VFX Soldier has a great piece on some of the recent discoveries in the ongoing Apple/Pixar/Lucasfilm investigation from the Justice Department. The allegation is that these three studios (and maybe more) had an illegal agreement to not poach each other’s employees in an attempt to drive wages down. Not only is this illegal, but it’s been a shock to many in the VFX Industry that saw Pixar and Lucasfilm as the ultimate employer in VFX.
Furthermore, consider how remarkable this case has become. Steve Jobs, Pixar, and Lucasfilm. For VFX artists these names are nothing but legends to us and could do no harm. Look at what the Justice Department’s investigation revealed. Behind our backs they colluded to drive wages down.
via Poach-gate Scandal: VFX Idol Steve Jobs Involved « VFX Soldier.
Still looking for a gift for the VFX person in your life? Check out this amazing new book available on Amazon (order today for 1-day delivery by tomorrow) chronicling the story of ILM from their early roots to more modern pursuits.
Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Innovation is the first and only book to focus on the company’s work during the last sixteen years, detailing its creative and technological innovations on dozens of blockbuster films. Through firsthand accounts of the problem solving that has pushed the art form of visual effects to its limits and created visual experiences that could only have been dreamed of in the past, the book features extensive commentary by George Lucas, Dennis Muren, John Knoll, Scott Farrar, Roger Guyett, Ben Snow, Rob Coleman, Lorne Peterson, and many others. Their accounts are supplemented by more than 400 images from many of ILM’s breakthrough movies, such as the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Transformers, Iron Man, and the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, offering a crash course on the most groundbreaking visual effects created today.
Available on Amazon for only $31.50 .
via Amazon.com: Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Innovation (9780810998025): Pamela Glintenkamp, Gore Verbinski, Jon Favreau: Books.
“Rango” marks ILM’s first foray into full-cg animated films, and utilized a lot of their in-house expertise with Pixologic’s Zbrush. Over at ZBrushCentral, they have an excellent writeup on how they built it all.
The general flow was to sculpt and texture a three-day ZBrush maquette for each character and after approval, start in on the asset. A first pass model was sent to rigging while the model asset continued to be refined, hair and fur splines added, scales added, UV’s laid out etc. Once the finished model had gone to paint, the modeler would start on the facial library. We had a few weeks for each character model including wardrobe and two weeks on average for making our facial libraries.
Pixologic :: Interview :: Rango.
Creating a lush forest wilderness is a challenge in its own right, but creating one to match the vision of James Cameron in Avatar would drive even the most dedicated modeller mad. In trying to find a simpler solution, ILM stumbled across an unannounced product ‘SpeedTree Cinema’, which fit the bill perfectly.
“I knew within 15 minutes that this was what we were looking for,” Bluff said. “In the past, we had never been able to control down to a leaf or a twig, where with SpeedTree we could. We were able to grow and manipulate a tree to the exact specifications of a film where literally every scene had been meticulously pre-visualized by Mr. Cameron’s team.”
Once Bluff’s team knew SpeedTree was the tool they would use, they set to work, quickly churning out the trees they needed by the dozens. “Starting in the morning with five models from your library, one of our artists had 40 trees done by lunchtime,” Bluff said. “Those 40 trees comprised about 80 percent of the trees we needed for the entire film.”
They created a 23-second flyover demonstration which floored James Cameron, and eventually became the first 23 seconds of the film.
via SpeedTree® | “Avatar” User Profile.
Allan McKay Industrial Light + Magic – Fume FX Talk from Allan McKay on Vimeo.
Allan McKay has just posted a good 40-minute talk on Vimeo of a recent demonstration of FumeFX at the ILM facilities.
This was based on a talk I performed at ILM earlier this year demonstrating basic concepts of Fume FX and its capabilities. The talk was pretty much thrown together the night before and demonstrated on my laptop, however it should have some useful bits of information throughout it.
via Allan McKay Industrial Light + Magic – Fume FX Talk on Vimeo.
A new press release from Luxology discusses how ILM is using the powerful visualization tools in modo to increase the speed and efficiency of the creative concept development process. In use in a wide variety of films ranging from “Confessions of a Shopaholic” to “Iron Man 2″, they’ve found 3D previs using modo an invaluable part of getting all of the artists on the same page.
“Our clients rely on the ILM art department to create world-class concept art and design for their films. To generate that type of work we utilize best-of-breed tools, and modo is turning out to be a terrific 3D tool for the team,” noted Richard Kerris, CTO at Lucasfilm Ltd. “modo is playing a key role in how certain looks and concepts are best created and it has earned its place in our toolset.”
Full release after the break.
Today at SIGGRAPH, Sony Pictures Imageworks and ILM announced that they have collaborated on a new open-source project named ‘Alembic’, a new interchange format designed to efficiently store animation in a format that can be ready by multiple software applications.
“Who better to understand the demands of high-end production better than those who are in the thick of it,” explains Lucasfilm CTO, Richard Kerris, “working with the team at Imageworks, I think we have created a file format that will have a significant impact on the industry as global production and shared workflows continue to be a driving force.”
“Even though we recently started using our new format on multiple productions, as soon as we learned about ILM’s concurrent development it was immediately clear that one open source format utilizing the very best technology from both companies would offer the best solution for the industry,” notes Rob Bredow, CTO of Sony Pictures Imageworks.
It sounds very similar to the work done by Autodesk over the last several years with FBX, but the entire format is open-source. Hopefully other applications will begin to support it, and maybe we will finally one the “One Format to Rule Them all”.
Full announcement and details after the break.
The Last Airbender required several lengthy computations of fluid-like effects for the water and fire scenes, which were becoming problematic for ILM as the scenes required lengthy computation and render times. Using their in-house tool called Plume, they were able to harness NVidia CUDA and GPU’s to dramatic effect.
“As with everything in high-end visual effects, iteration was essential,” said Olivier Maury, research and development engineer, ILM. “By working within an NVIDIA GPU-based framework, we saw up to eight iterations each day of complex fire, dust and air simulations. That represents speed improvements of 10-15x over CPU-based simulations. Access to CUDA and NVIDIA GPUs has entirely changed the way we approach a variety of complex visual effects challenges.”
They used a 12-machine render farm that included Quadro FX5800 cards, which was capable of the detailed simulations of Aang’s airbending against the Fire Nations abilities. The end result was near real-time interactive rates.
“Because Plume is accelerated by NVIDIA Quadro GPUs, it’s highly interactive and becomes a tool that relies more on the artist’s eye rather than their technical knowledge,” explained Craig Hammack, associate visual effects supervisor, ILM. “This means you don’t have to understand the underlying algorithms or all of the fine details of how fluid solvers work to drive the detail of a simulation.”
via Nvidia Investor Relations.
MovieWeb got a behind-the-scenes look at ILM’s contributions to The Last Airbender, the M. Night Shyamalan VFX feast based on the popular Nickelodeon cartoon. They discuss the creative process and the new experiences that came along with it, and get in-depth on the fact that the movie combines 2 of the most difficult CG effects in a constant way: Fire and Water.
You talked about bending the fire before, so was that the most difficult of the four elements to bend or were the rest difficult? Also, is Momo completely CG or is he a puppet of some sort?
Pablo Helman: I think fire and water were the most difficult ones, because of how familiar we are with fire and how Night wanted this element to look completely realistic. Sometimes we'd do 60 or 70 takes. That's kind of a lot. It was something where Night was directing, just how he would direct actors. Earth was difficult also because it was all particle work and air, we all kind of had to discover it. Nobody really knew what that was going to look like. Was it going to be smoky? Were we going to distort the background? Momo was pure CG, although we did have a maquette of the actual creature and we also had some blue-screen bags that the actor would carry around, just to have an idea of the weight and position.
via SET VISIT: Go Behind the Magic of The Last Airbender at ILM – MovieWeb.
This year marks 35 years of epic special effects and filmmaking from Industrial light and Magic, the brainchild of George Lucas and the Star Wars saga. Wired magazine takes a look through some of their greatest successes over the years, complete with videos of some of their greatest hits.
Hollywood’s penchant for visual wizardry goes back to black-and-white classics like The Thief of Bagdad and Metropolis, but no single f/x house has lent more reality to make-believe than George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic. What started out as a ragtag cluster of artists cobbling together an epic space adventure has matured into a 15-time Oscar winner with some 250 film credits—the most recent being this summer’s Iron Man 2.
via Screen: Celebrating 35 Years of ILM Magic | Magazine.