Art Studio - 3/03
Issue: Volume: 26 Issue: 3 (March 2003)

Art Studio - 3/03

When Richard "Dr." Baily formed his Hollywood-based fine-art studio Image Savant in 1992, he set an unusual goal for himself: "Within 10 years, I wanted to be doing all my work using proprietary 3D software. I didn't want to be limited by commercial programs."

Although Baily still uses off-the-shelf 3D software, he accomplishes most of his work using the hundreds of applications he has written over the years. The newest of these is Spore, a standalone particle system that can render some 20 million particles per minute. "Commercial particle systems get bogged down when they reach high particle counts," he explains. "But with Spore, I can accumulate data on a much larger scale and manipulate it as though it were photons. In this way, I can create images that possess a rare quality of photographic light, and appear to be self-illuminating."

Initially, Baily wrote Spore for fine-art projects. However, the software has found a niche in digital animation as well. It was used in the making of the movie The Core (scheduled for release this year), and Baily also employed the program to deliver atmospheric animation for the film Solaris (see "A World of Emotion," pg. 20, December 2002). He also completed effects for "A Wrinkle in Time," a television miniseries scheduled to air this year.

"Spore runs on Irix and Linux, and has been ported to BeOS and PC systems. Although Baily has considered selling Spore commercially, he has no immediate plans to do so. For now, he's investigating producing a DVD of Spore animation and stock footage. "Spore takes a fine-art approach to animation," he says. "It's not for everything, but for certain design projects, I can create amazing and unique animations with it." —Audrey Doyle

Left- Baily created an animation of this design that loops endlessly. "To me this feels a bit like a gravitational lens," the artist explains. He processed the RGB channels in Apple's Shake.

Right - After reviewing some renderings in his library of Spore images, Baily decided to combine a few of them. Upon viewing the result in this image, visual effects producer Kevin Haug asked the artist to animate a version of it for 12 scenes in the upcoming TV miniseries "A Wrinkle in Time."

Left This is one of the first color images Baily made with Spore. Later, he rendered it at 2K resolution with 10-fold oversampling to see how pure the light could look. Approximately 500 million particles were rendered in this composition.

Right Baily began his career as a painter and designer, and he still loves geometric abstraction. This type of design has an obvious geometric and mathematical origin, and to Baily it resembles a visualization of a complex 3D sound wave. Could this be what dolphins "see" when they hear sound in the water?

Left Several animations of this type were rendered for the later stages of the planet evolution. The animation grows slowly while the forms change subtly, and appear to be immense.