Archive for August, 2006

The End Results

The offerings of the Electronic Theater and the Animation Theaters represent the raison d’etre for Siggraph. In those venues we see the artistic and commercial end products of 3D animation — everything but the scientific applications.

The Elecronic Theater and Animation Theaters host the finest in animation from the previous year, whether student film, artistic side project, Hollywood feature, or TV spot. All of the technology shown on Siggraph’s exhibition floor and the experimentation and research collected in the Papers Program serves the artist in the end. As such the theaters are a manifestation of the state of the art in computer animation. That of course held true for this year’s crop of entries. more

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Students blog too

For a fresh perspective on the Siggraph 2006 that was, check out Avid/Softimage’s Student Blog from the show. I spend my Siggraphs chasing down news while trying to squeeze in the fun parts of the show, so it’s always interesting to read other people’s Siggraph experiences.

They’ve also got a series of video podcasts that the students created.

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Remainders from the Show Floor…

Just took a tour through the nooks and crannies of the show floor here at Siggraph. There’s certainly a lot of smaller booths — in fact, almost the whole show is “smaller booths” — so there’s a lot of innovative stuff out there that may or may prove significant down the road.

Eon Reality is a company with a variety of different software/service offerings, and all of them seem centered around immersive display and interactive virtual reality applications. Eon Studio, for instance, facilitates the creation of interactive 3D applications. Those applications include architecture, marketing applications (3D product launches) and training. I got a demo of how one might interact with the output from Eon Studio, and that was Eon TouchLight. TouchLight is based on technology from Microsoft Research, and it uses two video cameras to create a 3D object that seems to float in space on a semi-transparent plane in front of the user. Through touch technology, users can spin around the object, zoom in and out, etc. A rep from Eon said the technology has been used by Boeing to display their latest airplane models at marketing presentations.

Another eye-catching booth was Cecropia, more

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’458nm’: a Snail’s Tale

Based on the reaction of the crowd at Electronic Theatre at Siggraph, 458nm was one of the more divisive entries in the animation program. Still, the short won Special Jury Honors for Jan Bitzer, Ilija Brunck, and Tom Weber, students Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg in Germany. On Tuesday I attended their “making-of” session.

The dark (both literally and figuratively) short about the doomed love between two mechanical snails was definitely one of the more poetic entries in the Electronic Theatre program. The filmmakers say they were inspired by Microcosm, a documentary about small animals that includes a moving scene of two snails mating. For their 458nm, the filmmakers kept the intimate feel despite turning the snails into robots with a Byzantine degree of detail to their mechanics. more

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E frontier and Anime

The makers of Poser have introduced a new software program called Anime Studio, a way to create quick character animations in 2.5D space (i.e., the characters are flat, essentially, but you can assign depth to objects/characters in a scene). The demo at Siggraph made it look extremely simple to rig a character — just draw, rig by dragging and dropping bones into the character, and keyframe. It’s all vector-based and it could be a great time-saving way to previz or rough out a story.

E frontier says the dual-platform software can import 2D images and 3D objects created elsewhere, and export is available for QuickTime, AVI, or Flash.

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SPECopc reveals SPECviewperf 10 plans

Press Release:
BOSTON, Mass., August 3, 2006 – SPEC/GPC‘s OpenGL Performance Characterization (SPECopc) project group announced plans for SPECviewperf 10 during a press conference yesterday at the SIGGRAPH 2006 trade show in Boston. SPECviewperf 10 – the next version of performance evaluation software for systems running popular CAD/CAM, digital content creation, and visualization applications – is anticipated for release in the fourth quarter of 2006.

The SPECopc group expects that SPECviewperf 10 will include the following new features and upgrades: more

More on What SGI’s Up to

Here’s a bit more from yesterday’s meeting with SGI‘s ever gracious Louise Ledeen and PipelineFX‘s Eric Solituro, senior vp of engineering. Louise’s comment that SGI recently decided to re-enter the rendering business had caught me by surprise, so I wanted to give a little detail about that change of direction.

I thought SGI had left the rendering market for good, driven out by the low cost, off-the-shelf PCs and blade servers of the world.

But only a few months ago, SGI decided to have a go at it again. As mentioned in an earlier posting, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company was encouraged in part by the price/performance numbers delivered by its new Altix XE servers (based on Intel’s latest generation of Xeon dual-core processors). Also in the mix: the interest expressed by engineers at high-end facilities for pairing the cost effective hardware with software that could better handle batch queuing, distributed processing, and render farm management.

SGI feels that PipelineFX’s Qube! product can deliver that. more

Luxology Releases modo 202

Press Release:
Faster Rendering Speeds and Improvements to Modeling, UV Editing and Paint Tools; Free Full-featured Evaluation Version Now Available

Boston — Luxology┬«, LLC today announced the immediate availability of modo™ 202, a robust update to its innovative 3D modeling, painting and rendering software. Boasting a peak rendering speed that is over 40 percent faster than modo 201, modo 202 features performance gains, tool improvements and innovative extensions to its overall toolset to create an enhanced workflow for artists working in game development, film visual effects, video production, graphic arts and design visualization. Registered modo 201 customers can upgrade to modo 202 free of charge, and a free 30-day full-featured evaluation version is now available for immediate download from www.modo3d.com. more

SeeFile Software Puts Video and Animation on the Web at Siggraph

Press Release:

BOSTON, MA — At the Siggraph 2006 Conference in Boston (booth 2629), Seefile Software LLC is unveiling new software that supports video and web animation file formats in addition to the photo and print formats previously supported. SeeFile‘s product for photo and print media has been praised in recent reviews by Seybold and Studio Photography and Design magazines, and was rated best of Show at the PMA 2005 conference by Shutterbug Magazine. The new 2.5 release adds video and Flash support, plus a number of additional features, and is being offered in new low-priced configurations for as little as $399, or $549 bundled with Mac hardware. An unlimited-user license for SeeFile 2.5, for corporate applications, is priced at $3,995. more

Duck walks the floor

Just had a brief meeting with Wes Plate, president of Automatic Duck. If you’re an editor or graphics artist, you probably know and love the company if you’ve ever needed to go from Final Cut into After Effects or vice versa, or from Avid into Combustion, AE, or FCP.

The company allows editors to import files from one compositing or editing program into another, maintaining a level of control over discrete elements that goes well beyond what EDLs offer. At NAB Automatic Duck introduced a new version of its Pro Import FCP 2.0, which pulls files into Final Cut. New for the version is a OMF import of Pro Tools files into FCP while keeping all audio tracks separate. Anticipated for IBC is a new Universal release of the programs to work with Intel-based Macs. more

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The editors of Digital Content Producer and millimeter post live from Siggraph as the news happens. Check back several times a day for the latest industry news, reports from press conferences, and product introductions.

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