Getting More Immersed with Indiewire

  The Penske Media purchase of Indiewire has resulted in an expansion of my role as crafts and awards season contributor.  Beginning this week, I begin Emmy coverage of below-the-line contenders along with my usual Oscar season crafts reporting, working closely

Immersed in Blu-ray: Hitchcock and Bogart

The WB Archive Collection gets Hitch and Bogie on Blu-ray and they've never looked better for home viewing. In Kent Jones' indispensable doc, Hitchcock/Truffaut, he reminds us that Truffaut was on a mission to correct misconceptions about Hitch as a lightweight

Immersed in Books: Farber on Film

For the first time, the complete writings of film critic Manny Farber is available from Library of America, edited by Robert Polito (Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson). Manny Farber (1917-2008) was the first modernist film critic to write like a modernist.


Maxon Unveils Cinema 4D R14

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Clips, Education, Events, Movies, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment


Maxon’s new Cinema 4D R 14 delivers breakthrough performance with a new, fully integrated sculpting system, camera matching functionality, exchange plug-ins to two key applications — The Foundry’s Nuke and Adobe Photoshop Extended –- and improved integration with Adobe After Effects. Read more

The Hobbit Gets a Trilogy

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Books, Cinematography, Clips, Education, Events, Movies, Oscar, performance capture, previs, Production Design, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Peter Jackson believes there’s enough story to warrant a Hobbit trilogy and New Line, Warner Bros., and MGM couldn’t be happier.  Looks like Jackson’s Tintin will have to wait. Or can he still squeeze in the performance capture shoot? Read more

SIGGRAPH 2012 Preview: Art and Science

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Education, Events, Movies, performance capture, previs, Production Design, Shorts, stop-motion, Tech, Trailers, VFX, Videogames, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

SIGGRAPH has always been about the convergence of art and science. It’s a place to showcase the latest and greatest advancements driving the industry’s blockbuster work in VFX and animation. This year, the 39th edition of the prestigious computer graphics conference returns to the LA Convention Center (Aug. 5-9), proudly proclaiming: “I AM ART” and “I AM SCIENCE.” Read more

LACMA Presents Bond Opening Credits Exhibition

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Below the Line, Clips, Education, Events, James Bond, Movies, Tech | Leave a comment

This weekend LACMA celebrates the 50th anniversary of 007 with …Is James Bond, the first exhibition featuring the complete opening credits from the current 22 Bond films produced by Eon Prods. Co-organized by LACMA and Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television (SFTV), the exhibition runs June 9-Sept. 9. Read more

Disney Delivers Game-Changing Paperman Short

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Clips, Education, Events, Festivals, Movies, Shorts, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

Disney’s top secret black and white Paperman animated short premieres Monday at Annecy. I haven’t seen the minimalist Manhattan chance encounter yet that blossoms from afar between a dreamer and a beauty through the power of drawings, (it bows locally later this month at the Los Angeles Film Festival), but I spoke last week with director John Kahrs and producer Kristina Reed. Read more

Animation Mentor, Autodesk Offer Shot Breakdown Workshop

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Education, Events, Movies, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Animation Mentor will host an all-day workshop with Autodesk, Breaking Down the Animated Shot: Live & Uncut, June 30 at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Read more

Digital Animation Discussed at the Academy

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Clips, Education, Events, Movies, Oscar, performance capture, previs, Shorts, stop-motion, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Tom Sito hosted a fascinating discussion about the  evolution of digital animation last week at the Academy’s Goldwyn Theater as part of the 18th Marc Davis  Celebration of Animation series.  Read more

Cameron’s Deepsea Dive Inspires Avatar Sequels

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Education, Movies, Oscar, performance capture, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

James Cameron admitted that his recent record-setting solo dive to the Mariana Trench in the torpedo-shaped Deepsea Challenger has provided invaluable inspiration for his upcoming Avatar sequels, which will explore the oceans of Pandora and will be shot at a higher frame rate of 60 fps to improve the 3-D presentation.

“The best inspiration I got for Avatar 2 and 3 was dealing with the ‘master navigator’ culture in Micronesia,” Cameron said in Tokyo Friday, where he attended the Japanese premiere of Titanic 3-D.”

Indeed, it is presumed that the bio-luminescent colors of Avatar are inspired by the indigenous Micronesians, a seafaring culture that navigated the Pacific for centuries without the aid of compasses or charts.

Cameron, who is partnering with National Geographic, plans two more dives seven miles to the deepest point in the world before embarking on pre-production.

Cloud Computing, Greater Interoperability for Autodesk

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Clips, Education, Events, Movies, Oscar, performance capture, Production Design, Tech, VFX, Videogames, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

For Autodesk’s 30th anniversary, it resumed its semi-annual summit in San Francisco to introduce the 2013 DCC suite of Maya, 3ds Max, Softimage, MotionBuilder, and Mudbox (shipping this spring and to be bundled together in an “Ultimate” package). At the same time, the software giant emphasized the importance of its cloud computing program, Autodesk 360 (formerly known as Autodesk Cloud). Autodesk 360 now provides even more cloud benefits to Autodesk Subscription customers, including additional cloud storage and the ability to access cloud services for rendering, simulation, design optimization, and energy analysis. Subscription customers now have up to 25 GB of storage and between 100 and 500 Autodesk cloud units per user, based on the suite edition they purchased, providing a competitive edge to respond to changing business requirements.

Indeed, chief executive Carl Bass (below) suggested that with such an “infinitely scalable resource,” this game-changer is akin to dry cleaning: “How much do I want to pay?” He suggested that cloud computing is the future of how simulation will be done, among other highly complex tasks, and part of a new eco-system in which “you’re the center of computing and community and collaborators.” He termed it “mobile cloud and social all in one place,” and predicted that the iPad will replace the PC.

Not surprisingly, the concept of cloud rendering is being aggressively adopted in the entertainment industry by, among others, Atomic Fiction, the spinoff VFX company from Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers Digital. In fact, Atomic Fiction is currently doing the VFX for Zemeckis’ return to live action, Flight, using a workable and efficient model for cloud rendering on a project by project basis, according to co-founders Kevin Baillie and Ryan Tudhope, who were present at the summit.

As for the new versions of the popular DCC suite, Autodesk announced a direct link between Maya and MotionBuilder and crowd simulation in Softimage as a way of competing with Massive. In addition, more interoperability is being stressed among all their software programs and various bundles.

Marc Petit (below), Autodesk’s SVP of Media & Entertainment, reiterated the goal of finding new ways of standardizing and optimizing VFX workflows to “take full advantage of globally distributed production resources.” To that end, Autodesk is working with the major studios “to develop and package workflows that address these challenges.” Virtual production and 3-D are particularly earmarked to expand the storytelling and visual potential in a post-Avatar paradigm shift.

Among the highlights of this expanded interoperability:

– Live character streaming between MotionBuilder and Maya provides an efficient way to previsualize a retargeting result in the final Maya scene before transferring the data between applications.

– More consistent hotkeys make it easier for Maya artists to navigate viewports in the 3D suite applications, and help artists familiar with 3ds Max to get up to speed with Softimage faster.

– The enhanced, consistent F-Curve Editor within 3ds Max, Maya, Softimage, and MotionBuilder now offers consistent functionality, helping animators transition between these applications more smoothly.

Autodesk HumanIK Interoperability with CAT (Character Animation Toolkit) provides a single-step, round-trip workflow to transfer 3ds Max CAT bipedal characters between 3ds Max, Maya and MotionBuilder. Enhanced interoperability between Maya and 3ds Max enables artists to move 3D data between the applications in a single step.

All editions of the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suites now also include Autodesk SketchBook Designer 2013 concept art software. This product enables artists to explore and present new ideas for characters, props, and environments using an intuitive hybrid paint and vector toolset.

Autodesk Maya 2013 delivers powerful new toolsets for dynamic simulation, animation and rendering that offer new levels of creativity, while everyday productivity enhancements help artists work faster. In addition, the Open Data initiative introduced in Maya 2013 offers tools to help facilitate parallel workflows and better complexity handling.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 delivers ActiveShade support in the NVIDIA iray renderer; a new render pass system; and enhanced interoperability with Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop software. The 2013 version also offers new tools for motion graphics, 3D animation, and simulation.

Autodesk Softimage 2013 delivers a new high-fidelity interactive environment and powerful new creative toolsets that include a new CrowdFX simulation feature set, along with enhanced modeling, animation, physics, and selection tools.

Autodesk MotionBuilder 2013 helps production teams more reliably acquire, aggregate and refine data, and offers a new nonlinear editing paradigm for virtual production. Highlights are the option to record live motion capture data directly to disk, a flexible new HUD (heads-up display), a floating viewer, and support for broadcast WAVE files.

Autodesk Mudbox 2013 helps artists create complex production-ready scenes with greater ease, with the Gigatexel engine and the ability to work efficiently with significantly more objects. In addition, Mudbox 2013 offers new multipurpose curves, support for edge sharpness data, and enhanced interoperability with Adobe Photoshop software.

Autodesk also announced the 2013 version of its Autodesk Flame Premium software, which combines high-end visual effects and finishing tools with real-time color grading in a single solution. The 2013 version features:

– More creative and technical tools for advanced compositing and 3D relighting

– Interactivity enhancements in Action for an even more fluid creative experience

– Improved 3D tracking workflow for greater flexibility and control when positioning compositing elements in a scene

– Enhanced grading capabilities including new color grading presets to get started on look development, new media export workflow, and Tangent Element modular control panel support

SIGGRAPH Mobile Launched

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Education, Events, Festivals, Movies, performance capture, Production Design, Shorts, Tech, VFX, Videogames, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

SIGGRAPH Mobile, inspired by the Symposium on Apps at SIGGRAPH Asia 2011, is a first-time SIGGRAPH program developed to showcase the latest advancements in mobile development.

SIGGRAPH Mobile seeks innovative mobile pioneers to submit their latest discoveries in the field of mobile graphics and apps. The program is divided into four submission categories:

Presentations – One speaker presents on a single topic, technology, or result
Panels – Multiple speaker presentation and discussion of a particular area
Workshops – Hands-on tutorials for current mobile technologies and tools
Demonstrations – Full-day demonstrations of the latest and greatest mobile applications, software, and hardware
Read more