Here's the inside story on the CGI animations in Life of Pi

Published in Production

Have you ever heard the collective sound of several hundred people's jaws dropping? If you've been to a cinema where they're showing the Life of Pi for the first time, then you probably have

This holiday we're re-running some of our most popular articles, in case you didn't see them the first time. Today: have you ever heard the collective sound of several hundred people's jaws dropping? If you've been to a cinema where they're showing the Life of Pi for the first time, then you probably have

Blender: Jack of all trades, but in a good way!

Published in Post & VFX

Anyone working with digital tools today has a wide choice of applications for specialized tasks. An office suite consists of a program for writing text, one for spreadsheets, presentations, a database etc. For a VFX workflow you might use a tool for tracking, one for compositing, one for editing, various tools for simulations and specialized applications for modelling, sculpting, texturing and animation. RedShark contributor and Blender expert Gottfried Hoffmann reports

Holograms: Will we ever need them?

Published in Studio & Broadcast

Holographic TV: I have to declare a bias here. The Princess Leia hologram scenes in Star Wars convinced me that we will never need holographic TV. This is nothing to do with the fact that video holograms are always depicted as being fuzzy and unstable (presumably to stop them looking real, in which case you couldn't tell they were holograms). No, my issue with them is that while real life may be 3D in the sense that you can walk around it, drama isn't.

What do I mean by this?

Holograms in the cinema

Well, imagine being in a cinema watching a holographic film. If you're sitting in the centre of the auditorium, about half way up, then it's all well and good. But if you've arrived late and you're sitting at the side, then you'll have a bad time, because none of the actors will ever look at you, unless they're making transitory, sideways glances.

That's the problem in essence. Everybody gets a different view. It's not film making: it's moving sculpture.

All of which is a scarcely relevant introduction to a news item this week about a breakthrough from the International Society for Optics and Photonics, who have managed to merge the disciplines of hologram-making and computer generated images.

It takes longer with a computer

Until now, making holograms from computer images has either been impossible or has taken far too long to be of any practical use because of the rendering times. You can only make computer holograms if you calculate an extremely large number of viewpoints for every point on the holographic object's surface - a recipe for waiting a long time for something to happen.

But now, they've found a way to use more CGI-like techniques. Instead of calculating the result at ever conceivable point, they use polygons instead, massively reducing the calculation times.

The society claims to be able to produce photorealistic holograms in reasonable timescales, and if I'm wrong about the unsuitability of Holograms for film making, then this could be the breakthrough that everyone except me has been waiting for.

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A really great resource for anyone wanting to learn this complex software

 Here's how far you can go without using CGI!

Alien: a new game trailer shows some state of the art CGI

Published in Post & VFX

 This trailer is a really brilliant piece of CGI, not least because it's genuinely tense and scary

R'ha: The best sci-fi short of 2013 (so far)

Published in Production

It didn’t take long for a sci-fi short to make noise in 2013, courtesy of animation student Kaleb Lechowski, who took a can-do approach in realizing his mini-epic

The human face is surely one of the most challenging objects to animate realistically. To make it look completely real takes a very special kind of talent

An amazing glimpse into the (cartoon) future.

Published in Post & VFX

Futurama is about as 2D as a skillfully drawn cartoon can be. But seeing a visualisation of it in 3D is breathtaking!

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