Written by Luisito Caleon
In addition to the visually pleasing Art Gallery, Hall D exhibits "The Studio." The Studio consists of a variety of multi-computer stations called "pods" and several breakthrough graphic design implements. A replica of traditional New Orleans light posts demarcates each "pod." In addition, each light post features the specific theme of the "pod." Conference attendees were given access to computers geared towards: standard image manipulation, 2D large format printing, fine art creation, and 3D modeling and manufacturing.
The selection of computers in "The Studio" is limited to Apple Macs (for the 2D large format printing) and Silicon Graphics PCs for the 3D modeling. The 3D scanning exhibit has proved popular to conference attendees (I, myself, stood in line for an hour to find that the scanning slots for the next day were no longer vacant). The 3D scanner encircles the subject's head to produce a wire frame file of the subject. Once rendered, the file may be manipulated. Attendees are then able to digitally perform cosmetic surgery on their heads. A product called Sensable is also available for evaluation. Sensable resembles a stylus with an attached arm. Users hold the stylus-like item and the coordinating software allows them to "mold" a model on the computer that reacts like ordinary clay.
Using the variety of 3D manipulation applications (i.e. 3D Studio Max, Rhinoceros, and Maya) users may create and render a model and submit them for 3D printing. The conference boasts three 3D printers: the Z402, the StrataSys, and the ThermoJet. Each printer uses a different method to create a 3 dimensional solid from CAD files and other 3D files. The solid is usually composed of a type of wax, resin, or polymer. The printing time can take from a few minutes to several hours. "The Studio" also contains a number of enormous printers used to print the large format 2D prints.
While most, if not all, users are computer-oriented, "The Studio" has a group of assistants walking around clad in red and tye-dyed vests (I have found them to be very, VERY helpful…especially for the high-end 3D software). As the week, and popularity of "The Studio" progresses, the lines in front (used to schedule appointments for computer use or 3D scanning) will continue to get disgustingly long. Fortunately, the experience is well worth the wait.