Well...it's been like three months since the last blog post. What the hell? I was planning to do these weekly. Oh well, work...life...kids...first person shooters....things happen. So Siggraph came and went. Pretty boring if you ask me. I guess it was just a matter of time for this industry to settle down and level out. On the bright side the hardware and software tools at our disposal are amazing and almost entirely affordable. However, I don't think I'll ever have another moment like I had during the first Siggraph I attended. When I turned a corner and saw a showcase of towering purple, black and blue SGI machines running software like Inferno....legendary stuff I had never seen in person. Now all that stuff is gone (I do have an SGI Onyx as a coffee table at my studio, as well as a couple of Indigo2's serving as 'art').
MODO seems to be doing well under The Foundry, they are certainly promoting it and taking it seriously. I do think it will take another year or two for users to really reap all the benefits of the merger, however plenty of benefits are filtering in.
Maya keeps getting interesting technology...BiFrost, XRefs...among many other little improvements (that look shockingly MODO-like). However, they don't seem to be getting rid of any of the old stuff. I mean, how many physics systems do we need? The UI has so much shit going on the actual 3D viewport is tiny...even on a 27" monitor.
There's one area of 3D that is still woe-fully lacking IMO. Rendering has seen incredible advancements, the most notable being progressive refinement. Being able to see what you are doing in near real time (even if it's pixelated) is a huge time saver. Back in the old days we all used to just make our best guess at settings and hit render....then wait...and wait...then stop it when the tiny little corner we were adjusting gave us enough info to change some more channels. Modeling has obviously undergone a revolution with sculpting. Again, try to remember the days before sculpting tools - pretty hard to imagine. Dynamics is faster...better...more accessible than ever. 3D painting is pervasive...UV mapping is much easier or not needed at all via pTex. But what about rigging and animation? I'm not talking mocap and clean-up - those technologies have also undergone major improvements. But what about good old keyframe animation and character rigging? Both of these disciplines are still super labor intensive, slow, tedious, and have hardly changed in a decade or more. So Siggraph....when are we going to see a 'sculpting-level' revolution in keyframe animation and character rigging?
One another note I made some pMod tutorials. These images by Lee Griggs (using Maya and Arnold) have been making the rounds and I think they're very cool.
I decided to tackle something similar in MODO using primarily pMods (and also a Surface Particle Generator in one case). It was fun making them and hopefully I've shed some light on pMods in MODO. They're actually quite powerful...but I think very under-utilized. It's a couple of hours worth of stuff...I'm not known for my brevity but I think it's important to be thorough.
Part 1 is just a quick run down of how pMods work...Part 2 is setting up a basic (and yes....ugly) terrain...Part 3 is shading...and Part 4 is a walkthrough of 2 more complex terrains (images below).