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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

INTERVIEW WITH Kevin Mannens***

+ CGIndia Interviewed Kevin Mannens; technical director on major flicks such as; G-Force, Alice in Wonderland, 10,000BC and The Chronicles of Narnia: prince Caspian etc. Kevin talks about his work, TD-College and also give some tips for technical director. . We thank him for taking time out from his busy schedule to chat with us. Kevin Mannens says: Basically, the TD is the person who everyone turns to for an answer when difficulties arise in getting complex 3D animation work completed. TDs are expected to have an intimate knowledge of all the software being used, and be able to come up with solutions as problems arise. When a new job comes in, a bunch of people (often a CGI supervisor, a producer and a TD or two) get together to work out just how the job is going to get completed. Usually a bunch of the work is pretty straightforward and is easily assigned to animators, texture artists, match movers, etc. But a certain percentage of the work (and the more ''cutting-edge'' the facility, the bigger the percentage) will require some experimentation, research and possibly the development of new tools in order to get it done. It is up to the TDs to either establish a.......
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Maxwell Render version 2 public launch

+ Next Limit Technologies is pleased to announce the general release of version 2 of Maxwell Render. For the last few weeks version 2 has been only available for existing clients upgrading – and the upgrade rate has been excellent. Now we can open up Maxwell Render 2 to new clients. This major new version brings an arsenal of new features, enhancements and additions to Maxwell Render users, among others:
- Major improvements in speed and noise reduction with optimizations in caustics, emitters, mirrors, HDRIs and more.
- Significant quality improvements in roughness, color output, light distribution, sunlight and more.
- Stacked Layers: Materials can now be stacked on top of each other, much like layers in a photo editing application. Each layer can hold a number of components and an opacity mask can be used to determine the influence of each layer. The Stacked Layers system makes it much easier to create extremely complex materials and materials that were simple impossible to create in V1.7.
- Thin SSS: Subsurface scattering in V2 now has a special mode which can handle single-sided geometry. This mode is very suitable for leaves, lampshades, paper, and curtains amongst others.
- An easier to use, more robust, and customizable network system.
- Support for IES and EULUMDAT files.
- Color Multilight™: It is now possible to edit the color of emitters in real-time.
- Built-in compatibility with RealFlow, enabling users to generate procedural geometry and meshes at render time, using Maxwell Render.
- A new plug-in for Modo and much more….


Marvel Wildcard Submissions are Open

+ Wildcard Submissions for Aniboom’s Marvel Motion Comic Competition have begun! Marvel is still looking for one or two more Motion Comics to join our just-announced Five Finalists as Wildcard Finalists, and get in the running for the Grand Prize. It’s an animators opportunity to go for the Grand Prize of $10,000, and a chance to get their work showcased on Marvel.com! Go to Aniboom.com/Marvel to download the exclusive art and audio tracks needed to create a finished Motion Comic. Submissions end November 2nd. Animators, grab the chance to take comics to the next level.


Dover Studios Releases Maya Surface Materials 2nd Edition

+ Dover Studios, Inc. announced the release of Maya Surface Materials 2nd Edition, their latest visual effects training video. Maya Surface Materials 2nd Edition provides visual effects artists with an introduction to texturing and surface materials in Maya. The second edition has been completely updated and features crystal clear 1080p high definition video. Visual effects artists, Andrew Hazelden and Russell Hazelden, share countless tips and techniques that will help you create realistic surface materials. Maya Surface Materials 2nd Edition begins with an overview of the many render nodes available in the Hypershade. Essential topics include: exploring common material attributes, shading models, specular highlights, texture mapping, 3D projections, IPR rendering and raytracing. The video shows in detail the methods used to render reflective metallic and glass surfaces, and discusses photographic techniques used to create environment maps. Both the Maya Software and Mental Ray renderers are used throughout the video. No steps are left out and every detail is explained with easy to follow step-by-step instructions.
More Information



+ Call for Entries has beed announced for Silver Salt Animation Festival 2010. SSAF 2010 is a competitive animation film festival inviting entries from Animation Short Film makers from all over the world. It is the first time that India will witness an animation festival on such a large scale. The festival will travel to 5 Indian cities before crossing over to International borders. The 1st SSAF is as much a competition as it is an Artists Collective as it is a unique opportunity to bring together Animation Filmmakers, Enthusiasts, and Audience and Business Community under one Roof. The first phase of the festival is slated to begin in February 2010. Deadline for Entries is 15th December 2009.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cheetah3D 5.0

+ Cheetah3D 5.0 was released today. Version 5.0 adds a completely new node based material system which allows you to create stunning new materials just by drag and drop. Additionally, the render engine was optimized to efficiently handle up to 16 CPU cores.The modeling tools have been extended by a new bevel tool and a bend modifier, and basic export to the Collada file format has been added. Cheetah3D 5.0 now also supports pivot points. Last but not least, Cheetah3D offers many small UI enhancements which accelerate daily work and a new German localization. A Cheetah3D 5.0 single user license costs 149 US$ and 69 US$ for an upgrade from an older version (1.x, 2.x, 3.x or 4.x). You can download and try out the demo version of Cheetah3D for free.
Download Cheetah3D 5.0


Finish Create Magic For Ladyhawke

+ ‘Magic’ takes us on an epic journey through a visually striking and stylised world and is directed by Crossroads’ Shelly Love. Our heroine, Ladyhawke, peers through the swirling mists to consult her crystal ball, before journeying through creepy baroque forests and skimming the waves on a magic carpet ride, in search of a her pirate lover. Sarah Larnach who creates all of Ladyhawke’s artwork designed the miniature backgrounds to the video, some of which were hand drawn and painted on set. Finish’s Flame artist Byron Wooffindin, who attended the shoot, ensured that all elements needed for the online were captured and scanned prior to the post starting. Byron adds, “It was great to work on something highly creative and I really enjoyed working closely with the director Shelly. It was one of those projects I could really sink my teeth into.’’
As all the backgrounds were to be made up and composited by Finish using Larnach’s artwork, all of the live action was shot against green screen with tracking markers for relevant shots. Using Flame to composite, Wooffindin also animated elements such as bats and clouds, added atmosphere and created a filmic look, bringing this magically enchanting music video to life. ‘Magic’ is the first track on Ladyhawke’s eponymous debut album.
Watch Ladyhawke video (mov)


Vue 8 uncovered

+ e-on software, the leader in Digital Nature solutions, announced the formal unveiling of its upcoming Vue 8 product line - scheduled for release the first week of November, 2009. In addition to a number of important new features such as 3D terrain sculpting, a new directional displacement engine and the 3rd generation of e-on’s cutting-edge atmospheric technology, Vue 8 represents an important milestone for the company as it is the first full release of Vue developed under e-on’s new annual release schedule program.
"We are tremendously excited by the new advancements and increased pace of innovation offered in Vue 8," explained Nicholas Phelps, CEO of e-on Software. "Our customers are continually expanding the use of our Digital Nature solutions as a fundamental, mainstream component within their commercial programs and projects. Vue 8 will allow them to achieve even greater levels of realism, precision and performance."
Vue 8 includes a number of important new features such as:
# 3D Terrain Sculpting: Allows users to freely sculpt terrain features such as overhangs and caves directly into Vue standard and procedural terrains.
# Localized Infinite and Procedural Terrain Sculpting: Combine the best of both worlds with the ability to locally sculpt features on the infinitely detailed procedural terrains. Now, users have the ability to fine tune or completely rework localized areas on procedural terrains providing even greater artistic control and creativity.
# Scene Context Sculpting: Allows users to sculpt terrain features in the context of scene elements. Sculpt rocks and reliefs around vegetation and architectural buildings.
# New Stratified Terrain Fractals which allow the creation of richly detailed stratified, terrain features.
# New Directional Displacement Engine for textures to create more detailed and life-like surface features with greatly increased performance.
# 3rd Generation Spectral Atmospheric Technology which dramatically improves the quality and realism of clouds, god rays, and atmospheric shadows.
# Direct Re-Posing of Rigged Meshes: Rigged and pre-animated mesh objects can now be re-posed directly inside Vue. Currently supported formats: 3DSMax, Collada, and Vue Pre-animated Meshes.
# New Shader-based OpenGL preview engine for improved real-time performance and previewing accuracy.
# Deeper xStream Immersive Integration offering more seamless operation and improved workflow with the leading CG applications, including support for Maya 2010, Cinema4D R11.5, Softimage 2010 and V-Ray for Maya.
# All the new features introduced in Vue 7.5: camera mapping, planetary rendering, cross-shadowing and cloud masks, spherical cloud maps, animated EcoSystem populations, and more.

AnimfxNZ 2009 Registration Now Open

+ AnimfxNZ, the world’s leading conference for digital animation, effects, animation and games today announced that registration has opened for this year’s conference. A Two-day pass for the event is NZ $590 + GST (Includes the Friday conference & four Saturday workshops) and a One-day pass for the Friday conference is NZ $350. The conference will also feature half- and full-day Master Classes priced at NZ $175 and NZ $350 respectively. Under the theme, “Connecting Digital Entertainment,” the conference is bringing together leaders from the four major creative digital mediums to share ideas and further the creation of digital entertainment. AnimfxNZ will take place November 5th-7th, in Wellington New Zealand and present a line-up of keynotes and master classes that feature some of the brightest minds in digital media today.
“AnimfxNZ is becoming even more focused on bringing knowledge and skills to the digital media community, and the addition of Master Classes further this direction,” said Jos Ruffell, Chairman of the New Zealand Games, Animation and Visual Effects Trust (NZGAV), the organizing body behind Animfx. “Leveraging the success of last year’s event, we will have more discussion of the trends in the creative industries and how the different vertical segments exist in the digital ecosystem.” The first announced speakers for AnimfxNZ 2009 include Trevor Brymer, Jeffrey Conrad, Paul Debevec, Sean Kauppinen, Tim Murphy, Jeffrey A Okun, Joseph Olin, Luke Reid, Andy Satterthwaite, Sander Schwartz, Jim Simmons, Andrew Smith, John Stevenson, Rita Street, and Sebastian Sylwan.
About AnimfxNZ
AnimfxNZ was founded in 2006, to provide a global platform for the creative content community to exchange ideas across the various disciplines of digital media. Since its inception, the conference has presented leading speakers on the topics of animation, digital entertainment, digital effects and games, and has served as the crossroads of collaboration for creative media convergence. The 2009 conference is focused on the current and future states of creative digital content creation, worldwide. For more information, please visit: www.animfxnz.com


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Gnomon Master Classes, November 9th - 23rd 2009

+ Gnomon School of Visual Effects has announced "Gnomon Master Classes" to be held from, November 9th to 23rd 2009. Join them for two weeks of new, exclusive classes in an interactive, online event. Each 2-3 hour class focuses on a different element of the VFX industry and allows individuals to discuss the content with the instructors. One ticket gives you access to all 16 classes. Each class is offered online in a private forum, allowing you to participate in discussion with the instructor and other students. Each instructor will check the forums daily during the first week and will do their best to answer students' questions. This event is a limited time engagement. The presentations will only be available to view online for two weeks, after which time they will no longer be accessible. Studios interested in signing up multiple artists are eligible for discount pricing. Contact events@gnomonschool.com for more information.

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Mo-Sys VFX tool - 3D Virtual Inserter

+ Four years of development and research finally reached a fantastic peak at IBC for the VFX tool, 3D Virtual Inserter. This product for VFX films, which VFX crews, actors, DOP's, directors and producers alike, love was awarded the editors “Best of IBC Award 2009”. So, what is so special about 3D Virtual Inserter? It's a unique pre-visualisation and camera motion capture system, which matches the real world with the virtual world and records them together with time-code. It allows film-makers to take full creative control of their visual effect productions in real-time during shoots and speeds up the filming process. Tony Willis is a DOP, VFX supervisor and Producer with the immensley successful and creative Mediapro Magic, describes why they are investing in 3D Virtual Inserter, “Being a DOP as well as a VFX Supervisor and Producer, I was looking to not only keep control on the live action set, not putting limits everywhere, but also to speed up the process with a small team. The Producer in me has to think cost and schedule. Then we found out about 3D Virtual Inserter and I flew to London to test it out . The cost saving in tracking and roto would be huge, in our estimates, for the movie we were looking at would be in the region of $1.3 million. The control we would have on set was immense, and the Director and DOP would get to see the composed shot saving major time in the post process pipeline. It was just like shooting live action and live CG combined “.
One of the major studios in Hollywood, who are in the process of creating a brand new green screen studio in their back-lot, have also seen the benefits of 3D Inserter. As Michael Geissler, CEO of Mo-Sys explained, “They are in the process of building their new green screen studio, with 3D Inserter a central product, enabling them to speed up the whole process of VFX filming. They have seen a huge growth in visual effect productions thanks to films being created from successful computer games. This multi million dollar project puts 3D Virtual Inserter at the centre of this exciting development.” We are constantly being told that 3D Virtual Inserter is the future of VFX filming, but don't just take our word for it, as Tony Willis concludes, “The future will be digital data and 3D Virtual Inserter is the link between CGI and the new digital live action set. It will move us forward in how we make and see the digital movie of the future and the process we use.” As Geissler concluded, “It was great to receive the Best Product at IBC 2009 category award, as it recognises the effort the team have put in, but also it shows that Mo-Sys is at the forefront of the VFX film evolution. 3D Virtual Inserter is the right product for the right time. We've been quite guarded about our development of it, due to its new and unique qualities, but it seems we are now creating an ever growing client base, making it a must-have system for many big green/blue screen film shoots”.


Prime Focus launches View-D

+ Prime Focus, one of the world’s largest visual entertainment services groups, is proud to announce the launch of View-D, a proprietary 2D-to-3D conversion process that allows filmmakers to efficiently create stereoscopic 3D movies from source material shot on virtually any medium. View-D will be introduced at international launch events in Mumbai, London and Los Angeles to unveil the Prime Focus global rebrand, in which Prime Focus London, blue, Machine, Post Logic and Frantic Films VFX will be brought together under the Prime Focus name. “3D moviemaking has proven to be more than a passing trend - it’s rejuvenating international box offices and giving filmmakers a new storytelling technique that enriches the movie-going experience,” said Michael Fink, CEO, Prime Focus VFX. “Prime Focus is a visual effects facility, so we’ve been calculating 3D space from 2D images for years, and developed the technology behind View-D after having worked on several stereo 3D shows. With View-D, we’re offering the industry an exciting new production method to convert both library titles and new releases to terrific stereoscopic quality in considerably less time than other methods.”
View-D was developed under the guidance of Chris Bond, president and senior visual effects supervisor of Prime Focus VFX. “We’re very excited to be offering View-D to the industry,” said Bond. "It’s about giving filmmakers the gift of time, because our approach allows the possibility of interactive creative sessions with our stereographers, similar to a DI session. Filmmakers can now shoot a movie with a single camera on film, without having to be locked into digital cameras and potentially complicated stereoscopic camera rigs. View-D allows conversions to fit into the post production schedule by critically shortening the length of time they take.”

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Pixar announces the release of RenderMan® Pro Server™ 15.0

+ Pixar Animation Studios today released version 15.0 of its Academy Award® winning RenderMan Pro Server software. This landmark release introduces many powerful innovations, including unlimited threading per machine, volume primitives, important additions to the RenderMan Shading Language (RSL), support for Disney's forthcoming open-source Ptex per-face painted textures, imager shaders, an API for subdivision surfaces, and more. RenderMan Pro Server 15.0 also delivers major performance increases for production scene rendering in the areas of ray tracing, ambient occlusion, improved thread scalability, and optimized memory management. The introduction of unlimited threading enables studios and artists to maximize the full power of their rendering hardware, allowing each license of RenderMan to utilize any number of threads on the latest multi-core platforms. RenderMan Pro Server 15.0 is the first product to introduce unlimited threading, and will be followed by the next versions of RenderMan Studio and RenderMan for Maya.
"RenderMan Pro Server 15.0 packs an impressive number of great new features that we were able to deploy extremely quickly in our pipeline," said Philippe Leprince, CG Pipeline Supervisor at Double Negative, London. "Refinements to the RenderMan Shading Language, texture mapping and threading, allowed us to make our shading pipeline more efficient while increasing overall quality. Ptex by itself is a revolution and we are reeling from the consequences as we integrate it into our upcoming shows."
"With RenderMan Pro Server 15.0's impressive new features and handsome performance improvements, Pixar shows once again that it is not content to rest on its laurels. The perpetual cycle of improvements makes the tools a joy to use and a sound investment too," said Chris Bone, Head of Research and Development at Animal Logic, Sydney.
RenderMan Pro Server 15.0 is compatible with Mac OS X, Linux 32-bit and 64-bit, Windows XP 32-bit, Windows Vista 32-bit and 64-bit, and Windows Vista 64-bit HPC Server. Separate upgrade pricing from RenderMan Pro Server 14.0 to 15.0 is also available. Evaluation copies of RenderMan Pro Server 15.0 are available upon request. In addition, Pixar's maintenance program benefits customers with access to ongoing support and free upgrades for an annual price. For more information please visit www.pixar.com


Open Beta of Maya Power Translators for the Mac.

+ NPower Software announces official open beta of its next generation. Autodesk Maya CAD Translators plug-in for the Apple Macintosh platform. From the award winning advanced geometry team that redefined CAD translation for Autodesk 3ds Max, comes the next generation of CAD data translation for Autodesk Maya, Maya Power Translators. If you're one of the increasing number of designers and artists that are looking for a better way to get mechanical CAD design data into Maya, then your wait is over. nPower Software's Maya Power Translators give you the power to import IGES, STEP, SAT, Rhino models directly into Maya. Forget the Poly translated mesh importers of the past. nPower Software's advanced Maya Geometry pipeline supports the original CAD model's precision NURBS-based surface and solids geometry and topology allowing you to re-tessellate your mesh to whatever resolution you want on the fly.
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CVMP - Call for short papers

+ CVMP, the European Conference on Visual Media Production (www.cvmp-conference.org), taking place on 12th & 13th November 2009 at the BFI Southbank, London, is putting out the final call for short papers presenting the latest research in media production. The 6th annual conference, which will explore the future of pixels, pipelines and productivity in visual media production, has also confirmed additional speakers, sponsors and media partners. The deadline for the submission of one-page papers, presenting novel research-in-progress, is October 14th. Full details are available online, and short papers are invited from across the broad spectrum of visual media production, including: HDR imaging, pre-visualisation, stereo and 3D video capture and processing, human motion capture, CG modelling, VFX, interactive media and games, digital image enhancement and content management. Submitted papers will be considered for presentation as posters in a special session. For further information, please see www.cvmp-conference.org.