I, Robot (You Jane)

Down at the robot factory
Things are humming.
["Automotive Science and Engineering", Jethro Tull]


A monstrous little effort, this. The 3DMF file containing the robot was about 12MB (although intriguingly Bryce whittles this down to about three and a half in its own format). There are six lights around the robot. Things reflect. Processors whimper.

The robot was initially part of a still more monstrous project, to make a posable robot by replacing every single body part in a Poser figure by a component modelled in Ray Dream Designer. If that sounds easy, try it some time. It's long and tiresome and a very roundabout way of getting inverse kinematics on a humanoid but non-human figure (I'd have done better to simply read the Ray Dream manual and get the linking right within Ray Dream). In the end I got a vast Poser file and - because I didn't pay enough attention when placing body parts - a model that tends to come to pieces under stress. Much like its maker.

The original Ray Dream file containing all the robot parts is about 70K. The Poser file is over 12MB, and the 3DMF file exported from Poser is similar. The cost of storing 3D objects as indexed face sets rather than primitives. Since the robot is in fact constructed largely of primitives, I could just as well have modelled it directly in Bryce and had a file a tenth of the size. Call it an exercise in futility.

But having expended all that effort, I couldn't let it go to waste. I made an alcove, filled it with lights and textured the wall with 2D bump maps made in PhotoShop, then chose a fetching camera angle and let the PowerMac rip. Actually, I made several scenes and my original intention was to make a much more complex scene. This was merely one of my "The Mac's going to be batch-rendering all night so I might as well try some quirky camera positions." intermediate renders. The result isn't perfect but it's sufficiently attractive (to me, at least) that I decided to call it quits and settle for this one as the 'final' image.

The 3DMF file, incidentally, was not smoothed after import, giving the robot an attractively facetted appearance.


29 Apr 1998


Ray Dream Studio 5
Photoshop 4
Bryce 3D