3D ANIMATION COMES TO PAKISTAN

Perhaps the time has come that all impediments and hurdles will be effectively dealt with in the forth coming 12th SAARC Summit

By QAZI FAZLI AZEEM,
Student Arena Multimedia
Jan 05 - 11, 2004

Each year we eagerly await Blockbuster American movies, which try to outdo previous releases in terms of Special effects and Cinema techniques. Movies like "Matrix", "Hulk", "Armageddon", "Terminator 2 & 3" and "Lord of the Rings" would not have made such a deep impact on our entertainment lifestyles if they were made without computer generated Graphics. Our expectations for the next wave of cinema hits have been raised so high that we have started judging action movies by the amount of Special effects, digital effects and stunts.

If you ask anyone why they prefer seeing foreign movies and channels instead of local ones, the answer is quite obvious... our film and television industry is not using enough 3D Computer graphics, mainly because of the belief that they are expensive to create. This is no longer the case as a high-end 3D animation setup like a Silicon Graphics machine used to cost more than 15 lakh rupees, but recent setups like an AMD Athlon system with 1 Gigabyte of DDR Ram and an ATI Radeon Video Card will do the job just fine for less than 1 lakh rupees.

Now western production houses are creating animated movies, which are entirely made up of 3D graphics. The special effects in revolutionary movies like "Matrix" and "Final Fantasy" could not have been created without using sophisticated 3D software, namely 3D Studio Max and Maya, both which are being used in Pakistan to create the next generation of Television advertisements.

From a very young age, I wanted to create the same effects that I saw in awe-inspiring science fiction movies like "Star Wars" and "Star Trek". Recently I found out that almost all of the special effects for such movies and television shows were done in Max and Maya. Infact, Habib Zagarpour, the chief 3D animator of Lucasarts (the company behind "Star Wars") used Maya for almost all of the effects in "Star Wars 1 & 2". The days when mathematicians and scientists were hired to use special effects software are now over. Now artists can be taught how to use 3D software, as they are both intuitive and fun to use.

Advanced 3D software like Maya costs about $4000 for the full production version, but an entirely free version of the software is available for download at their website www.alias.com. This trend has caught on with other 3D software houses that are now releasing Personal Learning Edition (PLE) versions of their expensive software. The PLEs are exactly the same as their pricy counterparts, but usually cannot save files. However, this is an excellent opportunity for students to learn advanced 3D animation software at their own leisure.

Maya is the world first 3D modeling and animation software that comes with built-in methods for creating cloth, fur (hair) and particle effects. Other 3D software support Polygon (geometrical) and Nurbs (smooth Bezier curves) modeling, but Maya is the first to offer Subdivision modeling, which is a mixture of the best properties of both Polygons and Nurbs. With Maya, you can model and animate an insect, and apply the insect's properties to group of animateable particles, to get the swarm of insect's effect as seen in "The Mummy" and "Scorpion King". Highly accurate motion capture can be applied to models through industry supported motion and facial expression equipment. This means that not only do the 3D models look real, but they also move realistically, mimicking actual human expressions, as seen in Disney's animated movies "Monster's Inc" and "Finding Nemo".

The time invested in learning will pay off exponentially; some of the highest paid jobs in the world are of 3D modelers and animators. To prove my point, the only industry in the world, which increased its revenue after September 11 is the 3D, powered computer games industry, which jumped from $3 billion to $4 billion.

Open your television and see the amount of channels which broadcast all sorts of programs throughout the year, what you don't realize is that there is a talented team of multimedia professionals behind every successful Advertisement, TV show, Drama and Movie. We have some of the most talented professional and artists in world that can make a name for themselves both in Pakistan and abroad, all they have to do now is jump on the 3D bandwagon and get professionally trained before other nations get too far ahead.

AUTHOR'S INTRO:

www.arena-defence.com/staffprofile.html (portfolio is available on this address)

QAZI FAZLI AZEEM/Student Arena Multimedia (Maya), Second Year, BS (Computer Science), University of Karachi. Has worked for 5 years as a Graphic Designer with Printing Impressions, an offshoot of the parent Karachi Type Foundries (KTF Group). Personally handled clients like FPCCI, ABB, PSO, Hamdard, Supernet, Exide, University of Karachi, National Tiles, National Textile Mills, Rotary Pakistan and Red Crescent Pakistan. Has also completed Internships with IBM Pakistan and AT&T Pakistan, both in the Network Services Departments. Has received Awards from the University of Karachi, M. A. Jinnah University, Suparco, Philips Pakistan, ITCN-Asia, ACM CS-KU, British Council Pakistan, English Speaking Union, CAMS School, Lyceum School, Fast ICS and the A. Q. Khan Research Laboratories (Islamabad). Qazi Fazli Azeem is a student member of the Association for Computing Machinery, USA (www.acm.org) and has served as Chairman of the Special Interest Group for Software Engineering at the Department of Computer Science, University of Karachi. Specialized fields are: Print Media Graphics, Network Security, Event Management, Software Engineering, Numerology and ancient Middle-Eastern History.