Saturday, April 22, 2006

Last Night

Bread Baking

Improv Party Last Night.
Jim made bread.
I brought 6 pounds of watermelon.

We played very difficult charades, which someone compared to how if accountants were to have a party, they would get together on a really difficult case, and just end up working at the party.

I just finished a math exam.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I have a robot obsession

I was going to write something about the bipolar street performer I met last night who told me that he had a 90% chance of committing suicide. Then, I was going to write about the representation of computer games in recent films. But...

...I decided it would be much more fun to talk about robots. Specifically, my obsession with them.

I just sat down on my couch to draw something (yes, the couch IN MY ROOM) and the first thing I drew was a rectangular prism, followed by a sphere atop it, and then the words in block capital letters "EVIL ROBOT". This is a symptom of the problem.

Getting down to it - robots are sexy, seriously. They are what's hot right now. Popular media doesn't care about the human condition anymore, it cares about the robot condition - the struggle to find love, control your feelings, reproduce and find your purpose. Robots trying to look like people. For example:

- Battlestar Galactice
- BiCentennial Man
- A.I.
- Any and all Star Trek, etc. (I'm not a Trekkie)
- my friend Jim somehow

I'm also trying to build/program a virtual zoo called MyZoo using simple AI in the Second Life platform right now, which is probably why its on my mind, or maybe that's another symptom. Anyway, its sexy - we'll see what comes of this.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Fog: Real Time Computer Graphics Adventure

So last night I stepped of Glen Garry Glen Ross with Kate and Jenmy to very thickly fogged weather, which I found delightful. The conditions for it were just right: no wind, very moist cold air. The fog was uniform over our entire walk.

While I was walking, I realized just how difficult it must be to simulate fog, and shadows, and combinations of them for computer graphics. I really wish I had taken pictures of what was going on, how the street lights were interacting with the trees and power lines to make really sharp and diffuse shadows.

So, what is the behaviour of fog? Let's assume this: every point in a region of fog distributes all the light it recieves evenly over every angle. Also, the fog has a certain density in the air, which determines whether directionality or diffuseness of light dominates.

On the macro-level, I would notics that diffuseness seems to dominate: light sources have "clouds" of illuminosity surrounding them, which is why it is so useless to have headlights on. Back to computer graphics, this must be horrible to have to simulate, so perhaps (as with some games) it is slightly pre-rendered.

On the micro-level, and this is what is really cool, I noticed that thick, straight power lines or branches that were close to the light cast a planar shadow. This, obviously, isn't unexpected, but it looks fucking cool. For a first short bit the shadow is really harsh, and then lights fills in as it diffuses. What's also fascinating is that the shadows is a VOLUME, not a 2-dimensional pictures that were are used to seeing cast on a surface. As I was walking along I noticed that the shadow would change shape based on the thickness of its volume I was looking through, as it had no clear defined visible edges. This above effect further adds to the horror of trying to simulate this. which makes me content that the universe exists in its full volume and computational power to create pretty effects.