flipCode - Tech File - Alex Champandard [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Alex Champandard
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E-Mail: alex@base-sixteen.com

   01/11/2001, The Sound Of Silence

Autumn In York

Last term for was very uneventful as far as graphics programming was concerned... so instead of telling you about the floods here, or boring you with my first proper steps in web development and how I almost opened a high profile site, or by complaining about my lack of computer, I decided to take a step back and neglect the techfile (**Alex ducks to avoid Kurt's fist.** :) Anyway, new year has been and gone, with yet more promises to update more often. This term is going to be just as empty as the last and since I now actually having a computer to work with, it will be possible once my exams are over. I'll even tell you what's in store, so I can't change my mind.
  • Interfaces And Development Of Technology
  • Trials And Tribulations In Parametric Skeletal Animation
  • Alternate Programming Languages
  • Artificial Intelligence For Movement
And possibly more, unless I finally decide to write some tutorials I've been planning.

Not Coding And Withdraw Symptoms

To be honest, even if I had had a computer, I'm not sure I would have used it. Coding as a job for 9 hours a day (and sometime more) over the summer did eventually get my motivation down. And although I learnt a hell of a a lot, I appreciated the fact I could come back to Uni! As I said, I haven't coded any graphics in about 10 weeks, and not feeling worse for it. All the ideas I had have matured, and I believe are in a state ready to be implemented. It's just a matter of sitting down and doing it, which admitedly is the most time consuming.

For those of you that have huge brains waiting to go, here are some of the cool ideas I had and that you may wish to launch yourself into:
  • Crow simulation (ex: xmas shopping in Oxford Street, evacuation from a burning building)
  • Teaching a virtual actor to walk or climb over walls
  • Random city generation
  • Physically based inverse kinematics (using springs)
If you have any ideas on those topics, feel free to email me.

Projects, Or The Lack Of

The reason why my Autumn term was so empty was due to the fact I was supposed to be doing a project. It's based on Soft Body Dynamics. Since I didn't have a computer to implement anything on, I spent most of my time researching. Cloth simulations are not really a problem to find out about, but there isn't much stuff on generic soft bodies. There's a conference about to be held, with quite a few papers that look promising. In the mean time, I've settled for a spring based physically simulated skeleton which i believe will be good enough to combine speed and quality of the simulation. The plan was to implement all this during the holidays, but I got distracted with parametric animation and ended up doing that instead of the physics. It's damn cool stuff.

JigSAW - Skeletal Animation Workshop

The editor (or rather 'viewer' for the moment) is called JigSAW, and can just about load Half-Life models, and animate the skeletons with two channels blended in.

The loading code is based on some of the code Valve released... that stuff is damn ugly (and completely coincidently it happends to be C, yuk)! Pretty ironic considering I voted for the MDL format to avoid the uglyness of 3DS files :)

Anyway, time for some revision :)

Take it easy,

  • 01/05/2002 - A.I., Websites and Voxels
  • 03/05/2001 - State Of The Art Character Animation
  • 01/24/2001 - Alternate Programming Languages
  • 01/11/2001 - The Sound Of Silence
  • 09/20/2000 - Engine prototypes, yet more landscape LOD and hard body physics
  • 07/13/2000 - Good Practice (TM)
  • 06/13/2000 - Revision Week Indeed
  • 04/11/2000 - Escape From Inactivity ;)
  • 01/05/2000 - Generic Shaders
  • 12/03/1999 - Start Of Term: Lots Of Good Intensions :)
  • 10/06/1999 - Dynamic LOD, Landscape Generation and much more...
  • 09/22/1999 - Water Contest Entry: Rendering Raytraced Refraction with 3D Hardware
  • 09/16/1999 - More About Bezier Patches And Fractals
  • 08/11/1999 - The Right Landscape Engine For You!
  • 07/12/1999 - Leftovers From The Contest: Fixing TP7's Runtime Error 200 bug
  • 07/01/1999 - Introduction

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