New tools for viewing and interacting with three dimensional information are evolving at a rapid rate. Next gen veiwers such as Occulus' virtual reality goggles, used in conjunction with new input devices such as the Control VR Wearable Controller or an evolution of Leap Motion are ushering in an event horizon for Human-Computer Interactions that offer incredible possibilities for the near future.
One area with tremendous potential for development is 3D modeling. The currently accepted computer modeling process is informed by analog drafting techniques, and slowed by the many procedural challenges associated with creating 3D shapes on a 2D monitor. A complex layer of view management - independent of construction - is integrated into workflow as users constantly translate from 2D to 3D. To further complicate matters, all of this work is usually orchestrated with inputs from devices which will seem shockingly behind the curve within a short period of time, and which only account for a fractional percent of the possible inputs that the average user can provide.
This design attempts to look beyond the flat monitor, keyboard, and mouse that most users take for granted today, and consider how 3D modeling and CAD work could be enhanced by depth-aware mapping of hand position, 10 finger awareness, and three dimensional virtual reality workspaces.
Users work within an immersive 3D environment. They can see their hands inside the visualization environment corresponding to their actual physical position. Hand position in 3D space is a critical part of the interaction, allowing for a tangible sense of form and depth. Model materials can freely be moved, joined, scaled, and manipulated around the designer in a wraparound environment.
The environment is arranged around the large field of view provided by VR goggle technology. Users can turn their body/head anywhere in 3D space to see the 360° viewing environment, with certain contextual navigation elements and always in heads up view array. Core menu items are accessed in hot zones at the user’s waist, and users can create additional tool boxes anywhere in the virtual space, loaded with custom items, from operation macros to pieces for replication across the model. All menu options can be selected with hand motions or with eyeline tracking operations.
Modifier gestures perform similarly to modifier keys in a traditional workflow.
Group selection (shift modify) holding a fist at the waist.
Copy selection (alt modify) holding a pointed hand at the waist.
This next gen work space will not be without new challenges. User adjustable features will be developed, allowing for better precision and control.
Anticipated features include:
GRID SNAPPING: Incremental grids in x,y,z directions can be toggled on and off inside the workspace, with variable increments. Default snapping behaviors can be adjusted to keep designs laid out to precise true lines, or along set increments, even if user's motor control waivers when placing a point or adjusting an angle.
SINGLE/VARIABLE AXIS ADJUSTMENT: Similarly, users my choose to adjust values along a single axis, without disrupting other measurements.
GESTURAL AMPLIFICATION: Although scale is infinitely adjustable, some users may not be comfortable performing extended periods of elevated arm motion and dynamic movement. Sensitivity can be adjusted upward so that small motions (similar to the range of motion currently required to operate a keyboard and mouse) are amplified in the virtual space, allowing longer reaches and more amplified motion. Users comfortable with a full range of motion can also employ this feature to work well outside the traditional physical bounds of their body in the virtual space.
HAND DOMINANCE: The program should be entirely agnostic as regards dominant hand - single and two hand gestures are supported, and modifier gestures can be performed by either hand.
SMOOTHING: Users working in freehand or sculptural modes may employ smoothing with varied adjustments to refine their strokes, eliminating wavering.
REFERENCE IMAGE INTEGRATION: 2D reference images may be desired when constructing a new model. These can be projected anywhere in the virtual space, usually along an axis line, and toggled, scaled, etc, as the user chooses.
FLOOR vs FLOAT MODE: In floor mode, users exist just above the center of a sphere bisected by a ground plane. Models can snap to the floor to insure specific angles and to enable design for the physical world, and the floor resizes in conjunction with models when the user adjusts scale, but models cannot rotate or otherwise pass through the floor. In float mode, users are placed in the center of a boundless volume, and may scale, rotate, or place models anywhere they desire.
MEASUREMENT TOOLS: A variety of measurement tools can be employed, to determine and adjust angles and dimensions.
ARCHITECT + PRODUCTION DESIGNER
VENICE, CA, 35
RHINO + AUTOCAD + PHOTOSHOP
Ian is a trained architect who splits his work time between remodels and high end stage production design for touring musicians, festivals, and presentations. Previsualization renderings are a large portion of his work and are created to a high conceptual standard but make some presumptions about size and placement due to variations and options in on-site rigging. He creates these renderings under tight deadlines but lights and illustrates them to a high standard for client and artist presentation. Upon approval, he often generates architectural spec designs for use by stage crews using standard and custom components. As an Architect, he focuses on remodels and clients often expect multiple visualization renderings based upon conceptual discussions, with iteration leading to a final design.
CONCERNS: Precise Control, spatial navigation. Rendering speed. Would love group viewing capabilities with clients for remote conferencing.
CURRENT TOOLS: 15” MacBook Pro running Windows, 26” Secondary Monitor, PC Workstation, WACOM Tablet, 2D Mouse
PORTLAND, OR, 47
SOLIDWORKS + RHINO
Sam is an old school draftsman who has stayed on top of the industrial design world and is current with modern trends and software. He brings a practiced illustrator’s hand to his professional achievements, from wrist worn watches and health bands to shoes and aftermarket supercars. Having a personal brand in appropriate circles and a series of corporate design engagements keeps him working steadily but with plenty of time to craft and sculpt details. He creates high quality renders of designs for clients, and tends toward a number of cycles before determining the exact design. He also generates production CAD models for tooling, electrical engineering, etc.
CONCERNS: Intuitive views of small-scale objects. Precision and micro-adjustments. Versioning, pre-rendering, and high quality exports.
CURRENT TOOLS: Sit/stand draw station with WACOM display tablet, iMac, 38” secondary monitor, and Mouse.
VFX SUPERVISOR + ARTIST
DETROIT, MI, 28
CINEMA 4D + MAD MAPPER
Nathaniel is a maker/artist, freelance VFX supervisor, and designer who creates Visual Effects for music videos, TV Commercials, and public installations. He works with a small team in rapid iteration cycles and spends about 30% of his time making 3D designs. When he does, the need for fidelity is relatively low but the focus on speed is high. Additionally, he uses 3D software for projection mapping and 3D printed designs. Nathaniel is an early adopter by nature who loves exploring the potential of tech. He is very interested in 3D operating systems, gaming, teleconferencing, and other tools. Incidentally, he is a yoga instructor with a high level of concern for ergonomics and the damaging work habits of many professionals.
CONCERNS: Rapid iteration of low-fidelity models. Portability of workstation. Ergonomics.
CURRENT TOOLS: Standing workstation with 65”monitor. Touch Pad, Roller Mouse, Split Keyboard, various video game and Midi controllers. Uses Occulus to preview models.
MODELLER + RIGGER
TORONTO, ON, CANADA, 22
MAYA + ZBRUSH + IN HOUSE UTILITIES
Anna works for a medium to large game development company. Her focus is creating characters that feel real and are in synch with game concepts while also adhering to tight production timelines and rendering limits driven by game system power that require sparse/savvy design of her models. She focuses on modeling but has some talent in rigging models for animation. She works in a rapid pace production environment with hours that can be quite extreme during delivery cycles.
Moving fast + organically. Productivity: the game world can always use more characters. Controlling polycount on her models.
CURRENT TOOLS: Sitting workstation. (3) 32” monitors. PC workstation on multiprocessor in-house network. 3D mouse, keyboard, 2D mouse, and game controller, all wireless.
After decades of speculation, technology is ready to implement these powerful innovations. Users are excited by the possibilities and such intuitive and powerful workflows will quickly accelerate expressive potential. New hardware tools will be on the market within a year that are affordable and reliable, and software augmentations sensitive to those developments will arise rapidly. Building a 3D design suite from the ground up is a massive undertaking, and existing software platforms have a variety of specialized tools and operations, depending upon the use case. For rapid development, the proposed product could come to life as a 3D API to merge with existing tools. Common operations within a given program would be mapped to the gestural parameters outlined here, and the existing 3D viewing capabilities of existing software suites could be ported to the user’s goggles for an immersive view. Working backwards from industry standard programs such as Rhino and Maya and adding software support on a program by program basis would be the most rapid and productive approach. Additionally, more intuitive programs such as Sculptris could be adapted to the platform to promote and showcase the technology to general audiences at conventions and shows.