Friday, February 12, 2016
Presentation, they say, IS everything. Nowhere is it more important than in the field of Architecture & Interior Design Visualisation. For Architecture firms, the presentation of their designs is as important as the designs themselves as millions if not billions of Rupees worth of projects are dependent on it. 3D renders and walkthroughs bring blueprints to life and help to create a feel and atmosphere in a way that old-fashioned paper plans could never convey.
Architectural Design Visualisers play a key role in conveying the vision of an architect or interior designer by creating accurate representations of the final outcome of a project to prospective clients. They are skilled 3D artists with an in-depth knowledge of lighting and texturing and the ability to create photo-real renders. Visualisers must understand the vocabulary of architecture to faithfully translate architectural designs to 3D. The success of a project requires close coordination and communication between architects, engineers and visualisers to ensure that a client has a clear understanding of the project. Visually appealing and accurate visualisations are today the key to selling a project to the prospective client.
See this extraordinary visualisation made by an FX School student
Most architectural and interior design firms employ 3D architectural visualisers or hire the services of freelance visualisers or visualization/animation studios. But practicing architects and interior designers can also benefit greatly from learning visualization and adding it to their skillset. Familiarity with the tools and techniques of Architectural Design Visualisation will ensure a greater understanding of the results that can be achieved by the visualiser and also facilitate better communication between the two. Also, the ability to create visualisations can come in very handy for an architect or an interior designer when budgets are limited.
Over the last decade, we have seen a quantum leap in the quality of visualisations and walkthroughs to the point where we can barely discern if it is computer graphics or video footage! Applications are moving from simple view only "walkthrough" videos to interactive "design your own space" in real time capabilities!
Virtual reality is new frontier. It is fast becoming an important component of high-end visualisations as a client can literally walk “inside” the interior of a building or a room. This is a far more immersive and convincing experience than merely viewing a walkthrough on a computer screen.
With high levels of Photorealism and Virtual Reality, clients are now able to actually experience their living spaces at an inception stage bringing a whole new level of excitement to this field and wonderful new opportunities for the creators.
For information on Architectural Design Visualisation with Blender, check out these links:http://www.blenderarchitecture.com/
Monday, April 20, 2015
The A. C. Cobra project was a test I did (mostly to prove to myself) that Cycles (Blender’s inbuilt render engine – read “free”) gives just as brilliant and realistic an output as any other industry standard (read “$$$”) render engine out there!
Recently there’s been a lot of hype with some “industry-standard” render engine being supported for Blender. But, I wanted to see for myself if this was really even necessary to bother with. The output here is pure Cycles. Meaning – this is the Base Render with no compositing or jazz added in Photoshop or any other software. No enhancement whatsoever! Wow!
I was blown away with the versatility and power of the Cycles nodal system. It has great flexibility when setting up both simple and complex shaders and I feel it gives far superior and realistic results then has been attributed to it. The car body shader in this example is a very simple mix of a bunch of Glossy Shaders in addition to a Musgrave texture (also inbuilt) and is probably the most unpretentious system I’ve ever set up to get a “highly pretentious” Car Paint effect. A simple HDRI and one sun lamp are all that have been used to light this scene. With the bounce light, reflections, caustics, shaders, depth of field (also not done in compositing) I used in this scene, and with the moderate machine that I have, I was expecting a massive render time. But once again Cycles surprises by giving this output – Full HD with 1000 Samples -- in just an Hour and a Half.
Now, more than ever, I’m a bigger fan of Blender and Cycles for its ease of use and realistic output. This test very simply goes to show that you don’t need to put in 100s (if not 1000s) of dollars to get a better or more professional result from your 3D software!
Thursday, April 16, 2015
“More hands make for lighter work.” “Two heads are better than one.” “The more the merrier.” As a kid I always thought these sayings were just that—sayings. Who needed other people when I had Me! I could work faster, better and best of all I didn’t have to worry about anyone slowing me down. After all, like I said, I was second only to The Flash at everything I did. All this was of course before I graduated and joined a production house.
Now saying that you can’t go solo at a project is absolutely not true. Of course you can! That is, if you have unlimited time, patience and you have the knowledge to do everything in said project. ‘Cause when you’re ‘on the floor,’ as they say, time is a luxury you don’t have (try having a supervisor breathing down your neck as you’re doling out a masterpiece) and knowledge is more instinct then anything else.
I learned early on that being a ‘Team-Player’ is almost as important as having a killer skill set. So many supremely talented people I know crashed and burnt because they couldn’t communicate with their colleagues or were too uptight about sharing their knowledge or were just plain old lone players. A good team is any day more productive, creative, and motivated than individuals on their own.
As a student, a group project is the most effective way to build your ability to work and deal with other people early on. I say ‘deal with’ because when have 2 individuals come together and had less then 3 ideas? It’s not a cakewalk and you don’t find like-minded soul-mate type people every time. But you got to work with what you have.
Here's one way to work around this. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! Cannot not say this enough. That doesn’t mean that you become a problem-sprouting machine. It means that unspoken assumptions and issues are the curse of working in a team. You just have to talk to each other about what works and what doesn’t. In a production environment, a bunch of people with varying talents and egos are usually thrown together to work on one project. If you sit quiet a 100 times out of 10 (yeah, that’s the ratio) you’ll have people dumping work on you and basically walking all over you. If you are too aggressive people will cringe from wanting to work with you.
So what do you do? Play it cool for one. Don’t be a doormat but don’t shrink from work. I wasn’t born with this insight—I actually lived it. I was part of a project right out of college and it was just 4 of us. We were building a game module and that needed boats of research, tons of creativity and some killer organizational skills. Since we were all relatively new we didn’t assign a clear team lead (we all thought we were too awesome to be reporting to any one person) nor did we lay down too many ground rules on how things should be done. We were too pumped to get the idea running and take it to a potential buyer to worry about ‘trivial’ things like this. Not too long into the project these so called trivial things started to become major hindrances. I felt too many responsibilities were being dumped on me alone. One felt that his ideas were being steamrolled over by the others. Three of us felt the fourth person in the group had just stopped being productive and was just not interested in being part of the project any more.
If we hadn’t met a mentor who had taught all of us in our college days, we probably would have parted ways and let the project die. Thankfully said mentor knocked some sense into us. He told us that we had to be professional in our outlook and not let personal friendships or new rivalries get in the way of a potentially great idea. The concept of ‘Weeklies’ was introduced to us this way. ‘Weeklies’ are meetings held every week by a team to assess progress made on a project, areas of difficulty, set new targets, do creative brainstorming, talk about any existing problems or ones that could crop up and ways to tackle them. Also, a ‘Weekly’ is the best time to thrash out any issues that group members have with each other—someone stepping on someone else’s toes, someone slacking off and so on.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much this helped us. Our productivity must have gone through the roof in the few weeks that followed. We worked far more cohesively and professionally than even teams in big time production houses do. What happened with our project is a story for another time but I like to think that students at FX School get to learn this even before they hit the market. The group projects that they have to work on in the classroom are a staging ground for them because when they do hit the ground or ‘the floor,’ unlike us, they hit it running.
I could go on and on, but information overload is a buzz kill. So tune in for more such nuggets of wisdom in next week’s blog.
Friday, February 20, 2015
As a person who’s worked crazy hours on projects in a bunch of production houses, this career choice was most unlikely. I met a friend recently, who couldn't believe I was teaching. Why?!? Because teachers, to a whole lot of people, are strict old people with spectacles and a stern look in their eye. Some memorable, some not as much, but all by the book. My friend was very curious to know how someone like me ‘teaches.’ “Are you the stern type? Do you make them stand outside class if they don’t do their homework? It’s so much power right?!?”
[Ruth Mapgaonkar is a full time CG Animation faculty at FX School. When she’s not teaching kids in classrooms, you can find her in the institute’s café competing on the latest Sony Playstation video games with the kids she teaches.]
Monday, December 8, 2014
Acting is often seen as an innate talent, as something inherent or intangible, which has more to do with an actor’s genes rather than training. If that is the case, what then, is the need for trained actors, acting teachers, methodologies and acting classes?
Acting is a craft just like any other performance-based skill such as singing, dancing and to some extent sports and athletic activities. A singer or dancer has to learn the craft and keep working on the skills to improve. Why should acting be any different?
Let’s take a look at some of the skills that an actor has to build to move forward in the world of acting.
“Inner workings” such as thoughts, emotions, feelings and imagination that an actor is required to draw upon to perform whether on stage, the street or on screen is a critical skill. Can a person be taught how to think, imagine, feel or emote? Perhaps not. However, thinking can be nurtured, feelings can be brought out and imagination can be enhanced.
A good acting teacher or mentor will not tell students to see through his eyes or tell them what to see. But a teacher can and should enable students to open their eyes and see, to live in the moment, to enhance their imagination, to observe life and characters from their surroundings.
The field of acting requires many such “skillsets” that a student must build and hone:
1. Optimal use of voice, its projection and modulation
2. Body posture
3. Action and reaction among actors
4. Precise movements to be made for stage and screen (in front of camera)
5. Memorization of dialogues and scripts
6. Improvement of listening skills
7. Taking direction from directors and technicians
Skills, training and talent will only take you so far. Actors must also have enough confidence to go through the challenges of an actor’s life. The rollercoaster of hectic work schedules, too much work and sometimes no work at all. Being judged and evaluated constantly. Frequently facing rejection, yet not letting it dampen their spirits. Actors also have to manage the stress of living in the limelight, where every minute action is scrutinized and judged.
To succeed, it is essential for an actor to be motivated internally as well as externally and make his/her presence felt while enacting different roles and characters. In all of this, there is definitely a need for a mentor, coach, guide, facilitator and a friend.
An acting teacher has the onus of fulfilling this role fully or partially and must motivate and keep the flame of passion and dream for acting alive!