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August 2009
Focus Enhancements Embraces Compact Flash
Focus Enhancements Inc. has announced the latest addition to its FS acquisition product family, the FS-H200 Portable Compact Flash Direct to Edit Recorder.
Cooke Reintroduces Panchros
Cooke Optics Ltd. has announced the rebirth of the Panchro By Cooke lens. The PL-mount lens for 35mm film and digital production is a redesign of the original Cooke Panchro lenses.
Carl Zeiss Announces Compact Primes
Carl Zeiss has introduced the Compact Primes series of cine lenses.
Lightcraft Technology Launches Previzion
Lightcraft Technology has introduced the Previzion Portable and Airtrack systems, which allow users to preview and manipulate complicated visual-effects shots on set while recording accurate tracking data for post.
Mo-Sys Brings Visualization with 3DI
Mo-Sys has introduced the 3D Inserter, or 3DI, a system designed to align a computer-generated environment with live-action photography on set and in real time, as the cameras roll.
Rogue Element Films Moves into Elstree Studios
Rogue Element Films, a dataworkflow pioneer and independent European rental house, has announced a joint venture with London’s Elstree Studios to unveil the UK’s first dedicated greenscreen studio, complete with comprehensive digital production and post pipelines.
GenArts Partners with Lucasfilm
GenArts Inc., a provider of specialized digital visual-effects plug-in software for the film and television industries, has announced an agreement that broadens its long-standing relationship with film, entertainment and visual-effects company Lucasfilm.
The Foundry Announces Nuke 5.2, Management Buyout
Visual-effects software developer The Foundry has announced the release of Nuke 5.2.
Kodak, da Vinci Collaborate on Quality
Kodak has announced a collaboration with da Vinci Systems, LLC, to bring image quality enhancement algorithms, used to modulate the texture and sharpness of images in postproduction, to the marketplace.
Time Marches on with HBO
HBO Archives, which launched in 2002, has announced that complete episodes from The March of Time newsreel and documentary series are now available for online viewing.
The Foundry Ignites FurnaceCore Online
Visual-effects software developer The Foundry has introduced the FurnaceCore plug-in set.
Frantic Films Makes Deadline Online
Frantic Films Software, the R&D division of Frantic Films VFX, has announced the launch of Deadline 3.1, the company’s hassle-free administration and rendering toolkit for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX-based render farms.
Eyeon Software Releases Fusion 6.0 Online
Eyeon Software Inc. has announced that the Fusion 6.0 node-based compositing application is now available as an Open Release Candidate.
Eyeon Software Intros Generation 1.1 Online
Eyeon Software Inc. has unveiled Generation 1.1, a new class of software designed to fill a gap in postproduction and visual-effects workflows by offering a platform for artist collaboration and a visual canvas for efficient shot management.
HRA Launches Redboard Storyboarding Technology Online
Hibbert Ralph Animation (HRA) has unveiled Redboard, a software-based system that enhances existing CG workflows by adding and integrating the skills of the traditional storyboard artist
Lightworks Unleashes Alacrity II  Online
Lightworks UK Ltd. has released two new Alacrity II models with Software Version 1.3, featuring improved performance and native editing for many formats.
New Resolve from da Vinci Online
Da Vinci Systems, LLC has announced that its Resolve version 6.2 software for R-series color-grading systems for the first time enables Resolve to color grade native digital motion-picture files — including de-bayered Red RAW files — and to grade between two remote systems.
Daz 3D Updates Studio Online
Providing artists with greater opportunity for advanced 3-D content creation, Daz 3D has announced a new free version of its celebrated 3-D art and animation package, Daz Studio 3, as well as the debut of its enhanced, professional-quality toolset, Daz Studio 3 Advanced.
Sony Creative Software Bets on Vegas Pro 9 Online
Sony Creative Software Inc. has released Vegas Pro 9, the latest version of its award-winning nonlinear HD video and audio editing application.
Contour Design Enhances Vegas Pro 9 Online
Contour Design has announced that its updated ShuttlePro V.2, ShuttlePro and ShuttleXpress settings are included with Sony Creative Software’s Vegas Pro 9 release.
Luxology Launches modo 401 Online
Luxology LLC has announced the immediate availability of its latest 3-D content-creation software, modo 401.
Tweak Software Upgrades RV Online
Tweak Software has released RV 3.6, the latest version of its image and sequence viewer for animation and visual effects. New features include 2K uncompressed playback from disk, remote sync, HDR LUTs and a Package System for RV scripts and other extensions.
Kickstand Settles into Brooklyn, Unveils StretchMesh 1.5 Online
Kickstand LLC, a character animation and research development studio, has opened its doors in Brooklyn, New York.
Autodesk Offers Flare Online
Autodesk has announced the 2010 releases of Flame and Inferno software for visual-effects systems, as well as the launch of the Autodesk Flare software, a new Flame and Inferno creative companion.

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Focus Enhancements Embraces Compact Flash

Focus Enhancements Inc. has announced the latest addition to its FS acquisition product family, the FS-H200 Portable Compact Flash Direct to Edit Recorder. The FS-H200 is the first of Focus Enhancements’ portable DTE recorders to feature removable solid-state media, allowing for easy swap-out of industry-standard Compact Flash (CF) cards. Once recorded, user-supplied CF cards can be easily mounted to both Windows and Mac systems either via USB 2.0 directly from the FS-H200 or via standard memory-card readers. Designed for use in the most extreme conditions, the FS-H200 offers outstanding performance even in high temperatures (up to 122ºF), high altitudes and extreme shock conditions.

“We have been frequently asked by our customers for an acquisition device that provided the DTE workflow they rely on together with the many advantages of solid-state media,” says Matt McEwen, director of product management for Focus Enhancements. “We believe Compact Flash has now reached the required capacities, performance and low-cost that our customers are demanding to make this a viable choice for our award-winning FS recorder family.”

Highlights of the FS-H200 include support of popular DTE formats, such as QuickTime and M2T for HDV, and RawDV, AVI Type 1, AVI Type 2, Matrox AVI and Canopus AVI for DV; a side-located removable CF slot that accepts standard Type 1 266x CF cards, which are currently available up to 32GB, providing over 2.5 hours of 720p or 2.2 hours of 1080i HDV on a single card; a polymer dust cover for shock and moisture protection; 6-pin FireWire interface to DV or HDV cameras; fast USB 2.0 interface to Mac- or Windows-based NLE systems; support for large file sizes with UDF disk format; an ultra-compact design that weighs only 12 ounces and features silent, fanless operation; a color, backlit LCD for menu navigation and status; a backlit scroll wheel for menu navigation; a removable 3-hour Li-Ion battery pack; and 12-volt power input and supplied AC adaptor.

The FS-H200 is available through the Focus Enhancements worldwide dealer and distributor network for a suggested price of $1,195.

contact info: 
www.focusinfo.com
Cooke Reintroduces Panchros

Cooke Optics Ltd. has announced the rebirth of the Panchro By Cooke lens. The PL-mount lens for 35mm film and digital production is a redesign of the original Cooke Panchro lenses.

Designed by the same team that produces Cooke S4/i lenses, Panchro By Cooke lenses are calibrated and color-matched to existing Cooke lenses and incorporate Cooke’s /i technology. At T2.8, the new Panchro offers a small, lightweight and affordable choice when a faster lens is not crucial or when shooting in difficult situations such as crash scenes or other effects shots. The price point also brings the benefits of Cooke lenses to independent filmmakers, film students and documentary makers, while the reduced size and weight and true focal-length markings make Panchros ideal for stereoscopic productions.

“We are excited to bring Panchro By Cooke back to the film industry,” says Les Zellan, chairman of Cooke Optics. “With the credibility of film history and over 100 years of development behind it, the Panchro By Cooke lens is a serious yet affordable piece of equipment for professional filmmakers.” The six Panchro By Cooke prime lenses — 18, 25, 32, 50, 72 and 100mm — will be available to purchase individually or as a set at the end of 2009.

contact info:  
www.cookeoptics.com
Carl Zeiss Announces Compact Primes

Carl Zeiss has introduced the Compact Primes series of cine lenses. Designed to work with all PL-mount film and digital cine cameras, the color-matched lenses offer uncompromising quality, ergonomics and ruggedness to moviemakers operating under tight budget constraints; the series comprises seven focal lengths: 18mm/T3.6, 21mm/T2.9, 25mm/T2.9, 28mm/T2.1, 35mm/T2.1, 50mm/T1.5 and 85mm/T1.5.

The Compact Primes’ modern design results in high resolution, rich contrast and low distortion, even in the wide-angle range, and the lenses cover a full-frame, 24mm x 36mm sensor size, making them ideally suited for future digital cinema cameras incorporating this larger sensor. The small, lightweight lenses are excellent for handheld and Steadicam setups, and all seven lenses feature the same barrel dimensions, with standard focus and iris positions. Additionally, the 14-blade iris has rounded edges that produce perfectly circular, organic-looking, out-of-focus highlights, while the Carl Zeiss T* multilayer anti-reflective coating reduces flares and provides superior image contrast.

Carl Zeiss has also introduced a simplified pricing structure for the Compact Prime lenses: each lens may be purchased individually, in a four-lens custom set or in a full seven-lens set. Additionally, Zeiss will sell the Compact Primes through a network of professional cine dealers; representing the lenses in the United States are Band Pro, Abel Cine Tech, Duclos Lenses, ZGC and Technological Cine Video. The Compact Primes will also be offered as part of a bundle package with the 35mm adapters available from Redrock Micro, Letus Corporation and Cinevate.

contact info:  
www.zeiss.com
Lightcraft Technology Launches Previzion

Lightcraft Technology has introduced the Previzion Portable and Airtrack systems, which allow users to preview and manipulate complicated visual-effects shots on set while recording accurate tracking data for post.

The Previzion Portable is an affordable, integrated visual-effects pipeline packaged in a suitcase, providing everything necessary to create sophisticated blue- and greenscreen visual-effects shots in real time. The system includes keying, color-correction, real-time rendering of video and 3-D elements, accurate camera and lens tracking, compositing, and camera-motion recording. Previzion integrates seamlessly into existing HD production pipelines and is based on programmable hardware for rapid upgrades.

The Airtrack module is a production-level precision rotary-tracking system that accurately measures handheld tracking anywhere, on set or on location. Airtrack steadily tracks rotary motion in real time without any external reference point, and can be combined with the Intersense IS1200 for a complete, portable, high-precision 6DOF tracking solution.

Together, the Previzion Portable and Airtrack provide an integrated, easy-to-operate camera-tracking and visual-effects preview system, giving creative camera control to directors and cinematographers while recording complete time code-synchronized camera- and lens-motion data for post.

Previzion has been used in a wide range of productions, including Knight Rider, General Hospital, All My Children and live events.

contact info:

 
www.lightcrafttech.com
Mo-Sys Brings Visualization with 3DI

Mo-Sys has introduced the 3D Inserter, or 3DI, a system designed to align a computer-generated environment with live-action photography on set and in real time, as the cameras roll.

The Mo-Sys 3DI system grants filmmakers working with green- and bluescreen effects full creative control while filming. The CG environments to be used in a shot are loaded prior to filming, and via monitors on set, the cast and crew can see the virtual set as performances are recorded. Once each shot is successfully completed, the time-coded pre-comp is sent for editing and motion metadata is sent for postproduction.

With 3DI, directors and cinematographers can tailor the physical elements of a green- or bluescreen shoot to perfectly align with the virtual environment, and the pre-comped data eliminates the time-consuming process of manually tracking the virtual camera data by the visual-effects crew. Rounding out the 3DI system, Mo-Sys offers lens encoders and encoded heads, which can be used in conjunction with dolly, pedestal and crane supports. For lower budgets, Mo-Sys also offers Motion Logger, which captures lens, camera and pedestal data without the previsualization element.

3D Inserter has been used on a number of projects, including the series Sanctuary.
contact info:  
www.mo-sys.com
Rogue Element Films Moves into Elstree Studios

Rogue Element Films, a dataworkflow pioneer and independent European rental house, has announced a joint venture with London’s Elstree Studios to unveil the UK’s first dedicated greenscreen studio, complete with comprehensive digital production and post pipelines.

Rogue Element’s digital cinematography services include rental equipment (such as the Sony F35, Silicon Imaging SI-2K, Grass Valley Viper and Arri D-21 cameras, as well as S.two uncompressed recording products), content delivery, full editorial and full color-dailies suites. Together with Elstree, the company will offer the motion-picture production community a fully digital, uncompressed data-acquisition workflow pipeline, enabling productions to capture high-quality images on the greenscreen stage and immediately access the content in the studio’s real-time grading and preview facilities — which boast 4K playback and 7.1 Dolby Digital sound — by way of a permanent 4:4:4 dual-link optical-fibre infrastructure.

“Our brand-new, state-of-the-art digital-film facility operation at Elstree works with productions to create packages with both logistic and financial benefits,” says Dan Mulligan, Rogue Element Films’ managing director. “They can expect quality service and cost savings.”

contact info:

 
www.rogueelementfilms.com
www.elstreestudios.co.uk
GenArts Partners with Lucasfilm

GenArts Inc., a provider of specialized digital visual-effects plug-in software for the film and television industries, has announced an agreement that broadens its long-standing relationship with film, entertainment and visual-effects company Lucasfilm. This relationship aims to advance the state of the art of technology for visual effects and compositing across a wide range of media.

The agreement comprises three elements. First, GenArts software will be deployed across compositing host systems at Lucasfilm companies,  including Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasfilm Animation and Lucasfilm Animation Singapore, making the software a standard component of the facilities’ compositing pipelines. Second, GenArts and Lucasfilm will explore further opportunities to expand the use of GenArts software across film, television, animation, games and other media. Third, GenArts and Lucasfilm will exchange ideas to advance the state of the art of specialized visual-effects technology across all Lucasfilm divisions.

“GenArts software delivers incredible consistency for the artists’ experience across a wide range of compositing systems,” says Richard Kerris, CTO of Lucasfilm. “This makes it the ideal choice to help Lucasfilm achieve our goal to deliver visual continuity across feature films, television, games and future entertainment mediums.”

Since its founding in 1996, GenArts software has contributed to the production of dozens of Lucasfilm projects, including the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean and Iron Man. “Over the last 12 years, GenArts has earned our reputation as an innovative technology provider as well as an industry thought leader,” says Katherine Hays, CEO of GenArts. “We’re pleased that Lucasfilm has affirmed that distinction by selecting GenArts software to be a standard component of their compositing vocabulary. We’re extremely excited about the opportunity to collaborate with some of the world’s leading compositing artists to better understand their needs as we continue to drive innovative tools into broader entertainment markets.”

contact info:  
www.genarts.com/lucasfilm
The Foundry Announces Nuke 5.2, Management Buyout

Visual-effects software developer The Foundry has announced the release of Nuke 5.2. This latest version of the company’s compositing application features new pre-comp tools, Python user-interface improvements, metadata support, and the ability to register multiple Viewer Process Gizmos for user-defined LUT processing, including new support for 3-D LUTs and OpenGL GLSL shaders.

Nuke 5.2 also enables video-monitor output through Blackmagic, AJA Kona and Xena, and a RedCode format reader that brings the full range of R3D picture information into a full

32-bit floating-point processing environment. Additionally, viewer playback performance has been significantly improved, with flexible disk caching and numerous bug fixes.

“We are continually working with and listening to our customers to ensure we understand their needs, wants and priorities,” says Richard Shackleton, Nuke product manager at The Foundry. “Nuke 5.2 and our future development program will deliver productivity and workflow gains as well as expand the production and creative tasks that can be tackled within the platform.”

Additionally, The Foundry has announced a management buyout led by Advent Venture Partners. Advent has backed The Foundry’s management team in a transaction that sees the sale of the shareholdings of the previous investor, Wyndcrest Holdings. Bill Collis, CEO of The Foundry, notes, “The Foundry is renowned for responding to user needs and developing useful tools that boost productivity. With the backing of our previous investors, we enjoyed substantial growth and are now in a strong position to take the business forward with our new partners. We are ready to realize our further ambitions for Nuke and the rest of our product portfolio, ensuring the company goes from strength to strength whilst maintaining strong customer focus.”

contact info:

 
www.thefoundry.co.uk
www.adventventures.com
Kodak, da Vinci Collaborate on Quality

Kodak has announced a collaboration with da Vinci Systems, LLC, to bring image quality enhancement algorithms, used to modulate the texture and sharpness of images in postproduction, to the marketplace. Da Vinci will integrate Kodak’s proprietary Motion Compensated Grain Management into its Resolve R-series Color Corrector, which allows grain levels to be manipulated in scanned film. Kodak’s Adaptive Sharpening Technology, which preserves the detail of the image throughout processing, will also be incorporated into the Resolve R-series Color Corrector.

“Da Vinci’s Resolve R-series Color Corrector provides an ideal platform in which to implement Kodak’s high-tech software algorithms,” says C.J. Johnson, product manager for Kodak’s Entertainment Imaging Division. “We’ve enhanced our algorithms to take advantage of the latest in GPU [graphic processing unit] processing capability. Da Vinci has the market reach to allow our mutual customers to benefit from the ability to efficiently enhance film images, including 16mm and archival footage.”

“Da Vinci’s R-series color-grading systems integrate the supercomputing power of Nvidia GPUs to process images in real time,” adds Mark Malinoski, da Vinci’s general manager. “With Kodak Motion Compensated Grain Management harnessing the CUDA computational processing power of the da Vinci R-series, colorists will reduce grain and sharpen images to extract all the richness and information of film after being scanned to digital images.”

The Kodak algorithms will be integrated into da Vinci Resolve software by the third quarter of 2009. Newer versions of the Resolve R-series Color Corrector already in use by da Vinci customers may be upgraded in upcoming software version releases.

contact info:

 
www.kodak.com/go/motion
Time Marches on with HBO

HBO Archives, which launched in 2002, has announced that complete episodes from The March of Time newsreel and documentary series are now available for online viewing.

The March of Time is the award-winning newsreel and documentary series produced by Time Inc. from 1935 to 1967. The series contains original footage shot in the 1930s through 1960s, with historic footage dating back to 1913. “We are thrilled to put portions of this vast, unique collection online for instant access to researchers,” says Barbara Thomas, senior vise president of HBO Sports. “Unlike the traditional news-style featurettes of the Hollywood newsreels, the long-form documentary style of The March of Time newsreels stood out from its competitors. This series is priceless for all of today’s storytellers.”

Since reintroducing The March of Time in 2007, HBO Archives has been busy re-cataloging, restoring and transferring the original 35mm films to high-definition video. HBO Archives has also been developing additional The March of Time productions. “The March of Time produced a number of feature-length films, and with the advent of the television era, produced entertainment and political programs specifically for TV,” adds Thomas. “The March of Time production teams were also commissioned to produce a wide variety of government and corporate-sponsored commercial films. HBO Archives is reaching beyond the traditional newsreel series to showcase the depth of these fascinating documentaries.”

The programs currently available online feature such diverse topics as the U.S. military, the birth of swing, business “girls” in the big city, Wall Street, the oil and tobacco industries, consumer fraud and classical ballet.

contact info:

 
www.hboarchives.com/marchoftime
The Foundry Ignites FurnaceCore

Visual-effects software developer The Foundry has introduced the FurnaceCore plug-in set.

Originally developed to enable visual-effects artists to increase productivity and help streamline labor-intensive post workflows, Furnace is now embedded in the workflow pipelines of major post facilities and has been used on such blockbusters as Watchmen, Spider-Man 3 and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The increasing popularity of Furnace within the visual-effects community has led to requests for access to a smaller set of Furnace’s tools, optimized for common tasks; in response to this need, The Foundry has launched FurnaceCore, which offers the 12 “core” plug-ins from the full toolset.

The FurnaceCore plug-ins have undergone many enhancements, resulting in much improved usability with simplified parameter layouts and new documentation. The release is accompanied by online video tutorials showing how to get the best out of the plug-ins.

FurnaceCore will be released in Q2 on Fusion at $1,500, and FurnaceCore for Nuke will be incorporated into NukeX when it is released in Q3; the plug-ins for both include Kronos, MatchGrade, MotionBlur, DeNoise, DeGrain, ReGrain, DeFlicker2, Steadiness, RigRemoval, Align, WireRemoval and VectorGenerator. A slightly different FurnaceCore set of eight plug-ins — Kronos, MatchGrade, MotionBlur, DeNoise, ReGrain, DeFlicker and DirtRemoval — is currently available on Final Cut Pro for $500.

Online Online Exclusive
contact info:  
www.thefoundry.co.uk
Frantic Films Makes Deadline

Frantic Films Software, the R&D division of Frantic Films VFX, has announced the launch of Deadline 3.1, the company’s hassle-free administration and rendering toolkit for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX-based render farms. The latest version provides support for MetaRender, the render package from Iridas that automates complex transcoding tasks in production pipelines and post facilities. MetaRender works across platforms and greatly simplifies the task of managing file conversions, including burning-in grading or LUTs and adding file information for viewing with digital dailies.

“Deadline has a reputation and history for being an ultra-reliable render farm management system,” says Patrick J. Palmer, COO of Iridas. “It’s great to have a front-end product like Deadline, which is so user-friendly, to act as the interface for MetaRender, and we are extremely pleased that Deadline 3.1 now provides integration with MetaRender’s automated transcoding capabilities.”

Deadline 3.1’s new features include Mac OSX support, with the Monitor, Job Monitor, Slave, Pulse, Launcher and command-line applications all ported to Mac OSX; improved Linux support, with the Monitor and Job Monitor ported to Linux with improved functionality and performance; the re-implementation of Statistics Gathering; and support for new render packages, including fryrender, MetaRender, Vue 7 and RedAlert.

Online Online Exclusive
contact info:  
www.software.franticfilms.com
www.iridas.com.
Eyeon Software Releases Fusion 6.0

Eyeon Software Inc. has announced that the Fusion 6.0 node-based compositing application is now available as an Open Release Candidate. Optimized for the latest processing and graphics card technologies, Fusion 6.0 offers significantly improved performance, along with a host of new features and capabilities, including full support for stereoscopic content, Region of Interest/Domain of Definition (RoI/DoD), interface refinements, expanded 2-D and 3-D toolsets, and more.

Significant portions of the code for Fusion 6.0 have been rewritten for the new generation of multi-core processors. A new GPU core for accelerated performance and GPU-based production-quality floating-point rendering has been added. “The new GPU renderer in Fusion 6 is all about power,” says Eric Westphal, Eyeon Software’s product manager for Europe. “Processing-intensive tasks such as depth-of-field and motion blurring are a breeze on the new graphic cards. This breaks rendering times down tremendously, giving artists a new level of creative freedom.”

The application also features a new color-matrix tool, expanded spline-smoothing tools and enhanced spline controls. Building on underlying GPU optimization, Fusion 6.0 offers support for concatenated 3-D LUTs and an all-new material system, which allows users to build their own custom shaders.

“Not only do we get new tools like ColorMatrix and CG shaders, we get dramatic changes to the underlying workflow that will save us thousands of clicks and hundreds of hours of rendering,” enthuses Chad Capeland, director of R&D at Anatomical Travelogue. “The unification of 2-D and 3-D views with a common UI and ViewShaders is impressive. It’s really exciting to see so much changing in the application. It even launches faster!”

Online Online Exclusive
contact info:  
www.eyeonline.com
Eyeon Software Intros Generation 1.1

Eyeon Software Inc. has unveiled Generation 1.1, a new class of software designed to fill a gap in postproduction and visual-effects workflows by offering a platform for artist collaboration and a visual canvas for efficient shot management. The new version of Generation adds new playback and image adjustment features, and extends the collaborative capabilities of the application.

Generation combines shot-tracking with version histories — an editing panel for working with EDLs and playlists — and playback functions for review. Every part of Generation is scriptable so facilities can integrate their in-house tools rather than having to modify their pipeline to make Generation fit. Grease pencil annotation and live chat tools simplify communications between artists, supervisors and clients, and preserve a record of all feedback and decisions.

Additional features in Generation 1.1 include support for 3-D LUTs; gain, gamma and lift controls, as well as brightness and contrast adjustment; red, green, blue and alpha channel views; flip and flop image mirroring; crop masks for playback, enabling artists to view content in different aspect ratios as it will display in different output formats; customizable context menu for scripts, which helps users organize and access scripts; improved functionality for EDL imports, including reassigning media and time-code offsets; XML conversion to retain full timeline and version history; and JPEG caching to allow more frames to be cached in RAM.

Online Online Exclusive
contact info:  
www.eyeonline.com
HRA Launches Redboard Storyboarding Technology

Hibbert Ralph Animation (HRA) has unveiled Redboard, a software-based system that enhances existing CG workflows by adding and integrating the skills of the traditional storyboard artist. Redboard improves communication and efficiency, and increases confidence for directors and producers, while significantly reducing costs by minimizing errors that might otherwise occur in later stages of the production.

Redboard software was developed over the last four years by HRA’s in-house team and has been used by HRTv (HRA’s television production arm) on the series Fireman Sam and Tractor Tom Series Two. The software is particularly suited to the production of animated television series, although it will also benefit CG film production. Jerry Hibbert, director of HRA, notes, “Our experience has been one of significantly fewer corrections, improved oversight and control, and a film that matched the original storyboard precisely — all achieved on budget and to schedule with ease.”

The system includes a proprietary 3-D storyboarding system that utilizes game-engine technology to allow the storyboard artist to preview sets and backgrounds in real time. Once the storyboard panel has been framed using the 3-D background, the storyboard artist can then add characters and props. When the scene is set, the artist can then draw “digitally” on top of the CG image to rapidly add more detail and expression. The software ensures that camera framing, scales and proportions are accurate at the storyboard stage, eliminating many problems later in the pipeline. All of this is achieved within an artist-friendly interface, making the system quick and easy to use.

Redboard is available immediately for CGI television series productions as a complete service package, including software licenses, installation, training and support. Licenses will run for the period of the project and prices will be calculated based on the length of the project. Film packages are also available upon request.

Online Online Exclusive
contact info:  
www.redboard.tv
www.hibbertralph.com
Lightworks Unleashes Alacrity II

Lightworks UK Ltd. has released two new Alacrity II models with Software Version 1.3, featuring improved performance and native editing for many formats. Alacrity II replaces the Alacrity MR+ and brings a number of enhancements and improved value for online and offline editing.

Both models of Alacrity II are based on Dual Xeon Quad core motherboards for faster operation; support is included in Alacrity II for editing while ingesting for improved productivity and fast turnaround. Alacrity II RM is built in a 4RU “Geevs Style” chassis with space for up to 6 removable hard drives, and options are available for RAID 5 and operation with uncompressed HD. Alacrity II HP is built on the HP XW8600 workstation with internal space for up to 4 hard drives.

True native editing with version 1.3 software expands the online capability of Lightworks’ editing toolset. With real-time mixed-format editing and true native support for avi, mxf, QuickTime, DPX and Red files, Lightworks 1.3 offers easy integration in the world of open file transfers. Supported formats include HDV, XDCam and P2; OMF, AAF and DPX sequences are also supported for interchange.

Online Online Exclusive
contact info:  
www.lwks.com
New Resolve from da Vinci

Da Vinci Systems, LLC has announced that its Resolve version 6.2 software for R-series color-grading systems for the first time enables Resolve to color grade native digital motion-picture files — including de-bayered Red RAW files — and to grade between two remote systems. Available worldwide, new features in Resolve 6.2 also include enhanced support for 3-D color-grading projects.

Resolve 6.2 dramatically accelerates workflows, improves performance and shortens project completion times for commercials and motion pictures shot with Red cameras by eliminating the Red-to-DPX file-conversion process and enabling colorists to grade the full dynamic range of Red files. Da Vinci’s new Resolve Digital Powerhouse hardware system accelerates color grading of the highest-quality .R3D files on R-series systems, and da Vinci plans to offer color grading for other native digital motion-picture files as well.

Resolve 6.2 also enables the synchronization of two Resolve systems via an Internet connection so that color-grading changes made on one colorist’s Resolve are immediately applied on another Resolve elsewhere in the world. The new software also delivers features that fine-tune stereoscopic grading and accelerate workflow in a 3-D environment, including managing gallery stills, providing output sizing and displaying window outlines to facilitate placement of da Vinci PowerWindows.

More features of Resolve 6.2 include ASC CDL export of primary grades to an EDL timeline with CDL comments; the ability to handle larger reel numbers from Final Cut Pro EDLs; track-mode support for matte files, enabling colorists to use matte clips to render subtitles; and extended format support, including support for legacy software formatting.

Online Online Exclusive
contact info:  
www.davsys.com
Daz 3D Updates Studio

Providing artists with greater opportunity for advanced 3-D content creation, Daz 3D has announced a new free version of its celebrated 3-D art and animation package, Daz Studio 3, as well as the debut of its enhanced, professional-quality toolset, Daz Studio 3 Advanced.

Renowned for its ease-of-use and versatile toolset, Daz Studio 3 offers improved OpenGL preview display with new camera and light pointer tools, depth of field and support for version 8.5 of Pixar’s RenderMan-compliant 3Delight render engine. This tool is designed to allow hobbyists to create unique digital art and animation using their choice of virtual people, animals, props, vehicles, accessories and environments. Users can simply select their subject and/or setting, arrange accessories, setup lighting and immediately begin to create beautiful artwork.

Daz Studio 3 Advanced adds a vast set of new professional-level tools, including advanced render effects and shaders, Collada import/export, animation keyframe editing, figure mixing and support for 64-bit systems. With these high-end tools, extended export capabilities and greater compatibility with Carrara, 3-D enthusiasts can easily transition into serious 3-D artists. “Daz Studio 3 Advanced combines ease-of-use with robust features necessary for artistic advancement, raising professional and creative opportunities to a brand new level,” says Dan Farr, president of Daz 3D. “The combination of customer needs based on user feedback with growing industry trends allows Daz Studio 3 Advanced to strengthen the legacy of unique content-creation tools that continually grow alongside our users, all while maintaining the quality, value and fun that is expected from Daz 3D.”

Now available for Windows XP or higher and Mac OSX 10.4 or higher, Daz Studio 3 is free to registered Daz 3D members. Daz Studio 3 Advanced, competitively priced at $149.95, comes preconfigured with high-quality Daz 3D content that is ready to be loaded and rendered at the push of a button. For even further advancement of 3-D content creation, Daz 3D offers the Daz Studio Advanced Bundle, which couples Daz Studio 3 Advanced with a suite of Daz 3D advanced content-creation plug-ins, including Figure Setup Tools, 3D Bridge for Photoshop, FBX Exporter and Multi-Layered Image Editor; the Daz Studio Advanced Bundle is priced for purchase at $499.95.

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www.daz3d.com
Sony Creative Software Bets on Vegas Pro 9

Sony Creative Software Inc. has released Vegas Pro 9, the latest version of its award-winning nonlinear HD video and audio editing application. Vegas Pro 9 software features a new customizable interface for optimized viewing and enhanced usability, as well as significant improvements for professional video editors, including direct browsing and import of Sony XDCam EX footage, native file support for the Red One camera, MXF file format capture from SD/HD-SDI sources, a scalable 4K workflow, and powerful new effects and editing enhancements. The software includes both native 32-bit and 64-bit versions at no additional cost, enabling editors to take full advantage of today’s most advanced hardware while retaining compatibility with older systems.

Additionally, the company has released the Vegas Pro Production Assistant software plug-in, which takes advantage of powerful scripting capabilities to automate repetitive production processes to help editors meet their demanding deadlines faster than ever before; the plug-in also works with Vegas Pro 8. Developed in partnership with VASST, developers of training and software tools for Sony Vegas Pro, Production Assistant features an easy-to-use, three-tab interface for Input, Process and Output. Pre-built output presets for broadcast workflows are included to quickly begin finalizing content for television, and additional features include tools for creating lower thirds, splitting stereo track into two mono tracks, normalizing audio tracks, broadcast color process, audio ducking functions and outputting to multiple formats simultaneously.

Sony Creative Software has also announced the availability of Vegas Pro 9 Academic Edition for educators, enhancing classroom integration with extra components such as user-friendly tutorials and an electronic Curriculum Guide.

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www.sonycreativesoftware.com
Contour Design Enhances Vegas Pro 9

Contour Design has announced that its updated ShuttlePro V.2, ShuttlePro and ShuttleXpress settings are included with Sony Creative Software’s Vegas Pro 9 release. The new settings give Vegas Pro 9 editors the ability to move left and right through the timeline by marker or by grid, enter or exit Event Edge Mode, select left and right Event Edges, deselect all, preview edit, mark in and out points, control play/pause and play/stop, and zoom in and out of the timeline.

ShuttlePro V.2 is designed for ergonomic integrity and maximum productivity, allowing one-handed access to 15 fully programmable buttons complete with crystal-clear removable keycaps for intuitive labeling and ease of reference. The inner ring or “jog knob” at the center of the ShuttlePro rotates a full 360 degrees to provide precise frame-by-frame control while the outer black ring or rubberized “shuttle wheel” facilitates fast forward and rewind. In addition, the jog and shuttle can also be configured for many other purposes including scrolling, volume control and sequencing.

Modeled after the award-winning ShuttlePro, ShuttleXpress offers a professional multimedia controller at an attractive price. Packed with five oversized buttons, a jog knob and a shuttle wheel, the ShuttleXpress is a full multimedia control surface in a compact design, and it can be used alone or simultaneously with a ShuttlePro for enhanced cooperative control.

The new Sony Vegas Pro 9 settings are included with all packaged and downloaded purchases of Vegas Pro 9. ShuttlePro V.2 and ShuttleXpress are available from Contour Design’s worldwide reseller channel for $109.95 and $59.95, respectively. ShuttlePro V.2, ShuttlePro and ShuttleXpress settings are also available for Acid Pro, Acid Music Studio, Sound Forge, Sound Forge Audio Studio, Cinescore and CD Architect.

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www.contourdesign.com
Luxology Launches modo 401

Luxology LLC has announced the immediate availability of its latest 3-D content-creation software, modo 401. With a focus on rendering and animation elements, modo 401 delivers a wealth of new features and innovative workflows, which enable users to easily model on top of existing geometry, see changes in their scene immediately from the radically improved Preview renderer, and efficiently re-use assets throughout the content-creation process.

“Modo 401 continues our emphasis on making the 3-D creative process as fluid as possible for designers and artists,” says Brad Peebler, president of Luxology. “This new version is packed with improvements and isModo 401 is available for the suggested retail price of $995; upgrades from any existing version of modo remain at $395. Modo 401 runs on Mac and PC platforms, and is newly available for 64-bit Windows.

Luxology has also created a new asset-sharing Web site that serves as a participatory content-sharing portal and learning resource. Users are now able to upload and download presets of all kinds as well as exchange associated usage tips and techniques with other artists. The custom-developed site provides modo artists with an easily accessible online resource for content re-utilization.

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www.luxology.com
Tweak Software Upgrades RV

Tweak Software has released RV 3.6, the latest version of its image and sequence viewer for animation and visual effects. New features include 2K uncompressed playback from disk, remote sync, HDR LUTs and a Package System for RV scripts and other extensions.

Since its release just over a year ago, RV has been adopted by such leading visual-effects and CG-animation studios as Industrial Light & Magic, Weta Digital, Tippet Studio and LAIKA. “We set out to make a playback tool that would convince the industry leaders to set aside proprietary players for a commercial product, and that is what has happened,” says Seth Rosenthal, president and co-founder of Tweak. “RV’s extensibility makes it unique. All of the source code for RV’s UI and control logic comes with the program. Users can easily create new features, control RV remotely, or even embed RV in their own proprietary applications.”

Alan Trombla, Tweak’s director of product development, adds, “Extensibility changes the entire support relationship so that users are not held hostage to a vendor’s development schedule. RV 3.6 pushes this to the next level.

“During the beta cycle for this release,” Trombla continues, “one customer asked for the ability to use identical RV session files on Linux, Windows and OSX, even though the media path is different on each platform. We spent an hour or so writing an RV Package to translate file paths on the fly, and we put it on the Web site so all users could download and adapt it to their own environment. You can’t do that with a black-box application.”

RV is currently available directly through Tweak Software at the price of $299 per node-locked license and $369 per floating license. RV comes with RVIO, a batch-image-processing tool for converting files and publishing dailies, and RVLS, an image-properties inspector.

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www.tweaksoftware.com
Kickstand Settles into Brooklyn, Unveils StretchMesh 1.5

Kickstand LLC, a character animation and research development studio, has opened its doors in Brooklyn, New York. Additionally, the company has announced new features in StretchMesh 1.5, an innovative surface deformation plug-in that streamlines the creation of realistic character animation in Autodesk Maya software.

Designed for animators and technical directors working in feature film, broadcast and game development, StretchMesh 1.5 incorporates a fast algorithm for relational vertex knowledge, which shares polygonal knowledge with neighboring vertices to speed the process of creating smooth character deformations in Maya. “Character skin is very elastic and difficult to animate,” says Daniel Dawson, director of Character Technology at Kickstand. “By giving polygonal meshes an inherent ‘stretchy’ characteristic, StretchMesh removes the time-intensive process of manually tweaking skin weights to streamline rigging of complex body and facial movements.”

New features of StretchMesh 1.5 include a major speed enhancement via multi-threading in Maya 2009; improved flexibility animating collisions using primitive sphere and primitive curve colliders; the ability to paint the influence of a collision object; curve attractors, providing the ability to pull vertices toward the closest point on a curve; and a new “scale safe” mode, allowing users to scale a mesh and safely preserve its initial shape. StretchMesh is priced at $249 per seat, and educational pricing is also available.

Kickstand LLC is the brainchild of seasoned technical directors with experience working in fast-paced production environments such as DreamWorks Animation and Charlex. “Our team is committed to delivering innovative technology that maximizes productivity in all stages of the production pipeline,” says Rob O’Neill, the company’s executive producer. “We believe artists and animators need to spend their time being creative, not worrying about how to streamline workflow.”

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www.kickstandlabs.com
Autodesk Offers Flare

Autodesk has announced the 2010 releases of Flame and Inferno software for visual-effects systems, as well as the launch of the Autodesk Flare software, a new Flame and Inferno creative companion.

Designed for high-speed 2-D and 3-D compositing, advanced graphics and interactive client-driven design, Autodesk Flame and Inferno visual-effects systems provide digital artists with reliable, flexible and interactive toolsets to tackle complex, high-resolution projects. With a focus on expanding 3-D technology, new features in the latest versions of Flame and Inferno include more creative tools, such as GPU-accelerated 3-D Blur, 3-D Path, Normal and UV Mapping tools, as well as advancements to 3D Text and Displacement Mapping tools; expanded support via WiretapCentral software for Redcode RAW files, multichannel OpenEXR import and DNxHD with Apple QuickTime; file-based conform workflow with a powerful new search engine and configurable import settings to control metadata mapping; and extended floating-point processing support and redesigned Modular Keyer with customizable presets.

Autodesk Flare 2010 is an integral part of the Autodesk solution to bridge the gap between 2-D and 3-D. Featuring the core creative toolset of Flame and Inferno, Flare is designed to help boost creativity, expand capacity and develop talent for Flame and Inferno customers. Flare is intended for advanced creative tasks, such as compositing, sophisticated graphics and interactive design, as well as support tasks such as rotoscoping, retouching, dust removal, project setup and keying.

Since releasing Flare, Autodesk has announced that the software has been licensed by five postproduction companies across three continents: Smoke & Mirrors UK, Digipost in New Zealand, WRKS bv in Holland, 1000 Volt Film in Turkey and Lola Visual Effects in the U.S. Stig Gruman, vice president of Digital Entertainment, Autodesk Media & Entertainment, observes, “As a software-only offering, Flare provides a cost-effective avenue to develop the next generation of creative talent, and is a key building block for more productive postproduction pipelines.”

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www.autodesk.com