231 Erwin Road

My experiences as a Northern transplant down in Chapel Hill, NC, 2005. And now my experiences back up in NYC.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Robots Review

I watched Robots on IMAX in Raleigh tonight. It was a good movie, I had a number of laugh-out-loud laughs.

I recommend it, my friend Raphe worked on the movie, here is what he had to say of his work:

I'm one of eight or so folks who painted everything in the movie. Without my department, everything in the movie -- the characters, the buildings, the sky -- everything -- would be the same blue lifeless plastic. If that answer doesn't satisfy you, get ready to be confused:

YOU: So you use paint?
ME: Well, not really. Sometimes I draw on a small tablet that's hooked up to the computer. The computer simulates what real paint would look
like. i.e., I paint directly into the computer. But most of the time, I don't paint, I use math.
YOU: Oh great, math. Math sucks. I hate math.
ME. Yeah, me too. But this is math is dope. And visual. Here's a description of how you'd add color to an object. Let's say you're working on a little robot dog. Imagine he's made of hard blue plastic. He's wagging his tail. He really wants to be a colorful, rusty dog -- or at least that's what the art director wants. Here's how you'd go
about adding the color:

(Remember, everything is done by changing numbers and making little math equations):

Imagine TV static.

Imagine the static freezes.

Imagine you can control the static. You can:
a. Zoom in on it.
b. Blur it, or sharpen it.
c. Make the black areas overwhelm the white areas -- or vice versa (tiny black spots, or large black chunks).
d. Reduce the contrast.
e. Stick your fingers in it and swirl it around.
f. Change the color (maybe we'll make it rust-red and rust-orange colored).

Now imagine taking that TV static -- once you like what it looks like -- rolling it up into a ball -- like a snowball -- and throwing it at the plastic dog where it splatters. Hey, it looks like a rust spot! Cool, good job! Keep going.

Imagine a bathtub full of TV static (you've made the static dark brown this time -- and you've zoomed way out so it looks like very finely grained dirt). Now dunk the doggie's feet into. Cool! Now he's got some rusty looking dirt on his feet. Keep going!

Imagine turning on a shower and TV static pours out -- like rain onto the doggie. Wow, he's starting to look really weathered!

Imagine being able to stuff static into all the creases of the doggie -- like his armpits, joints, and between his toes. Nice! That's where dirt would normally gather! He's starting to look real!

Finally, imagine that you're not just creating the color patterns on the doggie. You also have to "paint" on the reflectivity pattern. With the same TV static tools, you determine where the dog will be more or less reflective. And that's not all. You've got to create patterns for the highlight color, the transparency, the roughness etc... Starting to sound like a lot of work? Here's a generous week to finish the doggie. Go!

That's a simplified idea of what my department does. We can also trick light (virtual light) into thinking there are dents or chips on the doggie -- or that he's warped. We can even use that TV static to cut holes in parts of the rusty doggie, or give him big rusty warts.


  • At 3/29/2005 10:24 AM, Blogger todd said…

    Hey, lost your email -- so I'll post the info here. April 16 in Athens, GA is Brewfest. I've been to this thing 4 years running and it's amazing. If you're up for coming down to GA that weekend, it will be worth the drive. http://www.classiccitybrew.com/brewfest.html
    We usually go out in Athens to a nice steakhouse afterwards, then hit the bars for more drinking, and hitting on college girls, or late night disc golf on the campus.


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