July 2006 Archives
In this second entry in the compositing package review series I'll be going over the pluses and minuses of Shake 4.0. I had the opportunity to start work in this software in 2002, working in Australia at Photon VFX in the Gold Coast. It has changed a bit since I first starting working on it when it was version 2.5 on Windows. I've used Shake from 2002 to 2006. Since I've previously covered Flame, I may describe certain items from Shake and compare them to Flame's equivalents.
Click below to read on!
To Live and Die in Starlight was an old 2002 TV movie that I did some comp work on.. I happened to rent it again over the weekend, since I don't recall ever seeing it after it premiered. After watching it for about 30 minutes, I realized that I had seen it before, and I had put it out of my mind for a reason! I didn't do many shots in the film, the only thing I recall doing is the title sequence rollovers.. "We live for the one, we die for the one", that sort of deal. It's quite crazy how crappy some of the stuff in that movie was, especially after only four years! Live and learn. I can recall how limited some of our resources and talent were at the time we did the work!
I received an email the other day about the final section of the Emmy SVE voting process.. I'll be attending this last section to vote on the last five nominees in each category. It should be interesting, and I am curious as to the number of people that may show up. This event will occur in about two weeks up in Burbank, not in Hollywood like last time. It will definitely be interesting, and I'll keep you all posted.
As per a reader request, I've decided to write up several short entries containing my thoughts on these three very powerful compositing packages. Why did I choose these three? Well, they are the only ones which I have extensively used in a production environment.. Fusion, Combustion and the defunct Composer are no longer in my memory, and there are newer versions out there. There are numerous reviews of these softwares on vfxtalk, fxguide, and cgtalk, but I'll be going into detail on the differences these contain, and how I've used them in the past, and where I think they will be going to in the future. The scope of these entries may change over time, as newer versions appear and software becomes obsolete. I'm going to start by writing about my experiences with Flame, and in the following days will go over Nuke and Shake.
The versions of software that I'll be going over are Nuke 4.5, Flame 7.7, and Shake 4.0. There are possibly newer versions that will be coming out or are already out right now, and certain features of the above packages I have not used (simply because I don't need that feature, haven't found a use for it, or haven't used it yet in production). As well, my experience on Nuke is not as advanced as the other two, as I've only been using it for close to six months, with four of those actually in production. I'll start with Flame and it's brothers, Flint and Inferno.
Read the extended entry below!
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You've gotta love inhouse programmers. Over the weekend (Sunday, actually) while I was working away on a shot, I encountered a bug. Not too big, just a pain and something I had to work around. I submitted a bug request, and low and behold, this morning it was fixed. Excellent turn around! If only regular customer service at retail outlets was this good!
While this is one of the drawbacks of working on consistently changing beta software, the pluses definitely include instant support and fixes! Lots of the technical compers here have also written there own plugins, some of which are on highend2d, and some which are proprietary to Digital Domain which make our work much easier to do.
It comes with the territory, I guess. Recently I've been feeling that the work I've been doing isn't up to par. It's a really frustrating thing, since I feel that I have to make a good impression here, in addition to compositing my shots. It doesn't help that I've had to learn an entirely new piece of software, a new pipeline, and trying to figure out who to listen to. On a different note, ever have that moment where you add something neat and cool to a shot, and it goes for a while before someone notices it and says we didn't budget for that? Or we didn't plan on having that in there? And that person was the one who originally asked to put it in to see what it would look like? Ya. That sucks. I like to get feedback from everyone, but it sucks when I get told something contradictory a week or two later, after they've had a chance to see stuff.
Yep, it makes me feel like a noob sometimes. Even after eight years. I think it's almost time to figure out where I want to be and stick with it.
This morning the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced the Primetime nominees. A couple of weeks ago I participated in the SVE voting, and here are the results of that process. As expected, these shows were the cream of the crop out of all that were shown that day. Now we must narrow down the final five to choose the winner, which will be announced August 19th. Personally, I think it's a tough group this year. Some really spectacular invisible and not so invisible effects.
Outstanding Special Visual Effects For A Series
Battlestar Galactica â€¢ Resurrection Ship (Part 2) â€¢ Sci Fi Channel â€¢ R&D Television in association with NBC Universal Television Studios
Gary Hutzel, Visual Effects Supervisor
Michael Gibson, Senior Visual Effects Coordinator
Doug Drexler, Digital Supervisor
Steve Kullback, Visual Effects Coordinator
Mark Shimer, Lead Visual Effects Animator
Chris Zapara, CGI Supervisor
Lane Jolly, Lead Visual Effects Compositor
Kyle Toucher, Visual Effects Animator
Daniel Osaki, Lead CGI Model Maker
Lost â€¢ Live Together, Die Alone (Part 1 & 2) â€¢ ABC â€¢ Grass Skirt Productions, LLC in association with Touchstone Television
Kevin Blank, Visual Effects Supervisor
Mitch Suskin, Visual Effects Supervisor
Jay Worth, Visual Effects Coordinator
Scott Dewis, 3D Animator
Steve Fong, Compositor
Spencer Levy, 3D Supervisor
Eric Chauvin, Matte Painter
Archie Ahuna, Special Effects Coordinator
Bob Lloyd, Compositor
Perfect Disaster â€¢ Super Tornado â€¢ Discovery Channel â€¢ Impossible Pictures in association with Discovery Channel
Gareth Edwards, Visual EffectsSupervisor/Producer/Compositor/Animator/Matte Artist
Bob Trevino, Special Effects Supervisor
Rome â€¢ The Stolen Eagle â€¢ HBO â€¢ HBO Entertainment in association with the BBC
Barrie Hemsley, Visual Effects Producer
James Madigan, Visual Effects Supervisor
Joe Pavlo, Visual Effects Supervisor
Duncan Kinnaird, Lead Visual Effects Compositor
Dan Pettipher, CGI Supervisor
Michele Sciolette, CGI Supervisor
Charles Darby, Lead Matte Artist
Clare Herbert, Visual Effects Coordinator
Anna Panton, Visual Effects Coordinator
Surface â€¢ Episode #101 â€¢ NBC â€¢ Pates in association with NBC Universal Television Studio
Mitch Suskin, Visual Effects Supervisor
Dave Morton, Digital Animation Supervisor
Eric Hance, Digital Artist
John Teska, Lead Character Artist
Pierre Drolet, Lead Modeler
Eric Chauvin, Matte Artist
Steve Fong, Digital Compositor
Neil Sopata, Digital Artist
Outstanding Special Visual Effects For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special
Before The Dinosaurs â€¢ Discovery Channel â€¢ An Impossible Pictures production in association with Discovery Channel
Tim Greenwood, Visual Effects Supervisor
Neil Glasbey, Lead Visual Effects Animator
Chloe Leland, Visual Effects Producer
Nigel Booth, Lead Model Maker
Jeremy Hunt, Lead Model Maker
Darren Horley, Lead Matte Artist
Peter Thorn, Visual Effects Cameraman
Darren Byford, CG Supervisor
Into The West â€¢ Hell On Wheels â€¢ TNT â€¢ Dreamworks Television
Tim McHugh, Visual Effects Supervisor
Craig Weiss, Visual Effects Supervisor
Glenn Campbell, Lead Visual Effects Compositor
Christopher DeCristo, Lead Visual Effects Compositor
Christopher Moore, Compositor
Niel Wray, CGI Supervisor
Don L. McCoy, CGI Supervisor
George Garcia, Lead Matte Artist
Eric Ehemann, CGI Animator
Mammoth â€¢ Sci Fi Channel â€¢ Pliny Minor Productions in association with Sci Fi Network
Armen Kevorkian, Visual Effects Supervisor
Liz Castro, Visual Effects Producer
Matt Scharf, Visual Effects Coordinator
David Morton, Lead Matte Artist
Christian Bloch, CGI Supervisor
Stefan Bredereck, Lead CGI Animator
Jason Zimmerman, Lead Visual Effects Compositor
Spencer Levy, CGI Supervisor
Scott Dewis, Lead CGI Animator
The Nightingale (Great Performances) â€¢ PBS â€¢ Agat Films & Cie, Arte France and Mikros Image in association with Thirteen/WNET New York and Image Plus, Schweizer Fernsehen DRS, AVRO Television, ORF, SVT, YLE, and ARTV
Hugues Namur, Visual Effects Supervisor
Paul Carteron, Special Effects Supervisor
Morgan Sagel, Lead CGI Artist
Anne Chatelain, Lead CGI Artist
Oliver Garcelon, Lead CGI Animator
Alexander Gregoire, Lead Visual Effects Animator
Guillaume Ho Tsong Fang, CGI Supervisor
Ugo Bimar, CGI Supervisor
Julien Limouse, Lead Visual Effects Compositor
The Triangle â€¢ Part 1 â€¢ Sci Fi Channel â€¢ Bad Hat Harry Productions and Electric Entertainment
Marc Weigert, Visual Effects Supervisor
Volker Engel, Visual Effects Supervisor
Ingo Putze, Lead Visual Effects Compositor
Robin Graham, Visual Effects Compositing Technical Director
Todd Sheridan Perry, Senior CG Technical Director
Conrad Murrey, Lead CG Animator
Sam Khorshid, CG Animator
Paul Graff, Visual Effects Compositor
Ben Grossman, Visual Effects Compositor
Well, if you guys and gals didn't already figure it out eventually, Digital Domain was awarded some work on Transformers.. Check out the IMDB page for more info. It seems we'll be doing some work alongside ILM, but as to exactly what our job will entail, who knows! We artists are usually the last to know these things.. From the likes of the page, it was last updated on the 27 of May, so probably right after the Bay buyout they updated the page. I'm thinking that if there's comp work in the fall, they'll hopefully put me on Transformers. That would be sweet. As long as the movie doesn't suck.. And if it does, at least the effects will kick ass.
It's a sunny Saturday here in Santa Monica, and I'm at the moment hard at work waiting for my Nuke project to update and my renders to complete on the farm. I got here at 7am, early enough to beat the rush of traffic, and pretty much everyone else to the office. I find that I get more work done in the morning, and the farms at the places I've worked at are pretty free! Most of my renders and tests get done pretty quickly. I've started to come in early and leave a little later, just to get my shots done on time, or relatively done on time! There are always little things that pop up every time I hit that render button. This week will be the end of my first six day week, and the beginning of several! Lots of OT.
Lots of work coming up in the next couple of weeks, and I think we're on schedule for our delivery. It's tough to judge, since I haven't worked on a show that has had this many compers and this many shots! We have four leads working the show, which is up from previous places, which have had one or two. I'm slowly getting into the groove of what Nuke can and can't do. It's not very limited, and when it is, there are quick workarounds and fixes just a phone call away. One of the perils of always using the latest and greatest in production! It is a pretty different way of thinking when comping, in that there are more data layers to control and be aware of, and just that many more things that could go wrong. Overall, the scripts I've been creating haven't been the most complex, especially with Nuke's inline tree ability, which enables many layers of masks to be used anywhere downstream in the comp. It makes for a cleaner comp, and the various note taking and grouping capabilities really make the software shine. I haven't started doing a lot of expression scripting yet, but from what I've seen some of the other artists do, it's pretty powerful.