Researching the Minimalistic Architectural style that my thesis focuses on I found a name that came up often: Tadao Ando. Tadao Ando is so inspirational to me in so many ways; 1) He was a boxer, I studied boxing as well. I know this may be silly and child like to be enthusiastic about this, but that's just me 2) He never formally studied Architecture, he is self taught. How many self taught experts in any field end up winning what is considered the highest honor in Architecture, the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1995? 3) He is the creator of the Japanese structure Church of Light, which I have seen and admired a number of times, but didn't know of the Architect. This guy is something else! When he won the $100,000 prize for the Pritzker, he gave all the money to help children in Japan after one of their large earthquakes. Needless to say, I want to be this kind of visionary and contributor to society and my field.
I was recently asked by a fellow student how I would be adding to the game industry with my thesis, this was my response:
Imagine you are student with exceptional technical abilities, intelligence and great ideas, but you don't have the visual savvy to show off what you can do in a way that gets you noticed. As artists we may overlook this aspect because we are already good at something that is evident the moment someone sees it. The old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" would apply here. For a designer or programmer who is trying to get noticed it is not so easy, but with the right tools and approach the next genius designer might get a gig because he caught someone's eye with the visuals of his portfolio. The visuals being stronger equates to time, more time spent by a prospective employer viewing their work. If I can teach an approach to creating environments that is simple enough for the non-artist to create, yet builds their confidence and abilities, I maybe creating a path for the next great designer/programmer to get a job that will pay them to explore and share their God given talent. I think that might add to the game industry.
Albert Bandura is considered the 4th most important Psychologist in the history of its practice. His influence is far and wide. In my opinion the most important discovery Albert made was to help people to overcome their fears in order to live a fuller life. His techniques of building "Self Efficacy" or perception that a task can be accomplished in people can not be overlooked. Using these effective techniques I believe we can empower people to push through their hangups and mistakes into the realm of accomplishment.
I just recently learned about David Kelley and the Ideo (or "D" school) at Stanford University, and I am blown away by how much the work he is doing parallels the work I am developing within interactive design media and games. I had postulated that everyone can build virtual environments because just about everyone has (at least when they were children: Blocks, sand castles forts etc.). After beginning David's book "Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All" I found that I am not the first to think in this fashion. David uses the same concept to build a premise that all people are creative and that belief of this is critical to unlocking that inner creativity that has always been there. After belief is there some simple steps, exercises if you will, allows one to start building on and unlocking their creativity. I now have a very strong basis to garnish from. Thanks Professor Gilbert for pointing me towards him!
Architect, Daniel Piechota and Designer/Developer, Loring Sagan head this firm found in San Francisco. Their work is elegant, clean, and makes an effort to work with the environment, it also fits into the model I am using to empower non artists to create art. Look below at some of the designs and one thing stands out, simple geometric forms made with fine materials. Much like the minimalist of the 1960's less shows essence.
I just recently picked up Houdini from SideFX. I feel very fortunate to have jumped into using Houdini now in version 16, as the good folks at SideFX have made it a point to start competing in a broader market. The tools that are being offered in the newest Houdini are good enough to start to attract a traditional modeler, but it is the Houdini Engine that has become of particular interest to me. The Houdini Engine is a tool that lets you create procedural pieces for game engines and other DCC apps, so that pieces created in Houdini can be changed interactively within the engine or app. This kind of workflow will allow artists and designers to highly modify and iterate freely in less time: https://www.sidefx.com/products/houdini-engine/
As an educator I have chosen to be "software agnostic". I put it into quotes because the truth is, while I am willing to use any software to get the job done, I will fully admit that I do have my favorite software. I have professionally used 4 major 3D authoring tools, 2 3D sculpting tools, 7 game engines (many proprietary), and 5 2D texturing packages. More and more I have come to be inspired by the capabilities of real time graphics. At one point in my career I was in favor of using traditional render technology over real time because I was unable to achieve the visual fidelity I wanted in my work using game engines. But I am pleased that I now I no longer feel like game graphics are way behind film. It has become more and more evident that real time technology is the wave of the future, and I would go as far to say real time technology is the future of film too. That being said I would tip my proverbial hat to Epic and Unreal Engine. Epic has been pushing the capabilities of their engine for as long as I have been using 3D (since 2002). Below are some inspiring minimalistic environments rendered in Unreal 4.
Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) an American Architect has been an influence of mine since I saw his work as a young man living in the Chicago land area. His home for the early part of his career is located in Oak Park Illinois; below you can see the basic shapes that make up an elegant room.
Part of unlocking peoples ability to be creative is leading them to unlocking it slowly, simply, through small creative accomplishments. Looking at the image above it appears elegant and rich, but when it is broken down, it is quite simply block and tube shapes. Simple elegance is one of those things FLW achieved so well.
Ah ha moments continue! I have been debating how to go about creating the visual portion of my Thesis. While I had an environment that reflected the minimalistic description in mind, I had another epiphany as I was reading a comment by a fellow classmate today. He simply asked what is the visual component? Tools, art, assets? I hadn’t thought about creating a set of blocks for different looks, and assets. Then I remembered that I am learning procedural modeling right now, and it is possible for me to create digital assets in Houdini to be changed interactively in Unreal to meet more needs than just doing one off static assets; a way of building the blocks. Non-complex methods for the designer, simple sliders to interactively change the asset dimensions where needed. While I have not paved this path yet, I believe it is entirely plausible…more on this later!
Daniel Triplett, is an artist that worked in game development for over 6 years, and now teaches in the Computer Graphics Technology department (CGT) at Purdue University.