November 13th, 2011

Meteora+ hits the App Store

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.

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October 4th, 2011

That was Macoun 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!

September 26th, 2011

Gesture Library at Macoun 2011

Less than a week left till the biggest iOS and OS X developer conference in the german-speaking world starts. Macoun 2011 will take place on the first weekend of October in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. I’m proud to be one of the speakers in such an amazing line-up. My session is going to be on Sunday, 11 am (Grosser Saal). So for those developers who still want to sign up and attend, today is the last day!

Macoun

The talk is going to be about the Gesture Library on the iPad 2 and is going to focus on the concepts and technology behind it. We will also look at some code samples. Here an abstract of the talk (Source: www.macoun.de):

Visuelle Gestenerkennung

Gestengesteuerte Interaktion mit einer virtuellen Umgebung — ganz im Stile von Minority Report — ist dank Front-Kamera auch auf dem iPad 2 möglich. Anhand einer Beispiel-App werden die spannenden Möglichkeiten solcher Anwendungen gezeigt und einige dahinterliegende Technologien und Konzepte erläutert.

I still have a lot to prepare, only so much: People who were waiting for Meteora might really like it :)

August 16th, 2011

Procedural modelling in Houdini based on Function Representation

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)

June 15th, 2011

Houdini Procedural City/Garden

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)

June 7th, 2011

Master’s Project — Dev Log

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.

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May 26th, 2011

Houdini Cracking Tool

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

result3

Houdini Cracking tool

tool-settings


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.

May 25th, 2011

You look nice today - Maya still image

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.

May 8th, 2011

Rendering a Chocolate Ball using RenderMan

For the RenderMan part of the CGI Tools assignment, a simple real world object had to be re-created and rendered. The tasks were to analyse the object and apply the correct techniques in terms of displacement, shading, lighting, etc. The report documents these steps and the methods used. In order to produce two final images, a Ferrero Rocher chocolate ball has been created from scratch and placed in a scene.

The renderer used is 3delight and can be installed on Mac, Linux and Windows for free. Also see my TextMate bundle for rib files and 3delight.

These are the final renders:

Rendered Scene A

Rendered Scene B

Download Report

Download Source

April 25th, 2011

Meteora – 3D iOS Game

For the module Animation Software Development, I recently developed a 3D game for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. It is fully data-driven and uses Lua and irrlicht. There is also a full report available for download below. It contains the initial design, concept drawings, explanation of algorithms and technologies used.

Meteora Teaser

The game currently features 5 levels, each 45 s long. They all differ in the speed of the airplane and the amount of obstacles (so far mainly trees). I plan on releasing this to the App Store at some point in time. However, I still need to add more level packs and add things like Game Center integration so players can submit highscores.

Meteora Gameplay on iPad Screenshot of gameplay on an iPad.

Download Report (PDF, 9.2 MB)