Friday, March 6, 2009

The Graphics Pipeline (again)

I've been thinking more about the graphics pipeline, which I wrote about here. Sometimes a picture is worth a bunch of words, so here's a simplified diagram that may explain the idea better:

The particular inspiration for my current thinking was a documentary, The Pixar Story, currently airing on Showtime. This hour-and-a-half film gives a good overview of the evolving technology of computer animation, as well as the histories of some of the major players. It's worth a look.

By the way, speaking of art and technology, the above diagram was drawn with a program called Graphviz ( It reads a simple text file that describes your diagram, and then draws it automatically. For example, the text file for the above diagram was simply this:

digraph G {
node [shape=box];
edge [labeljust="l" arrowhead="empty"];
"3D Computer\nModel" -> "2D Image" [label="Computer\nRendering"];
"2D Image" -> "Final Image" [label="Retouching"];
Imagination -> "2D Image" [label="Artist\nRendering"];
"Real World" -> "2D Image" [label="Capture"];
"Real World" -> Imagination [label="Perception"];
"Real World" -> "3D Computer\nModel" [label="Scene/Motion\nCapture"];
Imagination -> "3D Computer\nModel" [label="CAD"];

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