Invasion . Grab . Behind-The-Scenes . Face Distort . NEXT

This is the creature in wireframe view in Alias Power Animator. The character was attached to the (blue) skeleton through a combination of clusters for true surface deformation (on the arms and neck) and simply grouping segments of the lower body and tail directly to joints in the skeleton. This saved a lot of time compared to setting up the whole body to deform, especially with the added concerns of internal organs and bones needing to remain inside the correct parts of the body. The textures helped blend together the body segments in the middle, where you can see the break in the wireframe, but not in the renderings.

The surfaces of the aliens were mapped with ramps (procedural gradients) on the transparency near the edges, to help blend the overlapped portions of the surfaces together seamlessly. The window below shows some of the Alias shaders that make up this guy. You can see the little ramps in the transparency on the edges of many of the components.

The other thing happening on most of the shader's transparency is an 'sCloud.' The "noise" amplitude is set to 0, so only the "edge rolloff parameters" are used. This is what softens the edges of some objects, and gives a dark, opaque edge to the head, which is transparent in areas that are viewed straight-on, so you can see his brains.



As a source of texture material, a number of scans were made to acquire textures for alien surfaces. Since real aliens were not given to me to press directly into the scanner, I found different surfaces that looked similar to alien body parts, and scanned these in. As a small perception experiment, a "Mystery Map Contest" was held on 3dRender.com. The challenge was simple: visitors were to guess the origin or identity of the 4 scanned images shown below.

The most ambiguous of the maps was #2. Nobody correctly guessed its identity, and entries were split between a piece of cabbage, a Nebula in space, oil and water mixtures, or some kind of meat. The fact that guesses put it at such different scales, and that it could not be identified as clearly animal, vegetable, or mineral, show that it was a very versatile map. Its identity will remain a mystery, so that I can use the map again without it having a recognizable source. Maps 1 and 4 were more quickly identified by most people, since they were commonly seen human body parts. Number 3's color gave it away as vegetable matter, although nobody seemed to recognize the red areas as showing that the cabbage had been turned into spicy kim chee.

Here's some of the answers people gave for Map #1: Eyeball, Marble, a brain at orgasm, A featus, Paper, Pieces of Red Thread on Water, inverted piece of meat, rice paper, close up of the white of an eye, jaba the hut, eyeball, snail spleen, Marble, inside a rabbit skin, veins, blood vessles / tissue, Zootus, retina of the eye, retina scan, eye ball, a piece of meat, Marble, the cappalaries of a pice of skin, Egg membrane, Blood vessels, embryo, the underside of a tongue, oeuil membrane, Fish skin, marble, eye capillaries, stone, marble, stomach, Meat, placenta, Close-up of Jeremys brain, white meat skin(pork, chicken,human?), football ball surface 1:1000000, squid, madonna.

Here's some of the answers people gave for Map #2: marble, Oil on Water ... soap?, Nebula, pork rind, a piece of meat fat, fly's wing, Alabaster (mother of pearl), heart muscle, some art, ovarian sist, My Brain, a nebula, oil, oyster shell, cabbage, new stars being born, texture of beef, the sky, Inside view of Human Skin, stiffed skin of a japanese lemur, fish, space photo of nebula, Aliens movie monster, jellyfish, intestine, octopuss, putrifying fungus, Sliced Vegetable, some sort of jellyfish :-?, todays lunch, space nebulea, plastic beach ball, NEBULA, a man carpet, snail's head, an old cabbage pour with water, back of eye, a marble, part of a nebula, jupiter or a nebula texture, part of the tatoo over your arm, Tales from Topographic Cabbage, lining of stomach, deep sea muscle, fish-skin, oyster flesh, space, kelp, fishskin, Fibrous Colored Paper Texture, Flower Petal, chitlins, Cosmic Dust, fish, The crab nebula.

Here's some of the answers people gave for Map #3: lettuce leaf, Steve Vai's guitar, Passion Fruit, a plant cell, mucous, muscle tissue under microscope, chicken embryo on stained slide, leaf, frog, Random paint stains, Spinach Leaf, Sliced frog, Doppler Weather Map, smeared paint, vegetake, green nacho dip, cut brussellSprout w.bug-blood, green coaly flower, stomata of plant, beneath cuticle, a map, algae, guacamoli, turtle, Marbleing, Amethyst crystal, salade nicoise, STAINED NERVES, infrared picture, yarn, Blood Splattered Resort Souvenir Mug frogs' back, jackson pollock.

Here's some of the answers people gave for Map #4:a patch of sweaty skin, Octopus, Chicken Skin, close-up of a tongue, c.u. of bottom eylid skin (bags under eyes), Scan of a bad rash!, interior nose shot, Tongue, a chicken's skin without the feathers, maybe rosted?, pigbelly, Fruit rind (couldn't decide which), It's your Tongue Jeremy!, wet skin, gene simmons tongue, mars surface, turkey skin, 3253, Beads of sweat on Jeremys forehead, because I have revealed these secrets!?, Close up view of skin, bacon, Emmanuelle IV, wax, Sweaty abdominals of Soloflex model/microwaved hotdog.

The winner of the contest was Chau Cao, a student at the University of Houston. He was sent his one of his choice of prints, from production images on this web site.