Week commencing 26th October

Toby – Managing Director

With the second national lockdown looming large on the (probably) near horizon it’s clear that our adaptation to working under such circumstances needs to be embedded. These are tough times for most of us, both personally and professionally, but our clients and our suppliers are all in the same boat and we need to work with this or jump in the sea. We have important meetings, coming up, that are currently planned to be face-to-face; rather than bemoan the fact that that element is likely to be cancelled we need to shift our mindset to controlling what we can, releasing what we can’t, and adjust.

As you’ll see from this week’s diaries, work continues both in terms of our experimentation and our output. Although these are quiet times on the new business front it won’t last; the focus here at MXT is on emerging from this difficult time better than we were before it.
This week a few of us took a trip to our Innovation Centre for some testing of the tracking system and our latest build. In the meantime there’s a lot of work going on on bids and tenders as existing and new clients seem to be increasingly focused on working despite this pandemic situation. I think that could be the key difference this time around; Lockdown 1 was a shock to the system whereas now there seems to be a greater collective appreciation that we need to carry on as best we can. Good news I hope…

Josh – Programme Manager

Although we know that Josh definitely did something useful, this week, he was so busy doing it that he missed the deadline for submitting his diary. Again.

Sergio – Programmer

For the past couple of weeks, I had a chance to collaborate with our team on the ongoing Incident Management project, contribute to the Animals On The Network project, and explore DevOps pipelines for a website project.

The team was very busy on developing mechanics, integrating amazing visuals and improving networking stability while I focused on the User Interface and User Experience. Additionally, I had a chance to visit our training facility for the first time which gave me more insight into Mo-Sys’ StarTracker and allowed us Programmers to test and identify potential issues for the experience.

Jumping in between the projects, I had a chance to re-integrate a horse’s fearful behaviours, such as running animations. I have plans to do a second pass on the user interface to something more familiar from our previous experiences.
Finally, there was a lot of reading on adapting our current continuous deployment pipeline specifically for websites such as MXTreality redesign project. This pipeline will allow web developers to test new features more effectively and reliably while our clients can access the updates with less friction.

Stefano – 3D Artist

As I said, this week I ruined the model on which I worked for the last 3 weeks. On purpose.
The car needed to be modified as if another car had crashed into it from behind.

Slava – Lead 3D Artist

This week I was finalising the HDRP environment for the Incident Management project in Unity. I imported new versions of the trees, which our artist Kyung-Min modified specifically for this project. I then adjusted various foliage materials for the HDR pipeline. I placed reflective studs in the appropriate positions for a normal motorway section and for the emergency refuge area. As a final touch I added soaring birds in the sky. To create flying birds, I used the particle system in a new powerful tool; Unity Visual Effect Graph. I am very glad that client asked to add flying birds. It was not only fun to do, but they added 3-dimensional feeling to the sky.
During the rest of the week I continued working on textures for our truck model.

Kyung-Min – 3D Generalist

Most of this week was spent designing, then sculpting, the dragon that will inhabit our Holodeck experience. With the majority of the dragon now sculpted I began the long process of retopologizing and making the dragon ready to run in realtime. Having never worked with such a long-form like this dragon it has been a challenging and new experience in managing the UV’s to avoid stretching. Using the base meshes I ran a quick rig to test out some deformations and found a base average of how many joints we will need in our skeleton to have a smoothly animated dragon. With the colours of the dragon being similar to the ICO environment I also tested the dragon in red to have it stand out more.

Jordi Caballol – Programmer

In our project for incident management we have an operator that makes changes to the scene, and these changes affect the world the other users are at, so we need a good way to convey the changes that are going to happen.
The situation I tried to avoid is for example having a car appear right where you are.

To avoid this I worked on a visual effect that tells the users what objects are going to appear or disappear, so the users have time to react accordingly.
For this purpose the effect has two phases:

When an object is going to appear we first show a green hologram of the object, and then we put the actual object there.
When it is going to disappear, the object gets a red glow telling the user, and then it finally disappears. I’ll post a video next week that’ll help to envisage it…!