Archive for April, 2010

Perlin Noise and its Impact on Image

Professor Ken Perlin

This approach to the creation of synthetic noise in graphics was named after Ken Perlin who first developed the concept during the shooting of the original TRON movie in 1981.  It’s the basis of many of the graphics effects such as mountains, smoke, water or surface textures such as fur that are added to action films and 3D animations to enhance visual effects in some way.  Ken defines “noise” as “a texturing primitive you can use to create a very wide variety of natural looking textures”.  It has low bandwidth and storage requirements because it doesn’t require a stored source texture, instead it’s defined as a “procedural texture” created on the fly from a maths expression and applied to the volume of a graphic shape rather than to its surface.

A vase using perlin noise texture

It’s as if you created a granite vase by starting with a solid block of granite then produced the final shape using a lathe  – rather than creating a vase shape mesh from thousands of polygons then mapping a surface texture over it.  The first approach uses far less CPU time.

The Perlin Noise function uses pseudo-randomness to create density clouds of texture. Further sharpening processes then give the clouds the appearance of solidity, coined by Ken as a “hypertexture”.

Here’s a link to Ken’s talk “Making Noise” given on 09/12/1999: http://www.noisemachine.com/talk1/index.html

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HTML5 and the Future Web

There has been a gradual creep towards HTML5 use in browser displays over the last few months, so I thought now might be a good time to take a closer look at this technology and its potential impact on the web. Wikipedia defines HTML5 as ” the next major revision of HTML (HyperText Markup Language), the core markup language of the World Wide Web”.  The main points of focus in this revision are flexibility in parsing code or when handling incorrect syntax, and compatibility.  While HTML5 is very much a work in progress (estimated date for achieving a W3C Recommendation is late 2010) some newly-introduced elements have already made an impact on animation and video displays.

HTML5’s new <canvas>  tag, for example, can be employed to define a drawable region with HTML, then apply dynamic “scriptable rendering” of 2D bitmap images. Ricardo Cabello is a designer who has explored the possibilities offered by HTML5 and the <canvas> tag with striking results – such as dynamic gravity effects and live drawing tools (Harmony).

The creators of TED.com recently announced that TEd talks are now available in HTML5, which means that they can be accessed from any HTML5-compatible smartphone such as the iPhone 3G or HTC Magic and other mobile web devices like iPod Touch and iPad (through its built-in version of Safari).

Speaking of iPad, Apple recently posted a list of sites that are HTML5 and iPad ready. They include the New York Times, CNN and Reuters, all of which have HTML5 video viewers.


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