Tuesday, June 30, 2015

PipelineFX Intros Monthly Pricing for Qube!


Los Angeles, CA -- PipelineFX is adding a subscription licensing option to Qube!, making the leading render farm management software for visual effects even more cost-effective for studios and schools. This new option can be limited to a single one-month installment, and drops the price of Qube! to $15/month.

“Sometimes an upfront investment or a long-term commitment is all that holds companies back from bringing efficiency to their farms,” said Richard Lewis, CEO of PipelineFX. “Subscription licensing is a simple way to get them there, on their own terms and through a package that doesn’t make them give up the power and support that Qube! is known for.”

Render farm management is one of the many ways to promote efficiency and lower costs in extremely competitive fields like visual effects. With a much lower initial cost and the option to add or remove licenses as projects ramp up or wind down, Qube! users can now treat their software expenditures like an operating expense, rather than a long-term capital investment. Any choice, whether it’s monthly or annual, comes with forum, email and telephone technical support.

”With client demand increasing, we are pleased that PipelineFX offers a cost-effective method which enabled us to burst the power of our render farm by utilizing newly available private clouds services,” said John Hickson, Head of Systems Engineering & Rendering at Arc Productions.

"The Qube! subscription model is great," said Rachit Singh, Head of Technology at Atomic Cartoons. "On our new project we have more than 400 nodes and by using subscription, we were able to bring down the licensing cost for rendering. Best part is, you can always update to the latest version.”

Subscription is available now online to existing PipelineFX customers at pipelinefx.com. Pricing is $15/month per worker license for commercial customers and $10.50/month for education customers.

Source: PipelineFX

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‘Adventure Time’ Season 5 Headed to Disc


Calling all fans of Adventure Time! The complete fifth season of the hit Cartoon Network series arrives on Blu-ray and DVD July 14th.

The Blu-ray/DVD release includes all 52 episodes from Season 5 along with an exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette, and comes packaged in a custom slipcase featuring everyone's favorite magical dog, Jake, adding to the collectible custom die-cut slipcases from the previous season releases. The Blu-ray edition will retail for $39.99; the DVD edition is $29.97.

The 2D series created by Pendleton Ward follows the escapades of 12-year-old boy Finn the Human and best friend Jake the Dog in the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo. One of the network’s top series, the Emmy and BAFTA-winning show, now in its sixth season, was launched in 2007 with a short produced for Nicktoons and Frederator Studios’ animation incubator series, Random! Cartoons. In addition to dozens of nominations, the show has garnered at least 15 awards, twice taking honors at the Primetime Emmys along with the Annies and the British Academy Children’s Awards. 

Adventure Time the Complete Fifth Season features the following 52 episodes:

1.  Finn the Human

2.  Jake the Dog

3.  Five More Short Graybles

4.  Up a Tree

5.  All the Little People

6.  Jake the Dad

7.  Davey

8.  Mystery Dungeon

9.  All Your Fault

10.  Little Dude

11.  Bad Little Boy

12.  Vault of Bones

13.  The Great Bird Man

14.  Simon and Marcy

15.  A Glitch Is a Glitch

16.  Puhoy

17.  BMO Lost

18.  Princess Potluck

19.  James Baxter the Horse

20.  Shh!

21.  The Suitor

22.  The Party's Over, Isla de Señorita

23.  One Last Job

24.  Another Five More Short Graybles

25.  Candy Streets

26.  Wizards Only, Fools

27.  Jake Suit

28.  Be More

29.  Sky Witch

30.  Frost & Fire

31.  Too Old

32.  Earth & Water

33.  Time Sandwich

34.  The Vault

35.  Love Games

36.  Dungeon Train

37.  The Box Prince

38.  Red Starved

39.  We Fixed a Truck

40.  Play Date

41.  The Pit

42.  James

43.  Root Beer Guy

44.  Apple Wedding

45.  Blade of Grass

46.  Rattleballs

47.  The Red Throne

48.  Betty

49.  Bad Timing

50.  Lemonhope (1)

51.  Lemonhope (2)

52.  Billy's Bucket List

Source: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group

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WIA to Host ‘Women in Gaming: A Talk with Janey Yang’ July 16


Women in Animation, the professional, non-profit organization for women involved in all aspects of the animation industry, will present “Women in Gaming:  A Talk with Janey Yang” at The Animation Guild in Burbank, CA on Tuesday, July 16 at 7:00PM.

Yang works as a technical artist at DICE Los Angeles, helping artists troubleshoot issues in 3D software and in game-writing tools to speed up their workflow, and communicating between art and engineering. She grew up in the countryside of Taiwan, where she never imagined she would one day be working for big name conglomerates like Electronic Arts or Sony, living in the U.S., or even speaking English. But after migrating to Canada, Yang discovered she was good in math, getting into one of the country’s toughest engineering programs despite being unable to pass the Test of English as a Second Language for the prerequisite.

Janey Yang

“Sitting amongst a crowd of 300 at a video game tech conference, muscles and brains galore, but where art thou, my ladies?,” asks Yang. “Art thy muscles weaker than men? Maybe. Brains less developed? If you want to believe that. Why is it that in the last decade the entry rate for women in games is low, and the exit rate escalating? As a female video game developer, I would like to share what I have learned, and together with you, bring forward change.”

Women in Gaming:  A Talk with Janey Yang
July 16, 2015
Doors open at 6:30pm | Presentation begins at 7:00 pm

The Animation Guild 
1105 N. Hollywood Way
Burbank, CA 91505

Tickets are free for WIA members and $15 for non-members, and can be purchased here: Tickets Here.

Source: Women In Animation

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WATCH: Filmakademie Diploma Film ‘366 Days’ Tells a Touching Tale


Austrian director, animator and producer Johannes Schiehsl, co-founder of Viennese animation studio Neuer Österreichischer Trickfilm, created the multi-award winning short film 366 Days as his graduation project for renowned German animation and visual effects school Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg.

The 12-minute animated short focuses on a young, energetic rookie paramedic who’s teamed with an experienced and detached old-timer, and their differences in in attitude provides the basis for the plot. Schiehsl found his inspiration for the film from his time spent working as a paramedic in Vienna, during which he quickly learned that getting too emotionally involved with patients risked his own health and affected his ability to function on the job. Developing a balance of empathy and apathy was necessary for him to do his work, and the rookie and old-timer in the film embody this dynamic:

“Since it was my graduation film, I knew we had to stay pretty economic,” Schiehsl comments on the Stash YouTube page. “I wanted a look that combines stylized, reduced characters and an authentic impression of light and colors. But it was also important that the look itself did not become too fancy, since it must not distract from the core of the film: the characters and their emotions.”

Produced over a period of 18 months, Schiehsl employed Autodesk Maya to create 3D elements for the short, with compositing chores handled using Adobe After Effects and editing within Premiere Pro. Chaos Group’s V-Ray was used for rendering, which Schiehsl calls a risky choice in an interview on the RenderDigimania site: “[Using V-Ray] was a bit risky because it was still in its beta-testing phase for Maya at the time,” he says. “But I really wanted to use its powerful abilities for indirect illumination, which played a key role for creating the desired look.”

366 Days has screened at more than 70 film festivals, and was an official selection at Annecy and FMX 2012, picking up a slew of awards along the way. Firefighters, medics and doctors from around the world have also responded positively to the film, and several medic schools in Austria have even begun using it as part of their paramedic training.

(via Stash)

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Xsens’ MVN Wearable Motion-Capture System Helps Push 'Ted 2' VFX to New Heights


Enschede, The Netherlands -- Universal Pictures and MRC’s blockbuster movie Ted convinced cinema audiences that the world’s most outrageous bear was real. But for Ted 2, the new comedy from writer/director and voice star Seth MacFarlane, now in cinemas, the aims got a bit more mature.

The film’s eponymous hero is getting married, considering fatherhood -- and even attempting to persuade the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that he's legally a person. There's even a big musical number. Joined once again by Mark Wahlberg as John Bennett, the thunder buddies for life are entering into uncharted territory. It’s time to legalize Ted.

Yet despite the complexity of the action, the film’s motion capture was not the product of some multimillion-dollar facility. Instead it was produced live on set by Universal and MRC using Xsens' lightweight MVN inertial motion-capture suits.

“Optical mocap wouldn't have been feasible given the demands of the production,” says Postvis Supervisor Webster Colcord, an industry veteran with a career spanning three decades. “We needed a portable system that could be quickly set up anywhere with minimal impact on the rest of the crew.”

Duplicating the original film’s capture process, Colcord and his team used a MVN system to record MacFarlane, who also voices Ted -- as he performed the character live. The sensors were simply strapped over his normal clothing, leaving the director free to carry out his other duties.

For the big musical production, which sees Ted accompanying a large group of dancers, mocap was recorded with three separate professional dancers and combined to create Ted’s impressive moves. To pull this all together, Colcord turned to MVN Link: Xsens' next-generation Lycra suit, which enables users to capture the motion of actors at up to 240Hz, and at distances of up to 150m.

“The dancers could run as far as they wanted without us ever having to constrain their distance,” says Colcord. “Not having to worry about staying within a volume [as with optical motion capture] is a great advantage -- as is the fact that we don't have to worry about markers being occluded.”

While accurately recording the motion of a dancer with both feet off the floor would previously have been the sole preserve of optical capture, Xsens’ recent advances in inertial capture technology made even high-intensity sequences possible.

Another advantage of the MVN system is that it doesn't require specialist hardware to operate. Colcord and his team used a BOXX Technologies workstation, purchased for the first film, as their primary capture machine, with a couple of off-the-shelf ASUS Republic of Gamers laptops as back-up.

The team captured three streams of data, all synchronized by timecode: video for performance reference, the actual motion-capture data, and a recording off the video card of the live mocap streaming into Autodesk's MotionBuilder software, where it was retargeted onto the CG character.

“Xsens’ tools for streaming to MotionBuilder and outputting data in various configurations are simple and easy to use,” says Colcord. “We have an in-house postvis rig that we built for Ted, which is very lightweight and has a multilayered skeleton, which allows us to offset the mocap [in order to adjust the performance] without animation layers, and without being destructive to the original data.”

For the postvis -- a rough version of the visual effects, used to define the look and timing of shots early in the creative process -- the team used a set of standard software packages, including SynthEyes and MatchMover for camera tracking, Maya for animation work, and After Effects for compositing.

“After a typical [recording] session, editorial cut the video elements in as picture-in-picture with timecode burns,” says Colcord. “I've developed my own method for syncing up the data in Maya, based on timecode, and that has been pretty successful.”

The process complete, the assets were then passed to VFX facilities Iloura and Tippett Studio to create the final effects for the film, using the postvis as reference. “The synced data was passed along with minimal corrections,” says Colcord. “The VFX artists baked it onto their animation rig through a constraint set-up and did offsets on animation layers.”

Thanks to the freedom afforded by Xsens' MVN wearable motion-capture systems, the creators of Ted 2 were able to push their creative process to new heights. MacFarlane was able to 'be' Ted live on set, enabling the other actors to react realistically to the bear, with the confidence that the final CG version would match every nuance of his performance.

And with Xsens' recent advances in inertial technology, MRC's postvis team was able to expand the boundaries of on-set capture, tackling shots that would previously have been impossible. “We had three very active dancers flipping, jumping, spinning, and more,” says Webster Colcord. “It was really fun to deal with the challenges of that situation -- and a great test of the new hardware and software system.”

Source: Xsens

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WATCH: VFX Supe Christopher Townsend Talks ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’


As part of AWN’s Professional Spotlight series -- a series of exclusive video interviews shot during FMX 2015 -- Christopher Townsend, the overall VFX Supervisor on ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ provides a detailed overview of the key components -- from pre-production through completion -- of the latest blockbuster tentpole from Marvel Studios.

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GBI Acquires Two Award-Winning ‘Toons for Kid Genius Channel


BEVERLY HILLS, CA -- Tween-focused content and brand management company Genius Brands International (GBI) has acquired two new animated series to offer on its new Kid Genius channel, debuting on Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand service in September 2015. 

Joining the line-up are the Daytime Emmy Award-winning and multiple Daytime Emmy Award-nominated series, Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?, and Dennis the Menace, based on the classic comic strip created by Hank Ketcham. 

“Both of these properties are perfectly suited to join the line-up of our new Kid Genius channel, where we will offer a safe viewing experience for children and their families that also provides positive value,” explained GBI’s Senior Vice President of Global Distribution Sales, Andy Berman. “In addition to both properties being well-respected global brands, Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? gives kids the opportunity to learn about geography and culture, and Dennis the Menace delivers wholesome storytelling for everyone.”

The new Kid Genius channel is set to offer a variety of programming for young viewers (toddlers to 12-years-old) that align with the company’s mission to provide “content with a purpose.” The channel will also feature GBI original programming, including Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab, Llama Llama and Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club, as well as other shows from program creators around the world.  GBI will announce the full schedule for Kid Genius prior to the September 1, 2015 launch. 

To help define guidelines for content acquisitions, Kid Genius has enlisted renowned children’s media expert, Don Roberts, former Chair of the Communications School at Stanford, to incorporate a program code that will address sensitive issues such as violence, negative stereotypes, the environment, and inappropriate language to ensure that parents will feel comfortable that their kids are never being exposed to inappropriate subject matter.

Emmy-winning ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?’ to join ‘Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab,’’ Llama Llama’ and ‘Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club’ on the new Kid Genius channel set to debut in September 2015.

Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? features the world famous super-thief Carmen Sandiego who travels all over the globe in search of famous artifacts to steal. Teenage ACME detectives Zack and Ivy are on a quest to capture Carmen as she tempts them with encrypted clues about her whereabouts and the object of her interest. Zack and Ivy must use their knowledge of geography and world cultures to keep up with Carmen and her henchmen. 

In Dennis the Menace, Dennis’ curiosity, escapades and well-meaning ways usually lead to trouble; and usually on the receiving end is neighbor and retired postal worker George, who just wants to be left alone.  Dennis is accompanied by friends Margaret, Tommy and Joey and faithful canine companion Ruff, who often find themselves involved in all kinds of wild adventures, including international espionage and trips into history. 

Source: Genius Brands International

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Gatchaman Crowds Insight episode 00


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Gatchaman Crowds Insight

Continuation of Gatchaman Crowds series.

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