Last week Infrared5 held the first annual ‘From Paper to Pixels’ (FP2P), an art show featuring ten pairings of traditional and new media artists, working collaboratively to create one-of-a-kind interactive experiences. I had the honor of experiencing the show as both an artist involved and an employee at Infrared5.
Several months ago, Rebecca Allen told me that she had an exciting idea for a show she wanted to curate. The potential for collaboration between traditional artists and developers seemed endless. Rebecca has a unique capacity to see potential in others, and I feel that FP2P was a perfect venue for that ability. I was thrilled to be paired with Aaron Artessa, our Art Director at Infrared5. Aaron and I have had many conversations about the experience of living with chronic pain, and I knew he would be uniquely qualified to work on this project with me. After only a brief exchange about how I think of my images, Aaron created an incredible interactive experience by rendering my figure as a touch screen experience. As you push the trigger points represented by triangles on the figure, energy expands revealing its path throughout the body. The more trigger points you engage, the more agitated the figure becomes; speaking to the cognitive effects of undergoing chronic pain.
At Infrared5, we are continuously seeking ways to improve the quality of our craft while increasing our efficiency in developing games for our clients. Our Unity engineers and creatives are ninjas, masters of their trade, and yet there are situations when leveraging the Unity’s Asset Store is extremely advantageous. Why reinvent the wheel by creating extra custom tools when there are relatively inexpensive, pre-existing tools in the Asset Store? GameDraw, by Mixed Dimensions, is one of those indispensable tools available on the Unity Asset Store.
I had the pleasure of evaluating a few pre-release builds of GameDraw after meeting the Mixed Dimensions team at GDC 2012 and more recently at Unite 2012. I was super impressed on both occasions. As stated by Mixed Dimensions, ‘The purpose of GameDraw is to make the life of designers easier by giving them possibilities inside Unity itself and cutting down time and cost.’’ GameDraw is not exactly a single tool, perhaps better described as an expansive suite of 3D tools for the Unity Editor. Within GameDraw, one can actually manipulate pre-existing models, create new 3D assets, optimize 3D assets and a whole lot more.
Key Features Are:
Polygonal Modeling, Sculpting, Generation and Optimization Tools
Each of these features individually are worth the cost of GameDraw on the Asset Store. Drilling down deeper, GameDraw offers much more. It’s pretty amazing to see the degree of power GameDraw unleashes in the Unity Editor, offering features such as:
Mesh Editing ( Vertex, Edge, Triangle, Element)
Mesh manipulation functions (Extrude, Weld, Subdivide, Delete, Smooth,…etc)
Assigning new Materials
Primitives (25 basic model)
Node based mesh generation
2D tools (Geometry painting, 2D to 3D image tracing)
Character customizer (NEXT UPDATE V 0,87)
City Generator (NEXT UPDATE V 0.87)
Warehouse “hundreds of free assets” (NEXT UPDATE V 0.87)
As a Beta product, GameDraw is slightly more functional on the PC than the Mac computers at the moment. Even though I primarily use a Mac in my daily routine, I was very impressed with GameDraw’s functionality on the Mac.
Being a hardcore Maya artist, I can’t see GameDraw eliminating my need for Maya anytime soon. I use Maya for more than creating Unity assets. However, I happily purchased the GameDraw from the Asset Store and use it on projects. I see a significant number of instances when I want the ability to make changes to models, create new models, generate a cities, animate morph targets…all within Unity. For any of these tasks alone, GameDraw is a must have and very worth the cost.
Co-Founder Boston Unity Group
Last month, Infrared5 unveiled something exciting- an 11 foot high custom designed mural in our entry space. From conception to completion, spanning almost an entire year, this project was a labor of love. The work was designed by LA based artist, Bradley Munkowitz. Rebecca Allen, Infrared5’s CEO and the fearless leader of this project, met Bradley at a FITC conference many years ago where Bradley made a lasting impression. “His work is just as engaging as his personality,” says Allen. When it became time to look for an artist to create a mural for our entryway, Rebecca knew just the person to call. “I was initially taken by the scale of the piece; being 11 feet square… So I wanted to create an artwork that had a great deal of dimensionality, because on that grand scale it’d feel immersive, which would really make for a captivating entryway mural,” says Bradley. The artist went about creating a series of images digitally, using Autodesk Maya and procedural textures, which allow for rendering at any size. “I think I submitted about 20 different designs and Rebecca and I chose the best one for the application.” If you feel like our entryway is playing a trick on your eyes, you are right- Bradley is heavily influenced by Op Art. “I just love the visual movement, the graphic nature, and obviously the trippy dimensionality,” says Bradley.
The task of getting this mural hung fell onto my plate sometime in late spring, 2012. I was new to Infrared5, still figuring out what my position here really meant, when Rebecca asked me to look into having someone come to hang the mural. I’ve come to think of myself as the resident ‘figure-it-out-ologist’. Much of my job entails putting the time and focus into getting things done that take a lot of research time, tasks that have historically been put on the back burner in favor of focus on client work. I try to adapt IR5’s motto ‘yeah, we can build that’ into my own ‘yeah, I can research that’ in order to get things done.
I knew that finding someone that had the skill to hang this mural was going to be a tricky task. After all, the mural was shipped to us as three panels, 11 feet tall by roughly 3.5 feet wide. These panels have a back that peels off to reveal an adhesive that would stick to the wall. As our project manager Kelly Wallick said, “Its hard enough to put contact paper into drawers!”
I hit the internet. Companies that specialized in large scale vinyl installation wouldn’t install anything that they had not produced, and finding contractors proved a challenge. After weeks of telephone tag, multiple early saturday morning phone calls from one terrifyingly overeager applicant, and many frustrating stops and starts, we found our way to Abigail Newbold. Abigail, a fellow MassArt graduate, is an artist who creates installations that confront ideas of comfort and survival. On her website, Newbold states “I am motivated in my quest to evaluate and distill by a desire to be able to feel at home anywhere.” We were referred to Newbold via her coworker at the Decordova, and she proved to have just the patience and attention to detail to take on this project.
Abigail and her partner Ricky Marsee arrived at 10 am Sunday morning to begin work. Stunningly confident in the face of a meticulous task, the duo set to work. It was nearly 7 pm when they wrapped up. It had been a long battle, but the mural was finally up.
Taking almost a year from conception to execution, Infrared5 is thrilled to be displaying a mural as dynamic and contemporary as the work we hope to put out. No one is more excited to have the mural up than Rebecca. “I am so glad that we all persisted and have an amazing piece to enjoy and set the tone for clients!”