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May 27, 2005

Final Shots, Breakdowns, and Extra Features

Have been added to my demo reel section of meyemind.com. Updated with work from Constantine and Son of the Mask, and also includes a couple extras from Starship Troopers 2.


final shots, breakdowns, and extra features

Here is a shot build up I created from one of my Hell Apartment shots in Constantine. It will be featured along with other Tippett Studio work in Siggraph's 2005 Animation Theatre. (Tippett Studio Creates) "Hell L.A." & "Vermin Man" in "Constantine"

HA090 buildup (30mb)
- (Digital Backgrounds CG Element Layers and Compositing Layers)

HA100 (5.53mb)
- Constantine gets up from Angela's apartment now in Hell LA.

HF070 (1.62mb)
- Constantine walks the Hell Freeway as a scavenger demon emerges behind him from a smuldering ever decaying car.

HF210 (435kb)
- Nearing the climax of the sequence Constantine runs toward Angela's sisters wrist tag escaping the scavengers.

VM150 Breakdown (10.4mb)
- Breakdown as Constantine runs infront of on-coming traffic away from the Vermin Man, made of bugs he breakd form flies infront of Constantine and forms infront of him.

VM150 TAGS (1.66mb)
- Tag Channels for the CG car and Vermin Man allowing me to isolate and treat different pieces of the CG creature and vehichle.

VM155 Breakdown (4.57mb)
- Close up on the Vermin Man's face, as he readys to strike Constantine, not realizing that on-coming traffic is about to crash into him.

VM155 xRay (973kb)
- This is a pass from a normals render using the blue channel which is like an xRay shader, what it shows us is how many bugs and FX are driving this creature made entirely of bugs and nasty critters.

CH3 (2.68mb)
- Otis after a bone exploded in his mouth, baby Alvey from ILM scares him with a good old Lions Roar! Practical smoke elements are composited in.

CH4 (3.03mb)
- Otis then shoots up to a chandelier grips and holds on for dear life...fx chards of charred otis fall to the ground

OB5 (2.01mb)
- The God Odin speaks to Loki from the heavens between the clouds. I was responsible for the look, atmospherics, god rays, and over all CG clouds with the sky matte painting integration.

OV1 (3.84mb)
- Otis spends a romantic evening with his love interest Venus in luxury. Responsible for the star filter effect over the shot and integration of our CG Otis head into the real dog on sets body.

OW6 (1.61mb)
- Odin speaks to Loki this time via a nightlight plugged into a socket in the wall, projected on and in the walls in the room. Responsible for constructing, color matching, and tracking together pieces of the set and walls from clean plates with a green screen foreground.

DVD features from Starship Troopers 2 showcase a couple breakdowns on my shots ZA12 and SP3,
with commentary by the VFX Supervisor Eric Leven.

ZA12 breakdown (17.8mb) - (storm rise and crash)
SP3 breakdown (6.24mb) - (spy bug pulled out of head)

Have Quicktime? | all reels above use Quicktime

Posted by dschnee at 7:54 AM

May 26, 2005

Take a step back from your work

", an artist will turn his painting upside down, for the same reason, or look at it reversed in a mirror, to see it the way a stranger might. As something he doesn't know. Something new and novel. The reality of someone else."

-Chuck Palahinuk, Haunted

Posted by dschnee at 4:46 PM

May 18, 2005

Constantine in Cinefex #102

This issue will feature ILM's work on Star Wars EPIII Revenge of the Sith, but cover articles on Sin City, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and Constantine.

Alan Moore's graphic novel, about a world-weary investigator of supernatural mysteries prone to walking a thin line between good and evil, is brought to the screen by director Francis Lawrence. Visual effects supervisor Michael Fink oversaw an assemblage of nine effects companies to bring the effects extravaganza to fruition.

- cinefex.com - #102

More details on this issue once it comes out in July...

Posted by dschnee at 2:50 PM

The Great Divide in CG Facilities

: A Metamorphosis

Tony Cristiano looks at the lightning speed advances in the visual effects industry and how it affects the big studios vs. the smaller ones.
By Tony Cristiano who is the coo and vp of U.S. operations of Side Effects Software, makers of Houdini. I studied Houdini extensivley in school, its an amazing piece of software.

This is a very interesting article covering a view on where this industry is headed for small, medium, and large visual effects companies. Tippett Studio would be considered a mid-size facility.

Head on over to VFXworld to read The Great Divide in CG Facilities: A Metamorphosis

There is an overarching sentiment in the visual effects community that the industry has changed very quickly in the last few years. CG production is undergoing a rapid metamorphosis based on technological advances and market demands. Today’s shift to commercial production pipelines and the use of digital assets are examples that twist the playing field. In the next few years, we’ll witness the continuing evolution of the way people, process and technology are combined and optimized in production. These changes are enabling innovation and improving the predictability of production variables. During rapid change, large and small boutique facilities are the most adept at change, leaving some mid-size facilities behind. Furthermore, the large and small adapt differently, thus creating a great divide.

CG effects have become an essential element of movie making. The trailer for Columbia’s Stealth (opening July 29) offers a good example of recent innovation. Many of the challenging airplane sequences were pre-visualized in CG well in advance, which would have been very time-consuming to choreograph otherwise. Yet the realism was kept high. By anticipating and narrowing the production variables, Digital Domain took advantage of all the precious time on set. Finding repeatable methods and re-usable tools to foster such innovation will be key to staying competitive in the future.

The current euphoria in our community is that the “sky is the limit” when it comes to producing cutting-edge effects. The multi-million-dollar question has changed from “can we do it,” to “how should we do it efficiently and within budget.” However, as both large and small facilities grow, there are two key factors that will determine success. First, the facility needs to highlight its artistic strength. Second, CG production needs to be far more efficient.

Thus, artistic control and efficiency are going to widen the great divide between large and small facilities. Always knowing the reality of one’s business model and staying focused is what’s key in defining the positioning on either side of the divide. At the same time, the materialization of “disposable pipelines,” where the production focus will be on re-usable digital assets, is propelling many boutiques to jump the chasm. It’s a large, dangerous step through the middle zone. However, today’s commercial software lays a foundation for pipelines, making the leap much faster and less treacherous — provided you anticipate the jump!

Large Facilities Innovate and Mass Produce
Large facilities obviously have the financial capacity to experiment and quickly bring together people, process and technology. At the same time, they have staffing depth with a diversified set of expertise and an “aggregated wisdom” they can apply to repeatable production methods. Clearly, those additional resources and competencies afford bigger shops more time to fine tune the production pipeline, while ensuring their work can be scaled up with volume. They all have an existing infrastructure to handle a large number of shots from start to finish, thereby reducing the risks associated with completing complex productions. Those bigger budgets also afford them the opportunity to think longer term about the selection of digital assets and associated cataloging.
An excellent example of innovation is the work Sony Pictures Imageworks mastered on The Polar Express, where character animation was de-coupled from the rest of the effects. Today, directors want to choreograph animation and previs effects without the pressure of wasting time and money while on set. Directors can now have few actors on stage and focus on the emotional side of the story for the entire movie. This process inspires us to improve storytelling without getting bogged down with the complexities of “how” to do it. De-coupling the art from the technical complexities is now possible in many areas throughout the pipeline. Such techniques have the potential to provide large advantages over time.

As one of those large facilities, Sony Pictures Imageworks can plan over a longer period of time and oftentimes develop pipelines and digital assets to be used over many productions. They are successful partly because they can push multiple projects through the same pipeline and achieve economies of scale. As a result, they can step back and innovate while building re-usable methods to capitalize on large volumes of work.
The “Boutiques” Have a Secret Weapon
Boutiques are effectively finding a place for themselves in this industry by building relationship bonds with their customers through smaller, custom projects. Hanging out at the right pub and film festivals wouldn’t hurt either. Smaller facilities must be flexible enough to meet the special needs of their customer, while not compromising efficiency. Boutiques are most profitable and successful when they have clearly chosen their area of strength or specialty. Once that area is chosen, it is important for them to build a custom result that is reasonably predictable. Successful repetition quickly breeds a positive reputation.

As small facilities build on niche specialties, they focus on a subset of the art or one part of a pipeline. They must do so without the luxury of large budgets. For the purpose of this discussion, let’s define a boutique as a facility that usually has a core staff of less than a hundred, yet can ramp up to handle a large number of shots from a couple of projects. For example, soho vfx in Toronto grew to about 32 people to handle shots of Mr. Fantastic in the upcoming Fantastic Four movie, and New Deal Studios in Los Angeles ramps up to more than a 100 staff, when they take on projects such as The Aviator. However, due to their smaller size, boutiques can often implement much faster. Their pipelines can be optimized for the current project and they can implement re-usable digital asset with a narrower scope and recoup benefits sooner.

Small shops must be even better at managing time and money. They are very fortunate if projects overlap to provide cash flow continuity. If an individual production is profitable, it is common for profits to erode in between projects. The biggest challenge for small shops is ramping up and ramping down staff, especially without an HR department. However, the way the pipeline and digital assets are designed can become a key advantage.

Often boutiques must have a large relative number of senior-level staff, who are each a “jack of all trades.” To leverage lower cost talent, it is now becoming more popular to mechanize common and repeated production tasks. Digital assets are prepared in order to build confidence in the ramp down and ramp up ritual. The advantages of having catalogued digital assets include reduced total salary costs, better specialization of tasks and senior staff spending less time training and assisting others. Such an undertaking requires focus and commitment, and it’s not for the flaky.

Shift or Sink
It’s important not to become complacent with yesterday’s approach and technology. Both large and small facilities should carefully revisit old pipeline choices and inherited legacies with a fresh outlook. Facility leaders must visualize a world when today’s CG production will be done in a 10th the time. They must do their homework and make some changes, while stepping out of the familiar comfort zone.

The commercial implementation of digital assets several years ago allows us to see pipelines differently. Today, a pipeline is more about choices regarding which digital assets to catalogue and where to attempt to gain efficiency. That set of digital assets creates a new level of speed for the next project and liberates the team to innovate and do the fun stuff. The underlying technology has become so well designed in commercial packages (albeit with widely varying design points, approaches and reliability), that for the equivalent cost of a couple of staff, all boutiques have access to the same efficiency levels of the most prestigious facilities.

As the visual effects industry continues to evolve, this year will bring even more change, making the “great divide” between large and small facilities seem deeper and wider. Those in the middle need to make a decision. Simultaneously, many are seeing production pipelines differently today and use modern methods and disruptive commercial software to make changes successfully. In order to survive, facilities large and small alike, must adapt to a new reality — and do it fast!

Tony Cristiano is coo and vp of U.S. operations of Side Effects Software, a 3D animation technology company dedicated to advanced digital content creation software (Houdini). Cristiano joined the firm in 1996. The company’s prestigious clients include content creators such as Digital Domain, Disney Feature Animation, DreamWorks SKG, Rhythm & Hues, Sony Pictures Imageworks and WETA Digital Ltd. Its software supports such high-profile films as Spider-Man, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and X-Men. A graduate of the University of Waterloo (Toronto Canada) in math and computer science, Cristiano spent 11 years at IBM, where he became the national manager of marketing and sales for IBM Canada. While Canadian-born, he currently resides with his wife and two children in Pacific Palisades, California.

© 1996 - 2005 AWN, Inc. All rights reserved.

Posted by dschnee at 12:51 PM

May 17, 2005

Son of the Mask is Out on DVD Today

DVD Features:
* Available subtitles: English, Spanish
* Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
* Commentary with director Lawrence Guterman and writer Lance Khazei
* Deleted Scenes (with optional director commentary)
* "Chow Bella - Hollywood's Pampered Pooches" featurette
* "Creating Son of the Mask: Digital Diapers and Dog Bytes" featurette
* Storyboard and conceptual art gallery
* Theatrical trailer

- Son of the Mask @ amazon.com

Aweee Yeah! =P

Posted by dschnee at 8:14 AM

May 11, 2005

Starship Troopers 2 Wins Saturn Award

Sci-Fi Adventure Starship Troopers 2 Wins Saturn Award for Best DVD Release

Check out the details over @ tippett.com

Congratulations and Kick Ass!


May 4, 2005 – BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA – Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation was honored by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films with the award for Best DVD Release for 2004. The 31st annual Saturn Awards, honoring the fine cinematic achievements in film and television programs, was held May 3, 2005, in Los Angeles, California. Accepting the award was producer Jon Davison.

“I am very pleased the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror has voted Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation Best DVD Release of 2004. It means so much to producer Jon Davison and myself that this society has honored us with a Saturn Award because it is for all the fans of Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror that we love making these pictures,” said Phil Tippett, award-winning visual effects supervisor and animation pioneer, who made his directorial debut with the direct-to-video release of Starship Troopers 2.

In Starship Troopers 2, a group of soldiers find themselves stranded on a remote outpost of an alien planet and are terrorized by enemies both seen and unseen in the sequel to the successful sci-fi adventure Starship Troopers. Visual effects supervisor Eric Leven led his team of artists in creating massive armies of warrior bugs as well as other surprising digital horrors designed to squash the soldiers’ chances for survival. Starring Richard Burgi and Ed Lauter. Produced by Jon Davison. Distributed direct-to-video by Screen Gems, 2004.

-© 2005 Tippett Studio

Posted by dschnee at 8:37 PM

May 9, 2005

2005 Siggraph Sketch "Highway to Hell"

has been accepted to this year's Siggraph Conference!

This sketch is by one of Tippett Studio's lead compositors, Matt Jacobs, and is based on the creation of the Hell Freeway, Hell Hydrotherapy, and Hell Apartment sequences in Constantine.

Siggraph's Sketches review the latest work in every aspect of computer graphics and interactive techniques: art, cinema, advertising, design, science, and engineering. Following each sketch presentation, authors answer questions and discuss future implications of their work.


Posted by dschnee at 10:18 PM

May 4, 2005

Lightsabre Interviews Phil Tippett

Special Effect Legend, Director, Studio Head, Oscar Winner and Rancor Suit Wearer,

Read The Phil Tippett Interview Here

- via lightsabre.co.uk

See Also: Another interesting read from stopmotionanimation.com a few years back... Stop Motion - Go-Motion - CGI, Phil Tippett Inovator of Current SPFX Technology

- via stopmotionanimation.com

Posted by dschnee at 9:55 AM

May 3, 2005

Constantine 2-Disc Deluxe DVD

The 2-Disc Deluxe Edition for Constatine on DVD July 19th, 2005.

Disc One: Movie

* 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
* English and French DD5.1 Surround
* English, French and Spanish subtitles
* Commentary by director Francis Lawrence, producer Akiva oldsman and screenwriters Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello
* A Perfect Circle's "Passive" music video
* Theatrical Trailers

Disc Two: Extras

* 18 minutes of Deleted Scenes including an alternate ending with optional director's commentary
* Conjuring Constantine: From Comic Book to Movie documentary
* The Production from Hell Documentary: Director's Confessional, Collision with Evil, Holy Relics
* Imagining the Underworld Documentary: Hellscape, Visualizing Vermin, Warrior Wings, Unholy Abduction, Demon Face [Easter Egg]
* Foresight: The Power of Pre-Visualization with Optional Commentary by Francis Lawrence
* DVD-Rom Content

** Exclusive Collectible Hellbazer Comic Featuring a Reprint of Issue #41 Dangerous Habbits and a Hellblazer Short Story

Posted by dschnee at 9:21 PM