Tag Archives: Maya

NAB: Autodesk buys Solid Angle, updates products

At the NAB show, Autodesk announced that it has acquired Solid Angle, developer of Arnold, an advanced, ray-tracing image renderer for high-quality 3D animation and visual effects creation used in film, television and advertising worldwide. Arnold has been used on Academy Award-winning films such as Ex Machina and The Martian, as well as Emmy Award-winning series Game of Thrones, among other popular features, TV shows and commercials.

As part of Autodesk, Solid Angle’s development team will continue to evolve Arnold, working in close collaboration with its user community. Arnold will remain available as a standalone renderer for both Autodesk products and third-party applications including Houdini, Katana, and Cinema 4D on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Both Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Maya will also continue to support other third-party renderers.

“We’re constantly looking out for promising technologies that help artists boost creativity and productivity,” shared Chris Bradshaw, senior VP, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. “Efficient rendering is increasingly critical for 3D content creation and acquiring Solid Angle will allow us to help customers better tackle this computationally intensive part of the creative process. Together, we can improve rendering workflows within our products as well as accelerate the development of new rendering solutions that tap into the full potential of the cloud, helping all studios scale production.”

“Autodesk shares our passion for numerical methods and computational performance and our desire to simplify the rendering pipeline, so artists can create top quality visuals more easily,” said Solid Angle Founder Marcos Fajardo. “With Autodesk, we’ll be able to accelerate development as well as scale our marketing, sales and support operations for Arnold to better meet the needs of our growing user base. Working side-by-side, we can solve production challenges in rendering and beyond.”

Arnold pricing and packaging is unchanged and Autodesk will continue to offer perpetual licenses of Arnold. Customers should continue to purchase Arnold through their usual Solid Angle channels.

Product Updates
In other news, Autodesk updated three of its products.

Autodesk Flame 2017:
– Camera FX scene-based tools enable the creation of sophisticated 3D composites in Action.Powered by algorithms from the Stingray game engine, artists can use these highly interactive VFX tools for ambient occlusion, realistic reflections, and depth of field without slowing interactivity.
– Connected color workflow introduces a new level of integration between VFX and proven color grading. This new workflow brings color grading information from Autodesk Lustre directly into Flame’s node-based compositing environment and maintains a live connection so that composites can be rendered and seen in context in Lustre (our main image). This collaborative workflow allows artists to rapidly finish high-end projects by moving seamlessly between compositing, VFX and look development tools.
– Color management enhancements to Flame, Autodesk Flare and Autodesk Flame Assist allow users to quickly standardize the way a source’s colorspace is identified and processed.
– User-requested enhancements include improvements to desktop reels, conform and timeline workflow, batch, media panel and the UI.

Autodesk Maya 2016 Extension 2:
Extension 2 adds new capabilities for creating 3D motion graphics, a new rendering workflow and tools for artists that allow them to create and animate characters faster and easier than ever.
– New motion graphics tools bring a procedural, node-based 3D design workflow directly into Maya. Combining powerful motion graphics tools with Maya’s deep creative toolset allows artists to quickly create sophisticated and unique 3D motion graphics such as futuristic UIs, expressive text, and organic animation and effects.
– Updated render management makes segmenting your scenes into render layers easier and faster, giving artists more control.
– Character creation workflows with a new quick rig tool and shape authoring enhancements that allow artists to create, rig and animate characters faster. Additional updates include: improvements to symmetry and poly modeling, UV editing, animation performance, rigging, the Bifrost workflow and XGen; a content browser; deep adaptive fluid simulation and high-accuracy viscosity in Bifrost; and XGen hair cards.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2017:
Freeing up more time for creativity, 3ds Max 2017 offers artists a fresh new look as well as modeling, animation and rendering enhancements, including:
– A new UI with support for high DPI displays expands the array of monitors and laptops users may run the software on while correctly applying Windows display scaling.
– Autodesk Raytracer Renderer (ART) a fast, physically-based renderer, enables the creation of photoreal imagery and videos.
– 3ds Max asset library, available via the Autodesk Exchange App Store, offers quick access to model libraries; simply search assets and drag and drop them into a scene.
– Additional updates include fast form hard surfaces; UV mapping, object tool and animation productivity enhancements; a scene converter for moving from one renderer to another or to realtime engines; and tighter pipeline integration via an improved Python/.NET toolset.

Union VFX’s Simon Hughes talks Suffragette’s seamless VFX

London-based Union VFX provided a number of visual effects shots for the film Suffragette, Sarah Gavron’s drama about the early feminist movement and the fight for equality and the right to vote.

As you can imagine, this type of film doesn’t scream VFX, so Union’s work on Suffragette was in the “blending-in” category, such as building extensions, CG crowd multiplication and the addition of vehicles and props — all of which needed to behave seamlessly with the real environments and set dressings.

track beforetrack after

One of the bigger sequences that Union provided shots for was the climactic scene at Epsom race course, which sees suffragette Emily Davison step out in front of King George V’s horse — you can imagine how that turned out. Union’s creatives were called on to help swell the huge crowd who witnessed the tragedy, and to help paint an historically accurate picture of an Edwardian sporting event. This required complex VFX work, involving a compositing plate and tiled elements, and the creation of CG characters, buildings, vehicles and contemporary props, such as betting signs, and even a circus.

“Epsom was easily the largest sequence in the film for us,” reports Simon Hughes, Union’s VFX supervisor on Suffragette, who said this included a series of significant crowd extensions and architectural augmentations.

Simon Hughes

Simon Hughes

“The crowd was built using a combination of Golaem crowd simulations and characters built in Maya from “t-poses” of large groups of extras photographed on set during the shoot. “They are called t-poses because the arms and legs aren’t connected to the sides of the body,” he explains. “These are shot 360 degrees around the body and then used as texture and anatomy for the character builds in Maya. Once built, the characters were rigged with a skeleton to enable animation, using a combination of walk cycle animations and custom animations, such as waving and gesturing. These animations were then imported into Golaem along with the characters and multiplied and randomized to build an enormous crowd.”

All shots were composited in Foundry Nuke. CG was rendered in Arnold, and props, buildings and vehicles were built in Maya. They called on PFTrack and Nuke for tracking.

In addition to Epsom, there was a riot sequence on London’s Oxford Street, a series of explosions, the re-building of Holloway prison and an expanded crowd of MPs and protestors at the Houses of Parliament (which was used as a set for a commercial film for the first time in its history).

“For all of these there was a special effects explosion that visual effects expanded on using effects simulations in Side Effects Houdini. These included rebuilding the post boxes so we could blow the lid and doors off, and expanding the explosion with additional rubble and debris and dust along with the obvious fire and smoke elements that were required,” concludes Hughes.

Hinge Digital takes on animated AdoptUSKids PSA

Portland’s Hinge Digital, which works on spots, commercial campaigns and other content for big brands, such as Microsoft, Adidas, Electronic Arts and Dunkin’ Donuts, recently took on a very different kind of project with Suitcase, a 30-second public service announcement created for AdoptUSKids, Ad Council and the US Department of Health and Human Services.

It reminds people that while they might not be perfect at all times, they can provide the perfect, loving home for a child in need. It was produced to mark the 10th anniversary of AdoptUSKids, which helps place foster children into adoptive homes in the United States.

adoptuskids_suitcase_boards1_branded adoptuskids_suitcase_concept_7_branded
The storyboard and concept for “Suitcase”

Hinge came up with the concept, wrote, designed and animated the piece, but with so many partners’ hands in the mix across the country, the studio needed something to keep everyone on the same page as the project sprang to life. To do that they called on Frankie, a web-based video review tool that allowed remote parties to view the work and collaborate in realtime.

In Suitcase the audience sees a young girl who has been bounced between foster homes, growing accustomed to living out of a suitcase. When she’s given a permanent home she finds a new use for that suitcase, and appreciates her adoptive parents even if they make silly mistakes here or there.


Alex Tysowsky

“It was important to use emotional storytelling and illustrative design to tell this story, along with the software magic of Maya and Nuke to create the visual narrative,” says director Alex Tysowsky, whose nearly 20-year career includes animation for films such as The Matrix and Spider-Man 2. He had a team of eight focused on the PSA, which was in production for about six weeks.

“We wanted to create a spot with a uniquely engaging look that combined toon-shaded CG characters and watercolor backgrounds,” he explains. “Once the concept designs were approved, we built the 3D assets to match the look and feel of the artwork. The fun part was animating and bringing the characters to life. ”With approvals needed from both creative and non-creative individuals at the client companies — all in various locations across the United States —Hinge Digital needed a solution that would allow for an effective review process. That’s where Frankie came in.

adopt_breakfast_brandedcooking adopt_camping_branded

Tysowsky says that with Frankie, “remote parties can be easily invited into the review session, and everyone can quickly share their comments and notes. It makes everyone feel like part of the active process. Once we had everyone on a conference line and connected to Frankie, they were all looking at the same thing. With five people in five different locations, communication about something visual can be a bit of a challenge. But with the markup tools Frankie provides, everyone can see what we’re talking about.”

Among the studio’s favorite features in Frankie are the realtime markup tool and the ability to export notes into a PDF file. Additionally, being able to see when a client has logged into the session – whether before or during the conference call — is a helpful function.

Click here to view the final PSA.

Autodesk upgrades Flame, Maya and Max to 2016 versions

Autodesk has released updated versions of its Maya and 3ds Max 3D animation software tools. Maya 2016 includes improved animation performance with a parallel evaluation system that takes advantage of the CPU and GPU to increase the speed of both playback and character rig manipulation. The look and feel of the tool has been updated, and Maya 2016 includes new capabilities in the Bifrost procedural effects platform that enable realistic liquid simulations. Continue reading

Quick Chat: Camille Geier, EP of Shade VFX New York

Earlier this month, bi-coastal studio Shade VFX brought on veteran visual effects producer Camille Geier as executive producer of its New York location, which recently expanded into a new 5,000-square-foot location.

Geier, who started her visual effects career at ILM as a VFX producer, will oversee Shade’s New York feature and television work, including shots on Marvel’s Netflix series, Daredevil.

She comes to Shade after a recent stint at Rodeo FX. Prior to that Geier spearheaded the feature film division for RhinoFX where, as EP, she oversaw over 20 films, including The Adjustment Bureau, Salt, The Other Guys and Ghost Town. Before that, she worked at Curious Pictures in television animation. Continue reading

Autodesk to acquire Shotgun Software

Autodesk has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Shotgun Software, a developer of scalable, cloud-based production tracking, review and asset management software for the film, television and games industries. This transaction is expected to close during Autodesk’s fiscal quarter ending July 31, 2014, and have no impact on Autodesk’s guidance issued on May 15, 2014. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.


Shotgun’s Don Parker.

Shotgun’s tools for production management are tightly integrated with many tools in the industry, including Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Maya software. “Shotgun and Autodesk share a vision of an industry-wide, cloud-based production management system,” said Don Parker, Shotgun co-founder and chief executive officer. “Autodesk’s broad global network and development resources will speed up the pace of innovation and development of our global platform. Together, we will extend our tools deeper into the production process, and develop new solutions that best support the studios of the future.”

Since the launch of the Shotgun solution in 2006, it has become widely-adopted across the industry, providing business tools for managers and visual collaboration tools for artists and supervisors who are often working globally with distributed teams. More than 500 customers, including a number of leading studios, are using Shotgun’s customizable system and contribute to the ongoing development of its growing ecosystem of applications.

The existing Shotgun team will continue to support current and new customers, and lead future product development.

adesk guy

Autodesk’s Chris Bradshaw.

“The acquisition of Shotgun will accelerate Autodesk’s efforts to deliver solutions that help our creative customers solve the critical problem of operating more efficiently by collaborating globally to deliver increasingly complex productions on time and budget,” said Chris Bradshaw, senior VP, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. “Shotgun brings deep expertise and industry-leading technology in cloud products and production management, so we welcome the team, customers and community to Autodesk.”



2015 last version of Autodesk’s Softimage

By Randi Altman

Montreal — During a virtual press conference this week, Autodesk’s Maurice Patel announced that the upcoming Softimage 2015 will be the last release of Softimage.

“The industry is going through challenging times ,and Autodesk realizes we need to focus our efforts on fewer products,” he said, adding they will focus on 3ds Max and Maya, the company’s other 3D animation software offerings.

The company will offer support and service packs for Softimage for next for two years, but the product will not receive new feature development.

Existing users with a subscription can move to Max or Maya with no transitional cost. “This way users can ramp up Max and Maya and train while still using Softimage. They can either continue Max and Maya or discontinue their subscriptions.”

Customers who want to continue to use Softimage don’t have to take advantage of transitions, but moving to Max and Maya will give most benefit because those products will continue to evolve,” says Patel.

The Softimage development team will remain and work on new product development.

Autodesk emphasizes they are not putting Softimage features into other products, but instead finding ways to make the transitions to other products easier. “We are not trying to recreate Softimage in Maya and Max,” concludes Patel.


Galaxy 61 creates holiday campaign for Price Chopper

Brooklyn — Supermarket Price Chopper once again called on one-stop animation /CGI /editorial and finishing boutique Galaxy 61 to design and execute a campaign that kicked off the holiday season with a pair of spots.


For the first spot, Price Chopper 4X Gift Card, (http://vimeo.com/80478913) Galaxy 61 (www.galaxy61.com) created a photorealistic silver gift box with Christmas ornaments  tied with a  red ribbon — which unfurls as the box opens. A voiceover announces Price Chopper’s holiday offers, which include 4X the Fuel AdvantEdge discount on every gift card customers buy from a select group of participating retailers, including Gap, Lowe’s, Sears, Kohls, and Toys R Us.

The second :30 spot, (http://vimeo.com/80478912) Holiday Recipes, introduces an interactive element to the campaign, inviting customers to access Price Chopper recipes for the holidays — some featuring special sale prices for the ingredients — all accessible by clicking on the Pinterest logo on Price Chopper’s home page. Three distinct versions of the spot were created.


“The animated gift box created for the opening of 4X Gift Card was the inspiration for the second spot’s iconic recipe box, which then highlights our ever-growing focus on digital/social marketing by featuring holiday Pinterest recipes,” says Price Chopper director of creative services, John Akots,. “The commercial also fits right into the flexible, modular, fast and affordable approach that creative consultant partners Roman Mayer and Murray Skurnik, (Galaxy 61 owner) Doug Johnson and I have developed over the years.”

“Crafting comedic, live-action mood driven spot content for a retailer is standard fare,” says Johnson. “The challenge with Price Chopper lies in designing and executing the segments of the spots that advertise the weekly sales and special offers, while maintaining agency-level quality that draws in viewers and drives them to the store. Price Chopper spots are unlike any other food retailer’s commercials. First, you have to understand the language and all the details that need to be communicated. Only then can you deliver on the tight deadlines and the customized high quality work required for their promotions.

Holiday_Recipes_01 “Working with a client on an ongoing basis also allows us to think ahead, and design assets so that they are re-usable, which is key for a retailer like Price Chopper,” says Johnson. “I always make a point to wrangle something creatively satisfying out of every project, no matter how simple it is — and bring the full scope of my experience as an animator, designed, and FX artist to each spot.”

Akots helms each spot, collaborating closely with Galaxy 61’s  Johnson, as well as Roman Mayer and Murray Skurnik, who also bring extensive supermarket experience to the table from storyboards, to scripts to creative direction.

“The original board for the 4X Gift Card spot was a bit frenetic, so we did a lot of adjusting during the editorial process. The retail partners provided the artwork for the gift cards, and were very specific about how the cards were to be presented,” says Johnson. “Each card had to be the exact same size, and appear for precisely the same amount of time.”


The key to meeting the technical challenges of these spots, according to Galaxy 61, was to keep things simple and render the elements quickly and efficiently. Johnson deviated from his usual practice of rendering out every conceivable layer of information in 3D via Maya (reflections, refractions, shadows, masks, etc.) and then creating the final look by compositing them together in After Effects. While that approach affords more flexibility at the last minute it results in much longer render times on both ends. Instead he created most of the FX “in-camera,” which required minimal treatment — mostly color correction and animated transitions — at the compositing stage, saving time and money.

“While effective, the ‘in-camera’ approach posed another challenge, as the client was used to getting that first look at a proof within a day of starting,” says Johnson.

Galaxy called on Mac Pros running Windows 7, 64-bit, Maya 2011, After Effects CS6, Photoshop CS6.

Be a part of Autodesk’s Best of the Best 2014 show reel

MONTREAL — Autodesk is now accepting submissions for its Best of the Best 2014 show reel, which will premiere at the NAB Convention from April 7-10, 2014 in Las Vegas.

Highlighting the year’s top talent and most innovative work created using Autodesk tools, the reel will be featured on AREA, the Autodesk website, the Autodesk YouTube Channel and at various industry events throughout the year.

Recent creative projects eligible for submission include animations, films, broadcast, cinematics, commercials, episodic work and/or music videos that were created with 3ds Max, Maya, MotionBuilder, Softimage, Smoke, Flame, Lustre or the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite.

For more information visit http://area.autodesk.com/submitcontent/2013/bestofthebest.