Thursday, 13 November 2008


One of the cool tangential things to come from being at the DMF/AEAF was finding out about Ferro Fluids, which inspired the Sony Cybershot TVC from theLaB here in Sydney. These special liquids with suspended magnetised particles which combine to create a fluid that reacts to magnetic fields to create some inspirational patterns.

[image os a Ferro Fluid in a magnetic field from Wikipedia]

The neatest thing is that it looks just like CG, but it is real. There are heaps of vids on YouTube, here are some to get you going:


As I was doing quick bloggy bits between sessions of the Digital Media Festival incorporating the Australian Effects and Animation Festival - I didnt get to include a heap of links, images and videos - so here are a bunch all in one go - be warned!! Actually this is just a very small sample of links to things that are worth a bit more of a look that are easy to link to...


Tippett Studios
Founded by legend Phil Tippett (who worked on a bunch of things for ILM like Star Wars films), Tippett Studios is a great site to visit to get a feel for their work.
This new site/service from Adobe allows people to share files and work together in various ways - definately worth a closer look. The site still says its in beta, but everything seems to be these days, so I think we will have to give it a try.

Houdini Procedural Modelling
I loved the presentation on Houdini and the markedly different node-based procedrual modelling logic that it employs. The approach seemed much more like the Architectural and Product-centric parametric modelling that is in other packages - but different.

[Flaming Fluid image made in part with Houdini by Nicholas Pliatsikas from the Houdini site]

Here is a YouTube version of the 2008 Houdini Showreel - droool...
The number of video related sites out there is growing and was one that came up during the DMF partially because of the CMS capabilities it offers.

Harvie Krumpet
This little stop motion piece from Oz won the 2003 Animated Short Acadamy Award and the whole thing seems to be on google video and YouTube, plus lots more info on the Harvie Krumpet site including these images:

[Harvie Krumpet image from the official site]

Dying Breed
Just a quick link to the Dying Breed site and the trailer from Youtube below - freaky

Black Water
Another freightener, the Black Water site is cool as is the trailer below

The Responsibility Project
Liberty Mutual's special short fiilm support initiative is the Responsibility Project. I got to see The Lighthouse funded through this and there are more there waiting on the site.

The Ruins
Another horror genre film - but this time with a bigger budget, The Ruins is from Dreamworks and has a pretty cool and very spooky flash site.

FXguide and FXphd
This is a site I havent really got into, but seeing some of the expertise in the DMF - I will have to take a much closer look at both the free FXguide and even the substription FXphd.

Sony Cybershot TVC
The TV Commercial by Sydney's TheLaB shows off some nice CG - here it is via Youtube:

AEAF Day3 Afternoon

RED - The Nothing Men
Peter Holland, DoP, Warren Lynch, Intercolour

This time looking at RED and digital camera work from the DOPs perspective on another Aussie production, The Nothing Men.

3D blooms among The Ruins
Carsten Kolve, CG Supervisor, Rising Sun Pictures

A detailed breakdown look at the complex animation of vines in another horror flick, The Ruins. Built atop Maya, they created new ways of generating and animating the hero antagonist of the film - huge wsarms of blood thirsty vines.

Creating a 3D TVC
Clinton Downs, the lab Sydney

Clinton from theLaB walked through in detail the creation of the melting and forming Sony Cybershot TVC in great detail. I am inspired again to get into what Maya can do. The piece took their small team 4 weeks, was 98% CG and interestingly was rendered and depth-of-fielded in one single pass. We have to cehck out Ferro-Liquids as well, which formed part of the inspiration.

Explosive games cinematics
Nathan Maddams, Creative Director
Dean Finnegan, Animation Supervisor, Plastic Wax Animation

What a way to finnish for the DMF, the Cinematic for the Warhammer 40K, Dawn of War II was AWESOME up on the big screen with the big sound. To think their 15 man team created that amazing piece of work should inspire me for a full year until next years DMF !!

AEAF Day3 Morning

Put your best digital foot forward
Nick Hore and Patricia Kung, Animal Logic

Insight into the qualities and process behind recruiting for a big player like Animal Logic who may have their 150 permanent staff, but have numbers climb over 500 during peak productions. Lots of great advice on showreels etc - great stuff and inspiring for me to try and build something for what I have thus far...

An open source pipeline
James Neale, Producer,
Matt Ebb, Lighting & Shading TD, ProMotion Studios

Blender is a mighty piece of software, given it is free and these guys switched from Max to Blender almost as an experiment, but have created a very cool piece for the 'Responsibility Project' called The Lighthouse.

RED & working for real in 4K
Mike Seymour, Co-founder &, and Stuart Monksfield, Cutting Edge General Manager – Film & TV

I am learning a HEAP about cameras and film and all such things, it is all waaaay above my needs, but does flesh out my understanding of the industry and indeed the cutting edge of digital film.

Working in a 24-hour international production environment
Nigel Sumner, Digital Supervisor - Digital Artists Group,
Lucasfilm Animation, Singapore

I like the way juggernauts like ILM can package together a showreel that inspires so.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

AEAF Day2 Afternoon

Conceiving a Dying Breed
Rod Morris, Writer and Producer, Michael Boughen, Writer and Producer

Another freaky Aussie horror film, again shot on digital HD. The impact that sound, music and editing play in the finished polish of these films is marked. Considering the teaser trailer was over $100K and the full film $3mil, Rod stressed the importance of the trailer - letting everyone know what is being built and funded.

Music Video VFX with Adobe Production Premium CS4
Jon Barrie, aJBproductions

Seeing CS4 in action and the dynamic linking is inspiring. I think video and integration may well be something I could concentrate on over the summer. Doing video edits and effects with Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop and nw Media Encoder and Mocha - awesome capability.

The newer file passing between Final Cut Pro and Premiere via XML will make working on projects that span these two packages...

Making Mary & Max
Henry Karjalainen, Melodrama Pictures

A different look at digital cinima - this time by the team that created Harvey Crumpet who have created a digital workflow for stop motion which Aardman are also adopting for their next feature (using Canon digital still cameras etc).

AEAF Day2 Morning

One of the interesting things in watching the various presenters setup on the stage, is the kit they use. There is still a significant dominance of the Mac platform. That said we did have Linux on a Dell, XP on an MBP and Vista in attendance to break up all the OSX machines.

Well - here goes Day2


The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Adam Valdez, Animation Director, Visual Effects Supervisor
Moving Picture Company (MPC) London

A great tour of Adam's work concentrating on the capability of MPC with lots of technical, shot and animation detail from Prince Caspian. He mentioned that Jurassic Park was something like 90 CG shots, compared with well over 1000 for Prince Caspian, all with significantly more complexity delivered in far less time.

I was interesting to hear him talk about how people perceive rough or work in progress images and animations. If you put details in, then they imply completeness and the specific piece may be conveying rough blocking etc. This comes up in Architecture with respect to rough design work as well - if you have colours and textures - then people will see them.

What's Up with Dr. D?
Brett Feeney, Head of Production, Dr. D Studios

Good to hear from a new and nicely upcoming digital production company, much more of a total film creation house than a vfx outsourcing gang. They couldnt show us much at all relating to their current work but did mention the liked of Happy Feet2, Mad Max 4, Babe 3 and Justice League.

Black Water makes a splash 11.30am
John Biggins, DoP, David Nerlich, Co-Director & VFX Creator,
Michael Robertson, Producer

Another look at Digital cinematography - with a specific look at a really good looking scary croc film in "Black Water". In comparison to many of the other productions this was done on a negative budget - very impressive.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

AEAF Day1 Afternoon

In the break I caught a few glimpses of some of the Adobe stand presentations, showing off features in CS4 - awesome suite that it is.

Houdini insights at Kanuka Studio
Rangi Sutton, Founder Kanuka Studio

The small studio (max 8 humans) was actually Linux-centric, Rangi is a Houdini guru and with some GIMP and other open-source pieces is doing great stuff. His studio does need other things, the Mayas and photoshops for things of course, but he liked the open-source things where possible. He showed us some awesome procedural modelling in Houdini. The kind of thing that simulation and heavily scripted parts of other packages would still struggle with.

Scorching cross-platform television
Marcus Gillezeau Director/Producer,
Kylie du Fresne and Ellenor Cox Producers

These guys were part of the team that created Scorched, which primarily was a one-off telemovie for the Nine Network, but also featured a complex web presence tied into all manner of Web 2.0 sites and ideas. They ended up using the content management on - which I will have to take a closer look at now.
One interesting tid-bit was the mention that there is a growing trend for studios to pay for a 27th episode for a tv series which would fund online presence for the show.

The Sixty40 question
Matt Taylor, Animation Director,
Mark Simpson, Design Director, sixty40

These guys entertained with a heap of material for us to see, showing their skills in a more 2D flash graphics integrated with live and 3D footage.

Capturing the moment
Evan Butson, Founder The Difference Engine

Evan talked flat out at great speed for the whole presentation to get through a mountain of content. He and his team must ahve worked non-stop to deliver the video content for BHP as part of the Olympics. I was happy to see a workflow based around Premiere as it may end up as our choice for video - cross platform and nicely plugged into the rest of the Adobe supersuite as it is.
He also covered the benefit of a fully tapeless workflow (he used Panasonic for this project, but also liked Sony and Red). Another tech to look at was which he used for team and file sharing...

The animal attraction of Nuke
Paul Kirwan

A whirlwind presentation of some of the nice bits in Nuke. With Apple leaving Shake out to dry, there must be plenty of folk looking all the harder at Nuke now

AEAF Day1 Morning

TIPPETT STUDIOS - Beverly Hills Chihauha
Michael Brunet, Lead Animator, Tippett Studios

First up for the event was Michael from Tippett Studios, this studio was founded by stop motion legend Phil Tippett. Things are very digital these days though. Michael walked through some of the creation and specifically the evolution in animation for the CG characters in Beverly Hills Chihauha, particularly the rat (Manuel) and the Iguana (Chico). Hearing about all the changes in the film based on test screenings at various stages was fascinating, but obviously creating a fair bit of work for the studio. We also got to see plenty of 'digital dogs' sequences as well.

They used Maya with plenty of inhouse tools, like Furocious for their fur simulation. He said apart from a few very short bursts the team did their 10 hour days and I guess that is now carrying over to their work on Wolverine now.

RED & digital cameras today
John Bowring, ACS, MD Lemac

I know very very little about cameras - film cameras specifically. This talk was very technical and showed no mercy in detailing the current state of Red and other digital camera work. Hearing about 4K, even 5K video cameras and the shift from pixel count to resolution is fascinating (ref nyquest). Red certainly seem to have ignited an industry of digital video work - and getting industries to stick to digital from start to finish.
Some of the interesting snippets from the NAB show were cool, from lots of 3D camera rigs, million frames a second cameras, 16GB CF cards and even 64GB P2 cards to the video from the still Canon EOS 5D and its 24 frame video.

I liked the trailer for Knowing which was all digital on RED.

AEAF Begins

The Australian Effects and Animation Festival begins today and this year is on at the Chauvel Cinema complex in Paddington. The event could use a heap of branding, the cinema looks as it always does, at the moment resplendent with its large advertising for the Russian Film Festival etc. The most branding we can see is actually the company logos on various presenter's shirts :-)

I have a plan to blog my way through the event this year, posting in between the sessions. I will see how this goes anyhow. I enjoyed things last year, so as the clock ticks down to the first session this year, I am hoping we are treated to the same level of fun.

I quite like being at an event like this with such a high percentage of t-shirts in attendance...
Though it must be noted the overwhelming dominance of guys here - the girls are in short supply.

Monday, 10 November 2008

ZBrush Harry

With the AEAF starting tomorrow, a quick look at a nifty piece of ZBrush sculpting by David Giraud as found on the main ZBrushCentral site. His work on Harry is fleshed out in his post showing the digital work which then was 3D printed out and photographed as below. I particularly like how this digital project has become reality and gained a great deal of depth for it (pun not really intended).

[Photo of the 3D print of Harry by David Giraud via the ZBrushCentral site]

Sunday, 9 November 2008


Something I am keen to take a closer look at is Procedural's CityEngine. The software generates full cityscapes using architecture relevant to the specific project. Their software can build up a city based on the generation of individual architectures from single or merged styles. I like the way software like this can generate a range of outcomes, then through the settings allow the user to build variations to their hearts content.

[Images of CityEngine at work from the Procedural site]

There are a suite of movies on the site exploring the various capabilities and their detailed project for the Pompei reconstruction. Here are a few of the movies...

Game Artisans

[front of the GameArtisans site]

Another very cool gallery site to inspire -
There are some super pieces, both concept work and full game-ready digital sculpts. Here are just a few to get you over there to check out the galleries and more to be found.

[gallery images from GameArtisans]