Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Spider-Man 3: Autodesk Technology Helps Web-slinging Superhero Conquer the Dark Side

Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) announced on 4 July ’07 that Sony Pictures Imageworks used Autodesk’s media and entertainment technology to create the visual effects shots in this summer’s blockbuster film, Spider-Man 3.
Marc Petit, Autodesk’s Media & Entertainment Senior VP said, “With Spider-Man 3, the artists at Sony Pictures Imageworks have reached new heights in character animation and visual effects. We’re proud that they used Autodesk solutions to enhance characters’ performances with digital doubles and to generate detailed, photo-realistic sets. We congratulate them on this milestone film.”
Sony Pictures Imageworks used Autodesk Maya 3D animation software for modeling, texturing, rigging, match-moving, character animation and visual effects animation on approximately 50 percent of the shots completed by the facility. The Autodesk Flame visual effects system was used for character face replacements and to composite live footage of the main characters into fully computer-generated environments.
For the “Birth of Sandman” sequence, the most technically complex and dramatic sequence in the entire film, Flame technology was used. During the three minutes of on-screen magic, a pile of sand slowly gathers itself into a sentient being and poignantly transforms into the human that is Thomas Haden Church in the role of Flint Marko.
The first shot in the “Birth of Sandman” sequence is approximately three minutes long (2,672 frames), without a cutaway, starting with a few dozen grains of sand that gradually gather with billions of others as the creature is formed. The computer-generated Sandman was created at Sony Pictures Imageworks by a team led by Visual Effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk, Animation Director Spencer Cook and Digital Effects Supervisor Kee-Suk Ken Hahn. The work also highlights the talents of CG Supervisor Bob Winter, Sand Effects Supervisor Doug Bloom and Software Engineer Jonathan Cohen.
“The Sandman shots involved many paint-fixes to blend between different takes of sand simulations,” said Peter Nofz, Sony Pictures Imageworks’ digital effects supervisor for Spider-Man 3. “The Flame system’s versatility and speed enabled us to deliver extraordinary results. Overall, Flame was used in the final step of the production pipeline. It was the tool of choice for many difficult changes and fixes.”
In addition, Sony Pictures Imageworks used Maya to design the “venom” goo. The use of this software in the design of the evil, shape-shifting symbiote allowed animators to build goo-rigs on a shot-by-shot basis. The artists could then animate each shot with those rigs, retaining very precise control over the animation. The result is a powerful, alien-looking black silky goo that slithers and pulls itself along with dramatic fluidity.
“One of our most significant accomplishments on Spider-Man 3 was integrating character animation with effects animation, as they are were very closely related. The Autodesk Maya software‘s flexibility and adaptability made it possible for character animators to work concurrently with effects animators to produce seamless results” concluded Nofz.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Toon Boom animates The Simpsons Movie

Watch the trailer:

Emmy Award-winning Toon Boom Animation Inc. encouraged all animation lovers and Simpsons fans to go see The Simpsons Movie and experience the Toon Boom technology at its best. In addition to winning 23 Emmys and 22 Annie Awards, The Simpsons is the most popular primetime animated series and the longest running half-hour sitcom in the history. Its success on the big screen is more than promising.
Produced by 20th Century Fox and animated at Film Roman, a Starz Media company, The Simpsons Movie is done in 2D animation using a combination of Toon Boom Harmony and Opus. To create animation of the highest quality, the team has taken full advantage of Toon Boom‘s powerful network solutions from the design stage to final rendering. The impressive use of special effects applied on characters, the extensive number of characters, the breathtaking backgrounds and the smart combination of 2D and 3D animation makes the whole adventure worth watching.
David Silverman says close to 100 animators worked more than 18 months on the movie, and brand-new animation techniques were devised to show crowd shots of most of the population of Springfield. In the end, there were 100 speaking parts. And all this after it took four years just to come up with a script that everyone could agree on.

Visit http://www.simpsonsmovie.com/ to experience the Simpsons life-style
Visit http://www.toonboom.com/ to know all about toon boom

Friday, July 27, 2007

Cadbury Mini 2D animated TVC by Famous House of Animation

Mumbai based Famous House of Animation has recently created a refreshingly wonderful 2D animated TVC for Cadbury Mini.
The TVC Nanha Jadugar was worked on by 20 artists and was completed in 22 days.
Divided into three sections the story of the commercial revolves around a kid magician ‘Nanha Jadugar‘, who turns big things into small to entertain his friends.
The Creative Director, Famous House of Animation E. Suresh shared, "I was very clear that this will work very well with 2D. And 2D has once again become rare in terms of its presence in the TV ads. 3D and clay have become very popular lately, so I felt a need to showcase more variants within the 2D animation category to make people bold enough to go for this medium."
The first section has the Nanha Jadugar making his dad‘s car into a toy car but fails to get it back into its original size. Dad is furious, the kids run off.
The second situation is where the small kids play cricket against big bad boys and Nanha Jadugar comes to their rescue by making the opponent bats-man‘s bat really tiny like an ice-cream spoon and gets him clean bowled. The big bad boys get furious and the kids run off.
In the last section the kids feel like having Perk and other Cadbury products, but they have only Re 1 and 2. So, the Nanha Jadugar swings into action by making a section of Cadbury products smaller in sizes to make them available at the same price. The kids are all excited with the new twist in the story for once without any repercussions like the earlier situations.
Suresh said, "2D as a style seems to be very unimpressive when one has to take a client through to get him/her on board of a 2D animation production ship. It is comparatively easy with 3D and clay animation. Many clients view clay as a very exclusive medium to use and rightly so as the craftsmanship availability is rarer and that makes it very expensive too."
"But we in India, especially our TV audience are not oriented at all to the wide range of possibilities that 2D animation as a medium can offer. I would jump at an opportunity to make a stylized animated ad any day given the right amount of time, budget and patience" he concluded.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Watch the New Add of Radio City in flash animation

Be it movies, casting, daily soaps, or even marketing. Animation has always been a prolific medium of communication and of late, it‘s now being used in every possible aspect of marketing and branding.

Recently music major Radio City 91.1 FM has rolled out with its new marketing campaign ‘Fun ki Nayi Bhasha‘ where animation has been used intensively.

Click to Download Video

Click to Watch the Video

As part of the campaign, Radio City has taken idioms, added a fun twist to them and created a fun experience by using flash animation in viral ads and interpreting them literally to demonstrate a whole new refreshing take on life. "The idea behind the campaign is to get our audience to participate and add to the new language of fun on Radio City" said Rana Barua, National Marketing Head of Radio City.

Barua shared, "Animation is a very pertinent tool that we have decided to use to take our ‘Fun ki Nayi Bhasha‘ across to our listeners. I believe that animation should and can be used effectively to express thoughts and key messages that one would like to communicate."

The Bansuri webisode (viral) of duration 80 seconds has been conceived by the creative team at Meridian. As the future plans of Radio City, there are other webisodes which are in pipeline and will soon be out on the net.

On being asked about the response of the campaign, Barua said, "We are quite thrilled on the response we have received so far. It‘s really been very positive, be it from our listeners or other players across industries."

"Combined with Radio City‘s previous pioneering initiatives, the viral campaign will further enhance and amplify the communication listeners across the length and breadth of the country. Through the viral campaign listeners will be able to view and experience a sense of unshackled spontaneity and associate that with the brand Radio City" concluded Rana.

Watch the Video Here

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sony Online Entertainment announces a lineup of free online games

Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE), announced on 18 July ‘07 the redesigned company web site, www.station.com, will host more than twenty free games, a new look and improved functionality. Station.com is the user-friendly main portal for SOE’s games, communities and information. The newly revamped site will host free trials of the majority of SOE’s MMOs; casual games such as PopCap’s Bejeweled® 2, Jeopardy! ® and Wheel of Fortune®; and mobile games such as Q*Bert™, Snoop Dogg Cruisin’, and the recently released God of War™: Betrayal. In addition, the Station Pass has transitioned into a free online game service available to all players.

“As SOE continues to grow its business and acquire a wider variety of titles, it was only appropriate that the Station.com website be redesigned to offer a more user-friendly and immersive experience to our diverse player base,” said Torrie Dorrell, SVP Global Sales & Marketing, Sony Online Entertainment. “Players from around the world will be able to obtain news and information surrounding upcoming and live games, visit community sites, download a casual game or two and even check out SOE’s latest offerings for the PLAYSTATION® Store. The site is launching simultaneously in English, French, German and Japanese, with plans to role out more languages, services and games in the coming months.”

Players can obtain a Station.com account for free by simply registering on the homepage. From there they will have access to free online games and trials of SOE’s live games in addition to access to community discussion forums, podcasts and more.

Simultaneously, the Station Pass games have become free. The Station Pass consisted of the full versions of the three casual, online action-based strategy games: Tanarus®, Cosmic Rift™ Online and Infantry Online™. Each of these games has consistently maintained a steady fanbase for the more than five years they have been live, and this transition to a free service will allow new and current players to experience these titles.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Indian Artists` work on Digital Skin Grafting for `Sivaji`

At times VFX is about sheer technique, at times it is a lot of hard work!
Sample this: Rajnikanth starrer Sivaji-The Boss has a song sequence (Style song), where the wheatish skinned super star sports a European Complexion.Sounds like a case of color correction? or DI? It would have been so, but for a small thing, the makers of the movie wanted the star to not only have light colored skin but a soft fluffy texture as well!
Enter Chennai based studio ‘Indian Artists‘ which came up with the idea of Digital Skin Grafting.

"After the song sequence was shot with Rajnikanth, Cinematographer K.V.Anand and our team actually reshot the same song with an enchanting European belle who performed Rajnikanth‘s steps in the same lighting conditions. All the 630 shots with Rajni and the additional 630 shots with the European model were scanned in 4K resolution. Each of the 9000 scanned frames ware rotoscoped to separate the body parts (face, hands, legs etc.). The lady‘s skin was mapped onto the Rajnikanth‘s image using Eyeon "Digital Fusion" software. And finally the actor got his glowing white complexion with a soft fluffy skin texture" shared VFX Supervisor V. Srinivas M Mohan.
"There were two difficult aspects in this project. One was matching the girl‘s action with the hero‘s action and the second was matching both of their body proportions during mapping. The work involved was laborious and painstaking. Great attention was paid to detail right from the shoot until the final print. It has taken 25 dedicated CG technicians almost a year to achieve this 6½ min. feat" he added.
On being asked as to why not color correction or DI, Srinivas pointed out that, "The complexion would have changed, but the texture would have remained the same. Besides with fair complexion, there is a lot more translucency and hence very less shadows"
Why not CG? "With the full CG face, 3d tracking, matching expressions and lighting of the hero are again difficult and time consuming tasks and besides we are specialists in compositing" he elaborated.
The film ‘Sivaji-The Boss‘ starring Rajinikant is amongst the costliest film made in India. It has been Directed by S.Shanker, Music by A.R. Rehman and Produced by A.V.M Productions.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Take all the DVDs to your iPhone

So. You've got your iPhone and you've got your favorite movies on DVD. Now what? How do you bring the two together?

Innovative Solutions has got . . . well, an innovative solution for you. It's a piece of software called DVD to iPhone and it takes all manners of video content (DVDs, home movies, whatever you downloaded from the Internet, etc.), works some sort of "cyberspeed technology" voodoo magic on it, and gets it all nice and pretty for optimized viewing on the iPhone.

The best part? It takes just two clicks. Well, four clicks really because you have to head over to dvdtoiphone.com first and download the free trial, but let's not split hairs.

The full version of DVD to iPhone is available at an introductory rate of $30 and, ironically, is not Mac-compatible.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Animation as an industry, and its scope in India

Animation -- it's an art, it's a part of entertainment and it can be your career! Toonz Animation Academy has launched a professional animation training course in Mumbai, and at a series of seminars held in the city last week, dean of the academy Dino Cordero discussed both the course being offered and a career in animation. Philippines-based Cordero has worked with several animation studios across the world; he has been a part of popular cartoon series like 'Loony Tunes', 'Tom and Jerry', 'Winnie the Pooh' and 'Fantastic Four'. He has also worked on 'X-Men' and 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'.

Animated cell phone displays, commercials, cartoons and movies are a big part of life in today's modern world, but India so far has played a very small part in the global animation industry. There are about 10 animation studios across the country, and only around 3000 animators work for them. "The industry is bottlenecked when it comes to procuring skilled professionals for jobs. There are many people who are familiar with the software, but they are not qualified animators," says Binu Raj, marketing head, Toonz Animation.

Entertainment, though, is not the be-all and end-all of the industry. It has applications in various fields. Defence personnel use animation to design armaments, forensic scientists use it to recreate crime sequences and it is also used in the fields of space research and medicine.

Click to know about the variour institutes which offer animation courses.