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Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Gnomon Workshop end of year training DVD's release

+ This week, The Gnomon Workshop is thrilled to announce a huge end of year training DVD release, covering a myriad of subjects from Matte Painting and Character Animation, to Digital Illustration, Creature and Character Design.
Digital Illustration Techniques with Christian Alzmann (Link)
- The process of telling stories through pictures is similar for both concept design and book illustration. In this video, film design veteran Christian Alzmann will take you through a step-by-step process for making a digital illustration. He will demonstrate his techniques for creating strong compositions, blocking in shapes with light and shadow, handling background elements and applying color. Throughout the lecture, Christian shares his thought processes as he reworks compositional elements, renders reflected light and strengthens the main character’s pose, showing you the benefits of painting digitally in Adobe Photoshop® and Corel Painter.
3D Character Design Volume 1 with Scott Patton (link)
- In this DVD, Scott Patton shows the processes he uses to create finished character designs for feature films. This DVD explores Patton's fast and efficient method for concept sculpting, skipping the 2D sketch phase all together and designing the character entirely within ZBrush. This method of design is more interactive and has allowed him to work with directors one-on-one directly in 3D. From basic form to final detail, Patton uses a combination of ZBrush’s tools and straight forward explanations to show how a character can be created without the usual time restrictions and hassle of most 3D packages. He covers everything from blocking out the forms and fleshing out the muscles, to adding props, detailing with alphas and posing the character.
3D Character Design Volume 2 with Scott Patton (link)
- In this DVD, Scott Patton continues from 3D Character Design Volume 1 to show the processes he uses to create finished character designs for feature films. This DVD explores Patton's fast and efficient methods for creating a final color rendering using ZBrush® and Photoshop®. Patton shows how he squeezes the most from ZBrush’s powerful renderer, side-stepping the often complex renderers of standard 3D packages. In creating both a wide and close-up shot of the character, he shares creative Photoshop tips and tricks to quickly get to a finished piece of concept art from the ZBrush renders, covering topics such as adding and refining skin texture, hair, eyes, shadows and scars. Patton also discusses how to quickly create backgrounds that enhance the character and overall composition.
Creature Design with Terryl Whitlatch 3 (link)
- In this third DVD of a series, Terryl Whitlatch demonstrates how to create an aquatic equine based on horse anatomy. Starting with a detailed study of an ordinary horse and ending with several fully rendered illustrations, she shares her techniques and tools—pencils, markers, and tracing paper—as well as a throrough exploration of animal anatomy. Relax as she guides you through the intricacies of leg and hoof structure, as well as the sensitive head, powerful muscles, and noble spirit—all essentials for designing a believable but imaginary steed. From there she covers how to create a mount powerful enough to carry a hero of yore, and then goes on to design an exotic, literal sea horse—a mare that is at home both on land and in the ocean—as well as its reptilian rider. Throughout the DVD, she explores different poses and drawing studies of both horse creatures, giving you insights into her development and thought processes.
Creature Design with Terryl Whitlatch 4 (link)
- In this fourth DVD of a series, Terryl Whitlatch demonstrates how to create a monstrous villain, the Toad-Ogre, as well as other assorted creature characters suitable for film, animation and video games. This is a first-hand look at how creatures are designed in the entertainment industry, with a concise step-by-step analysis from the first rough sketches to the final designs and sculptural maquette. Not only does Terryl share her techniques and tools, including complete drawing and colorization demonstrations, but she also discusses in depth the vital interrelationship between the design of the creatures and the story and script. Terryl discusses what it's like to work with an art director and with other artists in a professional art department setting, and how the team functions together to create the best possible designs.
Action and Close-up Animation Techniques with Burke Roane (link)
- BEHIND THE SCENES (BTS) is an exciting DVD series developed to showcase the creation of a game cinematic sequence. In this chapter of the series Burke Roane focuses on two action-oriented game cinematic shots. He discusses the different stages of animation and explains what is expected from animators in a production environment. He compares and contrasts different computer animation techniques, and shows how to reach a high level of refinement in your shots. From start to finish, Burke explains in great detail how to work in an organized and efficient way, but more importantly he talks about the creative process of animation and how that process guides his workflow.
Matte Painting for Production with Jared Simeth (link)
- BEHIND THE SCENES (BTS) is an exciting DVD series developed to showcase the creation of a game cinematic sequence. In this chapter of the series Jared Simeth demonstrates the creation of two matte paintings. Starting with concept paintings provided by BTS Art Director Mark Goerner, Jared goes through the process of creating simple 3D geometry and matching the camera in Maya. In Photoshop® he executes both a pan and tile style 2D matte painting, and one to be used with a 3D camera move. He covers techniques for keying, creating custom brushes and working with Photoshop’s perspective tools. In Maya, Jared shows how to project the painting onto the 3D geometry in preparation for the final camera move. The viewer will also see production meetings in which both the concept and execution are discussed and critiqued.

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DJ Hero animated HD introduction by Framestore VFX

+ Framestore has delivered a dynamic, animated HD introduction for Activision's new DJ Hero console game, that's set for release in October. Briefed by Freestyle Games, Simon Whalley and Mike Woods from Framestore commissioned director Marco Puig, from Warp Films, to help visualise the animation for this highly anticipated game. Marco's thirst for something unique generated a fantastic treatment and VFX Supervisor, Diarmid Harrison-Murray, developed a look that was part photoreal, part hyper-real and part nod to game play. The result is an epic visual feast, in which a giant record needle terrorises a vinyl planet and its DJ inhabitants.
Realising Marco's vision was a huge technical undertaking for Framestore. Using a team of 25 3D artists, they worked on 76 shots in HD over a solid 15 week period. Apart from the central work of rebuilding and polishing the 5 main DJ characters (Cooky, GMF, HHH, Itch & Shadow), there was also a plethora of props, vehicles, environments, and other characters to create - the final scene alone boasting a retina-clenching 4800 individual dancers. A major challenge of the project was the execution of the music and sound editing. Framestore's Mike Woods worked closely with Freestyle's musical director, Daniel Neil, and sound FX house Pepper to create a sonic mix in 5.1 Dolby Surround sound that fits every aspect of the video narrative.
Watch da Video video


Autodesk HumanIK Middleware Helps “Assassin’s Creed II” Characters to Soar

+ Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADSK) has announced that Autodesk HumanIK character animation middleware was tightly integrated into Ubisoft’s proprietary game engine for the development of “Assassin’s Creed II.” Released November 17, the title sold over 1.6 million units worldwide in its first week on the shelf. HumanIK animation middleware is a runtime solution for creating believable, interactive character animation for games. Ubisoft first used the software on the original “Assassin’s Creed” title. As an integrated part of Ubisoft’s game engine on “Assassin’s Creed II,” HumanIK contributed to the realization of enticing game-play innovations such as climbing, flying and interactions with dynamic nonplayer characters (NPCs). “One of the most important aspects of the ‘Assassin’s Creed II’ game play is the ability for characters to climb. HumanIK allowed us to build new climbing moves into the game and iterate them very quickly without ever having to worry about the quality of the IK solving,” explained James Therien, lead programmer, Assassin’s Creed II, Ubisoft. “Having a package like HumanIK allowed us to address our IK problems quickly without sacrificing results or performance.”
In creating a sequel to its award-winning “Assassin’s Creed” franchise, Ubisoft sought unique ways to improve and build upon the original. Having more interesting and diverse characters, greater interaction with NPCs and a broader range of moves, including flying and complex climbing for NPCs were core differentiators facilitated in part by the integration of HumanIK middleware. Ubisoft has been a longtime user of Autodesk solutions, tapping Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk MotionBuilder software, in addition to HumanIK, as key creative tools for its titles. “3ds Max is our main content creation package. MotionBuilder was used to clean up all of the motion-capture performance data that was used extensively in cut scenes and fight sequences,” said Therien. For additional information about Autodesk, visit www.autodesk.com.


Chinese Version of modo Software

+ Luxology® LLC and Shanghai, China-based Pikatoons, Inc. are excited to announce the Chinese version of Luxology's latest 3D content creation software, modo® 401. This new version is available immediately from Pikatoons, Inc., the exclusive distributor for Luxology software in China. "The arrival of a localized version of modo 401 has been greatly anticipated among the digital arts community in China," said Ye Wei Zhong, president of Pikatoons, Inc. "The Chinese market is steadily growing and this new localized software will allow us to deliver first-class tools and technology to customers in a broad array of disciplines." Designed to serve the fast growing digital art and design markets in China, the Chinese version of modo 401 was first shown at the Digital Art Forum in Wuhu City, Anhui Province in China in late October and features a fully localized interface and menus.
The Chinese version of modo 401 will also help support the increasing number of schools and universities in China incorporating modo into their curriculum.
"We're happy to be able to extend the reach of modo 401 into the Chinese market," said Brad Peebler, president of Luxology. "This project highlights the technical strengths of Pikatoons and we look forward to helping them expand the use of modo in China in the years to come." The Chinese version of modo 401 is available immediately for the suggested retail price of 9900 CNY for the standalone license and 12900 CNY for the floating license. It is designed to work on Windows 7, Vista and XP (32 and 64 bit) and Mac OS X 10.4 or later operating system(s) and for use with the Wacom Intuos 4 tablet. The Chinese version of modo 401 is available from Pikatoons at


ArtRage Studio and ArtRage Studio Pro Released

+ Ambient Design released ArtRage Studio and ArtRage Studio Pro. These new products in the ArtRage family contain all the tools found in the entry level ArtRage product plus dozens of added innovations for advanced users. ArtRage Studio Pro was created for artists who require a professional toolset while ArtRage Studio was designed for artists who don’t need the high-end features. Both products include an intuitive, scalable and customizable interface, a "Canvas Puck", which allows for easy navigation on the canvas, customizable keyboard shortcuts, an auto-smoothing inking pen, watercolors, flood fill, selections, a text tool that for live text editing on layers and the bitmap "Sticker Spray" brush. Hobbyist and professional artists, animators, illustrators, scrapbookers and manga and comic creators will appreciate the software’s power and its ability to allow for seamless, artistic expression.
Customers can choose the software that best fits their needs. ArtRage Studio Pro's more advanced features include: Real color blending, sophisticated color adjustment options, PhotoShop® filter support, a customizable Sticker Spray brush and an inking pen with opacity, blending and anti-alias control. 3D programs can also make use of ArtRage Studio Pro's exported channel maps to recreate the color, volume, gloss and reflectivity of paintings in their native renderers. ArtRage Studio and ArtRage Studio Pro support Windows® 7 touch screen capabilities. ArtRage Studio can be purchased for $40.00 (USD) and ArtRage Studio Pro for $80.00 from the ArtRage web site: www.ArtRage.com.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Introducing Hair Farm (Plug-in for 3ds Max)

(image by Lee Perry-Smith)
+ Hair Farm is a complete hair solution for 3ds Max. It is specifically designed for CG professionals who wish to create gorgeous hair quickly and precisely. Hair Farm comes with over 40 different tools for hair modeling, animation, and rendering. It is fully integrated into 3ds Max and even allows you to use many existing features of 3ds Max with hair objects. Hair Farm was designed and developed by Cem Yuksel, a Computer Graphics researcher at Texas A&M University, over the course of more than 6 years. Hair Farm is not just another tool for producing hair on virtual characters. It is a completely new design that combines state-of-the-art technologies with an artist-friendly user interface and a flexible workflow. Hair Farm's revolutionary hair modeling pipeline gives you precise control over the shape of your hair model. Hair Farm comes with various tools which make modeling all hair from fur to medium and long hair exceptionally simple. Even very long hair, which has been extraordinarily difficult with all previous hair 3d modeling tools, is as simple as modeling any other object. The variety of modeling tools permits choosing your own way of modeling hair depending on your target hairstyle. Hair Farm comes with two separate hair materials, one of which is intended for cartoon-like or stylized characters, while the other one is physically-based and designed for realistic looking hair. Both of these materials are exceptionally easy to use. Hair Farm comes with an incredibly fast hair renderer. After you use this hair renderer once, you won't have the patience to use any other. Hair Farm Renderer can render millions of hairs within seconds. Hair Farm is better integrated into 3ds Max than its built-in hair system! Modifiers, materials, maps, shadows, utility tools, etc.--everything is exactly where you would expect it to be. Furthermore, Hair Farm uses the standard 3ds Max plug-in interface for most tasks. Therefore, it permits the use of many existing tools and third party plug-ins in 3ds Max on hair generated by Hair Farm.
Some of the novel technologies in Hair Farm are the following:
- A whole new hair modeling pipeline combining the best ideas both the industry and the academia, including hair mesh modeling,
- An artist-friendly realistic hair material that can efficiently handle complicated light behavior like multiple scattering in hair volume to produce physically-based realism,
- A highly optimized high-quality ray tracer for hair that automatically handles anti-aliasing without the need to specify the number of samples,
- A whole new hair simulation technique that can robustly handle complicated 3d models and advanced physical behavior like hair-hair interaction,
- Technologies in curve representations for modeling and rendering.

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Unreal® Development Kit Editor Training DVD

+ This week The Gnomon Workshop is pleased to announce its first training DVD on the Unreal® Development Kit Editor. This introductory title by Waylon Brinck, a CG supervisor at EA Los Angeles, covers a lot of ground in over 5 hours of step-by-step instruction on level development workflow, BSP and terrain building, lighting, texture importing and materials basics, importing custom assets and much more. Waylon brings to this DVD his ability to thoroughly breakdown and explain the Unreal Development Kit through his experience teaching Unreal at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects and at various workshops.
In this DVD, Waylon Brinck demonstrates the core features of the Unreal Development Kit Editor. Waylon begins by showing a typical production workflow for level building, then goes through the editor step-by-step, exploring each of the tools needed to build a level, integrate art assets, and ultimately create a finished scene. Along the way, Waylon will introduce core editor features that are the foundation for anyone using the tool. Whether you’re an artist, designer, animator, or engineer, a professional or a hobbyist, this DVD contains everything you need to know to get up to speed quickly on Unreal.
More information

PROJECT NEVER - Graphics Competition

+ Call for entries has been announced for "Project Never" Graphic design competition. Project Never is a free awards competition created by graphic designers for graphic designers. Thousands of effective designs die each day – often for good reason. At the same time, successful designers and agencies generate many worthy ideas for each project or campaign, only one of which gets chosen for wider audiences. Project Never honors the most creative design concept that never reached production. Anyone may submit, as long as the design concepts were developed between January 1, 2009 and February 19, 2010. Submissions must be projects, designs, or concepts that were proposed, but not mass-produced for an executed campaign.
All submissions must be sent to Project Never by February 19, 2010. Winners will be announced April 15, 2010.Entries may be submitted from any country, but must be presented in English.One award will be given to the graphic designer or design team whose unused gem outshines all others. In addition to the winner, the judges will also recognize a handful of other noteworthy submissions. The winner will be profiled on projectnever.com, including judges' commentary, a bio of the designer and/or their company, as well as a link to their website. For more information, please visit www.projectnever.com


FMX 2010

+ Stuttgart/Ludwigsburg, December 2009. Multi-disciplined thinking draws cinema, television, computer, console and mobile screens even closer, reinventing them to remain competitive. FMX has been part of this process for more than 15 years now, introducing the world’s leading experts in the creation, production and distribution of digital entertainment and interactive visualization. Since its founding in 1994, FMX has reflected upon all forms of animation, effects, games, interactive visualization, mobile entertainment and their multiple effects in research and economy. Creative content transcends formats, spreading across the realms of games, animated TV series and mobile applications. FMX embraces this convergence of digital genres and contents, making it the binding theme of the event. More than 350 top notch speakers and partner organizations join FMX every year to better understand the razor edges of our industry.
FMX unites visitors and speakers on many levels: in expert discussions, as networking and recruiting platform and by supporting and promoting young talents. For the upcoming edition hot topics focus on collaborative multi-disciplined production and creation in 360° Media, Hybrid Imagery, most recently seen in James Cameron’s “Avatar”, Robert Zemeckis’s “A Christmas Carol” and Roland Emmerich’s “2012”, and innovations in 3D Stereo which are conquering not only movie theatres, but even television and other aspects of our lives. FMX is an event held in cooperation with VES Visual Effects Society, AIAS Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, ACM Siggraph and 5D Conference. It is hosting the Animation Production Day 2010 (APD), a joint venture with the Festival of Animated Film Stuttgart (ITFS). FMX is funded by the Ministry of State and the Ministry of Economics Baden-Wuerttemberg, MFG Baden-Wuerttemberg Public Film Fund & Public Innovation Agency for Information Technology and Media, and the FFA German Federal Film Board. It is an event by Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, organized by the Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction. For more information at www.fmx.de


Saturday, December 05, 2009

ArtVPS launches Shaderlight 1.0 **

+ Leading rendering solutions provider ArtVPS has announced the immediate availability of Shaderlight 1.0, the first full release version of its interactive rendering plug-in for 3ds Max. Shaderlight 1.0 marks the culmination of two years of research and development and is designed to finally unlock the workflow bottlenecks faced by 3D artists, with its completely new approach to rendering. Shaderlight is a physically based, progressive ray-tracer that enables interactive changes to be made to materials, environments, lighting and textures – the key MELT attributes – at any stage within the rendering process. 3D artists are able to make changes to an image and see the results in real time without compromising on image quality or restarting the render. Shaderlight works by maintaining the relationship between the colour of the rendered pixel and the elements of the 3D scene that contribute to that pixel. When changes are made to any of the MELT elements the software uses the information embedded in the intelligent pixels to update the image without the need to re-render. The launch of Shaderlight 1.0 marks the end of a highly successful pre-release programme during which a dynamic community of early adopters has provided invaluable feedback for the ArtVPS development team. Everyone who downloaded pre-release software will qualify for a 50 percent discount off the price of the full version.
New features in Shaderlight 1.0 include:
• Zoom & Scroll – The Shaderlight window now has a zoom and scroll capability that allows users to render an image that is larger than the available screen size and zoom into an image to view pixel-level details.
• Super-sampling – Super-sampling has been further improved with the addition of Mitchell filtering.
• Image-Based Lighting – Changes to image-based lighting improve both rendering time and quality.
• GI Improvements – The Active Photon Tracing algorithms have been strengthened, resulting in smoother indirect illumination.
• Texture Filtering – Texture filtering has been improved, particularly with respect to environment textures.
• MELT allocation and memory usage – Shaderlight MELT allocation has been improved to ensure that memory usage does not exceed available system resources while maximizing the MELT-ability of the image.
• Stability – Several bugs have been fixed to improve overall stability and feature-related bugs such as the rendering of samples in the 3ds Max material editor have been addressed.
Shaderlight 1.0 is available to download now for $895. ArtVPS is offering a 50 percent discount to anyone who downloaded pre release versions 0.1, 0.2 or 0.3. New users can take advantage of a free 14-day trial. During the free trial users will have access to all of the features in Shaderlight 1.0.

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Dosch 3D: Airport Vehicles

+ Dosch 3D: Airport Vehicles contains 20 detailed 3D-models for the realistic depiction and visualization of activities on an airport tarmac in daily operation. From airplane loading and boarding to taxiing away from the gate, to refueling and even emergency response, it all can be visualized easier with this new Dosch 3D-product. Vehicles provided include 2 ground luggage transport systems, 3 luggage loading vehicles, 2 people-moving systems (incl. Maglev-train), 2 access stairs trucks, as well as various specialty-vehicles (incl. tow tractor, catering truck, fuel-truck, fire truck, snow removal truck). As always when creating a Dosch 3D-product emphasis has been on realistic details and overall authenticity of the models. They are intended to create activity-filled airport scenes in most areas of operation.
This product complements Dosch 3D: Airplanes (9 airplanes, 1 helicopter), as well as D3D: Industrial Buildings (incl. 2 airports with tower; parking garage), and D3D: Passenger Transportation (Buses & train types for intra-terminal airport ground transportation or transportation systems connecting airports to nearby cities). Together these products cover most features of an airport environment. The completely textured 3D-models are provided in multiple file formats: 3DS, 3dsmax (version 4 and above), Lightwave (version 6.5 and above), OBJ, Maya (version 4 and above), VRML, SoftimageXSI, Cinema 4D (version 8.5 and above), Collada DAE and FBX. The list-price of this product is $179. Any Dosch 3D-product or other product lines (texture collections, HDRI-lighting etc.) can be checked out at www.doschdesign.com.


Teaser - Substance 3D

+ The first official teaser trailer for SUBSTANCE 3D, the photorealistic Organic and Fractal Art creator from NeuroSystems is now online. Substance 3D from NeuroSystems is a realtime 3D application for producing photorealistic Evolutionary Art. It allows the artist to generate complex unique unpredictable computer graphics artworks in a very visual way.


Maya Hypershade Workflow 2nd Edition Visual Effects Training Video

+ Dover Studios, Inc. announced the release of Maya Hypershade Workflow 2nd Edition, their latest visual effects training video. Maya Hypershade Workflow 2nd Edition unlocks the secrets of the Hypershade by taking artists through a series of in-depth lessons that focus on creating shading networks in Maya by connecting render nodes in the Hypershade. The second edition has been completely updated and features crystal clear 1080p high definition video.
Visual effects artists, Andrew Hazelden and Russell Hazelden, share workflow techniques that will save you time and help you work more efficiently when using the Hypershade in Maya. Essential topics include: understanding shading groups, linking render nodes using the connection editor, graphing shading networks, working with file textures, assigning materials to objects, exploring the use of both 2D and 3D procedural textures, and using the IPR Renderer to preview the look of shading networks in real time. Discover how to combine file textures to create a realistic tree leaf by using a technique called stencil mapping. Learn how to add surface relief to models with bump and displacement maps. No steps are left out and every detail is explained with easy to follow step-by-step instructions. Advanced topics include: converting a displacement map to a polygon surface, fine tuning feature based displacement, and working with alpha gain and alpha offset values to control the depth and scale of displacement mapped surfaces. Maya Hypershade Workflow 2nd Edition is a comprehensive guide to using the Hypershade that no artist should be without. For more information visit www.doverstudios.com and watch the free preview. Maya Hypershade Workflow 2nd Edition is available now as a download for $49.95 (US). Single user and multi-user site licensed versions of the video are available.


Craft Director Studio™ in TEKKEN™6

+ Craft Animations announces today that NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. (NBGI) has used Craft Director Studio to generate the animated sequences in NBGI’s newly-released TEKKEN™6. With over 2.5 million units on the market, users will enjoy the vehicle and camera animations in the scenario campaign mode of the game which have been created using Craft Director Studio. NBGI created much of the film material using Craft Director Studio - including the animation of the main-character's motorcycle, large numbers of cars, helicopters and more.
Game developers find Craft Director Studio highly valuable for creating high-end animation for vignettes, cut-scenes and other in-game animation. Craft Director Studio simulates the vehicle and camera behavior directly inside Autodesk’s 3ds Max®, Maya®, Softimage® or Maxon’s CINEMA 4D® viewport adding a human touch and superior quality to the animation. Shinichirou Yoda, Assistant Manager, Computer Graphic Motion Department, Contents Production Group of NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. explains that the methods for generating motion which they have used in the past have had restrictions. One example is motion capture; it is difficult to use motion capture when the scale of the scene constantly changes. For instance, a camera enters into the car that is driving recklessly at high speeds. Or think of the scene where a character enters from far-off on a motorcycle, approaches the camera, and then leaves again. Mr Shinichirou explains that his team was given a greater power of persuasion with the greater degree of freedom that CDS offered. Not only would the alternatives have meant they would have to collect a prohibitive amount of data, but they would have been restricted in their creative process, not being able to create all the affects they had wanted. For more information, please visit www.craftanimations.com.

Introducing meshmixer

+ meshmixer is an experimental 3D modeling tool developed by Ryan Schmidt, who is also responsible for ShapeShop. Primarily meshmixer is a tool that makes it dead easy to drag-and-drop parts of 3D meshes. So it is very easy to combine 3D meshes in interesting ways. The goal of meshmixer is to make it dead easy to compose new 3D models from existing meshes. The interface is very simple, it only takes a few minutes to learn the basics. There are videos on the website that have some quick demonstrations. Meshmixer can also be used to fill holes, locally remesh, and so on. For more information, please visit www.meshmixer.com