CG 101: A Computer Graphics Industry Reference

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9780735700468: CG 101: A Computer Graphics Industry Reference
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CG101 is the first comprehensive resource guide written in plain language for all levels of computer graphics users. It is also the first and only detailed behind-the-scenes history about the people and companies that have formed today's industry. Hundreds of contributors and in-depth interviews give a never-before-seen look into the earliest years of CG right up to present day. In addition to the historical perspective, CG 101 includes detailed tips and tricks, demo reel guidelines and CG job descriptions to help those looking to get into the business. The hundreds of software tool descriptions all have extensive contact information, including Web addresses and phone numbers for easy reference.

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Review:

The pocket-size CG 101 is the ultimate handy reference. It alphabetically lists hundreds of commonly used computer graphics terms, processes, acronyms, applications, theories, and companies, with lengthy definitions and useful, clear explanations.

Divided into specific areas of computer graphics, like color theory, animation, compositing, and so on, CG 101 begins each section with a brief introduction. For example, prior to the list of terms in "Color Theory," the book provides a discussion on why computer graphics uses the RGB (red, green, blue) system instead of the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) system that is used in printing. The section on painting and graphic design lists software tools used in 2D computer graphics, particularly the early ground-breaking ones such as 1975's SuperPaint or 1985's Harry (a predecessor to Quantel's Paintbox, which paved the way for today's state-of-the-art methods).

In the margins are quotes from industry leaders, trivia, "factoids" (for example, the 24-bit paint system Paint was used to create landscape and cloud details in 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), and other entertaining sidebars (for example, how Pixar got its name).

CG 101 includes telephone numbers and URLs for most of the companies mentioned in the book, plus tips on good software deals. Small illustrations, many in color, visually clarify technical or scientific information and illustrate terms.

An excellent example of how much varied and useful information is contained in each section can be found in the chapter on rendering, which focuses on the history of the computer graphics solutions, not the mathematics behind the process. Along with terms like bump mapping (surface normal perturbation that does not affect the underlying geometry) and mach-banding (an optical illusion occurring when two edges of different color values are adjacent to one another), the author provides "a list of what you do not see in reality," and thus what to avoid in realistic-looking computer graphics. For example, "There are no straight lines in nature," and "The real world is dirty." He explains what he means in each case.

Here, as throughout CG 101, the text refers to many well-known projects in which computer graphics have played a big role, for example, films such as Star Wars and Toy Story. These references serve two purposes: they give perspective to the complexities of modern filmmaking as well as a detailed view of what a job in computer graphics might entail.

The author has impressive credentials in the field--including extensive work at George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic--and offers ample sound advice to those entering the field: "The most important thing I can say from experience is to be mindful of your data," and, in reference to animation, "It takes years of experience, loads of raw talent, and knowledge of character animation."

Adding to this are the final chapters on the history of computer graphics and historically significant companies, including appendices with job descriptions (for example, character animator or modeler). You'll also find plenty of frequently asked questions. This is the perfect book for anyone contemplating a career in computer graphics, or maybe even just daydreaming about one. --Angelynn Grant

Topics covered: Terms in computer graphics--including color and light, painting and graphic design related to computer graphics (image processing and photo editing); modeling; animation (traditional and computer); rendering; compositing; input (devices like drawing tablets or the DataGlove) and output (from the old pen plotters to digital projections); historically significant companies in computer graphics; the programming and mathematics behind computer graphics; a history of computer graphics from the 1940s to the present; frequently asked questions; a list of computer graphics job descriptions; discussions of previsualization ("the process of using 3D animation tools to plan complicated visual effects sequences prior to the production of any elements of the shot"); and the era of analog computer animation.

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