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You are here: Homepage /  inHouse /  Behind the Screenz / Thiago Costa: Lagoa Technologies
Thiago Costa: Lagoa Technologies
 
 
Posted: Dec 07, 2010
Published by: the area
Homepage: Visit the page
Software: Autodesk Softimage
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The Area:
THIAGO! Welcome to the AREA. This year so far, must have been undoubtedly a hell of a year for you. As the creator of Lagoa, the powerful multiphysics engine that is now integrated into Softimage 2011.5, how has the response been these past few months since the major announcement was made?
Thiago:
Thank you for receiving me at the AREA! Yes this year was special for me. The work was largely done before the announcement was made and with the help of the great Softimage staff the integration was very successful. Since then I’ve been busy writing a lot of code, giving support to new customers and following up with users.
Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 1280x720

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 1280x720

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

The Area:
There are over 1.5 million views and counting, on your jaw-dropping Lagoa Multiphysics 1.0 Teaser! But… before we get into Lagoa, let's talk a bit about your background. Growing up in Brazil, how did you get started in the CG industry?
Thiago:
My CG story started with 3D modeling and animation for advertising.... Then I got into TV, design, opening titles for tele-novelas, character animation, motiongraphics... I had the luck to work in a lot of different areas and with a variety of people. The fact that I had to apply my work in a various ways got me very confident that I could change and work on pretty much anything I had fun. Was always for the fun of it and usually a lot of Brazilians that work on the CG industry carry the same diverse background. The exception with me is that I went a lot to the tech side, which doesn’t happen often in Brazil.
Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 1280x720

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

The Area:
What was your first 3D app…share any fond memories <:-)?
Thiago:
3ds Max was the first real production tool I used. I still open it and hit Shift+q to render, and it still works :)
But before that (to be fair) I had touched Blender when I only had a Linux system, it was the only thing there was for 3D... I have lots of memories of using Gimp(2D) and Blender to do ugly stuff...:) Not because of Blender but because I pretty much sucked at that time in 3D.
Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 2072x905

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

The Area:
How long have you been using Softimage?
Thiago:
I’ve tried it when 3.0 was out, that was like 8 years ago? I remember it was complaining about my monitor resolution... Then when 4.0 was out I really got into it and never let go :)
The Area:
What are some of the studios and titles you've worked on, and what type of involvement did you have?
Thiago:
Film studios I’ve worked at are Conspira Films in Brazil, then CafeFX in Santa Maria-CA and last Ubisoft Digital Arts at Ubisoft. We used to work with Hybride (a Ubisoft division).
I’ve done so many things that I think I could include it all (from modeling, texturing, technical animation, character animation, technical direction, effects, rendering, pipeline, etc...).
For G.I. Joe I worked a lot of ICE stuff for the guys doing effects and facial rigs. Also did some shots from the beginning to the end, like the old fashion...
I did lots of SPH blood for a French film “La Horde”, after that I worked on the Assassin’s Creed Lineage shorts doing Technical Direction and Pipeline Tools. In the last “Predators” film I did a couple custom simulation tools, then effect scenes with smoke simulation, TD and wrote a Data Referencing Pipeline to manage assets and animation data.

On the games side I’ve briefly worked on an unannounced game project at Ubisoft, I hope you will hear about it soon! :)

The Area:
Where did the idea to make Lagoa come from and what did you want to achieve with it at the time?
Thiago:
I was trying to reproduce physics motion without resorting to black-boxed off the shelf tools. At the beginning I just wanted to help with liquids. But then there’s all the other things I want to simulate so it became more like an environment that lets you run multiple physics models and see them interact.
Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 1280x720

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 1280x720

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

The Area:
What was the reason behind choosing ICE to develop Lagoa upon (vs. standalone)?
Thiago:
ICE is very fast to develop, you can reach really quick results in zero time... As a research platform there’s nothing better today.
Even if I need to write code outside of ICE and port it back (to make it more usable), I can still gain a lot of time by using the whole Softimage framework (geometry API, manipulation tools, UI, etc...)
The Area:
Did you have prior programming knowledge?
Thiago:
Yes C++, Python and Jscript. Although my C++ is now better than my Python... and my Jscript is kind of useless.
Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 1200x333

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

The Area:
Writing Lagoa from scratch, how did you know where to begin?
Thiago:
At the start I didn’t really... it was purely experimental so I went into many directions until I found my way. It’s always possible to do test projects and make it fit into the framework you had designed. Or rather get some popular physics formulation and implement experimental research and vice-versa... There’s not really a rule for “researching”, as long as you respect the laws of physics and don’t “cheat” too much you are pretty free to invent anything. One can easily identify when something looks “right” or not, and numbers are there for you to check. That’s all you need.
When you get more experience you start having more of a “process” to design and implement things, but that takes time...
At the beginning you can run into semantic problems quite easily, so the key is to make sure each component that’s considered “finished” is doing exactly what you think it is doing. For that, many times I end up checking the numbers by hand, on a piece of paper.
The Area:
As some users can attest, getting into the programming end of any 3D software can be difficult or frustrating. Scripting is a different world for such users, but you dove headfirst into it :-) What was it like to work with the hardcore mathematics that generates those incredible and physically accurate calculations?
Thiago:
It was fine, I’ve always had a good technical edge so it was just the planets that aligned and I could fully dive into it.
That said, I’ve always loved the arts so it was hard to let go... But just recently I’ve learned how to put both together, and it’s really a gift to be able to admire the beauty of mathematics, it is a very creative world.
I think some people get scared with math but it’s only a language with a different alphabet and it’s not only about numbers, but about expressing ideas. For that we use equations that are actually simplifying the reading of a complex problem. It helps us to express abstract concepts. Frequently it’s the idea contained in the equation that matters, rather than the numbers that you compute from it. You can compare math to music partitions, the glyphs might scare you but they make sense for one that studies it.
Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 1368x771

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 1664x931

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

Programming on the other hand is just a language such as French, English or Portuguese. They have a syntax you have to obey, otherwise you can’t make sense of what you are trying to express.
On the physics side, the complex computations aren’t produced by complex equations at all. It all ends up with basic arithmetic.

Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 1280x720

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

The Area:
How long was Lagoa in development?
Thiago:
Since mid 2008.
The Area:
Asides from yourself, were there other contributors to Lagoa?
Thiago:
For the development of the tool it was just me until recently; we have now got a couple developers for optimizations and to help with some libraries. Then there’s more people getting involved on the company side.
Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 887x296

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

The Area:
Since the integration of Lagoa into Softimage 2011.5, what does this mean for the future development of the Lagoa Multiphysics engine -- will you be, operating independently in your company "Lagoa Technologies", to extend future features of Lagoa -- or are you working with Autodesk SI development team?
Thiago:
We keep constantly communicating with the Autodesk SI dev team, they are great people to work with.
That said, Lagoa Technologies Inc. is an independent company and does other projects parallel to Multiphysics for ICE. That doesn’t mean we do not develop tools for ICE... Actually it is our favorite platform to develop for :)
Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 1650x985

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 1280x720

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

The Area:
Will there be future ports of Lagoa to other 3D apps?
Thiago:
Won’t comment on that for now :)
The Area:
What’s cooking at Lagoa Techologies now, can you give us any sneak peaks of what’s to come?
Thiago:
We are hiring!
We have just started, there’s a lot in front of us to tackle and it feels exciting!
I can’t say more than that for now... :)
Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 1803x1021

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

The Area:
Thiago, thanks for driving the community into a tizzy with your work! We look forward to what Lagoa Technologies will bring in the future.
Thiago:
Thank you!
Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies 1280x720

Image Description: Image courtesy of Lagoa Technologies

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Newest users comments View All 15 Comments
Posted by Henriqueof on Aug 07, 2011 at 08:10 PM
Parabéms cara! eu ainda sou um modelador novato em Maya, mas espero um dia chegar onde você está!
Hope you understand. :-)
Posted by G-poy on Jan 31, 2011 at 03:40 PM
nice, but i use realflow for mine
Posted by mayarea on Jan 22, 2011 at 11:01 AM
out of the world simulation lagoa cloth liquid in single tool

thanx iam a lagoa devotee and taking softimage to the next level
Posted by farhaad_yousefi on Jan 17, 2011 at 09:25 AM
viva Thiago.!! \m/
Posted by duttyfoot on Jan 12, 2011 at 02:14 PM
awesome work Thiago, thanks for adding more excitment to this field :)