August 2005 Archives

The Ecache Node

| Category: Reviews | | Comments (0) | Views: 39

Yes, another day, another new node review. Coupled with the Multiplane node, and working with huge 2K scripts, I thought I'd give it a whirl.. By default, using this node does nothing for me. I had to create an additional .h file to be able to work with my 2k float images. Here's the process, so hopefully it will help some of you out there.

Here are some of the settings I've used that work well with my machine. Adjust to suit your needs and machine capabilities.

diskCache.cacheMemory = 1024;
diskCache.cacheMemoryLimit = 2048;
diskCache.cacheSize = 2048000;
diskCache.cacheMaxFile = 768;

There's also a really great extra line that helps when working with the cache in Shake 4. This line can be added above: diskCache.cacheDebug = 1;. It tells you which nodes are being cached, or if they are in memory or disk cache. Quite useful! A really great advantage this has over whatever Shake regularly does with caching images is that the turnaround from making an adjustment and seeing the result is close to immediate.

The Multiplane Node

| Category: Reviews | | Comments (0) | Views: 41

Ah.. It's been a long week! Lots and lots of work in the pipe, and our Chevrolet commercial is almost done. We have a couple more weeks and two more spots to finish. It's definitely a different mindset. While this is my second commercial done here at Tippett, it's still extremely different than the Milka ones! Of course it would be, being that they are for different clients and comprise of different subject matter.

Now that Shake 4 is finally out there in the public and I'm on a new show, the small crew on the commercial decided to switch over and do everything in this upgraded package. Among one of the neat upgrades is the multiplane node, which, when I first started using it, felt more of a gimmick than actually something I would use in production.

After a couple days just exporting cameras and playing around with the tool, it does seem robust enough to work with in a professional environment. Some problems which hopefully can be addressed were so glaringly obvious. Of course this is the first iteration of something like this, so I hope they will be fixed in the future! Some things which I would like to have would be; intersecting image planes, camera depth based blur and defocus, geometry object import, basic lighting of geometry, extended and regular bicubics, image projection onto geometry, and easier controls while using the tool, or a map-able keyboard layout. And maybe some accurate lens distortion incorporated into it. Time will tell. Even with its extremely limited ability, the Multiplane node shows promise. I've been using it mainly for sky replacements on moving shots, and it seems to work well. There are some perspective problems (mainly because of the long, sweeping camera moves!), which can be fixed via bicubics, which is unfortunately not a feature in Shake. So instead the new Warper which premiered in Shake 3.5 gets used.

If you're using it, what do you think?

2005 Emmys

| Category: Television | | Comments (0) | Views: 7

I just got in the mail today a call for judges for my peer group in the Academy, Special Visual Effects. I'm not sure why my peer group is Special Visual Effects instead of just Visual Effects. I feel special now!

My peer group used to be called Special Visual Effects and Title Design, but by a majority vote the peer group has been segmented into two, SVE (Special Visual Effects) and MTD (Main Title Design). I even got a fancy card that gave me neat discounts at hotels and restaurants and all that jazz! Hot damn. Too bad most of them are in the LA area!

Anyway, I have to RSVP for the voting, which takes place in four weeks. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to do it, since the voting is on Friday, and I'll be busy on the commercial work! If I did manage to go, I'd be voting in two categories which comprise my peer group, Outstanding Special Visual Effects For A Series and Outstanding Special Visual Effects For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special. I was nominated twice, four (wow, four...) years ago in the Outstanding Visual Effects For a Series category. This allowed me the option to become part of ATAS and get a chance to vote on these nominees and other ATAS nominees.

The nominees this year in the Series category are:

Battlestar Galactica - 33 - SCI FI
Battlestar Galactica - The Hand Of God - SCI FI
Lost - Pilot (Part 1 and 2) - ABC
Stargate Atlantis - Rising - SCI FI
Stargate SG-1 - Reckoning Part 2 - SCI FI

The nominees in the Miniseries, Movie or a Special category are:

Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real - Animal Planet
Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars - SCI FI
Legend of Earthsea - SCI FI
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers - HBO
Supervolcano - Discovery

After looking at the nominees on this list, I already know who's going to win. I'll just keep it to myself and pay myself when I'm right. It's really cool to note that four out of the five nominees in the Series category were shot in Vancouver, BC! And they're all SCI-FI. The visual effects work was also done up there. A lot of the nominees are ones I used to work with while I was up there, so good luck guys! You know who you are! :)

You can see the full list of nominees for this category here on the Emmy site.

Tip of the Week - Float

| Category: Tip of the Week | | Comments (0) | Views: 374

Something that often gets thrown around is the term float space. I rarely encountered it during my work on TV production, but in film, it's a whole other story!

Tippett at Siggraph

| Category: News | | Comments (0) | Views: 8

While I did not get a chance to get to Siggraph this year, one of our managers took a couple photos of the Tippett booth to share with the crowd back here in Berkeley. It's been a while since Tippett had a booth at Siggraph (maybe never?), and it looked awesome!


| Category: News | | Comments (0) | Views: 5

You guys rock! Thanks to everyone that visits this site, digitalGypsy is now ranked number 2 in Google! I'm right behind Ian Failes' awesome VFXBlog when you do a search for vfx blog in the Google search engine. Here's what the yearly hits to date have been.

Home Theatre

| Category: Totally Unrelated | | Comments (0) | Views: 19

All of my home projects have been done for some time, and I'm tackling another one! I tried searching around for something that was off the shelf that allowed me to watch HDTV, play a DVD, have PVR/Tivo capabilities and still connect to my projector.

Film & Gallery Updates.

| Category: News | | Comments (0) | Views: 9

Yet another set of updates! I've updated my filmography list to include my next set of commercial projects. As well, the gallery page now has quicktimes of the Constantine shots that I worked on, now that the DVD is out.

The Hierarchy of VFX Production

| Category: News | | Comments (0) | Views: 779

I was talking on IM with an interested party in India, and he was wondering what sort of barking order happens in the film visual effects industry. Here's something I created to illustrate this hierarchy.

Touching the void

| Category: Film | | Comments (0) | Views: 9

I'm on a movie review roll! The other night, last night, I watched Touching The Void. A documentary about the survival of two mountaineers who tried to climb Siula Grande, in Peru, in 1985.

This film was a retelling of that story. They interviewed the two survivors,and re-enacted their story for the audience to see while they talked about their ordeal. It was very intense, and a beautiful REAL story about how these two men overcame overwhelming odds. Joe and Simon, the two mountaineers, successfully climbed Siula Grande. It was on the descent that the accident happened. Joe broke his leg. The odds that Joe managed to get off the mountain, alive, gives me shivers just to write about it. During their descent, Simon was lowering Joe, and they got stuck on the edge of a precipice. Sitting there, for over an hour and a half, Simon did the unthinkable. He cut the rope leading to his partner. Both thought the other had perished, and both made it back to base camp, on their own. The description of what they faced, and how they faced it, each alone, thinking the other was dead, made for a riveting tale.

Eighteen years later, in 2003 when the documentary was made, no one has repeated what they have done, which was to scale Siula Grande and come back alive.

A definite tale of courage, determination, and will. I highly recommend this film.

The Corporation

| Category: Film | | Comments (0) | Views: 9

I just finished watching this extremely interesting and thought provoking film. It took a while, as it is two and a half hours long! I split it up over two nights.

The film, while not visual effects related, was very interesting. It detailed how large corporations are slowly overtaking government, and what exactly a corporation is, and what it is comprised of. They're also much larger than government, since large corporations are worldwide.

There were many interviews with CEOs and former CEOs of such companies as Interface, IBM, and Royal Shell, as well as from business analysts and authors like Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore. They all tossed in their two cents about corporations, how people deal with the power that corporations have, and how the power of the people can truly overcome any situation. The film also went into detail about how much power the corporations have, and described several situations where the power they wield truly overpowered news media. It was scary and impressive at the same time.

I would highly recommend this documentary film if you want to see how and why a corporation, a large, global company, works.

A G36c A5

| Category: Totally Unrelated | | Comments (0) | Views: 4607

Some of you may remember this post a while back, which told of my recent acquisition of a Tippmman A-5 paintball marker. Well, now that my projection project is all wrapped up (save for some minor tweaking later in the year), I focused my attention in making a one-of-a-kind paintball gun. While not directly related to visual effects, this is what I do to kill the time on the weekends and relax.


| Category: News | | Comments (0) | Views: 11

I'm missing it! Anyone down there currently want to tell us what it's like? Any news from the major players, cool giveaways, celebrity sneak peeks?


| Category: Film | | Comments (0) | Views: 17

Ok. Really. The only reason I saw this film was to see the work that Digital Domain did for it. I'm a big fan of their work, and wanted to see how they pulled this film off.

Ok.. Two reasons. The other one was Jessica Biel. Oh, and maybe the cool fighter jets. It's always an awesome sight to see huge pieces of machinery defy gravity and all logic. I'm talking about the physicality of real objects, not the CG Talon planes that were created. It's been a while since I saw a movie like this, and while I grew up on Top Gun, this approached that level of coolness. The only things missing were the real airplanes flying.

Regardless, the particle effects and hard surface modelling that DD did on this show was pretty excellent. The cloud and gasoline aerial work two thirds of the way through were really great. As well, the Talons on board the aircraft carrier were well done. They were missing some weight when they took off, but overall it was very minor, and something a regular audience member might not pick up on. I'm sure the team did some research, and Top Gun was probably one of those films to see! Some of digital fire work was pretty bad, and I'm not sure how it passed muster. Some clipping in the highlights, which could have been from not protecting for float film delivery. Some of the compositing could have been improved, most notably the radiation cloud over the city. It seemed like it was a TV res scale up! I'm not sure why it was so blurry. Other than that, most, if not all of the comps done of the actors in the jet were well done. I didn't really notice anything horrendous. Only one shot pokes out, and that's Josh Lucas' acting while piloting near the end of the movie, and he's moving left and right in the cockpit like he's dodging bullets, and the plane is going straight. Haha, joke's on you Josh! ;)

Acting wise, everyone performed fairly well.. No Oscar performances here, but they conveyed what needed to be told to progress the story. The fourth wingman does some pretty neat flying, on the cool scale, but it is all digital. This was definitely a popcorn movie. No thinking about what's happening next, because you were pretty much led along.

A fun movie, albeit mindless entertainment. A decent 6 out of 10.

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