02/06/2017No Comments

Watch the UEFA Champions League final in 360° VR!

Watch the UEFA Champions League final in 360° VR!

The UEFA Champions League final is this Saturday! The high light of the football season for many, and it never disappoints! But this year will be slightly different, as you'll apparently be able to watch the match in 360° VR!

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14/02/2017No Comments

A Look at the o2 15 Project // Punch Digital Vlog

In this Vlog I take a look at the o2 Fifteen project, showing you what goes into a project like this!

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14/06/2016No Comments

Virtual Reality is here!

Virtual reality is here, and there's no hiding from it!

As we all know, the tech world doesn't stand still, new devices and innovations are constantly being brought to the market place, and it's very easy to become overwhelmed by the constant stream of new tech. However one area of technology we're very keen to get our hands dirty with is Virtual Reality!

Virtual Reality Headset VR 3D

For those who are less acquainted with the concept, virtual reality is essentially a way to immerse yourself in digital environments and content, via a wearable headset. In the past, the term "virtual reality" has been used for numerous 3D based ideas, such as interactive walk-thoughs, but it is now being commonly used in context with the headsets.

Anyway, why are we excited by it? Well firstly we love new tech! And secondly I believe this is a step towards fully 3D content for everyone. 3D TVs came and have almost gone (fantastic!), and virtual reality should be the next big thing.

There are many headsets on the market now, such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, but the one we have gone for is the Gear VR. Out of those 3 we have perhaps chosen the least powerful, weaker graphics, and not quite the cheapest even, but what it does have is the ability to go anywhere, it's fully mobile, literally.

The Gear VR is essentially a Samsung smart phone (ours is the Galaxy S7), coupled together with the gear VR headset. The viewer inserts their phone into the headset, and straps on the Gear VR, and they are immersed into Virtual Reality! The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift both need to be connected to a powerful PC, for which gaming is a must, but we feel this limitation will be a huge sticking point for a lot of casual users.

Virtual Reality Headset VR 3D Samsung Gear

The Gear VR Headset.

Most people now have smart phones, and just about any modern Android phone can be turned into a virtual reality headset with either the Gear VR or Google Cardboard, and I'm sure the likes of Apple and Microsoft won't be too long in releasing their own versions.

So what can you do with a virtual reality headset? The easiest, and perhaps one of the most interesting things to do is go and watch some amazing 360 videos. Youtube, Facebook and others now host 360. There are also 100s of apps and games to play and use, from simply watching Netflix in virtual reality, to engaging, playing and meeting people in virtual social worlds; even Facebook has plans to turn their social network into a VR experience!

But what about what we plan to do with VR and the Samsung Gear? Firstly we're going to have some fun! We're going to fire up some VR apps, watch some 360 videos, and research (yes researching can be fun!), and we'll see what grabs us, and what doesn't. There's no point in diving straight in and producing content that either doesn't work, doesn't engage, or isn't useful.

After that we'll know more about the direction we want to go in. At the moment we see two paths, 360 video, and interactive environments. 360 video is become quite well established, with YouTube and Facebook both supporting 360 videos natively inside a web browser (essentially all you do is load the page, and the video will play, so no need for any software downloads). 360 videos are relatively straight forward to create, similar in a way a CGI image or animation is created, however ensuring the user is engaged, entertained and even guided by the content will be just as important as the content itself.

Interactive environments and worlds are more complex to create, and are quite comparable to computer gaming and interactive walk-thoughts. An entire environment is created, and the user can play, explore or even learn through interacting with the virtual content. How the user interacts depends purely on how the game or app is created. With some apps you can look at an object, and press the button on the side of the headset to "click" the object, and other you may need a gaming controller to move easily though the world.

Both 360 videos and interactive environments have their pros and cons, and as I've already mentioned, once we've done our research and had chance to digest what we think works and what doesn't, we'll then start to take steps to produce demos and really get our hands dirty!

For now, all I can say is we're excited and really can't wait to get stuck in and start creating brilliant VR experiences!

Dean

01/04/2016No Comments

360° Video Gives us a View into Pre-historic Life!

360° video gives us a view into pre-historic life!

360° video is on the rise, and it's becoming a fascinating way to engage with viewers. The technology is very new, and as such people don't quite know the best way to use it, or even produce it, but this 360° video is one of the best examples I have seen so far. David Attenborough stars in the video where a giant dinosaur appears to walk past him, but the beauty of using a 360° video is that it allows the viewer to look around and really feel like you're there.

The video is hosted on Youtube, which is brilliant as it's accessible on PCs, laptops, tablets and smart phones, so go ahead and watch the video.

If you're on a PC use the mouse to click and drag on the video to look around, and if you're on a phone or tablet, hold the device up and turn around (and ignore the odd look from others!).

If you're using a smart phone and the YouTube app you may have noticed this symbol in the bottom right corner...

google cardboard vr headset 360 interactive

When watching the video on your phone, clicking this button will make the video will split in 2, which allows the user to strap on their VR headset, such as the Google Cardboard or Gear VR and fully immerse themselves in the 360° video, brilliant right? OK it might take some time to get use to viewing content this way, but it is fun, trust me!

Anyway, back to the video. In my opinion what this video does, which other 360° videos perhaps haven't quite mastered yet, is the ability to direct the views whilst telling a story. Other  360° videos they can be visually great, but not really engaging or have any purpose. Take for example the Star Wars 360° video; it looks great, and ties in well with the movie release, but it really doesn't tell a story, and as such it doesn't engage with the viewer. You don't know where you should be looking, and as CGI nerd I find myself picking apart the 3D and finding errors, which if I was engaged I may not initially notice. Others might simply just stop the video after 10 seconds, either way it hasn't fully reached its potential.

When we create 360° videos we will have to be very mindful to engage the viewers. With 360° videos the user can look anywhere, so directing the viewers without being forceful will be the key to a successful video. Creating beautiful videos and CGI won't be enough, and although the technical challenge to create visually great videos is the first hurdle, it wont be long before 360° videos are mainstream, and we'll see where content and story telling really set the good and bad videos apart.

360° videos, I hope, are here to stay, and only time will tell just how successful and useful they can be. We're working on plans and ideas to bring 360° videos to our services, we're already experts in creating virtual environments, so the next step is to take our expertise from 2D images and animations to 360° videos and other virtual reality content. We've already tested the Google Cardboard and YouTube 360° video with this little interior apartment test, and we have plans to create something quite exciting, so watch this space!

Dean

 

02/02/2016No Comments

The Chemical Brothers new 3D printed exoskeleton music video is AMAZING!

Combining 3D printing, VFX / CGI animation and of course a great tune, The new Chemical Brothers new music video is here, and is certainly one to watch!

The video features a dancer, who gradually transforms into a 3D printed exoskeleton. It's a superb video, beautifully choreographed, animated and produced!

As a CGI and 3D printing enthusiast, the video really grabs my attention. I'm not exactly sure how the video and CGI were produced. My thinking and logic would be that the dancer is shot either in front of a green screen, or in the warehouse, and then the warehouse is in fact either entirely CGI, or a mix of real and CGI. Markers on the dancers body may also have be used to track the dancer, and allow the animators to sync the footage of the girl with the computer generated exoskeleton. No matter how it's done, it's no easy job!!

chemical brothers cgi vfx video animation 3d printing

The visual appearance of the exoskeleton reminds me of Cortex Exoskeleton, which was designed to replace the traditional cast for broken bones. This style of 3D form has also been used in films, architecture and product design, and is a fascinating mix of organic and rigid shapes.

chemical brothers cgi vfx video animation 3d printing

Towards the end of the video, the girl is transformed entirely into the mesh form. At this point (and this is my only tiny criticism), the girl / character is entirely CGI, and perhaps the fabric on her t-shirt isn't quite as natural flowing as it looked previously in the video. I'm being really nit-picky here, but when you work all day with CGI, it's hard to not be critical, and see the small tiny flaws. I'm still massively impressed with the video though, and I can't wait to see a VFX breakdown, which according to comments on the Vimeo page, will be with us shortly!

chemical brothers cgi vfx video animation 3d printing

One part of the video I love, and had to re-wind several times was the moment the dancer performs in front of the mirror, and behind the dancer we see the reflection of the girl. Are we supposed to be seeing the dancer from the point of view of her self, perhaps as a ghost, or something more spiritual? The video is already amazing, and  throwing in these little things is never a bad thing!!

And here is the full video! Turn up the volume, go full screen, and enjoy!

Dean

11/11/2015No Comments

360 Degree Video Test – 3D Interior Apartment

Earlier this year YouTube made it possible to upload 360 degree videos! If you don't know what they are, 360 videos enable the viewer to look around the space, as if they were there, whilst the video is playing!

I wanted to see what the possibilities could be for CGI and 3D rendered environments, I'm always interested in new tech, and different ways of doing things, so it made sense to spend some time investigating, testing and developing.

The video below is the test video I produced. It's a very simple interior room set, with a basic camera movement forwards and backwards, but that's all I need for this test. When you play the video it will play just like a normal YouTube video, however if you click and drag (if you're on a PC browser) on the video you'll be able to look around the 3D environment! Give it a go....

The video can also be viewed on Youtube here.

If however you are viewing the video on the YouTube app on your smart phone (I have a HTC One M8), then hold the camera as if taking a picture of a wall, and move the phone to look around! It really is quite amazing!!

However the fun doesn't stop there, whilst in the YouTube app, you'll possibly see the Google Cardboard logo, and if you have a Google Cardboard (if you don't, jump on Amazon and order one for around £15!), click the Cardboard logo, and now you can view the video in the Google Cardboard head set!

Google Cardboard VR Headset Interactive

The Google Cardboard.

So what does this all this mean? Creating demos like this are always extremely valuable to do, they allow me to test, experiment, fail and play with something new and exciting, and that's half of the reason why I love the industry I work in!

But does it have any practical future applications? I'm sure when it comes to presenting content to users, more immersive and engaging content is going to be a massive plus to any project. I don't see why an architect couldn't use a 360 degree video to present their new building, or instructors aid their students with more engaging training, or even being able to watch a theatre performance as if stood in the centre of the stage!

The possibilities are endless! Of course there has to be a purpose to using 360 videos, in some applications it just wouldn't add anything, but in many situations I see the potential use of 360 videos to push video and user engagement to the next level!

19/10/20154 Comments

Udemy 3ds Max & Vray Arch Vis course coupon for FREE access

The guys over at Udemy have given me 50 free coupons to allow my lucky followers to receive this course for free!

https://www.udemy.com/intro-to-architectural-visualization-using-3ds-max-and-v-ray_zillus/#/

The course is aimed at beginners, but as always there might be some tips and tricks even the seasoned pro's might have missed.

AD15_Blog_Udemy_Course

To receive the coupon, all you need to do is subscribe to the ard Digital newsletter, and in the comments section of the sign-up form type "free course", and I will then email the coupon code to the lucky first 50 subscribers!

Dean

06/07/2015No Comments

Creating an alloy wheel in 3Ds Max

Many of the 3D models used inside my scenes and environments are created from scratch, either from drawings, sketches and even photographs. This always helps projects to feel unique and different from other studios and work, and ensures images aren't restricted by stock 3D libraries.

This quick video time-lapse shows the creation of an alloy wheel for a future project, and gives a brief insight into how I create custom 3D models, from the simplest of information.

Dean

15/02/2012No Comments

eGarage

As far as car photography goes, this site www.egarage.com is by far one of the most interesting sites I have seen in a long time, not only because I love cars, but also for the style of which the cars are captured.

The photography and videos are truly amazing, and are not only eye candy, but are perfect reference images for any body looking to perfect car modelling and rendering.

There are a huge range of styles in both car design, but also in the photography itself. From detailed close-up shots, to exciting angles and superb lighting rigs, this site has everything to wet your creative appetite!

I hope you enjoy browsing through eGarage as much as I do!

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Dean

11/02/2012No Comments

Sneek peak at 3Ds Max 2013?

3Ds Max 2013? I've only just got use to 2012! But hey progress is fast right?

If this video is to believed

it doesn't really show many additions or new features to 3Ds Max, but it maybe does hint at the fact that perhaps Autodesk are looking at some of the issues which have been bugging the hell out of many users.

Simple improvements such as being able to freely move around the view-ports whilst doing simple tasks such as slicing a model will be warmly welcomed, if not a little late! But still, these improvements do look promising, and improvements are always welcome, but without some substantial new features and updates, will 3Ds Max 2013 be worth the upgrade?

Dean

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