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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Pixar Animation Studios’ Universal Scene Description to be Open-Sourced


+ Pixar Animation Studios announced today its intent to release its Universal Scene Description software (USD) as an open-source project by summer 2016. USD addresses the ever-growing need in the CG film and game industries for an effective way to describe, assemble, interchange, and modify high-complexity virtual scenes between digital content creation tools employed by studios.  
The powerful techniques for composing and non-destructively editing graphics "scene graphs" that form the core of USD have been evolving at Pixar for close to 20 years, dating back to "A Bug's Life." These techniques, such as file-referencing, layered overrides, variation, and inheritance, were completely overhauled into a robust and uniform design for Pixar's next-generation animation system, Presto. "USD is the marriage of Presto's ‘composition engine’ to lazy-access cached scene description, with top-to-bottom enhancements for scalability and leverage of today's multi-core systems effectively," says Sebastian Grassia, Lead Engineer for the USD project. Although it is still under active development and optimization, USD has been in use for nearly a year in the making of "Finding Dory," bringing new levels of performance and stability to Pixar's production.
The open-source Alembic project brought standardization of cached geometry interchange to the VFX industry; USD hopes to build on Alembic's success, taking the next step of standardizing the "algebra" by which assets are aggregated and refined in-context. Says Guido Quaroni, VP of Software R&D at Pixar, "One of the key aspects of Pixar's pipeline is the ability for hundreds of artists to operate simultaneously on the same collections of assets in different contexts, using separate 'layers' of data that are composited together at various production stages. USD generalizes these concepts in an attempt to make them available to any DCC application."
 The USD distribution will include embeddable direct 3D visualization provided by Pixar's modern GPU renderer, Hydra, as well as plugins for several key VFX DCCs, comprehensive documentation, tutorials, and complete python bindings.
Pixar has already been sharing early USD snapshots with a number of industry vendors and studios for evaluation, feedback, and advance incorporation. Damien Fagnou, Global Head of VFX Operations for MPC Film, relates, "USD is an amazing opportunity for both software vendors and VFX companies; this type of common open standard drives the industry to greater innovation by focusing development and leveraging a wide community of artists and developers. We have been working with Pixar to evaluate USD since the beginning of the year and plan to use it as a key part of our future VFX pipeline.”
Jeff Clifford, Head of R&D for Double Negative, states, "Over the past 12 months, Double Negative have converted many large environment assets from our proprietary system over to USD for testing and more recently have been using the USD viewer successfully in production.  Going forward we are hoping a dedicated team can help test and develop USD to cater for all our scene description needs, including our cross-studio collaborations."
Among the vendors helping to evaluate USD are The Foundry and Fabric Software. Andy Lomas, Product Manager of Katana, says, "At The Foundry we believe that USD will have a huge impact, and deserves to become an industry standard similar to OpenEXR and OpenSubdiv. It is an ideal format for creating rich assets that will work naturally with Katana, allowing workflows that were previously only available to large studios using proprietary tools. We consider that it is exactly what is needed to enable a scalable collaborative pipeline, allowing the best in class tools to be used for each part of the production process." 
 VP Product, Fabric Software, Kevin Tureski, states “USD perfectly complements Fabric Engine by handling complex scene data in an application-agnostic fashion. The design of the USD API made it straightforward for us to integrate it directly into Fabric Engine and we already have customers testing the combination.”  
 More information about USD can be found at the official website: openusd.org

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Ultraflares v1.0 released








+ Backed by over a year and a half of research and development, Ultraflares boasts some of the most advanced and realistic lens flare features available today. Ultraflares comes packed with hundreds of presets including over 65 natural flares, over 60 stylized flares, over 35 glints and over 40 light leaks, all modeled after real-world light phenomena.
Ultraflares is much more than a lens flare plugin; it’s a full feature light studio. Not only does it allow the artist to produce sophisticated lens flares, but also the ability to generate a wide variety of complex camera lens effects including the generation of volumetric lights, glows, light glints, star filters, sun glows, star bursts, film burns & aberrations, light leaks, highlight accents, photo filters, bokehs, lens textures, and much, much more. It is an indispensable tool for 3D artists looking to push their 3D renders to the next level.

Ultraflares features stunningly-realistic iris effects such as spherical aberration, aberration scale, aberration offset and asymmetry for replicating ultra-realistic natural lens flares. Circular completion controls how much of the iris diameter (in degrees) is visible while light distribution, a new and truly unique feature specific to Ultraflares only, controls the illumination across the iris with it’s respective angle. Chromatic aberration can be globally applied to the entire flare while spectral coloring can work on any number of specific objects. Add subtle touches like iris edge ringing to push the realism to the next level.

>> Get Ultraflares

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Pixar Animation Studios Releases RenderMan 20


+ Pixar Animation Studios today released version 20 of its Academy Award®-winning RenderMan software, introducing major innovations allowing cinematic quality imagery to be created more easily and faster than previously possible. Highlights include a game-changing noise reduction technology that directly addresses the problem of image artifacts associated with physically based ray tracers, massively reducing the time needed to deliver completed shots and images. 

 RenderMan 20 also expands the creative choices available to artists and studios through numerous advances in usability including a physical camera, a Visualizer for navigating and inspecting large scenes interactively, expanded shader libraries and presets, and new volume rendering features. A new Marschner hair shader represents the first time Pixar has shipped shading technology specifically developed for use in its feature films, making available truly Pixar quality hair and fur. In addition, RenderMan’s tradition of advanced customization is emphasized through a new light filter API. Rendering shots for dailies is also faster than ever with new enhancements to RenderMan’s noted image checkpointing, allowing entire shots to be quickly previewed nearly immediately and at full resolution. RenderMan 20 continues to channel the combined technology resources of The Walt Disney Company to the desktop of anyone producing visual effects, animation, and visualization. 
>>  More Information

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Gnomon Workshop Release "Introduction to Substance Painter"


+ The Gnomon Workshop is pleased to announce the release of "Introduction to Substance Painter" with Christophe Desse. In this lecture, Christophe Desse introduces us to the world of Substance Painter. Starting with a detailed introduction to the tools and features, Christophe then goes deeper into the workflow of Substance Painter showing the texturing process on two different subjects. He begins with a detailed car model of a hot rod, showing various techniques that can be used to texture the various components while discussing how to handle the various material settings and maps. He then moves on to the driver, sharing his workflow for character texturing. Many different types of materials are textured and demonstrated, providing a thorough insight into Christophe’s methodology. Lastly, he shares his workflow for setting up shaders, lighting and cameras in the Redshift rendered for Maya, which offers powerful GPU rendering.
>> More Information

Friday, March 27, 2015

Golaem Crowd 4.0 Released


+ Golaem Crowd is being used by more than hundred vfx studios worldwide. The newest releases include Dracula Untold (Framestore), Hercules (Milk VFX, Cinesite), 22 Jump Street (Pixel Magic)... Golaem Crowd helped them ramp up on crowds and deliver great projects quickly. Golaem Crowd 4 provides more advanced features with the same ease of use and facilitates the interaction of the crowd simulation with other elements in the shot: open access to simulation data, curve driven simulation, simulation cache scrubbing and editing… Artists can now take dailies requests into account immediately, without going back to the simulation, and get their shots validated in no time. 
>> More Information

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pixar Releases Free Non-Commercial RenderMan


+ Pixar Animation Studios today released its Academy Award®-winning RenderMan software for non-commercial use. Free Non-Commercial RenderMan can be used for research, education, evaluation, plug-in development, and any personal projects that do not generate commercial profits. Free Non-Commercial RenderMan is also fully featured, without watermark, time limits, or other user limitations. Featuring Pixar’s new RIS technology, RenderMan delivers extremely fast global illumination and interactive shading and lighting for artists. Currently in use at many studios, RIS is fast, robust, and changing how movies are made. Today, exactly the same technology is available to all users of Non-Commercial RenderMan.
 In conjunction with the release, Pixar has also launched a new RenderMan Community site where users can exchange knowledge and resources, showcase their own work, share assets such as shaders and scripts, and learn about RenderMan from tutorials created by the best in the community. The RenderMan Community site is an example of Pixar’s ongoing commitment to making the film industries finest rendering tools accessible to anyone working in visual effects, animation, and visualization. “The latest release of RenderMan is a technological reinvention. It’s the result of focused research and development at both Pixar and Disney, and these advancements are now freely available to the visual effects and animation community through Non-Commercial RenderMan.” said Dr Ed Catmull, President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, and also one of the founders of the original RenderMan architecture. 
“We look forward to seeing what our users create.” “We’ve recently begun to see some final images for ‘Finding Dory.’ It’s our first feature using RenderMan’s RIS technology… and it’s just unbelievable,” said Andrew Stanton, Director, “Finding Dory.” “RIS has opened so many new creative possibilities for us; we’re creating images that were previously impossible for us to achieve. It really is looking spectacular.” 
Those interested in exploring Free Non-Commercial RenderMan are invited to go to the RenderMan website and download a copy. http://renderman.pixar.com/view/non-commercial-renderman

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pixar Releases Tractor 2.0


+ Pixar Animation Studios today announced that Tractor 2.0, its next generation distributed processing software, will be released in the first week of September 2014. Tractor 2.0 significantly expands the successful Tractor 1.x render farm job queuing system, while also deepening the underlying platform to support new wrangling and management tools, as well as a forward-looking API and data features that address custom pipeline integration requirements and future product objectives. New features include major user interface enhancements, a streamlined installation process, powerful command line and scripting interfaces, and flexible resource-sharing controls for maximizing utilization. Tractor 2.0 is a robust solution in a compact architecture, specifically engineered for scalability and proven in production on a wide variety of rendering and non-rendering applications. 

Tractor 2.0 consists of three primary components: the Engine, the Blade, and the Dashboard. Tractor Engine maintains the central job queue and dispatches tasks. Tractor Blade is the command execution server that runs on each network compute node. Tractor Dashboard is a web app that lets artists see their jobs in progress and allows administrators to manage tasks, Blades, and the Engine itself. Additional query and control tools are available for command-line use, as well as an API for scripting. Tractor 2.0 uses proven open web standards that perform efficiently with typical operating systems and network infrastructure with little overhead or computational load. The system supports a variety of customizations, from job scripting to Python module extensions that allow administrators to easily define per-task environments on a show-by-show basis. Custom Dashboard menu items can be added to integrate Tractor controls into the studio pipeline. 
>> More info

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

MAXON Unveils Robust CINEMA 4D Release 16 (R16)


+ MAXON today unveiled CINEMA 4D Release 16 (R16), the next generation release of the company’s industry-leading 3D motion graphics, visual effects, visualization, painting, and rendering software application. In addition to countless workflow enhancements, CINEMA 4D R16 delivers powerful new features including a modeling PolyPen ‘super-tool’, a Motion Tracker for easily integrating 3D content within live footage and a Reflectance material channel that allows for multi-layered reflections and specularity. CINEMA 4D R16 reinforces MAXON’s commitment to provide creative professionals with exceptional stability and performance, unmatched integration, and a straightforward, efficient and flexible interface to optimize any workflow for VFX, motion graphics, visualization and game development.
 >> more info

Monday, June 02, 2014

Pixar Animation Studios Announces Monumental Innovations In Film Rendering


+ Representing years of research and development, Pixar Animation Studios today announced a series of important innovations in the latest version of its forthcoming Academy Award®-winning RenderMan software that will radically impact the way film imagery is rendered and accessed by everyone. This generational shift in RenderMan establishes an entirely new modular rendering architecture called RIS that provides highly optimized methods for simulating the transport of light through multiple state of the art algorithms, including an advanced Unidirectional Path Tracer and a Bidirectional Path Tracer with Progressive Photon Mapping (also known as VCM). Along with major feature and performance enhancements, physically-based, artist-friendly workflows, progressive re-rendering, and the established advantages of RenderMan’s traditional REYES architecture, RenderMan now offers two rendering modes within one unified environment, providing the most advanced, versatile, and flexible rendering system available. 
With rendering technology constantly evolving, RIS represents a forward-looking framework through which Pixar can deploy additional rendering methodologies as they become available. RenderMan is the conduit through which applicable advanced research from within the Walt Disney organization will be channeled into the production industry, including in the forthcoming release, Disney’s Principled BRDF shader and supporting materials. 
Availability
The new RenderMan is being released in the timeframe of SIGGRAPH 2014 and will be compatible with the following 64-bit operating systems, Mac OS 10.8 and 10.7, Windows 8, 7, and Vista, and Linux. Autodesk Maya compatibility is with versions 2013, 2013.5, 2014, and 2015. Pixar’s annual maintenance program benefits customers with access to ongoing support and free upgrades. For more information please visit www.pixar.com or contact rendermansales@pixar.com.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Introducing ChronoSculpt











+ The LightWave 3D Group, a division of NewTek, Inc., announced today a free 30-day full feature trial version of ChronoSculpt software is now available for download at www.chronosculpt.com. Chronosculpt offers an intuitive way for artists using any professional 3D modeling and animation software on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux operating systems to create content with custom morph targets or fluidly sculpt animation performances over time. ChronoSculpt can also be used to review and correct cache animation and dynamic simulation errors using timeline-based sculpting tools. The software’s flexible interface supports leading file formats for all professional 3D software programs, including LightWave 3D®, Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya and Softimage, The Foundry’s Modo, Maxon Cinema 4D, and more. The software supports soft- and rigid-body dynamics and has the ability to correct and remove errors in real time by sculpting and deforming massive polygonal models on the ChronoSculpt timeline without having to return to the original software.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Autodesk Announces 2015 3D Animation Software


+ Autodesk, Inc. unveiled the 2015 versions of its popular 3D animations tools: Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya, MotionBuilder, Mudbox, Softimage, and the newest addition to the lineup, Maya LT, a 3D animation and modeling tool for professional indie game makers. Autodesk also announced the availability of the 2015 Entertainment Creation Suite for 3D animation and visual effects.
 “Our strongest releases in many years, the 2015 versions put more creative power back into the hands of the artists,” said Chris Bradshaw, senior vice president, Media & Entertainment at Autodesk. “To achieve this, we redesigned core parts of our applications focusing on performance, ease-of-use and innovative new tools like Bifrost that make it simpler to do complex tasks. Whether our users are creating effects for a movie blockbuster, a game for one of the new consoles or developing a mobile app, the 2015 versions allow artists to focus on what they do best – storytelling.”
 Creating animation today is increasingly complex as consumer demand for bigger, better, more sophisticated computer graphics (CG) continues to rise. Autodesk 2015 animation software aims to provide the right tools for a 3D animation project. Every animation product has updates to enable artists to better manage complex projects and large data sets, while helping stay on schedule and on budget. Artists now have access to a variety of features ranging from high fidelity interactive viewports, “a what you see is what you get” work environment and single-click, cross-product workflows and ability to use low-cost consumer devices to capture body movements.
 Beta testers have been impressed with the new capabilities and the focus on improving everyday tasks for artists. “There are substantial, relevant and exciting enhancements across all of Maya,” shares Clinton Downs, Head of CG, Method Studios. “From a personal perspective, I've used Maya since the beta (1997), and these enhancements feel like the type of leap we've only seen once, maybe twice before.”
>> More Information

Monday, February 24, 2014

13 Most Captivating Street Art from around the Globe


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Street Art









+ Have a look at 13 Most Captivating Street Art from around the Globe. Street art exists worldwide. Large cities and regional towns of the world are home to some form of street art community, from which pioneering artists or forerunners of particular mediums or techniques emerge. Internationally known street artists travel between such locations to promote and exhibit their artwork. 
>> Popular Street Art 

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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Animation Production Day 2014


Business platform for the international animation industry
+  Animation Production Day (APD), an event hosted by FMX 2014, Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Transmedia (April 22-25, 2014) and the 21st Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film (April 22-27, 2014), takes place on April 24 and 25, 2014 for the 8th time. It is an event by Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg and the Film- & Medienfestival gGmbH. As a business platform for the international animation industry the APD invites production companies worldwide to submit their animation and digital content projects for which they are searching for co-production, financing and distribution partners. 30 projects will be chosen for participating in the APD. In exclusive and effective 30 minutes one-to-one meetings, producers pitch their selected cinema, TV and transmedia projects to broadcasters, global distributors, publishers, funders, banks, equity investors and potential co-production partners, aiming to identify new financing pathways, production strategies and market applications. To be eligible for submission, projects must be either at the development, production or exploitation stage. The projects must have commercial potential and be marketable internationally. They must be suitable, as brand-building products, for exploitation either in formats for feature film, TV, games or mobile applications. The program is complemented by the APD conference track, where top-level speakers share their strategies and visions for the future of the animation industry. A Full Access Pass gives APD participants access to the Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film and to FMX, Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Transmedia, giving them the opportunity, alongside their intensive one-to-one meetings, to inform themselves about current trends and productions and to make and maintain contacts in an informal atmosphere. More than 200 representatives from the German and international animation industry attended APD 2013 to discuss current developments and trends in the transmedia sector. In approximately 380 individual meetings, the 32 projects selected for inclusion were evaluated in terms of brand potential, financing, and production strategy. With 76 companies and institutions from 12 countries in attendance, the APD grew by more than 10 % in comparison with the previous year. 
>> More Information