Tag Archives: Video games

2nd-gen AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors

At the SIGGRAPH show, AMD announced the availability of its 2nd-generation AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX processor with 32 cores and 64 threads. These new AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors are built using 12nm “Zen+” x86 processor architecture. Second-gen AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors support the most I/O and are compatible with existing AMD X399 chipset motherboards via a simple BIOS update, offering builders a broad choice for designing the ultimate high-end desktop or workstation PC.

The 32-core/64-thread Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX and the 24-core/48-thread Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX are purpose-built for prosumers who crave raw computational compute power to dispatch the heaviest workloads. The 2nd-gen AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX offers up to 53 percent faster multithread performance and up to 47 percent more rendering performance for creators than the core i9-7980XE.

This new AMD Ryzen Threadripper X series comes with a higher base and boost clocks for users who need high performance. The 16 cores and 32 threads in the 2950X model offer up to 41 percent more multithreaded performance than the Core i9-7900X.

Additional performance and value come from:
• AMD StoreMI technology: All X399 platform users will now have free access to AMD StoreMI technology, enabling configured PCs to load files, games and applications from a high-capacity hard drive at SSD-like read speeds.
• Ryzen Master Utility: Like all AMD Ryzen processors, the 2nd-generation AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPUs are fully unlocked. With the updated AMD Ryzen Master Utility, AMD has added new features, such as fast core detection both on die and per CCX; advanced hardware controls; and simple, one-click workload optimizations.
• Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO): A new performance-enhancing feature that allows multithreaded boost limits to be raised by tapping into extra power delivery headroom in premium motherboards.

With a simple BIOS update, all 2nd-generation AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPUs are supported by a full ecosystem of new motherboards and all existing X399 platforms. Designs are available from top motherboard manufacturers, including ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI.

The 32-core, 64-thread AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX is available now from global retailers and system integrators. The 16-core, 32-thread AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X processor is expected to launch on August 31, and the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX and 2920X models are slated for launch in October.

Epic Games launches Unreal Engine 4.20

Epic Games has introduced Unreal Engine 4.20, which allows developers to build even more realistic characters and immersive environments across games, film and TV, VR/AR/MR and enterprise applications. The Unreal Engine 4.20 release combines the latest realtime rendering advancements with improved creative tools, making it even easier to ship games across all platforms. With hundreds of optimizations, especially for iOS, Android and Nintendo Switch — which have been built for Fortnite and are now rolled into Unreal Engine 4.20 and released to all users — Epic is providing developers with the scalable tools they need for these types of projects.

Artists working in visual effects, animation, broadcast and virtual production will find enhancements for digital humans, VFX and cinematic depth of field, allowing them to create realistic images across all forms of media and entertainment. In the enterprise space, Unreal Studio 4.20 includes upgrades to the UE4 Datasmith plugin suite, such as SketchUp support, which make it easier to get CAD data prepped, imported and working in Unreal Engine.

Here are some key features of Unreal Engine 4.20:

A new proxy LOD system: Users can handle sprawling worlds via UE4’s production-ready Proxy LOD system for the easy reduction of rendering cost due to poly count, draw calls and material complexity. Proxy LOD offers big gains when developing for mobile and console platforms.

A smoother mobile experience: Over 100 mobile optimizations developed for Fortnite come to all 4.20 users, marking a major shift for easy “shippability” and seamless gameplay optimization across platforms. Major enhancements include improved Android debugging, mobile Landscape improvements, RHI thread on Android and occlusion queries on mobile.

Works better with Switch: Epic has improved Nintendo Switch development by releasing tons of performance and memory improvements built for Fortnite on Nintendo Switch to 4.20 users as well.

Niagara VFX (early access): Unreal Engine’s new programmable VFX editor, Niagara, is now available in early access and will help developers take their VFX to the next level. This new suite of tools is built from the ground up to give artists unprecedented control over particle simulation, rendering and performance for more sophisticated visuals. This tool will eventually replace the Unreal Cascade particle editor.

Cinematic depth of field: Unreal Engine 4.20 delivers tools for achieving depth of field at true cinematic quality in any scene. This brand-new implementation replaces the Circle DOF method. It’s faster, cleaner and provides a cinematic appearance through the use of a procedural bokeh simulation. Cinematic DOF also supports alpha channel and dynamic resolution stability, and has multiple settings for scaling up or down on console platforms based on project requirements. This feature debuted at GDC this year as part of the Star Wars “Reflections” demo by Epic, ILMxLAB and Nvidia.

Digital human improvements: In-engine tools now include dual-lobe specular/double Beckman specular models, backscatter transmission in lights, boundary bleed color subsurface scattering, iris normal slot for eyes and screen space irradiance to build the most cutting-edge digital humans in games and beyond.

Live record and replay: All developers now have access to code from Epic’s Fortnite Replay system. Content creators can easily use footage of recorded gameplay sessions to create incredible replay videos.

Sequencer cinematic updates: New features include frame accuracy, media tracking, curve editor/evaluation and Final Cut Pro 7 XML import/export.

Shotgun integration: Shotgun, a production management and asset tracking solution, is now supported. This will streamline workflows for Shotgun users in game development who are leveraging Unreal’s realtime performance. Shotgun users can assign tasks to specific assets within Unreal Engine.

Mixed reality capture support (early access): Users with virtual production workflows will now have mixed reality capture support that includes video input, calibration and in-game compositing. Supported webcams and HDMI capture devices allow users to pull real-world greenscreened video into the engine, and supported tracking devices can match your camera location to the in-game camera for more dynamic shots.

AR support: Unreal Engine 4.20 ships with native support for ARKit 2, which includes features for creating shared, collaborative AR experiences. Also included is the latest support for Magic Leap One, Google ARCore 1.2 support.

Metadata control: Import metadata from 3ds Max, SketchUp and other common CAD tools for the opportunity to batch process objects by property, or expose metadata via scripts. Metadata enables more creative uses of Unreal Studio, such as Python script commands for updating all meshes of a certain type, or displaying relevant information in interactive experiences.

Mesh editing tools: Unreal Engine now includes a basic mesh editing toolset for quick, simple fixes to imported geometry without having to fix them in the source package and re-import. These tools are ideal for simple touch-ups without having to go to another application. Datasmith also now includes a base Python script that can generate Level of Detail (LOD) meshes automatically.

Non-destructive re-import: Achieve faster iteration through the new parameter tracking system, which monitors updates in both the source data and Unreal Editor, and only imports changed elements. Previous changes to the scene within Unreal Editor are retained and reapplied when source data updates.

Speakers set for VIEW Conference 2017

This year, the VIEW Conference is once again taking place in Torino, Italy. Focusing on computer graphics, digital media and games, the conference spans five days (October 23-27) and features talks, workshops, panel discussions, interactive sessions, awards and more. An audience of 6,000 professionals and students is expected.

Here are the expected speakers so far:
Rob Pardo – CEO, Bonfire Studios. Videogame designer (World of Warcraft); Eric Darnell – chief creative officer, Baobab Studios. Co-director/co-writer all DreamWorks’ Madagascar films and projects including Invasion, Asteroids, Rainbow Crow; Phil Chen – co-founder, HTC Vive. Managing partner of Presence Capital VR/AR Venture Fund and partner of Horizons Ventures, which invests in VR/AR/AI; Joe Letteri – senior VFX supervisor, four-time Oscar winner, Weta Digital; Debevec – senior staff engineer, Google VR and Oscar winner; Kevin Lin – COO, Twitch.TV; Christopher Townsend – Overall VFX supervisor, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2; Vicki Dobbs Beck – executive in charge of ILM x LAB; Mark Osborne – The Little Prince and Kung Fu Panda, DreamWorks Animation; Kris Pearn – director The Willoughbys, Bron Animation and Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 co-director, Sony Pictures Animation; Shannon Tindle – director/writer, Sony Pictures Animation, Disney, Laika, Google Spotlight Story On Ice; Cinzia Angelini – director, upcoming CG Animated short Mila; Hal Hickel – animation director, Rogue One, ILM. Oscar and BAFTA Winner; Rob Coleman – head of animation, Lego Batman Movie, Animal Logic. Two-time Oscar nominee for his work on Star Wars; Kim White – DP, lighting, Cars 3, Pixar Animation; Noelle Triaureau – production designer, Smurfs: The Lost Village, Sony Pictures Animation; Mike Ford – VFX supervisor, Smurfs: The Lost Village, Sony Pictures Imageworks; Carlos Zaragoza – production designer, The Emoji Movie, Sony Pictures Animation; Maureen Fan – CEOfficer, Baobab Studios, VR; Larry Cutler – CTO, Baobab Studios; Eloi Champagne – technical director, National Film Board of Canada, VR; Claudio Pedica – senior interaction designer, Sólfar Studios & AI researcher at Reykjavik University; Michael Rubin – founder/chief photo officer, Neomodern; David Putrino – director of rehabilitation innovation, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Director of Telemedicine and Virtual Rehabilitation Medicine at Weill-Cornell Medical College. Chief mad scientist, Not Impossible Labs; Victor Perez – VFX supervisor, Gabriele Salvatores Invisible Boy sequel; Francesco Filippi – director, Mani Rosse (Red Hands), Studio Mistral; and Ed Hooks – mMulti-faceted theatrical professional, actor, author and acting teacher.

VIEW has also announced the opening of submissions for the show’s VIEW Awards. Celebrating the best in animation and video games, each year this competition receives hundreds of entries, vying for recognition in four categories for animated short films or videogames.

The VIEW Conference’s awards competition recognizes animated short films and videogames created between January 1, 2015 and September 15, 2017. Entry is available online here.

The awards categories are:
Best Short– category for those creating and animating shorts, music videos or commercials using 2D/3D animation.  The contest is open to students and professionals with a maximum length of 30 minutes. The best short will be evaluated based on design, environments and best character. First prize is 2,000 Euros.
• Social Contest – a short video clip or commercial focusing on social themes. First prize is 500 Euros.
• Game Contest – an award recognizing the best gameplay, design and mechanics. First prize is 500 Euros.
• ItalianMix – dedicated to the work of Italian artists, the work can be animated, experimental or documentary. Maximum length of 30 minutes. First prize is 500 Euros.

Behind the Title: Sounding Sweet audio producer/MD Ed Walker

NAME: Ed Walker

COMPANYSounding Sweet (@sounding_sweet)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STUDIO?
We are a UK-based independent recording and audio production company with a recording studio in Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire, and separate postproduction facilities in Leamington Spa. Our recording studio is equipped with the latest technology, including a 7.1 surround sound dubbing suite and two purpose-built voiceover booths, which double as Foley studios and music recording spaces when necessary. We are also fully equipped to record ADR, via Source Connect and ISDN.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Audio producer, sound engineer and managing director — take your pick.

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
As we are a small business and I am very hands-on., and my responsibilities change on a daily basis. They may include pitching to new clients, liaising with existing clients, overseeing projects from start to finish and ensuring our audio deliveries as a team are over and above what the client is expecting.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
Creating and implementing interactive sound into video games is a technical challenge. While I don’t write code myself, as part of working in this industry, I have had to develop a technical understanding of game development and software programming in order to communicate effectively and achieve my audio vision.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I often get the opportunity to go out and record supercars and motorbikes, as well as occasionally recording celebrity voiceovers in the studio. We work with clients both locally and globally, often working across different time zones. We are definitely not a 9-to-5 business.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Working through the night during crunch periods is hard. However, we understand that the main audio effort is usually applied toward the end of a project, so we are kind of used to it.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
I would have to say first thing in the morning. My studio is so close to home that I get to see my family before I go to work.

IF YOU DID NOT HAVE THIS JOB WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
If I wasn’t producing audio I would have to be doing something equally creative. I need an outlet for my thoughts and emotions, perhaps video editing or creating visual effects.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I have always loved music, as both my parents are classically trained musicians. After trying to learn lots of different instruments, I realized that I had more of an affinity with sound recording. I studied “Popular Music and Recording” at university. Later on, I realized that a lot of the music recording skills I had learned were transferable to creating sound effects for computer games.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
– BMW Series 7 launch in Bahrain — sound design
– Jaguar F Pace launch in Bahrain — sound design
Forza Horizon 3 for Microsoft/Playground Games —  audio design
Guitar Hero Live for Activision — audio design

Forza Horizon 3 Lamborghini

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I worked as a sound designer at Codemasters for several years, and I have very fond memories of working on Dirt 2. It sounded awesome back in 2009 in surround sound on the Xbox 360! More recently, Sounding Sweet’s work for Playground Games on Forza Horizon 3 was a lot of fun, and I am very proud of what we achieved.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
A portable sound recorder, an iPhone and a kettle.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
All kinds of music — classics, reggae, rock, electronic, the Stones, Led Zeppelin… the list is truly endless.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
My wife is half Italian, so we often visit her “homeland” to see the family. This really is the time when I get to switch off.

Behind the Title: Axis executive producer Debbie Ross

NAME: Debbie Ross

COMPANY: Glasgow, Scotland’s Axis

CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT AXIS IS?
Axis and sister studios axisVFX and Flaunt provide animation and visual effects for the entertainment industry, working across film, television, games and theme parks.

The three studios have worked with big entertainment brands such as Halo, Doctor Who, Call of Duty, Monster High, Assassin’s Creed, Alien and Shaun the Sheep.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Executive Producer

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
My role includes seeking out and securing new work for the studio, predominantly with our game clients, then ensuring we have the best director and creative talent attached. Then I make sure those projects get delivered as promised. Building and maintaining client relationships is a big part of this.

Axis

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
You can be glued to your laptop in Glasgow working on budgets one day and the next you can be in LA talking to a creative team about their content needs. Adaptability and thinking on your feet are surprisingly important.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I love working with our creative teams here in the studio — the evolution of ideas and experiencing the creative process first-hand never fails to inspire me. There are times when things feel a bit magical, like when you know a creative treatment is nailing it or when you witness a sparkling synergy between artists working together. It can be really exciting.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Dealing with jet lag on long-haul business trips — awake by 4am and falling asleep in my food by 8pm. But it’s a small sacrifice because I get to see amazing parts of the world I’d never see otherwise.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
I’m a bit of a morning person — it’s probably when I’m most productive.

IF YOU DID NOT HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
If it wasn’t for a complete lack of talent I would love to have been a musician. In reality, if I wasn’t at Axis I would probably still be working in live-action TV.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I’ve never had a career plan. I’m still amazed that I’m on the path at all!

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
The game trailer for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III and Destiny: Rise of Iron are the most recent projects to go live.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I’m proud of so much of what comes out of Axis, I can’t pick one single project. Most of all I’m proud to be part of the team — the people I work with are why I’m still here 10 years on.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
Not too often as I tend to like hearing what’s going on around me in the studio. If my headphones are on it generally means “do not disturb,” so music is to block any distractions and help me focus.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I run to and from work — that’s my daily release and has become a bit of an addiction. I also run on work trips. Gives me something to do at 4am when the jet lag kicks in.

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.

Behind the Title: Composer Jason Graves

NAME: Jason Graves

COMPANY: Jason Graves Music 

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
We compose music. And that’s really the royal “we,” especially since it’s just me, myself and I.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
President and Ruler of All Things Music

THAT IS PRETTY IMPRESSIVE! WHAT DOES ALL OF THAT ENTAIL?
Arranging, orchestration, traveling for recording sessions, traveling for conferences, answering email, organizing software libraries, keeping current back-ups of all hard drives, computer Continue reading

Meet The Game Composer: James Hannigan

NAME: UK-based James Hannigan (http://www.jameshannigan.com, @James_Hannigan)

TITLE: Game composer.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO COMPOSING FOR VIDEOGAMES?
It was almost by accident… but in retrospect a happy one. I liked early game music and recognized its uniqueness but didn’t actually envision myself becoming a game composer.

Continue reading

Autodesk adds MEL scripting support to Maya LT

MONTREAL — Autodesk has released Maya LT 2014 Extension 2, which was designed with customer feedback and usability in mind. The update advances the workflows of indie game developers with support for Maya Embedded Language (MEL) scripting, new OBJ export options and improvements to HumanIK and IK Handle technology.

mayalt_ext2_improved_character_animation_1920x1080 copy

Maya LT Extension 2 key features include:
– MEL Scripting to simplify repetitive or complex tasks and seamlessly facilitate sharing with team members: A built-in script editor removes the need to manually write scripts and displays corresponding commands in MEL script. Scripts can be saved and turned into customized parts of the Maya LT UI through Shelf Buttons, Hotkeys or Marking Menus.

– Human IK and IK Handle Animation: A new IK handle, a Pole Vector constraint, Human IK Mirroring and an animation re-targeting tool accelerate the animation, rigging and transfer of information between characters.
– New Export Options: Export Maya LT 3D assets in an OBJ file format to expand compatibility with other industry standard tools and game engines.

Maya LT user Paul Kind used the software for the first time while creating assets for Revolution Ace – his upcoming multiplayer shooter for PC and iOS. Impressed by the intuitive nature of the software from creation through to export, Kind shared, “Maya LT offers a great deal to indie game developers at a comfortable price. It’s perfect as a strict game tool-set and meets the needs of developers in an easy-to-learn and easy-to-use way. The interface is streamlined, the software is stable, and building assets is simple and efficient. Maya LT made my job a lot easier on this project, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use it again.”

Maya LT Extension 2 is available now as a free download to clients on subscription or pay-as-you go plans. To download a free trial of the software visit: http://www.autodesk.com/mayalt and http://area.autodesk.com/mayalt.