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Joshua Maruska's Blog

wheel released

posted: 03 Aug 2008

I suppose this is just as good as any for a first post. The XBOX 360 Wireless Racing Wheel is being released this week in time for the 2006 holiday season. Teague has been working on it since October of last year and its nice to see it's geeting some good press.

This project was a total blast and special thanks goes to the team at Microsoft for being an absolute pleasure to work with!

More Wheel Reviews

posted: 03 Aug 2008

Gizmodo has posted their "Diving 2.0" review of the XBOX Wireless Racing Wheel. Yay, Jason Chen likes it. Here is their previous "Laptastic" preview as well.

Alias Studio on a Mac

posted: 03 Aug 2008

One of my long time dreams has been to have Alias Studio running on my Mac. I've been using Alias since '96. Life wasn't so bad when it primarily ran on SGI hardware. SGI's were fun and esoteric enough to maintain my interest. I didn't ever really wish to run the Class A modeling software on anything else until Alias (now Autodesk, but I'll still call them Alias) ported Studio over to the NT platform and my SGI's were replaced with hardware that cost a tenth as much. Not that cost had anything to do with it, but anyone who weathered the transition knows how rocky it was - especially if you were quitting SGI's cold turkey and suddenly had half the features you were used to and a buggy GUI among other things.

I had been using Mac's since '85 and Alias's migration away from IRIX (a flavor UNIX) coincided with Apple's migration toward Mac OS X (also a flavor of UNIX). It seemed logical that eventually Alias would port their preeminent industrial design software over to hardware that won the most design awards. Well that's the way it worked in my world.

It never happed. Or, at least it hasn't happened yet.

Until now. Well, sort of.

My wife and I purchased a new MacBook Pro to replace an aging iBook. Within the first week of having it, I couldn't resist loading on a copy of XP via Boot Camp just to see how it ran Alias.

I have been really impressed with the results. Considering that it uses an unsupported ATI GPU, I have been very pleased. I have completed a couple projects for Teague from the comfort of my couch and returned to a few projects for myself that I'd started over the years. It's been a total joy.

At work, I'm currently running a Dual Woodcrest PC with two SLI Quadro FX4500 graphics cards. The little MBP doesn't support much of the real-time visualization that I can achieve with the nVidia's, but for most modeling needs, it really rocks! Definitely a mobile CAD solution if there ever was one.

I've been pleased with it's ability to tumble large assemblies, even in shaded mode and with real-time reflections turned on. This makes modeling smooth curvature continuous surfaces very effective and efficient - one of Studio's strong points.

I'll continue to post my experiences as I live with the MBP and Alias solution. My preference would still be to have the software as a native Mac OS X application, but for now, Boot Camp and XP works well.

PS: Yes, I tried CrossOver first, but Boot Camp worked the best. I could never get CrossOver to launch past the splash screen.

RMX Redeux

posted: 03 Aug 2008

I don’t know the definitive history of RMX or many audio plug-ins, but a funny thing happened along the way. As more and more instruments became virtual, the visual aspect of the software sought to mimic the physicality of the original devices that inspired the software in the first place. More so than any other software product category I can think of. I suppose this is a natural response. Many musicians are dogmatic about the feel and arrangement of their instruments, so I couldn’t image that anyone would want their drum machine to feel any different on a computer display any more than a guitarist would want the strings removed from his guitar (Is that even a valid analogy?).

I guess this is where my particular fascination comes in. Virtual instruments are meant to be a reasonable facsimile of some device real or imagined - but usually the later; however inspired by something real. As an industrial designer, I propose many imagined products with the intent that they will become real. So there is a natural connection between virtual instruments and what I do professionally. These instruments are like interactive design renderings. Cool!

There are arguments amongst instrument designers that propose that we should ignore heritage and move forward with an entirely new interaction model or visual style at least. I think this is great and I wish more virtual instrument interaction designers would push this boundary. But as mentioned above, most of us have ties to some old Roland or Yamaha device stuck in a closet. In fact, this connection is so strong that companies like Mackie and M-Audio have made products to add physicality back to the these software packages with their control surfaces. So we’ve come full circle. We moved all our equipment into the virtual computer space just to get more equipment to interact with it in our physical space again. Of course, this a very simplified view of it all.

Ok... So as a side note, one of the things I love about OS X is that most every application is made-up of what Apple calls packages. They are essentially containers for all the bits of an application. The reason that I like this is because if there is something about an app that I don’t like or would prefer to be different, then it is pretty easy to go edit the bits and change the way things work or look. Changing the fundamental interaction of an application can be more tricky, but not impossible.

So what does this have to do with Spectrasonics Stylus RMX? Well, it happens to be one of my favorite drum modules for Logic. I’ve programmed plenty of beats and rhythms using drum machines (both physical and virtual – oh, and I’m not a drummer, by the way) but RMX makes it fun and it helps me flesh out my ideas quickly. Percussion rhythms are largely about texture and RMX allows me to play with those textures in real time as a whole thought rather than just little pieces strung together.

One thing that troubles me in RMX however, is the GUI. I’m not sure what it is about it; maybe the gratuitous use of purple, or that things aren’t quite centered (yeah, I’m visually obsessive compulsive like that) or what it is, but I always found it bit distracting. Even before I bought it, it bothered me. I bought it anyway...

So I did what any good Mac user/designer would do - I spent a couple days re-skinning the whole application. This is the third music application that I’ve re-skinned for my own personal enjoyment but it also happened to be the most extensive. (I also re-skinned the mixer panel for my RME Fireface 800. RME even references how proud they are of how they lifted the visual style from Cubase – of course it’s Cubase circa 1995 in all its 8-bit glory. Hmmmph.)

When I'm visually reengineering an application, there are inevitably things that I would want to change but can’t because all the “hit” points or interaction areas are hard-coded in the software. As mentioned earlier, everything in RMX is off-center. I think this was intentionally done to make things center-justified to the channel select elements at the bottom, which were pushed to left to make room for the file browser area. But it propagates throughout every screen and it probably annoys me more now than it did before I started (a lesson learned maybe?). But I did the best I could with trying to make everything feel balanced.

One of the things about renderings is that they are meant to be a bit cartoonish in their execution. They are tools to communicate proportion, use of materials, user interaction and so on – so shiny things need to look really shiny, metal should feel metallic, etc… They should be more real than real and not photographic because that’s boring. I’m not sure if it’s all working here, but it was a fun project that took longer than I would have liked. I am satisfied with the result for now and if I don’t like it in the future, I can always change it. Yay!



Nike Watch(es)

posted: 03 Aug 2008

While Jenn and I were off vacationing in Vancouver, B.C., a few of the tech blogs started circulating Nike Speed+ images. Looks like Nike is set to release the update to their Triax series watches that are base on their "+" platform of wireless monitoring products. The U.S. Nike Timing website hasn't been updated yet to reflect the product release, but the design looks familiar.

We contributed to this project about 2 years ago. It's nice to see the "glass ball" aesthetic has been maintained as a derivative of the original Oregon Series watches.

While I searched around Nike's timing site for some more information on the Speed+, I found this: the Mettle Blade series; which is reminiscent of some watch concepts we did for them when I first started at Teague. This design looks to have been pulled a bit closer to the Oregon Series than the concepts we originally worked on, but there is enough DNA in this version, that I recognized the watch.

Clover 1S

posted: 03 Aug 2008

My boss alerted me to somebody referring to the Clover 1S as being Apple-like. Thrilled, I googled around and sure enough, found the Pulling Shots blog. It is [also] really slick. It's design, though primarily black, is reminiscent of Apple and their tight tolerances. I am honored. I've been looking for a reason to blog about the 1S for a while and this this seems like a great occasion. Never mind that the post on Pulling Shots is a year old. It's new to me and the Clover team is is still building steam. The guys (and girls) over at Clover are a fantastic bunch and a lot of fun to work with. I'm glad that they're getting the great press that they're getting. More power to them! Their product has been a joy to work on and it's always great to be in the company of design savvy clients that really believe in what they do. I'm sure the copious amount of caffeine they ingest doesn't hurt either...

Edward

posted: 03 Aug 2008

It's been a while since I posted, but now I have something new to share.

I recently cat sat for friends while they went out of town. While I was there, I did some sketches of "Big Ed".

As his name implies he is rather big boned. He is also one of the most gentle souls I know. I really enjoy Ed and am more than happy to entertain him anytime.

Enjoy.

Edward II

posted: 03 Aug 2008

More Ed... Big Buddha kitty in the sun. Cheers. : )

Car Design...

posted: 03 Aug 2008

I don't really consider myself a "car guy". I enjoy racing games. I've seen the Pixar movie. I know my fair share of the latest models on the street and many of the classics. But I don't crave them. I don't talk about them all the time. I don't care if I'm driving the latest or fastest. I can't fix them. I've never seen Bullitt.

As a designer though, there is a certain allure. I never had the chance to take a legit transportation design class in college, but there was that temptation. That niggling little voice in my head that said, "yeah, cars are cool."

There is just something inherently interesting about the shape of cars; the whole format; the platform if you will. Four wheels, two headlights, etc. It's amazing there are so many variants out there. So many interpretations for a fairly limited archetype.

That little voice told me to give it a spin. Get it out of my system. I started this project, a long time ago. I just had to finish it so I could move on to other projects that I need to get out of my system. So about a week and half ago, I dug out my old files and started over. It's nice to step away from something and come back to it. You see new things.

I started with this as my basic idea: make a "super car". Yeah, I know - cliché, but if you have to get a car design out of your system, might as well make it big and fast (looking). I wanted something that evoked classic 60's cars (Dinos and Cobras and such) but still feel modern. I always loved this era since car design really was about the shape of things rather than how contorted the sheet metal could be or how many vents something could have (all functional of course!). Keep it simple. Make it nice.

I know there is a lot missing with this one. No side markers. No exhaust (hydrogen power?). The grille isn't really finished. I didn't do an interior since I didn't start from the inside-out and no-one could possibly fit in it... or maybe they could. I took the basic dimensions from a Murcielago; overall XYZ dimensions, the track width and wheel base (although I ended-up stretching it a bit).

I took this on as a personal challenge. There was a lot I didn't know about car surfacing and overall proportions, but I know what I like. I like Cobras (as mentioned). Harald Belker's Lexus from Minority Report is pretty cool. I love the DBR9 Aston Martin. The Ferrari P45 and Enzo are nice as far as super cars go. So yeah, I took bits and pieces from all of these to make my car. As such, I didn't set out to make it fit any existing brand. I don't have a name for this car. It's working title was just J-car in all my 3D files. It could really use a logo on the nose and tail. Details...

As an aside, I should mention that all of this was done in AliasStudio 2008 running on my new Mac Pro. Overall, I am super impressed with the performance. The images are not renderings, but screen captures directly from the CAD application (with a bit of Photoshop for the depth of field and lighting effects). Real-time rendering has simplified my life in so many ways. I love to look at a product as it is developing and evaluate in under a variety of lighting conditions and in different materials. The "image base lighting" features added in the 2008 edition make for some fantastic images. These have a nice airbrush quality to them more than photorealistic. Not hyper real, but convincing. Maybe one day, I'll do some Maya Mental Ray images of it.

This has been a really fun project. I learned a lot. I learned how many tools are in AliasStudio are tailored for car design that I don't use on consumer products. I also picked-up some cool shading tricks that I may share at a future date.

Oh and here's one for the Cobra fans...


Rocking on the Moon

posted: 03 Aug 2008

It's been a while since I last posted - looks like I'm averaging once a month - a far cry from once a week as my per my original goal. I'll work on that. Anyway, you know those lists that people make of the 10 or 20 things they have to do before they die? Well, I don't have one of those. But if I did, one of the things that would have been on it was to see The Police play live - together. Maybe one of the reasons I don't have one of those list is because they they haven't played since the mid 80's and what's the point in having a list with things on it that can never happen - or can they? Maybe I'll reconsider that list. Sting and the boys got back together and are touring this summer all over the world. I didn't have a chance in hell of getting tickets and indeed didn't have any until the day of the show when a friend of a coworker decided he wasn't going to make it and I thusly happened upon some tickets. I had tried getting tickets the day they went on sale - but they sold out within minutes. I went to the show in Seattle and it was fantastic. They sounded wonderful if not a bit rusty - but in a good way. They mixed it up just enough that us old time fans knew what was going on but weren't bored for a minute. An in a very un-Seattle-like fashion, the crowd stood (yeah, on their feet!) and cheered them on for the entire set. It seemed like every song went on forever and they entertained us with three encores - although, the intermissions between each were obviously just a ploy for a drink of water and possibly a quick discussion between a few 50-somethings about how nice the hotel bed will feel later. Great show all in all - and while I won't blather on about each song (they were all good, BTW) here is the set list from the show for your enjoyment...

Give me a brake...

posted: 03 Aug 2008

Ok, the real name of this post is "faking anisotropic shading for real-time rendering applications", but that made even me yawn. But that's what this post is about. It's the first, in what I hope to be a series of tips and tricks revolving mostly around Alias Studio. I've found the documentation out there limited at best and this is my opportunity to give a little. Just to set the expectations low - I seem to be blogging about once a month. So for what it's worth - that's my pace. On the other hand, if there's anybody reading out there, please feel free to drop me a comment and let me know what you're interested in and I'll see what I can do. So, when I was creating the shaders for the car renderings I posted about a while ago, I encountered a particular problem. One that I've encountered before, but never had the planets align to solve. Much of what I learn involves planets aligning and this time was no different. The problem was how to create a convincing anisotropic reflection effect that looks cool while tumbling the model live on the screen. If you're not sure what this is all about Neil Blevins has a good explanation on his site here.

When I went to create a shader for the brake rotors, initially I used the same soft-chrome looking shader I created for the little rivets around the hub (and incidentally, this is the same shader the is used for the overall spoked portion of the wheel). It is just a basic Phong shader with the shininess turned down (broad highlights) and the reflectivity off to give it that bead-blasted look (no crisp reflections). But look at what I got on the rotor. Compared to the rivets, it was totally flat! Which makes sense I suppose, because the rotor itself is just a simple cylinder which is, well, totally flat on the ends. While I was thinking about the problem, I started trying things. Things like using photographs to simulate the look - which works for static images, by the way, but I think it looks funny when you tumble the model. It's a static image and thus loses all the luster of a real spun metal disc. Another approach was to use a bump map to actually create the tiny grooves on the surface of the rotor to get the effect. That has never worked for me - real-time or other wise. I consider it a brute force approach which tends to result in brutish end results. I wanted the effect of an anisotropic reflection - not a physically accurate model of one. Of course, the answer was right in front of me. The hub portion of the rotor had a very dynamic highlight that responded to light in a very interesting way when the model was tumbled. The hub portion of the rotor was conical in section. The effect of light on metal with tiny circular ridges on it is also conical. So when in 3D rendering is the effect of a highlight in direct opposition to the surface geometry? When you use a bump map!

So, I added a simple ramp to the specular channel of my shader and got this. Sweet! It's just a simple black to white ramp that follows the U direction of the surface. Since the end cap of the cylinder is essentially a revolve, the UV directions are circular and thus the ramp essentially shades the end cap like it was a cone - resulting the effect I wanted. From there I started building a layered shader. The base layer was a simple gray Lambert. This would allow me to control the overall tone of the rotor. The next was to take my ramp-modified shader and tune it a bit. I made it 100% transparent with no color, no diffuse or anything else other than the specular with the bump mapped into it. Tweaking the shininess of the Phong shader controls the amount of "splay" in the highlight, while the intensity of the bump map controls the, um, intensity. I ended-up using a huge value (1000) for the intensity. This makes the virtual bump mapped cone quite tall. This may be somewhat related to the fact that I'm just using the default "Abstract IBL" rendering environment for this example - this scene just has a really strong single light coming down from the top. I'm sure if I used a scene with more complex side lighting, the value may not have to be so high.

As an experiment, I duplicated the anisotropic reflection shader I just made, layered that on top of the others and set the intensity of the bump map to -1000. So now I have two ramps layered on top of one another - one with a positive value and one of an equal, but negative value. This made the highlight symmetrical on either side of the center axis. It is hard to show in static images, but as you rotate the model, the effect is more obvious.

Lastly, I added yet another layer. This one has an image map of the cooling flutes. I used a solid projection for this. Three actually. One in specular to choke the highlight out of the holes, another in transparency to prevent the anisotropic shaders below from shining through and one as a bump map to get a highlight around each edge (this map had been blurred in Photoshop).

Here's a slightly different view that shows how the conically shaped highlights travel across the rotor.

That's it! I hope you enjoyed this first whack at a tips and trick series... Cheers, J.

IDSA ICSID Conference

posted: 03 Aug 2008

I'll be speaking at the ICSID conference in San Francisco Saturday, October 20. Oh boy... Gulp.

Round and Round

posted: 03 Aug 2008

I showed this trick to a colleague yesterday and he said it was too good not to pass along.

I do a lot of my 2D product exploration in Illustrator. I used to be a dyed in the wool Photoshop guy until Illustrator 10 came out. I realized most of what I was doing in Photoshop could be done in Illustrator with files that were about a tenth the size and without the need for some other drawing tool - like Vellum. For me it's all about getting to excellent results quickly.

Along the way, I became obsessed with the appearance palette. I think it's a totally underrated tool and I haven't found much written about it, but the example I'm about to share starts to show what it can do. Actually, I'll start with something it can't do. Or, at least - doesn't do very well...

Let's start with a square. Nothing special.

Next, go to Effects > Stylize > Round Corners. A predictable result.

But what about non-rectilinear shapes? A more common scenario in product design.

I took the square and yanked some of the control handles around just to make something funky. I don't think I would design a product that looked like this...

Here I add the same Effect and, like you, I'm scratching my head. Why do I get this? Clearly this is not what that shape should have looked like with rounded corners.

This has been broken since Adobe introduced the "Round Corners" feature. Even the less flexible and more destructive "Filter" version of this tool does the same thing. So clearly they are just re-using the same broken code. There isn't really any predictable way of adding corner rounds to a shape in Illustrator. I've played with Hot Door's CAD Tools and have had mixed success in these situations too. So here's my work around...

Start with the shape and add a Path Offset effect. set it to a negative number equaling your desired radius. Here, it's -10 points.

It should look something like this.

Now we are going to "stack" some effects. This can be done by either choosing the effect again from the effect menu, or by selecting it right in the Appearance palette and selecting duplicate in the fly-out menu, or (as I do) just drag the FX layer down to the new/duplicate icon in the palette. Double click the duplicated FX layer and change the offset value from negative to positive. Also change the Joins type from Mitered to Round and boom, you have perfect radii on your shape.

You can save this as a "Graphic Style" and access it any time from the Styles palette. One thing to note though...

Obviously, this is only useful if all your rounds are the same radii. If you want to have different radii on each corner, I use the Expand Object command on a duplicate shape, change the offset values to the second desired radius and expand again. A little snipping together of the shapes will get you to your result. You lose the "live effect" aspect of it, but it's the most accurate way of getting that particular result.

Lastly, here's an example of how obsessive I can be with the Appearance Palette. Here are some connectors I've rendered. These are part of a library I keep handy so I can quickly populate a product design with all the right bits. They don't use the above technique in particular, but the ideas are largely the same.

Each connector is completely rendered from just 2 circles (as shown at the far left). The reason I do this is simple; back in the day, when I used a ton of shapes to render simple objects, not only would my files become heavy and difficult to manage but, later - when I'd export my ideas to a CAD application like Alias, all that garbage would come with it and I'd have to clean-up everything I had done just to make the rendering look nice. This way, rendering entirely with the Appearance Palette, my render only consists of the two circles I care about when I get to CAD. It saves a ton of time in the long run is and is generally just easier to deal with.



Photos and Dumpster Diving

posted: 03 Aug 2008

Every once and a while Jenn gets asked about the photos in her shop. I'm proud to be her photo guy!

I've had the privilege to do a lot of product photo shoots with Teague's photographer Doug Evans. And he's shared more than a few tips with me. Thanks, Doug!

Here's my little set-up:

  • Camera: Canon 20D
  • Lens: Canon EFS 17-85 mm IS zoom
  • Lighting: 3 500 watt tungsten heads
  • Ground: a sheet of clear plexiglass (from Home Depot) on top of white foam core (from Staples)
  • Backdrop: more white foam core

I love my camera. I've had it for a couple years and it has never let me down. If you're interested in photography, I highly recommend getting a digital SLR. I had 35 mm EOS 650 since high school and had a lot of fun with it, but it wasn't until I started shooting digital that I (think) I really started to understand photography.

Now for the dumpster diving. My lights were a lucky find. One day while walking past a dumpster I saw a big black suitcase-looking thing. Curious, I pulled it out and found a nice little set of photo lights! I used them as decoration for a long time until Jenn needed photos of her products. I tried using desk lamps, but my exposures were way too long to be useful. So I plugged in those lights I had found long ago, and they worked! I've used them for all the 900-some photos I've shot for Jenn.
Oddly enough, my tripod was a dumpster find too. Either I'm lucky or I have a problem.


Happy shooting!

Update!

A few things came to mind after I posted this, um, post.

I didn't mention that I try to shoot at f5.6 with a 72 mm focal length. This is the max that my lens will do. Sometimes 72 mm is a bit too long because my tripod can't get up high enough or whatever, but that's my goal. Of course, being a non-full-frame sensor on the Canon means it's really like shooting at about 115 mm. Shooting at f5.6 gives me a fair amount of shallow depth of field effect.

My exposures are usually about 1/20 of a second. I did mention that shooting with a desk lamp resulted in exposures too slow to be useful, and 1/20 isn't really a fast shutter speed either, but it's way faster than what I was shooting at. I would love to have some real flashes, but that is getting too fancy even for me - unless I found some in a dumpster.

I shoot RAW format and do all my image processing in iPhoto 7. I love iPhoto. It does a great job with RAW files and I love that the latest version makes nondestructive edits to your files - like Aperture, but cheaper. I do much of my exposure and gamma correction in iPhoto along with any white balance tweaks. I calibrate my camera when I shoot, but sometimes there is a slight drift a few K here and there. Did I mention that I love iPhoto?

I do any pixel level editing in Photoshop. Usually this involves miscellaneous touch-up and bleaching out the background to a pure white. I try to get the background pure white during the shoot, but in evitably, there is a bit of vingetting due to the zoom lens, or I have to shoot just slightly dark to capture the texture in the white felt that Jenn likes to use. White on white isn't easy, but that's what Photoshop is for.

I have some Automator scripts set-up to convert the large 8 megapixel images down to something manageable for the web. I keep 3 versions of every file - the RAW file (in iPhoto) a editted TIFF at full resolution (these are suitable for printing) and the low resolution JPEG. We keep the images cataloged by date and I archive to DVD-ROM at the end of each year.
I also find DIY Photography a great resource for tips and tricks.

I hope the added info was helpful, maybe even interesting...

Cheers,
J.

Taking a rendering for a spin.

posted: 03 Aug 2008

Yay! A post for 2008! Happy New Year (and a few days... or more).

Sometimes Often times I struggle to come up with neat tricks for this blog. Then I stumble on something and someone points out that it would be good blog fodder. Here's one case and point...

Anyone who knows me, knows that my current design tool fascination is real-time rendering. I just think it's the most time saving thing for us product designers. It just eliminates so many steps of the 'process' and accelerates us toward our visions faster than ever. Alias Studio (my design tool of choice) has some pretty nice real-time visualization features, but since the features are fairly new to the tool, there are always additional features I wish for whilst using them. One such is to have a bit more control over the Image Based Lighting (IBL) set-up. There are some nice tone-mapping features, but no features that control the placement of the IBL image itself.

In this example, I have a product design from my archive that has had shaders assigned, ambient occlusion calculated and an image loaded into the IBL slot of my environment. The image is from HDRI-Studio and is a panoramic image of a professional photo-studio set-up. It's a nice quick way of getting a real photographic look without much configuration or knowhow.

But by definition, the image based lighting set-up uses a static image to generate both the lights and reflections you see on your display. Without the ability to move the IBL, you can't really move the lights. They are one and the same. Inevitably, there are things about the light set-up that don't suit the image. I've outlined a few things in this image that didn't suit me. Aside from the details highlighted - one of the main features of this particular IBL image is the warm/cool lighting. From this vantage point, the face of the product is getting the full brunt of the blue-tinted light. My workaround is pretty simple - I group the model geometry to the 3D view's camera.

Now when I select the top level of the group, I can rotate about the z-axis and the model and the camera spin in tandem. The visual effect though is the opposite - it looks like the IBL image is spinning and now I can find my perfect lighting set-up. Below is the mouse shortcuts from the Alias manual. I use the right most mouse button to constrain my object rotation to just the z-axis. (You can rotate about other axes, but if you are using the reflection plane in your shaded view, you'll get undesirable results because the plane itself is locked to the world coordinates - much like the IBL - and not the camera and/or the object.)

This movie should illustrate the effect. Keep in mind, it's the model and the camera moving, not the lights...

After finding an angle that best shows off the form and materials, I can tweak my tone-mapping controls, make any last minute shader adjustments and I have a final image.

Another nice thing about this set-up is that the camera "eye" is still free to move within the 3D viewport. So I can navigate to the back of the product, then select the top level group again and adjust the lighting and I have an instant other view. This whole image (not including the documentation) took less than an hour to set-up and output.

Testing 1,2,3...

posted: 03 Aug 2008

Playing with Ecto. It's a blogging application that hopefully will take a bit of pain out of using Blogger's web interface...

This is a photo from the Seattle Art Museum.


Apparently, Blogger doesn't allow for third party blogging applications to post directly to their service. Ecto doesn't allow posting of images directly to FTP locations (like I usually do). It does, however, allow for posting images to Flickr and linking from there. It's pretty painless.

It links with iPhoto too; which is pretty cool. I was able to post my Canon RAW files directly and it resized and converted them to jpegs automatically.

I'll continue to give it a test drive until the demo runs out...

But I'm Not Dead Yet...

posted: 03 Aug 2008

Hey all! It's been a super busy couple of months. I've been a bit pre-occupied at work among other things.


Among those other things though have been helping Jenn with her shop and getting some of her 'branding' elements in place. New business cards are on their way along with some new website assets (when the cards get here). We'll be getting some fabric labels for her handmade goods soon. Oh and we had rubber stamps made for addressing her shipments.
I've also been learning a bit of PHP (well, how to copy and paste it from tutorial sites and modify it) and so I have a new email system for the site. Click the contact me link in the right sidebar and drop me a line. I might even reply!
I did a bit of freelance work recently and grabbed myself a license of zBrush as a result. I plan to have fun with it at some point - although for those who aren't up to speed on the whole zBrush thing - the user community has been waiting for an updated Mac version for quite some time now and it should be here at any moment. For now, I'll install it on my Boot Camp partition, which just means I won't use it much until the Mac version ships.
Speaking of shipping new software... Alias 2009 is right around the bend. Yup. Any day now.
As soon as we get our copies at work, I'll put up a mini review. Maybe they'll even have fixed the 'tab key' behavior that has become one of those little niggling under-my-skin things. It's the first thing I check with every release of Alias, and then immediately file a bug report and then feature request. I've done so since version, um, 9? We're coming-up on version 15 (a.k.a 2009) now; but whose counting?

Wired

posted: 23 Jul 2008

I got home form work today and my latest issue of wired was in the post. One of the cover headlines reads "Coffee Science: The Perfect Brew". I thought, it must be an article about Zander and his Clover machine.

Sure enough. I was right! Woo hoo!

I haven't even got through the whole article yet, but I got excited. I've never had one of those cool Wired magazine instructional illustrations published in reference to one of my projects before. Sweet!

Awesome work guys! Don't let the mothership steer you too far from course!

J.

Toot Toot

posted: 23 Jul 2008

Also this week come the public announcement that the XBOX 360 Wireless Racing Wheel has won an IDEA Silver award.

I mentioned in my very first post what an awesome project this was to have worked on. I guess Businessweek noticed too!