Friday, August 31, 2007

Dime Novel Screen

I stumbled across Dime Novel Screen via a real life friend on Facebook.

Thursday, 6th September 2007
From 8 pm — FREE ENTRY
rear of BAR STORY
213 Blenheim Grove, London SE15 [underneath Peckham Rye Station]

It sounded interesting so I thought I'd quiz them further, Patrick Samuel kindly provided some very comprehensive answers.

Flea Circus Director: What is the typical length of a Dime film?

Patrick Samuel: The length of films tend to vary greatly. Sometimes from short animated clips or visual experiments lasting under 2 minutes to documentaries and stories that last 15 minutes long. Most films fall into the region of 7 to 12 minutes though.

FCD: How many films do you show at each session?

PS: The night itself is split into 3 sections. The first part is the Welcome Screening. This usually lasts anything from 15 to 30 minutes and we always show the Favourite of the Night from the previous month along with other "welcome material" (a music video, or an animation, things which did not quite fit into the next part). The next part is what filmmakers generally aim for. It's called the Selection Screening and usually comprises of 5 short films. It all depends on the length of the films themselves.

Each film in this selection is followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers, questions from the audience and discussions with special guests as well.

The final part of the night (after the audience have voted and the Favourite has been announced) is the Open Screening. This is for people who just happened to bring a short film with them on the night. We show it then and there for them. If the panel agrees, then we include it in the following month's Welcome Screening or Selection Screening.

FCD: Who is a typical Dime Novel Screen film maker?

PS: Our filmmakers range from students to first time filmmakers to industry professionals. We’ve had Ben Hopkins, director of the modern British cult classic The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz and 37 Uses For A Dead Sheep showing his first ever piece National Achievement Day as well Nadya Brand, producer of the most recent music video for Within Temptation and star of the horror movie Broken showing her short film Prey. Soon we’ll have The History Boys and Amazing Grace actor Stephen Campbell Moore as a special guest with his short film!

FCD: Do you have animated films?

PS: We love animated short films and it’s great that Dime Novel Screen attracts so many of them. From the very first night we had Christoph Steger with his animated documentary Mother; Leo Bridle with Still Life With Flowers; Katy Davis with Gone Fishing; Elinor Geller with The Spirit Child; and Max Hattler with Collision to name but a short few who brought with them their award winning animations.

FCD: Given that I'd have never heard about you had you not been on Facebook, do you think that social networks are reducing the numbers watching and making films or do they help?

PS: I think that social networks such as Facebook and Mysapce are a great way to promote events such as this one. The amount of promotion that we do through them is astounding and the best of it is that it’s all free. The development of the internet over the years has allowed us to upload, view, comment on and pass on videos to each other is another great step forward in making filmmaking accessible to anyone with a camera and allowing them an outlet for their creativity. It has also meant that there is also a lot of junk floating around the internet as well and events such as Dime Novel Screen is a great way to sort through it all and present to its audience the top of the bunch and let them vote for the ones they like!

FCD: Finally, how would people get involved with Dime Novel Screen?

PS: People can get involved with Dime Novel Screen in a many number of ways. If they’ve made a short film they can of course contact us and we’ll let them know how to submit their film (usually by posting a DVD). We then invite them for an interview and photo shoot to promote them on our site with a filmmaker profile. Filmmakers are also encouraged to attend on the night of their screening for their Q&A. You can also get involved by of course coming down and member of our audience, voting for the films, participating in the Q&A’s and letting us know what you thought of the night. Another way is to support us by promoting the event and/or helping us to fund it as it’s all non-profit. As the organiser, I cover the costs myself and work with a team of volunteers and together we keep it going because we all love film and want to support the people who make films by providing them with a lively screening event.

Many thanks to Patrick and hopefully I'll be providing a report of one of their sessions at some point.

The Dime Novel Screen night of short films and live Q&A's with filmmakers in the unique setting of the Sassoon Gallery on the 6th of September from 8.00pm.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Carrara 6 Released

The upgrade and full versions of Carrara 6 can now be bought from the Daz shop. I downloaded mine yesterday before the rush started.

Carrara 6 details of features

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Poser Python the missing manual

I've been playing with python in Poser a bit and found the E-Frontier version was just a list of objects and methods so I was very glad to see this new product available from one of the known experts on Poser Python, Phil Cooke (known as PhilC on Renderosity).
The "book" consists of:

  • A 388 page PDF manual

  • Over 100 python scripts

  • Graphics files for use in the examples

  • XML files for use in the interface examples

  • 3d models for use in the examples

The book cleverly hooks the examples and scripts into the menus of Poser and in the manual it explains how this was done.

I found the PDF manual to be a little variable. The getting started section is clear and gently drops you into the Poser python world. The intro to python gives a good descriptions of the different types of control statements such as for, if, while etc however the description about boolean operators is overly complicated and confusing. However someone with basic programming knowledge in another language such as VB or Javascript should be able to easily understand the python way.

The bulk of the manual (184 pages) is about creating graphical user interfaces for your scripts, Phil looks at three different techniques and mentions some of their advantages and disadvantages from simple input boxes to complex interactive forms. This section is full of detail with screenshots and clear explanations. If you wish to create UI components for your script then you should buy this book for this section alone.

The next section of the manual provided a mirror of the efrontier manual. Phil covers some topics here in good detail with screenshots and examples and there others are more spartan. I would have liked to have seen this section restructured by topic, e.g. hair, geometry, posing etc.

The manual finishes with an explanation of the utility scripts provided. The provided scripts and examples are easy to read and clearly documented. The example scripts are repeated in the manual with additional explanation.

Although it is possible to navigate the book via the bookmarks and searching, I would have liked to have seen a table of contents and perhaps a small index. The structure of the document feels disjointed as it it's been assembled from others rather than planned properly. An annoying characteristic is having a heading on the bottom of one page followed by the text that it relates to on the next, I also spotted at least one spelling mistake.

The manual specifically mentions that it is for Poser 7 but lots of it also applies to Poser 6. Phil has explained some of the differences for Mac and PC users and where Poser Python features are limited.

Despite it's annoyances and limitations this should prove to be a handy reference guide and indispensable if I need to make any UIs for Poser. I think given that it's a first version the price is a little high but I benefited from the US/UK exchange rate so think I did ok.

See these store pages for details and sample pages:

Monday, August 27, 2007


Whilst following the discussions about Carrara 6 on the forums I saw a small comment about IClone having importers for Poser content. I followed up and was surprised to find that IClone was a full film studio in the computer. I've heard about people making Machinima films using various computer games and even online using Second Life. Now IClone's current content and films do look quite like most other machimima films with a noticable limit on the polygon counts. However with the ability to import from other sources such as all of the Daz3d, Content Paradise and Turbosquid plus all of the big 3D packages such as 3d studio, Maya, Poser and DazStudio should mean that there will be some quite sophisticated films.

Example films

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Carrara 6

Daz is previewing some of the new features of Carrara 6 on their forum and on youtube.
So far they have announced:

  • Ocean Primitive: Like the land that was added in an earlier version but this allows you to make different seas, lakes etc. Shark demo video.

  • Non Linear Animation: It allows users to create clips of animation (or poses) that can be reused and combined on multiple tracks of animations.

  • Hair: A couple of demo videos on Youtube and a screenshot on DigitalPainters.

  • Symmetrical Modeling: edit both sides of a object at the same time.

  • Displacement modeling

  • Enhancements to the vertex modeller including a bridge tool.

  • Improved speed for viewing and manipulating larger meshes.

  • Interactive Edge extrusion

  • Improved Content Browser including support for multiple runtimes for Poser content. N.B. Daz Studio Libraries are not currently supported.

  • Import of DSStudio scenes and Poser content and Skeleton import from DSStudio without the need for the creating applications.

  • Skinning and morphing targets improved and performance boosted and integrated with Carrara's animation timeline

  • Support for conforming clothing but not Poser's dynamic cloth.

  • The imported figures will be editable and have features that regular vertex object have such as creation of morph targets. Full body morphs will also be supported.

  • Rigid Body Simulation with a new updated physics engine with simulation on demand not when the application feels like it.

  • Ray tracing Improvements - Improved speed and quality of raytraced depth of field with blurry reflections or soft shadows.
    Depth of Field - Click to Zoom
    Blury Reflections - Click to Zoom

  • Carrara 6 will have a standard and a pro version.

  • Improved OpenGL support/performance.

  • Free upgrade for people who buy now.

  • Enhanced lighting controls such as shadow bias (used to correct self shadowing on low resolution objects) and lighting effects (CrossScreen, Glow, Nebula, Pulsator, Stars, VarioCross) see screenshot below.
    Lighting - Click to zoom

  • More transparency options for shaders, In-Scattering; an effect by the light reflected by small particles inside a medium such as cloudy water or a smokey room and a direct Absorption control. See Shark video above for an example of In-Scattering.

  • New scene wizards, the empty scene can now be created with different default scales which affects the default size of new objects.

  • There is also a new landscape wizard with a wide range of options for land and sky.
     Land- Click to ZoomSky - Click to ZoomLandscape Settings - Click to Zoom
  • Landscapes can be edited to use Render Time Displacement which uses less memory and can generate more details

  • An alternative rotation controller to help with, for example character animation

  • Enhanced editing of multiple selection for example if many lights are selected then you can change their brightness simultaneously or many object can be hidden at once.

  • Unicode Support: Support for unicode object names and choice of fonts in the UI.

  • Given that Daz have Collada Import and Export support in Daz Studio there is some speculation that there might be import and export support for Carrara 6. The is already a Collada plugin for C5.

There have been some observations that some of the new functions look like the previous generation of add-ins from Digital Carvers Guild such as Ground Control and Project Gemini. There are rumours that Erik is updating his current plugins to be compatible.

Microsoft's X format, import/export will be supported in a limited way in the release.

A flyer for C6 has been seen at Siggraph 2007.

Daz3D have announced that "Carrara 6 is scheduled to be released for sale on the DAZ 3D website in August 2007 with a special introductory discount being offered to DAZ 3D customers. The standard edition of Carrara 6 will have a MSRP of $249, and Carrara 6 Pro will have a MSRP of $549."

Daz3D's own Carrara 6 summary thread (needs registration)

For reference: Carrara 5 full feature list
Carrara 5 Pro vs Standard

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

LIAF 2007

The London International Animation Festival started yesterday with an excellent and varied selection of animations. There was a slight bias towards hand drawn animations but there were also some very creative pixilation and CGI examples with a couple of mixed media films too.

Carlitopolis' experiments with a marsupial was really a short spoof documentary with a very convincing CGI animal and raises the question of is this animation or simple a short film with animation used as a special effect.

Robin King's "Ten Thousand Pictures Of You" took pixilation to it's absolute limits with a story of troubled relationships and screwed up paper. Its a bit of a shame it felt the need to use the rather cliched going for a drive in an office chair. Otherwise it was very creative with some new effects I've not seen in pixilation before such as a person being pushed across a room and into a painting.

Joanna Quinn and Aardman both had excellent longer shorts but not quite long enough to make the Long Shorts session on thursday.

If you missed last nights showings then you have the oppertunity to see them again on Friday at 9pm at Renoir. The festival continues till Sunday. For more details see the LIAF website.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Naked Chef on Kids TV

Fresh One and Aardman Animations have combined forces to animate Jamie Oliver. The new series "Little J" looks at a young Jamie and his quest to become a chef. He's joined in the 52 part series by other characters such as a mad scientist called "Eggs Benedict", a band "The Vulgar Vegetables" and kitchen mentor Nonna. The 10 year old Jamie aims to inspire kids to think positively about good food.
The series is directed by Tom Parkinson who has previously worked on a film and series with Oz naturist anti-hero "Big Jeff" and short films Ramble On and ‘La Fille avec Les Orilles de Jambon’ (the girl with the bacon ears) both that were shown at festivals around the country.

Monday, August 20, 2007

ReelDump and ClipShare

I've mentioned options for sharing videos online on this blog before but there's a couple of new options. ReelDump is a site for sharing just 3d CGI work in progress, show reals, trailers and finished work. It has all the features you would expect, tags, channels and ratings as well as a search capability.

If you want to roll your own video sharing site you can do what I've done on the Flea Film Video Gallery and use the Youtube API. However if you want more control and sophistication then you could use the same technology as ReelDump which is called Clipshare a PHP/MySQL solution which at €153 is good value for money, check that your hosting company can support this solution as it's quite demanding with regards what needs to be installed.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It's Ming

This month's 3D world magazine has some models from It's Ming. More details here when available.

Siggraph 2007 Computer Animation Festival

At Siggraph 2007 this week there was also a Computer Animation Festival, films from around the globe were shown and a couple were picked out for special merit.

Ark was previously shown at Cannes and looks at a dark future where a virus has destroyed most of the human race with the few remaining survivors escaping on an ark. The film is produced by Marcin Kobylecki and Grzegorz Jonkajtys. Grzegorz Jonkajtys previously won awards for his Mantis film. The pair has worked on films such as "The Cathedral (2002)" an equally artistic film so it's not too surprising to discover that Marcin Kobylecki comes from a painting background. I'm also pleased to see that Grzegorz has some animated fleas.

Marcin Kobylecki, Grzegorz Jonkajtys, Producers

Dreammaker is a student film by another Polish chap, Leszek Plichta from the film school in Baden-Württemberg. Adobe were so impressed with the images that he's made using 3DMax that they put the images into their current 3dMax brochure.

Dreammaker (Trailer)
Leszek Plichta
Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg

The final award went to a Tango film, En Tus Brazos (In Your Arms) by Fx Goby, Matthieu Landour and Edouard Jouret.

En Tus Brazos
François-Xavier Goby, Edouard Jouret, Matthieu Landour, Directors
Supinfocom Valenciennes

There is an opportunity to see En Tus Brazos and Dreammaker at the Bitfilm festival in Hamburg next month.

Although it did not win an award Joel Green's "The Itch" was shown on the BBC Breakfast news today.

The Itch
United Kingdom
Joel Green
Bournemouth University

Details of other films shown:

Monday, August 13, 2007

A selection of animation blogs

In the blogger news it mentioned that you could see who else was blogging about the same things as you were, here's a selection of other people blogging about animation, in no particular order.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Maxon CineBench R10 and Cinema 4D 10

Maxon the makers of Cinema 4D have release a new version of CineBench their free graphical benchmarking tool. By testing the CPU and graphics card of your machine with a range of stressful tests it's possible to compair machines and log results to a database. The tool is available in 32 and 64bit versions and the download also contains source code for an SDK.

CineBench R10

If you register before 1st September you can also win a copy of Cinema 4D 10 at the Computer Arts website.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Poser Pro

E-Frontier have announced their latest creation Poser Pro. It's a kind of a Poser 7.5 with few existing components bundled togther with 64bit rendering and QUIDAM for Poser. E-Frontier are aiming this release at top end animation professionals. Poser Pro has support for 3D Studio Max, Maya, Lightwave and Cinema 4D along with 3D export to Photoshop CS3 . For more details visit the website:

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Is Technology deskilling the animator?

As motion capture tools get better with films and games managing to record the facial expressions of actors are we going to end up with animators becoming just computer operators rather than skilled artists in their own right?

Films such as the Lord of the Rings and Polar Express put motion capture in the public eye and the upcoming Beowulf uses the same technology. Even films such as Happy Feet used motion capture to record dancing. But some experts think that motion capture is not working well enough. I have to agree but I wonder if it's just a case of the technology being quite new? At this years Siggraph there were over 20 different suppliers of Motion Capture Equipment so it's definitely big business.

Also at Siggraph 2007, Massive Software announced this week another tool to "help" the animator, it's Massive 3.0 software claims:

"Massive allows artists to create and direct anything from CG humanoids to birds, animals, cars and more to deliver realistic and emotive virtual performances. Massive 'agents' are 3D characters that use sight, sound and touch enabling them to interpret and react autonomously to the world around them. Massive incorporates procedural animation and AI, and is used by animation and effects artists."

But again is this simply turning our "artists" into mathematicians and programmers?

Glenn Entis from Electronic Arts told the BBC this week that he wanted more realism in how games react to the user not just how they look. His reply seems to imply that EA will also be using technology rather than artistry to get the desired effects.

Previous articles: Making Faces