Week commencing 2nd November
Toby – Managing Director
Well here we are in the hotly anticipated Lockdown 2. Things feel a little different to the first time around not least because it doesn’t feel very “Locky Downy”. That to one side, though, it does feel like there’s been a shift in the mindset of many we work with and for; in the first lockdown a lot was put on hold but this time we’re finding that people are giving serious consideration to alternative ways of making projects happen and that’s great news for us.
Our work with Grounded (grounded.world) also continues as we transition into a brand presentation and strategy that reflects our evolution over the past few years here in the UK. Those of you with a keen eye will have spotted subtle changes to our website and we’re excited to launch in the coming weeks. We will still be MXT; the same but different.
Josh – Programme Manager
It seems that some organisations are still publishing requests for proposals and we’re happy to try and help! This week we’ve been looking at serious simulation for a Water Company and a completely different kind of experience for a university.
Alongside that I’ve been working up some case study materials to illustrate the work that we are doing and will do for our forthcoming Incident Management tool. The setting for Incident Management is going to be our Innovation Centre so we’ve been doing more work on tweaking that too.
What with our new Land Rover Discovery seat now in the office Stefano and I have been in discussions with the builders of the motion rig to match the two together. Finally we’re taking another look at our Health and Safety Hazard Awareness experience and Slava will soon begin working on that…
Sergio – Programmer
For the past week I have been exploring StarTracker in our office to be able to confidently support our team when necessary during setup and technical issues. Additionally, making progress on Animals on the network and Incident Management. Right after moving back from the office to work at home, I started my programming tasks at the end of the week for implementing events that could be synchronized between multiple clients on the network. While we do have events that are triggered via Operator user interface, our requirements for complex events need more sophisticated logic that can scale.
Stefano – 3D Artist
This week my job was creating a Milk tanker for our existing lorry.
The process has been fast and satisfying. I was about to start with a reference of a cylindrical tank, but I found this new shape much more interesting.
I started in Maya by creating the hi-poly and low poly meshes, carefully balancing the detail and a low poly count. I then exported them and sent to Substance Painter, where I added 90% of the life and sense of realism of this model.
It took me a few trials but in the end I’ve got the perfect starting baked textures.
Adding materials and details to this model has been quite compelling. Substance Painter can give you the power to transform, in just one pass of brush, a simple and lifeless 3D mesh into a REAL thing, like for example the pipes.
The metal welding between the two bended pipes is what gives it life.
Slava – Lead 3D Artist
We are starting new project dedicated to health and safety in the office which builds on a prototype that we created earlier this year. The aim of this project is to create an application, which will test the ability of a user to spot quickly potential and existing hazard in a virtual office. My task is to create the virtual office environment. This environment will include interior of the office with all different facilities such as working areas, meeting rooms, kitchen, reception, and toilets. It will also include a parking area in front of the office. As a first step in this task, I need to make a white box of this office, in other words to prototype it before adding assets, applying textures etc. As our target audience are not VR gamers, we need to consider that many inexperienced users may find it very difficult to navigate in virtual environment, especially if it is cramped and when it is not obvious where to go. I made 2D plan, which includes all requirements. Then I started to implement it in 3D in 3ds Max and test it in VR in Unity. Only test in VR may tell which area needs improvement or even reconfiguration. So now I am working in recursive “make-test-improve” manner to polish new environment.
This week I also finished long term and complex task for Incident Management project – the model of a truck with covered cargo. I enjoyed working in Substance Painter to make various materials. I invented couple of very useful tricks, which allowed me to tweak physical properties of different materials. I put some effort to make reusable model. I left possibility to change colour of its painted parts, such as cabin. We can even make custom colour scheme because I made unique UVs. I also separated some changeable parts of this truck, so we can create different types of vehicle, for example, tank truck or goods vehicle.
Kyung-Min – 3D Generalist
This week I finished the real-time model of the dragon and went through the process of rigging and skinning it. After my initial tests, I decided to add a lot more joints to provide the smoothness during the dragon’s motions. Working with Sergio we decided to opt for a curve based animation path as opposed to hand animating every bend as it would be very time-consuming.
The rest of my week was spent on designing puzzles in VR for the Holodeck experiences. I concepted a totem pole puzzle where the different totem heads would have to be piled up in the correct order and also looked at different alternatives to the puzzle replacing the totems with rocket ship parts or even burgers that needed to be stacked in order.
Looking into deeper more complex puzzles I was given a YouTuber who breaks puzzles as a reference. Watching Chris Ramsay’s videos has helped me push forwards some new ideas of a more complex kind but how they would fit into VR would be yet another challenge.
Jordi Caballol – Programmer
As most of our projects involve having roads and traffic we ended up implementing multiple approaches for them, and we finally created a package to reuse the better ones.
Lately, especially with the Incident Management and the Driving Simulator projects, we have realised that we need to extend this package with a lot of new features, and adding these features proved very difficult and time consuming.
This is the reason why we decided that it would be a good idea to create a new road and traffic system, designed taking these new features into consideration from the beginning, in order to get a better system that we can reuse in all of our projects.
Therefore, I spent all of this week reading about roads and traffic in both videogames and academic simulations to try to come up with a good design for our package. With some of these ideas in mind I’m starting to code a simple prototype to check how effective these approaches are.
See you next week…