Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rays in Blue blog

Checking Google Analytics I discovered a blog called Rays in Blue, which is very interesting:


Its author, Rahul, says "I was responsible for a pipeline research back at my previous workplace and here are some of the general insights I had from my research."

I have to admit that he has done a pretty intensive research and the quality of the (rest of the) links is very high.

I recommend to go through it in detail.

Congrats, Rahul!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Blog - The Art of CG Supervision

Jorge sent me a link to this very useful blog, one which will possibly save you hours of hitting your head against the walls:

"This blog aims to inform readers about the art of CG supervision --the challenges and techniques of managing a crew of artists engaged in producing visual effects or motion graphics for film, video or other media."

An amazing resource. Thanks Jorge!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Plumber Production system for Maya

Plumber is an asset-based production system For Maya 8.5 up to 2011. Currently Plumber has only been certified as a Windows-based tool, butthey  hope to certify it soon for LINUX.
The Professional version costs 120 $ per seat, the Amateur version is 45 $

  • Completely GUI based.
  • Work collaboratively with shared asset libraries, simple department switching, and concise shot management tools.
  • An asset-based system, Plumber automatically organizes models, puppets, characters, sets, and props.
  • Easily integrate pre-existing tools, unique procedures and custom scripts into the Plumber system.
  • Plumber utilizes big studio pipeline methods.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Partio Open Source particle formats conversion

It seems Disney is  going to open source part of its I+D, by opening Partio: 
"The goal of Partio is to provide a unified interface akin to unified image libraries that makes it easier to load, save, and manipulate particle files".

Right now it supports "Houdini's GEO and BGEO, Maya's PDB and PDA, RenderMan's PTC" but it is not available to download for now.

The reason to go Open Source seems to be because they "would like to collaborate to design the appropriate format in the context of open source" for a future "efficient cached and ordered format that allows nearest neighbor searches without an initial KD-Tree search and also can have only part of the particle set in memory at once"

Monday, September 20, 2010

Conferences about "Blue & Malone, Imaginary Eyes" short movie

As some of you might know, my company is working on a short movie.

We have been invited to give a couple of speeches about it in Spain.

These are the links to the details, in case you might be nearby:

Sunday September 26th, 11:00, Animadrid

Monday, August 2, 2010

Shameless Self Promotion


I have been keeping this blog for some time, and plan to keep on it as long as possible. I know there are not many places to find this sort of information (If you know of any, send it to me to be published!)

Today I would like to ask for a small return from the readers. Free and very simple things.

1.- If you want a Dropbox account, get one free right now USING THIS LINK: https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTU1MjU3ODk and help me get some aditional space on mine, with no cost for you.

2.- Do you see "all those messages by G00GL3 in this page that are not my posts"? Some people work hard to ellaborate them and put them there for you, and since most are closely related to the subject of this blog, surely you will obtain a benefit from visiting some of them now and then... and so would I!

3.- Visit these pages of my projects:
 - The director´s blog about the short film I am working on. There is a brand new comic strip every monday for you (in spanish)!
 - Mad & Bad 3D animated free mini series. First see the episodes in blip.tv and spread them if you like them.

4.- After that,  keep the bookmark of the series´ site, www.madandbad.com.

5.- And once you are a complete fan and addict, and want to show it, go get some exclusive merchandising: http://www.cafepress.com/madandbad (yes, this one is not free, but I had to try!) :-D 

Thanks for your collaboration, and keep those posts coming!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Alembic : ILM´s open source 3D geometry caching interchange framework

This is brand new from SIGGRAPH 2010. To sum it up in few words, it is a 3D render to exchange animated scenes between disparate softwares.

"Alembic distills complex, animated scenes into a non-procedural, application-independent set of baked geometric results.
This ‘distillation’ of scenes into baked geometry is exactly analogous to the distillation of lighting and rendering scenes into rendered image data."

"Alembic Would Be Used...
...To bake the results of an animated scene for hand-off to lighting & rendering
...To hand off an animated creature for cloth or flesh simulation
...To store the results of a cloth or flesh simulation for use in lighting & rendering
...To hand off animated geometry to a physical simulation engine
...To store the results of a physical simulation engine for use in lighting & rendering"



Anonymous kindly informed of PipelineTD "an interesting DAMS nicely integrated with Maya and has project planning, director approval tools with it".

The author, Rahul Mishra, says in “I believe repetitive work should not be repeated, it should be automated.” That reduces human error and saves production time. This is what inspired me to develop pipeline-TD.

The feature list is impressive, I am waiting to have some time to test it and report, meanwhile if any of you can do it, please report!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A directory of Open-Source projects for the VFX community

I was checking Render Mania and I found a post about  (QUOTE) "openSourceVFX.org website opened recently. This is intended to be a central portal of open source VFX projects (...) their goals include listing and presenting valuable open-source projects for the VFX community and giving a voice to OS project leaders and VFX pros to promote their work and keep us updated."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Interesting softwares for 3D distributed production (updated)

Scroll down for a brief update on online video-editing tools.

Over the years I have coordinated several projects in which a number of artists work separately.
Although very far from a perfect solution, I have found different useful tools that can help anyone in a similar situation.
These are the tasks I have found more overwhelming, and the corresponding tools that might be to manage them:

DEVELOPMENT. A lot of work has to be redone every time if writers, designers, etc. don´t use an adequate system. Celtx seems a very interesting tool to start properly with your projects.

COORDINATION. Simply knowing who is doing what and how much is already done can be a nightmare, specially when you are not working full time on a project.
  • The tool I find myself using more often is Google Docs & Spreadsheets. It allows several users to edit a shared spreadsheet simultaneously. It has some limitations compared to a full-featured spreadsheet (or even compared to Excel) namely conditional formatting and graphics, but overall it is a quite valid solution, and is very easy to set up. Of course you still have to create the spreadsheet, but once you have one done, it is easy to adapt it to new projects.
  • "Ares" pointed me to Interactive Story Board for Maya, which is a bit difficult to classify. It offers many tools to facilitate the collaboration among artists, centered around an evolving story board. The idea seems super-powerful, and the price is quite affordable (aprox 150€ for a company license)
VERSION CONTROL. If you can afford propietary systems there are several options available that do "asset management", the most known is Alienbrain.
  • Sometime ago I attended a demo of Alienbrain Studio , and I think it is very good at what it does. It offers "Version, manage and share every kind of file in an intuitive visual environment that combines digital asset management (DAM) and software configuration management (SCM) into one powerful package." ... at $695 (aprox €525) per artist seat, I guess more for a managers seat.
  • Miguel Ángel Sánchez Cogolludo introduced me to another software, Gdi|Explorer , that looks very promising and somewhat cheaper "A production proven, afforable and scalable system that provides digital entertainment projects with unprecedented organization, communication and workflow tools. GDI|Explorer is designed for creative individuals, workgroups collaborating on-site or via the internet as well as large studios operating worldwide."
  • Integral "Pipeline-in-a-box"™ is (will be) a fully-integrated production pipeline and workflow system.
  • Feel free to suggest other programs you might know about.
In the case of this project, I´d rather use free software development tools (subversion and alike).
If you want to have a look at available open source systems, this list might be helpful. Also this wikipedia page with a comparison table, including propietary systems.

I still haven´t found the perfect solution, based on the needs for a 3D project:
  • Handling binary files (opposed to text files, in which source code is written)
  • Using a pre-existing file and folder estructure (an existing 3D project) instead of a database or a mandatory distribution of files.
  • Allowing files to be created and edited on any program, instead of requiring a special interface to create or save files.
These are some promising links I haven´t yet checked out:

I am still looking and comparing, of course suggestions are always welcome!

FILE SHARING. You need some way to publish the files as they proceed along the pipeline. There are many ways you could achieve this, considering:
  • The amount of data to be exchanged. A 3D project can be quite big, but if properly organized you could deply the preproduction on a CD/DVD and then you only need to transfer animation clips, which are very small.
  • The number of users. Users can either be isolated individuals, or groups that work together, and also every user can decide to take is tasks with him (ie in a USB flash disk) to do some work at the office, laptop, etc.
  • The available bandwith. In the case of ADSL connections there is a severe handicap in uploading (serving files to others).
  • Networking limitations: You have to consider the problem of proxies and firewalls, which sometimes limit the use of specific protocols and ports. FTP and HTTP are your safer bets.
  • OSs involved: Not all computers suffer Windows. And even if all animators use Windows, along the pipeline you might want to use a linux rendering farm or server for hosting, or a Mac OS X (Final Cut, Shake) or even IRIS (Inferno) editing workstation, so is better to be prepared. Besides, the best way to be ready for a change in technology (ie when Vista arrives) is to be as OS-agnostic as possible.
Right now my colleagues and I are using my home ftp server: A LaCie Ethernet Disk mini 250GB connected by ADSL (about 50% uptime) which is far from ideal but quite affordable, and serves well as a general backup and repository.
We also have a web site with 40 GB of space and 900 GB monthly transfer, which is smaller but more reliable.
As we mainly use Windows, we are using a tiny app : "netdrive" that is proving extremely helpful, as it maps a FTP or HTTP (webdav) server to a windows disk (letter). UPDATE: NetDrive now has its own site: http://www.netdrive.net and is free for home use.
Other possible options are iFolder or MediaMax.

I guess something like Vombato´s mail drive or gmailfs that was cross-platform and GPL (maybe Drive my pop or MailFS?) could be a great tool to work with a bigger team.

Rendering is a big issue, and a render manager is almost mandatory.
I am checking a couple of free ones:
On the propietary side of life, Computepool looks somewhat different. Anybody has used it?

Once rendered, an online editing suite would be ideal.
mid-2010 update: 

I have been checking again and now the top-looking online video editors seem to be:
- Jaycut,with an almost professional-looking interface.
- Moviemasher,with allows to install the app in your own site!
- Motion Box, seemingly less powerful, but easier to us.
- StashSpace, even simpler.

(In 2007,  I wrote: Forscene looks quite good, but it is not free. This blog lists many other solutions, both free and paid for, jumpcut seems the most promising free one, far better than eyespot in my opinion.)

Other multiplatform GPL editing suites are: Blender (has a video editing module) Jahshaka and Avidemux

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

3D Storyboarding software

Campbell sent me a note about RedBoard, that integrates Maya with the storyboard artist.

RedBoard is (from their web) a "a comprehensive production management (...) a single application for (...) 3D productions (...):
- A drawn storyboard.
- Production wide scene and shot data creation from that initial process.
- Utilise an EDL from a corresponding editing application to translate timing information from Redboard back into Maya.
- Create a route sheet for every episode"

Sure, Campbell, keep the posts coming!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

5th Kind

Sergo sent me a very supportive email (thanks!) and informed about 5th Kind asset and production manager.

Although the web itself is not specially appealing, once you have a look at the list of studios and feature films using it, this doesn´t seem very important.

Shotrunner: organize, collaborate, manage and track media projects

Shotrunner is (from thir web) "an online application for Visual Effects and Animation projects. ShotRunner helps you organize, collaborate, manage and track media projects. Its main purpose is to let distributed project teams stay coordinated and productive. It is really several tools in one:
  • A status board for sequences, shots, elements, assets and tasks.
  • A discussion forum
  • File sharing
  • Task manager
  • Shared/editable web pages
It borrows many ideas from sites such as Basecamp and Backpack but with features and organization specifically for VFX and animation.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pinky Dinky Doo Production Focus

Rogelio sent me a couple of links about this series, which uses 3D to animate in 2D.

The Production Focus is a great case study, and this AWN article will give you some hints on the budget.

It´s quite interesting to have a look at.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Linux Render Farm´s Renderfarmer

This seems like one of those softwares that could really help you out of a rendertime bottleneck, if you don´t have resources for a commercial render farm.

RenderFarmer allows "anyone with basic computer skills to quickly install a powerful render farm (...) Simply install it on one dedicated computer, and it will bring up to 8 (*) render nodes up from bare metal via network boot. It never touches the hard drives in the render nodes, so it's simple to use spare computers and laptops for a big job and then just reboot them when you're done. They'll reboot into their previous state with no trace of the render farm software.(...) Supported render engines include Maya, Blender, BMRT (RenderMan), and many more! The "custom" job type can be used to support any render engine that has a command line rendering option that can run on Linux"

(*) 8 nodes in Lite version, 35 in Studio version. See pricing.


Some time (years!) ago I wrote about GDI|Explorer ("organization, communication and workflow tools for (...) creative individuals, workgroups collaborating on-site or via the internet as well as large studios operating worldwide.")

Now I see that they also have a freeware auxiliary software called GDI|Queue for distributed rendering, offering a graphical interface to Condor (High Throughput Computing, University of Wisconsin).

Currently GDI|Queue integrates with Maya, XSI and 3dsmax.

However, I don´t know if this software is useful at all without actually having the (commercial) GDI|Explorer.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Blog on Animation Pipeline

Miguel Angel just sent me this link, it is a recent blog with a bunch of juicy articles, about "good practices in project management procedures and technology" from an experienced point of view.
Worth having a look.

Thanks MA

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

GTO open source 3D file format

Miguel Ángel sent me a note about GTO, a (from their web) "open source file format designed for computer graphics. It was developed by Tweak Films to serve as the core storage format for our geometry and rendering pipeline. GTO is used by VFX and animation facilities, post-houses, and game developers for a wide variety of applications. It's small size and versatility make it useful for animation, modeling, particle dynamics and 3D paint. It can be used to replace file formats such as PDB/PDC, obj, and binary RIB."

According to Muguel Ángel, it is based on ILM´s Zeno underlying principles, and even some developers have worked in Zeno.
Miguel Ángel also mentions Tweak´s revision software, RV, which is now integrated in Shotgun, and the impressive professional history of  Tweak films founders, most of them TDs iat ILM, Weta or DD.

Thanks as always, Miguel Ángel

Afanasy - Free Render Farm Manager

I just learned about this project and was curious to know if somebody has actually used it yet and could give us some feedback about it?