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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Submitted Entries for Image-Line Merchandise Design Contest

I've finally finished it! Submitted what I've worked on for the last weeks. If you read my blog entry just a few posts back, I submitted 2 ideas for merchandise: a coin bank and a candy jar

While I was still working on it more than a week ago, YC happened to see it and commented that they weren't so attractive. As in, he probably would not want to get one if he saw it at an online shop.

On Friday evening I purchased FL Studio and I told YC about it. YC saw it that the prize for the competition was the sole motivating factor for my purchase of the software, so that I could start posting entries at the forum. 

Since last week, YC was already telling me to try and come up with something else. So last Sunday, I began to build the model of a headphone. Initially I had no idea at all what I was going to do. I had a vague idea that I was going to do the Fruity Loops logo again, on the headphones or something. I also thought of using the fruit as the source that the headphones were plugged into.

On Wednesday I submitted the coin bank and candy bar entry. On that night, YC tried to help me brainstorm for design ideas. I think he was itching to stretch his creative brain muscles. We came up with strange things, from lava lamps to trees bearing the fruity logo as fruits. 

So all the way to the weekend I continued to model and develop the model. I had some problem trying to model the mesh. I had 1 that is bump mapped, and I had 1 with circular holes and another with hexigonal holes cut into planes.

Here's some techincal self-indulgence.
initial holes cut into the plane
identifying a section for repeating the pattern
extruded the plane and added cuts to hold that shape after smooth

On Saturday night, I went without sleep for the full night trying to light, texture and develop the look for the single shot I am rendering. 

I used the depth map to drive part of my image out of focus. The sad part was that the independent depth map generated by Maya could not be recognised by Photoshop. I educated guess would tell me the file format should be IFF (Maya's native file format), and the depth values should probably be stored as floating point. But I still could not get any application to read it (not even Nuke). Finally I had to load it up in fcheck (which is only application I know that can read it correctly) and then save it out again as JPG. I tried PNG but somehow photoshop interpreted it as a really narrow vertical strip image with video (non-square) pixel aspect ratio.

Now the problem with fcheck is that it can only read images up to the resolution of your display. My resolution was 2000 x 1300, and fcheck only loaded it up half of that size. It does not help that depth maps are not anti-aliased. Next I had to go into Photoshop to use the depth map as the source of depth information (scaled up 100% and then blurred). This was used for the lens blur filter, which produced the final result below.

Anybody has a better workflow for lens blur? I could have used EXR and embedded the depth channel. Nuke would probably be able to pick that up. If I am not wrong, Photoshop should be able to open EXR files too. 

That was 30 Oct morning, London time. Contest ends 30 Oct. I was not very sure which time zone, so I finished it by Sunday 9am, my local London time.

After submitting it, I decided to run the rendered image through an Android app by Autodesk called Pixlr-o-matic. Its available from the Apple App Store too. Here are the amazing results and variations.

Many of  them are useable and
totally changes the feel of the image right? I was quite amazed at what mobile apps can do these days. So after I got these variations out, I quickly logged on and submitted a few more just to show the potential of the render.

I got a reply that said "damn kids throwing their 3D around these days". I think it was meant as a joke :). Another person replied "I want one of those, would you actually make them and how much can I buy them for?". Thats a great compliment to my work! 

The design contest was primarily a DESIGN contest. Probably the most important factor for judges  to consider would be the element of design. So I am prepared that the people evaluating the entries would throw my image out the door (including the fruity coin bank and candy jar). 

My very lousy connection at home prevented me from replying them.

After my last 2 entries (coint bank and candy jar) that had links to a video clips of animated turn table, 3D entries in the forum started to include turntable video links. Copycats! Hah! ;)

There are not activities in the forum, so we'll just wait for the results and see.

I had an idea of smoke coming out from the logo and cable, but I did not have time to do it. I think I'll continue to work on it and maybe post a post-contest entry in the forum, just to show how I meant it to be. I've just got to be disciplined enough to carry it through.

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