What is it?
PlayViz is a program used in conjunction with Unreal Tournament 2004 to create simple pre-visualization sequences. PlayViz uses both a Java program and the Unreal Tournament 2004 plug-in to create a fast and accessible editing "suite" that handles camera movement in a 3-d virtual environment. After receiving data from Unreal, PlayViz gives the user the option to export the camera sequences into Maya for further editing and rendering purposes.
PlayViz was designed with both present and future goals in mind. Currently the project has roughly reached most of its early goals, including creating a prototype editing suite that records data from a 3rd party source (in this instance the Unreal Tournament 2004 engine) and allowing the user to manipulate this data to create motion, cuts, and other general film techniques. In addition, these cameras created by a user can be exported to Maya for rendering purposes.
The next stage of PlayViz will be to expand both the functionality of the editing suite and the scope of applications compatiable with the base program. This will include extending the PlayViz functionality to other game engines and even 3-d modeling applications such as Blender.
The PlayViz Program consists of two major parts: The Unreal 2K4 plug-in and a Java Applet. By using these in conjuction, a user is able to record simple, but effective camera movements using a more familiar set of rules. The Unreal plug-in allows the game to send the Java Applet information based on user movements. As this information is sent (via UDP packets), frames are created on the Applet to display to the user the information that Java is receiving. The Java Applet effectively records the player-controlled camera. Once a user is done recording actions, they are able to choose from a wide array of editing functions.
Editing the frames gives the user the ability to edit the frames order and visibility, while using a playback feature to get a visual reinforcement of how their camera is changing based on the edits. In addition, PlayViz gives the user the ability to add mulitple cameras to one file, allowing for more dynamic cuts while still keeping the program simple.
The last major featur of PlayViz allows the user to export their camera into Maya. From the Java Applet, PlayViz takes the users playback information and creates the appropriate camera in a Maya ASCII file structure. This feature not only allows the user to see what types of cameras they have created, but it give less Maya-savy users the ability to bypass the difficult task of animating cameras within Maya, allowing to only need Maya for rendering out the desired scene.
For a more detailed explanation of the editing suite's functionality, view this overview.
PlayViz Second Release: PlayViz 1.2.
Michael Lee, MS Candidate - mklee AT gatech.edu
Courtland Goodson, Computational Media Undergraduate - courtland.goodson AT gatech.edu
Michael Nitsche, PhD - michael.nitsche AT lcc.gatech.edu
GT Machinima Website - the website for the Georgia Tech Machinima group run by Dr. Michael Nitsche
Free Pixel - the GT Machinima group blog
Digital World and Image Group - where this project was conducted