Author Archives: Amy

Maxon debuts Cinema 4D Release 19 at SIGGRAPH

Maxon was at this year’s SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles showing Cinema 4D Release 19 (R19). This next-generation of Maxon’s pro 3D app offers a new viewport and a new Sound Effector, and additional features for Voronoi Fracturing have been added to the MoGraph toolset. It also boasts a new Spherical Camera, the integration of AMD’s ProRender technology and more. Designed to serve individual artists as well as large studio environments, Release 19 offers a streamlined workflow for general design, motion graphics, VFX, VR/AR and all types of visualization.

With Cinema 4D Release 19, Maxon also introduced a few re-engineered foundational technologies, which the company will continue to develop in future versions. These include core software modernization efforts, a new modeling core, integrated GPU rendering for Windows and Mac, and OpenGL capabilities in BodyPaint 3D, Maxon’s pro paint and texturing toolset.

More details on the offerings in R19:
Viewport Improvements provide artists with added support for screen-space reflections and OpenGL depth-of-field, in addition to the screen-space ambient occlusion and tessellation features (added in R18). Results are so close to final render that client previews can be output using the new native MP4 video support.

MoGraph enhancements expand on Cinema 4D’s toolset for motion graphics with faster results and added workflow capabilities in Voronoi Fracturing, such as the ability to break objects progressively, add displaced noise details for improved realism or glue multiple fracture pieces together more quickly for complex shape creation. An all-new Sound Effector in R19 allows artists to create audio-reactive animations based on multiple frequencies from a single sound file.

The new Spherical Camera allows artists to render stereoscopic 360° virtual reality videos and dome projections. Artists can specify a latitude and longitude range, and render in equirectangular, cubic string, cubic cross or 3×2 cubic format. The new spherical camera also includes stereo rendering with pole smoothing to minimize distortion.

New Polygon Reduction works as a generator, so it’s easy to reduce entire hierarchies. The reduction is pre-calculated, so adjusting the reduction strength or desired vertex count is extremely fast. The new Polygon Reduction preserves vertex maps, selection tags and UV coordinates, ensuring textures continue to map properly and providing control over areas where polygon detail is preserved.

Level of Detail (LOD) Object features a new interface element that lets customers define and manage settings to maximize viewport and render speed, create new types of animations or prepare optimized assets for game workflows. Level of Detail data exports via the FBX 3D file exchange format for use in popular game engines.

AMD’s Radeon ProRender technology is now seamlessly integrated into R19, providing artists a cross-platform GPU rendering solution. Though just the first phase of integration, it provides a useful glimpse into the power ProRender will eventually provide as more features and deeper Cinema 4D integration are added in future releases.

Modernization efforts in R19 reflect Maxon’s development legacy and offer the first glimpse into the company’s planned ‘under-the-hood’ future efforts to modernize the software, as follows:

  • Revamped Media Core gives Cinema 4D R19 users a completely rewritten software core to increase speed and memory efficiency for image, video and audio formats. Native support for MP4 video without QuickTime delivers advantages to preview renders, incorporate video as textures or motion track footage for a more robust workflow. Export for production formats, such as OpenEXR and DDS, has also been improved.
  • Robust Modeling offers a new modeling core with improved support for edges and N-gons can be seen in the Align and Reverse Normals commands. More modeling tools and generators will directly use this new core in future versions.
  • BodyPaint 3D now uses an OpenGL painting engine giving R19 artists painting color and adding surface details in film, game design and other workflows, a real-time display of reflections, alpha, bump or normal, and even displacement, for improved visual feedback and texture painting. Redevelopment efforts to improve the UV editing toolset in Cinema 4D continue with the first-fruits of this work available in R19 for faster and more efficient options to convert point and polygon selections, grow and shrink UV point selects, and more.

Dell intros new Precision workstations, Dell Canvas and more

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dell Precision workstations, Dell announced additions to its Dell Precision fixed workstation portfolio, a special anniversary edition of its Dell Precision 5520 mobile workstation and the official availability of Dell Canvas, the new workspace device for digital creation.

Dell is showcasing its next-generation, fixed workstations at SIGGRAPH, including the Dell Precision 5820 Tower, Precision 7820 Tower, Precision 7920 Tower and Precision 7920 Rack, completely redesigned inside and out.

The three new Dell Precision towers combine a brand-new flexible chassis with the latest Intel Xeon processors, next-generation Radeon Pro graphics and highest-performing Nvidia Quadro professional graphics cards. Certified for professional software applications, the new towers are configured to complete the most complex projects, including virtual reality. Dell’s Reliable Memory Technology (RMT) Pro ensures memory challenges don’t kill your workflow, and Dell Precision Optimizer (DPO) tailors performance for your unique hardware and software combination.

The fully-customizable configuration options deliver the flexibility to tackle virtually any workload, including:

  • AI: The latest Intel Xeon processors are an excellent choice for artificial intelligence (AI), with agile performance across a variety of workloads, including machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) inference and training. If you’re just starting AI workloads, the new Dell Precision tower workstations allow you to use software optimized to your existing Intel infrastructure.
  • VR: The Nvidia Quadro GP100 powers the development and deployment of cognitive technologies like DL and ML applications. Additional Nvidia Pascal GPU options like HBM2 memory, and NVLink technologies allow professional users to create complex designs in computer-aided engineering (CAE) and experience life-like VR environments.
  • Editing and playback: Radeon Pro SSG Graphics with HBM2 memory and 2TB of SSD onboard allows real-time 8K video editing and playback, high-performance computing of massive datasets, and rendering of large projects.

The Dell Precision 7920 Rack is ideal for secure, remote workers and delivers the same power and scalability as the highest-performing tower workstation in a 2U form factor.  The Dell Precision 5820, 7820, 7920 towers and 7920 Rack will be available for order beginning October 3.

“Looking back at 20 years of Dell Precision workstations, you get a sense of how the capabilities of our workstations, combined with certified and optimized software and the creativity of our awesome customers, have achieved incredible things,” said Rahul Tikoo, vice president and general manager for Dell Precision workstations. “As great as those achievements are, this new lineup of Dell Precision workstations enables our customers to be ready for the next big technology revolution that is challenging business models and disrupting industries.”

Dell Canvas

Dell has also announced its highly-anticipated Dell Canvas, available now. Dell Canvas is a new workspace designed to make digital creative more natural. It features a 27” QHD touch screen that sits horizontally on your desk and can be powered by your current PC ecosystem and the latest Windows 10 Creator’s Update. Additionally, a digital pen provides precise tactile accuracy and the totem offers diverse menu and shortcut interaction.

For the 20th anniversary of Dell Precision, Dell is introducing a limited-edition anniversary model of its award-winning mobile workstation, the Dell Precision 5520. The Dell Precision 5520 Anniversary Edition is Dell’s thinnest, lightest, and smallest mobile workstation, available for a limited time, in hard-anodized aluminum, with a brushed metallic finish in a brand-new Abyss color with anti-finger print coating. The device is available now with two high-end configuration options.

Quick Look: Jaunt One’s 360 camera

By Claudio Santos

To those who have been following the virtual reality market from the beginning, one very interesting phenomenon is how the hardware development seems to have outpaced both the content creation and the software development. The industry has been in a constant state of excitement over the release of new and improved hardware that pushes the capabilities of the medium, and content creators are still scrambling to experiment and learn how to use the new technologies.

One of the products of this tech boom is the Jaunt One camera. It is a 360 camera that was developed with the explicit focus of addressing the many production complexities that plague real life field shooting. What do I mean by that? Well, the camera quickly disassembles and allows you to replace a broken camera module. After all, when you’re across the world and the elephant that is standing in your shot decides to play with the camera, it is quite useful to be able to quickly swap parts instead of having to replace the whole camera or sending it in for repair from the middle of the jungle.

Another of the main selling points of the Jaunt One camera is the streamlined cloud finishing service they provide. It takes the content creator all the way from shooting on set through stitching, editing, onlining and preparing the different deliverables for all the different publishing platforms available. The pipeline is also flexible enough to allow you to bring your footage in and out of the service at any point so you can pick and choose what services you want to use. You could, for example, do your own stitching in Nuke, AVP or any other software and use the Jaunt cloud service to edit and online these stitched videos.

The Jaunt One camera takes a few important details into consideration, such as the synchronization of all of the shutters in the lenses. This prevents stitching abnormalities in fast moving objects that are captured in different moments in time by adjacent lenses.

The camera doesn’t have an internal ambisonics microphone but the cloud service supports ambisonic recordings made in a dual system or Dolby Atmos. It was interesting to notice that one of the toolset apps they released was the Jaunt Slate, a tool that allows for easy slating on all the cameras (without having to run around the camera like a child, clapping repeatedly) and is meant to automatize the synchronization of the separate audio recordings in post.

The Jaunt One camera shows that the market is maturing past its initial DIY stage and the demand for reliable, robust solutions for higher budget productions is now significant enough to attract developers such as Jaunt. Let’s hope tools such as these encourage more and more filmmakers to produce new content in VR.

JVC GY-LS300CH camera offering 4K 4:2:2 recording, 60p output

JVC has announced version 4.0 of the firmware for its GY-LS300CH 4KCAM Super 35 handheld camcorder. The new firmware increases color resolution to 4:2:2 (8-bit) for 4K recording at 24/25/30p onboard to SDXC media cards. In addition, the IP remote function now allows remote control and image viewing in 4K. When using 4K 4:2:2 recording mode, the video output from the HDMI/SDI terminals is HD.

The GY-LS300CH also now has the ability to output Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) video at 60/50p via its HDMI 2.0b port. Through JVC’s partnership with Atomos, the GY-LS300CH integrates with the new Ninja Inferno and Shogun Inferno monitor recorders, triggering recording from the camera’s start/stop operation. Plus, when the camera is set to J-Log1 gamma recording mode, the Atomos units will record the HDR footage and display it on their integrated, 7-inch monitors.

“The upgrades included in our Version 4.0 firmware provide performance enhancements for high raster recording and IP remote capability in 4K, adding even more content creation flexibility to the GY-LS300CH,” says Craig Yanagi, product marketing manager at JVC. “Seamless integration with the new Ninja Inferno will help deliver 60p to our customers and allow them to produce outstanding footage for a variety of 4K and UHD productions.”

Designed for cinematographers, documentarians and broadcast production departments, the GY-LS300CH features JVC’s 4K Super 35 CMOS sensor and a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) lens mount. With its “Variable Scan Mapping” technology, the GY-LS300CH adjusts the sensor to provide native support for MFT, PL, EF and other lenses, which connect to the camera via third-party adapters. Other features include Prime Zoom, which allows shooters using fixed-focal (prime) lenses to zoom in and out without loss of resolution or depth, and a built-in HD streaming engine with Wi-Fi and 4G LTE connectivity for live HD transmission directly to hardware decoders as well as JVCVideocloud, Facebook Live and other CDNs.

The Version 4.0 firmware upgrade is free of charge for all current GY-LS300CH owners and will be available in late May.

Bluefish444 releases IngeSTore 1.1, adds edit-while-record capability

Bluefish444 was at NAB with Version 1.1 of its IngeSTore multichannel capture software, which is now available free from the Bluefish444 website. Compatible with all Bluefish444 video cards, IngeSTore captures multiple simultaneous channels of 3G/HD/SD-SDI to popular media files for archive, edit, encoding or analysis. IngeSTore improves efficiency in the digitization workflow by enabling multiple simultaneous recordings from VTRs, cameras and any other SDI source.

The new version of IngeSTore software also adds “Edit-While-Record” functionality and additional support for shared storage including Avid. Bluefish444 has partnered with Drastic Technologies to bring additional CODEC options to IngeSTore v1.1 including XDCAM, DNxHD, JPEG 2000, AVCi and more. Uncompressed, DV, DVCPro and DVCPro HD codecs will be made available free to Bluefish444 customers in the IngeSTore update.

The Edit-While-Record functionality allows editors access captured files while they are still being recorded to disk. Content creation tools such as Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro CC, and Assimilate Scratch can output SDI and HDMI with Bluefish444 video cards while IngeSTore is recording and the files are growing in size and length.

Latest Autodesk Flame family updates and more

Autodesk was at NAB talking up new versions of its tools for media and entertainment, including the Autodesk Flame Family 2018 Update 1 for VFX, the Arnold 5.0 renderer, Maya 2017 Update 3 for 3D animation, performance updates for Shotgun production tracking and review software and 3DS Max 2018 software for 3D modeling.

The Autodesk Flame 2018 Update 1 includes new action and batch paint improvements such as 16-bit floating point (FP) depth support, scene detect and conform enhancements.

The Autodesk Maya 2017 Update 3 includes enhancements to character creation tools such as interactive grooming with XGen, an all-new UV workflow, and updates to the motion graphics toolset that includes a live link with Adobe After Effects and more.

Arnold 5.0 is offering several updates including better sampling, new standard surface, standard hair and standard volume shaders, Open Shading Language (OSL) support, light path expressions, refactored shading API and a VR camera.

— Shotgun updates accelerate multi-region performance and make media uploads and downloads faster regardless of location.

— Autodesk 3ds Max 2018 offers Arnold 5.0 rendering via a new MAXtoA 1.0 plug-in, customizable workspaces, smart asset creation tools, Bézier motion path animation, and a cloud-based large model viewer (LMV) that integrates with Autodesk Forge.

The Flame Family 2018 Update 1, Maya 2017 Update 3 and 3DS Max 2018 are all available now via Autodesk e-stores and Autodesk resellers. Arnold 5.0 and Shotgun are both available via their respective websites.

Boris FX merges with GenArts

Boris FX, maker of Boris Continuum Complete, has inked a deal to acquire visual effects plug-in developer GenArts, whose high-end plug-in line includes Sapphire. Sapphire has been used in at least one of each year’s VFX Oscar-nominated films since 1996. This acquisition follows the 2015 addition of Imagineer Systems, developer of Academy Award-winning planar tracking tool Mocha. Sapphire will continue to be developed and sold in its current form alongside Boris Continuum Complete (BCC) and Mocha Pro.

“We are excited to announce this strategic merger and welcome the Sapphire team to the Boris FX/Imagineer group,” says owner Boris Yamnitsky. “This acquisition makes Boris FX uniquely positioned to serve editors and effects artists with the industry’s leading tools for motion graphics, broadcast design, visual effects, image restoration, motion tracking and finishing — all under one roof. Sapphire’s suite of creative plug-ins has been used to design many of the last decades’ most memorable film images. Sapphire perfectly complements BCC and mocha as essential tools for professional VFX and we look forward to serving Sapphire’s extremely accomplished users.”

“Equally impressive is the team behind the technology,” continues Yamnitsky. “Key GenArts staff from engineering, sales, marketing and support will join our Boston office to ensure the smoothest transition for customers. Our shared goal is to serve our combined customer base with useful new tools and the highest quality training and technical support.”

 

 

NAB: The making of Jon Favreau’s ‘The Jungle Book’

By Bob Hoffman

While crowds lined up above the south hall at NAB to experience the unveiling of the new Lytro camera, across the hall a packed theatre conference room geeked-out as the curtain was slightly pulled back during a panel on the making of director Jon Favreau’s cinematic wonder, The Jungle Book.   Moderated by ICG Magazine editor David Geffner, Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Rob Legato, ASC, along with Jungle Book producer Brigham Taylor and Technicolor master colorist Mike Sowa enchanted the packed room with stories of the making and finishing of the hit film.

Legato first started developing his concepts for “virtual production” techniques on Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, and shortly thereafter, with James Cameron and his hit Avatar. During the panel, Legato took the audience through a set of short demo clips of various scenes in the film while providing background on the production processes used by cinematographer Bill Pope, ASC, and Favreau to capture the live-action component of the film. Legato pointedly explained that his process is informed by a very traditional analog approach. The development of his thinking is based on a commitment to giving the filmmaking team tools and methodologies that allow them to work within their own particular comfort zones.

They may be working in a virtual environment, but Favreau’s wonderful touch is brilliantly demonstrated by the performance of 12-year-old Neel Sethi on his theatrical debut feature. Geffner noted more than once that “the emotional stakes are so well done you get involved emotionally” — without any notion of the technical complexity underlying the narrative.  One other area noted by Legato and Sowa was the myriad of theatrical-HDR deliverables for The Jungle Book, including up to 14-foot lamberts for the 3D presentation.  This film, and presentation, was just another clear indicator that HDR is a clear differentiator that audiences are clamoring for.

Bob Hoffman works at Technicolor in Hollywood.

Pixspan at NAB with 4K storage workflow solutions powered by Nvidia

During the NAB Show, Pixspan was demonstrating new storage workflows for full-quality 4K images powered by the Nvidia Quadro M6000. Addressing the challenges that higher resolutions and increasing amounts of data present for storage and network infrastructures, Pixspan is offering a solution that reduces storage requirements by 50-80 percent, in turn supporting 4K workflows on equipment designed for 2K while enabling data access times that are two to four times faster.

Pixspan software and the Nvidia Quadro M6000 GPU together deliver bit-accurate video decoding at up to 1.3GBs per second — enough to handle 4K digital intermediates or 4K/6K camera RAW files in realtime. Pixspan’s solution is based on its bit-exact compression technology, where each image is compressed into a smaller data file while retaining all the information from the original image, demonstrating how the processing power of the Quadro M6000 can be put to new uses in imaging storage and networking to save time and help users  meet tight deadlines.

Colorist Society International launches for color pros

Kevin Shaw

Kevin Shaw

At the opening of NAB, motion picture and television colorists Jim Wicks and Kevin Shaw announced Colorist Society International (CSI), the first the first professional association for colorists devoted exclusively to furthering and honoring the professional achievements of the colorist community. A non-profit organization, CSI represents professional colorists and promotes the creative art and science of color grading, restoration and finishing by advancing the craft, education, and public awareness of the art and science of color grading and color correction.

The Colorist Society International is a paid membership organization that will seek to increase the entertainment value of film and digital projects by attaining artistic pre-eminence and scientific achievement in the creative art of color; and to bring into close alliance those color artists who desire to advance the prestige and dignity of the color profession as educational and cultural resource rather than a labor union or guild.

“The colorist community has been growing for quite some time,” says Shaw. “We believe that a society by, for, and about colorists is long overdue. Current representation for colorists is fragmented and we feel that the industry would be better served with the coherent voice of the Colorist Society International”

Jim Wicks

Jim Wicks

Wicks added, “The notion of a colorist society is not farfetched. In much the same way, directors, cinematographers, and editors — the artists that we work closely with — have their own professional associations, each with similar mission statements and objectives.”

Membership is open to professional colorists, editor/colorists, DITs, telecine operators, color timers, finishers, and color scientists. Corporate sponsors and members from alliance organizations, such as cinematographers, directors, producers, are also welcome.