Friday, 16 October 2009

Orb by Joe Takayama

Using computers to help create animation won't necessarily enhance your storytelling or characters (John Lasseter was once asked "But what software did you use to make it funny?"). Digital animation does however allow film makers to create works that specifically make use of computers to achieve visuals that would not be feasible for a cel or stop motion animation - Orb is a great example of this. In Joe Takayama's award-winning film, decorative glass spheres dance across the screen and merge with each other, resulting in complex refraction and interesting visual effects.

The complex gilded patterns on the spheres were created procedurally using "metaballs" - 3D particles that generate a curved surface enveloping them when they come within a certain proximity of each other. Metaballs are traditionally used for effects like water and fire, but here we see what happens when a 3D animator uses a common tool in an inventive, original way. It's well worth watching.

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