Project One Proposal
My research involves the realistic rendering of plant surfaces such as
leaves and petals. I am currently using the photon mapping renderer Dali,
courtesy of Dr. Henrik Wann Jensen (Stanford University), to produce static
renderings of plant models constructed with Vlab software. I have been
learning to write shaders that capture the essence of light interactions
with leaf surfaces for example, diffuse transmission of light through
leaf surfaces and subscattering of light rays within the layers of a leaf.
Instead of simply relying on static images to convey realistic plant renderings,
it may be interesting to create animations whereby a camera flies around
a plant or a plant sways in a breeze. Such animations would allow us to
view light interactions with leaves and petals from different vantage
points. As the angle between the plant surfaces and light sources change,
we could view the gradual shifting of shadows and transmitted rays. Dr.
Gerry Hushlak, the visiting professor from the Art Department, mentioned
that one of the central goals of art is to provoke a reaction from the
viewer. A realistically rendered, animated plant model, swaying in a breeze,
with semi-translucent leaves that cast overlapping soft shadows, would
very likely elicit a strong viewer response. In addition, unlike certain
works in the world of art, a plant animation would not raise ethical questions.
This project would require building an export module for Vlab. The module
would convert a plant model into an object (.obj) file that can be read
by Maya. I have already built two export modules for Vlab, so building
a third module should be a relatively straightforward process. Once several
plant models are brought into Maya, I would make use of Mayas animation
tools to animate the models. I would follow some of the animation design
techniques outlined in John Lasseters animation paper, for example:
- pose-to-pose action: I would have to set the extremes or keyframes
for different parts of the plant as it is jostled by a breeze. For example,
I would indicate several keyframes for the position of the stem as it
bends. I would then make use of Mayas tools to perform the inbetweening.
- timing: I would convey the weight and size of different plants
or plant organs by controlling the speed of the action. Thin leaves
at the ends of branches would be jostled to a greater extent than the
central stem of the plant.
- arcs: I would make use of Mayas spline tools to control
the direction of motion between extreme poses.
Once the frames of the animation are complete, they could be saved as
object files and imported into Dali, using the object import utility.
I would then apply some of Dalis shaders, for example the diffuse
transmission shader I am currently working on, to render the frames of