Saturday, 7 July 2007

Day184 Transformers Movie

Transformers!!
Movie time (http://www.transformersmovie.com/). Along with the gang from work we dived into the world of the Transformers as created by Michael Bay (with Spielberg getting his big name up in lights as an exec producer).
These images show off the bots and some of the humans along for the ride:


[images taken from the film that I got from movies.yahoo.com]

The film is exciting realisation of the Transformers idea into a live action ride. The plot isn't clever or engaging really, so the whole things hangs on some human interaction and the vast number of vehicle, combat and machine scenes. This brings us ideas like those of mechs along with some high-tech military and swish domestic hardware. In many of the combat sequences it is so complex and filled with explosions, weapons, troops, weapons, transformations and dynamic camera work that it is just an overwhelming blur. This isnt necessarily bad though - that is kind of the point of the movie - it is just one long fight between the weapons of man and the Autobots vs the Decepticons.
I actually liked the movie as a realisation of the Transformer idea. The transformations themselves are highly detailed, fast and complex and when thrown into the mix of all the other action components really work. Bumblebee is excellent and gets most of the limelight. In fact apart from Optimus the rest only get cameo roles really. (Note that the consensus was that we liked Bumblebees beat-up 74 Camaro look :-)

Shia LeBeouf and the sexy Megan Fox make up the main human story and along with the likes of John Voight ground the film and make it at least a little more than just a bunch of toys slugging it out. I guess if we are just after an amazing ride into the Transformer combat-centric world - then this does that hands down.

This is the trailer which shows off the cgi and combat feel of the entire film.


The CGI and effects work (which in this case is pretty much the whole movie) is the work of the masters at ILM (http://www.ilm.com/). The CG work on display here is nothing short of Deity-like. The ILM folk have not only given us the usual fair of effects clevernes in integrating live footage, sets, virtual and real cameras - but added to that the truly spectacular transformers themselves - awesome. One blog was saying it took 38 hours to render out single frames (hopefully that was the worst case number).
This article by Matt Sullivan (http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/industry/4218826.html?series=6) shows us some of the tech and reveals the scope of what is achieved here. SOme numbers that tha article wields: 280 terabytes of stuff, Prime has 10,000 pieces, 20,000 nodes in bumblebees transformation and $150US million. Actually that doesnt seem like so much when you see what ends up on-screen.

[images from the article above from Paramount/Dreamworks]

Just by way of context Michael Bay (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000881/) has amongst his other credits things like: Armageddon, Pearl Harbour, Bad Boys II, The Rock and the Island.


[images of the bots from movies.yahoo.com]

Well - what can one say but: "I want to ride you home... I mean, I want to give you a ride home".
.
---
.
I would be remiss if I didnt mention the original tv cartoon series on which all this fun was based (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Transformers_(TV_series)). But for me (and others it would seem) it was BeastWars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beast_Wars) that I think of as the best work of the series. Plus while we are at it - dont forget Hasbro (http://www.hasbro.com/) and all the super toys.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Day183 My new MacBookPro arrives

My MacBookPro
YAY - it arrived today in the gorgeous Apple packaging with it clean appearance and all round clarity. I liked the way I was up and running with things in only a few mins - there was just the 1 restart after doing all 6 of the updates in that time - refreshing.
This blog update is coming via the beta of V3 of Safari actually which seems to be doing things sensibly enough, though I had to explicitly turn on the tabs and statusbar etc. With pretty much everything I go to do there is a moment where I dont quite know how to go about things - or where I cant find something. I am not sure why Safari has no home button for just one example amongst many of the minimalist nature of the Mac.
 
[promo images of the MacBookPros from the Apple site]

The hardware is a delight, it is simply a lovely piece of design and simplicity with clever engineering in all the right places. It feels smooth and the dimensions of the case and screen are spot-on. My mighty mouse goes along very nicely as well and is perhaps a bit extravagant. The power adapter is clever and apart from that there just arent any components at all :-)
I havent played with all the software yet of course, though just playing with Apple's versions of all the system tools and configs is quite fun. iTunes is still somewhat of a mystery - I would like to grab a bunch of trailers through it, but it doesnt seem that simple. I will dive into bootcamp, vista and parallels in the coming days - for now there is plenty of fun to be had on the purely Mac side of the fence.

I like the way I have inline spell checking everywhere I go here in Safari - very cool.
Once I get more of a handle on iTunes I will dive into my 30GB iPod as well. Plus I should try out something graphical...

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Day182 Heroes

Heroes 23
Final ep of Chapter 1 today (http://www.nbc.com/Heroes/) - How to stop an Exploding Man. The great ride that led to this point all came to a head. The heroes continued to fall and the future we have seen glimpses of didnt occur - but things are far from resolved while we wait for Chapter 2 to come our way. I loved lots of the characters - esp Hiro and the voiceover work from Dr Suresh.
With so much death and uncertainly we were never sure who would live or die or where the story would take us. This takes some brave story-telling (esp in this genre) to slaughter the characters as they do to have the story progress and to keep us on the very edge of our seats (literally in my case).
There are pockets of cg effects of course - but they very much play a secondary role to the very real characters whose powers are for the most part very subtle.

[images from the heroes site]

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Day181 ImagineFX August 2007

Imagine FX : August 2007
My nice new August issue (http://www.imaginefx.com/02287754329927044275/imaginefx-issue-20.html) is once again overflowing with beautiful work that inspires on so many levels.
The article begining on p20 on concept work for film is right on topic for me a the moment. There are some nice thoughts around the application of concept-design to this field. Matt Allsopp is quoted as "It's useful if you can quickly show your thinking in the form of a sketch. Other qualities include conveying drama, action, motion and depth in a single render" I think this idea of concept exploration is great for a studio.
I like the notion that a good understanding of the film making process is a bonus to the concept artist in pre or post production has strong parallels with Architecture and its related disciplines as well.

I am very fond of this pic (and his others for that matter) by Chester Ocampo (check out Imaginary Friends: http://www.imaginaryfs.com/ or more specifically: http://www.imaginaryfs.com/about_chester.html). This is an obviously cartoony image, but it is very approachable and has a lovely character.

[image from Imaginary Friends site of a nice Chester Ocampo piece]

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Monday, 2 July 2007

Day179 Studio Ideas

Did some work on a range if ideas we might bring to the new Architectural Computing Studios. This is an exciting time and there are lots of potential ideas. I wont detail this process here though.

For something fun in the meantime dont forget to check out that swishy new iPhone (http://www.apple.com/iphone/).

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Day178 Powerhouse FX and sketchup

Powerhouse Museum Special FX Exhibition
Took kids off to see this little exhibition (http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/exhibitions/specialFX.asp). The main attractions were the blue screen effects where the kids got to climb walls, fall of buildings, perform in rock videos, cross lava bridges and more. Even though these were kinda simple and not perfect the kids loved every second of it, they got to act out a situation and see it live with the effects in place. Plus we could see the cameras and models that made the effect work which was nice. The exhibition had other little effects showing how film projectors and simpler devices worked which were fun. One of the interesting things to see was people wearign blue clothes - they pretty much end up invisible :-)

[image from the powerhouse site showing one of the blue-screen games]

Sketchup
Played with creating lighting patterns through multilayered buildings using the sun model.