Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Perspective Your Computer Can't Do

A background for a piece I'm working on. So multiple vanishing points that don't match up, curvilinear perspective that kind of torques as it turns around. This perspective is done intuitively without rulers. It is technically wrong, but makes intuitive sense.

Computers Aren't Always Your Best Perspective Friends

I think a lot of illustrators these days are relying on 3D modeling programs for their perspective, and while Manga Studio doesn't do your perspective for you, it has a perspective tool that definitely helps. You still have to know perspective to use these tools effectively if you're going to use them in conjunction with 2D imagery. But sometimes it can look just a little too perfect. A little too geometric. 

We have stereoscopic vision.  Looking at a 2-dimensional image is always going to be like looking at the world through a telescope. I think this kind of distortion isn't always going to be appropriate for what you're trying to achieve with an image, but it does reflect a certain aspect of how we see.

3D Virtual Spaces vs. 2D Illusionistic Spaces

Someone on Facebook asked me recently why I thought we saw things differently in 3D vs.2D. This made me think of 3D animation vs. 2D and the fundamental differences between them.

It's all about depth perception. Two dimensional images have no depth, just the illusion of depth, as if seen from a fixed point. Drawing from life or imagination, you can provide more depth to your images, since you're able to elaborate on the information, exaggerating some of the dimensional aspects of the image, not just obvious distortions, but subtle stuff, like light and shadow, aspects of the picture that a photo couldn't capture.

Much like photography and cinematography, CGI is also very literal in its interpretation of 3D objects. It's a virtual space that complies to many of the essential rules of physics. While the physics of movement is easier to manipulate and exaggerate in a CGI environment, is't not so easy to manipulate the physics of the virtual space itself. Even if distortions are made in the virtual objects that occupy the space, once the camera pans around the object it's very much like a sculpture or three-dimensional object and follows all the conventional rules of how we see objects in a traditional 3-dimensional space.

This is most evident when 3D objects are introduced into 2D animation. There can be a sometimes jarring dissonance between the two. The two approaches create a collage effect. Sometimes this works out. Sometimes it doesn't. 2D animation has such a distinct look because of the unique spacial relationships that can only be achieved with organic and intuitive distortions of 2D imagery.

What About 3D Movies?

That's an illusion, based on the way your eyes combine the two images, but is not truly 3 dimensional. In 3D movies, this illusion is further exaggerated, and with these new cameras that can record stereoscopically they've really perfected it, but it's still an illusion based on two, two-dimensional images. Unless the images track the movement of your eye and point of view, and the images are coordinated with that movement, as in truly immersive virtual environments, you're not truly seeing in three dimensions. And they can't do that in a theater.

Sorry Steven Spielberg, but 3D movies are not the future of cinema. People will likely abandon theaters once they can get a 360 degree virtual view of the world in their homes. Even 2D movies look just as good when you have a virtual giant screen.

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