La Cuenta Por Favor (The Bill Please)

I have come up against the first limitations to my Study Proposal project ambitions: Cost, CCA workshop resources and Time.

You may recall that I already have, as my starting point, a framed picture of the life model I am working with, so no extra cost there. My next two projects showing progressive moves into digital (the one’s Jonathan thinks I can accomplish for my MA) however involve some not inconsiderable expense.

The two projects I am referring to are: The floor standing life sized drawing of my model in Art Nouveau style where the model’s narrative is heard by the viewer by touching parts of the painting; and the large sculpture of her in angled slices through the 3D model made of MDF which will be painted with light possibly using a video of the model (a dancer) going about her everyday life. My aim is to use digital means to bring life, dynamism and 3D to what is otherwise a static drawing and to involve the viewer in the work.

For the first project I have just acquired a starter kit from BareConductive including some conductive paint and a pre programmed Arduino that together provide the means to give my life model her voice in the work. I will no doubt need additional paint and media input devices as I start to build the artwork. Fortunately I can use my existing digital art projector to mark out the outlines of my painting while maintaining perspective on the large canvas. Also my existing hand held voice recorder together with my hi-fi audio equipment to record and play the sound. However, I have yet to pay for the model and a private studio for the sitting (as life drawing at Camberwell is a group activity and the model would not be up for being scanned in these circumstances), and get a life sized canvas as the large ones I already have (the largest available from Cass Art) are too small. I am still up for this though and the life drawing sessions are already booked starting at the end of October.

For the second project I have already downloaded free student versions of the software needed (Itseez3D for scanning, Cinema4D/Bodypaint to hold the 3D model from the scanning process, and Autodesk 123D MAKE for producing the input to the laser cutter). I already have a hand held 3D scanner (Occipital Structure Sensor which I ordered from USA, and an iPad Mini with retina display) and I have purchased the Painting with Light software (for Projection Mapping) and taken an introductory on-line course in its use (comparatively with the other costs a very reasonable £65 for both). I am relying on Jonathan organising a full day Projection Mapping with Alex May during our Low Residency in order to get to the proficiency level needed to accomplish this aspect of the artwork. I also looked into the Raspberry Pi microprocessor option recommended by Alex May for displaying the video in a continuous loop but it is more complicated to make work than I anticipated. So I have found an alternative. This is the Micca Speck G2 1080p Full-HD Ultra Portable Digital Media Player for USB drives only available from USA from and costing 40 USD including import tax. So I have asked my sister to get me one for my birthday next week. A small but necessary saving.

Then I paid a visit to the Wilson Road 3D Resource Centre (the part for post grads only). I met Neil Moonstone who is the manager of this facility and Gillian Duffey who looks after the laser cutter.

Laser Cutter 1     Laser cutter 2

I had already sent both of them a brief for my project but neither seemed to have received it. So I sent it again to Gillian. However as she does not yet have a mobile phone or a computer (presumably supplied by the University) its a bit difficult to communicate with her at present  except in person at Wilson Road during the three days she works Mon-Wed. The facility is in the final process of being transferred from Peckham Road and at the time of my visit during the first week of October they were not yet open for business nor taking bookings. Our first formal introduction to the laser cutting workshop is not until 27 October but even then its in the diary as ‘EFT1 – lasercutting?’. Note the ‘?’.

I asked what format the file for the laser cutter needed to be in. Neil said it worked well with another piece of software for 2D drawing that I am not using (Adobe Illustrator), and Gillian said that she thought it could be FBX but was not sure. Gillian also said that it would take an hour to cut one small sheet of MDF 6mm max thick (£3.25 a sheet from the CCA Art Shop in Peckham Road – I need at least 50!!!). Also that MA students were allowed to book 1 hour a week which must be during the 3 days that she is around and when its not used for workshops. That means it would take me at least 50 weeks to produce my final work. i.e the entire time of my MA assuming I went every week, and not allowing for prototypes or mistakes!! I suggested that this really only allowed me to use her facility for making small prototypes of my sculpture. Gillian said that she knew that another student used an outsourced facility that did not cost full commercial rates and that she would try and get the name of it for me. Its in Hackney so only a two hour journey each way for me and even more cost. Heh Ho.

I took pictures of the Laser Cutter and looked up the manual on the manufacturer’s website. Apparently it says it can cut up to 9.5mm thick (not 6mm) and does take an FBX format input. I then checked what FBX C4D Release 17 (the latest and only version available to download for free as a student) uses. Its FBX 7.4 2014 (even though there is a version up to FBX 2016). I know that 123D MAKE can take the FBX version from the scanner, and so can C4D, so I later asked Gillian (in another email) which version of FBX her laser cutter can accept. I have also contacted the manufacturer. I am waiting for an answer from both. Nothing is easy.

Finally, to my other two projects which must from now on sit on the back burner so I will only review the assets I need to undertake the work.

I already have a Leap Motion device and paid for a Holus Holographic Display (which I ordered from Canada and is first available and due for delivery to me in March next year). However I have found a new technology Holoflex that may work even better (but probably cannot use as I have already acquired something else).


I also have recently acquired an Intuos Graphics tablet and a MacBook Pro with a super fast graphics processor. What I didn’t have were the ready made still and animated 3D models which I would then paint. The Leaping over chairs model I referred to in my last blog I found cost 699 US dollars before conversion from Maya to C4D and that also requires a lot of rework afterwards (caused by FBX version differences) which I would have to outsource. So a step too far. I have therefore spent a lot of time looking for alternatives.

I managed to find iClone software from Reallusion Inc which allows cloned animated 3D models to be relatively easily modified to suit my purpose. Sadly this only runs in Windows and therefore I need a PC to run the application or run it in emulation on a Mac using Boot Camp software (with use and performance implications). Fortunately my mother in law no longer needs her PC VIAO laptop (although it will probably need upgrading to adequately cope with the demands of processing graphics). Additionally  I discovered that a student version costs 599 USD while a free download only lasts 30 days! A month’s use may have to be enough, but I have written to the USA supplier about the possibility of a longer loan and to clarify the looming FBX version issue for import to C4D.

For my records here is the support response from Reallusion

Finally I found and bought 3D animations from SKAMotion that I can manipulate in either DAZ3D Studio (free) or Poser Pro (which I had previously bought for about £100). These 3D models cost another £140 but its done now, and I know that these can be imported to C4D without any FBX issues.

SkaMotion Animation

So I think I now have almost all the assets I need to complete all my projects. At considerable cost which when you include such software as iMindMap for project planning is up there with the first year fees for our MA!

I have now almost completed my Research for Art. Until I have submitted my Study Proposal on 3 November I am now going to concentrate on so far almost neglected Research into Art. I will make a start on Research through Art (making) after that for the two weeks left of Unit 1 of my MA.

So now its Research, Research, Research. Just as well that the six UAL libraries cost nothing to use. Thank God. I’m broke.

3 thoughts on “La Cuenta Por Favor (The Bill Please)

  1. Pingback: Unit 1 Assessment | terencemquinn91

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