Webinar for T-Splines

JimGirard_circleGood friend and fellow 3D geek, Jim Girard will be hosting his first webinar on T-Splines on Jun 25, 2014. This webinar will explain the benefits and nuances of T-Splines/subd “sub-division” surface modeling, and how tag team strategies between Rhino 5 and T-Splines can be used for exquisite form development and easily initiated changes.
The webinar is free and will last about one hour, including the Q & A session. For more information, check out the novedge blog post. Special guest will be Matt Sederberg, founder of T-Splines before the acquisition, and current Product Manager at Autodesk, Inc.

  • WHO: Jim Girard
  • WHAT: T-Splines for Rhino Free Webinar
  • WHEN: LIVE! Wednesday, June 25, 2014 — 11:00am PDT, recorded for later viewing
  • WHERE: On the internet at Novedge
  • WHY: T-Splines is amazing. You need it.


Compositing with Rhino, V-Ray, and Photoshop

Using the alpha channels option with V-Ray materials, you can replace backgrounds easily in Photoshop and make your renderings POP! This video uses Rhino 5, V-Ray 2, and Photoshop. Run time = 7:42.


First Ever 3D Animation

This historical video was recently re-discovered after being lost for many years. It was produced in 1972 and is believed to be the world’s first computer-generated 3D animation. It was created by Ed Catmull, a true pioneer of 3D technology, who was a computer scientist at the University of Utah (birthplace of the famous Utah teapot.) If the name sounds familiar, it’s because a few years later he was one of the founders of Pixar.

40 Year Old 3D Computer Graphics (Pixar, 1972) from Robby Ingebretsen on Vimeo.


Cool New 3D Technology

With a claim of “unlimited geometry,” an Australian start-up called Euclideon is getting serious industry and media attention, even though their product is not yet released. Their technology uses point-cloud data rather than polygons and, as a result, they promise digital environments that are 100,000 times more detailed than the current state of the art.

The new video demo looks impressive, but you still have dubious geeks who claim that it will never work. It’s being developed specifically for games, but there is potential for 3D design work as well.


Why Enter a Competition?

I am a big fan of competitions. Yes, I know that some of them can be exploitative, but I always get some high quality design work out of them, assuming I have the time to do it right.

The key is to pick a subject you feel would benefit / expand your portfolio AND is something you love. Its just too damn hard to get motivated otherwise. I also find that innovative ideas are the easiest part; its the time investment before the deadline that is your biggest enemy. Everything in your life will suddenly look more far more interesting, so it’s very tempting to ignore the deadline when no one is ‘watching.’

The advantage of the design work you produce will be that you have tremendous freedom – no client, no budget, and typically, a multi-month deadline. It really boils down to “how good are you?” and, of course, the always unpredictable judges.

Philco PCThe worst case scenario is that you have a gorgeous design (and/or research) in a new category and you can show every phase of the work. You can also publicize it via a press release; many gadget and design blogs are hungry for original content. Do this part right, and you can easily get more publicity and marketing juice than the winners!

The best case scenario is you win! Now you get everything listed in the worst case scenario — plus a cash prize and/or the sponsor’s publicity. Maybe even a new client or two.

I have project examples that both won and lost — and will share them in future posts.


Feature Sneak Peek for the Next V-Ray for Rhino

As one of the V-Ray beta testers, I was not allowed to discuss some of these features until the were recently publicized by Chaos Group. Of all the new features, the RT (Real Time) feature is my favorite. It leverages the GPU as an additional rendering processors, which not only give you faster renders, but REAL TIME previews of all of the stuff you usually have to wait for: materials, reflections, shadows, highlights. Now you can see your rendered scene almost instantly, and move things around until it is perfect.

Why is this cool? You are probably aware that the fastest CPUs have 4 or 6 cores, which is how render engines like V-Ray do their calculations. What you might not know is that some video cards have HUNDREDS of processors, called GPUs (Graphic Processing Units) which can now be used for render calculations. It’s a game changer … and super cool to boot.

NOTE: The video was removed by Chaos Group and I was informed that the RT feature is definitely planned, but not yet working with the GPU.


Professor 3D is Alive!

The most recent update to the site features a new, large-teapot-headed illustrated mascot. The artwork was created by the talented independent illustrator Keith Noordzy. If you like the work, check out his website. He’s got a lot more!

For a historical background on why the character has a teapot for a head, you should check out the Wikipedia page for the Utah Teapot. Basically, you have a combination of geometry, history, and an in-joke for 3D geeks.


Where Do I Buy Software Again?

I get this question about Educational Software numerous times every semester from my students, even though it’s printed on the syllabus and we discuss it regularly. The second part of the conversation is always, “Really? Is it a full version or crippled or legal? Really?”

If you don’t know what I am talking about, then you are in for a nice treat. Just don’t ask me about it three times.

There are several companies that sell software at a huge discount to students and educators. The software packages that I buy are always at least half off, but it can range up to 90% off. The software is 100% full and legal versions, with the only difference being an occasional splash screen that may say “For Educational Use Only” when you launch the app. That’s it! They do everything the full  software does – because they are the full software.

The next question is “Why why do they do it? It’s too good to be true, Dave!” Simple. As a student or educator, the software you learn at school is the software that you will prefer to use and continue to use throughout your career. They know you will recommend the software you already know and even get your employer to buy it. Besides, helping students is just a damn good thing to do, especially if you can make it less tempting to download pirated versions of software that are full of malware that love to crash in the middle of deadlines.

OK, now for the recommendations. I have used two companies for my software needs, but new players may be out there that you can investigate and price-shop. All of them will require simple proof of academic status, but that can be as simple as scanning your ID, emailing it, and being ready to order the next day. Be prepared to re-submit your data every year.

I have used JourneyEd the longest as they were the first ones I was made aware of. They have a huge selection and competitive pricing, but they really need to fix their almost-worthless search function and their verification process. It drives me crazy when I place an order and the confirmation message says, “If you have not ordered or provided proof of academic status in the last 12 months, please re-submit.” What?! I can’t remember if my last order was 9, 12, or 15 months ago!  How about you guys with the gigantic database of products and clients look that up for me — and you tell me?! Thanks.

My new favorite is Studica. Their selection and price is is usually within a few percent of anyone else, but their search feature actually works and they let you know when to re-submit updated academic proof. The reason I check both sites is that they don’t always carry the exact same products.

A FINAL SOMEWHAT RELATED NOTE : When you go to any of these sites, you will see lots of hardware as well. Unless it’s on some crazy sale, don’t waste your time. In my experience, their hardware is the same price as anywhere else, or at best, 1-2% lower. You can get a better deal at Amazon or NewEgg, plus their free shipping will cost less that the educational guys.




New theme for site

A few people have written to ask about the latest site layout, so here’s the scoop. The entire website has two components. The first part is WordPress, which is entirely free and available for download at wordpress.org. If you’re not familiar with WordPress, visit their site and check it out. The beautiful thing about WordPress is that you do not need any software; all content is published and organized through your browser, while the WordPress ‘engine’ updates itself when needed.  This is a big deal! You do not need to buy software, pay for updates, and then be restricted to only working on the one physical computer that had the initial installation. You can make any and all updates with any browser, on any computer, anywhere you happen to be with an internet connection.

The second part of the site is the theme, called “Canvas,” which is designed by WooThemes and reasonably priced at around $35. Their work is not only excellent, but can save you tens or hundreds of hours of design time, not to mention programming and scripting that most designers would not want to even try. Another wonderful part of their theme is the dashboard, which allows you to modify all sorts of site-wide settings like page structure, fonts, color, backgrounds, and a whole lot more. It is all very intuitive, so if you can format text in Word, you can build a WordPress site.


Site Re-Design is Complete

Happy Holidays … and thank you for your patience, fellow 3D geeks!

We have switched over the site from the painfully and therefore infrequently-updated format of html and are now enjoying the benefits and joys of the wordpress blogging format. Extra thanks to Lisa Thompson of DuckDog Design for the transition, Loren Roberts of Hearken Creative for technical advice, and woo-themes for the wordpress template.


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