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Monday, July 23, 2007

At One With Nature

Illinois is a LOT more beautiful than I ever imagined.
I am used to Connecticut, which I always loved for it's twisting
tree-lined roads and sleepy bedroom communities. This weekend I went in search of
a nice town for me and my family to live in, and came across this great nature walk area right on the property of a huge subdivision that I was looking at. Check it out:

This brings up a really good point, which is this: spend time observing nature, especially if you are trying to recreate it in the computer. What makes it beautiful? What makes the sun
so bright when it reflects back at you from the water on a lake (and what do your pupils do when it's that bright)? How do bees hover over a flower before they land? How do trees REALLY sway in the breeze (as opposed to the built-in functions in most CG animation programs)? Think about this for a moment... Do you really know what all this stuff looks like?
Do you really? If the answer might even be a "maybe", then get up off your duff and get out into the real world and take a peek. You might be surprised what you find. I know I was!


Dennis G. said...

nice pictures.
My village turned to crap :( unfortunately.

Every time I go places I always find myself looking at everything and thinking how I would recreate it in 3D. :D

Perry Harovas said...

Hey, look on the bright side:
It's a lot easier to render crap than it is a beautiful flower! OK, that doesn't make you feel any beter, I knowm but it's still true!

Dennis G. said...


Dennis G. said...

I just noticed it said you helped write "Mastering Maya"

Thats amazing. I love maya! I use it everyday :D Unless im making a level for a game.

Check out these two amazing plugins for Maya that I found today for unwrapping UV's
By the way, there FREE!

First the pelting tool. The most unique way I have ever seen to unwrap a model.

not as visually appealing but does the job wonderfully.

Perry Harovas said...

Hi Dennis,

Yes, I co-wrote Mastering Maya.
I have since moved on to using Softimage XSI, which is a much more
stable application and allows you
to create with very few limitations in workflow. Part of the problem with
Maya is that the plugins need to be re-compiled every time there is a new version of the software (XSI doesn't have this limitation), which makes it hard to keep your workflow consistent from version to version. Maya also has serious problems with rendering (in Mental Ray especially) when you are trying to do a project larger than a personal project (but smaller than a big studio movie). It really doesn't fill the space very well between the two. Does it do cool things, yes, of course it does. But I have had the misfortune of being screwed one too many times by Maya's "quirks", and I just got sick of it after years of it. At Flashpoint we will be offering Maya training for some of the things it does especially well, like dynamics for particles and nCloth for, well, cloth. The main program is based on Softimage XSI, however, as it leads to more stable student projects, and less time for the instructor spent hunched over a student's keyborad trying to figure out why the darn thing won't render...

Dennis G. said...

lol. maya has done me well the past 2 years. But I only use it for making game models mostly. not much large rendering projects. The only problem ive had with it was exporting rigs into the Source Engine.

I have used XSI to rig and weight models for animation for the Source engine. I picked it up pretty fast.
What would be the top 2 art packages that you would suggest a student to learn? What are your thoughts on 3ds Max?

Thanks for letting me pick your brain. :D

Perry Harovas said...

It wouldn't have to be 2
of them. It would really be this: get really, really, REALLY good at ANY of them. If they use something else, they won't care that you don't use that package, they will gladly train you.

If you are stuck on learning (or knowing my top 2), then XSI and Maya.

The other thing you could do is learn one of those two really well, and learn After Effects really well. Then you have 2 packages under your belt that compliment each other, instead of compete with each other. Hope that helps.

Dennis G. said...

Cool, I have 2 years experience with Maya which i really love. I have basic knowledge with 3ds max, XSI.

I have both After Effects and Combustion. I think combustions better but I am learning both. :D

Dennis G. said...

Another question, What would you suggest for tracking video. whats that called? matchmoving?

Perry Harovas said...

I would use this (I already do):


SynthEyes does what the others do, for a FRACTION of the cost. $399
(compared to $2,000 - $7,000 of the others).

Dennis G. said...

Interesting! Its kind of like boujou because its automated. But it seemed extremely fast in the presentation video.
I have been using Maya Live to track videos. its not automated but its worked the best for me so far.

I will get SynthEyes and give it a shot.
Thanks! :)

Dennis G. said...

I have tried out that program and it works really really well! I will be using it from now on. Thanks!