SEPTEMBER 5, 2001
broadcast and Web media: then and now
In the summer
of 2000 I was hired by David E. Kelley Productions to produce character
animations for the Fox series Boston Public. The animations
would be photographed practically while playing back on a computer
screen as part of a fictitious Web site. Read
24 , 2001
Race's Wild Titles
questions with Wild Brain's Julia Tortolani and Eric Schweickert
task is to create an opening title sequence for the latest Jerry Zucker
comedy, Rat Race. The film features, among other things, a
massive ensemble cast of name-brand actors, and you need to keep the
audience entertained as all of their credits parade across the screen
for a whopping three minutes and 15 seconds. That's not a title sequence;
it's a short film. Oh, you're also on a tight deadline with a limited
8 , 2001
The State of 3D Animation
talk with 3D industry professionals
the last 15 months the animation industry has seen quite a few changes
take place. To some, the industry has gone from phenomenal growth to
decline, while others insist that everything is just fine. In one day
a company may be hiring like mad, while another is laying off talent
because work has left the country for parts unknown. Despite continued
creation and distribution of animated and effect laden features, commercials,
television programs, and Internet shorts, the actual state of the Industry
is still up in the air. Read
25 , 2001
Ambiguously Mac Studio
conversation with animator J.J. Sedelmaier
there's a consumer out there who doesn't know J.J. Sedelmaier, it's
one who doesn't watch a whole lot of television. His animation studio,
J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, White Plains, N.Y., is famous for its work
on Saturday Night Live's Saturday TV Funhouse, with such
animated shorts as "The Ambiguously Gay Duo," "The X Presidents" and
"Fun with Real Audio." The company has animated Beavis & Butthead,
the pilot of Comedy Central's TV Funhouse, a recent series of
interstitials for Cartoon Network called "Captain Linger" and a soon
to be released pilot for the same network called Harvey Birdman,
Attorney at Law. Oh yeah, they've done some commercials too.
17 , 2001
on the Mac
questions with Kaydara FiLMBOX Product Manager Sam Nelson
month Kaydara will bring its FiLMBOX line of products to the Mac OS
X platform. Previously available for SGI Irix, Red Hat Linux and Windows
NT, FiLMBOX is a suite of tools that provide a hub for creative production.
It's a real-time 3D content authoring and delivery tool, complete with
a character engine and animation tools. It integrates character animation,
live motion capture, camera tracking and audio and video tools in a
single, unified authoring environment. And, as a little added bonus,
it lets you commingle all of these elements in real time. Read
21 , 2001
on the Mac
questions with Orphmedia President and TFN Digital Producer Peter Orphanos
now, many of you have heard about or seen TFN
Digital, a twice-monthly Web broadcast that covers news about the
Star Wars universe and carries features about those who make
things happen in said universe. For Star Wars fans, it's a must-see.
For video professionals, it stands out as an example of how to use streaming
media (QuickTime and Windows Media) not just to deliver entertainment,
but to showcase the services your production company offers. Read
Feature: First Look: Media 100 Audio:Box
We've had the chance to see AppleScript
and the Mac once again taken to new levels of power and sophistication.
Two days ago I and Paulo de Andrade of Digital Post Production headed
up to Burbank to see Media 100's new facility. While we were there,
Media 100's Jim Baker and Mike Savello took the opportunity to show
off their new Audio:Box product. We just happened to have a Sony DSR-PD150
and a sun gun handy (as well as a very heavy tripod I just happen to
carry around), so we got some footage of the product, as well as an
interview with Baker talking about the new system.
Mac's Macworld Best of Show Awards
This year's Macworld Expo in San Francisco saw a number of innovative,
new products for creative professionals, ranging from animation packages
to video hardware to ... well, everything. Literally. This was probably
the most pro-oriented Macworld in history, and no segment of the market
was excluded. Audio, video, print and the Web were all represented by
vendors showing off their latest goods.
Mac's Macworld Travelogue: The day to day exploits of a lone Mac psychofanatic
and his peecee-using companion
I thought it would be a good idea to take a break from straight product
news to put a little editorial spin on the events of the Macworld Expo
going on all this week in San Francisco. I also thought it might be
nice to document the day to day activities and intimate (if inane) thoughts
of me and my cohort, Paolo de Andrade, during this little adventure.
The Best of Seybold
This year's Seybold convention in San Francisco proved to be one of the more enjoyable
Web expos I've attended. Which is odd, of course, seeing as its a publishing show.
Nevertheless, the topic on the lips of anyone who could rally a small crowd to
his or her booth was the repurposing of content for the coming convergencewhatever
Future of Poser
when MetaCreations announced it would be selling off all of its software in favor
of pursuing other interests, the future of a number of its programs was, at best,
in doubt. Some of these were snatched up and (presumably) saved by large software
developers. Some will, undoubtedly, be stripped for their technology and merged
into other applications. Some will just be forgotten.
Hog: Gearing Up Your PowerBook for Serious Road Work
year's G3 was Apple's first truly muscular portable, and truly portable muscular
machine, several pounds lighter than its less powerful predecessors and able to
hold its own against nearly any "road warrior" class machine on any
the Revolution: Unparalleled power to customize, integrate and automate
One of the key components of the Industrial Revolution is the automation
of repetitive tasks. The tasks automated are primarily related to physical
labor, and, as far as that goes, you'd have to admit that the Industrial
Revolution has actually been pretty revolutionary.
Bitstream Looks for a Few Good Font Designers
Bitstream announced it's launching a new program to seek out font designs from
new and established designers. The program, called "New Font Collection,"
is an effort to expand the company's library of 1,400 PostScript, TrueType and
OpenType fonts. Bitstream says it's looking for text and display typefaces, as
well as extended sets.
Future of FormZ: Seven Questions with Chris Yessios
Last month Autodessys, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, announced
a major change in in the way it will market FormZ, the company's flagship
product and the modeler that helped make desktop 3D a commercial reality back
at the time of its launch in 1991. Now, of course, rendering applications ship
with increasingly powerful modelers of their own, all wrapped up in a tight, integrated
package. On the other hand, FormZ continues to challenge other developers
with innovative new features that keep the program at the vanguard of modeling
and making FormZ an integral part of many a desktop artist's repertoire
Check Studios Taps Macs for Tricky Titan AE Sequence
Its the year 3028 and Earth has been destroyed. The only key to
saving the human race is held in a legendary spacecraft called The Titan.
Whats a superhero to do? Well our main man, Cale, who was precocious
enough to have escaped Earths destruction at the age of five,
sets out to find the Titan, of course, and, along the way, has to learn
to drive a spacecraft to get around town.
on the Mac: The Making of a Cult
You're different. You don't fit in. Everyone around you seems ... alien.
The world to you seems grotesque, pasty and puritan. Something isn't
right, and you're pretty sure there's a conspiracy behind it all. You
don't have faith in much, but you are certain that there must be some
higher power that will reach His big fist down from the heavens and
crush this filthy world as you're swept to safety aboard flying saucers
sent by an intergalactic savior who smokes a pipe.
Up with the Joneses Motorola and Apple look to enhanced G4-II, 64-bit G5 chips
At last fall's Microprocessor Forum, Motorola outlined the prospective
roadmap for their PowerPC line. There were two main revelations associated
with this announcement: first, a new 64-bit processor, the PowerPC 7500
or G5, would be forthcoming sometime in 2001; and second the current
PowerPC 7400 or G4 would be revamped to create a second generation G4
with a new microarchitecture and adjusted clock speeds to bring it more
in line with the parallel speed jumps of the Intel/AMD development race.
on the Run: Macs help M.A.D. race the clock for ski spots
PROFILE: She's on the slopes Sunday by 8:30 a.m., shooting footage of
skiers and collecting sound bites for the next 30-second spot promoting
skiing in Vermont. Out of there by 1 p.m., she heads back to the shop
and starts digitizing the betacam SP footage while she makes the coffee.
It's the start of another weekly cycle for Marion Dane of M.A.D. Productions,
a Vermont-based production house that's started a series of weekly spots
for the Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing.
Stories: A Marriage of Inconvenience: How an animated man and an animatronic woman
learned to live together in sync
The project sounded straightforward enough when Scott Simmons signed
onto it in late September 1997. The California Science Center in Los
Angeles needed a 3D set with various animations composited into it for
an exhibit called BodyWorks that shows how the human body works. But
Simmons, Digital Effects Supervisor at Live Wire Productions in Rancho
Palos Verdes, Calif., soon realized this project would be a lot tougher
than he anticipated.
use Adobe After Effects to create the opening title sequence for "The Talented
Nominated for five Golden Globe awards and considered an Oscar contender
for Best Picture, current box office hit The Talented Mr. Ripley features
a critically acclaimed director/screenwriter (Anthony Minghella of The
English Patient fame), a stellar cast of young stars (Matt Damon, Gwyneth
Paltrow, and Jude Law), sumptuous locations (New York and several cities
in Italy)and one of the longest opening title sequences (eight
minutes, or 11,800 frames) to be animated and composited entirely on
a desktop computer, using After Effects 4.1.
Film Causing The Buzzzzzzz
Take two out of your mind, fun loving and highly professional men who
are tired of working their asses off in multimedia waiting for their
big break to direct feature films, mix it with a great script (that
they wrote), lots of talent (Mark Snow, John A. Alonzo, to name a few)
and a whole lotta SWEAT, determination and calling in favorswhat
do you get? A 20-minute directorial/producing debut with a production
(donated) budget of a quarter of a million dollars called The Dancing
Time: Fugitive Uses Commotion to Create a Stir
a boutique motion graphic design and effects studio. Company principles
Jay Torres and award-winning Designer Shimooi, bring a spirit of collaboration
and love of the creative process to every project. Fugitive
produced "13 Hour Sale" a commercial for Dayton Hudson/Marshall Fields,
featuring actors moving about at frenzied paces in a busy intersection.The
quirky spot features some of the same actors in the same frame two and
three times moving in different directions with many subtle hidden elements
that allow the audience to see something new with each repeat viewing
of the spot.
Levels of Creativity: Nickelodeon Animation Studios New York Showcases
the Power of Desktop Animation
looking for jobs would normally think of heading for "Tinseltown," but
the opening of Nickelodeon Animation Studios New York this month is
changing all that. The new studios are at the forefront of technology
and technique, using 100 percent desktop digital production technologies
and pioneering a new style of animation, storybook animation. This new
style combines digital images and drawings created or manipulated using
Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop with live action footage of actors,
composited together using Adobe After Effects. With the launch this
month, Nickelodeon has become the largest producer of animation on the
East Coast-and all of the animation is created using Adobe software
on the desktop.
Questions with Van Ling
Van spearheaded the use of Macintosh systems for storyboard processing
and visual effects design on writer/director James Cameron's feature
film The Abyss. In addition to serving as Cameron's technical researcher
and creative liaison for all aspects of production on the film, he played
a significant role in the design and creation of the visual effects,
and subsequently served as visual effects coordinator and creative supervisor
on "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."
Union: edgeX and Bakery Digital Offer State-of-the-Art Motion Graphics
and Audio Production Under One Roof
that one stop shop? A place to go where audio meets visual? Well, look
no more. Motion design firm edgeX studio and music recording/sound post
production house Bakery Digital Sound & Vision have melded their efforts
to bring these resources to you all under one roof.
AURA Group: E-CD Specialists
The Aura is a group of new media professionals that work with fortune
500 companies to bring them new marketing media for web and interactives.
Among flash packed CD-sized business cards and web positioning, Aura
specializes in E-CD/CD-EXTRA. It is almost the only developer in the
Southern California area to do Enhanced CDs (the combination of audio
CDs and multimedia content). They have found that because of the changing
formats for E-CDs, many companies do not develop for the CD format anymore.
Aura gets more referrals from other developers because they cannot develop
that format. I asked co-founders Joe Stammen and David Bailey a few
questions about what makes them tick?
In the Mix
few years ago I received a phone call from Messner Management about
4 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on a Friday. They were in need of a music
video of "Sara B" for a fund-raising presentation and had a very small
budget. In the past I had bad experiences working on projects with very
little or no budget, but this guy found a weakness of mine and convinced
me to produce the digital music video. The only challenge or should
I say "challenges" were to write the script, shoot the video and edit
it within 72 hours in Chicago, IL. I live in Southern California and
hadn't heard the song.
Communication is the Key
six months ago, I was given the project of creating a 15 minute events
of the 20th century video for the year end meeting for Budweiser. The
specifics of the layout were the following: three days to complete the
project, no footage to work with - I had previously ordered footage
for such a task but my company had returned it without my knowledge
(obviously upsetting the supplier) - and I had to convince our lighting
director to build a pyro and light show to accompany the video (we work
for a large night club with live entertainment so he could not program
the show until after 1 am).