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3D DIRECT • July 10, 2001

Conferences and the Texture of Skin

by Abby Albrecht

Alias|Wavefront Announces User Conference Plans

Alias|Wavefront said its annual Alias|Wavefront Global User Association (AWGUA) Conference would include four days of learning. The conference, which kicks off Sunday August 12 at SIGGRAPH 2001, will include intensive and interactive seminars, demonstrations, exhibits, and insight into the latest technologies from Alias|Wavefront and its conductor partners.

The event starts with the annual AWGUA meeting. Featured speakers include Duncan Brinsmead and Jos Stam from Alias|Wavefront, presenting the "Two-Headed Genius" and other acts of scientific research; and Square Pictures, highlighting their first film, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

Guest speakers include friends from Industrial Light and Magic, Kleiser-Walczak, and others showing Maya work from the past year. Workshops feature 12 seminar sessions relating to Maya workflows, techniques, and instruction. Conference attendees will have access to workstations where they can have one-on-one conversations with Alias|Wavefront employees and practice techniques learned from the seminars.

The concurrent AWGUA Vendor Fair features partner booths showing the latest developments in technologies from motion capture solutions to Web content delivery.

For more detailed conference and registration information visit Alias|Wavefront's Web site.



Yale Researches with ShapeSnatcher

Yale University's Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments will use the Eyetronics ShapeSnatcher Suite for research on realistic rendering of natural materials such as leaves, sand, and human skin. ShapeSnatcher Suite 3.0 transforms a slide projector and digital camera into a 3D scanning and modeling system.

"A major difficulty is characterizing how objects reflect light from any and all angles," says Yale doctoral student Melissa L. Koudelka, who will use ShapeSnatcher for the project. "Currently available reflectance models are very good at representing materials like plastic or metal, but they don't effectively represent complicated materials like leather, wrinkled and porous skin, or fur."

A principal objective of the research is to generate better computer renderings of human skin. Koudelka says researchers will use ShapeSnatcher to scan human faces while shining light on them from various angles. The resulting 3D models will be used to study the reflectance properties of skin. "The function of light source and viewing angle will tell us exactly what the object should look like when it is illuminated from any direction," she says. "We will use this data to generate a model for rendering skin that could result in completely realistic-looking human characters in computer animations." No, Oil of Olay isn't funding the research.



DAZ Creates A New Breed

DAZ Productions, a creator and seller of 3D figures, released an animation piece titled, A New Breed of Poser.

A New Breed of Poser is a 30 second action short made to highlight the power and versatility of two stock DAZ models, the Michael and Victoria 2.0 figures, when combined with the tools of NewTek LightWave. The DAZ team invested thousands of hours into the development of Michael and Victoria, providing the user with a limitless number of body and facial types through the use of morph targets.

DAZ used the LightWave plug-in from Curious Labs Poser Pro Pack. DAZ to port the Poser characters directly into LightWave. The Pro Pack also ships with a plug-in for discreet 3ds max.

In LightWave the DAZ team used volumetrics, ray-tracing, motion blur, and other features to achieve the desired render. The animation file may be downloaded from DAZ.

Abby Albrecht is the Web editor for 3Dgate. She spent way too much money buying Stargate's first season on DVD. You can reach her at [email protected].