New Cineversity Course on Creating a Futuristic User Interface

Aug 08, 2017 at 12:02 pm by nemirc

FUI, GUI and HUD - sounds like a band of sword wielding marauders destined to die in the next season of Game of Thrones, right?

While the terms GUI (graphical user interface) and HUD (heads-up display) are well known and universally defined, FUI has several interpretations. The F can stand for Fantasy, Fictional, Fake or Futuristic. Personally, I prefer Fictional User Interface because it is a style of user interface that, by its own nature, does not exist. No matter what the F stands for, it represents the same thing - a user interface or heads up display operated by characters in a film or a television show to control devices that do not exist (yet). Commonly used to move a story along, FUI is most effective when it appears to be reasonably real, and so doesn't call attention to itself.

FUI in early science fiction inspired generations of artists and UX (user experience) designers. As a kid, I was so captivated by the instrument panels in Lost in Space that I purchased detailed blueprints and a technical manual for the Jupiter 2. I looked at them while writing this blog (Yes, I still have them), and unsurprisingly they don't have the sophisticated fictional functionality employed by today's artists. Now, FUI designers have a lot of creative freedom to design controls that don't actually have to work, but they do have to look good and appear convincingly practical. Their creations have become so sophisticated; they often blur the line between FUI and GUI.

Perception exemplifies that blurred line and over the last few years has become one of the top firms creating future tech for films as well as real-life concepts for next-generation UI. Using Cinema 4D, Perception has created FUI for several high-profile films including Iron Man 2 and 3, The Avengers, Robocop, Men In Black III and many more. Perception is also highly recognized for its real-world, cutting-edge UI collaborationswith some of the biggest names in tech including Microsoft Hololens, Samsung, Mercedes Benz and SpaceX.

FUI, GUI and HUD design has become big business for Cinema 4D artists. Cinema 4D's designer friendly interface and powerful toolset make it an ideal environment for creating dynamic UX. So you've got the right tools. You've got the desire. And now we're giving you a comprehensive tutorial series on Cineversity hosted by the aforementioned innovative creators at Perception.

We've partnered with their award-winning team to bring you Perception's Guide to FUI, a comprehensive video tutorial series designed to help Cinema 4D users learn the technical aspects of creating futuristic motion graphics imagery for fictional and non-fictional use. The series includes a roundtable hosted by Chief Creative John LePore, who along with fellow studio artists -- Russ Gautier, Doug Appleton and Justin Molush -- discuss fantasy design concepts. Each artist hosts a different technique in the tutorial series.

Tutorial Sections

  • Series Intro: A brief overview of what you'll see in Perception's Guide to FUI.
  • Roundtable Discussion on FUI in Film: The Perception team discusses the background and history of Futuristic User Interfaces in Film and Beyond, the basic requirements (do's and don'ts) as well as their approach to designing Futuristic User Interfaces.
  • Making Radial FUI Elements with Spline Wrap: John LePore covers several different ways to quickly and easily make radial forms utilizing the Spline Wrap deformer.
  • Creating Topographic Map Geometry: Russ Gautier (Art Director at Perception) discusses making geometry-based topographic maps in Cinema 4D.
  • Using Takes and Tokens to Help Organize Large Renders: Doug Appleton (VFX Director at Perception) walks you through the Takes and Tokens system and offers workflow best practices to help you organize your renders when dealing with more complex FUI elements.
  • Creating a Wrist-Mounted Interface: Justin Molush (Senior Designer at Perception) offers tips on tracking complex shots with C4D's Camera and Object tracker to create a futuristic wrist-mounted interface.
  • Using Simple Animations to Add Complexity To Design: Doug Appleton talks about simple techniques for using effectors and minimal keyframe animation to add an extra layer of complexity and interest to your FUI designs.
  • Animating HUD Elements with Expresso: Russ Gautier builds and animates a fighter jet-style HUD (Heads Up Display) using camera movement data with Expresso and Constraints.

Perception will also be part of our amazing lineup of 20 presenters at NAB this year. LePore and Gautier will be there to show off some of Perception's greatest work as well provide insights into the FUI tutorials series.

Of course there are many other Cinema 4D artists and studios doing incredible UX design.

Stephen Lawes and the team at Cantina Creative designed Tony Stark's ultra-futuristic HUDs for Iron Man. The insanely creative Jayse Hansenis well known for his work on Star Wars, Iron Man, The Hunger Games and Disney's Big Hero 6. Territory Studio has made a name for varied styles of FUI - from the dazzling comic book style of Guardians of the Galaxy to the eerie organics of Prometheus. Not to mention Bradley "Gmunk" Munkowitz, who did outstanding work on TRON: Legacy andOblivion, also helped design a user-interface dashboard design for a new Cadillac concept luxury car. And, don't miss FUI artists Robyn Haddowand Lorcan O'Shanahan who will be presenting their work at NAB as well.

I also highly recommend the book Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction. The book takes an extremely comprehensive look at interface creation for science fiction film and television, and its influence on real-world devices.

Lastly, we've created a page on Cineversity with lots of great resources for getting started with FUI, including Perception's latest series. Make sure to check it out -

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