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Get to know performance capture with James Knight

James Knight, who worked on James Cameron’s Avatar while at Giant Studios, knows motion capture, or more precisely “performance capture.” It’s his specialty, as they say.

Knight is currently at BluStreak Media, a vertically integrated film and post studio, based on the Universal lot. The team has credits that include Real Steel, The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and the Iron Man franchise. He also works with DuMonde Visual Effects, Richard Edlund’s company.

I thought it would be fun to get some insight and pointers from this LA-based Englishman on an area of the industry that not many know a lot about. He was kind enough to oblige.

So here’s James:

Performance Capture IS Animation
If you are a classic animator it tends to be like “jazz hands at 20 paces,” so some studios known Continue reading

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Review: Autodesk’s Smoke 2015

By Chris Hengeveld

The newly released Smoke 2015, which had been a long time coming, has been shipping since May of this year. The current release includes Service Pack 1, which adds some engineering updates. As Autodesk often releases updates around NAB and IBC, look for some software improvements to be released mid September.

Many changes have been made to the application itself, the supported hardware platform and the purchasing model. The application now has many of the new features that had been added to Autodesk Flame during the interim. A new pricing model is being offered to add flexibility for customers needs. Smoke 2015 is not a radical departure from the 2013 release, but it does build upon the previous version in hardware compatibility, software stability and feature set. Software capabilities continued to be developed along with Autodesk Flame until it was released this year.

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Meet The Artist: Wander’s Aaron Weber

NAME: Aaron Weber

COMPANY: Wander (@WandererAaron)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
A full-service design studio and creative collective in Hollywood with a focus on projects for the do-gooders of the world.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Executive Producer

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
Everything from running the day to day of a small business to line producing our shoots to getting my hands dirty and editing, working on graphics, whatever needs to happen to make Continue reading

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So you want to be a music video director?

By Alex Topaller

So you want to be a music video director? That’s a terrible idea. No, really. Don’t do it.

Stop right now and choose something else while you can, before we find ourselves discussing this very moment in two years when I can pompously say, “See! I was right! Now you understand that it’s more of a complicated love affair than a career!”

Are you still here, dear reader?

You are? Huge mistake, but oh well. Since I can’t change your mind, I can at least fulfill my civic duty by arming you with a few pointers before sending you into the reverberating tunnels of Continue reading

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MastersFX: blending practical and digital makeup

By Randi Altman

MastersFX has long had a reputation in the industry as a place to go for practical character/creature makeup effects. Recently this 30-year-old shop opened its Digital Makeup FX division, finalizing a path the company set out on almost eight years ago.

According to founder/owner/chief monster maker Todd Masters, “While we’ve just recently announced that we’ve opened a Digital Makeup division formally, the truth is that we’ve really been going in this direction for a quite a while now. Our pursuit of making better creatures and more believable character FX has always been the plan.”

Part of that plan has been building a team and upgrading their skill set. “Even in regard to the blending of practical effects and digital work, that’s nothing new for us. It’s actually where I Continue reading

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Review: Lightworks V.12.0.i NLE from Editshare

By Brady Betzel

There are more NLE choices for editors these days than ever before: Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, Autodesk Smoke, Blackmagic Resolve 11, Sony Vegas… and Lightworks. Remember that one? It has (quietly) been around for as long as Media Composer, and thanks to Editshare it has been given a new life.

Lightworks has been around and in use by some for approximately 25 years! For me it’s been that elusive NLE that I’ve occasionally heard about but have never used and have never seen any other editors use (although it’s the tool of choice for Martin Scorsese’s editor Thelma Schoonmaker), so when asked to review it my interest was piqued.

Recently, Lightworks (@ESLightworks) has been doing a free public beta test for its forthcoming Continue reading

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Work boots get CG reboot thanks to Sullivan Branding

By Claudia Kienzle

With its Rocky Elements work boots about to hit the market, Ohio-based Rocky Outdoor Gear wanted a very visually dynamic product video to demonstrate the many intricacies and features of their new boot collection.

The key distinction is that the Rocky Elements product line is comprised of four trade-specific work boots designed for the unique rigors of working with wood, block, steel or dirt.

Rocky’s goal was to produce a cost-effective cinematic sales video that would dramatically convey how the design and craftsmanship of the four different boot styles benefit workers in those occupational environments.

Looking for ideas, they approached Sullivan Branding — a full-service advertising, marketing Continue reading

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Meet the Artist: Hobo president Howard Bowler

NAME: Howard R. Bowler

COMPANY: New York City’s HOBO (@hoboaudio)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Hobo is an audio post house offering mixing and sound design services.

Any company is really only as good as the people it employs and our company is made up of some of the most creative, disciplined and dedicated people around. We emphasize pride in our work, respect for each other, an open environment where everyone can communicate their ideas freely, and an unyielding commitment to client satisfaction.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
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‘Frank’: rocking out and (big) head banging

By Jennifer Walden

If someone told you the Oscar-nominated and very serious actor Michael Fassbender would one day play an eccentric musician who, in a left of center comedy, permanently dons a massive paper mache head, that would sound a bit crazy, right? Not crazy at all.

In fact, the Magnolia Pictures release Frank has been getting some seriously good buzz.

The premise of this film intrigued me, as you could imagine, so I reached out to the film’s audio post team at Ardmore Sound, located in Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, to find out more about the sound behind the head. (Oh, and check out this video on Vimeo: The Film — Post Production Sound Featurette, you’ll be glad you did.)

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Top five assistant editor life skills

By Brady Betzel

This piece is going to be a bit different for me. It’s the first time I’ve ever written something to be published that wasn’t a review. I was asked to share some tips and experiences from when I was an assistant editor. I thought, “Why not?”

During college I started as an intern on a Fox talk show called On Air with Ryan Seacrest, where I was able to make some very important contacts — some of whom I’m still in contact with 10 years later. Once we were told the show wasn’t renewed people started to flee and find work elsewhere (which happens a lot). It was the perfect time for me to swoop in and get at least a few months of real work under my belt before the show went officially dark.

I was lucky. They asked me to be a tape coordinator, and thus my post-production career was born. Truth be told I didn’t do much more than make sure tapes went to set for a news Continue reading