Artists Are Making Awesome “Paintings” In Source Filmmaker

Source Filmmaker is famous for the Saxxy Awards and other machinima, but there’s a vibrant and fascinating scene using the program for “scenebuilding” (2D art) as well.

Given the vast array of other, more popular options out there for digital painting, this might seem an odd and even counter-productive way to make art. After all, SFM was built to make movies, not still images.

But what’s going on here isn’t the same. Scenebuilding isn’t painting. It’s not drawing, either. When artists are making static stuff in SFM, the experience is closer to set-dressing, or building a diorama; it’s more about composition and playing with existing elements and variables then creating something entirely new.

Here’s an example of how it works, courtesy of Croatian artist Eduard Tucaković. He made this Simon Stålenhag-inspired image last year:

Looks cool! But here’s what it looks like in SFM:

You can see how the objects have been arranged to line up perfectly at the point of capture, and how the lighting is scattered throughout.

An actual 3D artist might be looking at this thinking “um yes this is how it all works”, and that’s true! But the big difference here for fans and tinkerers is that Source Filmmaker is available for free, and is in many ways far easier to use than professional 3D software, especially when you consider the tutorials and guides members of the community have made to help folks get started.

There are drawbacks to scenebuilding, though. You’ll notice most images rely on existing 3D models and characters (especially those from Source Engine games like Left 4 Dead and Half-Life 2), which limits the scope of what can be achieved, and the raw results can sometimes be a bit rough, requiring a pass in Photoshop to clean up things like clipping errors.

And SFM itself can be a hassle. Valve hasn’t updated it since 2015 (it’s based on the original Source Engine), and it’s still not a 64-bit application, so users struggle with frequent crashes thanks to its limited memory usage. There is a SFM2, based on Source Engine 2, but so far the only game it supports is DOTA 2.

Some prominent scenebuilders are current or former game studio artists, who dabble in the hobby not as a replacement for existing skills, but just because it’s a fun way to fuck around with composition and make cool images. And while most of the stuff that’s getting used to create scenes has been salvaged from other games, there’s even an art to that process: random junk, from grass to bricks to crates, can be combined and lit to appear as though it’s an all-new object.

All of the images you’ve seen so far are the work of Tucaković, but if you want to check out more SFM work, you can take a look at the portfolios of artists like TeslaMen, XieAngel, PixelEgor and Ivw115 as well.

via Kotaku

January 16, 2019 at 04:03PM

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Electric Ford F-150 is in the works

We’ve known for sometime that there’s a

Ford F-150 hybrid

in the works, something we should see in about a year or so. But it seems the company has bigger electric plans for the truck, as the

Detroit Free Press reports Ford’s

president of global markets, Jim Farley, said a battery electric F-Series is coming in addition to the


. We reached out to a Ford representative who confirmed the truck is in development, adding, “We are constantly looking at new ways to better serve our truck customers, from materials to features to propulsion systems.”

Ford is making large investments in

electric vehicle

development, so although this is the first we’ve heard about an electric F-Series, it’s certainly not surprising. The company is also working on a full-electric


, and just

inked a deal with VW for EV development


There are still many unknowns, but something we know all too well is that the competition could be fierce.

Tesla has announced a truck

, and

details are nebulous

, but the company has a record of fast, long-range


. Upstart Rivian has also previewed

an electric truck with range up to 400 miles, towing capacity up to 11,000 pounds

and a price range between

about $70,000



. And having seen the prototype in person,

we’re quite impressed


That being said, we’re not particularly concerned about Ford’s take on an electric pickup truck, nor whether it will sell. The


is far and away the company’s

best-selling vehicle

, so even a small percentage of total sales would still equal a lot of sales.

Of course, nothing is truly certain, especially when details are scarce. We’ll certainly be watching development of this electric truck, and its competitors, closely.

Related Video:

via Autoblog

January 16, 2019 at 04:53PM

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Bwoop Bwoop: Google Maps Users Spotting Icons and Audible Alerts for Speed Traps

Spotted by at least one user, visual icons and audible warnings for speed traps are being displayed inside of Google Maps, bringing the app just a tiny bit closer to the awesomeness that is Waze.

According to this user, the speed traps icons are viewable when simply looking around an area and also during navigation. As you come closer to a speed trap, you apparently hear an audible alert, which is helpful when you’re driving and not eyeing your phone.

This appears to be a very limited rollout. I’ve looked on my phone inside of Google Maps and haven’t seen anything like this, but check yours and let us know if you spot anything.

Here’s a screenshot of what the icons look like.

// Android Police

via Droid Life: A Droid Community Blog

January 16, 2019 at 02:37PM

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This Robot Dog Teaches Itself New Tricks

Now that’s a headline, right? It’s got a robot dog, plays off a well-known phrase and piques curiosity. Best of all: It’s also accurate! Sort of.
According to a paper today in Science Robotics, an international team of engineers created a way for legged robots — inspired by and physically similar to quadrupedal canines — to use machine learning techniques to learn better ways to move around and adapt to a given environment. As proof, you can watch one such robot “withstanding abuse from t

via Discover Main Feed

January 16, 2019 at 02:54PM

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Where will NASA go in 20 years? It may depend on private space and China

NASA's human spaceflight program has been in low-Earth orbit since 1972. Will we go beyond in the next 20 years?
Enlarge /

NASA’s human spaceflight program has been in low-Earth orbit since 1972. Will we go beyond in the next 20 years?


Anniversaries offer a moment for reflection, so when Ars Technica reached the start of its 20th anniversary recently, I inevitably paused to consider the state of US human spaceflight in 1998.

In 1998, NASA launched the Lunar Prospector mission, which found water on the Moon. It was also the year when 15 countries came together to agree upon a framework for the International Space Station and later launched the first piece of the laboratory into orbit. And also that year, promisingly, NASA’s new X-38 spacecraft made its first successful test flight. All of these events would, in various ways, help determine the course of US spaceflight development that led us to today.

Looking back, one thing soon became clear: past is prologue, and the rhythm of history repeats itself. The human spaceflight achievements of 20 years ago seemed to foreshadow the current state of play in space, so seeing how the seeds planted then have both bloomed and withered likely offers some helpful perspective on what may happen in the future.

Important, disruptive trends in human spaceflight have emerged in the last few years, many that were largely unforeseen in 1998. Today we have things like new space companies and their billionaire backers, as well as the rise of international players, most notably China, who seek to match or potentially eclipse the feats of NASA.

So considering where the United States has come from and where things stand currently, where will we, and the rest of the world, be 20 years from now? Here, then, is a review of spaceflight 20 years ago, today, and 20 years from now.

Listing image by NASA

via Ars Technica

January 16, 2019 at 08:04AM

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Intel’s Graphics-Free Chips Are Also Savings-Free: Same Price, Fewer Features

We recently reported on the fact that a range of new mainstream Intel desktop processors are coming onto the market without the integrated graphics enabled. This processors, indicated by the ‘F’ designation (not to be confused with Intel’s chips with an integrated fabric, also called ‘F’), have had their specifications released for a short while, except for the price. Intel is now happy to fill that part in.

Intel’s pricing scheme is a little different to AMD. Rather than provide MSRP, or Manufacturer Suggested Retail Pricing, or SEP, Suggested Etailer Pricing, Intel provides ‘tray’ pricing. This value is the company’s list price for OEMs buying literal trays of CPUs, in batches of 1000. We usually write this as ‘1ku’, for one thousand units. OEMs, like Dell or HP or Supermicro, will happily buy thousands of CPUs, often with a single year warranty. This is in stark contrast to the end-user buying a retail unit obviously only wants one processor and often wants a longer (in most cases, the retail box has a three-year warranty).

The on-shelf price of the processor in a retail box, with or without a cooler, is not listed by Intel. The company leaves it up to distributors and then retailers to determine the market value of such a product. This is why the Intel Core i9-9900K, the current flagship of Intel’s 9th Gen Core desktop processor line, has a ‘tray’ price of $488, but actually came to market on Amazon at $582.50, before settling at its current price of $529. This is also why there has been a debate about whether our comparison between the AMD Athlon 200GE ($55 SEP) and the Intel Pentium G5400 ($64/1ku) is suitable, given that only certain regions with an oversupply seem to hit the Intel price point.

With all that being said, here is Intel’s pricing for the new ‘F’ CPUs:

Intel 9th Gen Core CPUs
AnandTech Cores Base



DDR4 TDP Price

i9-9900K 8 / 16 3.6 GHz 5.0 GHz UHD 630 1200 2666 95 W $488
i9-9900KF 8 / 16 3.6 GHz 5.0 GHz 2666 95 W $488
i7-9700K 8 / 8 3.6 GHz 4.9 GHz UHD 630 1200 2666 95 W $374
i7-9700KF 8 / 8 3.6 GHz 4.9 GHz 2666 95 W $374
i5-9600K 6 / 6 3.7 GHz 4.6 GHz UHD 630 1150 2666 95 W $262
i5-9600KF 6 / 6 3.7 GHz 4.6 GHz 2666 95 W $262
i5-9400 6 / 6 2.9 GHz 4.1 GHz UHD 630 1050 2666 65 W $182
i5-9400F 6 / 6 2.9 GHz 4.1 GHz 2666 65 W $182
i3-9350KF 4 / 4 4.0 GHz 4.6 GHz 2400 91 W $173
Relevant Intel 8th Gen Core CPUs
i3-8350K 4 / 4 4.0 GHz UHD 630 1150 2400 91 W $168
i3-8100 4 / 4 3.6 GHz UHD 630 1100 2400 65 W $117
i3-8100F 4 / 4 3.6 GHz 2400 65 W $117

The only CPU in this list which doesnt have a non-F is the overclockable Core i3-9350KF, showing a 1ku price of $173, which is a few dollars more than the previous generation Core i3-8350K ($168/1ku), and has a turbo frequency. 

Normally when a part of a processor is fused off, usually cores, we expect to see a decrease in the listed price. In this instance, Intel is putting the same tray price on its GPU-free processors to make them also savings-free. Given how tray price is often not connected to the retail price, it will depend on how many processors actually make it to market or to retail (if any end up in retail packaging) to see if they will actually be sold at a lower price than the parts with integrated graphics.

via AnandTech

January 16, 2019 at 07:06AM

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Cotton Seed Sprouts on the Moon’s Far Side in Historic First by China’s Chang’e 4

Chinese scientists released this image of a cotton plant germinating in its tank on the moon aboard the Chang’e 4 lander. The photograph was taken Jan. 7, 2019.

Credit: Chongqing University

Before China finished packing up its Chang’e 4 lunar lander to be blasted off on a never-before-accomplished journey to the far side of the moon, scientists slipped in a small tank holding plant seeds. And now, the team announced, a cotton seed has sprouted.

That makes it the first truly otherworldly plant in history. Astronauts onboard the International Space Station regularly tend plants to study how growth changes in microgravity (and to diversify astronaut diets in space), and plants and seeds have orbited Earth on and off throughout spaceflight history. But the closest that terrestrial vegetation has come to the moon before now was in 1971, when Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa carried hundreds of tree seeds to orbit the moon with him. Many of these seeds were later planted back on Earth, becoming “Moon Trees.”

In addition to cotton, the Chinese moon capsule also includes seeds to grow potatoes and a common lab plant called Arabidopsis, neither of which have sprouted so far. And even the cotton plant is looking pretty peaky compared to seedlings in a control setup the scientists established on Earth.

An image of the Chinese biology experimental capsule now on the far side of the moon aboard the Chang’e 4 lander.

Credit: Chongqing University

It’s not particularly surprising that the moon seeds are struggling, since they’ve been through a lot — the drama of launch, uncomfortable temperature swings, low gravity and high radiation.

The capsule and its seeds are stored on the Chang’e 4 lander, which is perched inside Von Kármán Crater on the far side of the moon. The lander is accompanied by the Yutu 2 rover, which has left its grounded counterpart to explore the neighborhood. Both robots are currently experiencing their first long, cold night on the moon, when daytime and nighttime each last about two Earth weeks.

Email Meghan Bartels at or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us @Spacedotcom and Facebook. Original article on


January 15, 2019 at 10:53AM

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