Archive for the ‘Special Effects’ Category

Pixar’s Renderman now available for free!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Image from cganimationblog.com

For those not already aware of it, Pixar’s Renderman is now available for free non-commercial use! What is Renderman? Renderman is a rendering plug-in that Pixar developed for use with 3D animation and modeling programs. It’s a alternative render method to the default options already available in programs such as Maya. Like already mentioned, use of the software is 100% free, with no limitations, feature cuts, or even watermarks to worry about. As long as whatever you produce with it is not for profit, anything is free game.

The latest version of the software, version 19, brings multiple improvements to the fray, one of which is a brand new rendering paradigm Pixars calls RIS. RIS is a highly optimized mode for rendering global illumination, its made specifically for ray tracing scenes with heavy geometry, hair, volumes, and irradicance with incredible efficiency in one pass. What does this all mean? Renderman can render your objects and scenes much quicker and more efficiently than many other options currently available today. In fact, its currently the most flexible and powerful option for VFX and cinematic imagery available to the public. More information and technical details can be found at the following link: http://rendermansite.pixar.com/view/latest-tech

I highly recommend anyone interested in 3D animation, VFX, or modeling to check this out. It’s not often that the public gains free access to internally developed software from professional studios, much less a fully featured and limitless version of that same software. Pixar offers multiple tutorial videos to those new to Renderman, so anyone can get to know the workflow and learn to use it to its full potential. The plug-in is currently compatible with Autodesk Maya versions 2013.5, 2014, and 2015 as well as The Foundry’s Katana versions 1.5, 1.6, and 2.0. Support for Houdini and Cinema 4D is currently underway. Potentially compatible programs in the future include Modo, 3DS Max, Blender and more.

Download Renderman at the following link: http://renderman.pixar.com/view/non-commercial-renderman

Juan Rubio

Cogswell College welcomes Wajid Raza, a Lighting Technical Director at ILM

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

COGSWELL COLLEGE TO HOST WAJID RAZA, A LIGHTING

TECHNICAL DIRECTOR AT INDUSTRIAL LIGHT & MAGIC,

FOR SPECIAL GUEST LECTURE MARCH 25TH

Sunnyvale, CA, March 16, 2015 — Cogswell College, a leading educational institution offering a unique curriculum of Digital Art & Animation, Digital Audio Technology, Game Design & Development, Digital Media Management, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship & Innovation, will host Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) Technical Director Wajid Raza for a Special Guest Lecture. Karen Keister, Cogswell’s Program Director and Assistant Professor in the school’s Digital Arts & Animation Dept., made the announcement. Keister’s department regularly features one guest speaker each semester who has prominently established him/herself within the entertainment and digital arts industry.

The lecture, entitled “The VFX Pipeline,” will take place on Wednesday, March 25, from 7:30-9:30pm in the Dragon’s Den Theatre on the Cogswell College campus. Raza will discuss how the work of each artist on a large project fits into a chain of complex tasks that, when brought together, will create the ultimate visual effects. He will also cover how a visual effects studio is structured and what contributions are made by each of the studio’s different departments.

ABOUT WAJID RAZA:

Wajid Raza is currently working as ILM’s Lighting Technical Director on the upcoming Marvel Entertainment motion picture “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015.) He first joined the renowned and multi-award winning visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic in 2009 as part of its technology group. Since then, he has worked as an Assistant Technical Director, Production Engineer and Technical Director on many of ILM’s tent-pole projects. Raza was an integral part of the team behind the Academy Award winning film “Rango” (2011) and the Academy Award nominated film “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013.)

For the film “Rango,” Raza wrote software for the Layout Team and served as a Final Layout artist to bring the director’s vision from concept art to digital 3D scenes. He helped troubleshoot issues in a newly developed monolithic-process for working in multiple shots at the same time. One of the tools he wrote for Layout enabled them to create specialized cameras for the locked-off static shots in the movie. This technique enabled the addition of a “micro-float” treatment to the CG cameras, so their movements mimicked real-life camera movements.

Similarly, for the movie “Star Trek Into Darkness,” Raza led efforts in developing new software and production workflows tailored for the film. He helped set up a distributed fracture system pipeline that was employed in key scenes.

Raza is a graduate of Savannah College of Arts and Design (SCAD) where he received his MFA. Earlier, he completed his BS Degree in Computer Science from Government College University in Lahore, Pakistan, the city in which he was born. Currently, he is a resident of San Francisco.

WAJID RAZA’S CREDITS WITH ILM:

2015 “AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON” (currently in production) – Lighting Technical Director
2014 “TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES” – Production Engineer (Technology)
2013 “NOW YOU SEE ME” – Production Support (Technology)
2013 “STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS” – Digital Artist (Technology)
2012 “BATTLESHIP” – Assistant Technical Director
2011 “PIRATES OF CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES” – ATD
2011 “RANGO” – Layout Artist

ABOUT COGSWELL COLLEGE:

Designed as a “fiercely collaborative, living laboratory,” Cogswell College is located in the heart of the legendary Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale, California. The school is a WASC accredited, four-year institution of higher education with a specialized curriculum that offers programs in Digital Art and Animation, Digital Audio Technology, Game Design & Development, Digital Media Management, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

Numerous alumni of Cogswell College have secured prominent positions within the entertainment, videogame, technology, computer, animation, and motion graphics industries throughout California and beyond. Several of these alumni have established careers with such high profile companies as Activision, DreamWorks Animation, Disney, Electronic Arts, Pixar, and Microsoft Game Studio. Many other alumni have launched their own creative ventures.

Recent Cogswell alumni were members of the Academy Award-winning production teams which worked on the blockbuster films “Frozen” and “Life of Pi.” Some of the other well-known consumer projects to which Cogswell alumni have contributed include the feature films “The Boxtrolls” and “The Avengers,” and the popular videogames “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” “Halo 4” and “Battlefield Hardline.”

Additionally, animated short films conceived and produced by Cogswell students have gone on to win prestigious awards, including those presented by the California International Animation Festival, the Colorado Film Festival, the Oregon Film Festival, the Miami Film Festival, the Philadelphia Film & Animation Festival, the San Jose Short Film Festival, and Canada’s International Film Festival.

Cogswell College is located at 1175 Bordeaux Drive, Sunnyvale, California, 94089. For more information, please call 1-800-264-7955 or visit: http://www.cogswell.edu/

# # #

Contact for Cogswell College:
Rachael Sass
Creative Services Manager
Sunnyvale, CA
408/498-5150
rsass@cogswell.edu

Media Contact for Cogswell College:
Dan Harary
The Asbury PR Agency
Beverly Hills, CA
310/859-1831
dan@asburypr.com

Toy Story 4

Monday, November 24th, 2014


When the first Toy Story movie came out in 1995, it signaled the dawn of a new era. The fully animated film paved the way for other CG (computer generated) films, and is now the most common form of animation. Over the next 15 years the sequels Toy Story 2 and 3 were released, causing generations of audiences to feel like they had grown up with the characters. Toy Story 3 was declared to be the end of an extraordinary trilogy, and many felt it was the perfect ending. The toys had encountered the worst possible obstacles but overcame them all, even facing abandonment and annihilation in the process. We collectively said a tearful, but content,“goodbye” to the toys whom we had grown attached to. Then, earlier this month, Toy Story 4 was announced.

The internet exploded.

Mixed reviews of “Why on earth are they making ANOTHER Toy Story?” and “So excited they’re making another Toy Story!” popped up everywhere. John Lasseter made an announcement regarding his decision to direct another Toy Story movie – it seems that they were presented with a storyline they couldn’t pass up. Although personally I loved the ending to Toy Story 3 and thought it was the perfect way to wrap up an amazing storyline, it’s intriguing to consider the plotline possibilities for the upcoming Toy Story 4 that will be released in 2017. It was revealed that the new Pixar film will revolve around a love story, which no doubt put fans everywhere in frenzies of speculative delight. Will it be about Buzz and Jessie? Perhaps Bo Peep will find her way back to Woody?

Whatever the plot that will be revealed, it’s a good reassurance that Pixar has a trend of making powerful sequels that either live up to or surpass the original. There’s no doubt in my mind that Pixar will continue to carry on its legacy of excellent filmmaking.

Directing Animator at Pixar, Michal Makarewicz, made a visit to Cogswell on November 19th. Michal, whose work includes The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up, came last year and demoed an animation scene from the film Monsters Inc. Needless to say, everyone at Cogswell was very excited to see him. Who knows, maybe we’ll see some of his work on Toy Story 4 when 2017 rolls around!

Sierra Gaston
Digital Art & Animation Student

CGI Far From Monkey-Business in Dawn of the Planet of The Apes

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

The latest installment of the Planet of the Apes franchise displays some of the most innovative CGI techniques to date. Weta Digital, the CGI mastermind behind such films as Ironman, Man of Steel and Avatar, has further evolved the digital animation process to achieve lifelike effects. Actors work side by side with the digital art and animation teams to achieve realistic facial expressions bringing the computer generated images to life.

In his article, “Is This the Most Remarkable CGI in a Film Ever?” Patrick Jong Tayor comments on the sequel’s amazing attention to detail. “To make it work, Weta Digital employed dozens of wireless 3D cameras to faithfully capture the actors playing the apes, who donned motion capture suits with active marker strands, measuring position, velocity and acceleration even if the markers were obscured from camera view, and witness cameras mounted to the suits to capture facial mocap information.”

Cogswell offers programs in Digital Art and Animation designed to prepare students for exciting careers throughout the entertainment, media and art industries. As seen with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, CGI techniques need to be ever-evolving in order to compete with the next big blockbuster.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has an interesting plotline, astounding CGI effects, and a smooth transition in the fictional 10-year time gap between films. Do you plan on seeing this summer blockbuster? Are you Team Human or Team Ape? Tell us in the comment section below.

Source: RedShark News

“Transformers: Age of Extinction” Great for CGI – Bad for Bay…

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Director Michael Bay is getting slammed with reviews on “Transformers: Age of Extinction”. The majority of which criticize his directing skills for an amateur in story line, a flopped plot-development, and an overabundance of product placement.

In his recent review, Boston Globe columnist Peter Kenough noted that it was “all shot and edited as if by a Cuisinart. In short, the cinematic equivalent of being tied in a bag and being beaten by pipes.”

This is the first installment of the Transformers franchise that we won’t be seeing resident protagonist Sam Witwicky, played by Shia LaBeouf. Instead we get the Hollywood star power of Mark Wahlberg, however his performance is also highly criticized. “Wahlberg spends a lot of time looking with awe and terror into the blankness of a green screen, later filled in post-production by Bay’s monumental, juvenile special effects’, critiques Kenough.

However “monumental” and “juvenile” the special effects are, one can’t help but step back in awe at the advancements in CGI animation and digital special effects. Shots of giant alien spacecrafts, a prehistoric dinosaur extermination, cityscape battlegrounds, giant robotic aerial dogfights, and rumors of a robotic Oreo cookie.

According to his review (embedded above) Mr. Sunday Movies says, “The special effects cannot be faulted… They should almost be called VERY-Special Effects.” Cogswell offers programs in Digital Art and Animation designed to prepare students for exciting careers throughout the entertainment, media and art industries. Special effects are key in producing summer blockbuster hits, especially those directed by explosion king Michael Bay.

Do you think Bay’s a CGI-Genious, or a bogus bomb of a director? Are you planning on seeing Transformers: Age of Extinction? Are you Team Optimus, or Team Bumblebee?

Source: The Boston Globe

Jackson’s Slave to the Rhythm “Hologram” Isn’t a Hologram

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

The media is a-buzz with headlines highlighting the revival of deceased King of Pop Michael Jackson at the recent Billboard Awards. Jackson’s estate released his new single “Slave to the Rhythm”, which debuted as a holographic performance of the star moon-walking across the stage. The problem is, the hologram, isn’t technically a hologram. It’s an illusion that has been around for centuries.
It’s an old technique known as Pepper’s Ghost. It’s frequently used in theater, magic tricks, and dark rides (like Disney’s Haunted Mansion). The technique utilizes glass, certain angles, and special lighting methods, creating the illusion of objects seeming to appear and disappear on command.


In her article “What’s Holography’s Future” for DigitalCinemaReport.com, Linda Law explains the phenomenon in regards to another recent “holographic” performance of deceased rapper Tupac Shikour at the 2012 Cochella Music Festival. “This [updated technique] alone did not make Tupac revive. It required shooting in very high resolution, some amazing CG work using a body double, and the mapping of Tupac’s head to the body as well as very powerful projectors that make the projected image look quite real. The fact that he moves around showing different parts of himself helps the illusion but it is still 2D… These may be quite effective and engaging and for all who have not seen an actual hologram, quite believable as holograms. I do think that with clever use of this medium many creative and engaging productions will be made.”


The Tupac “hologram” reportedly cost over $400k to create, and with other stars like Janelle Monae and M.I.A incorporating “holograms” into their performances, this new niche form of entertainment has lots of potential for future growth, especially in the digital art field, utilizing CGI and the updated “Pepper’s Ghost” illusion to bring back the some of our favorite artists from the dead.
Would you pay to see your favorite artist perform as a “hologram”? Do you think the Michael Jackson “hologram” was creepy or cool? Let us know in the comments.

Sources:
Article: http://www.digitalcinemareport.com/article/what-holography’s-future#.U35CW9xboeE
Images: http://www.controlbooth.com/threads/peppers-ghost-projection-surface.30412/

http://music-mix.ew.com/2012/04/16/tupac-hologram-coachella-video/

‘Old’ Movies Whose Special Effects Still Hold up Today

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Some of the movies we grew up on are great for so many reasons; and a big part of that was the special effects that went into them. Remember how real the dinosaurs in ‘Jurassic Park’ looked? Or how jaw dropping it was when the White House was obliterated in ‘Independence Day’? While we may laugh at some of the effects in past movies compared to the insanely real visuals in today’s movies; some can still be classified as ‘Awesome’! Visit this article for a list of 8 ‘Old’ Movies Whose Special Effects Still Hold up Today, as well as the most notable parts in the movie (complete with video)!

Which major flicks did they leave off the list?

Behind the Scenes of the Lego Movie

Monday, February 10th, 2014

If you played with Lego blocks as a child – or even as an adult – they don’t miss “The Lego Movie.”  Filled with beautiful animation and great voice actors, according to review, this film is sure to grab your heart.

This short video takes you behind the scenes and let’s actors, Liam Neeson, Chris Pratt and Will Ferrell, talk about the experience of seeing their ‘Lego’ alter-egos come to life. The clip is a fascinating look at how the animators took the actors’ expressions and superimposed them on our little plastic friends.

If you’ve seen the movie, let us know what you thought.

10 Impressive VFX Breakdowns

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Ever wonder what decisions go into putting together a VFX shot in a movie? How it is visualized and then made real by a team of artists? It’s Art Magazine put together an impressive collection of behind-the-scene clips from 10 films including: “World War Z,” “Pacific Rim,” “Thor: the Dark World” and “Gravity.”

Cogswell grads were part of the VFX teams on  “Oz the Great and Powerful” (Evan Clover as an animator), “Pacific Rim” (Gregory Smith as pilot suit and pod arm artist and Carl Frytz as an uncredited visual effects artist) and “Thor: the Dark World” (Evan Clover as an animator and Carl Frytz as previsualization artist).

Here are 10 VFX breakdowns to inspire you to challenge yourself.

Sony Kicks Off New Visionaries Campaign with “Just Imagine”

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

In a campaign is designed to drive consumers to see and experience the Sony 4K TVs, the company brings creative innovators together, pairs them with new Sony technology and encourages them to unleash their imaginations.

According to the report in CG World, “the spot sets several important milestones, as it is among first commercials to embrace true 4K both in production and delivery (with a companion piece being shown in 4K at retail locations), utilizing the technology that raises definition by four times that of your standard HD television. Additionally, the spaceship created by VFX company MPC is the largest asset ever created for TV.”

This first production was directed by Garth Davis (co-director of Top of the Lake) and shot by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Claudio Miranda ( Life of Pi), and imagines the limitless potential of Davis’ vision, as realized through the new 4K Ultra High Definition TV.

Check out the video of the commercial.

What do you think about the commercial and the potential for the 4K technology?