Back in February, Data Flow 2 was the Resource Of The Week. Containing several high-resolution infographics and charts combined with pages of beautiful text, the first book was a must-have for anyone working in the field. The sequel is no different, improving on the first in several ways, and is the subject of an in-depth review over at Infosthetics.
With its abundance of visually attractive and high-resolution depictions that literally jump of the page, the book is a joy to explore. Alternatively, you can have it just laying around for those moments of when your information addiction pushes you to once again get high on seductive ways of data expression. The physical format lends itself to casual browsing, while the short descriptions provide a glimpse into some of the insights offered.
via Data Flow 2: The Book Review – information aesthetics.
One of my favorite websites to visit, FlowingData, has posted a review of the on-line book We Feel Fine by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar. The book is the product of an accompanying website, also called We Feel Fine, which explores the emotions found in blog posts. They do this by searching for phrases that the author puts in the blog posts, such as “I am feeling…”. They then take this information and perform some really nice data visualization on it. From FlowingData’s review:
As a supplement to the online artwork, which I’m a big fan of, the book works really well. It provides lots of good excerpts, and in the end, it’s entertaining. The best comparison I can think of is PostSecret. You know the blog/book that features secrets from anonymous people. Similarly, We Feel Fine is a snapshot of emotions from people you don’t know; however, even though they’re complete strangers, you will no doubt identify with many of them. Basically, if you like PostSecret, you’ll probably like this book. There’s a slightly greater data spin to it though, which of course I appreciate.
Anyways, you don’t really need to hear what I think. Just check out the entire book online and form your own opinion.
The physical book is available for purchase at Amazon for only $20.
via Review: We Feel Fine (the book) by Kamvar and Harris | FlowingData.
I already mentioned in my previous review, Strata Design 3D CX’s potential power for graphic designers. Typically they know their way around the Adobe Suite of programs but are looking for ways to expand their presentation punch into the third dimension and further.
For those among you that actually are looking to do exactly this, your search may have come to an end when you buy the Strata Design 3D CX with their companion module Strata Enfold 3D CX. What Enfold 3D CX allows you to do is prepare your presentation battle right there in Adobe Illustrator. Here’s how this works.
Read on to see the rest of Albert’s Review, as well as download a sample PDF with the 3D model embedded for your own interactive exploration!
Tony DeYoung frequently extolls the virtues of MachStudio Pro on his FireUser.com blog, and points to a review of the product on Renderosity which contains a few tidbits of what we’ll see in the upcoming new version:
- Raytracing using DX11 Compute Shaders – “I had a first-hand demonstration of what looks to be the first DirectX 11 “compute shade” raytracing prototype, which looked fantastic. I believe Yoni told me that this will be the first time raytracing will be applied using the GPU only.”
- Hair – “anything you can do in ‘Shave and a Haircut’ you can do in MachStudio Pro's hair mode.
While I’m happy to see some nice GPU-accelerated raytracing support, I’m disappointed to see it based entirely on the DirectX11 Compute systems. This means that you won’t be seeing a Linux or Mac version of MachStudio anytime soon (no DirectX support), and that you won’t be using it on Windows XP or Windows Vista either.
via Renderosity reviews MachStudio Pro on the FirePro V8750 – the future of real time rendering | FireUser Blog.
The Strata Workspace
The roots of the developers behind Strata Design go back all the way to the late eighties. When Apple Macintoshes with tiny computer displays, ram measured in single digit megabytes and hard disks packed in whopping double digits ruled the computer graphic design landscape. Desktop publishing had only just started. Two Bringham Young University Students, Ken and Gary Bringhurst, wanted to create a 3D illustration package for the Mac that would offer sophisticated imagery that was, up until that point in time, unseen in consumer grade software, especially on an Apple Mac.
Over the years obviously things have changed and shifted the 3D landscape drastically and where once high-end 3D was only the domain of very expensive workstations like SGI, now there is a wealth of great 3D software packages available for every level of user.
During all this time Strata has seen many developers come and silently go away, or being folded into larger companies. But Strata has remained alert, active and very much in touch with what is still very much the growing market of visualization and 3D illustration.
Now with Design 3D CX 6 they have focused their direction even more to the ever growing need of designers who are fluent with 2D packages but are searching for way to show and communicate their work and their clients’ work in the third dimension. And it looks like Strata Design 3D CX 6 is just the package that will cater to this group of artists.
MaxUnderground has a review of Allan McKay’s new tutorial DVD, Creature FX Volume 1, aimed at Particle Flow, FumeFX, and 3dsMax.
The end result is professional and good looking for a tutorial. If you are interested in learning how to create procedural texture animations for creatures and how to use Particle Flow with animated characters together with FumeFX, you most likely will find this tutorial informative.
The amount of content offered in the tutorial compared to the price is good and worth the purchase. As this is ”Volume 1”, most likely more ”Creature FX” tutorials will follow.
via Creature FX Volume 1 DVD review – Max Underground.
Robert Kosara, known to many as @EagerEyes, has written up his views on Information Visualization and access to data in 2009, and where he thinks 2010 is going.
In addition to the practical visualization uses, 2010 might be the year of visualization theory. While our field is certainly an applied one, we still need a much deeper understanding of how it works and how to build better tools. There is some existing work, but much of that is old (Bertin’s work was published in the 1960s, Mackinlay’s almost 25 years ago, Shneiderman’s 13 years ago, Chi’s taxonomy almost ten years ago). The field is progressing and we are developing new tools that do not always fit the old molds. We are also gaining a better understanding of how things work, and we are seeing interesting new concepts from other fields. So an update of our theoretical foundations is really overdue now, and this year will hopefully be when it happens.
It’s a great read, I won’t spoil it further.
via The State of Information Visualization | EagerEyes.org.
FXGuide got a great look at Autodesk’s new Smoke on the Mac and is publishing a 3-part expose on the whole affair, the first part already available. It’s got great detail including hardware requirements (both stated and actual), and several advanced configuration details. He gets into details like Autodesk states the NVidia QuadrofX card as a requirement, while the reality is a bit different:
That being said, the software does actually run on other graphics cards including — yes, it’s true — current MacBook Pro 17″ systems. I’ve installed Smoke on Mac on systems with GeForce cards as well as the MacBook Pro 17″ and it does run — certainly well enough if you want to install the free trial on a Mac system. To be clear, this isn’t listed in the requirements or recommendations, so If you’re gonna put together a system without these, buyer beware. Especially if you’re investing $15,000. But I’m sure over time we’ll hear from the web universe what works and what doesn’t.
One critical point is that the display needs to support at least at 1920×1200 so that the entire UI can be displayed. The other point is that if you are buying a system that you need to have running at the highest level — go with the recommended hardware. Autodesk tests the software on systems that meet the suggestions, so if you’re running on a different configuration there is no guarantee it will run.
Also he gets into using the Kona3 card and pricing. Short story: it ain’t cheap.
If you wanted to build a system from scratch, here are some ballpark numbers which would provide the foundation of a solid Smoke on Mac system:
Read the full story on his site, and hit Autodesk to download the 30-day trial now!
via fxguide quick takes » Smoke on Mac Part 1: Overview.
Designorati’s Jeremy Schultz has a nice review up of the new Maya Entertainment Creation Suite 2010, which includes Maya 2010, Mudbox 2010, MotionBuilder 2010, and more.
Maya 2010 is also the first Maya release that can serve as a start-to-finish computer graphics workflow. Maya Unlimited tools are included as described above, and so are Maya Composite (for compositing), Autodesk MatchMover (camera tracking) and Autodesk Backburner (a queue manager for multiple computers). Note that Maya Composite is available in a companion application based on Toxik technology, which will be familiar to experienced Maya users.
I have to agree with him in his comparison to Adobe: As Adobe keeps creating more and more “suites” to segment their products to individual markets, Autodesk is going the opposite direction by consolidating everything into a single product line. I too, think it’s a great move.
via REVIEW: Maya Entertainment Creation Suite 2010 Is A Wonderful Package — Designorati.
The Visual Miscellaneum from David McCandless has been out for a few weeks now, and while it was a previously Recommended Resource, I wonder if perhaps I was mistaken. John Graham-Cumming, a well known computer programmer responsible for many developments in email, spam prevention, and software build strategies, has a somewhat damning review of the book on his website, and of the “Reduce your Odds of Dying In A Plane Crash” infographic (shown above). Just a taste:
1. The term “density” is not defined and in fact he isn't showing a density at all, just the raw total numbers by country.
2. The underlying data is incorrect. The diagram specifically says that it uses “fatal accidents” drawn from this database. Unfortunately, the person doing the visualization has used the total number of “incidents” (fatal and non-fatal accidents). For example, he gives a value of 75 for the number of fatal accidents in Ecuador, whereas the database gives 38. The same applies for all the other countries.
3. He uses circles with dots in the middle to represent the size. So is the value being plotted proportional to the radius of these circles or the area? Not clear. For example, try to compare Russia and Canada; they look about the same. Now look at Russia and India, India looks smaller to me. So what’s the truth?
Very rookie errors, to be sure, although the Circle one has been discussed widely before. What do you think?
via John Graham-Cumming: How to fail at data visualization.