Week commencing 28th September
Toby – Managing Director
Another week and another demonstration of the Mixed Reality Driving Simulator. This time at our Innovation Centre in Derby. Finally the immersive sound system is installed, the tracking system is working, and we’ll soon be fully operational. This has been a long time in the making but we gave the CTO, of a key client, a preview and can’t wait to reveal more of the details in these diaries. Very exciting times.
In terms of “New New” projects things are still pretty slow but for us that’s an opportunity to continue working on the business. As I’ve previously mentioned we’re currently going through a brand audit with Grounded (www.grounded.world) and what we’re seeing so far has been really impressive.
Alongside the slow incoming business we’re still seeing the direct impact of the COVID-19 restrictions; Stefano is now in a 2-week quarantine (he lives directly opposite the office) and not everyone is comfortable travelling to the office. Great news, too, though that Kyung-min is beginning his phased return to work… Welcome back K-M!
Josh – Programme Manager
Well. I’ve handed the Virgin Media saga over to Toby who’s managed to progress it exactly no further. We originally asked them, in July, to move the service approximately 10m across a courtyard. We’ve had four visits, since then, and still we have absolutely no movement. Fortunately I managed to rig something hookie up but if I hadn’t been able to do that we’d be a technology firm without internet access. Virgin Media are an absolute waste of space.
Other than that I’ve been mostly managing four or five projects, ordering the new driving simulator actuator rig and motion system, and helping Toby out with a MASSIVE proposal. Quite an exciting one too.
Sergio – Programmer
After a long break from my holidays, I am back at MXTreality. It’s been a while since my last diary, so let me update on what I have been working on and what I am planning to do over the next few weeks.
You probably have already heard about the Vehicle Checks project that we are working on. Its an Augmented Reality (AR) experience without requiring a downloadable mobile application. Since the inception of the project, I have been deeply involved in researching and developing the bare bones of the app.
The development was bumpy and unpredictable as the technology itself is evolving and multiplatform support on the web is still limited. We opted to go for the most accessible and promising open-source web-based AR library out there; AR JS.
Like any open-source libraries, it is supported by a community of enthusiasts and professionals who provide quality assurance and fixes. During the development of Vehicle Checks, we stumbled upon different limitations and compatibility issues that unfortunately have not been spotted or fixed yet in the wider community, so it was up to us to fix them. Thanks to our artists Stefano and Slava, who have been working on the project with me, they have managed to bypass technical obstacles of 3d modelling and animations for web and create amazing, detailed assets.
After completing the main logic for the app and tackling technical issues on target devices, the app was open for more tests, review, and feedback.
Jumping to my parallel project; the website redesign. Many things have changed after our internal meetings and decisions to opt for a more simple and less custom approach allowed us to follow IBM design language guidelines more strictly than before. Last week, I finished another pass on the homepage and will wait for feedback to start working on implementing it in code.
Aside from the Vehicle Checks project and the website redesign, I am looking forward to joining back up with the team on Virtual Incident Management project. I will keep you updated.
Stefano – 3D Artist
This week I worked on a hybrid car asset, starting from a 3D model in our archive. The quality of the starting point was great to be used as a secondary object that fast pass by, but now we need a detailed model, which will be analysed closely. So, I decided to model a high poly version of it, from which I can get a nice detailed low poly version.
I’m testing piece by piece that the normal maps correctly transfer the high poly details on the low poly mesh.
I’m proceeding with a precise plan in mind that takes advantage of modularity, to get a faster modelling stage and a great save in terms of textures. Take the rims as a perfect example, they are a module that repeats itself around a certain amount of times. I can create just one spoke, and make textures for it, and then duplicate all the other spokes to obtain a 360 rim. The result will be a perfect rim using the UV space of just one spoke, gaining about 5 times the texture resolution.
With the same method I’m modelling half of car body, that can be mirrored once it’s finished.
Later on I will invest some time in further improving the low poly mesh.
Slava – Lead 3D Artist
One of scenarios in Incident Management project involves the collision of two cars. One of these cars has severe front damage. Modelling of this car was my new task. I used one model I optimised some time ago for another project. I made unique UV unwrapping for its body to be able to make realistic texture of damaged body paint in Substance Painter. Then I changed the geometry of this model to make a severely damaged bonnet, bumper, front lights, and engine parts. When I was happy with result, I started texturing of damaged surface in Substance Painter. This work also requires some changes of engine mesh and texture. Now I need to import this car in Unity and finish its materials.
Kyung-Min – 3D Generalist
This week saw my return to work after a long absence due to mental health issues. With a phased approach I am working fewer hours and the results have been promising. Although I am still suffering from health issues the transition back to work has been a positive one.
I can focus on my work a lot better than I had expected to and with the support of Toby and the team being extremely accommodating by allowing me to work at a slower pace, my reintegration has been smooth and positive.
My week began moving trees on hills to break up the unnatural alignments of vegetation and produce a more natural-looking scene. I Have also begun working on an anchor that will be textured in Substance Designer (I have been learning through my Personal Development Plan).
Next week will be my first day back working in the office after a long time. I feel eager to be back in the office, working, and feel confident It will be a positive development for my work mental state.
Jordi Caballol – Programmer
This last two weeks I’ve been working on researching procedural animation for the avatars of the other users of the Incident Management project.
The aim is to transform the avatars of the users into “puppets” that follow the movements of the head and hands of the user, producing the most realistic movements possible.
The positioning of the feet will then be calculated so when the user moves the feet will do the movement of walking, etc.
This is a topic that is quite on the rise lately, so we wanted to develop our own approach. The key of these kind of systems is that, while moving only one limb is something that’s quite simple, and has been done regularly for some years, moving the whole body at once is on a whole other level of complexity, especially when it comes to the spine of the character, as it has a very limited range of movement and is affected by the movements of the rest of the body.
That’s all for this week!