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Tip #1614: BorisFX Releases Sapphire 2021.5

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New version supports M1 Macs, more speed & more effects.

Image courtesy of BorisFX.com.

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BorisFX released Sapphire 2021.5. Sapphire plug-ins let you create stunning organic looks unmatched by any host native effect tools. Key features include over 270 effects and 3000+ presets, a powerful Effect and Transition Builder, and integrated tracking and masking with the Academy Award-winning Mocha. Sapphire’s superior image quality, control, and render speed offers massive time-savings — allowing creatives to focus on what matters most, delivering an impact that keeps audiences coming back.

According to the BorisFX website, new in this version:

  • Native support for M1 powered Macs
  • Support for Adobe After Effects multi-frame rendering (currently in Adobe public beta)
  • Speed and interactivity improvements for the Sapphire preset browser
  • Improved Sapphire PanAndZoom with added internal image cache (Avid Media Composer only)
  • Lens Flare presets

New in the 2021.0 version:

  • Metal GPU-acceleration: The fastest render speeds on Macs
  • S_UltraGlow: The world’s best glow just got better
  • S_UltraZap: The most electrifying results ever
  • LensFlare Designer: More customization = More photorealistic flares
  • 45+ presets designed by artists & 10 new lens flares

Here’s a link to learn more.


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Tip #1618: Game Design: “Galaxy’s Edge”

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Authenticity, movement and image quality were the driving forces of design.

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm and ILMxLAB.

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This article, written by Chris McGowan, first appeared in VFXVoice.com. This is a summary.

Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge was produced by ILMxLAB in collaboration with Oculus Studios and launched last November on the Oculus Quest VR platform.

The primary narrative features new and iconic Star Wars characters and is connected to the Black Spire Outpost, a prominent locale in the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands of Disneyland and Disney World. As the player, you are a droid repair technician whose ship is boarded by Guavian Death Gang pirates and their leader Tara Rashin (Debra Wilson). To save your skin, you must jettison a mysterious cargo and flee in an escape pod to Batuu.

It was a challenge making Tales and moving the story forward while “giving the player more agency,” notes Jennifer Cha, Lead Animator.

Maintaining high-quality animation was another challenge. The volume of work increased for several reasons, including branching animations and AI trees, as well as longer shots and the resulting heavy animation files, according to Kishore Vijay, Lead Animator. “We don’t really have cuts,” he says. “The characters cannot really go off frame easily, so everything has to be animated to work from different viewpoints and distances. There are also technical considerations for interactivity and blending for branching cinematics and AI animation that the animators have to be cognizant of.”

The article provides an in-depth look at the design of the visual look of the game, as well as a number of production stills.


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Tip #1619: ActionVFX: Crowd Stock Footage for COVID Times

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Crowds for sports and concerts – ready for VFX integration.

Image courtesy of ActionVFX.com.

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ActionVFX just introduced the first two VFX collections in the new Crowd category: Sports Crowds and Concert Crowds. Industry productions will no longer need to film individuals on green screens while bringing hundreds of other extras to create a massive crowd. We’ve done the work for you. This creates a safe environment for your set and crew as we navigate an uncertain world rattled by a pandemic.

Both Crowd products will have 330 clips, our biggest collections to arrive on our website. The vast amount of clips will allow easy replication of crowds with different variations, crowd reactions, and talent. The collections also come with 15 different angles, giving artists unlimited amounts of creativity to implement digital crowds into any scene, no matter the perspective.

The variations in the clips include:

  • People with different skin tones, body types, ages, and heights.
  • Each person performs different actions that you would see at a sporting event.
  • There are sitting and standing versions of each person so they can be used in a variety of different settings.
  • The clothing being worn is different throughout the collection.
  • All clothing was chosen specifically so that the people could be duplicated without any one person standing out.

Here’s a blog post with more details.


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Tip #1595: Re:Vision Effects Goes Beta for M1 Mac

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Re-Vision Effects now offers betas versions for M1 Macs

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Re:Vision Effects sent an update email late last week:

We’re in the process of updating the current versions of our plug-ins for M1 support. Sorry, but older versions can’t be retrofitted so you will need to upgrade.

All of our product for OpenFX are now available with an M1 version. The installer will now detect the machine type and you will have an option to install M1, Intel or both. These have been tested in the Resolve 17 M1 build and should work with other OpenFX hosts (e.g. Nuke, Scratch,…) as they release M1 builds.

We’ve released Twixtor regular as FxPlug 4 for M1 and labeled the release M1 beta. On an Intel machine you will still use the old plug-ins. Bonus: more support for Motion with Twixtor is coming soon, we’ll announce when the update is ready.

For more information, visit: www.revisionfx.com


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Tip #1599: Does Foundry Support M1 Macs?

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Progress continues, but full compatibility is a ways off.

Image courtesy of Foundry.com.

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Here’s the latest update from Foundry on their support for Big Sur and M1 Macs.

The latest macOS version, Big Sur, is not currently supported across our Foundry product portfolio. Our product teams are testing this macOS release and looking to qualify it as soon as possible. 

Apple’s new processing hardware Apple silicon including the recently released Apple M1 chip, is due to be reviewed by each product and support will be planned based on the individual review results.

Here is the latest status of supported macOS versions across our Foundry products: 

Product macOS Catalina (10.15) macOS Big Sur (11.0) Apple M1 Chips
Nuke family 12.1v1 onwards 13.0v1 onwards Not supported
Modo 13.2v1 onwards 15.0v1 onwards Not supported (in testing)
Colorway 3.1v1 onwards Not supported (in testing) Not supported
Mari 4.6v3 onwards Not supported Not supported
Flix 6.3.6 onwards Not supported Not supported
Katana Katana is not available on macOS.

EXTRA CREDIT

Foundry updated this on April 22, 2021. Link.


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Tip #1600: What Effects Software Runs on M1 Macs?

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M1 compatibility is still “a work in progress.”

Image courtesy of Toolfarm.com.

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Toolfarm has published and recently updated a list of effects titles and their compatibility with M1 Macs. This list of over 100 applications includes those with both Rosetta and native compatibility.

Here’s the link.


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Tip #1579: Understanding ACES for Color

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ACES is designed to be the industry standard for color.

The ACES logo.

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This article, written by Jourdan Aldredge, first appeared in NoFilmSchool.com. This is a summary.

The Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) is designed to be the industry standard for color. This series will help explain what it is and how to use it in DaVinci Resolve.

ACES is a color management framework for motion images. This means that it offers a standardized way to transform what our camera saw into what our display can reproduce.

Just like our eyes, cameras and displays encode color as a proportion of pure red, green, and blue. But “pure” means one thing to our vision system, and another to any particular camera or display. This is why we need color spaces.

And this is where ACES comes in—it offers a user-friendly system for performing these transformations, allowing us to objectively transform our image from its capture color space into the color space of the display we’re mastering. This process is known as color management, and it’s the foundation of all effective image mastering.

EXTRA CREDIT

As well, the NoFilmSchool article is the start of a multi-part series explaining ACES and includes a video explaining ACES and DaVinci Resolve.

The video is worth watching and run less than 12 minutes.


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Tip #1580: Finding Inspiration in Architecture

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Sometimes, the best place to find inspiration is where you don’t normally look.

Production shot from Vikkal Parikh’s IKEA motion graphic commercial.

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This article, written by Vikkal Parikh, Founder and Creative Director, Ataboy Studios, first appeared in Motionographer.com. This is a summary.

The practice of motion design is, as its title suggests, a thing that is constantly changing and evolving, adapting to the world (and the technology) around it. But in order to grow and change in a way that keeps pace with the times, often motion designers have to look outside the traditional aesthetics of advertising and production spaces to different design-related fields that can offer inspiration and unique perspectives — and one of the most fascinating (and underrated) of these is architecture.

On the surface, it may seem like there aren’t many similarities between the two. But in my opinion, the foundation of any and all forms of design are essentially the same, be it architecture, product design, graphic design, motion design, or any related field. As the saying goes: “form follows function.” This idea can be applied universally to any form of design. As designers, we are problem solvers, and our goal is to come up with a solution that not only solves the problem but connects on a more personal level with the users or audience. Great architecture is an easy example of this: it not only solves the problem but makes the experience of visiting or seeing a space enjoyable in the most unexpected way.

If you’re willing to look, the world of architecture is full of beautiful and enduring creativity. I am personally a big fan of both Zaha Hadid and Mies Van Der Rohe, and they remain some of my biggest creative inspirations. They have very contradictory styles — Zaha Hadid with an emphasis on incorporating curves and creating organic shapes on an institutional scale and Mies Van Der Rohe focusing more on the space and light created in his buildings.

For those who wish to draw inspiration from nontraditional sources, the best advice I can give is to keep your eyes and ears open to the world around you. Whether it’s from reading or listening to a podcast on a certain subject or simply observing your surroundings, learning about disciplines outside your own can expand your thought process greatly.

EXTRA CREDIT

Vikkal’s article has more details and production stills illustrating his ideas.


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Tip #1581: Bring the HEAVY Weapons to “Monster Hunter:

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If the creatures are going to be CGI, make everything else real.

Milla Jovovich and Tony Jaa had to perform with the signature oversized weapons from the video game.

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This article, written by Trevor Hogg, first appeared in VFXVoice.com.

This in-depth article explores how the VFX team responsible for creating Monster Hunter, which is based on a video game. This is a summary.

Director Paul Anderson said: “My approach on this movie was if the creatures have to be CG, let’s shoot on real landscapes rather than in studio backlots against a greenscreen. Every time a creature’s foot goes down on the ground it displaces and showers our actors with real sand, and the lens flare from the sun will be real as well as the wind. It gives the animators an awful lot to match into as well as helps to tie the creatures into the reality of the existing location.”

The cinematic versions of the monsters are not exact replicas. “With the monsters you’re building them at a different level of detail than a video game engine could ever handle,” says Anderson. “Dennis Berardi [The Shape of Water], our Visual Effects Supervisor and co-producer, and his team sat down and analyzed the way that the creatures moved in the game and compared that to creatures of a similar bulk in our world [such as elephants and rhinoceroses] and how they would move with gravity operating on them. A footfall of a creature weighing a certain amount must displace a certain amount of sand or whatever material it’s running on. Something of a certain size normally moves at certain speed.”

Sixty-five minutes of screen time consist of 1,300 visual effects shots created by MR. X facilities in Toronto, Montreal and Bangalore, as well as at South African-based BlackGinger. “We had one situation where Kaname Fujioka [the director of the Monster Hunter games] and the team at Capcom were like, ‘Diablos looks amazing, but her toenails are too sharp,’” recalls MR. X Visual Effects Supervisor Trey Harrell. “Diablos is an herbivore, so the feature should be more like a rhino or elephant with rounded tusks with no pointy sharp bits. The most interesting thing to me that I found over the course of this whole journey was there is a certain amount of hubris involved when you start on a property and go, ‘Now we’re making a movie version of this.’ But a lot of times you do that before you understand the design in the first place. Everything was there for a purpose.”

EXTRA CREDIT

Trevor’s interview contains far more detail, almost two dozen production stills, and links to other in-depth interviews.


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Tip #1561: How to Get Started in Motion Capture – FREE

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Motion capture doesn’t need to be expensive when you first start.

Image courtesy of Todd Blankenship.

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This article first appeared in RocketStock.com. This is a summary.

After spending the past few months learning 3D, one of the biggest challenges (after making a decent looking 3D scene) was animating. Well, there are two good ways to do this. The better solution, yet requires a pretty serious investment, is using a motion capture suit. As for the no-budget option? I’ve turned to animation libraries from sites like Mixamo and Rokoko Motion Library.

If you want to get started learning motion capture for free, check out these free tools and assets. You can even see them in action in this video from Am I A Filmmaker?, where you will see the progression of learning motion capture with some really cool examples.

Here’s the video link.


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