The CAD Next Door (Editor's Window)30 Sep, 2007 By: Amy Stankiewicz
At any given time, in any given place, you're bound to find a friend or family member using CAD or related technologies in innovative ways.
I have a brother named Andy whose passion is racing — from watching televised Formula One, NASCAR, and Champ Car World Series races to building, maintaining, and racing his own 125cc shifter kart and (in the past) bracket-racing dragster. He's even highly involved in sim (simulated) racing, meeting up with other motosports enthusiasts from around the world on the Internet to navigate the challenging twists and turns of virtual race-tracks designed with such amazing detail they resemble those of this world to a tee.
As you can see, I thought I knew a lot about my brother's dedication to and knowledge of the world of racing. Boy, was I wrong.
Last week, I was explaining the focus of this month's issue of Cadalyst to Andy, talking about recent advancements in graphics cards capabilities and the importance of these technologies when it comes to such efforts as rendering 3D animations for gaming purposes. As I talked, he was perched in front of his computer, checking and answering e-mail.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, his computer screen flickered and switched to a rendering of a 3D model of a Champ Car World Series racecar. The detail was incredible, the shading impeccable. I asked him where he got the image. It turns out, he created it. Andy designed the 2D texture (paint job) for the car in Photoshop CS2 then overlaid the texture onto a 3D model that was created by other individuals in Autodesk 3ds Max 8. Then he rendered the image for a photorealistic stillframe as part of a project he's undertaking with the Independent Developers Team (iDT, www.idtsimulations.com), a global team of programmers and graphic artists who modify currently available open-source driving simulations by adding content (track layouts and racecars from real-life racing series) to these virtual racing games. Needless to say, I was amazed.
For two-plus years, Andy has been working with iDT as a 2D texture artist and video artist to add modifications (mods) to such open-source virtual racing games as rFactor (www.rfactor.net), a sim racing game that even professional racecar drivers are using to train for the real-world tracks and circuits they need to navigate during competitions. The artists use Photoshop CS2 to create 2D textures for every virtual object that's modeled in 3ds Max 8, which includes not only cars, but track layouts and a variety of trackside objects as well.
Currently, iDT has added cars and tracks to rFactor in the form of mods for Toyota Atlantic, Formula BMW, Champ Car World Series 2006, and other real-life racing series. The team is even using Google Earth to import elevation and other data into the gaming environment to make the simulated racing experience as realistic as possible.
I think all of this is impressive stuff from a guy who doesn't work with 3D modeling and rendering software as part of his profession. This is his hobby.
I'd venture to guess that there are many people out there who, like Andy, use these technologies quite regularly to pursue their personal passions. Do you know of any? If what my brother is doing with iDT is any indication, chances are good that you do.