Sountrack for the day: Local FM radio station 90.7 WWOZ Jazz & Heritage Station
Wednesday was a day devoted primarily to Reallusion and their upcoming release of iClone 4. I know John & James Martin and their CEO Charles Chen personally, so it was a great pleasure to see them again. John Martin gave an overview of what's new in iClone 4, specifically for myself and several power users who came in from out of town. Dulci, Damien, Mark, and Mike all have contributed significantly to promoting and using iClone. I've already mentioned their excellent machinima podcast the “Wolf and Dulci Hour” which usually takes place live every Monday night and is devoted primarily to iClone. I enjoyed spending a good chunk of the day with them all.
John's presentation of iClone 4 focused primarily on the slight shift in emphasis that the new program will bring. Motion graphics were the keywords. IC4 will be able to use streaming video as a texture and you'll be able to edit pictures/video using layers like in Adobe Photoshop. John's comment was “think Flash”. The interface is only slightly different, emphasizing economy and simplicity. Reallusion seems to be pushing iClone as a “video editor in a 3D environment”. Other upgrades include a new version of 3DXchange which will support FBX and Collada files. I was also told that IC4 will support 3D objects that are already boned and you'll be able to animate the objects easily. I'm chomping at the bit for this release which I think will be another superb upgrade by Reallusion. Watching Charles Chen talk about the new program all evening as if it were his new child (all smiles and laughter) leaves me to believe that iClone and Reallusion both have a bright future.
Had to hustle back a couple miles to the convention center (my feet hurt) for the E-On, Vue 8, press luncheon. Vue 8 has got some very interesting changes in this new version. Although he didn't have a lot of time, Vladimir Chopin, a very witty tech rep, took us through some of the larger improvemets, like a completely new image editor, the ability to build a virtual environment around an object and a bone system for objects which will allow you to animate and pose them easily. CEO Nicholas Phelps told me after the presentation that the goal of the software is to “try and expand user control over their creations”. They want to make software for artists. I can't wait to start working with Vue 8, which should be released in the fall. My thanks to E-ON for putting on such an enjoyable presentation and for providing a tasty lunch as well.
Since the Reallusion crew had to change their location due to a technical problem (oh, my feet again), I used the afternoon to pop by the Renderosity booth, tour the Exhibit Hall and spend some time in the Art Gallery upstairs on the third floor. I'm so glad SIGGRAPH has remained committed to providing an emphasis on art despite the huge Hollywood-driven CGI industry. The theme of this year's art exhibit was “BioLogic”, or the connection between nature and technology. There were some remarkable exhibits in spaces that were quiet (primarily) and contemplative. Too many to single out, but there was one exhibit in particular that I could have interacted with all day. Hylozoic Soil by Philip Beasley at the University of Waterloo is hard to describe, but it's like walking into a garden of hanging plants who react to you by shimmering and emitting sound. Being a sound editor, I was fascinated with how the sounds were produced. The plaque near the exhibit indicated that micro-controllers and proximity sensors and some other techniques (over my head, I'm afraid) come together to create a combination of machine and seeming biology that interacts with the viewer. Fascinating.
Picked up the latest Stash DVD, which is a collection of short animated films. Got a chance to talk to Stephen Price, one of Stash's editors, and enjoyed it very much. Stash produces a monthly DVD that presents cutting edge animation, vfx and motion-graphics in a very well-designed fashion. Stash 58 included “A Volta” by the very contemporary animation company NASA. Just about knocked me out of my socks it was so original. The Stash DVDs are incredibly inspirational and really get the ideas/juices flowing. So glad they had a booth at SIGGRAPH and were offering deals. A classy organization.
Also spent an hour at the Animation Festival “Reel Time in Real Time” segment which featured juried entries of real-time animation. Each segment/piece was performed live and usually narrated. I was particularly fond of a piece which demonstrated real-interactions with a hair rendering entirely on the GPU. The explanation of how it was done was highly technical, but the effect was remarkable. Other presentations included “The World of Goo”, a wonderful real-time environment for leaves on trees, Nvidia demos like “Medusa” (they also created the real time hair rendering) and a quick level in an upcoming driving game for the Xbox called “Split Second”. Quite a breakthrough for the games industry with this presentation, I think.
Sat in on Jason, Jenifer and Debbie's presentation on how to make money working with Renderosity, which went very well. Jenifer did a nice job with her power point presentation about why Renderosity is such a good place for CG creators to network and sell their creations. Attendance was about 15 people, including yours truly. There was a lively Q&A and it seemed that folks went away impressed with what Renderosity could offer. Nice work, guys!
Closed out the evening after a quick dip in the pool to cool of my very sore feet, with an even better dinner with the Renderosity/Reallusion crew at a fabulous restaurant called La Boca, which served a very unique combination of Argentinian foods. Conversation was boisterous and fun (they make great martinis) and I loved sitting next to Dulci and sharing our life stories with each other. James Martin should be bottled as a hot sauce, I think. And while the steak was remarkable, the desert was even better. We ended the evening toasting to “good food, good friends” and staggered back to our hotels for the night.
Ricky will be reporting on daily events at SIGGRAPH 2009. Be sure to check the Renderosity Front Page News each day this week for updates!
Ricky Grove [gToon], Staff Columnist with the Renderosity Front Page News. Ricky Grove is a bookstore clerk at the best bookstore in Los Angeles, the Iliad Bookshop. He's also an actor and machinima filmmaker. He lives with author, Lisa Morton, and three very individual cats. Ricky is into Hong Kong films, FPS shooters, experimental anything and reading, reading, reading. You can catch his blog here.
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