SCIENCE FICTION ARTIST IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS
GATEWAY TO SPACE
ARTHUR C. CLARKE
ISSUE TWENTY-THREE OCTOBER 2017
VUE ● TERRAGEN ● POSER ● DAZ STUDIO ● REAL-TIME 3D ● 2D DIGITAL PAINTING ● 2D/3D COMBINATIONS
HEXAGON HIGH VALUE TIPS DETAILS Sunday October 29th Can’t make the live webinar? Register and we’ll send you the HD quality recording 20:00 BST (London)/12:00 PDT (Los Angeles)/15:00 EDT (New York)
In your modeling workflow, you’re going to want to include as many shortcuts and time saving tricks as possible. Use symmetry to halve the amount of modeling you do; but when is best to do that how how? Use instancing to build complexity from simplicity; Arki takes you through how to do this in detail. In this special Halloween modeling event, Arki shares twelve high value “treats” to speed up your workflow and get more done for your modeling in Hexagon. Hexagon Treats—HALVE YOUR TIME ON MODELING In this high value tips and tricks modeling webinar we’ll cover these items using one or more examples…. 1. Modeling Treats: – Symmetrical Modeling as Timesaver – How to weld Symmetries – Instancing objects – Copy on support function – Soft brush settings and their benefits 2. Hierarchy Management Treats: – Why to name objects with clear names – The Benefits of Grouping – Managing your Object Hierarchy 3. Material Management Treats: – Setting Material Names – Unclutter your Material List 4. Selection and Picks Treats: – How to quickly select the Faces you want – Quickly find N-gons, Tris and Co
Presented by Arki
WORLD CREATOR Session 2 : Premium Training for World Creator 2 Date : 28th October Time: 20:00 BST (London)/ 15:00 EDT (New York) /12:00 PDT (Los Angeles) Opportunity for discounts on the standard/professional world-creator licenses when you attend this webinar Presented by Stefan Kraus •
Learn how to overcome the most common design and work-flow problems when creating your terrains and landscapes.
See a complete step-by step project that you can use as a template for your own work.
See the premium features of World Creator 2 in action
Oh, by the way in this session we’re recreating the Grand Canyon! As we do this we’ll show you… The Curve Editor •
How to have full control over the terrain elevation values
Govern the distribution of valleys and mountains, providing extra realism
Design Filters •
Use of the paths and shapes tool
Learn how to create roads, rivers and more!
Fine Terrain Editing •
See how to use powerful brushes and tools to edit the terrain
Effects Filters •
How to create alien-like worlds
Demonstration of special effects filters
Distort and Swirl
Terrain Stamping •
Importing height maps
How to stamp height maps to create terrain
Wind Filter •
Introduce the effects of wind
Demo of wind effects on terrain surface, texturing and vegetation.
Image Overlays (just released) •
A tool providing extra assistance for designing your terrain.
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We are actively looking for artists or content creators that would enjoy the opportunity of teaching other artists in a live setting. Would you like to work with Digital Art Live as a partner in presenting some of our live webinars? Weâ€™re particularly looking for artists and content creators with DAZ Studio and/or Poser in mind. Use the link below to submit your application and weâ€™ll get in touch!
Front Cover: Detail of “Preparation” by GrahamTG. Helios spacecraft model made by Jason Tinsley, and the astronauts were modelled by Jason 'Ivor' Webster.
THE ‘GATEWAY TO SPACE’ ISSUE
CONTENTS OUR LIVE WEBINARS! ―― 02
EDITORIAL ―― 07
BACK ISSUES INDEX ―― 20
CONTESTS ―― 40
OSHYAN GREENE ON TERRAGEN 4.1 ―― 68
GALLERY ―― 80
IMAGINARIUM ―― 98
ARTHUR C. CLARKE
We talk with Pixar artist Neil Blevins, about his space megastructures series, his new illustrated Inc project, and more.
After being partly blinded, Graham decided to learn Lightwave — and with it he makes fabulous space and aviation pictures.
Yes — thanks to the wonders of the public domain, we have a fresh interview with the great man himself!
3DS MAX | MOVIES
LIGHTWAVE | PS
AUTHOR | FUTURIST
“I decided to collect a list of all the major space megastructures, and then do a sort of updated version of The Usborne Book of the Future, in the hope of inspiring today's youth in the same way.”
“In 2007 I suffered a brain haemorrhage ... this left me blind in one eye and partially sighted in the other. So I made the decision to ‘go for it’ — to try and learn a big professional standard 3D render package.”
“... it helps that astronomy does have a beauty about it ... I would like the big art museums to have displays of purely scientific photographs — beautiful stuff, which appeals to everybody emotionally.”
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LIVE Join our live webinar-based workshops for digital artists. digitalartlive.com Credits for pictures, from top left: "Floaterbot" (detail) by Peggy Walters; God Rays content pack (DAZ Studio) promo picture by Davide Bianchini; "Preparationâ€? (detail) by Graham TG, interviewed in this issue.
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Copyright ÂŠ 2017 Digital Art LIVE. Published in the United Kingdom. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher. No copyright claim is made by the publisher regarding any artworks made by the artists featured in this magazine.
WELCOME to our “Gateway to Space” issue, a small tribute to the vision of the British science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke was one of the best science popularisers and futurists of the 20th century, a true ‘gateway’ visionary for many, and he strongly influenced the conception of man’s future in space. His engaging and exciting fiction has stood the test of time. He originated a range of engineering ideas such as orbiting geo-synced communications satellites, and even real-time noise cancellation. He helped shape many more, such as radar, space elevators, and humanity’s options for interstellar travel. Clarke came of-age in the mid 1930s, on the farming fringe of a sleepy seaside town in England. There he enjoyed moon-gazing, reading American pulp magazines purchased for threepence at the local Woolworths, and seminal science fiction novels such as Last and First Men (1930). He became an early devotee of Dunsany and Lovecraft, and his stories show evidence of his own more benign version of a Lovecraftian transcosmicism set amidst vast time-scales. Striking out on his own as a young man Clarke took a humdrum office job in London, and one can still taste that lost city’s smoky pubs in Clarke’s book of pub ‘tall tales’ Tales from the White Hart (1957). During the Second World War he served in the Royal Air Force at RAF Wroxall in rural Warwickshire. There he did groundbreaking work on early radar, evoked in his war novel Glide Path (1963). After the war he occasionally orbited the boys’ publishing industry — for instance, he was science advisor in 1950 on the first six months of the famous Dan Dare comic strip, and produced the boys’ novel Islands in the Sky (1952).
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/3DArtDirect 9
But soon Clarke was producing well-reviewed novels such as Childhood’s End (1953); the famous short story “The Sentinel” (1953) which led to 2001; and his breakthrough bestsellerThe City and the Stars (1956). Newly minted as a succesful author, he was able to move to the happier climate of Ceylon, then a dominion of the British Commonwealth (the successor to the Empire). Under the tropical sun he found a more relaxed lifestyle, along with spritely new friends and a new interest in scuba diving. Such experiences are vividly reflected in his science-fiction aquaculture novel The Deep Range (1957), and his boys’ books such as the novel Dolphin Island (1963) — all reflecting what must have been the happiest time in his life. Then in 1962 he was diagnosed with polio. Thereafter he mostly wrote non-fiction, such as the groundbreaking Profiles of the Future (1963) which influenced Roddenberry’s Star Trek. But he still found time to write fine science fiction, such as: 2001 (1968); Rendezvous with Rama (1972); Imperial Earth (1975); the short stories in The Wind from the Sun (1972) and more. Clarke has touched our culture’s visual imagination with his 2001 monolith, HAL 9000, the ‘Star Baby’, the solar-sail ‘sunjammer’, the space elevator, and many more. We hope this Clarke themed issue will help, in a small way, to keep his far-seeing vision in the public eye. DAVID HADEN Editor of Digital Art Live magazine. firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital Art Live talks with Pixar artist Neil Blevins about the early days of 3D, visualizing enormous megastructures, the Xeelee series, and successfully Kickstarting his new illustrated Inc science-fiction storybook. DAL: Neil, welcome to this in-depth interview with Digital Art Live. This is our Arthur C. Clarke special tribute issue, and when we looked at your DeviantArt gallery we thought your art and interests would fit in perfectly. NB: Thank you very much for the opportunity to talk to your readers! DAL: Firstly, a big congratulations on the success of your The Story of Inc Kickstarter, a science fiction comic-book-like publication which has just been funded at well over 100%+ of the goal. Robots and stark alien landscapes, aliens and giant alien monolithic starships, an odd couple in an odd planetary landscape… it sounds great. So can you tell us about the Kickstarter experience, please, and what you’ll now be able to produce with the funds, that will tell the story? NB: Thanks, Inc has been a project that has been years in the making, but it’s been well worth it. First off, it's not exactly a comic book, it's a narrative artbook. So it's a novel which then is illustrated with full colour detailed digital imagery of key scenes in the narrative. Imagine a full length sci-fi film, and this book as being a somewhat abbreviated script to that film with still images from the film, except in our case the film never existed! The Kickstarter process has been great, and yet at the same time also nerve racking. Since the book was already done before the Kickstarter started, the funds are going directly to printing 1,000 copies of the book. The Kickstarter also let us pre-sell about 250 copies, and then the rest will be sold online and at conventions in the coming years. DAL: Quite an undertaking. A hard cold print-run is always a challenge. What’s the production workflow on the book shaping up to be, on that? 10
Picture: “Xeelee Sequence: Timelike Infinity, The Eye Of The Spline”.
NEIL BLEVINS USA 3DSTUDIO MAX | DIGITAL PAINTING | DIGITAL MOVIE SETS AND PROPS |
NB: The first proofs have been printed, we had a few comments of things to fix, then the second proof will be done. Then we get them all printed, shipped from overseas to Amazon, and then we're using Amazon to ship the book to all our Kickstarter pledgers and will do sales after. Hoping to have it out before Christmas, but that depends on a lot of factors. Mostly how long it takes to have the books cross the Pacific. DAL: I see. Ok, now let’s step back into the past a little. I see that you were raised in Canada. Do the wide open spaces you experienced there, growing up, have a reflection in the Inc story? In terms of Inc traversing a big open landscape?
NB: Indirectly. I loved the Star Wars films growing up, and Hoth [remote, icy planet in the Outer Rim] sometimes did remind me of my homeland. So you might say living in Canada with all that snow made me love Hoth, which made me love Star Wars, and so I loved Tatooine [harsh desert world on the Outer Rim] and so I always wanted to make a story set in a bleak desert. But a lot of it has to do with my art, I really enjoy a single subject against a simple but atmospheric background. It makes for strong easy-to-read —visually ‘read’ — compositions. And a desert is just a perfect environment to have that sort of simple elegant composition. Then we fashioned a story around the world and our two main characters. DAL: I see. Were you always creative, from when you were a boy? And was there someone who helped nurture and push along your creativity, when you were young? NB: Continuing the Star Wars theme, when I was four years old I carved a detailed snow walker from Empire in a piece of wood, just using a screwdriver and hammer as a chisel. It even had the greebles and pipes on the side. So yes, I have pretty much always been a visual artist. My parents enrolled me into semi-private art classes at age six with local wildlife painter Renate Heidersdorf. Although I was all about scifi and she was more about nature, I learned a lot from those classes, and it also gave me a weekly time set aside to practice my art in a class with a dozen other students who also loved drawing and painting.
DAL: So it was 2D which had a head-start on 3D, for you. How did you get into digital and 3D? NB: I started doing digital artwork long before 3D was ‘a thing’ on a normal desktop PC. In fact, I did my first graphics before a mouse was readily available, it was all plotting stuff on graph paper and programming in pixel colours. When I had my first mouse and I could just click a pixel to change its colour, it was the most amazing thing. Back in 1993 I bought a book called Image Lab, in order to get a more advanced paint program which also had an early raytracer called POVray. Once I had a computer powerful enough to use it, I started playing, and got hooked on making 3D artwork. Now my style involves a mix of 2D and 3D, whatever works best to achieve the images I have in my head. DAL: I see. Yes, I was reading this year’s Edge Questions and Michael I. Norton was talking about how “Commitment Devices” are underrated — you get something that spurs you to do regularly the thing you know you want to do, but might not get around to, or might slack off on, or might just put off altogether. So if you want to walk more, don’t tell yourself ‘I will walk more’, just get a dog. Then you have to walk every day. Or if you want to read more, get one of the classic dedicated Kindle 3 ereaders and an Instapaper account, and keep it at the breakfast table. So it sounds like your Image Lab was a similar strategy — get the book and the software, then of course you have to get the computer to run it on. /Laughter/ What was your first breakthrough work which you made, that started to get you attention? NB: I started using a piece of 3D software called 3Dstudio. I discovered that Compuserve — a pre-internet online forum software — had a group of people who used the program, and so I'd make artwork and post it on there. At one point I was contacted by two companies in California who liked my work and were interested in having me come down. I joined one of those companies — Blur Studio — when I graduated from University and have been living in California ever since. DAL: Wow, that was a great way in. What learning resources did you have, back then? 12
Artist Neil Blevins, and writers Bill Zahn and Stephan Bugaj, have just successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming book,
The Story of Inc Narrative Artbook. The Story of Inc is a sci-fi story about a man and his robot trying to survive on an almost waterless desert planet. Alongside Neil the Inc team consists of twelve artists and writers, including current and former employees of some of the biggest studios: Blur Studio, Industrial Light & Magic, Pixar, Tippett, 343 Industries, Id Software, Blizzard, and many others.
Pictures: the main Inc promo poster (inset) and environment painting (right).
NB: Other than the Compuserve forum, very few with regards to digital art. There were a couple of books. But mostly I took traditional drawing and painting classes and tried to use what I learned in the new medium. DAL: I see. What’s changed, in terms of how someone enters the creative industries? NB: Well, nowadays there are whole degrees that can teach you digital art. So in a way it’s easier. But it's also harder, because there's more competition for those jobs, since there's so many more people doing this sort of thing. DAL: Yes, and not just within a nation, but transnational. Although in a way that’s good for small studios, because one can low-cost outsource many of the tedious bits of, for instance, making a comic-book. So there’s both competition but collaborations also become easier and quicker. Tell us about your own current 2D/3D mix, please. What’s the balance of that in your pictures, or do you separate the different approaches according to the picture’s theme or setting? Or do 3D renders provide an underpinning for the 2D work? NB: I usually start with a 2D sketch or drawing. Then I do a really rough 3D ‘blockout’, just with simple primitives. Then I use that to paint a more detailed painting, trying to get the light, composition and mood all set. I then either stop there, or if I'm trying to make a more detailed finished image, I'll go back and redo some part of my 2D painting with full 3D geometry. So there's a lot of back and forth between the two different mediums. DAL: That’s a fascinating workflow. I think many beginner overpainters might be tempted to go straight to full rendered 3D. But to turn to our issue’s theme. As this is our Arthur C. Clarke special tribute issue, we were especially interested in your “Megastructures” series of posters. Clarke is of course linked with megastructure ideas such as the Space Elevator concept, and that in itself has prompted later major authors such as Stephenson to try to develop their own signature ‘breakthrough megastructure’ such as his Tall Tower (in Project Hieroglyph). How did your Megastructures
project [seen right] arise, and develop? NB: I've always been a huge fan of giant space structures, in the films, video games and books I've enjoyed. I was doing some poking around on the subject, and noticed there wasn't a lot of realistic imagery of my favourite megastructures. I mean there were some, obviously the popular videogame Halo has some spectacular artwork of a small ringworld (really something more akin to a Banks Orbital than a Niven style ringworld). But the last fantastic paintings of a Bernal Sphere were done in the early 1970s as part of a NASA program by artists such as Don Davis. I also re-discovered the Kenneth W. Gatland book The Usborne Book of the Future: A Trip in Time to the Year 2000, which I had as a kid, and loved. I found my copy at my parent's house and realized how inspirational it had been to a lot of the artwork I was creating today. So I decided to collect a list of all the major megastructures, and then do a sort of updated version of that book, in the hope of inspiring today's youth the same way I was inspired back then. DAL: Has the series been shown somewhere in poster-size print, like in a museum or gallery? NB: Not yet. I'm slowly chipping away at the images, posting them as I go, but it will eventually become a full book, less narrative, most technical manual, probably another Kickstarter down the line. DAL: That would one I’d buy. If you were to develop your own unique megastructure, what might it be or look like, or do? NB: That's a hard question, so many people have come up with their own awesome ones. Actually, I guess I already have developed my own, the citadel in The Story of Inc is a smaller megastructure, and the Alien Mothership is 75 miles long. As to what they do … you'll have to read the book to find out, don't want to spoil it. DAL: We’ll look forward to discovering that. You're somewhat of an unusual interviewee for us, in that you use 3DStudio MAX by Autodesk, and Mudbox which is Autodesk's equivalent of Zbrush. So were the Megastructures modelled in 3DStudio? 14
NB: Some yes, some are all 2D paint and photo manipulation. None of the images are pure 3D. These days a lot of concept art is a mix of hand paint, photomanip and 3D, and these images are no exception. I use what works best for what I'm trying to make. To make something like my Bernal Sphere, for example, entirely in 3D would take forever or a small team of people a little less than forever, so a lot of that is hand-painted. DAL: I see. And despite your early artistic training you originally trained in science, I think? Does that still feed into your creativity in an everyday way? Or is science moving so fast that it’s difficult to stay abreast of it in a creatively useful way?
NB: I started off going into computer science, but realized I didn’t like it and so shifted back to my first love of artwork. Science will always inform what I do to some extent, I write simple tools in 3D to help me automate the boring parts of my process. The Megastructures series is trying to be at least somewhat scientifically plausible, in fact, I made a scientific mistake in my most recent creation that a reader pointed out, and had to find a way to fix it. And then some of my work is more pure fantasy — even though it still involves spaceships and aliens — and then I don't worry about whether it would work or not. DAL: What aspects of current future-facing science excite and interest you, today? NB: The idea that people will land on Mars in my lifetime. The moon landing happened before I was born, so I'd love my own moment to watch someone land on Mars in the same exciting future thinking atmosphere. DAL: Yes, I was reading something about the plans for that, just the other day, now that NASA has been brought back to a tighter focus. Currently it’s a manned mission for an orbit, first. Like the Moon missions, by the sound of it — first we prove we can actually go there and get back, but without landing. NB: I've also really enjoyed the Pluto flyby, and the landing on the comet. So I guess space exploration is top of my list. There's obviously a lot of interesting future technology closer to home, but a lot of that stuff has really powerful societal ramifications, not all of which seem to be good, and I'm not sure we have evolved as a species enough yet to use them effectively. We invented the ability to have a small 16
computer in our pocket, but not the common sense to not get addicted to it to the exclusion of real human interaction.
DAL: Yes... though I suspect that’s a temporary phenomena, like when colour all-day TV was introduced, and there were all these fears about people becoming addicted. But the figures show that many in the current young generation, they hardly watch TV. And when they do, it’s in a very different and more critical manner than in the 1970s. So things will change. We’ll evolve mental filters and time-management techniques for this new media. Wow, I’m just now properly looking down your mini-C.V. for the first time! Sorry, I’m tardy like that. Gosh… Digital Artist at Pixar, on Incredibles, Cars, Wall-e, Up, Brave, The Good Dinosaur. We had no idea about that aspect of your work. Impressive! NB: Yes, at Pixar I work in the sets department, where I help do visual development and asset creation of environments, props and vehicles for the animated films.
A few of the movies that Neil has worked on as Digital Artist at Pixar. He has also worked on Cars, Cars 2, Up, The Good Dinosaur, and is now working on Pixar’s summer 2018 film.
DAL: Wow, what a great job. And I see that you also did cinematics — videogame cut-scenes — for Fellowship Of The Ring. Can you tell us about those experiences, and your roles there, please… I’m sure readers will be fascinated. NB: Yes, cinematics are videogame cut scenes, I did that and many other things at Blur Studio back in the early 2000s. The Inc book project, megastructures etc is all done in my free time. DAL: I see, yes — so very separate from Pixar. Of course. But, you still work at Pixar?
NB: Yes, I’m working on our summer 2018 film. DAL: Gosh, we had no idea you were with Pixar. When we asked you for an interview, we were just interested in the megastructures, the Xeelee pictures, and the Inc project. I guess you can’t talk even vaguely about what you’re currently working on at the studios? NB: Not really, companies tend to like remaining private on such things. DAL: Of course. Ok, no worries. And we won’t ask you about technical stuff, in terms of where the industry’s tech is going, as that’s probably also off limits. Because you’ll have an insider’s perspective on the cutting-edge of that. Now, you’re obviously a big fan of Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee series of novels and stories. I spent an afternoon putting together a storychronological reading-order list for that some years ago — and then embarked on a giant wiki for the series. I thought: install a local PC version of the Wikipedia software, and build an unofficial encyclopaedia book that way. I’d got about 20% of it done, as I read through the series. But then I moved to a new PC, and… the MySQL software install proved to be machinespecific for some reason. So, it was all lost and hasn’t been recreated. I should have done it online instead, but if public that kind of wiki attracts so much spam. Then I kind of got sidetracked onto working through the excellent Babylon 5 TV series after that, for which I think there are already an encyclopaedia — if not more than one. But I can appreciate the desire to bring one’s own creativity to the Xeelee series. What are your plans there? NB: The Xeelee series certainly is complex. While not as big as the project you undertook, I have my own ‘cheatsheet’ of all the books and short stories and how they interconnect. As for my plans, I'm simply a fan. And I make artwork. So I express my fandom by making artwork. I'll read the books and images will appear in my head and I have to create them, and then want to share them with others. If they ever contact me about doing a book cover or doing concept for a Xeelee film project, I will of course go for it, but I don't own the IP, 20
Picture: “Xeelee Sequence: Xeelee Vengeance, Mercury Excavation (Rough)” ”.
Picture: “Digital Stabbing” font, created by Neil.
so as a fan there's a limit to how much I can participate. But I love the universe that Stephen has created, and would love to see it spread into other forms. DAL: Indeed. Baxter is often thought of as a successor to Arthur C. Clarke, to the extent of being chosen to collaborate with the great man in Clarke’s later ailing years. Have you gone back to Baxter’s own inspirations, in the original stories and novels of Clarke, Asimov etc? What do you think of that classic literary science fiction? Does it still ‘hold up’ for you? NB: Oh, I read Clarke and Asimov long before I read Stephen Baxter, I've read a lot of sci-fi over the years. I read Niven’s Ringworld long before Halo, and find it funny now when people discover the book and idly say “Niven's ripping off Halo”! /Laughter/ I love classic sci-fi, even the stuff that's now out -of-date or scientifically totally incorrect. My favourite authors are Clarke, Baxter (obviously), Niven, Iain M. Banks, Herbert (Dune), and while he's been around for awhile, recently just started
getting into John Scalzi. Baxter is my favourite though, as well as creating such a complex story spanning millennia, I love the mystery of the Xeelee. We learn tiny tantalizing details about them… [Spoiler snipped] Ever since I saw Forbidden Planet as a kid, where the Krell are this ancient race that we never see or even know what they look like beyond a few details, I always loved that sort of thing, as the alien race becomes this unstoppable ‘unknowable’ force of nature. Stephen has done a great job of approaching the Xeelee in a similar manner. DAL: And it’s still an ongoing set of works, so could also be more developments yet to come. It would be fascinating if he also developed a set of rules or license mechanisms that would open up the IP to the point where an expansive fanbase could actually sell things like new graphic novels set in his universe. What were your other creative inspirations, people whose work has ‘stayed with you’ over the years? NB: Too many to name them all. Some of my 22
Picture: “Xeelee Sequence: Exultant Conurbation, Line Sketch”.
biggest visual influences were Dave McKean, Go Nagi, H.R. Giger, Phil Tippett, Syd Mead, Ray Harryhausen, Craig Mullins, Doug Chiang, Ralph McQuarrie, John Harris, Kow Yokoyama, Makoto Kobayashi, Mamoru Nagano, Wayne Barlowe and Zdzislaw Beksinski.
narrative books. I'm going to work on them all at the same time... until one of them ‘tells’ me ‘they're the next project’. I also have some indie videogame ideas I'd like to poke around with. So…. always more stuff to do, I’m just not sure what's going to land as the next BIG project yet.
DAL: And who do you tend to pay attention to now, following what they do?
DAL: Great, ok, well we appreciate you’re a busy person. Sorry that we didn’t realise quite how busy re: your work at Pixar. So we’ll leave it there. Many thanks for this in-depth interview.
NB: Everybody, all the time, I am constantly finding new artists and being inspired. Probably spend at least 30 minutes a day looking at artwork.
DAL: Right. I was going to ask if you had any tips for newcomers. But that’s a good tip, right there, for newcomers to digital art. What are your own future creative plans, beyond doing Inc? For instance I see there’s a film called Peril with cool stylised and somewhat-Lovecraftian monsters? NB: Ah, that was actually a freelance job for a short film project about seven years ago. After Inc, I have about three or four book ideas, including the Megastructures book, and a few
NB: Thanks again for the interview, hopefully your readers find something interesting in there. I always love discussing art and sci-fi with people.
Neil Blevins is online at... https://www.artstation.com/ ArtOfSoulburn http://soulburn3d.deviantart.com/ https://thestoryofinc.blogspot.com/
HAVE you missed out on an issue of our free magazine? Please enjoy this new handy double-page index of our past issues, and check if any are missing from your collection. Our 15,000 readers are also able to access back-issues of our previous title 3D
Art Direct. Every new issue can be sent to your email address, simply by subscribing to our mailing-list...
Issue 1 Oct 2016 Designing Future Cities ● Tarik Keskin ● Christian Hecker ● Gallery: Future Cities, a huge 32 page mega-gallery! ● The Imaginarium (regular feature, in all subsequent issues)
Issue 2 Nov 2016 Alien Plants/Creatures ● Matthew Attard ● Exidium Corporation ● Gallery: Ryzom concept illustrations ● Gallery and essay: the future bodily evolution of humans in space
Issue 3 Dec 2016 ‘A Galaxy Far Away…’ ● Neil Thacker ● Jean-Francois Liesenborghs ● Gallery: "These are not the planets you're looking for..." ● Gallery: SpaceX manned Mars mission 24
Issue 4 Jan 2016 Poser 11: special issue ● Charles Taylor (on the new Poser 11) ● Ariano di Pierro ● Paulo Ciccone (on the Reality plugin) ● Our in-depth 8,000word review of the new Poser 11 Pro
Issue 5 Feb 2016 Cosmos (space art)
Issue 6 March 2016 Cyber-humans + VR
Issue 7 April 2016 Future Female Heroes
● Dave Hardy ● Ali Ries ● Tobais Roersch ● Oyshan Green (Terragen 4) ● Gallery: The art of the cosmic.
● Tara de Vries (Second Life) ● Ludovic Celle ● Elaine Neck ● Anders Plassgard ● Gallery: Future cyber-humans
● Leandra Dawn ● Aaron Griffin ● Paul Frances ● Troy Menke ● Bob May’s collages ● Gallery and essay: Female future heroes
Issue 9 June 2016 Blender: special issue
Issue 10 July 2016 Steampunk
Issue 11 August 2016 Future Landscapes
● Colin Masson ● Thomas Piemontese ● Shane Bevin ● Tutorial: How to export a clean .OBJ from Blender ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: Blender art
● Renderosity ● Suzi Amberson (‘Kachinadoll’) ● Bob May ● Sci-fi in PC pinball ● Steampunk gallery ● Imaginarium
● ‘Artifex’ ● Lewis Moorcroft ● Rob Wildenberg ● ‘Tigaer’: ‘making of’ ● Gallery: Future Oceans and Craft ● Imaginarium
Issue 8 May 2016 Our Future Frontier ● The Mars Society ● Ludovic Celle ● Gallery: Orbiting Cities in Space ● Gallery: Space Colonies and Outposts ● Gallery: Mars in the 1950s pulps
Issue 12 Sept 2016 Second Skin ● ‘Pixeluna’ ● Paolo Ciccone ● Deane Whitmore ● HiveWire: their new Big Cat for Poser ● Gallery: Second Skin ● Imaginarium
YOUR ART HERE?
Issue 13 Oct 2016 Spacewrecks (TTA) ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
Vikram Mulligan Xistenceimaginations Craig Farham TTA series tribute NASA’s rescue-bot Index of past issues Gallery: Space hulks wrecks, crashes
Issue 14 Nov/Dec 2016 Cybertronic ● ‘CG Artiste’ ● ‘Keplianzar’ ● Jacques Pena ● TTA series tribute ● Ugee 1910b pen tablet—in-depth review ● Gallery: Neon and ‘cyberglow’ artists
Issue 15 Jan 2017 Mistworlds ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
Chuck Carter (Myst) Cynthia Decker Cathrine Langwagen Ulco Glimmerveen Evolo competition Index of past issues Gallery: Myst-like digital art
Issue 16 Feb 2017 Future vehicles ● Syd Mead interview ● Vadim Motiv ● Adam Connolly ● Mark Roosien ● The UK’s Bloodhound supersonic rocket-car ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: “Vrooom!!”
Issue 17 March 2017 Movie magic ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
Greg Teegarden Tobias Richter Phil Dragash ESA’s Moon Temple Scott Richard Index of past issues Gallery: the spirit of the cinema
Issue 18 April 2017 Vue 2016 special issue ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
Barry Marshall Vue 2016 R2 review Anaor Karim NASA’s tunnels W.P. Taub Index of past issues Gallery: Nature Grows on You!
Issue 19 May/Jun 2017 Sci-fi comics ● ● ● ● ● ●
Patrick Gyger Georges Peters Arne Cooper RoboSimian Index of past issues Gallery: comic-book style characters
Issue 20 July 2017 Digital clothing ● Kim Schneider (‘Arki’) ● Melissa Moraitis (‘BlackTalonArts’) ● Marvelous Designer 6.5—in-depth review ● Jepe ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: Future Fashion
Issue 21 August 2017 Ecofutures ● ● ● ● ● ●
Hal Tenny Frank Little Organics in pulp art Linda Granqvist Index of past issues Gallery: visions of the ‘ecofuture’ ● Imaginarium
Issue 22 Sept 2017 Lighting for effect ● Joe Pingleton ● Davide Bianchini ● Characters in the public domain ● Lee (aka ‘Conlaodh’) ● Index of past issues ● Gallery: characters ● Imaginarium
Issue 23 Oct 2017 Gateway to Space ● ● ● ● ●
Neil Blevins GrahamTG Arthur C. Clarke Oshyan Greene Gallery: Arthur C. Clarke tribute ● Imaginarium
Have you ever wanted a printed copy of your Digital Art Live magazine? We’ve teamed up with quality magazine printers MagCloud, to offer all issues in paper format, at near cost-price. The full run, available soon on MagCloud! store!
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Issue 24 Nov 2017 Abstracts in sci-fi Interested in being interviewed in a future issue? Please send us the Web address of your gallery, and we’ll visit! email@example.com
Picture: “Sand Babel”, for use as science labs and tourist hotels. Solar-powered towers 3dprinted from sand as giant perforated slabs and struts, which are then slotted together into wellventilated towers. In time, the ‘root roads’ in the dune area around the towers will start to become naturally green. Honorable mention, 2014, by Chinese designers Qiu Song, Kang Pengfei, Bai Ying, Ren Nuoya, Guo Shen.
eVolo's annual skyscraper competition invites creatives from around the world to enter the 2018 Skyscraper Competition, one of the world's most prestigious and eagerly-viewed design awards. The competition seeks to redefine what skyscrapers can be in the future, with the aid of novel technologies, materials, inspirational aesthetics, and more rational methods of spatial and digital organization. Contestants are encouraged to ambitiously explore the relationship between skycrapers and nature. You don’t need to be an architect to enter, and individual entries are accepted. But it seems that winners will most likely have multidisciplinary teams, as eVolo expects not only visuals but also future-‘buildable’ structures and a good deal of serious background thinking and research. They’re looking for futurefeasible building science that will stay up — not a fantasy that will fall down. Early Bird registration for the competition is just $95 until 14th November 2017, which — if spread among a team of maybe four creatives — makes entry quite affordable. This is a digital competition and no hardcopy submissions are necessary. Winners and special mentions will be published by eVolo in book form and in many international publications, so make sure your final artwork is large and 300dpi or higher.
Digital Art Live talks with ‘GrahamTG’ about his long journey toward using the Lightwave software, and his workflow on pictures of Arthur C. Clarke’s sunjammer ‘solar-sail’ craft.
DAL: Graham, welcome to the Digital Art Live interview, and to our Arthur C. Clarke special tribute issue. GTG: Thank you very much for asking. DAL: First, congratulations on such a fine DeviantArt gallery. People will find there some wonderful and polished fan art for Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, Doctor Who and more. Also very fine historical aviation pictures. But... as this is the Arthur C. Clarke issue we’re having to focus here only on your space work.
GTG: Thank you. I’m very happy that my work displayed there has garnered so much interest. I love DeviantArt, it’s a site that has introduced me to so many fantastic artists and friends. DAL: Tell use first about how and why you came to explore the possibilities of the Bryce 5 software. Which, for those not aware of it, was the ‘entry software’ for a great many 3D artists, back in the day. GTG: I suppose my initial dabblings with Bryce started in 2004. At the time I was heavily into 30
Picture: “Station V”.
GRAHAM TG UK LIGHTWAVE | PHOTOSHOP
the early flight slimulators or ‘Flight Simming’ as it’s known, and had come across ScreenShotArt. That was a site dedicated to creating art from screenshots made inside Microsoft’s Flight Simulator. My interest was piqued, and I was soon turning out semi-decent images. However… you were limited to using the game rendered sky and terrain as a background. DAL: Ah, so along came Bryce... GTG: Yes, Bryce seemed the best option to generate interesting skies and terrains, which 31 I
could then use as background plates for my aviation images. Compositing screen shots in to GGI/photographic backgrounds forced me to think about colour, light matching and image composition. DAL: I see. And what were your first steps like, with Bryce, and its rather ‘unique’ interface? GTG: Ahhh yes… Bryce’s interface can definitely be described as ‘unique’! ‘Frustrating’ is my main recollection of using the software, the interface looked wonderful, but had its quirks.
My first steps were to create basic planes, geometry and atmospheres. Playing with booleans and exploring the comprehensive texture editor options. At the time I was looking to create cloudscapes. However as soon as you
add volumetrics render times became an issue, so much so that I soon abandoned Bryce. DAL: Yes, I remember that. Any kind of volumetrics and whoosh, render times were sent into orbit. What was your first breakthrough
picture, the one that you were really pleased with and which got you attention from others? GTG: Ultimately I never produced an image I was happy with from Bryce. Entirely my fault, I didn’t understand its full potential at the time.
Indeed I put the software back on the shelf for a couple of years. before reinstalling it in early 2007 when I first started looking to create sci-fi images. The first sci-fi image I created with Bryce will never see the light of day, it is that Picture: “Cosmic Butterfly”. 3D model by Nick Stevens. “Designed by Ernst Stuhlinger back in the mid 1950's to harness the power of the sun to generate power and thrust.”
embarrassing, though the planet I created with GIMP wasn’t that awful. DAL: Yes, many of us have Bryce renders like that. One involved a deckchair, if I remember rightly, which I decided would be wonderful addition to a space view. /Laughter/ And then you progressed to Vue, which at that time must have beena step up from Bryce but also ‘a bit of beast’ in terms of handling. As it’s only really become fast/stable in the last year or so. How did you find Vue, back then, and the rendering? GTG: Vue Esprit 6.0 was certainly a step up in terms of complexity and what it could do. Introducing a better lighting engine, including radiosity and global illumination, all at a cost of extreme render times. What I really liked about Vue was the ease in which you could create a scene, import, place and move objects. I created some spectacular cloudscapes and some planetary objects with it. However, as with Bryce, the increasingly long render times began to take their toll. DAL: What were your best Vue pieces? GTG: Similar to my Bryce experience… very little of the work I did in Vue exists anymore. DAL: Ah, oh well. But you make fabulous work now. I see you have a strong sense for what might be best described as ‘colour in cloud’. Your pictures have both strong composition but are also attractive in terms of their colouring and (cloud/nebula) atmosphere. Does this come from a fine art background, or are you self taught? GTG: Thank you. Colour and composition are what I strive for in my work. My inspirations are the great sci-fi artists — Chris Foss, Peter Jones, Bruce Pennington, Peter Elson and John Berkey to name but a few. I am self taught with no fine art background. It’s long hours pushing pixels, experimenting with model positioning, lighting setups and colours. DAL: Then you tried Terragen and DAZ Studio 4? And finally ended up with Lightwave? Was/is that ‘straight’ Lightwave, or Lightwave as a fusion plugin rendererer for Poser? GTG: Straight Lightwave. In 2007 I suffered a
brain haemorrhage, which required surgery to patch up an aneurysm located in the middle of my head. Unfortunately this left me blind in one eye and partially sighted in the other. With a long boring recovery ahead of me I made the decision to “go for it”. To try and learn a professional standard 3D render package and see if I could create decent sci-fi and aviation images. After some research into the other packages including 3DS Max, C4D and Maya, Lightwave came out on top. Several reasons really. Mainly cost. It was a middle priced package, one that thanks to the Babylon 5 and Star Trek Voyager work of Foundation Imaging I knew to be capable of stunning images. It also has a very good render engine, comprehensive set of modelling tools and nodal surfacing tools. The interface was similar in some respects to the one I was familiar with in Vue. DAL: Yes, Lightwave is nice clean and mature software, but doesn’t have a lot of users among our readers. I imagine they’re curious about what keeps you with Lightwave? GTG: Experience I guess, I am very comfortable using Lightwave and can set up a scene very quickly. Setting up a scene in C4D or DAZ Studio will take me far longer. Even with the current CPU-based render engine I think there is life in Lightwave yet. There is also a great Lightwave community out there, from the Newtek Forums to Facebook. I’ve made some great friends from around the world. DAL: Great. Do you model in Lightwave, too? GTG: No… and that is the one thing that I really regret. I have to rely on paid for resources or models donated by other. Modelling is definitely on the list of things to learn. But with my eyesight as it is I may not be able to work on the fine details required. DAL: I see. What’s your current studio and technical setup, these days? GTG: I’m a hobbyist, which means that my studio is at home. In fact calling it a studio would be a little generous. I’m situated in a little cupboard under the stairs — think ‘the young Harry Potter’! But it is big enough for my needs and there is plenty of inspiration to hand. 34
Picture: “Four circles and a rectangle”.
My technical set up is very basic, I’m running an old HP i7 desktop with 16GB and one monitor. I use a Huion graphics tablet for any work in GIMP or Photoshop. Lightwave and Photoshop CS3 are my primary tools, though I am also beginning to look at DAZ Studio for character work.
DAL: And you’re in the UK. Which part, and what’s the view from the studio window like? GTG: I live in the South East of the UK, in a leafy suburb 40 minutes from London. I literally have no windows in my study, but there is
Picture: “Preparation”. Helios spacecraft model made by Jason Tinsley, and the astronauts were modelled by Jason 'Ivor' Webster.
always some music or a movie or a book on the go, so the view is only limited by my imagination.
DAL: Sounds cosy. And it might be nice to be able to hop up to London for exhibitions.
Youâ€™re a big Jerry Anderson appreciator, by the look of your DeviantArt favourites? I presume that his classic British TV shows a big influence when you were growing up, as they were for many people. Which shows of his were your favourite ones?
GTG: Growing up in the 70’s it was hard to miss Gerry Anderson’s work. From Joe 90 to UFO I watched them all. It’s a close call between Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet for my all time favourite. Sci-fi in general was a large part of
my childhood, thanks in no small part to my father who was in the Merchant Navy. The weird and wonderful books he bought back with him from overseas with their fantastic cover art fascinated me.
Picture: “Transit”. Helios model by Jason Tinsley, astronaut model by Jason ‘Ivor’ Webster, planet stock by Rich35211.
DAL: Ah, well now that chimes with our issue’s theme. As a boy in sleepy Taunton, Arthur C. Clarke also managed to get hold of old American pulp magazines — which were shipped over as ballast in cargo ships, and somehow then found
their way over the Bristol Channel and into the local Woolworths outside his grammar school. You also make superb Star Trek art, though we can’t show that here. Have you ever had art in the Ships of the Line calendars, or suchlike?
I don’t follow such things, but your work certain looks of that same quality. GTG: I haven’t, though I would very much like to consider it in the future. Apart from a few book covers the majority of my work is purely done for personal pleasure, the fact that other like them is very much an added bonus. DAL: And you obviously have an interest in Arthur C. Clarke and his work. Tell us about how you first encountered Clarke, please. GTG: Rendezvous with Rama was my first Clarke encounter, as a ten year old way back in 1980, I remember reading it over the course of a couple of days. Immersing myself in the world that he had created, one that was captivating, utterly alien but real.
DAL: Wow, that’s impressive reading for a ten year old. I’ve not read it for 20 years but Rama is generally considered one of his more advanced books, and the Rama trilogy is generally said — even by avid fans — to be heavy going and not the best place to start one’s Clarke reading. Better to start with The Deep Range, The City and the Stars, the early short stories, Imperial Earth. GTG: It was the stories I went to next. Book collections of his short stories followed including Expedition to Earth which included the short story “The Sentinel”. 2001: A Space Odyssey soon followed though it was a tricky read at first. 2001 is such a major influence, both the novel and Kubrick’s movie. The novel has so many themes it is hard to say which is the most
influential, but for me the description of the realities of space travel, the engineering required, the dangers of AI all resound with me. And it’s these themes that keep me coming back to Clarke’s work. DAL: Great. Well, we’re pleased to say that we have an in-depth Clarke interview later in this issue, where he talks about 2001. What’s your favourite Clarke picture, and why?
science-fiction novels? GTG: Oooh… that is a tough question ! In no particular order:
The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester. Dune by Frank Herbert. Ringworld by Larry Niven. DAL: Thanks. Yes, The Stars my Destination would definitely be high on my list of space science fiction. It was called Tiger! Tiger! in the UK. The Dune books I’m all set to revisit after a looong time, this time in audiobook form, at some point in the next few years. Now… can you talk us through the detail of your workflow of making a space picture, please. “The Sunjammers”, for instance, a solar sail craft which looks fabulously possible.
GTG: My “Station V” image. It was one that came together so easily. From initial idea to execution the whole image just fell together. I simply love the beautiful lines of the station model, which came to life in the very simple lighting setup. DAL: What are your three all-time favourite
Pictures: “Heliogryo” and Project Daedalus”. Models by Nick Stevens.
GTG: My workflow is pretty haphazard. I rarely start with an image in mind but simply ‘go with the flow’. However “The Sunjammers” is inspired by the Arthur C. Clarke short story “Sunjammer”, a story about a space regatta with solar-sail powered yachts. DAL: Yes, I first read that aged 11 or so, under its alternate title “The Wind from the Sun”. GTG: It’s a concept I’ve explored before, but one I kept coming back to, simply because the idea is so cool. Imagine a time where space travel is so commonplace that it is used as a form of entertainment and sport. As with all my images I start with the background plate, which I try to render in Lightwave or create in Photoshop, though I am not averse to using any of the stock
images others have kindly donated. I had been experimenting with rendering Earth, so I had plenty of images to work with. I prefer to work with pre-rendered backdrops as it helps me simplify the lighting set up in the final scene. With the backdrop in place, it was simply a matter of compositing the subject into the picture. I had to show the full scale of the sails, but at the same time add some movement to the image. In adding the three ships I hoped to show some progression, while also emphasising the curves of the sails and spacecraft in relation to the curve of the planet. I decided on a minimalistic approach to the lighting, using just one distant/infinity light to create the hard shadows and pick out the highlights on the wires and sail edges.
The colours in my work predominately come from the backdrop, here a subtle blue. So I added a very low density blue volumetric light directly between the camera and objects to add a little atmosphere, depth and tie the image together in very subtle way. My process for any render is much the same, composition and image flow are key for me. DAL: Thanks. And how much of the picture is postwork, these days? GTG: I try to keep postwork to a minimum. I take the image into Photoshop and amend the levels, contrast and brightness. I often use the dodge brush to pick out any specular highlights I’ve missed and I will paint any running or signal lights as required.
DAL: How much research do you do for a picture? How important to you is that is be of a feasible craft, if it’s not fan-art?
GTG: I am primarily interested in the concept itself and the beauty of the design, but there will be some research to ensure that I’m not placing a spacecraft somewhere where it shouldn’t be. There are some incredible concepts out there from the golden age of space exploration, so it is fun to read up on the ideas behind them. DAL: I see. Thanks. What helps you to get out of creative ruts? Have you discovered any useful techniques for that, along the way? GTG: When I’m in a rut I try to push my personal envelope. Setting myself a challenge, I try rendering something completely different or
even something as simple as switching from landscape to portrait. DAL: Who were some of the earliest digital artists that inspired you? And who keeps inspiring you, today? GTG: James Lee. He was one of the first digital artists who I became aware of. His work in Bryce, Poser and Corelpaint was instrumental in getting me into CGI. Nick Stevens. A talented modeller who I have a great working relationship with. Nick specialises in real-life space concepts and has a passion for rocketry. It was he who encouraged me to learn about the history of space travel. I love using his models, he really brings out the beauty in the details. Andrew March. Andrew is a fellow Lightwave user who specialises in aviation and sci-fi. His use of light, composition and detail is incredible. Adrian Mark Gillespie. His work is so inspiring, bringing a sense of scale, awe and wonder to his images. DAL: Yes, we have a fine Gillespie piece in the Gallery, later in this issue.
DAL: Where do you think your art or techniques might go next, or in the medium-term? GTG: I’m definitely going to start exploring more character driven art, to add a little life to the pictures. I’d also like to learn digital matte painting and concept sketching — a challenge as I am hopeless with a pencil. DAL: There’s a plugin for Photoshop which might help with that, Lazy Nezumi — it intercepts and smoothes out your strokes in real -time, removes the jitter and ‘the shakes’ from lines as you draw them. Ok, well… that’s great. Many thanks for doing this in-depth interview. We wish you all the best with your art. GTG: You are more than welcome. Thank you for asking and thank you for such a great magazine.
Graham TG is online at: http://grahamtg.deviantart.com/ 44
Pictures: “Sunjammers: Solar Sails”. Models by Nick Stevens.
Arthur C. Clarke generously gave a great many many media interviews during his long life, and a few of the 1950s-1970s tapes have now been placed online as public domain and creative commons material. From these we have been able to assemble this fresh interview with one of the brightest minds of the 20th century.
“He never grew up; but he never stopped growing” — Arthur C. Clarke, when asked what words he might want as his own epitaph. (Source: his obituary in The Economist). With thanks to: Archive.org; Wikimedia; the Australian Broadcasting Corp.; the U.S. Dept. of State and U.S. Congress;46Walter Gillings, and Screenscope.
ARTHUR C. CLARKE 1917-2008 UK & CEYLON WRITER | FUTURIST BROADCASTER | ENGINEER | DIVER
At the opening of the interview Arthur C. Clarke is speaking from his home on the tropical island of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the early and mid 1970s. Later parts of the interview were given in the USA in the mid 1970s, and some small sections on ‘health in space’ are from the mid 1950s, and ocean exploration from the later 1970s. The time-period is indicated in the text, for reader orientation. Q: Mr. Clarke, hello. How is the weather in Ceylon? We hear that your idea of the geo-stationary satellite is being put to very good use over there? A: Hello... Yes, I now have the unique experience of having the only television set in my entire country [in the early 1970s Ceylon had no TV service at all]. It picks up the educational programs broadcasting in India [from satellite]. Consequently, the villagers are certain of a sort of mass education by TV satellite — on family planning and hygiene among other subjects. It has been a fascinating educational experience. It's also a fascinating social experience having the only TV set in the country — you should see my liquor bill! And yet information pollution is a big problem and TV does contribute to it. In Ceylon I am constantly reminded of the struggle between the Western world and [socialist] Russia for the uncommitted millions of Asia. Radio passes over all frontiers and it is very hard to censor or control it. And in the Third World, the transistor radio has been the greatest information revolution, because it by-passed printing. You get to people who never learned to read. The printed word plays only a small part in this battle for the minds of largely illiterate populations, and yet even radio is currently limited in range and impact [in comparison to what is coming]. When line -of-sight TV transmissions become possible from satellites directly overhead, the propaganda effect may be decisive — especially if it is coupled with a drive to produce simple and cheap battery-operated receivers. The TV satellite is mightier than the ICBM [intercontinental nuclear missile]. There could be few communities which would be unable to afford one TV set — in Ceylon there are already dozens of radios blaring in every village — and when we consider the effect of TV upon our own ostensibly educated public, the impact upon the peoples of Asia and Africa may be overwhelming, through truly global TV services.
Q: How will that come about? A: Direct TV broadcasting from space is inevitable, especially for countries that have no alternative — with all that this implies in terms of free flow of information across frontiers, and the abolition of today's artificial barriers. The political, commercial, and cultural implications of this, however, do not yet seem so thoroughly appreciated. Satellites will also enable a sort of global inventory, not only surveying all our planet's resources, by monitoring the misuse through pollution and environmental degradation. Q: But you would prefer to see educational uses.
A: I would like to see educational [TV] satellites spread over the world as swiftly as the communications satellites have done, but I realize the problems are much greater. There is no doubt that success or failure will depend entirely on the program content. That's expensive to make, but the potential audience is so enormous — billions rather than millions, over the course of years — that the investment would soon pay off handsomely. There can be no other way in which whole nations can be brought into the modern world within a single generation. You can envisage an educational satellite system covering the whole planet and running for a few billion dollars a year. Perhaps it may also be an effective medium for spreading news of the adventures in space science — in the USA you've lost magazines like Life and Colliers, which played such an important role in promoting the space age [in the 1960s]. The pictorial riches stored up in NASA are almost unknown to the general public; apart from a few specialized periodicals, I guess the National Geographic is now about the only display forum in print for this superb material. [But colour TV has promise in that regard, and] I have already spent about $100,000 doing a TV documentary called The Promise of Space and I went to India and filmed this, and we showed all the applications of space technology. Q: And science fiction must also have a role to play in education?
A: Yes, one of the ways of interesting people, young people, is science fiction. This is part of the educational process. I've been saying this for years. I know an awful lot of scientists, and astronauts for that matter, who were turned on by science fiction. Even Buck Rogers-style cartoon strips, which led many to science fiction literature generally, were helpful. I'm rather proud of the fact that I know several astronauts who became astronauts through reading my books. I feel a considerable responsibility for this myself. This is because science fiction is usually optimistic. Much modern fiction is very pessimistic. If someone is unrelievably pessimistic, they have a danger of creating a self fulfilling prophecy. But in the science fiction area you usually do have the feeling that the future can be better than the past, that we can do something about the future.
“you could have all the world's libraries accessible through communication satellites, so anybody with the right console could call for any information anywhere, any library.” Q: Beyond educational TV, how do you see knowledge production developing in the future? A: Looking ahead thirty years [from 1975 to 2005] we will see, partly as a result of satellites and partly as a result of the incredible developments of solid state electronics — which enable us to squeeze inconceivable amounts of processing circuitry into a thing as big as a matchbox— a great flexibility in the transfer and processing of information [via] a television screen and a typewriter console in front of it. Through this, everyone in a single field of interest can talk to each other wherever they are. When they come down in the morning they can press a button and ask ‘who knows where I can find something on such and such’. 48
Picture: The young Arthur C. Clarke reads one of a pile of copies of Astounding science-fiction pulp magazine in his study, circa 1936. Courtesy of the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution â€” the Arthur C. Clarke Collection of Sri Lanka.
This comes up on the screens in all the various laboratories, and then answers start coming in because the memory — the circuits — can handle enormous amounts of information and can transmit and exchange books, diagrams, anything — networks devoted entirely to scholarship. For example, you could have all the world's libraries accessible through communication satellites, so anybody with the right console could call for any information anywhere, any library. One may have a console on which one can talk to a local computer and get all the information needed for everyday life. Bank statements, theatre reservations, all the information you need in the course of living in a complex modern society. This will be in a compact form in one's own house, with a television screen and the keyboard and you'll talk to the computer get information from it and our children will take it as much for granted as we take the telephone. It'll make it possible for us to live anywhere. Now this is via a purely mechanical device, but just think of the value of it to scholarship. Some scholars on the other side of the two cultures’ gap [i.e.: those in the humanities, rather than the sciences, then claimed by some to be two distinct and antagonistic cultures] decry technology, and technology is often oversold, but technology is absolutely vital. I suggested in a paper I gave a few years ago that the Renaissance may have been triggered by the simple technical invention of spectacles, which at once doubled or tripled the effective working lives of the medieval scholars. Imagine the revolution that would be produced if any scholar could have in his home essentially all the world's information just by pressing a button. The expansion of these facilities [beyond scholars] and also their cheapness, and perhaps the existence of many alternative systems of distribution will give it much greater flexibility. There will be the [format of the] electronic newspaper which, apart from all its other merits, will also have two gigantic ecological plusses. It will save whole forests for posterity, and it will halve the cost of rubbish collection. This alone
might be enough to justify it, and to pay for it. And alternative systems of distribution will make it very hard for the state to control all these systems. This technology does favour free exchange of information. This is a very important political factor.
“Imagine the revolution that would be produced if any scholar could have in his home essentially all the world's information just by pressing a button.” I can also see a great reduction in physical travelling made possible by the new technology. People will be able to stay at home and do a vast amount of interacting. We will have thousands, maybe millions of cultural groups which are interacting with each other, preserving their identity and [yet] communicating effectively. As the systems become cheaper, all the people speaking their own language — even a very obscure language — may be able to talk to each other wherever they may be in the world. Some travel will still be essential, but routine travel is such a bore. Once you have met, you can [afterwards] communicate much more effectively by letter, electronics, whatever. We will see on a global scale an almost exact parallel to the way that the United States was really created by two inventions: the railroad and the electric telegraph. Our children will be unable to understand how we ran our world without these tools. Q: Do you think that knowledge, in particularly the very pervasive technology we are getting today, is dehumanizing us? A: No, I think it's super-humanizing us. In fact in quite a number of my scientific essays as well as in fiction I've suggested the next stage in our evolution may be electronic or if you like mechanical — with the organic entities such as us representing an intermediate stage — and we may be superseded by the ultra intelligent 50
Picture: By artist Rick Guidice, from NASA's Advanced Automation for Space Missions (1982).
machines, and they in turn may be superseded by perhaps pure energy or spirit. And this again is one of the implications or possible implication of the movie 2001. Q: That’s a little worrying. Will such a rumbustious being as man agree to be superseded? A: I don't think he may have much choice, and the transition might be a difficult period. But I'm sure that the neanderthals were also very unhappy about being superseded [but there was nothing they could have done about it].
“in the long run there will be more people living off the Earth than ever lived on it” Q: That is a fascinating forecast. What are the inherent problems and uncertainties in forecasting the future? A: I've discussed the perils and problems of technical forecasting in Profiles of the Future, where I've classified numerous past debacles under the heading “Failures of Nerve” and “Failures of Imagination.” Perhaps today we are more afflicted by the failure of nerve — the appreciation that something is possible, coupled with the assertion that it is too far ahead to be of any practical concern. It was a failure of imagination which prompted experts, only a
lifetime ago, to say that heavier-than-air flight was impossible — and, of course, space travel was not even worth talking about. This particular failure is less common nowadays, because we've seen so many wonderful achievements that the public is prepared to accept almost anything. In fact, the pendulum has swung too far the opposite way — towards over-credulity. Hence, the unfortunate popularity of fraudulent or downright insane books about aerial crockery [he refers to early ‘UFO’ pictures, made by throwing plates], antediluvian astronauts [the 1970s notion that aliens had visited Earth in the distant past], emotional cabbages [‘plants have feelings’ was a common hippie notion in the mid 1970s], Bermuda hexagons [the Bermuda Triangle ditto], and such nonsense. There are two aspects to the problem of technological forecasting. The first is the ability to see that some development is possible or desirable, or preferably both. The second is to know that the time is ripe to do something about it, because it can be disastrous to be a premature pioneer. From the nature of things it's very unlikely that one person can be qualified to give opinions in both areas — that is, ultimate feasibility, and immediate practicability. Don’t give all your baskets to one egghead — experts can disagree completely. Remember what President Kennedy said after the Bay of Pigs [the nuclear missile crisis] — “The advice was unanimous and the advice was wrong.”
I can remember the time, not long ago, when it was solemnly asserted that men could not survive zero gravity for more than a few hours. Well, we've now seen that they can function happily in space for months; indeed, it appears that some would be happy to stay there indefinitely, as long as their wives or girlfriends could join them, or for that matter their husbands and boyfriends. Q: How soon might we see that sort of large colony station in orbit? A: I have not the slightest doubt that such colonies in space will eventually be realized. Indeed, many years ago I stated that in the long run there will be more people living off the Earth than ever lived on it. It's a cliche that we often tend to overestimate what we can do in the near future — and grossly underestimate what can be done in the more distant future. I'd like to give an example from my own experience. When I wrote my paper on communications satellites I simply did not expect Comsats [communications satellites] to be realized in my lifetime. Yet Early Bird was only 20 years ahead. But I think talk of ‘colonies in space’ is looking a century or so ahead. When we cannot design a piece of relatively conventional engineering, like the Concorde airplane, without 1,000 percent cost overruns, and all sorts of unforeseen problems, the idea of building whole worlds from scratch, at this stage I think is premature. What we should certainly start thinking about now are space villages. We will need them in
the quite near future, for the industries and services that will undoubtedly be established in Earth orbit. And this, in turn, will create a demand for cheaper and better methods of space transportation, exactly as happened with aviation. This state of affairs will arise before the end of the century [year 2001] as a result of foreseeable developments. It may be accelerated by discoveries in zero-gravity processing, space medicine and so forth. I hope that space stations may help us to prolong life, as there’s good evidence for thinking that under low gravity conditions that men might live longer. Men suffering from heart diseases and musculature diseases might live normal lives. I think the medical results of building space stations may be quite important. Think of all the work we do here on the earth, moving our bodies around, climbing up stairs, and this must definitely shorten our lives to some extent. Q: But, as I understand it, don't we have to go out to 4,000 miles before gravity falls to a quarter of its sea-level value here on earth? A: Ah, but in a space station at any distance from the earth there is no feeling of gravity, you are under the pull of gravity, but you don't feel it because you are falling freely. It's like being in an elevator, and the cable breaks. You're fully under the influence of gravity, but you feel weightless as long as you're falling. You don't stay weightless for long! [in a falling elevator].
Picture: The Solar System, by artist Rick Guidice, produced in 1972 for NASA / Ames Research Center.
CLARKE’S BIOGRAPHICAL BOOKS Astounding Days. Bantam Spectra, 1990. This is Arthur C. Clarke’s affectionate and discursive look back at the days of sciencefiction pulp magazines such as Astounding. Such pulps were actually available when he was a boy in sleepy Taunton and Minehead — they were hauled over the Atlantic as ship ballast and then sold in the Woolworths stores at threepence a copy. The young Clarke avidly read this title, then under the editorship of the great John W. Campbell, and other pulps. It’s also available in audio. Essentially this book is Clarke’s fannish autobiography, a mix of a tribute to the sci-fi themes of the 1930s and 40s and a personal memoir. As such it won’t interest everyone. Those more interested in his scientific ideas should look at its shelf companion title, Ascent to Orbit.
Ascent to Orbit: A Scientific Autobiography. Wiley, 1984. This 200-page book offers the complete technical background to Clarke’s fiction, and is subtitled ‘The Technical Writings’. It contains 25 of these primary sources, in chronological order, and each is fronted by a new autobiographical essay from Clarke. Here one can read the technical details of the beginnings of satellite communication, rockets, space flight, the space elevator, and the emerging possibilities for sending interstellar robot probes into the depths of space. Even if the technical details may be beyond the grasp of many of today’s casual readers, the book’s autobiographical introductions will still entertain and inform. Those interested in Clarke’s fannish memoirs should look instead 54 his Astounding Days. at
Picture: part of an original press pack for 2001.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke: Odyssey of a Visionary: A Biography.
Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the making of a masterpiece.
Clarke Project, 2010, set to be reprinted in paperback by Ashgrove, October 2017.
Simon & Shuster, early spring 2018. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the movie, this major book aims to be the definitive story of the making of 2001. Author Michael Benson is set to give the complete inside account of exactly how Kubrick and Clarke worked together from 1964, then crafted the movie’s production and ushered it to its controversial but hugely profitable 1968 release. Benson interviewed Clarke many times, has spoken at length with Kubrick’s widow, with 2001 VFX supervisor Doug Trumbull, actors, and many others. As such, it’s to be hoped this book will clear up some of hear-say and half -truths that have muddied the story of the Clarke/Kubrick collaboration in recent years. 55
This is an expanded and revised version of Neil McAleer’s 1992 authorised biography. Complete with a foreword by Ray Bradbury, this book carefully steps through Clarke’s entire life and ideas in 45 short chapters and 500 pages. It's an in-depth study, but one leavened with many anecdotes, and it is the most readable and authoritative biography available. (Though for more details on Clarke’s tropical diving, see his book The View from Serendip). Clarke’s wealth of fiction is also outlined, but more interesting for many will be the book’s overview of Clarke’s amazing string of predictions and ideas about the future. This book is likely to remain the definitive account of Clarke’s life and times, for many decades to come.
But in a space station, even if it's only a couple of hundred miles up, you would feel weightless because you would be falling freely all around the earth. But remember that we can build space stations so we can have artificial gravity in one part, and no gravity in another part, it's a very simple trick. You design your station like a big wheel that rotates slowly. Certifugal force gives you a normal feeling of gravity at the rim of the wheel, and as you go toward the hub — the centre of the wheel — you have no gravity and float around. There would be no up or down in the hub, you'd just drift. It's like underwater. One reason why I'm interested in underwater exploring and spend most of my time there is this is the nearest thing you can get to the gravity free condition of a space station. Q: What about our muscles. Would they not atrophy in such conditions? A: This could be a danger. But for people who have muscular defects, and can't get around, perhaps even multiple amputees for instance — men who’ve lost their legs — might be able to operate even better under these conditions than normal men could. They wouldn't have so much weight to drag around.
market. There are some already, of course, but they're rather esoteric — computers and calculators, some aspects of space medicine, heart pacemakers — there are many of them. But you have to do a lot of cost accounting [complex maths] to prove that. It's not an emotional thing. But have wonderful products which are literally made in space, then they'll begin to understand it. Q: How will we find the new ideas to do this? A: In the usual way — by keeping our eyes open, and by programmed luck, or serendipity. We must always have some people working on far-out, even crazy concepts. And working by themselves, in their own time, and not having to produce progress reports. For, as someone once remarked, if there had been government research departments in the Stone Age, by now we'd have absolutely marvellous flint axes and arrowheads — but nobody would have invented steel. We need to reach the point where space travel will no longer be propulsion limited; where we can then contemplate the large-scale exploration of all our planetary neighbours.
“You have to do a lot of cost accounting to prove [to the public the benefits of space]. It's not an emotional thing. But have wonderful products which are literally made in space, then they’ll begin to understand it.”
Q: How would we take these men into space? A: One day we may even be able to go away from the earth much more comfortably and with less flame and fury than at present. There's a lot of work going on in various research laboratories to see if we can find anything about gravity. An anti-gravitic substance of the type Wells had in The First Men in the Moon, a gravity shield, it's quite easy to show that is impossible. On the other hand it's perfectly theortically possible to have a substance which has negative gravity, it's repelled by ordinary matter. There will be countless direct human benefits from space research which we cannot anticipate. Things of immediate applicability, which can be demonstrated even to the man on the street who doesn't know anything about science, or may even dislike science, as I'm afraid many people do. [Which means that, from the mid 1970s, we need to get to the point when] the first real ‘space products’ start hitting the
My idea of building an elevator from the equator to space could be a start in achieving that. It could be done. But there are other problems beside structural ones. I mean the idea of a tower 22,000 miles high sticking out from the equator, well, would be a menace to navigation among many other things. If anything went wrong, we'd have a 22,000 mile structure crashing down on our heads. But it would be just the thing to carry down the electricity from an orbiting solar powerplant. 56
“We must always have some people working on far-out, even crazy concepts. And working by themselves, in their own time, and not having to produce progress reports.”
Picture: By artist Rick Guidice, produced in 1972 for NASA. “Space Colonization: Interior View of Colony from Overhead. Farming sections will be built in terraces with different crops grown on each of the levels.”
But the real breakthrough that will open the gate to the universe probably lies in some direction no one can imagine today — any more than, a hundred years ago, we could have conceived of atomic energy. [In that respect it’s important to remember that] astronomy has discovered so many things which maybe a generation later, maybe 50 years later, maybe 100 years later, have been of enormous practical use. The idea of atomic energy came originally from astronomical discoveries, for example where does the sun get all its energy? And this was one of the first clues for us that thermo-nuclear reactions could take place.
will. It may be a one-way process just as the Renaissance discovered Greek culture. We couldn't send any messages back to the Greeks, but all of their culture sort of descended on us through translation. So the culture and scientific knowledge of some superior-intelligence may descend on us even if it takes thousands of years to travel to us.
Q: And astronomy may also help us to discover intelligent life, one day?
Even more interesting to know if we will make it!
A: That they must exist somewhere is now doubted by very few scientists, and the only disagreement concerns the possible methods of detecting them. [In his view a future search for signals should be] internationally funded, a sort of global project that would challenge the imagination of all mankind. There may be no other way in which we can discover — or perhaps establish — our position as intelligent beings in the hierarchy of the universe. For this, in the long run, is what space exploration is all about. And that's why those of little courage, or little imagination, are so often opposed to it. The greatest lesson that we can draw from space is one of hope. In the absolute sense, there are no real limits to growth. Our landing on the moon is the first stepping stone to the riches of the whole universe. We may yet have a splendid and inspiring role to play, on a stage wider and more marvellous than ever dreamed of by any poet or dramatist of the past. For it may be that the old astrologers had the truth exactly reversed, when they believed that the stars controlled the destinies of men. The time may come when men control the destinies of the stars. Q: Do you forsee a ‘first contact’ from the stars? A: [Well, it may not be face-to-face]. There may be an enormous cultural avalanche one day, as we succeed in detecting and deciphering intelligent messages from space, as I'm sure we
[There may even be multiplied chances of that happening, because of multiple advanced races]. It would be very interesting to know how many races, taking the universe as a whole, succeed in making the dangerous transition through technological adolescence.
“I think one should be an optimist, because then there is hope that one will achieve a self-fulfilling prophecy.” But if these superior beings were around they might in fact hold off. Because if you have a contact too soon with a primitive race you might destroy the morale and spirit of that race, instilling an inferiority complex and causing them to die out. This might conceivably happen if we came into contact with a very much superior race to our own. But even looking into space gives one, perhaps, a better perspective on our position in the universe. Astronomy is a science which is in many ways a cutting edge opening up all sorts of basic scientific discoveries. Many of the discoveries of astronomy are very esoteric, but even the esoteric ones do have an extraordinary philosophical appeal, because people are interested about where we're going, where we come from, [and who else might be out there]. There is a tremendous public interest in this subject. And it helps that astronomy does have a beauty about it, and one thing the telescopes do give is beautiful pictures. 58
Picture: By artist Rick Guidice, produced for 1976 for NASA.
“...each advance in science wipes out an earlier primitive form of science-fiction, but creates ten new and more advanced and more sophisticated forms — the great age of science fiction is now opening up.”
I would like the big art museums to have displays of purely scientific photographs — beautiful stuff, which appeals to everybody emotionally. That's why it's such a pity that the USA’s big, glossy [weekly photo-news] magazines are no longer in business, because that sort of stuff just doesn't get across to the public. [Carl Sagan’s 1980 Cosmos series was still five years away, at that point]. And if you look at the stars and think of the immensity of space and wonder who or what is watching us out there, where we are in the hierarchy of the universe — are we nearer the angels or the apes — it prevents you from
getting too conceited. Q: You’re a very optimistic writer. A: I wouldn't be writing so many books about the future unless I thought there was to be a future. I think one should be an optimist, because then there is hope that one will achieve a self-fulfilling prophecy. At the same time you shouldn't overdo optimism. You should be quite proud of what we've done, but we should realize also we have a great deal more to do. The future is unlimited. There are no limits to growth, because this is just the beginning of our exploration on the universe. Q: And science fiction is the best vehicle for... Pictures: Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3), which later became the Interplanetary Cometary Explorer. The style of the background suggests the artwork was by Rick Guidice.
“To have done a straightforward documentary-type movie, at the very moment when men were preparing to land on the Moon, would have been to court disaster” — Clarke, said of 2001.
Opposite, left: a future Moon Base and astronaut, as envisioned for NASA by Rick Guidice. With thanks to NASA for both pictures.
A: I don’t known quite why, but I’m simply not interested in anything that is not science fiction. I suspect it's because science fiction is concerned with reality, and most fiction is concerned with trivial bits of reality — such as the interactions of one small biological species on an obscure planet in a very out-of-the-way part of the galaxy. I like to speculate about the real universe. Q: That is not — at the moment — a view very fashionable with the critics, I think? A: Well the critics are being pretty thoroughly clobbered as a result of many things, including I might say, 2001. It has made the establishment
sit up and take notice. They're realizing in fact that this is the real thing, and it's been fascinating to study some of the contortions of the people who haven't realized what this is all about and then in fact have tried to dismiss it. Q: Why did you take the approach you did, with your movie 2001? A: To have done a straightforward documentarytype movie, at the very moment when men were preparing to land on the Moon, would have been to court disaster and provided no kind of artistic challenge. George Pal's Destination Moon was magnificent for 1950 — but we were more interested in starting where it ended.
Thus we had deliberately set out to construct a myth — a myth of the Space Age, if you like — this was the only way of tapping at the problem of representing the reactions of a infinitely superior intelligence. We couldn't show it you know in literal exact terms, because obviously we couldn't understand this. The Odyssean [Homer’s Odysseus] parallel was in our minds from the beginning, long before the film's title was chosen. I also had Melville's Moby Dick constantly in mind as a prototype for 2001 — the use of hard technology to construct a launch -pad for metaphysical speculation. Now, as these ideas which are presented [on the cinema screen], Stanley Kubrick and I had a completely logical structure in mind, and this we worked out very carefully. At one time we thought there'd be a lot of narration, to perhaps underline these things. But as Stanley [Kubrick] put together the visual images he realized that not only did we don't need any narration — but in fact that would have been a disaster. Because we are now communicating with a generation which grasps these ideas visually with such speed that the words will hold them up. So we had to do many things sort of visually, and by suggestion and by emotions and so forth. As a result there's a great deal of what I call constructive ambiguity about many of the scenes, and so people are producing their own interpretations. We tried both in the movie and the book to create a sense of wonder and the feeling that there were forces and powers in the universe which are as incomprehensible to us now as our science would have been incomprehensible to the man-apes at the beginning of the 2001 story. In fact one thing that's come out of the film is that — because we did not underline and give explanations of all the things that happen at the end of the movie — people are getting their own interpretations. Many of which are things we never thought of, but which at the same time are completely valid. We are trying to do the impossible, in a sense, just as the apes you saw the beginning of the
film could not have described us, obviously we just cannot describe anything beyond us. We can only hint at it. The developments in space flight and the landing on the moon, these things open up a new level of science-fiction. You see, you could not have science-fiction until you had a certain level of scientific achievement, otherwise before I just pure fantasy with no basis in reality at all. And so each advance in science wipes out an earlier primitive form of science-fiction, but creates ten new and more advanced and more sophisticated forms and this is what's going to happen now in space fiction — the great age of science fiction is now opening up. Q: Will it be understood by the public, this new wave of science fiction? Because many people have already had a very puzzled reaction to your own 2001, for instance. A: I recently told MGM executives that ‘if you understand 2001 at first viewing, we shall have failed’. [The movie executives were aghast]. Which doesn't mean that one can't enjoy the film the first time round. What I meant, of course, was that we were dealing with the mystery of the universe, and with powers and forces greater than man's comprehension. So by definition, they could not be totally understood. Yet as I have said there is a logical structure — sometimes more than one! — behind everything that happens on the screen in 2001. As for the much-discussed ending, it does not consist of random enigmas, some simple-minded critics to the contrary. [But I’m pleased to say that the public, in contrast to many critics, have responded in large numbers and…] In almost all countries the film has been a fantastic commercial success. In my judgment; and its success has been so overwhelming that it poses in a particularly acute form the embarrassing problem: "Where do we go from here?" Q: Thank you. One of the places you go to, personally, is underwater… under the ocean. Is conquering the sea really man’s first step to space, through first learning how to undertake aquaculture and undersea colonies? 62
‘Oil painting depicting the storms of Jupiter, the satellite Io and the Great Red Spot’, space art made for NASA Ames. 63 the corner signature reads something like ‘Becker’. It appears that no-one knows the artist, but
[Clarke had by that point written about that topic extensively, was an avid diver in Ceylon and Australia and had been part of a team that helped to make major discoveries in the Indian Ocean — such as lost underwater temples and ancient shipwrecks full of silver coins. Also, man’s future sea colonisation was a hot topic, with ventures such as NASA’s SeaLab missions and experiments which gave mammals fish-gills. His colleague Jacques Cousteau was also doing outstanding TV documentary work, which helped to popularise the idea around the world]. A: I’m only really happy underwater. Underwater you can't take your worries with you. I think it is because we are back to where we belong. We are born of the sea. In that weightless environment, you shed your weight and with it you shed many of your cares. It is a strange feeling. You feel a great sense of joy and relaxation underwater. You can't take your worries with you. You can be terrified underwater, but you can't be worried under the water.
“I’m only really happy underwater. … In that weightless environment, you shed your weight and with it you shed many of your cares. It is a strange feeling. You feel a great sense of joy and relaxation underwater.”
Having seen what Stanley Kubrick did on 2001 — I realized now anything that can be described can be filmed. The sea is the other great frontier of the future and in the near future it may be more important than space. You'll get from it food, minerals and perhaps the most important commodity of all — freshwater [through desalinisation technologies]. [Yet — at the mid 1970s — Clarke was not sure that we would find intelligence there, among the whales and dolphins. He had once had such hopes, as documented in his non-fiction and fiction during the previous decades. Now he appears to have some second-thoughts...]
I'm a little disappointed with the slow progress in this field [of human-dolphin communication] and although dolphins are certainly delightful and intelligent and perhaps much nicer than human beings, I'm becoming rather skeptical of their intelligence for a rather obvious reason — they seem much too friendly to man. They do have very large brains and those brains do seem very complex, but that may be mostly concerned with processing the advanced amounts of information as they try to navigate through their rather opaque medium and use sonar and other senses which are perhaps not as efficient as vision and therefore they have to have all this processing mechanism they needn't necessarily be very intelligent. However there may be some surprises here.
Some key Arthur C. Clarke links: Arthur C. Clarke Foundation: http://www.clarkefoundation.org/ The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination:
Q: For some time now you've been predicting the use of the seas here on earth, especially as a source for food and other materials.
A: Yes, as a result of my interest in the skindiving I have written quite a bit about the sea, both fiction and nonfiction and specifically on whales and dolphins. I did a novel about sea ranching called The Deep Range, which I think might make a very interesting film if anyone can get around the technical difficulties.
Papers of Arthur C. Clarke, at the National Air and Space Museum: http://sova.si.edu/record/ NASM.2015.0010 64
Picture: NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) mission crew at the Acquarius Reef Base located on the seabed 3.5 miles from the U.S. coast. The aquanaut team included British Army Air Corps astronaut Tim Peake (right). The aim of the NEEMO missions is to simulate longterm living in deep space, working on asteroids, and assembing complex equipment in nearweightless conditions. With thanks to the European Space Agency (ESA).
CREATIVE IDEA: people leaning into a giant viewport.
CREATIVE IDEA: documenting a complex creative process.
CLARKE’S BEST BOOK COVERS Imperial Earth
Lost Worlds of 2001
Gollancz first edition, USA, 1975.
Signet paperback, UK, 1972.
The cover art for this first edition of Arthur C. Clarke’s major mid-career novel was by fellow Brit Bruce Pennington. The cover painting shows colonists from around the solar system looking at their ancestor planet for the first time, as they converge on a peaceful high-tech Earth for the Quincentennial of the United States in the year 2276. Yet the artist also evokes the central theme of the novel of the colony of Titan, which stands on the precipice of unprecedented change in their relationship with Earth. The novel is generally rather too loose in its structure, and marks the start of Clarke as a writer becoming prey to long Wellsian digressions at the expense of tight plotting. But his vivid tour of a future high-tech USA is worth the price.
Another cover by Bruce Pennington, featuring the 2001 long spaceship and pod very deftly fitted into the awkward proportions of a paperback cover. A follow-on from the popular 2001 film, the book has Clarke’s original Moon monolith story “The Sentinel”, plus a diary of the making of 2001 and the various details of all the alternative options that were considered for plot points and voice-over narration. Long before video tapes, books such as this, the screenplay and the LP soundtrack. were about as close as many Clarke readers might ever come to seeing the elusive film. In the late 1970s if you missed a movie at a small town cinema you would probably never see it again until it was on TV years later — possibly with ads, censorship cuts, and even trimming 66 fit the channel’s required running-time. to
CREATIVE IDEA: ordinary setting, extra-ordinary visions.
CREATIVE IDEA: an organic city of glass and light.
Tales from the ‘White Hart’.
The City and the Stars
Unknown edition, probably UK libraries.
Signet paperback edition, Canada, 1973.
Tales from the White Hart was Clarke's
For those likely to prefer the classic early Clarke, rather than the more ponderous and digressive later novels (after about 1976), The City and the Stars may be the place to start. It remains one of many people's favorite science fiction novels. The cover art here is by Fernando Fernandez. He was a jobbing illustrator and a staple war comics artist for British publisher Fleetway. Some of his comics later appeared in Creepy and Heavy Metal in the 1980s. Here he evokes the emerald city of the Wizard of Oz, providing potential readers with a reassuringly ‘known’ visual reference point for a much stranger farfuture story: “Once the city held powers that ruled the stars. Then Invaders came, driving humanity into this last refuge. One man dares to break through Diaspar’s stifling inertia and discover the true nature of the Invaders.”
early 1957 collection of tales spun by the drinkers in ‘The White Hart’, a classic London pub. Here Clarke is under the influence of Irish fantasy writer Dunsany, offering a collection of far-fetched and often very funny 'tall tales’. The artist Tony Gleeson has successfully evoked the idea of lightness and ‘froth’, but also the wry humour of the typical London pub drinker of the late 1930s/mid-1950s. Gleeson produced covers for the post-war pulp magazines and Doubleday’s sci-fi titles. Taking advantage of the sci-fi boom of the late 1970s he moved to Los Angeles and set up his own jobbing illustration studio, later working with comic-book master Neal Adams. He had a major retrospective exhibition in California in late 2014.
Picture: “Dreams of Summer” by fallenzeraphine. Terragen 3.2.
OSHYAN GREENE USA/UK BUSINESS MANAGER AT PLANETSIDE SOFTWARE
Editor-in-Chief Paul Bussey talks with Planetside Software’s Oyshan Greene about the new features of Terragen 4.1, the new free educational licence, and the benefits of taking a booth at the major SIGGRAPH show in Los Angeles.
Paul: Welcome, Oshyan Greene. You’re the business manager of Planetside Software, which produces the well-regarded Terragen 4, a great solution for rendering and animating realistic, natural large-scale environments. You’ve recently released Terragen 4.1 at SIGGRAPH held in Los Angeles in the USA. That's a conference I'd love to attend one day. Probably be a little bit expensive for me, being here in the UK, but it's one of my ambitions to go over there and meet a whole bunch of different people who use different 3D applications. What was your experience like at the conference? And did you get a chance to meet some of your community or clients and see what they were doing with Terragen 4? Oshyan: Yes, we had a great experience, this
year in particular. I've been to three SIGGRAPH conferences now, and Matt, the software architect and the founder of Planetside Software has been to numerous others over the years. This SIGGRAPH was my third, and the really cool thing about this one was that we finally had our own booth. So, in the past, we'd gone there, done the wandering around the floor, going to various talks and exhibitions and all that stuff. And we've met people in the past, certainly. But having our own presence in the exhibition hall this year just opened up things far more. We shared a booth with our render-farm partner, Pixel Plow, and they were just great to be next to and to work with, to create the booth. We had a great experience just spending time with them.
And there were lots of people coming by, customers on both sides. Tons of Terragen users, some people from the forums came by, which was really unique for us. To put a face to a name, and to talk with people about the Terragen work that they're doing. We met people using Terragen in film, in games, in TV, and all kinds of other areas. Lots of people in the educational community. We'll talk later about the educational license program we have. But we had educational faculty members come by. We had students come by. We had some graduate students, talking about really interesting research that they're doing in weather simulation and other things like that. We had a bunch of people from the Griffith Park Observatory come by. They're long-time Terragen users. They use it for their planetarium shows. They were great people to talk to, just super friendly, really nice people. We had someone from the aircraft maker Boeing in Australia come by and that was really
cool. He's been a Terragen user for, I think, 17 years. So, to meet him was really a great thing for both Matt and I. Paul: Now, I think I remember reading at your stand, you had like a slide deck or a whole series of clips from different films that Terragen has contributed towards or the core software for rendering these type of landscapes. Did that pull some people in, with showing that slide deck? Oshyan: Yes, absolutely. And I think we're going to put an edited version of the customer show reel up on our website at some point. But this one was a full 5 minutes. So we really got to show a lot of the films that Terragen has been used on. And I think it was very eye-catching. We had lots of people who would just come by and stare at the reel for a while, just watching it go by. They would watch it, you know, three or four times over sometimes.
And then, you know, they'd have questions. And, that was cool. And then one of the other really cool things is we had some of the people who had worked on those shots in those big films come by and, you know, see it and go, â€œOh, hey, yes, we used Terragen on that. This is what we did,â€? explaining more of the details, or just reminiscing about the work that they had done on the film. And so, you just meet all of these incredibly talented people who have worked on some of the greatest films and other creative projects in the industry. And they're there, they see the work, and they can talk directly about their contributions and experience. It's really a unique and amazing opportunity. Paul: Now, I know Terragen has the relatively new ability to output to VR headset environments. Was VR big this year? Did you see lots of VR demonstrations at the conference? And were there any demos that stood out? Oshyan: Good question. So VR is definitely big. Last year, I think, was probably like the year that it started to get really big, and this year, it's spread even further. During the exhibition phase of the conference, which lasts three days, we were super busy in the exhibition booth itself. And so, I didn't get to see as much of the show floor as I would have liked to, or as I saw it last year, but I did see a couple of really cool things. One of which was VR-related. A guy named Scott Metzger and a company called Nurulize that he co-founded, they make a real-time point-cloudbased virtual reality visualization system called Atom Viewer. It allows you to visualize extremely dense point clouds, where you're essentially... like, you know, if you scan a real environment with a LIDAR or something like that, or even with photogrammetry, you create a bunch of points that represent all of the surfaces in that scene. You might end up with hundreds of millions of points. And if you can think about that in terms of geometry like, you know, most software is not going to visualize that very quickly, but this was able to do it in real-time with these incredibly detailed and dense models. And you could edit them and change the colors and do all of this stuff. And it was a really
impressive demo. I didn't get to experience it in VR, but I did see on the monitors while other people were experimenting with it. And it was just a really impressive demo. We had seen them before, last year as well, when they were in their earlier phase. So it was great to see them out on the show floor this time and really standing out with their really cool technology that they've been working on for a while. Paul: That sounds particularly impressive, particularly being in real time, to be able to calculate that many points and figure that out. So, yes, that sounds excellent. Oshyan: Yes, it was a level of detail you just wouldn't expect... you've never seen anything like it. You know, you just don't imagine seeing that running in real time. Videogames can of course do tens of millions of polygons etc. But this was hundreds of millions of points. The detail was down to the millimeter level. Paul: Excellent. Now, we're also going to talk about your new Terragen 4.1 software. And I know there have been a number of performance improvements across the software, which I'm sure is welcomed by your users. What's been improved in particular? Oshyan: Yes. The 4.1 update included a number of things. Performance improvement is probably one of the biggest impacts and definitely appreciated by the users. And we changed performance in a number of areas. So, clouds are one of the biggest things. We introduce the new version 3, cloud shading model with multiple scattering in Terragen 4, the initial release of Terragen 4.0. And the realism improvement was dramatic, but certainly, they took longer to render. So we've been working to optimize that and to make them faster. In our test here, we're looking at 20% to 40% improvement in render time for version 4.1 versus 4.0 on those version 3 clouds. So you're able to get those incredibly realistic clouds, like the Easy Cloud presets, rendering a good deal faster than before. And that's really a big help and we're continuing to improve on that as well In addition to that, we were able to make some optimizations to the 3D preview and the raytraced preview, improving performance, 70
Pictures: Above, “Rescue me” by Baro. Below, “Wonder” by Gannaingh32. Both Terragen and Photoshop.
“One of the other really cool things is we had some of the people who had worked on those shots in those big films come by at SIGGRAPH. They’d see the show-reel and go, “Oh, yes, we used Terragen on that. This is what we did...”
especially on systems with lots of threads, lots of CPU cores, so to speak. So, some of the Intel i9 processors, or the Threadrippers, or anyone who has a Xeon processor, really will benefit from that. But anyone will benefit; really, but especially when you have a high CPU core count, the optimizations to the ray-traced preview and 3D preview help a lot. And then, finally, we also did some optimization to the noise functions, particularly Voronoi, which a lot of people call â€˜a cell noiseâ€™. It's a
unique kind of noise function that's used a lot in making sharp ridges and it's used in the Alpine shader in Terragen and the fake stones shader. So those shaders and others that use Voronoi, all have a performance improvements to varying degrees. Paul: It must be particularly satisfying for Matt who looks for these breakthroughs in performance improvements, when he finds big boost. It must be very satisfying to find that, code it, and then see a big difference.
Oshyan: Absolutely, yes. And you know, performance is always... you know, no matter how fast your system goes, you always want it to be faster. You know, real-time viewports are the goal that everyone's chasing these days. And there's still... you know, offline rendering is still the way pretty much most film work is done and it's going to be that way for a while. So, in terms of how fast as we can make it, rendering speed improvements are going to have huge benefits for all of our users, for
people in film and TV, but also for all the home and small-studio users. And optimization is definitely a very rewarding thing, especially when you get huge gains. You know, when we came up with Terragen 4, we optimized the object rendering quite a lot as well. You may remember that, and some of the gains there were just tremendous. I was experimenting with a scene again, that we had used in benchmarking Terragen 4 for the initial release that... I forget what the exact speed that was, but it was several hundred percent. Picture: â€œTerragen Realism Testâ€? by Gannaingh32.
Basically, the render was like four or five times faster than it had been under Terragen 3.4. So that was just a huge deal.
It's interesting, too, to note that all sorts of newer technologies can help to push things forward. You know, sometimes they'll come up with new CPU instructions that you can take advantage of or the Intel's Embree library is an accelerated ray tracing library that we make use of. And so, it's not just a matter of finding something that wasn't done well, but sometimes it's a matter of just plugging in an improvement in technology, or the research in the industry that helps you find new ways of doing things that are more efficient, or achieve a better result in the same amount of time. Paul: Thatâ€™s an interesting observation. And in 4.1 there's optimization for cleaner renders as well. So, I just wanted to dive into that a little bit more and find out what you meant by cleaner renders. Is that for clouds? Oshyan: It's for the atmosphere, in particular, but also the clouds, yes. So, there are a couple of changes there. Specifically, there was a change in the atmosphere sampling that would reduce the amount of noise in renders for an equivalent quality setting. So, if you had, say, 16 samples in the atmosphere, and then there was a change made that would reduce the amount of noise at that level of samples. So, you can either just enjoy the lower amount of noise or you can even potentially reduce the samples, saving some render time and getting a similar level of noise that you might have had before. We've also made changes to how the version 3 cloud scattering is rendered and how the quality settings for that are controlled, and that also resulted in lower overall amounts of noise in the render and cleaner, faster renders for the equivalent level of quality. Paul: Sounds good. Now, speaking of clouds, 4.1 does better control over cloud shapes and occurrences, I think? So, tell us about that change, and I think, I imagine as more control occurs with cloudscape type scenes that people are rendering, I'm wondering whether you're beginning to see some preference towards that
in your galleries, now taking advantage of those functions, those extra features. Oshyan: Yes. So in Terragen 4, the initial release, we introduced a series of presets called Easy Cloud that targets some common cloudtypes, you know, altocumulus and that sort of thing. And they produce really good-looking results out of the box, just very realistic. And we're certainly seeing a lot of people using the Easy Cloud presets with, you know, various settings to get some quick, really good-looking results out of the box. The thing that was missing with Easy Cloud... and just to be clear, there was a more complex and flexible cloud model with multiple scattering that the 3 cloud introduced in Terragen 4 as well. When you're in the UI and you're looking at adding cloud layers, it's the preset called Generic, basically. So any of the ones with the specific cloud type names, those are the Easy Cloud presets, and the generic one is a more powerful and flexible open one. But when you use the generic preset, you have to essentially come up with your own way of, you know... It comes with a default noise function to give a basic cloud shape, but if you want to achieve some of the more sophisticated shapes that the Easy Cloud produces, then there's a lot of work to do in creating custom shaders and linking them together and using math functions and all of this kind of stuff. So what we did with the Easy Cloud is just try to encapsulate all of that stuff with an easier to use interface behind the node. But again, we didn't have masking functionality. So you basically got these nice-looking clouds and you could limit them to an area using the localized function, which is in the cloud layer. But you couldn't mask it in any more sophisticated way than that. So if you wanted to erase clouds in one part of the sky, or if you wanted to have clouds just on the horizon, for example, or just on the left and right of the image but not in the center. So those kinds of capabilities weren't available in Easy Cloud. But now you can do the same kind of masking that you used to be able to do with the other clouds. And control their positioning and just get a more directed result from the clouds while maintaining that look and the 74
“Planetary Interconnect” by SkillZombie, and “Shards of Silver Fade” by Winerla. Both Terragen and Photoshop.
realistic wisps and cloud shapes, and all that realism. Paul: I suppose years ago people wouldn't really worry about composition of clouds. They would just be happy to generate cloud layers and that would be it. So, what drives you to add a lot more control over cloud shape and occurrence? Oshyan: It's certainly a mixture of both the industry and the home users. I will say that the film industry, in particular, the film and TV industry, and advertising, all of those kind of more professional uses of the software, do tend to drive some of these ‘directability’ features. They're often working with non-technical clients, so to speak, the director of the film or the spot, or the art director or someone like that, who may have understanding of technology… but not so much of a deep understanding of the software which lets them know what is easy to do. And so, they'll see a shot with a beautiful cloudscape that looks very realistic, but they won't like a particular cloud or they'll want to fly the alien craft through this particular part. Or they’ll want to have special shapes massing in the clouds, so that it's more dramatic. And you know, they basically just wanna point to something and say, “Put that there and have it happen.” And so, ‘directability’ is a really big thing in that industry. Certainly, with the home user they also wanna be able to, to some degree, put this there and that there. But I think, as far as the demand for it, it's probably even more significant in the professional part of the market. And so, yes, we're working on improving directability as much as we can, and the masking for Easy Cloud is certainly a part of that. Paul: That sounds great. I love that ability of control and being able to compose a scene just how you like it with the cloudscapes. There was a mention about global illumination having been improved. How might we see differences there? Oshyan: Yes. So, we basically identified a couple of, I guess you could call them bugs to a certain extent, in the version 3 cloud scattering that was new in Terragen 4. And so, I think there's a lot of room for optimization and improvement there.
And we identified an issue in how the version 3 clouds take into account the illumination from the surrounding environment, and we were able to significantly reduce the amount of variability, which was coming from the environment lighting. So what that does is make the results of the version 3 cloud scattering illumination more consistent and reliable, especially in animation. We had people making lots of still scenes earlier on with the clouds, but once people started to animate them, they were sometimes running into challenges where they would see flicker and they'd have to use very high interpolation settings, very high GI settings, to make up for that. And once we identified this better way of sampling the environment light, it stabilized that stuff a lot. So, now you can basically get more stable results and you can also use lower GI settings, which saves on render time and still gets you the level of quality and stability needed. And there was also just a more general GI issue having to do with how the GI cache is generated that was also producing sub-optimal results in GI. And so, the combination of those two fixes essentially means you've got more stable, more reliable global illumination for the environment and for the clouds. And you can use lower GI settings in many cases without compromising quality. Paul: Good. There's a new smoothing filter shader as well. So, what type of scenes or materials would this be good for? Oshyan: Yes, that's a really cool new shader, and honestly, it's so new that we haven't made a lot of demo scenes for it yet, but there are a couple of them. We have one in the Terragen 4.1 release announcement that's on the website. It's planetside.co.uk, you just go there. Right on the front page, you'll see the link to the 4.1 announcement. So, basically, what we've seen it being useful for so far is things like sand and snow and any kind of material for filling in or smoothing out the features in the terrain. So what the smoothing filter does; essentially, is it allows you to create smoother areas at particular levels of detail, essentially. And you can control it with other shaders. You can, you know, kind of influence the scale at which the smoothing is 76
happening by using input shaders. But basically, you can just imagine, you have a rough mountain rockscape or something like that on a rough terrain. And then, if there were snowfall on it, you would have these patches of smoother ground, for example. Or similarly, let's say you had a rough mountainside which slopes down into a desert. And where that sand interacts with that rough mountainside, you're gonna have the sand kind of smoothly filling in these gaps and creating these smooth areas. So it's been useful for creating those smoother aspects on what is otherwise rough and detailed terrain.
“I was experimenting with a scene again, that we had used in benchmarking Terragen 4 for the initial release … Basically, the render was like four or five times faster than it had been under Terragen 3.4.” But you know, one of the great things that we find, every time we introduce a new shader or a new setting in Terragen, is that people end up using it for things that we might never have thought of. You know, our user community is just tremendously creative. So I'm really looking forward to seeing what people use the smoothing filter for, but even just in that basic usage of, you know, kind of sand and snow type of surfaces. I think it's really helpful to have and it was a good introduction, so. Paul: As we've mentioned already, Terragen's used in the movie industry and there's been probably some, I imagine, major movie releases in the last 18 months that Terragen's been involved in. Do you want to mention a couple of movies that Terragen's been involved with Oshyan: Oh, definitely. There's been quite a lot in the last 18 months, yes. What we're really proud of Terragen being used in the new Star Wars film. So it was used on The Force Awakens, 77
also used on Rogue One late last year, Zootopia, X-Men: Apocalypse. And then, also late last year, it was, I believe, La La Land, Hidden Figures. And then, this year, we had Life and Despicable Me 3. And upcoming, there's Thor: Ragnarok, that's a big anticipated release. We're really looking forward to seeing the Terragen work in that. I think you can see some of it in the trailers that are playing right now. So that's the really cool things with clouds and mountain environments. And, yes, our visual effects customers are doing more and more awesome work for film, also for TV. We talked to a guy at SIGGRAPH who had used it on MacGyver and Hawaii Five-0 and NCIS: New Orleans. So, there's an increasing amount of film. And this is just the stuff we hear about, too. You know, we have people... we have customers in pretty much every major visual effects studio out there who own licenses of Terragen and they're probably often doing work where the news, you know, doesn't filter back to us. So, one of the things that's cool about SIGGRAPH is seeing those people in person, having them come by, letting us know what they've been working on, and updating the list of films that Terragen's been used in. It's about 40 films that we're aware of so far, and, you know, ever increasing. So, very cool. Paul: It must be particularly satisfying for you or Matt, sitting in a cinema and then you think to yourselves, "Hold on, I recognize that. That's Terragen." Does that happen to you or Matt? Oshyan: Well, ideally, we don't recognize it, because that means we're doing our job really well and the client is also able to do their job really well. But we do sometimes see what we think are, you know... you'll see a shot where you go, "There's no way they could have filmed that," or, you know, it's the Death Star in Rogue One. Paul: So tell us a little bit about the licensing for education. How is Terragen helping to educate the up and coming visual effects artists, to the point where they can do such jaw-dropping or seamless work. I imagine, you've got Terragen 4 into some interesting educational institutions by now?
Oshyan: Absolutely, yes. We introduced the Terragen educational license program when we launched Terragen 4, and we've had a really great response to it. Basically, it's pretty straightforward. We just offer free licenses for educational purposes. So, that can be a university, or even a high school, licensing it for their particular media lab or specific programs. It can be individual faculty members or even students who... you know, people who are going through a bona fide educational program and, you know, can't afford to purchase Terragen. They don't have a job yet or something like that. And so, we essentially offer a one-year free license, and that can be renewed as long as someone is in school or is involved with an educational institution. To date, we've had about 80 institutions license the software all over the world. You know, we've had, just from probably 30 different countries, we've had licenses requested. Most recently, Drexel University, University of West Scotland, University of Newcastle, Vancouver Institute of Media Arts, and many other interested institutions. And overall, you know, we've also had many individuals, students, and faculty inquire and get licenses. We've probably issued thousands of licenses at this point. So I'm really proud of the reception that we've had, and the support we’ve been able to offer. I think the impact that it's having is just starting to be felt and will become even greater as time goes on. And we also met a lot of our educational customers at SIGGRAPH and met some new ones there as well, introduced some new institutions to Terragen. And I mentioned earlier, I think also the Griffith Park Observatory, some of the staff from there came by and they're also under our educational license. The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Golden Gate Park. The European Southern Observatory (ESO) uses the educational license for some of their work. So, it's a really great program and I'm very proud of the impact that it's had so far. Paul: Now, speaking of education, you've got your own community, your own forums at Planetside. What are some of the most important learning points or discussion points that's going
on now in the forums? Perhaps you can mention some of those that people can get involved in. Oshyan: Yes, that's a good question. We love our community forums. It's where the community really gets to have their voice and also to help each other. And we contribute to the support there, of course. But there's a lot of peer -to-peer learning and experimentation and support, and it's just a really positive, awesome thing to have. The forums are at our website and are free to join.
“We had a bunch of people from Griffith Park Observatory come by the booth at SIGGRAPH. They're long time Terragen users. They use it for their planetarium shows...”
Recently, we've had discussions about render elements and layers functionality, how to use them, and how to separate out different groups of objects and whatnot, for compositing. So, that comes from some of our more advanced users. We've had a lot of people who are using Terragen professionally, come in and start up forum accounts and start discussing there some of their questions. So we've had some more advanced questions of late because of that. 78
Some other stuff on various form of planetoriented topics, like global texturing and masking for city lights seen from orbiting spacecraft. Lots of questions about render optimization, how to make things faster, etc. Those are things that I get really hands-on a lot. I'll have somebody provide a scene that they're, you know, getting a long render time on and usually I can bring the render time down by, oftentimes, half or more. Paul: Impressive. Now you've also said you have bunch of people approaching you on the forums who need jobs done? Oshyan: We have some pretty regular job postings now, a couple times a month, we'll usually post jobs from some of the big studios or game companies. Paul: And the forums are also where people can learn about new content for Terragen? Oshyan: Yes, we've also had regular resource announcements and additions from New World Digital Arts, who are one of our great partners out there. Danny and his crew over there are always coming out with new objects and preset resources. Luc Bianco, one of our longest users and one of our most talented, he opened a store. I think it was last year, some time, and he's been steadily adding new resources and scenes as well, so. And then there's lots of free files that are also shared in the file sharing area on the forums as well. So there's just a lot of benefit in viewing and hopefully, you know, joining and contributing to the forums, too, even if you just have questions or want to share, you know, an image that you made or something like that. It's a great thing to be a part of, I think. Paul: So, finally, what's next for Terragen? Any events, competitions, or promotions coming up to watch out for at Planetside? Oshyan: We've got a few things. We're always working on things behind the scenes, so some things that I can't announce necessarily, but we are working on a new benchmark for Terragen 4. So, we had the Terragen 3 benchmark that got several hundred responses over the years. And it 79
was really a useful tool in seeing how performance compared across processors and across versions of Terragen. So, that benchmark is less applicable to Terragen 4. So we're creating a new benchmark for Terragen 4 and will be bundling some free plant models with that as well. So, we'll have the plant models for the benchmark. We'll also have some separate free plant model shares in partnership with New World Digital Arts, and Silva3D as well. So, we're working with some partners on getting some more resources out there to the community. There's also going be more films coming up with Terragen. And then, I mentioned, Thor: Ragnarok and there are some other ones that we're aware of that we can't quite mention just yet, but later in the year, and coming up in 2018 as well. And finally, I mentioned earlier, we were partnered with Pixel Plow for our booth at SIGGRAPH and they very generously donated a Terragen 4 professional license to be given to one of the people who visited us at the booth. So, we are finalizing our choice for that now. We'll be announcing that winner and the new resource shares and the new benchmark over the coming months on our social media. So, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, sign up to the newsletter on our website, and you can keep up to date in all of the news and the resources that we're sharing, at the planetside.co.uk website. Paul: Oshyan, thank you very much for your time today. I hope you don't get flooded with too many requests to help people cut down on rendering times in the next few weeks. I really appreciate you talking about Terragen 4.1 and SIGGRAPH today. It's been really interesting. Thank you. Oshyan: Thank you. It's been good to be here.
Terragen 4.1 is out now, and readers can find out more about the software at: http://planetside.co.uk/
Digital Art Live presents a gallery of pictures which seem to evoke the spirit of the works of Arthur C. Clarke, in various direct and indirect ways. Starting with the space elevator concept, we then soar from a spaceport to orbit, before embarking for Mars and the cosmos beyond...
Picture: By artist Rick Guidice, produced for 1974 for NASA. Pioneer 10 crosses the Asteroid Belt.
Picture: “Borneo space tether” by Julian Faylona, imagining a future space elevator site in Borneo. Arthur C. Clarke’s novel of the space elevator — The Fountains of Paradise (1979) — was inspired by a peak in his own adoped country of Sri Lanka (formerly the British colony of Ceylon). In the novel the year is 2142 and ace engineer Vannevar Morgan needs to build a giant space elevator to transport men and materials to a point outside the earth’s atmosphere. But the only suitable spot on the equator is the sacred mountain of Taprobane — jealously guarded by monks. Clarke envisaged using a cable and counter-balanced mass system for the elevator. At the time Clarke lacked a real material for the cable, but suggested that the Buckminsterfullerene material could one day do the job. Since then carbon nanotubes have been developed, and diamond nanotubes have shown even more promise. An experimental start was made in 1992, when NASA astronauts attempted to lower a 12 mile cable from orbit. The space elevator concept may be more suitable for a future Mars colony, and there it could use the 16 mile-high mountain of Pavonis Mons as the counter-balance. This would however — as Clarke himself suggested in his ‘how we terraform Mars’ book The Snows of Olympus — require the dismanting of the Martian moon Phobos — both for safety and to provide the materials to construct the Mars space elevator cable.
Picture: "Space elevator" by Glenn Clovis. A full 800ton cable with a climber unit ascending from a tropical island on the Earthâ€™s equator, slowly carrying multiple cargo pods into orbit. Such a cable would be
capable of taking 20 tons to orbit, so each pod shown here might carrying a ton of cargo. Currently it costs around $10,000 per pound of weight for cargo to reach orbit â€” although the rapidly developing
commercial space industry has a goal of bringing the cost down to about $1,000 per pound to orbit. The first real chance to build a space elevator may
arise in the period after the successful establishment of a future manned Moon base with manufacturing capacity. On the near side of the Moon a 31,000 mile cable would do the job with existing materials.
Picture: Opposite, “Halcyon Days” by Julian Faylona. This page, “Stars” by Star-rik (Ulrik Vatle Jensen); and “Aquatic slidewalk” by Samuel Nordius.
Picture: “International Space Stations” by Capn Damo. A new ring station is seen built around the current ISS space station which forms the hub. Made with NASA stock, Blender and GIMP. 88
Picture: “Marsport” by tk769 (Adrian Mark Gillespie) 90
Pictures: Above, a NASA visualisation of a Mars with oceans and atmosphere, perhaps somewhat indicative of what a future terraformed Mars might look like from space. When the ice-caps melt they could fill about a sixth of the level of the original ocean on Mars. Below, picture by Trey Ratcliffe, perhaps indicative of what an early Mars terraforming out-gassing station might look like.
Pictures: above, “WIP Omega Station: Outpost Echo One”; and below, “Phoenix Station”, both by Glenn Clovis.
Pictures: “Solemn March” and “Manifestation” by Vaporization.
Picture: "Rainbow in Space" by Sniper115a3. 96
Videogame: Elite Dangerous 2.4 First released for Windows PC in December 2014, Elite: Dangerous is David Braben's successful reboot of his classic British space trading and combat videogame. As we head toward Xmas 2017 the new Elite has sold nearly 3 million copies. Which means that on Windows the game is now polished, bug-squished, and very playable. Along the way the five upgrade patches have added planetary landings, ground vehicles and bases, passenger missions… and even the original Thargoid aliens. Not to mention consistently awesome graphics, which players can now picture with a new camera system for screenshots. Admittedly Elite is still not perfect — even in solo-play you need an always-on Internet connection, for instance, which is a deal-breaker for many — but it's one of the best-reviewed and ambitious space-faring games. You can buy the complete Deluxe bundle for Windows for £40, or the game can be tried with a more basic starter version. Occasional gamers should expect a steep learning-curve for the first 18 hours, especially when trying to dock at a space-station, and there is a certain amount of ‘grind’ to upgrade your ship to something sleek. Elite is tough, but nowhere near as tough as Eve — and there’s a cosmic ‘Explorer’ mode for the combat-averse, and an auto-combat system to prevent motion-sickness from dogfights. https://www.elitedangerous.com/
Our pick of the most inspirational art, science and sci-fi. Make your imagination LIVE! 98
“Elite Dangerous is the current reigning champion of the space trucker simulation for better or worse, even if it will only ever attract a small yet fierce following of enthusiastic commanders. But if you read up on the planets for fun, enjoy movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar, or Moon, or find the idea of hauling cargo from system to system and maybe getting in the odd fight along the way appealing, there is very little else out there like Elite Dangerous. It is a beautiful, one of a kind experience that I cherish, one of my favourite games in the last few years” — Destructoid review, July 2017. .
Picture: Promotional picture with thanks to Frontier Developments. 99
Artbook: Movie Art of Syd Mead
Non-Fiction: Radical Wings
Syd Mead is one of the most accomplished and widely respected artists alive today, inside or outside of the science-fiction field. We're very pleased to say that he recently granted our free magazine an in-depth interview, which you can find and read in issue #16. So we were doubly excited to hear about his major new artbook The Movie Art of Syd Mead: Visual Futurist. This 250page hardcover from Titan Books represents the most extensive collection of Mead's visionary concept work for movies that has ever been printed. It has high production values and contains advanced concepts and never-before seen artwork, showing how Syd Mead laid down fundamental benchmarks for futuristic design in the cinema over a 40 year period. Hopefully the success of this book, co-inciding as it does with the new Blade Runner, will lead to its being followed by more such volumes.
This is the extremely well-written story of how NASA tested and refined its advanced and experimental prototype aircraft. Focussing mostly on the vast wind-tunnels at the famous NASA Langley, the story evolves from the early days of NACA through to NASA’s testing of supersonic transports and space capsules in the 1970s. Half or full-scale designs tested there included UFO-like 'flying pancakes', tail-first, flying wings, delta wings, vertical take-off planes, one-man ‘hover-platforms’, and much more. The book also tells the intiguing story of how nerdy innovators outwitted the bureaucracy and slipped their ideas and aircraft through to testing. Without these people we would not today have supersonic transport, highly maneuverable jets, drones, and much more. Despite its technical aspects, the Aviation History magazine review said the book… “explores extremely complex subjects in a way that a layman can easily understand.”
Available from all good booksellers.
Available from all good booksellers.
Audio: Tenth Doctor Adventures
Non-fiction book: Dalek
You thought the great David Tennant was gone for good from the TV show Doctor Who? Think again. Quality audiobook specialists Big Finish has regenerated his outstanding Doctor Who characterisation, and they are producing a new series of topnotch full-cast audio adventures. The episodes feature full sound FX and have the proper theme music and format. Tennant’s Doctor even re-unites with assistants Donna and Rose! The first set of three hour-long episodes were released to wide acclaim in spring 2017, and another set of three is due in November 2017. Apparently Big Finish has had their BBC IP licence extended to 2025, so we’re hoping there will eventually be the equivalent of two TV series-worth of audio adventures, all featuring Tennant as the Doctor. Vol 1. is available now for download from Big Finish.
“Exterminate, EXTerminate, EXTERMINAATE!!” You may well feel that way about most of this year’s Christmas gift-market piffle, which the establishment publishers are set to pile high in the bookshops from now until December. But this book looks a little different. George Mann’s £30 doorstopper book on the evil Dalek race is to be released at the end of October from Harper Design for BBC Books. It aims to be ‘the only book you will ever need’ that is devoted to the art and history of the Daleks. First appearing on Doctor Who in 1963, the Daleks are the show’s most popular villains, and surely have the most enduring and distinctive design values of any science-fiction enemy alien. This ‘exhibition in a book’ will weigh in at 320 pages, and somewhat unusually is also reported to ‘fill in gaps’ and contradictions in the existing Dalek timelines with a new mini-comic and also has “startling visual recreations of secret conflicts”.
Available soon at all good booksellers.
John Ruskin’s legacy
Terry Pratchett: HisWorld
Early 2019, various places.
Until 13th Jan 2018, Salisbury, UK.
Art institutions and museums are getting ready to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of the Victorian art titan John Ruskin (1819-1900), in early 2019. Ruskin had a vast range of interests and talents, most elegantly summarised in the short Guy Davenport essay “Ruskin” (in The Death of Picasso). But as well as everything else he did Ruskin was also an accomplished artist — most especially of nature — and was one of the first ever fantasy novel writers, with his The King of the Golden River (1841). We look forward to a range of respectful exhibitions, programmes and films on Ruskin in January 2019.
The Salisbury Museum and the Estate of Sir Terry Pratchett present the first gallery retrospective on the life and work of fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett. This British exhibition features artwork by Terry himself, rare manuscripts and much more. There’s also a full-size recreation of Terry’s working office, with his first typewriter.
Pictures, from left, across double-page spread: Richard Doyle's opening illustration for the first edition of "The King of the Golden River". Detail of a Discworld illustration by Paul Kidby. Manga stacks on a Japanese newsstand, courtesy of Sekihan. Paris in its prime, the Eiffel Tower bedecked for the 1889 Universal Exhibition.
Alongside the show are large side exhibitions of the illustrations made for Terry’s books. One of the shows is from Josh Kirby who first illustrated the Discworld. The second has 40 original works by Paul Kidby, have later helped bring Terry’s world of fantasy and its characters to life and became Terry’s artist of choice. Paul designed the Discworld book jackets after 2001 and has illustrated many Discworld publications including the novella The Last Hero and The Art of Discworld. The museum is located in Wiltshire, in the south-west of England, and the nearest large town is the busy and pleasant coastal resort of Bournmouth. http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/ 102
Mangasia: Wonderlands of Asian Comics
Jardin d’Acclimatation Opening May 2018. Paris, France.
Until 21st January 2018, Rome. The major gallery exhibition ‘Mangasia’ will present the largest ever selection of original artwork from Asian comics, displayed alongside their printed, mass-produced forms, many of them rarely if ever shown outside their country of origin. The exhibition will also reveal the creative processes that underlie their production, from scripts, sketches and layouts to finished pages. Curated by leading British scholar Paul Gravett, London’s Barbican, and a team of over twenty national advisors, Mangasia will survey the whole of comics production in from across the whole region, from India to Japan. After its world premiere in Rome, the exhibition will tour the world, including a stop in France in summer 2018. The show is accompanied by Paul Gravett's book Mangasia: The Definitive Guide to Asian Comics, due for publication in mid October 2017, from artbook publisher Thames and Hudson. https://www.palazzoesposizioni.it/ 103
The French capital city of Paris is seeking to revive its flagging tourism appeal by making a new $90-million steampunk-themed amusement park. The new upmarket attraction is set to be funded and designed by luxury-brand conglomerate Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and their new project will aim to radically re-model and remake the city’s Jardin d’Acclimatation park. This 19-acre 1860s city park will soon house 17 major new Jules Verne-inspired steampunk rides, alongside a puppet theatre, shooting galleries, and a science and art museum aimed at children and school coach trips. One of the stated aims of the new attraction is to directly compete with similar top destinations in France, such as Disneyland Paris. Planning permission has been given by the city authorities, and the newly improved Jardin d’Acclimatation should be welcoming the first paying visitors in May 2018. http://jardindacclimatation.fr/
Are you interested in being interviewed in a future issue of the magazine? Or presenting a webinar for our series? Please send the Web address of your gallery or store, and we’ll visit! firstname.lastname@example.org
Back cover: “Inside the Transonic Test Tunnel, NASA Langley”. 1990.
Published on Oct 25, 2017
We promote the work of digital artists primarily in the sci-fi genre through in-depth interviews. This is our “Gateway to Space” issue, a sm...