Welcome to Issue 14
Remember the 1982 Disney movie Tron? It was a watershed in movie history since it introduced the notion of computer graphics being used throughout a movie. It was directed by Steven Lisberger, starring Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn and Bruce Boxleitner as Alan Bradley (TRON).
Yet despite the advanced graphical look, it’s surprising to know that the movie didn’t get an Oscar nomination for visual special effects; it was perceived that computer graphics were “too easy” to generate in comparison to hand drawn animation.
It’s true as well that traditional matte painting (hand painted frames) was used fairly extensively, for instance the glowing circuitry on the character costumes.
Where did the idea for the movie come from? The director Lisberger saw Pong, perhaps the first videogame which pinged on screens in the early 1970s. Lisberger believed that computer graphics could be “very suitable for bringing video games and computer visuals to the screen.”.
In the day, something was used called the “Evans & Sutherland Picture System” (PS2). This was a high-resolution vector graphics machine drawing smooth and beautiful vector lines in real time on a CRT screen. Frank Vitz who worked as the technical director on the visual effects at Abel and Associates, one of three companies who worked on the effects, noted that the team produced “one of Abel’s signature looks, which comprised smoothly animating glowing vectors…archetypal and wildly unbounded; the art directors at Abel exploited it and produced an explosion of creative new styles.”
The standout designs were the neon circuitry suits (best costume design Oscar nomination) and the light bikes, which naturally spurred a video game. With these concepts in mind and similar styled artwork, we present work from a series of talented digital artists, no doubt inspired by the original Tron and Tron Legacy movies.
Speaking of hand painting, Dave Haden our resident assistant editor gives a great review in this issue of the UGEE 1910b – a 19 inch pen tablet – a great low budget art tablet monitor
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We talk with Jay, about emerging as a 3D artist, his work with DAZ Studio, and ways of blending 2D with 3D.
DAZ STUDIO | PS
“Stop caring about what others think and do what feels right. I’m a perfectionist, but I stop at what others see as perfect. I’ll be my harshest critic so I just make me happy.”
Giovanni designs industrial iron-ore plants for a living, and in his spare time makes impressive sci-fi and historical art.
VUE | DAZ STUDIO | PS
“I find that I can now recreate large-scale scenes in DAZ Studio 4.9 … And recently I switched over to iRay, which ships with DAZ Studio. I like it for its simplicity, over Octane.”
We talk with a professional game asset designer about 3dsMax, and the importance of 2D drawing skills for 3D.
3DS MAX | PS
“I’m always looking for ways sci-fi can help develop interpretations of an idea. … how elements can look, or feel, when they are out in space. How interactions could behave and look in the future.”
EDITORIAL, INDEX, ART CONTESTS, REVIEW: UGEE 1910b PEN TABLET, ‘GLOW’ ART IN THE PULPS, GALLERY and the IMAGINARIUM
Sample Interview from Issue 14
BENTLEY PLANT | VUE | DAZ STUDIO | PHOTOSHOP
DAL: Hi Giovanni, thanks for agreeing to an interview with Digital Art Live magazine. Could you start, please, by telling readers how you became involved in 3D? I hear that you are a mining engineer?
GK: My pleasure to be here. I am a technical designer in 3D plant layout and I use Bentley Plant Design. I use it to design petrochemical plants, as well as process design for the mining industry. On mining projects my work is used to to extract iron ore, to produce ore that is needed by the steel companies. Which then makes the things we all use, from cars to toasters.
DAL: Fascinating. How did you get interested in that area, of industrial uses for 3D?
GK: Well, it all started when I was at a young in the great city of Rome in Italy. When I went to visit Cina cita, which was the ‘Hollywood of Italy’. By that time I had read many sci-fi novels by artist like Larry Niven, and was inspired by his Ring World Engineers. Also by art covers on the Galileo science fiction magazine, which we could get in Italy at that time. And so I was fascinated by seeing that type of science fiction art. Then I started to recreate that art, just by using a simple lead pencil and pen, which one can see in my UFO City picture. But then, at my employment, the work and the industry started to convert. What was regular drafting on the board in a drafting office, that turned into computer aided design. From there on I got hooked on 3D.
I explored the possibilities to recreate that art which I had loved since childhood, making it into art in 3d made on computers.
DAL: And how did you then make the move over to using Vue and DAZ Studio / Reality?
GK: Well, my first software packages were Rhino and AutoCAD. Then 3dstudio and 3dstudio MAX. Then… Bryce!
DAL: Yes, a lot of people started with creative 3D with Bryce.
GK: From Bryce to Vue 2, then Vue 10. And Poser for the figures to import into Vue. But soon I started experimenting with DAZ Studio but I used Reality to render due to the simplicity — in the end I just wanted to create beautiful art and not create complete worlds like Vue does.
DAL: What do you use these days?
GK: Now I used the latest DAZ Studio 4.9, and have used the Octane rendering plugin, but iRay is very nice and I use it more often. Again I like it for its simplicity, over Octane.
DAL: Your gallery seems to show that you began your Vue work with Ancient Egypt and Babylonia. That’s a fascination I share, as I’ve recently looked quite deeply at the early history of the most-ancient city of Eridu for a personal project. It’s a pity that historical recreation doesn’t get more attention in 3D.
GK: Ah, that comes from when I was a young boy in Rome, in Italy. I went to Cina cita and my parents would take me to the movies there every night when my father came out of work. And I would fall into the screen and live inside those huge Ancient Roman historical movies like Ben Hur, to mention just one. Then later I would go out into the Italian country side and touch the old stones of the fallen ruins of Ancient Rome, and would wonder what it was like there thousands of years ago. Who was walking on the flagstones here under my feet, way back then? Who were these people, and what was their world about? So my first imaginative love was for the ancient classical civilizations. The Etruscan civilization, for instance. A mysterious people that taught the Romans everything they knew. But somehow disappeared from history. From there I wanted to learn more and I started recreating imaginary 3D scenes of what it must have been like for early Egypt Rome and Babylon and Khufu to name but a few works in my 3D galleries.
DAL: Do you do much research for your history pictures?
GK: To me, history is not something in a book. That said, to me Greeks or Romans or any North African nation are our great grandfathers or past relatives. They aren’t lost people from a faraway land. But we are the children of those people. To forget them or not know of their time on this earth is a shame to modern people. They lived on this earth way before us, and they have earned our respect for leaving this earth for us to enjoy. When we read about them , we are not reading about fantasy, but a part of our family history. What they did is there for all to read, and then you see the big mistake that is often made about them — we think just because they were in our past, that they were dummies with no iPhone etc! /laughter/
DAL: So true, they knew a lot that we’ve forgotten.
GK: Yes, if you think for a moment all mathematics was thought of by the Greeks and Byzantines who were mixture of Greeks and Ancient Romans and bits of the Turkish empires. Without them there would be no iPhone, no iPad or digital tablets for us to draw on. Many of the laws we use today were set down by the Romans and others. So you see its not dead history. It is valuable for us to learn from what they did. If only we would not forget, then we all would see more clearly today.
DAL: Indeed. In terms of your 3D pictures, what were some of the “breakthrough” images that started to get you a lot more attention? Was it the historical pictures?
GK: Well I think the large scale Vue scenes, like “Tempest”. They were the ones most people wanted to see. I guess people like the large scale Vue scenes, showing the sort of big matte scenes that they are familiar with watching movies like 2001, Star Wars etc. And I must say that I also like those type of 3D scenes myself. But unfortunately they take way too much time to create! And so I never really did too many of them.
DAL: But your main love is obviously for science fiction art. Who are your favourite SF artists?
GK: I actually don’t know most of their names, but I remember lots of great cover art on sci-fi books like Ursula le Guin, Frank Herbert and Arthur C. Clarke, and many others.
DAL: This issue is our Tron ‘tribute issue’, although due to copyright it is somewhat mixed with an interest in pictures that use glows and neon effects in general. What did you think of the movie Tron: Legacy?
GK: Well the movie was interesting, had a nice theme to it. Reminded me somewhat of a sci-fi book I had read. In the book the person goes into the computer and become the ghost in there. Don’t remember the title. The original movie was ahead of its time in special effects, that is why it was very popular. I think I like the original and not the sequel. The sequel could have been better I think, and they could have spent more time explaining that world they were in and maybe its ties into our own world.