OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research group backed by Elon Musk, stated that its software can beat “teams of five skilled human players” in Valve’s video game “Dota 2.” If verified, the achievement would be a milestone in computer science and a leap beyond other AI researchers working on mastering complex games. IBM’s software mastered chess in the late 1990s, and Alphabet’s DeepMind created software that dominated “Go” in 2016. “Dota 2” is a multiplayer sci-fi fantasy game where teams advance through exploration. Continue reading OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

Animation Studios Thrive With Big Orders from SVOD Clients

Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services are ushering in a golden age of animation, with shows for adults and children. The rising demand for original content for all those services is also spurring the development of animated shows and the resulting need for more animators. Veteran animators say there’s a record demand that continues to be robust. Animation is a desirable genre of content because it doesn’t age as quickly as live action and always has a new audience of pre-schoolers and other young children. Continue reading Animation Studios Thrive With Big Orders from SVOD Clients

FoxNext Pursues Mobile Gaming With Aftershock Purchase

FoxNext — the gaming, VR and theme park division of 21st Century Fox — is making a move into mobile games with its purchase of Aftershock, a mobile games spinoff of Vancouver-based Kabam, itself purchased by South Korean gaming company Netmarble. With studios in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Aftershock is developing a massive multiplayer mobile strategy game around the blockbuster movie “Avatar” in partnership with director James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and 20th Century Fox. Aftershock reportedly has two other game titles in development. Continue reading FoxNext Pursues Mobile Gaming With Aftershock Purchase

SIGGRAPH 2014: Lenovo Powers Up its ThinkStation P Series

Lenovo demonstrated its vision for the ultimate in desktop workstation performance, reliability and usability with the introduction of the Lenovo P900, P700 and P500 workstations. The new ThinkStation P Series models unveiled at SIGGRAPH last week in Vancouver are designed to be the most powerful professional-grade desktop workstations available and reflect a focus by Lenovo on customer needs, especially in graphics intensive industries such as visual effects and animation. Continue reading SIGGRAPH 2014: Lenovo Powers Up its ThinkStation P Series

SIGGRAPH 2014: Nvidia Unveils Next Generation Quadro GPUs

Visual effects and animation workflows — and the technology to make them more powerful, flexible and cost-efficient — are a focus of attention as SIGGRAPH 2014 opens its exhibit floor this week to computer graphics and tech professionals in Vancouver. Nvidia’s next gen Quadro processors, announced this morning, are indicative of tools and technology designed to handle greater complexity and higher resolution; incorporate cloud services; and access projects remotely, often via mobile devices. Continue reading SIGGRAPH 2014: Nvidia Unveils Next Generation Quadro GPUs

SIGGRAPH 2014: Panel Discusses VR Content, Tech Hurdles

During a Sunday session at the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference, panelists discussed virtual reality, its technical hurdles, and the need for compelling content. Palmer Luckey, co-founder of Oculus VR, described the adoption of augmented and virtual reality as inevitable, but suggested we’re not quite there yet. While innovation will likely be led by hardware from multiple manufacturers, he also believes that content and software will drive the industry in the long term. Continue reading SIGGRAPH 2014: Panel Discusses VR Content, Tech Hurdles

Software Allows Photographers to Manipulate Objects in 3D

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a new photo-editing tool that lets users turn and flip objects as if they were in 3D. Photo editors have only been able to manipulate objects in 2D by resizing them or changing their location within the photo. This new software uses a publicly available database of models to recreate objects, even the sides that were not captured by the camera. Researchers found that this software could be used for animations as well. Continue reading Software Allows Photographers to Manipulate Objects in 3D

SIGGRAPH: Haptic Interfaces to Pull and Push Wearable Users

Two “force display” devices will make their debut at the SIGGRAPH technology conference in Vancouver next month. These devices, the Traxion and the Buru-Navi3, generate vibrations that offer wearers the illusion of being pulled or pushed in a specific direction. The Buru-Navi3 uses a 40 hertz electromagnetic actuator already found in smartphones. This technology could eventually be used in navigation applications in wearables so that the user will literally be pulled in the right direction. Continue reading SIGGRAPH: Haptic Interfaces to Pull and Push Wearable Users

ILM Has Plans to Open New Visual Effects Facility in London

Carolyn Giardina of The Hollywood Reporter forwarded us news that Industrial Light & Magic, the visual effects division of Lucasfilm, has major expansion plans including a new facility in central London, just outside of Soho, and a move for the Vancouver team to a larger space that will allow the group to double from 100 to 200 employees. Lucasfilm also recently opened an ILM facility in Singapore. The VFX arm is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Continue reading ILM Has Plans to Open New Visual Effects Facility in London

Amazon Preview: Viewers to Steer Movie Concepts, TV Pilots

Amazon Studios has launched a program that brings viewers into the development process. Amazon Preview asks consumers to view its pilots, test footage, concepts and storyboards to provide feedback on general interest and how to improve content. The program intends to help Amazon Studios carefully direct its resources and launch pilots that are better received. Amazon has already invited viewers to weigh in on its new shows, but the new program is an expanded, more selective effort. Continue reading Amazon Preview: Viewers to Steer Movie Concepts, TV Pilots

3D Conversion: PFW Provides New Depth for ‘The Wizard of Oz’

“The Wizard of Oz,” originally released by MGM in 1939, will make its 3D debut in celebration of the film’s 75th anniversary. Prime Focus World developed a stereo conversion process to convert the classic film into modern 3D, while honoring the original, now part of the classic Warner Bros. library. The process, which took 14 months to complete and involved 1,300 staffers, was especially challenging due to the amount of detail in the original. The 3D version will have a run in IMAX theaters and be made available on Blu-ray next month. Continue reading 3D Conversion: PFW Provides New Depth for ‘The Wizard of Oz’