Snapchat Intros New Features for Desktop App Lens Studio

Snap added new features to Lens Studio, its easy-to-use desktop app that lets users create augmented reality lenses. To make it more appealing to creators, from novices to professional 3D modelers, Snap introduced the Landmarker template, which supports 14 new real-world locations; six new facial templates; and an interactive how-to for newbies. Available for free download, Lens Studio runs on Windows 10 and macOS 10.11 or later. Over half a million Lenses have been developed since Lens Studio debuted in late 2017. Continue reading Snapchat Intros New Features for Desktop App Lens Studio

Google Honors Georges Méliès Today with its First VR Doodle

If you visit the Google search page today, you’ll see what Google is describing as its first VR Doodle. Clicking it takes you to a YouTube player for a 360-degree animated short called “Back to the Moon” that celebrates French filmmaker, illusionist, and sci-fi pioneer Georges Méliès. The YouTube version is a teaser for the mobile VR experience, which is available for Cardboard and Daydream headsets via the Spotlight Stories app. While other Spotlight Stories such as “Pearl” and “Buggy Night” have been featured on YouTube in the past, the Google homepage promotion is a first. Continue reading Google Honors Georges Méliès Today with its First VR Doodle

Lucasfilm Shows Off ‘Star Wars’ VR Experience with HTC Vive

Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB R&D unit just did a limited demonstration of its new “Star Wars” virtual reality experience: “Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine,” using the HTC Vive headset. The user, by walking around in a 15×15-foot space, explores the planet’s surface, does some maintenance on a Millennium Falcon, meets R2-D2 and fight offs a group of attacking Stormtroopers with a lightsaber. After unveiling the experience to a group of journalists, Lucafilm plans to allow other “select audiences” to also experience it. Continue reading Lucasfilm Shows Off ‘Star Wars’ VR Experience with HTC Vive

New ILM Team Developing Immersive VR and AR Experiences

Industrial Light & Magic has created a new division with a focus on developing virtual reality and augmented reality experiences for movie fans. ILMxLAB is planning to debut an entertainment experience based on “Star Wars” later this year. It has been working on technology for the iPad and Oculus Rift that would allow consumers to enter their favorite movie scenes and navigate through them. ILMxLAB execs indicate that the technology could launch when the J.J. Abrams-helmed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is released in mid-December. Continue reading New ILM Team Developing Immersive VR and AR Experiences

VFX Studios Leverage the Power of the Cloud for Film Projects

Visual effects studios are increasingly using cloud computing technology to crank out film sequences faster and more efficiently. Rendering, the process of finalizing each frame, is an intensive processing process, and the cloud allows studios to use as much processing power as needed to finish the job. When the studio is in between film projects, it can save money because the studio can scale back on its computing power demand, which helps keep VFX costs low for filmmakers. Continue reading VFX Studios Leverage the Power of the Cloud for Film Projects

DreamWorks Developing 360-Degree Rendering for VR Films

DreamWorks Animation is working on new technology that will bring its pre-rendered CGI films to virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and Gear VR. To support headtracking, the company has developed “Super Cinema” technology that pre-renders the entire 360-degree image so that no matter which way a user turns his/her head, the frame is already generated. This technology would allow consumers to have an immersive VR experience even on lower-end hardware. Continue reading DreamWorks Developing 360-Degree Rendering for VR Films

WSJD Live: James Cameron on Virtual Reality and Cinema

Speaking at the WSJD Live global tech conference in Laguna Beach on Wednesday, filmmaker James Cameron discussed how his upcoming “Avatar” sequels will be influenced by virtual reality, noting that he now directs his cast using VR headsets and is increasingly involving CGI designers more closely during the scriptwriting process. While he does not anticipate his three films to be viewed on VR headsets, Cameron envisions a future in which VR devices will impact how audiences experience movies. Continue reading WSJD Live: James Cameron on Virtual Reality and Cinema

Google to Lead Investment in Magic Leap’s ‘Cinematic Reality’

Google may lead Andreessen Horowitz and other investors in a $500 million round of funding for Florida-based hardware and software maker Magic Leap, according to sources. The company is working on a new 3D experience that is more advanced than current virtual reality and augmented reality technologies. Magic Leap has released very few details about its “cinematic reality” tech, but it is most likely going to involve super high-resolution 3D images projected from special glasses. Continue reading Google to Lead Investment in Magic Leap’s ‘Cinematic Reality’

Google Acquires Effects Startup Zync, Takes on Amazon Cloud

Google plans to make special effects more affordable and accessible. Yesterday, the company announced that it has purchased Boston-based Zync, the maker of cloud-based rendering software Zync Render, which has been used in movies such as “Flight,” “Looper,” “Star Trek Into Darkness” and the “Transformers” series. While terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, Google is expected to integrate Zync’s data and tech into its Google Cloud Platform, and move Zync off Amazon Web Services. Continue reading Google Acquires Effects Startup Zync, Takes on Amazon Cloud

Media Industry Mourns the Loss of Pioneer Ray Harryhausen

Animator and special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen, 92, died on Tuesday in London, where he had been living. Harryhausen, an innovative artist whose work still inspires filmmakers, often played a principal role in the movies that featured his technical effects. “He frequently proposed the initial concept, scouted the locations and shaped the story, script, art direction and design around his ideas for fresh ways to amaze an audience,” according to The New York Times. Continue reading Media Industry Mourns the Loss of Pioneer Ray Harryhausen

Post Production Trend: Hollywood Turns to India for Special Effects

  • Hollywood is looking to special effects houses in India to deliver shots for 25-50 percent of what they would spend domestically. PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicts the Indian special effects industry will more than double in size by 2015.
  • Digital Domain is partnering with Reliance MediaWorks, an affiliate of India’s Reliance ADA conglomerate. Lucasfilm is working with India’s Prime Focus for the 3D conversion of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.”
  • Indian companies like Crest Animation Studios and DQ Entertainment, meanwhile, have announced projects with Lionsgate Entertainment and France Television.
  • “These days, as much as a third of the budget for major Hollywood films is earmarked for special effects, according to a research report by accounting firm KPMG. The annual amount spent by filmmakers on special effects in the world’s top five markets totals some $1.9 billion,” reports Fortune.