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NSA's EternalBlue exploit surfaces in bog standard mining attack

15 June 2019 in Security

A bog standard attack aimed at planting a cryptocurrency miner has been found to be using advanced targeted attack tools…

Sec firm Dragos warns of threat group targeting electricity utilities

15 June 2019 in Security

Industrial security intelligence provider Dragos has issued a warning about a threat group it has baptised Xenotime, which it says…

Broadcom says Huawei ban will mean US$2b less in revenue

14 June 2019 in Business Telecommunications

Semiconductor and hardware manufacturer Broadcom has said it will take a hit of about US$2 billion in annual sales for…

Australian, NZ enterprises ‘global leaders’ in cloud adoption: report

14 June 2019 in Cloud

Australian and New Zealand enterprises are global leaders in cloud adoption, with many having implemented cloud programs across all or…

Mail servers running Exim come under attack

14 June 2019 in Security

Mail servers running the Exim mail transport agent are being exploited, with the attackers using a vulnerability disclosed a few…

Assange extradition order signed, matter now in hands of court

13 June 2019 in Strategy

The extradition of WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange is now up to the courts when he faces a hearing…

Pushed too hard, more Australians want to quit jobs: survey

13 June 2019 in Recruitment

A survey of 1909 Australians has found that an increasing number want to quit their jobs because they are being…

Huawei ups ante in US spat, asks Verizon to license patents

13 June 2019 in Government Tech Policy

In what appears to be an escalation of the row between the US and China, the telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei…

Huawei puts CES Asia laptop launch on hold: report

13 June 2019 in Government Tech Policy

Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies has put on hold the launch of a new laptop in its Matebook series…

Melbourne, Dallas and LA to test Uber Air taxi service

12 June 2019 in Automotive

Global ride provider Uber will launch its air taxi service, Uber Air, in Melbourne, Dallas and Los Angeles, with test…

5G uptake even faster than expected, says Ericsson

11 June 2019 in Telecoms & NBN

An extra 400 million enhanced mobile broadband subscriptions globally by the end of 2024 has been forecast by Ericsson in…

Money for nothing: Google made US$4.7b off US news in 2018

11 June 2019 in Strategy

Search behemoth Google scooped US$4.7 billion in revenue from news content in 2018 for which it did not pay a…

Breaking IT News

5G technology forecast to drive growth in robotics, artificial intelligence sectors

14 June 2019 in Business Telecommunications

The arrival of 5G technology will drive a new wave of growth in the rapidly evolving robotics and artificial intelligence…

Commvault says new leadership team boosts Australia, NZ business

14 June 2019 in Strategy

Global enterprise software company Commvault has announced a new business strategy for Australia and New Zealand and appointed Brisbane-based Craig…

Rights body calls for govt to put people, not cost savings, first

14 June 2019 in Government Tech Policy

The Federal Government is putting cost savings first and people second through its increasing use of technology and algorithms to…

Spectur secures agreement for $1 million debt facility with Westpac

14 June 2019 in Listed Tech

Australian-listed security technology company Spectur has announced it has secured agreement with Westpac Bank for a debt facility of $1…

Netgear announces two new switches for AV over Ethernet

14 June 2019 in Hardware

Networking equipment maker Netgear has launched two new switches in its M4300 line, the M4300-16X and the M4300-24FX, at the…

Security pros trade barbs over Microsoft bug disclosure

14 June 2019 in Security

Well-known Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy has taken a swipe at security industry veteran Richard Bejtlich, after the latter chided…

CERN decides to jettison Microsoft after steep price hike

14 June 2019 in Business Software

Microsoft's revocation of the "academic institution" status granted to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, better known as CERN, has…

Trust in news sources down 6% in Australia: Reuters study

14 June 2019 in Data

Trust in news sources has fallen by 2% globally, but in Australia the fall is much steeper, at 6%, according…

Pega central to CBA customer conversations

14 June 2019 in CRM

Pegasystems' software is "driving our customer conversations", Commonwealth Bank head of data and decisioning strategy, retail bank, Alex Burton has…

Huawei re-signs as major sponsor of NRL’s Canberra Raiders

14 June 2019 in Strategy

Huawei Australia has signed a new two-year contract to continue as major sponsor of the National Rugby League team, Canberra…

Ethics and governance 'important for analytics and AI'

13 June 2019 in Enterprise Solutions

Australian organisations are getting past the "science experiment" stage of applying analytics and AI, to making important ethics and governance…

Technology, science sectors see ‘modest growth’ in job ads: report

13 June 2019 in Enterprise Staff

The technology and science sectors are amongst the strongest contributors to the employment market, with the sectors experiencing a modest…

HSBC revamps marketing efforts with Pega

13 June 2019 in CRM

Traditional marketing (eg, segmentation and campaigns) wasn't working for HSBC Australia or its customers, according to head of data, analytics…

Triton Digital snaps up Melbourne's Omny Studio

13 June 2019 in Entertainment

Digital audio and podcast software provider Triton Digital has acquired Melbourne-based Omny Studio, claimed to be the creators of the…

ACS appoints Khimji Vaghjiani as head of growth for Harbour City Labs

13 June 2019 in People Moves

The Australian Computer Society has appointed ICT industry veteran, Dr Khimji Vaghjiani, as head of growth at Harbour City Labs.

New D-Link surveillance cameras

13 June 2019 in Security

D-Link ANZ has announced two new 5-megapixel outdoor surveillance cameras, both of which are available now.

Google's Chrome ad-blocking changes all for users' sake. Pinky promise

13 June 2019 in Open Sauce

Google has outlined the changes it proposes to make to the Chrome browser in order to reduce the ad-blocking potential…

MariaDB releases new enterprise version to ease anxiety

13 June 2019 in Business Software

MariaDB Corporation, the company which came to life as a result of forking the open source MySQL database before it was…


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Friday, 07 June 2019 16:04

I designed the Death Star

Colie Wertz at Computex 2019 Colie Wertz at Computex 2019

… or at least part of it – the trench, as used in Rogue One. This is the opening gambit from Colie Wertz who is both a 3D modelmaker and a concept artist who has worked on some massive movies over the past decades. Other highlights include contributing the internals of IronMan’s suit for Avengers: Civil War plus part of the main space ship from Galaxy Quest.

1 msi death star

I made this. It's the Death Star Trench from Rogue One.

The reason we’re listening to him is because he’s giving a talk and demonstration on how 3D model making can now be created in VR, how the models made are so accurate in terms of scale that they can act as plans for set builders, how the process is so quick and simple that the models can also be dropped into concept art (and easily modified) plus how all of this can be done on an ultra-portable laptop(!) – in this case an MSI P65 Creators Edition which is essentially a tweaked gaming laptop.

Colie says that simply by plugging in an Oculus Rift system with Touch controllers, plus a Wacom tablet the laptop can power everything. If he adds the elaborate WACOM Cintiq 22HD to the mix he’d need to add a powered USB hub to the mix, but ultimately that's all.

He gave insights into the job and then gave a full live demonstration of the workflow.

2 msi pipeline

3 msi concept art

First he took a picture from MSI’s company office windows using an iPhone. He said that if he required a fully-rendered 3D background he’d use Maya but, for now, simply importing the picture to Photoshop and painting over it (to make it look a bit more futuristic) was all that would be needed for concept art.

5 msi office view with paintover

Next up was adding a spaceship to the mix. Typically he’d be given a broad description of what the ship would look like but, more importantly, what the dimensions of the internal rooms would be so they could match with interior shots and sets.

4 msi ship bays

He was told the ship needed to have a cockpit, bunk room and engine bay before being given the size specifications for each room. This gave him a scale for a 3D environment so he set about building the ship from scratch using VR and Gravity Sketch. It took him less than five minutes. He pointed out that the Oculus Touch controllers were handy in that they didn’t require him to flail around much so the risk of crashing into walls and the like was minimised.

6 msi gravity sketch

Gravity Sketch VR design.

7 msi spaceship vr

Waving his hands around like Tom Cruise in Minority Report... to build a spaceship from scratch.

After saving the 'sketch' he exported it as a widely-compatible OBJ file and imported it into Keyshot 8 which offers many textures and lighting options. He matched the light source to the MSI office picture and chose an anodised metal colour for paint. He then rendered the image using Keyshot which took about a minute using intensive CPU processing – it used to take 30 minutes according to Colie. He remarked that other renderers can make use of the GPU.

8 msi spaceship obj

Save as an OBJ file.

9 msi keyshot 9

Import into Keyshot 8.

The spaceship was then imported into Photoshop and the blacks on the spaceship were matched to the blacks at the similar depth-level to the picture – which stopped it from standing out as an obvious ‘shop job.

10 msi import

After rendering in Keyshot the resulting file is imported to Photoshop.

11 msi imported

After importing, it was important to use Photoshop's Levels tool to match the blacks of the ship with the blacks at the corresponding depth of the background.

He then clipped the tail so that it appeared behind the building before giving it a final paint-over that included some heat-haze around the engines, panels on the ship’s body and some highlights.

12 msi final

The final concept art which uses a ship that's to made to scale and so subsequently can be used as plans for set building.

The result looks extraordinary considering the time it took to create them. Years of practice made everything look easy but the fact remains that what would have taken experts a very long time (potentially using very expensive equipment) was now available to all, at consumer pricepoints and is easier to create than ever.


Australia is a cyber espionage hot spot.

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Nick Ross

Nick Ross is a veteran technology journalist who has contributed to many of Australia's top technology titles and edited several of them. He was the launch editor of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation online Technology section.