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WO R L D
Computer
T H E MA G A Z I N E F OR D I G I TA L C ON T E N T C R E AT I ON A N D P R OD U C T I ON
$4.95 USA $6.50 Canada
An animated CG film starring some not so
creepy crawlers wins festival accolades
Perfect Match
Hollywood and gaming
pair up to make
King Kong interactive
To DI For
V for Vendetta: Unmasking
post’s VFX capabilities
Behind the Scenes
How studios are storing
their digital assets
Bug Bytes
March 2006 www.cgw.com
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COMPUTER COMPUTER
GRAPHICS WORLD GRAPHICS WORLD
to a friend! to a friend!
Autodesk and Alias are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., in the USA and/or other countries.
All other brand names, product names, or trademarks belong to their respective holders. ©2006 Autodesk, Inc. All rights reserved.
Image created by: Morph Studios (Maya), Caroline Delen (3ds Max).
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Idea:
Greater creative freedom.
Realized:
Join us in celebrating the beautiful
new relationship between Autodesk
and Alias. Whether you’re looking for
robust out-of-the-box power, a highly
customizable solution or premier
character-animation tools, this pair
is ready to help you push creative
boundaries for years to come. To
learn more about this power couple,
visit autodesk.com/animation
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T H E MA G A Z I N E F OR D I G I TA L C ON T E N T C R E AT I ON A N D P R OD U C T I ON
WO R L D
Computer
Also see www.cgw.com for computer graphics news,
special surveys and reports, and the online gallery.
w w w . c g w . c o m MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 3
Departments
Editor’s Note 4
Game On
The annual Game Developers
Conference is right around the corner,
and looking at the schedule, it’s
apparent that there is more to
interactive entertainment than just
fun and games—mainly, it’s a
business...big business.
Spotlight 6
Products
RealViz’s VTour
Alienware’s MJ-12 Workstations
E-on’s Vue XStream
Efrontier/TokyoPop’s
Manga Studio 3.0
NewTek’s VT4 Version 4.6
Matrox’s Axio suite
The Foundry’s Furnace 3 plug-ins
Portfolio 22
DreamWorks’ Matte Department
Reviews 33
Natural Motion’s Endorphin 2.5
3dconnexion’s Space devices
Backdrop 40
Role Model
Mythic Entertainment’s president/CEO
Mark Jacobs addresses the unique
challenges faced by developers of
massively multiplayer online role-play-
ing games, and provides a glimpse at
Mythic’s newest MMORPG under
development—Warhammer Online:
Age of Reckoning.
Features
Aping Film 10
GAMING
|
Peter Jackson’s King Kong
from Ubisoft offers the cinematic
appeal and action of a film and the
compelling interactivity of a leading
adventure game.
By Martin McEachern
A Digital Revolution 14
FILM
|
After setting a new CG bar for
the bullet-time effect in The Matrix, the
Wachowski brothers took a totally
different approach to visual effects for
their latest project, V for Vendetta.
By Barbara Robertson
Bug’s-eye View 18
CG ANIMATION
|
Artist Josh Staub
shows off his digital bug collection—
his first CG animated short film
called The Mantis Parable.
By Ingrid Spencer
On the cover:
Josh Staub, art designer for a game developer,
offers a microscopic look at his first CG short,
The Mantis Parable. See pg. 18.
10
March 2006 • Volume 29 • Number 3
See www.cgw.com for a more
in-depth version of this article.
NEW@cgw.com
Web story exclusives:
Storage and the DI process
Offering storage and networking
solutions, Silicon Graphics is helping
postproduction facility Capital FX keep
up with its growing business.
NAS vs. SAN:
The Big Debate
Recently, the question for facilities was
whether to use NAS over 1GB/sec Ethernet
or SAN over Fibre Channel. Now, there
is another alternative—high-speed iSCSI.
What’s the best choice for you?
14
18
25
Storage in the Studio 25
+ Filmmaker extraordinaire George Lucas and his visual arts facility, ILM, are setting
a new technical bar for the studio’s storage and data setup. By Barbara Robertson
+ A look at storage technology in fast-paced studios shows a range of options to suit
everyone’s needs. By Michele Hope
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___________
KELLY DOVE: Editor-in-Chief
kdove@pennwell.com
KAREN MOLTENBREY: Executive Editor
karenm@pennwell.com
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS:
Jenny Donelan, Audrey Doyle,
Evan Marc Hirsch, George Maestri,
Martin McEachern, Stephen Porter,
Barbara Robertson
SUZANNE HEISER: Art Director
suzanneh@pennwell.com
DAN RODD: Senior Illustrator
danro@pennwell.com
BARBARA ANN BURGESS: Production Manager
barbarab@pennwell.com
CHRISTINE WARD: Ad Traffic Manager
ChristineW@Pennwell.com
SUSAN HUGHES: Marketing Communications Manager
shughes@pennwell.com
MICHELLE BLAKE: Circulation Manager
michelleb@pennwell
MARK FINKELSTEIN:
Senior Vice President
mark@pennwell.com
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4 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m
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Kelly Dove
Editor-in-Chief
Game On
It’s March, and those in the gaming community are preparing to “head West”
in anticipation of the annual Game Developers Conference in San Jose. This
journey, which has been made by many an ambitious and talented game
developer, ends and begins at the doors of the San Jose Convention Center,
where gamers, developers, and wanna-bes all converge to rub elbows with the
gurus, share their creative knowledge, and search for employment at top-notch studios.
However, there is more to game development than being energized and party-
ready; it’s big business—especially when Hollywood comes knocking. The success of
the theatrical release of Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong, for example, resulted in
a major coup for game maker Ubisoft, as the developer released versions of the title
for all major game platforms in advance of the movie’s box-office debut. This month,
as we ready for GDC, contributing editor Martin McEachern goes behind the scenes at
Ubisoft to see how Hollywood and the game developers combined their creativity to
walk hand in hand—straight to the bank.
But the stroll can be a long one for game developers that don’t continue to refine and
streamline technology and creative work flow within the studio. One of the most ambi-
tious technological advancements for game developers—and the entertainment indus-
try overall—is Collada. Originally initiated by Sony Computer Entertainment to help
accelerate the development of content for its PlayStation 3 consoles, Collada is now an
open standard that is being developed by The Khronos Group. It is based on an XML
schema for 3D authoring applications, allowing developers to freely exchange digi-
tal assets without loss of information. In essence, multiple software programs can be
combined to create power tool chains, supporting OpenGL, OpenGL ES, and Direct3D
shading languages, to create advanced 3D applications and assets.
The companies that currently support Collada include 3Dlabs, Autodesk, Aegia,
ATI, Havok, Nvidia, and Softimage. In fact, Nvidia’s next contribution to Collada will
be the FX Composer 2.0, a shader development tool that will
support loading and saving, skinning, animation, and materi-
als for multiple devices, including DirectX and OpenGL.
If, by chance, the benefits of Collada for game development
are still unclear to you, the PixelBox Academy has introduced
a new e-learning solution (recently endorsed by The Khronos
Group’s president Neil Trevett) for the technology that is designed
to teach users how to use Collada to optimize studio work flow.
One area of game development that is often overshadowed by
console development is massively multiplayer online, or MMO,
games, which debuted more than 20 years ago. In this issue,
executive editor Karen Moltenbrey sits down for a Q&A with Mark Jacobs, president
of Mythic Entertainment, developer of Dark Age of Camelot, for insight into making
games for the online player, and the challenges the developers face while trying to
push new content out to this unique community.
Certainly, technology will continue to push the limits of game development worldwide
as more Hollywood studios and game developers start to hold hands and work together.
It’s a courtship that could turn out to be quite beneficial for the business of CG.
We look forward to seeing you at GDC!
Hollywood and
game developers
are starting to
work together.
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5-days of real-world, real-time
graphic, interactive twingularity
The only conference and exhibition in the world that twingles everybody in computer graphics and
interactive techniques for one deeply intriguing and seriously rewarding week. In Boston, where
thousands of interdisciplinary superstars find the products and concepts they need to create
opportunities and solve problems. Interact with www.siggraph.org/s2006
to discover a selection of registration options that deliver a very attractive
return on investment.
IMAGE CREDITS: limosa © 2005 Brian Evans; moo-pong © 2005 Jun Usu, Daisuke Uriu,
Naohito Okude, Keio University Okude Laboratory; 2005.1 © 2005 Kenneth A. Huff
The 33rd International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques
Conference 30 July - 3 August 2006 Exhibition 1 - 3 August 2006 Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
Boston, Massachusetts USA
Mk Haley
|
Bostonian
|
BFA University of Massachusetts
|
MFA Cal State Los Angeles
|
Technical Advisor, Walt Disney
Imagineering Creative Development, Glendale, California
|
18-year SIGGRAPH attendee
Masa Inakage
|
MFA California College of the Arts
|
Professor, Keio University Media Design Program,
Kanagawa, Japan
|
22-year SIGGRAPH attendee
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6 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m
spotlight
V I R T U A L E N V I R O N ME N T S
WO R K S T A T I O N S
Your resource for products, user applications, news, and market research
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T E R R A I N C R E A T I O N
P
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Alienware’s new MJ-12 7500i and MJ-12 7500a workstations for creative
professionals feature Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI X16-based motherboards with
two full-bandwidth 16-lane PCI Express slots for optimized and scal-
able performance. Both the Intel-based MJ-12 7500i and
the MJ-12 7500a workstations are offered with
Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 graphics cards
and hard drives in RAID 0 and 1 con-
figurations for up to 2TB of data stor-
age. The company’s optional Liquid
Cooling technology reduces noise
and allows for cooler operation of
the workstations. Pricing for
the MJ-12 series of worksta-
tions starts at $1599.
Alienware Adds New Nvidia
Options to MJ-12 Workstations
RealViz has introduced VTour,
new content-creation software
based on the company’s Stitcher
and ImageModeler programs
for the creation of photorealistic
3D environments from 2D pic-
tures or panoramas. Using digi-
tal photos or 360-degree panoramas, VTour can be used to create 3D rooms,
buildings, streets, and environments with polygonal photo-textured primi-
tives. The results can be exported or published as a 3D movie or interactive
application for use with 3D viewers such as Macromedia Shockwave Player
or Virtools Web Player. VTour can be used to create virtual walk-throughs
inside buildings, or for urban planning, video games, and virtual sets for
film and television. The program runs under Windows and is priced at
$580. A Mac-based version is slated for release this summer.
VTour Creates 3D
Environments from
2D Pictures
E-on Software’s Vue 5 XStream for
Windows 2000/XP is a suite of plug-
ins that integrate 3D projects cre-
ated using 3ds Max and Maya in
Vue environments. With the plug-
ins, Vue 5 Infinite environments are
matched with Max or Maya scenery
in one render pass, while the Max or
Maya elements are rendered together
with Vue elements, matching shad-
ows, reflections, and illumination for
seamlessly blended environments.
E-on’s Vue software includes Eco-
System technology, which can be used
to animate forests with wind, breeze,
vegetation, and terrains containing
infinite levels of detail, volumetric
atmospheres, and procedural multi-
materials. Vue environments can be
created directly in Max and Maya with
a separate license of Vue 5 Infinite.
Plug-ins for LightWave 3D, Cinema
4D, and Softimage XSI are currently
being developed. Vue 5 XStream sells
for $495, and the XStream Bundle,
which includes Vue 5 Infinite and Vue
5 XStream, is priced at $995.
Make XStream
Environments
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w w w . c g w . c o m MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 7
V I D E O P R O D U C T I O N
H D A N D S D F I N I S H I N G A N I ME T O O L S
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C O MP O S I T I N G
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Efrontier has teamed with TokyoPop to release Manga
Studio 3.0, manga and comic-book creation software for
aspiring and profes-
sional artists. The
software includes
the tools to create
manga-style comics
without the use of
other graphic soft-
ware. Some of the
features included in
Manga Studio 3.0 are a large selection of screen tones,
single-click special effects, drag-and-drop tools, word
balloons, and floating palettes. Once the manga or comic
artwork is completed, it can be printed from any comput-
er, sent to a service bureau for publishing, formatted for
the Web, or exported for coloring. Manga Studio is avail-
able in two versions: Manga Studio Debut, priced at $50,
and Manga Studio EX, which sells for $300.
Get Creative
with Manga Studio
VT4 Integrated
Production Suite
Update Available
NewTek is offering a free upgrade to Version 4.6 of its VT4
Integrated Production Suite to registered owners of the
system. The new features of the upgrade include improved
3D animation and motion-graphics tools, enhanced sup-
port for multiple monitors, and improvements to the
NewTek codec. The update also supports LightWave
8, Version 8.5, and FX Monkey, the icon-driven motion
graphics and animation wizard that can be used to easily
create animated 3D logos. VT4 V. 4.6 also includes new
audio mixer skins, support
for YUY2 FourCC, allow-
ing files to be read direct-
ly into the Windows Media
Encoder, and more. The
Version 4.6 upgrade is avail-
able as a free download at
the NewTek Web site.
Matrox Systems
Support Adobe
Production Studio
The Matrox Axio suite of HD and SD editing platforms
now support the new Adobe Production Studio and Adobe
Premiere Pro 2.0, offering users real-time multi-camera
editing and real-time SD clip upscaling in an HD timeline.
The Axio systems also offer voice-over recording in the
timeline, audio VU meters on capture, and WYSIWYG
support for Adobe’s After Effects and Photoshop C2,
Autodesk Media and Entertainment’s Combustion and
3ds Max, Eyeon’s Digital Fusion, and NewTek’s LightWave
3D. Other features in
the Axio solutions
include no-render
HD and SD finish-
ing in compressed
and uncompressed
formats, real-time color-correction tools, and analog and
digital audio and video inputs and outputs. The Matrox
Axio HD system pricing starts at $17,000, and the Matrox
Axio SD pricing begins at $13,000.
Furnace 3 Plug-ins
Heat Up Shake
The Foundry has released
Furnace 3 for Shake, a
new suite of plug-ins
for Linux or OS X ver-
sions of the software
that include DeBlur, to
automatically remove
motion and out-of-focus
blur; MatchGrade, for
color histogram match-
ing; and Tracker, a multi-point tracker that locates
regions on a moving image. Other enhancements to the
program include ColorAlign, to remove discrepancies
in the alignment of three color channels in an image;
Splicer, to stitch together arbitrarily shaped images or
parts of images and create a visually believable seam;
and DeNoise, to remove noise and artifacts in an image.
Furnace 3 pricing begins at $4000.
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. . . . Gaming
10 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m
Ubi soft adds a touch of Hol l ywood
to i ts Ki ng Kong vi deo game
By Mart i n McEachern
Aping Film
Representing a new breed
of video game, Peter
Jackson’s King Kong is one
of the first interactive titles
conceived by an A-list movie
director. Working with
developer Ubisoft, Jackson
provided creative direction
for the game, along with
assistance from Weta, his
Oscar-winning effects studio.
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w w w . c g w . c o m MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 11
Gaming. . . .
King Kong made a much-hyped swing into
theaters this winter, he made an equally
anticipated entrance onto the gaming
scene. Released on all the major game plat-
forms, Peter Jackson’s King Kong is the first
in a new breed of video games produced
under the stewardship of heavyweight
film directors. With Hollywood direct-
ing the interactive action, game develop-
ers are hoping to break down the creative
barrier that has, in recent years, stymied
progress in the gaming arts.
For the King Kong game, movie director
Peter Jackson conceived the title as a sister
companion to the film that would not only
embody the narrative of the feature—and
all its major action set pieces—but expand
on its universe as well. To realize his
vision, Jackson turned to Ubisoft
game designer Michael Ancel,
whose previous title, Beyond
Good & Evil, impressed the direc-
tor with its charming charac-
ters, imaginative story, and cin-
ematic visuals. Their venture
resulted in a massive, $10 million
collaboration between Jackson’s
Weta Digital studio (which pro-
duced the effects for the movie
as well as for the Oscar-winning
The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and
Ubisoft’s studios in Montreal and
Montpellier, France. Ubisoft incor-
porated much of Weta’s concep-
tual artwork directly into the game engine
as background imagery, while Weta’s
creature and environmental maps served
as reference for Ubisoft’s in-game texture
mapping. Meanwhile, Jackson provided
creative direction for the story, the game-
play, the visuals, and the look and move-
ments of the creatures.
“Gamemaking is similar to filmmak-
ing: You are focusing on the story,” says
Jackson. “The parallel development of the
game and the film enabled us to look at
key scenes from both the cinematic and
interactive perspectives, and offer view-
ers the best of both worlds.”
The player begins the game in first-
person mode, playing Jack Driscoll as he
escapes the tribal fortress with his friends
and flees into the jungle in search of
actress Ann Darrow, who’s been abducted
by the giant ape. Along the way, Driscoll
must race across creaking rope bridges,
enter dank caves, and escape on river
rafts, all the while defending Ann and
his friends from humongous millipedes,
Velociraptors, and ferocious T. rexes, using
1933-style guns, spears, and tusks, or by
employing such diversionary tactics as
igniting grass fires.
For the rest of the game, the player
controls the hulking frame of Kong in
third-person mode. Whether he’s bound-
ing across the jungle floor or the streets
of New York on his knuckles and feet, or
swinging through chasms and tall gullies
while clinging to vine-covered cliff walls
or the sides of buildings, Kong’s simian
movements—supervised by Jackson—are
as explosive and realistic as they are in the
film. Jackson and the gamemakers chose
the dual perspectives so that the player
would experience both helplessness and
ultimate power, the two primary visceral
emotions engendered by the film.
From Film to Game
To help capture Jackson’s cinematic pol-
ish, Ubisoft jettisoned such gaming con-
ventions as life meters and ammunition
icons. In fact, so close was the collabora-
tion between the filmmakers and Ubisoft
that no conceptual art was produced for
the game. Instead, Ubisoft relied solely on
Weta’s conceptual art and digital assets
to guide the look, tone, and color palette
of the game. Ubisoft used Weta’s concep-
tual art to re-create the geography of Skull
Island in meticulous detail, including the
mist-blanketed jungle and the tribal for-
tress on the peninsula where Ann is held
for sacrifice to Kong. The developer also
used footage from the film—for exam-
ple, the characters running away from
the dinosaurs—which was matched to in-
game animations.
According to Ubisoft producer Xavier
Poix, developing a movie-based video
game that’s scheduled to launch concur-
rently with the film was fraught with chal-
lenges, particularly since the game’s devel-
opment (which typically spans two years)
usually occurs well in advance of the film’s
production, and sometimes, its pre-
production. To meet this challenge,
Ubisoft met with Jackson and the
Weta team more than a year before
the film’s preproduction com-
menced, to discuss the emotional
intentions for the film.
“The game was pretty far along
by the time principal photography
began,” says Poix. “In fact, the first
time Jackson saw a 3D King Kong
was when we brought him one of
the first builds of the game, which
was months before Andy Serkis
donned his infamous Kong motion-
capture suit.” (For details on the
making of the King Kong film, see “Long
Live the King,” January 2006, pg. 16.)
Once film production had begun,
members of Ubisoft’s Montpellier crew
made the trek to New Zealand five
times to study the movie sets. “We dis-
cussed everything—duplicating camera
angles, making sure the sense of scale
was achieved accurately, maintaining
a consistent look between the film and
game versions of the various creatures,”
says Poix. “The close collaboration also
As
The filmmakers and gamemakers worked closely on the inter-
active title. To that end, Ubisoft used Weta’s conceptual art and
digital assets to determine the look and feel of the imagery.
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12 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m
. . . . Gaming
enabled us to develop parts of the game
that aren’t included in the movie, such
as new areas of Skull Island, exclusive
creatures, and an unlockable alternate
ending. These additional elements could
not have been achieved without us hav-
ing open access to the movie throughout
all phases of preproduction, production,
and postproduction.”
Of Man and Beast
To create the final in-game Kong model, Weta provided Ubisoft
with a digital version comprising approximately three million
polygons. To make the mesh game-ready, the Montpellier crew
refined the model using the studio’s proprietary Jade game edi-
tor, the same engine used for Beyond Good & Evil. Because the
gorilla is seen so closely throughout the game, the artists crafted
the model in only one level of detail to avoid storing unnecessary
geometry. Using the Jade editor, the riggers built Kong’s skeleton
with 30 bones for the basic articulation and 10 additional bones
for twisting various body parts, particularly the forearm.
Also within Jade, the artists created Kong’s facial animation
using a mixture of bones and morph targets depict-
ing such expressions as anger, sadness, happiness,
and surprise. Although Weta supplied Ubisoft
with Kong’s motion-captured animations, the data
proved far too memory-intensive, and the move-
ments far too specific, to be incorporated directly
into the game engine. Therefore, the team crafted
all of Kong’s animations by hand after receiving
instruction from Serkis.
“The hardest part of animating Kong lied in
maintaining credibility throughout his multiple
modes of locomotion—from knuckle-walking, to
propelling himself on his hind legs, to swinging
and climbing,” says Poix. “In animating Kong, we
worked hard to capture the mixture of ferocity and
vulnerability desired by Jackson. Also, we wanted to avoid under-
mining the audience’s preconceptions about how the iconic char-
acter moved about.”
For texturing Kong, the artists referenced Weta’s concept art
as well as images of actual gorillas. In total, the beast uses six
textures: 256x256 (4 bit) for the skin, 128x256 (8 bit) for the face,
64x128 (8 bit) for the inside of the mouth, 32x32 (4 bit) for eyes,
and 128x128 (4 bit) and 64x64 (4 bit) for the fur. Montpellier’s
in-house fur shader allowed artists to control such attributes as
the color, length, and density of the fur. “Balancing the length
and density of the fur was the key to achieving a soft, furry
coat that would render efficiently and not hinder the frame rate,”
says lead programmer Jean Francois Provost.
While the Montpellier group developed these textures for the
PlayStation 2 iteration (the lead version of the game), their team-
mates in Montreal enhanced the surfaces for the more-powerful
Xbox 360 title, which boasts higher-resolution (512x512, or 32-
bit) textures. The next-gen console version also supports higher-
resolution geometry, normal mapping, dynamic lighting and
shadows, and better water effects. For instance, the T. rexes in
the Xbox 360 version use five texture passes, including the orig-
inal pass, a tessellation pass, and a final pass to increase the
dinosaurs’ volume and the definition of their reptilian hide.
For the human characters, the artists worked from photo-
graphic references within Jade to produce models in three levels
of detail. To differentiate the natives as much as possible, the team
created three geometric variations and then scaled them further to
enhance their individuality. To rig
the natives, the team modified the
bone lengths of a base skeleton,
which contained approximately
35 bones. For the main characters,
the Ubisoft group used two types
of skeletons: one for the men and
another for Ann. Along with addi-
tional bones to handle more com-
plex twisting in the wrists, arms,
and elbows, these models are
also capable of facial animation,
accomplished with morph targets
and gaze-tracking through AI-
controlled inverse kinematics.
To make the title
more cinematic,
Ubisoft forwent a
number of typical
gaming conventions,
such as life and
ammo meters,
which tend to
obstruct the images
on the screen.
Animators were challenged by the range of Kong’s motions
(knunckle-walking, swinging, climbing) as well as the gorilla’s
emotions (which ran the gamut from ferocity to vulnerability).
Working from photo references within
Ubisoft’s Jade software, the artists re-created
the game’s human characters, including Ann.
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Gaming. . . .
Gorillas in the Mist
The Montpellier effects team also created the heavy mist that
permeates the game’s jungle setting. It thickens the bright sun-
light pouring through the canopy, casting dappled light over the
foliage and adding a sense of heaviness and humidity to the air.
The artists created the mist and the fog using a sprite generator
within Jade. To create the complex lighting, they lit most objects
vertex by vertex, and relied on real-time omni lights for illumi-
nating the characters when they were in close proximity to fire,
moonlight, or other dynamic light sources.
“Our primary concern in lighting the jungle was to create sim-
ple and readable images. Jackson wanted to create an immer-
sive environment,” says art director Florent Sacre. “Therefore,
we didn’t want to overdo the lighting and risk losing the depth
and scope of the jungle. We did only what was needed to make
the world in the game believable.”
In another sequence of the game, Driscoll and his friends
float down a river on rafts that are suddenly besieged by T. rexes.
Basic water simulation was accomplished by the Jade engine.
The artists created more complex water effects by applying the
same texture maps used for Kong’s fur onto successive layers
of alpha maps. Jade’s sprite generator also produced the game’s
smoke and fire, which were controlled with axis constraints.
To create the leaves, grass, and other foliage, the group used
Sprite Mapper 2 (SPM2), a proprietary sprite generator within
Jade that’s especially dedicated to the PS2 and similar to that
used for the fog and mist. With SPM2, Ubisoft was able to cre-
ate and apply any number of sprites to either a zone or a vertex,
and modify them by adding noise or changing their size, form,
or density. “I personally made every texture before we went to
New Zealand,” says Sacre. “I trotted around Montpellier with
my camera, and I selected interesting organic and inorganic sur-
faces that would constitute kits of textures. The majority of the
photographs we took in New Zealand weren’t inserted into the
actual game, but rather, used as reference for refining the tex-
tures created in Montpellier. I painted the textures to resemble
Weta’s environments, the temples, or the stone wall, preserving
the graphic style of the game and avoiding ‘pseudo-realism.’”
Whether hiking around cliff-hugging trails, passing through
thick jungle patches, or basking in the god rays streaming
through the air holes in the caves, gamers playing the Xbox 360
version will notice a crispness in the shadows and a brilliance in
the lighting that is unmatched on other systems, thanks to a com-
bination of highly detailed normal maps and dynamic lighting.
Also, the artists enhanced the lushness of the jungle in the
Xbox 360 title using up to six textures for the diverse foliage:
a base texture, a moss texture, a shadow texture, a specular
map, a normal map, and a detailed normal map that accentu-
ated the gnarled and knotted look of the tree bark and the crag-
giness of the rocks. To create wet skin and wet fur, the Jade
engine dynamically altered the specular map to increase the
shininess of the textures according to the wetness of the sur-
face. The team also employed cube maps on the water pools to
further enhance the lighting and reflections.
Revitalizing the Medium
Peter Jackson’s King Kong heralds an impending flood of games
either created by A-list directors or inspired by their films. A
game version of The Warriors has already hit store shelves, fol-
lowed soon by video game versions of The Godfather, Dirty
Harry, and Taxi Driver. Meanwhile, director John Singleton is
currently producing Fear and Respect, starring Snoop Dogg,
while John Woo is developing a video game sequel to his film
Hard Boiled, titled Stranglehold. Also, Electronic Arts continues
to adapt such James Bond classics as the upcoming From Russia
with Love, starring Sean Connery.
Perhaps the biggest recruitment to the video game world,
however, may be Steven Spielberg, who recently signed a much-
publicized, long-term agreement with EA to develop three
franchise properties bearing his signature style of storytelling.
Throughout his career, that style has been characterized by a
tight control over the audience’s point of view.
Another unique creative force that will soon invade the gam-
ing world is that of David Cronenberg, director of last year’s
highly acclaimed A History of Violence. His as-yet unnamed game
project will be developed with Toronto’s Trapeze Animation
Studios. Cronenberg once referred to each of his films as a “self-
contained biosphere,” a description that more aptly encapsu-
lates the essence of an interactive world.
If directors such as Jackson, Spielberg, and Cronenberg can
inject the gaming medium with the same revitalizing energy
and innovative vision they unleashed on the film world, the
future of the interactive experience may soon take some new,
unexpected and exciting directions.
Martin McEachern, a contributing editor for Computer Graphics
World, can be reached at martin@globility.com.
Released on all the major platforms, the game’s effects, like those
in this scene, are most apparent in the Xbox 360 version.
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. . . . Film
14 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m
The Wachowski brothers’ film noir-styled
“kung-fu meets sci-fi” movie, The Matrix,
won a visual effects Oscar in 2000 for,
among other effects, the stylish “bul-
let-time” shots in which Keanu Reeves’s
actions happened in extremely slow
motion while the camera swung around
him. Since then, so many films—from
Charlie’s Angels to Shrek—have imitated
and parodied the bullet-time shots that
the effect has become a cliché.
But, what happened behind the slo-mo
action arguably had a more widespread
and lasting impact on visual effects. To
create digital reproductions of the loca-
tions surrounding the action, the Matrix
crew used photogrammetric model-
ing with projected texture mapping,
and state-of-the-art image-based light-
ing techniques based on Paul Debevec’s
research at the University of California.
Today, most films with visual effects
use lighting techniques based Debevec’s
research, and digital matte paintings that
include projected texture maps on image-
based models are increasingly common.
It’s unlikely that the 500 visual effects
shots in the Wachowski brothers’ latest
film, V for Vendetta (which they wrote
and co-produced), will win a visual
effects Oscar—the timeline was tight,
and the story didn’t demand huge effects.
However, as in The Matrix, something
that few people will notice on screen
could be a harbinger for changes in the
way postproduction houses and colorists
work with film in the future.
James McTeigue, who was first assis-
tant director on all three Matrix films
and on Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of
the Clones, directed V for Vendetta. Hugo
Weaving, who played Agent Smith in the
Matrix trilogy and Elrond in The Lord of
the Rings trilogy, is V, a vigilante who
wears a white Guy Fawkes mask, black
hat, and black cape. And, Natalie Portman
is the mild-mannered young woman he
rescues—and radicalizes. Based on a
graphic novel illustrated by David Lloyd
and published by Vertigo/CD Comics, the
UK-German production takes place in a
future, totalitarian Britain. The tag line
for the film, which tackles the question of
armed resistance to totalitarian oppres-
sion, is: “People should not be afraid of
their governments. Governments should
be afraid of their people.”
Dan Glass, who was visual effects
supervisor for Batman Begins and for the
final two Matrix films, was V for Vendetta’s
visual effects supervisor. Unlike the Matrix
trilogy, only a few of Vendetta’s effects are
obvious, and the visual effects crew often
relied on practical elements rather than
CG. “The majority of the effects are sub-
tle,” Glass says. “It was a real pleasure
to work on it from that point of view, to
play with little details in a way that I don’t
think anyone will notice, but that finessed
the movie as a whole.”
Cinesite created most of the effects,
with Framestore CFC handling the digi-
tal intermediate (DI) work. In addition,
Double Negative put videos on television
monitors and video screens throughout
the film. All three studios are in London’s
Soho district.
“Our most obvious visual effects were
the explosions and a knife fight scene,”
says Glass. “Cinesite handled those and
smaller bits and pieces. Framestore CFC
changed the lighting on the key charac-
ter’s mask in postproduction and bal-
anced the atmosphere throughout one
sequence [see “VFX in the DI Suite,”
pg. 16]. I found that work particularly inter-
esting—the whole process often blurred the
line between what we did in visual effects
and what was dealt with in the DI.”
Trails of Destruction
Early in the film, V makes his mark by
exploding big buildings. For this, the
buildings were miniatures that the crew
A digital
Cinesite used its React crowd-simulation
software to handle the motion for the
thousands of digital people dressed like
V in this scene.
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Film. . . .
V
photographed. “We had seven weeks
allotted for visual effects, and we didn’t
have a big budget,” says Glass. “We tried
to find or photograph real elements.”
For the fire, Glass had Pacific Title in Los
Angeles scan fire and firework elements
from the Warner Bros. archives. “I was
keen to use real fireworks,” Glass says. “CG
tends to be slightly clean, but with the real
elements, you get all the details for free.”
Cinesite relied on CG for the knife
effects, however, during a sequence
in which V shows off his superhuman
power by moving at hyperspeed. “It’s
the Vendetta version of bullet time,” says
Matt Johnson, visual effects supervisor at
Cinesite. To create the feeling of hyper-
speed, the crew filmed stunt performers
at high speed; the stunt performer act-
ing as V handled bladeless knives. The
CG knife trails, which looked like ciga-
rette smoke, created the illusion of speed
in the slow-motion scenes.
To create the trails, Cinesite first
tracked the camera with 2d3’s Boujou soft-
ware and Science-D-Visions’ 3D Equalizer,
and rotoscoped knife strikes in the shots,
adding CG knife blades to handles and,
sometimes, complete knives modeled
in Autodesk Media and Entertainment’s
Maya (formerly from Alias). A Maya plug-
in extruded layers of geometry from the
tracking curves to create
geometry planes based
on the knives’ motion,
“but more complex,” says
Thrain Shadbolt, 3D
supervisor. “[The plug-
in] also cut these planes
into several pieces, some
moving quicker than oth-
ers. The geometry was created in Pixar’s
RenderMan and layered in different ways
with textures, some moving and some not,
and then taken into the composite.”
Compositors working in Apple’s Shake
used optical-distortion nodes to break
up the passes and mix various levels of
transparency, especially when V walked
through a knife trail. “We used lots of
2D plug-ins for Shake,” says Johnson.
“Everyone had to maintain continuity
through scenes.”
Street Scenes
Cinesite also created digital crowds for
a sequence in which thousands of peo-
ple appear on the streets dressed like
V. Although the production crew filmed
real people in costume gathering at the
Houses of Parliament, Cinesite increased
their numbers by replicating those real
performers in compositing and by cre-
ating fully CG characters. The studio’s
crowd-simulation software, called React,
handled the motion by applying anima-
tion created from motion-capture data to
15 different crowd models. To animate the
cloaks, the crew integrated Syflex’s cloth
simulations into the crowd software, pre-
baking the animation when the crowds
were shot from a long distance.
In addition, Cinesite created large
matte paintings by using RealViz’s Stitcher
Re olution
I n a novel approach, crews create
many of Vendetta’s effects i n DI
By Barbara Robert son
Layers of geometry
extruded from tracking
curves and rendered with
textures were compos-
ited with various levels of
transparency to create the
knife trails left by V in
this image.
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16 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m
. . . . Film
to quilt photographic tiles enhanced in
Adobe’s Photoshop. A shot of Natalie
Portman standing on a balcony in the rain,
for example, was filmed on a set piece
in a studio. To create the rain, Cinesite
used Maya particles rendered through
RenderMan. The crew added depth of field
by splitting the rainstorm into multiple
layers rendered at different speeds, and
then blurring highlights on some layers
in Shake, during compositing. To control
a hero raindrop that splashes in Portman’s
face, Shadbolt used a Maya expression to
attach one particle to a locator.
“Hopefully, these effects won’t draw
attention to themselves,” says Johnson.
“This isn’t a popcorn movie. The visual
effects were not the end; they were the
means to the end.”
Barbara Robertson is an award-winning jour-
nalist and a contributing editor for Com-
puter Graphics World. She can be reached
at BarbaraRR@comcast.net.
During V for Vendetta, V’s pure-white Guy Fawkes
mask is always partly in shadow, a stylistic device that
wasn’t possible to achieve all the time during filming,
particularly in fast-moving scenes. Also, because the
main character is masked, the filmmakers used shad-
ows to create expressions on the unchanging mask.
At first, colorists in Framestore CFC’s digital
intermediate (DI) suite tried drawing relevant shapes
on the mask and moving them with the tracking sys-
tem in the grading software. “The drawn shapes
only looked realistic enough on a few occasions,”
says Adam Glasman, colorist.
To increase the realism, the VFX crew built a 3D
model in Autodesk’s Maya from a scan of the real mask
and, using 2d3’s Boujou and RealViz’s MatchMover,
tracked it onto the
character. Then, they
lit the mask, ren-
dered out a gray-
scale matte in Pixar’s
RenderMan, and
im ported that matte
into the grading suite.
There, with senior
compositing artist
Jon athan Fawkner at his side, colorist Adam Inglis
applied corrections through the 3D matte to in crease
the density and create shadows on the filmed mask.
Framestore CFC uses the Baselight grading sys-
tem from FilmLight, which provides real-time pro-
cessing on films scanned at 2K. For this movie, the
digital effects studio began by making a digital ver-
sion of the feature. Then, Glasman sat in a grading
suite with the director of photography, the director,
and others, correcting the color. Thanks to mattes
created by the visual effects crew, correcting shad-
ows on the mask utilized a similar process.
“It gave us all the advantages of an interactive
grading session to do what would otherwise be a
visual effects job,” says Fawkner. “We could have
done this in compositing, but we would have had
to deliver it for comments, go back and change
it, deliver it again, and so forth. Instead, we basi-
cally had a client session in which we were able to
increase and decrease the contrast in the mask, and
make it lighter or darker so that it not only matched
the rest of the lighting, it did its job in telling more of
a story and giving V more character.”
The colorists turned to the visual effects crew for
help with another grading problem: adding atmo-
sphere to a long sequence. “Usually, we’d grade
everything, send it to visual effects, and they’d add
atmosphere,” says Inglis. “We tried that at first, but
we felt it wasn’t working. It was a long sequence with
a lot of cuts, and we needed to see the atmosphere
in context.”
The visual effects crew rotoscoped the fore-
ground characters and rough shapes of the alleyway
to create mattes, and generated visual effects plates
of smoke. The smoke plates were a combination of
practical elements from Framestore CFC’s library and
smoky noise generated in Shake.
“We mixed the smoke, graded the background
through the smoke using holdout mattes from the
rotoscoped characters and alleyway, and then com-
bined everything with keys we pulled in Baselight and
with shapes we drew in Baselight,” says Fawkner.
“It’s remarkable how much you can get away with
when you have a swift work flow.”
Although they might have accomplished the task
for that sequence using a Flame or Inferno system
from Discreet, it would have required many iterations
because the compositing was grade dependant: The
grade changed as the artists added the smoky atmo-
sphere. Also, by using the Baselight system, the color-
ist-compositing duo could access the entire film at 2K.
“On the Inferno, we could have made the changes
on a background plate, but then the grade would have
been bluer, so we would have had to redo the smoke,”
explains Fawkner. “On the grading system, we just
dialed down the smoke. So, it was slightly more inter-
active.” And, as a result, the client could tweak the
effect until the day before the film was finished.
Fawkner believes DI software will begin including
more effects capabilities. Inglis points out, for example,
that once clients are in the grading suite, they notice
such things as rigging wires that they didn’t spot when
looking at sequences offline on an Avid system ... things
they want painted out.
“Everyone knows you can color-correct,” Inglis
says. “Now clients are asking what else can be
added on top [of that]. When we first started doing
DI, we’d send shots to visual effects to have images
flopped. Nowadays that would be absurd.”
Nevertheless, none of the people on the team
expects that colorists will handle complicated
effects in grading. “The process we did for V was
quite unusual,” says Inglis. “Not many productions
would be prepared to run two grading suites for
two months.” —Barbara Robertson
VFX in the DI Suite
Real performers were replicated at Cinesite,
and digital extras were added to create the
huge crowds shown in these shots.
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The Powerful, Approachable, Complete 3D Solution experience it at eovia.com
Imagine
Passion calls you. Your inner artist responds.
Today you discover who you are meant to be.
Fearless. You embrace the tools in front of you and
take pleasure in your infinite potential. The journey
to your success begins with this first step.
Take it.
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. . . . CG Animation
18 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m

lthough Josh Staub fell into
his career as a digital artist by
chance, his animated short
movie, The Mantis Parable, happened
very much on purpose. And now, those
efforts are paying off: His eight-minute
short about a caterpillar and a praying
mantis has earned numerous film-fes-
tival awards, and, though the movie
didn’t get on this year’s Oscar short-
list, it did make the qualifying list.
Staub spent nearly two years cre-
ating the story, visuals, animation,
sound effects, and musical score
for The Mantis Parable himself, all
for about $4500 through his newly
formed Jubilee Studios. Before trying
his hand in CG filmmaking, Staub
honed his skills as the art director
and visual design director for Cyan
Worlds, developer of Myst, Riven, and
Uru: Ages Beyond Myst. Staub founded
Jubilee Studios, an army of one, to pro-
duce Mantis and work on any other
freelance opportunities that might inter-
est him. Nevertheless, the 30-year-old
Staub never saw himself as a gamer, and
still doesn’t consider himself an animator.
“I truly never expected to be doing
A fi l mmaker’s short
ani mated tal e about a
coupl e of hi gh- tech
bugs creates a buzz
By I ngri d Spencer
View
A
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CG Animation. . . .
what I’m doing,” says Staub. “I always
liked to draw, but computers weren’t that
interesting to me, although I had a knack
for technology. I always saw the com-
puter as a tool.” Staub was a high school
student when he interned at Cyan, and
after a stint in college, he returned there,
and has been at the studio ever since.
As Cyan grew, so did the artist’s role, a
progression that provided him with the
knowledge and experience to create The
Mantis Parable.
Working two nights a week on the
film in his home studio above his garage,
Staub refined his concept for the film
and then began the creative process.
“Preproduction consisted of the basics—
pencil and paper for concept sketching
and loose storyboards,” he notes. “I also
did a lot of insect research—reviewing
various images, nature film clips, and
such, primarily using the Internet.”
Staub says he also learned valuable
lessons from fellow filmmakers, many
of whom became stymied as their con-
cepts got too complex. Therefore, he
resolved to keep his story simple. “I’m
not a big pyrotechnics guy,” he says.
“I’m interested in linear storytelling.
This was a way for me to explore that.”
The Mantis story tells the tale of
two bugs trapped in an entomologist’s
office, and offers the simple moral
message that revenge is not as sweet
as one may think. However, render-
ing eight minutes of 3D imagery was
no easy task for a budding filmmaker
with limited resources.
Staub works on a variety of pow-
erful workstations at Cyan—Silicon
Graphics and Dell PCs. At home, the
majority of his work was done on a just
one machine, a 3.0 GHz Dell similar to
the one he has at Cyan, with 1.5GB of RAM
and a couple of 200GB hard drives. Toward
the end of the project, he purchased an
additional Dell machine with the same
specs for about $800, which helped him
render the final scenes.
The modeling for all the imagery in
the film, including the characters and
their environments, was done in Autodesk
Media and Entertainment’s 3ds Max 4.2,
using poly-subdivision techniques. “I like
simple shapes and forms that ‘read’ well
visually, so the modeling tends to be the
least important aspect of the scene cre-
ation,” says Staub. To create personalities
for the main characters—the caterpillar
and the mantis—the filmmaker called
upon two crucial critics: his young chil-
dren. “I’m sitting there trying to get a cat-
erpillar to express emotion,” he says, “and
kids are very honest [with their opinions];
they have no preconceived notions.”
In fact, Staub says he intended for the
film to appeal to every age group, and
credits his work at Cyan for giving him the
ability to achieve that. “Cyan has managed
to reach a nongaming community because
its games are nonviolent and nonthreaten-
ing, and are just an escape to other worlds.
I wanted Mantis to achieve some of that.”
A Bug’s Life
Making the world of the entomologist’s
office believable depended largely on the
textures and the lighting for the diverse
objects in the scenes, including the Mason
jars (filled with leaves and branches) that
hold the “lead” bugs, the insect informa-
tion lying on the entomologist’s desk, and
the open window through which plants
and the sky are visible.
According to the filmmaker, he created
the model textures himself and applied
them using 3ds Max rather than proce-
dural or commercial textures. He accom-
plished this by hand-painting the images
or beginning the process with raw materi-
als, such as personal photographs, that he
imported into Adobe’s Photoshop, where
he would then blend, overlay paint, color-
correct, stretch, and do whatever else it
took to get the image right.
“The resulting texture usually bares lit-
To artist/game designer Josh Staub, his first animated short film, The Mantis Parable, was
an experiment—a foray into the world of linear storytelling. Most impressive is the fact
that the story, as well as the visuals, animation, and sound, were done solely by Staub.
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20 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m
. . . . CG Animation
tle resemblance to the initial pho-
tograph, but the organic texture,
or roughness, is generally main-
tained,” he explains.
Staub cites the work of Pixar,
DreamWorks, and Fox’s Blue Sky
Studios as influences, especially
when it came to lighting a 3D scene.
He especially admires filmmakers
who make good use of radiosity—
a computer rendering technique
that imitates subtle properties of
natural light—even though he did
not use the technique in Mantis
because he didn’t feel as if it gave
him the control he wanted over the color and the light.
The Mantis Parable takes place in a variety of lighting scenar-
ios, and Staub used standard 3ds Max lights, with colored spot-
lights, directional lights, and spots as bounce lights to enhance
the scene’s natural appearance. All the images were raytraced
using the Chaos Group’s free downloadable version of VRay,
though no global illumination was applied. Rather, all the images
were raytraced, allowing the filmmaker to produce realistic-look-
ing objects such as the glass jar.
Meanwhile, the animation was done using bones that Staub set
up inside 3ds Max. “I created a variety of character rigs to accom-
modate specific caterpillar and mantis motions, such as flying or
falling,” says Staub. Eyelids—a physical characteristic that does
not appear on the real insects but does so on the filmmaker’s vir-
tual versions—were created as separate objects and animated with
morph targets. “This was not meant to be A Bug’s Life, and it’s not
a documentary,” he explains. “Like Riven, Mantis was about push-
ing for a fantastic but believable realm.” In that regard, the film-
maker used Max’s flex modifier for the secondary motion of the
insects’ antennae. All the other animation was done by hand.
Staub rendered the images as .rla files, which contain Z buf-
fer information, rather than use time-intensive depth-of-field ren-
dering methods. He then applied
a subtle amount of what he
calls “faux” depth of field using
an Adobe After Effects plug-in,
called Lenscare, from Frischluft.
“Rendering with true motion blur
was too expensive,” Staub says.
“So, I rendered all the images with
a small amount of 3ds Max’s stan-
dard-image motion blur.”
The resulting images were
rendered at 1280x693 resolution
and compiled in After Effects.
Staub exported the edited clips as
uncompressed QuickTime mov-
ies, and then finished the final editing in Adobe’s Premiere Pro.
Navigating the Festival Circuit
Once Staub had burned the film onto DVDs using Adobe Encore,
he had another new world to conquer—the realm of the film fes-
tival. “You can’t go rent an eight-minute move at Blockbuster. “If
you want anyone to see your film, you’ve got to get it into the
international film festival circuit.”
Through research, Staub learned that to make a film eligible
for an Academy Award, it has to win awards at one of a select
group of 40 festivals. “I heard a horrifying statistic that says film-
makers are usually happy with a 10 percent acceptance rate,” he
says, adding that he was somewhat prepared to be discouraged.
Nevertheless, Staub submitted his movie to five of those 40
festivals, and got into all of them. “It took a ton of research,” he
says. Of most value to him was the Web site www.withoutabox.
com, which helps indie filmmakers minimize the tedious and
repetitive festival submission process.
The speed at which everything progressed was indeed
unexpected. The Mantis Parable won its first award at the
Seattle International Film Festival, and then went on to win
eight other accolades.
Today, Mantis continues to receive recognition. Currently,
Staub is contemplating his next move, though he’s adamant that
it won’t be tackling another film completely by himself. “It was
a lot of work,” he admits. To keep him going through the dif-
ficult periods, Staub kept an online journal, which can still be
read at www.themantisparable.com. “When I would feel dis-
couraged, I would get an e-mail from someone asking about the
film, and that kept me on track,” he says.
And just like the caterpillar star of The Mantis Parable,
Staub’s career could metamorphose into something new and
exciting as well.
Ingrid Spencer is the former managing editor of Computer Tele-
phony and Architectural Record. She can be reached at Ingrid.
spencer@gmail.com.
The Mantis models, including that of the praying mantis, were
created and rigged within Autodesk’s 3ds Max software.
To enhance the natural look of the film, the artist used a range of
lights, and then he raytraced the imagery using VRay.
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CAL L 888. T OP. CI T Y OR VI S I T ORL ANDOE DC. COM
where companies dream in hypercolor.
Business is busting at the seams for Orlando’s digital
media sector. Home to top-notch studios like Electronic
Arts, specialized higher-ed training programs, and the
world’s largest concentration of simulation developers,
it’s no wonder companies around here are so animated.
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22 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006
Portfolio
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Images from the upcoming film Over the Hedge, to
be released by DreamWorks Animation.
Creating matte paintings for CG animation requires a different
approach than it does for live-action films with digital effects,
according to Ronn Brown, head of the matte-painting
department at DreamWorks Animation’s Glendale, California,
facility. The department generated the backgrounds and
scenery in the images shown here, which are from the team’s
first project, Over the Hedge.
“In CG animation, there usually isn’t much to match other than
key art, an overall aesthetic, light direction, and, sometimes,
rendered elements,” Brown says. “So, there is more of an
opportunity to get creative [than there is in live action].”
3D character modelers (and their creations) often steal the show in CG films, while digital
matte painters work quietly behind the scenes, crafting the actual scenery where the
characters perform. Realizing the importance of these “scene makers,” DreamWorks
Animation last year established a matte-painting department at its Glendale, California,
campus headed by artist Ronn Brown. At the time, the studio already had a small department
in place at the PDI/DreamWorks facility in Redwood City that had worked on such box-office
hits as Shrek, Shrek 2, and Madagascar. But when the Glendale studio shifted to making
full-CG animated films, the need for more matte painters became very clear.
“Matte artists have, and always will be, a great alternative both financially and artistically
for shots where it’s not feasible to film in live action or build entire 3D environments,” says
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MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 23
Brown. “The matte painters always bring a quality aesthetic to vistas and set-extension shots.”
As Brown points out, matte paintings for CG animated features require a style that has to
be matched—one with some semblance to reality without the full-blown reality of a live-action
plate. “Most matte painters are more ‘realistic’ and paint to match filmed scenes,” he explains.
At DreamWorks, the objective of the matte painters is to create vista shots of landscapes and cities,
as well as do render enhancements. Currently, the group in Redwood City is working on Shrek the
Third, while the Glendale team is focused on Over the Hedge (due out this summer), and is begin-
ning work on the upcoming comedies Flushed Away, Bee Movie, and Kung Fu Panda.
A selection of images from the matte-painting group’s most recent project, Over the
Hedge, is featured on these two pages. —Karen Moltenbrey
Image series spanning both pages:
Interior and exterior shots: These two series of images from
Over the Hedge illustrate the extensive digital set paintings done by
the newly formed DreamWorks matte-painting department. From
left to right in each series shows the compelling CG backgrounds—
one indoor, the other outdoor—crafted by the group. Next is a shot
of the characters, followed by the fully composited image.
Says Brown: “We work hand in hand with the art and lighting
departments on each show. Matte artists typically have years of
artistic training. They can do concept designs for visual development,
as well.” In fact, most of the matte artists at the Glendale facility
have live-action visual effects film experience, as well as some
animation and background painting experience.
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__________________
Storage in the Studio
w w w . c g w . c o m MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 25
Storage in
the Studio
ILM’s state-of-the-art
(storage) studio
Industrial Light & Magic
uses high-speed NAS servers
with a distributed file system,
10GB/sec Ethernet, and a
5000-node renderfarm to
store and move 170TB of content.
CASE STUDI ES
Storage stokes the
creative process
High-speed data transfers and
collaborative content sharing
top the storage priorities
at DCC facilities.
Advanced storage
systems and storage
networking
architectures
enhance work flow
at digital content
creation studios.
Printed in conjunction with
magazine
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Storage in the Studio
26 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m
When George Lucas moved a large part of
his filmmaking empire from San Rafael,
California—a small town north of San
Francisco—into a state-of-the-art, four-
building complex on 17 acres of parkland
in San Francisco’s Presidio, he spared no
detail. Lawrence Halprin, the renowned
landscape architect, even rearranged
individual rocks in the babbling brook
that rambles through the campus to
achieve the most pleasing sound.
Similarly, the technical team left no
stone unturned when it developed the
infrastructure that powers Industrial
Light & Magic (ILM), Lucas’ award-win-
ning visual arts facility, and the Lucas
Arts game-development division. “When
we went from San Rafael to the Presidio,
we had a 10X increase in network band-
width,” says systems developer Michael
Thompson. “We knew it would be coming,
so we designed a system that could handle
a massive jump in network throughput.”
At the new Lucas Digital Arts Center
(LDAC) in the Presidio, a 10GB/sec Ether-
net backbone feeds data into 1GB/sec
pipes that run to the desktops. About 600
miles of fiber-optic cable thread through
865,000 sq. ft. of building space; the net-
work is designed to accommodate 4K
images via 300 10GB/sec and 1500 1GB/
sec Ethernet ports.
A 13,500-sq.-ft. data center houses
the renderfarm, file servers, and stor-
age systems; the data center’s 3000-pro-
cessor (AMD) renderfarm expands to
5000 processors after-hours by includ-
ing desktop machines.
“All these render nodes constantly
need data,” says Thompson. “At ILM, and
probably at most visual effects studios,
there is an ongoing war between the ren-
derfarm and storage. Currently, we have
about half a dozen major motion-picture
projects under way. Keeping everyone
happy requires feeding a phenomenal
amount of data to those render nodes.”
How much data? “The whole [storage]
system holds about 170TB, and we are 90
percent full,” says Thompson.
In a visual effects-laden film such as
Star Wars, nearly every minute of the 140-
minute film included work by ILM. For
the film Jarhead, which is not considered
a visual-effects film, ILM created about
40 minutes of effects. With that in mind,
consider this: ILM currently renders most
visual-effects shots at around 2K x 2K res-
olution; however, some productions are
moving to 4K x 4K resolution. A shot is an
arbitrary number of frames; film is pro-
jected at a rate of 24 fps and video at 30
fps. To produce the final shots, compos-
itors combine several layers of rendered
elements for each frame. A 100-layer shot
is not unusual; most shots include at least
20 layers. It took 6,598,928 hours of aggre-
gate render time to produce the shots in
Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith.
A New Way to Store
The IT team began looking for a new stor-
age system about three years ago when
Lucas was beginning work on Revenge of
the Sith. They chose SpinServer NAS hard-
ware and the SpinFS distributed file sys-
tem from start-up Spinnaker Software.
“The system had all the attributes we
needed to go forward,” says Thompson.
“We knew we’d have major scaling issues,
and it could scale well. Also, it has good
data management features and a unified
naming space [aka global namespace].”
Yet, shortly after ILM purchased the sys-
tem, Network Appliance bought Spinnaker.
“It was spooky for us,” says Thompson.
“We didn’t know if they would deep-six the
technology. But it turned out to be a good
deal. For the past two and a half years,
we’ve been prototyping NetApp’s Data
Industrial Light & Magic uses
high-speed NAS servers with
a distributed file system,
10GB/sec Ethernet, and a 5000-
node renderfarm to store and
move 170TB of content
By Barbara Robertson
ILM’s state-of-the-art
(storage) studio
At the new Lucas Digital Arts Center in the Presidio, a 10GB/sec Ethernet backbone feeds
data into 1GB/sec pipes that run to the desktops. The network can accommodate 4K images
via 300 10GB/sec and 1500 1GB/sec Ethernet ports.
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1-877-2-ISILON | www.isilon.com
The Leader in Clustered Storage
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28 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m
Storage in the Studio
ONTAP NG [Next Generation] software,
which includes the Spinnaker software.”
ILM now uses 20 Linux-based SpinServer
NAS systems and about 3000 disks from
Network Appliance. “In six to nine
months, we’ll swap the SpinServers
for Network Appliance hardware, but
will still run the same software stack,”
says Thompson. “Our system is a weird
hybrid: It has all the features of a SAN,
but it does NAS as well.”
Linux-based render boxes at ILM talk to
the disk storage systems via the NFS proto-
col. Brocade Fibre Channel switches han-
dle data transfer between the SpinServers
and two types of disks: high-speed pro-
duction disks and slower nearline disks
used for archiving data before it goes off-
line to an ADIC Scalar 10K tape library.
Couriers deliver final shots to production
studios on FireWire drives.
“One of the nice things about our stor-
age system is that it allows you to run the
disks very full,” claims Thompson. “The
3000 disks are divvied up into 20 stacks,
and as they fill up, the data moves from
one to the next. However, the users can
still get to all their data via normal paths.
They don’t know we’re moving data
around behind the scenes.”
One Giant Disk
Because the Spinnaker system has one uni-
fied naming space, all the disk drives look
like one giant disk to the users, whether
the data is on the fast production disks or
on the slower nearline disks. This means
the studio can organize its file systems
into a tidy hierarchy. Before, people work-
ing on shots had to keep track of which
servers had the elements they needed.
“Now, it looks like one giant disk, and
they can keep everything for one movie
in one area instead of on 14 different serv-
ers,” Thompson explains. “And, because
the system spreads the data across the
servers so that it’s evenly balanced, we
can add servers as we need them.”
In fact, during the move from San
Rafael to San Francisco, the two facilities
acted as one. “We had people on both
sides of the Golden Gate Bridge access-
ing the data and moving it around with-
out losing access,” says Thompson. The
studio leased a fiber-optic cable that ran
from San Rafael to Berkeley and then
across the Oakland Bay Bridge to San
Francisco to link the SpinServers in San
Rafael to those in San Francisco. “All the
data still showed up as one virtual disk,”
says Thompson.
Because it could run the two facili-
ties as if they were one, ILM could move
people from one location to the other in
waves; it was never necessary for any-
one to stop working in order to move.
“Without this system, we would have had
to completely shut down the whole facil-
ity,” says Thompson. “Our daily burn rate
was around $50,000 a day for downtime.
It would have cost millions of dollars, and
that doesn’t take into account delays.”
Now, Thompson is looking at ways
to implement a similar system between
Singapore, where Lucas has opened an
animation studio, and Lucas’ headquar-
ters at Skywalker Ranch north of San
Francisco. He installed 20TB of storage on
Network Appliance hardware running the
Data ONTAP NG software in each location,
but the problem is WAN latency.
“Data access over fiber between San
Rafael and San Francisco was very
fast, but when you’re shooting pack-
ets to Singapore and introducing milli-
second delays, the computers start bog-
ging down,” says Thompson. “It’s not
the throughput; it’s the round-trip time.
We’re looking at Network Appliance,
Hewlett-Packard, and a lot of start-up
companies that deal with these WAN
issues for a solution.”
Back at the Ranch
Meanwhile, back at ILM, Thompson
wants to try playing high-performance,
600MB/sec HD video off the core stor-
age. Currently, the studio uses custom-
designed, dedicated HD video servers.
“When you’re streaming uncompressed
HD video to the desktop, the throughput
is astronomical,” says Thompson. “So we
have homegrown HD servers. There’s a
feature in the new ONTAP NG software,
though, that we think we can use to
stream HD video to the desktop for the
whole facility. Each server would do ½0th
of the load and, when they’re combined,
we could play at warp speed.”
Would that imply more data stor-
age? “I’ve been doing storage here for
six years, and I’ve found that people will
use up whatever you put out there,” says
Thompson. “We’ll probably be buying
more disks this year. At least now, add-
ing more storage takes only a few hours.”
Barbara Robertson is a freelance writer
and a contributing editor for Computer
Graphics World. She can be reached at
BarbaraRR@comcast.net.
ILM used SpinServer NAS hardware and
the SpinFS distributed file system from
Spinnaker Software (which was acquired
by NetApp) for its work on Star Wars:
Episode III—Revenge of the Sith.
ILM uses Angstrom Microsystems’ Titan64
SuperBlade rendering servers to enable fast
generation of complex visual effects.
©

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Storage in the Studio
w w w . c g w . c o m MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 29
Change is a constant in today’s studios
as they struggle with crunching dead-
lines, the need to juggle multiple projects
at once, and the prospect of overhauling
their server, storage, and networking
architectures to make way for the grow-
ing wave of high-definition (HD) work.
In our latest look at the state of stor-
age technology in fast-paced studio
environments, we found everything
from “storage-on-the-go” systems used
for real-time editing in the field to elab-
orate enterprise-class storage instal-
lations that mirror many Fortune 500
companies. These high-powered imple-
mentations can include hundreds of
terabytes of data and “tiered-storage”
architectures to help move archival and
backup data onto lower-cost storage sys-
tems. We also found facilities that use
homegrown virtualization software to
help users access specific files without
knowledge of the physical device where
the file actually resides.
Underscoring these storage strate-
gies is the goal to make work in progress
instantly available, shareable, and reus-
able from a central storage repository.
It’s also about producing quality content
as efficiently as possible.
CASE 1 The Need for Speed
“Anytime your user data becomes central-
ized and available from more locations, it
can be worked on in a more cost-effective
manner,” says Matthew Schneider, direc-
tor of technology at PostWorks, New York,
a film and HD post facility that has been
involved in a variety of independent fea-
ture films and TV shows.
“Sooner or later, storage will become
part of the lifeblood that makes it all hap-
pen,” says Schneider. “Whether it’s inter-
esting to you or not, it’s something you’ll
be forced to learn how to do. Storage is at
least half the equation, if not more.”
PostWorks’s storage infrastructure
includes a variety of Avid workstations
connected to Avid’s Unity shared stor-
age systems via 2GB/sec Celerity Fibre
Channel host bus adapters (HBAs)
from Atto Technology (which also
offers high-speed 4GB/sec
Fibre Channel adapters).
PostWorks’ total Unity stor-
age capacity exceeds 30TB.
For storage and play-
back of high-bandwidth dig-
ital 2K film mastering files,
PostWorks also uses Facilis
Technology’s TerraBlock
4GB/sec Fibre Channel SAN
disk arrays, which are based
on low-cost, high-capacity
Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives. TerraBlock
capacities range from 2TB to 12TB, with
support listed for up to 24 simultaneous
users and 16 streams of uncompressed HD
video. PostWorks also uses TerraBlock stor-
age—along with its own, self-assembled
“nearline” storage systems—as a temporary
holding area for older files.
CASE 2
High-Performance SATA
The proliferation of multiple copies of files
is a common problem at studios—and
one that used to be experienced by The
Napoleon Group, a New York City-based
postproduction facility. According to
director of engineering Maciek J. Maciak,
“The days are long gone when operators
used to say, ‘You need this file, in this for-
mat, on this drive? Okay, let me go make
a copy and get it to your machine.’ People
haven’t been calling me about that any-
more,” says Maciak.
The Napoleon Group implemented a
central file repository that now acts as
the backbone of most of the company’s
file storage needs. This backbone is built
on a 3.5TB Max-T Sledgehammer NAS sys-
tem with SATA drives, from Maximum
Throughput, which stores everything
from accounting and front-office docu-
ments to archives of renders and jobs
from all of the edit suites.
“We’ll have as many as eight opera-
tors accessing either the same footage or
other footage on the drives simultane-
ously,” says Maciak. “The performance
C A S E S T U D I E S
Storage stokes the
creative process
High-speed data transfers
and collaborative content
sharing top the storage
priorities at DCC facilities
By Mi chel e Hope
Matthew Schneider,
PostWorks’ director of
technology, uses 4GB/sec
Fibre Channel HBAs from
Atto in most of the
studio’s Avid workstations.
The HBAs provide the
350MB/sec to 400MB/sec of
throughput required for
HD work performed on
nearly 30TB of Avid’s Unity
storage systems.
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Storage in the Studio
30 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m
is surprising. Maximum Throughput has
a processor onboard that makes the magic
happen. Without that, it would be impos-
sible to do what we’re doing.” Maximum
Throughput claims an aggregate sustained
throughput of more than 300MB/sec, with
capacities ranging from 2TB to 32TB per array
and support for file systems up to 16TB.
Configuration files for key applica-
tions have been modified to automatically
export to the Max-T system for archiving.
According to Maciak, “Operators know
to look for those types of folders on the Max-
T, so there’s no more ‘share your drive and
I’ll put this on your desktop.’ This just sim-
plifies the whole archiving process.”
Maciak also incorporates 3TB of nearline
storage that is simply a PC with a RAID stor-
age controller. When a job no longer needs to
be stored on the primary Max-T system, the
job is sent to a “holding” folder used to move files to nearline
storage. “We have a rule that says if the Max-T is 75 percent
full, dump all the contents of the holding folder to nearline stor-
age. Once the nearline storage gets full, we move it over to tape,”
Maciak explains.
CASE 3 Sweet-Sounding iSCSI SANs
Sausalito, California-based music editor Malcolm Fife knows
firsthand how much the use of inefficient storage can cost a
project. Fife has performed sound work on movies such as King
Kong and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He is also a partner of
Tyrell LLC, which focuses on sound design, music production,
and postproduction editing and mixing.
Fife knows that when the director of a big-budget film
comes to play the latest sound reel and suggests a few changes,
you don’t want to hold up the process trying to move the file
from suite to suite to cut a new version.
“These are multimillion-dollar timelines. If that change
isn’t handled instantly, you could easily blow thousands of
dollars,” says Fife.
After working with London’s Abbey Road recording studio
on the score for The Lord of the Rings sound tracks, Fife and his
partners became enamored of the work flow there, which was
based on several Studio Network Solutions A/V SAN Pro Fibre
Channel storage systems that helped streamline the recording,
editing, and mixing of the music score for The Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers. (In addition to Abbey Road, A/V SAN Pro disk
arrays are used by facilities such as Sony/ATV, Wally’s World,
and Vidfilm/Technicolor.)
Fife and his partners decided to duplicate much of the Abbey
Road setup in their Sausalito facility. However, instead of Fibre
Channel SAN connections, they went with two Studio Network
Solutions iSCSI-based globalSAN X-4 shared storage systems run-
ning on a Gigabit Ethernet network. (iSCSI SANs provide a low-
cost alternative to Fibre Channel SANs.) Since the systems are
based on Ethernet and iSCSI, Fife’s team found it could even do
simple checks of files using a laptop in a different room. By install-
ing SMS client software on the laptop, the group could plug into
the SAN from anywhere—even over the Internet.
CASE 4
Eliminating Pipeline Bottlenecks
During peak production for South Park, it’s not uncommon for
the 60-plus animators and editors at Los Angeles-based South
Park Studios to work approximately 100 hours per week.
According to J.J. Franzen, South Park Studios’ technology
supervisor, work begins in earnest a week before the show is
due to air, with changes often made as late as 12 hours before
airtime. This timeline requires systems to be available at all
times—a feat put to the test at the start of the ninth season
when a network switch failure made it impossible to access
any work in progress until the problem was solved.
“We realized then we had to get rid of our older stuff and
remove single points of failure on our network,” Franzen
explains. The studio replaced the main file server—another
potential point of failure—with Apple’s Xserve RAID servers
and a 15TB Apple Xsan storage configuration capable of sup-
porting the 30MB to 50MB of capacity needed for an average
animated scene, as well as the 150MB to 200MB required for
larger scenes. The storage system is also mirrored, and sup-
ports automatic fail-over in case of failure.
In the upgrade process, Franzen also implemented Atempo’s
TimeNavigator software, which takes incremental backups four
Maciek J. Maciak, director of engineering at The Napoleon Group, sits in front of what he
calls the storage backbone at the facility, a 3.5TB Max-T Sledgehammer disk array from
Maximum Throughput that’s used for editing and rendering.
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Storage in the Studio
times a day. TimeNavigator now provides time-stamped back-
ups of earlier file versions so animators and editors can quickly
access them without having to go through re-rendering.
CASE 5 Titanic Storage
Another studio that knows how to keep the digital pipeline hum-
ming is Los Angeles-based Rhythm & Hues, an animation and
digital effects studio that became known as the “talking animal
house” for its award-winning work in the film Babe.
Recently, Rhythm & Hues put 650 people to work during
the hard-core production phase of the Disney movie Narnia.
Chief tasks involved the development of animation and under-
lying muscle movements of key characters such as Aslan the
lion, including computer-generated simulations of smoke, fire,
and the lion’s fur.
According to Rhythm & Hues’ vice president of technology
Mark Brown, this required about 24TB of data to move through the
system each night—a process that was managed through a com-
bination of several high-speed Titan storage systems from BlueArc
and Rhythm & Hues’ homegrown virtualized file system. The file
system allows data to be replicated in front of the BlueArc disk
arrays so that bandwidth levels are always maintained.
“You can put 256TB on a storage server [which is what each
Titan system can support], but our problem is that we have so
many processors going at it that we wouldn’t have the bandwidth
we need. So we only put 4TB to 6TB behind each Titan head so that
we have the bandwidth to get to the data,” says Brown. BlueArc’s
Rhythm & Hues used three high-speed storage systems from
BlueArc to handle the renders and nightly processing of up to
24TB a day of data during peak production of Narnia.
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Titan storage systems deliver 300MB/sec to 400MB/sec of sus-
tained throughput for Rhythm & Hues and are capable of scaling
from 5GB/sec to 20GB/sec of throughput, according to BlueArc.
CASE 6 NAS + SAN
What do you do when the clips you produce
might end up on other TV channels and on other
shows, or even on the Internet? According to Jeff
Mayzurk, senior vice president of technology at
E! Networks, this means the underlying IT infra-
structure has to allow production teams to be able
to quickly re-use content as needed, in a variety
of forms, as soon as it’s produced.
From a storage perspective, this has meant a
“hub-and-spoke” architecture that captures any
film acquired from the field once, and copies it
into the network’s central storage repository. This
material is then distributed to various edge (or
spoke) locations for their own use, whether on an
Avid system or Apple’s Final Cut Pro system con-
nected via a director’s home.
What makes this model work is a combina-
tion of custom virtualization software that masks the under-
lying complexity of the storage systems in use. Storage
resources at E! Networks include about 200TB of SATA-based
NAS from Isilon Systems, Network Appliance
NAS servers, and two Fibre Channel SANs
from DataDirect Networks. Mayzurk says the
virtualization capability allows him to remain
vendor-agnostic. “We didn’t want to be tied to
a particular vendor or type of technology. We
want the flexibility to migrate as storage tech-
nology improves.”
Isilon’s IQ series of clustered storage sys-
tems include the OneFS distributed file system,
which scales to 250TB of capacity. The com-
pany claims throughput performance of 3GB/
sec. In addition to standard Gigabit Ethernet
connections, Isilon’s IQ series systems are also
available with higher-speed, lower-latency
InfiniBand connections.
Michele Hope is a freelance writer focusing on trends
and advancements in the storage industry. She can
be contacted at mhope@thestoragewriter.com.
Jeff Mayzurk, senior vice
president of technology for
E! Networks, fuels the
company’s multimedia
productions with several
hundred terabytes of
networked storage and
custom virtualization
software. Storage includes
nearly 200TB and 50 nodes of
Isilon IQ storage systems
based on SATA disk drives.
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By Al ex Li ndsay and Ben Durbi n
Endorphin 2.5
3 D C H A R A C T E R A N I M A T I O N
Creating realistic character animation
is easier when models get physical
Motion-capture systems allow
the acquisition of actual human
performances, with all the tim-
ing, body mechanics, and gravity that
make for compelling natural motion in
animation. However, there are certain
types of captures that only the hardiest
of actors would be willing to tackle: fall-
ing off buildings while being hit with
high-velocity projectiles and landing
on oil drums, for example. Yet, Natural
Motion’s Endorphin 2.5 motion-synthesis
software was designed for these types of
animation challenges.
The Endorphin software includes a
specialized set of character animation
tools for creating scenes like the one
mentioned above, with the sort of physi-
cal behaviors you would expect from live
actors interacting in real-world situations.
It gives you a simple but powerful way to
synthesize interactive animation between
characters and dynamic environments.
Endorphin’s behavior-based anima-
tion pipeline has a straightforward inter-
face that can be integrated with other
animation packages. Behaviors in the
program are configurable units of anima-
tion, which can be applied to a character
for varying lengths of time. A model that
is being driven by a Catch Fall behavior,
for example, will do its best to turn and
break a fall with its hands after being hit
by an object. If you precede the Catch
Fall command with a Stumble behavior,
for instance, the animation
pattern changes, and the
character will try to keep
its balance before falling,
doing its best to land in a
protected position.
Combining behaviors
and making subtle changes to the param-
eters in Endorphin can deliver different
results from the same source material.
Objects can be constrained to scene ele-
ments so the characters interact appro-
priately within a variety of environments.
The software’s available tools make it easy
to guide the animation’s results with these
behavioral tools, instead of having to key-
frame the animation.
By simply tweaking the behavior
parameters in Endorphin, you can re-
simulate and review your changes. The
simulation engine is efficient and quick;
even on a modestly powered machine,
iterations are possible.
Creating the work flow in Endorphin
begins with the program’s standard biped
character. Custom characters created in
other programs such as Softimage’s XSI
or Autodesk Media and Entertainment’s
Maya, which match the skeletal structure
and proportions of your destination char-
acter, can also be imported to replace the
standard biped character.
We tested the dynamics functional-
ity in the program by setting up a scene
with a digital actor positioned on a roof
and peering down over the edge.
We programmed an object to hit the
character from behind and, as the
actor fell, arms flailing, it grabbed a
light pole and dropped to a crouch-
ing position on the ground.
Setting up the initial scene in
Endorphin required setting up a
plane for the roof, posing the char-
acter, and creating a cube to represent the
projectile. We created a cylinder primitive
to represent the arm of the streetlight, add-
ing a force before hurling it at the actor.
Up to this point, we have the mak-
ings of a standard dynamics simulation,
but this is where Endorphin’s behaviors
take control. When the actor is hit by the
projectile, we added a Writhe behavior to
make the character’s arms thrash about.
Sometime during the middle of the fall,
we scheduled a “hands reach and look at”
command to have the character reach out
for the arm of the streetlamp, constrain-
ing the hands to the streetlight to let the
digital actor catch the arm. Releasing the
lamp’s arm and having the character land
on its feet was accomplished by applying a
Land and Crouch behavior to the model.
We could also transition the char-
acter into a motion-captured clip of an
actor standing and looking over its shoul-
der. Blending from Endorphin’s behavior-
driven crouch to the motion-captured data
is accomplished using a transition event,
which blends the simulated environment
with the recorded motion data.
All the scheduling mentioned above
simply requires moving and scaling events
on the timeline, a process familiar to any-
one who has used a track-based NLE inter-
face found in a video-editing system or a
multi-track audio-editing solution. Nota-
bly, the simulation above was set up with-
out keyframing, and entirely new versions
of the animation can be generated with
subtle tweaks to the behaviors and envi-
Endorphin 2.5
Price: $9995
Minimum System
Requirements: Windows 2000/XP,
Intel Pentium Processor or AMD
Athlon 1.7 GHZ
512MB RAM, Nvidia GeForce 2, or
ATI Radeon 7000 or higher.
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Using Natural Motion’s Endorphin 2.5 motion-synthesis
software can deliver unpredictable results.
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34 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m
ronmental components of the simulation.
The program has an uncomplicated inter-
face, and arranging events on the simple
track-based timeline is straightforward. The
properties windows expose just enough infor-
mation to make tweaks without the process
becoming unmanageable. Overall, the inter-
face provides what’s needed—nothing more.
Using Endorphin within an existing ani-
mation pipeline is accomplished with the
import/export support. Existing scene ele-
ments in OBJ, XSI, and FBX formats can be
brought into the program for spatial refer-
ence, and existing animation in the major
formats can also be added to the scene.
Dynamic Blending allows you to blend
between the simulation environment and
imported animation sources for more real-
istic transitions. And, the tools for creating
custom characters in Endorphin 2.5 make
the setup and proportion matching of des-
tination characters in other packages more
fluid. A rig remapping tool lets data that is
applied to one character be remapped to
another, even if the skeleton setup differs.
It would be good to see Natural Motion
add a more comprehensive set of behaviors
in future versions of Endorphin. Almost all
the existing sets are focused on impact or
fall-related reactionary events. And, while
it’s a safe bet that most people using this
type of software will have access to a library
of motion-captured source material, adding
more ambient behaviors would make the
software program better. Some examples
we would like to see added include turning
to react to sound and ducking or dodging to
avoid incoming projectiles.
Also, incorporating parameters to the
characters that govern their overall coor-
dination level would be a welcome addi-
tion. Settings that allow you to increase or
decrease the overall dexterity of your char-
acter would allow for a greater range of out-
put, even with the existing behaviors.
Adding constant forces, such as wind,
to the single impulse force would definitely
broaden the scope of the possible simula-
tions. And, finally, it would be nice to see a
batch-rendering option that would allow for
a range of simulations to be batch-rendered
with the opportunity to vary the parameters
of the simulation within specified ranges.
With a clean interface, a strong and grow-
ing set of built-in behaviors, and good sup-
port for standard animation file interchange
formats, Endorphin is a powerful addition to
any character animation pipeline.
Alex Lindsay is the founder of Pixel Corps, a
guild for content creators of all skill levels.
Ben Durbin is a motion-capture specialist and
research division leader at Pixel Corps.
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By Dan Abl an
Space Devices
I N P U T D E V I C E S
SpacePilot, SpaceBall, and SpaceTraveler:
alternatives to input and manipulation
Years ago, when I first started
working with computer graphics,
trackball input devices were the rage.
Back then, utilizing a computer mouse
was for “ordinary” users. However, if you
were a part of the creative crowd working
with digital images, having a trackball with
your desktop PC was commonplace. Today,
trackball devices have given way to five-
button Bluetooth mice and keyboards, as
well as other alternative input devices.
Enter 3dconnexion and its series of
high-end input devices for the creative
professional. Recently, I had a chance to
test-drive three of its unique input devices:
the SpacePilot, SpaceBall, and SpaceTrav-
eler. Admittedly, I’m a fan of Logitech mice
(using an MX900 Bluetooth right now), so
I was anxious to see what the Space prod-
ucts offered and how they performed.
The best explanation of how these
devices fit into your production environ-
ment is best explained by 3Dconnexion’s
slogan “two-handed power.” Back in the
day, a trackball was programmable and
acted as an input device and a mouse.
The 3Dconnexion devices are developed
to work in conjunction with your mouse,
not as a replacement, which is what I
originally believed. At first glance, you
might think these hip-looking units will
send your mouse straight
to Ebay, but actually they
are designed to reduce your
keyboard usage, not replace
your mouse.
The Space series of input
devices are designed for Windows 2000/
XP, Linux, and Unix systems; unfortu-
nately, the units are not available for OS
X on the Mac. Beyond that, the installa-
tion of the Space devices was straight-
forward. The first of the devices I tested
was the SpacePilot, which currently only
supports Windows 2000/XP. Once the
drivers were installed, the Space Pilot
started working immediately. (Note that
these devices were tested on a Sony Vaio
P4 with 2GB RAM running Windows XP
Service Pack 2.) Shortly after installing
the drivers and software, a straightfor-
ward tutorial panel appears with a 3D
object and instructions for familiarizing
you with the SpacePilot and how the unit
works. At this point, you are guided to a
game within the configuration panel, to
help you set up work flow.
Within minutes of installing the Space-
Pilot on my machine, I had a clear under-
standing of how it worked, and although I
had only scratched the surface of what the
device offered, I was hooked. The Space-
Pilot is highly customizable, allowing you
to program the buttons any way you like for
simplifying the way you input and manipu-
late objects. The display on the unit is easy
to see. It displays what you’ve programmed
and the buttons you’ve pressed.
But you’re probably still asking your-
self, what exactly is this thing? I was ask-
ing myself the same question. Perhaps the
best way to answer it is with a real-world
scenario. When working in Softimage
XSI, 3ds Max, or SolidWorks, for exam-
ple, you will need to make tweaks and
adjustments in order to model. Normally,
you would accomplish this by rotating
your view, selecting your adjustment tool,
and adjusting the vertex, edge, or polygon
using the keys on the keyboard.
With the SpacePilot, you literally
have one hand on the model to rotate,
adjust, or even paint it. The SpacePilot
controller rotates, pans, and zooms mod-
els or animations in several 2D and 3D
applications, and includes 21 keys that
are labeled for specific functions within
your application. The first six keys are
viewable on the unit’s LCD display, but
an unlimited number of function config-
urations are available. You can control
different modes such as Modeling, Ani-
mation, Parts, Assembly, and so on. One
very nice feature is that the SpacePilot
software automatically detects the soft-
ware programs installed on your system
and automatically configures the con-
troller to support those programs.
The main knob on SpacePilot is the
motion controller. It has six degrees of
3dconnexion
SpacePilot Price: $499
Minimum System Requirements: Windows 2000/XP; Intel Pentium 4/III
or AMD Athlon processor-based system; 20MB free disk space; USB 1.1 or 2.0
SpaceBall 5000 Price: $499
Minimum System Requirements: Windows 2000/XP, Unix (SGI, HP,
Sun, and IBM), and Linux (64-bit available)
SpacePilot Price: $199
Minimum System Requirements:
Windows 2000/XP, Linux; Intel Pentium 4/III or AMD Athlon processor-
based system; 20MB free disk space; USB 1.1 or 2.0
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3dconnexion’s Space line complements a
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Log on and you
could win!
WWW.CGW.COM
PRIZES! We are giving away great products
right on the website to some lucky winner, and
it might as well be you! To enter the drawing, all
you need to do is log on and sign up. Well pull
the name and ship the prize. Visit today and
you can enter to win SpacePilot courtesy of:
Another great reason to visit www.cgw.com
36 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m
motion, making it easy to navigate with
just one hand while editing with your
mouse in the other hand. To the right of
the motion controller is a Fit button, which
is great to quickly fit your model to view.
The Keyboard Modifiers on the SpacePilot
allow your hand to remain on the control-
ler while typing shortcuts. I found the Ctrl,
Alt, Esc, and Shift options on the SpacePi-
lot very useful, not realizing how often I
use these functions until I started review-
ing the unit.
Another addition the 3dconnexion
Space series is the SpaceBall 5000, which
supports Windows 2000/XP, Linux, and
Unix. This unit performs similarly to
the SpacePilot, but has 12 programma-
ble buttons and no LCD display. It offers
the same six degrees of motion and func-
tionality of panning, zooming, and rotat-
ing 3D objects in real time, like the Space-
Pilot. The SpaceBall controller is best
suited for CAD/CAM/CAE, animation,
and game development.
The last in the Space series is the
Space Traveler, which supports Windows
2000/XP and Linux. I really like this little
device because of its compact size. It has
six degrees of motion like the other
3dconnexion products, and is designed
for motion control. Basically, it offers the
features found on the main knob of the
SpacePilot. However, with the SpaceTrav-
eler, you can easily tuck it in your laptop
bag when working remotely. It also offers
eight illuminated buttons around the
base of the knob to give it more program-
mable functionality.
Digital content creators are always
looking for ways to work smarter and
faster. A mouse and keyboard combina-
tion has, by default, been the way model-
ers and animators have input and manip-
ulated 2D and 3D objects for many years.
However, that way of working can be
limiting—the mouse only delivers one
movement at a time, and the artist has
to continually stop and start the creative
process to adjust viewports, models, ani-
mation, etc. By adding the 3dconnexion
Space devices to your system configura-
tion, not only can you expect to save a
great deal of time and frustration, you
can expect a work flow boost, too.
Dan Ablan is president of AGA Digital Studios
in Chicago and founder of 3DGarage.com. He
is also the author of numerous books, includ-
ing The Official Luxology Modo Guide from
Thomson Course Technology.
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5-days of real-world, real-time
graphic, interactive twingularity
The only conference and exhibition in the world that twingles everybody in computer graphics and
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opportunities and solve problems. Interact with www.siggraph.org/s2006
to discover a selection of registration options that deliver a very attractive
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IMAGE CREDITS: limosa © 2005 Brian Evans; moo-pong © 2005 Jun Usu, Daisuke Uriu,
Naohito Okude, Keio University Okude Laboratory; 2005.1 © 2005 Kenneth A. Huff
The 33rd International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques
Conference 30 July - 3 August 2006 Exhibition 1 - 3 August 2006 Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
Boston, Massachusetts USA
Mk Haley | Bostonian | BFA University of Massachusetts |
MFA Cal State Los Angeles | Technical Advisor, Walt Disney
Imagineering Creative Development, Glendale, California |
18-year SIGGRAPH attendee
Masa Inakage | MFA California College of the Arts |
Professor, Keio University Media Design Program,
Kanagawa, Japan | 22-year SIGGRAPH attendee
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entertainment industry – and that definitely
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w w w . c g w . c o m MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 37
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March 2005, Volume 29, Number 3: COMPUTER GRAPHICS WORLD (USPS 665-250) (ISSN-0271-4159) is published monthly (12 issues) by PennWell Corporation.
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continued from page 40
tent for players, and those players will
chew through that content faster than
you predicted.

Why did you suspend
development of Imperator?
After E3, we re-evaluated
Imperator, and based on what
we saw, we didn’t believe it was
going to be a great game. A good
game, absolutely, but not a great game.
Based on that, we decided it would be bet-
ter to postpone development until a time
when we could turn it into a great game.

How far along are you
on Warhammer Online:
Age of Reckoning?
We are right on track with
WAR’s development, and we
will be showing a fully work-
ing version of the game at this year’s E3.
Internal testing has already begun, and it
is looking great.
Why do you think that
title will be successful?
The combination of Games
Workshop’s fantastic IP and
Mythic’s proven development
teams and technology will be
hard to beat.
Why is Dark Age of
Camelot so successful?
DAoC was the first, and still
is the most, successful game
that features a system of Realm
versus Realm (RvR) combat,
which people have enjoyed playing for
years. Killing NPCs and solving quests
can get old fairly quickly, but doing
battle against hundreds of other players,
that never gets old.
What is the key to creating
a successful MMO?
There are three keys: a fantas-
tic IP, stable and solid technol-
ogy, and strong player-support
systems.
Are MMOs rising
in popularity?
Based on the success of World
of Warcraft (WoW)—5.5 mil-
lion players—the answer is an
unqualified ‘yes.’
Have the new consoles
affected MMO play?
Not yet. As of now, the con-
soles don’t have a lot to offer
the players in terms of MMOs.
The current generation of con-
soles has great technology, and, eventu-
ally, I see them being a major part of the
MMO scene, but to date, there aren’t a
lot of MMO games.
Is there enough of a player
base to support new titles?
Well, every time a new game
comes out, some people
switch, some people play
multiple games, and some
new people are brought into the mar-
ket. Based on WoW’s success, I think
we have seen the first major expansion
of the user base since EverQuest (EQ)
came out [in 1999].
What are MMO players
looking for in a game
that they can’t get from
console play?
To date, PC MMOs are more
social than console MMOs.
There is an entire world of people in
the game to interact with. Also, the PC
MMOs have had better graphics than the
older generation of consoles.
Who is the typical
MMO player?
The player types are all over
the board, constantly changing
depending on the successful
titles released over a given year.
How are you attracting
newbie MMO players?
We are constantly trying to
improve the newbie experience
in our game and also expand-
ing the availability of trial ver-
sions of the game over the Internet.
Can you
describe the
worlds and
imagery we
will see in
Warhammer?
It will feature fantastic imagery
that has its own unique look
and feel. The game will not look
like DAoC, WoW, or EQ, as we
are developing a look that both
fits the Games Workshop aes-
thetic and is attractive to the MMO gamer.
What makes the
title so unique?
First, there is over 25 years of
content to draw from. Games
Workshop has created a lot of
great IP for us to use in this game.
This IP will help set us apart from our com-
petition. As to other features, it wouldn’t
be Warhammer if there wasn’t a major war
going on, and as such, we expect the RvR
system that we are creating to be the best in
the industry. In terms of other features, well,
that will be for another day.
In the future, what do you
envision for MMOs?
Over the next few years, there
will be a continued growth of
the MMO market, lots of new
subscription models being
tried, and as I laid out during a keynote
address several years ago, a number of
high-profile failures in this space.
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Interview by executive editor
Karen Moltenbrey
40 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w . c g w . c o m
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Mark Jacobs is president/CEO and
lead designer at Mythic. His first
official step into the computer games
industry occurred in the early ‘80s with
pay-for-play online games. Before
then, he “unofficially” programmed
games while he was in law school.
Currently, which MMOs
are you working on?
We are hard at work on our
latest MMORPG, Warhammer
Online: Age of Reckoning
(WAR), and we continue to
add lots of new and exciting stuff to
Dark Age of Camelot.
Why did you get
into the MMO game?
That’s where I believed the
future of gaming was going
to go. I just didn’t think it would
take this long to get there.
What was your first title?
My first pay-for-play online
game was a 4X sci-fi game
called Galaxy back in 1985,
which was followed by an
ORPG called Aradath.
Can you recall some of the
biggest obstacles then?
One major obstacle was getting
enough modems wired together
so people could actually play a
multiplayer game.

How has the
process evolved?
We’ve gone from an era where
32 players online at one time was
a major accomplishment, to one
where 32,000 concurrent players
online is the minimum bar for success.
What are some of the new
obstacles that you face?
One problem is the ever-
increasing cost of developing a
next-generation MMO, as well
as the ever-increasing expecta-
tions of the players.
In what way does MMO
development differ from the
approach you would take with
a console or multiplayer game?
MMO games are the most
difficult games to design,
program, and deploy of any type of game
in the industry. We have all the same con-
cerns as a non-MMO developer, with the
added complexity of tens
of thousands of simultaneous users.
Are there concerns
strictly unique to MMO
development?
There are lots of them. First,
you have to predict how mil-
lions of people might try to
play your game. If there is a bug some-
where in the game, they will find it. If
there is an exploit, they will abuse it. If
there are ways to play the game differ-
ently than the developers expected, they
will discover it. Second, there are huge
issues with the number of people and
things that can be on the screen at any
one time. In a stand-alone game, devel-
opers can control exactly how many
objects can be within the player’s view
at any one time; you can’t really do that
in an MMO. There’s an old MUD rule
I coined 20 years ago that says that if
there are 100 people in your game, you
can expect at some point that all 100 are
going to want to go to the same room, at
the same time, and do the exact same
thing, and the game better be able to
handle it. The same is true for MMOs.

What concerns must you keep
in mind while developing the
content of the game?
You need to remember that you
can never create enough con-
Conquering the expansive, complex world of MMORPGs
requires vision, a solid game plan, skill. . . and a bit of luck
Role Model
Once the domain of techno and hard-core gamers, massively multiplayer online role-play-
ing games (MMORPGs) have expanded in recent years to include a wider demographic
than ever before. Identifying this trend early on, Rob Denton and Mark Jacobs formed
what is now Mythic Entertainment in October 1995, to pursue this market. After launch-
ing a number of online games, Mythic released in 2001 its most successful MMORPG title
to date, Dark Age of Camelot, based on Arthurian, Celtic, and Nordic legends. Since then,
the company has continued to support and expand the game, releasing its sixth Camelot
expansion pack, Darkness Rising, last October. Not resting on its laurels, the developer
is continuing its quest to broaden the MMO horizon with new and compelling content,
and in 2007, plans to release its next MMORPG, which is based on the Warhammer fan-
tasy world created by Games Workshop, the largest tabletop fantasy and futuristic battle-
games company in the world.
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E
3
is a trade event and only qualified industry professionals may attend. No one under 18 will be admitted, including infants.
Visit www.e3expo.com for registration guidelines.
REGI STER ONLI NE WWW. E3EXPO. COM
CONFERENCE MAY 9- 1 1 EXPOSI TI ON MAY 1 0- 1 2 L. A. CONVENTI ON CENTER
W
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2006
One place. One entire industry waiting for you. One dynamic educational program
that will guide you toward the most promising opportunities within the interactive
entertainment industry today. It's the E
3
2006 Conference Program.
Industry executives and renowned creative talent will share their knowledge
and views of the future, and supply you with tips and strategies to perfect your
business plans and keep you one step ahead of the competition. Whether you’re
a designer, manager or strategist, there are more than 30 sessions covering a
wide variety of topics specifically designed to meet your needs and interests.
And that’s not all. The exhibit floor is where you will see all the newest computer
and video game products and technologies that the industry has to offer.
Register today for the E
3
Conference Program.
Three days that could change your whole year.
Three Days That
Could Change Your Year.
© Enter tai nment Software Association 2006
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T H E M A G A Z I N E F O R D I G I TA L C O N T E N T C R E AT I O N A N D P R O D U C T I O N

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Bug Bytes
An animated CG film starring some not so creepy crawlers wins festival accolades

Perfect Match
Hollywood and gaming pair up to make King Kong interactive

To DI For
V for Vendetta: Unmasking post’s VFX capabilities

Behind the Scenes
Forward COMPUTER GRAPHICS WORLD to a friend!
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Image created by: Morph Studios (Maya), Caroline Delen (3ds Max).
Autodesk and Alias are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., in the USA and/or other countries. All other brand names, product names, or trademarks belong to their respective holders. ©2006 Autodesk, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Idea:
Greater creative freedom.

Realized:
Join us in celebrating the beautiful new relationship between Autodesk and Alias. Whether you’re looking for robust out-of-the-box power, a highly customizable solution or premier character-animation tools, this pair is ready to help you push creative boundaries for years to come. To learn more about this power couple, visit autodesk.com/animation

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the question for facilities was whether to use NAS over 1GB/sec Ethernet or SAN over Fibre Channel.. are setting a new technical bar for the studio’s storage and data setup.6 Matrox’s Axio suite The Foundry’s Furnace 3 plug-ins By Martin McEachern NEW @ c g w.5 3dconnexion’s Space devices Bug’s-eye View 18 Backdrop 40 Role Model Mythic Entertainment’s president/CEO Mark Jacobs addresses the unique challenges faced by developers of massively multiplayer online role-playing games.com for a more On the cover: Josh Staub. See pg. the Wachowski brothers took a totally different approach to visual effects for their latest project. By Ingrid Spencer NAS vs.cgw. and looking at the schedule.0 NewTek’s VT4 Version 4.cgw. in-depth version of this article.CW Previous Page Contents March 2006 • Volume 29 • Number 3 Also see www. Spotlight 6 Products RealViz’s VTour Alienware’s MJ-12 Workstations E-on’s Vue XStream Efrontier/TokyoPop’s Manga Studio 3. c om MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 3 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B . The Mantis Parable. art designer for a game developer. 10 18 25 Fe at ur e s Aping Film 10 GAMING | Peter Jackson’s King Kong from Ubisoft offers the cinematic appeal and action of a film and the compelling interactivity of a leading adventure game.c o m 14 A Digital Revolution FILM | After setting a new CG bar for the bullet-time effect in The Matrix.com for computer graphics news. CG ANIMATION | Artist Josh Staub shows off his digital bug collection— his first CG animated short film called The Mantis Parable. Now. and the online gallery. offers a microscopic look at his first CG short. What’s the best choice for you? Special Report Storage in the Studio 25 By Barbara Robertson + Filmmaker extraordinaire George Lucas and his visual arts facility. ILM. Web story exclusives: Storage and the DI process Offering storage and networking solutions.. Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B Computer 14 T H E M A G A Z I N E F O R D I G I TA L C O N T E N T C R E AT I O N A N D P R O D U C T I O N WORLD D e p a r t m e nt s Editor’s Note 4 Game On The annual Game Developers Conference is right around the corner. it’s apparent that there is more to interactive entertainment than just fun and games—mainly. ___________ w w w. V for Vendetta.big business. there is another alternative—high-speed iSCSI. Portfolio 22 DreamWorks’ Matte Department By Barbara Robertson Reviews 33 Natural Motion’s Endorphin 2. + A look at storage technology in fast-paced studios shows a range of options to suit everyone’s needs. By Michele Hope See www. 18. SAN: The Big Debate Recently. special surveys and reports. it’s a business. and provides a glimpse at Mythic’s newest MMORPG under development—Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. c gw. Silicon Graphics is helping postproduction facility Capital FX keep up with its growing business.

technology will continue to push the limits of game development worldwide as more Hollywood studios and game developers start to hold hands and work together. executive editor Karen Moltenbrey sits down for a Q&A with Mark Jacobs. BIOLCHINI President and Chief Executive Officer CGW ONLINE: www.com SUSAN HUGHES: Marketing Communications Manager shughes@pennwell.com TEL: (847) 559-7500 FAX: (847) 291-4816 POSTMASTER: Send change of address form to Computer Graphics World. In this issue. Stephen Porter. The companies that currently support Collada include 3Dlabs.com CHRISTINE WARD: Ad Traffic Manager ChristineW@Pennwell. NH 03062. Collada is now an open standard that is being developed by The Khronos Group. the benefits of Collada for game development are still unclear to you. there is more to game development than being energized and partyready.com gurus. including DirectX and OpenGL. We look forward to seeing you at GDC! 4 PRINTED IN THE USA GST No. it’s big business—especially when Hollywood comes knocking. Nashua. George Maestri. games. Autodesk. share their creative knowledge. to create advanced 3D applications and assets. ADAMS Vice President Audience Development ATD PUBLISHING DEPARTMENTS MEG FUSCHETTI ATD Art Director MARI RODRIGUEZ ATD Production Director ROBERT F. and materials for multiple devices. and search for employment at top-notch studios.com CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Jenny Donelan. Certainly. In essence. Martin McEachern. This journey. and Softimage. In fact. Nvidia. Havok. Nashua. developers. This month. NH 03062-5737 (603)891-0123. for insight into making games for the online player. The success of the theatrical release of Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong. Originally initiated by Sony Computer Entertainment to help accelerate the development of content for its PlayStation 3 consoles. a shader development tool that will support loading and saving. ATI. and Direct3D shading languages. If. where gamers. and those in the gaming community are preparing to “head West” in anticipation of the annual Game Developers Conference in San Jose. Aegia. president of Mythic Entertainment. contributing editor Martin McEachern goes behind the scenes at Ubisoft to see how Hollywood and the game developers combined their creativity to walk hand in hand—straight to the bank.O.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B editor’snote Kelly Dove Editor-in-Chief Game On It’s March. One area of game development that is often overshadowed by console development is massively multiplayer online. 98 Spit Brook Road. as the developer released versions of the title for all major game platforms in advance of the movie’s box-office debut. 126813153 Publications Mail Agreement No. or MMO.0. IL 60065 We make portions of our subscriber list available to carefully screened companies that offer products and services that may be important for your work. COMPUTER GRAPHICS WORLD Executive and Editorial Offices: 98 Spit Brook Rd. multiple software programs can be combined to create power tool chains. If you do not want to receive those offers and/or information.com DAN RODD: Senior Illustrator danro@pennwell. But the stroll can be a long one for game developers that don’t continue to refine and streamline technology and creative work flow within the studio.cgw. animation. skinning.com MICHELLE BLAKE: Circulation Manager michelleb@pennwell MARK FINKELSTEIN: Senior Vice President mark@pennwell. Nvidia’s next contribution to Collada will be the FX Composer 2. which debuted more than 20 years ago.com For customer service and subscription inquiries only: cgw@omeda. for example. by chance. FAX:(603)891-0539 Hollywood and game developers are starting to work together. It’s a courtship that could turn out to be quite beneficial for the business of CG. Audrey Doyle. ends and begins at the doors of the San Jose Convention Center. Evan Marc Hirsch. developer of Dark Age of Camelot. P. It is based on an XML schema for 3D authoring applications. One of the most ambitious technological advancements for game developers—and the entertainment industry overall—is Collada. Computer Graphics World. supporting OpenGL. However. c om ___________ CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . and wanna-bes all converge to rub elbows with the KELLY DOVE : Editor-in-Chief kdove@pennwell. Box 3296. and the challenges the developers face while trying to push new content out to this unique community. ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY DIVISION GLORIA S. 40052420 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w. which has been made by many an ambitious and talented game developer. allowing developers to freely exchange digital assets without loss of information. Northbrook. the PixelBox Academy has introduced a new e-learning solution (recently endorsed by The Khronos Group’s president Neil Trevett) for the technology that is designed to teach users how to use Collada to optimize studio work flow. as we ready for GDC. please let us know by contacting us at List Services.com BARBARA ANN BURGESS: Production Manager barbarab@pennwell. c gw. resulted in a major coup for game maker Ubisoft. Barbara Robertson SUZANNE HEISER: Art Director suzanneh@pennwell.com KAREN MOLTENBREY: Executive Editor karenm@pennwell. OpenGL ES.

real-time graphic. In Boston. 2005. Huff CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B .3 August 2006 Boston Convention & Exhibition Center IMAGE CREDITS: limosa © 2005 Brian Evans. where thousands of interdisciplinary superstars find the products and concepts they need to create opportunities and solve problems. Japan | 22-year SIGGRAPH attendee 5-days of real-world. Keio University Okude Laboratory.3 August 2006 Boston. Interact with www. California | 18-year SIGGRAPH attendee Masa Inakage | MFA California College of the Arts | Professor. Daisuke Uriu.siggraph. Keio University Media Design Program. moo-pong © 2005 Jun Usu. The 33rd International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques Conference 30 July .org/s2006 to discover a selection of registration options that deliver a very attractive return on investment. Naohito Okude.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B Mk Haley | Bostonian | BFA University of Massachusetts | MFA Cal State Los Angeles | Technical Advisor. Massachusetts USA Exhibition 1 .1 © 2005 Kenneth A. Glendale. interactive twingularity The only conference and exhibition in the world that twingles everybody in computer graphics and interactive techniques for one deeply intriguing and seriously rewarding week. Kanagawa. Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Development.

A Mac-based version is slated for release this summer. to animate forests with wind. and the XStream Bundle. Vue 5 Infinite environments are matched with Max or Maya scenery in one render pass. and market research VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS PRODUCTS PRODUCTS TERRAIN CREATION VTour Creates 3D Environments from 2D Pictures RealViz has introduced VTour. streets.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B spotlight Your resource for products. and virtual sets for film and television. or for urban planning. breeze. while the Max or Maya elements are rendered together with Vue elements. The results can be exported or published as a 3D movie or interactive application for use with 3D viewers such as Macromedia Shockwave Player or Virtools Web Player. reflections. Vue environments can be created directly in Max and Maya with a separate license of Vue 5 Infinite. VTour can be used to create virtual walk-throughs inside buildings. and Softimage XSI are currently being developed. c om CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . video games. VTour can be used to create 3D rooms. Make XStream Environments E-on Software’s Vue 5 XStream for Windows 2000/XP is a suite of plugins that integrate 3D projects created using 3ds Max and Maya in Vue environments. and environments with polygonal photo-textured primitives. With the plugins. Plug-ins for LightWave 3D. volumetric atmospheres. 6 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 ___________ w w w. Both the Intel-based MJ-12 7500i and the MJ-12 7500a workstations are offered with Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 graphics cards and hard drives in RAID 0 and 1 configurations for up to 2TB of data storage. matching shadows. Cinema 4D. and procedural multimaterials. is priced at $995. c gw. vegetation. E-on’s Vue software includes EcoSystem technology. new content-creation software based on the company’s Stitcher and ImageModeler programs for the creation of photorealistic 3D environments from 2D pictures or panoramas. buildings. The program runs under Windows and is priced at $580. news. and terrains containing infinite levels of detail. which includes Vue 5 Infinite and Vue 5 XStream. user applications. Using digital photos or 360-degree panoramas. The company’s optional Liquid Cooling technology reduces noise and allows for cooler operation of the workstations. which can be used WORKSTATIONS PRODUCTS Alienware Adds New Nvidia Options to MJ-12 Workstations Alienware’s new MJ-12 7500i and MJ-12 7500a workstations for creative professionals feature Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI X16-based motherboards with two full-bandwidth 16-lane PCI Express slots for optimized and scalable performance. Pricing for the MJ-12 series of workstations starts at $1599. and illumination for seamlessly blended environments. Vue 5 XStream sells for $495.

offering users real-time multi-camera editing and real-time SD clip upscaling in an HD timeline. drag-and-drop tools.0. sent to a service bureau for publishing. and WYSIWYG support for Adobe’s After Effects and Photoshop C2. Manga Studio is available in two versions: Manga Studio Debut.6 upgrade is available as a free download at the NewTek Web site. support for YUY2 FourCC. Some of the features included in Manga Studio 3. and analog and digital audio and video inputs and outputs. a new suite of plug-ins for Linux or OS X versions of the software that include DeBlur. to stitch together arbitrarily shaped images or parts of images and create a visually believable seam. The new features of the upgrade include improved 3D animation and motion-graphics tools. The Axio systems also offer voice-over recording in the timeline. formatted for the Web.0. allowing files to be read directly into the Windows Media Encoder. to remove noise and artifacts in an image. and DeNoise.0 are a large selection of screen tones. priced at $50. single-click special effects. which sells for $300. and the Matrox Axio SD pricing begins at $13. enhanced support for multiple monitors. ___________ w w w.CW Previous Page Contents ANIME TOOLS PRODUCTS Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B HD AND SD FINISHING PRODUCTS Get Creative with Manga Studio Efrontier has teamed with TokyoPop to release Manga Studio 3. real-time color-correction tools. for color histogram matching. The software includes the tools to create manga-style comics without the use of other graphic software. and floating palettes. Splicer. Autodesk Media and Entertainment’s Combustion and 3ds Max. VIDEO PRODUCTION PRODUCTS PRODUCTS VT4 Integrated Production Suite Update Available NewTek is offering a free upgrade to Version 4. and Tracker. The Matrox Axio HD system pricing starts at $17.6 of its VT4 Integrated Production Suite to registered owners of the system.000. to remove discrepancies in the alignment of three color channels in an image. Once the manga or comic artwork is completed. and NewTek’s LightWave 3D. the icon-driven motion graphics and animation wizard that can be used to easily create animated 3D logos. c om MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 7 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B . and FX Monkey. c gw.000.5. word balloons. Furnace 3 pricing begins at $4000. Version 8. Eyeon’s Digital Fusion. and more. and improvements to the NewTek codec. The update also supports LightWave 8. or exported for coloring. and Manga Studio EX. Matrox Systems Support Adobe Production Studio The Matrox Axio suite of HD and SD editing platforms now support the new Adobe Production Studio and Adobe Premiere Pro 2. The Version 4. VT4 V. a multi-point tracker that locates regions on a moving image. audio VU meters on capture. MatchGrade. to automatically remove motion and out-of-focus blur. 4. Other features in the Axio solutions include no-render HD and SD finishing in compressed and uncompressed formats. COMPOSITING Furnace 3 Plug-ins Heat Up Shake The Foundry has released Furnace 3 for Shake. Other enhancements to the program include ColorAlign. manga and comic-book creation software for aspiring and professional artists. it can be printed from any computer.6 also includes new audio mixer skins.

CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B .

CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B ____________________________ CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B .

CW Previous Page Contents Gaming Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B Aping Film Ubi s o ft adds a t o uc h of Hollywood to i ts K ing Kong video game By Martin McEachern Representing a new breed of video game.. along with assistance from Weta. c gw. Working with developer Ubisoft. Jackson provided creative direction for the game. c om ___________ CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . his Oscar-winning effects studio.. Peter Jackson’s King Kong is one of the first interactive titles conceived by an A-list movie director... 10 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w.

c om ___________ or the sides of buildings.. and ferocious T. game developers are hoping to break down the creative barrier that has. spears. enter dank caves. Peter Jackson’s King Kong is the first in a new breed of video games produced under the stewardship of heavyweight film directors. The developer also used footage from the film—for example. Jackson provided creative direction for the story. Along the way. 16. in recent years. the player controls the hulking frame of Kong in third-person mode. who’s been abducted by the giant ape. “We discussed everything—duplicating camera angles. and tusks. to discuss the emotional intentions for the film. see “Long Live the King. Ubisoft met with Jackson and the Weta team more than a year before the film’s preproduction commenced. the first time Jackson saw a 3D King Kong was when we brought him one of the first builds of the game. Whether he’s bounding across the jungle floor or the streets of New York on his knuckles and feet. Released on all the major game platforms. and cinematic visuals. he made an equally anticipated entrance onto the gaming scene. For the rest of the game.digital assets to determine the look and feel of the imagery. and escape on river rafts. playing Jack Driscoll as he escapes the tribal fortress with his friends and flees into the jungle in search of actress Ann Darrow. all the while defending Ann and his friends from humongous millipedes. To meet this challenge. the gameplay. “The parallel development of the game and the film enabled us to look at From Film to Game To help capture Jackson’s cinematic polish. Ubisoft incor.” says Jackson.” says Poix. According to Ubisoft producer Xavier Poix. “The close collaboration also MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 11 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B . so close was the collaboration between the filmmakers and Ubisoft that no conceptual art was produced for the game.” The player begins the game in firstperson mode. Their venture resulted in a massive.” January 2006. while Weta’s creature and environmental maps served as reference for Ubisoft’s in-game texture mapping. movie director Peter Jackson conceived the title as a sister companion to the film that would not only embody the narrative of the feature—and all its major action set pieces—but expand on its universe as well. and sometimes. the visuals. using 1933-style guns. Ubisoft’s studios in Montreal and porated much of Weta’s conceptual artwork directly into the game engine as background imagery. France. members of Ubisoft’s Montpellier crew made the trek to New Zealand five times to study the movie sets. imaginative story.” (For details on the The filmmakers and gamemakers worked closely on the interactive title. Kong’s simian movements—supervised by Jackson—are as explosive and realistic as they are in the film. Jackson turned to Ubisoft game designer Michael Ancel. To that end.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B As King Kong made a much-hyped swing into theaters this winter. and color palette of the game. which was months before Andy Serkis donned his infamous Kong motioncapture suit.) Once film production had begun. $10 million collaboration between Jackson’s Weta Digital studio (which produced the effects for the movie as well as for the Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and Gaming . “In fact. key scenes from both the cinematic and interactive perspectives. and offer viewers the best of both worlds. its preproduction. the two primary visceral emotions engendered by the film. Meanwhile. Beyond Good & Evil. making sure the sense of scale was achieved accurately. pg. In fact. Ubisoft used Weta’s conceptual art and Montpellier. To realize his vision. c gw.. particularly since the game’s development (which typically spans two years) usually occurs well in advance of the film’s production. or by employing such diversionary tactics as igniting grass fires. rexes. Ubisoft jettisoned such gaming conw w w.. maintaining a consistent look between the film and game versions of the various creatures. impressed the director with its charming characters. Driscoll must race across creaking rope bridges. developing a movie-based video game that’s scheduled to launch concurrently with the film was fraught with challenges. For the King Kong game. including the mist-blanketed jungle and the tribal fortress on the peninsula where Ann is held for sacrifice to Kong.” says Poix. whose previous title. With Hollywood directing the interactive action. and the look and movements of the creatures. Velociraptors. the characters running away from the dinosaurs—which was matched to ingame animations. “Gamemaking is similar to filmmaking: You are focusing on the story. stymied progress in the gaming arts. Instead. Ubisoft used Weta’s conceptual art to re-create the geography of Skull Island in meticulous detail. making of the King Kong film. or swinging through chasms and tall gullies while clinging to vine-covered cliff walls ventions as life meters and ammunition icons. Ubisoft relied solely on Weta’s conceptual art and digital assets to guide the look. Jackson and the gamemakers chose the dual perspectives so that the player would experience both helplessness and ultimate power. tone. “The game was pretty far along by the time principal photography began.

sadness. shadows. While the Montpellier group developed these textures for the PlayStation 2 iteration (the lead version of the game). these models are also capable of facial animation.” says Poix. the Ubisoft group used two types of skeletons: one for the men and another for Ann. To make the mesh game-ready. exclusive creatures. the team crafted all of Kong’s animations by hand after receiving instruction from Serkis. happiness. to swinging and climbing. the artists created Kong’s facial animation using a mixture of bones and morph targets depicting such expressions as anger. c om CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . the T. and postproduction. and density of the fur. such as life and ammo meters. including Ann. we wanted to avoid undermining the audience’s preconceptions about how the iconic character moved about. “In animating Kong.. 32x32 (4 bit) for eyes. which boasts higher-resolution (512x512.” says lead programmer Jean Francois Provost. the Montpellier crew refined the model using the studio’s proprietary Jade game editor... which contained approximately 35 bones. MARCH 2006 ___________ w w w.. swinging. CW Previous Page Contents Gaming enabled us to develop parts of the game that aren’t included in the movie. and elbows. To rig the natives. 128x256 (8 bit) for the face. 64x128 (8 bit) for the inside of the mouth. Because the gorilla is seen so closely throughout the game. particularly the forearm. vulnerability desired by Jackson. accomplished with morph targets and gaze-tracking through AIcontrolled inverse kinematics. normal mapping. the artists crafted Animators were challenged by the range of Kong’s motions (knunckle-walking. which tend to obstruct the images on the screen. In total. These additional elements could not have been achieved without us having open access to the movie throughout all phases of preproduction. the team created three geometric variations and then scaled them further to enhance their individuality. c gw. Along with additional bones to handle more complex twisting in the wrists. their teammates in Montreal enhanced the surfaces for the more-powerful Xbox 360 title. and a final pass to increase the dinosaurs’ volume and the definition of their reptilian hide. production. we worked hard to capture the mixture of ferocity and 12 | Computer Graphics World Working from photo references within Ubisoft’s Jade software. length. “Balancing the length and density of the fur was the key to achieving a soft. Therefore. Ubisoft forwent a number of typical gaming conventions. a tessellation pass. the same engine used for Beyond Good & Evil. rexes in the Xbox 360 version use five texture passes. For the human characters. to propelling himself on his hind legs. Montpellier’s in-house fur shader allowed artists to control such attributes as the color. dynamic lighting and To create the final in-game Kong model. the team modified the bone lengths of a base skeleton. and an unlockable alternate ending. to be incorporated directly into the game engine. or 32bit) textures. arms. the artists referenced Weta’s concept art as well as images of actual gorillas. Also. “The hardest part of animating Kong lied in maintaining credibility throughout his multiple modes of locomotion—from knuckle-walking. the riggers built Kong’s skeleton with 30 bones for the basic articulation and 10 additional bones for twisting various body parts. the data proved far too memory-intensive. such as new areas of Skull Island. Also within Jade. The next-gen console version also supports higherresolution geometry. Although Weta supplied Ubisoft with Kong’s motion-captured animations. and better water effects. furry coat that would render efficiently and not hinder the frame rate. and the movements far too specific.” Of Man and Beast Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B To make the title more cinematic. Using the Jade editor. climbing) as well as the gorilla’s emotions (which ran the gamut from ferocity to vulnerability). For instance. and surprise. For the main characters. the model in only one level of detail to avoid storing unnecessary geometry. To differentiate the natives as much as possible. the beast uses six textures: 256x256 (4 bit) for the skin. including the original pass. the artists re-created the game’s human characters. the artists worked from photographic references within Jade to produce models in three levels of detail. Weta provided Ubisoft with a digital version comprising approximately three million polygons. and 128x128 (4 bit) and 64x64 (4 bit) for the fur.” For texturing Kong.

Perhaps the biggest recruitment to the video game world. Ubisoft was able to create and apply any number of sprites to either a zone or a vertex. however. It thickens the bright sunlight pouring through the canopy. but rather. Also. a normal map. gamers playing the Xbox 360 version will notice a crispness in the shadows and a brilliance in the lighting that is unmatched on other systems. or other dynamic light sources.. The artists created the mist and the fog using a sprite generator Released on all the major platforms. c gw. The artists created more complex water effects by applying the same texture maps used for Kong’s fur onto successive layers of alpha maps. and a detailed normal map that accentuated the gnarled and knotted look of the tree bark and the cragginess of the rocks. or basking in the god rays streaming through the air holes in the caves. they lit most objects vertex by vertex. director of last year’s highly acclaimed A History of Violence. form. and I selected interesting organic and inorganic surfaces that would constitute kits of textures. like those in this scene.” says art director Florent Sacre. The team also employed cube maps on the water pools to further enhance the lighting and reflections. or the stone wall. within Jade. unexpected and exciting directions. that style has been characterized by a tight control over the audience’s point of view. who recently signed a muchpublicized. rexes. Jackson wanted to create an immersive environment. used as reference for refining the tex- ___________ w w w. c om MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 13 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B .” says Sacre. the future of the interactive experience may soon take some new. His as-yet unnamed game project will be developed with Toronto’s Trapeze Animation Studios. are most apparent in the Xbox 360 version. and relied on real-time omni lights for illuminating the characters when they were in close proximity to fi re. tures created in Montpellier. a contributing editor for Computer Graphics World. director John Singleton is currently producing Fear and Respect.’” Whether hiking around cliff-hugging trails. Meanwhile. To create the leaves. Spielberg. A game version of The Warriors has already hit store shelves. the group used Sprite Mapper 2 (SPM2). a proprietary sprite generator within Jade that’s especially dedicated to the PS2 and similar to that used for the fog and mist. Electronic Arts continues to adapt such James Bond classics as the upcoming From Russia with Love. The Montpellier effects team also created the heavy mist that permeates the game’s jungle setting.” In another sequence of the game. long-term agreement with EA to develop three franchise properties bearing his signature style of storytelling. and other foliage. Revitalizing the Medium Peter Jackson’s King Kong heralds an impending flood of games either created by A-list directors or inspired by their films. “Our primary concern in lighting the jungle was to create simple and readable images. grass. We did only what was needed to make the world in the game believable. and Cronenberg can inject the gaming medium with the same revitalizing energy and innovative vision they unleashed on the film world. Basic water simulation was accomplished by the Jade engine.. starring Snoop Dogg. casting dappled light over the foliage and adding a sense of heaviness and humidity to the air. To create wet skin and wet fur. the artists enhanced the lushness of the jungle in the Xbox 360 title using up to six textures for the diverse foliage: a base texture. preserving the graphic style of the game and avoiding ‘pseudo-realism. Cronenberg once referred to each of his films as a “selfcontained biosphere. Throughout his career. titled Stranglehold. I painted the textures to resemble Weta’s environments. the Jade engine dynamically altered the specular map to increase the shininess of the textures according to the wetness of the surface. Another unique creative force that will soon invade the gaming world is that of David Cronenberg. “I trotted around Montpellier with my camera. a specular map. Jade’s sprite generator also produced the game’s smoke and fire. “I personally made every texture before we went to New Zealand. which were controlled with axis constraints.” a description that more aptly encapsulates the essence of an interactive world. a moss texture. To create the complex lighting.com. The majority of the photographs we took in New Zealand weren’t inserted into the actual game. and modify them by adding noise or changing their size. moonlight. passing through thick jungle patches. thanks to a combination of highly detailed normal maps and dynamic lighting. Dirty Harry. With SPM2. the temples. If directors such as Jackson. Driscoll and his friends float down a river on rafts that are suddenly besieged by T. may be Steven Spielberg. or density.. can be reached at martin@globility. we didn’t want to overdo the lighting and risk losing the depth and scope of the jungle. while John Woo is developing a video game sequel to his film Hard Boiled. a shadow texture. followed soon by video game versions of The Godfather. the game’s effects. starring Sean Connery. Also. Martin McEachern. and Taxi Driver. “Therefore.CW Previous Page Contents Gorillas in the Mist Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B Gaming .

black hat. and digital matte paintings that include projected texture maps on imagebased models are increasingly common. what happened behind the slo-mo action arguably had a more widespread and lasting impact on visual effects. “It was a real pleasure w w w. However. with Framestore CFC handling the digital intermediate (DI) work.” Trails of Destruction Early in the film.” says Glass. To create digital reproductions of the locations surrounding the action. who played Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy and Elrond in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Hugo Weaving. Since then. Based on a graphic novel illustrated by David Lloyd and published by Vertigo/CD Comics. will win a visual effects Oscar—the timeline was tight. The Matrix. but that finessed the movie as a whole. among other effects. directed V for Vendetta. “Cinesite handled those and smaller bits and pieces. the buildings were miniatures that the crew MARCH 2006 CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . But. Today. to play with little details in a way that I don’t think anyone will notice. something 14 | Computer Graphics World that few people will notice on screen could be a harbinger for changes in the way postproduction houses and colorists work with film in the future. V makes his mark by exploding big buildings. For this. the UK-German production takes place in a future. James McTeigue. Governments should be afraid of their people. is V... which tackles the question of armed resistance to totalitarian oppression. and black cape. as in The Matrix. a vigilante who wears a white Guy Fawkes mask. was V for Vendetta’s visual effects supervisor. The tag line for the film. And. the stylish “bullet-time” shots in which Keanu Reeves’s actions happened in extremely slow motion while the camera swung around him. Unlike the Matrix trilogy. c gw.. “The majority of the effects are subtle. so many films—from Charlie’s Angels to Shrek—have imitated and parodied the bullet-time shots that the effect has become a cliché. who was first assistant director on all three Matrix films and on Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones. All three studios are in London’s Soho district.” Glass says. and the visual effects crew often relied on practical elements rather than CG.” Cinesite created most of the effects. Double Negative put videos on television monitors and video screens throughout the film. Framestore CFC changed the lighting on the key character’s mask in postproduction and balanced the atmosphere throughout one sequence [see “VFX in the DI Suite. totalitarian Britain. the Matrix crew used photogrammetric modeling with projected texture mapping. won a visual effects Oscar in 2000 for. who was visual effects supervisor for Batman Begins and for the final two Matrix films. is: “People should not be afraid of their governments. to work on it from that point of view. It’s unlikely that the 500 visual effects shots in the Wachowski brothers’ latest film. In addition. and the story didn’t demand huge effects.” Dan Glass.. CW Previous Page Contents Film Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B A digital The Wachowski brothers’ film noir-styled “kung-fu meets sci-fi” movie. most films with visual effects use lighting techniques based Debevec’s research. and state-of-the-art image-based lighting techniques based on Paul Debevec’s research at the University of California. c om ___________ Cinesite used its React crowd-simulation software to handle the motion for the thousands of digital people dressed like V in this scene.” pg. V for Vendetta (which they wrote and co-produced). 16]. Natalie Portman is the mild-mannered young woman he rescues—and radicalizes. “Our most obvious visual effects were the explosions and a knife fight scene. I found that work particularly interesting—the whole process often blurred the line between what we did in visual effects and what was dealt with in the DI. only a few of Vendetta’s effects are obvious.

“[The plugin] also cut these planes into several pieces. To animate the cloaks. however. and we didn’t have a big budget. especially when V walked through a knife trail. “We tried to find or photograph real elements. handled the motion by applying animation created from motion-capture data to 15 different crowd models. prebaking the animation when the crowds were shot from a long distance. “I was tends to be slightly clean. archives. the crew integrated Syflex’s cloth simulations into the crowd software. “We had seven weeks Cinesite. To create the trails. The geometry was created in Pixar’s RenderMan and layered in different ways with textures. A Maya plugin extruded layers of geometry from the tracking curves to create geometry planes based on the knives’ motion. cre w s cre a t e m a n y o f Ve n d e t t a ’s e ff e ct s i n DI By Barbara Robertson photographed. and rotoscoped knife strikes in the shots..” Glass says.. “It’s the Vendetta version of bullet time. Cinesite first tracked the camera with 2d3’s Boujou soft- ware and Science-D-Visions’ 3D Equalizer. “but more complex. sometimes.” says Glass. adding CG knife blades to handles and. To create the feeling of hyperspeed. during a sequence keen to use real fireworks. In addition.CW Previous Page Contents Re olution I n a n o v e l a p p ro a ch . Glass had Pacific Title in Los Angeles scan fire and firework elements from the Warner Bros. 3D supervisor. the stunt performer acting as V handled bladeless knives. created the illusion of speed in the slow-motion scenes. some moving quicker than othLayers of geometry extruded from tracking curves and rendered with textures were composited with various levels of transparency to create the knife trails left by V in this image.” Cinesite relied on CG for the knife effects..” Compositors working in Apple’s Shake used optical-distortion nodes to break up the passes and mix various levels of transparency.” Street Scenes Cinesite also created digital crowds for a sequence in which thousands of people appear on the streets dressed like V. c gw. complete knives modeled in Autodesk Media and Entertainment’s Maya (formerly from Alias).” For the fire. c om ___________ MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 15 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B . The studio’s crowd-simulation software. Cinesite increased their numbers by replicating those real performers in compositing and by creating fully CG characters. at high speed. “CG V Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B Film . the crew filmed stunt performers ers. but with the real elements. and then taken into the composite. which looked like ciga- rette smoke.” says Matt Johnson. Cinesite created large matte paintings by using RealViz’s Stitcher allotted for visual effects. you get all the details for free. through scenes. Although the production crew filmed real people in costume gathering at the Houses of Parliament.” says Johnson. “We used lots of 2D plug-ins for Shake. “Everyone had to maintain continuity in which V shows off his superhuman power by moving at hyperspeed.” says Thrain Shadbolt. visual effects supervisor at w w w. some moving and some not. The CG knife trails. called React.

and they’d add atmosphere. it did its job in telling more of a story and giving V more character.. was filmed on a set piece in a studio. She can be reached at BarbaraRR@comcast. “We mixed the smoke. we’d grade everything. they were the means to the end.” Nevertheless. Nowadays that would be absurd. they dered out a grayscale matte in Pixar’s RenderMan.” Barbara Robertson is an award-winning journalist and a contributing editor for Computer Graphics World. There. “Not many productions would be prepared to run two grading suites for two months. for example. “The drawn shapes only looked realistic enough on a few occasions.” explains Fawkner.” says Fawkner. in Shake. It was a long sequence with a lot of cuts. they notice such things as rigging wires that they didn’t spot when looking at sequences offline on an Avid system . a stylistic device that wasn’t possible to achieve all the time during filming. and imported that matte into the grading suite. Then. go back and change it.” Inglis says. At first.. we basically had a client session in which we were able to increase and decrease the contrast in the mask. using 2d3’s Boujou and RealViz’s MatchMover. but we would have had to deliver it for comments. Framestore CFC uses the Baselight grading system from FilmLight. it was slightly more interactive.” —Barbara Robertson w w w.. colorist Adam Inglis applied corrections through the 3D matte to increase the density and create shadows on the filmed mask. we just dialed down the smoke. The smoke plates were a combination of practical elements from Framestore CFC’s library and smoky noise generated in Shake. and digital extras were added to create the huge crowds shown in these shots. for example. so we would have had to redo the smoke. but then the grade would have been bluer. A shot of Natalie Portman standing on a balcony in the rain. because the main character is masked.” And. and then combined everything with keys we pulled in Baselight and with shapes we drew in Baselight. Also. Glasman sat in a grading suite with the director of photography. “We could have done this in compositing. “This isn’t a popcorn movie. For this movie. colorist. the digital effects studio began by making a digital version of the feature. Also. “Hopefully. c gw. and we needed to see the atmosphere in context.” says Fawkner. The crew added depth of field by splitting the rainstorm into multiple layers rendered at different speeds. The visual effects were not the end. graded the background through the smoke using holdout mattes from the rotoscoped characters and alleyway. particularly in fast-moving scenes. So. but we felt it wasn’t working. we could have made the changes on a background plate. “Usually. “Everyone knows you can color-correct. To increase the realism.” says Johnson. CW Previous Page Contents Film Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B VFX in the DI Suite During V for Vendetta.. the filmmakers used shadows to create expressions on the unchanging mask. by using the Baselight system.” says Inglis. To create the rain.. and generated visual effects plates of smoke. ren. things they want painted out.” The colorists turned to the visual effects crew for help with another grading problem: adding atmo16 | Computer Graphics World sphere to a long sequence. that once clients are in the grading suite.. and then blurring highlights on some layers lit the mask. tracked it onto the character. the VFX crew built a 3D model in Autodesk’s Maya from a scan of the real mask and. “It gave us all the advantages of an interactive grading session to do what would otherwise be a visual effects job. V’s pure-white Guy Fawkes mask is always partly in shadow. “The process we did for V was quite unusual. When we first started doing DI. none of the people on the team expects that colorists will handle complicated effects in grading. when you have a swift work flow. Fawkner believes DI software will begin including more effects capabilities. and make it lighter or darker so that it not only matched the rest of the lighting. we’d send shots to visual effects to have images flopped. colorists in Framestore CFC’s digital intermediate (DI) suite tried drawing relevant shapes on the mask and moving them with the tracking system in the grading software. correcting the color. send it to visual effects. Cinesite used Maya particles rendered through RenderMan. To control a hero raindrop that splashes in Portman’s face. Instead. the colorist-compositing duo could access the entire film at 2K. and others.” says Inglis.“It’s remarkable how much you can get away with Real performers were replicated at Cinesite. the client could tweak the effect until the day before the film was finished. correcting shadows on the mask utilized a similar process.” says Adam Glasman. “We tried that at first. during compositing.” Although they might have accomplished the task for that sequence using a Flame or Inferno system from Discreet. Shadbolt used a Maya expression to attach one particle to a locator.net. these effects won’t draw attention to themselves. Inglis points out. MARCH 2006 CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . with senior compositing artist Jonathan Fawkner at his side. “On the Inferno. “On the grading system. “Now clients are asking what else can be added on top [of that]. the director.” The visual effects crew rotoscoped the foreground characters and rough shapes of the alleyway to create mattes. which provides real-time processing on films scanned at 2K. as a result. deliver it again. it would have required many iterations because the compositing was grade dependant: The grade changed as the artists added the smoky atmosphere. and so forth. Thanks to mattes created by the visual effects crew. Then. c om ___________ to quilt photographic tiles enhanced in Adobe’s Photoshop.

Today you discover who you are meant to be. The Powerful. Fearless. You embrace the tools in front of you and take pleasure in your infinite potential. Your inner artist responds. Approachable. Complete 3D Solution experience it at eovia. Take it.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B Imagine Passion calls you.com CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . The journey to your success begins with this first step.

Staub spent nearly two years creating the story. “I truly never expected to be doing 18 | Computer Graphics World ___________ w w w. it did make the qualifying list. Riven. And now. sound effects. animation. his animated short movie. the 30-year-old Staub never saw himself as a gamer. those mantis has earned numerous film-festival awards. Staub founded Jubilee Studios. though the movie didn’t get on this year’s Oscar shortlist. an army of one... and still doesn’t consider himself an animator. visuals. to produce Mantis and work on any other freelance opportunities that might interest him. and musical score for The Mantis Parable himself... CW Previous Page Contents CG Animation Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B A f ilm m aker ’s short a n im at ed t ale about a c o u ple of high-tech bugs creat es a buzz By Ingrid Spencer View A lthough Josh Staub fell into his career as a digital artist by chance. and. Nevertheless. developer of Myst. happened efforts are paying off: His eight-minute short about a caterpillar and a praying very much on purpose. Before trying his hand in CG filmmaking. Staub honed his skills as the art director and visual design director for Cyan Worlds. c gw. c om MARCH 2006 CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . all for about $4500 through his newly formed Jubilee Studios. and Uru: Ages Beyond Myst. The Mantis Parable.

“I’m sitting there trying to get a caterpillar to express emotion. “Preproduction consisted of the basics— To artist/game designer Josh Staub. According to the filmmaker. c gw. and do whatever else it took to get the image right. such as personal photographs. the insect information lying on the entomologist’s desk. including the Mason jars (filled with leaves and branches) that hold the “lead” bugs. and are just an escape to other worlds. Working two nights a week on the film in his home studio above his garage. Staub refined his concept for the film and then began the creative process. and the open window through which plants and the sky are visible. “I also did a lot of insect research—reviewing and a couple of 200GB hard drives.5GB of RAM ___________ w w w. so did the artist’s role. and credits his work at Cyan for giving him the after a stint in college. which helped him render the final scenes.” he says. pencil and paper for concept sketching and loose storyboards. At home. so the modeling tends to be the least important aspect of the scene creation. nature film clips. rendering eight minutes of 3D imagery was no easy task for a budding filmmaker with limited resources. was done in Autodesk Media and Entertainment’s 3ds Max 4. “I like simple shapes and forms that ‘read’ well visually. ability to achieve that. his first animated short film..2. “Cyan has managed to reach a nongaming community because its games are nonviolent and nonthreatening. colorcorrect. that he imported into Adobe’s Photoshop. and such.” Staub was a high school student when he interned at Cyan. was an experiment—a foray into the world of linear storytelling.” he says. The Mantis Parable. and sound.” says Staub. As Cyan grew.” The Mantis story tells the tale of two bugs trapped in an entomologist’s office. the majority of his work was done on a just one machine. “I’m not a big pyrotechnics guy. he returned there. Toward the end of the project. overlay paint. primarily using the Internet. “The resulting texture usually bares lit- various images. The modeling for all the imagery in the film.CW Previous Page Contents what I’m doing. “I’m interested in linear storytelling. “I always liked to draw. Therefore. He accomplished this by hand-painting the images or beginning the process with raw materials. This was a way for me to explore that. Staub says he intended for the film to appeal to every age group. stretch. a 3. However. c om MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 19 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B . where he would then blend.” In fact. although I had a knack for technology. and offers the simple moral message that revenge is not as sweet as one may think. using poly-subdivision techniques.0 GHz Dell similar to the one he has at Cyan. I always saw the computer as a tool. were done solely by Staub. but computers weren’t that interesting to me. with 1.” Staub says he also learned valuable lessons from fellow filmmakers. Staub works on a variety of powerful workstations at Cyan—Silicon Graphics and Dell PCs. they have no preconceived notions. a progression that provided him with the Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B CG Animation .. he resolved to keep his story simple.” says Staub. knowledge and experience to create The Mantis Parable. he purchased an additional Dell machine with the same specs for about $800.” he notes. I wanted Mantis to achieve some of that. he created the model textures himself and applied them using 3ds Max rather than procedural or commercial textures. as well as the visuals. Most impressive is the fact that the story.” A Bug’s Life Making the world of the entomologist’s office believable depended largely on the textures and the lighting for the diverse objects in the scenes. “and kids are very honest [with their opinions]. and and has been at the studio ever since. including the characters and their environments. animation. To create personalities for the main characters—the caterpillar and the mantis—the filmmaker called upon two crucial critics: his young children. many of whom became stymied as their concepts got too complex..

he had another new world to conquer—the realm of the film festival. were created and rigged within Autodesk’s 3ds Max software. He especially admires filmmakers who make good use of radiosity— a computer rendering technique that imitates subtle properties of natural light—even though he did not use the technique in Mantis because he didn’t feel as if it gave Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B dering methods. CW Previous Page Contents CG Animation tle resemblance to the initial photograph.” The resulting images were rendered at 1280x693 resolution The Mantis models. Staub learned that to make a film eligible for an Academy Award. I rendered all the images with a small amount of 3ds Max’s standard-image motion blur. All the images were raytraced using the Chaos Group’s free downloadable version of VRay. and got into all of them. Staub kept an online journal. and spots as bounce lights to enhance the scene’s natural appearance. Mantis was about pushing for a fantastic but believable realm. the filmmaker used Max’s flex modifier for the secondary motion of the insects’ antennae.. ___ com. Meanwhile. “It was a lot of work. “If you want anyone to see your film. c gw. Staub’s career could metamorphose into something new and exciting as well.com. “When I would feel discouraged. 20 | Computer Graphics World phony and Architectural Record. The speed at which everything progressed was indeed unexpected. “I created a variety of character rigs to accommodate specific caterpillar and mantis motions. He then applied a subtle amount of what he calls “faux” depth of field using an Adobe After Effects plug-in. it has to win awards at one of a select group of 40 festivals. such as flying or falling. Staub exported the edited clips as uncompressed QuickTime mov- him the control he wanted over the color and the light. and Staub used standard 3ds Max lights.themantisparable.” he says. and compiled in After Effects. “So. “It took a ton of research. which contain Z buffer information. adding that he was somewhat prepared to be discouraged. Navigating the Festival Circuit Once Staub had burned the film onto DVDs using Adobe Encore. “Like Riven. the animation was done using bones that Staub set up inside 3ds Max. including that of the praying mantis. Nevertheless. Currently. “Rendering with true motion blur was too expensive. though he’s adamant that it won’t be tackling another film completely by himself. the artist used a range of lights. She can be reached at Ingrid. The Mantis Parable won its first award at the Seattle International Film Festival. and it’s not a documentary.. but the organic texture. allowing the filmmaker to produce realistic-looking objects such as the glass jar. Staub submitted his movie to five of those 40 festivals.” he admits. which can still be read at www.” he explains.com. directional lights.” Through research.” says Staub. and that kept me on track. To keep him going through the difficult periods. Eyelids—a physical characteristic that does not appear on the real insects but does so on the filmmaker’s virtual versions—were created as separate objects and animated with morph targets. “I heard a horrifying statistic that says filmmakers are usually happy with a 10 percent acceptance rate. which helps indie filmmakers minimize the tedious and repetitive festival submission process.” he says. especially when it came to lighting a 3D scene. DreamWorks. though no global illumination was applied. spencer@gmail. Ingrid Spencer is the former managing editor of Computer Tele- To enhance the natural look of the film. Today. rather than use time-intensive depth-of-field ren- ies. “You can’t go rent an eight-minute move at Blockbuster. Staub rendered the images as . is generally maintained. MARCH 2006 ___________ w w w. called Lenscare. and Fox’s Blue Sky Studios as influences. Of most value to him was the Web site www. all the images were raytraced. with colored spotlights. from Frischluft. And just like the caterpillar star of The Mantis Parable. c om CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . and then he raytraced the imagery using VRay. and then finished the final editing in Adobe’s Premiere Pro.” Staub says.rla files. Staub is contemplating his next move.. The Mantis Parable takes place in a variety of lighting scenarios. Staub cites the work of Pixar.” he explains.withoutabox. and then went on to win eight other accolades.. or roughness. I would get an e-mail from someone asking about the film.” In that regard. Rather. All the other animation was done by hand. “This was not meant to be A Bug’s Life. Mantis continues to receive recognition. you’ve got to get it into the international film festival circuit.” he says.

Home to top-notch studios like Electronic Arts. it’s no wonder companies around here are so animated. C I T Y O R V I S I T O R L A N D O E D C . T O P. C O M CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . Business is busting at the seams for Orlando’s digital media sector. and the world’s largest concentration of simulation developers.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B where companies dream in hypercolor. specialized higher-ed training programs. _______________ C A L L 8 8 8 .

to be released by DreamWorks Animation. and Madagascar. crafting the actual scenery where the characters perform. while digital matte painters work quietly behind the scenes. which are from the team’s first project. Realizing the importance of these “scene makers.” Brown says. sometimes. a great alternative both financially and artistically for shots where it’s not feasible to film in live action or build entire 3D environments. But when the Glendale studio shifted to making full-CG animated films. California. “In CG animation. the need for more matte painters became very clear. Over the Hedge. and. there is more of an opportunity to get creative [than there is in live action]. campus headed by artist Ronn Brown.” says 22 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . head of the matte-painting department at DreamWorks Animation’s Glendale. “Matte artists have. “So. according to Ronn Brown. there usually isn’t much to match other than key art.” DreamWorks Animation last year established a matte-painting department at its Glendale. California. an overall aesthetic.” 3D character modelers (and their creations) often steal the show in CG films. and always will be. the studio already had a small department in place at the PDI/DreamWorks facility in Redwood City that had worked on such box-office hits as Shrek. light direction. Shrek 2. At the time. Creating matte paintings for CG animation requires a different approach than it does for live-action films with digital effects.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B Portfolio DreamWorks’ Matte Department Images from the upcoming film Over the Hedge. rendered elements. facility. The department generated the backgrounds and scenery in the images shown here.

the objective of the matte painters is to create vista shots of landscapes and cities. followed by the fully composited image. —Karen Moltenbrey Image series spanning both pages: Interior and exterior shots: These two series of images from Over the Hedge illustrate the extensive digital set paintings done by the newly formed DreamWorks matte-painting department. They can do concept designs for visual development. A selection of images from the matte-painting group’s most recent project. and is beginning work on the upcoming comedies Flushed Away.” In fact.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B Brown. At DreamWorks. and Kung Fu Panda. Next is a shot of the characters. most of the matte artists at the Glendale facility have live-action visual effects film experience. Over the Hedge. is featured on these two pages. “Most matte painters are more ‘realistic’ and paint to match filmed scenes. matte paintings for CG animated features require a style that has to be matched—one with some semblance to reality without the full-blown reality of a live-action plate. Currently. as well. while the Glendale team is focused on Over the Hedge (due out this summer). the group in Redwood City is working on Shrek the Third. Bee Movie. Says Brown: “We work hand in hand with the art and lighting departments on each show. MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 23 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B . as well as some animation and background painting experience. “The matte painters always bring a quality aesthetic to vistas and set-extension shots. From left to right in each series shows the compelling CG backgrounds— one indoor. as well as do render enhancements. Matte artists typically have years of artistic training.” As Brown points out. the other outdoor—crafted by the group.” he explains.

CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B _________ __________________ CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B .

Printed in conjunction with magazine w w w. 10GB/sec Ethernet. c gw.CW Previous Page Contents Storage in the Studio Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B Advanced storage Storage in the Studio systems and storage networking architectures enhance work flow at digital content creation studios. c om ___________ MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 25 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B . and a 5000-node renderfarm to store and move 170TB of content. C ASE STUDIES Storage stokes the creative process High-speed data transfers and collaborative content sharing top the storage priorities at DCC facilities. ILM’s state-of-the-art (storage) studio Industrial Light & Magic uses high-speed NAS servers with a distributed file system.

a 10GB/sec Ethernet backbone feeds data into 1GB/sec pipes that run to the desktops. For the past two and a half years. nearly every minute of the 140minute film included work by ILM. The network can accommodate 4K images via 300 10GB/sec and 1500 1GB/sec Ethernet ports.” says Thompson. “At ILM. there is an ongoing war between the renderfarm and storage. so we designed a system that could handle a massive jump in network throughput. film is projected at a rate of 24 fps and video at 30 fps. Lawrence Halprin. Keeping everyone happy requires feeding a phenomenal amount of data to those render nodes. ILM created about 40 minutes of effects.598. and we are 90 percent full. “We knew it would be coming. most shots include at least 20 layers.” says Thompson. “The system had all the attributes we needed to go forward. In a visual effects-laden film such as Star Wars.500-sq. A 100-layer shot is not unusual. the network is designed to accommodate 4K images via 300 10GB/sec and 1500 1GB/ sec Ethernet ports.928 hours of aggregate render time to produce the shots in Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith. the technical team left no 865. Lucas’ award-winning visual arts facility. fourbuilding complex on 17 acres of parkland in San Francisco’s Presidio. data center houses the renderfarm. however. It took 6. c gw.-ft. With that in mind.000 sq. “We knew we’d have major scaling issues. To produce the final shots. For the film Jarhead. and the Lucas Arts game-development division. A shot is an arbitrary number of frames. Similarly.CW Previous Page Contents Storage in the Studio Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B ILM’s state-of-the-art (storage) studio Industrial Light & Magic uses high-speed NAS servers with a distributed file system. They chose SpinServer NAS hardware and the SpinFS distributed file system from start-up Spinnaker Software. the data center’s 3000-processor (AMD) renderfarm expands to 5000 processors after-hours by including desktop machines. 26 | Computer Graphics World technology. and it could scale well. ft.” says Thompson.” says Thompson. Currently. c om ___________ CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . it has good data management features and a unified naming space [aka global namespace]. we have about half a dozen major motion-picture projects under way. 10GB/sec Ethernet. and storage systems. which is not considered a visual-effects film. of building space. a 10GB/sec Ethernet backbone feeds data into 1GB/sec pipes that run to the desktops. California—a small town north of San Francisco—into a state-of-the-art. But it turned out to be a good deal. About 600 miles of fiber-optic cable thread through When George Lucas moved a large part of his filmmaking empire from San Rafael. A 13. shortly after ILM purchased the system.” How much data? “The whole [storage] system holds about 170TB. we’ve been prototyping NetApp’s Data MARCH 2006 w w w. he spared no detail.” Yet. even rearranged individual rocks in the babbling brook that rambles through the campus to achieve the most pleasing sound. “All these render nodes constantly need data. A New Way to Store The IT team began looking for a new storage system about three years ago when Lucas was beginning work on Revenge of the Sith. consider this: ILM currently renders most visual-effects shots at around 2K x 2K resolution. we had a 10X increase in network bandwidth. Also. compositors combine several layers of rendered elements for each frame.” says systems developer Michael Thompson. and probably at most visual effects studios. and a 5000node renderfarm to store and move 170TB of content By Barbara Robertson stone unturned when it developed the infrastructure that powers Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). “When we went from San Rafael to the Presidio. the renowned landscape architect. some productions are moving to 4K x 4K resolution.” At the new Lucas Digital Arts Center (LDAC) in the Presidio. “We didn’t know if they would deep-six the At the new Lucas Digital Arts Center in the Presidio. “It was spooky for us. fi le servers. Network Appliance bought Spinnaker.

isilon.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B The Leader in Clustered Storage 1-877-2-ISILON | www.com CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B .

though. “And. MARCH 2006 ___________ w w w.” says Thompson. Brocade Fibre Channel switches handle data transfer between the SpinServers and two types of disks: high-speed production disks and slower nearline disks used for archiving data before it goes offline to an ADIC Scalar 10K tape library. “All the data still showed up as one virtual disk. Before. “Our daily burn rate will still run the same software stack. All rights reserved.” ILM used SpinServer NAS hardware and the SpinFS distributed file system from Spinnaker Software (which was acquired by NetApp) for its work on Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith. and they can keep everything for one movie in one area instead of on 14 different servers. the users can still get to all their data via normal paths.” says Thompson. Digital work by ILM. “Now. during the move from San Rafael to San Francisco. but when you’re shooting packets to Singapore and introducing millisecond delays. whether the data is on the fast production disks or on the slower nearline disks. studio leased a fiber-optic cable that ran from San Rafael to Berkeley and then across the Oakland Bay Bridge to San Francisco to link the SpinServers in San Rafael to those in San Francisco. 600MB/sec HD video off the core storage. “Without this system. and a contributing editor for Computer Graphics World. He installed 20TB of storage on Network Appliance hardware running the Data ONTAP NG software in each location. dedicated HD video servers.” says Thompson. “So we have homegrown HD servers. Each server would do ½0th of the load and. Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B the studio can organize its file systems into a tidy hierarchy.” In fact. and Lucas’ headquarters at Skywalker Ranch north of San Francisco. “Our system is a weird hybrid: It has all the features of a SAN. It would have cost millions of dollars. “The 3000 disks are divvied up into 20 stacks. that we think we can use to stream HD video to the desktop for the whole facility. “In six to nine months. However. ILM could move people from one location to the other in waves. which includes the Spinnaker software. we can add servers as we need them.” Thompson explains.cg w.CW Previous Page Contents Storage in the Studio ONTAP NG [Next Generation] software. “We’ll probably be buying more disks this year. There’s a feature in the new ONTAP NG software.” says Thompson.” says Thompson.” ILM now uses 20 Linux-based SpinServer NAS systems and about 3000 disks from Network Appliance. We’re looking at Network Appliance. the studio uses customdesigned. the computers start bogging down. & TM. the two facilities acted as one. c om CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . HD video to the desktop. At least now. Thompson wants to try playing high-performance.“When you’re streaming uncompressed One Giant Disk Because the Spinnaker system has one unified naming space. but it does NAS as well.” Linux-based render boxes at ILM talk to the disk storage systems via the NFS protocol.” Back at the Ranch Meanwhile. and as they fill up. “One of the nice things about our storage system is that it allows you to run the disks very full. “It’s not the throughput. This means 28 | Computer Graphics World ILM uses Angstrom Microsystems’ Titan64 SuperBlade rendering servers to enable fast generation of complex visual effects.” Barbara Robertson is a freelance writer to completely shut down the whole facil.” Now.net. and a lot of start-up companies that deal with these WAN issues for a solution. but © Lucasfilm Ltd. adding more storage takes only a few hours. Hewlett-Packard. They don’t know we’re moving data around behind the scenes. it looks like one giant disk. Because it could run the two facilities as if they were one. we’ll swap the SpinServers for Network Appliance hardware. we could play at warp speed. the throughput is astronomical. “Data access over fiber between San Rafael and San Francisco was very fast. where Lucas has opened an animation studio. Thompson is looking at ways to implement a similar system between Singapore. Currently. it was never necessary for anyone to stop working in order to move. because the system spreads the data across the servers so that it’s evenly balanced. it’s the round-trip time. when they’re combined. the data moves from one to the next. back at ILM. The was around $50.” says Thompson. Couriers deliver final shots to production studios on FireWire drives. “We had people on both sides of the Golden Gate Bridge accessing the data and moving it around without losing access. She can be reached at BarbaraRR@comcast.” claims Thompson.” Would that imply more data storage? “I’ve been doing storage here for six years. but the problem is WAN latency. all the disk drives look like one giant disk to the users.000 a day for downtime. people working on shots had to keep track of which servers had the elements they needed. and I’ve found that people will use up whatever you put out there.” says Thompson. and that doesn’t take into account delays. we would have had ity.

“We’ll have as many as eight operators accessing either the same footage or other footage on the drives simultaneously.” says Matthew Schneider. self-assembled “nearline” storage systems—as a temporary holding area for older files. storage will become part of the lifeblood that makes it all happen. and networking architectures to make way for the growing wave of high-definition (HD) work. shareable. PostWorks also uses TerraBlock storage—along with its own. in this format. The HBAs provide the 350MB/sec to 400MB/sec of throughput required for HD work performed on nearly 30TB of Avid’s Unity storage systems.” says Schneider. Underscoring these storage strategies is the goal to make work in progress involved in a variety of independent feature films and TV shows. and the prospect of overhauling their server. let me go make a copy and get it to your machine. a New York City-based postproduction facility. on this drive? Okay. director of technology at PostWorks. Maciak. uses 4GB/sec Fibre Channel HBAs from Atto in most of the studio’s Avid workstations. the need to juggle multiple projects at once. and reusable from a central storage repository. According to The Need for Speed director of engineering Maciek J. These high-powered implementations can include hundreds of terabytes of data and “tiered-storage” architectures to help move archival and backup data onto lower-cost storage systems. we found everything from “storage-on-the-go” systems used for real-time editing in the field to elaborate enterprise-class storage installations that mirror many Fortune 500 companies. In our latest look at the state of storage technology in fast-paced studio environments. which are based on low-cost.CW Previous Page Contents Storage in the Studio Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B C A S E S T U D I E S Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives. it’s something you’ll be forced to learn how to do. a film and HD post facility that has been Change is a constant in today’s studios as they struggle with crunching deadlines. The Napoleon Group implemented a central file repository that now acts as the backbone of most of the company’s file storage needs. “Anytime your user data becomes central.“The days are long gone when operators ized and available from more locations. CASE 2 High-Performance SATA The proliferation of multiple copies of files is a common problem at studios—and one that used to be experienced by The Napoleon Group. it can be worked on in a more cost-effective By Michele Hope manner.” says Maciak. “Whether it’s interesting to you or not. “Sooner or later. PostWorks’ director of technology. which stores everything from accounting and front-office documents to archives of renders and jobs from all of the edit suites. high-capacity w w w. Storage stokes the creative process High-speed data transfers and collaborative content sharing top the storage priorities at DCC facilities CASE 1 instantly available. “The performance Matthew Schneider. Storage is at least half the equation. It’s also about producing quality content as efficiently as possible. ‘You need this file.” says Maciak. PostWorks also uses Facilis Technology’s TerraBlock 4GB/sec Fibre Channel SAN disk arrays.” PostWorks’s storage infrastructure includes a variety of Avid workstations connected to Avid’s Unity shared storage systems via 2GB/sec Celerity Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs) from Atto Technology (which also offers high-speed 4GB/sec Fibre Channel adapters). New York. storage. TerraBlock capacities range from 2TB to 12TB. if not more.’ People haven’t been calling me about that anymore. We also found facilities that use homegrown virtualization software to help users access specific files without knowledge of the physical device where the file actually resides. with support listed for up to 24 simultaneous users and 16 streams of uncompressed HD video. For storage and playback of high-bandwidth digital 2K film mastering files. from Maximum Throughput. used to say. c om ___________ MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 29 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B . c gw.5TB Max-T Sledgehammer NAS system with SATA drives. PostWorks’ total Unity storage capacity exceeds 30TB. This backbone is built on a 3.

instead of Fibre 30 | Computer Graphics World CASE 4 Eliminating Pipeline Bottlenecks During peak production for South Park. work begins in earnest a week before the show is due to air. (In addition to Abbey Road. Once the nearline storage gets full. Without that. Maciak. Fife and his partners became enamored of the work flow there. which takes incremental backups four MARCH 2006 ___________ w w w. sits in front of what he calls the storage backbone at the facility. so there’s no more ‘share your drive and I’ll put this on your desktop. with changes often made as late as 12 hours before airtime. California-based music editor Malcolm Fife knows firsthand how much the use of inefficient storage can cost a project.” Maximum Throughput claims an aggregate sustained throughput of more than 300MB/sec. The studio replaced the main file server—another potential point of failure—with Apple’s Xserve RAID servers and a 15TB Apple Xsan storage configuration capable of supporting the 30MB to 50MB of capacity needed for an average animated scene. you could easily blow thousands of dollars. The storage system is also mirrored. Configuration files for key applications have been modified to automatically export to the Max-T system for archiving. Fife’s team found it could even do simple checks of files using a laptop in a different room. This timeline requires systems to be available at all times—a feat put to the test at the start of the ninth season when a network switch failure made it impossible to access any work in progress until the problem was solved.J.) Fife and his partners decided to duplicate much of the Abbey Road setup in their Sausalito facility. He is also a partner of Tyrell LLC. which focuses on sound design. Fife knows that when the director of a big-budget film comes to play the latest sound reel and suggests a few changes. editing. c gw. Wally’s World. In the upgrade process. it’s not uncommon for the 60-plus animators and editors at Los Angeles-based South Park Studios to work approximately 100 hours per week. If that change isn’t handled instantly. you don’t want to hold up the process trying to move the fi le from suite to suite to cut a new version. Channel SAN connections. Maximum Throughput has Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B a processor onboard that makes the magic happen. which was based on several Studio Network Solutions A/V SAN Pro Fibre Channel storage systems that helped streamline the recording. Franzen also implemented Atempo’s TimeNavigator software. director of engineering at The Napoleon Group. According to Maciak. However. and supports automatic fail-over in case of failure.CW Previous Page Contents Storage in the Studio is surprising. as well as the 150MB to 200MB required for larger scenes. c om CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . Franzen. After working with London’s Abbey Road recording studio on the score for The Lord of the Rings sound tracks. South Park Studios’ technology supervisor.” Franzen explains. they went with two Studio Network Solutions iSCSI-based globalSAN X-4 shared storage systems running on a Gigabit Ethernet network. and mixing of the music score for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. “We realized then we had to get rid of our older stuff and remove single points of failure on our network.) Since the systems are based on Ethernet and iSCSI. When a job no longer needs to be stored on the primary Max-T system.” Maciak also incorporates 3TB of nearline storage that is simply a PC with a RAID storage controller.” Maciak explains. A/V SAN Pro disk arrays are used by facilities such as Sony/ATV. and postproduction editing and mixing. we move it over to tape. “We have a rule that says if the Max-T is 75 percent full. Fife has performed sound work on movies such as King Kong and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. According to J.” says Fife. (iSCSI SANs provide a lowcost alternative to Fibre Channel SANs. job is sent to a “holding” folder used to move files to nearline storage. the group could plug into CASE 3 Sweet-Sounding iSCSI SANs the SAN from anywhere—even over the Internet. “These are multimillion-dollar timelines. the Maciek J. a 3. “Operators know to look for those types of folders on the MaxT. music production.’ This just simplifies the whole archiving process.5TB Max-T Sledgehammer disk array from Maximum Throughput that’s used for editing and rendering. dump all the contents of the holding folder to nearline storage. it would be impossible to do what we’re doing. and Vidfilm/Technicolor. Sausalito. with capacities ranging from 2TB to 32TB per array and support for file systems up to 16TB. By installing SMS client software on the laptop.

this required about 24TB of data to move through the system each night—a process that was managed through a combination of several high-speed Titan storage systems from BlueArc and Rhythm & Hues’ homegrown virtualized file system. LLC. CASE 5 Titanic Storage Image © Disney Enterprises. c om ___________ MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 31 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B . The file system allows data to be replicated in front of the BlueArc disk arrays so that bandwidth levels are always maintained. Rhythm & Hues put 650 people to work during the hard-core production phase of the Disney movie Narnia. Chief tasks involved the development of animation and underlying muscle movements of key characters such as Aslan the lion. and the lion’s fur. and Walden Media. Recently.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B Storage in the Studio times a day. Another studio that knows how to keep the digital pipeline humming is Los Angeles-based Rhythm & Hues. including computer-generated simulations of smoke. Rhythm & Hues used three high-speed storage systems from BlueArc to handle the renders and nightly processing of up to 24TB a day of data during peak production of Narnia. Inc.” says Brown. c gw. fi re. BlueArc’s ___________________________ w w w. an animation and digital effects studio that became known as the “talking animal house” for its award-winning work in the film Babe. So we only put 4TB to 6TB behind each Titan head so that we have the bandwidth to get to the data. TimeNavigator now provides time-stamped backups of earlier file versions so animators and editors can quickly access them without having to go through re-rendering. According to Rhythm & Hues’ vice president of technology Mark Brown. “You can put 256TB on a storage server [which is what each Titan system can support]. but our problem is that we have so many processors going at it that we wouldn’t have the bandwidth we need.

this means the underlying IT infrastructure has to allow production teams to be able to quickly re-use content as needed. Mayzurk says the virtualization capability allows him to remain vendor-agnostic. In addition to standard Gigabit Ethernet connections. ___________________________ 32 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 ___________ w w w. senior vice president of technology for E! Networks. as soon as it’s produced. or even on the Internet? According to Jeff Mayzurk. fuels the company’s multimedia productions with several hundred terabytes of networked storage and What do you do when the clips you produce might end up on other TV channels and on other shows.based on SATA disk drives. and copies it into the network’s central storage repository. We want the flexibility to migrate as storage technology improves. lower-latency InfiniBand connections. Isilon IQ storage systems What makes this model work is a combina. Storage resources at E! Networks include about 200TB of SATA-based NAS from Isilon Systems. this has meant a “hub-and-spoke” architecture that captures any film acquired from the field once.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B Titan storage systems deliver 300MB/sec to 400MB/sec of sustained throughput for Rhythm & Hues and are capable of scaling from 5GB/sec to 20GB/sec of throughput. c gw.com.nearly 200TB and 50 nodes of nected via a director’s home. From a storage perspective. whether on an tems include the OneFS distributed fi le system. according to BlueArc. Network Appliance NAS servers. tion of custom virtualization software that masks the underlying complexity of the storage systems in use. Storage includes Avid system or Apple’s Final Cut Pro system con. Michele Hope is a freelance writer focusing on trends and advancements in the storage industry. c om CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . She can be contacted at mhope@thestoragewriter. This material is then distributed to various edge (or spoke) locations for their own use. custom virtualization software. in a variety of forms. senior vice president of technology at E! Networks. “We didn’t want to be tied to a particular vendor or type of technology. which scales to 250TB of capacity.” Isilon’s IQ series of clustered storage sysJeff Mayzurk. and two Fibre Channel SANs CASE 6 NAS + SAN from DataDirect Networks. Isilon’s IQ series systems are also available with higher-speed. The company claims throughput performance of 3GB/ sec.

the animation pattern changes. Blending from Endorphin’s behaviordriven crouch to the motion-captured data is accomplished using a transition event. constraining the hands to the streetlight to let the digital actor catch the arm. will do its best to turn and break a fall with its hands after being hit by an object. with the sort of physical behaviors you would expect from live actors interacting in real-world situations. Sometime during the middle of the fall.5 Creating realistic character animation is easier when models get physical By Alex Lindsay and Ben Durbin Motion-capture systems allow the acquisition of actual human performances. instead of having to keyframe the animation. However. as the actor fell. arms flailing. there are certain types of captures that only the hardiest of actors would be willing to tackle: falling off buildings while being hit with high-velocity projectiles and landing on oil drums. The simulation engine is efficient and quick. for example. c gw. Behaviors in the program are configurable units of animation. Custom characters created in other programs such as Softimage’s XSI or Autodesk Media and Entertainment’s Maya. We tested the dynamics functionality in the program by setting up a scene with a digital actor positioned on a roof and peering down over the edge. and making subtle changes to the parameters in Endorphin can deliver different results from the same source material. Natural Motion www. for example. Objects can be constrained to scene elements so the characters interact appropriately within a variety of environments. Creating the work flow in Endorphin begins with the program’s standard biped character. adding a force before hurling it at the actor. Setting up the initial scene in Endorphin required setting up a plane for the roof. It gives you a simple but powerful way to synthesize interactive animation between characters and dynamic environments.com ________________ stats MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 33 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B . Combining behaviors acter. Natural Motion’s Endorphin 2. All the scheduling mentioned above simply requires moving and scaling events on the timeline. a process familiar to anyone who has used a track-based NLE interface found in a video-editing system or a multi-track audio-editing solution.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B reviews 3D CHARACTER ANIMATION Endorphin 2. By simply tweaking the behavior parameters in Endorphin. Endorphin 2. it grabbed a light pole and dropped to a crouching position on the ground. posing the char___________ w w w. Releasing the lamp’s arm and having the character land on its feet was accomplished by applying a Land and Crouch behavior to the model. or ATI Radeon 7000 or higher.5 for instance. The Endorphin software includes a specialized set of character animation tools for creating scenes like the one mentioned above. and creating a cube to represent the projectile.5 motion-synthesis software can deliver unpredictable results. can also be imported to replace the standard biped character.naturalmotion. We could also transition the character into a motion-captured clip of an actor standing and looking over its shoulder. When the actor is hit by the projectile. which match the skeletal structure and proportions of your destination character. If you precede the Catch Fall command with a Stumble behavior. body mechanics.5 motion-synthesis software was designed for these types of animation challenges. Intel Pentium Processor or AMD Athlon 1. the simulation above was set up without keyframing. which blends the simulated environment with the recorded motion data. Yet. iterations are possible. and the character will try to keep its balance before falling. but this is where Endorphin’s behaviors take control. We created a cylinder primitive to represent the arm of the streetlight. Nvidia GeForce 2. and entirely new versions of the animation can be generated with subtle tweaks to the behaviors and enviUsing Natural Motion’s Endorphin 2. we have the makings of a standard dynamics simulation.7 GHZ 512MB RAM. A model that is being driven by a Catch Fall behavior. and gravity that make for compelling natural motion in animation. which can be applied to a character for varying lengths of time. c om Price: $9995 Minimum System Requirements: Windows 2000/XP. Up to this point. The software’s available tools make it easy to guide the animation’s results with these behavioral tools. you can resimulate and review your changes. doing its best to land in a protected position. We programmed an object to hit the character from behind and. with all the timing. we added a Writhe behavior to make the character’s arms thrash about. Endorphin’s behavior-based animation pipeline has a straightforward interface that can be integrated with other animation packages. even on a modestly powered machine. Notably. we scheduled a “hands reach and look at” command to have the character reach out for the arm of the streetlamp.

Overall. With a clean interface. Alex Lindsay is the founder of Pixel Corps. the tools for creating custom characters in Endorphin 2. while it’s a safe bet that most people using this type of software will have access to a library of motion-captured source material. _____________________________ 34 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w. Ben Durbin is a motion-capture specialist and research division leader at Pixel Corps.c gw. Some examples we would like to see added include turning to react to sound and ducking or dodging to avoid incoming projectiles. And. adding more ambient behaviors would make the software program better. The program has an uncomplicated interface. such as wind. Dynamic Blending allows you to blend between the simulation environment and imported animation sources for more realistic transitions. And. Existing scene elements in OBJ. and arranging events on the simple track-based timeline is straightforward. incorporating parameters to the characters that govern their overall coordination level would be a welcome addition. c om ___________ CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . Adding constant forces. even with the existing behaviors. and good support for standard animation file interchange formats. A rig remapping tool lets data that is applied to one character be remapped to another. Settings that allow you to increase or decrease the overall dexterity of your character would allow for a greater range of output. finally. XSI.5 make the setup and proportion matching of des- tination characters in other packages more fluid. it would be nice to see a batch-rendering option that would allow for a range of simulations to be batch-rendered with the opportunity to vary the parameters of the simulation within specified ranges. the interface provides what’s needed—nothing more. and FBX formats can be brought into the program for spatial reference. It would be good to see Natural Motion add a more comprehensive set of behaviors in future versions of Endorphin. a guild for content creators of all skill levels. Endorphin is a powerful addition to any character animation pipeline. even if the skeleton setup differs. And. and existing animation in the major formats can also be added to the scene. to the single impulse force would definitely broaden the scope of the possible simulations. Also.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B ronmental components of the simulation. The properties windows expose just enough information to make tweaks without the process becoming unmanageable. Almost all the existing sets are focused on impact or fall-related reactionary events. Using Endorphin within an existing animation pipeline is accomplished with the import/export support. a strong and growing set of built-in behaviors.

you are guided to a game within the configuration panel. The 3Dconnexion devices are developed to work in conjunction with your mouse. Linux. The Space series of input devices are designed for Windows 2000/ XP. Parts. pans. c om MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 35 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B . c gw. Recently. you would accomplish this by rotating your view. but actually they are designed to reduce your keyboard usage. trackball devices have given way to fivebutton Bluetooth mice and keyboards.” Back in the day.3dconnexion. With the SpacePilot. The best explanation of how these devices fit into your production environment is best explained by 3Dconnexion’s slogan “two-handed power. Sun. Unix (SGI. or polygon using the keys on the keyboard. Normally. Perhaps the best way to answer it is with a real-world scenario. if you were a part of the creative crowd working with digital images. Intel Pentium 4/III or AMD Athlon processorbased system. so I was anxious to see what the Space products offered and how they performed. what exactly is this thing? I was asking myself the same question. It has six degrees of SpacePilot Price: $199 Minimum System Requirements: Windows 2000/XP. I had a clear understanding of how it worked. you might think these hip-looking units will send your mouse straight to Ebay. trackball input devices were the rage. I had a chance to test-drive three of its unique input devices: the SpacePilot. The fi rst six keys are viewable on the unit’s LCD display. You can control different modes such as Modeling. having a trackball with your desktop PC was commonplace. and adjusting the vertex. Linux.0 SpaceBall 5000 Price: $499 Minimum System Requirements: Windows 2000/XP. Admittedly. not replace your mouse. The display on the unit is easy to see.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B reviews INPUT DEVICES Space Devices SpacePilot. 3ds Max. The SpacePilot is highly customizable. utilizing a computer mouse was for “ordinary” users. Within minutes of installing the SpacePilot on my machine. not as a replacement. as well as other alternative input devices. SpaceBall. Today. Ani3dconnexion www. and Unix systems. SpaceBall. 3d c o n n e x i o n stats SpacePilot Price: $499 Minimum System Requirements: Windows 2000/XP. and IBM).com _______________ 3dconnexion’s Space line complements a person’s mouse. Assembly. When working in Softimage XSI. and Linux (64-bit available) mation. Intel Pentium 4/III or AMD Athlon processor-based system. the SpacePilot started working immediately. which currently only supports Windows 2000/XP. Back then. or SolidWorks. The main knob on SpacePilot is the motion controller. you literally have one hand on the model to rotate. a trackball was programmable and acted as an input device and a mouse. but an unlimited number of function configurations are available. 20MB free disk space. At first glance.) Shortly after installing the drivers and software. a straightforward tutorial panel appears with a 3D object and instructions for familiarizing you with the SpacePilot and how the unit works. and although I had only scratched the surface of what the device offered. reducing keyboard usage. and includes 21 keys that are labeled for specific functions within your application. and SpaceTraveler. or even paint it. which is what I originally believed. 20MB free disk space. selecting your adjustment tool. However. the installation of the Space devices was straightforward. for example. adjust. At this point. (Note that these devices were tested on a Sony Vaio P4 with 2GB RAM running Windows XP Service Pack 2.0 ___________ w w w. Enter 3dconnexion and its series of high-end input devices for the creative professional.1 or 2. But you’re probably still asking yourself. USB 1. to help you set up work flow. One very nice feature is that the SpacePilot software automatically detects the software programs installed on your system and automatically configures the controller to support those programs. I’m a fan of Logitech mice (using an MX900 Bluetooth right now). you will need to make tweaks and adjustments in order to model. The SpacePilot controller rotates.1 or 2. edge. The first of the devices I tested was the SpacePilot. It displays what you’ve programmed and the buttons you’ve pressed. allowing you to program the buttons any way you like for simplifying the way you input and manipulate objects. HP. and zooms models or animations in several 2D and 3D applications. I was hooked. Beyond that. unfortunately. when I first started working with computer graphics. USB 1. and so on. the units are not available for OS X on the Mac. and SpaceTraveler: alternatives to input and manipulation By Dan Ablan Years ago. Once the drivers were installed.

It also offers eight illuminated buttons around the base of the knob to give it more programmable functionality. A mouse and keyboard combination has. that way of working can be limiting—the mouse only delivers one movement at a time. not only can you expect to save a great deal of time and frustration.COM ________________________ PRIZES! We are giving away great products right on the website to some lucky winner. He is also the author of numerous books. Linux. Esc. Alt.com. you can easily tuck it in your laptop bag when working remotely. you can expect a work flow boost. including The Official Luxology Modo Guide from Thomson Course Technology. making it easy to navigate with just one hand while editing with your mouse in the other hand. and rotat- ing 3D objects in real time.cgw. It has six degrees of motion like the other 3dconnexion products. animation.c gw. animation. been the way modelers and animators have input and manipulated 2D and 3D objects for many years. We ll pull the name and ship the prize. by default. etc. too. all you need to do is log on and sign up. like the SpacePilot. However. and the artist has to continually stop and start the creative process to adjust viewports. which supports Windows 2000/XP. it offers the features found on the main knob of the SpacePilot. not realizing how often I use these functions until I started reviewing the unit. The SpaceBall controller is best suited for CAD/CAM/CAE. By adding the 3dconnexion Space devices to your system configuration. and game development. The Keyboard Modifiers on the SpacePilot allow your hand to remain on the controller while typing shortcuts. and it might as well be you! To enter the drawing. Dan Ablan is president of AGA Digital Studios in Chicago and founder of 3DGarage. I found the Ctrl.com WWW. Visit today and you can enter to win SpacePilot courtesy of: 36 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 w w w.CGW. but has 12 programmable buttons and no LCD display. This unit performs similarly to the SpacePilot. c om ___________ CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . Another addition the 3dconnexion Space series is the SpaceBall 5000. zooming. and Shift options on the SpacePilot very useful. The last in the Space series is the Space Traveler. To the right of the motion controller is a Fit button. Digital content creators are always looking for ways to work smarter and faster. and is designed for motion control. which supports Windows 2000/XP and Linux. However. Log on and you could win! Another great reason to visit www. I really like this little device because of its compact size. Basically.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B motion. models. which is great to quickly fit your model to view. It offers the same six degrees of motion and functionality of panning. and Unix. with the SpaceTraveler.

Keio University Media Design Program.4101 www. all the programs at VFS are designed to prepare the next generation of talent for specific careers in the most exciting and creative industry in the world. Keio University Okude Laboratory. Massachusetts USA Exhibition 1 . real-time graphic.vfs. Call or click now! 1.3 August 2006 Boston. How? Every student graduates with a demo reel or a portfolio of original work – the ultimate calling card. hear. c om ___________ MARCH 2006 Computer Graphics World | 37 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B . Sound Design to Makeup Effects.661. c gw. and experience in the entertainment industry – and that definitely includes Game Design.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B showcase Mk Haley | Bostonian | BFA University of Massachusetts | MFA Cal State Los Angeles | Technical Advisor. moo-pong © 2005 Jun Usu. interactive twingularity The only conference and exhibition in the world that twingles everybody in computer graphics and interactive techniques for one deeply intriguing and seriously rewarding week. Interact with www. California | 18-year SIGGRAPH attendee Masa Inakage | MFA California College of the Arts | Professor.org/s2006 to discover a selection of registration options that deliver a very attractive return on investment.siggraph.3 August 2006 Boston Convention & Exhibition Center IMAGE CREDITS: limosa © 2005 Brian Evans. 2006 San José Convention Center 410 Almaden Blvd. where thousands of interdisciplinary superstars find the products and concepts they need to create opportunities and solve problems. Booth 1344 March 22 to 24. Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Development.800. and plenty more. Naohito Okude. Glendale. From Film Production to 3D and Classical Animation. Daisuke Uriu. Japan | 22-year SIGGRAPH attendee 5-days of real-world. 2005. Kanagawa.com Vancouver Film School Where Results Matter w w w.1 © 2005 Kenneth A. Huff ________________ MAKE MORE ENEMIES (DESIGN VIDEO GAMES AT VFS) Join us at the Game Developers Conference in San José and discover why Vancouver Film School is the place to be for everything you see. In Boston. __________ The 33rd International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques Conference 30 July .

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Based on WoW’s success. lots of new subscription models being tried. The current generation of con- Q A Q A Who is the typical MMO player? The player types are all over the board. absolutely. WoW. and. and based on what we saw. Why is Dark Age of Camelot so successful? DAoC was the first. a number of high-profile failures in this space. it wouldn’t be Warhammer if there wasn’t a major war going on. This IP will help set us apart from our competition. c om ___________ Q A MARCH 2006 In the future. or EQ. constantly changing depending on the successful titles released over a given year. Also. every time a new game comes out. How far along are you on Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning? We are right on track with WAR’s development. what do you envision for MMOs? Over the next few years. As of now. and as I laid out during a keynote address several years ago. and still is the most. Q A Q A Is there enough of a player base to support new titles? Well.5 million players—the answer is an unqualified ‘yes.CW Previous Page Contents continued from page 40 Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B tent for players. but doing battle against hundreds of other players. w w w. c gw. What is the key to creating a successful MMO? There are three keys: a fantastic IP. Computer Graphics World | 39 A F CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS B . In terms of other features. The game will not look like DAoC. and it is looking great. which people have enjoyed playing for years. and some Q A What makes the title so unique? First. that never gets old. How are you attracting newbie MMO players? We are constantly trying to improve the newbie experience in our game and also expanding the availability of trial ver- soles has great technology. There is an entire world of people in the game to interact with. What are MMO players looking for in a game that they can’t get from console play? To date. Q A MMO scene. I think we have seen the first major expansion of the user base since EverQuest (EQ) came out [in 1999]. eventually. A good game. we re-evaluated Imperator. Killing NPCs and solving quests can get old fairly quickly. and strong player-support systems. Q A Q A Q A Q A Q A Why did you suspend development of Imperator? After E3. Internal testing has already begun. some people play multiple games.’ Have the new consoles affected MMO play? Not yet. Can you describe the worlds and imagery we will see in Warhammer? It will feature fantastic imagery that has its own unique look and feel. as we are developing a look that both fits the Games Workshop aesthetic and is attractive to the MMO gamer. the consoles don’t have a lot to offer the players in terms of MMOs. there will be a continued growth of the MMO market. and those players will chew through that content faster than you predicted. we decided it would be better to postpone development until a time when we could turn it into a great game. I see them being a major part of the sions of the game over the Internet. successful game that features a system of Realm versus Realm (RvR) combat. the PC MMOs have had better graphics than the older generation of consoles. Based on that. new people are brought into the market. Games Workshop has created a lot of great IP for us to use in this game. that will be for another day. and we will be showing a fully work- Q A Q A Are MMOs rising in popularity? Based on the success of World of Warcraft (WoW)—5. ing version of the game at this year’s E3. there aren’t a lot of MMO games. well. As to other features. we expect the RvR system that we are creating to be the best in the industry. we didn’t believe it was going to be a great game. and as such. Why do you think that title will be successful? The combination of Games Workshop’s fantastic IP and Mythic’s proven development teams and technology will be hard to beat. there is over 25 years of content to draw from. PC MMOs are more social than console MMOs. but not a great game. some people switch. stable and solid technology. but to date.

000 concurrent players where in the game. and we continue to add lots of new and exciting stuff to Dark Age of Camelot. and deploy of any type of game in the industry. Celtic. skill. the largest tabletop fantasy and futuristic battlegames company in the world. there are huge issues with the number of people and things that can be on the screen at any one time. they will find it. he “unofficially” programmed games while he was in law school. In a stand-alone game. Q A Are there concerns strictly unique to MMO development? There are lots of them. His first official step into the computer games industry occurred in the early ‘80s with pay-for-play online games. There’s an old MUD rule I coined 20 years ago that says that if there are 100 people in your game. massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) have expanded in recent years to include a wider demographic than ever before. which was followed by an ORPG called Aradath. If there is a bug some- Q A Q A Q A Q Currently. the company has continued to support and expand the game. which is based on the Warhammer fantasy world created by Games Workshop. complex world of MMORPGs requires vision. Dark Age of Camelot. with the added complexity of tens of thousands of simultaneous users. Mythic released in 2001 its most successful MMORPG title to date. Darkness Rising. releasing its sixth Camelot expansion pack. If there is an exploit. plans to release its next MMORPG. What are some of the new obstacles that you face? One problem is the everincreasing cost of developing a next-generation MMO. Rob Denton and Mark Jacobs formed what is now Mythic Entertainment in October 1995. . If there are ways to play the game differently than the developers expected. you can’t really do that in an MMO. based on Arthurian. Q A What concerns must you keep in mind while developing the content of the game? You need to remember that you can never create enough concontinued on page 39 40 | Computer Graphics World MARCH 2006 ___________ w w w. Since then. and Nordic legends. and do the exact same thing. you can expect at some point that all 100 are going to want to go to the same room. to one where 32. they will discover it. which MMOs are you working on? We are hard at work on our latest MMORPG. After launching a number of online games. We have all the same concerns as a non-MMO developer. program. the developer is continuing its quest to broaden the MMO horizon with new and compelling content. last October. as well as the ever-increasing expecta- tions of the players. developers can control exactly how many objects can be within the player’s view at any one time. and a bit of luck Once the domain of techno and hard-core gamers. What was your first title? My first pay-for-play online game was a 4X sci-fi game called Galaxy back in 1985. c om CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B . Identifying this trend early on. to pursue this market. c gw. a solid game plan. In what way does MMO development differ from the approach you would take with a console or multiplayer game? MMO games are the most difficult games to design. Second. First. Why did you get into the MMO game? That’s where I believed the future of gaming was going to go. online is the minimum bar for success. Not resting on its laurels. they will abuse it. Can you recall some of the biggest obstacles then? One major obstacle was getting A Q A Q A Q A enough modems wired together so people could actually play a multiplayer game. Before then. lead designer at Mythic. and in 2007. How has the process evolved? We’ve gone from an era where 32 players online at one time was a major accomplishment. I just didn’t think it would take this long to get there. and the game better be able to handle it.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B backdrop Interview by executive editor Karen Moltenbrey Mark Jacobs is president/CEO and Role Model Conquering the expansive. The same is true for MMOs. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR). at the same time. . you have to predict how millions of people might try to play your game.

COM ____________________________ E 3 is a trade event and only qualified industry professionals may attend. including infants.A. Three days that could change your whole year. manager or strategist. It's the E3 2006 Conference Program. and supply you with tips and strategies to perfect your business plans and keep you one step ahead of the competition. Whether you’re a designer.e3expo. 2006 Register today for the E3 Conference Program. One entire industry waiting for you. One dynamic educational program that will guide you toward the most promising opportunities within the interactive entertainment industry today. WHERE BUSINESS GETS FUN One place. No one under 18 will be admitted. Visit www. And that’s not all.CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B CONFERENCE MAY 9-11 EXPOSITION MAY 10-12 L.com for registration guidelines. REGISTER ONLINE WWW. The exhibit floor is where you will see all the newest computer and video game products and technologies that the industry has to offer.E3EXPO. there are more than 30 sessions covering a wide variety of topics specifically designed to meet your needs and interests. Industry executives and renowned creative talent will share their knowledge and views of the future. CONVENTION CENTER Three Days That Could Change Your Year. © Entertainment Software Association 2006 CW Previous Page Contents Zoom In Zoom Out Front Cover Search Issue Next Page EMaGS F A B .

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