• CG Retrospective 2005 - Leonard Teo

    How time flies! We're sitting at the end of yet another eventful year. As we look back at the year that was 2005, we are amazed by the advances of the CG industry. Technology has become less of a barrier as artists soar to new heights of creativity using digital tools. The CG community grew to massive new proportions with the establishment of the CGSociety. New software packages hit the market, and companies have grown even larger with takeovers and mergers.

    With the help of the CGSociety community, we compiled a comprehensive list of events that were related to CG in 2005. The criteria for selection, is that the event had to be innovative, landmark or extremely cool. We're interested in anything related to the CG industry - software releases, movies, short films, games, products, or anything that had a profound effect on the CG industry in 2005. Over 17,000 people viewed the threads related to the CG Retrospective 2005 and offered suggestions to the items that should be on the list. Public voting resulted in the Top 20 CG-related events for 2005!

    19: Pixar LPics Interactive Lighting System

    At SIGGRAPH 2005, Pixar Animation Studios presented a paper on interactive cinematic lighting. Using a system called LPics, Pixar artists are able to light scenes with previews at interactive frame rates. Instead of re-rendering scenes which could take minutes to render, the LPics system is blazingly fast, showing previews in a fraction of a second. LPics has been used successfully in the production of two feature-length animated films already, including the upcoming Pixar film, Cars.

    Lpics: a Hybrid Hardware-Accelerated Relighting Engine for Computer Cinematography


    Presented as a technology preview at SIGGRAPH 2005, Face Robot provides artists with the tools to produce lifelike facial animation and digital acting with emotion and depth. Based on anatomical research, Face Robot uses a new computer model of the soft tissue of the face to mimic the full range of human emotion. Designed with input from leading animation experts, Face Robot gives artists an intuitive way to interact with their characters while providing control over details like wrinkles, frowns, flaring nostrils and bulging neck muscles.


    17: Autodesk 3ds Max 8

    Autodesk joins the countdown at number 17 with the release of 3ds Max 8. In April this year, the 'Discreet' branding was finally removed in favor of Autodesk Media and Entertainment Division. 3ds Max 8 contains a plethora of new features - far too many to mention in this short space. Notably, new features in character development, asset management, scripting and performance enhancements round off what is arguably the CG industry's most popular professional 3D package.

    Autodesk 3ds Max
    16: Maxwell Render

    According to the website, "Maxwell is a new render engine based on the physics of real light. Its algorithms and equations reproduce the behavior of light in a completely accurate way.
    All of the elements in Maxwell, such as light emitters, material shaders, cameras etc., are entirely based on physically accurate models."

    Maxwell has steadily been generating a buzz in the CG community with extraordinarily realistic artwork being posted by testers and users.

    Maxwell Render

    15: The CGSociety launches

    In April 2005, the conglomerate of websites formerly known as CGNetworks, which included CGNetworks.com, CGTalk.com, CGProShop.com, CGWorkshops.com all merged to a single entity known as the CGSociety.

    The realization of the CGSociety is extremely important for the global digital arts industry as it provides a focus for the enormous community of artists that made up the former web sites. The announcement also highlighted the launch of a new membership program, an upcoming magazine and conferences in the future!

    About the CGSociety
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    14: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

    It was only a matter of time before C.S. Lewis' beloved book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was turned into a feature film. Disney and Walden Media took the reigns in creating the new spectacle, featuring dazzling special effects by Weta Workshop (The Lord of the Rings), Rhythm & Hues, Industrial Light & Magic, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Soho VFX and more. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe also sports a fully computer generated Aslan, the lion, which looks stunningly realistic.

    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    13: Softimage XSI 5.0

    Last year, Softimage shocked the industry by offering XSI Foundation at $495 as part of its 3Democracy program. One year on, Softimage releases an update to its acclaimed 3D software. Key new features in XSI 5.0 include a re-architected core that takes advantage of multi-processor and multi-core 32-bit and 64-bit platforms, Ultimapper film quality normal map generation, integrated tools development environment, native Mental Ray 3.4 renderer and high-performance rigid body dynamics.

    12: Sin City

    With a ball-busting story, the Sin City movie has been acclaimed as one of the cult classics of this generation. Frank Miller's film adaptation of the Sin City graphic novel is not regarded as a VFX film, even though it was created nearly entirely with digital effects by studios CafeFX, Hybride Technologies and The Orphanage. The stylish visuals of the film mimic that of a graphic novel, portraying a hard-edged, film-noir look with touches of color. All acting was filmed against a green or blue screen, with entire environments added in post-production.

    CGS exclusive article - Hard Edges: The FX of Sin City
    Amazon.com - Sin City DVD
    11: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

    2005 marks the year that George Lucas completed the Star Wars saga with Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Arguably the best of the prequel trilogy, Episode III chronicles the downfall of Anakin Skywalker from a pious Jedi knight to the dark lord Darth Vader - the villain that terrorized cinemas in the 1970's and 80's, in the original Star Wars trilogy. The visual effects and artwork of Episode III are nothing short of spectacular, showcasing epic battles that were unheard of only a few years ago. Armed with a new arsenal of digital tools, Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic were able to complete the saga victorious.

    Sith Happens - The Revenge of the Sith article
    Amazon.com - Star Wars Episode III DVD
    10: Alias Maya 7

    At SIGGRAPH, Alias released the latest version of Maya, arguably the film visual effects industry's workhorse 3D application. Some of the feature highlights of Maya 7 include enhanced character animation tools (integrating MotionBuilder technology from the previous year's acquisition of Kaydara), new tools for modeling and mapping, updated and enhanced VFX tools (toon shader, hair, fur), and better integration with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

    CGS Product Review - Maya 7
    09: XBox 360

    Microsoft's XBox 360 is the first next-generation console to hit the market, with a buying frenzy hitting stores across the United States as punters rushed to buy their consoles. The XBox 360 is an impressive machine, sporting a triple core 3.2GHz processor and ATI graphics. It is able to drive the latest HD TV's at 720p or 1080i.

    The next generation of video games to hit the XBox 360 are nothing short of spectacular, pushing real-time game graphics to new heights of realism!

    Microsoft XBox
    08: Apple Announces Move to Intel Processors

    At its Worldwide Developer Conference on 6 June, Apple announced plans to deliver models of its Macintosh computers using Intel microprocessors by mid-next year, and to transition all of its Macs to using Intel microprocessors by the end of 2007. Apple previewed a version of its operating system, Mac OS X Tiger, running on an Intel-based Mac to over 3,800 developers attending CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote address.

    What does this mean for the CG industry? While the ramifications are yet to be determined, it could result in more studios and artists using Macintosh computers if they prove to be highly competitive to their PC counterparts. We'll be sure to take a look at it again next year!

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    07: Pixar RenderMan for Maya

    Pixar RenderMan is arguably the ubiquitous renderer for the feature film visual effects industry, but is also quite expensive and requires much technical knowledge to run effectively. With RenderMan for Maya, Pixar has made PRMan (PhotoRealistic RenderMan) available to individual artists at a lower cost, with full integration into Alias Maya. According to Pixar, "If you've been looking for an affordable, easy way to get RenderMan, your wait is over."

    RenderMan for Maya
    06: Dual Core Goes Mainstream

    A dual-core CPU combines two independent processors onto a single silicon chip, essentially giving the performance of a dual-processor chip while keeping costs down. While the concept of dual-core CPU's isn't new, 2005 saw the availability of dual-core CPU's going mainstream with Intel and AMD offering affordable CPU's. Many new systems shipped by PC manufacturers now sport dual-core CPU's standard.

    Wikipedia - Dual core CPU's

    05: King Kong

    Kong is king! Peter Jackson's latest film project has thumped onto the big screen in a majestic fashion, and left audiences worldwide awed. The special effects of Kong are nothing short of ground-breaking, once again showing the technical and artistic abilities of Weta Digital and Weta Workshop artists.

    King Kong
    King Kong Production Diaries (video)
    04: 3D Industry Embraces 64-bit

    While 64-bit processors have been available for the high-end computing and server markets for some time now, it is finally hitting the realm of personal computers in 2005 with CPU's such as the AMD64 processor. For 3D artists who need to compute large, complex datasets, 64-bit architecture is the next big thing. 3D companies such as Softimage, Maxon and NewTek have already started releasing native 64-bit versions of their flagship 3D applications to take advantage of the performance improvements that 64-bit architecture claims to have.

    Wikipedia - 64-Bit
    03: Adobe Acquires Macromedia

    Through the tech boom of the late 90's and dotcom, Adobe and Macromedia rallied against each other for supremacy amongst digital artists and web designers. While Adobe won ubiquity in areas such as image processing (Photoshop) and print media (Acrobat, InDesign), Macromedia staked its claim on the Web with Flash and DreamWeaver. On 18 April 2005, Adobe announced an acquisition of Macromedia for $3.4 billion. The combination of Adobe and Macromedia creates one of the world's largest and diversified software companies.

    On 5 Dec 2005, the acquisition had completed with the Macromedia brand being dropped. Macromedia has become Adobe.

    Adobe Acquires Macromedia
    02: Pixologic ZBrush Continues Prevalence

    Pixologic ZBrush made waves in the industry last year with the release of ZBrush 2.0, which featured a completely new paradigm in 3D modeling and detailing. With normal-mapping becoming an important tool in adding realism efficiently to 3D scenes (particularly for games), ZBrush has become an indispensable tool in studios worldwide. This year, the CG community voted for the continued prevalence of ZBrush to take the number 2 spot in the CG Top 20!


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    01: Autodesk Acquires Alias

    On 4 October 2005, the entire 3D industry gasped when Autodesk announced that it would acquire arch-rival Alias for $182 million in cash. The surprise sent shockwaves throughout the community, as can be seen on CGTalk.

    Main points of the acquisition:

    · Autodesk purchases Alias for $182 million cash
    · The deal will be finalized in Q1 2006
    · Business as usual while merger is finalized
    · Focus on integrating workflow and interoperability between the products
    · No immediate plans to cull any product lines, but continue them as per normal
    · Both companies to continue normally with mutually exclusive product releases as planned
    · Alias to leverage Autodesk’s massive distribution and marketing channels

    We're waiting to see the ramifications of the acquisition!

    Announcement - Autodesk Acquisition of Alias
    CGTalk Thread
    2005 - The Year of Consolidation

    There it is folks! The CG Top 20 of 2005, as compiled and voted by the community. With major acquisitions such as Adobe/Macromedia and Autodesk/Alias all happening in 2005, this year has truly been a year of consolidation. What it holds for the future of the industry, we'll wait and see...

    Wishing you all a very happy and blessed Christmas, and grand New Year! See you in 2006!

    Leonard Teo
    The CGSociety
    1Autodesk Acquires Alias
    2Pixologic ZBrush Continues Prevalence
    3 Adobe Acquires Macromedia
    43D Industry Embraces 64-bit
    5King Kong
    6Dual Core Goes Mainstream
    7Pixar RenderMan for Maya
    8Apple Announces Move to Intel Processors
    9XBox 360
    10Alias Maya 7
    11Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
    12 Sin City
    13Softimage XSI 5.0
    14The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    15The CGSociety launches
    16Maxwell Render
    17Autodesk 3ds max 8
    19Pixar LPics Interactive Lighting System
    20Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

    CG 2005 Retrospective Voting List

    The full list of items compiled by the community for the CG Retrospective 2005 is on this CGTalk thread. Voting was performed on a basis of giving each item a score of 0-5 (0 was default). Each member was given the ability to vote once and score everything. The CG Top 20 list is a result of public voting. If an item is not on this list, it might have ranked lower than the top 20, or might not have been significant enough to be suggested by the thousands of people who viewed the thread. As the process of compiling and voting was public, there is no conspiracy or bias from the CGSociety towards the items listed in this Top 20.

    The voting list as compiled publicly by the community was:

    3D industry embraces 64 bit
    9 - Shane Acker
    Adobe Acquires Macromedia
    Alias Maya 7
    Apple announces move to Intel processors
    Apple releases iPod with Video features
    Autodesk 3ds max 8
    Autodesk Acquires Alias
    Avid Completes Acquisition of Pinnacle
    Chicken Little Animation/VFX
    Chris Landreth wins an Oscar for 'Ryan'
    Corpse Bride Animation/VFX
    Doom The Movie VFX
    Dual Core goes mainstream
    EXPOSE' 3. d'artiste: Character Modeling, d'artiste: Matte Painting
    eyeon Software Fusion 5
    Fantastic Four VFX
    Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Animation/VFX
    finalRender Stage 2 for CINEMA 4D
    Five Major Filmmakers Support TI’s Digital 3D Cinema

     Flowline fluid dynamics
    Gorillaz 'live'
    Grand Theft Auto Hot Coffee Mod
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire VFX
    Howl's Moving Castle animation/vfx
    King Kong VFX
    Luxology modo 103
    Madagascar Animation/VFX
    Maxon BodyPaint R2.5
    Maxon CINEMA 4D R9.5
    Maxwell Render
    Michael Eisner Resigns from Walt Disney Co.
    NVIDIA GeForce 7 series released
    Pixar LPics Interactive Lighting System
    Pixar Renderman for Maya
    Pixologic ZBrush continued prevalence
    Playstation Portable
    Project Orange - Open Movie Project
    Robots animation/vfx
    Serenity VFX
    SGI delisted from the NYSE
    Shadow of the Colossus game
    Side Effects Software Houdini 8
    Sin City VFX
    Softimage Face Robot
    Softimage XSI 5.0
    Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith VFX
    The CGSociety launches
    The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe VFX
    The Henson Digital Performance System
    The Island VFX
    War of the Worlds VFX
    XBox 360
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