C4D Building Kit is available at The Pixel Lab

Joren Kandel and I just launched an epic kit that generates beautiful buildings quickly and easily.  There are 55 panel sets that can be reordered, remixed and reshaped to create a completely original piece of architecture fast!  Furthermore, each building style or panel set can be mixed and matched with other panel sets to create even more amazing results!  You can even create your own custom panels to use in the rig.  There are tons of presets including spline profiles to shape your building and a library of detail models to add more customization options! 

It has never been easier or faster to model custom buildings in Cinema 4D.

Check out the Building Kit for Cinema 4D and get your copy today!
 

https://www.thepixellab.net/building-kit

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Ukramedia Podcast Interview

I got involved with Ukramedia because I love what Sergei and Vlad are doing with the mentoring group.  I wish 10 years ago I had someone to talk to with the experience I have now.  In this podcast I share my story with Vlad and we talk about some of the highs and lows of that career path and lessons learned.

FREE Model - Alfa Romeo Navajo

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I have a new FREE model for you only available in C4D.  

This is a concept car called the Navajo designed for Alfa Romeo in 1976 by prolific automotive designer Bertone.  The car never went into production and, to be frank, from what I’ve read it probably wouldn’t have been a very good car.  BUT it looks awesome!  Bertone designed a ton of concept car styles for a variety of companies and some of them were put into production including the Ferrari 308GT4 and the Lamborghini Countache.

There is a whole 80s retro-future design theme I’ve seen over the last couple years incorporating DeLoreans or those angular DeLorean-esque cars.  I haven’t done any work in that vein, but I love it and when images of the Navajo popped up on a website somewhere I was pretty sure no one had modeled it.  And I wanted to.   

The model itself is just a shell.  If someone wants to model an interior for the Navajo and share it with the community, I’d be happy to update the file with credit to the creator.  I don’t have time to do it.  

Happy rendering!

The Building Kit - COMING SOON to The Pixel Lab

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The Building Kit is a product for making custom buildings in Cinema 4D.  The idea came when I was working with other products for making cityscapes like City Kit from Greyscalegorilla, City Rig from C4Depot and Metropolitan from Videocopilot.  These products do a fantastic job generating cities, but I wanted to create my own buildings.  I wanted a tool that was flexible, that was drag and drop.  Anyone who does modeling knows it's not a speedy process and I wanted to test a lot of options quickly.  Fast and customizable, that was the key, and I couldn't find a product like that anywhere.  So I made my own.

What's beautiful about The Building Kit is any variable in the product can be customized.  It's got a library of 55 architectural styles to start with, but if you want something that isn't there already you can create your own custom piece of geometry in a few minutes, throw it in the rig and invent a whole new style.  Materials.  Number of floors.  Outline of the building.  Iterating patterns.  Everything from beginning to end has a library of presets AND the ability to add your own. 

I didn't know if artists would want to work entirely in The Building Kit product or use the kit to model 80% of a building and then create a bunch of details by hand.  So I modeled a bunch of details by hand.  Roof tops, HVAC systems, signage, fire escapes, antenna masts, a helipad and more so you can put as much or as little effort into creating new buildings as you want.

And animation.  You can collapse the whole rig down to a single polygon object if you want, but you don't have to.  Because the product is built around Mograph your building can be a motion graphics element as easily as it can be a static model. 

I predicted the future (and you’re welcome)

Around the year 2000 I was in college majoring in digital media or video production or broadcasting or something.  The actual name of the program changed several times.  In a broadcast class with Professor K we had an assignment to write about the future of our field.  Where we thought it was going and what that would look like.  I predicted three things:

1 - Digital media integration in cars

2 - On demand streaming services

3 - VFX integration in live sports.  

Digital media in cars is a no-brainer now.  But keep in mind smart phones were just PDAs that made calls and I was stealing music on Napster over a phone line when I wrote this.  And Napster is what I was thinking about in the paper.  I wrote that a near infinite variety of music would be available on demand in the same console that controlled the radio.  I imagined some kind of interface more advanced than the typical car stereo would have to be created to control it.  When cars became compatible with iPods and smartphones I considered this to be checked off.  Infotainment systems were the ultimate fulfillment of that idea though.  It was the purpose-built custom interface to control all the media that made me go “Yes!  This!  This is what I saw in my head!”

On demand streaming services came from this thing we did in college.  File sharing services were just beginning to illegally offer movies and tv shows that you could download.  The bottleneck was that ISPs back then weren’t as fast as they are now.  You could get an entire movie in standard definition if you left your computer on overnight and the download didn’t get interrupted.  But if you were transferring files within the campus network everything was so much faster.  You could get that same movie in 20 minutes.  You could get a full episode of The Simpson’s in just a few minutes.  A few enterprising people secretly dumped gigs of files onto public computers in the engineering building and then shared password protected folders that only they knew about on the campus network.  I found out about some of these computers and got a few passwords.  I traded passwords with other people who knew of different shared folders and before I knew it I could watch maybe 100 different tv series and a couple hundred movies from my dorm room by navigating to the computer on the network and opening the file remotely.  I didn’t even have to copy it to my computer.  On demand streaming television.  It was so convenient and so easy.  One day other people were going to see the value in this.  I just knew it.

VFX integration in live sports is by far the least successful prediction, but it has been done.  When I wrote about this I was thinking of 2 things.  The first was The Matrix and NFL replay officiating.  The second was that poorly executed computer generated line that Fox tried to use during hockey games to help viewers follow the puck.  When it came to replays in the NFL I realized you were limited by the number of available camera angles.  In The Matrix the Wachowskis had come up with a technique to interpolate the frames in between 2 camera angles.  You may know it as bullet time.  I was convinced that given enough coverage and faster computers the same technique could give you every angle you could possibly need to see if a player was in or out of bounds.  Something like this has been used in test broadcasts and occasionally, if the review takes long enough, they’ll take stills from 2 camera angles and combine them to see if they can get more information.  However this is a gimmick for TV viewers that is rarely used and as far as I can tell not used at all by officials.  Still, the principle is sound and it has technically been done.  What did take off though was the something similar to the hockey puck line.  The idea behind the laser puck was really cool:  Overlay graphics that interacted, or appeared to interact, with live action.  The best use I’ve seen of this is the field overlay graphics for football.  The line of scrimmage, the first down marker, the down and yardage graphics all placed accurately on the field, though only visible to broadcast viewers.  Players can run through and over them and they hold their tracking.  Cool stuff.  A similar innovation is billboards in baseball stadiums.  Sometimes instead of a sponsor it will just be a green billboard intended to be tracked and have graphics inserted during live broadcasts.  

I had no hand in actually bringing these innovations to life and I’m no a futurist.  I just looked at what was around and made some educated guesses.  I think that’s what creativity is.  The ability to look at two things and come up with a third thing that wasn’t there before.  I have some ideas about where we go next and perhaps this time around I’ll be able to have a hand in bringing them to life.

If you're bored, read the copy

The NASA SLS Rocket model is available today in Products.  I was going to make a commercial and everything, but I didn't.  I wrote a script though and hired a voice actor on Fiverr.  He did a good job.  I put the script in the product description, so if you're bored you can read it.  But here's the thing:  I'm really lazy.  If I have to choose between building C4D models and producing advertisements, models are going to win every day of the week except Sunday.  Sunday is for football.  Everybody knows that. 

I made a really basic test render though.  Have a look.  Read the commercial.  Buy the model and I can have a pizza with my football.  Also you'll have a really awesome model!

Insurance Fraud and Digital Archeology

“It was a skeleton crew in daylight near land.”  He said.   “That’s how you know it’s insurance fraud.  When someone’s trying to sell a ship and it sinks like that, it’s on purpose.  

I was reading through a company-wide online safety directory.  Among other things, it listed accidents that had happened fleet wide, from injuries to damage to the ship - what caused them and how to prevent them in the future.  And of course sinkings.  They’re incredibly rare for cruise ships.  That’s why I was reading about it.  There was a new officer at my station.  Not new, really, but new to me.  He had decades in the industry and just transferred onboard.

“Did anyone die?” he asked.  
“No”, I answered.
“Of course not.  Because the only people on that ship were the company’s people.  Experienced people who knew what they were doing.  This isn’t the first time either.”    

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A client hired me to model a ship for a video he was producing.  He was a diver who had just come back from shooting footage of the SS Queen of Nassau wreck in the Florida Keys.  He wanted me to show the ship as it would have been the day before it sank.  I love modeling ships, but this one was a problem.  First it was more than 100 years old so records were difficult to come by.  Second, it wasn’t very important.  You can find blueprints for 100 year old ships if they’re noteworthy.  The Titanic.  The HMS Dreadnought.  But a small ship of no particular importance?  Good luck.  The third problem is the ship had been sold and modified more than once.  There were definitely no blueprints of that.  

I searched online forums, contacted museums and archives.  I called the operators of any website that even mentioned the ship to discover their sources.  All dead ends.  After two weeks of searching I had only a handful of grainy photographs.  Then I got something.  I found a website selling paper models that you could print out, cut up and fold yourself.  One of the products for sale was my ship.  It was so random and almost cartoonish.  When I looked at the product page, though, I saw more detail than anything else I had found.  Either this person made up details that didn’t exist or he had a source!  I bought the model and contacted him immediately.  He did indeed have documents, but there was a problem.  His source had discovered the wreck.  It was sensitive information, credit for the discovery, papers to be published and all that.  The documents were shared in confidence.  He told me the name of his source and gave me Tane’s email address at NOAA.  Turns out, this all happened years ago and Tane was now happy to share.  Eureka!  Tane wrote his thesis on the wreck and had hundreds of pages on the ship.  Drawings and plans, photographs, diagrams of the wreck and illustrations of the ship over its entire life.  It had everything I could want except hull lines.  The most important part.  The starting point.  Literally the first thing you need to model a ship.  After 3 weeks I finally had a treasure trove of information that, unbelievably, was still useless.  I wanted to drink.  And bash my head against something.  As I was drinking, but before I bashed my head against anything, I had a thought.  Maybe I should read Tane’s thesis.  I was tired of reading about the beginning of this ship so I read about the end.  At the end of its life the ship was used to ferry people between Miami, Florida and the Bahamas.  It wasn’t a good vessel for this trip and it lost money.  The owners put it up for sale and the ship sat for a year and a half without interest, rusting away.  Then, out of the blue, the owners announced the ship would travel from Miami to Tampa to be inspected by some anonymous foreign investors.  With a skeleton crew onboard, the ship started taking on water near the Florida Keys.  It sank slowly in daylight near land with all hands making it safely ashore.  Text book insurance fraud I thought.  And thus came the end of a proud ship born in the Vickers yard 22 years earlier.  All ships die sad deaths eventually.  It’s one of those things you always know, but if you love ships it’s still hard to read.  But, wait a minute.  Tane said it was built by Vickers.  Vickers is famous!  They would have had impeccable records.  Historically important records.  The company wasn’t around anymore, but that was a recent development.  They made it almost to the new millennium before being acquired, chopped up and eventually melted into divisions of Rolls Royce and BAE respectively.  Yeah, I get it:  I’m a ship nerd.  But come on, this is a shot!  Those records might still exist.  

Spoiler - they still exist.  And no one had any idea but me.  Not even Tane.  Turns out the records were sold off around the same time Vickers was chopped up and they were collected by Royal Museums Greenwich, only the museum didn’t know what they had.  There were tens of thousands of pages sitting in a warehouse near London.  RMG had plucked out the important ones, scanned them and made them available for purchase but well over 90% of the pages had not even been cracked open.  RMG had a catalogue of contents that, dishearteningly, listed only 4 pages for my ship.  But when they sent me the 4 line items, one appeared to be a technical drawing of hull lines.  They sent a photographer to the warehouse to scan my page and it was everything I’d hoped for.  More even.  There were penciled in notes and corrections from the builders.  This page sat anonymously in the back of a warehouse so long that no one now living had seen it until I my request.  

After more than a month I was looking at the very page held by the people who built my ship with their own hands as they were building it 115 years ago.  I felt like Indiana Jones.  

I build a lot of 3D models and I give a lot of them away for free.  It takes so long to make them if they’re good.  I spend days, sometimes weeks or months, staring at a project file as it comes together, turning it around and trying to see it.  The way it bends and turns.  When I’m done, if it’s good, someone somewhere else in the world, someone I will never meet, is staring at the same project file, orbiting the same model to see how it bends and turns and we are connected.

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