Well folks, I finally have enough time and photos for a fairly extensive post! So without further ado, here’s what’s been going on:
I'm in the thick of learning the essentials of 3Ds MAX, which is building at an alarming rate! Shading, lighting, and modeling are all finally coalescing, leading into our first big project. For class this past week we had to storyboard a series of steps in a scientific process and pick a single still to illustrate and render in MAX. Being the zombie-lover that I am, I chose to work on a scene of Cordyceps Militaris attacking the guts of an insect. Cordyceps is a nasty parasitic fungus that attacks ants, spiders, and other insects, takes over their minds, and mummifies them from the inside out. In the video game The Last of Us (hands down one of the *best* games I’ve ever played) a ficticious Cordyceps variant evolves spreads to humans and brings on the apocalypse. This is some truly terrifying stuff, ficticious version or real, and is going to be a lot of fun to work with. All those moldy textures and glistening organs...Anywho, I’ll be working on this project over the next few weeks and will post the result on here once it’s finalized.
In Anaplastology, we’ve been working in the lab, learning about the machinery, tools, materials, and techniques necessary to create an auricular prosthesis. Working from a model, the goal is to duplicate the opposite (missing) ear on a plaster cast of an existing ear defect. We started by mixing clay, wax, and Crayons to get the right consistency and a “fleshy” color. The wax is then sculpted into the basic shape of an ear, carved, smoothed, and refined so that it matches its partner. After getting the basic shape right, the wax model has to be tweaked and repositioned until the elevation of the ear is right from all angles, sized appropriately, and includes all of the anatomical features in the correct proportions. Holding the two sides up to one another, the slightest difference becomes glaringly obvious, and drawing attention to a prosthesis defeats the purpose. As of right now, the basic wax ear is complete and we will be adding texture next week, casting it in silicone, attaching mounting hardware, and finally coloring it.
I’ve always enjoyed working with wax and it feels good to work with something that I have a fair amount of experience with. The BVIS program has consisted a lot of fumbling around in the dark up to this point, as far as learning unfamiliar skills. Photoshop and MAX has definitely been a challenge, but more fun than I could have ever imagined. The Anaplastology coursework is really great because, in spite of all the CNC machines and fancy gizmos, it is still very much grounded in traditional sculpting techniques. The ear project has been an awesome exercise and soon we’ll get to start working on a glass eye. Righteous!
Up to this point I have only been throwing around vague information about the Haptics and Augmented Reality class, which has mostly been due to not knowing quite how to explain it. But Lo, and behold! I took some video of the haptic device we are using IN ACTION, which will hopefully shed some light on what you can do with it. To set up the scene, our current project requires us to build four 3D models in C++, add them into a blank scene, and apply different parameters to each object so that they "feel" different from one another. The user can then interact with the virtual objects with the haptic device and feel the differences between them. Here are two videos:
If you watch both the screen and the haptic device, you can see how they interact with one another. The parameters of the sphere are set so that it feels dense and has a slippery surface. The haptic pointer slides off of the sphere with almost no resistance and follows the rounded contour of the object. The cube has a bouncier surface and is somewhat squishy (more of a deflated kickball consistency). As the device moves across the surface, it falls off the edges sharply. By adjusting the attributes assigned to each object, you end up with a variety of different touch senses, which make an object feel sticky, slippery, soft, hard, etc. These attributes can also be combined with one another to create even more complex surfaces.
If you feel a tickle in your ear, that’s just your liquefied brain oozing out. Cuz your mind just got blown. This technology is insane!!
Finally, my research project is gaining momentum. I just chose my committee members and started fleshing out the final ideas for my topic. For the project I will be working with a paleontologist to reconstruct the skeletal remains of several individuals who lived in sub-Saharan Africa approximately 7000 years ago. Using CT scan data, I’ll be “virtually digging” the skeletal remains out of the ground, and using 3Ds MAX to reconstruct the missing pieces, put them back together, and stand them up. As far as projects go, I think I picked a winner! This semester and over the summer I will be fine-tuning my modeling skills in preparation for the project. After compiling all my data and presenting it to my committee in the summer, the 3D modeling begins. Huzzah!
To be continued.