Credit to my partner in crime Toby Gilbert who collaborated with me on this project
A link to the paper: Over the Hills and Far Away
So to start here is a bit of back story. Our university (Bournemouth) has partnered up with MPC to give us some R&D assignments for our master class which they will judge and give feed back at the end of the project. We had the choice between creating some kind of terrain generation or animation application or if you’re truly hardcore to implement one of a selection of mesh deforming papers from SIGGRAPH. I (being the hardcore of hardcore) decided that my brain clearly isn’t working hard enough at the moment and have chosen the latter. so here is a quick introduction to laplacian mesh editing and what I understand at the moment. Also theres a demo!!! *screams*
So laplacian mesh editing is a form of deformation in which the user will paint weights to a mesh of their choosing and from the manipulation of these weights can magically deform the object before your eyes. But how does one do that you might say? Good question! Well firstly we have to represent our geometry in a different way. You’re probably used to using relative coordinates to represent points in a mesh i.e. Vec3(1,4,5). Well for laplacian mesh editing we represent the point in relation to its neighbouring points.This is called the implicit representation and goes a little like this…
So here we have a square made from 4 points (mind blowing!). To find the location of V0 from the other points we can use half the sum of V1 and V3 then add this unknown vector d0 (delta). We can calculate this unknown by simply rearranging the equation just like in Fig 1. Now lets get a bit more crazy and represent all these points in implicit matrix form.
From this form you are now ready to create some deformation! You do this by adding these things called “handles” or “anchors” to our matrix. Say if we want V0 and V2 to be our handles this is how it would look.
Now say if we change the position of V0 and V2 in our delta matrix (denoted b in Fig 3) and then solve for x, this will give use different points because deformation has occurred (Huzzuh!). But you may be thinking to yourself, “How in the world do I solve this? These are not square matrices!”. Another great question! Well here is how…
Now we have the basis of our laplacian mesh editing! You can deform simple shapes to your hearts desire! But this is by no means a complete. The way we create our matrix A or our “laplace matrix” only currently works for very uniform geometry. For any complicated shapes we will have to calculate this another way. Sadly I dont know that yet 😦 but keep updated with my posts and one day… just maybe… I will!
Anyway here’s a pretty demo!
Welcome and behold my very first blog post ever! Exciting isn’t it. Well now that you’ve had a moment calm down and those shivers down your spine to settle let me get on to the point of this blog post. I feel that currently in schools and sixth form education there is a lack of information about the VFX/Games industry and how to get into it. I often remember talking to the careers teacher in my college, telling them that I wanted to make games and the responding advice is generally the same. Either “Oh you should probably to IT then” or “I have no idea about that industry”. Both pretty useless pieces of advice. Which I find saddening because its one of the most creative, interesting and fast growing industries around to date. I mean Grand Theft Auto V generated over $800 million in revenue world wide.. On its FIRST DAY! If that’s not worth schools talking about then I don’t know what is. Its time that people loose the stereotype that making games is just a dream because its more within your grasp than you may think. Please remember though these are just my personal opinions so don’t take my word as law!
So before tell you what I think it takes to be achieve in this field let me tell you a little about myself to give you a little more context. My name is Declan Russell (That handsome devil in the picture above 😉 ) I’m currently in my third and final year studying BSc Software Development in Animation, Games and Effects at the NCCA which resides in Bournemouth University. All or at least most of the work I have created here is on my portfolio here so be sure to check that out *shameless self advertising*. In college (sixth form) I studied Maths, Further Maths and Computing A levels, where I originally wanted to be an accountant but after 2 years of having maths for 2/3rds of my week it got a bit stale. I honestly only did the course I’m doing now on a whim! I enjoyed my computing A level and liked playing computer games. I had no real knowledge of the field at all but haven’t regretted the decision since!
Now one of the first questions you may have, at least this is what I always wanted to know was what qualification at sixth form do I need? Overall I would highly recommend doing maths! I know lots of people don’t get on with it but its everywhere in visual effects and you will get really far if you have a good understanding of it. I can’t stress enough how useful maths is! Other than that it really depends on what you are doing. If you want to be some kind of artist, modeller or animator you will need some kind of art qualification and portfolio for most uni courses to consider you. If you’re looking into programming or making games I would consider doing computing. Don’t get this confused with IT! Computing is programming and learning about how a pc works. IT is taking many a screenshot showing that you have achieved the incredibly advanced skill of renaming a file or using word. Computing will give you a basic understanding of how a computer works and even give you some basic coding skills. On a side note though if you’re looking into games I personally feel that you should stay clear from games development courses. As much fun as they sound in sixth form they may give you some basic coding skills but really fall short on the maths side of things and you will struggle later on.
Do I have to be able to program before I go for a VFX degree? No, universities will teach you the coding you need but a bit of experience before and is only ever a bonus!
What application do we use to make VFX? The first applications you are likely to encounter in VFX are applications from the Autodesk suite. The most common and my favourite of which is Maya. This is used for modelling, rigging, animating, rendering and so much more. Maya is a good application to start learning and its free for students! Its got a pretty intuitive interface and there are loads of books on how to use it. A good read to get a lot of the basics is this
What programming languages do you use? The most common programming language you will come across is C++ and as time goes on for graphics you are more likely to learn OpenGL than DirectX now a days, mainly due to its cross compatibility. If you’re want to learn these some good books to read are Beginning C++ Through Game Programming, OpenGL Programming Guide and OpenGL 4.0 Shading Language Cook Book
Finally, what uni’s should I look at? Bournemouth! (I may be biased but I don’t care everyone should come here!)
Well that concludes today’s blog post as its now gone midnight and brain functionality is plummeting! Hope I have been of some help and feel free to contact me with any further questions you have about this subject 🙂