Monday, March 31, 2014

Quixel's dDo and upcoming suite is beautiful

My good friend Shawn McNeely introduced me to this Photoshop application a while back and I've been meaning to share it with everyone so here it is. dDo is this really great app that lets you create detailed texture maps using procedural materials. It's a little tricky to wrap your head around until you see it in action. Basically think procedural shaders like what you would see in film but once the effect takes hold on your model, you can bake and edit the textures down and use them in any application you want. This is excellent if you want to add things like rust or wear and tear on your hard surface model or if you want a system that can bake material behaviors like metals or plastics in the form of textures like diffuse, specular, and normal.

Quixel is not coming out with an inexpensive suite and a pre-order for their new product for freelancers. It's about

Hit the jump for videos demonstrating the power of dDo and Photshop...

GDC: Facial Rigging Highlights this year

Facial rigging made giant leaps in games this past year to further come closer to film level quality. Some of the big stand outs that I saw at GDC and otherwise were from Crytek and from Bungie with their facial re-targeting systems. Ryse stood out a ton with their high fidelity and animation friendly rigs that gave 4D scan quality animation with easy customization.

Hit the jump for video and extra reference to how they these guys accomplished these high quality animations...

GTC: NVIDIA Titan X is stunning!

GTC followed GDC in a big way with new announcements coming from NVIDIA. Along with presenting their new Pascal chip set and giving an update of their Tegra K1, NVIDIA demoed their new Titan Z Graphics card. This card is simply stunning. The biggest part of the presentation for me was the real time visual effects that it can support. I cannot wait to get my hands dirty with these features in the near future because they are real game changers.

Hit the jump for videos of the Titan Z and the visuals that it can support...

GDC: Engines for all!

HUGE news coming from GDC was related to the public release of Unreal 4 and CryEngine for the public. Unreal 4 is now available to the public with full access to the C++ code base for 20 dollars and month. The in incredibly cheap compared to the million dollars that you used to have to pay in the past. Not to be outdone, Crytek released CryEngine in the same fashion for 10 dollars a month.

To keep this in perspective. Unreal and CryEngine have been cranking out some of the greatest looking games on the market and now all of that power can be yours to wield at a small fee. Also with Unreal, you can distribute your projects and unreal only asks for 5% or your earnings if you use their service. I'm especially excited because I can now dig into these engines more and check out what they do well for any potential project I wish to make.

GDC: Mixamo

At GDC, I was able to go to lots of talks. This one unexpectedly grabbed my attention in an awesome way! Mixamo is a service that allows you to create an enormous combination of male and female characters that you can model out, rig, and animate just about automatically so you can create tons of useful custom game characters in a short period of time.

The main services are FUSE for creating character models and the Mixamo site for animation and rigging services. There's even a Unity app that lets you browse and test animations before using them in your engine from the site on the fly.

Hit the jump for video tutorials on how to use FUSE and the Mixamo service...

GDC: Rigging Dojo

GDC is sadly over and I have to say that I had an incredible experience there. One of the great finds that I personally discovered is Rigging Dojo. This site isn't anything new but it's an incredible rigging resource for aspiring and experienced character TD's. For anyone out there interested in building up their rigging chops, I can't recommend this site enough. It is a great community and training program with great relevant information and great inspirational material for anyone building a powerful portfolio.

The free resources alone are phenomenal but if you pay for a subscription, you can get access to amazing classes and great coaching from the experts in the field. I highly recommend checking out the blog and resource page on the website here: