Monthly Archives: April 2014

Playing with Maya: Martini Glass Arnold Render


Martini Glass rendered in Arnold. This was a project that we were given to do in class, on week 12. It involved the placement of lights and using ramp for the red colour of the glass. I do feel that this was a good attempt, however, there could be some improvements that could give the piece a much more professional look. I think I need to go back over with my lights and rearrange their settings, to see what works. What I don’t want in this image is the pixel/fussy effect.

New Narratives: Light

R. Dawkins, 2011. The Magic of Reality: How we know what’s really true.Bantam Press: London

Note: Hedgehogs and jaguars and many other mammals work by night and sleep by day.

Into Orbit

Why do the planets stay in orbit around the sun? Why does anything stay in orbit around anything else? This was first understood in the seventeenth century by Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest scientists who ever lived. Newton showed that all orbits were controlled by gravity – the same force of gravity that pulls falling apples towards the ground, but on a larger scale. (Alas, the story that Newton got the idea when an apple bounced off his head is probably not really true.)

Newton imagined a cannon on top of a very high mountain, with its barrel pointing horizontally out to sea (the mountain is o the coast). Each ball it fires seems to start off moving horizontally, but at the same time it is falling towards the sea results in a graceful downward curve, culminating in a splash. It is important to understand that the ball is falling all the time, even on the earlier, flatter part of the curve. It’s not that it travels flat horizontally for a while, then suddenly changes its mind like a cartoon character who realises he ought to be falling and therefore starts doing so!

Light of our lives

I want to end this chapter by talking about the importance of the sun for life. We don’t know whether there is life elsewhere in the universe (I’ll discuss that question in a later chapter), but we do know that, if there is life out there, it is almost certainly a star.

What light is made of

First, we need to understand about something called the spectrum. It was discovered in the time of King Charles II – that’s about 350 years ago – by Isaac Newton, who may well have been the greatest scientist ever (he discovered lots of other things besides the spectrum, as we saw in the chapter on night and day). Newton discovered that white light is really a mixture of all the different colours. To a scientist, that’s what white means. How did Newton find this out? He set up an experiment. First he blacked out his room so that no light could get in, and then he opened a narrow chink in the curtain, so that a pencil-thin beam of the white sunlight came in. He then let the beam of light pass through a prism, which is a sort of triangular chunk of glass.

What a prism does is splay the narrow white beam out; but the splayed-out beam that emerges from the prism is no longer white. It is multi-coloured like a rainbow, and Newton gave a name to rainbow he made: the spectrum. Here’s how it works.

When a beam of light travels through air and hits glass, it gets bent. The bending is called refraction. Refraction doesn’t have to be caused by glass: water does trick too, and that will be important when we come back to the rainbow. It is refraction that makes an oar look bent when you stick it in the river. So, light is bent when it hits glass or water. But now here’s the point. The angle of the bend is slightly different depending on what colour the light is. Red light bends at a shallower than blue light. So, if white light is a mixture of coloured lights, as Newton guessed, what’s going to happen when you bend white light through a prism?n The blue light is going to bend further than the red light, so they will be separated from each other when they emerge from the other when they the yellow and green lights will come out in between. The result is Newton’s spectrum: all the colours of the rainbow, arranged in the correct rainbow order – red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.



New Narrative: Bless You Stage Setup

Stage_Setup_01 Stage_Setup_02

These were the final setup stages for the side-view and front-view examples for the team’s 15sec animation. The one problem we now face with these setups is for a high angle camera shot, by using the skydome in Arnold we have come across a slight hiccup. There is a black border that runs along the horizon. For the lower shots I discovered a similar problem, but managed to find a solution that worked in hiding the border; this solution was adding hills along the horizon line and moving everything on the stage geometry up. This little trick worked effectively to hid the black border, I figured I would try the same with the high camera angle shot, and found it was not as easy.

So, I was told by my tutor to try another approach; his suggestion was to create a ramp that would represent a sunset or sunrise, put it onto a sphere polygon cut in half and set it along the border line. I have now gone on to try out this idea; below are some examples I tried.


What I plan to do is to try the second image method again to the team’s actual stage setup, to see how this will look when rendering.


Image and Data Visualisation: Death Penalty Final Designs

I have decided to redo my original idea and to create a design that is best suited for a poster; advertising death penalty to inform the audience. I felt really black with this topic so my designs became black and dreary, as I think the topic seems to bring these emotions out of me.

The first thing I decided to do was to find a font, a particular style that would impact and shock the audience, once you look at it; I wanted it to not over dominate the poster. So, by scaling the font size reasonably I think this will reduce its over dominance on the poster, but, the design of the font will still convey its impact.

Font Styles

I began with this image above, taking the font design from Dafont and my Photoshop font column; I rearranged and recreated the style of the font to suit what I was wanting to capture in my design. What I would do is, I would begin by selecting each of these fonts and play around with the colour, scale and placement of the lettering. Here are a few of the fonts I selected from this list above, I have also given the name of the original font.

Font Styles2

Font Styles3

Font Styles4


My inspiration for these fonts was from infographics that I have researched. Below are a few examples of some of the infographs I have looked at.

I have also been influenced by the poster designs of Saul Bass, an American graphic designer and award-winning filmmaker. During his 40-year career Bass worked for some of Hollywood’s most prominent filmmakers, including Alfred HitchcockOtto PremingerBilly WilderStanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese. Among his most famous title sequences are the animated paper cut-out of a heroin addict’s arm for Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm, the credits racing up and down what eventually becomes a high-angle shot of a skyscraper in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, and the disjointed text that races together and apart in Psycho.

Below are some of the earlier designs I have created for the infographic. I tried various different arrangements for the font and the images; I did not want things to overlap one another in a way that would make my design look messy, and not understandable.

Death Penalty DO-OVER Death Penalty DO-OVER2 Death Penalty Poster 3 Death Penalty poster Death Penalty Poster2


Finally, these two images below are my final designs for this redo of my project. What I like about these is the title font, how everything plays well together and it is easy to understand; you don’t even need to read the information to understand that this poster informs about death.

Final Death Penalty Design Final Death Penalty Design2

Playing with Maya: Arnold Render Softbox practice

Today, I embark the journey of Arnold Rendering. 

What is Arnold? 

* Arnold is an advanced Monte Carlo ray tracing rendering built for the demands of feature-length animated and visual effects film. Originally, co-developed with Sony Pictures Imageworks, Arnold is now used at over 250 studios world wide.

  •  ILM

Arnold was the primary renderer on dozens of films from Monster House andCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to Pacific Rim and Award-Winner Gravity.

This is an example of Diffuse Noise produced in Arnold Renderer.

In an example from Solid Angle, this example is labelled as sample 3: (it reads as follows) Increasing this value gives cleaner GI (which basically means:Global Illumination) which diffuses the results.

To understand where noise comes from: We trace a light ray into a specified location, this is what the diffused shader ‘sees’. To find the light that is reflected from this surface, we need to find the average colour from all of these pixels.

Here is a very detailed example of how to effectively understand diffused lighting. This method is not just used in Arnold, diffused light has been experimented with throughout the history of photography.

This image above shows that process of diffused lighting. (Pretty sweet!)

Here is an example of how to produce this method using a DSRL camera. Arranging the light source, and adding light sources plays off on creating a effectively stimulating image.


Glossy controls the number of rays fired when computing the reflected indirect-radiance integrated over the hemisphere weighted by a specular BRDF (which basically mean: Birdirectional Reflectance Distribution Function).

Walt Disney Animation have their own BRDF Explorer; it can load and plot analytic BRDF functions (coded as functions in OpenGL’s GLSL shader language), measured material data from the MERL database, and anisotropic measured material data from MIT CSAIL. Graphs and visualizations update in realtime as parameters are changed, making it a useful tool for evaluating and understanding different BRDFs (and other component functions).


To explain further what glossary can do here is an image below to demonstrate this effect.

SSS (Sub-Surface Scattering)

This value controls the number of lighting samples (direct and indirect) that will be taken to estimate lighting within a radius of the point being shaded. Higher values produce a cleaner solution, but will take longer to render.


Sample 1


Sample 2

(above are 2 samples of this method, found on the Solid Angle website)

Volume Indirect

Volume Indirect controls the number of sample rays that get fired to compute indirect lighting of the volume. Like the other sampling rate controls (Camera, light samples, diffuse samples, etc), the number of actual samples is squared, so a setting of 3 fires 3×3=9 rays. Setting it to 0 turns off indirect lighting of the volume (which is the default). Note that indirect volume lighting is tied to the ‘Diffuse’ render option and therefore there must be at least 1 Diffuse bounce for indirect lighting to be computed.

Sample 1: Volume Indirect Sample 0 – No Indirect volume lighting

Sample 2: Volume Indirect Samples 1 – volume has indirect lighting but needs more samples.

Sample 3: Volume Indirect Samples 4 – Increasing the samples reduces the noise.

(above are 3 samples of the method, found on Solid Angle website)

Maya Class: Arnold Render Attempt 1


Here is an example of my very first attempt at tackling Arnold. Once I got into it, I soon discovered how beautifully this software renders. I had previously tried mental ray – Arnold is way better and I will enjoy playing with it further.


Playing with Maya: Arnold Renderer

So excited as we get to use Arnold Renderer tomorrow.

Arnold is an advanced Monte Carlo ray tracing rendering built for the demands of feature-length animation and visual effects movies. Originally, co-developed with Sony Pictures imageworks, Arnold is now used by over 250 studios worldwide including ILM, Framestore, The Mill and Digic Pictures.

Arnold was the primary renderer on dozens of films from Monster House and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to Pacific Rim and Gravity.

Image and Data Visualisation: What is Death Penalty?

Capital punishment or the death penalty is a legal process whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. The judicial decree that someone be punished in this manner is a death sentence, while the actual enforcement is an execution. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences.

Capital punishment has, in the past, been practiced by most societies, as a punishment for criminals, and political or religious dissidents. Historically, the carrying out of the death sentence was often accompanied by torture, and executions were most often public.

Executions in 2008, by Country

  • China – 1,718
  • Iran – 346
  • Saudi Arabia – 102
  • United States – 37
  • Pakistan – 36
  • Iraq – 34
  • Vietnam – 19
  • Afghanistan – 17
  • North Korea – 15
  • All others – 66

Executions from 1976 – Oct 2009, by State

  • Texas – 442 (38%)
  • Virginia – 103
  • Oklahoma – 91
  • Florida – 68
  • Missouri – 67
  • Georgia – 46
  • Alabama – 44
  • North Carolina – 43
  • South Carolina – 42
  • Ohio – 32
  • Louisiana – 27
  • Arkansas – 27
  • All others – 149

2007 – 2012

Amnesty International executions around the world

At least 1,722 people were sentenced to death in 58 countries in 2012. This is a decrease from 2011, when at least 1,923 people were known to have been sentenced in 63 countries worldwide, and a reduction for the second year running (2010: 2,024 death sentences in 67 countries).

(Death Penalty In 2013, video via YouTube)

(Image source:

“The death penalty is the ultimate in cruel and inhumane treatment. It reduces the state to the role of killer, and we believe it should never be used – no ifs, no buts.”


Image and Data Visualisation: Death Penalty

Project 03 Data Visualisation

For this final project we are to convert a set of statistics from the link below into something that can be easily understood by as wide an audience as possible.

Global Death Penalty Statistics

A few contemporary visualisations worth checking out are:


_63125925_data data visualisation hai-data-visualization infographic1


I took many elements from these designs as my influence for my final design, through the layout. I was very much impacted with how everything was organised on these charts; that they became the basis for my inspiration and ideas. For my designs I wanted to achieve these to the best of my ability.


My Graph Charts

In the earliest stages of this project I was confused as to what information on the stats from the webpage we were to put into a graph. I soon found out that it was only the totals section. I used Microsoft Excel for these charts.


Death Penalty Chart deathpenalty chart deathpenaltybarchart Deathpenaltychart Deathpenaltylinechart


Final charts

chart chart2

Going back over my charts these were the two that I used for the final design of my infograph. I traced over them and gave them a different colour code.

Early Design Attempts

death penalty chart design2 death penalty chart design3 death penalty chart design4


These were my early attempts; I decided to go with my final version because I feel that it give the most information and had a better design quality/layout that I liked.

My Final Design

death penalty chart design


I really liked this final design, as it could progress into a web page; my goal for this project was to try and get an infograph that could be developed as a webpage.

Playing With Maya: Bless You Backgrounds

blessyou_stage_render blessyou_stage_sideview


These are the current stages of development on Bless You, 15 sec animation short (using Maya). I finally got around to understanding mental ray and how it works, (thanks to  The Diabetic Spoon); I encountered a little problem with the rendering, everything was reflective and metallic. Once I corrected those problems, I now see that I may have some further changes to be made within the shots – the sideview shot has a floating tree that can easily be fixed; I would also like to rearrange the sun so as both frontview and sideviews have a solid form, showing shadows.  In the frontview, I think that the hills will need a slightly darker tone, for example, the farthest back hill will have to be a a stronger green, I think that this will help in defining the depth of field.