NestDrop: Presets Collection – Isosceles Mashups

After releasing the Cream of the Crop preset collection for NestDrop, I had a good understanding of the visuals that could be further explored. So I started doing mashups just for fun and stumbled across some fresh visuals.

The presets have been organized into categories and subcategories folders. The organizational structure matches that of the Cream of the Crop collection, so both collections can be installed into NestDrop and they will seamlessly merge together.

DOWNLOAD
– Collection of 1,131 Milkdrop presets
– Includes preview images of each preset
– Readme with install instructions

If you would instead prefer having all of the presets in one giant folder, here is a alternate version of the collection which has the categories and subcategories baked into the filenames.


Recently NestDrop has been particularly useful in helping to produce visuals for our online SubSpace Sessions. I have been recording the visuals and using it to layer along with other visuals when creating a show. Below is a tutorial I created which explores some different mixing techniques that are possible in NestDrop.

NestDrop: Presets Collection – Cream of the Crop

Recently I’ve been collaborating with N.E.S.T. Immersion to create an exciting tool for VJ-ing. And it’s launched as of today!

NestDrop is a tool for performing with high-resolution high-fps generative visuals which react in real-time to the music and then broadcasts the video via Spout. Since the Milkdrop engine is at the core you can easily bring in your own presets. Use any audio source to drive the visuals, even live audio.


Presets Collection – Cream of the Crop

I’ve spent a ton of time curating a best-of collection of presets for VJ’s to perform with. Over the years the Milkdrop community has released about 52,000 presets and so I selected only the best ones and ended up with 9,795 presets. I also organized the presets into categories and subcategories.

DOWNLOAD
– Collection of 9,795 Milkdrop presets
– Includes preview images of each preset
– Readme with install instructions

If you would instead prefer having all of the presets in one giant folder, here is a alternate version of the collection which has the categories and subcategories baked into the filenames.

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Exploring Render Engines for Fulldome Production

In recent years, the 3D industry went from very little support of fisheye rendering and now every modern render engine fully embraces it. I think we can thank the rise of VR for helping to shine a light on immersive production.

We recently had a chance to upgrade the render engine that we use in Maya for producing our fulldome shows. We were also able to add some computers to our old 10-node render farm. Many thanks to the Charles Hayden Foundation for the grant that made this vital tech leap possible.

With the recent introduction of GPU render engines, things are a bit more convoluted when considered alongside CPU render engines. Yet each render engine is unique and excels at different aspects, so it makes comparing them tricky work.

And so I thought it would be useful to hear from the fulldome community…

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Utilities: Converting Timecode & Frames – Estimate Job Render Time on a Farm

All too often I need to precisely convert between timecode and frames. Or I’ll want a rough time estimate of a render job on the farm. Yet I needed a utility that could allow for intuitive interactivity, GUI creation, and be instantly editable. So I’m using a simple open source solution: Pure Data

Pure Data (aka Pd) is a realtime graphical programming environment which is mainly used in live music performances. But its realtime aspect makes it ideal for my needs. So with some careful planning I applied the math nodes to create tools which automate the conversion process. Basically I’ve created a calculator tailored for animators and filmmakers.

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collection of Pd patches

Instructions
— Requires Pure Data to be installed. (supports: Windows, Mac, Linux)
— It’s easy to use. Just click and drag on the number boxes to input your timecode or frames.

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Jupiter Bands Simulation

Just a few days ago, I found out about a MIT competition called The Art of Astrophysics. Naturally my interest was piqued. The only problem was the deadline… 24 hours!

As a back burner project I’ve been experimenting with creating jupiter cloud bands that are truly fluidic. It’s very difficult to keep the multiple bands separate, so I’ve been testing the interaction between just two bands. The Kelvin–Helmholtz instability is a fascinating topic to focus on, but it’s heavy to simulate and difficult to predict.

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Background Stars v2

example_render(This post is an update to Background Stars v1. It will provide some context.)

A while back I shared a ‘star globe’ which has the night sky mapped onto a sphere. This can be used to completely surround a maya scene with stars. Andrew Hazelden and I often collaborate on various fulldome projects and he had an idea of how to re-engineer the star globe into requiring only 1 surface and 1 file texture. This allows for a vast improvement in rendertime. For instance:
— 4-poly & 4 texture star globe – 1m 40s
— 1-poly & 1 texture star globe – 30s

A bunch of other improvements are included:
— Fixes the grey blurry line glitch since it uses a Mental Ray texture network.
— A 2k texture for previewing in the Maya viewport. Then 8k texture used for renders.
— Other lights in the scene will not affect the star globe.
— Star globe never casts shadows.
— Star globe will automatically show up in reflections & refractions.
— Renders faster since the 1 texture needs much less initialization and poly is reduced.
— Here is a detailed explanation of these things are achieved.

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maya scene (using mental ray, redshift, vray, maya software) – star globe

starglobe_screenshot_20131113

The Nebula Challenge

One of the most difficult types of space imagery to create is a volumetric nebula. There are three main styles of nebulae to imitate: diffuse nebulae, planetary nebulae, and supernova remnants. The fluid framework within Maya is extremely flexible but it can be very tricky to just get a fluid/emitter set up with settings that are repeatable.

So to ease the cumbersome setup, below is a maya scene for the interactive creation of a fluid nebula. While experimenting with the attributes it’s important to have a real nebula reference image in mind; or else you’ll just continue tweaking attributes without any real measure of when it’s done. With fluids it’s quite easy to run down endless rabbit holes… There are just so many attributes that are interlocked. But it’s not impossible to tame fluids, you just need to have a goal in mind.

The nebula maker template is initially set up to have the look of a supernova shell because it’s actually more useful to experiment with. But I’ll share how to adjust the opacity ramp to create a diffuse nebula.

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House of Mirrors

Creating the sense of an huge expansive space is a challenge in 3D animation. But if we use mirrors and some trickery then we can create a vast beautiful illusion. The trick is to use structural beams to hide the mirrors edges. This creates a seemingly unending structural lattice. An infinite jungle gym!

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maya scenes (using mental ray) – cube, sphere, dodecahedra (flat & curved)

mirror-infinite-space-fisheye

house-of-mirrors-cube-sphere-dodecahedra

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Customizing a Close-Up Sun

Have you ever wanted to fly up close to a sun? To see those dynamic boiling details, shimmering corona, and mesmerizing surface textures patterns… But creating an animated volumetric sun with all these attributes is quite difficult.

It turns out that you can constrain a Maya fluid into a sphere. But the fluid system is tricky to work with since there are so many different attributes to explore and figure out their intertwined relationships. So it’s important that you already have in mind the type of star you want to create. Otherwise you’ll end up tweaking details endlessly without any basis for when it’s finished.

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Flying through a Galaxy Field

When I first saw the Hubble ultra deep field photos, I was in awe. Our brief glimpses out into the universe brings a certain deep peace to my mind. A mysterious and majestic connection to the cosmos. So I undoubtedly needed to create a galaxy field in Maya…

The galaxy distribution currently has a randomized layout. Meaning I used a MEL script to randomize the translateXYZ and rotateXYZ of each galaxy (more info below). So it does not currently mimic the cosmic web. In this first iteration of creating a galaxy field, the goal was simply to fly among the galaxies in 3D. But in postproduction you could easily put a real Hubble ultra deep field photo as the backdrop of everything, just to help the illusion.

There are 68 different galaxies images that have been photoshopped to paint out the background stars/galaxies. It is important to have the image edges fade to true black or else the image edges might be visible and ruin the effect.

I didn’t know if using 68 images would be enough to create a galaxy field and still feel dynamic in the amount of unique galaxies, but it works surprisingly well. Every so often two duplicate galaxies will appear close to each other and you can simply delete or move one of them away.

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maya scenes (using mental ray, redshift, vray, maya software) – galaxy field experiments

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