G4, the Comcast-owned TV network about video games and the gamer lifestyle, announced the winners of its first video game Glow Awards July 30, 2003 at G-Phoria, the network's location-based and televised mega-event held at the Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood, celebrating the massive phenomenon of video games. Presented by EB Games and Jeep, the show was hosted by actor/comedian Jamie Kennedy, who announced awards in key categories. A 90-minute special taped at G-Phoria airs on G4 August 8 at 8:00 pm.
Category: Visual Effects
The Ben Affleck superhero actioner, DAREDEVIL, based on the Marvel comic book, comes to DVD (Fox Home Entertainment, $29.98) armed with more features than fearless protagonist Matt Murdock. Among them is an hour-long collection of interviews with people that worked on the comic, including creator Stan Lee, Frank Miller and director Kevin Smith.
Maxon Computers announced the release of BodyPaint 3D Release 2, which included development aid from Sony Pictures Imageworks. The new version includes fast and easy-to-use tools for distortion free painting and Projection Painting, which allows textures to be painted onto a 3D model without UV seams appearing. Used in conjunction with RayBrush mode, users can create perfectly mapped textures and view results in realtime.
At SIGGRAPH 2003, BOXX Technologies announced it has entered into a strategic partnership with Discreet to offer 3ds max with its XXtreme series of 3DBOXX workstations. In addition, the company announced the release of CineBOXX [review], the first component in the CineBOXX series of digital intermediate systems for real-time playback of 2K DPX and Cineon files at 24fps, as well as an upgrade to its HD editing and compositing system, HDBOXX.
TroubleMaker Studios and Janimation animators used AMD processors with hardware support from BOXX and NVIDIA, as well as software from Microsoft and Softimage on SPY KIDS 3D: GAME OVER. The third installment of Robert Rodriguez' highly successful family franchise features stereoscopic elements enhanced with 3D glasses.
R!OT Santa Monica created a massive and richly detailed digital replica of 19th Century London as part of its VFX package for Fox's new THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. The R!OT team also concocted a roomful of missile silos inside a giant submarine, impaled a man on a rhinoceros horn and came up with a unique way of visualizing the voices on an old phonograph recording.
Turbo Squid has announced the certification and release of cgCharacters Absolute Character Tools (ACT) 1.6 Pro as a Discreet Certified 3ds max Plug-in. ACT is a fast and stable production platform that offers a wide array of character modeling and animation features. In addition to cgMuscle objects, ACT also includes tools and objects (cgTubes) to create skinned proxy characters that deform and animate in realtime.
DKP Effects recently partnered with Rhino Home Video and Warner Strategic Marketing to bring a new interactivity to the booming DVD format: DVDn. The first title, SCOURGE OF WORLDS: A DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ADVENTURE ($24.95), released earlier this summer, is intended to be a true hybrid of features and gaming.
SPEC's Graphics Performance Characterization (SPEC/GPC) group has launched a new program that gives non-members of the organization access to its benchmarking review and publication processes. SPEC/GPC's SPECviewperf and SPECapc application-based benchmarks are considered worldwide standards for objective performance measurement. SPECviewperf offers direct performance comparisons of graphics hardware running datasets from popular CAD/CAM, digital content creation and visualization applications.
As a way of promoting the release of SPY KIDS 3D: GAME OVER on July 25, 2003, Discovery Kids on NBC will be airing a special kids edition of the TLC TV series TRADING SPACES, featuring SPY KIDS stars Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara. Hitting the airwaves Saturday, July 19 from 11:00-11:30 am (ET)/9:00 -9:30 AM (PT), BOYS VS. GIRLS has Alexa joining 13-year-old Kali as she turns her brothers room into a spy-training obstacle course, featuring monkey bars, tire steps and a climbing wall. Daryl will team with Eli to change Kalis bedroom into a retro soda shop.
R!OT Santa Monica produced more than a dozen complex VFX shots for Warner Bros. TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (produced by C2/Intermedia), including several highly detailed 3D digital matte paintings. Specializing in creating realistic virtual environments, artists from the studio's feature film unit created a remote desert military facility, a cavernous elevator shaft, a warehouse filled with robotic weapons, aerial scenes and other hard to replicate locations.
Digital Anarchy, a leading provider of cost-effective special effects software for Adobe, Apple and Discreet products, has released the Anarchy Toolbox for After Effects. Anarchy Toolbox is a set of nine tools for creating a wide variety of sophisticated effects, including creative blurs, beautiful glows, controlled distortions, seamlessly tiled images, warped graphics and utilities.
Proxima, an Italian digital effects partner of famed Cinecittà Studios in Rome, has been handed a large portion of the VFX work on EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING, the prequel to the legendary horror film that Warner Bros. will release February 6, 2004. The Paul Schrader film was shot at Cinecittà and Proxima is part of Cinecittà Digital Village, which is quickly becoming one of the most important digital arenas in Europe.
In anticipation of The SCI FI Channel's new four-hour BATTLESTAR GALACTICA miniseries (premiering December 2003), Universal Home Video will launch the landmark 1978 TV series on DVD, Oct. 21, 2003. The six-disc Complete Epic Series collection is priced at $119.98, while the subsequent feature is repriced at $19.98.
Vin Diesel will reprise his break-out role as PITCH BLACK's anti-hero Richard B. Riddick in THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, a sci-fi action/adventure that just started shooting for Universal Pictures, in association with Radar Pictures and One Race Prods. Co-starring Colm Feore, Alexa Davalos, Karl Urban, Linus Roache, Thandie Newton and Dame Judi Dench the film is written and directed by David Twohy (BELOW and PITCH BLACK), produced by Scott Kroopf (THE LAST SAMURAI and PITCH BLACK) and Vin Diesel (XXX).
Digital Film Lab has released DIGITAL FILM LAB 1.0, which allows filmmakers to simulate several film looks, glass camera filters, specialized lenses and optical lab processes. The program provides 8- or 16-bits-per-channel processing, and can mimic Color Correct, Bleach Bypass, Low Contrast, Flashing, Overexpose, Diffusion, Blur, Grad, Grain and Post Color Correct. By loading presets, parameters in the various modules are set to achieve a variety of different effects.
Oxford, U.K.-based 2d3, a developer of Emmy Award-winning professional 3D camera-tracking solutions, has announced that its new SteadyMove plug-in will be bundled with all copies of Adobe Premiere Pro. The advanced version of the shot stabilization software will be released on July 25, 2003 for $99.
It was a Canadian visual effects house that rebuilt the White House in CG, using Maya, during a 25-second shot for DreamWorks HEAD OF STATE, the Chris Rock film, and his directorial debut, where Rock's character set his sights on becoming the president. Toronto-based Toybox did the comedic pyrotechnics on the American icon. Digital matte paintings were created for the sky and lawn in Photoshop and inferno, while 3D trees were built in Houdini to add depth to the shot. The fire that ensues at the White House was done completely in CG, using Maya and Houdini for the fire and smoke elements, as well as the debris. The final elements were composited together in inferno.
Toybox also did the dust, smoke and debris for the live pyro elements for Miss Pearls House sequence. The first step in this shot was to remove the moving talent out of the background to leave a clear canvas for the Toybox teams. A second unit crew built a steel set of the house and shot pyro elements, composited later into the shot. Then the 3D debris, smoke and dust were built in and composited into the shot along with fire elements and previously removed talent.
After premiering at Universal Studio's Hollywood theme park in May 23, 2003, the SHREK 4D attraction opened June 16 at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, continuing DreamWorks' Oscar-winning blockbuster with "OgreVision" animation and "sensory immersion."
The bravura freeway chase and all the rest of those mind-bending action stunts in THE MATRIX RELOADED were planned with help of 3D animatics and other services provided by Pixel Liberation Front (PLF). The Venice, California-based company also contributed pre-production and on-set pre-visualization to the upcoming MATRIX REVOLUTIONS.
Side Effects Software, developer of the award-winning Houdini 3D software package, has assembled a panel of judges for The Houdini Apprentice Challenge, an art and animation contest centering on the company's Houdini Apprentice Edition. Co-sponsored by Hewlett Packard and ATI Technologies, the Challenge uncovers new animation talent for leading studios that use Houdini solutions within their visual effects pipelines.
Los Angeles-based Zoic Studios, along with motion-capture specialists at Motion Analysis Studios (MAS) and Nexus Digital Studios, have created the epic effects for the show finale of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, airing May 20, 2003 at 8:00 pm on UPN. Zoic co-founder Loni Peristere has been working closely with BUFFY creator Joss Whedon since the first season. Along with his Zoic Studios and fellow digital effects supervisor Patti Gannon, Peristere and Whedon have been batting around ideas for the historic last episode for months.
When the earth stops rotating in Paramount's sci-fi drama THE CORE, it sets off a chain of disastrous events that kept visual effects houses like ComputerCafé busy creating digital mayhem. The Santa Maria, California-based VFX house (www.computercafe.com), had to burn up the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge loaded with commuters locked in gridlock, complete with melting automobile tires, exploding gasoline tanks, cracking the roadbed, snapping suspension cables and ultimately bring down the bridge itself.
News that Eastman Kodak is phasing out its Cinesite visual effects division in Hollywood put a bit of a damper on vfx professionals attending the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 2002 Scientific and Technical Awards gala in Beverly Hills on Saturday, February 28, 2003. Attendees became visibly downcast as they talked about the second vfx group to close in the past couple months. (Centropolis Effects in Los Angeles lost its work on THE MATRIX sequels when its parent company Das Werk in Germany filed for bankruptcy.) AWN asked some of the pros: