With Great Power ... Comes Great CGI ...

With the latest Spider-Man film currently showing in cinemas, I thought it would be cool to touch upon how computer generated imagery has been used for Marvels incarnation of the webslinger.  

The difference between practical effects and computer generated imagery, in superhero films in particular, is becoming extremely seamless. Special effects in the genre have come a long way from the lacklustre CGI claws in the toilet sequence from Xmen Origins: Wolverine. There was also an awfully bland CGI suit in Green Lantern. It was rumoured that in last years Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man's suit was mostly CGI due to time constraints and the fact that they had not chosen an actor to play Peter Parker before filming began. 

Russell Earl, a visual effects supervisor for the film, stated that in order to make the CGI look lifelike they used a 'layered process: a cloth simulation handled the fabric, which ran atop a muscle simulation'. Tom Holland would then provide the voice performance which was integrated into ILM's animation, to the extent that the mask stretched to match Hollands speech. 

(Source: https://www.theverge.com/2016/5/12/11664554/captain-america-civil-war-cgi-visual-effects-spider-man-interview

(Source: https://www.theverge.com/2016/5/12/11664554/captain-america-civil-war-cgi-visual-effects-spider-man-interview

Fret not reader, considering the new costume in Spider-Man: Homecoming is quite tech savvy, it makes sense that CGI implementations have been considered.  This makes complete sense as the costume is created by Tony Stark, featuring his state of the art A.I. components, as well as full motion moving eyes on his mask. The film does include a range of practical effects too, as numerous sources caught Tom Holland suited up while filming took place.

(Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3765702/Make-webs-not-war-Tom-Holland-flashe-peace-sign-takes-filming-Spider-Man-Homecoming-Atlanta.html)

(Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3765702/Make-webs-not-war-Tom-Holland-flashe-peace-sign-takes-filming-Spider-Man-Homecoming-Atlanta.html)

Overall I think it is exciting to see that Marvel are willing to explore a different take, both on and off screen, for our beloved wallcrawler. 

Spider-Man: Homecoming was released in the UK on 5th July 2017.

Thoughts by,
Amar

Blue Zoo

London based animation company Blue Zoo has managed to bring in a large investment from China by pairing with China UK Animation Company (CU Animation).

They announced that the joint venture will result in a new company known as Lanzu.  This company will provide finance for a selection of new projects, including an animated feature film. 

This is great news for the UK animation industry.  It shows that companies outside the UK are still looking to us to provide top class animation work.  This is most likely helped by the UK tax breaks for animation that are now provided by the government.

Well done Blue Zoo!

Thoughts by,
Sian

I'm a Teacher Now!

So I was recently given the opportunity to teach a student the fundamentals of animation, since the guy who should have been teaching him (*cough* Gary) decided to disappear into the country or something.  The first thought that ran through my mind was one of apprehension, it wasn't the first time that I've taught someone, but it was the first time that I had to teach someone how to animate from scratch. 

But what the hell, I have nothing to lose but my time right?

Well I'm glad to say that the intro went surprisingly well. I decided to start with the tried and true "12 Principles of Animation". It was then that I realised that I didn't actually remember all of them. After going through each one I found that I wasn't just teaching, but I was learning. I wasn't exactly learning the principles again but I was learning how to explain them. The process forced me to put my ideas into words and have them make sense to somebody who doesn't know. 

It was a weird experience because I'm of the opinion that I'm not very good at explaining things. Not to toot my own trumpet or anything (although that's exactly what I'm doing) I was quite pleased with the way I handled it. The concepts made sense and I felt that they were easy to understand. I mean, I think it was, who knows?! The student I was teaching was fairly capable anyway so maybe it was all meaningless, maybe I was just wasting my time, maybe nothing matters?

Now I wish I could say that the day ended with me having taught this new-blood everything. That he gave me his everlasting gratitude for imparting this top quality wisdom. The thing is, this happened like 10 minutes prior to me writing this. There's a semi decent chance that this could all go up in flames but hey, what's life without a few ups and downs eh?

Well, time to jump back into the void of uncertainty. I may provide an update but we'll have to hope I don't disappear from the embarrassment of being a wannabe teacher before that.

See you on the flipside reader,

Sidd

Newest Avenger

Hey Everyone,

I recently joined Carse and Waterman and I'm having a great experience thus far 😊

This Friday I will be graduating from Keele University, having studied Business Management and Film Studies as a dual honours degree. I have a open-ended career route and my university acknowledged this by creating an internship scheme. They created a role as a marketer within an animation company, which in turn fits both of my interests and skills. 

Only three weeks in and I've met some wonderful people. I'm understanding the process of film-making from an animators perspective, in addition to recording a small part in an upcoming film - which is so cool 😊 

I look forward to see what the future holds. 

Nuff said,
Amar

Beyond Good and Evil 2

'Beyond Good & Evil' was a small independently developed game by director Michel Ancel.  After the game was published it was a huge success and gained a moderate fan base, this warranted a sequel to the game.  Originally the next game in the series was going to be released in 2010.  Due to publisher focusing its staff and development team on other projects, production on the game was halted.  

Now in 2017 after 7 years of the development team focusing heavily on 'Beyond Good and Evil 2', Michel Ancel can once again begin to produce the series.

Thoughts by,
Adam

Early Man Trailer

Aardman have released a trailer for one of their upcoming films 'Early Man'.  It's a stop-motion animated comedy about a caveman named Dug.  Along with his sidekick, Hognob, they unite to fight against enemy Lord Nooth to save their homes.

The film was inspired by Ray Harryhausen's 'One Million Years B.C.' - a film that Nick Park loved as a kid.

We've got a bit of a wait to see it though, with released expected to be January 2018.

Thoughts by,
Sian

China - Not Just for Outsourcing

Over the past few years China has tried to change its reputation as merely an outsourcing post, to become creators of feature films in their own right.

In 2015 China released a couple of films that became unquestionable hits, albeit only in China itself.  'Monster Hunt' is a live action-animation hybrid about a monster child who is in danger from humans who hunt them.

(Image from film 'Monster Hunt')

A second film released soon after was 'Monkey King: Hero Returns', a full CGI feature.  It became the most successful Chinese fully CG film in history.

China have proved they've got what it takes to become a real contender to Hollywood.  Film companies and investors worldwide are now taking notice and doing their best to joint this fast growing movement.

Thoughts by,
Sian

 

Pixel Art

Patreon.com is a website where artists can create videos or text guides to help other people learn new skills from them.  In return, if someone finds their work helpful they can choose to donate money to that individual.

One artist we've came across is Pedro Medeiros.  He is a game artist, programmer and co-founder of games company MiniBoss.  He's decided to dedicate his Patreon site to teaching others to make pixel art.

Here you will find lots of tutorials like this one on how to incorporate motion blur into your animations.

https://www.patreon.com/saint11/posts?tag=tutorial

Pixel art is a popular trend for many games and animation at the moment so these guides may be helpful for students and professionals alike.

Thoughts by,
Sian

Snacks!

The first instalment of "Pirates Of The Caribbean" had a snack budget of $2 million dollars.  I can only hope that one day Carse & Waterman will have that sort of budget and I will be ready to take full advantage of unlimited food!

Of course, once you break down what that money needed to cover it doesn't sound quite so bad.  All 750 cast and crew need to be kept fed and watered, especially when filming in remote locations where no-one can just 'nip to the corner shop'.  

Filming tends to mean the work day is long so all meals needed to be catered for - breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks.  It's easy to see why production would put aside such a large budget.

One of the best ways to keep moral high is to keep everyone well fed!

Thoughts by,
Sian

Moana Ocean

Disney's film 'Moana' was released in November, but not before going through one and a half years of research into 3D water.

CGI water is nothing new for the visual effects industry.  It has been used for many films before for both realistic examples such as tsunami's as well as more cartoonised animations.

The ocean in Moana needed to be different though.  It is a character in itself, helping Moana on her journey.  Giving water anthropomorphic qualities was no doubt going to be a difficullt task.

'The Atlantic' have a great piece going into lots of detail about research and development for the film.  They also managed to talk with several artists from Disney to get there insight on what did and didn't work. Read it here.

Thoughts by,
Sian

 

 

 

Pixar 'Cars 3'

I found a fantastic piece about how Pixar made 'Cars 3'.  It talks about their challenges and successes during the creation of the feature film.

1033027-20160128cars3artreview16-1280.jpg

Read the article here on Animation World Network.

Thoughts by,
Sian

'Coke Habit'

Dress Code, a New York production company, decided to make an animation showing the withdrawal symptoms you can get when you stop drinking coke.  It was based on the true story of one of the studio directors who became far too addicted.  He realised it needed to stop but discovered side-effects to the withdrawal that he was not expecting.

Hopefully no-one has had this feeling quite to that effect but I'm sure we can all sympathise.  When deadlines are approaching coffee and sugar can easily become your best friend, then there's the struggle to get back to your normal routine a few days later!

Thought by,
Sian

Fidget Spinners

Well we're not ashamed to say that fidget spinners seemed to take over the office for a little while.  It's always good to have a bit of fun, although it did split opinions in the office into the haves and the have nots!

One designer (Jonathon Odom) saw a way to convert a fidget spinner into something to use for animation.  It takes advantage of the old method of animating using a zoetrope.  He printed a strip of paper with different stages of a cat running, 3D printed a cleverly designed fidget spinner and put the two together.

Here is the result:

It's a great use for the gadget!

Thoughts by,
Sian

My Life as a Cougette

A film I am struggling to find in a local cinema is 'Ma vie de Courgette', released as 'My Life as a Courgette' in the UK.  It's a stopmotion film by Swiss director Claude Barras.

A child (nicknamed Courgette) becomes an orphan after the sudden death of his alcoholic mother.  He's then taken to an orphanage where other children try to get him to talk about his past.  After a while he feels more comfortable and is surrounded by friends, who he then realises have become his new family.

The film was started 7 years ago so it was a long time in the making - however if you know anything about stop-motion you'll realise it's very time consuming!

I may have to find a dvd copy instead!

Thoughts by,
Sian

 

 

Totoro Theme Park

(Image: 'My Neighbor Totoro' Studio Ghibli)

(Image: 'My Neighbor Totoro' Studio Ghibli)

Studio Ghibli is such a huge name in animation.  Everyone has heard of them, even if you're not an animation nut you've probably still heard of a couple of their most popular films.

They've recently announced that they're hoping to open a theme park in Japan in 2020.  It will be based on one of their most popular films 'My Neighbor Totoro', which was released in 1988.

Ghibli fans can't wait to visit the park.  Hopefully they'll be able to ride a Cat Bus just like in the film!

Thoughts by,
Sian

 

 

Steven Universe

(image from http://images.zap2it.com)

(image from http://images.zap2it.com)

An animation has just popped up on my radar called 'Steven Universe'.  I've only just came across it but apparently it has been becoming very popular overseas in America.  It's first episode was aired November 2013 so I'm clearly very behind with the times!

It's the story of a group of magical beings who have made it their mission to guard the universe.  Steven is one of the youngest in the group and usually comes up with wacky ideas to save the day.

I found an article on The Verge with an interview with Rebecca Sugar, the shows creator. 

https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/1/15657682/steven-universe-rebecca-sugar-cartoon-network-animation-interview

Now I best go watch some episodes then!

Thoughts by,
Sian

Back from the Dead

Many stars of the past are being brought back to the big screen using advanced vfx techniques.  This was seen most recently in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story".  Peter Cushing reprised his role as Grand Moff Tarkin, which he first played in 1977.  This wasn't easy to do considering he dies in 1994! 

(Image: Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox)

(Image: Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox)

Visual effects has always had a big part in film but usually with more obvious effects such as explosions, space travel or even dinosaurs.  The possibilities with this technology are now close to endless as companies like Lola VFX continue to perfect their art.

Read about it in more detail on this article by New York Post:

http://nypost.com/2016/12/17/rogue-one-proves-stars-dont-have-to-be-alive-to-still-be-on-the-screen/

Thoughts by,
Sian

 

Peter Sallis

Everyone here at Carse and Waterman were deeply upset to hear that Peter Sallis passed away earlier this week.  He died aged 96 so at least we know he lead a long, full life.

He will always be remembered by us as the voice of cheese-loving Wallace in Aardmans great stopmotion animation 'Wallace and Gromit'.

(Image from the BBC)

(Image by the BBC)

We can't think of anyone else who would have been a better fit for the role.

Thoughts by,
Sian

Digital Facelift

In the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" film there were shots when Johnny Depp needed to look much younger.  He needed to go from his real age of 53 down to around 25.  This wasn't going to be possible using make-up so the directors needed to find another way.

This is where vfx techniques come into practice.  Special effects are no longer limited to explosions and monsters.  Lola VFX was the company behind this transformation.  It took 15 of their artists a year to complete the 20 - 25 altered shots of Depp.

(Image - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales)

Thoughts by,
Sian