03/10/2019No Comments

Finished Friday // Chelsea 88 // Landscape CGI Illustration

Another day, another finished project!

For our wonderful client, we helped them illustrate a proposed community dog park through a single CGI illustration.

Read more about the project here -

Chelsea 88 // Landscape CGI Illustration

08/09/2016No Comments

3D Printing Will Destroy The World // Negatives of 3D Printing

Quite a headline isn't it? It is both bold, and quite infuriating! What are the negatives of 3D printing? Is it all doom and gloom?

The headline actually comes from an article on the Architectural Review website, fully titled 3D Printing Will Destroy The World Unless it Tackles the Issue of MaterialityPlease go ahead and read the article. In a nutshell, the article essentially accuses 3D printing of being environmentally unfriendly, slow and generally pointless.

I want it now!

The first issue the article raises is that 3D printing is both time and resource intensive, compared to traditional manufacturing. Speed is very relative when looking at 3D printing. Yes the printer may "print at a snails pace", but this is a very naive argument. I know of no other process where I can manufacture something to the same quality as a desktop 3D printer in the time it takes to 3D print an object. No tooling, middle men, and no transportation is required, so that argument is flawed. For mass produced items, currently a 3D printer is going to be slower when mas producing items. However in the future there will be locally based 3D printing farms, able to produce 1000s of items in an hour, and do I believe this will happen.

3D print figure negatives of 3D printingMiniature 3D printed in 2 hours.

Environmentally friendly?

The second issue in the article argues further negatives of 3D printing, stating that 3D printing largely uses oil based plastics to produce the 3D prints. The article is correct, you can use oil based plastics, however plant based plastics are just as easily sourced, and most 3D printers can use either type of plastic. PLA plastic, derived from corn starch, is one such plastic.

Power consumption is also hinted at as a negatives of 3D printing, but the article has no data to back this up. But let's look at the obvious arguments here. 3D printing uses electricity, which may appear at first to environmentally unfriendly. But the production of electricity is becoming evermore sourced from renewable and eco friendly sources. Then there's distribution to consider. Transportation is eliminated when 3D printed parts are printed on site. This alone could be considered very environmentally unfriendly. Formula 1, renowned for pushing advances in technology, has its self openly stated that 3D printing is the future of F1 . Formula 1 teams see manufacturing by 3D printing at the race circuit as a key advantage in both speed and time.

3D Printed XWing negatives of 3D printingReady for the rubbish dump?

Environment, sustainability and society?

The final arguments for the negatives of 3D printing from the article revolve around the impact which accessible, cheap desktop 3D printers have on the environment, sustainability and society as a whole. We've already mentioned the false claims made with regards to the environmentally friendliness of 3D printing, so by claiming that 3D prints will simply clutter our rubbish dumps, is rather unfounded.

Recycling failed prints into filament for 3D printers is one area of development to boost the eco credentials of 3D printing. So perhaps ideas such as this could actually reduce landfill waste?

The sustainability of 3D printing is perhaps one area which will develop and become more focused in years to come. Sustainability is a huge focus for society in general. 3D printing will become more sustainable and responsible as the technology advances.

The final argument in the article looks at how society could embrace 3D printing. Will 3D printing move beyond 3D printing novelty items to produce useful and desirable items? Hobbyists may well be using 3D printing to create novelty items. But why do people do this? Intrigue, fun and experimentation would be my guess. Eventually we will develop ideas and processes to ultimately produce useful and desirable items. I believe we're at the first step of 3D printing. Having fun and creating pointless, novelty items is all part of the process. People need to familiarise themselves with 3D printing. They need to make errors, break things, but smile at the same time. We should focus on the positives of 3D printing. Talk about how 3D printing saved a child, gave a duck a leg, or simply how it could put a smile on your face!

Dean

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

08/01/2016No Comments

Virtual Reality Aids Nasa Training

It's of no real surprise that massive organisations such as NASA are using virtual reality to help test, train and develop their environments and users, in fact you'd expect them to be the leaders in new tech, and demoing things which we hadn't even heard of.

So when I saw this short video, showing a user controlling a robotic arm to simulate lag in a zero gravity environment, I was a little surprised to see them using an off-the-shelf Sony VR headset (Project Morpheus), which will be available to buy in 2016, presumably to be primarily used with the Playstation 4.

For myself, this is quite a big deal, the virtual reality headset will probably be priced at around £500, and to consumers who only want to play games this may seem high and hard to justify, but if you think about it, the price is much lower than a new TV, and will likely give you a much more immersive experience than a TV or monitor.

Playing games is one thing, and ultimately gaming has really driven this technology to this level, but what about the other possibilities for this kind of hardware?

Of course we can look to use the headsets for interactive architectural walk-through, or to visualise new products in full 3D, and I'm sure we'll see an increase in demand for these types of projects. Selling a housing development "off-plan" may be replaced by selling "off-VR", allowing potential buyers to walk around their future neighbourhood, and explore their future home.

 vr_head_set_nasa_training_virtual_reality_02The VR headset and controllers in action.

However I also see a massive use for VR in development, simulation, testing and training, which is what the video explores. Again architecture and product design may find virtual reality useful to develop and preview architecture and prototypes, uncovering potential design flaws, or perhaps even for user testing and focus groups, which could potentially mean architects and designers could trial several designs in a much more cost effective manor.

Training and simulation could also be a great use for virtual reality. As the video shows, the software can be programmed to different scenarios for any environment. A factory could be tested before it's built, and any design flaws could be rectified before actual construction of the building, saving companies a huge amount of money and time.

vr_head_set_nasa_training_virtual_reality_01Virtual robotic arms.

Staff could also be trained to use new machinery, even before it's physically there. This could cut down on training time, and also allow users to familiarise them selves with the machines in a very safe way.

Simulations can also be run, perhaps allowing users to experience an emergency situation. The software could be programmed to record and feed back on the users decisions, speed and alertness. The information could then be analysed, reviewed and acted upon, perhaps making the training more valuable and useful for both trainers and trainees.

The technology behind the VR headset is of course cutting edge. We haven't really seen any consumer based VR head sets before, OK there's the Samsung Gear, Google Cardboard and arguably the Oculus Rift, but with 2016 looking like it will be a bumper year for virtual reality and headset hardware we could see the use of VR rocket and become almost mainstream.

For sure, a VR headset is on our wish list for 2016 and there's quite a choice of headsets too. There's the Sony VR headset, HTC Vive and the full release of the Oculus Rift, all of which look impressive, and should in theory be around the same price range, so the choice looks like it will be down to software compatibility and personal preference.

The future of VR is looking strong, and we can't wait to become a part of it, pushing and playing with new technology whilst creating new virtual worlds and environments! We simply can't wait to get our hands on a headset, and see where we end up!

Dean

 

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