27 April, 2009

Sean Talarico: Visual FX Shot - VFS Demo Reel

This little clip Sean Talarico is a nice sweet little hit. At first, its simply unbelievable, but as we proceed with his breakdown, we end up learning a lot. As a lesson to you, if you plan on creating your own animations or visual effects shots, "simple" is always better. This shot seems complex, but the general idea is simple and clear, this is very important.

"KISS (keep it simple stupid)" as they say, is not easy as they come. It takes time, experience, and many times, you need a second opinion as it becomes difficult to move past our personal preferences, especially if we've been working on something for a long time. Keeping this simple, also means making your project clear and you will know this immediately once you garner feedback from others.

Check it out and enjoy. Great piece Sean, keep up the great work, and when you get a chance, let us know how you are doing. By the way, how long did this clip take you to create?

Fire it Up!


23 April, 2009

Barclay Waterslide: Video Contest Winner

Hi All - Here is the winner of the Barclay Waterslide video contest. (Click this link to refresh your memory about the project).

These winners get an all expense paid trip around the world to ride and experience the awesome waterslides in Brazil, Germany and China. They will be given laptops and video cameras so they can document their experience. Hopefully, they'll have something to show of their trip.

Regarding the video, its actually pretty funny, it definitely has that Western Spaghetti by PES look and feel. In all of these contests, when you see the "winner", do you ever ask yourself if you could have done better? Post a comment and let us know.

Fire it up!

22 April, 2009

Philipps' "Carousel": Visual FX Short Film

This short VFX shot by Adam Berg for Philipps is simply amazing. Its a single take moving shot through a hostage situation, and yes...there are also lots and lots of scary clowns. Those of you with the "Clown Phobia" may not want to watch.

We've watched it many times during class to figure out where a shot begins, ends and which parts were CG and which parts were composited. Its really hard to tell, so the short answer to that is to just enjoy and be amazed at what you are watching.

There is also a "Making of Featurette", but its not that informative, its more entertaining than anything. You can watch it by clicking here. Post below and let us know what you think.

Prepare to be inspired and Fire It Up!


15 April, 2009

Benjamin Button: Creating a Digital Human

One of the hardest things to achieve in animation, is to be able to create lifelike realistic movement in a character's face. These days, there is MOCAP, but still there are some instances where the performance doesn't look complete and believable. In this this talk, visual effects artist Ed Ulbrich describes the process for creating Brad Pitt's digital character in the movie " The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". For students of animation and visual effects, this is a must see.

In this talk he describes many of the problems his team encountered and the solutions to many of those problems, most of which involving new "MOCAP" technology that is able to capture more of the actor's performance through the use of special makeup created by MOVA. Check their site to learn more. I've also hunted around for a quick video demo on what they do so you can learn more...I've included the clip under the lecture below.

For a while, we came to a point where the digital performance of an animated character was close to being believable, but still there was the "Uncanny Valley". In the industry, this refers to the subtle unreal nature of the digital human that we subconsciously can pick up. Regardless of great modeling, lighting and texturing and MOCAP, there is still something in the model that prevents the digital human actor from being totally lifelike and convincing. Benjamin Button, is perhaps the best example I've seen of really great digital acting (emotion acting) work. The shots are pretty believable from up close and suspend our disbelief for long periods of time.

One of my students mentioned this today..."we're waiting for a time when we see a movie starring dead actors". Can you imagine, through the use of technology, making a movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Marlon Brando acting out a scene together in one room... Now that would be cool!

14 April, 2009

Bruce Lee Killer Ping Pong

Okay, this came up today in class and thought it was "Hella Fresh".

Okay, we definitely see a CG ball, but is that Bruce Lee's actual face on the guy too? Once the piece is complete you'll be amazed to see that this is a commercial for a cool Nokia Bruce Lee phone.

Check the phone and website out and enjoy!

Thanks for sharing Adam M.

11 April, 2009

John Adams: VFX Demo

Today, I participated in an all day Adobe CS4 workshop, and to start, the instructor, played this demo. It showcases the visual effects shots in the HBO film John Adams. You'll be amazed as to how many of the clips were composited layer by layer to create a specific shot.

The best part about this demonstration, are the breakdowns, where you can see each image and its relation to a specific shot. Its simply amazing, and for those of us who dabble in AE, I'm sure you'll find it educational.

Below are some snapshots from the presentation.


08 April, 2009

Saul Bass Vs. Star Wars

Saul Bass (1920 - 1996) was a talented designer whose fame came from many of the opening title sequences featured on Alfred Hitcock's films. I saw the Star Wars version inspired Saul Bass version and was hooked. Below are title sequences for Hitcock's "Anatomy of a Murder".

In both examples, look at how the shapes create interesting compositions. Its interesting in the Star Wars piece how the main elements and characters of the film were stripped down to simple graphic icons. Also, pay close attention to how the transitions occur and how they move into the next composition. It works well on a simple and pure level and as you'll see, the style was even used for the fun rhythmic opening title sequence of Pixar's Monster's Inc.

06 April, 2009

Kung Fu Panda: Opening Sequence

Kung Fu Panda is one of my favorite animated features. The story was great, I laughed many times while watching (Thanks Jack Black), and the animation was impressive. I could only imagine trying animate the timing for many of the fighting sequences of some of the characters, from what I hear, I heard that was the most challenging. Well done. The part that caught my attention however, was the opening sequence which was primarily 2D animation. The look and feel of this portion of the film was unique, expressive, wimsical in nature and simply awesome.

I've hunted for a clip that I can post on my blog and found one on Google Video. The animated intro usually comes up in my animation classes and so posting it here would serve as future reference. To view this clip, click any of the pictures or the link here.

Enjoy and learn grasshoppers!

05 April, 2009

Matt Strangio: Demo Reel

Matt Strangio is an animator who began animating with Tippet Studios, has worked with ILM and is not working as an animator at Pixar. When you get a chance, check out his demo reel. In it, you'll see fine examples of character animation. Watch how he handles his posing, timing, eye darts, variety of speed and overalapping action. You will also enjoy the animated short thats in his demo reel as well about a Bellhop (pictured above). When you have a moment, be sure to check out his website. For those of you who want a great animation site, check Matt's. He's go great figure drawings that show construction of the figure, as well as a clever animated interface that help to highlight his work.

Hey Matt, keep up the great work and let us know how you are doing.

Fire it Up.


03 April, 2009

Nintendo DSI Premiere : This Sunday April 5

In the last year, I've grown to love the Nintendo DS. In our house, we have two, we have pink one and the dark blue one and even though most of its use is from the youngest members of our house, surprisingly, my wife and I find great use for it too. My wife plays Scrabble, and I spend a lot of time playing WSOP and Dark Conflict. I use it a lot when I work out during my cardio sessions on a stationary bike, and it makes the time fly. I love it. If you get a chance see how you like using the DS with the R4 adapter.

The video above highlights the new Nintendo DSI which premieres this weekend. It features a camera, interactive mic and new creative software. The best part is the downloadable browser which was inevitable and so very nice to see. The only thing as mentioned in the clip is the cost. Its going to retail for $170, a whole $40 more than the standard base cost. They say that presales of the unit have surpassed the previous DS and Wii.

If you were one of the ones who have preordered your new DSI, chime in and let us know how you like it.