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Lee Danskin

Lee Danskin

lee@escapestudios.com

The Changing Landscape of the Commuter

The Changing Landscape of the Commuter

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.

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Wed 14 Dec 2011: 10:30am

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Free Tutorial: Generating Faster Renders Using Command Shells

Free Tutorial: Generating Faster Renders Using Command Shells

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.

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Tue 18 Oct 2011: 11:54am

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Alembic the VFX Pipeline Overhaul...

Alembic the VFX Pipeline Overhaul...

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.

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Thu 6 Oct 2011: 10:49am

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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

I noticed this cool little project knocking around the web and just couldn't resist sharing it with you.

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Fri 22 Jul 2011: 11:36am

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Mantra for Maya & Other Renderers

Mantra for Maya & Other Renderers

I have been looking at Maya to Mantra today, and thought: "Great! Means that sometime soon we'll be able to try out Houdini's Mantra Renderer in Maya".

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Wed 13 Jul 2011: 11:54am

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An Interesting Google Chrome Experiment With WebGL

An Interesting Google Chrome Experiment With WebGL

The Ro.me site created in association with Google is doing the rounds at Escape Studios at the moment. In fact, you might even have read the story that Miles posted a few days ago.

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Fri 17 Jun 2011: 12:15pm

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Free Tutorial - Demolish a Brick Wall With nCloth In Maya

Free Tutorial - Demolish a Brick Wall With nCloth In Maya

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.

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Tue 14 Jun 2011: 10:19am

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Lee Danskin Reviews MARI 1.3

Lee Danskin Reviews MARI 1.3

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.

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Mon 6 Jun 2011: 1:42pm

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Were You Fooled by CG?

Were You Fooled by CG?

Cadbury is getting a bit of a rep for ads that really catch the eye. First there was the gorilla playing along to Phil Collins; now its dancing clothes ad has left many of us wondering how it was made.

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Mon 23 May 2011: 10:21am

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Gaming Gets Emotional With LA Noire

Gaming Gets Emotional With LA Noire

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.

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Fri 13 May 2011: 11:56am

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Free Tutorial: Effects in V-Ray for Max

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.

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Thu 12 May 2011: 2:02pm

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Augmented Reality... Kelly Brooks... Angels Fall...

Augmented Reality... Kelly Brooks... Angels Fall...

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!

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Mon 9 May 2011: 9:35am

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Find Out How ILM Used ZBrush in Rango

Find Out How ILM Used ZBrush in Rango

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.

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Wed 4 May 2011: 11:16am

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Just Another Comic Book Hero Movie? Maybe Not...

Just Another Comic Book Hero Movie? Maybe Not...

Ok, so there I was, happy in my comfort zone, knowing that the Green Lantern could never be a great movie and that nothing could ever live up to the comic book.

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Tue 12 Apr 2011: 8:18am

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New Free Maya Tutorial: Gimbal and Rotation Order

New Free Maya Tutorial: Gimbal and Rotation Order

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.

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Thu 7 Apr 2011: 2:13pm

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iPad – is it CG Friendly?

iPad – is it CG Friendly?

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?".

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Fri 1 Apr 2011: 11:20am

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Changing Workflows Within the Post Pipelines...

Changing Workflows Within the Post Pipelines...

I noticed this over at JupiterJazz: AtomKraft Beta2. It's a massive plugin to Nuke enabling a whole host of 3D rendering type workflows. Believe it or not, it puts control of final renders and outputs in the hands of the compers!

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Fri 18 Mar 2011: 10:19am

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Free Tutorial: Volume Caustics for the Maya Expert

Free Tutorial: Volume Caustics for the Maya Expert

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. 

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Wed 9 Mar 2011: 11:23am

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Autodesk Media 2012 Announcements!

Autodesk Media 2012 Announcements!

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.

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Thu 3 Mar 2011: 11:15am

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Free Tutorial Learn to control occlusion

Free Tutorial Learn to control occlusion

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.

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Wed 9 Feb 2011: 4:39pm

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Have your say on future webinar topics

Have your say on future webinar topics

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.

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Wed 9 Feb 2011: 11:10am

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StereoScopic 3D Doesn't Work!

StereoScopic 3D Doesn't Work!

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.

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Thu 27 Jan 2011: 12:32pm

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Wings3D Release Made me Feel a Little Nostalgic

The release of Wings3D release 1.4 - the open source modeller - made me take a trip down 3d memory lane.

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Tue 25 Jan 2011: 2:31pm

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Games Industry Tax Breaks - or The Lack of Them....

So when Activision, the distributor of Call of Duty Black Ops - a game that hit the $1 billion mark in sales in roughly the same amount of time as Avatar - mentions that it might take its development out of the UK you would hope that someone might sit up and take notice.

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Tue 18 Jan 2011: 9:22am

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The Disney 50 at BFI Southbank

The Disney 50 at BFI Southbank

This looks like a great treat for anyone into animation. If you want to see where it all began, then check out The Disney 50 at the BFI, showing all 50 Disney films ever made.

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Fri 14 Jan 2011: 5:16pm

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Free Tutorials - Animation & ZBrush

Free Tutorials - Animation & ZBrush

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.

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Wed 12 Jan 2011: 5:37pm

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Stereoscopic 3D and Small Children

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".

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Fri 7 Jan 2011: 10:30am

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TWO Free Tutorials: Car Lighting and MIA Material X Passes

TWO Free Tutorials: Car Lighting and MIA Material X Passes

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.

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Wed 15 Dec 2010: 2:58pm

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Flash on Ipad, Windows on Ipad, Quicktime on Android, MAYA on IPAD

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.

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Mon 13 Dec 2010: 10:26am

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CG Andrex Puppy!

CG Andrex Puppy!

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).

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Thu 2 Dec 2010: 9:00am

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Camera Tracking and Nuke Tutorials

Camera Tracking and Nuke Tutorials

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.

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Thu 11 Nov 2010: 12:24pm

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Open Source and the Studios

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.

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Wed 27 Oct 2010: 10:35am

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Go Weta! But still the Hobbit runs away...

Go Weta! But still the Hobbit runs away...

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

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Thu 21 Oct 2010: 11:12am

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3D Conversion of Harry Potter Cancelled - One for the Studios!

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.

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Fri 15 Oct 2010: 10:19am

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HDR Video the next stage...

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.

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Fri 8 Oct 2010: 2:30pm

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Lundgren vs Unicorn and The Hoff!

Lundgren vs Unicorn and The Hoff!

Absolute genius on the part of the creatives at Leo Burnetts for Norton.

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Fri 1 Oct 2010: 11:24am

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Has the boxed game had its day?

Has the boxed game had its day?

Last week’s high profile launch of Halo: Reach, and the stories of gamers camping outside retailers' doors, tell me that game launches have become just like movie premieres and create just as much excitement as the launch of new Apple gadgets.  

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Wed 29 Sep 2010: 1:00pm

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Escape Studios announces winner of the CG Graduate Design Awards

Escape Studios announces winner of the CG Graduate Design Awards

Firstly a big thank you to all of you who entered our CG Graduate Design Awards. We were really impressed with the standard of entries and it made last week’s judging day with our friends at The Mill pretty tough.

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Thu 16 Sep 2010: 8:25am

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Phoenix FD First Upgrade

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.

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Wed 15 Sep 2010: 8:10am

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Nvidia vs ATi: War over, in name at least

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?!

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Fri 10 Sep 2010: 9:59am

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Stereographic 3D - Who's getting it right?

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?

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Thu 9 Sep 2010: 11:01am

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Top Talent at UWE

Top Talent at UWE

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):

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Mon 6 Sep 2010: 10:59am

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ZBrush 4 - Out Now

ZBrush 4 - Out Now

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.

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Thu 12 Aug 2010: 2:33pm

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Escapees work on Rooney

Escapees work on Rooney

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.

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Thu 22 Jul 2010: 2:28pm

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July’s Free Tutorial – Object Tracking in PFTrack

July’s Free Tutorial – Object Tracking in PFTrack

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.

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Wed 7 Jul 2010: 4:30pm

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Top 8 tips for the perfect show reel

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:

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Wed 23 Jun 2010: 8:44pm

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TWO Free Polygonal Modelling Tutorials

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!

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Thu 10 Jun 2010: 1:06pm

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Is gaming a sport?

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.

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Tue 8 Jun 2010: 2:18pm

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Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta, one of the first and most influential fantasy artists in the industry, died last week aged 82.

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Wed 19 May 2010: 9:03am

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FREE Tutorial: Professional Lighting for VFX

FREE Tutorial: Professional Lighting for VFX

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.

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Fri 14 May 2010: 11:14am

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Pixels – a must see piece of work

Pixels – a must see piece of work

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.

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Fri 7 May 2010: 11:59am

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Framestore Senior Animator shares his Maya Tips

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.

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Tue 27 Apr 2010: 5:55pm

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Register for your Free Tutorials

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.

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Thu 22 Apr 2010: 12:30pm

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Free Advanced Level Tutorial - Perfect Your Shading 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.

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Thu 8 Apr 2010: 12:11pm

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The Growth of Social Gaming

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.

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Wed 3 Mar 2010: 8:25am

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A work of art

On one of my (out of work hours) trawls around the internet, I came across this little gem (if you can, watch fullscreen).

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Thu 14 Jan 2010: 8:06pm

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Videogames more popular than films?

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?

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Wed 13 Jan 2010: 12:36pm

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VFX in the 70s

I came across this the other day, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been more excited. Star Wars (the original three, we won’t talk about the new lot) has been a huge inspiration for so many people in the industry over the years, and to see how the graphics were done is fantastic.

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Mon 23 Nov 2009: 12:45pm

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Free Advanced Lighting Tutorial

We have just made a great new free tutorial available to you all: Advanced Lighting for VFX Artists. This is ideal material for VFX artists who wants to improve your lighting skills.

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Fri 13 Nov 2009: 1:53pm

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Western Spaghetti

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. 

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Mon 2 Nov 2009: 2:19pm

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The Tate Movie Project – Tate teaming up with Aardman Animations

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.

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Thu 22 Oct 2009: 5:38pm

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Old-school animation: Fantastic Mr Fox

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.

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Mon 19 Oct 2009: 4:21pm

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The coolest video games of all time

Don’t know if any of you read the Guardian Games blog this morning, but there was an entertaining post about the coolest video games of all time.

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Mon 12 Oct 2009: 10:21am

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Back to the future of 3D cinema

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.

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Mon 21 Sep 2009: 9:02am

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SIGGRAPH 2009 Round up

The games industry hogged the spotlight at this year’s SIGGRAPH. For the first time ever, two social games ran throughout the conference and SIGGRAPH’s annual CG showcase was spiced up with live games art and animation demos.

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Tue 18 Aug 2009: 8:30am

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Convergence? What convergence....

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.

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Thu 30 Apr 2009: 3:43pm