Transmedia, 3D Modelling & Still Photography Techniques – Part 1

The application of visual storytelling techniques to transmedia narratives intrigues me. I see a lot of similarities — although there are a enough differences that some adaptation is required.

It’s been a lot of years since my last film camera bit the dust. It was a faithful old Canon that I depended on while working as a freelancer writer and part-time landscape photographer. A couple of years ago I finally bought a Canon EOS digital single lens reflex (DSLR) and was amazed to find that the old lenses (bought in the early 1980s) from that Canon worked flawlessly on the new camera body. Today I’m surprised to find that the 3D rendering software I’ve been experimenting with has features that go back to the film cameras of yesteryear.

Luxrender is an open source application for turning 3D models into still or animated 2D images. The software has a number of interesting features that are very familiar to those with photography experience.

One feature that I find particularly interesting is the ability to select different types of “film” to use when rendering the images. When using film, photographers would often select a specific type because of the way they reacted to light. Some films had warmer tones of reds, oranges, and yellows while others tended to have cooler color tones that were more greens and blues.

While poking around in Luxrender I ran across the controls that let me select from a wide range of “film” types. The image below compares the results of renders that were absolutely identical except for the “film” selected. The results are quite striking.

It’s interesting how old approaches — whether it’s camera equipment or photographic techniques — can be used with new digital technologies. I think the same can be said for the principles of writing and visual design. As we move into the world of transmedia storytelling we need to remember that there is a rich history across a number of fields that can be drawn from as we get into the issues of transmedia narrative design.

Three renders of a face show a dramatic difference when different "film types" are used.

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