January 18, 2022

Studio Feature: Procedural Visual Effects

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This Winter, NuVu students had the opportunity to enroll in a two-part studio series where they learned about current topics in computer graphics, with a specific focus on proceduralism, simulation, and the emergence of natural patterns and phenomena. 

Computer graphics have long been utilized as a means to visualize and illuminate the natural world. More recently, generative software and artificial intelligence have empowered us to rationalize complex natural phenomena like viral protein structures, gravitational distortion caused by black holes, or complex patterns found on the scales of pufferfish. These simulations have helped expand our understanding of the natural world, and provide scaffolding for scientific discovery. 

In the first studio session of the term, students examined these topics through a series of procedural modeling exercises using the software Houdini FX. Students explored topics such as the growth patterns of snowflake crystals, the formation of tornadoes, and the self-organizing behaviors demonstrated by schools of fish. 

Building on the technical and conceptual experience gained in session one, students in the second session worked in teams to construct, animate, and edit a visual campaign informed by a natural event or phenomena. The teams explored current and compelling global issues with the objective of enlightening audiences through a provocative and educational piece. Through this studio, students have been introduced to a variety of cinematography, rigging, and animation techniques while developing a sensitivity to narrative construction, composition, and lighting.