Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas Animation

This Christmas, television has been good for animation. A whole raft of Aardman including the Wallace & Gromit films and Creature Comforts Christmas specials.

CBeebies also provided a Christmas special of the Koala Brothers a stop motion animation made by the UK company Spellbound Entertainment Ltd. The brothers fly to the Southpole and return with their penguin friend to spend Christmas in the outback. This childrens programme had an amazing array of weather and technical effects such a the brothers wrestling with a map whilst flying their plane. The range of animal characters are lovable and well made, the sets range from the simple desert of the outback to the snowy south pole set.

Following on the Australian Christmas theme was another Stop Motion film "A very Barry Christmas" made by Canadian company Cuppa Coffee. Due to a flying mixup Barry and Santa get swapped and Santa is forced to feed the animals in Barry's Safari park and Barry attempts to manage Christmas wit the help of elves and reindeer. The animals here are also excellently made characters but aimed at an old audience (they are just not nice!)

Cuppa Coffee also make Celebrity Deathmatch and a wide range of Children's animation.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

RIP Joseph Barbera

Today in LA, Joseph Barbera died at the age of 95. One of the influences in my love of animation, Mr Barbera with Mr Hanna provided some of my favourites such as Captain Caveman, Huckleberry Hound the Smurfs and more recently Dexter's Laboratory.
His name will live on through his films for many years from now.

Friday, December 15, 2006

It's animation but not as we know it

Anthony Pascale from Trekmovie reports on CBS considering a new Star Trek series in 2D animation. The new stylings are somewhat like a comic book and has raised some strong opinions from trekkies.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Marvel Ani-Movie

Marvel have got together with Jazwares to provide a kit for animating cutout Marvel Super Heros (or anything else you can draw).

The kit is basically a rostrum camera with variable focus and an output to the TV. It also includes backgrounds and characters. Controls allow you to take take and view the pictures. The results can be saved to an SD card (not included) and transferred to a PC. The camera can also be rotated so that you can animate models. Its available from Toys R Us in the USA and is currently priced at $29.99

Lots of robots automatron

Although I'm a Carrara/Poser user myself, I though it was worth mentioning here a new tool for 3D Studio. Automatron has been developped by Andy Murdock for his film "Lots of Robots".

This tool supliments the built in functionality of 3D Studio such as Biped and Physique.

You can buy 3D Studio Max books at the AceAnim Store, direct links to the relavent sections below.

US Branch

UK Branch

Friday, December 08, 2006

Poser 7 Release Date

Following a series of emails explaining the new features of Poser 7, E-frontier have announced the release date and not surprisingly their servers are swamped with traffic.

"The official release date for Poser 7 English will be Wednesday, December 20, 2006! Electronic versions will be available for immediate delivery, and physical versions will ship as soon as they become available."

It's also your last chance to get a bundle of extra content for free. The offer for the Poser 7 Special Edition retires on December 19, 2006

"Poser 7 Special Edition includes the High Stakes Content Pack (additional value of $79.99). Designed around a “secret agent” theme, the High Stakes Content Pack includes high fashion formal outfits for the new male and female figures shipping in Poser 7, a complete casino scene with props and a sports car. You will also receive a FREE 6 month Passport membership to Content Paradise (valued at $49.99), and a $10 coupon good for any e frontier content from Content Paradise!"

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Animation for Christmas

Thanks to a bit of help from Amazon AceAnim now has an Animation store full of Studio Ghibli DVDs, Aardman Animation DVD, Ray Harryhausen, Animation books on a very wide range of topics from Stop Motion to Life Drawing.
The aStore has branches in the USA and the UK, let me know if you think a Canada, France or German branch would be of interest.
Some php script and should auto select the closest shop but if you need to, you can switch to a different branch from the menu at the top.

Friday, December 01, 2006

HDTV 1080i - Standard?

I had the pleasure to attend the John Logie Baird Lecture on The History of HDTV this week. The three speakers from Japan, USA and German explained the progression of technology through the last century which has lead to the situation today with HDTV. The question of why we need more lines was answered in detail but to summarise, bigger screens need more lines to look as good as our existing pictures.

There was some great news as far as I was concerned, all three zones have agreed on a standard for HDTV. So when making new animations I only need to make them in one size...

This is true but not the whole picture (excuse the pun). There are in fact 2 sizes defined in the standard 720p and 1080i. Both of these have a standard aspect ratio of 16:9.

In addition multiple frame rates are defined by the standard, 24/30/60. The 24 is the frame rate used traditionally in film.

For the purposes of animation I don't need to be concerned with the interlacing but the progressive scan has shown to be better for sports coverage and quickly moving objects. One hardware engineer has recently shown that in some cases 1080p compresses better than 1080i so perhaps our future will be interlace free?

So where does this leave me for animations?

Wide screen formats are the imediate future and existing systems can happily manage with those images. So for my next film, I'm definitely going to be looking into making it in a 16:9 format but the actual rendered size will most likely be dependant on my hardware, possibly 540x960 at 30 frames would be a happy compromise.


More about HDTV

Up converter 1080i to 1080p

Down converter 1080i to 525i or 625i


The film resolution standard is 2048 x 1556 and the way they display it on the cinema screen is to crop the top and bottom of the image.