As we all know the countdown to the 2012 Olympics is on, in fact it is at 77 days to be precise. The buzz of the Olympics is infectious and seems like a time for us to celebrate all things British, especially when it comes to VFX. So thankfully I found this in little beauty in the VFX news this week, the final version of Studio AKA’s introduction sequence for the BBC and their Olympic Torch Relay Coverage.
Batman? The Dark Knight? Wonder Woman? Not really, but these incredibly detailed, hand-crafted finger puppet designs by Tamara Maynes recall iconic heroes and villains who we’ve seen in the pages of comic books and as blockbusters on the big screen.
Yesterday Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of the children’s classic book Where The Wild Things Are, died. Famous through his writing and illustrating, Sendak published a number of children’s books, wrote and designed three animated stories and his final book “Bumble Ardy” was an adaption of a collaboration between Sendak and Jim Henson from kid’s TV favourite Sesame Street.
Scott Squires, of Industrial Light & Magic, has a blog called Effects Corner. Scott talks everything VFX, from artistry to wages. If you are looking to read the frank ins and outs of the VFX world then Scott’s blog is the place to go. Scott has 35 years’ experience in the industry and has work on film projects like Van Helsing, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Stars Wars: Episode I – Phantom Menace.
His articles are well written and packed full of industry top tips. He talks you through key skills like camera tracking and 3D match-moving as well as providing links to some of the latest visual effects news.
As of last month Autodesk released the 2013 update of their 3D software, and with that you’ll find a variety of enhancements and new features that make these versions pretty special. In our competitive industry, having the latest and greatest tools to complete the job is always a bonus, and the 2013 versions may well set you on your way to creating work that stands out from the crowd. Of course for many of you, the cost can make upgrading a tricky business and that’s why we want to make sure you’re all aware of a promotion that could help stretch the pennies a little further.
For Softimage fans out there, you may be glad to hear that the loyal community of Softimage users are regrouping. Under the new name Softimage Creatives (SiC), this is an independent user group based here in London. Following a user group meeting held last November, a discussion began to revive the community among Softimage users. Six industry professionals expressed their interest in helping make this a reality, and with the support of Escape Studios SiC London was born.
Finally we can take a glimpse at the new Pixar feature animation, Brave. We’ve heard great things about the film, and so we’re all completely psyched about its upcoming release later this summer. This is Pixar’s first time to tackle a fairy tale, and it’s set to be much darker in tone to their previous Pixar releases, as it takes inspiration from the masters of whimsical storytelling, Hans Christian Anderson and Brothers Grimm.
Pixomondo has expanded their impressive global network of VFX studios yet again. Recently they established their twelfth facility at the Celtic Media Centre in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to service local film and commercial productions as well as provide support to the other international studios. With over 150,000 square feet of design-built stage spaces, the Celtic Media Centre is perfect for meeting the demands of any production. This is the largest studio facility in Louisiana state, and with the generous tax incentives currently in place in that region, this looks to be a great move for the Oscar winning VFX company.
I am part of a generation that has been particularly spoiled by the advances in stop motion animation. I remember watching TV shows like Noddy, Fireman Sam, Pingu and Postman Pat and films like The Nightmare before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach and Chicken Run as a kid and being in complete awe.
Last week Claire Anderson, Talent Manager at The Mill divulged some of the greatest tips and tricks young artists need to apply in order to cut it in the VFX Industry. I have to say; I couldn’t help but feel a little awestruck listening to our Training Manager and Claire chat away during the 40 minute webinar because of the room we were stationed at. It was like something from a bond movie – check out the pictures! Filled with The Mill’s previous conquests (let’s be clear that I’m talking about Oscars and Bafta’s here….) I kept expecting a drinks cabinet and a man with a white cat to appear from behind one of the walls. One thing’s for sure, The Mill certainly know what they’re talking about and have the awards to prove it.
When Sue Rowe, Cinesite’s senior VFX Supervisor on John Carter, came in to talk to our students it was like a breath of fresh air. Reassuringly, despite having masses of technical and creative responsibility, her fundamental joy is much the same as the students studying with us – that blowing stuff up is what still excites her.
Adobe CS6 is due for release very soon, and for those of you who haven’t already purchased an Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 or a Creative Suite 5.5 component, we recommend you look to do something about it now. Adobe is currently running a promotion that entitles anyone who has upgraded to or purchased CS5.5 between March 26th and May 6th, 2012 to a free CS6 upgrade. The advantages to this are that you pay the current price for the Suite and can request an upgrade to CS6 at no additional cost. If you wait until CS6 ships, you’ll have to pay the CS6 upgrade price, which could be significantly higher.
Every month, Develop review the brightest and best courses and colleges in the world of Computer Graphics. And this week, we've found ourselves in the spotlight!
IKinema is a UK based company with a great technology for quick full-body solving and animation. Their flagship product, IKinema Action, is a plug-in for Maya that enables artists to rig characters as well as stream, retarget and record motion capture data, in less time. It is also a very cost effective solution.
Last night, Thursday 29th March, was the Art of 3D Visualisation event at the Barbican Centre, and we’re delighted to report it was a great success. To start with, the setting was spectacular. The Barbican is an inspiring setting for architectural design. The event kicked off in the conservatory terrace, a hidden treasure in the heart of the Barbican and a lavish space with a back drop of decorative tropical plants. This time was spent wisely, arming ourselves with a cold drink the proceedings moved to Cinema 3 where we and our guests were treated to four presentations from five fantastic speakers.
With the release of IKinema Action version 2.0 there has been a range of updates and enhancements made to an already very powerful technology. This upgrade also brings with it a new price. The new pricing will take effect from April 1st, so that leaves you with 2 days to purchase this new version under the old price. For more information on this, please contact our software team.
Moving on from the presentation by Kevin Jenkins we turned our attention to Ben Morris who gave us the low-down on his role as a VFX Supervisor. As we watched the end sequence of War Horse, which is the part where we discover the fate of our hero’s horse, we all became a little misty eyed, but were quickly reassured by Ben that no horses were harmed during the making of this film. Needless to say, we were all very impressed with the great VFX work done by the guys at Framestore and how realistic the horse looked. Surely Mr Spielberg wouldn't have it any other way.
I was pretty shocked last week when the Coalition Government reversed its position in their dramatic Budget announcement. The UK government has declared its intention to establish a nationwide games tax break policy, in a manoeuvre that leaves the British sector in shock and jubilation. They stated: "Following consultation on the design, the Government will introduce corporation tax reliefs for the video games, animation and high-end television industries from April 2013, subject to State aid approval," read the official budget report.
On March 29th, Shapes in Motion will be running an 'Acting for Animators' class. It's a great little course and one which can really help you understand how to bring your animations to life. If you'd like to find out more, here are the details.