Final day of VIEW
Monday 09 November 2009 - 01:50AM
Paul Hellard

Danté's Inferno was brought to life by Electronic Arts and set free here today at VIEW.
The question was poised here at VIEW by Jonathan Knight, Executive Producer at EA's Visceral Games Studio: Is Danté Alighieri laughing or rolling in his grave? What reaction would the luminary have to EA's adaption of part one of The Divine Comedy? The action/adventure game is based on the pages of this masterpiece, and Jonathan is adamant is looks pretty good for 700 years old.

Game play from EA's Dante's Inferno shown for the first time at VIEW.

Danté's astonishingly blood-thirsty history, with sculptures, paintings, puzzles, creative lines, shows him to have been Europe's first game designer!   We almost lost it too.  In 1500AD, there were 30 copies in print, but by 1600AD there were only three. The Nine circles of Hell would have been lost to history. While the EA game isn't true to the original story, there are enough clues and triggers to please the purists.

Jonathan Knight, Executive Producer at EA's Visceral Games Studio.
In an earlier session, Mike Springer, one of the chief engineers of Google Maps, gave us a glimpse of the efforts underway to bring GoogleEarth into the 3D world. Bringing SketchUp into the mix, the cities of the world can be built in the 3D space. With that, every year 15,000 miles of new road is laid, so updating the screens of GoogleMaps is an immense job.

Google is actually doing a bit of good while they are at it.

A close-up view into how Google Maps is supporting heroic work.
Springer told of Chief Almir and the Amazonian tribes whose lives are being eroded by loggers and mining companies who come in overnight to clear the forest. By enlisting people to upload images of how the forest looks, the raping has been curtailed. 'Google Earth Heroes' making a difference.

Henry LaBounta began his lecture by asking a question. Why are studios working so hard at recreating life-like CG effects from pixels when they are starting real life in the first place? Reference is the most important crutch for a VFX crew. Color correction is the best giveaway to digital representations of real locations. Textures come second. Lighting is the key. Henry pointed us all to a site, Check it out for help in setting up your color management system. He showed the effect of the Bleach ByPass film EA used in 'Need for Speed' series to create a distinct look.

One of several invaluable lists of advice from Henry LaBounta's presentation.
LaBounta really should do more of these lectures. He gave real-world advice about generating the very best with what you have got available.

Jeff White and his team at ILM did not only have to trump the effects of the original Transformers film from years before. He said the director JJ Abrams was good herding people into the right place and extracting amazing work from them. They had to create robots for the IMAX experience and keep them true to Michael Bay's vision. There were 53,000 pieces in the Devastator, and the aircraft carrier sequence took the effects team to places they never dreamed of going. 26K plates. There were 51 minutes of ILM effects in Transformers 2. That's a big job.

Michael Giacchino was direct and forthright in his keynote speech at VIEW in Turin. His first piece of wisdom came after hearing extended applause and great rousing words from Glenn Entis who he introduced, to then introduce him.  [This drew a laugh]

VIEW Keynote speaker Michael Giacchino.
"It's not about me," said.  Giacchino has created melodies for video games, TV shows, animated shorts and feature films, most notably 'LOST', 'Alias', 'The Incredibles', 'Ratatouille', 'UP', 'Star Trek' and 'Land of the Lost'. 

Giacchino's composition for the opening sequence of 'Up' was analysed in his keynote.
In his presentation, he played the wordless sequence of 'UP' where we follow the life of Carl and Ellie from early on, through to the present day. Michael walked us all through the key changes as the emotional roller coaster bit on down. 'Star Trek' was big in Michael's life but when it came to conceiving the biggest job of his career, he didn't know where to begin. It almost swallowed him up after 20 false starts. When he'd almost thrown in the towel, his producer put him back on track. "This isn't a movie about space," he said. "It's about two guys who become good friends."

"The story is the big bit. Whatever you do, tell a story."

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EA's 'Dante's Inferno'
Henry LaBounta
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Friday VIEWing pleasure
Sunday 08 November 2009 - 00:06AM
Paul Hellard

Last night, I was lucky enough to meet a few of the artists we've featured in the Ballistic books.
Margharita Permurosa and Mario Vetri, both EXOTIQUE 4 artists, came past and they joined a small band of us for dinner. One of those two-storey, loud and boisterous restaurants that could only be Italian. Great night, so great to meet you, thanks Marg and Mario. (I was later to meet Marco Fantechi, Tiziano Baracchi and his wife Marina.

Very impressive reconstruction of Italian architectural sites, by the Centro Conservazione Restauro researchers.
OK. Onwards. When Elena Biondi and Alessandro Bovero began their presentation at VIEW this morning, many of the conference attendees were jumping into the Lavazza bar outside. Not for long. The two Centro Conservazione Restauro researchers had combined the most accurate renderings of original antique Italian masterpiece furniture textures and interiors, with a perfect mix of period Italian Harpsicord and barroque organ pieces. Truly wonderful visuals.

Isaac Kerlow talked authoritatively about bringing a good story to screen.
We were all introduced to Isaac Kerlow, a true futurist in VFX. As the writer of an often updated and re-released industry staple, 'The Art of 3D Computer Animation and Effects', Kerlow offered advice that talked of his years working at Disney and recognizes the limitations and barriers to producing good screen stories in some countries. Of course, some films have a limited audience of the film-maker and his three friends. He illustrated some guidelines and points of interest.

Having just come from Prague, he noted that some Eastern European countries and Chinese film industries, are still in a state of flux, as 'the ropes of communism are still being felt'. He pointed to some influences in his own work, like 'The Iron Giant', illustrating all the traditional elements of story-telling. 'Princess Mononoke', 'Spirited Away.'  'Graveyard of the Fireflies' - [please check this out]. Written in a regional style, all these production are said to have an impressive momentum. The Korean 'Wonderful Days', and Wan Laiming development of 'Monkey King'. There are many different ways to write a story. The development of the director's 'little voice' is important. Watch Brad Bird, Chris Hedge, Miyazaka. Creating suspense, they surprise us; with flawless magic.

Ofek Shilon from Simbionix showed how CG saves lives on the operating table.
To accentuate the range of CG, and the breadth of application to this visual technology, Ofek Shilon from Simbionix was next, describing the latest piece of hardware and software package that is helping surgeons train for life-saving operations. The use of these simulations means you can practise for a very long time without hurting anyone. The patient would be scanned and the CT scan is used to produce a 3D mesh. That can be used in the same hospital or in any corner of the globe. The surgeon can be trained. Minimizing X-Ray time, refining performance, saving lives.

Bringing two images into one: Jayme Wilkinson of Blue Sky Studios talked about stereoscopy in the latest 'Ice Age' film.
Jayme Wilkinson is the Stereoscopic supervisor from Blue Sky Studio. 'Ice Age 3' is his fifth film with the outfit. He showed us through the character creations for Scratté, Dino Mom and Buck in the new 3D Ice Age 3. Wilkinson represents a pool of tremendous talent, and strides the technical and artistic side of the creative. He has worked at many post houses, worked at Texlon designing the early PDAs.  At Disney as a CGI Lead, he worked on Lilo and Stitch, Brother Bear, then at EA, he contributed to the NASCAR series of games. As an animator, TD and Stereographer, he is in the hot seat, contributing technical and artistic talent to Blue Sky's latest 3D film, 'Rio'.

Roger Guyett showed how the 'Star Trek' project allowed him to think big and direct the VFX with reality in mind.
As research for the VFX Supervisor and 2nd Unit Director job on JJ.Abrams' 'Star Trek', Roger Guyett sat down with his daughter and watched every 'Star Trek' film. This was his 21st film with ILM, and from the beginning he says he has always wanted to create VFX at a grand scale. He got his wish with Alex Jaeger, Chris Stoski and Ryan Church concepts and matte paintings. In this presentation, Roger allowed us to see into the Spacejump sequence, which involved Kirk and two others skydiving down from a drill platform. While the struggle can be to decision about what was real and what was CG, the cornerstone of good VFX is to create the set as large and as real as possible. 'Really doing it.'

Michael Giacchino salutes the Associazione Filarmonica Felettese of Feletto Canavese.
Keynote speaker and performer Michael Giacchomo and the greater proportion of VIEW goers were treated to a performance of the music created for the films covered during the conference. This was performed by the Associazione Filarmonica Felettese of Feletto Canavese and made for a tremendous conclusion to the day.

Related links:
Margherita Premuroso
Mario Veltri
Tiziano Baracchi
Centro Conservazione e Restauro
VIEW Conference
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VIEW Thursday mix
Friday 06 November 2009 - 03:16AM
Paul Hellard

Across in the Workshop rooms, local ZBrush artist Daniele Angelozzi was running through the new tools in the latest 3.5 release. In a room fit to bursting, he whipped up a crazy looking head in a few minutes. This set off some great exchanges, all of which was Italian, so I missed it.

Local ZBrush artist Daniele Angelozzi shows the new features of ZBrush 3.5.
NVIDIA's Will Braithewaite took the main stage later in the morning, showing the power of CUDA and the performance of parallel computing in movie VFX, game scene production in a wide variety of applications. Visual candy.

NVIDIA man Will Braithewaite talked about CUDA and the avenues for education.
A real-time game demo of Batman: Arkham Asylum brought wild cheers from the audience.  Not just because it was the highest selling game in its class, but also because the demo performance of the action was realtime and very smooth with PhysX. A car doing donuts, spinning dust and flotsam around, was enough to whip the crowd. This is Italy after all!

Very cool demonstration of real-time particle animations using NVIDIA technologies.
The geekfest of math and parallel computing was aired by Brathwaite as well. He showed the range of GeForce, Tesla and Quadro using 'throughput computing'. Impressive. It seemed quite the skeletal crew in Turin for such a major player. But Braithewaite showed his passion for the creative arts, the very newest technologies and invited people to check the CUDA ramification for the future of computing. Might even investigate a course myself.

Tale of Tales producers show there is so much more to games than FPS and the post-apocalyptic shoot-em-ups.
There was a groundswell of genuine interest as well for a much smaller operator giving their talk today. A new independent game called 'Tale of Tales' was being shown by Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn. Their mantra was simply that gameplay writers had a right to be proud of their maturity and progression through the FPS stages and there will always be a place for that. "But games can also be subtle, more immersive," Auriea stated. "This is a very exciting time to be involved in independent games field."

Travis Hathaway dug deep into the formation of the three main characters of the 'Up' film.
It was time to go back to 'Up'. PIXAR has made their presence shown quite heavily in this festival and is being received very positively. Travis Hathaway gave an inspired talk about the creative process the development of the two main characters in the film, also research done for the many landscapes and sets.

Many of the best concept art from the early pitch sessions with PIXAR were shown in this inspiring talk by Travis Hathaway of PIXAR.
Hathaway told of the trials of the pitch meetings at PIXAR, working with the glorious concepts of the characters by Albert Lozano, Lou Romano and many others. Of working among the sculpts of characters, the series of boards on the wall, and mountains of reference photos. He described the development process where it was better to push too far and edge back, than inching forward feeling like you're not getting anywhere. Running the blocking of the boy scout Russell character, refining the look becomes pretty furious, right up to the final moment.

The guys from mirrorprod, hearing of their win for the short film ?Tuttu Intorno a Te?.
The final session this evening was the presentation of the 'I Love Internet' video prize by Wired magazine out of Italy. Some of the winners were there, (above) a bunch of radical guys with a short about mutlitasking and global cooperation. Funny irreverant, so Italian.

Related links:
I Love Internet
Tale of Tales
'Tuttu Intorno a Te' on Zoopla.
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Cloudy VIEWing
Thursday 05 November 2009 - 16:27PM
Paul Hellard

Today at VIEW, Rob Bredow had a light informative talk about the character development on the new 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' movie, about to be released worldwide. With a vast batch of files to show, slides to flip through and detailed QuickTimes to show, the creation of each character was quite an adventure. Flint, the gawky hero, had over 200 controls to his face alone.

In Concept, the sets and colors were developed with a 'Sasek' style. The work from that stage onwards included color keys matched to the story arc, visual dev and concepts. The communication between departments. A new technique called global illumination was used with Arnold, a render which had lighting component that was a lot like real-life lighting. Now the lighting crew was sent to Mole Richardson Lighting in LA, the premiere lights supplier, so they could observer a life-like lighting application at work.

Danny Dimian was up next. As Lighting Supervisor on 'Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs', Danny was in a perfect one to talk about the massive eight core machines with eight gig of RAM that were used in the production's creation. For instance the Roofless Restaurant sequence and the Spaghetti Twister used an incredible amount of power in rendering so many elements. ODE rigid body dynamics for destruction, Particle simulations for sparks, CFD simulations for flames and smoke; and Volumrtic rendering for flame and smoke.They used SVEA, an inhouse voxel rendering engine. In these 'foodalanche' scenes, rendering time per frame was over 20-hours.

Glenn Entis talked about the gamification of Digital Media, giving a spree of examples where even an eBay sale is a game. Before he did that however, he told of the procedure of retail was very social before the modern times. Bartering and gameplay for the best price, face-to-face, was the order of the day. People never had that feeling of being separate from the transaction, instead they were very much part of the 'game'. In the online world, the same banter can be had, but now can be between two people on the opposite sides of the Earth. His personal example was of a search for a logo for his new company VanEdge Capital Inc., and how he found what he was looking for by setting up a web competition so designers, anywhere, could compete for the prize he put up. This phenomenon called cloud-based commerce is promoted where everything is web-based, everything is nowhere, if you like.
There are so many places on this planet now where the use of interactive, web-based commerce is available. If you think about the spread of interactive, interconnected surfaces over the planet, if game designers can redefine ways of making each of the lights shown in the picture (above) as an interactive, fun way to make money, instead of thinking about the traditional lines of media creation, the world would be a happier place.

Related links:Rob Bredow
Danny Dimian
VanEdge Capital
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VIEW on a Wednesday
Thursday 05 November 2009 - 02:11AM
Paul Hellard

The VIEW Conference for 2009 was opened this morning by Maria Elena Gutierrez and some esteemed members of the Turino and Piedmont councils. These are the people that have been instrumental in bringing the funding and national recognition to the conference. From Chambers of Commerce, Universities to the Piedmont State politicians.

Then PIXAR's Stereographer Bob Whitehill gathered the crowds in, hanging from the window boxes, to discuss ways PIXAR used 3D to tell a story, using the examples of 'Up', as well as the reworking of the classic 'Toy Story' 1 and 2.  Truly they were jammed in.

Whitehill listed a plethora of elements in screen construction for driving the narrative: Areas like Lighting, lens choices, composition and the shapes of characters. The square shapes of Carl Fredricksen in 'Up' and the round characterization of Ellie, drove so much of the story arc, through light and dark, happy to sad and back again.

Bob primarily took on the Stereography story. Elements like Edge conflicts and the phenomenon of floating windows when two or more elements drag audience's eyes both into the screen and pulled them back out. Many tricks to making it all appear acceptable.

"What we miss when we go back to 2D, is it feels like the sound has been wound down," he said. The task of regrouping with animators from the original Toy Story was like a geneaological search. "An adventure in digital archeology," Whitehill quipped. A great talk.
A question at the end brought up the spectre of placing subtitles into a 3D Stereo movie for international release, an aspect not unfamiliar to this local audience. "They are a minefield," he said, suddenly ashen-faced! Bob told of having to go through the film shot by shot, placing the subtitles at a stereo level so they would not clash with any of the story elements as the film ran through.

More coming from Wednesday very soon. A big day.

Related links:
PIXAR Feature films
VanEdge Capital
Carlye Archibeque
VIEW Conference
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VIEW is in view
Wednesday 04 November 2009 - 07:11AM
Paul Hellard

VIEW 2009 has arrived at it's Tenth show. Having resurrected itself, renamed from the Virtuality conference, the VIEW line up has kicked up a few notches, brought in some big names and also allowed some notable locals their space as well. This is a daily coverage of my stay here in Turin.

Having just arrived from my home port of Melbourne Australia, I freshened up and took a look around the amazing place.
The beautiful Turin turned it on for me today. It's Tuesday, a day before the conference. Some industrial problems scattered a few plans temporarily and gave me an unplanned road trip after Lufthansa had to fly me to Milan and drive me back up to Turin in a bus. Could have been worse but I'm very glad it wasn't.

When I (finally) arrived, the cool late Fall sun was shining on the Italian Alps as a perfect backdrop to this medieval city. There are magnificent walks that sound surreal. I'll have to get to them after the conference as they sound beyond belief.  I met up with some wonderful like-mindeds, ending up going out to dinner with them.

Turin has turned on their Christmas lights through the streets early, on account of the VIEW and associated festivals in the town. She is an unashamedly arts-inspired city with a very proud history and each of us came away from a lengthy walk through the streets with a deeper love of all things Italian. S3D, SIGGRAPH, Rob Whitehill's Stereo Story-telling, Organic ArchViz and PIXAR's RenderMan Workshop are up front and center on the starting day.

The VIEW Conference starts tomorrow. Come on over if you are close by.

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» Final day of VIEW
» Friday VIEWing pleasure
» VIEW Thursday mix
» Cloudy VIEWing
» VIEW on a Wednesday
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