Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ohio State Think Tank Taps OptiTrack Motion Capture Technology for Spinal Research15


CORVALLIS, OR -- The Spine Research Institute (SRI) at Ohio State University (OSU) aims to prevent, evaluate and treat spinal disorders through collaborative research, education and technology development. Led by research pioneer and OSU professor Dr. William Marras, the world-class entity recently relocated its core research engine, known as the Biodynamics Laboratory, to a state-of-the-art facility equipped with advanced technology. Established by Dr. Marras in 1982, the lab now sits in a new 10,000 square foot space and features an expanded motion capture volume outfitted with 36 OptiTrack Prime 41 cameras and OptiTrack’s Motive software.

“Optical motion tracking is an important tool for helping the SRI achieve its mission of improving the way we prevent, evaluate, and treat spine disorders,” explained SRI Research Engineer Jon Dufour. “System dynamics significantly influence forces generated in the spine and other parts of the body; accurately measuring an individual’s kinematics is a critical first step to understanding what forces they are exposed to and determining whether they will be at risk for injury.”

Founded in 2012, the SRI unites experts from OSU’s College of Engineering and College of Medicine with the purpose of reducing the physical, emotional and financial suffering imposed by back pain. The SRI’s core approach focuses on the identification of specific disorder causal pathways. Once these pathways are discovered, the SRI can use gained knowledge to help prevent similar injuries from occurring, improve patient health through safer practices and return healed employees to work.

One of the tools the SRI uses to help discover disorder causal pathways is an advanced, biologically driven dynamic modeling platform. Applications served by this platform range from relatively simple, such as a patented 15-minute video game for patients that can help doctors quantify spine impairment, to complex, like virtual surgery simulation before implementing the procedure in real life. Nearly all of the applications served by the modeling platform use some form of motion capture, and most frequently the SRI employs an OptiTrack system.

“The SRI covers a lot of ground across several industries and applications, and we are often using technologies and software packages in unique ways. Motive’s flexibility as well as its ability to communicate and interface with external software packages such as Matlab allow us to capture the various data required; OptiTrack’s customer support is also integral to the process,” added Dufour. 

Another important tenet of the SRI is an emphasis on Research-Into-Practice. Beyond lab studies, the SRI strives to ensure that the technologies and services it has developed reach the people and companies they are designed to benefit. In the SRI’s ergonomics division, known as SRI-Ergo, Certified Professional Ergonomists (CPE) help industry partners drastically decrease injury rates, which returns employees to the workforce and ultimately strengthens a company’s bottom line.  

Noted Dufour, “Our industry partners generally need cost-effective solutions, and they need them relatively quickly. The flexibility of our OptiTrack systems has allowed us to fully integrate motion capture into our models that are designed to serve this market, meaning we can deliver game-changing solutions faster and at a lower cost.”

Source: OptiTrack

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KLIK! Amsterdam Animation Festival Sets 2016 Dates


AMSTERDAM – KLICK!, Amsterdam Animation Festival takes place from October 25 – 30 at EYE Film Museum, Amsterdam. The festival will encompass six days of hilarious, weird, playful, artistic, dramatic, overwhelming and touching animated films. The extensive program will present feature films, compilation programs of animated shorts from over the whole world, premieres, sneak previews, talks, installations, workshops, masterclasses, and an electrifying closing party. The festival has something for every taste, from design lovers to fans of pop and visual culture. On Sunday, October 30th special programs for children are scheduled, with animated shorts and activities including arts and crafts, and a drawing contest.

Special focus: nature and landscapes

The theme of the program is “Landscape and Habitat,” putting the spotlight on animations that focus on landscapes and the way people relate to them. Films and special events about the relationship between man and his surroundings - sometimes harmonic, sometimes dangerous - give food for thought and showcase the endless versatility of animation. In addition to feature films, presentations and short film compilations, the theme will also be expressed through a special exhibition of animated paintings by a range of national and international artists. There will also be an interactive three-dimensional landscape which visitors can make evolve; this process will be recorded in a time-lapse video.

A cycling tour will take visitors to three locations in North Amsterdam, where they will watch a film that matches their surroundings.

International competition

The heart of the festival’s program is the international competition for animated shorts. In a carefully curated compilation program, divided into several categories, KLIK! presents the very best animated shorts from over the whole world. These films will compete for one of the highly coveted KLIK! Awards. Submissions from animators will be accepted until June 15th for the ninth edition of KLIK! Last year the festival received over 1800 entries from 80 countries.

Exclusive premiere of Sync

KLIK! presents the premiere of the fascinating documentary Sync (2016). Filmmakers Joop van den Beucken and Bob van der Houven explore the world of Dutch dubbing of animated films, in collaboration with the creators of the nostalgic online series Stemmen van Toen (Voices From the Past). Through interviews with voice actors, directors, translators, technicians and studio directors Sync highlights the present and past of this creative industry, and its impact on the Dutch social landscape. After the screening there will be Q&A with the makers and/or actors.

‘The Powerpuff Girls’ - New episodes

In collaboration with Cartoon Network, KLIK! Will present brand new episodes of the popular animated series The Powerpuff Girls. The series, first aired in the 90s, has been revamped this year. After the screening there will be a Q&A with one of the makers.

The official ticket sale starts two months before the festival. More information is available here.

Source: KLICK!

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Framestore Appoints Michael Eames Global Director of Animation


Framestore has announced the appointment of internationally-renowned animator Michael Eames as Global Director of Animation (Film). Eames will be based in London, with responsibility for Framestore’s diverse and talented teams of animation artists across both London and Montréal.

Eames is known for his innovative work within animation on leading VFX-intensive pictures including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and Children of Men (2006), for which he was nominated for a BAFTA. Most recently he worked in the role of Animation Supervisor on Hollywood blockbusters Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

Eames returns to Framestore after first arriving in 2000 as Animation Supervisor on Dinotopia, winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Visual Effects and a BAFTA nomination. Eames’s personal career highlight was working on Where the Wild Things Are.

“I am very excited to return to Framestore and be part of such a dedicated, talented and passionate team of animators, as well as continuing to broaden the scope of Framestore’s creative involvement in animation,” commented Eames.  

Matt Fox and Fiona Walkinshaw, Joint MDs of Film added, “We are delighted to welcome Michael back to Framestore in this key creative leadership role. Michael was originally responsible for starting our Animation team and has the incredible in-depth knowledge of Animation within the VFX industry, combined with a prolific career in VFX production. This makes him an ideal person to take on this senior management role, ensuring that Framestore’s ethos of a highly creative, technically cutting-edge, and production-focused approach underpins all that we do as we continue to grow and develop the superb talents of our team.”

Source: Framestore

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Penny Lane’s ‘NUTS!’ Opens in NYC June 22


NEW YORK -- Film Forum has announced the U.S. theatrical premiere of NUTS!, beginning Wednesday, June 22. In 1917, J.R. Brinkley, a country doctor practicing in Milford, Kansas, begins treating his male patients for impotence by surgically implanting them with goat glands, a treatment that is so successful that Brinkley starts raising his own goats to meet an increasing demand. Over the years he builds the country’s 4th most powerful radio station (the better to sell his medical miracle), runs for governor of Kansas, and amasses a fortune with which he lives in sumptuous splendor.

Filmmaker Penny Lane writes, “Like Our Nixon, my previous feature-length film, NUTS! is structured as classical tragedy with a complicated and deeply hubristic protagonist, rendered with equal parts comedy and pathos.”

Inventive and wildly fun, NUTS! draws upon a fascinating trove of archival materials and integrates charming animated sequences that, together, bring to life a man who saw himself as more Albert Schweitzer than P.T. Barnum, but who ultimately turns out to be an unholy mix of Bernie Madoff and Donald Trump.
   
NUTS! will have a 2-week engagement June 22 – July 5 at Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St. (West of 6th Ave.), with screenings daily at 12:30, 2:20, 4:15, 6:10, 8:00, and 9:50.

NUTS! (2016, 79 mins.) Directed by Penny Lane. Written by Thom Stylinski. Producers: James Belfer, Caitlin Mae Burke, Penny Lane, Daniel Shepard. Editors: Penny Lane and Thom Stylinski. Illustrated and animated by: Drew Christie, Hazel Lee Santino, Michael Pisano, Rose Stark, Krystal Downs, Julia Veldman, Ace & Son Moving Picture Co., LLC. Original Score: Brian McOmber. The Narrator: Gene Tognacci. Voice Actors: Andy Boswell, John Causby, Kelly Mizell, Jeff Pillars, Thom Stylinskii, Fran Taylor. In English. USA. Released by Cartuna.

Source: Film Forum

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VFX Supervisor James Tichenor Joins FuseFX, Vancouver


LOS ANGELES -- FuseFX has announced the hire of VFX Supervisor and Producer James Tichenor. Tichenor, whose background includes posts with Sony Television, MGM Television, Entity FX and Prime Focus, will produce and supervise visual effects production for television, features and other media. He will also work with Senior VFX Supervisor Jason Dowdeswell, who heads FuseFX, Vancouver in broadening the capabilities and scope of FuseFX’s operations in Canada. His current projects include CBS’s sci-fi/thriller Zoo.

“James is a natural leader and brings a wealth of experience in visual effects and in many other aspects of production and post,” commented company Founder and President David Altenau. “As such, he offers a unique perspective that will be very valuable our artists and our clients. He’s another strong addition to our team.”

Tichenor spent the past two years at Western Post in Vancouver where he was VFX Supervisor on a series of Netflix original movies. Prior to that, he was Development and Bidding Producer at Prime Focus World. His many credits include the television series Smallville, Stargate SG1 and Kingdom Hospital. He served as On-Set VFX Supervisor on The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. He has been nominated for eight Emmy Awards, seven Gemini awards and four Visual Effects Society Awards.

“James is well known in the Vancouver production community as someone who gets the best from his artists and consistently delivers great results,” noted Dowdeswell. “The diversity of his experience makes him a real asset in the facility and on the set.”

A native of Canada, Tichenor comes from a family of film and television professionals, and began working as a set photographer while still in school. He started his career in earnest as a story department coordinator and production assistant before shifting his focus to visual effects. He also has experience as a second unit director and screenwriter, and has penned episodes for several television series including Stargate SG1.

Regarding his decision to join FuseFX, Tichenor cited the opportunity to mentor younger artists and build a strong, flexible and diverse team. “I want to push boundaries and create an environment that is artist friendly and conducive to great work,” he said.

Source: FuseFX

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Parents try to teach kid lesson by losing him


While in the United States a mother is coming under fire after her three-year-old climbed into a Gorilla exhibit, leading to the endangered animal being shot and killed, a Japanese couple are showing that bad ideas in parenting do not follow any border.

On the evening of May 28th, The Tanooka family bought their 7-year-old son Yamato to the base of Komagatake, an active volcano, on the island of Hokkaido. The day ended with every parent's nightmare when young Yamato had vanished. After contacting the police, they told authorities their son had disappeared while they were collecting greens in the forest near the base of the mountain. However, it wasn't long before they admitted the truth.

The Tanookas admitted that sometime after 5pm they were driving back from the mountain and that their son had become disagreeable and wouldn't listen to them. At that point, they stopped the car on a darkening lonely road and forced their son out of the car and then drove off.

Read that last sentence again.

When they circled around to pick him up and leave their son with a childhood memory that would probably scar him for life, their son wasn't where the left him and had disappeared. Things weren't helped by the fact that the sun was quickly going down and Yamato was wearing a black shirt and dark blue pants. The story is getting a lot of attention, with the story even being picked up by MSNBC in the States.

As of this writing, the boy has been missing for 2 days with over 100 searchers looking for him. Both nights since his disappearance temperatures in the area have dipped below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The area is known for its population of brown bears and other animals, making this idea seem even more insanely dangerous for parents to make about their son.

(Via: RocketNews 24, MSNBC)

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Titmouse Feature ‘Nerdland’ to Screen at Annecy


Nerdland, the R-rated animated feature film debut from Titmouse Animation Studios directed by Chris Prynoski, is set to screen as an official selection at next month’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival alongside premieres for Studio Ghibli co-production The Red Turtle from director Michaël Dudok de Wit, the 4K restoration of Eiichi Yamamoto’s Belladonna of Sadness, director Jean-François Laguionie’s Louise, Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets and Pixar’s Finding Dory.

Aimed at adult audiences, Nerdland started out as a script by Andrew Kevin Walker, the screenwriter known for writing the David Fincher classic Seven. Following a lengthy development process, which included everything from live-action to a web series, the project finally landed as an animated feature at Titmouse, the studio behind Metalocalypse, Moonbeam City and Superjail!.

With animation by Mike Roush under the production design of art director Antonio Canobbio, Nerdland is produced by Gavin Polone and executive produced by Prynoski alongside Shannon Barrett Prynoski and Kat Landsberg. The movie follows two friends, aspiring screenwriter Elliot and aspiring actor John, whose dreams of stardom seem unattainable. The two LA dudes start to panic when they realize they’re about to turn 30, so they decide to risk everything in order to become famous in a world where narcissism reigns supreme.

If you haven’t already seen it, check out the (red-band, NSFW) trailer in the player below:

Nerdland has already been screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, but this will mark its European premiere.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Aspiring actor John (Paul Rudd) and would-be screenwriter Elliot (Patton Oswalt) are two LA dudes approaching their 30th birthdays without yet becoming the megawatt superstars they know they were meant to be. In a town built on who you know (and who knows you), the ambitious duo will set out on an all-day journey through their all-star rolodexes to make it big by the end of the night.

The first feature from animation house Titmouse, Inc. whose brainchildren include ‘Metalocalypse,’ ‘Moonbeam City’ and ‘Superjail!,’ Nerdland is a hallucinatory Hollywood road trip told in an appropriately bold and distinctive animation style. Featuring an army of comedy cameos including Hannibal Burress, Larraine Newman, Mike Judge, Kate Micucci & Riki Lindhome, Venture Brothers’ Jackson Publick, Molly Shannon, Charlene Yi, and Paul Scheer, this is an R-rated cartoon comedy about celebrity, excess, and two showbiz nobodies with a plan to become famous -- or even infamous -- no matter what…

Source: Annecy International Animation Film Festival

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Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.

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Emily Hubley to be Honored at 25th UCLA TFT Film Festival


LOS ANGELES -- The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, one of the world’s most prominent academic institutions for entertainment and performing arts education, has announced that Academy Award-winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Adam McKay and veteran animator Emily Hubley will be honored at its 25th Annual Film Festival, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Kanbar Entertainment. The festival takes place June 5-9, 2016 at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and the Directors Guild of America.

Six-time Academy Award winner Coppola, one of the most influential and innovative filmmakers of our time, will be honored with the Distinguished Vanguard Director Award during the M.F.A. Directors Spotlight on Thursday, June 9. As the maverick founder of his company American Zoetrope, Coppola personally initiated and nourished the careers of talents such as George Lucas, Carroll Ballard, John Milius, daughter Sofia Coppola, granddaughter Gia Coppola, son Roman Coppola, and actors including Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, James Caan, Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfus, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, Matt Dillon and Diane Lane. Zoetrope-produced films, including such classics as The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974) and Apocalypse Now (1979), have received 16 Academy Awards and 70 nominations. In addition to his Oscar statuettes, in 2011 Coppola received the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. He is also the recipient of Golden Globe, BAFTA, DGA and WGA Awards, and earned two Palme d’Or prizes from the Cannes Film Festival, for The Conversation (1974) and Apocalypse Now.

A writer, director, producer and sketch comedian, McKay will receive the Distinguished Achievement in Screenwriting Award during the Screenwriters Showcase on Monday, June 6. The Big Short (2015), which he directed and wrote with Charles Randolph, won the Academy Award, WGA Award and BAFTA Award for Adapted Screenplay. McKay was also nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA in the directing category. McKay has written more than 80 episodes of NBC’s Saturday Night Live. He also worked on the screenplay for Marvel’s superhero hit Ant-Man (2015) and has collaborated with actor-comedian Will Ferrell on several successful comedies including The Other Guys (2010); Step Brothers (2008); Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006); and Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), his feature directorial debut. With Ferrell and Chris Henchy, he founded Funny or Die Presents, an Emmy-winning comedy video website and film and TV production company that has been a pioneer of online content in the digital age. McKay, who co-founded the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles, is also a three-time Emmy Award nominee for his work on SNL, Comedy Central’s Drunk History and the HBO special Will Ferrell: You’re Welcome America -- A Final Night with George W Bush.

Hubley will be honored with the Crystal Anvil Award during the Festival of Animation on Wednesday, June 8, which honors outstanding contributions to the world of animation. A daughter of pioneer animators Faith and John Hubley, Emily Hubley has been making short animated films for more than 30 years, including Pigeon Within (2000), and/or (2012) and Write Back (2014). Her feature The Toe Tactic (2009) had its theatrical premiere at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. In addition to making short films and commissioned works, Hubley contributed animation to the films Danny Says (2015), Vessel (2014), William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe (2009), Blue Vinyl (2002) and Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001), as well as to the play Motherhood Out Loud. Hubley worked at The Hubley Studio from 1977 to 2001.

Student films from many notable alumni have showcased at the annual UCLA TFT festival including Shane Acker (9); Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar); Gil Kenan (Monster House, Poltergeist); Justin Lerner (The Automatic Hate); Justin Lin (Fast & Furious franchise) and Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights, The Secret Life of Bees), among others.

Source: UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television

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Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.

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