 10:37 PM
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Techniques in computer sculpture

lowpoly - I just had a chance to look at your cube.phlatt reference, and get the general drift, but certainly need more basics before picking it all up. I’m hoping for some low-level discussion or samples that sculptors in general may be able to read.

I’d hope to give someone with a sculpture background but only modest computer experience, a general impression of what might be done to create a single figure, and not necessarily moving ones.

I realize there are several other links posted here that I haven’t tried yet, and some of these may have what I’m looking for. Thanks to all for posting, and I’ll keep checking these links as I have time.
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Old 06-04-2003, 07:45 AM
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Quote:
Each helmet seems to carry four lights
These are reflective spheres lit by strobe lights, probably on a Vicon motion capture system.

Quote:
I’d hope to give someone with a sculpture background but only modest computer experience, a general impression of what might be done to create a single figure, and not necessarily moving ones.
While I understand the reason for this it will be fairly difficult to do. Digital 3D is a highly complex terrain with lots of specific vocabulary. Which isn't even the same among the different software packages.

Modelling characters usually requires a fair amout of experience. The learning curve may be flatter if you have already good anatomy knowledge or Digital 2D experience.

With your task of modelling (means digital sculpting) a static character it's a bit easier.

Here's an example of a very good model (done by Pasha Ivanov):

http://www.geocities.com/tempo3d/pilot.jpg (drag link to address bar)

Here are animated gifs for the basic workflow (done by Bay Raitt):

http://cube.phlatt.net/home/spiraloi...s/movies.html#

In those GIFs it looks a bit easier than it actually is. Note how the objects start with a simple cube or sphere. You can do this with the free software I mentioned above, Wings 3d.
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Old 06-04-2003, 09:56 PM
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Motion capture, etc.

lowpoly - Thanks for being a guide here. Let me take these one at a time, as I look at them.

The model by Pasha Ivanov (of a pilot in soft cap, shirt, tie and coat) is a great example of potential sculpture, with undercuts at the lapels and edges of the cap. It’s a basic figure, with very little detail, but that clearly can be added through techniques similar to your thread I referenced yesterday.

I understand that briefly explaining specific computer software will be difficult and I agree that is probably not for this site, except for references such as the one you have given to sample software. I’ll try that as soon as I can.

What I hope we can get here initially is some general outline of concepts and techniques without detail, such as you and I described with the reflective spheres on the “Matrix” illustration. I think people can understand the general idea of capturing a body’s configuration and motion through these points, without needing to know the details of whether video, film, or whatever is the specific path.

And thanks for correcting my assumption about lights. With reflective spheres and strobe lights, it might even be possible to synchronize the strobe with cameras capturing the scene, so that the lights appear or disappear, as desired.

I don’t know if that’s done or even would be helpful, but you see where even simple discussion will help people learn what is possible. That’s my first goal. Maybe we can go further if we get that far.

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Old 06-04-2003, 10:22 PM
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Wireframe basics

I tried to look at the Bay Raitt demo you pointed to, on cube.phlatt.net, but after waiting several minutes, got only a large outline winged insect of some sort and then four small, more smoothly rendered forms: an ear and a couple of others I could not at first identify. This probably is a characteristic of my connection - it is modem and not broadband.

If others can see these gifs, maybe someone will describe them. I take it you start with a simple form, such as a sphere, in wireframe representation, pull out appendages in the general shape you want, and then impose more details where needed. You then go from there.

(For the noncomputer sculptor, a wireframe model looks like the basic shape, made in a piece of hardware cloth or chicken wire. It’s about the easiest and fastest way to see your shape, and in concept it is just the way you might sculpt the form if you didn’t have to worry about gravity or armatures. You make a wire frame which floats in space, and you can then stretch, cut, bend, erase, and reform it as needed.)
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Old 06-05-2003, 12:55 PM
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Hm, the page should load fast, even with a modem. You have to click on one of the three upper images on the right. This will start animated GIFs showing the modelling process. The GIFs are between 400k and 700k. They display while they load. Try again. Describing it is no comparison.
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