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Third eye: Interacting With A World Unseen

Before going off the lid, I want to specify that this article has nothing to do with any upcoming technology or a life changing event. Rather the motive behind this article is to introduce new parameters in human perception through an amalgamation of nature and science behind the nature. I wish that by the end of this article, readers may be awoken to enjoy finer, easily neglected details of nature and improve their perspective.

God has gifted us with a pair of eyes to see the beautiful world around us. But how much of the beauty can we extract out of it is solely dependent on the way we perceive it. Big bold letters written in newspaper or printed on banners can be visible to everyone but there are few who can read the smaller and finer ones hidden in between the description, unseen to naked eyes. Aim is to take you inside the mind of an artist and show you how things are perceived in his world. Everything at this point might sound spiritual and not even remotely related to science, so let me add a dimension to the convoluted mess. The person or the artist as stated earlier here, is a designer, an architectural designer or a 3D modeler.

Such an artist rely on not only the random shapes and structures he create but also on how realistically they are created. Life of a 3D artist is nothing but an irony. He create a virtual (computer generated) world in order to survive in real world. Where real world enjoys an incredible support from nature, virtual world relies on individuals for its recognition. According to a recently published study, a 3D artist enjoys twice more powerful senses than any other normal human being. The only barrier is knowledge of tools to create a virtual simulation. He is gifted with a power of seeing the unseen, involuntarily avoided world. The ever so evolving hardware and software has made it possible to further blur the line between virtual and reality. Enough of beating around the bush, let’s talk about this mystical unseen world only visible to artists.

The world unseen

The whole hoopla of this mystical world within a world is nothing but a collection of those details which are so fine that they are generally missed from grabbing any sort of attraction to human eyes or more specifically the human brain. Let’s look at one of such detail. [pic] Any source of light illuminates the world around us. What generally nobody cares about is the infinite parameters associated with that light. Any obstacle in the path of light cast shadows, the shape, length, intensity and direction of which is dependent on source of light. However there are panumbrae due to impartial cutoff of light too and also indirect shadows casted from other objects in the scene. The very fact that light never reaches our eyes directly but is reflected by objects, dust particles and surfaces in the entire scene before reaching our eyes making various natural phenomena to take place simultaneously and their cumulative effects in the actual view which we finally get, can make everything so complex and fascinating. Now imagine simulating all that on a computer which accounts for living of these 3D artists. The amount of calculations required were insurmountable to both human brain and computer until the dramatic evolution of hardware industry. Now the computer is intelligent enough to produce those effects with shocking accuracy.

Look around you, the world is so vast and dynamic that we can’t possibly notice all the different phenomenas occurring at any given moment. Look at the material of things around you. Shiny, glossy, dull, smooth, rough, bumpy, patterned, grudgy, dusty and whatnot. All are reflecting, refracting different amount of light to make you aware of their unique properties. Also look at the interaction of two surfaces. Image and even color of one object is reflected on other object. You can simulate and manipulate the exact effect on a software. Turn on Global illumination for calculating the lighting in a scene realistically by taking into account reflection of light from other objects and surfaces. Set the color, transparency, texture and reflectivity of materials and see the magic after rendering.

Humans are the most expressive creatures on earth with uncountable number of emotions expressed in equally uncountable ways. Emotions or expressions are processed by both our eyes and brain. They are meant to be felt. But what if we change the rules of nature and cut off the brain and sound part? Just imagine humans as a non-living, lifeless robot able to imitate different facial expressions. Focus on the visual part rather than anything else. Check out the movements of various parts of the face be it twitching of eyes, lines on forehead, fluffiness of cheeks, movement of jaw, widening of nostrils, movement of lips, pushing back of ears. Also facial hairs, their color, thickness and density, hairstyle or maybe a mole. Some of these details are impossible to notice in a regular conversation because of their irrelevance and also because most of the time our mind will be busy in gathering information about his/her assets. There is a French quote which says, ‘your ignorance is someone else’s fortune’. Same goes with artists in making human models or characters in films and video games.

The above few paras might make you realize how everything around us is connected to each other. Each and every little detail has some role to play in the final imagery which is perceived to our eyes. There are millions of other phenomenas like the sunflares, fog, ripples in pond, bright spot of light when you concentrate light to a point, random splash of water, water vapors, movement of curtains etc each with a scientific and logical existence. These are the elements of realism which a normal human being doesn’t really care about most of the time but are of essential importance to 3D artists.

How it works

Imagine the world made up of millions of polygons which are arranged in such a way to contrive any real world entity. Everything is nothing but a mesh of random shapes with textures applied to them accordingly and lighted up with a number of light sources. These are the various layers of a computer generated world. The geometry of things is of utmost importance. Even the most complex structures in the world follow a pattern. Without patterns, it’s humanly impossible to construct anything in the world. It might seem difficult to really think about making anything, but just take an example of any structure around you. Start from the smallest geometrically similar portion of the building, let’s say the base floor. It’s probably going to have a couple of windows, balconies and lift area. Now imagine replicating the same bunch of things repeated again and again on top of each other or maybe horizontally too and forming a single large structure. Modify this structure by bending it or making curves out of it. That will be the front face of the building. Repeat the procedure for rest of the faces and you have your own apartment (ofcourse on a computer). CG modelers and architecturer use the same technique of breaking down a large structure into smaller, similar parts for minimizing and speeding up their work. This is pretty much how things work be it cars, planes or even humans. Adding finer details for realism follows next.
Talk about revolution, a common man may answer smartphones or viral internet videos of stupid dance forms but ask an expert 3D artist or game designer and his instant answer will be the unbelievable amount of realism achieved in computer generated world. So much that you can fool anyone to call a CG imagery, a real world entity. Hardware is growing every day and has reached to a point where we are standing at the brink of the door through which we can peak into a virtual world which looks and breathes just like ours but fully manipulable. We are now equipped with hardware which can handle such unparalleled amount of processing.

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