Clay 3D

Written by on 9th October 2011 in Experiments, References, Thoughts with Leave a comment

I have been playing around with claymation as a material for both the 3D modeling and interfaces as well. Partially because I am really not very good with “proper” 3D modeling. And also because I have always loved claymation. I figure I should leverage the things I’m actually good at. Plus I feel like no matter how well rendered 3D is, there is always something very raw and expressive about clay. And it’s more real. These are the kind of things I grew up loving:


But now we have things like this:

(This took me less than 5 minutes to make with Xtranormal)

And all that machinima shit that got really popular a few years ago:

(MTV2 apparently had a whole series of these music video mods)

I think there’s definitely some digital nostalgia for these low-fi cg videos. And similar nostalgia for 8-bit style stuff lately. Maybe I’m just nostalgic about non-CG animation. I feel like the tools are there for clay to come back. The only problem is that the people who are into claymation do not seem to generally overlap with the people who are into making digital tools.

I’m thinking I would love to make a generative claymation animator or movie maker. Initially I was thinking just within the streetview interface. But I feel like even beyond that it would be great as its own thing. Obviously companies like Xtranormal stick to the CG stuff cause it’s a lot faster and easier to produce more of these things and it scales well. But with tools like Dragon, stop motion is significantly faster and more accessible than it has been in the past. I have seen some people play with code & clay a little bit but not very much. I feel like there is something there.

Also this quote from Paul Graham’s book Hackers & Painters (which I just finished reading the other day) makes me feel like I should pursue it just because it’s harder:

Use difficulty as a guide not just in selecting the overall aim of your company, but also at decision points along the way. At Viaweb one of our rules of thumb was run upstairs. Suppose you are a little, nimble guy being chased by a big, fat, bully. You open a door and find yourself in a staircase. Do you go up or down? I say up. The bully can probably run downstairs as fast as you can. Going upstairs his bulk will be more of a disadvantage. Running upstairs is hard for you but even harder for him.

What this meant in practice was that we deliberately sought hard problems. If there were two features we could add to our software, both equally valuable in proportion to their difficulty, we’d always take the harder one. Not just because it was more valuable, but because it was harder. We delighted in forcing bigger, slower competitors to follow us over difficult ground. Like guerillas, startups prefer the difficult terrain of the mountains, where the troops of the central government can’t follow.

Paul Graham

I like the idea that as an individual I have more leverage to work on things that are not terribly efficient, but in the end perhaps more interesting to me. I also think it’s interesting because I had initially bought this domain last year thinking I would use it to sell stock hand-made stop motion assets, which is actually kind of related still. Creating that stuff is labor intensive but what if I those things were usable assets for many people?

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