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Comment Re:Yes, they are employees (Score 1) 367

It's nice how you try and package those two concepts together as though you can't have one without the other. Yes, we are slaves to labor, given that it's a situation of life-long forced dependance. If you don't believe that, take your soon to be homeless ass out into the street and quit working. American-style chattel slavery is not the only form of slavery, you know, despite standing out as a situation of unimaginable horror. It's very similar to way that the term "holocaust" is almost exclusively associated with the mass extermination of the Jews, when Native Americans suffered far greater casualties in the American holocaust.

That being said, why would you then think we don't have responsibility for the choices we make? Choice and slavery are not dichotomous. In a situation of slavery, the consequences can be dire for the choices you make, but you still have them - and you are still responsible for them. For example, in history, chattel slaves have had the choice to attempt rebellions. Sometimes, like with Haiti, it actually worked out for them. They weren't on some form of fatalistic autopilot, every one of those people had a choice to rebel, and enough heroically chose to do so to overthrow the French enslavers.

Comment The future... (Score 2) 76

This looks pretty cool, but I have a lot of questions.

On it's surface, it looks like a lot of the results they're getting wouldn't currently be outside of the realm of student level work, such as the simple practice of projecting and baking textures into materials from photographs, the innovation seems to be that they're quickly automating a lot of that stuff into a UI with a fast lighting solution. One of the things I find most rewarding about 3d is that you sometimes get this huge burst of increased productivity, as long as you're not too bummed out about things you've spent time and energy learning how to do becoming obsolete. This isn't that different, fundamentally, than setting your viewport background in Maya, 3ds Max, etc. to be a photograph after properly matting your foreground objects and projecting textures with adjusted reflectivity, just without all of the manual tediousness. Also, there's also been other, similar work done on the subject, that I've heard of, but this still looks pretty neat if it's something you can use right now without a billion dollar computer.

One of the big things this tech might be doing is streamlining the process of match lighting. I personally can't wait till the major software packages have integrated solutions for easy lighting from photo sources. Currently the setup for photo matting is a pain, it requires stitching together panoramic photos of reflective chrome spheres - on location - or carefully using observation skills to recreate the lighting by hand (which can be very difficult for glossy surfaces). It would appear, however, that we're on the brink of not needing those things anymore. That being said, this software still has a bit to go, however.

For example, the lighting information baked into the diffuse textures of the objects, in these examples, does not appear to be dynamic - if you watch the taxi-spinning segment you'll notice that the specular highlights on the hood of the car do not properly update as the orientation of the model changes in relationship to the light sources, making the taxi appear to have white paint streaks once rotated out of alignment with the light source. The car falling off the cliff example is probably the most apparent in final results, as the strong baked lighting makes the coloring look off. The way we 3d artists get around this problem is to eliminate the lighting information in our diffuse textures as much as possible before reapplying them as flat color, and then let our lighting rigs take care of the reflections, shadows, and such. As they mention this software doesn't support transparency, and I would guess is rendering everything as matte objects, meaning the renderer probably isn't robust enough to handle anything coming close to complicated reflections/refractions and so on, making this software's usefulness very situational, currently. It would be a great way to quickly populate photos with hordes of smaller objects, for example. However, with a more powerful renderer, feature wise, this tech could be really useful for the Photoshop crowd. I wish Autodesk/Mental Ray would focus on stuff like this instead of the boring crap updates we usually get (Maya's new fluids are pretty cool though, tbh...).

Comment Re:UI (Score 1) 158

If we're talking about unbiased render engines, Max got the Iray engine a couple of years back. 3dsMax and Maya already both come packaged with Mental Ray, which produces amazing results. Lots of people use 3rd party render engines, such as V-ray, but that really comes down to preference.

Comment Re:Actually it's UI is still quite quirky (Score 1) 221

I'm not trying to be an ass, but if you use the same program day in and day out, missing a transform gizmo is rarely going to be an issue. Even if you do, a quick undo brings that selection right back. Furthermore, Max has a lock selection hotkey assigned by default to the biggest key on the keyboard for dense, overlapping scenes. On top of that, you can use the + and - keys to change the size of the gizmo if you're having a hard time selecting them at your resolution.

In other words, there are plenty of features designed to address the problem you bring up, in this particular software. The amount of times you're going to be frustrated by dropping a selection doesn't merit removing a left-click based workflow.

Again, it's just silly and borderline arrogant to set up Blender the way they do. The 3d cursor tool that is assigned to left clicking by default, by far the most important button in almost all other DCC software, isn't exactly a killer feature. As far as I know, it's unique to Blender, however, and one suspects that this is the reason it's given such coveted real-estate hotkey wise. The 3d cursor has it's uses, but should be assigned to a sub-menu. I would rarely use the tool - which would mean I'd want to turn it off completely to quit mucking up the viewport, and only turn it on when I needed it. That would mean that left-clicking in the viewport would essentially do nothing useful for me most of the time, which is just an absurd waste of resources. Sure, these things can be remapped, but I'd rather not bother trying to learn the bass ackwards Blender way of doing everything, and spend that energy learning software that actually works with you through relying on well established workflows and customs and only breaks from those customs when it's actually necessary or truly innovative.

Honestly, it's like a document editor that uses right clicking to place the cursor and select text, has non-standard hotkeys for things like copying and pasting text, and assigns an occasional useful tool, like bullet pointing, to left click by default. I love to use OS software, but I wouldn't dream of using Open Office if it shippped like this...

Comment Re:Actually it's UI is still quite quirky (Score 1) 221

In most 3d programs, left clicking is the main tool for interacting with menus and objects in general. In 3ds Max, for example, you select, move, translate, edit, select menu options, push buttons, change spinners, etc., all with the left mouse button. The right mouse button is used to cancel operations, or bring up sub-menus. Most DCC software is similarly left-click based. To intentionally change this pattern, for no real good reason, is just silly.

Comment Re:What a rubbish Meta Article Post. (Score 2) 221

I'd have to disagree with some of your points.

When you say Blender has one of the "fastest GUIs in existence", I would assume you are including the viewports. If you make a torus with 200 segs both in width and height, Blender will be chugging to edit such a high density object. Selecting ring and edge loops takes at least a second in time (if that doesn't sound like much, believe me that time adds up...) 3dsmax will edit such a mesh with ease, any sub-object selections are nearly instantaneous. Also, you're going to see noticeable slowdown in Blender even navigating around such a mesh if edit mode is on. Along those lines, copy that mesh about ten times into your scene. By about the tenth copy, Blender's viewports become pretty unusable, on my rig. Meanwhile in 3ds Max, I have to get to the 120th copy of that 200x200 torus to even see a drop in fps, let alone anything approaching unusable. After increasing the torus count to 480 I had a noticeable drop in fps, but a still totally usable scene. The poly count from the torus primitives was over 38 million, and I had a workable viewport of between 12-14 fps, if you want the details. What does this mean? For pro level work involving millions of polys, Blender isn't really an option as a modelling/animation tool. It does fine on low poly models, such as for gaming, product vis, etc., but it wouldn't be able to run any of the scenes I use on a daily basis, regardless of my hardware. I haven't tested Blender for how responsive it is with hundreds or thousands of low poly objects, but I'm guessing not great. If you're going to call something a "kick-ass pro-level 3D Tool" you have to account for these kinds of major limitations. Blender can deliver professional results, but it's going to take a lot more time

Lightwave is not an industry leader in the field of particles. Anyone working in 3d knows that Houdini is the top dog here, and the cost of that package reflects that status.

UI's are part taste and part ergonomics, and I personally find Blender to fail both of these tests, in my opinion. Blender seems to intentionally be as different as it can. The last thing I want to do is have to learn another set of shortcuts and conventions, especially when they are as topsy turvy as blender's. Believe me when I say the intentionally unorthodox UI is one of the biggest reasons why a lot of experienced 3d artists don't even bother with Blender (there are zero overlapping common shortcuts, except for undo, that I've found so far). Take the annoying "3d cursor" that follows around your left clicks, and is bound to confound any newcomer to 3d. What does that do? Why is it here? Why doesn't clicking in black space deselect an object or seem to do anything important? The 3d cursor is a niche tool that could easily be relegated to a sub menu where you could turn it on or off or edit it's properties. Assigning this unintuitive tool to a left click by default, the main method of interacting with objects in the viewports of most 3d software, is simply baffling. I find flippant, experimental decisions like that frustrating, personally. Of course you can take the time to learn the Blender way to do things, or you could take way less time to learn software that works more like you're used to, such as Modo or Mudbox. For example, my first time using Mudbox was an absolute joy. I was happily sculpting for days without ever having to refer to the manual. Things were layed out in a way that made intuitive sense. I would have still been trying to figure out where Blender put some common tool by the time I was already making satifying art in Mudbox. Software is allowed to be "unorthodox" if the payoff is big enough. This is how Zbrush gets away with it's wacky shit. Unfortunately, for a lot of 3d artists I know, Blender isn't worth the investment/muscle memory it takes to become proficient.

Of course, one of the biggest problems with Blender is it's lack of a decent native renderer. Complex shaders and GI in Blender aren't really up to task currently. It's great that things are moving towards interoperability with some of the well established renderers, but doesn't that kind of defeat the point of being OS if you have to use some proprietary (meaning $$$) renderer to get professional results? Don't get me wrong, people are doing fantastic work in Blender. You're just not going to be able to work at the speed, accuracy, or complexity that an integrated pro renderer, like Mental Ray or V-ray, offers.

Blender offers an impressive feature list, and it has a pretty good development rate. Poly sculpting is surprisingly fast and fluids are pretty nice, for example. It's certainly came a long way since I first installed it years ago. But it's not just about being able to add certain features, to your feature list. You have to be able to do those things with predictable and timely results, and they have to be fully integrated with your software. It helps if there's some support team you can groan at when things aren't working right. I'm not trying to knock Blender per se, but to imply that it's comparable to the high dollar packages is simply misleading. Blender excels at some things, but is sorely lacking in others. To do big-time work you'd almost certainly have to use it in conjunction with other packages, or do a lot of in-house development. The above torus test is an example of the difference in efficiency and capability that any pro level 3d animator would run into every day.

Comment Re:Good on him (Score 1) 632

I don't have responsibility for what the rest of the world does. I have responsibility for what my nation and my tax dollars do. That's why our nation should have transparency, because we, as the people, are responsible for what it does. What you're expressing is relativism at it's worst. I'm also heavily opposed to kids being murdered because they're grandparents spoke out against the Taliban, but what does that have to do with this video shot in Iraq? It doesn't matter how evil your neighbors are. That doesn't excuse you from committing murder. The U.S. military IS committing murder, no matter if you call it collateral damage, soft targets, etc.. You can create some moral web of justification surrounding civilian deaths, but when it comes down to it, there's no excuse. We have created more death, disease, and chaos in Iraq than Saddam would have ever dreamed of. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Comment Re:Good on him (Score 1) 632

You could have tried to rebuild Germany without crippling sanctions, avoiding the desperation and power vacuum necessary for an evil tyrant to rise to power. Or just put political pressure on Germany to not accept fascism as a legitimate form of government, and forbid others from investing in such a horrible idea financially. Or support the main political opponents at the time, the communists. Or seize control of the budding military apparatus of the state and dismantle it before rearmament had taken place. Or not appease Hitler when he violated the Versailles treaty. The list goes on. None of these needed a world war.

Comment Re:Mod UP! (Score 2, Insightful) 632

First off, your original list doesn't quite make sense. Force didn't/hasn't removed several people on your list, many historically famous butchers are conveniently missing (Americans?, Royalty?, the Church?), and in the case of Castro and the U.S.S.R., the threat of force nearly ended the world.

Despite all that, I do agree that force is sometimes necessary to stop more suffering. However, it's rarely the case that war couldn't have been prevented beforehand through a bit of moral thinking. Obviously, that means no military aid to nations with a bad track record, such as Israel or Colombia. This also means you don't exploit the rest of the world, creating a perfect vacuum for a warlord to rise to power. The Vietnam war was mainly caused by the grueling poverty imposed by French imperialism, for example. And you certainly don't shake hands with those warlords once they gain command. We could make a similar list here, rivaling yours, the difference being of course that we are partially responsible for the suffering caused by these monsters through our aid and military support. Often these support mechanisms directly cause the exact type of dictator you are using as justification of war, taking the Taliban, Hussein, Indonesia, and Batista, for example. Perhaps some of these dictatorial regimes could be avoided by more carefully choosing our relationships with the rest of the world. Simply boiling down foreign policy to "useless talking" and "invasion" is a gross oversimplification that makes you sound like a warmongering idiot.

The best way to avoid war is to not help cause it in the first place. For example, let's take the war in Iraq. Had we not supported Saddam militarily throughout the eighties, he wouldn't have had the capacity to to invade another country. We could have prevented all of this by simply not selling arms to a dictator. The U.S. not only sold Saddam weapons, but they also helped Saddam develop his chemical and biological weapons programs in their crusade against Iran. I would assume that to someone who expresses so much reverence for freedom, you would understand the concept of not aiding those who legally despise it, i.e. dictators. Explain to me then, why Saddam was a former ally? The U.S. was pretty quiet when Saddam was using chemical weapons on his own people and the Iranians, despite the fact that it is explicitly forbidden internationally as a war crime. We certainly knew about it, so where was the outrage then? After the first war Bush I suggested that the Iraqi people overthrow Saddam, but in an ironic twist of fate we gave absolutely no aid to the Iraqi people to achieve such a task, after heavily funding the mess in the first place through Saddam. Instead of helping the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam, we punished them with brutal sanctions we knew would do nothing to the Iraqi elite, but would have horrible consequences for the rest of Iraq. When half a million Iraqi children died due to sanctions, the fact that most of Iraq's water treatment facilities were intentionally destroyed, and there was a dramatic increase in infectious disease, people like you turn around and blame Saddam! Before you go off about the Oil for Food program, keep in mind that is wasn't initiated until 1996 - by which time the damage was done. The Pentagon admitted that one of their goals in the first Gulf war was to disable Iraqi society at large, rather than concentrate solely on military targets. They have also admitted that one of their goals was to make living conditions so unbearable to the Iraqis that they would overthrow Saddam out of desperation. In addition to destroying Iraq's underlying infrastructure, the U.S. fought to keep humanitarian goods, which had no military use, out of Iraq. Sounds pretty fucking sick and sadistic to me. If this is how you bring "democracy" to the rest of the world, you can definitely count me out. Explain to me again how this use of force was supposed to prevent human suffering and uphold freedom?

Having some consequential silver lining out of unbearable horror and misery does not excuse the atrocities committed to reach that silver lining, especially if there were far more humane options to achieve the same goal. Iraq could have been liberated without the use of heartbreaking sanctions and reckless invasion. Similarly, WWII would surely have been prevented if crippling sanctions against Germany had not built the resentment and power vacuum necessary to allow someone as ridiculously evil as Hitler to rise to power. The buildup of the fascist powers in Germany was not an overnight or secret procedure. Say whatever you want to, but the supposedly freedom loving U.S. did nothing to stop the rise of fascist dictatorships in the world, by far the biggest "threat to freedom" that's ever existed, until they were forces to be reckoned with. On the contrary, Wall Street invested heavily into Nazi Germany, including IBM, Coca-Cola, Ford, and even Prescott Bush. The main, local, political opponents of the Nazis, the communists, were systematically exterminated with the quiet apporval of the western world. Certainly, showing some support for the supposed democracy the fascists were dismantling would have been a good way to preserve stability in the region. The world powers at the time were far less concerned with maintaining peace and order in Germany than making Germany entirely pay for a war it was only partially responsible for. I don't think I need to even get into appeasement, or a lack of backbone on the part of the other signators of the Treaty of Versailles, as a crucial misstep in allowing Germany to rearm. There were plenty of obvious opportunities to stop the Nazis, without a world war or concentration camps, beforehand. This scenario is often repeated, and it's highly depressing to find people like you focus only on resolution through war as opposed to these more humane alternatives.

Comment Just use common sense (Score 5, Interesting) 140

I've been to the City Museum several times, and I must say there is really no other place like it on earth. If anyone finds the museum lacking in content, I'd have to say that you're missing the point. The CM is all about interaction; you're not meant to just see everything in the plain sense, you're meant to climb, explore, and seek out the little hidden places tucked away all over the place. Almost everything about the place is entirely free-form, and that's part of the thrill. If you find that the place only satisfies curiosity for about an hour, well then I bet you're probably a pretty boring person that's way too grown up for their own good.

Meanwhile, it's so refreshing to see a place disregard all of the idiot tags we're so used to seeing everyday. Given that 99.999% of the population doesn't need to be told not to do stupid things, it's really that tiny fraction of people that makes everything always suck. The ones that make you wonder who the fuck would be stupid enough to eat the silicate pellet packs you find in new shoes, but also have the ability to read. The only place remotely similar to the CM where I live is so padded, safe, and banal by comparison. Yes, there is the risk of getting hurt in the CM, but the same thing is often true of places kids play. Even a simple jungle gym can result in a broken bone (as it did with me in the 3rd grade), but the point is to not generate boring people by sacrificing a fun life for complete and utter safety. Learning how to deal with potentially dangerous environments, yet still enjoy yourself, should be a crucial part of any kids upbringing. You have to use common sense to NOT INTENTIONALLY PUT YOUR FINGERS OR BODY IN A GIGANTIC MOVING METAL DEVICE. You shouldn't need a sign explaining why this is a bad idea. Nowhere in the CM will you find spots where good old fashioned common sense will keep you from getting hurt, and at the very least are no more risky that other theme parks/playgrounds.

St. Louis Museum Offers Thrills, Chills, and Lawsuits 140

theodp writes "Despite the whiff of danger, or perhaps because of it, the WSJ reports that the City Museum is one of St. Louis's most popular attractions. Housed in a 10-story brick building, the City Museum shows none of the restraint or quiet typical of most museums. It boasts a five-story jungle gym with two real-life jets kids can climb on, an enclosed Monster Slide that drops riders the length of three staircases, and a rooftop Ferris wheel. Sure, there are the occasional severed fingers and skull fractures, but museum founder Bob Cassilly contends that it is as safe as it can be without being a bore. 'They [lawyers] are taking the fun out of life,' says Cassilly, adding that 'when you have millions of people do something, something's going to happen no matter what you do.'"

Comment Not quite there yet... (Score 1) 184

Major advances have been made in real-time rendering previews and game engines, but you'll notice the more you actually get your hands on these that they can't currently do anything too complex.

The scenes demoed on their website use simple light sources with what appears to be a little bit of ambient occlusion. It's immediately noticeable that the geometry is low poly, and that the texture maps are procedural and tiled. Impressive for sure to be done in real-time, even though I'm not sure what amazing hardware you'd need to perform such a task, but not quite "cinematic quality" anyways.

. Let's see some real-time full scale global illumination, sub surface scattering, high resolution displacement, convincing reflections and refractions, etc. all done on some complex geometry at a decent resolution with some anti-aliasing before we make such a statement. Even though the bar is being raised for realistic visuals in computer games, that bar is also being raised in CGI for films...

Science is what happens when preconception meets verification.