Autodesk Buys Wonder Dynamics, AI VFX App Wonder Studio

Autodesk is going all-in on artificial intelligence with the acquisition of AI startup Wonder Dynamics, maker of the Wonder Studio VFX tool. Autodesk — whose products include Maya, 3ds Max and Flame — worked with Wonder on a Maya plug-in last year and appears to have been impressed. Wonder Studio was purpose-built to be compatible with 3D tools like Maya, largely automating the process of putting 3D characters within live-action scenes. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and Autodesk did not detail plans for integrating Wonder Dynamics, but it’s likely the company’s AI expertise will make itself felt across the portfolio. Continue reading Autodesk Buys Wonder Dynamics, AI VFX App Wonder Studio

AWS Deadline Cloud Service Scales Up Instant Render Farms

Amazon Web Services has launched a new cloud computing service called AWS Deadline Cloud that allows customers to set up, deploy, and scale rendering projects in what the company says is mere “minutes,” improving efficiency by facilitating parallel rendering pipelines. “With Deadline Cloud, customers creating computer graphics, visual effects, or innovating their pipelines to incorporate artificial intelligence-generated visuals can build a cloud-based render farm — aggregated compute — that scales from zero to thousands of compute instances for peak demand, without needing to manage their own infrastructure,” according to AWS. Continue reading AWS Deadline Cloud Service Scales Up Instant Render Farms

AMPAS Diversifies with a Production and Technology Branch

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has formed a Production and Technology Branch to include about 400 individuals previously classified as members-at-large. The branch “represents members working in key technical and production positions in all phases of filmmaking, from pre- to post-production,” AMPAS says, listing chief technology officers, senior department heads in tech and creative services, and preservation and restoration specialists as among the inductees. In addition, credited production roles — including stunt coordinators, script supervisors, choreographers, music supervisors, colorists, line producers and associate producers — will be part of the branch. Continue reading AMPAS Diversifies with a Production and Technology Branch

Disney Invents High-Quality Tool to Rejuvenate or Age Actors

Disney Research Studios has created an AI tool that can make actors look older or younger more simply than the costly and time-consuming visual effects that are the current status quo. While artificial intelligence had been used to age or de-age people with relative success in still frames, the results lacked photorealism when applied to video. Disney calls its app FRAN, for Face Re-Aging Network. FRAN has been trained to identify the parts of a face that change with age and can either accentuate or erase the telltale signs. Continue reading Disney Invents High-Quality Tool to Rejuvenate or Age Actors

Apple Said to Be Developing 3D Content for realityOS Headset

Information continues to trickle out regarding Apple’s new reality altering headset, expected to hit the market next year, possibly as soon as April. Bloomberg reports it will be powered by a Mac-level M2 chip, with more than 10 cameras facing both outward and inward and “the highest-resolution displays ever featured in a mass-market headset,” although the price tag, forecast as between $2,000 and $3,000, doesn’t sound mainstream. The first version of realityOS the company has developed is codenamed Oak. Apple is also reportedly developing 3D content for the new platform. Continue reading Apple Said to Be Developing 3D Content for realityOS Headset

Forum to Demo Next-Gen Virtual Production Stage for ICVFX

HALOSTAGE is presenting an open forum and series of tech demonstrations over five days at The Henson Soundstage on The Jim Henson Company Lot in Los Angeles. The free event, slated for June 27-July 1, will feature virtual production LED stages with curved cinematic boards designed for in-camera visual effects (ICVFX). HALOSTAGE will offer in-depth presentations and hands-on shooting for all production departments. For studios and producers, demos will illustrate how mobile stages enable flexible setups and help eliminate investment risks. For the detailed program and to register, visit the HALOSTAGE event site. You can also check out the HALOSTAGE Invite PDF. Continue reading Forum to Demo Next-Gen Virtual Production Stage for ICVFX

Unity to Acquire Tech Division of Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital

Unity has agreed to acquire the technology division of filmmaker Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital for a price reported at $1.625 billion. The San Francisco-based creator of the popular 3D game platform says the Academy Award-winning VFX firm will “continue as a standalone entity” renamed WetaFX, which Unity predicts will become its largest customer in the media and entertainment space, delivering tools Unity says will “unlock the full potential of the metaverse.” Weta and Unity have already been deeply involved over the years, collaborating on a host of tools used for films, games and immersive experiences. Continue reading Unity to Acquire Tech Division of Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital

CES: Sony Promotes Glasses-Free 3D Spatial Reality Display

Sony first teased its Spatial Reality Display at last October’s CES Unveiled Conference. Experts have alternately described the experience as taking 3D to the next level, virtual reality without the headset and, simply, mind-blowing. In essence it relies on Sony’s Eye-Sensing Light Field Display (ELFD) technology to create an experience somewhere between virtual reality and next-gen 3D. The Spatial Reality Display was named a CES 2021 Innovation Awards Honoree. A shipping product, the display’s suggested retail price is $4,999.99. Continue reading CES: Sony Promotes Glasses-Free 3D Spatial Reality Display

VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

New Zealand-based Weta Digital, a visual effects company that has worked on such high-profile films as “Avatar” and “Avengers: Endgame,” is making a play to create its own original content. Co-founded by “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, Weta Digital recently added firepower to its board of directors, including former Disney chief operating officer Tom Staggs, and is also searching to make strategic purchases in the special effects and animation business since animation can be produced remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

Weta Digital Opens Virtual Production Service in New Zealand

Visual effects company Weta Digital — founded by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and Jamie Selkirk — joined forces with production facility Avalon Studios and live event, production and broadcast specialist Streamliner Productions to develop an LED-stage virtual production service based in Wellington, New Zealand. That country has done a good job of controlling COVID-19, making it an appealing destination for new TV and film productions. Similar to ILM’s StageCraft platform, Weta Digital’s system is based on Epic Games’ real-time Unreal Engine. Continue reading Weta Digital Opens Virtual Production Service in New Zealand

ETC Publishes Specification for Naming VFX Image Sequences

The Entertainment Technology Center (ETC@USC) VFX Working Group has published a specification for best practices naming image sequences such as plates and comps. File naming is an essential tool for organizing the multitude of frames that are inputs and outputs from the VFX process. Prior to the publication of this specification, each organization had its own naming scheme, requiring custom processes for each partner, which often resulted in confusion and miscommunication. ETC’s specification, which aims to standardize the process for media production, is available online for anyone to use. Continue reading ETC Publishes Specification for Naming VFX Image Sequences

Pixar’s Catmull, Hanrahan Honored with ACM’s Turing Award

Computer graphics pioneering researchers Ed Catmull and Pat Hanrahan were awarded the A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery and are splitting the $1 million prize money. Catmull recruited Hanrahan, a fellow computer graphics researcher, to found Pixar in 1986. Catmull started his work as a grad student at the University of Utah’s graphics lab in 1970 and vowed to create a feature film from computer generated imagery. Catmull and Hanrahan, between them, have received eight Academy Awards. Continue reading Pixar’s Catmull, Hanrahan Honored with ACM’s Turing Award

Mobile App Uses AI Technology to Edit Short Social Videos

Social video startup TRASH aims to make it simple for users to create short videos to share with friends. CEO Hannah Donovan, previously general manager at Twitter’s now defunct Vine video app, co-founder of music-discovery site This Is My Jam, and former head of creative at Last.fm, points out that research shows most consumers carry powerful cameras with them, but don’t know much about editing video content. So she set out to leverage computer vision technology to analyze video and synthesize the content into an appealing sequence. The free TRASH app does just that, as explained by its simple tagline, “You shoot, we edit.” Continue reading Mobile App Uses AI Technology to Edit Short Social Videos

Real-Time Virtual Production Moves into Television and Film

To be able to bring real-time feedback to every step of the filmmaking workflow has been both the Holy Grail of production and an impossible dream. When Bradley Weiers began to work in film production, he chafed at the delayed feedback and found that the real-time ecosystem of game production was a better fit. Now head of immersive storytelling at Unity Technologies, Weiers said that for the first time, he believes he can connect his first love, film, and the preferable tools of gaming.  “There’s a bridge to cross over,” he suggested during a panel at NAB 2019. Continue reading Real-Time Virtual Production Moves into Television and Film

Game Execs on Real-Time Engines for Film & TV Production

Over 150 million people are playing video games in the U.S., according to the Entertainment Software Association, and by mid-2018, games brought in more revenue than movies and music combined. So it’s no surprise that there is an increasing amount of cross-pollination between games and movies. At NAB 2019, 30 Ninjas partner Lewis Smithingham moderated a conversation among a group of game executives on the evolution of game engines and how they are becoming a more common tool for today’s film and television production. Continue reading Game Execs on Real-Time Engines for Film & TV Production