Thursday, October 23, 2008

This is bad news...

I just got an email from Autodesk today saying they have bought out Softimage from Avid.

Bad, bad, bad, bad.

I'm not a user of XSi (Softimage's flagship 3d software). Except for reviewing the work of the occasional student who uses it I haven't felt a need to learn it. I've been using Maya for almost 10 years now and it just works for me with all the tools and stuff I have for it. But that's beside the point. As far as I can tell XSi is a solid tool. If there has been one group that has been the leader in innovative ideas for general purpose CG tools over the last few years it's been the XSi team. By contrast the stuff sitting under Autodesk's banner has languished. Except for the occasional tweak here or there, 3DS Max is still basically the same tool it was when I used it at Blur 5 years ago. And Maya hasn't moved very far since Alias sold out to Autodesk a few years ago. Just tweaks and window dressing. Autodesk is where 3d programs go to get stale.

Healthy competition is always better for customers than monopolies- and right now we have a veritable monopoly in the CG animation software business. Autodesk owns 3D Studio Max, Maya, Motion Builder, Mudbox and now Softimage XSi and it's ancillary technologies. What's left out there for commercially available professional level Cg production software? Um.. not much. Yes, there's Z-Brush, Silo, Modo, etc., but those aren't backbone systems, they're specific-use tools.  Basically the applications under the Autodesk name represent well north of 90% of the primary programs used in the CG business.

Most Cg products have seen a significant reduction in innovative development and thinking over the past few years, but expect that decline to accelerate. At some point consolidation of development is going to occur at Autodesk and we're going to end up with fewer choices.

If anything this development marks the end of the 'big backbone one stop shop' software solutions for CG. Look for more specific use tools that interface with back bone systems to emerge.

Good ol' Tommy boy made a lot of sense....

Too bad we stopped paying attention to him oh, about 100 years ago now.
A quote that speaks to today's world.
"The central bank is an institution of the most deadly hostility existing against the Principles and form of our Constitution.... If the American people allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the People of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered."
There was one other trivial scrap of paper this fellow once authored. The Declaration of Independence.
More interesting thoughts from the third president of the United States can be found here...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'd laugh...

.. if it weren't so sadly true.
From the Sinfest comic. Click it big...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

APT Student Animation: Sunny Kharbanda

Sunny Kharbanda first took his first APT session this summer. He wanted to improve pushing his poses, add some texture to his phrasing, make better acting choices as well as tighten up his polishing skills. Here is one of the better pieces that he made before the APT...

I like the boldness and willingness to take chances with such a challenging clip. But there's a few things here and there that could use some help. The poses are awkward at places, alot of the poses are the same intensity so the texture is lacking and the arcs, eases and overlap need more polish. It's not terrible, but it has areas that could use improvement.

After 4 weeks in the APT this is what Sunny was able to produce...

The polish is much stronger, the acting is interesting (and funny), the phrasing and texture are more defined and his poses feel more comfortable while at the same time being stronger and more graphically appealing. Overall it's a solid improvement.

Sunny is currently wrapping up work on his second APT session. Wait until you see what he's done in this latest class- it's really, really good. I can't wait to show it to everybody when it's done.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Cars 2??

Hunh. I didn't know there was a sequel to Doc Hollywood.

This kinda flew under my radar. Am I the only one who missed this? Is this a for real movie or am I being punk'd? I thought Cars was arguably Pixar's weakest film to date. So if ever there was fertile ground for a sequel...

I'm certain it will make a tidy profit, though.
Just like Jungle Book 2.
Just like Shrek 3.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

APT Student Animation: Anand Kumar

Anand Kumar is one of my favorite APT students. Anand has been in my APT twice, both times focusing on learning more extreme cartoon animation style. The first time was definitely a learning process as he broke out of his comfort zones as a Cg animator. During his second class I could really see that he was "getting it". He was beginning to think like a cartoon animator.

Here is a nice sample of what Anand was doing before this latest APT class...

Not bad. There's some nice stuff going on. It's a little lacking in some technical polish, but overall it's pretty solid. However it doesn't stand out- I don't think it's unfair to say that it's pretty typical of most CG scenes you see.

Now here are two scenes that he recently completed in APT. First an acting scene...

And now a more 'technical' motion exercise...

Now that's a different way to go. I really like seeing this style being explored in CG. It's been a lot of fun teaching this stuff. I grew up watching cartoons- it's what made me want to be an animator in the first place. Not surprisingly Anand felt the same way. He wrote me...
I will be doing more of this stuff :-) its fun and challenging to do.  ... This APT has really been an eye opener for me . ... I wanna do moreeeeee... :-)
So congrats to Anand for a job well done. I'm sure he's only going to get better and better at this sort of thing.

e-mail problems solved. (i hope)

Well, the new domain and host service is up and running and tests show that 4 out of 5 dentists are able to email me at my email addresses -- keith(at)keithlango(dot)com and keithlango(at)keithlango(dot)com.

So if you tried getting through to me before and it bounced or failed, try again. It should work. Heavy emphasis on "should".

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

VTS Back Issue store updated

Ahh, the world is indeed a better place for our children this morning.
I had fallen a bit behind on updating the VTS back issue store. Well, I got off my butt this morning and updated the store. (Well, I was sitting when I did it, so I guess I didn't actually get off my butt. Details, details.)
Anyhow, VTS36, 37 and 38 are now available if you were waiting for them. VTS36 and 37 are about animating to music and VTS38 is the first of a three video series on body mechanics. If you're interested in these or any of the other VTS back issue videos, well check out the VTS back issue store here.

And as for my loyal VTS subscribers I have updated your page, too. Now you guys can get VTS41, 42 and 43. VTS41 is a quick lesson on cartoon animation as it was taught to one of my advanced APT students. VTS42 and 43 are the first of many videos where I animate an actual scene from beginning to end, explaining every thought and action along the way. It's a different approach to the VTS that attempts to tie together all the various theories, tips and ideas that have been covered in the VTS from the very beginning.

What is this VTS of which I speak? I'm glad you asked, and I have this very handy-dandy FAQ about the subject. Check it out and be sure to speak to your doctor to see if the Video Tutorial Series is right for you.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.