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18. October 2018


Meshroom is a new, free and open source photogrammetry software from AliceVision.  Photogrammetry software enable you to create a 3D scene using a series of photographs, generally the more the merrier.  Currently documentation is a bit lacking, so I’ve decided to create this quick tutorial.  In this tutorial we are going to quickly walk through the process of using Meshroom using a photoset available here.  That post links to a zip file containing 50 images that are confirmed to work with Meshroom.  Simply extract them somewhere on your drive.  Of course you need to download Meshroom, which is available for download right here.  Simply download the archive, extract then execute the Meshroom application.  Note Meshroom requires a CUDA GPU and works on Windows and Linux!  So this process will only work on nVidia GPUs, at least as of time of writing.


Once you’ve got Meshroom loaded, follow the following simple steps.

Drag extracted images into the Images pane on the left.

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Save your project somewhere

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Click the green Start button.

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As it’s running, you will see the progress across the top:

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This bar indicates a problem occurred.  You can divine more details by locating the current task in the Graph, like so:

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With the node selected, check the Log (bottom right corner) for details.  This is the error message you receive if you run the process on a non-CUDA (nVidia) GPU.  Keep in mind, it can also be caused by the process running on a laptop with Optimus, not automatically selecting the right GPU.

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Hopefully however you encounter no such errors and the process is entirely green.  On the bright side, it should pick right up where the error occured if you run the project again in the same directory, as Meshroom caches the results of each step as it goes.  You will find the vast majority of time is spent on the DepthMap section,  this is normal.  As the process continues, you should start seeing results in the 3D viewer.

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You can pan, zoom and orbit the mouse using the LMB, scroll wheel and MMB respectively.  More detail in the point cloud will fill in as the process runs.  Once it completes successfully, you will see a button Load Model.

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You can now preview the results of your effort!

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A few steps in, it will have evaluated all of your photos, acceptable/usable photos will be marked with a green checkmark.

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Review the remaining photos for flaws and inconsistency if you run it again.

Go make some tea… it’s going to be between 10 minutes and an hour depend on the speed of your machine.  Once the process is complete, there will be a folder called MeshroomCache, with the following contents:

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This is a folder with all of the output files from each step in the process.  Generally what you are going to be interested in is the obj, mtl and texture file in the Texturing folder.  This can be imported into your 3D modelling application of choice, the obj format is fairly universal.  The resulting mesh is extremely dense and you may consider checking out Instant Meshes for optimizing the results.


Now that you know it works, it’s time to start refining the process or providing your own picture set.  I would recommend the following tips from my own experience:

  • use an actual camera, not a phone.  I got terrible results from my Pixel phone, but my Canon DLSR gave much better results.  YMMV
  • DO NOT green/white screen your background.  Unique markers in the background help Meshroom position each virtual camera
  • try to get the entire object in frame on each shot
  • get rid of any image with any blurring

So far we just default settings in the Graph Editor.  This graph represents a graph of nodes in the process, one for each directory shown in the screenshot above.  Note when you select a node, there are a number of properties you can edit:

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You can also connect pins to multiple nodes to create multiple results.  For example, if you wanted to create a set of TFF and lower resolution PNG textures, you can do the following.  Right click the graph editor and select Texturing:

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This will create a new node in the graph.  Now drag the output node from MeshFiltering and connect it to ini and inputMesh.

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Select the new Texturing node and have it create a lower detail texture set:

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Now when it runs, it will create two sets of textures for you.  Note there are other nodes such as Decimation that aren’t in the process by default.  You can see the entire thing in process in the video attached below:

Art


17. October 2018


Back in August, Discord announced a limited launch beta of their upcoming game store.  Yesterday, that store came out of beta and became available world wide.  With it’s heavy focus on indie games, this is a development most smaller game developers should certainly pay attention to.  In addition to a new game store, they are also launching an exclusivity program for developers called First on Discord, where developers promise Discord a timed exclusivity Window on PC (console launches are not included) in exchange for unspecified assistance in bringing your game to market.  The first batch of First on Discord games was announced the end of September.  The program must have been somewhat of a success as their Discord Store blog launch announcement contains the following:

P.S. If you’re a game dev and interested in working with us, fill out this form (EDIT: WE’RE SWAMPED. FORM IS CLOSED RIGHT NOW) and sign up for our developer newsletter here.


In addition to a new indie focused store, Discord have also launched Discord Nitro with a new $9.99 price tag, that also includes several titles in a Netflix/EA Origin like subscription service.  There are currently 42 titles in the program including titles like Shadow Tactics, Metro Last Light Redux, This War of Mine, VVVVV, Psychonauts, System Shock 2 Enhanced and more.  

You can learn more about the store, details about platforms, refund policies, communication features and more right here or by watching the video below.  The store link is available here.

GameDev News


16. October 2018


Adobe have just released Adobe Animate CC 2019, the product previously known as Flash Professional.  This vector graphics drawing and animation package gained a number of new features in the 2019 release including auto lip syncing, new free form mesh deformations, webGL gltf export  (in beta), improved export options, a new launch window and more.

New features from the Adobe blog:

Asset sculpting for vector and raster content

Create new poses faster for vector or raster content using handles on a shape to change the mesh. No need to redraw assets on every frame — just tween between poses and create animations.

And yes, asset warping works with Raster content as well.

Layer parenting and layer effects

Organize your assets on different layers in a parent-child hierarchy. When an object on the parent layer is moved, the child layer moves along with it.

In addition, the layer effects feature provides you the capability to add filters and tint effects on frames. Create interesting in and out fades, depth of field, etc.

Auto Lip-Sync

Don’t waste time matching mouth poses to sound inflections. The new auto lip-syncing feature will use machine learning to make it happen automatically.

Animate After Effects workflow

Use the new simplified workflow to carry your Animate compositions into After Effects. Just drag and drop an FLA file into the new After Effects and proceed to add cool effects.

VR authoring and publishing (beta)

Use an existing 2D skill set and export 360 or Panoramic VR animations. Stitch your existing 360 or panoramic images and create a virtual walkthrough, or let your imagination run wild and create a 360 animated experience using the drawing tools.

New start screen

The all-new start screen in Animate provides a new intent-based onboarding experience. In addition, learn more about the existing or new features using the training videos in the learn tab — without leaving the product.

Other new features

  • Export to GL transmission format (glTF).
  • Texture publishing to enhance the performance of HTML5 Canvas compositions.

Key enhancements

  • Paint bucket tool,
  • Quick tween creation,
  • Support for Microsoft Surface Pen,
  • Redesigned timeline,
  • And much more.

You can learn a great deal more about this release on in the What’s new document available here.  You can see Adobe CC in action in the video embedded below.

Art GameDev News


16. October 2018


Materialize was just released for free.  What exactly is Materialize?  In the creators own words:

Materialize is a stand alone tool for creating materials for use in games from images. You can create an entire material from a single image or import the textures you have and generate the textures you need.

Materialize is production tested, having been used to generate metallic, smoothness and occlusion textures for the Uncharted collection.  It is very similar in scope and functionality to Substance’s B2M or the free ModLab.

Essentially you start by feeding it a diffuse map, which you can then edit as you desire, then create a height map, normal map, edge map, smoothness map, AO map and metallic map automatically.

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Each step of the way you have fine tune control over how each individual map is created.  For example, here are the controls governing the creation of the normal map.

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You also have the ability to provide your own maps from file if you have them, simply use Materialize to generate the maps that you are missing.  There are also features in place for creating tiled maps.  Of course to go along with all of it, there is a real-time preview of the map you are creating, including multiple skyboxes and control over the post processing effects show in the preview.

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When you are done you are able to export your generated maps to a variety of different texture formats.  Just an all around amazing application and one that should be added to every texture makers toolkit!  Watch the video below to learn more and see Materialize in action!  There are also some tutorials available here if you wish to learn more.


Art GameDev News


15. October 2018


The academy award winning book Physically Based Rendering from Theory to Implementation 3rd Edition is now available free online in it’s entirety at http://www.pbr-book.org/.  This book is hugely important to the game and film industry as this is where the expression Physically Based Rendering (PBR) was coined, and it is the underlying rendering technology behind every major modern 3D game engine.

Description of PBR 3rd Edition from the book homepage:

Physically Based Rendering, Third Edition describes both the mathematical theory behind a modern photorealistic rendering system as well as its practical implementation. A method known as “literate programming” combines human-readable documentation and source code into a single reference that is specifically designed to aid comprehension. Through the ideas and software in this book, you will learn to design and employ a full-featured rendering system for creating stunning imagery.

This new edition greatly refines its best-selling predecessor by adding sections on bidirectional light transport; stochastic progressive photon mapping; a significantly-improved subsurface scattering implementation; numerical robustness issues in ray-object intersection; microfacet reflection models; realistic camera models; and much more. These updates reflect the current state-of-the-art technology, and along with the lucid pairing of text and code, ensure the book's leading position as a reference text for those working in rendering.

The author team of Matt Pharr, Greg Humphreys, and Pat Hanrahan garnered a 2014 Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences based on the knowledge shared in the first and second editions of the book this book. The Academy called the book a “widely adopted practical roadmap for most physically based shading and lighting systems used in film production.”

Additionally you can still buy print (and digital) copies on Amazon via this affiliate link, should you desire the feeling of paper in your hands.  This is not an easy text, and isn’t required reading for everyone, but if you are working on rendering technology or want a peek behind the curtain this is definitely a book you should check out today.

Click here to read the book now.

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