3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 1: 3D Space--Through the Looking Glass
Lesson 1 - Through the Looking Glass - Part 1
If we are going to do 3-D animation, we must develop an intuitive grasp of 3-D space on a computer. All 3-D software, from Alias on a Silicon Graphics workstation down to Ray Dream on a PC or a Mac, is precisely the same in this regard. Someone who is not truly comfortable navigating and visualizing in this environment cannot even begin to create. So where do we start?
Let's place a point on our screen.
Well, this is not really a point, but a little sphere, and here we have our first brush with the tension between pure geometry and physical reality that we are going to face (and feed off of) again and again. Einstein taught the remarkable truth that there is no such thing as a point in physical space without reference to some material object. Let's leave meditation on this topic to the physicists and the philosophically-inclined. But notice that our starting point must by symbolized by some physical object, typically a tiny sphere.
From this point, let's pull out a horizontal tube.
Then we add a vertical tube, perpendicular to horizontal one.
We are looking face-on at what could well be a simple 2-dimensional image. The only clue that we are working in a 3-D graphics application is in the subtle shading. Yet this shading could have been added by an artist, and indeed, the illusion of 3-D was already mastered centuries ago by the likes of Vermeer and many of the Renaissance painters.
So, let's add the third dimension--depth--by adding a new tube through the center point, perpendicular to both of the others.
The new tube is green, but we can barely see it because we are looking squarly at its end.
So let's change our point of view a little.
Now that's better! We have just jumped into 3-D space.
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Created: Feb. 24, 1997
Revised: April 22, 1997