The Animal Farm

April 24th, 2008

The Guitar Hero 2: Urban Assault

Watch it!

Is it as good as our last film? I don’t know. But I hope you enjoy it.

Everybody likes robots.

April 23rd, 2008

This is What it Feels Like

We won first place at the film festival. First place. I’m working vigilantly to get the video on Google Videos, but the only video compressor I’ve found so far makes the film practically unwatchable.

Nibble, don’t eat the Titanic.

April 22nd, 2008

You Thought They Were Dead

A good blogger doesn’t make excuses for lagging on updates, but good bloggers don’t roll like us great bloggers. After much tribulation, our film is in its final state, waiting to receive judgment at the Outlet Film Festival tonight at 7. Will this judgment be favorable, earning me the esteem of my colleagues, or will the scorn of my brethren cause me to pursue artificial drug-induced euphoria whilst I pine over life’s inequities and author existentialist novels? In six hours, the world shall know the answer.

Apartment hunting in NC continues unabated. I have e-mailed countless anonymous Craigslisters. I have spoken with robots, cold and unfeeling, only a step away from screaming “Exterminate! Exterminate!” I have faced rejection and heartache, known wasted opportunity, experienced fear. I have narrowed my selection to a handful of choices, the most prominent of which being a short-term lease in a duplex with 3 (!!) girls. Not that the girls are the selling point - though they could quadruple the rent without me thinking twice - no, the shortness of the lease and the proximity to both work and UNC are the primary considerations. If the room were furnished, it might be perfect, but I am prepared to concede certain luxuries when the rent is considerably lower than all competition.

Game development continues equally unabated, though it took a temporary back seat for editing. Our final project for Computer Graphics might well be one of our better concoctions. You will never see it; it is too unpolished, too big, contains too much copywritten content. Still, we have some interesting shader effects. The rest of the week we will be focusing on more advanced lighting models, a little depth of field, some contour rendering, cleaning up our shadows, normal mapping, and who knows what else. This weekend we will take these fancy effects and make a game.

This could be better.

April 11th, 2008

Plasma on the GPU

I hacked together a quick plasma effect in RenderMonkey that computes the plasma entirely on the GPU. Initially I did it along a screen-aligned quad for a simple effect (something that could play in the background), but I quickly realized it could be mapped to arbitrary models.

The plasma function is a summation of a few sin and cos functions, where the inputs to these functions are either an x or y coordinate that is passed in. I use the texture coordinates of the model (scaled by some size and incremented by some time-dependent speed to simulate motion) as the x and y values, so it looks good on textured models that have very continuous texture coordinates - otherwise you can see seams. The whole thing is really easy and much, much faster than the CPU version. Right now the coloring is a bit simple; I could get some more varied results if I applied a palette.

Here are some pictures of my results:

Every model with a plasma gun.

April 10th, 2008

I am Your…

…Master. Yes, you are now reading the text of one Master Brian Sowers.

That’s not really my title, which is a damn crime. They don’t give a special title for MS degrees, something to empower you between undergrad and Doctor, which was a grievous oversight by whatever miscreant created the graduate system. I would have settled for something less extravagant - perhaps His Esteemed - but no. Nothing.

As you might have guessed, I just wrapped up my thesis defense. It should have been 30 minutes, but it was 45, and I’m not apologizing. One of my committee members missed it, but I caught up with him afterward and gave him the abridged version. I’m not quite finished: I still have to finish up my course work and get some minor paperwork sorted out, but it’s nothing that should give cause for concern. Unless they snuck a complicated quantum mechanics proof into my Final Approval forms, I should be OK.

So now there is the question of things that must be done soon, and the list is not as small as I’d like. I still have to find an apartment; the pair of women that I talked to shot me down, but I’m pretty used to that kind of rejection. I have some stuff for Emergent to do (paperwork and familiarizing myself with some things). Zach and I are working out our project for graphics class, which we’re going to try and knock the bulk out of this weekend. There’s a whole lot of editing on the movie that still needs to be done, and it’s going to take every ounce of raw talent I have to salvage some of that footage. I’ve got an enhanced user interface to write for a new ambient occlusion map generation scheme. It’s not the busiest I’ve been, but there’s plenty to do.

April 9th, 2008

It Lurks in the Shadows

And waits to strike.

The date in the above trailer for our next movie (!!) has actually been pushed back. I know what you’re thinking - how could a three man team with such a small project justify pushing back their release date. The blame rests solely on our venue, the Outlet Film Festival, which has posters scattered around town for festivals they held years prior. Or maybe the blame doesn’t rest on them, I don’t know; get the hell over it. Just imagine that instead of saying “April 16″ it says “April 22,” and by sheer will alone you shall see the true release date.

Keep ‘em up buddy