Thoracosaurus neocesariensis

Thoracosaurus neocesariensis

Monday, February 15, 2010

Poly Counting

 (For all images below, feel free to click on them to view the full sizes)

I. Poly Counts

This Past week was spent with a lot of time looking at ways to reduce polygon counts of the fossil scans in order to make them useable for animation without crashing every program known to man. The full resolution scans are priceless for the scientific community, but are very impractical in an animation production environment. I was worried I would have to block model every bone to create low resolution versions to use, but luckily, there is a tool inside the scanning software (Geomagic Studio) that allows a user to specify the number of polygons to reduce the geometry to. Based on past characters I have built, I estimated that around 10,000 triangular faces is a good number to use to keep a lot of the detail while reducing the number of faces significantly. The original scans were coming in around 400,000 reducing to 10,000 is an extremely significant reduction (About 1% of the poly count of the original) but doesn't take away too much of the detail.




After I created a series of lower resolution versions of each bone, (10K tris, 5K tris, and 2K tris) I started to put the skeleton together. I used the procedural nature of Side Effects Software's Houdini in order to allow me to quickly position the low resolution versions, and create a switch that automatically swaps out the geometry for higher resolution versions. I will soon be looking into creating some sort of script that allows me to swap the 10K resolution bones to the full resolution bones at render time, so that the computer doesn't ever have to display them in the view port, which crashes the program every time.


...and just for kicks, here are some other views of the 10K resolution:


 I've also done some more R&D for muscle systems and for environment development....more on that to come soon. I have gone through the whole pipeline for Maya muscles a couple times to familiarize myself with that, and I have been putting myself through a crash course in Real Flow for water dynamics. Stay tuned for updates on that.

On a side note, in my continued research for croc anatomy, I came across the relatively recent British television series, titled Inside Nature's Giants, where a team of scientists dissect a different large/specialized animal in each episode. One episode happened to be about the Nile Crocodile! This was very informative in not only showing the musculature and other structures underneath, but also putting the anatomy in a physiological and evolutionary context. It was extremely effective and I learned a lot very quickly. I strongly recommend it to anyone who's interested in this stuff. The other episodes were pretty great too (I especially liked the one about the giraffe).

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