Thursday, November 29, 2007

Beauty in Science and The New York School

1945: Thanks to World War II New York becomes the art capital of the world.

Dali, Ernst, Leger, Lipchitz, Masson, Matta, Mondrian, Tanguy, and Beton make New York their home.

Art evolves at an exciting pace. Cubism, Expressionism, and Dada-Surrealism lead to total abstraction. The pure aesthetic of Abstract-Expressionism is born. Pollock, Hofmann, Gorky, Rothko and de Kooning predate Warhol as the art world's media darlings. At the time, many question the talent of these individuals. Nevertheless, these artists opened a new doorway in humankind's spatial and spiritual visual journey.

1962: The National Academy of Sciences proposes the developement of a large space telescope.

1990: The Hubble space telescope is launched after a delay of 5 years, due to the Challenger disaster

1993: The world's largest contact lense is used to correct the Hubble's blurred vision.

Subconciously, The New York school foresaw the dynamic conflict between positive and negative, flatness and space found in the shifting forms of nebula and galaxies discovered by hubble. The awe inspiring beauty of such interstellar phenomena is no differant then the pure visual aesthetic developed by the New York School.

referance cited:
Art since the Mid-Century, 1945 to te present/Daniel Wheeler, pages 61 -81

Fly Anatomy for Conceptual Inspiration is a great website for anyone interested in creating insect-like creatures for their animations. The site itself is quite remarkable, letting veiwers zoom in on various fly species while highlighting specific body arts. This is another interesting example of scientific visualization taking advantage of web site innovations.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mad Scientist Sketch

This is a sketch of the Mad Scientist that will guide visitors through our website. Different versions will be soon to come.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Visual Complexity

We are often taught that less is more; an ideal that often places more focus on the animation than image. Counter to this notion is the website: Visual Complexity is an ongoing archive of highly complex graphs and data mines. The work featured on this site is scientific in nature while being abstract and beautiful. Several of the charts are animated, but even the still images convey a sense of movement due to their visual complexity.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Creating creatures from scratch

Here are 3 articles on creating the creatures from an artistic point of view.
For Pirates of the Caribbean, Art Director Aaron McBride and Creature Model Supervisor Geoff Campbell helped bring these creatures to life.
Geoff goes into detail of how they would continuously model the creatures until it was right for the animation group (and how he decided to trash phonemes)

Aaron describes his process of designing the creatures for Pirates, and that he uses many real life references to help him visualize his final images.

Visual FX Art Director Alex Jaeger describes how he went about bringing the Tranformers to life from realistic cars to thousands of moving parts.

All of these articles contain some sweet previs picts!

Thursday, November 1, 2007


1. Effects - Curve Flow - Select a curve for the curve flow to follow
set the following parameters: Control Segments = 6, subsegments = 4, emission rate=300

2. Scale up the control circles to control the width of the flow path

3. Instance the curve flow particles with the geometry of your choice

You can also make a particle based camera rig to fly through the flow but that is a little bit more complicated. The work flow involves parenting a 2 node camera, to two particles that have been attached to a motion path. You must also connect the World Centroid of the particles to the translation of two locators that are also parented to the particles.

Visualizing Multiple Dimensions

Check out this fascinating site that uses flash to visualize the ten dimensions:

The Origins of Digital Scientific Visulization

Visual design, in general, is indebted to John Whitney Sr. for his work in digital harmony. The precepts of digital harmony are synomous with L-Systems, i.e. create a series of rules and change those rules over time to create visuals. Also like L-systems, John Whitney utilized mathematics to create pure aesthetics, in other worlds, by utilizing the fundamentals of mathematics, Whitney was able to anticipate and control every detail of his creation. By watching his film Arabesque we can begin to fathom why our brains find radial structures, such as snow flakes, so alluring. The radio waves effect in After Effects can be alluring as well, but our control is limited by the AE UI. Below is an except from my animation history paper, which explains the necessity to understand Whitney's Digital Harmony in order to control the aesthetics of moving imagery.

How then can a understanding of Digital Harmony improve the field of motion graphics today?

Whitney defines harmony as a temporal experience of tension and resolve. This can be expressed mathematically, with whole number ratios that reflect the scales in music: octave, fifth, fourth, major and minor thirds . At this point we are aware of the important correlation Whitney is making between music and graphic visuals. The correlation between sound and music is important for motion graphics artists to make as well. In essence, motion graphics artists can communicate with their audiences on a higher/emotional level by thinking in musical terms rather than being dictated by software pre-sets or filters. This connection, which exists between audio and visual patterns, can be demonstrated through an analysis of 1975 film Arabesque. Arabesque conveys the underlying theories of digital harmony through the transitional animation of circle to a curve. This abstract film’s focal point is an animated circle, composed of dots, which shifts polarities based a cycle of 360° on a black background. The curves formed from these dots are reminiscent of Islamic patterns, hence the name of the piece. Like an orchestral movement, the rhythmic patterns of the curves are carefully organized into sections, building up Whitney’s pattern of tension and resolve. This is also a process of building up expectations – creating a series of rules, that are followed in the beginning of the piece and broken towards the end. In Arabesque’s cyclical nature, the circle unfolds into a curve and back into the circle. In the sections that follow, the pattern is replicated across the screen and form a triptych of cycles (i.e. three rhythmic patterns). Rhythm is established with these three patterned cycles. But, due to the patterns complexity, we no longer comprehend a singular motif, and our expectations can no longer be fulfilled. When our expectations are not met we become emotionally connected to the film – we desire a resolution. The film ends by repeating the sequence that it began. Viewers then will become emotionally satisfied, with what Whitney would described as having the feeling of returning home after a long journey . Furthermore, through the cycle of Arabesque will become familiar with the fundamentals of digital harmony: force, tension, tonic, tone, motion and emotion . These are essential elements which would help promote motion graphics beyond its current derivative state that seems focused on silhouettes (as in the Apple Ipod commercials) and generic “flowing vine” imagery (popularized in music videos).
While Arabesque may seem to be a study in mathematics and formal rules, Whitney also describes his work as magic, since the flow of movement in Arabesque goes beyond expectations. Even through Arabesque is programmed in Pascal (an outdated programming language), Whitney finds the means to usurp creative control over the computer’s rigid rules. This should provide inspiration to the motion graphic artist who wishes to go beyond the rules established by the software applications. Whitney’s use of word magic may also be describing the connection he is making to his audience. Magic in motion graphics can be achieved when the audience is no longer focused on the methods of used to create the animation (whether it was done in Flash or After Effects, for example) and they become consumed with work itself.

Final Web Site Ideas

Here is my vision for the web site:

A flash toy greets users at the splash page. The mutant parts we are creating make up the interface for the Flash Toy. Basically, users can create their own "species" and get involved in the process of concept development. I picture the interface for the site to be an hexagon, building off of our snowflake metaphor. There will be four pages in the site dealing with our focus points. We can have animations tied in to each page; each amimation can be a different visualization. So far I have three visualizations that would be easy to create: blood flowing through a vein, a solar flare, and a nebula. Any suggestion on a fourth? Something with paint efx perhaps?


Ecosystem Simulation Using L-Systems in Houdini

Check out this truly amazing article on using L-Systems using seed simulations and photosynthesis: