I have been a commuter for the past 20 years and I have had a lot of time to observe the small train eco-system. Over the years, it has been an incredible platform (excuse the pun!) to witness the general public's shifts in mentality and how technology has reached all areas of their lives.
In this month's free tutorial, I have a real treat for you - something which I know many VFX artist wish they could do. It all stems from my experience working in the industry where I have so often witnessed artists resorting automatically to using Maya's Render Tool when they could actually be so much more efficient if they knew some of the alternatives available to them.
What exactly is Alembic? I know that some of you will have a fair idea, but I can guess that an awful lot of you simply won't have the first idea about what it does and why it should matter to you.
If you're reading this blog, then chances are you're like most of us here at Escape Studios and love blowing things up and putting them back together again. So this month's free tutorial should be right up your street because we're going to teach you how to demolish a brick wall using nCloth.
Just by being on Linux, MARI has rocked the post industry. All those guys tired of dual-booting, of trying to get Photoshop to work in Wine or some other “in-elegant Linux solution”. Or for those trying to use a laptop hooked up to the network or two machines with a KVM switcher (you know who you are) MARI is like a breath of fresh air! No nasty print type things getting in the way of painting at high bit depths and HDR floating points. Everything works. No nasty greying out of pull downs as it only works in 8 bit situations; geometry size is not an issue either, texture size is 32k square. It’s eats massive data sets elegantly. It’s a Godsend.
No doubt you’ve heard about Rockstar’s latest release LA Noire - apparently a completely new type of video game. Up until recently, most games have been all about hand eye co-ordination but in LA Noire, which is set in the late 40s, the main skill is about being able to judge body language and characters’ faces to figure out if they’re lying or not - or ‘emotional perception’ as some are calling it.
For those of you who want to learn V-Ray for Max, you’re in for a real treat this month. We’ve released a tutorial from our new V-Ray course which will be launched over the coming weeks. The tutorial has been taken directly from one of the major case studies within the course and this video is designed to demonstrates the power of V-Ray.
OK, so hopefully the title got your attention, and we can get past the Kelly Brook distraction - she's currently "fronting" a new marketing campaign from Lynx "Angels will fall" which is all relevant, honest!
Most of you will already know that Rango has done well at the box office. It is interesting to look at the details in the film and guess how the creative process might have happened.
This month, I am tackling some pretty technical issues that affect CG artists on a daily basis. I am going to walk you though the often over-looked issue of Gimbal, using a whole bunch of examples to explain what it is, what causes it and the issues it can have over our animations.
Last year, Apple shook the tech world when it released the iPad, and it quickly became the must have gadget for 2010. Apple is now in the spotlight again with lots of hype around iPad 2. It's all very well lusting after one of these little babies, but for me, the real question is "what can a 3D pro like me actually use it for?".
This month’s free tutorial is aimed at the experienced Maya user. It has been designed by Mark Spevick, our VFX tutor, to help you master some of the advanced tools which can sometimes be complex and take a while to get to grips with.
So Autodesk are at it again with a complete update of all their product line for Media and Entertainment. The update for Maya looks very good, with multi-threading in nucleus - a big plus! Check out the video at the top of this page - it shows the work being done on liquids . The viewport technology begun with viewport 2.0 in 2011. Obviously it was not that great in 2011 but it's a different story with this new 2012 version. All the good stuff is now in there: screen based ambient occlusion, motion blur, depth of field, they are all in the viewport.
This months free tutorial has been specifically created by our tutors to help you learn to control occlusion. It's not taken from any of our online courses so it truly is a unique tutorial. You'll start off by looking in depth at the mib_amb_occlusion texture node and how careful use of 2 attributes will ensure that you obtain the perfect ambient occlusion pass.
Have your say on what topics you would like to see covered in our upcoming webinars, by taking part in our survey. This is your chance to tell us what topics, areas and techniques you’d like to learn more about from our tutors, to help you on your way to becoming a CG pro.
So when an academy awarded influential film editor like Walter Murch makes very detrimental comments about 3D stereo some people should take a long hard look at it. What does 3D really add to the whole film experience except expense and a headache? You can find his comments here - all of which are very observant and true.
You can really impress future employers by taking advantage of our two expert tutorials this month. Taken from our Character Animation Foundation and ZBrush for 3D Artist courses, they are designed to give you pro-skills in very specialised areas.
Nintendo, Sony, Toshiba have all issued warnings on the development of eyesight in younger children when watching stereoscopic 3D images. Here is a link to a BBC story about the recent Nintendo announcement. Their announcement basically said: "There is a possibility that 3-D images which send different images to the left and right eye could affect the development of vision in small children".
Lighting and Shading are an integral part of the VFX pipeline and if you want to take your skills to a professional level these tutorials are the best place to start learning. What’s great about these tutorials is that they tackle pretty complicated subjects head-on and they are practical so, although you’ll understand the theory, you’ll also learn how to practically apply this knowledge. The best part is that these tutorials will sit in our resource centre permanently, so you can access them whenever you want and learn whenever it suits you.
The cloud is only just beginning to really show its power and what it can do. This OnLive demo of their new video compression technology is astounding. It will open a whole new era of computing and inter-op that we can only dream of. Imagine running maya on an Ipad? Well, it's not that far fetched an idea, and I reckon rental of maya is a definate possibilty in the future. But what about having the ability to run any app on any hardware? This truely is a game changer and from their humble beginnings in just the games' world I think OnLive just showed that the future will be a very different place and that they may be a major force.
So an Iconic mascot after 4 decades has finally become a CG character. Having done this myself with the first CG Tony the Tiger I have to wonder whether this will work. The British public being such a fickle bunch! CG Tony was to be a furry character but was squashed at the last moment by Kellogg's in the States as going to far away from the 2D character of Tony (shame he was so cool furry).
There's nothing better than gaining extra skills - especially when you can do it for free. This month's free tutorials have been taken from our Camera Tracking and Nuke courses and are great for boosting your skills if you're looking to become professional. The great thing is, they're just 10 minutes long so you can easily work through them in your lunch hour, but like last month's six free Maya Tutorials they're staying in our e-learning platform permanently so you can refer to them whenever you want.
So a year on from the opensource announcements made by numerous studios the move seems to be going well. A lot of major facilities are opening up the process and offering solutions the most well known is probably OpenExr by ILM but numerous other facilities have begun releasing software and specs back to the community.
The actors unions and writers strikes are having a major negative impact on the film making capabilities all over the world. First, there was LA some years ago with their writters' strike. Now they threaten the film production in NZ according to the recent news.
According to Variety we have been saved from yet more badly converted stereo films - check out the story here. Warner Brothers have canned the release of Harry Potter Deathly Hallows part 1 in 3D. This is due to quality issues, that were mainly due to time constraints, and Warner have come to the conclusion that the converted film was not high enough quality. I can only applaud them for not releasing yet another stereo nasty.
It's been a few years since Paul Debevec produced his paper with Jitendra Malik, Recovering High Dynamic Range Radiance Maps from Photographs, at SIGGRAPH. Since then, people all the world have begun to generate high dynamic range still images and probes - essentially capturing all the light information from a scene in mulitple passes using digital cameras and then merging these into a single HDR image. A simple web search for HDR Images in google images will present you with an array of hyper-real looking images, or try here for some examples.
Absolute genius on the part of the creatives at Leo Burnetts for Norton.
A few weeks ago I promised to have a closer look at the new Phoenix FD, to give you an idea of what it can do.
For the hardcore 3d artists who have been doing this for many a year, it's sad to see an iconic brand lose its identity after such a long and illustrious career. it has always been a love hate relationship for ATI/Nvidia among all 3D artists. I come from a time when graphics cards in PC's where absolutely atrocious; that was before VGA and when 4 colours was a big deal. There was I, with my silicon graphics 4D20 and a geometry engine running GL. How advanced was I?!
Stereographic: looks like this time it might be here to stay. But with differing techniques in post and production and delivery mechanisms still in flux who's getting it right?
Last week, I had the pleasure of judging the short films produced by the graduating class of 2010, BA in Animation at the University of West England. The top prize up for grabs was our new Self-Directed ZBrush Course, and the top five contenders for the winning spot were (in no particular order):
Pixologic have just released ZBrush 4 and it looks like they have introduced some cool new killer features to make ZBrush even more artist friendly than before.
Now almost as hyped an event as the World Cup itself, the Nike ad this year starred a host of big names, from our own Wayne Rooney through to Franck Ribiery of France, Italy’s Fabio Cannavaro and even shiny Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal. Most people will have seen at least one of the shorter clips, if not the full thing, and the eagle eyed among you will know that the guys at the Mill were on hand to provide the VFX wizardry.
We have a real treat in store for you with July’s free tutorial; it’s a pretty technical and hands-on, and takes an in-depth look at geometry tracking within PFTrack.
It’s one of the final tutorials taken from our Camera Tracking for VFX Course and explains how the use of geometry can ‘Solve’ the motion of an object, enabling CG elements to interact with live action objects.
Everyone knows the importance of a well put together show reel, but it's surprising how many there are out there that fail to tick all of the right boxes. Very often a show reel will fail to showcase the breadth of skill of the candidate, or will let itself down with a few issues that are fairly simple to fix. Therefore, we've put together a list of points to help you perfect your show reel and to maximise the impact it has on prospective employers. After much discussion at Escape Studios, plus a fair bit of back and forth on Twitter, we have whittled down the list to these 8 tips:
If you were looking to improve your modelling skills you couldn't have picked a better time, because this month we're giving away TWO free tutorials instead of one!
An article on the Telegraph’s website caught my eye today – apparently, professional computer gamers have the reactions of fighter pilots but the bodies of 60-year-old chain smokers. Dr Dominic Micklewright, from the University of Essex, conducted a series of physical and psychological tests to determine whether playing on computers could be defined as a sport.
Frank Frazetta, one of the first and most influential fantasy artists in the industry, died last week aged 82.
This month's free tutorial is part of a series that discusses alternative methods of recreating naturalistic lighting in an exterior environment. Taken from our Advanced Lighting with Maya and Mental Ray course, this tutorial concentrates on optimising raytrace shadows within a manually lit scene, and will teach you how to add ambient shadows via a custom occlusion shader. This tutorial will give you the production level skills expected of a junior lighting artist.
If you haven’t seen this already from our tweet a while back, you must check out this awesome piece of work from Patrick Jean.
We've teamed up with 3D World to give you guys the chance to improve your Maya Skills. Seth Gollub, senior animator at Framestore New York shares some of his Maya animation tips, letting us in on a few secrets along the way.
Make sure that you're registered to receive our free monthly tutorials because we have some amazing ones scheduled over the coming months. The tutorials are different every month and cater for all levels of ability; some will be for those just starting out in the industry and others will be professional level, designed to help fine tune skills.
This month's Free Tutorial is taken from our Advanced Shading with Maya & Mental Ray online course and is one of many videos which explains how to harness the power of Maya's utility nodes to simplify, speed up & add realism to your work. This tutorial is great because you'll use a practical example.
How many of you play social games? I knew it was popular but I caught some figures on CNN’s website last week that really brought it home just how big it’s become. The FarmVille Facebook game is apparently being played by a staggering 27 million social gamers ever day, adding up to more monthly active users than the population of France.
As I’m sure some of you would have seen, last week figures were released showing that revenues from UK videogames hit £1.73 billion last year – a whopping 44% higher than what was generated from UK films during the same time. If you consider some of the huge cinema releases we saw last year, it’s no mean feat that it was only UK television that made more money than the video games industry. Impressive stuff, but is it really a surprise? I’ve said before that playing videogames is becoming a family past time – games consoles are now found in the family living room rather than banished to a “geeky” teenager’s bedroom. Gaming has a far reaching appeal, and I doubt that the growth of the gaming industry will cease any time soon. Interest in our games course, particularly since Sony veteran Simon Fenton came on board, has continued to grow. It’s great to see this exciting industry gaining rightful recognition – not just in terms of increased sales, but in the demand for creative talent which boosts the development of video gaming in the UK. Would you rather spend two hours playing Modern Warfare 2 or watching Blackhawk Down?
All the talk of stop motion animation last week got me thinking, so I went in search of some great examples of this type of work. This Western Spaghetti viral is awesome.
Now this is what we like to see – children getting involved in animation from a young age. This week we heard that Tate is teaming up with Aardman Animations, the team behind Wallace and Gromit, to create a new film. And, they want children to help them brainstorm. Check out the video on our YouTube channel.
Towelling for grass, cotton balls for smoke and cling film for water – Wes Anderson has reverted to traditional forms of animation in his new film Fantastic Mr Fox.
I’ve mentioned 3D movies before on the blog, but this week another article on the topic caught my eye. Pixar has said that it’s hoping 3D films will encourage people to watch movies at the cinema – rather than pirate copies or illegal downloads at home.
At the moment, the trumpet to blow seems to be that film and games production are converging. If you believe the hype, we'll be in some sort of nirvana where we all use the same approaches etc to the art of making both.