Saturday, 28 February 2009

Jamendo



Providing Creative Commons music for us all is very cool and the Jamendo site does just that. Being able to add quality audio tracks to trailers, showreels and demo video is something I have wanted to nut out and here is a solution. With some 16590 albums published there I just hope we can find what we need.

VES and Liquid Adverts

I noted through the CGSociety VES Awards coverage that the Digital Domain guys pulled in more awards for Benjamin Button. They also won for their Bacardi commercial where the liquid characters interact. I am not sure whether the clips online are the actual version that won them this award - but they give the idea and are in the same series. The full list of VES nominations is nicely listed on the VFXworld site and there is more on the actual Visual Effects Society site with winner pics and such as well.

The Bacardi Sundance ads are beautifully executed and show some real flair for liquids (which have been a strong trend over the last few years for all kinds of adverts). A nice way to get into Bacardi's current promotional theme is through the Bacardi Website - which is some beautifully executed flash navigation - an engrossing site. I particularly like the glowing orange 3D video effects behind the first menu bar and then the images library browser is pretty cool as well.


[grab of the bacardi site]

There are some nice desktops, screensavers and more using their theme:



[Bacardi advert desktop images via the website]

Here are two of the TVCs in the Bacardi set via youtube:


Friday, 27 February 2009

Unity3D 2.5 and ZeroFractal

Just a little more follow-up on the Unity3D side of things. Their website actually has some nice info on the upcoming Unity3D 2.5 upgrade (free from v2) which is much more cross platform, with the editor on both Mac and Windows able to publish off to the various players.

There are screenshots of the interface in action for us to see (here are a few):


[Screenshots of the Unity2.5 editor via the website]

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ZEROFRACTAL

There is a nice little interview as well with ZeroFractal who use Unity for their Architectural Visualisation work. The images show the user of HUD plans as part of lovely looking real-time renderings and the integration of console controllers amongst other things. It sounds like they have done some nice work in developing the tool to allow their pipeline to be extra smooth - would love to see it in action.


[ZeroFractal Unity 3D environment image via the Unity3D site]

The ZeroFractal website is pretty cool, with 3d elements wandering over thier homepage and nice 3D transitions between sections and more. There are plenty of interesting images and vids of their projects to be found. Here are a few example images - these arent Unity - but are fun none-the-less:



[Images of some of ZeroFractal's CG work via their website]

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Unity3D

I dont recall taking a look at the Unity3D engine before - perhaps it was that it was encamped on the Mac side - but with players for the Mac, PC, browser, Wii, iPhone and more - it is a classy 3D engine for sure. I was flat out astonished at the quality the current version can bring to even a browser-based interface. We get a beautifully rich environment with waving trees, grass, dynamic shadows, physics, particle effects, reflections and more - all running real-time in the browser via a small plug-in = awesome.


[screengrab of the Unity3D site showing off the Tropical Island through (in my case) Firefox]

Diving onto their Tropical Island demo-page allowed me to grab the plugin (I was using firefox) and then see the demo environments. The landscape is lovely and the real-time lighting and shadows with physics is fun. The quality isnt what we can get from Crysis or Unreal3, but this baby can get its stuff to play on a dizzying array of hardware and still look great.

For FBE, the cost is something we are looking at from an Education perspective, but it is the Mac only editor that makes for some tricky integration for us. So much of our other software is Windows only, that the Mac percentage of hardware is low - even though we like the platform. COFA have licenses, but have apparently been exploring a cross-platform option (hope to find out what soon).

I love the idea of being able to create quality visualisations that can then be experienced by many both online and using controls like the iPhone and Wii. Plus since I am sitting here on my Mac - it feels like a nice fit (cost is an issue to get the quality - needs Pro).

Anyhow here are some of the promo stills from the site:



[promo images from the Unity3D engine via their site]

And some vids of the engine in action:


Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Motion Capture Demo

Had a nice demo from Scott and Carl from Measurand and their ShapeWrap3 motion capture kit. Their relatively cheap and portable motion capture system looks like a great way for educational orgs to get into this realm without dedicated spaces and setups while simultaneously allowing capture in multiple areas like VR theatres, existing architecture and research facilities. The technology, which includes quite clever bend and twist measuring systems, is clever and can be integrated with other mocap systems like Vicoms etc.

Check out their vids on youtube.

There are free plug-ins for Motionbuilder, Virtools and Quest3D - plus others for XSI, Max & Maya. The guys ran through a pipeline with a rig from XSI brought into Motionbuilder where we had the live real-time feeds from the mocap rig coming in. There is something very cool about seeing the rig and model replicating the user in realtime. After capturing animation layers in Motionbuilder the data was exported and brought back into XSI for a little more editing if required before being exported for the Source Engine. The guys brought the animations in as taunts atop a custom character in Team Fortress 2.


[image of the ShapeWrap3 kit via the Measurand site]

It would be good to integrate this sort of technology into the visualisation work we have in FBE and to keep bringing life and character to the models created.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Sketch Theatre

I am a sucker for videos that show the evolution of an illustration and similar works. I recall my joy at the MillionMasterpiece site and the ability for us to play each square. Youtube is another great source of such things, but this new site, Sketch Theatre, is specifically geared towards this idea. It showcases some talented artists and we see how it all comes together through a cool interface:



I have only had the time to watch a handful so far, and all have been top class inspiration.

Check out Monk One's work to get you started!!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Button's Oscar

Some quick Oscar's news:

The poetic ride of Benjamin Button collected the Oscar for visual effects **tips hat to Digital Domain** more here

The Best Animated Feature went to Pixar again with Wall-E - I thought the joy of Kung Fu Panda might sneak past them this year - but not. Perhaps the poetry of Wall-E like Benjamin Button won through.

And the best animated short went to La Maison en Petits Cubes.

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Oh and awesome work Heath Ledger on the Joker - still gives me chills.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Science, the SGU and some fun from MIT


After listening to a couple of EPs of the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe which is my favourite podcast, I was thinking about quotes and science and came up with the one below. The new website for the guys is a big improvement and the podcasts are informative and funny every time. Apart from getting the casts from the site you can just subscribe via iTunes.

Now, back to my Sciencey quote inspired by hearing the quotes on the SGU, thought up this arvo - how does this sound:
"A measure of the incredible value of science over pseudo-science and evidence-less belief is in its willingness to be proven wrong"
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Back to the SGU:


[SixthSense setup via the MIT Media Lab's site on the project]

In episode 186 the SGU covered some wearable computing and augmented reality news in the form of the 'sixthsense' kit from the MIT Media Lab. The vid on youtube below shows how they are doing some interesting interactive reality augmentation with the concept of a projected interface and gesture recognition.



It would be great to have augmented 3D glasses that we could wear and be plugged into our digital lives and all that data. Projecting would be cool for sharing though - very interesting.

Wall-E Blu-Ray

The new blu-ray of Wall-E is beautiful, the clarity of everything enhances the sheer elegance of the whole experience. Right from the opening Disney CG intro to the disk the quality stands out and though we normalise to these things pretty quickly - it is a significant improvement over the DVD format. DVDbeaver have some great screengrabs at the full HD-res, I have included a single shot here - they are big and beautiful - masterful.


[Full HD Res shot from the Wall-E blu-ray via DVDbeaver]