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June 30, 2006

Pirates: Stronger than Kryptonite?

Superman vs. Jack Sparrow: Who will win?

Gamblers Place Bets On Pirates 2

-now I won't be seeing Superman until the 11th as I'm waiting for a VES Screening over @ Pixar, but I will be seeing Dead Man's Chest on the 7th!!! So matey's my prediction is in order that I will be seeing these flicks, Yaooorrrr winner is Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest.

(prnewswire.com) According to the latest betting trends from Sportsbook.com, bettors are expecting Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest to eclipse Superman Returns, the season's first major release, at the box office. More than 97% of bets have been wagered on Pirates 2 to gross more than $90 million during its opening weekend, compared to just over 23% of bets wagered on Superman Returns, opening today, to earn more than $89.5 million during its opening weekend.

The first Pirates movie grossed more than $305 million in the U.S. and today, industry experts are predicting even higher box office returns for the sequel.

By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY

In Superman Returns, the Man of Steel faces Lex Luthor, world peril and Kryptonite.

But his biggest challenge may come from Johnny Depp.

That's because Hollywood is still waiting to crown its big-screen king of summer. And with earlier contenders falling by the wayside, the industry buzz is whether Superman, which opened Wednesday, or Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest will be the box-office titan of the season, and probably the year. Pirates cost an estimated $200 million to produce; Superman cost $250 million.

Early money is on the swashbuckler.

Thus far, no film has dominated summer. Though several movies came out of the gate quickly, including The Da Vinci Code and X-Men: The Last Stand, none has approached $300 million, the gold standard for a summer smash.

Last summer, Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith racked up $380 million and was the biggest movie of the year. The year before that, it was Shrek 2 with $441 million.

"It's been a very blah summer so far," says Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo. "There's no Shrek, no Star Wars, no Finding Nemo. We need something to invigorate audiences."

His bet is on Pirates, out July 7. Gray says the first Pirates, which made $305 million in 2003, built an appetite unrivaled by any other movie.

Gray says ticket sales for the sequel should surpass the original, "and it could very well be the biggest movie of 2006. It's the only one that really stands out."

Early tracking has been so strong that some analysts say it could challenge Spider-Man's record $114.8 million opening in 2002.

"Pirates has become a cultural phenomenon for a young generation," says Chad Hartigan, a box office analyst for the industry-tracking firm Reelsource.

The bow in Superman's quiver, Hartigan says, may be the July Fourth holiday. "He's iconic, all-American and people are off work and out of school. If the movie gets good word of mouth, it could surprise everyone."

Paul Dergarabedian of Exhibitor Relations says that the race could be a tortoise-and-hare matchup. He expects Superman to be buoyed over the long haul by strong reviews, while Pirates will open quickly out of the gates.

Dergarabedian says each could ultimately claim bragging rights. "Superman is so iconic worldwide, he could be the biggest hit internationally, while Pirates may be the biggest movie in the U.S."

And he says Hollywood executives are relieved to be having this argument over the one last year. "Last summer, we were talking about when the box office slump would end. This is a lot more fun debate."


Posted by dschnee at 3:11 PM

June 29, 2006

Tippett Studio chooses the cineSpace

CGSociety CGNews
Tippett Studio chooses the cineSpace suite for color management.
29 June 2006

Rising Sun Research, a developer of innovative solutions for dynamic media industries, announced today that Tippett Studio has chosen cineSpace for facility-wide color management. The cineSpace color management suite enables end-to-end pipeline calibration across multiple platforms and applications.


The complexity of calibration requirements at Tippett Studio demanded a flexible and adaptable solution, making cineSpace a natural fit. Artists in all departments - animation, match move, compositing, color correction and more - can now view their material with full confidence that they are seeing an accurate representation of the final result.

"We run a wide variety of applications on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X platforms," explains Matt Tomlinson, Digital Imaging Supervisor at Tippett Studio. "The cineSpace suite was the right choice for us to use in conjunction with Shake, Photoshop and Maya, and even with tools we developed in-house. And having the capability to create custom profiles to match our film outs is a huge advantage. No other solution comes close in terms of solving our calibration issues."

The final decision came after a long period of collaboration between Rising Sun Research and Tippett Studio. "We've been working closely with Matt and the rest of the Tippett Studio team over the past two years," states Jeremy Pollard, VP of Sales at Rising Sun Research. "Our aim is to provide the tools that ensure consistency throughout their entire pipeline, making it simple for artists and supervisors alike."

cineSpace v2.1 is available immediately from Rising Sun Research and authorised resellers and runs on Windows, Mac, Linux and IRIX platforms.

Related Links
Tippett Studio
Rising Sun Research

Posted by dschnee at 10:52 AM

June 26, 2006

Pirates 2 Opens at Disneyland

Last weekend, Disneyland LA hosted the premier of Dead Man's Chest as well as the newly, revamped, Johnny Deep'afied version of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. One of my good friends and fellow compositor down in LA was there for the festivities...

"We got there at 6am only to find a line reaching the mid point between the two parks disneyland and california adventure. And all the lines were open, so there were a lot of folks. We decided to ride whatever we could and not line up all day, everyone was lining up for the red carpet and the rides were virtually empty even the popular ones.

anyway...we went to lineup around 2ish with the red
carpet slated to start around 6pm....we found booths
lined up on the opposite side of the crowds. Each
booth had a company tag name...i found mtv, vh1, and
cnn...decided to wait next to them. (niiice)

MTV was the money spot the guys there told us we were
at the right spot...all the stars would be coming by
for a chit chat....and when it started they were
right, we were right in front of the action...

all in all it was fun...especially cuz i got to work
on the movie..yeaaaa!

About the ride...the media was able to ride it and the
cnn guy told us that some changes included barbosa
replacing the pirate in the ship scene as you exit the
tunnel in the ride, capn' jack himself, and a wall of
mist with the ghostly davy jones projected as guests
passed in the pirate boats." - Thanks Zach!

Sweet-As! He could pretty much touch all the stars that came through the booth, and snapped off pictures of Christian Slater, James Cameron, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Dennis Rodman (why were you there?), Tia Carrere, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Mackenzie Crook & Lee Arenberg (the 2 funny pirates), to name a few...and
Jerry Bruckheimer, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, and of course the man: Johnny Deep. The pictures were great, he was right there.

Here is some new Media!

'Pirates' premiere was a swashbuckling good time (USAToday article)
Jack Sparrow in Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean (LaughingPlace.com A Disney promotional clip showing the new Pirates of the Caribbean Ride)
Movie-Inspired Pirates Reopens at Disneyland (VFXWorld / News.Wire)
Set & Locations Special Featurette (quicktime)

See Also: themoviebox.net has a slew of TV Spots, one of which has one of my shots, this time my final comp in there not an ILM temp.
TV Spot #3
Dead Man's Chest @ themoviebox.net - Trailers/Clips

Posted by dschnee at 6:10 AM

June 24, 2006

Starship Troopers 3

I'm a bit late on this news, but it sounds like Sony will be doing Starship Troopers 3. There will be something around 28 new bugs, and 300-400 vfx shots. Tippett Studio will not be doing the vfx for the Troopers 3, instead I think it's going to be done by a chinese vfx house for dirt cheap. This pretty much stinks... I know the st2crew @ Tippett would love to work on the 3rd, more bugs, blood, and schwap! ahh well, It will be most interesting to see how this one turns out.

Here are some tid-bits of info: mostly a lot of the same, but the main themes are Ed Neumeier writing/directing and original cast rumors with Casper Van Dien's returning his role of Johnny Rico, also that the storyline will be closer to the original. If you want to filter more of this, continue reading below:

Starship Troopers 2 internet quote of the year:

"Starship Troopers 2 is on sale at Big Lots on VHS for $2. I guess if Casper is going to be in the 3rd, I should see the second so I know what's going on. Is the second one even worth $2? Rolling Eyes Has anyone here seen it?" -Jamison

Neumeier directing Troopers 3? -cincity200.com

So is there really any hope for a third battle against the bugs? Seems like there might be. -SFX.co.uk

"After shoving out a direct-to-dvd sequel, the folks behind Starship Troopers are now looking to of the cult hit. However, this time they want to go back to where it all began and, not only create a film much like the first, but also use some of the original talent. Yes folks, Casper Van Dien said he's involved and will be reprising the role of Johnny Rico. Killer awesome! Not for nothing Casper, but upon your return to the alien planet, perhaps you should try and find the acting career you accidentally left there the last time." -cinematical.com

"A second sequel to Paul Verhoeven’s “Starship Troopers” (1997) is in the works over at Sony, says Cincity2000, via Dark Horizons.

Ed Neumeier will return to the typewriter to punch out the script, which, I’m guessing, will head straight to DVD – just as the first sequel, “Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation” did. According to the site, the film will have even more of a connection to the first film though, with some cast members from the original film returning to the fold for “Troopers 3”.

Casper Van Dien mentioned via his official site that he is involved, reprising his role as Johnny Rico.

Says the actor, “The script is along the same line as the first. It is Awesome”. He adds that Rico would now be a General in the film.

Good stuff." moviehole.net

Posted by dschnee at 8:10 AM

June 20, 2006

Shake 4.1 Released! only $499?

Shake 4.1 Released

Apple Releases Shake 4.1
Industry Leading Compositing Software Price Cut to $499 (down from $2,999)

I just ordered up a copy for my powerbook this morning! Wow, $500 bux, fantastic... So what's the catch? Word on the street is that this will be the final release of shake with no further updates or development planned. r.i.p. shake - but I've heard that they will begin work on the next generation of compositing software, another high-end compositing application not due until 2008.

apple.com/shake/press release

CUPERTINO, California—June 20, 2006—Apple® today delivered Shake® 4.1, the first Universal version of its industry leading compositing software and cut its price from $2,999 to $499 to fit almost any production’s budget. Final Cut® Studio editors can now take advantage of Shake for sophisticated 3D compositing, keying, image tracking and stabilization for the price of a plug-in. Shake continues to be the tool of choice for major motion-picture studios and leading effects houses to create award-winning visual effects including this year's Oscar winner, “King Kong.”

“At just $499, Shake is now priced as low as a plug-in for Final Cut Studio,” said Rob Schoeben, Apple’s vice president of Applications Product Marketing. “Now Final Cut Studio customers can retouch their shots with Shake’s optical flow technology or add photo realistic visual effects to their productions, even on a shoestring budget.”

“Shake has become an essential tool at ILM for visual effects compositing, playing a central part in our pipeline on blockbuster movies such as ‘Mission Impossible 3,’ ‘Poseidon’ and the upcoming ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,’” said Cliff Plumer, chief technology officer of Industrial Light and Magic. “By pricing Shake at less than $500, Apple has opened up the doors for the next generation of artists to master their craft.”

Shake 4.1 complements Final Cut Studio by providing a full range of operations from simple re-touching to complex 3D compositing. Launched directly from the Final Cut Pro timeline, Shake uses state-of-the-art optical flow image analysis to re-time, track and stabilize shots with precision. Particle effects from Motion 2 can be dropped directly into the Shake process tree to add elements such as smoke, sparkles and fire to sophisticated multi-plane 3D composites. High resolution work can flow from Motion to Shake by rendering with the shared OpenEXR format for pristine film quality reproduction.

Shake 4.1 delivers significant performance gains on the new Intel-based Macs providing artists and editors with desktop level experience on the new MacBook™ Pro* notebook computer. Performance tests on a MacBook Pro have shown that common tasks such as color correction, warping and the application of filters are processed up to 3.5 times faster on a MacBook Pro than on a PowerBook® G4. Artists and editors can start compositing with HD, 2K and even 4K shots directly on location making Shake 4.1 on a MacBook Pro an ideal tool for continuity.

Pricing & Availability
Shake 4.1 is now available through the Apple Store® (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $499 (US). Owners of Shake 4 can take advantage of a crossgrade to Shake 4.1 for just $49 (US). Full details are available at www.apple.com/shake. Apple will no longer sell the Apple Maintenance Program for Shake. Current Shake Apple Maintenance customers can contact shake-sales@apple.com for more information.

* Performance tests on a 17-inch MacBook Pro have shown that common tasks such as color correction, warping and the application of filters are processed up to 3.5 times faster on a MacBook Pro with 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo than a 17-inch PowerBook G4 with 1.67 GHz Power PC.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning desktop and notebook computers, OS X operating system, and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital music revolution with its iPod portable music players and iTunes online music store.

Press Contacts:
Christine Wilhelmy
(408) 974-9730

Cameron Craig
(408) 974-6281


Apple's "Phenomenon" due out in 2008?

By AppleInsider Staff Jun-22-2006 05:00 PM

The latest release of Apple Computer's Shake compositing software may be the last of its breed, as the company reportedly plans to shift gears and focus on developing the next-generation of the application around a different codebase.

Apple made the revelation alongside the release of Shake 4.1 this week, telling customers that it "will no longer be selling maintenance for Shake" as "no further updates" to the application are planned.

Instead, Apple said it has begun work on the next generation of the software, which reports target for a release in 2008.

According to a rumor first published on MacRumors this week, Shake's successor bears the codename "Phenomenon." Although the software will build off users' experiences with Shake, the report states that it will be based heavily on the the codebase for Motion, Apple's professional graphics animation software.
Shake is a big deal in hollywood, where it is considered the most advanced compositing application -- designed for large format productions by major motion picture studios and leading visual effects houses.

The application has been responsible for visual effects in blockbusters such as "Star Wars Episode III," "Harry Potter," "Mission Impossible 3," "The Lord of the Rings" and this year's Oscar winner, "King Kong."

In rolling out Shake 4.1 this week -- an update that delivers native support for the new line of Intel Macs -- Apple also slashed over 80 percent off the cost of a Shake license.

Apple says the price cut from $2,999 to $499 allows Shake to fit into "almost any production’s budget."

No further details on Shake's successor have been reported at this time.

Posted by dschnee at 7:29 AM

June 15, 2006

The Escape Clause

So this past week I've been working on a couple shots on The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause... I'm pretty much just helping out on a few shots for the next 2 weeks. I haven't seen The Santa Clause, or The Santa Clause 2, and having said that, I can't say that I'm going to see The Santa Clause 3 either, :) hehe. Yes, another Tim Allen movie! what?!?

quickly... This November It's Clause VS. Frost - Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is back as Santa Clause in this hilarious new adventure, The Santa Clause 3 The Escape Clause, juggeling family and mischievous Jack Frost (Martin Short) ...whew!

IMDB - Santa Clause 3

Posted by dschnee at 9:01 PM

Bullock's! No on Constantine 2?

Sandra Bullock advised her Lake House co-star Keanu Reeves to forgo any sequel to his supernatural thriller film Constantine in front of a roomful of reporters. During a press conference to promote their upcoming time-travel romantic movie, Bullock said with surprising candor: "No, no to sequels! Don't do Constantine 2" after Reeves was asked if he is doing a sequel. "Look, you never called to say, 'Don't do it.' You never called," she added, referring to her ill-fated sequel Speed 2, in which Reeves declined to appear.

Reeves turned down the sequel to the 1994 blockbuster hit Speed, which first paired Bullock with Reeves, and it bombed. Bullock teamed up with Jason Patric for Speed 2: Cruise Control. "Yeah, Keanu was smart then," she said. "He had good people surrounding him at the time going, 'Don't do it. Don't get on a boat going 10 knots, which looks like it's pretty much standing still.'"

As far as a sequel to Constantine, which was based on the dark comic book Hellblazer, Reeves said, "It's kind of [up] in the air. Maybe. Maybe. I would like to, but I don't know if the producers want to do it." Reeves added that it's a long story why the sequel is being delayed. "We have to figure it out," he said. "I don't know."

Bullock said, "If you do a sequel, you should have him quit smoking."

Reeves retorted, "He did in the first one, if you saw it."

Posted by dschnee at 8:08 PM

June 14, 2006

Super Cinefex #106

The folks @ CINEFEX have updated the breakdown for issue #106 along with the cover of Superman in flight. The issue covers X-Men:The Last Stand, Poseidon, The Da Vinci Code, V for Vendetta, and of course Superman Returns... now you won't find any of our work in these shows, but there is some very cool work going on in these films and I just wanted to post some quick links if you want to learn more about it. (Click HERE for More)

Interesting Fact:
Tippett Studio, at one time was awarded the vfx work for the sequence that takes place at the end of Superman Returns (Red Sun). What happend, is after the ending of was re-written, Warner Bros. decided to put that chunk of work back out for bids... and, yeah... we didn't get that bit back in our hands. So it will be interesting to see how that all turned out. (in the trailer: think of the airplane screaming toward the earth, toward a baseball stadium, perhaps?)

So, Superman Returns hasn't been released just yet, but early reviews sound good.

As for X-Men: The Last Stand, Framestore, MPC, Weta Digital, and Hydraulx did some fantastic work, and below are a number of articles on that work. The work that Weta did was impressive, the Bobby/Pyro Fight, Car-B-Queue, and the Phoenix/Alcatraz battle (Wolverine charging up towards Phoenix) was the bulk of their work.

Another impressive chunk of work was from the 'young' Professor X and Magneto during the introduction of the film. Lola VFX, a branch from Hydraulx handled the task of taking 25 years off of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. This was done entirely in 2D! Digital Cosmetic Makeover! - Great fxguide.com Article

Articles to vfx.geek.out on:

X-Men: The Last Stand
X-Men : Extreme Makeover
X-Men: The Last VFX Stand

Wipe out: 'Poseidon' Fluid Simulations and VFX at ILM
VFXTalk Meets the VFX Masters Behind Poseidon
Water, Water, Everywhere...
Poseidon: Making a Big CG Splash

The Da Vinci Code
Would DaVinci Have Been Compositor or Animator?
Secret History
Cracking Da Vinci Code’s Crafty VFX

V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta and VFX

Posted by dschnee at 7:05 AM

June 8, 2006

Toxik 2007 Demo

We had a great demo yesterday from the guys at Autodesk (formerly Discreet) on Toxik. Autodesk's effects and compositing interactive, collaborative compositing solution for feature film pipelines.
They also did a demo on Combustion 4 which was primarily geared toward showing us improvments in the roto/paint features of the package as it relates to Tippett's roto/paint department.

Toxik has some really great things going, most noteably that it's running over an relational oracle database that allows artists to work on the same shot at the same time and be notified of updates realtime once another artist publishes their work. They then can choose to start working with the latest work from another artist.
For example, if you have one artist in the paint department painting out markers on a green screen, and another artist pulling the key/matte, and another artist compositing the shot, instead of each artist rendering out the work they did, publishing, sending email and handing it off to the compositor, all 3 of them can work inside Toxik and publish their work, and the compositor can simply grab their latest workflow inside Toxik and can add it to their composite without any rendering that takes up time and storage space. A very elegant solution.

Toxik also has The Master Keyer from the Discreet Inferno/Flame suites, and watching how this keyer worked it's magic, definatley got some ooohs and awwwes, especially those of us who recently finished work on the horrible screen pulls for Pirates 2. We are constantly generating multiple mattes for portions of the image that need to be treated differently and combining these mattes for the final matte, but with the Master Keyer, it's smart, it lets you keep portions of the matte you are happy with and then isolate and pull specific portions all inside the same keyer, seemed to work fantasticly.

We definately asked the Autodesk guys if Toxik would do the things we do on a daily basis with Shake, and for the most part it was able to perform in a similar way, but some of the layout and gui navigation seemed limited compared to the simplicity of shake's windows and tabs. Rather than going to a sidebar and dragging that feature set into a window, and if you want to go back to the window before, you'd need to again go to the sidebar and drag over to the window again.

What else... well when you fileIn or load a sequence of images into Toxik, it creates tiled proxy versions of it on the fly, so the second it's into Toxik you can play the clip real time, this is awesome. Why tiled? Because depending on your level of zoom in the viewer window it loads up the appropriate proxy tiles for that image, nice.

The tracking in Toxik worked faster than realtime, because of it's slick proxy system.

It has great 3d compositing features (one huge area shake lacks) that on top of a full 3d environment based on 3dsmax, it allows for control and use of multiple streams inside .exr and .rpf formats to manipulate and control images with normals, materials, zdepth, spec, refl, etc.

Also, the entire package and everything that runs inside it is 32bit float high dynamic range imagery-friendly! Another cool thing is that the core of the program has been built, and this allows for feature sets to be added for Toxik around 4 times a year. This means no waiting for a new (usually yearly) major sofware version of Toxik, they will be continually updating customers with the latest and greatest features.

Check out more about Toxik for yourself with the links below:

Features & Specifications
Toxik Full Features List

- Autodesk Toxik Brochure
(pdf - 279 Kb)

Posted by dschnee at 7:24 AM

June 7, 2006

New Charlotte's Web Trailer

I'm back on Charlotte's Web to finish up one of my shots that went back into animation. This is so the animator can make the shot 'more funny' :) that I'll slightly enhance with some 2d element work.

UPDATED! with the slick quicktime version, head on over to apple.com:
Apple - Trailers - Charlotte's Web

Onto the new trailer via Nick.com: (in crappy .swf format at the moment)

New Charlotte's Web Trailer

"The Rat Rules!"

Posted by dschnee at 10:43 PM

The Fantastic in Art and Fiction

This link was sent out at work today, and it relates to the previous post on The Omen quite well, :) (more below) but, The tile of the site explains it all, so just go ahead and check out all the fantastic artwork. (required viewing)

Sponsored by Cornell University's Institute for Digital Collections (CIDC) this image-bank provides a visual resource for the study of the Fantastic or of the supernatural in fiction and in art. While the site emerges from a comparative literature course on the topic at Skidmore College, it is also intended to open the door to consideration of some of the constant structures and patterns of fantastic literature, and the problems they raise. In this sense, the materials presented here may find a use among students in a variety of disciplines. (
more About the Site)

created by Cornell Institute for Digital Collections

materials from the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections

Cornell University Library

Visit The Fantastic in Art and Fiction

Posted by dschnee at 4:46 PM

June 6, 2006

The Omen - 6.6.06

Just got back from watching the The Omen (2006) remake of the (1976) The Omen, and since it was released today, tuesday, 6.6.06, my fiance thought it'd be great fun to catch it on this fancy numbered day.

It was pretty good, it made me jump a few times (but I'm a wuss, so...), got the juices flowing, had nice art direction, and it was great to see how the deaths of those around Damien played out.

I was taken back and excited to see that Mia Farrow from Rosemary's Baby played Mrs. Baylock, Damien's 'new' nanny in the film, great hommage to a classic!

Anyhow, a couple links below if your interested... ohh and there were some VFX in this flick, kudos to Warwick Campbell over @ Cinesite!
(they did the the cool as hell 'death scenes')

The Omen Returns: Heed the Devilish VFX
The Omen Trailer(s)
The Omen Official Site

Posted by dschnee at 10:10 PM

June 2, 2006

Bill Kovacs (1948-2006)

I was shocked and truly sad to hear about the loss of Bill Kovacs, who passed away over the Memorial Day weekend. Bill Kovacs was one of my instructors during my last year at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. He was a brilliant man full of excitement, excitement towards any advances in our industry, the latest technology, the physics, and artistry that allow us to create anything that we can imagine. His passsion for learning and new technologies was facinating and inspiring. Even though I only had him as an instructor for a short time, he has definatley made an impact on me, and part of who he was continues to inspire me today...

To learn about who Bill Kovacs was, please visit the sites below:

Dave Yost started a Wikipedia page for Bill. It is coming along
nicely, but perhaps you can contribute to it:

Also, there is a page where friends are leaving tributes:

please continue reading below about Bill Kovacs...

Wavefront founder dies at 56 (PDF)

Bill was a gentle and generous soul. He graced all of us with his
insights, his humor and his own unique genius, His legacy includes 3
wonderful children and an enduring contribution to the world of computer
graphics. His friendship will be missed by us all. He touched my heart
and helped me become a better person for it. I am saddened by my loss,
but like many, I choose to celebrate Bill's life and hope you will join
me and his family this Sunday.

With abiding respect,

Larry Barels


Wavefront founder dies at age 56

BILL KOVACS: 1949-2006
June 2, 2006 12:00 AM

Bill Kovacs, a pioneer in computer animation who cofounded the software company Wavefront Technologies in
Santa Barbara in the early 1980s and later won an Oscar for science and engineering contributions to motion
pictures, has died. He was 56.

Mr. Kovacs, formerly of Santa Barbara, was found Tuesday following a stroke brought on by a cerebral
hemorrhage suffered in his sleep at his home in Camarillo. His legacy graces films from "Tron" to "Jurassic Park" and "Toy Story," and the thousands of television shows and advertisements that today rely on computer-generated imagery. "He was a brilliant man, I mean totally creative, the absent-minded professor type, a lot of brain power," said his longtime domestic partner, Kathy Salyer.

"His love of learning and exploration was contagious." Larry Barels, who co-founded Wavefront with Mark Sylvester and Mr. Kovacs in 1984, said Thursday that Mr. Kovacs was the first person to realize and harness the power of computers to create theatrics.

Mr. Kovacs served as Wavefront's chief technical officer until leaving when the company went public in 1994.


When Bill Kovacs was earning degrees in architecture, first from Carnegie Mellon and then from Yale University's Graduate School, he couldn't have imagined that he would ultimately build something so revolutionary. Kovacs, among just a handful of technical visionaries, would help lay the foundations on which the modern medium of computer graphics would be built.

Kovacs began his career as an Associate with the architectural giant Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and collaborated on the firm's computer-aided design system. But Kovacs was also an art lover, and was drawn to the artists who were using computers in motion picture production. Working first at the seminal Hollywood studio Robert Abel & Associates, and later at his own company Wavefront Technologies, Kovacs led the technical teams that produced scores of award-winning productions and software products. These images profoundly changed how moving pictures were made, and Kovacs was recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with a Technical Achievement Award in 1998. The reverberations from these breakthroughs continue to this day. Wavefront Technologies, after being sold to computer manufacturer SGI for 138 million dollars, was merged with Alias Research and the eventual result has been software that makes the majority of digital effects in modern movies.

Kovacs has personally experienced all facets of the CG industry, having earned Clio Awards for his television commercial work as well as creating images for the landmark computer-generated movie "Tron." He has been a consultant to game manufacturer Electronic Arts and the Hollywood digital production company RezN8, and is also a founding partner of the software company Instant Effects. Kovacs also shares his knowledge with students, and he's lectured at UCLA in Los Angeles and at San Francisco's Academy of Art College, where he's served on the Presidential Advisory Board. As a key player in the invention of computer graphics, Bill Kovacs enjoys a reputation of the first rank.

Posted by dschnee at 9:17 PM

Curse the Dead Man's Chest!

It's now official, as of yesterday(6/1), Our work on Pirates of the Caribbean 2:Dead Man's Chest is over! Which means it's time for some damn good rum so that we may forget that curse of a show... :)

Pirates 2 New Tease'aaarrrrr! 3

In related pirates 2 news:
VFXWorld's article Water, Water, Everywhere... 'discussing what ILM + Stanford did with fluid sims. GEEK OUT Below:

ILM & Stanford Advance Hybrid Fluid Sim
Halfway around the world, another team of researchers has been developing its own fluid simulation process for use on large fluid motion projects such as Poseidon and Dead Man’s Chest, this summer’s sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean. There are several differences between the two systems. Unlike Flowline, this particular system doesn’t have a name. Also, it is a result of collaboration between researchers at Stanford University’s computer science department and ILM rather than the efforts of a single company. Finally, it is not a stand-alone system that can be integrated with other 3D software such as Maya or 3ds Max.

Ron Fedkiw, a professor of computer science at Stanford, who splits his time between his research lab in Palo Alto and ILM in San Francisco, explains: “We put together a hybrid thing here through ILM’s proprietary Zeno pipeline. We haven’t named it anything. It’s got three pieces basically. There’s a PhysBAM engine at Stanford (University), which is like a core math engine. It stands for Physics Based Modeling. There’s a Zeno interface, which is like an equivalent to Maya that the artists use. And we connected those two together with an engine that was created by the R&D group here at ILM.”

A little more than a year ago, Fedkiw and his researchers still had not figured out a way to improve upon the methods used to simulate oceanic effects in Perfect Storm. Then came the breakthrough. “It used to be that you had two choices for fluid action,” suggests Fedkiw. “One was the way they did Perfect Storm. Because you could use a lot of computers or multi-processors but you had to use inferior algorythms. The algorithms, themselves, weren’t the favorite algorithms. The other way of doing it was the way I had done it in the past was to use the best possible algorithms, but you could only use a single processor. So, for years it has been this battle. Use one processor and these really nifty algorithms to give you really good results. Or use a whole font of processors and the algorithms are much more crude. And in the end, they’re pretty much even. The big breakthrough this year is that we figured out a way of how to take those nifty algorithms, the best possible ones, and actually get them into multiple processors. So what has changed is that we can run with like 20 or 30 processors using the real standout algorithms that up to now could only run on one.”
Cliff Plumer, Lucasfilm cto, likes the time saving efficiency of this new method. “The process that Ron was talking about that we had for Poseidon was much more integrated in comparison to what we had done in the past on things like Perfect Storm, where there were a lot more layers and elements that went into those shots from the early fluid dynamics stuff that we did years ago to particles to even live-action elements. So, now we’re able to create more interaction between the fluids, or in this case the water, and the ship than the way we did in the past.”

All those layers and elements had to first be created and then composited together, but not so with Poseidon, as Fedkiw notes, “The whole ship is CG. A big chunk of the ocean is CG, and we do it all with one integrated simulation as opposed to layering all the elements...”
Because the entire system is self-contained in-house, the artists at ILM had access to the source for Poseidon and Dead Man’s Chest. “We can do whatever we want with it,” states Fedkiw. “We’re not handcuffed like you would be with something like a Maya. We’re able to create an environment for the artist, where they can actually set up multiple processors. So, it’s just like doing something in say Maya except that it’s a little more customized. I can set up a fluid shot, pick a domain, pick a chunk of the ocean to simulate, bring in your ship and different elements and bodies, life boats or whatever you want to interact with the simulation, and ours places all that and then picks a number of processors to run it on.”

“Plus there are more controls on the simulation now,” notes Plumer. “Getting back to something like Perfect Storm, your basic run on simulation back then could take days. It would be a tough process to integrate because whatever the result of the simulation was if it worked, great! If it didn’t, you were back to the drawing board. So there was a lot more trial and error back then. But now we’ve built more controls into the system so we can get a quicker response and integrate it much quicker.”
Fedkiw agrees. “Using this (Zeno) interface, you can introduce particle controls, Soft Body and Rigid Body controls, and all kinds of things into the fluid itself. You can run lower resolution simulations first and see how they look and then upgrade them and run them overnight afterward.”

A simulation that they can now set up and run overnight, as little as a year ago, would’ve taken them nine or 10 months on a single processor to complete. Fedkiw says that the best way to describe this Zeno interface is to imagine “Maya on steroids.”

Through the Zeno interface, Fedkiw hopes to develop fluids to the point where many more artists can use them. “Poseidon was a large show with lots and lots of water shots all the way through it. So we had to train a whole lot of people to use it. I think on Perfect Storm, there were one or possibly two people that could use the software. Even on Terminator 3, we had three or four people that could run a fluid shot for it. But now there are lots of people who can do that. That’s because of the way the Zeno interface works. We’re able to customize it.”

Posted by dschnee at 2:43 PM

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Posted by dschnee at 9:15 AM

June 1, 2006

2006 West Coast Open Beatbox Battle

A very talented friend of mine, Mike 'eachbox' Tinoco will be performing his hypnotic saucy vocal beatsBox'ing during the festivities below, if your in the Bay Area and have yet to experience a Vowel Movement show, here is your chance!

As part of The Vowel Movement's 3rd Anniversary, we are proud to present:

A weekend festival of beatboxing...

Featuring grammy-award winning beatboxer Scratch from The Roots!

Friday, June 9 - Berkeley
Saturday, June 10 - San Francisco

Please note that there will not be a Tuesday show in June.

Friday, June 9 - 2006 West Coast Open Beatbox Battle

Witness the Bay Area's best beatboxers go head-to-head for cash & gear prizes! If you're a beatboxer that is interested in entering the battle, please email us for information on how to participate.

Featuring: The West Coast's best beatboxers!

With Exhibitions by: Kid Beyond, The Genie, Tim Barsky, The Kid (NYC), and more!

1317 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 525-5099

Friday, June 9th | 9:00PM

$10 in advance | $12 at door

All ages

Saturday, June 10 - The Beat Movement feat. Scratch

This show will undoubtedly be the Vowel Movement's biggest at their residency, Studio Z. With powerful performances by The Vowel Movement's biggest acts, nothing more could top it off but to have Scratch of the legendary Roots crew in the house. Come party & celebrate with us to some phat beats!

Featuring performances by: Scratch, Kid Beyond, Eachbox, Tim Barsky, Infinite, Soulati, Syzygy, Jaw Prohpetic, Butterscotch, Cornbread, Monkstilo, Constant Change, The Kid (NYC), Baysic Project (Bboy/Bgirl Dance Company) and more!

Studio Z
314 11th Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 252-7100

Saturday, June 10th | 9:00PM

$13 in advance | $15 at door

Ages 21+ only

To purchase advanced tickets, please click here.

Wait, so what is The Vowel Movement?

Beatboxing is the art of making rhythms, grooves and sound effects using the human voice. This "fifth element of hip hop" originated in the early 80's — on street corners, in stairwells, schoolyards, and small clubs — and has been underground for years. Now, in the same way that DJ'ing and turntablism swept the world in the 90's, beatboxing is exploding.

The Vowel Movement was created to support the art of beatboxing in the Bay Area and beyond. Each month, The Vowel Movement features some of the best beatboxers in the Bay Area; sets up collaborations with instrumentalists, vocalists, poets, breakdancers, and other performers; and provides an open mike for new talent.

That's the Vowel Movement. We've got beatboxers of all kinds: black heads, white heads, Asian heads, Hispanic heads, male heads, female heads, high-school heads, Gen X, Y, & Z heads. And the audiences are as diverse as the performers.

You never know who'll drop by — legendary rappers like Black Sheep and P.E.A.C.E. from Freestyle Fellowship, beatbox theatre from the Felonious crew, national talent like Chicago's Yuri Lane and NYC's Kid Lucky.

The Movement is growing. Ignore it at your unfunky peril.

Posted by dschnee at 8:38 AM