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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Di-O-Matic Maskarad


+ Di-O-Matic, Inc., a leading developer of 3D character animation software and plug-in tools today announced Maskarad, a new ground-breaking automatic markerless facial performance motion capture software. The Maskarad v1 software is expected to begin shipping in fall 2010 for US 1499$. With Maskarad, 3D artists only need a simple video file featuring an actor performance to create lifelike facial animations. Maskarad automatically locate and track facial expressions and mouth movements. Before Maskarad, realistic 3D facial animation was limited to only a few high-end projects. This was due to the expensive motion capture hardware and laborious post-processing involved either directly or through outsourcing.
"I've tested and used a lot of 3rd party software in my years of production on some of the best games of all-time like Bungie's Halo3, Ubisoft's Spinter Cell and Prince of Persia to name a few" revealed Jonathan Abenhaim, senior freelance character animator. He continues: "My hat goes off to the team over at Di-O-Matic for nailing it with Maskarad!.....It's insanely simple, it output results in a fraction of the time it used to take me to produce facial animations."

No messy or cumbersome face markers setup, no time-consuming post-processing and no expensive dedicated hardware is required. Maskarad quickly output facial animation data ready to be used in your favorite 3d applications including 3ds max, Maya, Softimage and MotionBuilder. Maskarad is a markerless motion capture technology that literally puts motion capture on the animator's desktop. You can shoot a video right at your workplace using a webcam or inexpensive digital camera and have it converted to 3D facial animation data in minutes. For a full list of all the features planned for Maskarad and video-demo of Maskarad, please visit the product information page at:
Click Here

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Pixologic unveils ZBrush Version 4.0


+ Pixologic, Inc., makers of the award winning ZBrush is pleased to announce that it will be unveiling the latest software in the Pixologic line - ZBrush Version 4.0 (for Win and Mac) at Siggraph 2010 show Los Angeles Convention Center 27th-29th July 2010. Pixologic also announced that following the 'sneak preview' at Siggraph 2010, ZBrush 4.0 will be available to the public for purchase and download on 8/9/10 (Monday 9th August 2010). Those visiting the Siggraph exhibition floor will have the opportunity to pre- purchase a special edition package of ZBrush 4.0 at the Pixologic Booth!
ZBrush is the leading 2D/3D digital sculpting application for artists today and is used extensively in the film, game, toy and collectible industries as well as scientific illustration. Pixologic will be hosting hourly demonstrations at Booth #709 where attendees, users and newcomers will see and explore the latest exciting ZBrush 4.0 features, presented live by industry renowned character modeling artists and supervisors- from Disney Animation Studios, Blur Studios, Naughty Dog and other top film and gaming studios. Visit at Website: www.pixologic.com

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Autodesk Butterfly


+ Autodesk Butterfly is a new web application from Autodesk that enables users to edit and collaborate on AutoCAD drawings and 3D renderings online using just a Web browser. Since Butterfly’s Beta launch a few months ago, it’s been used extensively as platform for design communication between 3D artists and remote/offshore clients.

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Pixel Farm Launches Radical New Approach To Tracking


+ The Pixel Farm Ltd developer of innovative image-processing systems for VFX, DI and restoration, will unveil a groundbreaking advance in tracking software for digital visual effects at SIGGRAPH 2010 (Booth #313). Employing a brand new architecture, the technology dramatically improves the fundamental processes involved in camera tracking, one of the most important areas of successful VFX creation, ushering in unprecedented levels of flexibility, control, accuracy and speed.
The new, node-based flowgraph architecture, developed by the company's renowned R&D team, is an industry-first in camera tracking and match moving software. Easy to learn and operate, it provides a logical visual overview of tracking workflows, and gives digital artists a procedural, non-linear environment in which to experiment non-destructively with different approaches to a shot to achieve the best result possible. In many cases this enables shots to be tackled, which were previously considered untrackable. Optimised as a 64-bit application, and running natively on OSX, Windows and Linux, the new architecture is underpinned with metadata management, fully-integrated Python scripting, workflow customisation and a host of other features, such as in-built rolling shutter correction and image-distortion tools. The new flowgraph workflow, unique in the camera tracking/match-moving market, provides instant familiarity for digital artists who use node-based composting and effects software, and delivers the significant advantage of enabling full control over every aspect of each individual operation.

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OptiTrack Demonstrates the Future of Virtual Filmmaking at SIGGRAPH 2010


+ With the massive success of computer-generated 3D films like "Avatar," real-time virtual production workflows are setting a new trend in Hollywood. At SIGGRAPH 2010, OptiTrack™, in conjunction with Autodesk, will provide attendees with a demonstration of how to create a cost-effective virtual production pipeline that will easily integrate into existing workflows. Live demonstrations featuring OptiTrack and Autodesk products will be available at the OptiTrack booth (#701) and Autodesk booth (#500), July 26 - 29, 2010 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Featuring real-time data streamed between the OptiTrack and Autodesk booths, joint demonstrations will showcase how body motion capture (from OptiTrack ARENA™ software) and virtual camera work (from the OptiTrack Insight VCS) can be combined with Autodesk MotionBuilder, Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Face Robot to create a comprehensive computer generated film sequence.
About OptiTrack

OptiTrack™ is the leading brand of affordable, high-quality motion capture technology. The OptiTrack product line includes: the Insight VCS; ARENA™, Expression™ and Tracking Tools™ motion capture software; and OptiTrack high-speed motion tracking cameras. Used by facilities worldwide in a variety of markets ranging from film and games to sports training and biomechanics, OptiTrack customers include Halon Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Microsoft Game Studios, Method Studios, Lockheed Martin, NASA, John Deer, and other top studios and developers around the world. For more information on products and pricing, please contact the company's headquarters in Corvallis, Ore. at 1-888-865-5535, or visit www.optitrack.com.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

DVD! Low-Res Character Production



+ In this DVD instructor Adam Schuman walks you through the entire process of constructing a low resolution 3D character worthy of any "next-generation" game. Follow him as he shows you his techniques in exporting the high-res model from ZBrush, reconstructing the low-res meshes, creating the UV's for all of the meshes, baking out all of the maps (3ds Max and xNormal), creating all of the textures, using real-time viewport shaders, and rendering out the final for your portfolio.This DVD is geared to improve your workflow by helping you understand what is expected of professionals in the field today. Adam Schuman has been in the video game industry since graduating from the Art Institute of Dallas in 2002. Project Files includes: The final 3ds Max lowres character files (2011 and 2010 versions). The final PSD textures. Obj files of the decimated highres and polypaint textures. Multi-Obj 3ds Max script and 3 point realtime lighting fx file.

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Download BRIX Lite Edition for 3ds Max


+ As of today, the BRIX Lite Edition for 3ds Max 2009 / 2010 / 2011 is available for FREE. BRIX Lite Edition contains 8 materials (as above) from the full version and can be used for commercial productions without limitation. The functionality is not limited except for two things: The material library contains 8 V-Ray and Standard materials instead of 100 materials and you cannot import your own bitmaps into BRIX Lite Edition. Brix Lite contains 70 bricks and tiles as well as 223 bitmaps.
>> Download Now

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HP and Cartoon Network launch all new Toon Creator Awards for 2010


+ HP and Cartoon Network have once again joined forces to unleash the inner animator in kids across Asia Pacific with an all-new Toon Creator Awards for 2010. Back by popular demand, this year’s Toon Creator Awards will kick off on July 1, and invite kids aged 6-14 from Australia, India, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Pakistan to showcase their creativity through cutting-edge technology. “We are delighted to offer children in Asia a new and improved Toon Creator Awards for 2010 in collaboration with Cartoon Network,” said Dennis Mark, Vice President and General Manager – Marketing, Personal Systems Group for HP Asia Pacific and Japan. “This competition is close to our hearts as it encourages and inspires creativity and innovation at a young age. We are looking forward to judging the entries and seeing children across the region reap the benefits.” ...Benjamin Grubbs, Regional Director of Turner Entertainment Interactive Media said, “The response to our inaugural Toon Creator Awards in 2009 was phenomenal as nearly 26,000 kids across the region embraced the opportunity to step into the shoes of a Cartoon Network animator and submit over 227,000 animation entries. This year we have worked closely with HP to develop a completely fresh and innovative Toon Creator experience, which is sure to spark even more creativity amongst kids.” New features added to the Toon Creator Awards this year include a character creator function that allows players to build personalized avatars to participate in exciting adventures and even have a leading role in their own animations. Kids can travel to Australia and help Flapjack clean up the Great Barrier Reef or visit Taiwan to assist the Ben 10 Alien Force gang win the Dragon Boat races. Players will be able to journey online to various locations in Asia Pacific to participate in different tasks, unlocking assorted items to enhance their final animations. Kids can also flex their creative muscle by designing their very own endings to cliff-hanger clips starring a variety of Cartoon Network’s favourite characters such as Ben Tennyson, Chowder and The Powerpuff Girls. Once completed, animations can be posted onto the Cartoon Network website for everyone to see. The Toon Creator Awards are available in two categories, schools and individual entries. Amazing prizes are up for grabs and winners from each category will be determined by a combination of online votes and a professional judging panel from HP and Cartoon Network.
>>
Toon Creator Awards for 2010

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Procedural Partnering with ESRI and NVIDIA on 3D Cities


+ Procedural Inc., the developer of the 3D city modeling software CityEngine, announces that it has joined the ESRI Business Partner Program as a Complementary Technology Provider. Participation in the program will create new opportunities for the two organizations to better serve customers with smart 3D city solutions based on GIS data and procedural modeling techniques. The potential of the collaboration has been demonstrated in the Plenary Session at the 2010 ESRI User Conference in San Diego. Procedural and ESRI teamed up with NVIDIA to set up a pipeline for the creation, analysis and visualization of photorealistic 3D cities from 2D ArcGIS data. NVIDIA's RealityServer, which runs in GPU-based cloud computing environments, enables anyone to interact remotely with complex 3D cities on mobile devices such as netbooks, tablets or even the iPhone.
>>
3D Rotterdam - Project

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Octane render review by Evermotion



+ Found this interesting article on evermotion, giving some insight on GPU rendering and detail review of upcoming Octane render; a GPU based, un-biased, physically based renderer. Snippet: "Octane Render is the world's first GPU based, un-biased, physically based renderer. What does that mean? It uses the video card in your computer to render photo-realistic results fast...really fast. This allows the user to create stunning works in a fraction of the time of traditional CPU based renderers." Let's point some basic info about the renderer. Octane unlike many other 3D applications is very cheap and available to even common user of graphics software. The other interesting thing is multi-platform support, so we can run Octane under MS Windows, Apple Mac or even Linux! We are also not bound to any 3D software, because Octane works as standalone renderer. With currently developed plugins, we can link it to the most popular applications such as: Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya, Softimage XSI, Maxon Cinema4D, but also to Blender, Google SketchUp and Luxology Modo. Even more, if we work for example in any 3D CAD application such as ArchiCAD, we can export our model/scene to Wavefont .obj format, and then import it to Octane for material setup and rendering..............Read on!!

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Prince of Persia VFX by Framestore


+ One of this year's tent pole productions for Disney, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is released on 28th May 2010 in the US and UK. Based on the phenomenally successful video game of the same name, the film is directed by Mike Newell and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan, Gemma Arterton as Princess Tamina and Ben Kingsley as Nizam. The film's stunning visual effects were created almost entirely in London, with Framestore contributing some 124 shots, including the creation of the movie's breathtaking penultimate action sequence. The two main elements on which Framestore worked were the Hassansin Vipers, a breed of murderous, supernatural snake that Dastan has to fight, slay and even dissect; and the Sand Room sequence, featuring a deadly chamber filled with a sandy vortex through which our hero has to pass en route to his showdown with Nizam. Both of these contrasting elements - one creature, one environmental - were concepted, created and executed in-house at Framestore, with the company's artists and technicians playing a crucial role in developing them for the screen. "VFX are normally secondary to the action and the characters," says Morris, "But in this case, the VFX are the action and the room itself is the character. Kevin Jenkins' phenomenal design concepts were our starting point, and his work ultimately became the closest thing to a style-bible we had. In a period of two weeks we built an absolute bare minimum of props for the shoot. It was the last thing in the film to get shot, actually. Normally something on this scale would get maybe a month's shooting time - we got six days. It was shot in December 2008, and over the subsequent six months we (along with Tom Wood) completely reconstructed the scene."...................Read On!!

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New Comic Book Illustration and Concept Design dvds


+ The Gnomon Workshop brings you three new titles from two of the top creative minds in the comic book and design worlds. The first release comes from acclaimed comic book illustrator Phil Noto. In Comic Book Illustration, Phil breaks down his process of creating a comic book cover/pinup in his own style, using a completely digital workflow. Using a combination of Adobe Photoshop for sketch and color, and Manga Studio for inking, Phil discusses the technical and artistic benefits of each application while highlighting key topics such as proportion, silhouette, color, and line weight.
The Gnomon Workshop also releases the first two titles from the creative mind of Cameron Davis. In Character Design for Games and Animation Volumes 1 and 2, Cameron is sure to stir your creative juices as he walks you through his creative decision making process, from story and ideation, all the way to a fully rendered design. Along the way, Cameron discusses character design fundamentals including color and shape, and how these ideas directly impact audience psychology. These concepts are then applied to his final design and out comes a wonderfully creative piece with story and purpose, unique to Cameron's own style.
>> Comic Book Illustration with Phil Noto Pinups
>> Character Design for Games and Animation Volume 1
>> Character Design for Games and Animation Volume 2

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MakingOf talks animation with “Toy Story 3’s” animators


+ Bobby Podesta, Mike Venturini and story supervisor (Jason Katz) of "Toy Story 3" talk about revisiting characters and introducing new ones from an animators perspective. A really interesting part of the interview was when they were talking about having to simplify the animation to make the toys look like toys and not have human like mannerisms: “So you have to think about that, you know, his joints are solid, he’s plastic, there’s dirt in there. You have to take the polish out. So we had to train ourselves to really simplify a lot of the work that we had been used to doing in the past. That was a big thing: exercising restraint and that was a challenge for a lot of our animators.” They also talk about the previous “Toy Story” movies and how they think they have improved. Its a really cool interview if you are into animation. Check it out........click here!!

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