Stumbling Toward 'Awesomeness'

A Technical Art Blog

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kavan et al Have Done It!

Ladislav Kavan is presenting a paper entitled ‘Automatic Linearization of Nonlinear Skinning‘ at the 2009 Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics and Games on skinning arbitrary deformations! Run over to his site and check it out. In my opinion, this is the holy grail of sorts. You rig any way you want, have complex deformation that can only solve at 1 frame an hour? No problem, bake a range of motion to pose-driven, procedurally placed, animated, and weighted joints. People, Kavan included, have been presenting papers in the past with systems somewhat like this, but nothing this polished and final. I have talked to him about this stuff in the past and it’s great to see the stuff he’s been working on and that it really is all I had hoped for!

This will change things.

posted by Chris at 12:16 PM  

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Quantic Dreams

This is what it looks like on the other side of the uncanny valley.

No longer working for Crytek, maybe I can comment on some industry related things without worrying that my opinions could be misconstrewn as those of my former employer.

EuroGamer visited Quantic Dream this week, the studio working on the game ‘Heavy Rain’, who’s founder, de Fondaumière, arrogantly proclaimed that there was ‘no longer an uncanny valley‘, and that there are ‘very, very few‘ real artists in the video game industry. (A real class act, no?)

So their article starts with “We can’t tell you how Heavy Rain looks, sounds or plays…”, which I find kind of ridiculous seeing as how the studio’s only real claim to fame right now is the hype of it’s co-founder who casually claims they have accomplished one of the most amazing visual feats in the history of computer graphics (in real-time no less!).

Across the world there are thousands of outstanding artists chasing this same dream, from Final Fantasy, to Polar Express and Beowulf; people have tried to cross the ‘uncanny valley’ for years, and are getting closer every day. At Christmas you will be treated to what is probably one of the closest attempts yet. (Digital Domain’s work in Benjamin Button)

Not really having any videos to back up the hyperbole, they gave the EuroGamer staff a laundry list of statistics about their production.

I have yet to see anything stunning to back up the talk, 8 months after making his statement about crossing the uncanny valley, they released this video, which was just not even close, to be frank.

It looks like they aren’t using performance capture. Without markers on the face this means they have to solve the facial animation from elsewhere, usually a seated actress who pretends to be saying lines that were said in the other full body capture session. There’s a reason why studios like Imageworks don’t do this, it’s hard to sync the two performances together. If they have accomplished what other’s have not, with much less hardware/technology, it means they have some of the best artists/animators out there, and I say hats off to them.

But with every image they do release, and every arrogant statement, it is digging the hole deeper. The sad thing is they could release of of the greatest interactive experiences yet, but their main claim is the most realistic cg humans yet to be seen, and if they fail at this, it will overshadow everything.

At least they know how their fellow ps3 devs over at Guerilla must have been feeling for a few years now.

posted by Chris at 6:53 AM  

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