I decided to move away from historical models for this tutorial. I chose a mecha, a walking robot, as an exercise in texturing, rigging and animation. The idea is to first create a low-poly model so that most of the visual detail is in the textures applied. Then a walk cycle will be animated using bone rigging to aid further animations. The result will be the sort of model that could be used in a simple game. As there are quite a few steps in achieving all of this, the tutorial has been split into four parts. This first part creates the base model. Following posts will cover texturing, rigging and animating.
May 2010 Archives
'Buildings of Ancient Rome' is another of the consistently good Open University short podcasts. This one describes and details the histories of certain buildings (mainly temples) of Ancient Rome in the Circus Flaminus, Largo Argentina and Roman Forum. Thus it focuses on a few quite small (and, apart from the Forum, less well-known) areas of ancient Roman ruins. The format is a series of 5 short video documentaries (although iTunes only lists 4 videos on its iPod page, it then lists all 5 on the Mac/PC page). The videos are available in a 640×360 format or a smaller iPod optimised format. They range from 2 minutes to 15 minutes in length, and transcripts are also available.
The videos are made entirely of pictures of the temples/buildings being discussed in their current state (with the very occasional floor plan). The audio comprises details of the buildings and their history. There are no reconstructions or interviews. The information comes think and fast - dates of construction (and sometimes destruction), architectural notes, interesting events in their history and how it is thought they were used. It can be hard to orientate yourself - a little knowledge of Rome's history and layout helps immensely. Interesting, but not introductory.
The last few days before the UK election saw the image below circulating around the city. I saw it first on FT Alphaville. I find this image incredibly annoying. Not because the message is necessarily wrong. There is a strong case to be made that the Labour's party's rhetoric on their ability to manage the UK economy is in no way matched by their actual management of the economy (although it's debatable whether the Tories would have been any better). Instead, it is because the image is using a misunderstood part of the financial world to produce a misleading graph.
The image is a graph of the FTSE 100 stock market index of the largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. It is a UK version of the S&P 500. Like other share indexes it is often quoted on the news in absolute terms as well as the absolute rise or drop over some time period. For example yesterday the FTSE 100 closed at 5123, a drop of 138 points. However, to compare movements the absolute point value should not be used. This is because the index is calculated as the change relative to some reference date. Calculated from this base, the larger the index, the larger point move required to be equivalent to a move at a smaller index move. A 2% move when the index is at 5000 is 100 points, when the index is at 2000 an equivalent move is 40 points. As the index gets larger, point movements will naturally become larger for no difference in activity. Thus the graph above is misleading because it exaggerates the more recent point moves at a larger index level compared to the earlier moves.
It is the percentage move that is important. If the graph showed percentage moves the 1987 crash would appear much larger and the recent crashes smaller. To better show the relative moves, I found a graph of the FTSE using a logarithmic scale on Yahoo. As can be seen below the recent boom and bust don't seem as large, but they are still there. So the same message could have been sent with a less misleading graph.
Greece is collapsing. The news regularly shows riots in Athens; the papers discuss the dire economic straits. A person here in London could easily form the view the precipice is near.
Having spent a week in Athens last month, I didn't leave with the impression disaster was imminent. People generally seemed to be going about their daily business. There were no clear signs of distress (apart from one incongruity). Indeed, other cities I have visited appeared to be in worse situations. While a large amount of my time was spent in busy tourist throngs around the archealogical sites, I also travelled out into the surrounding areas. What I saw appeared to be a working city. There were numerous storefronts with decent traffic and many business offices. The streets became busier after work hours. Bars and resturants were quiet during the day, but became busy late in the night. At one point we saw a crowd blocking a street near Syntagma, it could have been a well behaved protest, or just as easily people waiting for some celebrity. There was a lot of graffiti, but also a lot of graffiti art. Not so different to London really and there was probably about the same number of unused/abandoned buildings. Although unlike London, many of the occupied buildings appeared quite run-down and not well maintained.
There was one indication of possible problems. On a quiet side street North-East of Omonoia we walked past trees, parked cars, buildings that looked like apartment blocks, and little shops. Then there were two burnt out cars next to each other. They were completely wrecked - the fire destroyed everything. However, there was no damage apart from the cars. Either the fire was somewhere else and then the wrecks dumped there or the immediately surrounding area was cleaned up (but the cars left). Both seem strange. Apart from these wrecks, Athens did not feel different to most cities I have visited.
Cities are ususally places of vibrant activity - normally business related. Visit London, Paris, Sydney, Barcelona or Milan and you feel you are in a working city. There is the sense that the locals are busy getting things done. Travelling around London, I am constantly amazed by the number and variety of business nameplates outside buildings. You can walk for hours from the Shoreditch across to Hammersmith and it is busy offices the entire way. Washington and Rome feel more dominated by tourism and government, but there is still lots happening around you. Two places I feel didn't match this description, at the time I visited, are Lisbon and Tunis. There was a general lack of activity in Lisbon, it seemed almost empty. Never have I seen so many empty, decrepit buildings. Tunis was similar, full of people, but they didn't seem to be doing much. There was always a large number of men sitting in cafes, presumably un- or underemployed. These two cities felt like they were in dire economic straits. Indeed, Portugal is currently mentioned in similar financial terms to Greece, but that situation was clearer on the streets of Lisbon than Athens.