Over the past five years the changes in special effects technology for film and television have been monumental, causing large shifts and new issues for production companies and the software/hardware companies that service them. Bruce Manning outlines the issues and then sits down with Richard Taylor to discuss. Includes an image gallery from industry veteran Richard Taylor!
With today's new software packages becoming more and more efficient for less and less money, one can definitely do more with less. John Edgar Park discusses the different software and hardware combos that can get you on the fast track to great looking CGI work.
Exporting your animation to Flash so that it plays smoothly and soundly over the Internet is getting more complicated with every new product crowing about its 'Flash-export capability.' Mark Winstanley is here to make sense of it all for you.
Giant Studios' new animated short film FRUITS OF LABOR premiered this week in San Jose, California, and received a warm and enthusiastic response. The film features a cast of simple computer graphics characters - a shiny red apple, a man and a fly - animated in a stylized way and rendering with startling photo-realism. Rudy Poat, creative director for the project described the look as being, "something that looks like stop-motion and that fooled both the mind and the eye.
Nothing Real, the producer of popular compositing tool Shake, has announced that their new Tremor compositing system has entered into worldwide beta testing. Tremor is a front room, client-based compositing solution, engineered to handle the most demanding needs of HDTV, commercial video and broadcast production professionals. The product is built around a new, simplified and streamlined interface and incorporates the mature and production proven technology based on Shake's rendering engine. Tremor will be sold as an integrated compositing hardware/software product.
QEDSoft's QEDStream product line now natively supports the Kaydara FBX format. QEDStream users are now able to read FBX files, simplifying their production pipeline and enabling Web-content creation from the Kaydara suite of real-time 3D authoring tools. Designed to provide an authoring hub between major 3D packages, FBX provides a centralized working file format for vendors wishing to acquire, author and retarget 3D data and animation. "Using FBX and QEDStream in combination provides a superb channel for streaming both current and legacy content on the Web," said Michel Veys, COO of QEDSoft.
This week, Adobe has been teasing us with a taster of what's to come in their long-awaited upgrade to their compositing software After Effects. In order to compete with other packages on the market (namely Discreet combustion), Adobe has broken After Effects into two packages - a Standard version and a Production Bundle.
REALVIZ and Alias|Wavefront are now offering REALVIZ's award-winning ImageModeler to all new customers of Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited. ImageModeler provides computer graphics professionals with more intuitive and innovative image-based solutions to complex production challenges for the creation of graphics and visual effects for film, broadcast, game development and the Internet.
On March 6, 2001, U.K.-based Kelseus will release Version 1 of CLOTH, a new plug-in for 3D Studio MAX. CLOTH produces highly realistic animation of clothes on animated figures and objects, taking into account all of the cloth geometry that collides with another object - not just the vertices. It also boasts complete integration with Max Dynamic Effects such as the Wind and Gravity Space Warps, and it can maintain libraries of cloth materials, which can be re-used between scenes.
The Web3D Consortium has announced the Rich Media 3D (RM3D) initiative, which is developing an open standard to enable rich media content containing 3D graphics, video and audio to be sent over the Internet and used in broadcast applications. RM3D is intended to enable an emerging category of media-capable Internet and broadcast devices and appliances to receive and present advanced content optimally while simplifying the media authoring process.
Sony Computer Entertainment of America has recently installed a 16 M-Series Camera (MCam) Real-Time Vicon 8 system in their 5,000-square-foot motion-capture studio. The system, which can capture the nuances of multiple actors simultaneously, will be used in the development of games for Sony's new PlayStation 2 system. "Vicon 8 motion-capture technology is a state-of-the-art hardware and software system with no equal in the industry," stated Jason Parks, motion-capture manager, Sony Computer Entertainment America.
Alias|Wavefront is celebrating due to the fact that their award-winning 3D animation system Maya was used to create the top four selling December 2000 titles for the PlayStation 2. Research by PC Data Inc. shows Electronic Arts' MADDEN NFL 2001 leading the list of top-sellers with SSX: SNOWBOARD SUPERCROSS (EA) second, TEKKEN TAG TOURNAMENT (Namco) third, and NHL 2001 (EA) fourth. All of these titles were developed by companies using Maya for the creation of game graphics such as characters, environments and effects.
Screamline Rendering Services, provided by Intel's Internet Computing Services, is offering the 3D animation and visual effects community a special trial of their Web-based rendering services and project management software. Those wanting to take advantage of this free trial offer can download a copy of the JobAnalyst management tool from the Screamline Website. Then, at no cost, rendering projects can be uploaded and artists can enjoy free rendering services for the first 1000 frames of their work. Robert J.
Digital Film Tools has released Composite Suite 1.5, a comprehensive set of special effects plug-ins for Avid Editing Systems and Adobe After Effects. Composite Suite includes 14 effects plug-ins that were until recently, only available in-house at Digital FilmWorks. It features selective color correction, matte generation, natural lighting effects, as well as specialized tools for combining imagery such as fire, smoke and explosions.
Caligari has started shipping trueSpace5 - the long-awaited new version of their affordable and powerful 3D modeling and animation program. The new version adds features such as NURBS modeling, new lights and rendering tools, and output for the Web. Caligari has built upon trueSpace's distinctive "hands-on" user interface, optimizing it for use with the latest hardware (including the new Intel Pentium 4 processor), and adding new tools for easier manipulation of 3D objects.
Discreet has started shipping a new version of their real-time broadcasting graphics system frost. Along with other Discreet digital workflow solutions, frost has been used by eight major networks (NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, CNNi, CNN Headline News, Fox News and ABC) for live-coverage graphics during the surprise developments in the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election. Now, version 2.5 streamlines on-air graphics development and workflow even further.
At South Burlington's Imaging Lab, students learn the three "Rs" of Reading, 'riting, and Real-Time Rendering using Intergraph Computer Systems ViZual Workstations.
Digimation has recently started shipping Phoenix 1.5, an upgrade to their original fire simulation plug-in for 3ds max developed by the Chaos Group. Phoenix was developed for simulating real fire and it allows 3ds max objects to appear as if they are engulfed in flames. By simply choosing any object or particle system as the emitter, Phoenix has the ability to wrap it in a complete volumetric flame. Phoenix allows full control of the colors, lights, transparency and the shape of the flames. The fire results will stun in both realism as well as overall control.
After amassing rave reviews and hit projects in just one year, it is time to visit the project:messiah Group, creators of 3D animation's newest leading software package, that was created from the ground up to fill both studio production and animators' artistic needs.
Rainbow Studios, a leading digital studio, recently switched its hoard of Intergraph workstations to 3DBOXX systems from BOXX Technologies. Rainbow Studios is involved in the production of numerous high-profile projects from short commercials and complex game cinematics to all CGI episodic television shows and film production. "We chose BOXX Technologies because they know more than how to just build a fast machine," says Nicholas Napp, vice president of digital animation at Rainbow Studios.
DPS has released their stop-frame animation software DPS AniMate for use with the dpsReality Studio Digital Disk Recorder (SDDR) and dpsVelocity non-linear editing system. DPS AniMate is a software package developed by DPS to enable stop-frame animators to build up animations quickly and easily. DPS AniMate, dpsReality and dpsVelocity can be used as stop-frame video assist or direct-to-disk systems.
Project:messiah 1.5 is about to expand into messiah:studio, a new modular and innovative approach to animation. Mike Amron investigates. Includes QuickTime movie clips!
Web4's new Internet production and post-production tool for animation and digital video and film premiered at NAPTE. eReview Producer provides real-time streaming, keyframe and office document view, markup, collaboration and archiving, audio and music support, integrated real-time video conferencing and chat features all accessible from multiple global locations. "eReview is the only production/post-production software tool of its kind for use with digital based film, video and animation," said Charles Sleichter, vice president of marketing for Web4.
DigiCel, Inc. recently released FlipBook PT, their new pencil test software for Windows. The new software follows the classical approach to cel animation letting animators scan and shoot or draw their artwork directly into a traditional exposure sheet and play it back instantly. The user can then adjust the playback rate, synchronize the soundtrack and even edit the exposure sheet while the scene is playing, then see and hear those changes immediately. This is also useful for storyboarding, animatics and track reading to improve lip synch.
Discreet recently announced that they have begun shipping the long-awaited upgrade to 3D Studio MAX, 3ds max 4. 3ds max 4 delivers a new and extensible character animation architecture, advanced game development tools and extensive rendering productivity with ActiveShade, Render Elements and unparalleled support for the new Direct 3D technology.