06/02/2020No Comments

The Importance of Not Standing Still

Sound on folks, and take a look at the latest showcase.

It's been fun to look back and stitch this 30s montage together. It makes me realise how multi talented Punch Digital can be, and the benefits of not being stuck rigidly to one area.

Many folk say "you need to be super niche", and whilst I do agree, and perhaps even see the business sense in that, it's just not for me.

I see huge advantages in working on a wide range of projects. What you learn on an architectural job will have a positive impact on a product animation.

Take for example the part of the showcase where the "2020" objects fall and bounce around. In my head, I'm thinking, could we use a system like this to drop leafs into an architectural project, to have a more realistic and interesting visual.

I totally understand that this approach isn't "mainstream", and we will end up going down routes that lead to nowhere. But that's half the fun!

Doing the same thing, day in, day out, also leaves you very exposed. People will copy, imitate and rip-off work. And if you're not quick, they could overtake you, and run you out of business. That scares me much more than wasting a few days on side project!

"If you don't move, your legs become stiff. And once your legs become stiff, it becomes harder to move."

Kind of makes sense, right?

So here's to diversity!

Dean

30/07/2019No Comments

Is no where safe? CGI food in adverts?

I had a thought whilst watching the adverts (well someone has to watch them right?!).

We know CGI is used in all kinds of advertising, from cars to iPhones. But what about food?

It was this latest advert from McDonald's (chocolate milkshake is my guilty pleasure), where right at the end, you see floating chicken wrap. And my mind being as weird and wonderful, thought "...is that CGI?".

Food CGI McDonalds Marketing Advertising

Now let's think about this. It really isn't that strange to actually think that a chicken wrap could be 3D. OK it is a little strange. Perhaps I should use the word "feasible" instead.

But we're actually quite use to seeing CGI in food commercials. Maybe the use of CGI has been less literal, more playful....

However it does beg the question, is CGI being used to visualise actual food in advertising?

I know it's possible to re-create food to a very high, believable level (see above).

But is it actually more commonplace in advertising than what we're aware of? And what are your feelings on that? Is it OK? Is it any different to a fully staged photo-shoot, where food are covered in all sorts to make them look desirable?

 

Anyway, I'm curious to know, and will dig a little deeper, but if you have any examples, send them my way.

Or maybe you just suspect the use of CGI in a food commercial, again, drop me a message, I'd love to know!

 

Dean

22/12/2017No Comments

Our First Project to Mix CGI VR and Live 360 Footage

We love a challenge, so when our friends at Superla came to us and said they want to combine CGI VR with live 360 footage for a distracted driving campaign 360 video we said "hell yes!"

The concept behind the video is simple - distracted driving kills. But how we showed this concept wasn't as easy, and we had to overcome some technical and creative hurdles.

Don't let a single moment of distraction change your life. #ParkYourPhone and follow #Cartesy when you head out next time. Take the pledge here: http://bit.ly/2xpS7vE

Posted by Ford India on Friday, 13 October 2017

For our part, we produced the car interior, which is entirely CGI! The character is also CGI too. Creating photo-realistic content is something we do on a daily basis, but the challenges of the project pushed our technical knowledge to the limit, and beyond. To seamlessly blend the live footage, with the CGI car interior, we had to match the lighting, but more importantly, the reflections. Then throw in some motion capture, super high resolution footage, and numerous other challenges!

Distracted Driving 360 Car Interior Animation Video

Superla did a cracking job with the live 360 footage, post production and leading and directing the animation. For the character animation, we used the Rokoko motion capture suit, then refined the animation before rendering the animation. I personally love the text message alerts, which divert your eye away from the road, which is of course the video's aim is to distract you as you drive along.

We believe 360 video has a big future, especially when telling an engaging story. By viewing the 360 videos on a VR headset, the immersive experience is unlike any traditional media. I believe in 2018 we will see a growth of VR and 360 content, and it's certainly something we're excited to be a part of!

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!

Read more

21/07/2016No Comments

Marketing CGIs and animation help sell luxury houses off plan!

Off plan marketing with the magic of architectural visualisations and animations!

Viver Green Housing Development, a project which we recently completed, has been a great success in helping our client to successfully sell many of their properties, even before the diggers arrived on site!

It's great to hear from our clients when the work we produce has been a real success. To be able to sell properties before work begins is incredible, and it shows what a great architectural design, marketing and of course great CGIs can do!

We produced 15 architectural visualisations and one CGI animation for Egg Homes, which were used in web and printed marketing. To see the all the images please check out the Viver Green Housing Development page.

There will be a video blog coming soon, showing you behind the scenes of how we created the images and animations. Until then, if you have any questions, would like to know more, or even have a development that needs to be visualised, then please get in touch!

Dean

13/07/2016No Comments

You’ve Been Tango’d! Google Tango that is! Google’s Augmented Reality

Google Tango Augmented Reality is another leap for new tech, and it's pretty exciting!

I love this industry, and Google's new augmented reality (AR) makes us very excited! Why though? Augmented reality is when a virtual image, text data, etc is overlaid into the real world. The easiest way to do this is to point your smart phone at a tracker (a unique image), and your phone recognises this tracker and overlays the virtual image into the real world on the screen of your phone. Ikea did this very sucessfully with their app, check it out here http://www.gizmag.com/ikea-augmented-reality-catalog-app/28703/

The only problem with this method of AR is that the camera on your device needs to see a tracking image (like the Ikea catalogue). Google Tango doesn't! Now that's impressive!

How it does it is probably something very technical, and I assume it uses some kind of 3D scanning to gauge depth and distance, but developing hardware isn't our thing, so I'm only guessing. What I do know is that this is a real game changer for AR. By removing the need for tracking images means we could, in theory, overlay virtual worlds into the real world much much easier. It's also interesting to read that Tango can also measure. Imagine if we take the Ikea concept, but say develop a feature where a user holds their Tango device at a room, and the app then selects tables which would fit in the space. There'd be no need for that tedious process of measuring a space, reading the dimensions in a catalogue, and then hoping it all fits OK!

Google Tango AR Augmented Reality 3D CGI

Augmented reality has huge potential in education and marketing. The need to engage and excite people is very important and AR can help. It can make seemingly dull experiences very exciting. Take kids to a museum and they'll probably look forward to their pack lunch and gift shop, but if you make the experience exciting and engaging they'll probably forget all about their cheese sandwiches! In Google's promo video the kids visit a museum, and use Google Tango AR to see a T-Rex come to life, and also display further info for them to read and learn. This may not engage or excite a group of OAPs, but the beauty of digital content is that each AR experience can be tailored different users.

Google Tango AR Augmented Reality 3D CGI

If we look at the area we primarily work in, marketing architecture and products, augmented reality could really be a great tool to use. Imagine walking around a house or residential development with a Google Tango style app. Whilst the parents are using it to learn about the boring stuff like energy efficiency, crime rates, or even the choice of carpet colours, and the kids could see where their new school could be, learn about local clubs and groups, or how high the new swing goes in the near by park!

Google Tango is a very interesting development, and we'll be watching it very closely. There's only one device at the moment that's Tango enabled, and that's the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, but I'm sure more will follow very soon. Imagine the Samsung GearVR with Google Tango, my mind's already blown!

Dean

11/07/2016No Comments

A Virtual Experience of Solitary Confinement

A Virtual Experience of Solitary Confinement

We have been playing, tinkering and mainly having fun with virtual reality, all in the name of research of course! The sheer number of apps, videos, experiences and games already available is amazing, and we've only really scratch the surface with our research. However one piece of virtual reality content really stood out, and that's "6x9: A Virtual Experience of Solitary Confinement"

Blog Virtual Reality Solitary Confinement App Video 360 VR

Created by The Guarding and The Mill (see more info here), this virtual reality experience is a great example of how a virtual reality experience should be! It places the viewer in a horrible 6x9 cell, and gives us a glimpse onto just what solitary confinement may be like. Let's just say it's not very pleasant!

Blog Virtual Reality Solitary Confinement App Video 360 VR

6x9 is one VR experience that really stand out for us and does so for few reasons. Firstly it's based on interesting and engaging content. Real convicts who have been in solitary confinement talk about their experiences. Even if 6x9 had been a news article, or a pod cast it would have still grabbed my attention.

Secondly the visual experience is good. OK the graphics aren't photo-real, but to me that doesn't matter. The room is dark, dirty, and not a very nice place to be all. The room changes, weird effects happen to suggest different feelings or even hallucinations that an inmate would have. The user is guided through the experience, and one thing I like is that you can look behind you, but the content is delivered in front of the user, so you can sit comfortably on the sofa without having to break your neck or stand up and turnaround to see the content! Sometimes you almost forget about the quality of the CGI as I found myself listening to the audio or reading the graffiti style text.

Thirdly, and perhaps the most important reason why this works so well in my opinion, is that the creators have taken great content, and then chosen the best medium to tell the story through. In this case they've used virtual reality, and by doing so they've enhanced their content and experience. Too often I see people with the thought of "we have VR, how can we use it?". This can lead to badly built experiences, and people simply trying to force their content into virtual reality. Look at how many best selling mobile games are being butchered to use VR, simply to jump on the band wagon to be part of the VR scene. It's lazy, cheep, and will damage the reputation of virtual reality as a medium if we're not creating brilliant content.

Anyway, back on topic. The 6x9 is a lesson in how to produce virtual reality experience. Please check out the app, all you need is a smart phone, Google Cardboard, GearVR or something similar. There's also a little trailer if you can't get your hands on a VR headset....

Enjoy (if that's even possible in a 6x9 cell?).

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

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

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PUNCH DIGITAL

Punch Digital Services Ltd

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