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.
I have found that there are many advantages to studying at Escape Studios. Aside from the obvious vast amount of knowledge that you acquire, you also get to visit and meet some very cool places and people. Last Friday we had the pleasure of visiting Framestore for a presentation with Ben Frost and Chas Jarrett to hear about their experiences working on the second Sherlock Holmes movie - A Game of Shadows. In particular, they discussed with us the typical hurdles and constraints they came across and what we as VFX artists may expect to experience working in the VFX industry.
Film fanatics and CG lovers alike have been waiting for Ridley Scott’s latest movie Prometheus and it is the film that we have spent all year waiting for. Prometheus is due for UK release on June 1st this year and our friends MPC have been working hard on the post-production visual effects. And although we have to wait just a little longer judging from the trailer it will be well worth the wait.
Originally written to be the prequel to the infamous Alien franchise, Prometheus follows the crew of a spaceship as it attempts to find the origins of humanity through exploring an advanced alien civilization and from here chaos ensues.
2D or 3D - which camp are you in? This age old fight is battled out by two of our studio assistants and it seems, there is a rather heated argument for both. I'll leave it up to the guys to convince you either way. If however, we can't resolve it in this post, a mud wrestle might be the only answer.
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.
So it’s almost bank holiday weekend and your old pal Ash is gonna give you another one of his awesome tips before you spend the next three days drinking your body weight in alcohol and watching The Avengers… seriously, how awesome is that film?!
Happy Tuesday, loyal readers. Here's a quick one relating to a problem that popped up a few times for the students last week. This is for anyone taking who has tracked footage into Maya and finds their tracking markers don't line up, because they've forgotten one simple step.
It's important to only isolate three separate elements per ID pass, or the technique becomes redundant. For example, if I had made both the windows and door red in the image for Part One of this blog, then any colour correction I applied to the red channel in NUKE would affect them both. You've already seen a broad example, but there's no reason you can’t use ID passes to focus on more specific areas of your render. The image above shows an example of an ID pass refined to specialise in the windows only. This kind of pass would be useful if the texture I added to the window transoms (red bits) had rendered far too dark, but everything else rendered correctly, as I would be able to adjust them without damaging the rest of my render.
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.
The current VFX Professional class were assigned The Mill as part of the ‘Industry Coaching’ scheme, which is a new initiative for us here at Escape Studios. The main idea behind the scheme is that we invite established post-production houses in Soho to mentor our students as they prepare to enter the industry as VFX artists. The VFX Professional course is our more advanced course for students who have completed the VFX Production course or artists already in the industry who are looking to further their knowledge in the field. For these students, getting advice from professionals working in the industry is golden, helping them prepare better for what is to come. Emmy Castelain was among the group during this visit, and this is what she had to say about their time at The Mill…
So we have a new class of students for the Visual Effects Production course and I thought I’d quickly run through what this class has been up to recently and where they’re at now in their studies. We are currently on week four and they have just started their first major project after covering the ins and outs of Maya (the industry go-to package in VFX). So far, we have covered modelling, UV’ing, texturing, some lighting and rendering and a bit of Photoshop just to mix it up a bit. To put all they have learnt into practice, they have been asked to create a CG object, integrate it into a backplate and to make it look photo-realistic.
Following on from yesterday’s post, I want to continue the discussion of why NUKE has revolutionised the industry and is an incredible asset to any compositor. The popularity of NUKE is largely down to its advancements in 3D integration, not only with its own user interface (UI), but also its ability to communicate with other packages such as MARI and AtomKraft. Being acutely punned as NUKE's 2.5D space, the 3D system has sped up the conventional 2D workflow in areas such as paint and roto, as well as depth compositing. This 2.5D space allows users to build rudimentary geometries, which can then be projected on, textured, lit, shaded and rendered as complimentary 3D assets or as part of a standard 2D workflow.
When it comes to catching recruiters’ eye, it’s all about looking good. And this is when only the best showreels will cut the mustard. You have 10 seconds to impress and there is no room for error or work that you're half hearted about.
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.
Being relatively new to CG and to Escape Studios I am still astounded by the standard of work that comes from our students. Despite studying Media Production at University, where I majored in Scriptwriting, I never knew the actual amount of effort that goes into creating CGI. It gives me a completely new perspective on everything that I watch in the cinema and at home on TV.
Every year Sci-Fi London runs a competition inviting Sci-Fi fans and filmmakers to take part in a 48hrs film challenge. Armed with a title, a line of dialogue, a scientific theme and a specified prop, competing teams have two days to develop and make a 5 minute short film. The winning film is premiered during the London Sci-Fi Film Festival, and also benefits from a promotional platform through The Guardian newspaper website, as well as a development deal with independent UK production company, Vertigo Films.
Pixomondo, an international visual effects company with eleven facilities worldwide, have a very talented team right here in London. Based just off Old Street, the London facility opened in 2010 and is one of the more recent additions to the Pixomondo global network. The company is currently growing from strength to strength, and is working on some very highly anticipated projects such as Snow White and the Huntsman, The Amazing Spiderman, and the new series of Game of Thrones. Over the past five years, Pixomondo has provided VFX production and supervision for over thirty high-concept feature films, including popular titles like Hugo, Red Tails, Sucker Punch, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Super 8, Fast Five, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief and 2012, to name just a few.