I've been fortunate enough to spend the past few days at Siggraph at the L.A. Convention Center. Some highlights came during the production sessions for the making of Hugo, The Avengers, and Brave. It was interesting to get a glimpse at the thought process that went behind these mega-blockbuster hits. The Hugo panel talked about their very efficient production pipeline, and their 3D stereoscopic workflow. The Avengers talk was presented by ILM and WETA team, and they dove into set replacement, digital stunt doubles, as well as the methods they used to recreate the New York landscape with survey data.
As for the Brave talk, Pixar provided a glimpse into their process, from concept art and layout to animation, set dressing, lighting and rendering. They talked in more detail about the Fluid simulation pipeline, built with Houdini and Pixar proprietary software, and described the techniques they used to create the movie's gorgeous river scenes.
Another highlight for me came from learning about new software updates and releases in our industry. "iPi Soft" makes motion capture software that uses Microsoft Kinect. The Kinect was originally designed to play games on Xbox 360, but iPi Soft extracts the z-depth information for performance capture. Interestingly enough, they'll be releasing a new version with multiple performance capture by end of the year.
Another new release comes from "Eye tap," which makes software and hardware solutions for real-time high dynamic range video images. It captures high-exposure, low-exposure, and mid-tone in real-time, and tone-maps it to single video images. I could see a lot of potential applications for this software.
Elsewhere, "Camera Culture Group", and "Holografika" were demoing their glasses-free 3D display. While there have certainly some major advances, I did note one big disadvantage to this method--namely, that content must be shot with an array of cameras, a technique they refer to as "multiview". Regular stereoscopic content won't work for this new technology, although there is a company called "Fraunhofer" that can convert your existing stereoscopic 3D video to multiview by generating virtual camera images.
Finally, while on the exhibit floor, I found out about some exciting updates that will surely make a splash in our industry in the coming months. Real Flow 2013 will be coming out at the end of the year. They rewrote their hybrido solver to be a particle/volume solver. The advantage of this is that you get a more detailed simulation with less memory and particle count. Also, Krakatoa for Maya is coming out at end of the year. And The Chaos Group, which brought out "V-ray" renderer, came out with its own fluid simulation software called "Phoenix", which looks very promising.
Click 3X, its interactive division ClickFire Media, and the recently launched C3X Live create engaging film, TV, web, and branded content. Click operates a full service, 11,000 square foot state of the art studio in Manhattan outfitted with 60 full-time staffers.