Retopology, root motion

I’m neck deep in recreating Victor as a subdiv surface. The auto-retopology feature in 3DCoat provided a quite good base mesh. The geometry still needs a lot of manual work before it can be used as an SDS cage, but any help, well, helps.

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GViz features: Victor

(This series of articles is about the capabilities of GViz, a machinima toolkit for UDK.)

Let me introduce the main character of GViz:

Victor

Created by Bojana Nedeljkovic.

He is our virtual actor playing all the roles in the machinimas made with GViz.

This model is right from ZBrush and weighs around 4M polys. My next step is to rebuild it as a SubDiv surface: it will make the artificial curves and edges even cleaner and allow me to modify the model later on in modo (I suck at ZBrush).

Technically the retopology is quite simple using modo’s pen tool with a background constraint: I just draw the SDS quads onto the surface.
Since this is the first time I’m working on a character model, my real problem is figuring out the proper edge flow. It should emphasize the hard edges and produce ultra smooth surfaces without tesselation woes… so nowadays I’m a frequent visitor at the excellent Polycount wiki.

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MyBatchExport script updated to v1.4

I’ve just updated my UDK compatible FBX exporter for MotionBuilder:

MyBatchExport.py (v1.4)

– There is a simple UI for choosing which takes to export: the current one or all of them.

– A popup window appears after export where you can choose to reopen the original version of the processed scene. I recommend not reopening the scene if you wish to export another single take.
Please note that the processed scene has motions plotted which might mean the loss of manually placed (easy to adjust) keyframe data so be careful not to save the scene!

– Root bone movement is now plotted correctly. (The top most bones in the scene hierarchy are considered root bones.)

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Recent hardware aquisitions

I bought myself my Christmas presents early this year.

My Genius 5.1 sound system is dying for a few years now: the tuner randomly mixes up channels and refuses to provide any kind of sound for the left rear speaker.

http://www.zspline.net/blog/wp-content/gallery/misc/logitechg35.pngSo I picked up a Logitech G35 surround sound headphone.
This is my second so called surround headset: I had a “Virtual 5.1″ Zalman RS6F before. It was fine for stereo stuff but failed miserably when it came to 3d audio positioning, despite the multiple speakers.

The G35 doesn’t stop at 5.1 but goes for 7.1 by using “Dolby Headphones” technology. It works kinda-sorta with distinct center-front-side speakers but the rear speakers blend with the side ones. It is no where near the quality of the Aureal A3D HRTF demos, which were made in 1999… (The helicopter demo was particularly shocking: the elevation rendering was so realistic that I felt weird in my chest when I positioned the sound source there: the helicopter was in my lungs.)

Still, the new headset does enhance the game experience in Just Cause 2: since I’m isolated from the environment, I can hear much more then before: the textures and subtle details of the sound effects are all there. Locating a yet hidden enemy based on his footsteps is definitely possible if he’s in front or beside me, but a shot in the temple sounds exactly like a bullet in my back. Also the vertical separation of sounds is practically non existent but it might be a problem with this particular game.

The other replaced hardware is my old Wacom Intuos tablet: this is the original model with an RS-232 serial connector (so I can’t plug it into my PC anymore) and 4:3 aspect ratio (not ideal for my 16:10 screen).

http://www.zspline.net/blog/wp-content/gallery/misc/wacombamboo.pngThe newcomer is a Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen&Touch. Using the pen feels just like on the old one although the tablet’s surface has a bit more friction than I’d prefer. The four side buttons are welcome additions, along with the touch capability: while it is not as responsive as one might have hoped, using it to pan/zoom/rotate the canvas still beats reaching out to the mouse or keyboard.
The touch gestures work throughout the system so in theory the tablet could be used as a mouse/notebook touchpad replacement which is probably good news for some.

http://www.zspline.net/blog/wp-content/gallery/misc/palitgtx460.pngMy last investment this year is a Palit GTX 460 Sonic Platinum. It’s smaller, quieter and more powerful (well, duh…) than my 8800GTS. It’s factory overclocked but I can’t hear the custom cooler even under stress. Very nice piece of hardware.
With it the latest Unigine Heaven demo is a sight to behold: the hardware tesselation and displacement is a very powerful feature.

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How I changed the way I live

http://www.zspline.net/blog/wp-content/gallery/misc/lifechange1.pngThe following little story is not about serious stuff like recovering from alcoholism, quitting the life of crime or how I stopped visiting hookers (’cause I didn’t).
It’s about common problems, straightforward solutions and somewhat unexpected results.

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