Tag Archives: Blur Studio

Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference: Part II

By Fred Ruckel

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference in San Jose. I spent five days sitting in on conferences, demos, and in a handful of one-on-one meetings. If the Part I of my story had you interested in the new world of GPU technology, take a dive into this installment and learn what other cool things Nvidia has created to enhance your workflow.

Advanced Rendering Solutions
We consider rendering to be the final output of an animation. While that’s true, there’s a lot
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Blur hires EP Greg Talmage, promotes others

Culver City’s Blur Studio, known for its VFX and design work for games, spots and films, has hired Greg Talmage as executive producer. Talmage brings 15 years of experience in creative services to Blur and was most recently from Iron Claw, an Emmy Award-winning production company that he co-founded in 2008.

In his new role Talmage will help guide Blur’s continued growth in games, commercials, VFX and film projects, and drive opportunities for Blur’s emerging pool of directors.

“I’ve always been a fan of Blur,” he says. “Their work has emotional impact and authentic, human resonance. Blur pushes the creative concept until it’s absolutely memorable and hard-hitting. My goal is to broaden our horizons, elevate brand awareness and expose more people to the passion and talent here — we work with top-level movie directors, develop our own properties, write trailers, direct commercials and create stunning animation. Now, it’s time for Blur to also shine in different markets and new forms of media.”

Talmage began his entertainment career at DreamWorks in marketing in the late 90’s and then gravitated towards design and short-form projects, rising through the ranks as a producer at companies that included Imaginary Forces, Transistor Studios, Troika and Logan, where he managed projects for major brands such as Microsoft, Apple and Electronic Arts.

In addition to bringing Talmage on board, Blur has promoted three long time artists to leadership roles within the company. Director Dave Wilson assumes creative director responsibilities, providing a guiding vision together on all company projects with Blur co-founder Tim Miller, while former VFX/CG supervisor Kevin Margo will be directing commercials, shorts and content for video game marketing campaigns. Previously the most senior CG supervisor at Blur, Jerome “Jed” Denjean now oversees all department leads as head CG supervisor, in addition to managing projects.

Blur creates CG mischief, heroics for Skylanders spots

Ad agency 72andSunny called on Blur Studio to create CG characters and environments for two new 30-second commercials promoting Activision’s Skylanders game. Blur‘s Jeff Fowler directed Inside the Trap and a Trapping Kaos. Both feature a mix of live-action and CG as well as a fight between good and evil. It took 30 artists less than two months to complete the segments for both spots.

Jeff Fowler

Jeff Fowler

According to Fowler, “Blur’s Skylanders project began with one of our CG supervisors coming to my desk and saying, ‘If we don’t do this commercial, my son will never speak to me again.’ Never ones to shatter the dreams of children, our production staff quickly figured out a plan to fit this project into a VERY busy month for us. Sometimes the craziest schedules yield the most rewarding results, and our entire team was extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish in six weeks.”

He continues, “Working with a tough little veggie warrior and a powerful super-dwarf armed with Traptanium-infused hammers spurred our creative energy to create something like none other. We had a blast bringing a little mayhem to the world of Skylanders, where we built a village and staged a cinematic battle scene between Gulper and Food Fight.”

“Both Blur and 72andSunny are built around collaborative cultures so we were all quick to jump in together, start laughing and shape where we wanted the project to go from the outset,” reports 72andSunny creative director Tim Wolfe. “It made for amazing sessions where everyone had a voice, egos were left at the door and we were all only interested in making the best video humanly possible.

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“The level of visual detail and character development Blur brought to the project was incredible. They took an already rich and fun world of Skylanders and turned up the volume helping us make something truly unique and ground-breaking for the category,” said Wolfe.

Human Worldwide provided the music and sound design, while Sound Mix Lime Studios supplied the mix.

Blur replaces proprietary management tool, installs Shotgun

Los Angeles — Blur Studio, makers of feature films, commercials and game cinematics and trailers, is now using Shotgun’s software for production management and tracking. Shotgun replaces Blur’s in-house production management software, which was tying up valuable internal development resources.

“Pipeline and infrastructure software may not be the sexiest application you’ll find in a VFX and animation studio, but it’s certainly one of the most crucial to producing great work,” says Tim Miller, co-founder of Blur Studio. “The less time our artists and producers spend managing, the more time we can spend creating. As projects get more complicated and schedules get more challenging it’s critical to have tools to efficiently manage the huge amounts of detailed data needed to get the job done. Shotgun is both producer- and artist-friendly, which makes it in our opinion the best tool out there for helping us deliver great work.”

Prior to integrating Shotgun into their pipeline, Blur had two full-time developers working on a proprietary toolset called “Trax” for production management. The developers were allocating a majority of their time to updating the toolset. As project volume increased and the studio expanded with a new facility move, Blur’s production management needs were no longer being met by their in-house system.

“While Trax has certain features and advantages that will continue to be utilized for studio wide planning and reporting, as a production tool it was falling further behind. Shotgun was gaining prominence for offering a highly equipped, out of the box production management platform for animation, games and VFX studios,” says Jeff Beeland, Blur pipeline supervisor. “Shotgun has over a dozen dedicated developers, and a full-time support team, and once we started testing it we quickly realized we could never match what they deliver with something created in-house.”

Once the decision was made to standardize on Shotgun, Blur seamlessly connected the Shotgun database with their pipeline and in-house database. Both feature a lightweight Python API, allowing Shotgun to link effortlessly with their internal system along with core artist apps including Autodesk 3ds Max. Now fully integrated into their daily operations, Shotgun powers production management for an average user base of 85 artists across all of Blur’s projects which most recently have included Thor: The Dark World and promotional trailers for The Elder Scrolls. Using Shotgun’s Web-based interface, producers, coordinators and artists at all levels can add and link data seamlessly to the database for easy access.

In the future, Blur plans on further integrating Shotgun into their daily operations to track budgets and artists’ time sheets. “We’ve come a long way in a short time with Shotgun,” concludes Beeland. “It’s been great for our artists, producers and supervisors alike, and aside from building a great production management platform — Shotgun’s support and customer service is significantly ahead of what is standard in the software business.”

Photo Caption: Blur’s pipeline supervisor, Jeff Beeland, using Shotgun.

 

Tim Miller and Blur create prologue for ‘Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World’

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Culver City — Tim Miller, co-founder of Blur Studio, was tapped by Marvel Studios to head up the three-minute prologue sequence that sets the stage for its upcoming sequel Thor: The Dark World. Miller created the sequence, which is almost entirely CG.

“Blur and Tim Miller have a distinct understanding of the Marvel Universe,” said producer Kevin Feige. “That alone, not to mention their storytelling and CG expertise, made the opening and end titles standout sequences in the film.”

Narrated by Anthony Hopkins (Odin), the prologue establishes context for the story of Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World. The sequence is set in Svartalfheim, during an alignment of the Nine Realms 5000 years ago, when Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) battled Odin’s father, King Bor.

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