March 14, 2002

Professor Swanlund's Garden project assignment has become quite famous in my department.

"Define your own version of a garden that relates to typography."

We aren't given many more restrictions than that. At this point in the year, I was in a very minimalist phase, inspired by my TA for this course, Vishal. He told me that a strong message will shine with only the slightest bit of subtlety. Create something beautiful that will leave an impression because it has something to say that is influential and powerful.

My garden is about perceptions. What we see isn't necessarily how someone else perceives the same situation. What appears to be real in one way, might be an illusion, or what you least expected.

I can relate this idea to myself as a child talking with a friend, looking at the sky. I could see that the sky was blue, but his perception of blue might be my red. If I were to look through his eyes, I could possibly see the world in entirely different colors. As there is no way to prove or disprove this theory (even if we all have the same biological makeup in our rods and cones in the back of our eyeballs), it simply remains to be a philosophical riddle. I furthered this line of thinking in regards to creating a Garden. I wanted to illustrate that our initial perception of something may not be what it seems to be.

       Careful dreaming their vision grew
       The world is mine, mine to pursue
       In this garden
       I bathe in bliss
       And keep on swimming, floating through
       For my perceptions
       Have been renewed.


"Surface" pre-concept object

Animated entirely in Lightwave, I used a very simple system of storyboarding to keep the movement throughout the piece calming and mellow. The jellyfish/plants are animated using a direct Inverse Kinematics chain applied to all 6 of each creatures legs. The convulsions are randomly dispersed among each creature with an envelope. Inspired by my Valentine project that was made in this same class, the difference in the growing viens/plants/roots system of this project is that it doesn't contain a single line of code. They are animated by hand with straightforward parenting and sizing keyframes.

Interface screenshot of "pre" realization

Interface screenshot of "post" realization

Test render mockups. I didn't enable IK until the 11th hour as it made my system too sluggish. I couldn't even scroll through the scenes timeline.

The root system was an interesting process to complete in 3D. The first thing that was said as I showed a fellow student the finished piece was, "is that Flash?"

Fog and DOF render

The audio for this piece was compiled after the fact, which is usually something I don't do for an animation. It's much more of a straightforward process to animate to music that's already finalized, as synching up ideas and movements looks much more natural in the finished piece. But, the mood called for ambience, nothing dramatic.

If we had unlimited bandwidth, I wouldn't compress this piece in the slightest. The soft edges of web compressed .mov's doesn't do the project justice. I'm looking into plugins that export frames from Lightwave as EPS, or a similar vector format. I'm well aware of plugins for Maya that do this exact thing. Drop me an email if you're familiar with any similar script for LW.

© 2002 GDUNNE