Thursday, December 27, 2007

Definitive Blade Runner

This came as my first BluRay gift from a very good friend on Christmas Eve.
This one is a great example of how studios can take advantage of the new format's capacity and resolution to bring a new experience for old fans and make some new ones in the process.

I still remember I saw Blade Runner for the first time on VHS. The movie was released in 1982, and I was too young at the time to go see it in theaters.
So, I never had the opportunity to enjoy the visuals in their full glory.

This BluRay release is the answer to that.
Not only the special limited edition case, which is quite a treat for serious fans of this movie, but the bundle comes with 5 BluRay discs loaded with Blade Runner history.

The first disc has what Ridley Scott calls his "definitive director's cut". It comes in full 1080p in the most pristine quality ever. The film's 35mm footage was scanned at 4K resolution off the original negative, while the visual effects elements were scanned at 8K resolution off the original pristine 65mm elements. The six-track score was re-mixed and is presented in Dolby TrueHD Digital Stereo.

The second disc brings a comprehensive look at the making of Blade Runner, from screenwriting and budget problems to final release and resurrection.
Over 80 interviews with cast and crew, and hours of outtakes and behind-the-scenes material.

The third disc brings both original U.S. and international theatrical cuts from 1982 and the 1992 director's cut version - all in newly transferred anamorphic widescreen scans in full 1080p HD resolution.

The fourth disc brings archival material in 480p or 480i documentaries covering topics from Phillip K. Dick's inspirational novel and its adaptation to become "Blade Runner", through graphic design, wardrobe, screen tests and deleted scenes.

Finally the fifth disc gives fans the rare opportunity to watch the film's pre-release workprint, full of alternate footage, music and a voice-over that was later removed. Also, in full 1080p.
The disc also sports a full range of promotional material, with trailers and promotional featurettes from 1982 down to 2007's "Final Cut" trailer.
There are little documentaries on fans of the movie, the character of Deckard and a final piece tracking the history behind the film's multiple versions and an in-depth look at the creation of this "definitive cut".

It is also worth mentioning that the subtitles are available for all film versions in English, French and Spanish; and the Final Cut has English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese subtitles. The special features have NO subtitles, which I find a little sad but doesn't really bother me.

In short, if you ever enjoyed this movie, you are in for a serious treat!
This is truly a must-have for cinema lovers, sci-fi enthusiasts and yes, Blade Runner fans!

Pixar's HD goodies...

Disney has fully embraced the BluRay format, and is already putting out some titles that just beg for a place on your shelf...
So much so that these two were actually my FIRST BluRay acquisitions!

"Ratatouille" did very well on the box office in 2007, and has become one of my favorite Pixar movies.
The visuals are simply stunning, and what better way to keep enjoying that than actually in full HD 1080p?!
(Ok, ok... the "big screen" still rules of course. I'm talking about "home entertainment" here!)

This disc is full of the goodies we've grown used to in Pixar releases, and the extra featurette about the "history of the rat"
show's Disney's commitment to making good use of what the extra space in this format has to offer.
And yes... you can pause and see SO much more stuff on a full HD screen! Absolute eye-candy!

Now, one of the nicest surprises was this first compilation of Pixar Shorts!
This disc brings you all the shorts up to "Lifted", with nice audio commentaries from each director, plus a small documentary about the history behind Pixar's short films - which turns out to be the history of Pixar itself.

One interesting aspect of the material is that all of the older shorts are presented in their original format, meaning none were 're-rendered' to be presented in full HD.
So, you only have fully 1080p quality from Geri's Game on. This actually allows you to see the evolution of computer graphics technology through the years, both through the commentaries and the improvement in rendering technology and image output.
This is definitely a MUST HAVE on your shelf if you are even remotely fond of animation! Highly recommended!

Story of Stuff

Annie Leonard is an expert in international sustainability and environmental health issues, with more than 20 years of experience investigating factories and dumps around the world.

She is also the coordinator of the Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption, which was founded in 2001 to directly address the harmful environmental and social impacts of current modes of producing, consuming and disposing of material goods.

Annie wrote and narrates "The Story of Stuff", a 20-minute film that takes viewers on a provocative and eye-opening tour of the real costs of our consumer driven culture, delivering a rapid-fire, often humorous and always engaging story about “all our stuff—where it comes from and where it goes when we throw it away.”

DO NOT miss the opportunity to watch this! The 20 minutes go really quickly, and it really helps you make some sense out of this messed-up system we live in!

Plus, I love Ruben DeLuna's simple but quite effective animation style which they chose to illustrate Annie's explanation as she goes on.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Autumn in Vancouver...

Yes, autumn has finally arrived in Vancouver...

I can never get used to the amazing shades of red, yellow and orange that slowly "burn away" the intense green of summer.
And Vancouver is already showing some particularly beautiful shades throughout downtown.

Check out some pictures I took while strolling around this weekend. I'll try to take some more at Stanley Park next weekend... stay tuned!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"Photoshop Express"

The crowd at Photoshop World got a quick preview of Photoshop Express, a new application currently in development at Adobe. First hinted at by Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen some six months ago, Photoshop Express isn't meant to duplicate/replace Photoshop CS3 or Photoshop Elements. Rather, it's a new member of the Photoshop family that's meant to make Adobe imaging technology immediately accessible to large numbers of people.

The image I have attached is a "pre-announcement" demo interface hinting at what the final might actually be.
It will be completely web-based, running directly on any Flash-enabled browser.

Adobe Sr. VP John Loiacono showed that it was possible to adjust an image just by rolling over the different versions shown at the top, previewing the results & then clicking the desired degree of modification. Keep an eye for more info as it becomes available.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Celebrating Light in Vancouver

Since 1991, Vancouver has staged a famous fireworks event every summer.
Called "Symphony of Fire" until 2001 when the event changed to "Celebration of Light", under the sponsorship of HSBC, it draws crowds of over 1 million people around the shores of English Bay every year.

The world's leading fireworks manufacturers consider the HSBC Celebration of Light international fireworks competition to be the most prestigious events of its kind in the world and an exciting arena where they can unveil the latest pyro-musical techniques and the most innovative fireworks materials.

Each year, 3 countries compete by sponsoring its own fireworks show and then join together for a grand finale demonstration. The shows take place 3 days apart from each other between the last days of July and the first week of August.

The 3 days are no mere matter of choice. It takes 3 days through 12-hour work shifts to get each show set-up by a crew of at least 16 people.

The fireworks are shot from a 150-meter barge filled with 1000 tons of sand and anchored by six anchors weighing 4 tons each.
The sand is spread as an even 20cm-deep layer where the mortars are placed. Each competitor will fire anywhere from 2,000 to 4,500 bombs, depending on the show.

People can vote for the best show through their cell phones, and the elected judges cast their votes based on the following criteria:
  • General Concept - presentation, structure and scale of display
  • Colour - choice and variety of colours
  • Originality - design and architecture
  • Quality of Production - rhythm of fireworks, volume of effects and quality of construction
  • Correlation of Music - choice of music, synchronization of effects, adaptaion of moods
This year's grand finale will take place Saturday, August 4, 2007 at 10:00 p.m.
I will update this post with pictures from the final event!

You can find out more about the Celebration of Light at the official website.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Horton is Looking Good!

Blue Sky Studios' new feature film has been under a lot of secrecy, but finally "Horton Hears a Who" has images and a firts trailer to show off Blue Sky's expertise.

The studio has not only been able to translate Dr. Seuss' unique illustration style into 3D, but has done so creating a rich and also unique look for the movie.
There's a subtlety in the way some elements appear a bit more saturated than most of the other portions of a frame in the overall slightly de-saturated look of the film.

This "de-saturation" becomes even more evident if we compare "Horton" with Blue Sky's previous feature "Robots". It is an interesting visual sensation, departing from the general "lots of color and saturation" road usually traveled by most feature animation films up to now.

Animation looks great, and seems to fit quite right with Dr. Seuss' style and the way the characters were brought into the 3D realm.

Great visuals + great animation + Dr. Seuss... looks like a win/win combination!
Let's wait and see...

Click on the images to download high-res versions.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Think Canadian

After being through my first "Canada Day" here, I found this interesting article by Colleen Tully ( with a quiz for the readers to acess how much they are "aligned" with the way most Canadians think nowadays.

I have edited the quiz by providing the questions as they were presented (with multiple answers) and the correct answer right below, showing - in most of them - some recent statistical data to back it up.

The questions were adapted themselves from the book "What Canadians Think" (Doubleday Canada, 2005) by Darrell Bricker and John Wright.

1. Where do most of us want Health Care money spent?
a) more doctors
b) a national homecare program
c) reducing waiting lists for diagnostic services
d) a national pharmacare program

Answer: c) Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Canadians believe that reducing waiting lists for diagnostic services like MRIs and CAT scans should be a top priority for more health care spending.

2. Whom do we trust the most?
a) doctors
b) firefighters
c) pilots
d) pharmacists

Answer: b) 94% of Canadians would put their trust in a firefighter. Pharmacists are close behind at 91%, with doctors at 85% and airline pilots at 81%.

3. What is our favourite thing to do online?
a) instant messaging
b) online banking
c) e-mail
d) do online quizzes about what Canadians think

Answer: c) 93% of everyone plugged into the net use it to send e-mail (what the other seven per cent is doing I'm not sure). The number two thing we do is check the weather (65%). Only half (50%) use instant messaging and 53% use the web for online banking.

4. What percentage of Canadians feel the world is changing too quickly?
a) 80%
b) 30%
c) 40%
d) 55%

Answer: c) 43% of Canadians feel the world is changing too quickly and this is a major cause of stress. Frighteningly, the percentage of Canadians who agree there has been a time when they've been under so much stress that they've wanted to commit suicide is 17.

5. In order of most to least, what would Canadians do if they won $10 million?
a) share it with family
b) pay off debt
c) donate to charity
d) travel

Answer: a - c - d - b: a) 50% would share with family, c) 39% would donate to charity, d) 35% would travel and b) only 23% of us would use it to pay off debt. Only 10% would quit their jobs!

6. In what province are parents most concerned about their kids' education costs?
a) Ontario
b) Atlantic Canada
c) Quebec
d) Saskatchewan/Manitoba

Answer: d) 95% of parents in Saskatchewan and Manitoba are worried about funding their children's education. Atlantic Canada follows at 93%, with Ontario at 86% -- parents in Quebec are the least worried at 74%.

7. What percent of Canadians think barbecue season is "all year long"?
a) 40%
b) 65%
c) 25%
d) 50% -- all the men

Answer: a) 40% of Canadians will tromp through the snow to enjoy a juicy flame-broiled burger, and most of these brave souls hail from Alberta (in fact, 57% of all Albertans will barbecue all year round).

8. What are the top two extra-curricular activities our kids are doing after school?
a) hockey and piano
b) swimming and soccer
c) martial arts and piano
d) swimming and piano

Answer: d) Swimming and piano top the chart with 16% of all Canadian kids enrolled. Soccer is next at 15% with hockey close behind at 13%. Only 6% of kids are doing martial arts after school

9. What concerns us the most in the composition of what we eat?
a) fibre
b) saturated fats
c) vitamins
d) total fat
e) calories

Answer: a) 80% of Canadians look for how much fibre is in their food. Vitamins are close behind at 79%. Counting calories is important to 74%, and 67% look at total fat, while just 63% observe saturated fats.

10. In which province people is more likely to say we are different from the Americans?
a) Quebec
b) Saskatchewan
c) British Columbia
d) Nova Scotia
e) Alberta

Answer: c) British Columbians are most likely to say we are different from the Americans. The
province whose residents are least likely to think so is Alberta.

Apart from all the curiosities, the question that struck me the most about the mindset of the "average Canadian" is number 5.
After being here for not too long, I can look at the answer for that and really believe the majority of people here do think like that.
Well, "that's Canada for you!" ;)

Monday, May 14, 2007

First of All...

Vancouver has paved the way for innovation through the years.
Canada's first movie theater opened in Vancouver in 1898, and the city has embraced Hollywood ever since. It was the birthplace of stars like Carrie-Ann Moss, Molly Parker and Pamela Anderson.

In 1919 the first international airmail was flown between Vancouver and Seattle, and in 1954, the RCMP ship St. Roch returned to Vancouver after becoming the first to circumnavigate North America - the goal of explorers for 400 years before then.

Greenpeace was founded in a Vancouver basement in 1971 to protest against American missile testing in Alaska at the time. Since then, the group has influenced and shaped the environmental movement worldwide.

In 1928, a strange ritual was invented in the city as a tradition to usher in the New Year: The Polar Bear Swim. The annual sprint into the icy waters of English Bay has started similar events now held in countries as far away as Russia.
Though many may question its positive effects on the participants' health, another Vancouver innovation has definitely contributed to the youthful complexion of thousands all around the globe.

Injections of the "pretty poison" known as Botox, derived from the same toxin that causes deadly botulism, were first developed as a wrinkle treatment by Vancouver ophthalmologist Dr. Jean Carruthers.
It is now among the top cosmetic procedures on the planet.

Just as Botox has spread all over, so has the internet, bringing "cyberspace" to reality. "Cyberspace" is a term coined by the famous Vancouver writer William Gibson in his famous sci-fi novel Neuromancer.

Innovation finds its place in many ways around Vancouver. The Vancouver Public Library shows how a traditional institution can break with the "usual". The stunning design by Moshe Safdie & Associates Inc. was the overwhelming choice of Vancouverites, opening its doors in May 1995.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Vancouver, here we go!!...

Well, once again it has been a while since my last post...
These last two months were quite 'interesting', I must say!

I was contacted in the beginning of March by a visual effects company from Vancouver, Canada, and they offered me a position there - starting May!
After some deliberation, I promptly accepted the offer and saw myself swallowed by the vast amount of things I had to organize and prepare to make it there on time...
Needless say there wasn't much free time for anything else! Finalizing all projects and responsibilities at Vetor Zero, going after documents, new passport, trying to sell my apartment, my car, my stuff...

Now it is all coming to an end... In two or three weeks I will be in Vancouver.
It is hard to describe how I feel. I think I'll only realize what am I feeling when I finally get there, and reality sinks in.

In some ways, it is not sooo different from what I've been doing over the last 8 years: living away from my family and close relatives. The distance has increased significantly, true. But a friend told me once that distances in this day and age are a matter of being "one night away".
I must agree with him.

I need to focus on the positive side of the whole experience, trust in God's will and keep moving forward!
Surely I will enjoy Vancouver's beauty and more than the nature of the work I will do, I am drawn to the possibility of living a more balanced life, taking more time for myself - to learn, to rest, to enjoy the fruits of my labor and tend to other areas in my life much in need of attention.

So, we will be in touch. ;)
I will still be at the same "cyberplaces" and always accessible.
And through this blog, I might be able to bring you along this new wild adventure of my life!
Stay tuned!... There's more to come! ;D

Cheers to you all!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

E-Papers and OLEDs On the Way!...

This is a fairly big post... don't feel discouraged! Keep reading! You'll really enjoy the info!

Reminded of this cool topic by my friend Ricardo Cavalinni, I decided to link a couple of cool videos featuring the earliest commercial incarnations of e-paper technology.

This is what we may call the "infancy" of a new tech. that may revolutionize the way we handle visual information, from newspapers and books, to your home's wallpaper and maybe even TV screen...
Sony and Philips are already selling products, and colored papers with LCD-like refresh rates are on the way in a not-so-distant future! (And e-paper can have resolutions much higher than LCDs)

A consumer made this video while inspecting a model of Sony's e-paper text reader at a bookstore:

I'm now thinking of having a wall on my apartment where I can put up sketches and pictures in huge sizes and not blast my power bill to outer space!
(Yep, e-paper only consumes power to change the image. Once it's set, no more power required to maintain it.)

Think about your wife changing the color and theme of your home's "e-wallpaper" every day!! HAHAH.

However, OLEDs (Organic Light-Emitting Diodes) are a wholly different, upper-level thing...
Called "organic" because they are made from a special kind of plastic that emits light when charged by an electric current, these will surely make your brand new plasma TV look like what your old tube TV looked like when you got the plasma one!

Sony (yes, they keep showing up everywhere!...) recently showcased their future OLED products at CES 2007. They were all hand-built prototypes, but simply astonished viewers with their vibrant colors, brightness and resolution. They have achieved contrast ratios of 1.000.000/1!!
(FYI: the best LCD displays nowadays have contrast ratios ranging around 700/1...)

These are also very low on power consumption and the production is much simpler than LCDs or plasmas.
While only small screens are available today for consumer products, wall-sized displays are confirmed for a very near future... Looks like plasmas will last even less than the life-expectancy range displayed in their manuals! :P

Check out this C|Net report on the subject:

Sunday, February 18, 2007

"How to Cope With Death"

Director Ignacio Ferreras from Tandem Films, produced this amazing animation of an old lady who fiercely decides to postpone her final meeting with the Creator!

The design and art direction gives you an impression in the beginning that shows no hint of what is about to happen.
Things start very dramatic and gloomy, and the way death is portrayed is simply brilliant!
Ignacio shows us an eerie apparition that moves with serpent-like jests and with such an attitude of regal, powerful and inexorable superiority, that makes it even more hilarious to see how the "poor old lady" puts him in complete misery!

This is one piece of animation I HAD to share here! Enjoy! ;)

"Pictures At An Exhibition"

Of a wild range of composers and pieces of classical music I enjoy, I have a particular fondness for Mussorgsky's "Pictures At An Exhibition" - especially the "Promenade" part. (Which, by the way, can be listened from the little blue box at the bottom of this blog's menu).

Mussorgsky composed this piece describing paintings with sound to commemorate a good friend of his, the russian architect Vicktor Hartmann.
Following Hartmann's early death from an anneurism at the age of only 39, an exhibition of over 400 of his paintings was displayed in the Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg, in February and March 1874 (100 years before I was born). This inspired Mussorgsky to compose his suite

Dr. Osamu Tezuka was apparently a big fan as well, and decided to explore the idea behind Mussorgsky's famous piece.
Disney's concept of creating animation for notorious works of classical music produced the masterpiece "Fantasia", released in 1940. Tezuka produced this 32-minute film in 1966 following the same principle, describing wildly imaginative characters of everyday life in a variety of drawing styles, following the cadence of Mussorgky's melodies to portray them with a very critical tone.

Some are decidedly NOT "Tezuka-like", as they differ radically from his famous style for character designs. Others like the "Gardener of Artificial Landscapes" begin to show some resemblance to his most popular designs. Actually, the variety of styles is astounding! It surely impresses you with the idea you're watching several paintings and drawings from various artists come to life.

So, sit back, relax and take some time to enjoy this little-known excellent example of animation art and creativity!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

"Story of a Street Corner"

Dr. Osamu Tezuka has been praised by many as the "Father of Anime", and the Japanese Walt Disney.
Surely, his legacy lives on in characters like "Princess Knight", "Kimba the White Lion" and his most famous creation "Tetsuwan ATOM" or "Astroboy".

However, Dr. Tezuka produced a wealth of animation works throughout his career which remains quite unknown to the vast audience.
One of these jewels is this "short" (38 min.) animation produced in 1962, which Tezuka financed himself: "Story of a Street Corner". Simply, ART!


Monday, February 12, 2007

Late posting... "Suburbia"!

Ok, this should have been posted a while ago.
"Suburbia" is a large chain of clothing stores in Mexico. They asked for a commercial saying "this Christmas, Santa would deliver more gifts than ever because he found better prices at Suburbia"...

The team effort was tremendous in this project because of the extremely tight schedule: we had less than 30 days to all of the CG production.
I was honored by everyone's commitment and concern for quality.
I believe we achieved something remarkable with such an aggressive deadline!

Thanks guys! You all ROCK! :D


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

At Last!...

True. I have been sloppy...
It's been quite a while since I last posted something here... Year's End, Christmas, New Year's, Back to Work... All these events took their toll on my blogging.

I've been working on a model on my spare time for a while.
I started it in Mudbox, but I'm doing all the detailing and finishing work in ZBrush before I go into Maya for final rendering.
Did some tests with the nice (and fast) fake skin shader in ZB, just so I could be able to see it look a little bit nicer than with the boring gray shader.

I'll post some updates as it progresses... stay tuned! ;)