We are all using 40-year-old technology

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Old 10 October 2012   #1
We are all using 40-year-old technology

As far as I know, correct me if I'm wrong, but the polygon was invented by Ed Catmull in 1972. And here we are 40 years later still using the same technology.

Does anyone see a brighter future or are polygons what we will be using for the next 40 years? There's been voxel examples of cloud-based technology but is there anything substantial out there to show that could be a good replacement for polygons for some situations?

Every time I get into rigging a character I'm shocked that we're still using polygons because skin weights and deformations are always such a nightmare. I've been using Nuke for about a year now and seeing how quickly they can generate a cheap point cloud in 3d makes me thing maybe point clouds could replace polygons some how. Also deep compositing is a real thing now. We can generate depth data that we can import into a compositing program and each pixel is accounted for in depth. Depth passes are expensive and are calculating polygons usually not replacing them, but still is this hope for a guy like me that wants a polygon replacement option for some things like characters?

I guess I'm writing this so with the hope that someone will post a link that shows some promising polygon replacement for rigged characters. Anything that shows someone is trying to come up with a polygon replacement for character animation. Polygons are fine for props.

Thanks
Jason

Last edited by gauranga108 : 10 October 2012 at 10:54 PM.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #2
Hey man,

Polygons were first defined by the Greeks a very long time ago.

Pixar has some very groovy point cloud rendering stuff going on...

http://www.cgsociety.org/index.php/...al/pixar_points

Normally you paint skin weights in terms of points, so I'm not sure what your beef with polygons is all about.

-AJ
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Old 10 October 2012   #3
Indeed, skinning is usually determined by weighting verts not polys. No matter what though the influence that the joints has over the geometry has to be defined somehow, it's almost immaterial what that geometry is generated from, so I don't see why polygons are getting the stick here, this topic should really be titled 'I don't like/understand skinning character rigs'.

Fair enough, it's not exactly the most fun part of rigging and most people struggle with it at first but it's really just a matter of establishing a solid workflow and working in a logical progression from basic blocking to refining.
For me I like to start by setting logical sections of the mesh to 100% to one joint, then I smooth. I'm working on a tool for this that can speed this process up a good bit, it works whether in vert, edge or poly modes https://vimeo.com/51260543

Cheers,
Brian

Last edited by Horganovski : 10 October 2012 at 11:42 PM.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #4
Originally Posted by oAJo:
Normally you paint skin weights in terms of points, so I'm not sure what your beef with polygons is all about.

-AJ


Thanks for reply.

I'm not sure what my problem with polygons is either. Just wondering what's up and coming that could replace polygons for certain jobs.

Some 3d apps out there are using voxels for modelling that I'm going to check out. Rigging and animating voxels doesn't seem to be to far along.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #5
Originally Posted by Horganovski: Indeed, skinning is usually determined by weighting verts not polys. No matter what though the influence that the joints has over the geometry has to be defined somehow, it's almost immaterial what that geometry is generated from, so I don't see why polygons are getting the stick here, this topic should really be titled 'I don't like/understand skinning character rigs'.
Fair enough, it's not exactly the most fun part of rigging but it's really just a matter of establishing a solid workflow and working in a logical progression from basic blocking to refining.

Cheers,
Brian


Hey Brian,

I have been rigging and painting weights professionally for about 5 years now and my workflow and tools I've written makes painting weights faster then out the box tools, but I guess I'm just surprised after all these years (a whopping 5) that nothing has challenged polygons.

I'm starting to think most people are fine with polygons and that's why they are still the norm.

Thanks
 
Old 10 October 2012   #6
Originally Posted by gauranga108: Some 3d apps out there are using voxels for modelling that I'm going to check out. Rigging and animating voxels doesn't seem to be to far along.


It's not just a matter of them not being very far along; it's inherently very inefficient. Recalculating the positions of billions of voxels is always gonna take a ton of computing power.
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Old 10 October 2012   #7
Hmm, maybe it's like the UVs vs Ptex topic here, part of that mentions that UVs won't go anywhere soon because a lot of pipelines rely on them and in some ways Ptex can't replace them (at least in terms of being human readable and that kind of thing).

Right now I can't think of how you could replace polygons but likely someone much smarter will think of an alternative someday and then it will seem blindingly obvious to everyone else

Cheers,
Brian
 
Old 10 October 2012   #8
The difference between polys and voxels is that one defines surfaces while the other defines volumes. There are other methods of defining surfaces, but for various reasons polygons remain the preferred method. I still wonder sometimes if Hash's splines would be liberating to use. I considered trying Animation:Master a few years ago, but there wasn't (at the time) a good pipeline for getting models from it into polygon based game engines and I concluded it would ultimately be a dead end for me.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #9
Worse than polygons, we are actually using digital technology, and 0s and 1s together date all the way back to Babylonians! (or 500AD India if you want real 0 with its own non-value).

Where are my quantum processing units? Where's the trinary and quadri-state proteic alternatives to boring mineral conductor transistors?

We're forced to use technology that's thousands of years old by a secret agency controlling the world's supply of copper and that rules Intel and AMD from behind the scenes!
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Old 10 October 2012   #10
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: Worse than polygons, we are actually using digital technology, and 0s and 1s together date all the way back to Babylonians! (or 500AD India if you want real 0 with its own non-value).

Where are my quantum processing units? Where's the trinary and quadri-state proteic alternatives to boring mineral conductor transistors?

We're forced to use technology that's thousands of years old by a secret agency controlling the world's supply of copper and that rules Intel and AMD from behind the scenes!

Do you work for the "Unlimited Detail" guy?
 
Old 10 October 2012   #11
Hahaha, this is great thread ; D
I just realised we still use pens! Oh my god!
That can`t be? I wanna draw with my eyes!
 
Old 10 October 2012   #12
Well, we still use wheels as well, where is my flying car, where is the matter transporter?
I think that polygons (like the wheel) have come a long way. Many alternatives showed up for both and found their niches or died out. Just because something is known for a long time doesn't make it outdated. The sun is billions of years old, i wouldn't want to do without it though
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The views expressed on this post are my personal opinions and do not represent the views of my employer.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #13
Originally Posted by gauranga108: I'm starting to think most people are fine with polygons and that's why they are still the norm.


Gauranga,

Quite a bit of R&D on using Voxels, instead of Polygons, in gaming is currently being done.

Here are 2 Youtube Voxel Engine demos that are very cool in their own way:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km0DpZUgvbg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc1z...feature=related
 
Old 10 October 2012   #14
Originally Posted by DePaint: Gauranga,

Quite a bit of R&D on using Voxels, instead of Polygons, in gaming is currently being done.

Here are 2 Youtube Voxel Engine demos that are very cool in their own way:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km0DpZUgvbg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc1z...feature=related


Thanks for these links. It's quite impressive. It seems game terrains are the most obvious use for voxels so far yeah?

I envisioned voxels being good for facial deformations mostly. I do cartoony character rigging, modeling, animation and rendering type work and pushing the poly mesh to get the expressions I need is never easy. Blendshapes are good for control but not in-betweens, and joints are good for in-betweens but not extreme shapes. Having a combination of these techniques isn't easy to setup to I'm looking for a better facial mesh/rigging solution is why this thread was created (sorry I wasn't clear).

I'm going to try 3d-coats voxel modeling to see how it feels for modeling, but still I'm hoping there is a voxel rigging solution out there. I found ones persons voxel rigging but it seems pretty limited.

http://bautembach.de/wordpress/?page_id=7

I come from a 2d animation background and have been frustrated since I started in 3d 6 years ago with polygons for faces. I made the title as an expression of my frustration that no one has come up with a better system then polygons for facial animation.

There is some exiting voxel stuff going on, maybe I'll have to get involve to push this forward for facial animation. I hope 3d-coat keeps going and maybe adds a rigging system, cause that would blow away everyone else for facial animation I think.

Maybe Modo and Nuke can push things.

Pixar was mentioned earlier, maybe there are using voxels for faces? Anyone know?

Any other apps using voxels out there?

Thanks everyone for your posts.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #15
Originally Posted by DePaint: Gauranga,

Quite a bit of R&D on using Voxels, instead of Polygons, in gaming is currently being done.

Here are 2 Youtube Voxel Engine demos that are very cool in their own way:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km0DpZUgvbg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc1z...feature=related

That last one looks like it's actually dynamically generating triangles from voxels, and then rendering the triangles. That's a fairly common technique, and I believe that's basically how 3D-Coat works (when you export geometry as a polygon mesh it is generated from the voxels).


Triangles are great as a surface primitive, because A) they're easy to define, mathematically, and B) they're always perfectly flat. Well, almost always anyway. It's really easy to perform accurate surface intersection tests with triangles -- much easier than most other shapes. It seems that the CG industry is moving in the direction of simulating more and more stuff: dynamics and such for animation, and ray tracing of more and more effects for rendering. With both dynamics and ray tracing, triangles are practical, so I don't see them going away any time soon.
 
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