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finegrit

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Everything posted by finegrit

  1. I have a personal project and I'm intrigued by the wild west/DIY motion capture idea. Of course, I know it's going to be limited, but I'm curious if anyone has tried it. In particular, I'm curious how easy it is to get models and animations in and out of iClone to Maya/C4D.
  2. Yeah, a lot of this is trial and error and experience. But the biggest single thing I require of anyone working with me is that every night when you go home you set a full resolution render. This is true for 2D compositors as well as 3D guys. Every night, no matter how far along you are, when you finish for the night, set a render. First thing in the morning we check it together. But the basic idea is you don't wait till the last minute to try a full res render. I can't tell you how many times this catches little glitches early; font mismatches on the farm, corrupt textures, plug-in mismatches, problems with object buffers, forgetting to turn on depth of field, there are so many on every project. So that by the time you go to set your final render, you've hopefully already worked out the glitches over the preceding days. It also gives you a good sense of how long renders are going to take and again you adjust as you go and not at the last minute. I used to work for a photographer who always told his assistants: "I don't get surprised. Things go wrong. That's fine. If something goes wrong I want to know early, not at the last minute." It's good advice.
  3. Uggh. Not that I disagree with Binky, but every time someone asks a practical question, do we have to tell them to go learn design theory? Yes, learn theory, but there are also practical questions with practical answers. The very simplified answer to this is that usually generalists are limited to smaller projects, smaller shops, and smaller markets. The bigger the project, the more specialization. Once you get into larger projects you really need to decide where your interest lies: design, 2D/compositing, or 3D. Most people we work with get hired for one of these roles. We work with a handful of people who are true generalists, but they mainly work on smaller projects which they handle from start to finish. Design is still mostly Photoshop and Illustrator, although more and more some knowledge of 3D seems required, but it doesn't matter which package you are comfortable with. 2D is mostly AE, although higher end compositing (film and heavy 3D work is better handled in dedicated compositors. Nuke is fast becoming the standard here in NY). More and more, I think even AE generalists need to have some familiarity with a 3D program. In small shops, Cinema4D seems to be widely accepted and is pretty easy to learn If your interest is 3D then you have a bunch of software choices to make. Maya is probably the most common for film and TV. 3DS is more common in game development. SoftImage and Cinema have much smaller market share, but both have very loyal shops. A lot of smaller shops are Cinema and some of the top shops (Pysop for instance) have a large SoftImage base. In answer to your direct question, yes more and more it seems that you need to have some familiarity with a 3D program. I would consider learning one.
  4. Don't forget though that while Apple may be losing money on the towers, they are still very committed to their OS. I could care less what box I run (although I'll miss the shiny cases). But I would hate to give up OSX. We'll have to see what happens. But I sense an Adobe/PC future for me.
  5. Along the lines of what Binky has been saying, check out these books. They are pretty general and I think a lot of the topics they cover translate well into motion graphics: David Mamet, On Directing Film. Mamet drives me nuts. He's an Eisenstein disciple and everything else is shit. I don't always agree with him, but he talks very clearly about the process of telling a narrative sequentially in a succession of discrete images. Just because you can fly your little 3D camera around for a full 30-sec doesn't mean you should. Learn to make each shot/image matter and advance a narrative. Try to find a book on animation by Chuck Jones (can't remember the name offhand). He discusses how they developed all kinds of techniques to convey emotion from the simple limitations of the cartoon medium. Jones is a really strong person to look at for how to express emotion and personality with simple techniques. Also check out his Story of the Dot and the Line (it's on YouTube I'm sure). Brilliant.
  6. Most of the newer DSLR cameras store lens data. A few motion cameras store it in metadata if you are using compatible lenses. I know RED and the new Cooke's do it. I would assume the RED lenses do, but I don't remember. We mostly us PFTrack here and yes, you can usually get pretty close if you have a good reference frame (meaning you can find a frame that has a good selection of horizontal and vertical lines) to use as reference. But it's always a little hit or miss. I'm pretty sure there is a tutorial on the PFtrack site. On a professional shoot you would usually get lens notes from the AC as well as a reference plate for every VFX shot, which consists of a checkerboard pattern held at a 45-degree angle to camera.
  7. Always roto first.* In addition to the interpolated edges problem, time remaps are one of those things that always change in production. You don't want the final animators to have to be continually requesting additional roto work. * Except when it makes sense to roto second. Sorry. There are no simple answers in life.
  8. Personally I'm agnostic on the whole problem. The real problem is the existence of two very different viewing formats and the fact that time and budget rarely allows for the creation of two separate versions. Anything else is just personal bias. I, for one, am not convinced of the whole wide-screen is better—more cinematic—bias that a lot of designers have. Aside from aesthetic considerations (I personally love films composed for 4:3 - The Passion of Joan of Arc and Elephant being two great examples), there are just as many problems with the letterbox down-convert for SD. Personally I find the difference in relative type sizes to be a HUGE problem. Type that feels elegant in HD 16:9 feels underwhelming when letterboxed for SD. If you make it feel right for letterboxed SD, it feel gigantic in 16:9 HD. Centercut SD actually does a much better job of preserving relative type sizes. Of course, centercut has many obvious problems for widescreen framing and composition. But I'm just saying it's a mistake to assume that there is no reason why people still want centercut and anyone who asks for it is an idiot. Until 4:3 screens disappear, we're going to be stuck with centercut.
  9. It's network by network. Some networks (HBO, Showtime, A&E, USA to name a few) use a letterboxed downconvert. Others require SD centercut. The reason is really philosophical. Some networks think that letterbox on an SD monitor makes the picture too small. So they opt for centercut on HD. It's a fair opinion even if you don't agree with it. Also, even the networks that letterbox require centercut for their off-channel buys. Many networks will not accept letterboxed commercials. And there is truly nothing worse than seeing HD graphics cut off on the side on an 4x3 screen because the designer forgot to think about centercut. Makes you look like an amateur. So until we finally witness the death of the 4x3 screen, we're going to be stuck with it.
  10. Houdini is a great app to learn and it is very rare to have a chance to learn with someone good. However the learning curve is very steep and you should be aware that it will probably take you in a different career direction. Houdini is not really used all that much in motion graphics (although it sometimes gets brought in for particle effects). Usually it is part of a larger VFX pipeline. So if you want to move to LA or maybe NY after graduation and work in a big post house, hopefully eventually on big feature films, houdini is great. If you want to work in a small design shop doing kick-ass motion graphics, stick with C4D and AE.
  11. It really depends how complicated the shots are and how accurate you need them. Quicky broadcast work or stuff that's going to be projected 40ft. across. Sytheyes, PFhoe both get the job done most of the time. If youe shot's hard and you need really accurate results by going in by hand to adjust the track you'll want Boujou or PFTrack. I'd also look at CameraTracker in After Effects by the Foundry. It looks promising. I beta tested it and liked it, but I haven't used the final version yet.
  12. What would be amazing is a more advanced version of Adobe's dynamic linking. If you can collapse all these attributes into a single clip, why can't you access project data as well without completely switching projects. What if I could comp something in motion/shake then bring it into the FCP timeline as a collapsed clip. Then if I need to make basic adjustments, say move keyframes around, adjust timings, adjust the level settings I added, I could do that in the timeline. If I wanted to make more complex edits, I could just back to motion/shake and it would update. As for motion, I did some original alpha testing of the first version of Motion back in the day and thought in many ways it revolutionized the workflow of doing motion graphics. It was so much more modern than After Effects. You could bounce back and forth between node and timeline-based editing. The right info seemed to be there when you wanted it. And it had a very advanced caching system that created a workflow that was really based around working on animations in realtime. Unfortunately, the hardware wasn't really up to the task and Apple really sat on Motion. It never really developed the feature set necessary to compete realistically with After Effects. This update of FCP makes me hope that we finally see the integration of motion and shake.
  13. OK. I'm sold. Busy week and I only now actually watched the videos. I'm surprised people are saying iMovie. This looks like a very useable program. I can see a number of ways it will immediately make my life easier. I love: The dynamic scrubbing The precision in-line editor (like the trim window on steroids). The magnetic timeline And most of all, the audition room. The ability to quickly swap out alternate takes/shots is a huge timesaver. Plus, the other things that have been mentioned about background ingest and rendering. I was worried that they added lots of bells and whistles, but didn't make the actual editing in the timeline easier. But I actually saw a lot of thought put into the day-to-day tasks editors face. Plus, although I didn't see it, they did say in the demo that all the usual tools, slip, slide, roll, 3-point are all still there. And that everything they showed is accessible through the keyboard. We will see about implementation but the initial demo definitely looked like this was a pro app. Things I still have questions about: I like the new key word searching, but how does that work in a shared media environment. FCP has always had problems in larger pipelines and I didn't see anything that makes me think this was addressed. Can keywords be added both globally and per editor? How does this play with the rest of the FCP suite? Apple has already said that they are update other apps as well. This demo was just FCP. Looking forward to it. Anyway, I'm much more excited now.
  14. Lots of cool stuff in here, but am I the only one who looks at the interface and says, "wait, you mean, no 3-point editing." There's no viewer window that I see. I understand reinventing an editing program, but I can't image that they ignored the most basic convention of professional editing. Maybe I missed it. Or maybe it's still coming. But if it's true, I will no doubt convert to a new editing program.
  15. That was a fantastic read.
  16. Anyone else have this? We got a few at the studio. They're a good value, but jesus, the saturation on these things. Even after we calibrate them with the Spyder, the reds on these things can melt holes in steel. We were hoping they could replace our cinema displays for our non-color-critical workstations, but I'm not loving them.
  17. I don't think any differentiation is necessary for my original point. I think it applies equally well to Designers, Animators, TDs, DPs, whatever. The importance of developing a community is not something restricted to people with "ideas" versus people with "technical know-how." I've learned a tremendous amount from the very talented TDs around New York who for years have shared their scripts and plug-ins free of charge to the community (I'm especially thinking of Lloyd Alvarez here, but many others as well). I guess the original post was nothing more than a plea to spend less time kvetching about how we're being ripped off and undercut by people just blindly putting tutorials on their reels, and more time sharing ideas, process, and craft. As a side-note, I think Nog makes a good point that people some people might have a rosy view of how they broke into the business. I'm sure others had a different path than me, but I can still remember my first reel. I sat at home and recorded a bunch of animations that Blur, the Diecks Group, Belief, Three Ring Circus and the Attik did (I'm dating myself here). Then I copied every one, swapped out different logos, put them on a reel, and went job hunting. At that time no one was hiring me for my brilliant ideas, they wanted to know if I could make stuff that looked professional (I did make clear that these weren't real jobs, just a showcase of my skills). It was good practice.
  18. So this is a bit of a spin-off discussion from the debate about Grey Scale Gorilla. I have no interest in keeping that debate going. But there is something that a couple people said during the debate that have kept bugging me, so I'm going to raise it: First, the idea that creativity, or maybe artistry, is synonymous with secrecy. The crux of the argument is the fear that people coming up behind us will steal our ideas and pass them off in a diluted form for less money, thereby undercutting our position. It's a real concern. Every success breeds imitators in any art-form—remember all the post-Nirvana grunge bands. And today, it is so much easier for information to spread; the imitations seem to come fast and furious. Like inbreeding, each generation seemed weaker and frailer than the last. This is a frustrating situation. Not a new one at all, but still frustrating. There is one response, which is to turn inward and guard ever more preciously our ideas, techniques and knowledge. But I'd like to suggest that we lose more than we gain from that response. I've worked with top artists in design and film. I've worked with some who are insanely possessive of their work, who work alone and are very guarded about their work whether in progress or past work. But most of the artists I've worked with have been very gracious with their work. They enjoy educating and passing along knowledge. They enjoy helping younger artists on their way up because someone helped them as well. First, because technique is not the same as artistry. In art fields outside of technology, there are very few new techniques. There are very few new ways to play the guitar and yet, there continues to be new and exciting music being produced on the guitar all the time. Helping those around me learn the craft of playing is not the same thing as creating new works of music. I can't teach you what you say with your art, I can only help you say what you want to say more clearly. Our work is much more connected to technological innovation, but I still believe the same rule applies. Second—and really the point of all this—I think even on the creative level, we gain more from a sharing of our art. The great movements in art that always inspired me were always communities of artists who inspired and challenged one another: the impressionists, the Russian futurists, the Coppola/Speilberg/Murch/Lucas generation of US filmmakers. The internet should make it easier for us to learn from each other's work, to share ideas, and to challenge each other. Does this open us up to imitators? Yes. Does it open us up to animation factories in China? Yes. But I still think the benefits outweigh the risks. I would encourage more artists to make their process public. I'd love to see more rejected boards, sketches, failed ideas on people's websites (mine included. a new site is in progress). I'd like to see more people make their project files available to the public. And I'd like to see more people picking apart each other's work, making it public and seeing who can top what I've already done. I'm sure that there are those who don't agree. Fine. Don't participate. But we'll miss you
  19. There are other possibilities. I don't know. I really don't have a problem with it. Nick's tutorials are very helpful. And he's doing exactly what I did when I started out: take the best shit out there, break it down and figure out how to do it. He's not copying work for a job, and to his credit he doesn't charge for his tutorials. He does them out of the goodness of his heart (or perhaps a secret plan to take over the world, in which case he's an idiot because it is not going to work). I'd be fine with someone breaking down my work for a tutorial. I don't feel proprietary about my techniques, only my ideas. You can steal my techniques and you'll come up with something very different. Plus, once I've figured something new out I'm bored with it. You're always welcome to play with my old toys. I'm working on new shiny ones that you know nothing about. Anyway, I give big thanks to Nick. He does great work. Cheers.
  20. One other thought: it's all about timing. Most of the time we have a stable of freelancers who we've worked with a lot. Most of the time they are going to get the call not you. Just because I've worked with them before. When we go outside of that stable is when we're slammed and we need someone NOW. To that end, make your email short. Name, rate, availability, skills, link to your reel. And make your feel short with the best work up front. I can't remember the last time I watched a reel all the way through. And if you send an email and don't hear back, it's probably because 1) your work wasn't good enough, 2) your work was great but I just didn't need someone right then. Don't always assume it's #1. Send me an update next time you do a big project. Something short: "Update on one of my recent projects" and a few framegrabs and a link to your site. Don't expect me to get back to you unless I need to book you. But don't be afraid to remind me from time to time you exist. Also, if you're starting out feel free to ask if you can come in and drop off a reel and maybe meet with a producer. If we're busy we'll probably say no, but if it's slow, we sometimes bring in people to meet. Summer and January are the best times for that.
  21. Sorry Mr. McGiggles, but occasionally a piece still comes along that amazes me from a simply technical standpoint. Alex's stuff seems to have an organic quality that outshines just about anything else I see out there. Other people come close, but Alex's work feels different. That amazes me. But, yes, the concept isn't the strongest. I think we can all agree on that. But let me have my moment of amazement Grumpy. It's all I've got these days ...
  22. You can definitely have different version installed on the same system. We've got CS3, 4, and 5 on all our machines. I think you'll need a proper registration number for each. But not sure about that.
  23. I've never really used the media encoder. Anyone have any thoughts on how it compares to compressor? Ease of use? Quality?
  24. The DP is right about shallow depth of field. It can be a problem. Generally, you're trying to shoot with deep focus in 3D. But not always. Cameron actually did a nice job of this on Avatar. But he only really used soft focus on big close ups, where there was little chance of your eye straying in to the background. And there are a number of little gotchas that can cause problems. Flares are one. Also, smoke, or anything semi-transparent. Your eyes get conflicting depth cues from the smoke and what's behind it. It's an unsettling effect.
  25. The stereo I've done is more on the post side, so I'm not a camera expert, but I believe parallel is parallel—no convergence. Not sure what you mean when you say "the waste would be too important." Also, be careful with long lenses. They tend to compress depth. Too long a lens and you'll start to feel like your stereo scene is made up of a bunch of cardboard cutouts. Wide angle lenses tend to be preferable for stereo work.
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