Friday, June 01, 2012

Interview on ZBrush Central

I was interviewed by Pixologic on behalf of Image Engine about the use of ZBrush for the work we did on Tarsem Singh's "Immortals".

You can check it out at:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Siggraph '12 - Papers Preview

A bunch of interesting research coming through this year...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stitch Meshes - CG Woven Fabrics

A tool for modeling knitted clothing with yarn-level detail.

The simulations showcased in the video are mind-blowing, if you consider the complexity of the structures involved.

The work is paired with Steve Marschner's "
Specular Reflection from Woven Cloth", also published this year.

To be presented at SIGGRAPH 2012.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Art of Rendering

Great article from FXGuide.
A good attempt at being thorough about the current state of rendering technologies out on the market at large.
Specially informative sections on RenderMan and Arnold.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Working "for free"...

Reading through this article at VFX Soldier today:

"New horizontal expansion includes government-funded Bachelors and Masters programs wherein students pay Digital Domain to work for Digital Domain. (...)

So, if 30% of our labor can be free, actually paying tuition, but by your Junior and Senior year at the college, you’re working on real firms (films), as part of the professional workflow, and you graduate with a resume that has five major films, your name in the credits, and more than just an intership level of experience, then that’s the perfect kind of trade off."

While some may think this makes sense, I strongly beg to differ.

Understand this: I do not know of any other industry whose educational foundation is based on students paying to work "for free" for a related profit-making business.

The implications of that ripple through the ranks of candidates and employees alike. Imagine, from a strictly business point of view, the validated access to labor that (albeit less skilled) is absolutely FREE.
In essence, you are creating a grey moral zone where "labor that is profited from does not necessarily need to be compensated".

While, the "benefits" offered to entry-level candidates dying for a break into the industry may be appealing to them, think of what that means to the skilled, experienced workforce that's come before!
For the students, it may "make sense", but they cannot see further ahead where that decision will take the very industry they want to live from.

I find the argument that this approach is necessary to "protect" the jobs that would be lost to cheap labor markets like China and India quite disturbing. Yes, by "market rules", those jobs will go anyway because of the economical inequalities that undermine the illusion of a truly "globalized world".

It supports the sad philosophy of "averaging for the lowest common denominator", which is (IMHO) the worst thing that can happen for any industry.

Morally dubious? Well, it depends on your point of view right?
As with a lot of other things in this industry that has become so much of a "morally grey zone"...

For DD, it's a lucrative scheme of justifying cheap (free) labor, with the added bonus that once the worker rises to a skill rank higher that "junior", "apprentice" or "student"; they can be automatically dismissed before DD needs to start paying them as employees. And so, the cycle goes on. Blessed by "Wall Street morals".

It just strikes me as another cause for concern. This industry has transformed itself in its VERY short life span. Remember people: most of our jobs DID NOT EXIST back in the late 80's, early 90's!

Seeing these tendencies of averaging talent, skill, experience and professionalism (KEY ingredients for this industry) by the lowest common denominator possible, so the top of the food chain can pocket a few extra greedy dollars, makes me concerned about the place VFX artists will find themselves in another 20 years - considering how fast things changed in the last 20.

Just my two very sad cents.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"PROMETHEUS" - Bring it ON!!

The anticipation buildup for this movie is unlike anything I've seen in the past two years...
Ridley Scott seems to still have some magic at his fingertips, and this latest trailer for "Prometheus" is nothing shorter than EPIC.
If this movie doesn't open up to some serious millions in the box office, I don't know what else can draw in audiences anymore!

To be honest, I think they are beginning to show WAY more than I'd want to see before hitting the theater... but I guess there's a good measure of  "studio marketing machine" involved in that.
In any case, there you have it! Now tell me how on Earth would you not want to go see this movie?! 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gotta LOVE raytracing!

Evan Wallace is a WebGL wizard.
Playing with the latest in interactive CGI tech, he gives you a refreshing look at the current state of CG technology, married to Web tech and faster graphics processing.

His work can bee seen on his website, and some great "toys" are available for you to play with directly on your browser - like the interactive path-tracing Cornell box.

Gone are the days when people would look funny at you when you said "let's raytrace EVERYTHING!"  ;D

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Brave New World

We hear news of FXI preparing to launch the Cotton Candy, a tiny computer that looks like a USB thumb drive. The device, which can run either Ubuntu or Android 4.0, has a dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a Mali 400MP GPU that allows it to decode high-definition video.

And as our classical computer architectures shrink to sizes that were unimaginable 30 years ago, IBM reveals more details of its quest for the "next generation of computing".
According to their news releases, IBM revealed that physicists at its Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York have made significant advances in the creation of “superconducting qubits.” Using a number of techniques, IBM explained that it has set three new records in its bid to reduce errors in elementary computations, while retaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in quantum bits.

In quantum computing, conventional binary bits are replaced by qubits, which can be 1, 0 or both. However, until now, qubits have been unstable: the pesky things tend to lose their quantum mechanical properties and go incoherent in a fraction of a second.

"The special properties of qubits will allow quantum computers to work on millions of computations at once, while desktop PCs can typically handle minimal simultaneous computations," the IBM researchers said. "For example, a single 250-qubit state contains more bits of information than there are atoms in the universe.

“In the past, people have said, maybe it’s 50 years away, it’s a dream, maybe it’ll happen sometime,” said Mark B. Ketchen, manager of the physics of information group at IBM.’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. “I used to think it was 50. Now I’m thinking like it’s 15 or a little more. It’s within reach. It’s within our lifetime. It’s going to happen.”

Let's keep watching. If things follow through as they are predicting, and no major catastrophe hits humanity in the next decades, we could witness a leap in computational power within our lifetimes that will be unbelievably revolutionary - to say the least.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Raiding the Lost Ark

Jamie Benning has made 3 ‘filmumentaries,’ as he calls them, about the original Star Wars trilogy. His efforts collate interviews and rare behind the scenes footage and photos in what are essentially the most detailed commentary tracks a fan could hope for.
Benning followed his Star Wars docs with Raiding the Lost Ark, which tracks the creation of the first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark.
It’s a must-see for any Raiders or Steven Spielberg fan. No matter how much a viewer knows about the making of Raiders, I’d be very surprised if there was nothing here that is new, as Benning has incorporated everything from classic interviews to the minutia of little-seen production reports.