Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

CG programming for non-programmers, lesson 5

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

For the fifth lesson, we are going to start making things animate. To do this, we will add a time variable, and use it in our shader.

You can see this lesson by CLICKING HERE.

CG programming for non-programmers, lesson 4

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

For the fourth lesson, we are going to start calling functions. In particular, we are going to create a sine wave striped pattern by calling the sin() function.

You can see this lesson by CLICKING HERE.

CG programming for non-programmers, lesson 3

Friday, January 5th, 2018

For the third lesson, we are going to start learning how to vary color across an image. Doing this will allow us to create cool shapes, patterns and textures.

You can see this lesson by CLICKING HERE.

CG programming for non-programmers, lesson 2

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

For the second lesson, we are going to start teasing apart things like color, to see how they are actually made up of simpler component parts.

You can see this lesson by CLICKING HERE.

CG programming for non programmers: lesson 1

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

I’m going to try the bottom-up approach. This is likely to be more fun for people who are more interested in creating beautiful images, and less compelling for people who want to create people and creatures that move and animate.

You can see the first lesson, which is very easy, by CLICKING HERE.

This lesson is really just to get you used to the idea of editing text in a computer program to change the appearance of something.

Teaching computer graphics programming to non-programmers

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

I know a number of artists who don’t program computers, yet use computer graphics tools such as Unity or Maya or Photoshop. Several of them have expressed interest in going deeper. Rather than seeing the computer as a black box, they want to understand how things really work.

In order to do that, you need to learn to program. But where to begin? I am thinking of putting a series of lessons on-line on this blog, aimed at people who use computer graphics tools, and don’t already know how to program, but would be interested in learning to program if it could give them a greater insight into how all this stuff works.

The major question I’m wrestling with is whether to start from the bottom up, with things like procedural shaders that you program at every pixel, or from the top down, with things like animated characters that you move around.

Each approach has advantages and disadvantages. I think it may come down to the particular learner. People who are motivated by creating things that look visually beautiful would be more drawn to the procedural shader approach. People who are motivated by creating animated things that come to life would be more interested in the animated character approach.

Maybe I will figure out a way to do both.


Monday, January 1st, 2018

Happy 2018!

May everything add up for you in this new year.

Tenth anniversary

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Today marks ten years to the day that I started writing this blog. Since then I have published one post per day, every day. That’s 3653 posts in total, after this one goes up.

In that time I have written on quite a number of topics, including hopeful visions for our technologically augmented future, a few serialized descriptions of my own computer graphics research and art projects, some modest stabs at philosophy and metaphysics, least one epic poem, several complete novels, far too many haiku, and just recently some misguided attempts to make sense of a certain idiot (I’ve given up on that — some things are simply beyond rational thought).

Interestingly, I will be spending New Years Eve this evening with the friend who got me started writing this blog in the first place. It’s good to know that with all of the madness in today’s world, friendship is one of the few things that still continues to make sense.

AI vs I

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

At dinner this evening with a really interesting group of people, the topic came up of Artificial Intelligence. One of our party asked “So when will C3PO take over from us humans?”

I happened to be the only computer scientist at the table, so it fell upon me to push back against the premise underlying this question. I tried to articulate the difference between the fantasy of A.I. in popular culture and the reality of A.I. as it actually exists.

I fully acknowledge the psychological power of our collective dystopian fantasy of A.I. It didn’t start with Skynet and Ex Machina. We’ve had Frankenstein’s creature, the Golem and Prometheus.

But the reality of A.I. has nothing to do with that. Computers can do a pretty good job of creating a simulacrum of human behavior, but that is very different from human behavior itself.

By analogy, you can record a human voice with a tape recorder and listen to the playback, but that’s not the same as listening to a human singer. Imitation is not the same as equivalence.

Maybe none of this matters. The fact that millions of people are embracing a fantasy about some pop-culture construct of A.I. really has nothing to do with the actual state of A.I.

But it’s still kind of weird.

All the TV shows

Friday, December 29th, 2017

If you can find a good TV show for your Netflix DVD queue, it makes life simpler. No matter how many movies you choose, they end up running out. But with a TV series as your back-up plan, you’re golden.

Today I went through all of the Netflix choices for TV series on DVD. The list went on and on. After a while I felt as though I was browsing through Borges’ Library of Babel.

Eventually I managed to make it through the entire list, but it took a surprisingly long time. During my long journey, I learned many things, such as the importance of spelling.

For example, The Flash and The Flesh turn out to be extremely different TV shows. It is also comforting to know that Hazel and Gomer Pyle, USMC are at my fingertips should I ever need them.

But the interesting thing was how many shows there were that I simply had no interest in seeing. I began to be cognizant of a vast and endless industry existing simply to entertain, and that for me it pretty much wasn’t working.

I’m not sure whether this is a reflection of me, or of that industry. I suspect it’s a little of both.