Thursday, February 08, 2007

Panda Puppet Progress

Sales Guy
"Sales Guy" is the talking head being used to program Panda Puppet right now.

Just a quick update about ongoing developments with Panda Puppet. The image above is "Sales Guy" the nickname that's been given to the head being used to map and program the facial controls for Panda Puppet. I was hoping to have some video of Sales Guy in action to post here by now, but Sales Guy kind of, uh, broke earlier this week. I'm still trying to get to the bottom of the problem, but I hope to have it resolved before the end of the day today.

What's always interesting about a project like this is that things that you expect to be difficult turn out to be relatively simple while the little things that you expect to be easy end up being very, very hard.

Last week I came to the conclusion that Blender's internal game engine is not really up to snuff. The 3d engine and can't meet all of Panda Puppet's needs (there are plans to overhaul Blender's GE using OGRE, but there's no confirmed time line on when that will happen). I've been exploring using Crystal Space as Panda Puppet's 3d engine via a nifty Blender plug-in called Blender2Crystal. Unfortunately, the plug-in doesn't seem to be widely used and there is limited documentation available so things are slow going on that front.

The other thing I have been looking in to is the Sunflow renderer, which looks promising. Although Panda Puppet will work in real-time, one it's key features is that performances can be tweaked, edited out and rendered out as conventional animation. Sunflow isn't natively supported by Blender right now, but there does seem to be some interest in getting more support for it from the Blender community.

I have learned more about programming and 3D graphics in past three weeks than I have in the previous ten years.

Back with more soon!

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