Tuesday, December 12, 2006

From clay, to clay...

Yeah!... After too long a while I've decided to get back to sculpting!
Since I was a kid, modeling with plastiline or clay has always been great fun, and a way to ease my mind of anything other than the tips of my fingers. :)

I've been wishing to get back to it after I took a brief course at Israel Kislansky's atelier here in São Paulo.
So we set up a group of 6 friends from work, taking one four-hour class a week with Israel. Those four hours FLY! Heheh
It's amazing how we get immersed in the work!

We are currently focusing on blocking and structuring the pose. Specially the torso and legs.
There's a model (Denise) who poses for us during the classes, and we average 3 to 4 different poses each day.
We use Israel's techniques for blocking and establishing the initial volumes and go from there. He follows each one's progress, bringing our attention to the details we tend to miss - especially in this initial stage were we tend to "loose our minds" on the details and sometimes forget the "big picture". Hehe...

I strongly suggest everyone should try this. I fing it quite therapeutic, and for those who work with animation, 3D and all these sorts of things, it's great for training your eyes and sense of space and volumetry.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Not-So-Straight Line...

Straight Line Designs is a furniture company created by Canadian designer Judson Beaumont.

"Jud" creates exhibits, play areas, and special environment design projects.

He has showcased his work on many trade shows and galleries, and now his unusual furniture designs can be viewed over the web!
The designs are limited-edition furniture pieces like cabinets, beds and couches that seem to have come straight from Toon Town!

The "Bad Table" piece, showing a regular center table peeing as a dog would be a hilarious addition to any living room!

Great stuff for the kid's bedroom, or even YOURS! (If you dare to let people know of your love for cartoony stuff! Heheh)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Very Happy Feet

Just went to see "Happy Feet" yesterday.
I must confess I was blown away by this movie!

True: I had very little expectations about the whole thing... The idea of realistic penguins dancing and singing all over a film that is not a musical seemed pretty awkward.
Penguins tap-dancing and singing tunes from the 80s and 90s... strange.

However the film surprised me. The animations (and motion capture) were very well done - it's hard to get some emotion from penguins, but they did a great job there.
But what really got me "wow" was the rendering: texture and lighting... The environments are amazingly real. The details in each shot are so many!...

I recommend to everyone. It's a must see!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

DuPont showcased

Motionographer.com is one of the best sources of information about the subject of motion design on the internet today.
Countless articles, interviews and in-depth, behind-the-scenes articles on the top motion design projects and houses on the planet.

They are currently showcasing an interview and "behind-the-scenes" article on the making of the DuPont ad produced by Lobo earlier this year.
I'm glad to have had the opportunity to join the production early on, and work along with both Lobo and Vetor Zero teams on this challenging, abstract project.

The whole spot can be viewed from my website through this link. And the whole article can be found here.

The article is quite thorough and features some examples of early visual development and production tests.
This project was quite a challenge because of the extremelly abstract concepts and sheer ammount of elements that represented DuPont's reach over many areas of research and production. These elements had to be portrayed in a flowing visual "dance" that was brilliantly developed by our design team at Lobo, collaborating with our 3D and R&D departments at Vetor Zero.

A great example that team-work cannot be beaten!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Surf "vibe"!

I'm not a surfer - though a part of me would most definitely LOVE doing it! I just don't think I was "cut" for it somehow...

Anyway, Sony Animation is releasing it's new animated feature next year. Ok, there's still some time to go, but the first trailer is online, and boy, does it look awesome!! My good friend Renato dos Anjos is animating the lead character, and doing a great job as usual... :)
The characters show excellent design, and the story promisses to tap into what I think is really cool about surfing.

You can relate to the characters' thrill for riding the waves, and the whole thing about the story seems to talk about doing that not through the movie-selling "radical sports" trend, but it looks like it's more about the true "vibe" of surfing - of enjoying the feeling of being alive and being in sync with the water, the sky, the whole energy of creation that surrounds you as you ride the waves...

If that's what Sony aims to build this movie on, I wanna be first in line!
I'm tired of the same crappy ideas some studios insist investing on. So I'm hoping there's a new trend in animation comming up... Less farting ogres and more characters with true personality and spirit. I end up enjoying those movies that make me leave the theater thinking about my life, and characters I can relate to in a positive way.

I'm not talking about "shinny, happy cartoons"... I'm talking about a Woody that feels jealous and rejected, about a Buzz that is egocentric and detached, a Sully that questions the purpose of his existence, a Lightning McQueen that hits rock-bottom to find out what life is really about, a Mater who is happy about who he is no mater what, a Chicken Little who craves for acceptance, and so on.

All of these are funny and entertaining. But they also have "spirit", content, "stuff"!
I hope Sony has found a way of doing that in Surf's Up. Otherwise, this will be a waste of the whole "surf vibe"...

Meanwhile, I'll go on experiencing the "vibe" vicariously through some surfing friends of mine!


Thursday, September 21, 2006

New Vetor Zero website

Vetor Zero is the company I've been working with for the past 7 years.
A lot has happened ever since, and some of this can bee seen by browsing our brand new website.

Go check out www.vetorzero.com!!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Chipicao redesign!

Chipicao is a popular brand from Chipita - a subsidiary of Vivartia S.A. - that produces various pastry products sold throughout Europe and a few Eastern countries like Egypt, Lebanon and Kazakhstan.
Chipicao is a chocolate-filled croissant targeted to kids, and "Chipi" is the brand's mascot.

We were approached by a Portuguese ad agency that was participating in a bid to get the whole Chipicao account for all Europe. They wanted a full redesign of the character to aim towards a more pre-adolescent audience.
This is our first version of that, and it helped the agency to nail the account right away!

The 3D model, and character rig were done by my good friend Alex Liki. I handled art direction, shading and lighting.
I'll post a new version soon that has the final features of the character, plus a few other angles.
Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Let's start meeting the Robinsons!...

Yes, it will be out pretty soon.
Disney's "Meet the Robinsons" is already raising some eyebrows with it's colorful - not to say "daring" - art direction.
Things show amazing color palettes and sets and props from the future seem to have come from the Imagineers' wildest concepts for Disney World's "Tomorrowland".

What I've seen so far has gotten me curious about this one... the story seems to be pretty original, and the characters show the same wildly exaggerated style shown in "Chicken Little", now applied to humans and with an extra "punch".

Jim Hill Media is showcasing a few images from the upcoming "Art of Meet the Robinsons" book.
They are definitely worth peeking, and I'd say the book is a definite "must buy".
Let's hope the movie will keep the standards high for Disney.
The previews I saw during Siggraph 2006 gave me the impression I won't be disappointed... ;)


Ok, so moving a little bit back to our central theme for this blog, I urge you to take a look at the images of Corean artist Hyungkoo Lee.
His work is being displayed at the Arario Gallery in Korea.

Taking a hint from the works of artist Michael Paulus, he took things a step further by actually building quite believable and "anatomically-correct" resin casts of the skeletons of some very famous animals from the Cartoon Kingdom.

Do check out both websites for some great imagery and creativity!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Can you imagine the Tenth Dimension?!...

Ok, this isn't really CG-related but appeals greatly to the "geek" inside every one of us... heheh

A new book is out called "Imagining the Tenth Dimension" by Rob Bryanton. To publicize the book, he put together a nice website with a series of Flash animations describing very plainly the concepts behind each dimension from 1 to 10
that helps to visualize them. Essentially it is like the difference between 2-dimensional "flatlanders", and our well-known 3 dimensions, which is something we fairly easily can visualize.

At Tenth Dimension, you find a quick tour of the possible 10 dimensions of a universe based on string theory.

Well, I don't know how scientific it is. Scientists who talk about 10 dimensions tend to bend over backwards to point out that they're not really the kind of dimensions that are useful for us to move in, but they're just sort of curled up in a very small place, of no practical significance to us, and only needed to make the equations add up. Which I tend to not believe, so I like it better this way.

So, we can imagine the same magic continuing in more dimensions. Seen from a lower dimension, somebody who moves in a higher dimension can do impossible things, like appear out of nowhere, or travel huge distances in an instant. Because higher dimensions fold lower dimensions. Just like you might find certain distances on a piece of paper (a 2D plane), but you can fold it in 3 dimensions, and bring any two of its points together, so you can get from one to the other, without traveling any 2D distance. It would be equally logical that you can do the same with time and 3D space, or with whole timelines, or universes of possibilities, once you use more dimensions.

And if we assumed that the real reality is the 10 dimensions, rather than the 3, 3 1/2 we're used to, it potentially can change our perspective greatly.
The dimensional concepts presented can have a strong metaphysical tone, allowing you to extrapolate to life and death, the afterlife, and God...

Truly an excercise of logic, ingenuity and imagination! Will give your brain stuff to chew on for a while! Hehehe

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The CG Treasure Chest

What is that Davy Jones?!!
After seeing "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Dead Man's Chest" for the second time, I still left the theater amazed...

ILM was showing off it's technical prowess during Siggraph 2006 at several events: Autodesk's AGUA, Pixar's RenderMan User Group Meeting, a few Siggraph technical sketches and at Lucasfilm's booth on the exhibition floor.

Though there's a huge amount of effects (digital and non-digital) throughout the movie, nothing strikes your eyes more than the über-villain Davy Jones. Most of ILM's presentations were focused of the hardships of making Jones come to life.

Davy Jones was played by the talented Bill Nighy. The captain of the "Flying Dutchman" is a half-man/half-sea monster being who haunts the oceans since the day he had his heart broken by an unsettled love affair.

Nighy was shot with a grey marker suit to give the CG team accurate light positioning and color temperature from the set. Though some make-up was added to his eyes and mouth for a "backup", Davy Jones is ENTIRELY CG throughout the movie.

ILM captured the actor's movements from his shot performance and
relied heavily on keyframe animation to exaggerate his acting and animate his face and tentacles.

For those, ILM technicians created a dynamic setup that could simulate the physics of each tentacle with gravity, collisions and basic curvature; on top of the simulations the animators could select which parts of each tentacle would receive hand-animated keyframes, and which parts would remain simulated. On top of that, there was a system that allowed the animators to paint areas of the tentacles that would be "sticky", and how much "stickyness" they could have, so the tentacles would adhere to each other and to Jones' clothes, and detach depending on their speed and/or based on the animator's cue.

Jones is the captain of the "Flying Dutchman", a frightful sight that seems to be as much a part of the ocean depths as its cursed captain.

The ship was built to full scale as a set.
A digital
replica was provided by ILM for several shots, which was extremelly accurate and provided its own rendering challenges.

The ship's crew was also created as CG characters. While some background crewmembers were shot with make-up, most of them - specially the main crewmembers - are entirely computer-generated throughout the movie using the same techniques as Davy Jones.

ILM used RenderMan to render all the CG elements in the movie.

One new RenderMan version 13 feature that was crucial for the production was its new ambient occlusion workflow that doesn't require expensive raytracing calculations.
During Pixar's RenderMan User Group Meeting, an ILM technical director was praising this new feature saying they would not have been able to render some of the most complex elements (such as the digital "Flying Dutchman") using current occlusion and global illumination techniques. ILM worked closely with Pixar on this issue, and RenderMan's "traceless" occlusion and color-bleeding features were polished for this current release (PRMan 13) as they were being used for the production of "The Dead Man's Chest".

Compositing for all the shots was split between Apple's Shake, Autodesk's Inferno and ILM's own Comptime and Sabre systems. ILM used its EXR format extensively throughout the production to maintain image depth and provide extended control to compositors through extra information added via RenderMan AOV render passes.
While the public waits for the next Pirates of the Caribbean (due 2007), Davy Jones and his crew set the new standards for believability and push the boundaries of CG art and technology for the next years.

Images are a courtesy of ILM and are ©Copyright Disney Enterprises Inc. and Jerry Bruckheimer Inc.

ZBrush 2.5 is comming...

Well, true. I have shown here some images of what I have been doing while testing Mudbox.
It is an amazing app even while still in beta.

However, I have not forsaken ZBrush. It is an incredibly powerful tool, and definitely THE standard that Mudbox aims to surpass.
While that still remains to be seen, Pixologic has impressed the community again by showing (at last) the upcoming ZBrush 2.5 during this last Siggraph.

I saw the demos at their booth, and my jaw remained dropped all along! Heheh
At times they were manipulating models with over 40 million polygons without flinching - painting and displacing the darn things like there was no tomorrow! HAHAH
Simply amazing!

Here are some links to quicktime videos showing some of the main new features.
ZBrush 2.5 should be shipping sometime around October/November 2006. It will be available for both Mac and Windows (32 and 64 bits). A Linux version is underway but has no release date confirmed anytime soon...

Sub Tools
Mesh Extraction
Enhanced 3D Sculpting
Mesh Painting
3D Layers

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pixar Announcements - Siggraph '06

Pixar Reveals Latest RenderMan Technology at SIGGRAPH 2006

New products include RenderMan Studio 1.0, RenderMan for Maya 2.0, and RenderMan Artist Tools 7.0

EMERYVILLE, CA – (July 28th, 2006) Pixar Animation Studios today revealed the next stage in RenderMan development at the SIGGRAPH 2006 conference in Boston, where the studio will demonstrate the latest upcoming RenderMan products, including version 2.0 of its popular RenderMan for Maya plugin, the latest RenderMan Artist Tools 7.0, and the debut of its next generation successor: RenderMan Studio.

Available later in 2006, RenderMan Studio 1.0 combines the ease of use of RenderMan for Maya with the advanced capabilities of the existing RenderMan Artist Tools and can be used either standalone or as an interface to render farms using RenderMan Pro Server 13.0. Consisting of a Pro version of the RenderMan for Maya plugin with RIB output, plugin shader functions and procedural geometry support, together with the latest versions of Slim, “it”, and Alfred, along with an embedded RenderMan renderer built into Maya, RenderMan Studio is the most comprehensive and powerful rendering solution available anywhere.

At SIGGRAPH 2006 Pixar will demonstrate the latest version 7.0 of RenderMan Artist Tools including major feature and GUI upgrades to Slim, enhancements to “it” and support for Maya 8. As RenderMan Studio will ultimately replace RenderMan Artist Tools, all users on current maintenance will be offered the option of a free transition to RenderMan Studio at a time of their convenience.

Pixar will also reveal RenderMan for Maya 2.0, the latest version of Pixar’s acclaimed Maya rendering plugin bringing RenderMan’s peerless feature film quality to all Maya artists. Version 2.0 incorporates multiple enhancements including multi-threading, ray-tracing optimizations, and Maya 8 compatibility. In addition, from the first day of the SIGGRAPH 2006 tradeshow, all new purchasers of the current RenderMan for Maya 1.2 will be offered a free upgrade to version 2.0 when it is released later in 2006.

“Pixar is investing heavily in both the core RenderMan renderer and its supporting software for artists and TDs. RenderMan Studio in particular brings all our artist tools together in one comprehensive solution,” said Dana Batali, Development Director for RenderMan at Pixar Animation Studios. “RenderMan Studio also unifies the RenderMan product family by providing a natural upgrade path from RenderMan for Maya.”

Relied on by artists and technical directors worldwide, RenderMan is the recognized industry standard for CG feature animation and visual effects rendering and has been used in each of the last 30 movies nominated for a Visual Effects Oscar® by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

SIGGY 2006

And off to Siggraph 2006!
Waking up early every day and catching all the latest stuff! :P

Cool things to check out from Pixar, Autodesk, Pixologic, Massive Software and all the rest of the gang!
Yeah, there will be some time for fun, but as with every year, it's mostly run, run, run! Too many things too see at the same time in too short a period of time!

Yep! That's Siggraph! Not for the faint of heart...
I'll keep posting pics and news from there! Stay tuned! ;)


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Fountain

A new movie with Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz is coming up...

"The Fountain" is an odyssey about one man’s thousand-year struggle to save the woman he loves. As a 16th century Conquistador, a modern-day scientist, and a 26th century astronaut, he searches for the secret to eternal life.

The movie's trailer shows some spectacular visuals and effects. The art direction seems particularly original and vibrant. Let's wait and see...

"The Fountain" will be launched in the US in October 2006.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mike Mignola's antologic Hellboy is coming in an animated series soon.
The website is already online showcasing some info about the show.

I like the character designs... but let's wait and see if the overall quality makes justice to the character's depth.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Still drawing!

Gotta keep drawing!...
I feel like I'm getting rusty... you spend too much time with a computer, and you end up loosing some of your "analog skills"... Heheh

I miss drawing more, I miss photographing, sculpting, acting, singing...
Gotta find myself some time to get back to these things, get back to doing art!

I'll slip some pages of my sketchbook here once in a while... maybe just as a reminder to me that I've gotta keep filling those pages more frequently!

And hopefully, in time, I'll brush most of the rust off!! ;)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Yeap! We've been beta testing Mudbox too! :)
It is Beta and I can't say anything about it apart from showing some of the work I'm doing with it...

This is my very first Mudbox model, and it is NOT finished...
Actually, I am not sure if I'll finish it or not. I might just keep on doing more and doing different things to push my skills with the software.

I'll keep posting new tests as I progress...


Monday, July 03, 2006

A New Blog!

Ok, I got rid of my previous blog in favour of a lighter and more graphics and art-oriented space.
All those in favor, raise your hands!!...

Well, since I can't really see you, it doesn't matter how many raised hands or not. Here we go with a fresh start!

For those who may wish to keep roaming my rants and sighs, the previous blog is still available...
You are still welcome in my mind.

I'll try and post more frequently here, and do my best to keep this strictly to the topic.
Maybe I can make this more interesting and useful to most visitors. At least, that's my goal!

Check back soon, as I'm preparing some cool info and news!