Sunday, March 6, 2011

Science Visualization on Brontomerus

Ferdinand Gascó's sensational Brontomerus is the subject of a new blog post written by the folks at the Science in the Media blog of Science Visualization, LLC.
Another problem facing artists on a deadline is that they can be rushed. Take a close look at this dinosaur art. It struck me as a little odd at first glance. The lighting on the dinosaur was nice, but there was something wrong. On closer look I realized that Gascó had created, textured, and lit a 3D model of the dinosaurs and then plopped a rendering of them onto a photo. That’s why it seemed a little strange. It is very difficult to make a combination of a 3D model rendering and a background work, even though Hollywood does it all the time. But they have zillion dollar budgets.
Science Visualization's Christopher Sloan, the probable author of the post, is the chairperson of the Lanzendorf Prize, the annual award given to exceptional paleoart at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting. So his constructive criticism holds a lot of weight. He also brings up the issue of financial considerations for paleoartists, and bemoans the poor job the media does in properly crediting the art that accompanies their news stories. "The worst example," he writes, "is AP, which adds themselves to the credit! For what?!" It's a bizarre lapse, as after all, news outlets probably wouldn't care to run these stories if they hadn't seen the artwork in the first place.


  1. I'm sure Gascó didn't just 'plop' the dinosaur into the photo. It's hard work getting this right, even though technology is making it easier to integrate 3D and photographs, it still comes down to the mk#1 eyeball to make sure it all hangs together. Time is obviously a factor as well, the old adage: FAST/CHEAP/QUALITY - pick two.
    Palaeontologists are grateful and respectful clients who will stick up for you, but they're struggling themselves and the article is accurate in the idea that *if* you get a financial return it's in traditional media using your images after the fact. The 'net is only good for raising your profile and/or watching people exploit your hard work. ;-)
    Artists who contribute to this field do it largely out of a passion for science.

  2. I agree about the "plop" comment - it's a bit too cheeky, probably. And it didn't look off to my eye.

    There's a thread on the Dinosaur Mailing List right now, begun by Greg Paul, about the issue of pay. His point is that doing it for the love of it is only hurting the field as a whole.

    I don't have a stonrg opinion on this, as I'm not in the field myself. But I do understand it as an analog to what's going on in graphic design. Big difference there is that designers do have a "union" whereas paleoartists do not. I've offered to let any of the "big time" paleoartists come here to discuss it in interview or guest blog format, but we'll see what happens. I'm not sure that a lot of them are enamored of the blogosphere. I may be wrong, but at the very least I don't think it's on a lot of folks' radars. Understandable, since it's so new.

  3. I know some people do it for the love of it and don't charge, but the greater problem in my view is the lack of appreciation for an image by some editors. There is an expectation that everything is free these days, and it extends into professional publications as well as the internet.

    There have been a number of times I have to ask myself; do I take less pay than I deserve for the job and slowly inch the industry down, or do I just not work (and make no money for food)?

  4. Really we're talking about Illustration and the Arts, including film making and animation.
    All are in crisis because the rights of the copier are equal or greater than the originator.
    Someone piped up on Dave Hone's blog when he tried to exercise his rights when others were using his content without permission or credit. The comment describe Dave as applying the law of the privileged over the oppressed.
    I can only say that people seem to think originating a work takes the same effort as copying it, supplying work to others unwillingly seems to be a form of oppression to me.


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