Thursday, November 18, 2010 C3DV - Tech Tests Update: CGI 3D to Anaglyph 3D

At long last, we've seen some 3d modeling conversion tests. And they look promising. As the requirements of the C3DV project call for mixing live action and animation in the same scenes, we decided early on to incorporate 3d modeling programs for the CGI material. Contributors to the project would be working in a variety of software programs--3D Studio Max, Maya, Poser, iClone, Blender, etc.--and the feeling was that we should do tests in each of these. The test were to prove that our theory of converting 3d modeling imagery to anaglyph 3d would work. And they did. You can see some early results below. The basic requirement for these artists was to emulate the double lensed camera approach to shooting live action 3d for anaglyph. To do that, each artist working on a test created two simultaneous (left and right) camera views in their program, with each virtual camera approximately 2.5 inches apart, just as w/the live action cameras (note: some programs offer far more specific control of camera placement than others). Then the outputted virtual camera files were sent off and processed for red and blue layering/blending in Final Cut in the same way as the live action footage. As we had hoped, the effect was exactly the same for both live action and CGI created imagery. The tests are extremely short and some are more effective than others, but you should be able to see an early, somewhat crude, working example of this technique in each of these. If you have any suggestions, or want to submit a test in another software, please feel free.

Poser by Sean Bryan at HCCI Computer Clubhouse, NY

3D Studio Max by Leontyne Robinson at the Harland Boys and Girls Club Computer Clubhouse, GA

iClone by Freedom Reign at Eden Youth and Family Center Computer Clubhouse, CA

Monday, November 8, 2010 3DIY - Dog Tutorial

3DIY- Dog Tutorial from Computer Clubhouse on Vimeo.

In this tutorial you will learn how to model the Disney character from the movie Bolt (2008), using Autodesk 3ds Max. This method can be applied when modeling any type of K9.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 Collaborative 3D Video Project -- Story Treatment

This story was developed as a collaboration between participants of the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, during the summer of 2010, interested in exploring three dimensional story development on an international scale. The Clubhouse Network empowers creative outputs and outcomes from underserved youth throughout the world and this story attempts to represent several key values expressed by teen and staff participants including:
  • an ability of youth to construct a world using illustration, Legos and media,
  • self deception of youth following trauma,
  • a dog viewed as an oracle but an unreliable source of direction and
  • varied landscapes including a steampunk, fantasy garden, desert and urban milieu.
A detailed 15 page story treatment document was created that covers the characters, locations, and shooting techniques (none of which are set in stone at this point). The synopsis below will give you a quick idea of the story and the sensibilities of the project. (More detailed character and location documents can be provided.)

A Synopsis in Three Acts
Act I
An Artist at a Computer Clubhouse creates Lee, an adolescent girl running away from her home with her family dog, Taymor (probably a cgi character), whom she was criticized for imagining was famous people. In another part of the world, Jose, an adolescent boy also flees his violent home but is followed by Esme, a teenage girl from that home.

Act II
Lee stumbles into a surreal industrial lot and is told by a seemingly wise prophet to enter a magical garden beyond the lot but she loses Taymor when she enters the garden. Jose leaves Esme and finds Taymor in the lot after it has been abandoned. Lee’s brother Mike, having followed her, discovers her in the garden.

Lee, Mike, Taymor, Jose and Esme meet in the abandoned lot and, escaping an attacking Snake, realize they must join together to survive. The Clubhouse Artist puts them back in their respective homes with their new understandings.


The next step is to begin writing the script based on the story treatment. I will be working on that with some of the members at the Howard Area Computer Clubhouse here in Chicago. However, we would really like to have your input into this process. Now that we have established the basic premise of the story, characters and locations, almost anyone that would like to write individual (or multiple) scenes can consider doing so. You can contact me for a full copy of the treatment as a guide to the scenes that need to be written and we can discuss what you might like to contribute. Our team here at Howard will take on the responsibility of coordinating any scriptwriting done throughout the network, and beyond, to make sure that it all fits together. You could write a lot or a little, and you can see your words turned into 3D action! Give it a try.

Prospective screenwriters, please get back to us by November 15th.

Monday, September 27, 2010 3D Portraits at the World Maker Faire 2010

A few of us from the HCCI Computer Clubhouse headed over to the big, gi-mongus DIY fest in Queens to run a little booth making 3d portraits. Anyone who came by our table and wanted to feel the 3d flow got snapped and photoshopped right before their paralaxed eyes (except for the one guy who had no depth perception, poor guy). Anyway, we were busy, as you can see from the photos and only stopped doing portraits when we ran out of glasses. The faire was a blast and if you were there, you probably had an incredible day. If you weren't, there's always the internet...

Your 3d Portrait crew consisted of Omar Diallo, Tyler Glover, John Watkinson, and moi. You shoulda been there.

If you want to try this at home, follow the video tutorial right here on this blog. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 Autodesk Donation

I have compiled a list of the Autodesk software that was donated to the Intel Clubhouse Network that would be useful for the development of the movie. This is just a brief description to get familiar with what some of the software donated does.

MUDBOX digital sculpting and texture painting software gives modelers and texture artists the freedom to create production-ready 3D digital artwork without worrying about the technical details.

MOTIONBUILDER enables you to create more and higher quality animation. You can create, edit, and play back complex character animation in a highly responsive, interactive environment that is ideal for high-volume animation, virtual cinematography, pre-visualization, and performance animation.

SOFTIMAGE gives you the ability to quickly and easily create detailed simulated effects, advanced character rigs, and lip-synced facial setups. Enjoy expanded creative control over character animation.

AUTOCAD can be useful in designing and shaping the layout of the movie’s world. By designing the layout of the world it will help in telling the story properly. It will help in setting up the type of environment the character(s) will encounter.

AUTODESK SKETCHBOOK PRO is a painting and drawing software that offers the best-in-class sketching tools for professional designers and artists from all industries. Designed specifically for use with digitized pen tablets and tablet PCs, SketchBook Pro equips you with the tools you need to move easily from pen and paper to a digital environment.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 3D in the Teen Summit

There was a lot of 3D activity in the past Teen Summit in Boston. Here's a sampler:

Fred reports that his "3D Self-Portrait workshop went really well. We had a bunch of kids from all over the place, none of whom had done any 3D photography before. They watched the video tutorial that is up on the blog (and on the village) and then got right to work taking photos of each other and then editing them in Photoshop. In less than 3 hours everyone had a finished, anaglyph (red/blue) 3D image. Most were better than expected, especially for a first-time effort, which was even more impressive considering that they mostly worked on their own from start to finish."

Leontyne shares this about her workshop: "In the "Animate Your World" the teens learned how to do lip-sync animation and import sound into 3ds Max. The task before them was to use the sound recorder to record their voices. After recording their voices, they imported the sound into the software. That's when the fun part began: the teens then animated the facial controllers to match up with the sound bit for the character. This entire process of lip-syncing was fun for teens. Some of them had other teens and a Coordinator do the sound bits in different languages. They had so much fun that they wanted to meet again to keep working on the projects. It was a fun learning experience not just for the teens, but for myself also."

I was at the Augemented Reality workshop led by John de Felipe, from the Museo de los Niños Clubhouse in Colombia and people really enjoyed it. We designed our own planet by modeling a sphere in Blender, then applied to it a "planet" texture that we found online and finally exported it as a dae object that we could see float on top of a piece of paper with a black and white pattern when we put it on front of the webcam. The results are quite surprising.

Freedom lead a workshop using the I-Clone software to create a 3D talk show and commercial. Teens were introduced to how to use the software interface. They also learned the task of taking a picture of themselves, importing the image into the software, and designing a creator that look exactly like themselves. The teens also learned how to do a little bit of acting with their model, along with doing voice over.

Monday, July 19, 2010 3DIY: ROLLING THE DICE! Learn to model and animate dice in 3ds Max.

3DIY: ROLLING THE DICE! from Computer Clubhouse on Vimeo.

Learn to model and animate dice in 3ds Max. In this two part video, learn to model dice and animate it rolling in a scene. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010 C3DV UPDATE: Cam Rig Tests

I finally had a chance to try out the 3D HD video camera rig that we showed off here in the update from the annual conference (Field Notes from Atlanta: Collaborative 3D Video Launch). Once you get your head wrapped around the fairly straight-forward set up and achieve a viable angle of parallax (to emulate both the distance between your eyes and the convergence of their individual sight lines)--which you do simply by screwing the 2 cameras close together on the metal bracket--it's remarkably simple to shoot and get very usable results for anaglyph 3D. The only thing you have to manually do to insure synchronicity between the two cameras is to "slate" each shot. In traditional filmmaking, slating (or clapping) is used to synchronize the sound and image recording devices (which is more of a film than a video thing from back in the day). Because the cameras don't start running at exactly the same time, the key issue for double camera 3D shooting is being able to synch up the two videos. I didn't have a slate handy, which would be convenient as you can write all kinds of useful info on them like scene and shot #, etc. (the cameras default file naming systems are not relevant to one another so sorting out lots of video files after you've finished shooting can be a bit of a mind bending experience that would be much relieved if you had an onscreen image at the head of each shot that made it obvious which two files went together). So I had to improvise and just clapped my hands together in view of both camera lenses in order to establish a synch point. (I've left Omar's clap in the second video so you can see a demonstration of this technique.) So, that's pretty easy to work out and you can quickly start shooting with a rig like this for 3D.

The slight bit of trickery comes in after you've copied the video files from the cameras' memory cards onto the computer you plan to edit with. Unfortunately, these lower-end HD cameras are not designed to create truly editable file types (and don't allow for the option to save at different codecs or file types). They default to .h264 files which are designed for exhibition (like a quick upload to YouTube) but not for editing. Pro edit tools like Final Cut and Premiere hate these files and will give you much misery (as they did me) when you try and cut with them. So, the little bit of trickery, and a bit of a pain, is too convert them before you edit with them. I used MPEG Streamclip to do this (
free download) and was able to fairly quickly render them as useable .mov files for Final Cut. MPEG Streamclip is a fairly robust tool so I also trimmed the heads of each shot to the clap/synch signal and reduced the pixel size before converting the files. Then I imported them into a Final Cut project and simply laid them both out to start at the clap. I then created a channel setting in the color effects for the red and blue filtration which I saved as 2 favorite FX to be reused on all subsequent, anaglyph projects. This was simple to do and will be demonstrated in an upcoming post, complete with the shooting setup, tech info and tips, file conversion and final compression for upload of HD video results to web. For now, just enjoy these very short initial samples from the camera rig, which are really just a test to see if what was initially an idea about how to do this in a fairly simple, accessible and inexpensive way could work. I think it did. And once I put together some more tests and an easy to follow tutorial, you'l be able to borrow this rig (or make your own) and try some on your own. Warning: shooting in 3D this way is pretty addictive. It's hard now to think of a good reason NOT to shoot every Clubhouse video idea in 3D.

Test 1 is just 3 quick shots of some basic skateboarding into the cameras. I'm not quite satisfied by the effect as I was hoping to have the skater (Omar) and board feel more like they were coming right at you. That's going to take a little more work to figure out but we have a few ideas about how to do that. If it works out, I'll share that info in a follow-up post.

Omar Skating the Bronx in 3D - Cam Rig Test from Computer Clubhouse on Vimeo.

Test 2 is a quick improvisation with the tripod (all 3 legs pulled together) basically just dangled out over the bridge roadway as we were walking back from the Bronx where we shot the skating samples. I realized that the structure of the bridge and the traffic moving toward us could make for some interesting 3D so without much thought I just got a quick clap from Omar and extended the rig out into the traffic while slowly moving it around to take in views in a variety of directions. We slowed this down in Final Cut so that viewers wouldn't get too nauseous watching it.

Samsung Cam Rig test 3 or Alien Encounter on Macombs Dam Bridge from Computer Clubhouse on Vimeo.

In both cases, the 3D is pretty good but still veering towards the diorama look, where all the action seems to be taking place behind the plane of the monitor. In the still tutorial we were able to achieve the effect of objects protruding out from the screen (Making a 3D Anaglpyh Image) and I think that we will be able to achieve that here after some more tests. Stay tuned.

P.S. We originally thought, and wrote about, using an anaglyph plug-in for Final Cut to render the 3D effect, but after monkeying around with it we realized that it was just too inflexible for our purposes. Making the red and blue channels and shifting the video layers manually is easy and affords a much greater range of alignment.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 Making a 3D Anaglpyh Image

Follow John Watkinson (w/Robinson, Cordia and Amara) through this step-by-step video tutorial and learn how to make the best 3D anaglyph images. Unlike most of these kinds of still images that we've been able to find, John's method gives the illusion of fully modeled space, w/parts of the image appearing to protrude out, into space, other parts at approximately the middle ground (or image/screen plane) and other areas behind and even deep in the background. A key to enhancing this effect is to compose your subjects so that there is an obvious sense of perspective, or deep space, in your set up, keep the main subject and background people steady (movement from one frame to the next will obscure the effect--still life compositions are easier, but less dramatic), and use lots of light, but not the flash (the flash will create harsh shadows from 2 different angles when you move the camera--you need the lighting to be consistent even if the camera angle isn't). Also, even though you only need two images to combine into the final product, you might take several sets of 2 as there's still an element of hit or miss in this process. Don't get discouraged if it takes a few tries to get a good grouping of images. You'll get it sooner than you think. You also want to keep track of which shot is the left eye angle and which is the right. That will be important when you composite the pictures in Photoshop. And it all goes better w/Mos Def. It's all in the video. Enjoy, and have fun making some anaglyph images of your own. AND PLEASE UPLOAD OR LINK TO YOUR RESULTS IN THE COMMENTS FIELD.

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 How to Make Anaglpyh (Red/Blue) 3D Glasses

Here's a short/sweet video I found that shows you all you need to know in about a minute. You'll need a pair or two of these for our upcoming posts. And you might want to pick up some Curtis Mayfield audio files for background music when you're making your glasses (it definitely makes a difference).

If you're like me, or you have a personal shopper, you can order the glasses in bulk from the same place we keep getting them from:

Here's a link to a world of anaglyph imagery and fun stuff:

Most of the sample images here and elsewhere that I've found on the web are pretty much limited to the 3D effect happening behind the plane of the screen; not much seems to be "coming at ya." I've also found that to often be the case with some of the attempts I've made in this area. However, John Watkinson (a volunteer/mentor at our clubhouse) and I (but mostly him) have been developing a new "recipe" for adding more modeled depth to 3D anaglyph imagery that definitely captures the illusion of space both within and in front of the screen. The results so far have been pretty impressive. The next post will be a demo of that technique using a hand-held, point and shoot digital camera and Photoshop. The results are fairly easy to achieve and can be accomplished by anyone with even a minimal grasp of the camera or the software. Stay tuned.

Other activities that go nicely with Curtis Mayfield's music: styling, interpersonal relationships, beverage appreciation, chilling, driving, serious thinking or light banter, admiring flowing patterns of smoke, strolling purposefully down the street, etc., etcetera. Please feel free to expand this list in the comments.

Thursday, May 13, 2010 Autodesk 3ds Max - Animate Your World

Autodesk 3D Max - Animate Your World from Computer Clubhouse on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 29, 2010 Field Notes from Atlanta: Collaborative 3D Video Launch

Recently back from the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network's annual conference where a bunch of us gathered to brainstorm the collaborative 3D video project that I've been jawing about since we launched this blog. This post will be a quick summation and some ideas about moving forward. We also had a look at an inexpensive 3D HD video camera rig that was constructed by Keith Simmons at the Museum of Science in Boston which will be available to participants in this project. In addition, some network enthusiasts have offered to create their own, identical rigs (and we'll be available to help w/the specs, etc. on those--you don't have to be an advanced techno-geek, or subscribe to MAKE magazine to construct one of these things, but you will need about $250, most of which is the matching HD cameras). As soon as it's ready, I'll post a sample 3D movie shot with this rig.

So, a/p the "suggestion" of the blog's overlords, I should be keeping this brief. In fact, I probably should be done already. I'm trying. Bear with me. (I probably should've cut that). The conference session included a few dozen of us and 19 attendees forwarded their email addresses in order to participate in the project. In the course of the week following that session, I spoke w/several more people and enlisted their participation as well. So that seems like a great start, and even if half the list fades off, it's still a substantial, core production team. And several of the signees are individuals and Clubhouses w/fairly advanced video and/or 3D skills and capabilities!

That said, I want to quickly address a concern that arose from interested, though less technically developed, coordinators and prospective participants: you don't need to be a practicing 3D or video techno freak to get involved in this project. In fact, there are probably enough of those already in hand to satisfy that need. And we're here to help everyone along at whatever level they wish to engage. Though you might not have the obvious, related skill set for the bulk of this project, you, or the members of your Clubhouse, can probably produce music, collect sound fx from the web, write dialog, get snacks, etc., all of which are standard elements in any film or video production. And you can contribute as little or as much as you can handle. So don't be intimidated. And if you want to ramp up to more sophisticated roles (foleying sound fx, audio mixing, chroma-keying, After Effects, 3D modeling for background plates, etc.), you can. And they're not as difficult or mysterious as they sound. If you've been poking around in the Clubhouse for a little while, you should be able to pick this stuff up.


HOLD ONTO THE RED/BLUE (anaglyph--remember that word) GLASSES THAT YOU RECEIVED AT THE CONFERENCE. You'll need them to see the sample and basically everything that we do together on the collaborative 3D video project. Soon I will be writing a post that shows you how to make your own anaglyph glasses and where you can order them online (they're really cheap). I'll also be posting some projects and tutorials utilizing anaglyph 3D. Stay tuned for those and the next installment re the conference session, especially some ideas about the what and the how (it's too much to go into here and the blog police are at the door...).

Thursday, April 1, 2010 Autodesk 3D Max tutorial (box modeling a house)

Autodesk 3D Max (Box Modeling a House) from Computer Clubhouse on Vimeo.

Back to the Past

Due to the recent outcry regarding a public take-over of the internet, and anticipated congressional rollbacks in this realm, 3DiY will soon cease to function in 3 dimensions. Lacking government support of bandwidth and other structural elements of the internet, discussions and demonstrations of multi-dimensional space will no longer be supported after the deadline is announced (sometime after April First).To comply with the new rulings we will have to convert the blog to 2D and phase out all stereoscopy (you'll never hear that word again on this blog) and all of the wiggling animation, etc. Demonstrations of multi-dimensional activities will have to be viewed in 1 or 2D only (Tip: close one eye when watching demos, or just train your mind to hear/see a 1 or 2 in front of the D every time the term 3D appears on the blog). Petitions to return 3D to the web will soon be issued at all movie theaters, public web kiosks and doctors' offices. Please be ready to sign up and support the return of 3D to the web.

Friday, February 12, 2010 Prehistoric 3D Imaging and a Starter Project for the Computer Clubhouses

Okay, so 3D photography has been around for a while. Basic black and white photography became common in the second half of the 19th century. An early method of seeing those first photographs in 3D was called stereoscopy. Stereograms or stereoviews are basically two copies of the same picture placed side by side on a card and viewed with a special stereoscope viewer that creates the illusion of the two images being overlapped. Because the two pictures aren't exactly the same—they are both pictures of the same subject taken at the same time (shot with a twin lensed stereoscopic camera) but separated by a small angle (parallax, approximately the distance between your eyes) which creates a slightly different perspective for each image—the overlap creates a sense of depth, which renders the view in 3D. Stereoviews were a popular novelty format in the 19th and early 20th century, and you can find many reproductions of interesting, early stereoview images on the web, and even the cardboard mounted originals in antique shops and flea markets that carry photographic items.

At the moment, especially with the release of the movie Avatar in 3D, among many other highly regarded commercial 3D releases (Up, Coraline, etc.), 3D imaging seems poised to take over commercial media. According to various experts (disclosure: I'm not a 3D or media expert), next year will see the release of many, 25, a billion, an uncountable, unimaginable total of 3D releases in movies, television, the web, and doctors' offices (disclosure #2: I'm not a doctor). Okay, now the Big Disclosure: Avatar is the first contemporary, major 3D release I've seen. Prior to that I'd only seen a 3D short on Siegfried and Roy (that's right, the stylish, and not always so successful tiger tamers and Vegas magicians). Don't ask. And that was in Imax and the 3D “goggles” were actually a helmet. My 9 year old daughter was amused, and frankly, the experience, as the saying goes, was so bad it was good. Kind of like a Ken Russell BBC movie but with Siegfried and Roy (rather than Beethoven). Prior to that, the last most contemporary, commercial 3D release I saw was in fact a 1982 re-release of Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder in which the action takes place almost entirely in a small, single room. And it was brilliant (I wouldn't be as succinct re Avatar). Dial M for Murder was made, originally in Natural Vision 3D, in 1954. The same system that was used for the earliest forays in commercial 3D motion pictures, Bwana Devil and House of Wax.

So I'm not a total 3D fanatic. But it's here (we live in it) and I have to deal with it. And if you're at this blog, you do too. Most likely you have something interesting to add on the subject besides endless praise and bowing to the masters of big budget, do-it-with-LOTS OF OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY 3D. There's certainly enough of that going around and frankly, it's almost enough to make you want to work in 2D!

Let's play with stereoscopy. This is kind of an unusual approach, and can be done without taking a new photograph, which is especially convenient as you probably don't have a special, twin lensed camera (I don't, but would like one if you've got an extra). If you do, go shoot something and come back with it. Basically we're going to animate existing stereoview images to recreate the illusion of 3D (albeit with a bit of wiggle, see below). Plus it's a cool, paracinema technique, which, being more of a film person than a 3D modeling person (actually, I'm not any kind of 3D modeling person, that's Leontyne's area), is appealing to me. And you get two projects in one: 3D and film animation.

Matthew Schlanger, an old friend, media artist and president of the interactive media company, Black Hammer Productions, created the gif images above back in the previous millennium from some old stereoview images. Here's what he has to say about them:

"Prior to working with the web, I explored alternating view 3D with video. In the 70s and 80s, analog video sequencing tools offered a simple way to achieve nice alternating 3D results. (At one point I built a box for my SVA students that allowed them to create wiggle 3D as well as alternating field 3D.) When building our website, and this was in the early days of website development, it seemed natural to use this new thing called an animated gif to create wiggle 3D images. What you see here are some of the results."

Here's a tutorial I created (bear with me, this is my first attempt at one of these) that quickly demonstrates how you can turn an existing stereoview into a 3D animated gif like the ones above. (I'm using Photoshop CS4 but you can do this with almost any image editing software and even in very old versions of Photoshop with the Image Ready component for the animation portion of the project.)

How to Convert a Stereoview into a 3D Wiggle Animation from Computer Clubhouse on Vimeo.

Butterfly photo by OliverK. Ornament dealer photo by T. Enami.

Here are some links to wiggle animation collections online:

3D Stereoviews of Meiji-Period Japan

Animated / Wiggle stereoscopic

Stereo Animation