Category : 3D arts

MARVEL visual effects

2016 is rich for spectacular motion pictures. Very soon the big screen will be filled with new films about super-heroes, “The First Avenger: Civil War” and “X-Men: Apocalypse” have already received a very high praise from film critics. Published trailers showed a very high level of filming and special effects, fans are impatiently counting the days before the premiere. However, not everyone knows how the studios (MARVEL for example) create a high-quality picture and visual effects.

Below on the example of “Deadpool”, “The First Avenger: Civil War” (WARNING, SPOILERS!) and “Star Wars” we would like to show you how to create special effects.

At present it is used several key technologies of combined shooting in the film industry:

  • Chroma key;
  • CGI;
  • Repeat moves of the camera.

Decoration, on the background of which individual scenes of the film are removed, plays an important role in the film industry. For the original series «Star Trek» a lot of interior space ships was built or small areas on other planets. With the advent of the digital age, instead of scenery generating chroma key compositing has been widely used as a monochromatic backdrop for filming. With the help of digital image processing within already finished exhibition, you can create practically any background to the filmed scene.
Repeat frame motion method is used for complex scenes shooting by “one shot”. To do this, it is shot the background by using the same sequence of movements of the camera, then a group of objects (secondary objects, for example), and then the main objects that play a major role in the frame. Thereafter, via digital processing, footage combined in one layer. Thus, it can alleviate the multilevel scenes shooting with a large number of objects. In case of an error in the frame it is need to reshoot not the whole scene, but only a separate group of objects.

Computer-generated imagery technology allows superimposing static and dynamic images created by computer visualization specialists. To create the Colossus, one of the minor characters in «Deadpool» film, make-up would not be enough. Actor André Trikote was forced to put on a special suit that allows recording the body movements. Then, on the filmed material, the figure of the actor was superposed by the character image, with full preservation of all movements.

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Augmented Reality – NOW

Augmented reality continues to break into our lives; Microsoft representatives have announced about a new headset HoloLens out. Last year, the development appeared in several exhibitions. Apparently, the reviews were so good that the developers have finally decided to start selling. Unfortunately, only developers will have an access to HoloLens, while ordinary consumers can only be content with demonstrations on the news shows.

And what is inside?
Microsoft is not in a hurry to disclose the information about the hardware devices. It is well known that HoloLens contains one inertial unit (IMU), a sensor of environmental changes, a few microphones and cameras. Computing power is provided by 32-bit Intel processor based on Cherry Trail. Two lenses with high resolution are responsible for the image (2.3 million points of light).

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Microsoft is actively attracting partners to work together on their new product:

  • NASA;
  • Case Western Reserve Medical School;
  • Audi;
  • Volkswagen;
  • Japan Airlines;
  • Airbus.

First applications.
The conference “Build” introduced several business applications that had been created by Microsoft and its project partners. Now a set of programs has more a demonstration character, for example: RoboRaid; Actiongram, to work with holograms; virtual tours via HoloTour; Skype, which within augmented reality will hang as a flat screen in the air.
However, in addition to rave reviews, work on HoloLens is far from completed. Presented at the exhibition applications were not extremely difficult, but the hardware part periodically encountered difficulties. The developers have done a stand-alone device that solves the problem with wires, but at the same time limits and HoloTour power.

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Hopes and fears.
It is cannot say that the market has a new competitor for the Oculus or for announced virtual reality helmet from Sony, the augmented reality does not compete directly with VR. It is rather difficult to predict how Microsoft plans are ambitious for HoloLens. Considering the starting price tag of $ 3000, we can only hope that the market will have not just another GoogleGlass wannabe, but a completely new product with unique capabilities.

Images from Microsoft.

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Oculus Crescent Bay: what has changed?

The presentation of third helmet prototype, the pre-release helmet version Rift – titled as Crescent Bay (DK3) – has made acoustics to be the main ascent. The developers have fully managed to cope with this task as the value of audio flow in virtual reality had been underestimated till recent times.

Important changes

It has been proved that presence effect depends directly both view and sound. 3D-sound has been developed based on RealSpace3D technology, which has been created by Maryland University specialists. The result is impressive and now there is a possibility to make rather accurate definition of sound direction and distance to its source. Crescent Bay is equipped with integrated detachable headphones, which can be replaced for your own ones, if you want to. At first, such designers’ idea has caused many discussions among the customers and experts. Though having tried new Oculus, parties concluded that it is not worth paying attention to rather queer construction.
In general, the helmet got much easier than its predecessors not it looks more like glasses with more elegant design. Here we see the advantages. Another important difference lies at another optics improvement: the device uses two separate displays for the first time. In previous version, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 the display had been divided into two sections with high resolution. Independent displays grow resolution capacity and image quality. The image update frequency is higher than the one of DK2. The device has grain effect on image.
Another important trait is the option of head movement track for 360 degrees. It became possible due to infrared lights located from 4 sides of the device. Developers admitted that such effect was rather difficult to attain.

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Some critics

Disadvantages found by DK3 users. There are not much of them:

  • There are the cases of deep basses lacking;
  • When moving the head the surrounding units tremble distorting the image reality;
  • At the same time, the headphones design is far from perfect.

The main issue lies at PC capacity. The Oculus founders closely collaborate with Unity and Unreal Engine 4 developers, allowing users to hope for soonest options improvement. Besides this, the Crescent Bay goes well ahead of its competitors as it can be used in applied activity spheres.

Images from arstechnica.com

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VR in games: Quantic Dream studio experience

David Cage – the head of games development studio Quantic Dream the scriptwriter and director of such projects as “Fahrenheit” (2005) and “Heavy Rain” (2010). This role is rather unusual for game developer as such phrase is more common for film titers or playbill.
In general, these two games are the complete interactive films where the right of choice is given to spectator, defining the character actions. The genre of these two works can be seen as drama and psychological thriller, sowing the elements of mystery, if not to go deep into details.
Several characters tell the story. Each of them plays key part in the story and the actions of each might change the story further development. The characters interact to each other with the help of joystick and gyroscope. It allows the character’s and gamer’s interaction options’ enlargement. The gamer should simulate on joystick the actions performed by the character. For example, in order to close the window in “Fahrenheit” game, you need to move joystick up and down and even horizontally, in order to make simple action, – brush one’s teeth – in “Heavy rain”.
It goes about too unimportant details, at first sight. But the moment when the gamer makes the same things as his virtual character he`s interacting with the virtual world not by a mouse click but by making the same efforts for the performance of simple and not very simple operations – the person comes to a totally new level of association with its virtual prototype.
At the same time, it is worth remembering that is goes more about interactive film than a video game. While the story goes, the gamer runs into difficult choice or extreme situation. The scriptwriters, artists, sound creators skillfully manipulate the gamer, by causing excitement or joy, fear, anxiety or even panics. It is very hard to perceive such works as video game only. It is more like the birth of totally new type of entertainment, allowing direct interaction with the story. The most important things are that it goes about one of virtual reality stages development and the modes of plunging into it.

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NVIDIA Iray: light matters

The NVIDIA` new Iray technology allows developers to avoid the mistakes when designing glass constructions. A physically correct rendering enables a user to create photorealistic images, accurately taking into account the sunlight and material interaction.

Why is it so important?
Here is a perfect example of London skyscraper, unofficially titled – Walkie-Talkie (got its title for non-standard cranked form, resembling the walkie-talkie). It`s the 37-storeyed glass building. The buildings` cranked surface made the skyscraper to accumulate some intolerable concentration of sunrays, reflecting them as multiplying glass. This resulted at fusing someones` Jaguar parked near-by and goods damage at the near-by stores.
NVIDIA analyzed the situation with skyscraper and came to the conclusion that, if the building had some bigger crank the tragedy would be much bigger. In such case the building could melt even lead! The NVIDIA experts are sure that the developers didn’t do it on purpose; they just had no proper instruments, to calculate the building interaction with the environment. Now it`s possible, by using the Iray technology.
This technology can be used in various activities:

  • Design;
  • Architecture;
  • Engineering;
  • Advertising and marketing.

The single process
Eearlier on, the modeling of reflected light required much time and customer got the models with selected view angles and specific lighting conditions now it`s possible to do interactive modeling with changeable sphere, taking into account weather conditions and the time of day. This resulted at the creation of 3D images comparable to photos, by their quality, and a significant decrease of working time, required for final scenes creation.
Working with Iray technology requires no deep knowledge. NVIDIA has included Iray support to a range of popular applications, used for 3D-content creation. The mode uses modern approximation algorithm, minimizing barriers and attaining maximum realism. Iray automatically distributes rendering load on several processors, including the ones at remote cluster.

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VR in the movies

The idea of virtual reality became very popular amoung the moviemakers. Here are some of the most patent examples. Later we will post detailed reviews of each of these movies. Foolow us on ReaBits.

Tthe epoch-making movie “TRON” by Steven Lisberger was made in 1982. This movie virtually brought a user inside the computer. There, every program becomes a living person. The user lost his usual power over virtual reality and was forced to act as a computer program.

Another movie, “THE LAWNMOWER MAN” (directed in 1992 by Leonard Brett) dwelled on another aspcet of the VR phenomenon. It presented a conjugation of a man and a program as a way of becoming an overhuman. But everything comes with a price: after connecting to the net and stimulating mental activity with scecial devices, protagonist started to use his power over VR to control physical world (the “SkyNet syndrome”).

In 1995 one of the most popular novels by William Gibson, “JOHNNY MNEMONIC”, was adapted for big screen. It a very “typical-Gibson” distopic world of future a freedom of data access becomes crucial in a struggle of powerful TNCs.

This year can be considered a starting point of a romanticism in VR-themed moveis because of another milestone movie, the “HACKERS”. Unlike the movies above, this film was relatively easy for the audience, still advocating for the idea of free cyberspace.

“NIRVANA” (1997) is often regarded as the best movie of this style. It is a peculiar narrative of Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave”.

And finally, “THE MATRIX” (1999), an iconic movie, which became a sub-total of VR-themed films.
An editor Gardner Dozois enunicated the main cyberpunk criteria: “High tech. Low life”. This genre explores the dangers of rapid technological advancement. It states that it is very unsafe to improve our possibilities while leaving modern social problems unsolved. At the same time these movies center on a man in the net. VR can only grant in illusion of super power – but this illusion sometimes is too tempting to remain in the real world. VR becomes a version of earthly heaven.

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Visualization principles

The constant flow of information and a rapid development of various technologies have caused the appearance of 3D visualization, as a separate sphere of activity. The visualization is a real art. One can compare the visualization professionals to the masters, creating hyper realistic images.

Visualization – 3 main principles

The goal of visualization lies at the creation of realistic object, based on the existing material (photos, drawings etc.). There are 3 rules helping to solve this complex task:

  • The efficient way to create model analogous photo lies at optimum camera settings, for exposition. The visualization principle is based on human anatomic traits. The sharpness adjustment level will help to get the required accuracy. At the same time, it will help to distract attention from problematic zones and make visual fraud: the eye will perceive 3D space, not the 2D one;
  • The real units and things are far from being perfect. Any surface has drawbacks and uneven spots. This is an important nuance one has to pay attention to. Small details and elements create realistic atmosphere and old textures look alive;
  • The visualization has advantages, when using softly deemed light. The most important matter is a correct disposal of light sources having paid attention to shadows location.

The transparent surfaces visualization peculiarities

The water surface, glass and other transparent surfaces realistic visualization is an efficient way to create impressionable 3D object. Most existing algorhythms are overcomplicated and require the usage of specific equipment and devices.
Some years ago the principles of water visualization had been based on the idea, stating that water surface is flat. Relief structures created non-quality illusion. Such way is useful for the visualization of small lakes.

Modern visualizers often use the relief tops animation, when creating big basins, thin tissues and glass. If it goes about water, a great attention should be paid to lighting and reflection of other units in exposition.

Each well-developed unit will help to create idealistic visualization. Remember that chaos and accurate surrounding selection makes the unit to be realistic.

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VR: main ideas

The science fiction has often anticipated the appearance of various inventions. The idea of virtual reality first appeared in the novel of Stanislaw Lem – “Sum of technologies”. Having offered the notion of “fanthomology” the author had been trying to give his own answer to the question, if the reality that would have differed from familiar reality of intelligent creatures obeyed to other laws. Virtual reality (lat. virtus — potential, possible and lat. realis — the real existing one; Engl. virtual reality, VR) goes for totally new world made with the help of technologies. While interacting with any user, VR replaces reality, for him to believe in the reality of a world created by the software. The highest level of VR development is a complete replacement of reality, the simulation of all organ of senses for deep plunging into illusion.
The virtual reality is often seen as an analog of the “cyber space”, but this is a mistake. At first, VR is an illusion trying to replace reality. While cyber space is an abstraction, metaphor, depicting separate space where the data is stored and transmitted. Generally, this term goes for the communication and information flows.
The Aspen Movie Map can be considered as an example of virtual reality). In 1977, Massachusetts Institute of Technology has created the first prototype of virtual reality – the simulation of walk in Colorado City. It resembled modern Google Maps in the city walking mode.
Generally, the development of virtual reality informational technologies and virtual economy is related to the appearance of first signs of informational society, followed by post-industrial period. The informational society is characterized by:

  • The growing role of information, knowledge and informational technologies in the life of society;
  • The growth of the number of people taking up informational technologies, communications and informational products, manufacturing in GDP;
  • The growing informatization of society with the use of telephones, radio, TV, Internet, traditional and electronic media;
  • The creation of global informational space.

The global informational space provides:

  • People efficient informational interaction;
  • Access to informational resources – world-wide;
  • Satisfaction of needs in informational products and services.
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Historical reconstruction in Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed is a series of captivating games, which have won its fans with graphics, immense character options and captivating story.
This series of historical adventures video games is considered to be the most successful and popular in this genre. It had huge commercial success and millions of people around the world keep playing it. At the same time, it has made significant influence over modern mass culture and education.
Assassin’s Creed has become history book of Medieval and Modern Period for a significant part of modern young people. This series peculiarity is a captivating and realistic visualization of historically important architecture monuments which had not been saved till present time.

Games
The unique by its nature series includes:

  • Assassin’s Creed tells us about third Crusade of XII century. The game shows wonderful visualization of Solomon temple, assess the beauty of Syrian castle Abu- Al- Nukwod, the tower of Masiaf or Damask city, speak to Al Silaah market owner – Tamir. The game character will visit big cities of ancient times located at Holy land;
  • Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood and Revelations bring gamer to a unique époque of Renaissance. In Assassin’s Creed II the character will visit unique Rialto bridge, connecting the banks of Grand channel, main historical monument of Florence of XV century Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, the Saint Mark area in Venice and do sightseeing of small Toscana city San-Jiminiano. In Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood one can assess the beauty of Roman Coliseum. When playing Revelations it is possible to access the beauty of Saint Sofia Cathedral in Istanbul;
  • The third game of Assassin’s Creed Unity series is devoted to French and American Revolutions – the end of XVIII century. Here the gamers can see Notre Dame de Paris;
  • the fourth game of a series, released in 2013 is devoted to pirates Golden Century ( the middle of XVII and the beginning of XVIII centuries;
  • Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a story of well-known Seven Years war of 1756-1763. The gamer will Northern Atlantics covered with ice, New York City and Appalachian river valley.

The Ubisoft company, the releaser of popular game series, states that many people perceive video games as an interactive textbook, helping to get to know the historical monuments and help people to see the life of past centuries.
The real visualization of historical units is the Ubisoft priority
Boys and girls are more likely to see history with their eyes than reading text and historical books. The Ubisoft studio professionals’ team understands the responsibility they have. Wishing the people to know actual history and the atmosphere of specific period the company invites highly qualified experts and historians for cooperation:

  • Mike Loades is a well-known writer and historian, specializing at weapons history. He has been selected as a consultant when creating the fourth part of game series – about pirates;
  • Jean Vincent Roy is an official history expert of UbiSoft Company in Quebec. Jean has conducted thorough work when Assassin’s Creed III has been created;
  • Maria Elisa Navarro is a professor of architectural history. She has been consulting during the entire period of second series creation.

The historians- consultants help to restore the cities with maximum accuracy. The great attention is paid to architectural monuments and units for the restoring of which various historical documents had been used, such as buildings plans, their images and cities drawings. It is practically impossible to find differences, comparing real photos and virtual architectural monuments.

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VR: introduction

The idea of virtual reality has been actively developing in last three decades. It`s appeared as an abstract notion of science fiction, implemented in the visualization software and first models. The birth of cyber punk gave a sharp jump to the understanding of virtual reality notion. It appeared in literature, cinema, music, painting, theoretical science and forming the image of VR, we see today.

The constant data flow a modern person has to digest today, immense paces of computers development, information space enlargement causes the irreversible changes of the world we got accustomed to. And society needs time to accept these changes.
It is worth mentioning some important nuances before we continue:

  • First of all it`s necessary to make some range of notions clear. Lots of them are new and the world isn`t accustomed to them yet, while some of them are perceived in incorrect way;
  • Secondly, it is necessary to trace the development of virtual reality idea in mass culture and the process of widely known notions formation. At the same time it`s necessary to trace various deviations arising in simplification of theories and concepts, when they are put in masses, just for comfortable sense of understanding;
  • Thirdly it`s worth replying a question on how the stereotypes, formed by society, reflect existing reality. Science fiction, spatial sagas do not touch the matters of daily routine: the audience is hardly to be interested in the daily routine issues of time adventurer, daily routine problems of spatial colonists expedition ( though, “Martian” has proved to be opposite) or boring daily routine of hackers’ group preparing DDoS-attack;
  • Finally, it is necessary to move the border between fantasy and falsehood, to see how virtual reality has really influenced the modern world.
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