Plasticboy Pictures: Conversation with Guy van der Walt

Friday, November 27, 2009
posted by Geetesh at 2:02 PM IST

Guy van der WaltGuy van der Walt is a 3D animator with over 8 years of experience, and the owner of Plasticboy Pictures, a company that offers a collection of medically accurate 3D models that can be downloaded from their website, and used in the creation of medical imagery.

In this conversation, Guy talks about imagery using the human anatomy, and how 3D models can help.

Geetesh: Medical art often involves human anatomy to be depicted – yet it is difficult to source imagery of this sort. How do your 3D anatomy models help people in this regard?

Guy: The creation of medical diagrams is a fairly vast field in that there is such a wide variety of applications and also countless scenarios to be depicted. For this reason one often finds it difficult to source the exact image that one desires to portray a specific message. Pre-existing image libraries are limited, while the artistic style variations are frequently outdated for the contemporary media of today. This is where the use of 3D models come to the rescue. One is able save massive amounts of time by downloading a trusted "virtual anatomy puppet" that can be manipulated in order to create an infinite number of medical diagrams. Our human anatomy 3D models thus serve as a foundation for the designing of unique medical diagrams. Artists can choose to render these as they see fit. For example, they might end up looking like an x-ray, a generic diagram, flat color artwork or even photo realism. Models can also be used to create animated sequences, something that the limits of traditional medical imagery does not cater for.

Plasticboy Store

At we spend around 50% of our production time researching various medical resources in order to ensure we only construct medically accurate human anatomy For this reason our models are used in many areas, such as educational material, TV documentaries, advertising, print artwork etc.

Geetesh: Are there any easy 3D app that users can work with to reposition and render your models if they don’t have a 3D background?

Guy: Our models are built using Autodesk Softimage, the same software that's implemented by many large Hollywood studios to create special effects for movies. This allows users to be extremely flexible with our product, offering them the ability to edit just about any aspect of the 3D models in our collection in order to suit their unique requirements. Unfortunately for this freedom does come at a cost and one therefore does require at least a basic knowledge of one of the more high-end 3D packages, such as 3ds Max, Softimage, Maya, Lightwave or similar.

Having said that, there are some very basic software programs available that do allow one to open 3D models, view them, by rotating, zooming in and ultimately exporting still images as JPEGs. One such program is called Deep Exploration by Right Hemisphere. While this software is very basic and will not allow for any editing of the 3D models in any way, it is user-friendly for beginners. This application is also a great tool for converting file formats.

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September 16 2009