Tech Re­views

Animation Magazine - - Tv -

K ob­ject track­ing — in a nut­shell. And I have to say, it’s re­ally, re­ally smart and straight for­ward. The suite con PinTool, and the lat­est ad­di­tion: Read­RiggedGeo. Most of them use PinTool as the foun­da­tion.

PinTool is an in­cred­i­bly sim­ple con­cept with some in­tel and move it into the po­si­tion it should be in the frame, then you re­peat with other ver­tices. The ob­ject will quickly line up into place. This is most help­ful if you are re­plac­ing a needs to be. If you have a mov­ing cam­era that’s tracked, you can move to a new frame, make ad­just­ments, and Keen will

GeoTracker and FaceTracker work with the same fun- da­men­tal foun­da­tion, with the dif­fer­ence be­ing that once you place your ob­ject à la PinTool, then Keen will what you’ve aligned it to, al­low­ing you to make fur­ther work with rigid ob­jects, while FaceTracker can be used geo that matches the char­ac­ter’s head, and then tracks de­for­ma­tion to match to the per­for­mance.

So, FaceBuilder uses PinTool tech­nol­ogy to gen­er­ate head geo that matches the struc­ture of the char­ac­ter, utiliz­ing var­i­ous pho­tos of the per­former. Like PinTool, you grab points on the geo face and match them to the ac­tor — the geo will trans­form and de­form the more points you align. You go through and line up one view, then switch to an­other photo and re­peat. With each view of the head, the solve will be­come more and more ac­cu­rate. Then, you can use the pho­tos to project onto the geo.

Finally, the Read­RiggedGeo node al­lows you to bring in an - ac­ter within Nuke. You can also bring in an­i­ma­tion data from out­side and ap­ply it to the char­ac­ter. I’m not quite sure that you can sell the idea to an­i­ma­tors to an­i­mate in Nuke, and I’m open to the idea that I’m over­look­ing some­thing.

How­ever, my ignorance aside, the other tools in the suite are so fast and so pow­er­ful that I’m not sure why one wouldn’t have it in one’s ar­se­nal. For FaceTracker and GeoTracker, I don’t see ren­der­ing out CG char­ac­ters, but for adding dig­i­tal makeup or beauty work, I can see so many ap­pli­ca­tions. One day, I will also prob­a­bly use FaceBuilder to quickly get a model of an ac­tor’s head.

This may be a small suite, but it’s quite mighty.

An­other cool, nerdy fea­ture is that you can choose dif­fer­ent kinds of com­pres­sions for dif­fer­ent kinds of data. If your ve­loc­ity chan­nel doesn’t need lots of de­tail, then a lossy (ir­re­versible) com­pres­sion can be used to help with stor­age is­sues. But, you can re­tain the de­tail in the places - ed dur­ing I/O, so ac­cess and writ­ing is faster. This al­lows for faster caching for pre­view­ing, which can also be op­ti­mized by chang­ing the res­o­lu­tion of the cache for view­port play­back. In ad­di­tion, the re­sults can be saved to OpenVDB for use in Arnold, Red­shift and Hou­dini.

Also, a new li­cens­ing scheme al­lows for li­cense rentals, just in case you aren’t burn­ing stuff year round!

I ZBrush from ver­sion to ver­sion. The ad­vances are sub­stan­tial and nu­mer­ous, and it just over­whelms me to the point of

Firstly, most dig­i­tal sculp­tors know about Sculp­tris — It’s a fast, light sculpt­ing sys­tem cen­tered around the it as a free down­load­able primer for get­ting into the world of dig­i­tal sculpt­ing. The super cool thing about Sculp­tris is that as you sculpt, it dy­nam­i­cally tes­sel­lates the mesh to ac­com­mo­date the de­tail you need. Now,

is a big deal: In the past, one had to sub­di­vide the sculpt as one carved more and more de­tail. Ei­ther sub­di­vi­sion lev­els or Dy­naMesh-ing, you were in­creas­ing the res­olu mesh was get­ting up-rez’d, even in the places that didn’t have de­tail. Sculp­tris Pro makes it so your hun­dreds of avail­able brushes will dy­nam­i­cally rez up the mesh just around the strokes you are mak­ing. And in­versely, smooth­ing the sur­face will dec­i­mate it — low­er­ing the res­o­lu­tion, and op­ti­miz­ing your model so you won’t hit a wall when your model reaches a gazil­lion poly­gons.

The Sculp­tris Pro fea­ture is ac­ti­vated through a but­ton on your tool shelf, and the set­tings can be saved on a per-brush level, in­clud­ing a fea­ture to dy­nam­i­cally ad­just the size of the stroke so it stays the same size rel­a­tive to the model, rather than rel­a­tive to the size on screen. This “lock­ing” of pa­ram­e­ters to brushes is also nor­mal brushes, not just Sculp­tris Pro.

The Sculp­tris Pro fea­ture should be enough to up­grade. But, there is more. ZBrush 4R8 in­tro­duced the con­cept of live prim­i­tives where the cre­ation of a prim­i­tive comes along with these cones changes pa­ram­e­ters of the prim­i­tives like res­o­lu­tion, twist, sym­me­try, etc. — all within close reach of your work­ing area. Then there is the idea of Insert Multi Mesh (IMM) brushes, that you can use to ac­tu­ally em­bed a mesh into an­other mesh. Take those two con­cepts and you kind of

Project Prim­i­tive em­beds prim­i­tives into a mesh, but the merge re­mains live while you ma­nip­u­late the parame - itives is a vastly in­creased se­lec­tion of de­form­ers to fur­ther mas­sage the com­bi­na­tion. This al­lows one to - lows one to it­er­ate faster and more of­ten. the images and de­rives a point cloud, builds a mesh, - volved!

feels rather sim­plis­tic, and some have com­pared it to a Mi­crosoft Word type of thing. But that sim­plic­ity is de­cep­tive. On the sur­face, it steps images and click the Start but­ton, and off it goes. For the most part, you get some­thing pretty us­able out of the gate — as long as you shot your images cor­rectly. From there, you can de­ter­mine how much fur­ther you need to push things to get a bet­ter solve.

Step one: Press Start again! Seem­ingly, the sys­tem knows that you weren’t happy with the re­sult, and it shifts its ap­proach — whether with a dif­fer­ent al­go­rithm, or weigh­ing some images more than oth­ers, or some­thing. Fre­quently, you failed, you ac­tu­ally might get some­thing. From there, you can see, “Oh, I need more data there” — and, if it’s ac­ces­si­ble, you can go and shoot more pho­tos in that area and add them to you can use li­dar scans, geo-ref­er­enc­ing, DSMs — ba­si­cally, the more data you have, the more ac­cu­rate your solve.

Then you can dig in and re­ally push to get man­ual solu- tions. Like if your solve comes up with three dif­fer­ent pieces you can tell it which fea­tures in the pho­tos are the same, four com­mon points and RC will do the rest.

- tools to help with the pro­jec­tions. The UDIM sup­port isn’t as ro­bust as I would like, but it looks like it’s in the works. In the

Real­i­tyCap­ture is re­ally straight for­ward, even when you have to do some stuff man­u­ally. It’s pretty darn fast, and the so­lu­tions are great. For the hob­by­ist or in­die guy, the price is within reach. You just have a few re­stric­tions, like only pho­tos per project! The cost does sky­rocket when you go com­mer­cial. There’s also a free trial ver­sion — you just can’t

En­ter­tain­ing the con­cept, or even go­ing so far as to ac­tu­ally work with these types of clients, hurts every pro­fes­sional in the in­dus­try. It low­ers the bar on a global scale and en­ables these preda­tors to con­tinue feed­ing on gullible vic­tims, thereby de­valu­ing the ser­vice from every an­gle.

Brush up on these tac­tics and keep this list handy so you can spot bot­tom-feed­ers and their ilk a mile away. Use the time, en­ergy and money you would have wasted on their projects to seek out qual­ity clients that value your craft and ap­pre­ci­ate work­ing with a creative pro­fes­sional such as you.

O - - zuki’s in­for­mal me­moir Mix­ing Work with Plea­sure: My Life at Stu­dio Ghi­bli ( Shig­oto Do­raku Shin­pan: Stu­dio Ghi­bli no Genba - - ures at the cel­e­brated Stu­dio Ghi­bli, Suzuki has served as a pro­ducer, chair­man and other ad­min­is­tra­tive po­si­tions, work­ing with Hayao Miyazaki and the late Isao Taka­hata on some the last three decades.

work­ing as a jour­nal­ist at Tokuma Shoten Pub­lish­ing af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Keio Univer­sity. him to put to­gether the premiere is­sue of An­im­age an­i­ma­tion — on a break­neck sched­ule. He - ries The Lit­tle Norse Prince Valiant, which Taka­hata and Miyazaki had worked on.

But when he con­tacted his fu­ture co-work­ers, who were mak­ing Fu­ture Boy Co­nan, Suzuki re­calls, “The only thing I said to Taka­hata was that I would like to meet him, but he started on be pos­si­ble. He went on for an hour! I was dumb­founded.” Con­versely, Miyazaki said, “I have a ton of things I want to say about The Lit­tle Norse Prince Valiant.

- ly moved from writ­ing about an­i­ma­tion to pro­duc­ing it — a tran­si­tion he doesn’t seem to mem­ber of the pro­duc­tion com­mit­tee for Miyazaki’s Nau­si­caä of the Val­ley of the Wind. Stu - cu­pied more and more of Suzuki’s time and - came com­pany direc­tor.

Suzuki of­fers rare in­sights into the char­ac­ters and work­ing meth­ods of two of the great­est di­rec­tors in the history of an­i­ma­tion. “For Miya-san [Suzuki’s nick­name for Miyazaki], was his se­nior, his ri­val, and some­times al­most even now he will say, ‘Do­ing it the way we are now, Suzuki-san, I’ll get scolded by Paku-san (his nick­name for Taka­hata).’ These are the

Suzuki quotes Taka­hata about Miyazaki: “The ter­ri­fy­ing re­al­ism his char­ac­ters pos­sess is not the re­sult of any cal­cu­lated or ob­jec­tive ob­ser­va­tion. Even if he does in­cor­po­rate his as­tute ob­ser­va­tions into his art­work, he re­mains pos­sessed by, and fuses with his char­ac­ters ... he can’t stand the idea of cre­at­ing any with whom he can’t iden­tify with emo­tion­ally.”

The ac­counts of Miyazaki’s and Taka­hata’s ap­proaches to di­rec­tion, char­ac­ter and sto­ry­telling are fas­ci­nat­ing. But the pro­duc­tion of an an­i­mated fea­ture seems to be re­mark­ably sim­i­lar in Ja­pan and Amer­ica. Artists in both coun­tries face the same prob­lems with story, bud­get, dead­lines, ad­ver­tis­ing and even mer­chan­dis­ing — which Suzuki largely re­sisted: the model of a small neigh­bor­hood fac­tory manned by mas­ter crafts­men. If the com­pany sud­denly trans­formed it­self into a pro­ducer of char­ac­ter goods, who could tell why it had

An­i­ma­tion buffs who have met Suzuki on his vis­its to Amer­ica or his ap­pear­ances at var his ge­nial, self-ef­fac­ing style in Roger Speares’ lively trans­la­tion of his prose. Suzuki de­scribes him­self as a prag­matic man who works on the tasks be­fore him, rather than as­pir­ing to an over­ar­ch­ing goal: “Ba­si­cally, I have taken a pas­sive ap­proach, deal­ing with prob­lems as they come up and be­liev­ing that the fu­ture will take care of it­self.” Yet Miyazaki said, “He keeps your nose to the grind­stone while pre - ing not to.”

Suzuki has writ­ten a new pref­ace for the English edi­tion, and in­cluded the af­ter­word to the re­vised Ja­panese edi­tion of through ma­jor changes since the book’s orig­i­nal - ing Miyazaki’s re­tire­ment and re­turn to work, and the ap­pear­ance of new di­rec­tors. In ad­di­tion to stills have been use­ful.

Mix­ing Work with Plea­sure is a book ev­ery­one in­ter­ested in an­i­ma­tion should read. With any luck, the Ja­pan Pub­lish­ing In­dus­try Foun­da­tion for Cul­ture will fol­low it with trans­la­tions of Suzuki’s other writ­ings and Taka­hata’s books.

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