Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Anaglyph 3D

I've always been quite keen on the slightly blurry, unreal quality of 3D images (perhaps it was that View-Master I had as a child).  It seems a shame that CityScape and CryEngine are not able to produce native 3D output (ok I know CryEngine 3 is able to in its latest iteration, but I don't have that).  After some lateral thinking and with a little experimentation it has proven relatively easy to produce convincing stereo image output, albeit manually in a rather tedious, hit-and-miss process.  For the examples below, left and right eye images were generated by manually introducing a slight tracking motion to the camera view between captured stills.  I've combined the two images using the excellent, and free, Anaglyph Maker by Takashi Sekitani (which I should add also support output for interleave shutter glasses).

These examples (which are red-cyan anaglyph and so need the funky eye-wear) are from CityScape, I'm working on similar output from CryEngine, which since it offers better camera control should make anaglyph 3D movies a possibility too.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

And Another Thing...Cinematic Pretensions in Crysis 2

While on the subject if games as art the trailer for Crytek's much anticipated Crisis 2, engineered in the incomparable CryENGINE 3 was created in the game engine and the cinematic pretensions are obvious, with visual nods to news footage of the aftermath of 9/11 and most obviously to Matt Reeve's Cloverfield, itself leaning heavily on post 9/11 iconography, and also to Spielberg's wonderfully chilling realisation of HG Wells' the War of the Worlds.  There are some references to past games as well, the in helicopter scenes are drawn directly from the opening of Half Life Opposing Force.  Anyway, I like this trailer a lot, although the in game footage, from Crytek's website, is less exciting, focusing as it does in endless urban mayhem, somehow the beauty of the lush landscapes of FarCry and Crisis are lost.

Games as Art?

There appears to be something of a debate at present as to whether computer games are, or can be, an art form. The Guardian and the BBC have picked up on this and both point to Kellee Santiago's defence of the concept of computer games as art (below).

Dear Esther

Is a game art?  Great games are certainly cinematic in their visual scope, even if the story line and narrative development are often weak.  I would argue that experimental games such as Dan Pinchbek's Dear Esther are works of art in the same mould as experimental theatre or film.  The attitude, experience and demands on the audience are similar, by any definition this is art.  Some games even aspire to status as visual art, I'd certainly include Robert Briscoe's re-imagining of Dear Esther in this category.

Waco Resurrection
What about in the arena of cultural heritage?  My personal feeling is that games have become devalued as a medium for engaging with heritage.  They are often used merely as a visualisation tool (guilty), or as a didactic device.  So what about a use of games in cultural heritage that is a visually engaging and imaginative as Dear Esther, as inventive and morally challenging as Waco Resurrection.

Time I think to abandon the concept of the serious game and rediscover the playfulness of gaming within a creative, imaginative and challenging presentation of heritage.

Monday, 23 August 2010


I'm working on some CityScape based visualisations of famous British landmarks for a short promo movie.  Here, as a taste, a rapid model of Antony Gormley’s  Angel of the North, familiar to anyone who regularly heads north on the A1, and my all time favourite piece of  public art from an inspirational artist.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Urban Landscapes

Working on some urban landscape modelling using CityScape and SketchUp.  Here is Chester Cathedral, using the excellent SketchUp model by Peter Alwyn and road data from OpenStreetMap.

Needs more work on the street furniture and a whole raft of other buildings, I shall be trying to make some simple "cardboard cut-out" buildings using the photo texture with StreetView option in SketchUp.  But for a lunchtime of work, I quite like this.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Strange Visions

More strange visions, this time panoramas of Stonehenge assembled in CityScape (top) and CryENGINE (below).  These strange mournful visions of the stones are quite beguiling.

For comparison, here below, a real photographic panorama of the stones, courtesy of the BBC.

I'm quite taken with the idea of using game engines to create artistic renderings of landscape, extending into the impressionistic, even the surreal.  Why should we be chained to photorealism by the intense graphical renderings of modern games. More experimentation, less realism...

Friday, 6 August 2010

British Archaeology

The Vista team have a feature article on landscape visualisation using computer games in the latest edition of British Archaeology.  Head down to the newsagents and order yours now...

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Documenting Current Spaces: Robert Overweg

I came across the blog of digital artist Robert Overweg and couldn't resist adding a link to it here.  He says of himself "Robert Overweg is a photographer in the virtual world, he sees the worlds of (first and third person shooter) games as the new public spaces of contemporary society and as a direct extension of the physical world."  His haunting "photographs" are a fantastic response to the fidelity and depth of modern games.  I love this.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Playing with Perception: Time-lapse Movies

I've greatly admired the urban time-laspe movies regularly posted by Andrew Hudson-Smith on his DigitalUrban blog.  There is something about the contrasting sense of stillness in the fixed landscape features and movement (people, buildings, the sky) that reveals something more than a simple static photograph.  So what about an entirely virtual timelapse movie? A recent post on DigitalUrban 15 Days in Liberty City showed the way, so here by way of shameless imitation is my own virtual timelapse, Stonehenge: Just in Time.

Modelled in CityScape by PixelActive, with video capture using the free CamStudio.  It took a little fiddling with settings in both CityScape and CamStudio to make this work, but it seems to have done the trick.