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Recent Blog Posts in August 2008

August 29, 2008
  Love's Labor Jam: Pre-Travel Prep
Posted By Billy
The night before I have to travel for a shoot is always interesting. I run around like a madman making sure that I remember everything. Once I'm positive I've taken care of business, I collapse, content in the knowledge that I won't be forgetting anything.

Of course, the following morning I discover that I've forgotten toothpaste, my hotel confirmation and all my socks. But I remember the important stuff: the gear.
We'll be shooting our first documentary this weekend ("we" being myself and Randy DeFord, my partner in 25 North Filmwurks) in central Kentucky. We'll be covering "Love's Labor Jam", an industry event that brings together industry giants and up-and-coming acts from the Nashville scene.

The Jam was created by Nashville songwriting legend Billy Edd Wheeler and Kentucky picker Richard Bellando as an opportunity for artists to perform for each other and spend time enjoying the art they create every day for millions of fans all over the world.

So it's both a documentary and a concert film. In my head, I see a country version of The Last Waltz. Fortunately, I'm able to laugh at myself so when I find out what it's really like, I won't feel quite so foolish.

And now you know what I know.

I'll write updates every night and, provided Post allows me to continue, throughout the post production process.

Stay tuned.
Continue reading "Love's Labor Jam: Pre-Travel Prep" »

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August 29, 2008
  Shooting Love's Labor Jam
Posted By Billy
The night before I have to travel for a shoot is always interesting. I run around like a madman making sure that I remember everything. Once I'm positive I've taken care of business, I collapse, content in the knowledge that I won't be forgetting anything.

Of course, the following morning I discover that I've forgotten toothpaste, my hotel confirmation and all my socks. But I remember the important stuff: the gear.

We'll be shooting our first documentary this weekend ("we" being myself and Randy DeFord, my partner in 25 North Filmwurks) in central Kentucky. We'll be covering "Love's Labor Jam", an industry event that brings together industry giants and up-and-coming acts from the Nashville scene.

The Jam was created by Nashville songwriting legend Billy Edd Wheeler and Kentucky picker Richard Bellando as an opportunity for artists to perform for each other and spend time enjoying the art they create every day for millions of fans all over the world.

So it's a combo documentary and concert film. In my head, I see a country version of The Last Waltz. Fortunately, I'm able to laugh at myself so when I find out what it's really like, I won't feel quite so foolish.

And now you know what I know.

I'll write updates every night and, provided Post allows me to continue, throughout the post production process.

Stay tuned.
Continue reading "Shooting Love's Labor Jam" »

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August 14, 2008
  Scott's Blog @ SIGGRAPH - Day 3
Posted By Scott Sindorf
 
Day 3

After leaving the conference floor yesterday, we ended up meeting for dinner with some old dear friends I had the pleasure to work with in the past. To me, this is one of my favorite aspects of SIGGRAPH, reconnecting with old acquaintances. After dinner we went to the annual Softimage party. In the past these parties have been a way to show to the community the developments over the last year. This year for the first time they decided to do away with this and just have a party. The musician who hosted the party was none other than Vanilla Ice. The reason for this choice was to coincide with Softimage new I.C.E. (Interactive Creative Environment).  The relevance of this choice only dawned on me after the fact.

This morning I attended the computer animation festival in the new Nokia Theater.  The new format is tough to manage. Ideally I would like to see more of the animations, but it is difficult with so much else going on.  I am hoping SIGGRAPH goes back to the prior format, but I have my doubts. The Nokia Theater was projecting the images in 4K. The resolution is quite amazing and I am sure this will be the new format of choice for cinemas in the not too distant future. The downside of this is you see....everything in high detail. After finally adjusting to HD, this new format will require much more work and computing power. Technology just does not stay still. Another reason to continue to come back to SIGGRAPH.

One of the great things about SIGGRAPH is the Production Sessions. Typically, these are panel discussions about what takes place behind the scenes of computer graphic-heavy movies. I attended in the afternoon the “Machines and Monsters: Tippet and ILM Reveal the Secrets Within Cloverfield and Iron Man.” The panelists included from ILM's Ben Snow, Han Hickel, and Doug Smythe, and from Tippet Studio, Eric Leven, David Breese, and Chris Morley.

The panel first addressed J.J. Abram’s (of Lost fame),Cloverfield. This movie is basically an alien monster attacking NYC.  The budget was $25 million, which for Hollywood translates as a shoestring budget for a special effects movie. The interesting aspect of this film was it was suppose to look like a hand held camera, similar to the aesthetics of The Blair Witch Project. The challenge for Tippet Studio was how to keep this look seamlessly with the visual effects. Somehow given this budget, they were able to do this. The tracking alone for this movie was quite amazing and the resulting conversations very enlightening.

The second half of the panel addressed the visual effects of Iron Man by ILM.  They addressed the complexities of building an Iron Man, both from a practical point of view as well as well as from a perspective of computer graphics. Stan Winston Studios had built a practical suit of Iron Man, and it was ILM’s job to replicate this as a computer generated persona and create virtual sets through the use of 3D photogrammetry.  The amount of work and detail was fascinating to watch, making this panel definitely worth the effort.

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August 12, 2008
  Scott's Blog @ SIGGRAPH - Day 2
Posted By Scott Sindorf


SIGGRAPH Day 2

The Computer Animation Festival last night premiered “3D Screenings: A Visual Odyssey.” The idea behind this festival was to highlight the emerging technology for stereoscopic projection. Every audience member was given 3D glasses to view the approximately two-hour long presentation. This honestly can be a bit trying for the eyes, but there has been amazing advancements in this field. The highlight for me was the audience reaction to Bjork’s Wanderlust video. Given we did the post production for this music video, it was nice to see the audience reaction. The low point was the 3D medical clips showing 3D surgery. Admittedly, I am adverse to blood, and the clips were a bit too real for me. The audience overall seemed happy and companies like Pixar are really pushing the envelope in this arena. I did see several audience members duck and sway reacting to the screen confirming 3D stereoscopic technology is doing its job.

What a difference a day can make at SIGGRAPH. Today the conference floor has officially opened and the crowds are here. The Fjork animators, whom were so prevalent yesterday, are nowhere to be found. Several new technologies for 3D did make an impact for me. First, Organic Motion (organicmotion.com) has a new type of Motion Capture that does away with the encumbrances of traditional motion capture. Typically in order to capture the motion of an individual, the individual would have to wear a body suit with markers. This technology, through the use of camera triangulation, is able to capture motion without any of these add-ons. Just have the individual move and the software and hardware can capture the motion in realtime. I can see how this technology will help push the envelope in making motion capture more accessible to the masses. One does not even need a technician to make this happen, further reducing the cost to the consumer.

Softimage (softimage.com) has finally released its long awaited XSI Version 7. As someone who uses this program, the wait has been more than worth it.  The major component of this release is I.C.E. (Interactive Creative Environment.) With ICE, Softimage has completely redesigned its particle system. The interface is node based and works seamlessly with Softimage. One does not have to know how to script to take advantage of its open interface and I cannot wait to start playing with this.

On another note, the company Shapeways (shapeways.com) has developed a technology to allow you to take your 3D models into reality. This technology is not new, but the way Shapeways has thought about this is relatively novel and new. Previously, it always has been cost prohibitive to take your 3D files and have them built in a physical environment. Shapeways has now made this process much more affordable and accessible. You can send them your 3D file over the Internet and they will give you an instant quote for the manufacturing. I have been told the average price is between $50 and $150.

Within 10 days no matter where you are located, you will have the model in your hands. For character designers and architects, to name a few fields, this accessibility will hopefully empower the designer. Besides, which 3D animator would not want to have the robot they designed on top of their desktop? Count me in.
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August 11, 2008
  Scott's Blog @ SIGGRAPH - Day 1
Posted By Scott Sindorf
I just arrived with my fellow compatriots from uvph at the Convention Center here in Los Angeles for another fun filled SIGGRAPH.  It seems that L.A. is the favorite SIGGRAPH destination for cities. With the movie industry primarily located here in Los Angeles it makes sense, but one day I would enjoy seeing SIGGRAPH in NYC. The crowds are starting to grow, but tomorrow is the day the Exhibitions are open to the public and when the big crowds converge.  I am currently in the Geek bar (well named) trying to hear myself think over a robot to my right who is addressing the crowds as they pass by. It is also hard to miss the legions of fresh 3D animators who have Nordic hats yelling "FJORG!" Why? There is a 3d competition among this group for the best animation created within 32 hours. My question is why are they running around the convention hall as opposed to actually doing production? SIGGRAPH does know it's traditional audience: those who generally are adverse to sunlight, having spent the entire year in front of their computers.

The theme this year is "Evolve." Sounds good….and I do not believe there will be too many intelligent designers on the right fringe here who might take issue with this… but we will see. This year they changed the format for the animation festival. In the past, SIGGRAPH had various theaters showing the same animations every day, culminating in the Electronic Theater, which is usually reserved for the "best of the best." This year it is more in line with a film festival. My initial reaction was why? The animation festival in the past I always thought was well run, so why change this? Trying to keep an open mind, I will judge later if this is in fact for the better.  Today the theme for the animation festival is 3D.  We have a pass so I will report my reactions later.



Next immediately on my list is the Art and Design Galleries which this year is not to miss. Haptic technology has come a long way, and the Art and Design galleries are showcasing some of the best…and in some cases the worst….as in did you ever want to know what is like to have ants crawling around your hand and arm? Try the exhibit by which simulates this uncomfortable physical experience.  How about being pierced by a sword? Haptic technology makes this experience also possible.  On the other end of the spectrum positive haptic technology allows medical students to perform virtual surgery. This is being developed by the newly formed Butterfly Haptics.

As an old architectural student, I was pleased to a see 3D models of proposed buildings constructed by computers in the Design Gallery.  It is nice to see Architecture finally embracing this technology. I still remember being told by various Professors not too long ago that computers and architecture will never mix. As a consequence of this development, I truly felt excited for the future of design.
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