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Sharing Multimedia Endeavor

 

I have been working with 3D animation for the last four years and I am excited to share my experiences with you. It will also give you some idea oil how 3D animation are designed. I will tell you about the software and hardware requirement, techniques involved in animation and my personal experiences in animating logos, advertisements, which you may have seen in Nepal Television.


Before talking of animation, let me tell you how I got into animation. During my fourteen years of involvement in computers,I have always wanted to explore new things. Music, painting, poetry or any form or art has always interested me since my childhood. This inspired me to write graphics programs such as to make cars fly and 3D dies roll with sound effects in a 6502
machine in my early computing days. The interest to computer animation started then and I always wanted to introduce new things to Nepali computer technology. The 3D animation is result of this interest.


I am sort of an addict of small screens. I like the small screens (whether TV screens or the computer screens) so much tat I am
glued to one of them when I am at home. Fancy graphics in advertisements, flying logos and special effects in the foreign channels( I am fond  of the Star Tv logo design ) have always inspired to go into the field of 3D animation.
In 1992, I thought of starting a 3D Animation Studio in Nepal to provide animation services, which was completely an unexplored field. From different sources, I gathered the name of video cards and software required for the setup. When I first got the video card for video capture/output and the required 3D software (which were very expensive then), 1 was so excited that I forgot my dinner that evening. But it was not as easy as I thought. 1 was totally lost in the manuals.


Hardware conflict during installing the video card was a major problem I faced as it had to be plugged to any free slot in the computer and had to be joined to the VGA card extension (the ‘pass-through’ port) with a ribbon cable. Setting the wrong memory segment, base I/O address, read and write wait states would conflict with the VGA card and would not work properly. It worked after following the manual carefully, but took more than 5 to G hours to make the graphics generated by computer and the live video from a video source to overlay correctly over each other. It needed knowledge of video-terms (which I had a little like ‘Gen-lock’,’Sync’,’composite video’, ‘svedio’,’over/underscan’, etc. I had to learn these terms and try them with the installation software which came with the video card. At last, after hours of sighs and many cups of coffee, I tamed the monster! If you are thinking of making animation as your career, pick up a technical book on video and learn the technical terms. You will feel comfortable working with video after that.


Installation of 3D animation software (3D Studio) was quite easy, which included setting up the appropriate drivers for tile video cards. But then, learning them by hit and trial and by the help of some books was a time-consuming job which needed a lot of patience. As there was nobody to turn to when I had  problems, it nearly took two days to get my first model ready, animating was still a dream.


3D Studio is an easy hierarchical menu structure, but the terms related with 3D graphics, geometry, animation, shading method, structure mapping and rendering really go mad for the next few days. I slept only for three hours for the following weeks. This is where many people lose patience and give up. I did not give up and I got the first original animation on my tape on the ninth day (not the samples which came with the software). Within a month, I produced the first commercial 3Danimation advertisement in Nepal– “Iceberg Birko Bonanza”, which was about 10 seconds and took me a fortnight on my 386(!) computer with 8MB of Ram and math coprocessor(a luxury at that time). The first logo animation for Nepal television “Sangeet Sangam”, which was aired recently with the same name and different look, is of about 8 seconds. It took 12 hours for hte 386 to render and took me about two days to design. From that day onwards. I have not looked back.


With 3D software, it’s not the question of learning the commands, it is trying to accomplish something new every time with the same given facilities. It is a process(like programming) which you put together, conceive new ideas and make them happen. It needs creativity and the eyes to look at an object to make it come alive!

    Today, we have better 3D and graphics software, better yet cheaper hardware alternatives available. Do not think that 3D animation can be mastered with a mastery of one 3D software. There are a set of software you have to master. As explained above, mastering the software makes you technically sufficient and you need creativity to be a computer animator.


Next time, I will provide a detailed description of a real-time job. I completed recently. It will cover which software were used, stei-by step process of the animation techniques involved, how many cups of coffee I finished, how many times I banged my computer and how many times I shouted at my wife when she asked to be ready for dinner. Till then explore the world of animation.
   

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