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Desowitz at SIGGRAPH 2009: Day 3

Naturally Autodesk had some big announcements, including 2010 versions of Maya, MotionBuilder and Mudbox and along with new suites for digital entertainment creation and new education initiatives.

Chris Landreth's The Spine

written by Bill Desowitz

Naturally Autodesk had some big announcements, including 2010 versions of Maya, MotionBuilder and Mudbox and along with new suites for digital entertainment creation and new education initiatives.

Maya 2010 has all the features of Maya Unlimited 2009 and Maya Complete 2009, including the Maya Nucleus Unified Simulation Framework, Maya nCloth, Maya nParticles, Maya Fluid Effects, Maya Hair, and Maya Fur.

New features include Maya Composite, a powerful high-dynamic composting system based on Autodesk Toxik software, which is no longer available as a standalone solution; Autodesk MatchMover advanced 3D tracking and matchmoving system; five mental ray Batch render nodes and the Autodesk Backburner network render queue manager. More... Softimage 2010 features an optimized GigaCore III architecture and expanded and customizable ICE system, plus integrates Face Robot.

Mudbox 2010 makes it easier to work with other apps and offers new tools and Software development kit.

So what's it all mean for the industry during this recession?

"Less features and greater productivity, connectivity and added value," suggested Rob Hoffman, Autodesk's senior entertainment product marketing manager. "Everyone's looking for efficiency, budgets are restricted and they have to do a lot more complex work. But what we're doing is trying to give more creative control to the artists."

And what about the impact of performance capture/hybrid moviemaking as a result of Avatar and Tintin potentially changing the paradigm? "Just the fact that a director can go back and do multi [virtual] camera passes, suddenly a movie environment is more like a sitcom with a lot of camera switching," added Bruno Sargeant, senior Television Industry Manager. "I haven't seen it happen yet, but I know it will and it's coming soon."

Meanwhile, don't miss Chris Landreth's presentation tomorrow morning at 10:30 am on Psychorealism and the making of his short, The Spine. We had a nice chat this morning. "I will be talking more about the psychology of The Uncanny Valley," he offered. "I think I have a few things in there that haven't been talked about. I'm going to talk about honesty: one of the problems about getting too realistic with characters without getting completely photorealistic is that there is an underlying motivation that audiences don't appreciate, which is on some level that they're going to feel like they're being tricked. That was my impression of The Polar Express. No matter how much I saw of the motion capture of Tom Hanks being the Tom Waits kind of bum on the top of the railroad car, for example, my impression when seeing the making of is that I would so much prefer to see Tom Hanks himself wearing a leotard and little white points on him on top of the car. Just find some way of explaining that.

As part of giving back to the New Orleans community SIGGRAPH introduced SIGGRAPH 2009+1 Outreach: a partnership with the Algiers Technical Academy, a charter high school just across the bridge that offers courses to train students in computer graphics.

Spearheaded by Jerome Solomon, SIGGRAPH 2009+1 Outreach chair from Industrial Light & Magic, SIGGRAPH performed a complete makeover of the school’s computer room and created a new student computer graphics lab with 45 computers donated from Walt Disney Animation Studios and 45 Maya Unlimited sets and 3ds Max donated by Autodesk and Pixologic donated ZBrush and graphics cards and $10,000 donated by NVIDIA.

"We spent [last week] installing all the equipment and getting [everything] in place to launch the actual graphics lab [this week]," explained Solomon, production manager at ILM."We had students out and they started jumping right into Maya, doing 3D stuff, which was really cool. They're really getting exposure to some of these things they wouldn't have been able to do without SIGGRAPH being here. So it's really an amazing collaboration."

And today the students will be coming to SIGGRAPH to be mentored by Solomon and a host of other professionals, touring the exhibition floor and interacting with vets. SIGGRAPH is putting in place a mobile text message-based fundraising campaign that people can participate in throughout the week: MARCH TO 30644.

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.