Unreal Engine 3, Now Free for Non-Commercial Use: Go 3D Eye Candy!

Unreal Engine 3, by way of the Unreal Development Kit, is now available free for non-commercial use. That means that not only are its capabilities for games accessible, but all sorts of other possibilities for art, visualization, and, yes, live visuals. Unreal is scriptable, customizable, and powerful, making this pretty massive news. The feature list is deep as you might expect. Among the highlights: Video support Programmable shaders, particle effects, and many other goodies Physics support, via PhysX A UI for managing and editing assets and content Animation and cinematic features for making it easier to add motion Artificial intelligence …

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iPhone Roundup: Field Recording, DJ Tools, Odd iInstruments, Cinco de Mayo

Now we’re talking: FiRe turns your iPhone into a serious recorder. No, really, a serious recorder – with advanced features and actual mic support. Your pocket is bulging with power. Wait… okay, that sounded really wrong. Anyway, the mobile software revolution continues. There’s so much stuff out there that it can actually be hard to track. Here’s a round-up to help you navigate everything that’s going on this week. And even if you can’t stand another word about the iPhone, consider this: the explosion of iPhone software, more than just a fad, illustrates what happens when you give developers tools …

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Carmack on Wolfenstein 3D, Game Programming, OpenGL, and the iPhone

Your GPU thanks you for playing this game back in the day. In case Quake creator John Carmack wasn’t already your hero, here’s a nice move: when EA wouldn’t green-light an iPhone version of the classic first-person shooter Wolfenstein 3D, Carnack had an answer: fine, just let me do it myself. In an astonishingly open (though typically Carmackian) post on the subject, one of the world’s great game programmers weighs in on some important issues: How open source game code made the project more feasible – and allows an entire community to get in on the action How the innards …

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If M.C. Escher Did Augmented Reality: Julian Oliver’s Levelhead

I really adore Julian Oliver’s work; he’s constantly finding ways of making three-dimensional, virtual spaces more expressive. We’ve seen Quake as a musical instrument, gaming actors as insane digital painters, and 3D interactive game equivalents of Grantz Graf. But this piece is unusually poetic and moving to me. It features a figure inside a virtual space, placed over real-world blocks by augmented reality gaming technology. Your role in the game is to navigate this figure through an M.C. Escher-style, three-dimensional labyrinth. It reminds me of toy theater and puppetry pieces, extended to the digital domain. And that’s just the idea …

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If M.C. Escher Did Augmented Reality: Julian Oliver’s Levelhead

I really adore Julian Oliver’s work; he’s constantly finding ways of making three-dimensional, virtual spaces more expressive. We’ve seen Quake as a musical instrument, gaming actors as insane digital painters, and 3D interactive game equivalents of Grantz Graf. But this piece is unusually poetic and moving to me. It features a figure inside a virtual space, placed over real-world blocks by augmented reality gaming technology. Your role in the game is to navigate this figure through an M.C. Escher-style, three-dimensional labyrinth. It reminds me of toy theater and puppetry pieces, extended to the digital domain. And that’s just the idea …

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Updated MacBook Pro Performance Preview: Better Displays, Faster Visualist Apps, Better 3D

Audio, relying primarily on the CPU, can do fine on the non-pro MacBook: a fast CPU and FireWire 400 can be all you need. But for visualists, the GPU has become more and more vital. The integrated Intel GPU on the MacBooks is surprisingly capable, and certainly gets through basic video mixing. But throw enough shaders at it (even just processing video, without any 3D modeling or gaming), and it can’t keep up. That’s the reason Apple requires the MacBook Pro for Final Cut Studio; with Motion, at least, they’re absolutely right. You’d be wise to postpone a MacBook Pro …

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Free Anti-Radiation Music Downloads from Kraftwerk, Ryuichi Sakamoto Friends

Musical activists are opposing a Japanese nuclear reprocessing plant. What’s in it for you: free musical downloads opposing contamination by nuclear radiation. (Any pro-radiation readers will have to look elsewhere.) Nuclear reprocessing is a way of reclaiming spent nuclear fuels. Sounds great, right — recycling and whatnot? Unfortunately, there are serious risks involved. The plant, Rokkasho-mura reprocessing plant in Japan’s Aomori Prefecture, is under fire because: Just two weeks into testing, after the plant opened last year, radioactive water containing plutonium and uranium spilled inside the plant. According to a recent report, this particular plant has a design flaw that …

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Machinima Production Techniques, South Park Style

It’s not hard to imagine a world in which customized game tools become simple 3D environments for producing truly original visuals — work that looks unrelated to the game engines that power it. The fact that 3D engines are designed for real-time operation makes them even more appealing for live visuals and VJ work. Artists like Julian Oliver have produced whole music and visual performance pieces, as we’ve seen on Create Digital Music. So, could the fact South Park did an episode this season with World of Warcraft mean full productions are close at hand? Absolutely, and thanks to the …

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Second Life for Musicians: Vintage and New Virtual Synths, Music Community?

The problem with truly virtual synths? No sound. Second Life is one of those things I might try out one of these days, except that I’m quite busy with my first, second, third, and fourth lives at the moment. I’m surprised that while Tom at Music thing catches on to music gear sales in the virtual community, he misses out on all the synths. Search “synth” on the SLBoutique, and you’ll find lots of classic gear rendered in 3D form. Seen recently: Conbrio Synth Yamaha DX1 Roland JX10 TimewARP 2600 (a unique virtual version of a virtual version of a …

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Coke Targets Gamers: Gets Their "Machinima" On

I’ve watched the new “Coke Theft Auto” spot quite a few times, and I’m not quite sure whether it’s pure genius or pop culture cash-in, so I thought I’d post and let the collective sort it out. You can download the video from Motionographer’s article, or check the ugly compressified youtube version. This could be considered about as much a Machinima as James Brown’s Trafalgar Square spot from a couple of years ago. They both reference a computer game, but throwing in an ad agency and a large wad of cash negates any possible “machinima” tag, I think. I wouldn’t …

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