Archive for the ‘VFX & 3D’ Category

Coventry Alumni Speaker Programme

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, I got an invite from Peter Every to kick off Coventry University’s brand new Graduate and Alumni Speaker Programme. Peter is the Associate Dean of the Computing Department and one of my former lecturers. More pictures can be found here.

Andy Abgottspon Graduate Talk. December 2011. from computing@coventry on Vimeo.

For more information, visit the

The Department of Computing is proud to present this series of talks by our graduates and alumni. Our graduates end up scattered across the planet in some seriously cool jobs. These are their stories. Andy graduated with first class honours in Informatics in 2010 before undertaking a Masters degree in Computer Animation and Visual Effect at the National Centre for Computer Animation at Bournemouth University. Whist studying at Coventry Andy released the ‘Roll It!’ app for iPhone which went on to sell 6000 units. Andy has recently released Meteora, a mobile game which utilises a version of the gesture recognition library that he developed for his final year project at Coventry. Andy now works as a software engineer at The Foundry – The world leading innovator of visual effects and image processing technologies for the motion picture industry. Read about Andy on

Meteora+ hits the App Store

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

The first gesture-controlled 3D airplane game has finally landed in the App Store. The objective is simple: Board the plane and collect the portals in the magical forest!

You can tilt your device like a steering wheel or, on devices with a front-facing camera (such as the iPhone 4/4S or iPad 2), even use gestures to manoeuvre the plane.

Gesture control works by tracking two objects and their respective position. Object recognition is based on color, so ensure the objects tracked have a distinct color from everything else in the picture (face, background, etc.) and you are in an evenly lit environment. For this purpose, colored gloves seem to work particularly well.

Gesture Control in Meteora+

The game, originated from two University projects, brings camera-driven interaction to mobile devices in the form of an addictive arcade game for people of all ages. An early preview of this still very young technology was shown in Frankfurt am Main at Macoun 2011, the biggest iOS and Mac developers’ conference in the German-speaking world.

Meteora+ ($3.99) is now available on the iTunes App Store.


That was Macoun 2011

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Macoun 2011 is over and I just arrived back in London. It was my first time and I was impressed with the quality of speakers and talks, people’s incredible openness and how brilliantly it was all organised. Also, thanks everyone for their lovely feedback on Twitter. I tried my best to retweet the most relevant tweets regarding gesture recognition, many more can be found using the #macoun hashtag.

The whole session was also recorded on video and will be posted soon. Meanwhile, here are some first pictures and the slides of my talk to download:

Norbert M. Doerner, @cdfinder Norbert M. Doerner, @cdfinder

photo by @toastedtoast

photo by @kopf_marcus

photo by @kopf_marcus

photo by @futuretap

Last but not least, the video recorded on stage. Thanks Chris, Thomas et al. for this wonderful thing you created!

Procedural modelling in Houdini based on Function Representation

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Some of you might have followed the progress of my master’s project in the devlog. The project is finally done and it has been a great learning experience.

“In modern computer graphics, objects are mostly represented by boundary representation models like polygonal meshes. Such models only store information about an object’s boundary and are relatively easy to render and often highly scalable. While this is sufficient for a variety of applications like many types of computer animation and games, other uses require information about volume rather than just surface. Function representation (FRep) allows defining objects as a set of geometric primitives with certain operations and relations. Since objects are defined as mathematical functions as opposed to a list of points, models are resolution independent and can be polygonised at any desired level of detail.

Building upon the current library developed at the NCCA and its Maya plugin, FRep mod- elling functionality has been integrated into Houdini and its node-based environment. The library is developed in C++ using the Houdini Development Kit (HDK) and comes as a set of custom nodes.” (Abstract taken from the thesis)

Basic FRep setup in Houdini using built-in primitive types

Bounded blending

Penguin FRep model

Metamorphosis between Penguin and Screw

Download Thesis (PDF, 4.7 MB)

Houdini Procedural City/Garden

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Although this project dates back to February, I just did not find the time to wrap it up and upload it. Find below some sample images, an instruction video and source download.

The goal was to create a Houdini Digital Asset that allows the procedural generation of a garden and city. The tool created offers a variety of options such as scattering based on a map, loading custom geometry, control over height and altitude as well as further controls to visualise and interact with the output.

Houdini procedural city

Houdini procedural garden

Download City/Garden HDA (ZIP, 0.6 MB)

Master’s Project — Dev Log

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

The first three terms of my Master’s course are done and only the final dissertation is left to do. My topic is about the creation of an FRep Modeller in Houdini using the Houdini Development Kit (HDK). This post will be be used as a personal log, documenting key decisions, progress and solutions to problems encountered on the way to completion.

I officially started work on the June, 7th. Read the whole article to find out more.


Houdini Cracking Tool

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

The creation of real-world phenomena is a very common task in CGI and visual effects. From tornados to avalanches, from apocalyptic tsunamis to earthquakes. For the CGI Techniques module at the NCCA, cracks as they occur in earthquakes have been investigated further. A Houdini Digital Asset has been built to allow easy creation and artistic control of a crack on a given surface. The report (see download below) documents the background research and explains technical aspects. Furthermore, the key problems during implementation are explained and the solutions presented.

Here are some screenshots of possible results (taken from the report):

Cracking tool


Houdini Cracking tool


The video above explains its usage and current limitations. There’s still a lot of work to do and optimisations to be done. Feel free to get the Houdini source files below.

Project Report (PDF) • Download Houdini source files (zip, 0.8 MB)

Update: Added explanation video and download link.

You look nice today - Maya still image

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

This assignment is from the first term, but I never had the time to post it online. It is part of the CGI Tools module at the NCCA where we had to create a still image with the topic dynamism. Inspired by one of my favourite podcasts, You look nice today, I recreated (modelling, texturing, lighting, rendering) a scene inspired by their logo in 3d using Maya. Here is the result:

Maya still image - You look nice today!

The slightly dark look is intended and the lighting suggests the unknown waiting for him behind the door. The flowers and some objects in the background could have some more detail though. Overall, I’m quite happy with the result given the limited amount of time and since it was one of my first attempts using Maya as opposed to other 3d packages.