VES Award Nominations 2016

The VES Awards are again right around the corner and, as I did last year, I have listed my picks in each category and my thoughts on the visual effects of the different films, tv episodes, games, and commercials.awardslogo_14_fnl_shps_blk
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Review of Blender 2.64

The new version of Blender was recently released. This release is impressive by any standards and includes significant improvements from the Durian Project. Because version 2.64 contains several features that I am really excited about, I would like to list them here with short overviews of each.

blender mask editorFirst of all, there’s new masking, tracking, and keying tools. The Mask Editor looks like a dandy addition that allows the user to create masks simply and easily. Based on my initial tests, it seems to have an extensive feature set and has some interesting handle types for splines. The ability to assign tracking points to spline points is both exciting and unique. My only complaint is that it is too easy to add points in the along the length of a spline rather than at the end. I once tried to use the RotoBezier tool but gave up as it wasn’t intuitive enough for me when I already knew how to create masks in After Effects. The Camera Tracker developments look promising also. I miss the choice of trac

blender compositor keying

king methods, but tracking seems to work quite well with the Hybrid tracker only. The new planar tracker is something that I have been interested in for months, but sadly have not had the opportunity to test it out. One of the areas that Blender has been weak at is greenscreen keying. The good news is that the Compositor has received major updates to its keying capability. The new Keying node works quickly and allowed me to pull a high-quality key with little work.

A more minor update is the new color management system for Blender, OpenColorIO. This gives the option of setting image properties for different color spaces. It’s actually much more important than it seems due to the way that linear and gamma-corrected images work. Now you don’t have to worry about sRGB images being gamma-corrected both before and after rendering. This has really prompted me to work with linear images now more than ever. There is some more detailed information here.

The modeling tools have also received substantial upgrades. The Skin modifier is, in my opinion, one of the best new features to have been developed this year. It uses a similar concept from the ZSpheres featre in ZBrush to quickly create a mesh object based on the position and scale of an armature. This results in an object that already contains all of the bones needed for rigging. We also have the BSurfaces retopology addon included within Blender. I can’t say how it compares to the Shrinkwrap modifier, but I plan to do some further researching in that area.

Blender 2.64 is an excellent update, and the software continues to get better on a regular basis. It’s no surprise that Blender won the ‘Software Update’ award at the 2012 CG Awards. I plan to continue to explore this release further, so look for more updates in the future.

Resources for CG and Animation Jobs

Here are some websites that I’ve found to have good job listings for animators.

CG Studio Map – This is a site that I feel is a very good, if basic, resource. It provides a comprehensive list of studios ranging from animation and visual effects to post production and contact details for the studios. The site is laid out on a world map that allows one to see all of the studios in a particular region at a glance. The best part of the site is that even studios not actively advertising open positions are visible.

CG Society Jobs – CG Society is one of the best community sites and their job site is an equally good resource with many different types of jobs listed. One thing that you aren’t likely to find is any freelance jobs, but for professional-looking studio listings it is good.

VFX Jobs – This is another good one. It has postings from major studios and smaller ones. It also allows profiles from individual artists and specific projects.

Motionographer Jobs – This is my most frequented site. Has several new job postings every day and allows artists to apply directly. Has jobs for any kind of motion graphics, visual effects, and 3D. I subscribe to their Twitter @MoGraphJobs, which makes job searching convenient.

You Animator – You Animator isn’t a true job site; rather, it focuses on animation reel reviews by industry pros. This really makes it stand out to me and is recommended even if you plan on searching for studios yourself.

Creative Heads – Well laid-out and easy to navigate site. I spotted jobs from Blur, Warner Bros, and SCAD, and it does seem to have plenty of good opportunities. Allows applying from within the site.

Gamasutra – It’s primarily a gaming news site, but also has a job board. It isn’t specifically for artists and animators, but it will probably be your best resource if you’re a game designer.

Mandy – I’m including this one because oftentimes it seems that other job sites just repost jobs from Mandy. It’s “all roads lead to,” so to speak. If you’re a filmmaker, animator, or mograph artist looking for work, I really recommend watching this site.

Craigslist – Not something you might ordinarily think of, but there is some respectable job listings for animators and vfx artists. If you use Google Alerts, you can use the “site:” prefix with and your search terms. This will send a compilation of Craigslist ads to your inbox. Presto!

Freelancer – A good freelance website that allows you to bid on projects and contests. Has a very active community and solid reputation. One of the nice things about the site is the ‘Public Clarification Board’ that allows freelancers to ask questions about the job posting.

Elance – Very similar to Freelancer. Allows clients to ask specific questions of freelancers, rather than just a basic proposal. It also allows e-mail and RSS subscriptions

Odesk – This is another freelance site. A little smaller, but still has quite a few job postings. After you login, it displays an aggregated view of all your saved searches. Pretty nice. However, it does not have a portfolio feature. It allows a video link on users’ profiles, but nothing more.

PeopleperhourPeopleperhour is a more recent entry into the online freelance world. In addition to the ability to bid on job postings, the site’s main focus is the Hourly. Hourlies are specific services offered by freelancers on a hourly basis. It also allows freelancers to include specific portfolio items in proposals.

Creative District – A place for filmmakers to post their film projects and hire crew. This isn’t a very active site, but it can be useful.

Nerdeo – At the time of this writing, the site is still in beta, but it promises to connect “…freelancers and top students with directors and producers, anywhere in the world, providing them with an online facility for more efficient remote collaboration.” So it allows creatives to find projects that they want to work on and contact the clients directly. It seems promising, but it does leave some room to be desired currently.

Best of Siggraph 2012

The annual SIGGRAPH conference has the reputation of being the greatest showcase of recent technological developments, artistic endeavors, and presentations in the field of computer graphics. This year proved to be no exception as last week ended after some amazing times. Whether you came to watch tech demos, watch shorts at the Electronic Theater and Computer Animation Festival, explore the trade show, get your teapot from the Pixar booth, or possibly some of everything, there was a lot of great happenings for everyone.

Although I was unable to attend, I was able to watch live streams online from Autodesk and nVidia. I will try to point out what were, in my opinion, some of the best talks and provide links to the recorded content. Continue reading