The Texture of Space

The plane ride out to Indiana was pretty disasterous. Scott slept badly that night and so we found oursleves sleeping in the morning of Michael Stribling and Zareh Gorjian’s presentation. If Michael had a touch of shyness, Zareh far outpaced him. Although I didn’t get to spend much time talking to him, he was always warm and friendly. He’s been a visual/simulation animator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 14 years and produces the kind of work that you would recognize from space-related IMAX films. I managed to see his reel several days later during the presenter screening and it confirmed what I had heard; even though vis/sim is notoriously dull when seen by itself, Zareh manages to cut it and present it cinematically, reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odessy.

I caught the end of Michael and Zareh’s program as Michael was demonstrating how his texture maps end up on the faces of video games NBA players. Students marveled at the oddly flat way he has to work before its applied to the three-dimensional surface. A lot of questions where technical, concerning how much geometry can be used and how close the final outcome looks to what he intended. Despite motion capture being used, he tells us, the animators still have to tweak the results and interpret the data. Interest in both of their fields is high and the room was crowded; their presentation was particularly successful.

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