Journey into Photogrammetry: 123D Catch

For a few years now, I have been using a program called 123D Catch, formerly known as Autodesk Photofly. Photogrammetry is a process of using photos and complex algorithms to mathematically determine where objects are in 3D space and what their shape is. I have had mixed success in using this software, but overall I have achieved some good results and gained a good understanding of which kinds of objects reconstruct well and which do not. Continue reading

Blender Matcaps

One of the recent developments in Blender is Matcaps. One problem with trying to us textures and materials in the viewport is that there is a significant performance decrease when working with complex scenes. Matcaps addresses this issue by using textures that provide nicer realtime display using GLSL with low memory usage and relatively fast performance. These textures provide both color and reflection information, and can simulate an environment texture. Customized matcaps can also be added to the default library. The feature affects only the selected object, which further reduces the overhead, as well as making it useful for sculpting.

More info: http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Dev:Ref/Release_Notes/2.66/Usability#Matcap_in_3D_viewport

 

Blender matcap

 

 

 

Blender matcap

A simple way to create a normal map?

 

Review of Blender 2.64

The new version of Blender was recently released. This release is impressive by any standards and includes significant improvements from the Durian Project. Because version 2.64 contains several features that I am really excited about, I would like to list them here with short overviews of each.

blender mask editorFirst of all, there’s new masking, tracking, and keying tools. The Mask Editor looks like a dandy addition that allows the user to create masks simply and easily. Based on my initial tests, it seems to have an extensive feature set and has some interesting handle types for splines. The ability to assign tracking points to spline points is both exciting and unique. My only complaint is that it is too easy to add points in the along the length of a spline rather than at the end. I once tried to use the RotoBezier tool but gave up as it wasn’t intuitive enough for me when I already knew how to create masks in After Effects. The Camera Tracker developments look promising also. I miss the choice of trac

blender compositor keying

king methods, but tracking seems to work quite well with the Hybrid tracker only. The new planar tracker is something that I have been interested in for months, but sadly have not had the opportunity to test it out. One of the areas that Blender has been weak at is greenscreen keying. The good news is that the Compositor has received major updates to its keying capability. The new Keying node works quickly and allowed me to pull a high-quality key with little work.

A more minor update is the new color management system for Blender, OpenColorIO. This gives the option of setting image properties for different color spaces. It’s actually much more important than it seems due to the way that linear and gamma-corrected images work. Now you don’t have to worry about sRGB images being gamma-corrected both before and after rendering. This has really prompted me to work with linear images now more than ever. There is some more detailed information here.

The modeling tools have also received substantial upgrades. The Skin modifier is, in my opinion, one of the best new features to have been developed this year. It uses a similar concept from the ZSpheres featre in ZBrush to quickly create a mesh object based on the position and scale of an armature. This results in an object that already contains all of the bones needed for rigging. We also have the BSurfaces retopology addon included within Blender. I can’t say how it compares to the Shrinkwrap modifier, but I plan to do some further researching in that area.

Blender 2.64 is an excellent update, and the software continues to get better on a regular basis. It’s no surprise that Blender won the ‘Software Update’ award at the 2012 CG Awards. I plan to continue to explore this release further, so look for more updates in the future.

Broken Reality Project

Broken Reality is a new short film that I am working on for my senior animation project at Huntington University. It uses a mix of live-action and animation to create the film’s visuals. The film opens with two thieves breaking into a futuristic computer facility and hacking into one of the computers. They succeed, but are spotted in the process and must escape while being chased by robot guards. It climaxes with a confrontation between human responsible for setting off the alarm and his robots and the two thieves.

The CG elements in the film will mainly consist of set extensions to enhance the exterior environments (buildings, trees, etc.), 3D modeled and rigged robots, screen replacements, and fully CG interiors. Most of the 3D work will be completed in Blender, while also using Maya, Photoshop, and After Effects.

The target date for completion of Broken Reality is May 2012. The work will be done primarily by myself with some assistance from fellow 3D artist James Clugston. Because of the small team and the complexity of the effects work, the full film has been broken down into approximately 7 shots. This should allow for a high level of quality to be achieved.

 

View the official film blog here.