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 CG Guy
David Heller
David Heller
Editorial and site information posted from the ShareCG Team

What’s New on ShareCG & What’s on the Horizon

 
March 12th, 2010 by David Heller

We’re in the process of making a number of very important updates to ShareCG with the goal of facilitating  a true social network here where you can connect with your peers and share your thoughts and ideas with the growing ShareCG community.   We’re also going to be integrating an e-store on the site to enable you to sell your CG items.

Update 1: The BLOG

Yep, this blog is the first of the updates, and we’d  like to invite you to create your own CG blog right here on ShareCG.  The site currently reaches 170,000 unique visitors each month so you’ll have a large and targeted audience to talk to.  The latest blog entries are featured on ShareCG’s home page with your photo or avatar, and you’ll also be picked up on RSS feed and by all the web search engines to give you an even wider reach.

If you’d like your own ShareCG blog just send an email to sharecgadmin@sharecg.com and include or attach the following:

Subject line:  “ShareCG Blog Setup”

Attachment:  Your photo or avatar (a work of art or other representation)  Size this to a ratio of 7×9 (for example 700×900 pixels.)

Body: Include the below in the body of your email:

1. Your username

2. The name of your blog.  (The title of my blog is “CG Guy” for example)

3. The title of your first blog entry

4. The content of your first blog entry (This can be an overview of  the information or topic you’re blog will be focused on.  Or you could just jump in and submit your first full informational blog or whatever you’d like.)

We will set up your blog and send you and email that includes your username and a login password that you can change once you’ve logged in to your blog.

We’re looking forward to reading what you have to say, and so is the ShareCG community.  Happy blogging!

———————-

Update 2: Other recent site updates

1. A new way to view art and photos: Now when visitors want to view your super-sized art they can click on the artwork or photo and it appears in a neatly bounded floating window with your descriptive verbiage on the lower border.  And, we also retained the ability for users to see and download your full sized image.

2. Your photo or avatar now appears when you comment on the site.  This is the first baby step towards making the site more of a social network.

We’ve got lots more coming up, and I”ll be reporting on each enhancement as  soon as it’s completed so you can check it out and participate.  BTW — your feedback and comments are always welcome and really essential to the growth of this new community.

———–

Future CG Guy blogs — In addition to keeping you updated on site enhancements and news I have been invited to report on a number of events and will post my reports here.  My next event takes place on March 22nd when I visit the  DreamWorks studio  in Burbank to check out the latest technology used at this studio and to preview their latest upcoming release.  You’ll be reading about this one as soon as I return.

In the meantime —– Enjoy the site — happy creating!


AVATAR, Star Trek, and District 9, oh my!

 
March 3rd, 2010 by David Heller

I visited the Autodesk Gallery at 1 Market St., in San Francisco last week to meet the special effects gurus and video colorists behind some of the latest block buster movies.  As it turned out Autodesk software and expertise is at the production heart of 2010 academy award nominees Avatar (Lightstorm Entertainment), Star Trek (ILM) and District 9 (TriStar Pictures, Inc.) and is used by virtually all the major studios.

AVATAR

Avatar

In making “Avatar,” James Cameron’s creative vision was brought to fruition when Lightstorm Entertainment filmmakers used Autodesk MotionBuilder performance capture software to apply live acting performances to digital characters.  This combo was then viewed in real time in virtual environments prebuilt with MotionBuilder and Autodesk Maya visual effects, animation and rendering software.  The Lightstorm Entertainment team also used Autodek Mudbox digital sculpting software to create assets, and then Maya was again used for final scene creation and finishing.

The MotionBuilder experience is one that has to be seen to be fully appreciated.  I was fortunate enough to get a copy of the Making of Avatar which presents a behind the scenes look at this latest technological leap, and I’ve posted it here on ShareCG for your viewing enjoyment.

Star Trek
Star Trek

Industrial, Light & Magic (ILM) relies on Autodesk’s digital entertainment software to create the effects for their hot releases including “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “Terminator Salvation” and “Star Trek.”

For “Star Trek” ILM created 797 shots on some of the largest CG models it’s ever built using a combination of tools, including Maya and Inferno.  Using the hardware rendering tools of Maya, ILM was able to animate 70 shots in five days – a process that typically takes months to produce.

In this summer’s upcoming Harry Potter installment 80 artists contributed 165 shots to the film using a combination of Maya and inferno.  The scope of ILM’s work on this film includes extensive photorealistic fluid simulation of fire and water and crowd duplications scenes that include thousands of animated characters in a single shot.

District 9
District 9

The animation and visual effects work for District 9 was awarded to Image Engine by TriStar Pictures, Inc.  The Image Engine people were tasked to create creatures known as prawns, which live right among us in a recognizable setting – Johannesburg, South Africa.  The challenge was to crate aliens so credible that people would simply accept them and the premise from the start.

To do this they wrote dynamic simulations for the rigs that facilitated and automated the animation of their facial expressions, like the movement of the creature’s antennae and tentacles.  The creatures also have bright skin colors and textures inspired from the insect world, and the challenge was to make them appear realistic against the subdued Soweto landscape.

All the creatures were principally animated using a combination of key framing, rotomation and other animation techniques available in Maya and Autodesk Motion Builder software so they could move in ways humans can’t, like leaping off a roof!

Academy Award Winning Lustre 2010
Academy Award 2010
I got to witness Lustre 2010 in action.  Color determines the underlying mood of a movie.  If you’ve seen the Matrix you’ll most likely remember its green tinted not quite real look.  The coloring in this and many movies sets its underlying mood and even sways the way an audience feels about the experience.  Lustre is a video colorist’s dream, and allows him or her to alter this mood frame by frame, scene by scene, or across the entire film.

I was shown how Lustre’s up to 48 secondary layers allow the colorist to draw attention to or from specific elements in a shot.  In my demonstration the colorist quickly drew a highlight outline around an actors face, adjusted its light intensity, and then I watched as this targeted intensity setting followed the actor through the scene.   He also used this technique to darken a portion of a scene to pull it back visually from its surroundings.

I was also impressed by the way Lustre brings details, like complex cloud gradients into sharp relief.  I’ve been playing with a photographic technique called HDR Tone Mapping which does the same for still photographs, and was wondering if there was a video counterpart.  When I saw the results produced by Lustre I knew there was, and it was powerful.  I’ve posted an example of HDR Tone Mapping on ShareCG so you can get the picture.

Lustre has helped shape the look and feel of hundreds of films, including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Monsters vs. Aliens,” “The Da Vinci Code,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.” And, to top it all off, Autodesk Lustre was honored with an Academy Award on February 20, 2010 for design and development of Lustre for digital color grading for film and television.

It was a great day in the ‘City’ and after being bombarded with information at the Gallery, I finally kicked back, strolled through SF and took some photographs – there’s one of the Bay Bridge that you might want to look up on ShareCG.  If you’d like more information about HDR Tone Mapping, just ask.  I’m happy to help.  If you need more information about some of the software and techniques mentioned here, I’m sure that Autodesk will be more than happy to give you the straight skinny.

Till next time —– Enjoy the site!

Subscription Model Update and New Direction

 
December 31st, 2007 by David Heller

On behalf of our small team, ShareCG would like to wish you and your family a very happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!  I would also like to take a minute to bring you up to date on the Subscription model, and the future direction of ShareCG.com.

Our initial idea that we institute a subscription model to eliminate banner ads was well received by those members who have been uploading to the site.  However, for the majority of site members who have not contributed to the site, the reaction was mixed to poor. After evaluating this disparity we realized that not only would this solution be unfair to site contributors, but it wouldn’t generate the revenue needed to make the site enhancements that are needed to deliver a better experience to all ShareCG members in 2013.

In parallel to this evaluation we began moving forward with a business model on another of our sites (Mechspot.com) that will not have banner ads but derives its income with tightly regulated corporate participation in the community, with restrictions and stringent rules.  Among these rules is that there will be no advertising messaging from any member on this site. Companies will be allowed to upload material that teaches visitors about their product and how to use it, and can also announce and describe their new software and hardware products.  But, again, they will not be allowed to do any “retail” advertising on the site.

Mechspot.com is built on the same platform and has the same infrastructure as ShareCG, and all enhancements made to Mechspot.com are easily transferable to ShareCG.   Over the past two months we have focused on building this model which will launch on January 28th, and after it launches we will evaluate this model to ensure that it will work for ShareCG, and if so, we will institute it on ShareCG.
One of the first enhancements was our recent release ofa Grouping capability that allows members to consolidate disparate uploads for appearance on ‘one’ View page.  For example, with Grouping you can present a Video Tutorial that shows how to use a specific software tool while also showing the resultant model, work of art, etc. that was produced using this tool.   You could also use it to show a series of lessons allowing users to traverse up to 9 lessons on what appears to be one page.  (You can watch a video explaining Grouping here:  http://www.sharecg.com/v/65711/gallery/3/Video-Tutorial/ShareCGs-Grouping-Feature-Explained

A basic social network to allow you to make Friends (or not) is being added to the site in March, and collaborative social interaction which revolves around the Grouping feature is being added in Q2.  This will allow members to present collaborative projects from all project members.

We are now also building a new home page that will feature the best (highest rated, most viewed and positively commented) uploads to the homepage; a Shout Out! Moderated Blog that will allow any member to present his or her views; editorial that will address all member’s work and projects, new ideas and trends, new product releases, forum topics, free trial software downloads, News, Jobs, and much more, all designed to give all members a stronger voice and higher recognition.

These are just some highlights of things to come in 2013 and the bottom line, and what we want to see, is a free site with no ads and no corporate ‘retail advertising’  that supports an interactive and collaborative social community to enhance your experience and that of all site visitors.

We have a lot of challenges to overcome before our vision is achieved, and I really appreciate your understanding as we do the best we can, with the limited resources we have, to get to a balanced site with no ads that works for everyone.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, we will keep you updated in the Forum and Blog, and we look forward to working with you in the new year to make a better ShareCG a reality.

In the meantime have a Happy New Year and enjoy ShareCG!

The ShareCG Team

 



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