Starting from the Source!

Me again,

Got a long read for y’all.

Hope you guys haven’t been waiting for me to surface again with another post. If so, speak up. Under a little pressure it will more than likely provoke me to update this thing more than once a month. (in case you didn’t realize that was another, probably failed attempt to generate some interaction).

Anyway, if you think this will be the last time you see me for another 30 days, don’t fret, there will be another post tomorrow.

But this is the here and now so lets get on with it.

So since the start of this blog I’ve tried to cover one main topic, Modelling. I don’t think that i haven’t done a terrible job in documenting and provide a little insight to how i am creating models, however i do admit that i need to provide a few more tip and tricks in some posts and…. a few more models (don’t worry one is coming tomorrow).

Not that I need anything more to keep you reading, but i want to document another process that i have been getting into, Houdini (not really a big surprise).

To be more specific, VEX, and to be even more specific, Shader development.

yeah i know, stupid right because I’m a modeller i.e. Artist.

But for a while now, I’ve been trying to find another avenue of Cg to walk down so i am a more well rounded artist. Year’s ago a made a half hearted attempt to get into MEL, and Delphi etc, but it never seemed like a good idea, in terms of what i wanted to do.

But in the past year ½ i have found myself learning more and more about Houdini.

Now everyone knows that Houdini is tough for “dumb” artists to learn. Its like kryptonite.

However if the enthusiasm is there then it a lot easier i believe, there is a lot of documentation out there and two communities that are always there to help.

You might think, “yeah, OK, learn Houdini, but why learn VEX and not only Vex but shader development. Why, out of all the other applications of Houdini do you want to try the one thing that is probably the hardest thing of all.”

Well there are a number of reasons:

  • I need to gain some programming skills. I have felt programming is a gateway to another way of thinking, working, achieving.
  • Learning VEX, i feel will help me understand Houdini with a higher level of clarity and probably faster.
  • More control (who doesn’t want that).
  • I want to be smarter.

Now I would expect some people to laugh at that last point, but you know what, its true. To be a good programmer especially dealing with graphics you need to have a very solid maths background. So a while ago i purchased a set of Maths training that would not only provide a refresher but in many cases a total reveal to a lot of topics that crop up in the world of graphics programming, like Trigonometry, Vector Algebra, E, i and a shit load more.

I always enjoyed maths at school but never spent enough time with it to develop a passion for it, i was too busy painting and sculpting.

So I’m not going into this thing lightly.

Plus I’ve been looking into how i am actually going to learn this thing. What steps i am going to take, how am i going to progress? Well i noticed that there aren’t a lot of tutorials on VEX, except for the documentation which provides all the functions, syntax, variables.

Wanna know why….

VEX is very similar to Renderman. And there is a bunch of material on Renderman, free and commercial. So i don’t think there will be a problem there.

Infact here is my very first VEX shader, basic yes i know, but it feels good to create a shader from complete scratch.

Some of you may be thinking well, what is sparking this epiphany.

As i said earlier the main reason for this was finding a road to learn Houdini but that road for some seems to be very easy to walk down. The reason is these guys have a technical background that almost prepares them for Houdini.

Have a look at this thread:

“Lack of Tutorials!” Thread @ SideFX

But you know what, to be in Computer graphics, the decision to learn a scripting language, or try to be a little more technical, shouldn’t be such a big deal. I think more artists should be more technical. If not to be smarter and more commercially viable but just to know more about the technology your using.

The timing of this decision is somewhat weird.

I just received the latest issue of 3D World and guess what, Craig Zerouni is talking about the exact same thing in his Letter from Hollywood column. Check it out, issue 104.

So artists out there, do yourself a favour. Try something technical, if you do your research it wont be as painful as you might think.

hope you enjoyed that read.

Stay tuned for the next few days for a model update. Or subscribe, it’s easier.

-andy

Starting from the Source!

One thought on “Starting from the Source!

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