Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Future of Computer Graphics, Dunkirk Trailer and Kirby's 25th Anniversary Appetite

For the past month or two I’ve been discussing a lot about traditional art, mostly watercolor. However art isn’t just one medium and doesn’t live in just involve coloring, sketching and painting. Art is one of the vaguest descriptions in the dictionary and it describes so much. Knitting, writing and traditional art are just a few to name. Today’s blog however will be turning to a more digital form of art. While I have mostly been sticking with traditional forms of art lately I haven’t forgotten my digital art roots, or future. Video Editing, Visual Effects, Pixel Art and 3D Graphics are huge interests of mine as well as computers in general. I’d be kidding if I wasn’t a computer nerd and while I still have a lot to learn I’ve been an avid learner of Video Editing and Visual Effects. There’s a certain conference happening right now that encompasses the essence of every digital art form, SIGGRAPH.

Organized my ACM SIGGRAPH this conference short for Special Interest Group on Computer GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques was established in 1974 as a gathering place for engineering, graphic, computer, motion picture and video game industries alike to present their new breakthroughs in computer graphics and interactive techniques. So much occurs during this event it’s hard to wrap your head around. SIGGRAPH is also the birth place of PIXAR back in 1984 when John Lasseter (Who was currently working for LucasFilm Computer Group) debuted his first computer animated short, The Adventures of Andre & Wally B. SIGGRAPH isn’t just a conference it’s a way of taking your computer graphics/ visual effects or any kind of digital art career to the next level and interacting with people with interests just like you as well as learn from the pros. It’s definitely on my list of conferences to attend in the future. With that said let's dive into what will be shown off during this conference, some of this was announced a while ago but this is a good time then ever. First up NVIDIA with their recent research into AI and Portable Processors.

It’s no hidden fact that facial animation is the hardest part of any 3D animation. Sure you can wiggle a few fingers but to animate the face to encompass all the emotions humans make when we speak? Not easy. 

Well NVIDIA and Remedy Entertainment the studio behind Quantum Break and Max Payne video games have come up with ways of making facial animation just a little bit easier and a lot more fluid through the wonders of AI. (Artificial Intelligence.) Remedy Entertainment has a large library of facial animations and with this in hand NVIDIA has incorporated this library into a neural network that can pull directly from videos of voice actors performing lines and create near realistic facial motion. Of course facial recognition isn’t new in the slightest but a lot of on hands work is still required to animate a face afterwards, just imagine a game with a mass amount of cut scenes with a lot of dialogue included, imagine how long all that will take. Well this AI should make things just a little bit quicker if not better than current methods. You can view the research publication here as well as the video demonstration below.

Also coming from NVIDIA are external GPUs dubbed eGPU chassis by NVIDIA. These external GPUs boost the 3D performance and other processes accelerated by your internal graphics card, which includes video editing and visual effects of laptops. Immediately this caught my interest as an avid video editor and visual effects compositor. These external GPUs have graphic cards inside of them equal to those of workstation-class computers, aka desktops. These will come available with Nvidia’s Quadro P400, P5000, P6000 or even a Titan X gamer card that’s customary tuned for heavily compositing and rendering software. eGPU Graphic Card Docks have existed but none of them were cheap or of good enough quality until recently with what NVIDIA has announced. No prices have been said but there will be a variation of prices. This would boost the capabilities of your laptop ten fold though making it a little less portable with the giant GPU it would be perfect for those unable to have a desktop set up or those who are constantly on the move, or just someone who prefers laptops in general. Sadly not every laptop will be compatible with this GPU, these will connect to the laptop via a Thunderbolt 3 enabled USB-C, which is not a standard on laptops as of right now, you usually have to buy it either custom or pay a bit more for a higher end laptop. You can read more here:

During SIGGRAPH they have something called Real-Time Live, which as the name might give away are demonstrations of new real time tech demos all done in a one and three-quarter hour block. This is one of those things you have to be there to really experience and even interact with the full potential of these incredible creations that break boundaries. During the Real-Time Live they demonstrated something pretty awesome that brings watercolor into the 3D digital world in what they call Direct 3D Stylization Pipelines. What this means is creating stylized computer graphics that allow you to paint color onto the model directly leaving a stylized watercolor look, the results is stunning and very unique so take a look at this video by clicking this link here:

Art-directed watercolor stylization of 3D animation in real-time from Santiago Montesdeoca on Vimeo.

Recently getting into watercolor this absolutely amazes me and actually makes me jealous that I can’t paint this good yet. I never would of thought watercolor would make for a great stylization for 3D animation. Research into this type of animation and rendering is led by Santiago Montesdeoca at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore where he is currently working towards a PhD in this field. This process is done through Autodesk Maya with real time rendering and is supposed to replicate the feeling of painting actual watercolor, just in 3D and with a back button. I would love to see more of this kind of animation in perhaps some short films or even a feature film so I’ll be keeping a close eye on Montesdeoca’s research. You can read more here: as well as try this out for yourself if you own Autodesk Maya as this is completely open source!

Finally something else I want to touch on is Nuke 11.0, which has recently released. Nuke is a video compositor for visual effects, grading and general touch ups and as a filmmaker this immediately keyed me in. With the industry growing at rapid rates programs like Nuke are constantly upgrading themselves to keep up with the industry standards. Nuke 11 is going to take some previous nodes and make them much more fast and efficient such as Denoise as well as some new 2D and 3D tools. It seems Nuke 11 is going to be a little more user friendly then the previous version so the learning curve won’t be as strenuous on newcomers. Nuke 11 will also include features from NukeX and NukStudio. There’s a lot more added that you can check out by clicking this link here:

Red Giant has also revealed it’s new version of its popular set of After Effects plugins, Trapcode. Three of the 11 plugins have had a makeover, Tao, Form and Particular. Want to create 2D particles, GUIs and other high tech effects in a 3D space AND combine them with 3D models? This is the pack for you. It’s actually released as of today and costs $999 for new users while current Trapcode users can upgrade for just $199 USD. Check out more at:

There’s so much I could talk about regarding SIGGRAPH 2017 and I can hope that I can get to this event one year to really experience everything first hand. The digital age is ever evolving and we’re in a massive experimentation phase right now, tipping on the edge of a new era. With virtual reality, artificial intelligence and apparently 3D stylized watercolor animations (Still amazed by that) I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.

Still on the subject of films I have a new movie trailer to show you guys of a new film releasing called Dunkirk based on the real life events from the fierce battle of Dunkirk during World War II. Dunkirk has been made into a movie quite a few times such as the famous 1958 Dunkirk drama movie directed by Leslie Norman starring John Mills, Richard Attenborough and Bernard Lee.

© 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Village Roadshow Films North America Inc. and RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC

This movie is being directed by Christopher Nolan, famous for his Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Interstellar, The Prestige, yeah you know who this man is. As well as being composed by Hanz Zimmer the king of dramatic scores this movie looks pretty promising. Dunkirk (2017) stars Tom Hardy, Fionn Whitehead Damien Bonnard and apparently Harry Styles. It’s already been released since July 21st and has some high ratings. You can check out the trailer below, I can say it’s on my list of must watch movies.

Finally before I leave you guys let’s get a little… Pink. By pink I mean a certain round puffball that breaths in enemies and steals their power. Mega Man? Are you crazy? I’m talking about the Kirbster himself, Kirby who turned 25 years old yesterday here in America!

Yeah it seems all the classic Video Game icons are having anniversaries lately it’s crazy to think Video Games have been around 2 times my age. Kirby’s appetite began with Kirby’s Dream Land for the Nintendo Gameboy, the original green and black one. Actually Kirby’s copy ability wasn’t even in his original game and wouldn’t make an appearance until his NES debut Kirby’s Adventure releasing in spring of 1993. Kirby is the child of Masahiro Sakurai as Sakurai’s first video game foray at the early age of 19 when he worked for HAL Laboratory under the late Satoru Iwata. Kirby since then has gone on to have many adventures though I have to say I haven’t experienced Kirby games as much as I should of. Kirby is a great and unique platforming series and games like Kirby: Planet Robobot is adding even more unique adventures to the Kirby library while keeping the same Kirby backbone. (Does Kirby even have a backbone?)

Actually my first encounter with Kirby would be Super Smash Brothers for the N64 which was also created and designed by Masahiro Sakurai. Kirby was actually a complete boss in that game, from his copy ability to his float ability, he was definitely a favorite of mine. Anyway my second encounter would be Saturday mornings via the Kirby Right Back At Ya anime series and oh boy was this series awesome. Kirby and the Dream Land residents would be at arms with King DeDeDe’s monsters every Episode with the show featuring many of Kirby’s power ups. Since then I’ve only experienced Kirby through the original Gameboy game, the Yarn Kirby which I wasn’t fond of and Kirby Planet Robobot’s demo so yeah I definitely want to experience the older games at some point. With this anniversary it’ll be a perfect time to do so with a huge sale that’s happening on all Kirby games available for Wii U and 3DS virtual console and new. This sale will run through August 8th with all Kirby games being 25 % off so be sure to take advantage of this sale before it ends! You can check out the games by following this link:

Also I have to tell you guys about a new Pokemon event happening this month at Gamestop, while last month we had the Lycanroc event this month we’ll be getting a Salazzle event running August 14th to September 4th via codes your local Gamestop will be giving out throughout that time period. This Salazzle will be battle ready and come with Fake Out, Toxic, Sludge Bomb and Flamethrower while holding a Focus Sash. I only have information regarding United States right now so stay tuned. Don’t forget to head on out to look for legendary raid battles, Articuno and Moltres are now turning up with Moltres only available until next week.

Not so keen on the poster either, to be honest.

Other than that the new Pokemon movie “Pokemon: The Movie I Choose You!” will actually be releasing worldwide in Theatres November 5th and 6th! Yeah it’s been years since a Pokemon movie has made it into theatres so it’s great to see that. Sadly I can’t say I’m all too excited for this movie and my excitement is dropping even further as we get closer to release. I never wanted this to be a recreation of the original series, the original series is too timeless for that I accepted the alternative storyline, even praised it as it finally gives Ho-Oh the spotlight but I just cannot get over the fact Brock and Misty are not in it, replaced by these two new companions named Verity and Sorrel. For a movie that’s supposed to be the 20th anniversary of the anime they’re leaving out two vital characters that made up just as much of the show as Ash, Pikachu or Team Rocket. I’ll spare you guys my opinion however and leave you guys for the day.

This was ZAK Entertainment

See you on Friday!

[Photo Credits: The Pokemon Company, Nintendo, Warner Brothers, SIGGRAPH]

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