Editor's Note - Virtual nature walk

This issue's study of long form animation really points to how far we've come during the digital revolution. Just as the synthesizer did not obsolete the violin, there are still people working in animation with pencil, pen and ink, but what a difference. Besides digital's contribution to inking and painting and electronic editing, perhaps the most notable change in animation is the ability to do long form 3D work. Pixar's Toy Story and Alliance's ReBoot are prime examples both covered in depth by Ann Fisher.

A step beyond 3D animated programs, of course, will be 3D "virtual reality" games coming from such innovators as Acclaim. A different direction for VR is being explored by conceptual artist Char Davies, who has made a study of the implementation of technology to create a different reality that's eerily familiar. Her Osmose VR experience is about Nature and how we can relate to it and learn from it.

Osmose is not meant to pump you up. There's no kick boxing or driving off cliffs here, no joystick or cyberglove. The participating "immersant" dons a stereoscopic headset and a motion capture vest with a breathing and balance sensor and jumps into a pond in a clearing in a forest. By inhaling, you can come up to the surface, approach a beautiful 3D tree, walk into it and then travel up through its branches and "experience" a leaf from within. Dorota Blaszczak provided sound design. There's also a very large SGI Onyx behind a curtain.

Oddly, Davies the artist is actually one of the original (1987) employees of Softimage and continues as Softimage's director of Visual Research, working in Montreal with Georges Mauro and John Harrison. Their exhibit traveled down from a Montreal museum for a recent gallery showing in NYC where it was covered by the Weekend Today Show. One of their first native New Yorker participants was the editor of a trade magazine. (He did things like jaywalk, get lost, and litter, but enough about moi.)

As the end of any year portends, new things are just around the corner. For Post Magazine, this issue marks the end of our first decade(!) The issue is flush with forward-looking features and even two supplements: one on the state of the industry (our 10th survey) the other a directory of tapeless storage devices. But we won't wear you out with comparison! between post production circa '86 and today. That's for an issue to come.
— Ken McGorry



Davies creates virtual environments with Softimage

MONTREAL, CANADA — Char Davies, director of visual research at Softimage is using the company's software as a tool for creating virtual environments. Osmose is an interactive, immersive virtual environment using stereoscopic 3D computer graphics, spatialized sound, a head-mounted display helment, motion capture and live stereoscopic video projection.

Davies sought to create an exploration of our metaphysical relationship with nature. Osmose features dozens of virtual worlds, including an introductory Cartesian grid and organic worlds of forest, leaf, clearing, pond, abyss, Earth and cloud. Code used to create the work is also included, as is text featuring quotes from the artists and poetry. Osmose made its debut in Montreal at the Museum of Contemporary Art and spent five weeks at the Ricco/Maresca Gallery in New York and was seen on NBC's Today.

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Put online: May 2017. Last verified: June 2017.