25 September 2013

Vox Pop

  • Tech trends: Rewind & Forward

    Technology vendors review trends and products that made an impact in 2006 and offer a taste of things to come in 2007.… Read More

  • Getting a Clearer Picture

    Digital cinema offers more than just pristine clarity in moving images, says equipment manufacturers of digital servers and projectors. Asia Image quizzes four industry vendors on what makes digital cinema tick, and what doesn’t.… Read More

  • The Story So Far

    While Asia’s mobile content purveyors believe they are peddling the next big thing, the so-called revolution of mobile entertainment has yet to live up to its hype. In this issue, industry insiders talk about the challenges and offer their perspectives on the shape of things to come.… Read More

  • Close Encounters of the Techno Kind

    Technology vendors share their thoughts on the products that made an impact in 2005; coupled with their outlook on what 2006 has to offer.… Read More

Production/ Post

  • WHAT TO EXPECT

    IBC: The content creation management delivery experience, held from 9-14 September in Amsterdam, is an exhibition featuring 1,300+ exhibitors. It’s also a conference that pioneers new technologies and business models. Asia Image previews some of the products that will be on display at IBC this year.… Read More

  • WHAT TO EXPECT

    BroadcastAsia returns to the Singapore Expo on 15 - 18 June with new technologies, solutions and equipment for the entire value chain, from content creation to delivery. This year’s theme, ‘Intergrating Technologies, Experiencing Content’ features new 3D and digital signage clusters as well as the latest digital and high-definition equipment and integrated workflow solutions for the broadcasting, production and post productionzindustries. Asia Image highlights key products that will be on display.… Read More

  • BRANDING STRIDES IN BROADCAST DESIGN

    Broadcast design across Asia is making waves as designers use globally accepted conventions infused with vernacular elements to make their mark and reach out to audiences… Read More

  • FICCI FRAMES: DIGITAL DIRECTION FOR FILM WORLD

    “The creation of digital distribution networks such as video on demand services, satellite airing, and the launch of technologies such as Apple’s iPad, which offer high-definition video viewing experiences, would create potential for films beyond theatrical releases”, said Neeraj Roy, MD and CEO of Hungama Digital Media Entertainment. Roy was speaking on a panel session entitled ‘The Future Of Film Marketing: Growing Ancillary Revenues’ as part of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Frames 2010 in Mumbai. FICCI Frames is the annual convention which features three days of debates and discussions on various issues faced by the media and entertainment industry in India. “This isn’t the far future; this is a reality now, which is likely to change the entertainment landscape,” Roy said. “Digital devices can allow for interactive content and scrollers, which impart tidbits on the movie being watched - services for which a consumer is likely to pay a little extra.” The panellists included Kapil Agarwal, joint managing director, UFO Moviez India; Sanjeev Lamba, CEO, Reliance Big Pictures; Siddharth Roy Kapur, CEO, UTV Motion Pictures; and Sandeep Bhargava, CEO, Studio18. Going digital would also provide a solution against the problems of piracy. “Digitising movies not only counters piracy, but also helps achieve a widespread movie release, without print and other related costs,” Roy added. Bhargava of Studio18 agreed, citing an example where the digital world helped enhance entertainment. “We have realised in our experience that even if movies with smaller budgets don’t have theatrical releases overseas, people want to see them on DVDs. This often leads to piracy,” he said. To address this challengefor the release of the film Striker, Bhargava and his team tied up with YouTube to make the film available on its platform in markets other than India. As YouTube was officially partnering this initiative, no pirated links to the movie were allowed on its platform, thereby ensuring minimal piracy. While Roy and Bhargava were enthusiastic about the growing importance of digital in contributing to a film’s revenue, Lamba talked about some of the key problems plaguing the film industry in India, in particular, the issue of rights management. “The rest of the world works on ‘all rights’ releases, which means tying up with one company for all these rights,” he said, “but in India, the tendency is to break up the selling of rights by tying up with different partners. This has its limitations, as opposed to obtaining everything under one roof/banner.” The success of film marketing begins by managing its rights successfully. As a prediction, Lamba said that just like in Hollywood, consolidation would soon enter the currently fragmented production industry in India; and a handful of studios would soon command 60 per cent of the market share, much like in Hollywood. This year’s edition of FICCI Frames highlighted various issues such as piracy, proliferation of Indian fi lms to new avenues, better collaboration with foreign films, new formats, and more. India’s media and entertainment industry has gone through tough times in the last two years as its mainstay advertising industry suffered due to the global financial slowdown. The industry as a whole registered a modest growth of around 1.3 percent in 2009 compared to 12 percent in 2008. A session that attracted a lot of interest at FICCI Frames 2010 was one that examined the topic of censorship. Babu Ramasami, the regional officer of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) revealed that a proposal has been made for a separate certification of digital movies, which could be different from theatrical releases. Ramasami explained that the CBFC kept guidelines vague to keep creativity alive and to allow fi lmmakers to explore progressive ideas. Moderator, Kamal Hassan who is also the chairman of FICCI Media & Entertainment Business Conclave, suggested filmmakers could submit their scripts for review to enable CBFC to foresee if films would be cleared at the final stage. The convention culminated with the FICCI-Frames Excellence awards. Rajkumar Hirani`s Three Idiots was awarded Most Successful Film of the Year with Hirani receiving the award for the Best Director of the Year. R Balki`s Paa swept the Best Actor categories with Amitabh Bachchan winning the Best Actor of the Year – Male award for his portrayal of a 12-year-old Auro, afflicted by progeria (rapid ageing in children). Actress Vidya Balan, was named Best Actor of the Year – Female for her role as Auro`s mother. Shah Rukh Khan was named as Global Entertainer of the Year while composer A R Rahman was presented with the Global Icon of the Year award in recognition of his musical creations. Ranbir Kapoor won the Best Entertainer award; Pritam Chakraborty was presented the Best Music Director award for his work in Love Aaj Kal. The television industry had its share of accolades with Colors recognized as the Most Successful TV Channel of the Year and Zee TV reality dance show Dance India Dance declared the Most Successful Non-Fiction Show of the Year. Daily soap Uttaran was named the Most Successful Drama Series of the Year, actor Ayub Khan scored the Best Actor of the Year, TV, Male and Ulka Gupta of Jhansi Ki Rani received the Best Actor of the Year, TV, Female. ------------------------------------------------------------------ FICCI BEST ANIMATION FRAMES AWARDS 2010 One of the largest and most technically advanced visual effects facilities in Asia, Prime Focus, took two awards at the prestigious FICCI Best Animation Frames Awards 2010. Prime Focus was awarded the Special Jury Award for Chandani Chowk to China (CC2C) and VFX Shot of the Year for Tum Mile. Merzin Tavaria, chief creative director, Prime Focus and VFX supervisor on CC2C and Tum Mile said, ”We are extremely honoured to have been associated and to have contributed to the success of Chandani Chowk to China and Tum Mile with our visual effects. I would like to thank FICCI BAF and the makers of the film for trusting our creative expertise. In the years to come, we will continue to strive to push the boundaries of visual entertainment.” For the fi lm Chandani Chowk to China, Prime Focus delivered an array of post services and over 1,000 visual effects shots. Co-produced by Warner Bros, the fi lm notched some notable firsts including the first Bollywood fi lm to be distributed by Warner Bros and the first Indian production to be shot in China. In fact, Chandani Chowk to China is the biggest internationally distributed film in the history of Indian cinema. The movie was worked on by a team of 150 artists led by VFX supervisor, Reupal Rawal under the creative supervision of Tavaria. The project was spread across India over a two month time frame, with shots and sequences delivered simultaneously by Prime Focus artists at facilities in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Goa. “Chandani Chowk to China required a lot of planning to achieve the quality of visual effects within the time frame. It feels good to be appreciated for ones effort,” said Rawal. Prime Focus team for Tum Mile comprised of 79 creative professionals, led by VFX supervisor Ritesh (Ricky) Aggarwal, also under the creative guidance of Tavaria. The film required Prime Focus to recreate the July 2005 Mumbai floods and realistically project it with effective live-action effects, complete CG shots, compositing, matte painting, etc. “We are thrilled to receive not one but two awards at this year’s FICCI BAF. It was quite a challenge for us to create the infamous Mumbai floods scenario for Tum Mile. This recognition is a result of the joint effort of the entire Prime Focus team and the makers of Tum Mile,” said Aggarwal. Prime Focus was also nominated under VFX in a Commercial category for its work on the Coffy Bite commercial.… Read More

  • AUTODESK PANORAMA ANIMATION CHALLENGE

    Tancho comes out tops in the inaugural animation challenge, which saw keen competition with 57 entries from seven countries in the region, proving there is an abundance of talent waiting to be tapped.… Read More

  • HONG KONG FILM AND TELEVISION MARKET (FILMART) 2010

    Collaborations with China and new technologies took center stage at this year’s Filmart in Hong Kong, where attendance was strong and both buyers and filmmakers were optimistic. According to the organizer, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, a record 540 exhibitors from 29 countries attended the four-day 14th Hong Kong International Film and TV Market, and all eyes are directed across the border to mainland China, where the box office is expected to top US$1.5 billion this year. There was a bigger presence all around from countries like Taiwan, Philippines Malaysia, Thailand and Korea. Europe was also well represented at Filmart, with big delegations from Germany and France, while Austria, Croatia and Latvia were also at the fair. Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who received an Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema gong at the Asian Film Awards, said Asian movies were gaining traction in the world and making more of an impact. “But Asian filmmakers still have a lot of work to do before they can truly turn their movies into a medium through which ordinary people in other parts of the world can acquire a good understanding of Asian culture,” he said. The film industry is important to Hong Kong, and stopping piracy was an essential way of keeping it thriving, according to a report commissioned by the International Federation Against Copyright Theft - Greater China (IFACT-GC), which represents the Motion Picture Association in the territory. The Hong Kong film and television industries contributed HK$33 billion ($4.25 billion) to the economy and created more than 32,000 jobs in 2008. The report was commissioned by the International Federation Against Copyright Theft - Greater China (IFACT-GC). “The report provides useful quantitative figures for us to evaluate the contribution of the film and television industry and an opportunity to look beyond to see what should be done to facilitate the further development of the industry,” said Sam Ho, executive director and general manager, IFACT-GC. As part of FILMART 2010, this year’s event handed out cash prizes to several projects which were vying for the 8th Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) Award. The Enchanter by Kwok Tsz-kin, a project originating in Hong Kong, and Twins (The Philippines) by Sherad Anthony Sanchez, originating outside of Hong Kong, were awarded seed money of HK$150,000 (US$19,319.41) each. The award shorlisted 25 selected film projects from 17 territories, including 12 co-production projects - the highest in the history of the HAF, indicating a growing trend of inter-Asia film collaboration. The Paris Project Award was presented to I Love You So Much (Taiwan) by Leon Dai. The film won an award of £5,000, which included one round-trip ticket and hotel accommodation to participate in Paris Project 2010 at the Paris Cinema International Film Festival. HAF also presented the Technicolor Asia Award to Cosplay (China/ France) by Sheng Zhimin. The film was awarded an in-kind prize worth US$25,000 by Technicolor Asia, Bangkok. The first-ever recipient of the Wouter Barendrecht award was Mama Eva (Hong Kong/ China/ Switzerland) by Kit Hung. This new award is dedicated to the memory of the late Wouter Barendrecht, Hong Kong-based international film producer and co-founder of the HAF. The winner was awarded a cash prize of HK$50,000 by the Wouter Barendrecht Film Foundation and the Film Development Fund. The awards were announced in a ceremony held at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre. Films from China and South Korea ruled at the 4th Asian Film Awards 2010, taking top honours including best picture, best actor and best actress at the ceremony also held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Mother, the South Korean mystery thriller directed by Bong Joonho, was named Best Film at the Asian Film Awards. The film depicts a woman’s quest to prove the innocence of her mentally incapacitated son who is faced with a murder charge. The film also took the Best Actress award for Kim Hye Ja who plays the eponymous mother who takes it upon herself to investigate the murder of a teenage girl to prove her son is innocent of murder. Kim’s granddaughter accepted the award on the actress’ behalf. Kim also won best actress at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards last year. Director Bong and Park Eun-kyo won the best screenwriter award with the script for Mother, which was also selected as South Korea’s entry for best foreign-language film at this year’s Oscars. Chinese director Lu Chuan won the best director award for his feature film City of Life and Death (China), which deals with the Nanjing Massacre in 1937, where hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians were killed by Japanese soldiers. The film also won best cinematographer. Two actors from the blockbuster, Bodyguards and Assassins, which tells the story of how a group of people protect ‘Father of the nation’ Sun Yat-sen during his brief stay in Hong Kong, took best actor and best supporting actor. Wang Xueqi won the best actor award with his depiction of a businessman who provides financial support for the revolutionary movement led by Sun in what would become the 1911 Revolution that overthrew the Qing dynasty. Former pop star Nicholas Tse won the best supporting actor category with his role as a rickshaw boy. Hong Kong actress Wai Ying-hung received the best supporting actress award for her portrayal of an overprotective and alcoholic single mother in At the End of Daybreak, directed by Malaysian filmmaker Ho Yuhang. The film’s co-star, Ng Menghui won the best newcomer award. Producer Terence Chang accepted the award for 2009’s top grossing film director on behalf of John Woo, for Woo’s two-part war epic, Red Cliff. Indian screen legend Amitabh Bachchan, 67, was honoured with a lifetime achievement award. The Asian Film Awards is one of nine major events in Entertainment Expo 2010 in Hong Kong organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. The other events in the expo, held from 21 March to 6 April this year are the Hong Kong Independent Short Film and Video Awards; the IFPI Hong Kong Top Sales Music Award; the Hong Kong International Film and TV Market; the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum; the Hong Kong Music Fair; the Hong Kong Film Awards Presentation Ceremony; the Digital Entertainment Leadership Forum and the Hong Kong International Film Festival. … Read More

  • 48 HOUR FILM PROJECT: SINGAPORE

    A whirlwind movie-making cram session, the 48 Hour Film Project challenges teams of filmmakers from 70 cities all over the world. Each team is given a character, prop, genre, and a line of dialogue and must write, shoot, and edit a film in just 48 hours. Filmapalooza, held each year at the NAB Show, features the best film from each city, selected from over 2,500 entries on four continents. According to the organisers, back in May 2001, Mark Ruppert came up with a crazy idea: to try to make a film in 48 hours. He quickly enlisted his filmmaking partner, Liz Langston, and several other DC filmmakers to form their own teams and join him in his experiment. The big question back then was, “Would films made in only 48 hours even be watchable?” The answer was a resounding “yes”, and now nine years later and with more than 150 competitions having taken place around the world, it is amazing to consider the success of the Project, the organisers said. The 48 Hour Film Project’s mission is “to advance filmmaking and promote filmmakers”. The tight deadline puts the focus squarely on the filmmakers - emphasizing creativity and teamwork skills. According to the organisers, “While the time limit places an unusual restriction on the filmmakers, it is also liberating by putting an emphasis on ‘doing’ instead of ‘talking’.” The Singapore leg of the Project, now in its third year, is produced by Meghan Shea and Michael Rogers. Over 20 teams participated this year, and both the city winner and the audience choice winner received a copy each of Media Composer 4.0, sponsored by Avid. The city winner’s film will also be screened at Filmapalooza next year, where it will compete with around 70 films from all over the world. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ THE 48 HOURS OF MADNESS A recap into how Audience Choice award winners for 2010’s 48 Hour Film Project, Method in Madness, managed to write, direct and edit a short film titled The Arrival with a team of five. Written by the team’s production manager, Lisa Cheong. For some filmmakers, writing, shooting and editing a short film within 48 hours may seem like a herculean feat. But for directors David Shiyang Liu (5 Films in an Anthology of a Film a Month) and Nicole Midori Woodford (Kitchen Quartet), they saw this as an opportunity to collaborate with each other on a film for the first time. Unlike many of the 48-hour film teams this year, Liu and Woodford chose to keep the team small as a way of pushing themselves to their limits to see how much they can accomplish within a short time frame. Furthermore, both directors felt that a small crew did not put them as a disadvantage as both directors had skills in the areas of producing, editing and visual effects. How the madness all panned out: 30th April, 6pm Friday night: The various teams converged at the campus of NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia, as organisers Meghan Shea and Mike Rogers briefed the teams on the rules and regulations of the competition. Shortly after, from each team representatives queued up to draw their movie genre out of a hat. As the teams before us announced their genres (Film noir! Romance! Drama!), Method in Madness drew the science-fiction genre. The organisers also unveiled the three must-haves which needed to be included in every team’s fi lm. Teams needed to incorporate a pillow as a prop, a character called Eugene or Eunice Ling who works as a personal trainer, and the phrase “Well, that certainly changes things”. 8pm (42.5 hours remaining): After leaving the Tisch campus, Method in Madness went for a lengthy three-hour dinner and brainstorming session. Due to time constraint and the directors’ lack of experience in this genre, the directors agreed to stay away from the usual sci-fi tropes of laser guns and aliens, and veer towards telling a story about human connections instead. 1am (39 hours remaining): The next meet-up was held at Woodford’s house, where she spent some time on the phone convincing director/actor Thomas Lim (Roulette City) to act alongside actress Oon Shu An (Kitchen Quartet). Before the night ended at 4am, the co-directors had already cranked out a story which they felt enthusiastic about and wanted to tell. The story revolves around a Singaporean girl who is reluctantly roped into helping a Cantonese-speaking stranger fi nd his way back home. As the night progresses on, the girl learns that the stranger is more than what he seems. 1st May, 2pm (26.5 hours remaining) : The team met up at Woodford’s house again to finalise the beats for the film. In order to save time, two directors decided not to come up with a traditional script, but typed out a list of beats with the description of camera angles for each scene instead. And even though much of the script would have to be relied on the actors for improvisation, the directors also wrote down the main dialogue points which the actors needed to cover in order for the plot to progress. 8pm (23.5 hours remaining): Keeping in tandem with the sci-fi genre, the team’s ideal location was one with minimalist, modern architecture. With no extra lighting on hand, the team also needed a location that could provide ample lighting for the set as well. After a quick location scouting along Dhoby Gaut, the team’s initial plan of using the park space above the train station was quickly dismissed after the place was found to be visually unattractive and too dark for the shoot. Banking on a suggestion to explore the Circle Line stations, the team managed found the perfect location at the Bras Basah station where its long shiny escalators, high walls and lack of traffic fit the feel of the story perfectly. 10.30pm, call time for cast (21 hours remaining): Actor Thomas Lim arrived at Dhoby Gaut and while waiting for our actress, the directors briefed Lim on the premise of the story. 11.00pm (20.5 hours remaining): Armed with a Canon 5D Mark II DSLR, an Audio-Technica shotgun microphone and a Zoom H2 recorder tucked into the pocket of Lim’s blazer, we hurried towards the Circle Line Bras Basah station to shoot before the station closed. Over the loudspeaker calls for passengers to board the last trains, Method in Madness manage to squeeze in six lengthy shots within 20 minutes before exiting the station. 2nd May, 2am (17.5 hours remaining): We were shooting the scenes at the coffeeshop along Bencoolen Street when friends whom we initially roped in to play the roles of Eugene and Eunice phoned with bad news. “Eugene” was slightly tipsy and would not be able to arrive on set to act in his role, and “Eunice” didn’t feel comfortable acting in the scene alone. Out of the sheer desperation, Liu and I agreed to take one for the team and fill in as the film’s extras. 4am (15.5 hours remaining): I’d lost our prop. When the team was headed down to the Orchard Road and Somerset vicinity for the toilet and street scenes, I had accidentally thrown away the two apples which we had shot with earlier in the train station. After four convenience store clerks and two restaurant waitresses in the Orchard vicinity told me that they do not sell apples, I hopped into a cab and asked the taxi driver to take me to the nearest petrol kiosk station - wherever it was - hoping that they would sell apples there. And to my luck, they did! Even the birds posed as a challenge for the film crew as well. While the streets of Orchard Road were relatively quiet in the wee hours of the morning, the chirps from the birds in the trees above were so loud that it became a concern about whether the noise would drown out the actors’ dialogue. Finally, the directors called it a wrap at 7am just as workers startstreaming back onto Orchard Road. 7.30am (12 hours remaining): Back at Liu’s house, the directors looked at the rushes before showering and collapsing into bed. 12pm (7.5 hours remaining): Oops! The co-directors, who are also responsible for the editing slept through their alarm clocks and are now two hours behind schedule. With two Apple laptops placed side by side, Woodford started work on the assembly edit in Final Cut Pro while Liu worked on the visual effects of the film in Adobe After Effects. Due to the frenzy in the train station, it was only during postproduction when Liu realised that my hand (which helped aid the visual effects take) was accidentally captured on film as well. This meant even more work for Liu - and what he initially envisioned as an hour’s worth of rotoscoping work eventually took three hours to complete. 5.30pm (2 hours remaining): In order to make the 7.30pm deadline, the editors made a decision not spend precious time syncing the sound from the Zoom H2 recorder to the film, and just rely on the sound recorded through the Audio- Technica shotgun microphone. Meanwhile, Woodford sourced for the film’s music via musician Moby’s website, mobygratis.com, which provides free film music for independent and non-profit filmmakers working on independent films or shorts. 6pm: Just before rendering the film, the team realised that they’ve forgotten to add the subtitles for Lim’s speaking lines and rush to include them in the film. 7pm: No minute was spared as Liu used the time in the car ride to Tisch to burn the film on disc for the organisers, with a thumbdrive used as backup. 7:20pm: The team arrived at the Tisch campus and submitted the film with 10 minutes to spare. Success! … Read More

  • Believe in Fre3fall

    The Skinny ‘Believe’ is a song from the soundtrack of ‘The Band’ – a weekly TV series about the pop band Fre3fall. The show tracks the teenage band’s life and adventures on campus and stage. As the series premiered on Okto Singapore in January 2010, music videos were created and released online to support the series by the show’s creators and producers The Moving Visuals Co. ‘Believe’ reflects the show’s themes of imagination, ambition and self-belief. The video captures the transformation of its key cast members from ordinary guys to super band Fre3fall, and their brush with instant celebrity. Director Mak CK decided to take a stop-motion approach to capture the band’s world of music and wonder. Mak felt that this primitive and avant-garde technique was perfect for a music video. Being his first music video and stop-motion effort, the challenge to marry two virgin efforts was too tempting to resist. The Production Stop-motion production is a labour of love, with an emphasis on ‘labour’. All in all, the entire video involved 1,500 painstakingly choreographed photographs. To direct the film, every frame was storyboarded. Most stop-motion videos vary between six to 25 frames per second. This music video was shot at 10 frames a second – not as physically demanding as 25 to execute but a lot smoother on the eyes than six. The duration of each scene was determined both by how long it took to play out in real-time, and also the amount of physical action involved onscreen. This allowed for the stretching out or speeding up of movements in each scene to dramatise the visual storytelling. While pre-production was fun, the shoot was a test of patience, continuity and meticulous detail. Every animate and inanimate element had to be in exactly the right position for every shot (every 10th second of the video). The most memorable sequence was also the most difficult to execute: a performance scene where the band played to a mosh pit of about 100 hats, caps and wigs. To get the ‘crowd’ to do the Mexican wave and bop, every one of the 100 ‘heads’ had to be repositioned for every frame. 300 shots and almost an hour later, the team bagged 30 seconds of mosh pit footage, all in the name of stop-motion. Although 90 percent of the video was shot old-school stop-motion, certain lip-sync sequences were shot on high definition video instead of stills, and treated in post. The entire shot took a day and a half in a studio and outdoor location. Photographer Jester Alcaraz used a Nikon D200 camera, while Italian DOP Andrea Turri created the lighting for the studio and filmed lip sync sequences on a Panasonic HDX-900 DVCPro HD camera. The Post After an intensive pre-production phase and shoot, post was a relative breeze. Image sequencing all the photographs enabled the base cut to be laid out in Final Cut Pro in a matter of minutes. For better or worse, there was little room for changes at this stage. With the timeline ready, it was a matter of then grading and working out the transitions between scenes. Mak wanted to incorporate the music video element of lip-syncing without breaking the stop-motion treatment of the film. So the team experimented by inter-cutting between takes of each lip-sync scene every four frames to simulate the stop-motion effect in post. In the end, each video sequence was treated with an onion skinning software, to further enhance the feel of stop-motion animation. The final video can be seen on youtube.… Read More

  • Karizma reaches new heights

    The Skinny Bollywood leading man Hrithik Roshan who hails from an extended family of cinema personalities is the protagonist in this new integrated marketing campaign to promote Honda’s premium Karizma ZMR motorbike. This third collaboration between Hrithik and Honda sees the acclaimed superstar walking among his collection of boy toys in a hangar space – muscle cars, choppers, and amidst it all, the new Honda Karizma ZMR – and admiring his spoils. From the distance, a twister looms and darkens the skies before approaching and whipping the cap off Hrithik’s head, before making a turn towards the countryside. Not content to let a stealing twister have its way, Hrithik leaps on his new Honda Karizma ZMR and gives chase. He pursues the twister across long, winding open roads while the twister brings on lightning strikes, fierce winds and flying debris that don’t deter our hero. As the twister winds its way to a nearby island creating a huge wave in its wake, our hero revs up his ZMR, rides inside the tidal wave, and zooms out the other end where he breaches the wall of the twister and finally retrieves his cap! Mission accomplished and Hrithik rests his cap firmly on his head, where it belongs. The Production Bang Bang Films in Mumbai was entrusted by JWT Delhi for its client, Hero Honda of India, to create this fury of nature’s visual feast. Bang Bang Films brought on board talented South African director, Lourens van Rensburg (from seven Films in Cape Town), and teamed up with VHQ Singapore to work out the intricate details of live action, background plates, chroma key scenes, CG and 3D elements and all the other VFX requirements that would go into creating a spectacular launch for Honda’s leading motorcycle in India. During a strenuous six-day shoot in monsoon weather, Lourens combined his bike riding expertise with his directorial skills to capture the action sequences that would be later enhanced with all the digital effects, to shoot a quick-paced man-versus-nature chase sequence. Lau Kia Hau from VHQ was on location to ensure that all the background plates and chroma key scenes were shot with plenty of tracking points so the intensive post production processes of motion tracking and rotoscoping could begin almost simultaneously. The Post Once the off-line edit was completed in Mumbai, it emerged that 58 out of the 65 total shots in the edit required rotoscoping, storm skies and lightning inserts, plus a twister with the right amount of menace, movement and shape to be conjured up for more than 20 shots. The photo-realistic tidal wave consumed another nine scenes. To accommodate the massive workload, VHQ brought together the talents and capacities of the 3D departments in both their Singapore and Kuala Lumpur offices to meet the tight deadline. “When we first looked at the job we felt we would have to go to the States or London to get the results we wanted, but both time and budget prevented us from pursuing that option” commented director, Lourens. Instead, under the guiding hand of William Woo, VHQ’s Head of Post and VFX director, a team of over 20 people were involved for eight weeks in creating the complex elements for a final, exciting commercial. “We knew when VHQ sent us the first WIP of the wave sequence that we were in great hands and it was a great delight for all of us to follow the progress to the final end product” said Agency Producer Suprotim Day. Elvis Sequeira, vice president & executive creative director of JWT, India – the agency appointed for this commercial, is as equally pleased with the final result. He adds, “any post heavy film always gives me the jitters as I always seem to end up with something short of what I imagined while writing the script … but the VHQ team brought a very tough script to life by producing a near-flawless execution under considerable constraints of time, budget and availability of source material.”… Read More

  • adidas 118PRO for hard floor

    The Skinny iris Sydney created a campaign for the adidas 118PRO football boot – the first boot specifically designed for the Australian market. The campaign is based around the insight that there is one thing that all football codes in Australia have in common: the hard fields on which they’re played. No matter what level you play at, many pitches are like concrete. But with its EVA wedge, adiPRENE heel, and TRAXION sole, the 118PRO has been designed to protect and support the foot in these conditions. To deliver the creative visual, iris combined the image of a football stadium full of anticipation for a high-level, international game of rugby with a retouched field of rubble and concrete. This was designed to exaggerate the toughest conditions that could strike fear into the bones of even the hardest of rugby players. This detailed thinking was carried right through to the typographical treatment of the boot and the headline, ‘Purpose built for Australian Conditions.’ Scratching and stressing the type allowed iris to amplify the rugged nature of the idea without compromising the premium look and feel of one of the world’s leading sports brands. The campaign was executed through adidas own retail and wholesale channels across Australia. The Production Two locations for the two different ‘Australian Conditions’ – one area at Windsor, West of Sydney. for the dry cracked earth was shot at turf farms after they had lifted the turf and several huge empty freight container terminals for the massive expanses of bitumen required to match the scale of a stadium pitch. There were several obstacles and difficulties to overcome. As well as the need to shoot large expanses of bitumen/cracked earth texture it was also essential to match the height of each stadium viewpoint for which ‘cherrypicker’ cranes were used at each location. At each location, the team had the challenge of matching the exact same angle from which each stadium was shot. In addition, it was 45 degrees Celsius at Winsor – one of the hottest days of the year. Fortunately, it needed to be hot. In order to match both the shadows from the overhead stadium lights in each texture and in any imperfections/cracks the team shot between 11am and 1pm so that the sun was above. The production also shot several areas of floodlit tarmac at night to match the stadium floodlights as reference for the retouchers, Cream Studios. Real cracks in the earth and bitumen on the pitch-sized textures were too thin and detailed to be ‘graphic’ enough to convey the idea. This issue was solved by shooting ‘macro landscapes’ in the dust of dried rain puddles, again shot from the same angle/view point as the stadium shots. In terms of cameras, the production used a Hasselblad medium format digital, wide (to match stadium shot lenses) and macro/long lenses (for cracks). The Post Once the NRL stadium was chosen, the team worked with the photographer to shoot different textures matching the scale and angle of the original pitch. They then started to mask off all areas where the new ‘turf’ would go. It then was a complex process of layering the pitch – first a basic floor texture, then gradually building up more and more detail – like the cracks, rubble and shrubs. When this was complete, the team used 3D software to ‘camera map’ the new ground and then added in the goal posts, logo panelling and field lines – it was decided this would be the most realistic solution to ensure these elements matched all the camera angles and were proportionate to the stadium. Finally, a bit of noise and glare from the floodlights were added, and an atmospheric grade was given to the overall shot.… Read More

  • Cobra Man overcomes odds

    The Skinny The campaign is an expression of Cobra’s brand philosophy – to succeed in the game of life, heart or perseverance and determination trumps all. Beyond the simple promise of instant energy or bursts of power, Cobra is a brand that understands the needs and aspirations of the working man – helping him with his struggles and daily grind. The idea of ‘Maze’ was to show the character, Cobra Man tackle obstacles or maze with intelligence, brawn and determination/skill. The Cobra Man decides to drink the product and use his skill and determination to evade, engage and jump over the obstacles thereby reaching his goal. An army of fire-breathing minotaurs acts as the antagonists of the story. The minotaurs represent life’s obstacles, personified as an army of brutal, mindless and fierce soldiers with metal bull masks. The king minotaur is the main adversary perched on top of his throne. The Production The project was shot in a studio with chroma walls and an 80ft x 80ft soil flooring. The team shot with two RED cameras since it has higher resolution of 2K to 4K and could work with up to 120 progressive frames per second for slow-motion shots. This resolution provides more flexibility in post-production. The main challenge was to make the ad look epic, considering the limitations in set and number of actors. There were only few minotaur soldiers on the set, and to recreate an army was a big challenge during post-production. One of the most memorable scenes was the running scene where the director wanted a full sprint from the lead talent. The dolly just could not keep up with the talent and was always left behind. In the end, the talent had to run in place with some wind effect. The commercial had to look dark and gloomy with shadows and contrast, and touches of warm fire flickering every now and then. The look and mood was achieved as planned. The Post As the project was shot on the RED camera, there was an RIS (Red Imaging Specialist) on set running a Final Cut Pro on Macbook Pro. Grading was done on the da Vinci Resolve. Online was finished on the Quantel EQ3. The creative intent was a cinematic feel in a surreal setting. The matte painter who served as art director created various layouts and colour palettes for the director to approve. Most of the ‘look’ was achieved in post in colour grading and compositing. During the shoot, the plates were shot ‘flat’ with a safe exposure so it could be tweaked in post. The post process took approximately a month. VFX Software used was Nuke for compositing. Maya and Zbrush were used for the 3d Snake and flag. Photoshop was used for matte paintings. Project Maze is a very composite heavy TVC. It was a full chroma shoot with about 10 soldier minotaurs and one king. The only prop was the king’s throne and the studio was filled with dirt on the ground. Multiple passes were shot of the soldiers for crowd multiplication. Fire elements were shot for compositing of the minotaur flames. Most of the shots were handheld with dirt, dust and smoke in-camera to give a more realistic effect rather than to generate dust and smoke in post. Tracker markers were also difficult to remove from the smoke. Nuke was used as the main compositor and formulated a workflow that handled difficult shots with ease. Comps were done in 1080 HD then rendered to SD for final output. Nuke proved so efficient in handling high-resolution images that it was not necessary to comp in SD.… Read More

  • B.yond the call of duty

    The Skinny Astro wanted a commercial that could deliver the concept of ‘an experience like never before’, bigger than life and communicate the innovation and richness of high definition (HD). It had to resonate with the consumers, with the same feeling of awe from TVC to actual HD experience on Astro B.yond. The TVC called for great ingenuity and craft – a concept that would captivate audiences beyond their wildest imagination in sharper pictures, vibrant colours and cinematic surround sound. The advertising agency Y&R presented a whole range of ideas and agency and client fine-tuned the aspects of the ideas that they thought would convey ‘content come to life’. Director, Al Isaac explains the evolution of the commercial: “We wanted to create a world that was surreal and unique, one that was right next to you and you could actually live it. We tied in this powerful creative vision so that we could play on making the whole commercial more cinematic in a wild and beautiful way.” The 2.5 min running TVC, among the longest produced in Malaysia, had the scalability to be scaled down to 60s and 30s. The Production Most of the shoot went smoothly in parks and open areas in and around Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur. A large part of the storyboard required sunshine but every time it rained the team was forced to use the big lights. Plates were also shot at different times when sun was available and later composited in to keep a consistent sunny look. The Phantom, Arri film camera 235 and the RED cam were used. The Phantom, which runs about 1000 to 1500 frames per second, was used to catch intense action at very slow speeds. The film camera captured richness of color and quality and the Arri 235 is light and versatile. The RED cam was used as a second unit camera to pick up plate shots. As it was the first HD commercial for the HD platform launch, Astro had their own technical specifications that they had to adhere to. It was a new learning curve for all involved as they learned a whole new workflow that came with HD and Dolby E audio specs. The most memorable scenes involved horses. One scene had a horse jumping with a stunt rider on it. At one point, the rider fell but both horse and rider were not injured. Another scene had a Red Indian character on a horse walking into a surreal looking garden. The horse had to move awkwardly through a narrow path and stop on the mark. Lots of side and backlighting were used to create strong dramatic images throughout. Colours in art direction were coordinated to maintain a certain style that presented the rich quality of HD. The choice of using Geoffrey Rush, an Australian DoP, was key as he had the right reel experience. The Post TigerTiger Post had the technical know how and experience working with hi-res data format so it took on the first HD project in Malaysia with confidence. Because of the tight deadline, the online suites were on 24-hour work call, with both online artists working around the clock. The Flame suite worked for 22 days non-stop. Scanning was on the Lasergraphics film scanner – The Director at HD resolution – then on to base color grading with the powerful Resolve DI. The Resolve had great control over the images, a great deal of colour treatment was applied to get fantastic results from the raw images. Then offline was done on Final Cut Pro (HD) with comping and cut/paste put together to create the film. Then EDL was sent back to the Resolve for final grade for colour matching with precision. Finally the footages and VFX components were sent to the Bright Storage where online artists and touch up/rotoscoping artists had access to put the final film together. Online machines such as Flame, Combustion and Shake were used, whilst 3D and graphics was ongoing.… Read More

  • BITWORLD TOPS Format Superpitch 2009

    One of the highlights of the Asia Television Forum 2009 was the thrilling conclusion of The Format Superpitch – a competition that rewarded the ‘Greatest Formats’ idea. Six contending producers from around the region gave their best to a judging panel. The winning entry was BITWORLD ‘Two Rooms’ by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation). The special live episode of BITWORLD consists of four to five eight-minute drama episodes (these were incorporated into a weekly children’s show) followed by a special live episode that features an interactive game. The drama scenario, the game design, and the flexible programme composition were calculated to make children feel part of the programme. The aim of the project, as a public broadcaster’s TV programme, was to nurture children’s creativity, to stimulate children intellectually, and give them a sense of togetherness by having them work toward a shared goal. According to Koji Kiuchi, senior producer of Program Production Department at NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.), the challenge of working on this project lay in the difference in the mentality behind TV production and that of software production for the internet. “With TV, the product must be completely finished and polished for the first airing. With the internet, by contrast, the tendency is to release a product and then improve it as necessary,” said Kiuchi. “But with this project, the game software had to work perfectly on the first outing.” “A server failure or a software bug that might, say, have caused a player’s computer to freeze is completely unacceptable. Creating a happy marriage between TV production and software production is a difficult balancing act.” However, the producers went into the project with confidence after successfully testing the waters. In Japan, 100,000 children played the game during a single episode. “We wanted children all over Japan to be able to experience the fusion of TV and the Internet by enabling them to watch the programme on TV and play the game on the programme website at the same time. We believe this kind of two-screen interaction will become more common thanks to BITWORLD,” said Kiuchi.… Read More

  • Telco TV to drive video server markets

    After a slow start, telco TV is now growing quickly as it is in the rest of the industrialised world. As the latecomer to the television distribution game, telco TV has the advantage of employing the most current technology and the least legacy infrastructure. This, in part, explains the stronger growth in this segment. The hardware side of the equation is largely commoditised; vendors aim for differentiation via the accompanying software applications. Most video server vendors address at least two out of these three markets, and increasingly their goal is to offer an end-to-end platform. This plays to the advantage of some of the newer, larger, entrants to the market, such as Cisco, Sun, Motorola and Arris. They have the resources to fit these servers into larger, more comprehensive solutions. The broadcast, cable, and telco TV segments of worldwide video server markets are all growing at a healthy pace, and total revenues are expected to reach $1.5 billion in 2013. Of the three, the telco TV market is showing the strongest growth, with a compound annual growth rate of 28 percent over 2007-2013. Cable will experience a CAGR of about 13.5 percent, while broadcast markets show the slowest growth at eight percent. Cable, broadcast and telco TV are all highly competitive markets for video servers, according to ABI Research. Cable and broadcast are the more traditional modes of entertainment for consumers, but cable providers and telcos have been quicker to adapt to market trends and to offer innovative consumer services. Broadcast segments have tried its hand at hybrid deployments and similar initiatives to remain competitive. A new study from ABI Research, “Video Server Market Analysis” shows trends in the video server market, identifies market drivers and inhibitors, and profiles key players and their product offerings in the cable, telco and broadcast segments. Market share and pricing trend data are accompanied by regional and market segment forecasts. A long-time provider of network storage infrastructures that support streamlined end-to-end workflows, SAN Solutions has met this need through provision of open-standard, non-proprietary solutions that enable many once-linear, sequential processes to be performed simultaneously on servers running application services ranging from ingest to transcoding to playout. “TV and film facilities today are finding that a shared media workflow is critical to their efficiency, productivity and consistency in creating and delivering content. By incorporating this functionality into its storage infrastructures, SAN Solutions gives customers across the industry more creative flexibility and more powerful tools for reaching their business goals,” according to Harry Aine, president and CEO of SAN Solutions. “One example of a performance-optimized server appliance developed by SAN Solutions leverages Solid-State Drive technology and Xeon Nehalem CPU technology, tailored to run the RadiantGrid Platform v5.0 software along embedded Linear Acoustic AEROMAX processing.” “Together, these best-of-breed solutions not only address the interoperability constraints that frequently arise between disparate broadcast and production platforms, but also take a holistic approach in solving the complicated problems surrounding content preparation, media transformation, metadata management, and digital distribution,” said Aine. “In addition to enabling advanced processing within the storage infrastructure, this advanced appliance ensures reliable operation, supported by a ‘call home’ function linked to SAN Solutions’ worldwide network operation center for early problem detection, analysis, and quick support response.”… Read More

  • Alpenliebe Summer, Festal & Romance

    The Skinny Emerald City Design in collaboration with Autumn Films (Shanghai) created the Alpenliebe spots for JWT. The Emerald City team of designers conceptualised the magical worlds taking into consideration that each one of the ads was going to target a different age group. This was no easy task as all the commercials needed to feel like they were part of the same campaign. With refined aesthetic sensitivity and attention to detail, the team blended creative precision with technical dexterity and came to the pre-production table with informed and inspired vision. The Production Shot part in studio and part on location, all the designs for the environments were conceived Shot part in studio and part on location, all the designs for the environments were conceived prior to the Emerald City VFX supervisor and design director flying to Shanghai to supervise the shoot. It was of course very important to have a clear picture of the camera moves and composition. Everything was shot on 35mm and transferred to HDcam as a 4:3 format. By having the full image picture it permitted the team of compositors to re-frame and to create camera pans in the 16:9 composition. Having the clients on set proved to be very challenging as 80 percent of the commercial was shot on green screen. The client was worried when they saw so much green in the framing and tried to compensate by framing tighter on the talent. Green screen technology assists in cutting out the key action and removing it from the green background to place it in an artificial, CG or other wise impossible or impractical space. People often make the mistake of throwing too much light onto the chroma key background. The ideal chroma key is one that is even and smooth in colour. Throwing too much light on will create hotspots and troublesome ‘green spill’ (objects reflecting the green light) on the subject. However, having the storyboards, pre-viz and style frames for all the shots prior to production meant that the visuals could be composited live on set to bring Emerald City’s vision alive and to make sure everything was done according to plan. The initial concepts varied very little when compared to the delivered product. The Post On the post side of things, each one of the spots took anywhere from 3-5 weeks to be finalised. Having David Mosqueda, VFX supervisor, on set meant that the Emerald City Team could start working on assets before the shoot was wrapped. Mosqueda takes design to the next level, pursuing excellence with a dedication above and beyond the call of duty, adding magic in motion to the footage. Once the commercials were onlined, a combination of Maya, Boujou, Shake, After Effects and Final Cut was used to produce these beautiful images. All shots were graded in compositing with minor tweaks in a final grading session. This path proved to be more effective for Emerald City as they were able to work with the director as a process as opposed to a rushed one-day grading session.… Read More

  • Al Jazeera marks anniversary with rebrand

    The Skinny The popular Arabian news channel, Al Jazeera Network, needed to refresh its brand image on its 13th anniversary. JL Design was called in as the rebranding consultant and proposed three main concepts: Organic, Simple, Mature. The news opener was a key focus of the rebranding project, and it must be able to communicate the rebranding concepts well. The idea was to create an image that was unique and different from typical news channel visuals that tend to be cold and rigid. The concept was developed by JL Design and supported by the client. The idea was applied across all of the channel’s platforms to keep its consistency. The Production The biggest challenge was to implement the organic concept into the Al Jazeera News opener. The agency needed to establish a ‘soft’ visual style that was suitable for hard news. The client requested to include the globe in the News opener. So JL Design created a design that began with multiple swirling lines to show the flow of information and a shell-like earth underneath. As the lines began forming solid rings, the shell-like earth was turning into a solid globe. Both the transformation of the earth and lines stressed the concept of organic, and the ever-changing nature of news. In the ending shot, JL Design added undulating threads on the surface of the rings to represent the constant transmission of information. This treatment was in line with the organic concept. The colours used were simplified from over 20 varieties to three basic ones: gold, sea blue and pearl white, each with a particular cultural bond to the Islam world. This colour palette also became the overall tone for Al Jazeera channel. Gold was the main color in the News opener, as with Breaking News opener and Live News opener. Sea blue was the dominant color in other categories of news, such as Economy, Sports, Weather and Press News. The Post Houdini and Nuke were the main tools utilized in News opener. First, JL Design developed the concept and visual guideline, followed by heavy effect testings. One of the challenges was to make lines with an organic feel. The team used Houdini Vopsop to create digital assets. This allowed the designer to manipulate the amplitude and the speed of wave with ease. The earth was a key element in the project, and JL Design wanted to make it impressively detailed. It brought the team two challenging tasks: first, the need to create a unique lustre on a smooth surface; and second, it had to look real in close-up shots. The solution was modeling procedurally and applying ‘foreach’ in Houdini. Thus, the team avoided spending time and effort adjusting the separate plates on the earth individually, instead, ‘foreach’ created all the bevels of every plate accordingly. JL Design did many early tests for the texture of earth’s plates and found that neither HDRI for environment map nor displacement shader worked well. So the team decided to deal with the plates using semi-transparent reflection shader, creating an animated sea on the surface of the earth with noise displacement, then placing a self-illuminating particle underneath the plates. The result was a glow from repeated reflection that looked truly distinctive.… Read More

  • UF & Shands turn back time

    The Skinny University of Florida Health System (UF & Shands), a private, not-for-profit hospital that specializes in tertiary care for critically ill patients, launched five new spots completed by award winning visual effects and animation studio Oktobor. According to VFX producer on the ads Steen Bech said, “UF & Shands has quite a unique set of TVCs. They began with Tracey Rowe from Robber’s Dog initially approaching us and asking how we would tackle the one page script and reference photograph.” In the end Rowe produced five different scripts, each quite different – Explorers, Anthem Rising, Teachers, Birth of Idea and Attractions. The Production Lead 3D artist on the project Gary Sullivan set about researching the five spots. He said: “We had to look at all the resources available that were specific to South Western Florida. As a result we included period buildings, the story of Juan Ponce de León – the first Spanish explorer to arrive in Florida and a town called Crawford which features on the side of one of the buildings in the Explorers spot.” Explorers also featured movement through time related to the town of Jacksonville. Bech continued, “If you look carefully, you will see that all the time changes shown for Jacksonville are true to their specific periods. This was very important to the client as they were trying to encourage local people to use the UF & Shands Health System.” According to Bech, the live action presented major challenges of its own. He explained, “We had some crazy limitations beginning with the fact that all the talent had to be actual doctors and the spots had to be shot in a real hospital working around the day to day operations. It was really hectic but we got the job done.” The spot moved ahead quickly with Illustrator Anton Petrov doing style tests using the period research the team had obtained. A rough animatic was done of the whole commercial using basic shapes. Then each single frame would be taken to Petrov who would draw a beautiful lithographic image which, once completed, would be projected into the spot. The Post The team used a series of clever transitions to move between time periods including a floating leaf, smoke billowing from a train and slow camera movement to cover distance. A major fire at the turn of the century was also represented with smoke covering the city. The ads were rendered in Mental Ray and were all in HD, which also meant an intense level of detail in each shot. Bech added, “Anton had to draw 7K images for the team to project and then Nigel Mortimer degraded the images in Flame to get a paper like texture, chromatic aberrations and a level of grain.” On Anthem Rising, Rhys Dippie, the technical director for 3D and also the lead for particle effects, rendering and lighting started the spot with a loose R&D on half a million particles. This time director Tracey Rowe and Flame artist Nigel Mortimer shot 2D helicopter footage that was then tracked to get a 3D tracked camera. Bech continued, “We built a full CG version of the building that included a full 3D tree extension. The camera then comes over the tree line where we also built all the trees, borders, clearings, walkways and pathways. Rhys played with the particle system to get the photos moving in the right way and we ran each possibility past the agency to get the one that everyone thought was perfect. In the end the agency liked the effect so much that they kept adding more and more photos which increased the render time but created an amazing effect.” Key to the look of the Anthem Rising spot was the lighting and work completed in Flame. Bech concluded, “We did 2D light effects in Flame adding fog rays inside the building. We also tightened the 3D with the live action creating an effect that was obviously unreal but not beyond the realms of possibility – it was magical but not hyper real.”… Read More

  • Thought provoking

    Compiled by Christine Wong The Skinny Australia’s national newspaper, the Australian, needed a TV commercial to launch a new look. The market was Australia wide and aimed to position the Australian as the serious newspaper for thinking people. The idea was to shoot well known Australian’s asking the viewer pointed questions directly to the camera. They ask: “When was the last time you were inspired? When did you stop asking questions? When did you discover you could influence others? When did you last read the Australian?” The concept was developed by the Brand shop’s creative director Monty Noble and further enhanced by director Rodd Martin. The provocative approach was readily accepted by the client, who were very supportive during the entire production. The Production The director wanted a very graphic look and decided to use black and white with a classic high contrast look like the Hollywood film noir feature films of the 1950s. This involves much more then turning down the chroma in post. DP Peter Moss who has shot features in black and white was hired and he concentrated on strong compositions with contrasting lighting. Normally 35mm would be the choice to obtain the film noir look, but due to budget constraints and the fact that long takes were required with people not used to being in front of a camera, so the team went for digital shooting. The team decided to use the Red mainly due to the fact it had a full 35mm sensor and could use the highest quality prime lenses. The Red allowed the agency to review the shooting on location via a HD monitor with the chroma turned to zero to simulate the final black and white look. The results surprised many, and after the final grade it is difficult to see how 35mm shooting could have given much visible difference. But it’s worth noting that a Red can’t simply substitute for 35mm, as careful attention must be paid to the lighting when shooting digital. Unlike 35mm, many things can’t be fixed in the grade. Peter Moss’s experience with both black and white and digital shooting is what made the end result so close to 35mm. The talents were real people shot in their own familiar surroundings, including Australia’s most famous chef Tetsuya in the kitchen of his world renowned restaurant, wine maker James Halliday at his vineyard, Major General Peter Cosgrove at his home, Olympic swimming champion Grant Hackett by a pool and author/broadcaster Phillip Adams with his famous collection of Egyptian art. James Halliday proved the most difficult shooting situation. Violent storms prevented us shooting with the beautiful Yarra Valley vineyard as the background so we shot inside the winery. The storm noise was a problem for sound and the rapidly changing exterior light – which helped illuminate the interior – meant many delays and constant re-lighting. Shooting took place over four days in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. The Post The major challenge for post production was to craft the look the director and DP wanted. Engine’s Lee Sandiford worked closely with Peter Moss over a day grading the raw files. Pushing the contrast to extreme levels also involved extensive windowing to keep all elements of the scene within broadcast limits. Apart from the radical grading we wanted to rely on classic filmmaking without any post-production tricks, and let the talent “sell” the idea. “Many in the industry have commented on how these spots stand out and dominate an ad break, thanks to their visual impact and simplicity. We got the look we wanted. The Red camera was considerably more economical then 35mm shooting with an overall saving of around US$40,000, and proved that it can be used successfully on ‘prestige’ productions. We couldn’t have hoped for a better result,” said producer Les Luxford.… Read More

  • Digi’s musical discovery

    The Skinny Digi Music was the advertising campaign for Digi’s web and mobile music service, which offers unlimited music downloads. The television commercial’s tagline was ‘Discover Yourself’. Every scene begins with a grey and white background and then when music is played, the commercial comes to life in a whole new polygon world in colour. The Digi Music commercials demonstrate that you can do all the things you’ve always wanted to do with your life right now. It celebrates moments as an opportunity to do more, get more and be more. Grey KL advertising agency created the advertising campaign based on DiGi’s overall proposition of ‘Discover Music with anyone, anytime, anywhere’. The television commercial storyboard was based on scenarios people can relate to. They tested the storyboard with youths and the feedback they got was that they can relate to the scenarios; for example the driving lesson scene. The scenarios takes you through happy moments and very challenging times as well and this campaign touched several aspects of growing up and moving along. The Production Shot in and around Kuala Lumpur (KL) locations ranged from a busy street in KL to a parking lot, a dance studio, a huge open space where cows graze and a stadium in Bukit Jalil. The scenes eventually had to be created in 3D. They had to be built in white polygons and because of that the team had to shoot in locations around the country and a variety of locations were chosen to tell the story. Most of the shots had a moving camera and that made it far more challenging. Every character that was shot in real life and had to be rotoscoped. This was a tedious process but we were very thankful that tigertiger had a team dedicated to doing that. The work was separated during the online process and groups did specific parts to ensure a faster workflow. The most memorable scene of the commercial was the ‘guy at the concert’. This was where the guy walks through the tunnel and you see the scene where he joins his friends only to realize that he is at a concert. The scene was also the most time consuming because it was a one-take deal. The action had to be timed correctly because there was only so much time or limited amount of seconds to tell that scenario. That scene was well worth it as it was a great way to finish the commercial. Everything was shot on ultra prime lenses to keep as much details as possible. This was so that the rotoscoping process would be easier. The pictures and lighting conditions were all naturally exposed to retain as much information as possible so that the team had more control at the post process. The Post The state of the art equipment at tigertiger post was useful. For all vector based, polygon structures After Effects was used. The white background landscapes were created in 3D Maya, all rotoscoping was done on a combustion software, the final online finish was done on Flame 2009 and the colour grading was done on the Da Vince Resolve 2K. The processed film was put through the film scanner (The Director) which scanned out 2K bit DPX file sequences. The files were then stored on SAN (Storage Area Network), the heart of operations. A 1-lite color grading process was done so the colour of the 2K scans were balanced. A color balanced, PAL sized proxy was then fed back into the SAN. The proxies were then ingested into Final Cut Pro editing system and editor Nik Johann began cutting together the various shots. The multiple EDLs (Edit Decision List) were then generated for the various systems when the edit was completed. The EDL and original scans were then bought into the DVO (Digital Vision Optics) system. The scans were then conformed, degrained and enhanced before a second set of high resolution images were created.… Read More

  • Donut Empire goes online

    The Skinny Donut Empire is a rapidly expanding F&B enterprise with outlets in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Dubai. Intense Animation Studio conceptualized and created an e-commerce website that transforms Donut Empire’s image from a shop-front, retail-only company to a very cool, interactive enterprise via a website destined for high traffic numbers, impressive ROI and conveys the key messages of the brand. Eating donuts is one of life’s simple and affordable guilty pleasures. The experience of visiting Donut Empire’s website is about making customers feel better about indulging their sweet tooth and having some fun in the process. The Production Intense designed two key processes for the website. The first was creating a mechanic for users to order their donuts interactively; the second was creating an interactive donut-cake making programme. The challenges were creating sufficient varieties in the two processes that precisely mirrored the choices customers have when visiting the outlets. Naturally, comedic animation played a big role in this. Intense designed a cartoon-style, 2D animated world that reflected a fun experience but met the crucial needs of any consumer-based website. Ideally, a visitor to the site spends a long time interacting with the features, this in turn leads to a purchase of the products and ideally creates brand loyalty. “Animation only works best when it’s funny,” said Intense Animation Studio creative director Tony Sealy. “We deliberately wanted donutempire.com to be a lighthearted experience from the moment a user enters the site. Consequently we made ‘toony’ environments and characters with exaggerated motions. Donut Empire was very receptive to us making irreverent, quirky animation. Intense started by creating conceptual drawings of all the environments, followed by rigorous character design for ‘Doug the Donut Chef’, used in the website and Ooga, Booga and the dinosaur characters featured in the viral animation. “We did a lot of testing of the interactive tools, and Donut Empire needed to change their business models to accommodate some of the features of the interactive process,” said Sealy. “Thankfully Donut Empire has seen the long-term value in this type of communication and appointed us as their digital PR and marketing firm for future virals and website applications.” The Post Any interactive project begins by designing a flowchart of the features to be created and how each function works within the website’s interactivity. The most time consuming feature was the physics engine built for the home page. This engine enables users to pick up the donuts and throw them around the screen. Intense developed unique gravity and collision code using action script 3 that enables the donuts to bounce off one another and the four borders of the image. “This was the most challenging technical feature of the site,” said Sealy. “We tested many different gravity and collision settings. Sometimes the donuts were too heavy, sometimes they bounced around the screen like helium balloons and never stopped.” Intense also created a unique interactive application for the ‘make your cake’ feature where users can input their choice of flavors, toppings and fillings to create their own, unique donut cake. “This took quite a bit of work to ensure the outcome of the application was available to the customers. This is where Donut Empire came to the party and ensured their service can extend to meet this demand,” according to Sealy, “There are still clients who are afraid to create animation-based websites because of the perceived slow-loading time. We deal with many interactive clients who fear that their site will lack speed. Basically, it comes down to the quality of the source code created, the type of imagery used and how these are integrated. We spent many weeks testing speeds and re-writing code if we felt the response time was too slow.” said Sealy.… Read More

  • Rickshaw Run hits Deck

    Singapore based independent television production company, The Deck Pty, together with sister company Talkabout Media FZ-LLC, recently completed production on an innovative programme involving a 3,000km adventure race across India from Goa to Nepal in an auto rickshaw. “We’re delighted to work on the Rickshaw Run. It takes a lot of experience and a certain amount of specialist knowledge to produce a programme of this nature, so we felt confident in what we could offer,” said Jon Moore, executive producer, The Deck. The show is co-produced by The Deck and Dubai-based sister company Talkabout Media. On the ground support is provided by India based production company Wildtrack Productions. “For any production to be successful in India you need to have a local production company. We have a long standing relationship with The Deck and are happy to assist them on the ground here in India,” said Azhar Habib, executive producer, Wildtrack Productions. The end result is a 60-minute lifestyle adventure programme. A number of regional and international broadcasters have expressed interest in airing the programme, including Ten Sports, Star TV, Showtime and Discovery Travel & Living. “If you think of a much grittier version of Michael Palin with a touch of reality thrown in, you’ll be along the right lines,” said Ian Carless, executive producer, Talkabout Media. Not surprisingly, the production raised a few technical challenges. The first of these was, which format to shoot in. Given the intended broadcasters included Discovery, Star TV and Showtime Arabia, it was quickly decided HD was the only way to go. To capture the footage, the producers went with two cameras, the Sony EX1 and EX3 XDCAM cameras. “We invested in the EX models eighteen months ago and use them exclusively for all our content acquisition. They’re small, lightweight, yet still have all the functionality of a bigger camera. And of course the picture quality is exceptional. The EX is without doubt the best pound for pound, value for money camera out there,” said Moore. “The versatility of the EX is fantastic,” said Ian Carless. “We’ve chosen to shoot in progressive mode for this shoot to get that filmic feel. Often we use the EX in conjunction with 35mm adaptors such as the Letus and PS Technik but on this trip we’ve opted not to. Most of the shooting was handheld and on the run which didn’t lend itself to the adaptors. In addition, we shot a number of time lapses which of course is easy to do with the EX,” Carless explained. Both the EX cameras had Chroisel matte boxes fitted, allowing filters to be used for various scenarios. “We have a couple of very cheap shoulder mounts. Twenty bucks from Ebay! But they’re incredibly effective. The EX tends to be a little front heavy, especially with the matte box so the shoulder mount is a great help,” said Moore. As with any road trip movie, the show would not be complete without on-board coverage. For that, the producers opted for a consumer camera, the Sony HDR C100E. “We looked at various options but in the end opted for the consumer camera for two reasons. The first being time. We were on a very tight schedule, which didn’t allow us to continually stop, rig, check and download footage from the on-board cameras. We had a Magic Arm and Fat Gecko suction mount, which allowed easy rigging on any part of the rickshaw we wanted. And we had both a wide angle and fish eye lens allowing a great reverse POV shot of the rickshaw driver and passengers. Plus they record up to 8 hours at full HD quality. Secondly we wanted something the presenters could easily operate themselves when they were on the road. The handycam is something they’re all familiar with and easy to operate,” said Moore. As with any production, sound was a major consideration. For this the producers resorted to a mixture of boom and radio mics. For the boom mic, they opted for the standard Sennheiser 416 with Rycote windshield and boom pole. “It’s the industry workhorse and gives great coverage when you’re trying to mic a group of people constantly on the move,” Carless added. For the radio mics, the producers had three units of Sennheiser EW100. “It’s one of the best radio mics on the market. The receiver fits nicely on the horseshow mount on the front of the EX and the transmitter fits easily into a pocket or can be clipped to a belt. In addition, the mic head is tiny and perfect for concealing on the presenters shirts. We also had a Sony ECM 77B wired lapel mic for more confined and controlled situations such as the video diaries recorded with the presenters,” said Carless. Managing the workflow for a 14-day shoot can be arduous especially in a tapeless environment. “We were very conscious from the start about the amount of footage we might capture. We didn’t want volumes and volumes of rushes to go through. For that reason we were only shooting with two main cameras and one on-board. Doing this forced us to plan our shots more carefully and structure exactly what we wanted to include in the programme. Even then we estimate captured three to four hours of footage a day,” said Moore. Downloading the footage was done via one of three Mac Book Pro’s each installed with Final Cut Pro and Sony’s XDCAM Clip Browser. “We carried three Mac Book Pros primarily to save on download time and also to make sure we had redundancy should anything happen to any of the Mac Books. We were traveling through some pretty remote areas so we needed to plan for the worse case scenario,” said Moore. Similarly for data storage the producers had two 1TB external hard drives. Footage was downloaded on a daily basis and backed up to each of the hard drives. In addition, the producers prepared a daily two minute edit highlighting the days exploits. “We quickly realised the Rickshaw Run was one of those events which captured peoples imagination. We wanted people to be able to experience what we were going through in real time and not have to wait for the actual television programme. So for that reason, we produced a dedicated website where we uploaded daily highlights, photos, video diaries and blogs from the presenters and producers,” said Carless. The website has attracted over 3,000 unique visitors and over 500 people are following the blogs regularly. The strategy is part of both companies wider commitment to the digital arena and part of the companies’ core philosophy. “I don’t believe it’s enough for production companies to just make great television programmes anymore. We create content. Content that can be used over a wide variety of delivery platforms of which television is just one. More and more people want to view the content they want, when they want, how they want and not be confined to a broadcasters schedule. Digital offers this freedom,” Moore explained.… Read More

  • New Feature Film Fund reaps dividend

    The Singapore Film Commission’s New Feature Film Fund, which was launched last year, saw its first project get off the ground when the film Blood Ties was released this year. In the supernatural thriller, a brutally murdered policeman possesses his 13-year-old sister in order to wreak vengeance. In all, nine projects were chosen to each receive a grant of S$250,000. Recipients of the New Feature Film Fund will have their films distributed by cinema chain Golden Village Pictures. This is important as it means the films will have a chance to reach an audience. Winning the grant means more than a financial helping hand. It is a stamp of approval, which encourages other sponsors and potential partners to come on board. Look Both Ways by Yong Mun Chee, is another beneficiary of the New Feature Film Fund. The film was shot in Los Angeles and aims for international appeal. The cast for the movie about four men from four corners of the world crossing paths in a cheap hostel includes Eric Mabius, best known for his role as fashion magazine editor Daniel Meade on the American soap Ugly Betty. The film is slated for release in Singapore next year. “The project gained momentum only after I got SFC funding. I was able to obtain more funding relatively quickly and we got some names attached,” said Yong. According to SFC, the other recipients include Boo Junfeng’s family drama Sandcastle, seen from the perspective of an adolescent boy and his partially blind grandmother; T.T. Dhavamanni’s 24 Hours Of Anger, about 14-year-old Prakash, his drug addict parents and his mentally challenged brother; and Wee Li Lin’s Forever. All are due to begin production this year. Forever is a dark comedy in which wedding vows turn into wedding woes. It is Wee’s second feature after Gone Shopping (2007), which did not receive funding from the SFC. Wee believes the New Feature Film Fund is a great help: “Few organisations want to take that first step, especially with a new feature film-maker. It definitely takes away some stress and helps us focus on making the story right and getting the right team in.” Boo said that the fund “lends credibility to the project”. Dhavamanni will self-finance his feature through his company Blue River Pictures. The $250,000 from the commission will make up half of his film’s budget. He said: “We spoke to potential sponsors but they wanted creative input and we didn’t want to compromise on that. Such a decision would have been much tougher to make without the commission funding.” Also helpful is the infrastructural support from the fund, he added. The fund has helped the filmmakers meet potential distributors such as Fortissimo Films, a Dutch company known for promoting Asian films in the world market. Blood Ties had its humble beginnings as a short film which won third prize at the Panasonic / Media Development Authority (MDA) Digital Film Fiesta in 2007. Executive producer Jason Lai, head of content at Oak3 Films, was suitably impressed as it stood out from the rest of the short films he had seen. He got in touch with director Chai Yee Wei immediately after the competition. “Blood Ties was really entertaining and fun. Above all, the director himself comes across to me as a man on a mission – to make films,” Lai recalls. Oak3 went on to produce the feature length version of Blood Ties. Lai said: “The biggest difficulty of financing is actually raising that first dollar. Someone has to put in money first and having a stamp of approval from the commission is good. The distribution deal is also important.” In addition to Oak3 coming in as producers, director Chai put in ‘a couple of hundred thousand’ from savings he accumulated while working as a sourcing consultant in the United States. He also brought some private investors on board. For a first-time feature film director, the fund-raising was fairly smooth, he said. In fact, he was prepared to go ahead and shoot even before the commission showed him the money. “Once the additional funds from SFC came in, it allowed us to pay for the cast a little more comfortably. It helped to improve the quality of the production,’ Chai said. The final budget for the film was S$850,000, of which, 20 per cent or about $170,000, was put up by Oak3. The company has co-produced mini series and television films for the European market. The fact that Chai put his own money on the line demonstrated how strongly he felt about getting the project made. He said: “I wanted to show people that with this amount of money I could do something of this level. Hopefully, they would see the potential of putting in money for my future productions.” Singapore Film Commission director Kenneth Tan said of Blood Ties: “Its production values, entertainment appeal, and combination of local and regional talent is a good example of how made-in-Singapore movies can progressively become more international.” The commission will announce the next batch of recipients at the year’s end. While it gave comments ‘like any investor would’ of the rough cut, Chai said: “Creatively, they didn’t interfere at all.” Blood Ties was given an M18 rating and while Chai said he would have wanted a broader rating in order to reach a wider audience, he also had to find a balance: “If the violence is too toned down, the justification for vengeance is not there.” Among the challenges he had to juggle on set were convincing his producers to hire some fresh faces for the cast and crew as well as listening to others’ suggestions and then trying to top them. “How do I manage everyone else’s expectations? And finally deliver something that’s of my own,” he reflected. Having directed his first full-length feature, he is eager for more. “I can’t wait to make my next film and do a better job. After all, practice makes perfect.”… Read More

  • Going Red for Nymph

    For many filmmakers and TV producers, the arrival of the Red One has been received like the second coming. It was not long before The Post Bangkok was called upon to process Red productions swiftly and with the same levels of flexibility and service with traditional 35m and 16mm film… Read More

  • VHQ SINGAPORE

    91 Bencoolen Street, Sunshine Plaza, #04-01, Singapore 189652 Tel: +65 6732 8085 Fax: +65 6733 0070 Website: www.vhqpost.com Email: Singapore bernard@vhqpost.com Malaysia cindy@vhqpost.com Indonesia larry@vhqpost.com CONTACTS Executive Producer: Bernard Tay bernard@vhqpost.com SERVICES Full HD post-production services including HD Telecine through the Thomson Spirit HD; digital color correction with Pandora Revolution; HD/SD editing and VFX with FCP, Avid, Combustion, Flint and Flame; design, 2D & 3D animation and motion graphics teams with a spectrum of tools and rendering capabilities; multiple-award-winning VFX services including Shoot Supervision for TVCs, long form programs, broadcast design, 2D or 3D animation spots. RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/UPGRADES • Discreet Logic Flame 2009 • Discreet Logic Flint 2009 TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Bear Brand Milk – VHQ Indonesia Drawing on characters from the Chinese calendar, VHQ worked closely with Ogilvy & Mather Indonesia to model a 3D demon and a 3D all-conquering dragon for the Nestle product Bear Brand Milk. With clever manipulation of 2D and 3D elements within 3D space, along with creating the dragon with the form and texture of the milk product, VHQ was able to provide great enhancements to the original concept. Samsung Omnia – VHQ Singapore This highly stylised, abstract idea demanded close collaboration between the VHQ VFX team and the director Ravi Udyawar at every stage of the production. Each scene required extensive rotoscoping to remove rigs and create the detail for the final compositing of many layers of CGI and atmospheric elements. The end result is a truly memorable piece of stylish VFX with so many elements involved that each new viewing is a pleasure. Mitsubishi “Half” – VHQ Malaysia This clever combination of 3D and live elements brought VHQ’s animation director out of the computer environment and in to the studio. All components were created or directed by VHQ, shot on RED, and when skillfully composited together, the result is a very entertaining spot with humorous caricatures bringing a big smile to your face.… Read More

  • UNDERGROUND LOGIC

    G/F Electra House Bldg 115-117Esteban St. Legaspi Village, Makati City, Philippines 1229 Tel: +632 8936327 Fax: +632 8108262 CONTACTS Director for Post-Production: Adrian Tecson Email: aids@undergroundlogic.com Officer in Charge / Finance Director: Vangie Serrano Email: vangie_serrano@undergroundlogic.com Sales and marketing Director: Aleta Tubig Email: aleta_tubig@undergroundlogic.com SERVICES 3D Animation and Visual Effects. DI Color Grading and Scanning. Off-line and Online Editing. Formats conversion. RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS / UPGRADES • Nucoda FilmMaster v3.0 • 4 x Autodesk Maya 2008 Complete upgrades • 2x Autodesk 3D Studiomax 2009 • Sony HDCAM SRW-5800 HD Deck • 8x Blackmagic Decklink HD/SD capture workstations • AJA FS1 HD/SD downconverter/upconverter TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Project Ballerina Directed by UGL Art Director Ryan Jose Ticsay, Project Ballerina is a stop motion animation ad for Infinit Ready to Drink Cocktail. Working closely with the ad agency, Campaigns & Grey, UGL shot the entire TVC in four days using the Canon EOS 5DMKII and 40D DSLR cameras and Canon EF lenses. It was then color graded on the Nucoda Film Master and the atmospheric effects created using Eyeon Fusion. The biggest challenge was animating the doll to make it move smoothly and yet retain the feel of stop motion animation. This task was carried out beautifully by the creative team composed of UGL headed by Nath Robite. Project Ceremony Directed by AF Benaza of Revolver Studios, Project Ceremony is a visual effects heavy board for Nescafe Body Partners. Being a big budget project, and with the fighting instructor flying in from Hong Kong, the UGL VFX team was under a lot of pressure to deliver. From the beginning, the director and the UGL VFX team worked closely on how to tackle each shot. Almost the entire VFX arsenal of UGL was utilized, including Autodesk Maya, 3DsMax, Eyeon Fusion, Sapphire Plugins, Particle Flow Toolbox , etc, to create the proper environment and carry out FX heavy tasks such as tracking, rotoscoping, particle animation, matte painting, and 3d compositing. In the end, the client, agency, as well as the whole production team was happy with the outcome. Project Optimus 60s Directed by Mark Querubin of 88Storey Films, Project Optimus is a visual effects heavy board for Smart Communications’ new product – Sandbox. One of the challenges of this particular project was the need for art direction throughout the entire post production process. UGL Art Director Ryan Jose Ticsay lead the VFX team in the design and execution while senior compositor Ron Reyes made sure the heavy compositing required for the entire project was of the highest standards.… Read More

  • The Post Bangkok

    1613, 1615, 1617 Soi.Ladprao 94 (Panjamitr) Ladprao Road, Wangthonglang, Bangkok, 10310 Thailand Tel: +662 530 3979 - 82 Fax: +662 935 6378 - 9 CONTACTS bank@the-post-bkk.com marketing@the-post-bkk.com producer@the-post-bkk.com RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/UPGRADES - Autodesk Lustre with Incinerator Version 2009 - Final Cut Pro 6.0.6 offline edit suite - Autodesk Inferno 2010 online editing suite - Autodesk Flame 2010 online editing suites - BrightDrive - 30 TB centralized online storage enable digital media to be shared across all post-production and DI workflow - CGI expanded Render farm TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Nymph Pen-ek Ratanaruang's film, Nymph, made it's premier appearance in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in May 2009. The film-makers decided on a digital camera for this movie - the increasingly ubiquitous RED One. Leading up to this film The Post Bangkok had posted many TV commercial and other TV works using this camera and were gaining important knowledge and confidence. For this, the first major RED project destined for film internegative, The Post Bangkok collaborated with the DOP and camera department for extensive shooting, grading and print testing well-prior to primary filming. The workflow for RED pre-processing for cinema output was refined during this project. All future RED digital intermediate projects at The Post Bangkok will inevitably owe some small debt of gratitude to this movie, as the trailblazer into a world of film which, increasingly, eschews the use of film! Coke Zero Director Of Post-Production, Richard Downing, had been asked to supervise a couple of 30-second spots for Coke Zero that involved a few tricky special effects. A recent experience with the relative ease of compositing calibrated, un-graded film scans for a cinema project prompted him to offer to take the commercials through an entire cinema-style DI process. This was agreed to and so it happened that the selected takes were scanned direct to 10-bit log 2K DPX files (plus one shot at 4K) and processed to finality using our DI pipeline of Spirit 4K Datacine, Lustre grading and Flame finishing systems. Of particular interest was that, after initially offering looks in a normal telecine style (so-called linear mode), the colourist, Nicholas Barton, switched to the regular DI configuration for a feature film (log mode) and this was immediately accepted, resulting in a more-than-normally cinematic style of grading. The masters were completed in HD and down-converted in Flame for PAL and NTSC versions. Pepsi This spot arrived with a distinctively European aesthetic, due to the influence of the French director. Because of this, The Post Bangkok was able to let its hair down a bit and let loose on a fun spot with a modern and young look. This was particularly a vehicle for the creative whims of the colourist, Ben Conkey. Credit is also due to Chin Hai Siong for applying the tasteful finishing touches in Flame.… Read More

  • The Lab Sydney

    4-14 Dickson Avenue Artarmon NSW 2064 Tel: +61 2 9439 5922 Fax: +61 2 9436 3554 Email: info@thelabsydney.com.au Website: www.thelabsydney.com.au Contacts Michael Eder Head of Advertising michael.eder@thelabsydney.com.au Prue Fletcher Head of Film & Television prue.fletcher@thelabsydney.com.au Steven Marolho Executive Producer steven.marolho@thelabsydney.com.au Services The Lab Sydney specialises in design, VFX, Colour and 3D animation for feature films, television and TVCs. Recent Hardware Acquisitions/Upgrades • Baselight • Baselight 4 • Northlight 2 Film Scanner • Barco 2K Film Resolution Projector • DI Theatre • Nuke • 7 offline editing suites Top Three Projects in the last 12 months Australia - Feature Film The Lab Sydney’s Head of Film & Television Prue Fletcher and VFX Supervisor Tony Cole worked closely together with Australia’s VFX Supervisor Chris Godfrey and Jamie Price, to produce over 230 VFX shots for Baz Luhrmann’s epic movie, Australia. VFX work was completed using the latest desktop compositing systems, Nuke & Shake in addition to two dedicated Flame Suites whilst the reviewing of composited shots was screened in Baselight 4. The Lab not only handled complex 2D/3D compositing sequences, we supported many of our local and overseas vendors with Chris Godfrey’s direction. Air Wick ‘There is no smell like home’ – Commercial The Lab 3D Commercial team were commissioned to create the latest Air Wick spot ‘Not so empty nest’ for Euro RSCG. Co-directed by Garry Jacques and Clinton Downs, the team started from scratch to design, develop and create a family of not so ordinary ostriches. The ostrich family was designed to have a strong human sensibility, while retaining fundamental ostrich characteristics. A level of creative license was applied during the character design phase which included human hairstyles and clothing suited to ostrich anatomy. The end result is a somewhat stunning TVC which pushes the Air Wick franchise to a new creative level. Sony Cyber-Shot – Commercial Saatchi & Saatchi approached The Lab Sydney to create a completely true-to-life animation of designer objects melting into liquid mercury, which then in–turn transforms into the new Sony Cyber-Shot camera. Directed by The Lab’s Garry Jacques with the animation led by Clinton Downs, the result is a piece that delicately flows between total reality and CG visual magic.… Read More

  • ROADRUNNER NETWORK INC.

    TV Commercial Post: G/F Sedcco 1 Bldg. 120 Rada St. Legaspi Village, Makati City, Philippines 1229 Tel: +632 812 5851 - 54 Fax: +632 819 7379 Feature Film Post: 282 Tomas Morato Ave., Quezon City, Philippines 1103 Tel: +632 414 3456, 925-22-12 Website: www.roadrunner.com.ph CONTACTS Managing Director: Manet A. Dayrit Email: manetd@roadrunner.com.ph Senior Sales Producer for Advertising: Abelle V. Serraon Email: abelles@roadrunner.com.ph Sales Producer for Film: Riza Cruz Email: rizac@roadrunner.com.ph SERVICES Full-range of digital post production services for TVCs & features: negative film processing, scanning, color grading, offline & online, Motion Capture & 3D Scanning, 2D & 3D CGI and VFX, film recording to full soundtrack production in Dolby Digital, and the latest value-added service, RoadRunner Imaging Specialist (RIS) service, where technical experts, armed with their laptops and necessary software, assist the director and DOP onset -- able to provide a sample of rough offline, list of chosen shots, and color-grading options even while the shoot is in progress. RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/UPGRADES • Autodesk Flame 2009 • Bright Drive System, now with 30TB storage capacity • Pandora Poggle Pixi complementing our Cintel DataMill Datacine transfer and film scanner • da Vinci Resolve digital mastering suite • Quantel eQ Quattro upgrades • Autodesk Maya and 3D Studio Max for 2D & 3D CG animation/VFX • The Foundry Nuke • Next Engine 3D Scanner and Motion Analysis Motion Capture Facility TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Robots A robot was being replaced by a superhuman employee. In this Berocca TV ad for Bayer Philippines, the challenge for director Martin Arnaldo was shooting the live action human, with the rest of the 3D animated robots cast to be added later. VFX team successfully infused characters and emotions in the 3D animated robots. Real actors, who acted out the robots’ parts, served as the template for the 3D animated counterparts. To give a more realistic feel, the scene was shot onset using film. This way, the robots were brought to the real world. Surreal Depicting a man whose super strength rises above the post-apocalyptic setting, this TVC for Interbev Philippines’ Cobra Energy Drink was directed by Sid Maderazo. Produced by ad agency Euro-RSCG Manila, the actor’s live action shot was against a backdrop of city ruins. Heavy matte painting had to be done in order to change the entire live action location into a realistically rendered, surreal apocalyptic feel. The plot involved heavy 3D animations of aggressive electric wires, rising walls of concrete – and the most challenging of all, the collision of the hero against a dark, massive train. Independencia Co-produced by RoadRunner, this full-length feature film is Philippines’ first to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard Category. The full DI process complemented the silent film treatment through color correction and visual effects, as envisioned by director Raya Martin. The whole effect was capped by RoadRunner’s impressive sound design and Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.… Read More

  • PRASAD EFX

    28, Arunachalam Road Saligramam, Chennai - 600093, India. Chennai office: Tel: +91 44 2376 4432 / 4434 Fax: +91 44 2376 4395 Email: info@efxmagic.com , corpcom@prasadgroup.org Website: www.prasadgroup.org; www.efxmagic.com CONTACTS Director: Sai Prasad Director: Kavita Prasad Head – Corporate Communications: Mohan Krishnan SERVICES Prasad EFX is a part of the 50 year old Prasad Group, the largest integrated film post-production group in India. The range of services offered covers Digital Intermediate, VFX, Film Lab, Telecine, Tape to Film, Editing, Sound, Outdoor Equipment, Studio Floors, Digital Restoration, DVD Authoring, Blu-Ray and other Digital Services spanning the entire post production pipeline. RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/UPGRADES Full upgrade with the latest range of equipment across various divisions including Digital Film Lab, Digital Film Restoration, VFX, Digital Intermediate, Telecine and others. TOP PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Delhi 6 – VFX The feature film was produced by UTV Motion Pictures and ROMP and directed by Rakesh Omprakash Mehra, DoP was Binod Pradhan. VFX was done by Prasad EFX. The movie was set in Delhi, where shooting in the locality was not allowed for various reasons. The team had to shoot the entire terrace sequences in Jaipur and introduce the skyline (created digitally) of Delhi 6 area on the horizon and background. A number of shots had to take place inside the Taj Mahal, where again shooting was not allowed. These shots were taken in the studio with green matt backgrounds and was composited with digitally created Taj Mahal Interiors. The film revolved around an Indian born and settled in the USA who comes to India with his ailing grandmother and discovers a new life. The demanding perfectionist that the director was made every VFX shot a pleasure to work on and the results were realistic and very artistic as required by the different situations. The most challenging part of this project was creating the digital Delhi skyline to perfection using several techniques to geographically match with the co-ordinates of the actual skyline. This made for a very satisfying assignment. The same could be said for the digital Taj Mahal interiors. Red Shoes – Digital Film Restoration The project was for digital film restoration of this 1956 classic film from its original Technicolor negatives. The project was initiated by The Film Foundation and UCLA Film & Television Archive. Prasad EFX had a very large team of professionals working on this prestigious digital restoration project. Defects rectified included colour flickering, mottling, chemical stains, harsh optical effects, excessive contrast, visible red, blue and green specks, dirt and scratches, mould leaving behind thousands of tiny cracks and fissures, etc. The restored version of this 1956 Classic about the dream of a girl to join an international ballet company (to wear the red shoes) and how it leads to her destruction was screened in May 2009 in the 62nd Cannes Film Festival under the Classics category. Basically the challenge lay in restoring the entire project.… Read More

  • POSTMANILA

    8th Floor F & M Lopez Building, 109 C. Palanca St., Legaspi Village, Makati City, 1229 Philippines Tel: +63 2 893 6080; +63 2 893 6081 Fax: +63 2 893 6082 Website: www.postmanila.com Email: stb@postmanila.com CONTACTS Marketing Manager: Menchu C. Pastor Email: menchucp@postmanila.com Operations Manager: Ingque Marcelo Email: ingquevm@postmanila.com SERVICES Post production for feature film, multi-format offline and online finishing for TVCs; Digital color grading, high-end VFX, 2D and 3D animation, matte painting for features and TVCs and broadcast design. PostManila also provides Film Scanning and kinescoping for TVC and feature films. RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/UPGRADES Cintel Ditto Film Scanner, Avid Nitris, Laser Graphics Film Recorder, 3 units Mac Pro 8 Core, Nucoda Film Master software upgrade to version 3.6. TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Platinum Directed by one of the Philippines’ top directors, AF Benaza, Platinum featured the premiere Gold Series of Selecta Ice Cream. Shot on a mixture of 35mm and an Ultra high Speed Digital Camera, the 60 second spot effectively capture the essence of sophistication that the delectable confection intended to exude. All film material was scanned on the Cintel Ditto while the digital high speed shots were provided in data format. Despite the difference of formats, color tones were successfully matched in the Nucoda Film Master Color Grading System. Pagbabago Pagbabago, or Change in English, featured one of the biggest stars in the country today, Judy Ann Santos. Shot by Reknown regional director Cholo Laurel on 35mm, and color graded on the Nucoda Film Master, Pagbabago unveiled the secret to Judy Ann’s luminous skin. The 30 second spot from Splash’s popular Extract whitening lotion, involved numerous skin sequences, effectively displaying Postmanila’s capabilities in skin care advertisements. Versus The 30 second commercial for Globe Telecommunications was helmed by director AF Benaza, and gave PostManila the opportunity to display its flexible workflow. Versus was shot with the innovative Red camera which cohesively synced with PostManila’s multi-faceted Digital Intermediate work flow. The hip commercial featured composited wall graffiti’s and crowd multiplication.… Read More

  • ORIENTAL POST CO. LTD

    333/3 Ratchadanivej Soi. 19, Pracha-U-thit Road Samsaen-Nok, Huaykwang, Bangkok 10320 Tel. (662) 290 7000 Fax. (662) 690 6408 Email. orientalpost@orientalpost.co.th Website. www.orientalpost.co.th CONTACTS Director of Post Production: John Galvin Email. john@orientalpost.co.th Vice President – General Management: Kamonthip Tachasakulmas (Thip) Email. kamontip@orientalpost.co.th Producer & Coordinator: Punyanut Chakuttri (Oh) Email. oh@orientalpost.co.th SERVICES Expertise in TV Commercial and Feature Film post-production. One-stop Digital Intermediate solution that includes Asia’s first Digital Intermediate Colour Grading Theatre (800-square-foot facility equipped with da Vinci Resolve R/3 real time 2K colour corrector, a Sony 4K projector, and a 17-foot screen), Imagica Scanner, Spirit Datacine with da Vinci 2K Plus, latest Flame and Smoke, Assimilate Scratch, Final Cut Pro, Avid, VFX and Computer Graphic Animation, Arrilaser Film Recorder, Imagica HSR Film Recorder, HDCAM-SR VTR, plus a film lab and a sound studio (Dolby SRD). RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/ UPGRADES Oriental Post upgraded its online suites with Flame 2010 series to provide greater speed and function for editing. TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Ip Man From the Hong Kong director Wilson Yip and writer Edmond Wong came this great kungfu and martial art movie Ip Man. The story is a semi-biography of Yip Man, the first martial arts master to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun. This film involved Oriental Post’s DI team which handled scanning, output, MTI, and footage. Ong Bak 2 Tony Jaa, the Thai superstar of international blockbuster Ong Bak and Tom Yum Kung came back with the sequel Ong Bak 2. Directed by Tony Jaa himself, the storyline is about a young Thai boxer who learns the skills and inner meaning of martial arts. This film involved OP’s post production team: Deborah Huen as the colorist, and Oriental Post’s DI and VFX Team. Symphony TV Commercial Symphony for Thai Airways International. Quality Thai Airways services flows like the symphony played by Thai traditional music instruments. The concept was from ad agency Lowe Limited, shot by production house Haus Guang and involved OP’s post production team: Sarayouth (Por) as the colorist and Nantachai (Ped) as the digital artist.… Read More

  • OPTIMA DIGITAL

    2/F Greenbelt Mansion, 106 Perea St. Legaspi Village Makati City, Metro Manila 1229 Tel: +632 813 6602-05 Fax: +632 819 2673 Website: www.optimadigital.com CONTACTS General Manager: Pete Jimenez Email: pete@optimadigital.com Sales Manager: Jesthela Lizardo Email: jesthela@optimadigital.com SERVICES Optima offers clients creative solutions to visual challenges. The facility does 2K scanning, Online Mastering, Color Grading, Visual Effects, Main Titles Generation, Pre-visualization, CGI, Animation and Design, DI Finishing, Mastering and digital film recording. Optima is also integrated with Opticolors a certified Kodak Imagecare Film Laboratory. RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/UPGRADES • Upgraded all Autodesk Inferno, Flame & Smoke Suites to 2010 version in Linux. • Installed Autodesk Smoke 2K 2010. • Installed Celco Firestorm 4k Digital Film Printer. • Installed new multi-core render farm for CGI. • Xytech system installed for better facility workflow management. TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Jump A 30 second spot created for Vietnam in which the CGI team was tasked with creating realistic vines going around the ceiling. A lot of effort was put in motion tracking shots and creating natural environmental lighting. Show The spot depicts realistic tattoos that follow the contours of bodies in motion. Optima made use of the Inferno’s extended bicubic layers to accurately map graphics onto different talents’ moving body parts. Kinatay (2009) Director Briliante Mendoza won the best director award at the 2009 Cannes Palm D’Or with his film Kinatay. The film was shot with a combination of film and digital cameras, colour-graded, on-lined and film recorded through Optima’s digital intermediate. The director’s style called for a realistic, in-the-scene mood and feel for the film, transporting the audience into a dark and deadly world, with a gripping storyline.… Read More

  • MFX

    16, Jalan Inai, Off Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Tel: + 60 3 2141 2219 Fax: +60 3 2141 2239 E-mail: info@mfx.st Website: www.mfx.st CONTACTS Moon K Chan Email: moon@mfx.st SERVICES MFX is a boutique design, animation and visual effects house offering creative solutions to commercial, film, television, web-based and 3G markets. RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/ UPGRADES • Additional 3X Maya Complete & 1x Maya Unlimited • Additional 3X 3D Workstations – Latest CPU’s & Graphics Cards • Additional 4X 3D Renderers – Latest CPU’s • Additional 1X Shake on Mac Pro for compositing • Additional 1X Design Workstation with Lightwave 9 • Additional 1X 2D Workstation with Adobe Packages • Upgrading Flint 2009 ext 3 to Flint 2010 TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST NINE MONTHS Digi - Pass it On/Music Gifting Clever use of animation is employed to portray the emotions of a young lady suffering from the loss of her boy friend. Her sorrow, depicted by tears that turn into crashing waves and engulf her toy bunny, is turned to a celebration when she receives a ‘Music Gift’ from her friend. The animation was executed in a traditional 2D style. 3D models of the body parts were built and tracked to the live action. The animation was texture mapped onto these models and then composited with the live action. Special care was taken to match the lighting and maintain the skin texture so that the animation did not look stuck on. Madhya Pradesh - Dekha Incorporating intense compositing with CG (both 3D and 2D) interception, the journey of the eyes became the basis for this promotional campaign. Keeping the focus on a pair of beautiful brown eyes, the creative challenge was to have the eyes move to music, reacting and mimicking to the myriad varied and rich travel experiences through Madhya Pradesh, India. The expressions in the spot are 60 per cent real and 40 percent computer graphics. The attempt was to keep the eye movements as natural as possible and keeping the transition between the real and CG movements seamless. Though largely a technical piece, the priority was to maintain the finesse and believability of subject matter. Crime & Investigation Network Refresh Idents Using crime-based imageries, the execution was to inject drama and suspense in the idents without moving too far from the visual language established in the last CI package. The MFX solution has been more of a creative than a technical one. A lot of thought was put into choosing the icons that work the best to tell the story. The camera angles and composition were specifically chosen in extreme close-ups to make viewers examine and see fine details of the icons. The shattering effect stem from the missing triangle piece which makes the essence of CI communicated in the logo – was updated and cleverly used as a transition effect.… Read More

  • INFINITE FRAMEWORKS

    28 Bukit Pasoh Rd Singapore 089842 T: +65.6222.7888 F: +65.6227.7557 Email: fyeo@frameworks.com.sg Website: www.frameworks.com.sg CONTACTS Managing Director: Mike Wiluan Email: mike.wiluan@frameworks.com.sg General Manager: Freddie Yeo Email: fyeo@frameworks.com.sg Executive Producer, Post Production: Jacinta Loo Email: jacinta@frameworks.com.sg SERVICES HD post-production for TV commercials, feature films, documentaries, TV programs, 2D/3D animation, broadcast design and visual effects supervision. RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/UPGRADES • 9 AVID editing systems with 16 TB Unity Storage System • SONY HD CAM deck TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 9 MONTHS Brands - Alpha The main challenge during this project was to translate the original Toonshade look of the 2D character renditions that the agency provided into 3D characters rendered in Softimage XSI. Infinite Frameworks also employed some traditional 2D cell animation techniques to provide some VFX elements in the spot. Animation Director: Wendy Liow (Infinite Frameworks) CG Supervisor: Jonathan Ang (Infinite Frameworks) Inferno Artist: Joseph Chia (Infinite Frameworks) Agency: 10 am Communications Agency Producers: Theresa Wong, Irene Cher CD: Lim Sau Hoong (10 am Communications) AD: Jenson Lee, Alex Lim (10 am Communications) Copywriter: Adeline Chew (10 am Communications) Aired regionally Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia UAE - Armed Forces Recruitment The 3D elements were done in Softimage XSI, and comped in After Effects. The main challenge was to bring alive the storyboard through interesting, dynamic and creative transitions while still respecting the cultural sensitivities of the UAE market. Animation director: Wendy Liow (Infinite Frameworks) CG supervisor: Jonathan Ang (Infinite Frameworks) After Effects Artist: Liew Chee Ming (Infinite Frameworks) Agency: Polka Dot Dubai CD: Maria Pia Abou Jaoudeh (Polka Dot Dubai) Aired in UAE only Contender Season 4 (US) – Post Production Mark Burnett Productions (MBP) had produced three previous seasons of The Contender, posted entirely in the US. For Season 4, they moved production outside, and decided to do all post production with Infinite Frameworks. Because they already had a workflow in place from their previous productions, Infinite Frameworks felt it would be more efficient to remain within their workflow. Infinite Frameworks had to customize some of its post-production workflow to remain seamless with the post workflow that MBP was used to. Post Production Supervisors: Lawrence Ang & Low Hwee Ling (Infinite Frameworks) Telecine: Vijendra Balasundram (Infinite Frameworks) Inferno Artist: Peter Kim (Infinite Frameworks) Production House: Mark Burnett Productions Director: Scott Duncan (Mark Burnett Productions) Aired in US, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, and to be aired in Finland, Romania and South Africa… Read More

  • ILOURA DP

    1 Claremont Place South Melbourne, VIC 3205 AUSTRALIA Tel: +61 3 9251 1888 Fax: +61 3 9251 1222 Email: iloura@iloura.com.au Website: www.iloura.com.au CONTACTS General Manager: Simon Rosenthal Email: simonr@iloura.com.au SERVICES iloura is a 3D Animation, VFX and motion design provider to the film, television and TV commercial industry. RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/UPGRADES • Flame 2010 • Dell Dual Quad Core Xeons • Maya 2009 • 3D Studio Max 2010 • Fusion 5.3 • Motor 1.2 • Final Cut Studio 2 • Shake 4.1 • Nuke 5.1 • After Effects CS4 • Photoshop CS4 • Illustrator CS4 • Premiere • SynthEyes 2009 • Zbrush 3.1 • FrameCycler Pro DDS • FrameCycler Pro 2009 • Various Max/Maya plug-ins TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Australia Directed by Baz Luhrmann Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation & Bazmark Film Iloura was delighted to contribute over 180 VFX shots to Baz Lurhmann’s sweeping epic Australia. Iloura’s involvement was wide ranging; a number of scenes were straight forward but required fairly complex compositing work and an equal number of shots required the re-creation of the bombing of Darwin during WWII and its aftermath: signature elements such as the destroyed wharf, a massive burning ship called the Barossa and the sloop journey past the wharf and all its debris. Drumstick Client: Nestle Peters Agency: Publicis Mojo Melbourne Production Company: iloura & The Directors Group Director: Josh Simmonds (iloura) & Nice Trees Animation & VFX: iloura A mix of live action, VFX and character animation, this commercial brings to life a fantasy street parade welcoming the arrival of summer in a typical Australian country town. The parade incorporates a host of canonised Aussie summer icons, from BBQ's to budgie smugglers: big blowies and fly swats, sandcastles, a big friendly yellow sun and a hero Drumstick ice-cream dreamboat float. Honda Jazz - London Honda - Jazz - London Director: Glenn Melenhorst Production Co.:Iloura Agency: DraftFCB Melbourne This 100 per cent 3D spot is directed by iloura’s creative director Glenn Melenhorst. Melenhorst and his team worked closely with Scott Lambert draftFCB’s creative director to design the look of the ad illustrating the characters before modelling, lighting and texturing the cars, London streets and buildings to produce this charming tale of Jazz about town.… Read More

  • ICEBERG DESIGN

    312 Balestier Road #02-01 Singapore 329743 Tel: +65 6256 8998 Fax: +65 6256 8997 Email: fabian@icebergdesign.com Website: www.icebergdesign.com CONTACTS Managing Director: Francis Tan Email: kitaro@icebergdesign.com Executive Producer: Fabian Tan Email: fabian@icebergdesign.com SERVICES Full digital boutique post-production facility providing Editing & Finishing, Animation & Effects and Design & Motion for television and cinema deliverables. Proven LOG DPX DI workflow for acquisition formats include; Varicam, HDCAM, P2, HDV, RED R3D, Viper FilmStream, Cineform and 35mm film. RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/UPGRADES • Quantel eQ HDRGB Cinema • Finishing Suite with Qcolor eQ • Dylan - 10 hours On-Line Fibre • Channel Storage FCP HD Editing • Suite c/w 110” projection screen • 3D LUT BOXX Render Farm TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Blood Ties (Feature) Singapore’s first feature film shot on RED. Iceberg provided an efficient and effective DI workflow for RED .r3d files at full resolution and full frame rate on eQ HDRGB Cinema Suite. Output as LOG DPX data files for printing to film master at 2.35 aspect ratio. Other services include Offline and Visual Effects. Autumn In March (Feature) Shot on the Panasonic Varicam, Iceberg provided Offline and DI for the feature film with final output as LOG DPX data files for printing to 35mm film master. Love Matters (Feature) Utilising the maximum resolution from footages acquired from Panasonic HPX 3000, Iceberg provided DI for feature film with output as LOG DPX data files for printing to film master at 1.78 aspect ratio. Accurate preview of finished film was achieved using 3D LUT in eQ HDRGB Cinema Suite.… Read More

  • G1 POST GROUP

    Kemang Icon, Jl Kemang Raya No.1 South Jakarta 12730 Tel: +62 21 718 0140 Fax: +62 21 718 1052 Email: telesindo@g1postgroup.com Website: www.g1postgroup.com SERVICES G1 is a film & television post-production company specializing in color grading, digital intermediate, compositing, design, visual effects & film recording. CONTACTS President/Director: Ben Alfirevich ben@g1postgroup.com Executive Producer: Jesse Tan jesse@g1postgroup.com RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/UPGRADES . Flame 2010 with r3d support . Inferno 2010 with r3d support . Baselight 4 Hardwware GPU with realtime 4K r3d . 6K Definity Film Recorder with anamorphic pixels technology . 4 Eizo CG232W Broadcast LCD Monitors . 4 new Mac Pro 8-core Nehalem Processors TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Title: Golf Client: PT Unilever Indonesia Produced by RT Films Jakarta and supervised by agency Lowe Worldwide. The clip was directed by Bo Krabbe. Colour and corrections in Baselight 4 with Adi Supriadi and completed in Inferno. Title: Workout Client: PT Djarum Produced by Nayfosindo and overseen by agency Neo Indonesia. The spot was directed by Iclaudius and colour corrected in Pandora Revolution 3D by Epix. The FX final compositing and effects were completed in Inferno. Title: Amazing Client: Sugar Group Companies The TVC was directed by Bo Krabbe with director of photography John Alfirevich. This spot was colour corrected in Baselight 4 at 2K. The project required extensive tracking and layering before final compositing was done. Final compositing and effects were completed in Inferno.… Read More

  • FSM

    50 Strathallen Ave Northbridge Sydney Australia 2063 Tel: +612 8966 5000 Fax: +612 8966 5050 Email: fsm@fsm.com.au Website: www.fsm.com.au FSM (formerly known as Frame Set & Match) is Australia’s leading post-production company. Launched in 1984, FSM is responsible for some of the country’s most high profile and award-winning film and advertising work. It offers world-class technology and talent housed in distinct areas of specialisation - FSM COLOUR (colour grading), FSM CUT (editing), FSM DESIGN, FSM VFX (special effects) and FSM FEATURES (long form). Top Three Projects in the last 12 months Sydney Children’s Hospital FSM recently won a Bronze Clio for Animation for the 60-second TVC for Sydney Children’s Hospital “Happily Ever After”. The campaign raises awareness of the Sydney Children’s Hospital and its tireless work in holistic care and the well being of seriously ill children. This visually stunning storybook-style TVC was developed as a result of the collaborative efforts between FSM and Tui Studios and was a unique melding of 2D, design and 3D. Narrated by Miranda Otto, the fairy tale follows the story of Mary the Braveheart as she tries to fight the heartless Bacteria Ogres. The production was animated in Maya and composited in After FX and Flame. AFL FSM completed a comprehensive re-brand of the hugely popular AFL programming for premier sports channel FOX SPORTS. The work by the FSM DESIGNTM team incorporated re-branding all HD material for FOX SPORTS AFL game openers and closers, play-ons, play-offs, stings, bumpers, in-game transitions as well as a comprehensive promotional package. The design work also included the re-design of logos and titles for their magazine shows. The imagery for the new branding was based on The Large Hadron Collider. This is the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator, colliding opposing beams close to the speed of light with massive force and intense velocity. "FSM DESIGN was a pleasure to work with. What’s most important was that they were dependable, professional and we were really pleased with the end result. We were looking for a dynamic and fresh approach to our AFL material for season 2009” said AFL Executive Producer Rod Law. The re-branding follows recent work on FOX SPORTS NRL, NBL, Swimming, Boxing, Motorsport, International and A-League football. Design was done in Photoshop, with 3D in Maya. Flame and After FX was used for all compositing. Children’s Panadol The team from FSM VFXTM recently animated an extremely cute and adorable dragon character in 3D. The only catch with this Children’s Panadol TVC - an incredibly tight deadline. The FSM 3D team was immediately up for the challenge to create a convincingly realistic scenario in which a magical event takes place. They managed to model, rig, texture, light and animate the dragon within the two-week schedule. FSM VFX Senior Producer Tina Braham said, “Outstanding craftsmanship and an extremely hardworking crew have delivered one of the finest 15 seconds of character animation seen in a while.” FSM MD Rick Schweikert commented: “The schedule was the largest obstacle. We shot the background plates on RED and were able to start modeling before the shoot. All animation was done over the selected RED files.” Shoot – RED camera, grade – BaseLight HD, animation – Maya, compositing – flame… Read More

  • FAME POST-PRODUCTION CO. LTD

    Ladprao 94, Srivara Road Wangthonglang Bangkok 10310 Thailand Tel: +66 2 559 3245 Fax: +66 2 530 3775 Email: producer@famepost.com Website: www.famepost.com CONTACTS Managing Director: Wilaiwan Leelachart Email: producer@famepost.com Marketing Manager: Aoy Rungphet Nawangoen Email: aoy@famepost.com Regional Executive Producer: Jeffrey Chow Email: jeffrey@famepost.com SERVICES Fame Post provides a range of technology-based creative facilities to service the local and regional advertising and film industries. The company offers a one-stop post production solution including DI, telecine, offline editing, online editing, visual effects, as well as 2D and 3D animation. Extensive VFX resources are available for CG-heavy projects. A global team that can tackle the most challenging delivery deadlines with confidence TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS CREAMSILK – JADE The challenge was in all the CG background, which was quite a lot to track, model and render. Fame had to find a look and get 15+ shots done quite quickly, and without on-set CG supervision! Nothing was left to chance, with very precise references, designs and pre-production guidelines. It all went as expected thanks to Martin Arnaldo's extensive knowledge of post-production and keen directorial sense.
 YAMAHA VEGA – LAUNCH The challenge was in the scenes where the motorbike shatters the big glass letters. Fame had to track a CGI bike over the real one to obtain the right level of refractions as the live shoot had to be in the middle of shattering glass debris. The renders and dynamic simulations were heavy and the schedule very tight, but it is always a great experience to work with a director as talented and gentlemanly as Peter Aquilina. VIVA WATER – BOY The challenge was finding the right look for the water boy. The look took a while to mature, a work closely conducted with director A/F Benaza, through blending live shot elements of the talents dancing with matching CGI. Working with bright background plates made bringing details in the water difficult, not to mention the wow factor.… Read More

  • DIGITAL PICTURES

    180 Bank Street South Melbourne 3205 Australia Tel: +61 3 9251 1600 Fax: +61 3 9699 8111 Email: info@digitalpictures.com.au Website: www.digitalpictures.com.au SERVICES Digital Pictures provides commercial, feature film and TV producers with digital design, VFX and content post production. Integrated services include digital grading, scanning and recording out to film or broadcast, Digital Cinema mastering and packaging, HDTV and SDTV formats, film transfers, 2D and 3D animation, editing and sound design. Digital Pictures offers full Blu-ray DVD production including authoring, duplication and QA. Digital Pictures can duplicate to and from any broadcast format and manage physical and digital media storage requirements. Digital Pictures also manages the worldwide digital distribution of images and sound using internet and satellite-based technology. CONTACTS General Manager: John Fleming Email: jfleming@digitalpictures.com.au Head of Post-Production:Rachel Knowles Email: rknowles@digitalpictures.com.au RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS / UPGRADES • Smoke 2010 and Flame 2010 for RED and OpenEXR support. Lustre software and hardware upgrades. Autodesk products now on the same platform. • Smoke and Lustre collaborative workflow for TVCs. An Australian first workflow that sees both Lustre and Smoke operating simultaneously on the same project. • Bright San Expansion - Three Lustres and the two Smokes licensed with a Bright Data Mover • Blu-ray DVD Authoring, Production and Quality Assurance • Apple XSAN software • Digital Cinema Mastering Suite with DolbySCC2000 Secure Content Creator and DCI compliant review theatre equipped with Dolby DSP100 Show Player, 2K Barco DP100 DLP projector and full 5.1 surround sound TOP (3) PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Mary and Max Digital Pictures has once again worked with the innovative and talented film makers Adam Elliot and Melanie Coombs on their ground-breaking film, Mary and Max, a claymation stop frame animation film, shot on a digital SLR stills camera. Alongside traditional film delivery for 35mm theatrical release, Digital Pictures created a Digital Cinema Package (DCP) using a DCI compliant Dolby Digital Cinema Mastering service and all delivery items including a HD Blu-ray DVD. Balibo Directed by Robert Connolly and produced by John Maynard, Balibo opened the Melbourne International Film Festival in July. Balibo centres around the investigation of the murders of five Australian journalists in Balibo in 1975. Digital Pictures handled the Digital Intermediate and deliverables including traditional film and a DCP. The success of the Balibo grade and the film’s final look is due to the extensive collaboration between Lustre colourist Brett Manson, the DOP Tristan Milani and the director. The film, which was shot on 16mm, has three distinct looks which are critical elements in the storytelling. Love the Beast Love The Beast stars Eric Bana making his directorial debut in a narrative feature about his 25-year-long infatuation for a Falcon Coupe. Digital Pictures handled the Digital Intermediate to 35mm, offline and online facilities, TIPS upres of archival material, Lustre Grade with Brett Manson, Film Record to 35mm DI neg and HD masters and deliveries.… Read More

  • DIGITAL MAGIC

    68, Ground Floor, Victoria Centre, 15 Watson Road, Causeway Bay Hong Kong Tel: +852 2570 9016 Fax: +852 2512 2430 Email: percy@digitalmagic.com.hk Website: www.digitalmagic.com.hk SERVICES • 3D Stereoscopic movie Production and Post production • Panorama and Dome Cinema • RED/Assimilate Scratch cinema DI workflow • ArriLaser DI film output, full feature in a day • LaserGarphics Scan and da Vinci Resolve DI Movie Post • Da Vinci Revival film restoration • Dolby Digital Cinema mastering, 3D Stereo DCDM mastering and DCP distribution • Flame 2K/HD 2009 • Smoke 2K/HD 2009 • Datacine scan with 2, 3, and 4 perf keycode • HDCam SR and D-5 Movie mastering CONTACTS Production Director: Percy Fung Email: percy@digitalmagic.com.hk Operations Manager: Francis Yau Email: francis@digitalmagic.com.hk Project controller: Anna Kan Email: anna@digitalmagic.com.hk Movie service producer: Cheung Ka Lik Email: lik@heavyoptical.com.hk RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/UPGRADES • 3 x RED 3D Stereo camera system • Dolby Digital 3D Stereo content creator • Lasergraphics High speed Film scan • Da Vinci Resolve DI workflow TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS China Idol Boys First Chinese stereo 3D movie made for DCI standard Digital Cinema release, shot with RED ONE in Stereo rig, post-production with Scratch Assimilate in 4K, finish in 2K. dpx, with release in jpeg2000. Shooting was completed in October 2008. The movie was released in late August 2009, in national wide 350 Digital Cinema. The director is Lam Wah Cheun from Hong Kong, technical supervision by Percy Fung, 3D Stereo RED location filming supported by Film Magic, post-production by Digital Magic and i-Magic. A second 3D stereo movie project has completed filming and is now in post-production. HangZhou 4D Museum A 4D Stereo cinema production for HangZhou city museum. Produced by Kavin Lee in Gaungzhou, the filming was done mostly in China. Computer graphics and VFX were made in Hong Kong. Screening is designed to be with low cost passive polarising viewing eyewear and a special 120-degree circular silver screen with 60 4D Synchronized motion seats. Filming was done in July 2008 with RED ONE 3D Stereo rig, and XDCam EX 3D Steadycam rig. Released in HangZhou Museum in spring 2009. A multi-media show was also produced as a pre-show attraction. Rescue of Death First RED ONE movie made in Vietnam, with full RED workflow post-production in Hong Kong. The project employed many Vietnam locally produced VFX. The movie was produced by HK Films in Ho Chi Minh City. The movie was released in spring 2009, and broke all the box office records in Vietnam. During the same period, two additional RED ONE 4K workflow movie post-production from Vietnam had also taken place, .r3d raw conform and color grade, with LTO4 .r3d master as future content prep, .dpx 2K for ArriLaser film scan and finish in 35mm cinema release, among them one also finished Dolby SR Digital 5.1 sound work with CineDigi in Hong Kong. Digital Magic is a key producer of content for Expo 2010 Pavilion. With RED ONE workflow under da Vinci r250 Resolve. 2K and 4K production for Panorama display, 3D Stereo theatre, 5D Cinema and Dome cinemas. Filming was completed in Asia, and around the world, with six RED ONE cameras.… Read More

  • CUTTING EDGE

    Sydney 140 Myrtle Street Chippendale NSW 2008 Tel: +61 2 8332 5999 Fax: +61 2 8332 5959 Brisbane HQ Cnr Riverside Drive & Jane Street West End Qld 4101 Tel: +61 7 3013 6222 Fax: +61 7 3013 6299 Email: marketing@cuttingedge.com.au Web: www.cuttingedge.com.au SERVICES Cutting Edge offers total post production solutions for TVCs and feature films including HD telecine, Baselight grading systems, offline editorial, high-end visual effects, 3D & 2D animation, digital media and full sound design post. CONTACTS Group General Manager - Kylee Ratz Email: kratz@cuttingedge.com.au Executive Producer – Sharon Pearson Email: spearson@cuttingedge.com.au RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS/ UPGRADES Purchase of 3rd Baselight grading system Expansion of Cutting Edge Sydney animation and VFX team TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Java Green & Red Tea Java Tea marked its 20th anniversary and to celebrate, Japanese Otsuka Beverage launched a brand renewal TVC campaign. Cutting Edge was involved in the project from day one of the pre-production stage. The experienced VFX team presented treatments to cover shooting and post-production plans and detailed pre-visualisation tests based on the actual shooting locations. The ‘red’ version is a visual effects feast with explosions a plenty while the ‘green’ version featured stunning animatronic and puppeteered dinosaurs from the famous Walking with Dinosaurs series. FFA – Soccer ‘Come Play’ is the line that brings the FFA concept together, created by Singleton O & M, Sydney and directed by Mark Toia. It is a dynamic cinematic commercial promoting Australia’s World Cup Soccer bid. Senior compositor, Hugh Seville and head of 3D, Steve Anderson at Cutting Edge Sydney had a clear vision of how to build big, stirring visuals and ramp up the emotional impact right through to the stadium finish. Their work for this prestigious international bid was world class. Coke This Coke TVC is a hot and spicy commercial for McCann’s Manila. Cutting Edge was on board from the start with Mark Bennett again taking the editorial reigns and Paul Heagney finishing the TVC in Flame. In this case, almost all the shots needed set extension. Cutting Edge 3D designed, tracked, lit and rendered a ceiling for all those shots. Paul and Ken also designed a graphic Coke bottle end tag for the commercial using elements created in 3D and taking inspiration from the lighting effects.… Read More

  • Blackmagic Design Pte Ltd

    ADDRESS 11 Stamford Road, #03-05 Capitol Building, Singapore 178884 Tel: +65 6338 2696 Fax: +65 6338 2692 Email: post@blackmagic-design.com Website: www.blackmagic-design.com/post CONTACT PERSONS Executive Producer: Paul Stevens pauls@blackmagic-design.com SERVICES Blackmagic Design is the No.1 post facility in Asia providing resolution-independent, data-centric, post services from dailies to final grade for international TVCs, feature films and documentaries. 4K, 2K, HD Film Scanning for 35mm/16mm. Editing. Colour Grading. 2D & 3D Animation. VFX Compositing & Finishing. Film Restoration. Standards & Cross Conversion. Mastering & Deliverables: 4K/2K Data, HDCAM SR, D5 RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS / UPGRADES • da Vinci Resolve DP-1 RED & R-3D Upgrades for RED & 3D Stereoscopic DI. • MTI Control Dailies • Autodesk & Nuke Compositing Suites with Ocular for 3D Stereoscopic Compositing & VFX • Autodesk Maya / 3DMax / Soft Image upgrades TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Sony Ericsson W508 – Colour Your Life Colour Your Life saw BMD’s 2D and 3D departments creatively collaborating in a unique organic workflow for something quite different from the usual photorealistic VFX job. Explains Play Films EP, David Clarke: “The tricky part on shoot was imagining where the animation would be and allowing for it when framing the shots.” The creative design process continued throughout the post workflow. Even during online, new ideas were conceptualised and integrated. As BMD’s CD Damien Yang explains, “We came up with a lot of ideas along the way like the monster that eats the car. It was really an organic evolution of the concept all the way through.” Belmonte – Style Chase Style Chase sees India’s film icon Shah Rukh Khan being hotly pursued by fashion wannabes as his wardrobe magically transforms from one stylish Belmonte outfit to the next. BMD senior editor Tammy Quah worked closely with director Aniket Shirke of Red Chillies Entertainment to design a split-screen multi-panel edit which added to the fast paced intensity of the chase scenes. Concluded Aniket, “The end result was a slick looking film and racy visuals and a great edit it was a wonderful experience working with BMD. I’m waiting for my next big job to come back and work with this team again.” LG GM730 Smartphone – Joy Joy. Now in a Smartphone. The tagline of BBH’s latest spot for the LG GM730 Smartphone neatly sums up the product’s unique range of easy to use, life-enabling features. To bring the global campaign to life, the phone’s features were personified as cute, quirky hand puppets, the LG Appets. BBH creative team Yinbo Ma and Carol Ong explain: “The task was to demonstrate key phone features, but we wanted to show them in a very human way. Hand puppets are perfect. They immediately make you feel happy. You want to keep playing with them. That’s what LG GM730 Smartphone is all about, it’s joy in your hands.”… Read More

  • ASIA-PACIFIC VIDEOLAB SDN BHD

    No. 6, Jalan 13/6, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia Tel: +60 3 7954 8108 Fax: +60 3 7954 8100 E-mail: zul@apv.com.my Website: www.apv.com.my SERVICES Film negative processing for normal and super 35mm and 16mm, with ultrasonic cleaning and processing. Accredited member of KODAK IMAGECARE programme. Telecine; film-tape transfers. Offline editing; compositing / vfx; motion graphics and design; 2D & 3D animation. CONTACT PERSONS General Manager: Zainariah Johari zai@apv.com.my Head of Business Development: Michael Lim michael.lim@apv.com.my Marketing Executive: Zul’Azman Zaki zul@apv.com.my Senior Producer: Faizal Mohaiyin bobob@apv.com.my Senior Producer: Chen Yoke Wah cchen@apv.com.my RECENT HARDWARE ACQUISITIONS / SYSTEM UPGRADES • Upgraded to Autodesk Flame 2010 • Upgraded editing suites to FCP 6.0.5 • Acquired Autodesk Lustre 2009 for digital colour-grading system • Acquired Bright Systems BrightDrive G2 for data storage system (upgraded post-production pipeline with an addition of network attached storage as a part of the tapeless environment) • Acquired Cintel diTTo for 2K & 4K data scanning system TOP THREE PROJECTS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Suzuki Ritz “Entry” The production of this TVC has an international flavour in it. The client hailed from India while both the agency and the production house from Japan. Production support was provided by a local production house, Pop Films. Hotlink “Giftbox Analogies” Description: Another commercial for one of Malaysia’s biggest telecommunications service providers, the cheeky moving box effects were beautifully executed with Autodesk Smoke. Creative was done by BBDO and directed by Jay from Director’s Think Tank. Honda Jazz “Defy Conventions” Graded with da vinci 2K Plus and composited with Autodesk Flame. The agency is Bates 141 and the production house is Director’s Think Tank.… Read More

  • Star Trek edit team returns to roots

    Producer/director J.J. Abrams added a twist to the Star Trek franchise with its fully realised characters that hook audiences into an emotional storyline. In fact, Abrams went back to the future with a fresh new take on the classic sci-fi adventure without forsaking the familiar elements that Trekkies have come to expect like the transporter room, the sights and sounds of the bridge and the futuristic battle sequences. Editor Maryann Brandon was at the Avid stand at Beijing International Radio, TV & Film Equipment Exhibition (BIRTV 2009) and spoke extensively about the work involved in putting together the latest Star Trek film, which introduces audiences to the young, formative lives of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew, including Captain Kirk, Spock, and Scotty. Brandon and co-editor Mary Jo Markey followed Abrams’s lead in creating a film that paid homage to the original franchise while offering an inventive take on the material. In particular, the editors focused on making the characters appealing to audiences. “At first we thought the Kirk character was too aggressive for people [to like],” explained Brandon. “We wanted to show him in a light where people would understand him and could forgive him. In the movie, people will see that he’d had some bad luck; his Dad was killed and he’d never gotten over it. By going to the academy when he was young, he could put his crazy, aggressive energy to work.” To heighten the storyline’s dramatic impact, Brandon and Markey, both of whom have worked with Abrams before on Alias and Mission: Impossible III, frequently found themselves simplifying scenes. For example, they compressed some of the more elaborate time-travel sequences. The two editors developed a practical method for working together, splitting the film in half so each could cut a variety of action-based and character-driven sequences. They were aided by first assistant editors Julian Smirke and Lucy Wojciechowski, and assistant editor Kerry Blackman. Visual effects editor Martin Kloner and visual effects assistant Elana Lessem handled the more than 1,000 visual effects shots in the film. Each member of the editing team used his or her own Media Composer system, provided by Santa Monica-based rental house Digital Vortechs. All seven systems were connected to an Avid Unity MediaNetwork with 16 terabytes of shared storage, enabling them to share media and projects simultaneously. Burbank-based Fotokem processed the 35mm dailies and delivered Avid DNxHD 36 media on hard drives to the editors for cutting in HD. Given the magnitude of the visual effects work, the green screen work was extensive, and Kloner used the Avid Media Composer system exclusively to create the temp visual effects. Working with four different effects houses, Kloner also made use of color-coded tracks and locators to indicate which shots were temporary, interim, and final on the timeline, so the entire editing team could see the status of each effect shot at a glance. Sound work was handled by Hollywood-based Soundelux, using as many as 15 Pro Tools|HD systems throughout the sound design and editing processes. Pro Tools|HD systems were also used to record and mix the score and for playback during the dubbing process, using five 64-channel playback systems. The easy interoperability between the Avid editing systems and the Pro Tools systems, from Digidesign, a part of Avid, enabled a fast and easy exchange of digital files throughout the post process. The hard work and easy rapport of the editing and sound teams helped streamline the entire post workflow. “It was a phenomenal crew and everything worked like a charm,” says Brandon. “The Avid [Media Composer system] is a workhorse of a machine.” With flexible digital editing tools, the editing team could stay focused on the creative task at hand, working with the inventive Abrams who brought his signature stamp to the franchise.… Read More

  • Croaking about Coffy Bite

    The Skinny The idea was to carry forward the Coffee-Toffee argument between two frogs – Leo and Dino who emote and have human-like qualities. Prime Focus brought in the big guns for its work on the latest Coffy Bite commercial in India. Michael Fink, the noted Academy Award winning VFX veteran, and president of VFX Worldwide for Prime Focus, was brought in to direct the commercial, a character animation piece which sees two CGI frogs vying for a bite of the delicious coffee toffee. Fink came to the table with some impressive credentials. Not only did he win the Academy Award for his work on The Golden Compass, he has also been responsible for some of the most memorable effects sequences to come out of Hollywood in the last thirty years, from Batman Returns to X-Men, and for the seminal CG animated polar bear commercial for Coca Cola. Leading from India, was Merzin Tavaria, lead visual effects supervisor who worked in conjunction with Michael and team on the commercial. The Production The primary objective was to integrate these characteristics and emotions whilst keeping the look of Dino and Leo authentic. The Prime Focus team began by studying a huge number of different species of frogs from all around the world. After creating various iterations, the team put together almost 30 blend shapes for each frog in order to facilitate their action, emotion and dialogue delivery. The main challenges: • The two frogs needed to be distinguishable from one another with different appearances. • The frogs needed to emote, and one had to seem sluggish whilst the other one was snappy. • The frogs needed to interact with a human-like attitude, yet still maintain the essential characteristics of a frog. Animating the frogs was quite a task because the Prime Focus team had to make the frogs converse and interact with each other. The first stage was layout, as the frogs had to be placed in the live action environment. The review process was completed along with Michael Fink in LA through video conferencing and with review software. The review process worked very smoothly due to the hi-definition technology available at Prime Focus and the team received feedback on the shots, literally frame by frame. The Post Sixteen artists worked together to deliver the commercial within a six-week production period, leveraging on the time difference between Los Angeles and India to ensure the most efficient workflows. This project required Prime Focus to deploy its Global Digital Pipeline business model in order to ensure the best quality delivery using its international talent base and reach. The product window was also unique in this commercial as the product is featured in the middle of the commercial in a whirlpool of yummy coffee and toffee. Texturing was equally challenging, as the team could not make the frogs slender. But they were mandated to keep their wet look to match the concept and the characteristics. So the team extensively used the process of sub surface scattering in Maya to get the realistic feel, which made it visually appealing and acceptable. The same process was used to achieve the wet look of the frogs skin, which gave a realistic feel and made the skin look visually appealing and acceptable. The challenge was to match the environmental lighting and blend with frogs in the environment that was shot earlier. The team used the HDRI process in lighting in order to create an exact blend between the frogs and the live action plate. Prime Focus is India’s leading visual entertainment services group offering a comprehensive spectrum of services, including visual effects, digital film lab, telecine, editing, motion control and high definition production. The Prime Focus ‘world sourcing’ business model and ‘Global Digital Pipeline’ allows clients to access: world-class creative talent and technical solutions.… Read More

  • Nestle Ice Cream comes ‘Alive’

    The Skinny An ordinary world is transformed to an exciting summer experience with every tub of Nestle Ice Cream’s Summer delights. Sharon Cuneta, the product’s endorser, marks summer by sharing Nestle’s Summer flavours for 2009. Sonny Bautista, Mondo Armedilla and their team conceptualised what represents a summer experience best. Aside from the usual summer cues, graphic design elements pertaining to summer were showcased in the spot that captured wonderment and festivity. The Production The sets were really big and deep; it had to be constructed a few days ahead. The intricate design elements were also created live. Some of them, however, were generated during post. The project had an extremely limited timetable, so wherever possible, the graphic elements were printed onto the walls and furniture in different chroma colours. In theory, this would take weight off the post house as all they would have to do is key out the graphics and change the colours accordingly. This became a challenge when the team had to light the chroma evenly and still maintain the natural shadows that come from single source lighting. The spot was shot using ARRI 435 and ARRI 3 with two sets of Zeiss Ultra Primes. Shooting on film (Kodak 250D) also captured most details in the highlights and shadows, as there would be under-lighting in certain chroma areas. The Ultra Primes were chosen because they are incredibly sharp and provide the edging detail for all the keying-out that the post house would do. DoP Shayne Sarte and director Luis Tabuena agreed that the ‘soft focus’ look could be further achieved in post. The Arri 435 was used for all the live sound shots in tandem with the Arri 3 for multiple points of coverage for slow motion sequences. The biggest challenge was to create original graphics and animation that would encapsulate the summer wonder and excitement of Nestle’s campaign. The biggest challenge was the limited timetable. The Post The project duration was at least two weeks, including scanning, grading and VFX work. The team handling the project did tests for the animation and look of the graphics prior to the first day of shoot. This was done because compositing was scheduled for only a couple of days. Getting the right feel and look would take time. RoadRunner Imaging Specialist (RIS) service, where technical experts, armed with their laptops and necessary software assist the director and DOP onset, were able to provide a sample of rough offline, list of chosen shots, and colour-grading options even while the shoot was in progress. The shots were graded using Da Vinci resolve and most of the compositing work and animation were done in Adobe After Effects. The team used PFTrack tracking, 3D Studio Max for the butterflies and set extension. The main challenge was getting the exact look that the director wanted. The director’s vision was really complex and there are a lot of things going on in the scenes. For instance, there were some shots that had no backplates. In some scenes, art direction completely changed. The shoot set the tone for the overall look and feel of the commercial. In post, there was the colour grading and the tracking of the shots to match the movements of the camera, particularly for the growing plants.… Read More

  • LG joy to life

    The Skinny Joy. Now in a Smartphone. The tagline of BBH China’s latest spot for the LG GM730 Smartphone neatly sums up the product’s unique range of easy to use, life-enabling features designed to bring joy to your life. Personifying the fun applications as cute, quirky hand puppets, BBH China’s creative team of Yinbo Ma and Carol Ong explain how they brought the global campaign to life: “The task was to demonstrate key phone features, but we wanted to show them in a very human way. Hand puppets are perfect. They immediately make you feel happy. You want to keep playing with them. That’s what LG GM730 Smartphone is all about, it’s joy in your hands.” The Production BBH China, Gravity Films Shanghai and Blackmagic Design jet off to a Paramount Studios’ backlot in Los Angeles where a 1970’s Brooklyn set provided the perfect backdrop for the Sesame Street inspired spot. “Our original idea was to use the real Sesame Street sound stage and backlot but unfortunately various copyright and cost issues made this impractical. We then had a breakthrough in the form of founder and chief puppeteer BJ and his company who did a great job designing the LG Appets and choreographing a small army of puppeteers. The shoot was absolutely hilarious and everyone had a lot of fun on set.” Explains Gravity’s executive producer, Merrillyn Lim. BMD VFX director Damien Yang was on set throughout the three-day shoot to ensure that all necessary background plates and elements were captured for compositing and to assist in simplifying the VFX production requirements. Yang commented: “Rather than shoot lots of green screen for the LG Appets, we instead shot them in situ interacting with the human talent against the actual sets. As the camera was locked off for most scenes, this meant that we could shoot clean background plates and paint out the puppeteers. Taking this approach saved a lot of time in production and ensured that all the elements married seamlessly together.’ The Post With the offline completed in LA, the VFX, grade and finishing came back to Blackmagic Design in Singapore. All 35mm rushes were scanned at 2K on BMD’s high speed, high quality film scanners and scenes were divided up between BMD’s team of VFX Artists. Due to the extensive rotoscoping required to remove the puppeteers from behind the ‘furry’ puppets, the high resolution, highly detailed 2K scans proved indispensible. This was particularly the case for the scene where six LG Appets appear from behind a lamp post. BMD senior VFX artist Leong Beng Wee explains: “The lamp post scene was shot in three plates, one for the LG Appets appearing on the left of the lamp post, one for those appearing on the right and one clean main background plate. We split the first two plates vertically down the center of the lamp post and joined them together but there was still some puppeteers’ arms that could be seen behind the puppets. Effectively rotoscoping around the furry edges of the puppets to paint out the puppeteers’ arms was only possible due to the resolution of the 2K files.” The SMS Appet scene required 3D object tracking and the creation of CG soup. Set in a hair salon an LG Appet flies in with a bowl of alphabet spaghetti soup spelling out a text message. BMD’s senior CGI artist Ganesh Ghale explains: “First we tracked the live bowl and then modeled an identical CGI bowl in order to have an accurately contoured receptacle for the CG soup to sit in. We used Maya nCloth to create the organic liquid form of the CG soup’s surface and rendered multiple passes for colour, highlights and reflections to give our compositors maximum control over the final look of the soup. For the text message itself we experimented with a couple of different approaches and found that a texture map gave us the best result.” Aside from rotoscoping furry Appets and cooking up CG soup, the scene that proved possibly the most challenging for post was the final one where a float featuring no less than 16 LG Appets is seen parading down the street. Configured in four rows of four the LG Appets seamlessly transition from their windows in the festive float through to matching positions on the final LG GM730 Smartphone pack shot. To achieve the seamless transition the live shot float had to be disassembled in post and rebuilt with each window repositioned to correspond exactly with the screen layout of the LG GM730. Once the live float had been rebuilt, each of the 16 LG Appets was then tracked and composited into its respective window and layers of live crowd elements were composited into the foreground along with live confetti elements to achieve the final festive scene.… Read More

  • Blood Ties - Singapore’s first Red feature

    Set in a supernatural background centered on Chinese superstitious beliefs, Blood Ties by first-time feature film director, Chai Yee Wei, takes us into a web of love, betrayal and vengeance. The story revolves around the 14-year old character of Qin (Joo Yee Leong) who is possessed by the spirit of Shun, her brother, on the seventh night of his death to exact revenge on those who brutally murdered Shun and his beloved wife. Director Chai set out to make a supernatural thriller with a very Southeast Asian flavour. “I draw my inspirations from things around me and growing up in a traditional family, I was exposed to many customs and traditional Chinese practices. I like to explore situations which will force people to make difficult choices – and our Chinese traditions in a modern society like Singapore presents a very nice backdrop for an interesting setup,” Chai explained. This film represents the first Singapore-made feature to be shot on Red Camera. Malaysia, scored a first last year with the film Hooperz co-directed by Moon and Dhojee which was a joint production between KL Motion Picture Company, MHZ Films and Grand Brilliance Sdn Bhd. Shooting on Red has been looked at with skepticism as it started as a trend among younger film makers. However, at present the Red movement has grown from a small group of believers to a string of disciples across continents. For director Chai choosing to shoot on a Red was filled with a lot of trepidations. “We struggled a lot with the decision to go with Red. While cost wise it was a huge draw, the fact remained that everyone was new to the equipment and no one could really tell what the pitfalls were until we started production,” explained Chai. Derrick Loo, director of photography for the film added: “Red was the new kid on the block but I believed in the potential of the camera. That said, we weren’t 100 per cent sure if the camera would hold up throughout the production, but we bit our nails and went with it anyway.” Ninety-nine percent of the film was shot on Red, except a few shots which were shot with a handheld AVCHD prosumer camcorder to simulate video. Aside from balancing tight schedules and budgets, one of the challenges Chai had to overcome was location. Chai explained: “Though the film is shot entirely in Singapore, I wanted the universe in the story to be ‘Southeast Asian’. Thus, we looked for places that would not make it too apparent that it was shot in Singapore. The challenge was in trying to find places that gave it a more Southeast Asian look”. DoP Loo had the same issues with tight schedules. He explained: “The tight schedule meant that I had to find ways to efficiently complete the shot list for each day. That’s why we chose to go handheld for most of the film, as it was not only aesthetically suitable for the film, it also allowed me to steal shots more easily. “For example, I could move from a mid shot to a close up with a slow push in without needing to wait for the dolly and tracks to be ready. And we could quickly do pick ups in various shot sizes to allow more variety to be done in whatever amount of time we had for them.” Both DoP and director however agreed that the post workflow was very crucial for this project as shooting on Red meant that they had to work with a post facility that had the necessary skills and was comfortable working with Red Raw format. Iceberg Design was one of the few post facilities in Singapore that had enough qualifications to handle a Red project like Blood Ties having had finished three TVCs shot on Red and a Nokia N97 TVC demo video also shot on Red. Chai explained “It was extremely important that the post house we use should be able to exploit the RED RAW codec to its fullest. Also, the special effects team should be able to match and work with the high quality files for this format. Choosing Iceberg was a no brainer as at the point of production, they were the only ones (in Singapore) with a workflow that made sense and was totally able to push the technology envelope. Once they had showed us how they could handle Red footages with their workflow, we were sold.” For the movie’s DoP Loo choosing the right post house was a very crucial step. The decision to finally go with Red was partly due to the confidence they gained from seeing how Iceberg Design handled Red data and was able to deliver the maximum potential of what the image promised. Loo added: “Their support right from the start was invaluable. Another thing I would like to point out was the good work of the Iceberg colorist. Because I was involved in another feature at the time of grading Blood Ties, I had only time to supervise the grade on one afternoon. Good thing we had a previous extensive discussion on how we would like to push the images. When I dropped in that afternoon, I was glad to see that they had done a great job working with the images. I only needed to fine tune some of the approaches and I left it up to him to finish the rest using the same guidelines we established.” As with any other post project, having a reliable colourist helped put the DoP’s mind at ease knowing that even if he would not attend all the grading sessions, the project was in safe hands. “Iceberg Design is truly the mark of a reliable and professional post-production facility which we were fortunate to work with.” Loo added. There were a lot of flashbacks within the movie, so each scene had to be defined with its own unique colour palette to tell a story of its own. Present day police station scenes were blue and generally clean to portray a ‘cold’ look; the whites and highlights in flashback scenes were lifted to its maximum potential; and murder scenes had a green tone to it. Iceberg chose an ‘army olive green’ tone to represent the supernatural feel with variations in parts of the film. The colours of blue and green were primarily used as colour motifs to build up to the finale scene in the cemetery where both colours we gradually mixed in the scene. This treatment was used to signify the convergence of the two timelines in the film. Iceberg on Red Last April, Iceberg hosted a forum on DI Workflow for Red .r3D titled ‘Seeing Red’. “Iceberg’s Red workflow is an efficient and straight-forward workflow, similar to a film workflow and other digitally-acquired materials we’ve worked on; from Phantom to HDCAM to Varicam, etc. It is the DPX workflow,” explained Alfred Sim, technical director and VFX supervisor for Iceberg Design. “In fact, for Red footages, it is even faster for us to work on as there is no developing time. The data is pure and tapeless throughout the whole DI process. “Our Quantel eQ system simply uses the Red engine to access the raw .r3d files at its maximum native resolution. eQ will then use the final EDL to conform the .r3d files across network to HD Uncompressed 10-bit LOG DPX file for full grade and finishing.” The filmmakers hope that Blood Ties will pave the way for a revolution in the region’s feature film industry, with more filmmakers deploying the technology and experiencing the efficiency and flexibility of shooting on Red. DOP Loo believes the trend will continue. “We will definitely see more feature films completed with Red in the future. Now that the industry is more informed of the camera’s potential as well as having established post workflows to maximise the potential of raw imaging, it is inevitable that future productions will seriously consider using Red, if they have not already,” Loo explained. Director Chai added: “When we started looking at Red for the feature, we had the same concerns everyone else had. Would it overheat? Would it reboot? The decision to go with Red paid off big time in the end. Shooting at 4K allows for flexibility in post when it comes to editing and special effects. Shots can be cropped without fear of quality loss. And of course, the RED RAW codec is brilliant as it is able to retain plenty of detail and contrast even in extreme cases. “I love the way the images looked and how stable the camera operated. I didn’t have to worry about the camera breaking down and delaying the set. That kind of ease of mind is priceless. I could just concentrate on what’s important on set – the performance of the actors. And yes, if I could, I would shoot on the Red whenever possible.” New Feature Film Fund Blood Ties is the first of nine films selected by the Singapore Film Commission (SFC) which will be distributed by Golden Village Pictures. Launched by the SFC last year, the New Feature Film Fund aims to provide first-time filmmakers in Singapore with the funds to direct their feature film in collaboration with experienced film production companies. Each of the nine chosen filmmakers received S$250,000 to direct their feature films. Together with the SFC, Blood Ties is a co-production between Oak3 Films and Hot Cider Films. The other eight selected filmmakers are short film directors Boo Junfeng, Ellery Ngiam, Wee Li Lin, Yong Mun Chee, actor Alaric Tay, stage and television veteran T T Dhavamanni, as well as new faces Mika G. Yamaji and Chen-Hsi Wong. “The SFC is delighted to be a part of Blood Ties. We are particularly excited about this milestone for the Singapore film industry. Blood Ties may appeal to some more than others, but one thing is certain – this film will redefine what Singaporeans and international audiences think about Singapore films. In this spirit we hope Blood Ties will continue to inspire and encourage emerging filmmakers – and Singaporean audiences – long after the lights come on,” said Mr Kenneth Tan, director, SFC and chief operating officer of Singapore’s Media Development Authority.… Read More

  • High Voltage results with camcorders

    Crank: High Voltage, the highly anticipated sequel to Mark Neveldine’s popular Crank (2006), is notable for the filmmakers’ experimentation with new recording methods and technology of the kind seldom seen before in Hollywood. Co-directors Neveldine and Brian Taylor aimed to energise cinema-goers and succeeded emphatically. Shot almost entirely on a combination of Canon’s consumer and professional high definition camcorders, the filmmakers were able to create the fast-paced, aggressive and ‘amped-up’ visual style of the movie. Neveldine and Taylor opted for the lightweight portability and excellent HD image quality of Canon’s XH A1 3-CCD camcorder and the consumer-level Canon Legria HF10 Dual Flash Memory camcorder. “We always felt that we needed cameras that were even more versatile and smaller than what we used on Crank,” Neveldine said. “Because we shoot on roller blades, hang out of helicopters, and do lots of other crazy things, we needed cameras that are incredibly powerful but also really small and fun.” “We keep the camera moving all the time, and on this film we moved it in ways it has never been moved before,” Taylor explained. While digital cinematography is common in Hollywood thanks to the 24-frame capabilities of modern HD technology, the filmmakers of Crank: High Voltage had to make sure these cameras could deliver footage of sufficient image quality for transfer to 35mm film, which is necessary for theatrical exhibition. “Knowing the size and mobility of the cameras we wanted, it was really just a question of which one gave us the images that we liked,” Taylor noted. “We did film out tests with several different brands of cameras and discovered that Canon’s new generation of small, lightweight camcorders provide the image quality we needed. “Their images look just incredible when transferred to film. Ninety-eight percent of the movie was shot with Canon XH A1 and HF10 HD camcorders. They enabled us to move fast and save time. We feel like camera technology has finally caught up with what we do.” Beyond traditional film-making When filming Crank: High Voltage, director of photography Brandon Trost wanted to move away from the typical cinematic style seen in action movies. To achieve the distinctive visual flavour of Crank: High Voltage, Trost used Canon’s consumer and professional HD camcorders almost exclusively to create the surreal visual quality of the film. “As DoP, I had as many as 25 cameras to govern on this film,” Trost explained. “We had three camera operators shooting, as well as Mark and Brian and myself. We never had a shot list. Instead it was ‘anything goes.’ Mark, and Brian, and I collaborated on seeing how many cool shots we could come up with in the heat of the moment, and that’s how we made the movie.” Using at least 15 Canon consumer camcorders (the HF10) and five Canon professional camcorders (the XH A1), the production team was able to capture more footage in less time, in less takes, and at lowered production cost than if they were using traditional filming methods. A total of 270 hours of footage was captured over the 30-day shoot, which if shot using traditional methods, would have taken several months to shoot. Shooting on the run In order to create a dynamic feel to the scenes, the production team kept camcorders constantly on the move while recording. With the ambition to push videographic boundaries, the directors wanted many of the shots to be captured with the cameraman in full motion (e.g., filming a chase scene on rollerblades, hanging off a helicopter or jumping off the side of a building). The solution was to introduce the use of smaller, but nonetheless powerful consumer camcorders to shoot these scenes – previously unheard of in the making of a big screen action movie. It also opened a whole new free-style of filming that was as liberating as it was enjoyable. The Canon consumer HF10s were used almost everywhere – mounted on remote control cars, hand-held while skating, or perched in awkward vantage points – to capture dynamic scenes that made up the overall look and feel of the movie. During the editing process, the team were impressed by how the footage of the consumer HF10 camcorder stacked up against the professional camcorders. Though the film was shot primarily on professional XH A1, the small consumer HF10s provided the production team with a wider range of videography, allowing them to build their story with a freedom that has never seen before on the big screen.… Read More

  • Samsung Super Hero fights phone theft

    The Skinny This campaign is a joint effort of Samsung Mobile (CDMA division) and Tata Indicom, one of the leading CDMA service providers in India. The focus of the spot addresses a prevalent crime issue in the sub-continent, the proliferation of mobile phone theft. As such, security of mobile phones from theft is a major issue in the lower strata in India. In fact, it is a concern to all. Super Hero is one of the basic CDMA phones that offers the benefits of Advance Mobile Tracker systems. The value proposition of the commercial highlights the advantages of the system and how it enables peace of mind among consumers. The aim of the campaign is to establish Advance Mobile Tracker and its benefits to consumers. The spot features a man who works hard as a labourer for over 12-14 hours a day to make his daily bread. The mobile phone is key to his livelihood and, therefore, a very important investment which he cannot afford to lose. Clients, Tata Indicom and Samsung Mobile CDMA, were brimming with enthusiasm for the storyboard. Client representatives, Dinesh Sharma of Samsung and Trivikram Thakore of Tata were filled with excitement. Little wonder that the production team was given a free hand. The Production The producers wanted a raw real feel. The stunts required an actor who could endure a certain degree of real, physical collisions and pain. The casting, therefore, was critical as the protagonist needed to act with his face and his body. The selected actor, Usman, is a pantomime artist whom the stunt director, Mehmood Khan, immediately approved. Almost overnight, a set of four costumes were quickly stitched and ready for shoot. The stunt director, Mehmood, took Usman under his wing for training and rehearsing like an Olympian. For the record, Usman actually did 90 per cent of the stunts himself – except for a sequence in which he is rolling down the steps like a log. This was considered too dangerous and the takes were done by a stunt double. One of the biggest challenges was the shooting schedule in Khareghat colony which is a Parsi enclave. People here are generally peaceful but they are also known to fiercely guard their privacy. As it turns out, the production team took an 80-foot industrial crane for wire/cable work without incident. Most commercials in India are shot on 35mm film, as such, DOP Sanjay Kapoor decided to go with Kodak 50D and 250D. The choice of stock took into account the fact that the team was going to shoot indoors as well as outdoors. The film choice was key to achieving a look that retained skin tones yet still exploited the gritty colours and smells of Mumbai city. The Post Albert Goo of Pixion suggested a Eugene Delacroix painting kind of look in telecine. It is an interesting bleach bypass appearance which resulted in a look that desaturated the overall ambience. Gan managed to enhance the reds and gave an overall look that warmed the skin tones without affecting skins. In post, the challenge was to remove the wires, especially in the shots where the camera had been moved. The team at Pixion Studios knocked it off like a walk in the park. The film was cut on Final Cut Pro by offline artist, Anand Subaiah. Online was done on Quantel EQ at Pixion Studios.… Read More

  • Experience Europe with DW-TV Asia plus

    The Skinny In order to communicate the claim “Experience Europe with DW-TV Asia plus”, Deutsche Welle produced four TV spots for the Asian audience by featuring four different professionals, representing four different fields and countries. The four talents are; Kanchan Panjabi, fashion designer, Hong Kong; Leonard Theosabrata, furniture designer, Jakarta, Indonesia; San Chau, executive search director for Odgers Ray & Berndtson, Ho Chi Minh City; and a renowned family physician in Hong Kong. Each of them are young, dynamic, talented and accomplished in their respective fields; architecture, fashion, medicine and business. They have all drawn their experience, training and inspiration from Europe. The charismatic individuals whose lives have been touched by Europe, yet are based in Asia, also had international appeal. DW-TV Asia plus hopes to harness their attributes to connect and represent the hopes, dreams and inspirations of individual Asian viewers touched by their European experience through these four testimonial TV spots aired across Asia. The spot starts off with a featured presenter against a background of flat, one-dimensional line drawings of iconic European buildings. After relating their personal experiences, influences and inspirations, the presenters step into a Velo Taxi which heads for the horizon. As this happens the line drawings of the buildings together with the background becomes real, visually communicating DW-TV Asia plus intended role. The Production The shoot was conducted at The Shooting Valley, against a 30ft wide x 20ft high limbo, with an extended L of another 30 feet which was painted, walls and floor, with green matte paint. A rickshaw was constructed using a metal frame, styrofoam, fibre glass and finished with spray paint. To deliver HD 16:9, the team decided on a Red Camera, which offers the option of using proper film lenses while maintaining a completely digital path. The spot was shot on 4K resolution which gave better control in post for keying and tracking. This was essential since the entire promo was shot against green matte. The Post While the offline edit was being cut, the team at 111 Eye brainstormed and researched to gather all the buildings and other elements which would make up the final picture. All these elements were shortlisted according to camera angles and movements, which were then used to create style frames for several key scenes. 3D camera tracking was done in order to create a seamless composite of live action and graphic elements with camera movements. One of the biggest challenges was to create the seamless transitions for the end scenes where the illustrations of the buildings and environment transform into a hyper-realistic environment. Special attention was given in the early planning stages to ensure that the illustrations were crafted from specific photography references of the actual buildings which would be used in the final composite. It was necessary to work out a transition style that could be applied successfully for all the four versions of the commercial. This resulted in the decision to use high-speed footage of ink smearing on paper as a transition effect to reveal the hyper-realistic scene from its illustrated version. The promo took around a month of post, using Autodesk Flint 2009, Shake, Final Cut Pro, Adobe After Effects and other propriety software. The resulting team effort pushed the benchmark in both shoot and post-production in terms of style and technique, creating something different from the ordinary chromakey shoots.… Read More

  • Superior human trumps robots

    The Skinny The objective of the campaign is to communicate that Berocca with its unique combination of essential nutrients is important for optimum mental and physical performance. The target market are males aged 30 and above who want to stay on top of their game. Conceptually, robots are usually perceived as more reliable and accurate than humans. The spot shows that a human who uses Berocca Performance is capable of superior human performance and therefore, can perform better than a robot. The Production The challenge in this film was to create a convincing robot with a real personality both in terms of look and actions. The producers went through dozens of sketches and pre-renders before shooting with a real actor to give a clear direction into 3D animation. The actor was cast specifically to give the robot its personality and he brought out little details that most 3D animators would have a hard time if they start from scratch. The shoot took place in a real location and the robots were composited over the existing set. The advantage of shooting on film was to give a more realistic texture to the backgrounds and to pull away from a full 3D feel. Shooting in film versus full 3D also proved to be useful in the offline stage. The takes were edited with the live actor posing as the robot. This gave the exact sense of timing and interaction for the 3D animation. Furthermore, during the offline the clients already had a sneak preview of what the robot was going to do. The Post Adobe Photoshop was used for basic image editing, 3ds Max for the 3D modeling, animation, and rendering, and Fusion for compositing and cleanups of the elements. Grading was done on da Vinci Resolve and online finishing on the Quantel EQ. After the robot sketches were approved, the animatics for timing and blocking of the robots were done. Upon approval of the animatics, the team proceed to build the 3D assets. After the assets were approved, it was time to rig the robots for animation. At the same time, the team did the textures, test rendering and composites. The VFX supervisor was on set to supervise the shoot, take reference photography and set up tracker marks for 3D match moving. The main challenge was getting the robots to look photo-real and believable, making them move smoothly and incorporating them to the live shots of the office. A lot of time was spent making a procedural shader that was similar to the peg that the director gave. To make the performance as real as possible, a stand-in actor was hired to perform the robot movements on set. The robots had to be animated to match the actor using key framing techniques. For the look of the robots, the team did some research and tests on its form and texture, because the client wanted the robots to look as if they were manufactured in real life. Several designs and styles of the robots were prepared and shown to the clients to make their preferences known. The animation called for straight-forward robotic movements, but the post team had to make sure that the 3D model would be able to make the required movements. Compositing the robots in the live background and cleaning up the footage proved to be a bit of a challenge. The post team had to get the lighting right inside 3ds max so that they would be able to incorporate nicely into the live footage. The background environments were shot and the images were used as HDR light maps. The other challenge was cleaning up the footage. The production required a stand-in actor for the main robot’s performance but subsequently the team had to completely remove any trace of the actor then replace him with the CG robot.… Read More

  • nuke 3D Stereo TOuch down

    The Skinny During the Super Bowl XLIII, TV viewers were treated to an innovative commercial for Pepsi Co’s SoBe energy drink in 3D stereo. This was the first-ever stereoscopic 3D TV advertising to air at the Super Bowl. The Foundry’s Nuke compositing software and Ocula 3D stereo manipulation tools played an instrumental role at Digital Domain in Venice, California, during the post production of the ad – entitled 3D Lizard Lake – enabling the meticulous combination of CG and live action elements. The SoBe brand, well-known in the US for its animated lizards, brought NFL superstars together with CG lizards and characters from Dreamwork’s 3D Monsters vs. Aliens feature, to perform a ballet dance from Swan Lake. Directed by Peter Arnell, the rough, tough NFL players try their best to perform pliés and pirouettes, before the CG characters from Monsters vs. Aliens and the SoBe Lizards crash in, turning the ballet into a mad party. The Production Due to the limited availability of the players, the shoot took place over two days: one with the hero characters and the other for the secondary dancers and stunt doubles. Los Angeles production specialists 3ality handled the 3D shoot, using Sony HD cameras, capturing at 1080p at 24fps to tape, on its proprietary stereoscopic rig. The production was posted using the Colour Code 3D system, using a yellow/blue combination similar to anaglyph. Crucial to the production and post was the close collaboration between Digital Domain, Dreamworks and 3ality to coordinate the stereo settings of the real cameras on-set and the virtual cameras in post. Digital Domain visual effects supervisor, Jay Barton, took the lead on the CG and VFX post side of the project, collaborating with DreamWorks’ global stereoscopic supervisor Phil McNally, and Steve Schklair of 3ality. Along with the footage, 3ality’s camera rig also provided essential metadata – camera settings, zoom information, the interocular distance (between the left and right eyes) and point of convergence. As different elements were either shot or created at different times, Digital Domain came up with a common scene plate, to put everything in the correct place. Using camera data provided by Digital Domain, Dreamworks put in its characters – The Missing Link, Dr. Cockroach, and BOB – and then sent the results to them. In addition to its 20 shots, Digital Domain also created 3D backgrounds for every shot, and rendered elements for nearly 40 shots in total. The Foundry’s compositing software Nuke, running Ocula stereo plug-ins, played a pivotal role in ensuring correct placement and line-up of the various CG and live action elements. The Post Originally developed by Digital Domain, Nuke is now owned and distributed by The Foundry. Ocula’s tool set is based on disparity-mapping algorithms, which track and correlate the differences in positional space and movement between corresponding pixels in the left and right cameras. Knowing where disparities occur, Ocula tools apply corrections by warping, stretching and squeezing only the areas of an image that require treatment. Digital Domain had four Nuke artists working on the post production. Ocula tools used included the Vertical Aligner, to vertically align corresponding image features in each view and to eliminate any camera misalignment and ‘key-stoning’ effects. The Digital Domain artists also took advantage of the Paint and Rotoscoping plug-ins, knowing that a paint stroke or keyframed roto mask applied to one eye would be automatically generated and applied to the other. Digital Domain checked its work daily in a 3D screening room with shutter-synchronized glasses. “Those tools were absolutely vital to what we needed to do,” commented Barton. “We did a lot of disparity generation between plates. This helped to streamline the process, and, with regard to combining left- and right-eye images, ensured that everything in the composite happened to both sides equally and correctly.” “Tools like Nuke and Ocula, that enable you make adjustments and then view the results in real-time in stereo, are pretty cool,” he added.… Read More

  • wiser home control automation Product Demo

    The Skinny The brief seemed simple: create an interactive sales tool featuring live action, CGI environments and flash. Oh, and could we please have a complex level of AI (artificial intelligence) in the backend in order to allow users to interact freely with the environments instead of following a pre-defined path? OK…not so simple after all. The project, for Hong Kong-based Schneider Electric, was a collaborative effort between XM Malaysia and Intense-Animation Studio in Singapore. The purpose was to demonstrate Schneider Electric’s home automation product – Wiser Home Control – to prospective end users and property developers. The challenge was to emulate the product’s real-world functionality – it does everything from switching on the lights and air-conditioning, operating the DVD and streaming Internet Radio – in the context of an interactive CD. Stuart Godwin, creative director at XM Malaysia, said: “We were looking for a partner who was more than merely a supplier. Intense proved invaluable, providing creative input at every phase, and ultimately realising a product that exceeded our expectations.” The Production Intense commenced the project by modelling the interior 3D environments and creating pre-visualisation camera animation based on a guide voice over. The premise of the project was to demonstrate the functionality of the Schneider Wiser Home system and that meant the CGI camera would be zooming to all areas of the different environments. So the creative direction for the live action shoot was to keep moving the camera at all times and make the imagery as dynamic as possible. The pre-visualisation was then delivered to Axis Films in Malaysia who matched the CGI camera movements with the live action camera on set. The entire shoot was filmed in high definition on blue screen and dialogue was recorded on location. Malaysian film star, Deana Yousoff, was cast as the project’s host primarily as the intro’s to each environment required up to a minute of unedited dialogue before the interactive section was enabled. The Post Tony Sealy of Intense Animation Studio said, “This was a very cool project. The concept of animated CGI interiors is fairly common in architectural and engineering animation. But making the CG environments photo-realistic, integrating them with a live action host and then having to control complex functionality within those environments using a floating flash GUI was very challenging.” Intense delivered a series house and apartment interiors, complete with a matrix of functional home devices, such as projector screens, blinds, air-con units, TV screens, sound systems, water features, and even an outdoor spa pool all created in CGI. These were all programmed to react according to users’ requests, across multiple locations, via an on-screen GUI that accurately reflects Wiser’s actual software interface. “We were exceptionally pleased with the result. Integrating CGI with live action imagery is hard enough, but then adding the depth of interactivity as we have done here makes this a unique product” added Godwin of XM Malaysia.… Read More

  • ‘Best Job’ Campaign taps storage solutions

    The recent Cannes Lion winning campaign for the ‘Best Job in the World’ competition, organised and sponsored by Tourism Queensland, owed some measure of its considerable success to backend support for its production. The Inner Sanctum Media (ISM) based in Brisbane, Australia was responsible for setting up a media centre on Hamilton Island and providing production and distribution support during the three-day final selection process. The campaign attracted more than 40,000 candidates from around the world for the salaried job, which included luxurious free housing in a paradise setting. Ben Southwell of Great Britain won the competition and began his new job this July. Tourism Queensland, with media support from ISM, attracted huge tourist interest and publicity valued at over A$180 million dollars. ISM deployed an EditShare 8TB storage system to facilitate production workflows. Regional and international video crews, including the US, UK, France, Japan and more, swarmed to the island. ISM produced continuous video news releases (VNRs) and web updates on the 16 finalists and daily events. Regional reseller Digitstor provided the EditShare Storage Series server, which was at the heart of the ISM workflow. “EditShare helped us meet our goal of generating maximum media exposure for the ad campaign, the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding islands,” says Lindsay McNeill, ISM’s project manager for the “Best Job” event. “We were covering all the activities and needed a system where you could ingest the content just once so all our edit suites could see it and use it at the same time,” says McNeill. “This was especially important because we had very short turnarounds and no time to waste. It’s hard to imagine how we could have worked the project without this kind of system.” “’The Best Job in the World’ project really demonstrated the value and efficiency of EditShare products,” says Paul Hayes, general manager of EditShare, APAC. “The straight-forward installation with Gigabit ethernet connectivity and RAID5 protection allowed ISM to be up and running quickly and securely. Media sharing provided a streamlined workflow, allowing the Final Cut Pro editors to concentrate on creating packages which kept the worldwide audience up to date on the competition.” ISM had a 21-person staff covering the event, including two video crews, an underwater specialty team, three video editors, and producers. The EditShare was the hub for sharing media connected to other devices with standard 1-Gigabit ethernet. One workstation was dedicated to ingesting video from the HD XDCAM professional discs as they arrived from different venues. Media was immediately available to the three Final Cut Pro suites used to create the VNRs and web packages. Finished packages were up-linked via satellite to Reuters in London for global distribution on the news agency’s media distribution platform. Two additional viewing workstations in the Media Centre were connected to the EditShare, allowing other video crews access to the media. Crews using non-linear media could quickly download particular segments onto thumb drives. The streamlined workflow helped ISM meet their deadlines and even exceed expectations. ISM generated more than 86 transmissions over the three-day event and the ‘Best Job’ competition made the top ten list of Reuter’s biggest stories in the past year. The Storage and XStream Series are part of the EditShare Complete Collaboration line of products, which provide shared media and collaborative workflows – from ingest through production to archive. In addition to the Storage Series and XStream Series, the Complete Collaboration line includes EditShare FLOW and EditShare Ark. Designed for the industry’s leading editing and compositing products from Adobe, Apple, Assimilate, Autodesk, Avid, Digidesign, Digital Vision and Sony, EditShare storage servers, including the ultra-performance XStream series, allow all connected workstations to capture, access and share, in real time, a common pool of media files. Regardless of application or platform, source material, work in progress and finished packages are shared and instantly available to all users on the EditShare network. EditShare is also the only solution that provides full Project Sharing among both Apple and Avid editing workgroups. EditShare servers connect via Gigabit or 10 Gigabit ethernet. Combined with EditShare’s 5th generation administration, monitoring and workflow tools, EditShare provides industry-leading performance and an open environment for creative teams to share media regardless of application and platform. EditShare’s Complete Collaboration products are fully integrated and support shared workflows from ingest through production and archiving. Flow Ingest captures up to four channels of media and associated metadata, storing each channel in up to three formats simultaneously and outputting a proxy for fast retrieval. Complementing the EditShare Storage Series is the EditShare XStream Series, which is specifically designed to support high demand and high volume situations, including huge numbers of SD and compressed HD video streams, or multiple streams of uncompressed HD or 2K video. EditShare ARK provides a range of options for back-up, mirroring and archiving.… Read More

  • Thailand master plan to boost film shooting

    Thailand’s national committee on film production recently approved a 2009-2011 master plan to promote Thailand as the hub for shooting and post-production. Culture Permanent Secretary Veera Rojpojanarat said the plan aimed to generate Thailand Baht THB 32 billion (US$0.94 billion) to the economy in the first year, THB 39 billion in 2010 and THB 50.89 billion in 2011. The master plan contains human resource development and moves to eradicate piracy. In the three years, six bachelor-degree scholarships will be granted with 30 training courses for 600 trainers. Meanwhile, the fallout from counterfeit products would be reduced by THB 2.6 billion or US$75 million during the same period. The Thailand Film Office, which comes under the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, will make several recommendations for incentives to attract foreign filmmakers to shoot in Thailand. These could include a refund on value-added tax, a waiver on foreign talent income tax and tax rebates. “The government of Thailand has already agreed to support of the film industry and they will fast-track implementation,” said Dr. Seksan Narkwong, director general of the Tourism Development section of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. Thailand has a range of locations suitable for shooting different backdrops. “Everything from sci-fi ‘moonscapes’ and prehistoric dinosaur caves and rock carvings to our famous beaches, modern cities and tropical rainforests. Thailand has a wealth of locations to shoot and stories to tell,” Dr. Narkwong revealed. The Thailand Film Office estimates revenue from foreign film shoots at US$57.8 million in 2008. The Thai Film Production Services Association (FIPSA) estimates real income into the economy at approximately US$88 million. Thailand has been providing production services for foreign filmmakers for over 30 years, and offers a wealth of experience crew and cost effective budgets. Production support crews have become adaptable in the different demands of filmmakers from the different countries. The One Stop Service Center for Filming in Thailand which comes under the Office of Tourism Development, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, was established with the aim of assisting foreign production companies shooting a documentary or any other type of television programme, music video or advertising commercial within the kingdom. Crews in Thailand are friendly, helpful and skilled, and an experienced and knowledgeable. The usual working time is a 10 or 12-hour shift (which includes meals break). Thailand is still flexible on hours of work as long as they are reasonable. Thailand offers a very versatile selection of locations. The country offers a range of beautiful beaches and islands to the green forests and jungles to the magnificent waterfalls and rivers, to the mountains of the north. Thailand can look like, and has been made to look like various neighbouring Asian countries. There is space for back lots to build large sets and experienced art teams to do this, for example Shanghai, which was built at the back lot of Moonstar Studios, one of the newest and biggest studios in Bangkok. The quality and craftsmanship of the crew and facilities are renowned. Production support offered in Thailand is flexible for equipment, crew or locations. All foreign productions are required to engage the services of a local coordinator, which could either be a company or individual registered with the Thailand Film Office. They represent the filmmaker throughout the shoot and will be responsible for the submission of required documentation.… Read More

  • Oktobor creates 3D commercials for Tiger Beer

    The Skinny Visual effects and animation studio Oktobor completed three full 3D commercials for Tiger Beer. The success of the ads also came down to an excellent relationship with both agency and client. According to producer Amanda Chambers, “Creatively the ads were complex but the production was very easy. We presented each stage to both Saatchi and Saatchi Worldwide Sdn Bhd and Asia Pacific Breweries as a grey render or animatic and explained the process as it evolved. The communication was constant and the results speak for themselves.” Oktobor general manager Patrick McAteer said, “We are absolutely delighted with the London, New York and Paris ads for Tiger Beer. Damon, Amanda and the entire team at Oktobor have created some of the most unique and highly creative TVCs we have ever been involved in. They are a real credit to the talent that’s worked on them. Both Saatchi and Saatchi Worldwide Sdn Bhd and Asia Pacific Breweries were excellent to work with and the entire 3-month process was completely hassle-free.” The Production The series of 3 ‘Winning Over’ advertisements presented the VFX house with a number of challenges that took every ounce of their collective expertise to overcome. Oktobor’s head of 3D and director of the Tiger Beer commercials, Damon Duncan explained, “We received the story boards and pitched for the project late last year. Soon after we were told we had been awarded the project, I flew to Malaysia and presented our ideas at the animatic stage to the team at Saatchi and Saatchi Worldwide Sdn Bhd who are responsible for the Asia Pacific Breweries (Tiger Beer) account. The meeting went exceptionally well and from that point it was all systems go and all hands to the pump.” Duncan and his creative team alongside Oktobor executive producer Amanda Chambers went through an extensive process with storyboard artist Stephen Ellis to finalise an idea that ‘built cities from the ground up’. Duncan continued, “The intention is that from a single drop of beer we would capture small moments of the three cities growing and build them into a bottle shape. The real challenge was to give a sense of scale in such a short amount of time.” The Post For the London commercial Duncan rebuilt part of the historic city complete with its iconic Big Ben bell tower. “For London we decided to keep things simple. The bricks that built the city all had a uniform shape and the same style as they entered each shot. This really helped as there were often between 10-20,000 bricks being animated in a scene at any one time. For the Big Apple, Duncan and his team built the city out of crystals. “Whilst visually stunning, there was a very heavy rendering time.” He explained. “We tested various forms of lighting in order to give a true crystal look as opposed to one that resembled ice.” The final ad in the trilogy was Paris, which Duncan and his team built out of the kind of wire fencing often seen adorning typical classic Parisian architecture. “This was a tricky thing to do.” He said, “We had to figure out many different ways of making the wire ‘grow’ to give a sense of purpose and intent. There was a real focus on composition with lots of depth of field and focus pulling in this commercial to avoid the environment looking empty.” All three ads were completed in 3DS Max and rendered in Brazil. For the audio, Oktobor partnered with Auckland based Liquid Studios.… Read More

  • MFX mystery crime idents

    The Skinny The MFX team’s creative challenge for the Crime & Investigation (CI) Network Refresh was to use crime-based imagery in a way that injects drama and suspense without moving too far from the visual language established in the last CI package. The essence of CI is communicated through the logo — a box with a red triangle piece separated from it. The triangle is the “missing piece” that represents the key to solving the crime. As CI’s content focuses on sharing the stories behind crime and police investigations, viewers are drawn into the solution of the puzzle whilst at the same time gaining insights into the criminal mind. The previous CI idents worked by using crime-based imagery or ‘icons’ with a red accent that indicated danger or something slightly odd. The transition from one icon to the next is through a ‘shattering effect’, made of triangular pieces, which reflect the logo and also serve as a visual break from one icon to the next. The five idents are broken into themes: Biography, Mystery, Crime, Investigation and Forensic. Based on these themes, the icons in each ident triggers the viewer to think about why those particular icons were chosen and the links between them. The Production CI Refresh required MFX to come up with a new set of crime-based icons. MFX and Anne Craig, the on-air creative director of AETN, worked together to brainstorm icons that resonated most with audiences, in terms of what they represent or suggest. In this way, the process of coming up with the CI Refresh ident became akin to the problem solving aspect of a criminal investigation. In each of the five idents, three icons were chosen to connect with the five themes. For example, in the ‘Crime’ ident, we see a red phone swinging ominously suggesting a call for help; followed by rolling dice which suggests the idea of gambling with luck; and finally a pair of stilettos which hints at a temptress and crimes of passion. By making sure the emphasis is on the story or what each icon represents, MFX effectively captures the CI brand identity. As the look of the CI Refresh idents have to be familiar to the viewers in terms of look, there are limitations on how to update the new idents. MFX chose to make the colour mood a bit warmer compared to the last round of idents to make the icons appear less clinical. Through this subtle difference in tonal palate, the viewers will notice that the icons have changed and there is renewed interest for the viewers to find out the solution to the puzzle. The camera angles and compositions for the CI Refresh ident is framed in extreme close-ups to draw attention to the fine details and textures of each icon. Furthermore, as there is a shift into the HD world, MFX shot the icons in full HD to maximise the effectiveness of the close-up shots. The sequence of the icons from extreme close-up to mid or wide shots also creates suspense, as viewers will be left guessing until the camera pulls out to a wider shot. The Post The shattering effect from icon to icon was also updated, with more thought put into the background ‘swoosh’ effect, which creates a sense that the shattered triangles are moving more dynamically through 3D space. The icons in the Refresh idents do not shatter completely, and within the shattered pieces is also a red triangle, to tie back to the CI logo. Through the new ‘shatter effect’, the Refresh idents feel smoother and appear to have more depth. The shattering of the icons can be felt when there is a transition from one icon to the next. For CI Refresh, the MFX solution has been more of a creative than a technical one. A lot of thought was put into choosing the icons that work the best to tell the story about crime and investigation, which is the core of what Anne Craig, the on-air creative director of AETN, wanted for the Refresh idents. Through the CI Refresh idents, viewers are tempted with fresh icons to ‘investigate’ while maintaining the familiar CI look. With the creative solution deliberately kept simple and effective, the visual language of CI is not compromised but pushed a step further to communicate the CI identity effectively.… Read More

  • Discovery ‘awesome world’ campaign

    The Skinny To mark its 15th year in the region, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific (DNAP) revealed a new logo for its flagship network Discovery Channel, at the same time launching a refreshed on-air brand campaign across the Asia-Pacific. “The on-air campaign continues from the infectious ‘The World is Just Awesome’ campaign which celebrates everything positive the world has to offer. The brand spot gives viewers a personal connection with Discovery by offering a humorous, but sincere side to the brand,” said Karen Cheah, vice president, creative services, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific. The spot uses an old children’s song called ‘I Love the Mountains’, best remembered for its infectious “boom de ah da” chorus. The song’s lyrics were rewritten to better reflect Discovery’s personalities and passions. “This new campaign celebrates everything positive the world has to offer. We are a brand that celebrates the many wondrous aspects of the world around us. In study after study in Asia, we have seen that this view of the world is shared by many Asian television viewers, who over the last 14 years have turned to Discovery Channel to satisfy this innate curiosity and wonder. The spot is unashamedly optimistic, is truly infectious and we believe, has the ability to reach out to both existing fans of Discovery Channel and new viewers,” said Vikram Channa, vice president, content, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific. The Production Boston-based Viewpoint Creative developed the revitalised brand mark that continues to leverage the equity of its signature ‘globe.’ By linking the globe into the “D” of Discovery, Viewpoint fused the world and brand. Royale was tasked with refining the Discovery Channel logo, which had undergone a design overhaul recently. The studio re-worked the network’s signature globe icon, giving it dimension and finessing the typography. The comprehensive package for the Discovery Channel includes branding elements, IDs, show menus, transitions, and lower thirds, as well as a generic toolkit of graphics and animation. The stylised earth, contemporary colour palette and fresh typography all combine to bring the mark more in line with Discovery as the global communications company. The mark can also separate the “D-globe” as a single entity, in order to create a unique and dynamic icon. The spot was directed by executive producer Warren Souto, liaising remotely from Singapore with four different camera crews in Malaysia, India, Taiwan and Australia. The Post The challenge was to make the rebrand more engaging to viewers by turning it into an on-air event. Two weeks prior to the on-air change, teasers went out featuring discovery channel personalities – such as Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs, Bear Grylls from Man vs Wild, and Adam and Jamie from The Mythbusters – interacting with the new logo. The personalities had been shot on green screen and composited on Smoke. On the day of the rebrand, the top of every hour featured newly created idents that depicted specially selected scenes from programmes or awe-inspiring iconic events from across the region. The theme of these idents continues from Discovery Channel’s “The World Is Just Awesome” campaign that was launched last year. In this spot, the music was the “star”. An Asia-Pacific image spot was created using the catchy “boom de ah da” melody, played using Asian musical instruments. The spot was off-lined on Avid Express, telecined on da Vinci 2kplus and polished on Smoke.… Read More

  • AZ Works OPENS IN Cineport Busan

    The southern port city of Busan, which is home to the Pusan International Film Festival, and the Busan Film Commission (BFC) took firm strides towards establishing itself as the premier Asian film and broadcast production with the recent opening of AZ Works post-production complex in Busan’s newly developing Centum City. Five years in the making, the new post house is located in a four storey, 8,236m² glass wall building in the heart of Busan City. It is also known as ‘AZ Works on the Beach’, to reflect its location in a fast-developing beachside borough not far from Haeundae Beach, Busan’s premiere resort area. The facility is equipped to handle a full range of post-production work including film processing, editing, graphics CGI, VFX, digital color correction, Blu-ray authoring & mastering, IPTV conversion, hologram contents development and archival restoration. Second only to Seoul (in the Northwest of South Korea) in terms of location shooting, Busan (in the Southeast) accommodates on average 40 feature film shoots a year, but up to now the city had been lacking in post facilities. The post services are offered in tandem with BFC’s location services, studios and production support, taking Busan closer to its aim of becoming a one-stop Asian hub for the filmmaking industry. The new post-production facility is the second phase of Busan’s initiative, Cineport Busan, which was formulated by Busan Film Commission to help foster a stronger film industry. Korea’s leading post house HFR won the bid to run the post-production facility proving their mettle with their commitment and sound business plans to build Asia’s best film and digital post-production facility. AZ Works, which also has labs in Seoul and Beijing, is headed by CEO Lee Yong Gi, a leading digital intermediate colorist who worked on landmark Korean films such as Bong Joon-ho’s The Host and Kim Jee-woon’s The Good, The Bad, The Weird. At the facility’s opening ceremony, veteran director Im Kwon-taek said it was encouraging to see such developments, as he observed there were times in the past when Korean films failed to succeed abroad because of shoddy post-production work. Present at the facility tour were Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) director Kim Dong-ho, filmmaker Park Chan-wook, who did post at AZ Works on his upcoming vampire thriller Bakjwi (Thirst); Ryoo Seung-wan (The City Of Violence) whose new action drama film was presented at the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF 2009), and Ming Beaver Kwei, producer of the upcoming Korea-China co-production Sophie’s Revenge (working title), starring Zhang Ziyi. Busan – with ambitions to be the center of Korea’s film industry – hopes to keep the momentum going, planning to build additional state-of-the-art facilities by 2010 including the Busan Image Center and Film Experience Museum. It also plans to complete a new home for the Pusan International Film Festival by 2011. More recently, Busan and the Japanese city Sapporo signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on film production, distribution and training programmes within the film industry in each city. The MoU was signed in Busan at the Asian Film Policy Forum during the Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF). The signing marked the first time that the Busan Film Commission has collaborated with another Asian city. Previously, the city had signed collaboration agreements with Australian and US cities. “We wanted to catch up with the achievements of the Busan Film Commission. Also we hope to become the starter among Japanese film commissions to proactively develop international collaboration,” said Toshihiko Inoue, commissioner of Sapporo Film Commission. In the initial stages, the film commission in each city will provide US$16,128 (KWR 20m) each year to fund film projects from Busan and Sapporo, according to Inoue. Recent film collaboration between the two cities include Japan’s Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival funding Busan-based filmmaker Kim Kih-hoon in making short films jointly with two filmmakers from Sapporo. Yubari is a city nearby Sapporo in the Hokkaido region of Japan. Inoue said the collaboration between Busan and Sapporo could be extended to the whole Hokkaido region. “Busan has the beach and sea scenery while Hokkaido owns snow and mountain landscapes. This makes us complementary cities in providing various scenery and landscapes for filmmaking,” he said. Extending its reach, BFC also signed a memorandum-of-understanding (MOU) to create a “Busan-South Gyeongsang Province shooting location cluster” of film commissions with cities in the area. The MOU aims to bring 60 per cent or more of film productions to shoot in the area by creating a network between regions, offering locations information and opening an integrated website. To this end, BFC held a forum on “Busan’s media industry in the next 10 years”, anticipating a new filmmaking industry order centered on Seoul and Busan, and discussing the needs to be met by the local government in such a case.… Read More

  • Out Of This World

    The Skinny In a strange twist of events, a project originally meant for production and completion in Dubai found its way to the animation and audio team at Digipost Vietnam. The search for a capable team to undertake the task stretched over three months but the final product proved once and for all, that the search paid off. The concept called for a fully animated 30-second TV commercial featuring the elements of nature in a coordinated play of football. Earth, wind and fire transform into surreal footballers passing the ball, in a series of dramatic and precise kicks. The ball flies off planet earth and is return-kicked by the sun-fire striker. The entirely animated project had to be created from scratch in six weeks. The key idea of the TV spot for Toshiba’s premium line of LCD TV, REGZA was to dramatically convey the brand’s latest advanced technology, breaking barriers and setting a new benchmark in viewing experience. It had to be big, bold and dramatic. Leon Loukeris, director of 3D and his team at Digipost, tasked with developing the TVC wasted no time in getting to the kickoff. The Production The 3D team consisting of artists from Digipost offices in Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia assembled in Ho Chi Minh City. The diverse team consisted of eight animators of six different nationalities. “It was challenging for all of us. With different cultures and mentalities together in team, we proved that we could deliver a quality commercial under such a tight schedule,” said Lourkeris, director of 3D. As time was short, all elements of the work proceeded at speed, with treatment and all key stages of work by the 3D and VFX team approved by the ECD making trips to HCMC. The Post Digipost has a reputation for delivering cutting edge technology with a team of creative professionals with international and regional experience on board. Digipost is equipped with cutting edge online and offline facilities such as Flame, Smoke (HD), Final Cut Pro (HD), DI Grading, After Effects, Maya and Pro-tools, pushing the boundaries of visual communication. Digipost produces evocative and purposeful graphics, design and live action for advertising, broadcast and entertainment. While creating the elements of nature in realistic 3D is always a challenge, the action scenes in the Toshiba project called for something even more. Each element had to be transformed into football strikers kicking the ball with incredible force. Based on actual life action movements, each element was painstakingly developed into characters of their own. The result is a dramatic creation of super football strikers from grains of sand, the wind that intensifies to a tornado and flame embers to a formidable fire figure. Each character had to be as distinctly different as the elements it represented. The scenes, requiring several layers, were composited on After Effects and the Avid DS Nitris. The music and sound design by the Digipost audio team was built over three parts. In a progressive buildup from the first element, sand, with strains of middle eastern sounds to the howling of the wind with orchestral and vocals to the quiet of outer space building up to a climax when all three forces come together. “It helped that the clients and agency knew what they want and were very professional in every stage of the project. The job went smoother than expected without any problems or delay and on budget,” said Lourkeris on completion of a successful and satisfying project. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Pizza Hut Hot Dot PROMISE

    The Skinny In February 2009, Pizza Hut Singapore launched two TV commercials featuring their new HOT DOT guarantee - a heat-activated sticker that tells you if your pizza is hot on arrival. If the pizza is cold and the sticker remains black, the customer’s next pizza is free. Shot in high-speed and set to the tune of ‘Pomp and Circumstance’, each television commercial featured people from different walks of life, relating why hot pizzas were so important to them. The campaign was developed by JWT Singapore who won Pizza Hut’s creative account in October 2008. The creatives involved in the project were Ali Shabaz, executive creative director; Clarence Chiew, senior copywriter; Minzie Liyu, senior art director and Anna Lee, producer. “The Hot Dot is an innovation that Pizza Hut used to prove to consumers that our pizzas are hot. The Hot Guarantee is a promise to our customers to strengthen their trust in our brand,” says Juliana Lim, director of marketing, Pizza Hut Singapore. “Hot has always been key to Pizza Hut delivery’s brand positioning. With the introduction of the Hot Dot and the Hot Guarantee programme, the team decided that this was the perfect platform to re-brand Pizza Hut as the Hot Delivery provider, “ said Ai Mai Ong, associate account director, JWT Singapore. The idea was developed to deliver this message in a meaningful, yet dramatic way. The Production Working with a storyboard which required the use of six locations including a swimming pool to be shot all within the same shoot day was a challenge. The locations were chosen based on aesthetics, working space, distance and travel time and set-up time in order for the shoot to finish within a 20-hour time frame. Lighting was not an issue. The team used Arri Flicker Free PAR lights, KinosFlows and Dedo-lights and underwater lights for the pool scene. The choice of shooting format was on 16mm film. The camera used was the ARRI 16SR3 ADVANCE which has proven to be a robust machine with little down time. The team was able to move fast with this camera taking into consideration the number of shots required. A great team of individuals working as a fluid team made this commercial successful and everybody on the team had a role in making the shot. The choice of onscreen talents by the client and agency really made this commercial a special one. The team adapted the agency’s storyboard into a shoot-board which was further developed during the actual shoot day, as the dynamics of having action and facial reactions timed with accurate camera position can never be fully illustrated by any shoot-board. To achieve the look of natural light with some accentuation on the product, each and every vignette had its own special lighting set up which was different from one to the other. Some fine tuning at telecine to balance out the scenes between each vignette was called for. The Post The team at VHQ Singapore led by Mike Low swung into action as the 16mm film is perfect for a TV commercial broadcast project of this nature. The shots looked good, while there were lots of film latitude for fine tuning the choices for color correction at film telecine. The film stock was extremely advanced in providing with a base image which is of high quality and ready for crafting. There were no issues in obtaining the color details and look desired. They were designed for each other. The team was very comfortable with the skills of the telecine colorist and the work flow of film. Avid and Flame was employed in post. The ‘hot dot’ which needed to be highlighted in some scenes was enhanced with colour grading to make the dot stand out and to capture the glow. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • HP Mini ‘Hyper

    The Skinny Creative director Joe Lin, together with creative team Ginny Lim and Georgina Gray of Publicis Modem, started out with an idea of hyperactive girl who fit the profile of a HP Mini 1000 user. After discussions with director Karl von Moller and Blackmagic Design, the collaborative trio found a fun way to make a spot that was rich and detailed. Titled ‘Hyper Girl’, the 30-second TVC was created to promote the launch of the slim and sleek HP Mini 1000 across Asia Pacific. The brief was to ensure that consumers would associate the HP Mini 1000 with instant connectivity on-the-go. The Production ‘Hyper Girl’ features the same talent torso shots as seen in the previous spots of the series, only this time, the talent is walking through a series of seven wardrobe changes with a different background for each new look. The production team dressed up a Singapore lane with a vintage Mini Cooper; hot dog stand; artfully destroyed trashcan and graffiti, which the law-abiding art department had to spray-paint on paper before mounting on the walls. Director von Moller chose to shoot on RED which had some significant advantages for production, “RED is ideal for the natural lighting conditions as it performs very well in both low light and overcast conditions.” Another major advantage of shooting on RED was its QuickTime proxy file system. Blackmagic Design senior editor Tammy Quah attended shoot and as each scene was captured, she transferred the SD QuickTime proxies of the raw RED rushes onto her laptop. As von Moller was shooting, Quah selected the go takes and assembled the edit. As each scene was captured, von Moller could see how the plates and elements lined up in the offline, enabling him to move on quickly and efficiently to the next shot. E-Vonne Loh, marcom program manager, HP PSG, Asia Pacific & Japan commented: “With the wardrobe and background transitions, this spot is very technical and hard to visualise at the production stage. Being able to see the rough cut on the shoot was a very welcome reassurance.” The Post Blackmagic Design creative director Damien Yang had to achieve a comfortable pace and rhythm for each of the wardrobe transformations. Using what von Moller termed as “highly ambitious post production techniques”, Yang stitched together different body parts and pieces of clothing from multiple plates along with CG elements to create the series of seamless transitions. Blackmagic Design 3D/VFX artist Teo Boon Hock had to achieve what he termed a “coordinated mess” when creating the swirl of CG words that first cloak the talent and then reveal a new wardrobe change. As the swirl of words form first an electric guitar and then a shoulder bag, Teo had to accurately balance different particle variables, like speed and spread, offsetting specific particles at precise key frames to achieve the smooth transitions and fluid shape formations. “It’s easy to form one shape but it’s tricky for the particles to leave that form and morph into another shape … and to do it twice is of course twice as tricky! The transformations have to transit at a comfortable pace and the shapes have to look realistic as well – not look like one big chunk of bees circling the talent!” he commented. To ensure the high level of 3D photorealism, the Blackmagic Design VFX team attended shoot to capture all the necessary camera data, lighting, colour and texture references and environment maps. Attending shoot also enabled the team to have an accurate idea of the overall special dimensions of the shoot and the relative position between talent and camera. Solid shoot data and references also proved indispensable for Blackmagic Design 3D animation director Vincent Yoe, who created the colourful burst of 3D elements that cascade out of the screen in the final scene. Yoe created a 3D model of the HP Mini that he then tracked over the top of the live Mini to give him full control of the angle of the screen and the ability to effectively marry the 3D elements emanating from it. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • From ‘Dogme’ to Slumdog

    It has been a varied and interesting journey for Anthony Dod Mantle, from the minimalist shooting styles of Dogme 95 to an Oscar for cinematography for Slumdog Millionaire… Read More

  • Kayan beauties captured in HD

    High-definition (HD) production continues to sweep across the world setting the standard for entertainment. The influence is so pervasive that even a production house in land-locked Myanmar has caught up. Recently, Myanmar’s most renowned director, Aung Ko Latt turned his focus on Padaung women for a feature film aimed at foreign audiences. To this end, he purchased a Sony HDW-F900R HD camera, which he took with him to Demorso, Pan Pet village in Kayar district to shoot the film. Shooting with the CineAlta system, Aung tried to get the film look at the same time forging a 21st century digital profile for the Indochina production community. Aung followed the lives of four La Whay tribeswomen, one of four tribes in the Padaung area, whose necks adorned with brass rings fascinate foreign tourists. Three languages are spoken in the feature film - Padaung, Pay Oh and Myanmar - and it will include English subtitles. Aung and his crew traveled to some remote areas to capture the beauty of the hillside Kayan locations. “The F900R is light in weight and small in size, so it’s easy and convenient to carry anywhere. We were able to use a range of lenses with this camera and using it with the Steadicam, makes even more convenient,” he told Sony’s Scan e-newsletter. “There’s no need to use a lot of lighting with the F900R, so most of the time, we just used natural light. The Low Key Saturation in the Paint Menu can improve the darkness and detail if you need. “When we had time on our hands, we manually changed the settings in the Menu, otherwise we just used the default settings, because we can make adjustments in post. But the most important thing was that we knew the right frame frequency to convert to Telecine.” “I wanted to show the world our culture by filming the women’s daily adventures,” said Aung speaking to the local press. “Tourists enjoy taking photos of Padaung women with brass rings around their necks, so this will be for those curious to learn about their culture.” “I am also making this is because I want the world to know that this tradition comes from a Myanmar tribe, not our neighbouring country Thailand, which claims that the Padaung is a Thai tribe.” Note: Aung Ko Latt expects to release Kayan Beauties in the United States and in some parts of Europe and Asia by July. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Shooting cars in Australia

    In the past few months, several major Asian car launch shoots have selected Australia as the location. The weak Aussie dollar is not the main driving factor, but it certainly helps. UFOFILM’s Les Luxford, who has handled big shoots for Kia and Lexus, explains some of the attractions… Read More

  • sIFF PROMOS HARNESS CReative community

    When the opportunity to shoot a promotional trailer for the 22nd Singapore International Film Festival came along, TVC directors, Warren Klass from Two Oceans Film Company and Desmond Tan from Salt Films jumped at the chance to create something unconventional and close to their hearts. Warren set out to recreate and reinterpret films within the genres of horror, war, romance, adventure and disaster. His film, “Script to Screen”, asked the question: What if you were privy to what goes on behind the lens? Desmond’s take was far darker and more visceral. “Eye” tackled the idea of seeing the best and worst in the human condition through the eyes of the filmmaker, hence the entire production process is seen through gels/filters placed in front of the camera or every scene is graded and treated differently during the post process. Both films were shot on 16mm film over two days in several locations around Singapore. Warren shot with award winning Singaporean cinematographer, Alan Yap, with an Arri SR III for a slick Hollywood-looking film. Desmond chose to use the Bolex for a raw feel. Further enhancement in color grading and online work was done at Blackmagic Design, and scanned into full HD resolution to facilitate output to 35mm format for cinema projection. Both films were graded differently by two colorists who achieved very distinct looks. Much of the post time for “Eye” was spent on offline, as the right balance had to be struck between the positive and negative aspects of 14 scenarios and getting the right pacing and duration of the film. All the effects within the film had to feel like it was produced in camera without any digital enhancement. To this end, every FX and transition created in Flint was seamless and felt integrated, serving the story and the overall dark mood of the film. Warren’s film went through weeks of 3D in Maya as well as tracking and compositing work to create never seen before scenes of meteorites falling into Singapore’s cityscape. At Blackmagic Design Post Production, post producer Dixie Wu and creative post supervisor Damien Yang produced different levels of effects needed for the various scenes, from screeching meteorites to thundering bombers overhead. The atmospheric soundtrack for Desmond’s spot, was composed and handled by AMX Audiophiles where guitar maestro, Adam Lee, lent his talents to create a multi-layered track where his wailing guitars brought an added dimension to the visuals. To top it off, a gravelly textured voiceover was added to provide a sense of mystery and gravitas to the entire spot up to the final frame, “I am... who you are.” Presented with the prospect of an open canvas for creativity and having successfully collaborated on numerous award-winning projects with directors Warren Klass and Desmond Tan, the Blackmagic Design post team needed little persuasion to buy in to the two promos. BLACKMAGIC DESIGN POST for ‘Script to Screen’ directed by Warren Klass The unique concept and structure of ‘Script to Screen’ presented it’s own special challenges for post production starting with achieving appropriate edit rhythms for each of the distinctive film genres presented. Blackmagic Design editor Pang Wei Fong explains, “‘Script to Screen’ features several different film genres, for each genre we had to carefully consider the pacing and rhythm of the edit to achieve an authentic and convincing feel.” Blackmagic Design 3D/VFX Artist Ganesh Ghale was enlisted to create a devastating meteorite shower for the final Armageddon style end-of-the-world action sequence. “I got a good idea of the flight paths Warren wanted for the meteorite shower. My biggest initial challenge was tracking the rough CG meteorites into the floating hand-held background plates as the regular tracking software became confused with tracking points on the similar looking tower blocks.” Ganesh used an advanced Mocha tracking software to successfully match the live camera then set about designing his own CG meteorites, “I did a lot of tests using Maya Fluids to create a series of elements such as fire, smoke, sparks and particles to make up the meteorites and their tails and provided multiple layers for each of these elements.” Compositing the final CG elements into the live plates was Blackmagic Design VFX artist Kean Au who combined all the layers of CG varying colour, contrast and transparency to achieve optimum photorealism, “to create a more realistic sense of depth we rotoscoped some of the talent and buildings so that the meteorite shower could appear to be raining down all around. I also added some extra lens flares and lighting effects to the CG elements.”… Read More

  • EditShare tackles reality TV in India

    Miditech, one of Asia’s leading independent production companies is no stranger to rigorous production demands, but they had to surmount some unusual hurdles for the reality series “Sarkar Ki Duniya.” The series is described as a cross between “Survivor” and “Big Boss” but with its own distinctive twists. Eighteen contestants were shipped off to a remote island in the Kalinadi River, a two-hour drive south of Goa on India’s west coast to battle it out in a series of challenges and eliminations. The Miditech production team faced the unenviable task of shooting on a 13.5 acre island surrounded by a string on mangroves and accessible only by boat or raft. The venue had no onsite electrical power or communications and all materials had to be shipped in. It took a team of 115 people working around the clock for 56 days to complete the set, the biggest ever created in the history of Indian television. The 250 member crew also face obstacles in the production chain as they work over a 4-month period to complete the series - extremely tight deadlines; multiple cameras requirements to shadow each participant; and fast turnarounds for on-location editing to complete each episode. “We needed to streamline the workflow,” said Shailesh Parab, project leader and director of Cineom Broadcast Pvt., who designed the production system for Miditech. “We have very tough production schedules and were shooting many hours per day and editing the video onsite. We wanted to have multiple editors working at the same time and we can’t have any delays.” To meet the unique requirements of the “Sarkar” series, Cineom developed a production workflow for Miditech built around the EditShare ingest and shared storage solution. An EditShare server with 30TB of storage formed the nucleus of the production system which was rafted across a wide river to the island. EditShare is a NAS-system of hardware and software that is optimised for video collaboration. Editors and compositors connected to an EditShare network seamlessly access and share in real-time from a common pool of media files. Regardless of application or platform, source material, work in progress and finished packages are shared and instantly available to all users on the EditShare network. The EditShare shared storage solution supports true project sharing for both Avid and Final Cut Pro editing workgroups. Miditech also relied on the fully integrated EditShare FLOW Ingest to help speed production. FLOW Ingest acquisition solution captures up to four channels of media and related metadata in just about any format and simultaneously outputs to three formats, including multiple Avid and Apple formats plus a low proxy format. The Workflow On the island’s makeshift production centre, the EditShare was connected to six Apple Final Cut Pro editing systems. Once shooting began, as many as 18 cameras rolled 12 hours a day, seven days a week generating enormous amounts of video footage capturing the contestants through the triumph and heartbreak of the competitions and political infighting. To facilitate the production chain, EditShare FLOW Ingest was used to capture four live channels of DV25 material at a time. Video segments were “chunked” so that after an hour, editors could start editing while subsequent chunks were continually being recorded. Simultaneous timecode was used during the shoots making it easier for editors to synch and edit the four video streams. This all-digital workflow enabled Miditech to meet tight deadlines and deliver high production values even while producing in the field. “In previous shows we were restrained in what we could do and how much effort we could put into the finished program,” said Parab. “With this new digital workflow, we are ingesting multiple video streams live and editing simultaneously to produce the episodes much faster.” Benefits EditShare’s reliability and high performance, even in challenging field conditions was essential for Miditech to meet the tight deadlines of each episode. The integrated FLOW ingest gave editors additional time savings as they had immediate access to large quantities of video that they could work on simultaneously over a simple Gigabit network. Impressed with the format flexibility, media protections and capabilities demonstrated by EditShare’s Complete Collaboration line of products, Miditech has now secured EditShare systems for its facilities in both Mumbai and Gurgoan (New Delhi). ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Dogstar has its day

    On the voyage from Old Earth to New Earth in 2347, a freak accident causes the Dogstar, a giant space ark containing all of the world’s dogs, to become lost to mankind. Borrowing Dad’s spaceship, the Clark kids go on a quest to find their missing dog Hobart and they won’t rest until they find him, and every other dog from Old Earth. That, in essence is the premise of the Australian children’s animated comedy series Dogstar, which was named Best Animation at the Asian Television Awards (ATA) in Singapore. Produced by Media World Pictures of Melbourne and Perth, the series of 26 half-hours took two years to complete, and a second season is in pre-production, with the support of Screen Australia, Film Victoria, ScreenWest, the Nine Network, Disney Channel and international distributor Daro Film Distribution. “Dogstar was a project that we had been developing for several years but we had little success at the time so the idea sat in the bottom draw until 2005 when the concept was pulled out again and virtually started again,” according to producer and creative head, Colin South. “The original idea came from a series of meetings we had with designers and writers led by Doug MacLeod. Once the characters and the basic storyline were written up on the page we then sought to find a unique look for the show. The design of the series is very much inspired by design director Scott Vanden Bosch’s unique illustrative style.” “The animation style is also unique. While we tried to emulate a classic 2D look that is actually created in Flash. Our animators come from a traditional 2D background, so their experience and skill working in Flash really shows. The limitations presented by using Flash are largely overcome by strong design and the character staging,” South added. Created in widescreen high definition (HD SR) and featuring 5.1 sound (Dolby SR), Dogstar was produced entirely in Australia from concept through to post production. Production was largely conducted in Melbourne and Perth with crew in four main studios communicating via an online asset management database called the Nelnet. Design and animation work for Dogstar was done on PCs while post and post FX work was done on Macs. The designers used Photoshop and Flash MX. The animators used Flash MX. The post team used Final Cut Pro for editing, After Effects for the majority of Post FX work, Particle Illusion (Wondertouch) for some FX, Photoshop for the occasional clean up or paint task and iView Multimedia for library management and batch renaming and processing of materials. iView’s batching function was especially useful for pre-production set-up tasks when preparing the picture and sound files for the Nelnet. All audio was recorded, edited and mixed in Pro Tools. The dedicated online database known as the Nelnet was leased from Canadian company, Nelvana Ltd for the storage, management and transfer of all design and animation assets. FTP sites were also used extensively for the transfer of picture and sound files. The series had input in scripts, designs, and picture edits from the UK (BBC), Germany (children’s broadcaster ZDF) and Australia (Nine Network) during the production process. Edited pictures were compressed in the Perth post studio and uploaded to a dedicated ftp site enabling parties to quickly download, view and provide feedback. Design Director, Scott Vanden Bosch’s lavish designs were brought to life by director, Aaron Davies and enhanced via the FX and editing expertise of Post Production Supervisor, Merlin Cornish. Working in high-definition in Flash (1920 x 1080 pixels) meant that the designers could add a huge amount more detail and texture than is typical in animated series. And with Post FX planned in from the beginning to overcome the two dimensional cut-out style limitations of the animation program, the team were able to conceive the show in far greater depth than most Flash-created programmes. At the design stage each Flash symbol (equivalent to a cut-out piece of a character) was created with further layers within it, allowing sophisticated tweaking of movement, shadows, lip-sync and cyclic animations. Many ‘robot’ characters and background elements were created with automatically playing detailed animation loops. This extra animated detail added colour and interest without adding repetitive work to the animation teams. Master designs for characters, props, locations and FX were created at the very beginning for use throughout the series. Then, upon delivery of each script, episode-specific designs were drawn up. These were detailed but not fully finished as they were created specifically for use by the storyboard artists and it was the boarding process that defined what design elements were needed. Once the storyboard was finalised, it was carefully analysed so that the Design team knew exactly what they had to produce for each episode in terms of background angles and detail, characters and character expressions, and props and FX design. Storyboarding was far more complex than any other Flash series the company has worked on. Because of the intricate backgrounds, number of characters and elaborate interaction between characters and backgrounds, the storyboarding had to double as the layout stage. Storyboards were intensely revised to best suit the needs of the stylistic and complex designs. Upon completion of a storyboard, each board panel was scanned and an “animatic” - a picture edit composed of storyboard stills - was edited to the pre-recorded voice track. The programme was edited to length so that each scene was already timed to the director’s wishes. Each animatic went through a minimum of three edits to fine-tune the content and pacing before the animation went into production. Each animatic was then broken down into individual elements of image and sound. The image file for any particular scene contained 1 - 24 storyboard panels and the accompanying voice tracks. On occasion, guide audio for key sound FX was also included so that animation could be carefully timed to synchronise with the FX. The movie and sound clips were incorporated into individual Flash files by the Scene Planning team. This team also added the appropriate designs to the scene files then uploaded these scenes to the Nelnet ready for download by the animators. The planning process meant that the animators were neatly presented with dialogue, designs and a set of timed and edited storyboard panels for each individual scene. Each animated character was broken down into many more parts than is usual with most Flash animation projects. Although this meant animation production was more involved and time-consuming, the complex animation that was produced gave a richer, more intense and full feeling to the animation. Characters in Dogstar typically have separate hands and arms, separate feet and legs, and separate eyebrows and eyes. A wide range of eye expressions were created, as well as many extra mouth expressions beyond the standard lip-sync. Animators were encouraged to push Flash beyond its normal limitations. Typically, Flash animators use the cut-out elements supplied to them by the design team but on Dogstar animators were encouraged to do a lot more “free” animating, to draw more symbols and to draw more animation within symbols. Thus in an arm move, instead of letting Flash simply in between one drawing of an arm from one position to another, the animators were encouraged to draw several more naturalistic in-betweens, thus resulting in smoother motion. Once this set of drawings had been created, it could be reused in other scenes to ensure that the animation was consistent across the series. The Nelnet online database enabled efficient communication and data transfer between crews working in four different locations. Media World Pictures had first used the database created by Toronto-based animation studio, Nelvana Ltd when co-producing the animated sitcom John Callahan’s QUADS! with them between 2000 and 2003. Media World negotiated to use the system again and thus all the series’ designs and animation assets for Dogstar were housed in Toronto. Entering the Nelnet site via password access, crew members could search for designs, download and upload scene elements, and communicate with colleagues through a comments panel available for each design or scene. The Nelnet set-up enabled team leaders and production management to get a detailed snapshot of production progress department by department. This was a substantial leap forward compared to the laborious tracking of hundreds of paper folders across multiple locations that traditional 2D character animation production management demanded. To address the limitations of Flash animation and create the most visually appealing programme possible, visual FX formed a key component of each episode. FX work was layered in at the storyboard, design, animation and post stages of production. Over one third of the scenes were given some sort of FX treatment in post production with the crew focussing on adding visual depth and on giving any element that would occur naturally in the environment a more organic appearance (e.g. light, smoke, water and flames). Early in production, Post Supervisor Merlin Cornish made custom filters using presets in After Effects. Then, as episodes were first assembled using the completed animation, Cornish would note the key or ‘hero’ FX for each episode and commence work on the trickier treatments whilst the picture was going through its editing stages. This way, by the time the main FX block in the schedule was reached, the more detailed FX were well advanced, if not already approved. The FX were mostly achieved by taking apart the Flash scenes and applying filters to individual Flash layers using After Effects. In order that different effects could be applied to each layer, each Flash animation scene was constructed in a hierarchical manner so that the Post FX team could easily separate elements such as background, mid-ground and foreground, as well as each animated character. As the series progressed, the Design department managed to incorporate some of the team’s FX plans within the designs rather than leaving them for the post FX stage, thus allowing Post to direct more time to creating other FX. To achieve the goal of adding visual depth, focus pulls and background or foreground blurs were regularly applied. Where focus pulls were done between Flash layers in a scene, minor scale adjustments were made to the layers to create a ‘lens’ stretch feel. The resulting effect subtly suggests that the scene was shot by a camera and subconsciously creates the impression of greater depth in the viewer’s mind. Where time permitted, glow FX were added to make the most of incidental lighting design. The lighting layer would be given a transfer mode so that the light would spill over into other layers and thus appear to be in the location rather than a single cut-out lighting element. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Setting up a scan once workflow

    TIGERTIGER POST is a new post house in the centre of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was set up in October 2008 by Sunita Petrus and Al Isaac. Their target market is DI for television commercials and movies. Having spent a considerable time working in traditional post, they wanted to fully embrace the latest digital technology for their new DI business. As a result, they asked me to help them set up what we now call a ‘scan once’ workflow. Here’s an explanation of how it works and an overview of the many benefits it provides. How it works All film gets scanned by a Lasergraphics scanner straight after the shoot. The data goes directly into a BrightDrive media recording system which serves as the data infrastructure for the whole workflow. The film is scanned as a 10bit log file so all the black and highlight information is preserved. The dailies grade is done early morning in the da Vinci Resolve suite. All the material is colour corrected very quickly before playing out directly to Digital Betacam tape or exported as a QuickTime file. Scanned raw files are neither copied nor modified. The client is able to take the tape or data away to begin cutting the offline. A few days later the client returns with an EDL, an offline movie on tape or a QuickTime file together with any temp stills they may have made in Photoshop as a guide for the colourist. These elements are loaded onto the BrightDrive system via the Resolve interface. The EDL is used to conform the original 2K DPX files, and the offline movie is used to check that the 2K conform is correct. The Photoshop stills can be wiped in as a grading reference. The commercial can then be graded in context, ie, in edit order, which is a great advantage as everybody knows what shot cuts with what. Second passes, alternate grades and reframes can be labelled and automatically stored in their own folders when rendered. When finished, the DPX files are rendered with source timecode to the BrightDrive infrastructure or played to tape ready for online. Advantages of the Scan Once Workflow Compared with a traditional television commercial workflow, the ‘scan once’ approach provides a number of key benefits for operators and clients. Probably most importantly, it means that the negative is only handled once, so the chances of getting dust and dirt on the film, or damaging the negative, are significantly reduced. Also, film is not shuttled up and down as it is for conventional dailies and final grades. The colourist has all the advantages of using Resolve for the dailies grade, which makes it easier to get things closer to the director’s vision. At TIGERTIGER Post, the Resolve room is a ‘hero’ suite so the clients feel they are getting the best service. The final grade is a much smoother experience. It is very easy to experiment with different looks over the entire commercial, and matching is easier. Resolve has unlimited layers so we have much more creative control than we would with traditional systems. VFX guys get access to the scans straight away from the BrightDrive so they can start on complex shots or big wire removal jobs without having to wait for the final grade material as they would in conventional workflows. Scanning six 13-minute reels in one go rather than selecting 40 individual shots and scanning those as individual clips is better all round. The scanner runs the film out in one go with no stopping and starting and it means less equipment wear and tear as it avoids constantly having to transfer to SD/HD VTR machines. Everyone knows how expensive head damage can be. Testing the Workflow During workflow set-up, I worked with TIGERTIGER’s colourists Kevin Jude and Fanna Junaidi, exploring different ways to fine tune the ‘scan once’ workflow by simulating a ‘real’ job. We scanned 35mm negative film from a recent television commercial at 2K resolution at a frame rate of 8 frames per second. The first 12-minute lab roll was transferred into a 12-minute digital DPX image sequence residing on BrightDrive. It was split into clips, each one representing a new scene or lighting set-up. Grading started on the first lab roll as soon as it was scanned into the system. With me taking the role of the “client”, I ordered cappuccinos, played with Facebook, chose some music and bossed the colourists into creating lots of funky looks. I wanted them to feel at home with the new workflow and to feel comfortable grading DPX frames rather than having the negative on the telecine machine next to them. A 1-light grade is never what it implies. More and more is now being demanded from a 1-light. It is the first time everybody sees the images. Directors arrive with stills from the shoot, style frames and graded tests. They want that first impression to be a very good one, and the nearer they can get to their vision for the offline cut - the better. We used secondary grading and windows to create a look and style for the commercial whilst still matching all the rolls of film. When we were happy with the grade, we played out to SD Digital Betacam with source timecode. This meant that lab roll #1 scanned with a hole punch timecode of 01:00:00:00, went to tape with the hole punch at 01:00:00:00. The tape was ingested into Final Cut Pro for the test edit. I made sure that the same shots from the 60-second commercial were used in the 30-second, and the 15-second, also that speed ramps and dissolves were used. After the edit, the three EDLs and a QuickTime movie of each commercial from Final Cut Pro were transferred via TIGERTIGER’s Gigabit network to Resolve. We then conformed the DPX scans from BrightDrive into three separate timelines for the 60-second, 30-second and 15-second versions. I was keen to see if all our dissolves and speed ramps had come across from Final Cut Pro. Happy with that, it was time for a Tiger beer, after all - it was 7pm! The pictures were now conformed but we wanted to use our colour corrections from the dailies grade. Colour Trace uses the metadata colour information from the dailies grade that we had worked so hard on and applies it to the same shots that appear in the final commercials. All the windows and reframes we had done on the dailies grade now fell into place. We now had the choice to keep the original grades and modify them or start again from the raw scan. A great advantage of Resolve is the ability to have a number of timelines linked together. This means the hero pack shot in the 60-second commercial will automatically get graded in the 30-second and the 15-second. We then started on the final grade where we balanced the shots back to back and utilised the grading tools. I was again playing the client, getting the colourists to use all the creative tools. I find when training, it is best to simulate a real job with somebody playing the client. You can play with test film all day long but there is nothing like actually doing a ‘real’ job. The final grade was looking great. A VFX guy called to say that they had finished a big VFX shot and three shots had been wire removed. I told them to place the shots in the test folder on the BrightDrive. I added them to my media pool, which prompted me to add the new shots to my existing timelines. I could then grade the finished material. When finished, the three commercials plus handles and extra shots were rendered to BrightDrive. The TIGERTIGER VFX guys accessed BrightDrive to grab the colour corrected DPX files for the finishing work. We also used Resolve to play the timelines straight to HD tape in real time, and as a backup test, we moved the rendered colour corrected files from BrightDrive to a portable drive. This is useful if an external VFX post house wants to work with DPX files and not a videotape. Summing Up The ‘scan once’ workflow is a very different way of working. It gives the colourist much more freedom to be creative. The TIGERTIGER colourists were initially a little concerned about not working with ‘live’ film on a telecine but could soon see the benefits. Reaction from the directors who stopped by for a demo of the new workflow was tremendous – very encouraging for a new start-up company. At the time off going to press Kevin tells me they have now finished 12 commercials using the ‘scan once’ workflow and the clients are loving the new approach - it definitely puts the fun back into grading. Note: Warren Eagles is a freelance colourist with over 20 years experience grading movies, dramas and commercials. He has worked for a range of clients on many high profile projects, including commercials for Qantas, Mitsubishi and Nokia. weagles@bigpond.net.au TIGERTIGER POST began operations October 2008. It is the first DI post-production facility in Malaysia. Owned by individuals from the film industry and managed and operated by personnel who have been in the post-production industry for many years, its set-up was driven by a need to offer high-end quality creative services and to offer clients an alternative to the traditional post-production work modal. TIGERTIGER POST is geared to service the commercials, television and feature film markets. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Binge Drinking campaign

    The Skinny The ads are part of a bid by the Queensland Treasury Department to warn of the potentially ugly consequences of binge drinking. The Gallery Group and B Films edited at Cutting Edge to create graphic and gruesome imagery that had the ability to shock young drinkers. Director Brendan Williams, producer Claire Davidson and post production supervisor Sam Couzens, all of B Films, jumped at the chance to work on this campaign. Two of the spots are aimed at the young drinkers themselves, while the third targets secondary suppliers – parents who facilitate binge drinking by supplying alcohol to their kids. The Gallery Group team including creative director Phil Nobay and art director Sean Condon, created the dark and graphic campaign. With a tagline ‘Every Drink Counts’, the spots focus on the rapidity with which units of alcohol accumulate through binge drinking, and how they can jump alarmingly in the case of alcopops and pre-mixed drinks. “Our audience is a generation of people who have been there, done that. You’ve got to work hard to impress them”, said Williams. Davidson adds, “This campaign is a great opportunity to show our young audience that dark, evil behaviour can accompany binge drinking. More importantly, how in the blink of an eye, that behaviour can spiral out of control and turn their life upside down - when they least expect it.” The Production The commercials were filmed in bars, nightclubs, hotels, streets, alleys and houses which were all real locations. The shoot was a combination of many cameras. The directer/D.O.P shot predominantly 35mm film, but incorporated Panasonic HD, P2, Sony HDV, and Canon 5D still cameras as additional units. Sometimes the mixed bag of cameras were for budgetary reasons, other times it was used intentionally to create a particular effect. For example in the scene where the hero man was run over and killed by the car the viewing format shifts from 35mm to HDV which was desaturated to simulate a camera phone. One of the most memorable scene would be the filming of the dance floor scene, in the ‘Alley’ commercial. The energy in the room was amazing. There were 50 extras on the centre of the main dance floor in one of Brisbane’s top nightclubs. The team set up a circular track around the extras and filmed some magic moments. The storyboard was used as a tool of reference. How the shot looked once it was lit and framed was the determining factor to how close the storyboard was followed. The Post Post production was completed for the three commercials in around four weeks. The offline was completed in Avid and conformed using Smoke and graded in da vinci. Visual effects in Shake. Online and visual effects in Inferno. Because there were multiple formats for this project a common medium had to be worked with. Using Final Cut Pro the video elements were checked on set then laid off onto HD tape for ingestion to the Avid. For ease of workflow the stills were also laid off to HD in four frame intervals along with the one light graded 35mm. This made onlining the completed offline much easier. The video was graded tape to tape from the HD layoff while the film was graded off the neg. Once the offline was conformed and graded selected shots were sent out to visual effects on shake while other effects shots were completed in inferno. The sound was composed from scratch with versions being updated through the offline and online process. The scene in the Crash commercial where the man morphs in a bullet time effect was the most memorable. Due to budget constraints, several shooting formats were used and to be combined in a seamless manner. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • PRANK IDD call to Indian Restaurant

    The Skinny The brief was to do a TVC that said when subscribers sign up with M1, they get free IDD calls 24/7 to 15 countries. With that in mind, an M1 user would have no qualms about calling for something they liked overseas. The TVC is set in a very busy restaurant, in Mumbai, India. Over the phone, a M1 customer decides to call up and order takeaway. But when he gives his delivery address as Singapore, the bewildered restaurant manager realises it is a prank call. Earlier in 2008, this TVC won gold in the Viewers’ Choice award, where audiences voted through text messages. As the winner is voted via text messages from TV viewers, it underlined the popularity of the TVC with the general public. Director, Yee Chang Kang said it was really heartening to know that the general public loved the TVC so much. “ This means it was really an effective, on-air TVC. It was very much the talk of the town and you will find many spoofs of it on YouTube.” Besides directing quirky TVCs, the director is currently working on a feature film script Hug Me at The A-Go-Go, and hopes to shoot it in time to come. The Production The team did not have the production budget to fly to India for the shoot, and it was challenging to prop up and art-direct the location that the team had to resemble a restaurant in Mumbai. “We shot this TVC at a mid-range restaurant in Little India, Singapore. We were mindful to remove any tell-tale signages that might suggest that we were not in India itself. “Details like the establishing shot of the bustling streets of Mumbai, shots of food and noisy customers, and little nuances like a bejeweled pen to scribble down the orders, helped a lot in bringing out that cultural authenticity. We even had a smoke machine to fog up the place to create that misty humid look,” said a spokesperson from the production team. The TVC was shot with an Arri SR3 16mm film-camera. The spokesperson said the camera allowed quicker movements in nooks and crannies, and to do hand-held shots, which was more personal and engaging. For the look, the team wanted the 30-second TVC to look just like a snippet taken straight out of a feature film. “We worked from about 10am to 7pm for this TVC. Right after, we shot another related TVC till about 3am the next morning,” said the spokesperson. The storyboard was elaborated quite a bit for this TVC. Using a lot more camera angles and shot-sizes to deliver the interesting script, making Vadi, the main talent come alive. The Post The post production process took about two weeks from start to finish. The colorist for the TVC did a great job in getting the film-grading right, and the TVC was filled with warm tones and saturated colours. In terms of editing, the team managed to squeeze in a lot of the storytelling, keeping it quirky and funny, without making the TVC look rushed or disturbing. Sound design played a big part in this TVC too, as there was a need to keep the sound levels of the busy streets and the Indian restaurant relatively loud. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Reface on-air campaign

    The Skinny Star World introduced its Reface on-air campaign in November 2008 to instill a more modern and energetic look to the channel. The roll out was timed to correspond with the new and exclusive shows being launched. The campaign includes a new channel logo, new ID spots and new packaging for all promo spots, bumpers and tags. The campaign features localisation elements in four different versions of the main ID spot. While maintaining the same look and feel, different versions symbolise the localisation of STAR WORLD’s four different feeds for India/Pakistan, Southeast Asia/Greater China, the Philippines, and the Middle East. Each version combines actual footage and graphics and features everyday life of the four regions being brightened by Star World’s new look. The initial idea to localise using a specific concept housed in each region was generated at Star. Although an outside company was commissioned for the creative concept, design and shoot; the post production and special effects was executed by Star’s creative team of designers, animators and editors. Ink Project in Australia was commissioned for the design concept and shoot which was done on location in Mumbai, Manila, Beirut and Hong Kong. The footage was then passed directly to the Star design and animation team in Hong Kong with the music scored by Imaginex in Malaysia. The Production While shooting in four locations (Hong Kong, Beirut, Mumbai and Manila) was a challenge, the weather and the need to shoot in daylight dictated the shoot progress and final spot delivery. The team was lucky to experience clement weather in Hong Kong and Beirut but had to shoot in intermittent rain in Manila. The onset of the monsoon season in Mumbai caused the shoot to be delayed for three weeks. The brief was for the footage to be shot on 35mm film because of its inherent quality, richness and potential of being used in HD. The team was able to improve a lot of the footage shot in Manila as the bad weather resulted in footage having lighting issues. Logistics was a major challenge for the project. The team travelled extensively to shoot on four different locations and the weather, shoot permits and casting made the process difficult. The one scene that was particularly memorable was the bus going through Hong Kong and Manila. Imagine navigating in two of the most traffic-logged cities in the world during rush hour with a host of cast and crew in tow. The Post It took eight designers and animators from Star’s in-house design team about four weeks to finish post production per region. The team worked on at least two of the four ID’s at any one time. Not forgetting that there were many more smaller duration ID’s than just the 60 second version. The entire job was done on PC using Autodesk 3ds Max, After Effects and 2D3 Boujou. Edits were done from each telecine one light. Then the edited scenes were fine graded and individually handed to animators who tracked the scenes, designed, animated and executed scene movements. Having finished the first scene, the animators were then responsible for the same scenes for the three other regions. The final step was rotoscoping before master edit. Music and effects were added to the edits before the spots finally went to air. One of the most memorable scenes was the scene of a girl walking along the street with shops or entire buildings transforming as she went by. It was an important scene as the team was trying to convey the message of localisation by casting local actresses in the four different versions of the spot. Nearly all scenes involved heavy tracking as most of the footage was shot hand held. Also the sheer quantity of tracking, animating, rotoscoping, compositing and the volume of scenes the team had to work on. The shoot achieved much of the local look the team wanted to start their localisation process with. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Behind the scenes filming Australia

    Mandy Walker, Australia’s leading cinematographer, recalls the first time director Baz Luhrmann asked her to lens his outback epic Australia. “Baz Luhrmann told me about his vision for Australia about a year after I had been shooting a television commercial campaign with him that he directed in late 2004,” the film’s director of photography, Mandy Walker, ACS recalls. “The commercials were for Chanel No. 5 perfume. They featured Nicole Kidman. Baz said Nicole was set to play Lady Ashley and he asked me to shoot his film.” Luhrmann conceived the story, co-authored the screenplay and directed the film. He was also one of the producers, along with his wife and creative partner Catherine Martin, who was also the costume and production designer. Walker, Luhrmann and Martin ventured to the outback to search for locations before the official start of pre-production. “While we were scouting, Baz was listening to music that he was thinking about using,” Walker recalls. “I took 35mm still pictures of the locations he liked. Baz told me to think of them as characters that amplify the drama.” Luhrmann and Martin gave Walker an array of visual references, including books and videos filled with images of the era and places in which the story unfolds. The filmmakers also watched projected prints of classic movies together, including Lawrence of Arabia, War and Peace, Gone with the Wind, Hud, Giant, Out of Africa, Master and Commander and Satyajit Ray films. “Baz wanted to make an epic film like those he saw during his youth, with elements of action, romance, adventure, tragedy and comedy,” she says. “Watching those films together was an inspirational experience for all of us.” “Baz wanted to produce Australia with the best medium available, and film gave us the nuanced looks he wanted. We knew there would be big exterior scenes with extreme ranges of color, light, darkness and contrast that film has the capacity to capture. Our visual effects supervisor had plans to use some of the original negative from Tora! Tora! Tora!, which was produced in 1969. It still looks fantastic.” They had just a few hours one afternoon to shoot initial make-up, hair and costume tests with the actors. Walker shot those tests with strips of different motion picture film stocks loaded in her 35mm Leica camera. She explains that this was a quick way to compare stocks and see how colors and skin tones reproduced. “Catherine put together concept pictures that included my photos from the locations, her artwork, sketches and plans of the sets, and put the actors into the scenes wearing the costumes she and Baz envisaged,” Walker says. “Baz was still writing the script. He said that seeing the actors in their costumes and settings was inspiring for him. Later, we filmed more extensive tests with the motion picture stocks we decided to use.” They decided to produce Australia in Super 35 film format composed in 2.4:1 aspect ratio coupled with digital intermediate (D.I.) post-production. Walker knew that they would be shooting scenes in very low-light situations where focus and depth of field would be critical elements of the visual grammar. Spherical lenses provided more creative latitude in those settings. The camera package provided by Panavision in Australia included Panaflex Millennium and Millennium XL cameras with a range of Primo prime lenses and a few zooms consisting of 11:1, 3:1, a macro Primo and an Optimo 15-40mm. Walker also carried a set of old Panavision Ultra / Super Speeds and used them for an ‘old lens look’ when she felt it was appropriate. They also carried a few PanArri 435 cameras. Walker chose to render images onto a modest palette of KODAK VISION2 stocks. She used (100T) 5212 for daylight exteriors, (200T) 5217 for blue screen shots and (500T) 5218 for live-action night shots and interiors. Walker overexposed the negative by two-thirds to one stop to gain more detail in the negative, but had the lab process it normally. She estimates that they filmed about half of the scenes at practical locations in the Northern Australia outback and in Darwin, and the rest on sets and a blue screen stage at 20th Century Fox Studios in Sydney. The sets included interiors and the exterior of the homestead house with surrounding gardens, some desert day exteriors and all the desert night exteriors. The blue screen shots included close-ups of Kidman and Jackman on horseback that were intercut with film of them driving the herd through the outback. “Nicole and Hugh are both really great horseback riders,” Walker says. “Both of them rode galloping horses for shots that were filmed from tracking vehicles. Nicole was spinning her horse around and doing tricks. We also shot close-ups of them sitting on their horses on a blue screen stage, which we composited with background plates.” The first unit was working with two cameras all the time, covering scenes from different perspectives. Walker often used three or four, and up to six, cameras to cover the biggest action sequences. The second unit cinematographer was Damian Wyvill. Another second unit crew led by Greig Fraser spent four weeks on the project filming scenes with cattle and horses in the desert. “The visual effects team was planning to shoot background plates in Super 35 because it provides a larger negative area than anamorphic format,” she says. “Since we were planning a D.I., there was no need for an optical blow-up. We would record the timed digital master out directly onto film.” “We filmed scenes in Darwin around the existing wharf where the water is an incredible blue-turquoise color you see in the tropics,” Walker observes. “They have 30ft high tides, so the height of the wharf was built extremely high off the water at low tide. We shot a scene from underneath the wharf of Lady Ashley coming off the boat and arriving in Darwin. We also built a 300ft-long wharf top and a side of the ship on a stage, and filmed the same scene from that perspective and intercut the two.” Luhrmann staged scenes with stand-ins before the actors came on set. “Instead of saying, for instance with lighting, that he wanted a warm orange light coming through a window, Luhrmann described to me what emotion that scene, and part of the story was meant to portray to the audience,” she recalls. He also gave Walker freedom to contribute. “Baz got the right emotions from the actors at the right moments in the story, and he kept the crew emotionally involved in the creative process,” she observes. “He directed from right next to the camera with a mobile video monitor. Hugh Jackman noticed that Baz remembered everybody’s name by the second day. He compared him to a conductor who knows how to get the most out of a symphony orchestra.” Walker says that camera movement was choreographed to the staging. Camera operator Peter McCaffrey followed Lady Ashley with a Steadicam when she walked into a house, through a hallway and into a room where there was dialogue. Other times, they would decide that a handheld, dolly or crane shot helped to evoke the right emotions. She describes a scene where Kidman is dancing with Bryan Brown, who plays King Carney. Luhrmann asked the dolly grip to learn the dance, so his camera moves would be in sync with the characters. At one point, the choreographer was helping him push the dolly the right way. “Lady Ashley is affected by the country, people and landscapes as well as by what is happening,” Walker observes. “It influences her expressions, body language, how she walks and talks, and how we covered her. I would say to Baz, ‘I think there should be a light sparkling in her eyes.’ Baz would agree, ask a question or make another suggestion. It was all about keeping the cinematography in tune with the emotions of scenes. It was always subtle, something the audience will sense subconsciously.” Walker says that they couldn’t have ordered better weather than what nature provided. There are only two seasons in the Northern Australia outback – dry and wet. It never rained while they were in the outback. They shot for three weeks in Bowen, Queensland. It was supposed to be the dry season, but there was cloud cover and rain every day. She says that the locals were astounded by the out-of-season weather, but it was the right environment for the scenes produced there. “Baz would talk to the key grip about the feelings of the scene, and explain to him when and how he felt the dolly or crane should move, the same with the focus puller and the timing and feeling of his focus pulls,” says Walker. “We had a storm scene with lightning and wind. Baz would talk with the gaffer about the feelings and mood of the scene, and how the strikes of lightning would punctuate certain moments, and the timing of the strikes heightened that mood. The crew loved it.” Front-end lab work was done at Atlab in Sydney. They provided film dailies about once a week. Digital dailies were projected at 2K resolution the rest of the time. “Generally, I watched dailies with the editor, camera operators, focus pullers, gaffer Shaun Conway and key grip Geoff Full,” says Walker. “Other people would come and go. The producers were also usually there. It was a bonding experience for all of us. Baz often watched dailies with us, but he also had an HD monitor set up at home because there were nights when he was writing.” ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Vaseline Life Of Skin

    The Skinny As the ‘Voice Of Authority’ on all things skin, Vaseline created a presenter who could relate to women and what they went through. In the TVC, the presenter would ‘stop the world, and draw attentions to skin issue situations, deliver an insight, and then offer constructive p roduct related advice. The idea was conceived by the BBH Vaseline Team in partnership with the Vaseline Asia and Global team. The global ‘Keeping Skin Amazing’ concept was tailored to work with the particular sensibilities of the Asia market. Primary markets were across South East Asia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. The Production The location of shoot for this TVC is the Hall of Fame, ABAC University in Bangkok. As it is was a University, it was vital to have a proper plan to ensure everything went smoothly. Each department had to be exceptionally organized as there was no room for mistakes in a location with so many restrictions. There was also a limited time for preparation at the location. Therefore, everyone needed to have a very well mapped out plan and schedule to work with. As it was an indoor shoot, there were no problems with weather conditions. However, there was a need to work with a very high ceiling in a large space - which caused more difficulty. It was also time consuming to hang so many big lights such as concert lighting on location. The camera used for the project was the Arri 435 and Mitchell with motion control. The reason why the motion control cameras were used was because there was a need to track the camera to show all 14 days (different outfit, hair style in each two days) of the presenter (Sherry) in freeze position and to show the benefits of the product – proving a difference to skin over 14 days. The choice of shooting format was 35 mm. The advantage of using 35 mm film is that this is in fact the best format to shoot skin, with results in very high image quality. The obvious disadvantage is the cost - depending on the amount of filmstock used. According to Big Blue Production, it was a huge challenge to work on this TVC as everything needed to run like clockwork, without a glitch due to location restrictions. There were many challenges during the shoot’s preparation, especially with making every shot look good and memorable. The particular scene that Big Blue Production find most memorable would be the motion control shots, which tracked the camera to reveal all 14 days of the presenter’s skin improvement. Big Blue Production noted that the look and feel that the director and DP were going for was essentially a busy fashion show backstage ending with a glamorous fashion show. So lighting, location, fashion, people and the collection had to look slick and glamorous. The director worked/monitored closely with everyone in the production team and made sure every single detail was in place to get the right look and feel for the TVC. The Post Blackmagic Design assumed key responsibilities for the 6 weeks post production process. Autodesk Flint; Autodesk Maya; Softimage|XSI and mental ray were utilized for the project. The workflow for this project are: offline – colour grading – rotoscoping & retouching – 3D animation – online compositing & finishing. Offline and grading were done in Thailand. According to Blackmagic Design, one of the most memorable scene is the first moment of the freeze effect. “This scene was shot in many different plates and in post, we took those plates, played around with them and came up with the best combination. So in here, you can see how motion transitions to freeze effect with added motion blur and 3D detailing. It basically encapsulates all the visual effects that the spot is featuring,” said a spokesperson for Blackmagic Design. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Making a Splashing Impact

    The Skinny Using experience gained from previous water simulation projects MFX proudly adds the new Olympus 1050sw “Splash” TVC to their showreel. Working closely with director Brad Hogarth from Passion Pictures, the “Splash” commercial showcases complex realistic 3D liquid and lighting effects with stunning in camera water visuals. The film follows the Olympus 1050sw camera on an epic journey as it falls from the sky past structural highways and into a river. To achieve the required camera speeds for the commercial, Passion Pictures used the Photo Sonics 35mm 4BR advanced camera, which was able to run up to 1250 fps. The Production The task was to make the unnatural event of the Olympus 1050sw camera’s huge splash as it plunged into the river look realistic. Even though the falling Olympus 1050sw camera was added in the computer, Brad wanted the film to be edgy and have soul - not look like a heavy post-production film as this approach was more engaging than a glossy, spiritless execution. The river under the freeway location was chosen to give the film more character and texture. Brad liked the idea of placing the event in an urban environment not a cliché scenic background. This along with the traffic, graffiti and subtle hints of the surrounding cityscape helped to give the simple story of the falling camera more depth. The DOP Conrad Slack ASC came in a week before shoot during the rig tests and initial location studies ensuring there were no surprises on the day of shoot. Apart from the obvious weather concerns there was the added problem of the river level dropping, luckily on the day preceding shoot it rained heavily. Passion Pictures also commissioned local street artists VLT Crew to paint the ‘shock’ mural on the pillar. On the one-day shoot, large metal objects were photographed falling into the river for the splashing effects along with the sky, overpass and car scenes. Later that day, the shoot was moved into a studio and there, shots of scaled under water explosions were done in a tank. Additionally, the Olympus 1050sw was shot underwater, which was then used as a lighting reference for the 3D build. The Post Chan Moon Choong, VFX supervisor explains, “Because the initial impact and splash scene was built using several shots of different sized metal plates being dropped, the cables holding them were cleaned up and the water elements then combined to form the final splash volume and impact of the falling Olympus 1050sw. The background was reconstructed using different shots originated from high-resolution digital stills and film (2K scanned). Ken, our matte painter also worked on enhancing the visual details of the background.” Brad was looking for something special in the final scene where the Olympus 1050sw camera captures a flash shot underwater. This underwater scene was created using a combination of close up high-speed water splashes and Computer Generated underwater effects. MFX added the CG caustics, water bubbles, particles and lighting effects so that the Olympus 1050sw blended seamlessly into the underwater environment. MFX had to ensure that the water effects were rendered in extreme slow motion to match the live action footage. Moon Choong adds, “We were aware of the level of complexity when we took the brief. Our technical tests began very early on in the schedule. The compositing team took 7-10 days to complete the finished commercial inclusive of the test processes.” Tan Lee Chia, head of 3D continues, “When rendering brushed metal objects in 3D, the surface can appear to look like noise in the final render. To solve this problem we used Metal Shader when creating the textures for the model of the Olympus 1050sw camera, which was then rendered at full 2K resolution. On the shoot, we photographed a reflective chrome ball to create a HDR (high dynamic range) environment map. The HDR image essentially provided the real-world lighting data for our 3D integration with live-action.” ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • I Am the Wind

    The Skinny The client brief was to distill the highly complex explanation of Singapore’s fully integrated, highly flexible, and operationally relevant third-generation Air Force into a simple, emotive film. The idea was conceived by the DDB-RSAF team – namely Neil Johnson (executive creative director, DDB Singapore) and Terrence Tan (creative director, DDB Singapore). The creative idea stems from a combination of the words ‘Air’ and ‘Force’, therein creating ‘Wind’. Strong, resilient and tempered with a certain gentleness, it is an invisible, omnipresent force of nature. Marrying two key concepts - images of a formidable force built on cutting-edge technology and the essence of strong character and undefeatable spirit of the dedicated members of the RSAF saw the birth of the campaign theme, I am the Wind. The idea evolves from the depiction of Wind as an element that delivers strength to people wherever and whenever it is needed. It is an idea that defines the very essence of the RSAF - it is there for a higher purpose. The campaign is a branding effort for RSAF targeted at the mass public. It is also developed to target tertiary students as part of the RSAF’s recruitment efforts. The Production The shoot for this project was mainly held in Singapore. Synchronising the shoot, especially for the footage within the airbases required much coordination and pre-planning with the rotary wing (Chinook and Apache) pilots themselves. Another challenge was shooting the aerial shots. A lot of effort and coordination was necessary to keep the camera steady while on the Chinook. Considering that most of the shots needed to take place outdoors, the production team relied greatly on the weather. Fortunately, weather conditions were good during the shoot - encountering moderate cloud cover but with sufficient natural light for the duration of the shoot. The helicopter shots were acquired on HDCAM while the rest of the project was shot with the Panasonic VariCam. As the production team had a lot of locations and footage to capture, shooting on a HDCAM was a lot more cost-effective. The choice of shooting format for this project was widescreen 16:9 format. The advantage of shooting in this format was that the team was able to achieve a panoramic view for the commercial. This complimented the commercial as they had several scenic shots that were suited for this format. The challenges of working on this project included the organization of pre-production and logistics to ensure seamless coordination between the agency, production house, client and the respective RSAF units. The Post In total, Infinite Frameworks took about 5 weeks, while Blackmagic Design took 6 weeks for post. The challenges involved compositing of various elements. Most of the scenes had two (or more) different elements and the tricky part is integrating them together so that the audience feels the interaction is real. Each of the five Apaches was shot separately, as were the foreground and background. The timing and interaction had to be nailed perfectly for the different plates and other elements like lens flares, fog and mist had to be smoothly integrated. In addition, all the skies were replaced to enhance the drama. The colour of the sky played a part in storytelling as well. The Chinooks in the TVC were shown flying on a rescue mission, so the presence of the rain clouds in the scene lent a sense of foreboding to it. With the use of still images of aircrafts and painstakingly matching the details as close as possible, Infinite Frameworks then test rendered with different camera lenses to ensure that they were able to match the proportion and details to all the images that was collated through research. Through research from various sources, Infinite Frameworks’ goal was to animate the flight pattern of the various aircraft that not only looked authentic to personnel who are familiar with the planes’ capabilities, but also appear dynamic and exciting.… Read More

  • Journey of Light Krathong Sai

    The Skinny Thai Airways assigned Lowe Bangkok to invent a TVC for a new campaign, which would be publicised around the globe. The objective is to persuade international travellers around the world to fly on Thai Airways’ network, and to project Thai Airways’ unique service, warmth and friendliness. The story uses Krathong Sai as a device to bring the viewer to every destination with grace and beauty, because the krathong is a traditional Thai cultural symbol, which visually and emotionally represents smoothness and happiness in every journey. Beginning at a waterfront pavilion (by the Chao Praya River) opposite Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), one of the most important architectural relics in Thailand, two flight attendants light up candles in Krathong Sai and release them into the water, to flow from Bangkok through Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe & America, attracting the attention of locals along the way. As they are exposed to the symbolic beauty and feeling of travel on Thai Airways, their faces express the satisfaction that represents travelers whose hearts have been captured by the service of Thai Airways. The flowing Krathong Sai come together and form a large world map which represents the network of more than 70 important destinations in five continents. The Production The TVC was shot on Arri 435 with Cooke S4 Prime lenses, with a shooting format of full gate 1:33. The location of the shoot was the Moon Star Studio and Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand. During the shoot, the water was rough at Chao Phraya River, so the camera had to be on a larger boat for added stability. It rained on the second day of the shoot and the park scene had to be set up in the studio. A lot of lights were used in the studio to light up the pool of krathongs. There was thus a need to suspend a huge white cloth (30m x 30m) to soften the lights. In addition, lighting for several talent shots were quite tricky since there was a need to set lights on platforms in the pool. The first challenge of working on the project was the need for suitable stock footage prior to shooting and to mix and match them with live footage on set using the Diva machine. The second challenge was the construction of a pool of water in the studio (25m x 25m). Working around such big pool of water slowed things down, especially arranging the krathongs for almost every shot. The third challenge the shoot of the Chinese girl in the boat. It took several hours to setup as the camera on the crane had to move together with the boat. The Post Oriental Post assumed key responsibilities for the eight days of post-production process. They did 1 lite transfer of all 35mm materials, which were offline edited. Using the offline EDL, the selected shots were graded. The final grade session took about seven hours. Online took four days by utilizing 2 Flame suites. Spirit Datacine with Da Vinci 2K Plus was used for telecine colour grading. Two systems of Flame 2008 were used for online. The workflow for this project included using the 35mm Da Vinci 2K Plus/Spirit DataCine to do 1 lite transfer for the 35mm footage, offline editing with Avid, Telecine final grading of selected shots, and final step of using 2 x Flame 2008 suits for online where the conform and composite work were achieved. Oriental Post tried to make the FX shots ‘seamless’ so nobody could see the ‘trick’ of the effects. The overall image looked real. To achieve various shots, Oriental Post needed second pass transfer elements, which were combined to create the final look. There were additional tracking and stabilisation to smooth out various shots. Besides tracking elements and compositing material into stock footage, maintaining the correct perspective was also a challenge. However, all FX requirements were achieved and completed with absolute satisfaction, according to Oriental Post. With the production and post production’s team effort plus the FX team on site to assist in the shoot, “the end result speaks for itself,” said a spokesperson from Oriental Post.… Read More

  • 2008 Olympics Official Opener

    The Skinny The 2008 Olympic opener is a 30-second sequence combining live action footage with 3D animation. It was produced by Bruce Dunlop & Associates (BDA) Singapore for the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting (BOB) Committee. The design is based around the Chinese elements of nature - metal, wood, water, fire and earth, with athletes and elements battling it out in a symbolic representation of the ‘spirit of contest’ at the games. The Clouds of Fortune, the official motif of the Beijing Olympics, combine in swirls around the athletes as a sign of good luck and fortune. James Chung, creative director (film director for this spot) and Lilian Chow, business director (executive producer for this spot) decided to give this project an Asian slant. “We started looking at Chinese legends and stories, and even explored a Beijing opera kind of concept. Finally we locked down the five elements concept because most of Asia would be familiar with these elements,” said Chung and Chow. According to traditional Chinese philosophy, all natural phenomena can be distilled to five elements, namely metal, wood, water, fire and earth. The five exist in a fine balance of constant conflict and compromise, and it is through this balance that the universe exists and flourishes. The Production The location of the shoot was Singapore’s National University of Singapore Sheares Hall, Clement Swimming Complex and The Saddle Club. According to BDA, most of the studios in Singapore did not meet their requirements so they had to source for a bigger space with higher ceiling. In addition, there were many factors they had to accommodate, such as budget, location and availability. The shoot was held mostly indoors, except for two scenes at the swimming complex and the saddle club. With complete control of the filming situation, only the swimming scene was tricky since BDA had to shoot the water texture (rather than actual swimming action). The task was to condense 14 sports into 26 seconds. The choice of shooting format was 35mm, shooting with a traditional Arriflex film camera at 150 fps proved good enough. When output to HD, the format allowed sharpness for post-production keying purposes. The biggest challenge was finding the right athletes. It took three months to cast the group of varying ethnicity and genders to represent the international nature of the games. Each athlete had to perform at ‘Olympic standard.’ Each athlete only had to perform for seconds, BDA had to search for, and capture, that one distinctive action that would define each of their sports. The Post The post production process took a total of three to four weeks. Maya, After Effects, Final Cut Pro on MAC PRO were utilised for the project. During the pre-production stage, testing was done on texture and water splash, the director was particularly concerned about certain visual effects, which needed elaboration. The VFX elements of this TVC are as follows: 1. Cloud motif dBDA used the cloud motif to create depth of field. At times BDA applied it with a distorted perspective to emphasize the grandness of the scene. 2. Chinese painting and calligraphy BDA opted to go with this as Chinese ink paintings and calligraphy which are instantly recognizable. BDA took the artistic approach to reveal the five rings, and used 3D graphics to create Chinese brush strokes that reveal the ring shapes. 3. Sports icon The main VFX challenge was the control of the water elements. BDA shot some water splashes and combined the live-action footage with CG to make it look good. Except the equestrian scene, the rest are all chroma key shots.… Read More

  • Power Unleashed

    The Skinny Director, Sid Maderazo, conceived the corporate reel with the insight ‘power is nothing without control’. The concept is a love story set in a futuristic, dark and desolate city. It pays homage to video games, sci-fi movies and animation. The storyline consists of five parts: 1) Rooftop: This is the introduction of the hero, standing on the ledge of a building, whispering “power is nothing without control” in Latin. 2) Flashback: The director shows the hero as a young boy. As he discovers his powers, he tries to create something beautiful to impress a little girl, but loses control of his power and scares the little girl. He screams in frustration as the little girl runs away. 3) Ground Zero: The battle between the hero and the villains. He powers his way down the street until he encounters a big robotic beast. He unleashes his power. 4) Pieta: The hero walks into a big, abandoned cathedral. A woman is trapped by long tentacles wrapped around her limbs. The hero uses his power to free the woman. As he catches her fall, she whispers: “power is nothing without control” in Latin. 5) Finale: As an act of revenge, the hero jumps off the building and destroys his enemies. He survives the aftermath and walks away. The Production ‘Power Unleashed’ took a total of three shooting days. The first day’s location for the Ground Zero scene was in Binondo, Manila, while the location for the rest of the scenes that required blue/green screen (the kids, rooftop, etc.), was in-studio. According to Maderazo, the director, production went smoothly during the shoot. The weather at that time was sunny with occasional monsoon rains, which was why the location for the kids (open field) had to be done inside a studio. The production had to deal with rain while the exterior shoots were being shot. One of the main concerns was the continuity of the sunlight. Arri 435 was used as the main camera, while Arri 3 was the second unit camera. A Panasonic DVC PROHDP2 camera was also used in some shots. The Post The post production and visual effects process took five months. The majority of the digital sets and character animation were done in Maya and the particle/dynamic effects were done in 3DSMAX. Most of the shots were composited in After Effects and Digital Fusion. da Vinci Resolve was used for color grading, and the Avid and Quantel eQ for the high-resolution, non-linear editing and finishing. Roadrunner worked in a Bright Drive data-centric environment. The set-up was an advantage to the creative team since post and VFX teams got to work concurrently; thus, allowed the team’s workflow to adjust according to the project’s tight timetable. The colorist, Musseli Cruz, worked on his creative grades with the director while editors Mik Pestano and Gerard Pacis worked on the Avid and Quantel eQ editing and finishing tasks respectively. Meanwhile, the VFX team, led by David Yu, worked on the one hundred fifteen 3D animation and visual effects shots, while the audio supervisor, Ronald De Asis designed the audio effects and foley. According to Roadrunner, the most memorable scene is the one where the hero gets confronted by the bugs after a brief chase. It was the most challenging because it had all of the creative team (VFX, color, edit, and audio) involved to make that shot work. Since the original plate was a hand-held dolly chroma shoot, generating the digital set/matte paintings populated with computer-generated ‘bugs’ and compositing live-shoot pyrotechnics was a challenge, which pushed everyone’s resourcefulness and creativity. This particular shot was also pivotal in the narrative of the short film because the hero unleashes the full extent of his power. The major VFX challenge that had to be overcome was the timetable. Roadrunner’s creative team understood the director’s vision; and thrived on the challenge of working with restraints, using their creativity to overcome the limitations on time. “We made technical trade-offs early in the process which helped everyone in the team figure out the priorities earlier rather than later,” revealed a spokesperson from Roadrunner.… Read More

  • Time-checked

    The skinny The Timecheck TVCs were first launched in 2003 where the initial concept was created solely for CNN 24-hour news channel. The 20 second TVC ends with showing the times of four major international cities and serves as a time-check. The first series, launched in 2003 focused more on bringing about a peaceful and calming effect, showcasing natural and stunning landscapes in Iceland, Chile and Torino. The scenes of serene and calmness was filmed to create a contrast to the chaotic scenes of news-telling on the channels. In 2006, the concept for the Time-check TVCs adopted a new positioning – to highlight Samsung’s role in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). The series of TVCs started out with one filmed in Turfan, (an area part of the Silk Road in China,) showcasing the importance of cultural heritage. The second TVC, called Dream Tree, was shot in Kenya supporting the Olympic hopes. The third Timecheck showed how the use of mobile phone technology can help the lives of deaf people. The fourth and most recent TVC belonging to this series is based on a blind girl named Lu Qing-nan. As Samsung is becoming more active in CSR, one of the areas which they have heavily supported is eye recovery operations for the blind. In this 20-second TV spot, the storyboard begins with scenes showing Lu Qing-nan’s life/feelings before her blind recovery operation. In China, fireworks are quite a common sight but for someone who have never seen their display of colours, the sound itself can be somewhat frightening. Lu Qing-na shows this in the scenes which are shot near her village just outside of Shanghai. The storyboard ends with Lu Qing-na restoring her sight and being able to open her eyes to the natural wonders and common sights such as fireworks – and life. The TVC aims to bring about a moment of empathy towards Lu Qing-na’s predicament and how one life is affected through one eye recovery operation. It’s about touching human lives - even in the remote areas of the world. the Production Location of shoot was set in China – in an ancient village named Chou Zhong. In terms of location difficulties, shooting done in China generally can be somewhat challenging due to strict regulations and the infrastructure is not developed. Using a production house in Hong Kong and well-known director, Alfred Hau, we were granted permission from the government for this project and also having working with Lu Qing-na was a delight as well as she was very easy to work with and cheerful throughout the entire shooting period. “Also, Chou Zhong is actually a popular tourist spot which attracts thousands of visitors everyday and one of the challenges was to work around the rush hours and try to start as early as possible and finish late. There were also problems with the firing of fireworks on this location because of its historical value. If we accidentally caused fires to any of the structures, we would probably be thrown in jail. We decided to in the end film in an area nearby.” Alfred Hau. Camera used was Arri 435. Shooting format is 35mm in 16:9 screen size, HD compatible. 35mm film has always been the best format for advertising film that is very demanding in conveying the quality of the product as well as the emotion of the story, with this Samsung project, it is very much about emotion and 35mm film is best for doing that and that is why most feature films employ the same format as well. the post “As a director, I would say those scenes that convey her blindness, such as the beginning when she is touching the beads, being with her mother in bed, running along the slope with other kids – it was emotional,” said director Alfred Hau of off-lo-hi Limited. Post production took about on week and no special effects were used. The story stays pretty much close to the original boards from the Agency. We only adjusted according to the locations and character but having said that, Hong-tak Kim (ECD of Cheil) had improvised a bit when the scene was set up. Hong-tack Kim has been a dream to work with – we did a lot of extra shots that enabled us to cut a 60 sec. The look and feel that we achieved was genuine, sincere and warmth.… Read More

  • Bollywood bitten by

    Love Story 2050 is India’s pioneer big budget science fiction movie. The film makes extensive use of technology and special effects in creating a time machine which transports the characters to the year 2050 with flying cars, 200 storied buildings, robots and sky rails. Producer-director Harry Baweja transforms Mumbai into a futuristic metropolis and features robot, teddy bears and an energy-blasting fight. Baweja said: “It’s the first time that the Oscar winning special effects director John Cox is working for a Hindi film to create a futuristic Mumbai of 2050.” This Bollywood romance crosses time and space, switching between present-day Adelaide and futuristic Mumbai. It is the debut vehicle of Harman Baweja and also stars former Miss World, Priyanka Chopra. According to Merzin Tavaria, creative director VFX/animation of Prime Focus Ltd, Love Story 2050 is by far the most ambitious VFX film out of India to date. The DI for the film was completed by Prime Focus on Autodesk Lustre while scanning was done on Spirit 2K. The film features more than 1200 VFX shots of a level that audiences have never seen in an Indian film. “Pre-production started about two years ago. Given the scale of the project, the pre-time was not enough and the concept and pre-production carried on much into the production itself. The post on 2050 lasted for more than 18 months. Given the movie’s track record and scale of operations, Prime Focus was the obvious choice to be the lead VFX facility,” said Tavaria. Frantic Films (Canada) now a part of the Prime Focus group was called upon to collaborate on one key sequence. Due to time constraints, two other sequences were farmed out to Rising Sun Pictures in Australia as well. The film was shot on super 35 and was blown up to anamorphic at the DI stage. Autodesk Lustre played an important part in the whole digital loop. Since large parts of the VFX were 100 per cent generated, it was very important to make it blend with the live action and give it a very film like look. To achieve this and to make sure of the final result, frames from each shot were rendered and first checked on Lustre before hitting render for the entire shot. “This saved a lot of time and effort. We could apply our own look up table (LUT) and make sure of what we were getting as our final look. We also used Lustre at the VFX stage to check the range that would be available for us to tweak at the DI stage,” said Tavaria. “This gave the colorists immense flexibility to give the VFX and the rest of the live footage a seamless look. Luckily for us, we had a Lustre dedicated for the VFX. The conform of the VFX as well as DI was done on Autodesk Smoke, as it is our most trusted toolset till date.” “3D platform was Maya throughout, except in the case of Frantic Films, where we used 3ds Max. The composting platform of choice was Fusion as that has been very tightly integrated into our pipeline,” he added. As the Indian VFX industry is not more than three years old, the availability of artists is very low. Being one of the first films of this level meant that artists would be doing this kind of work for the first time. Delivering a project of this level with the experience available in India was a true challenge. However, Prime Focus utilized its global reach to bring in a few key artists to train and guide the team, to overlook challenging tasks and to meet deadlines. VFX used in the film covered everything in a VFX portfolio including basic TV screen composites, motion graphics that go into TV screens, holograms, animatronic robots to high end photorealistic computer graphics like 2050 Mumbai cityscape, flying cars, virtual games, flying bike chase through high-rise buildings, a complete virtual 3D cityscape for a climax fight sequence between the protagonist and the villain on the 200th floor terrace of a building. “We knew at the start of the project this would be a test of patience, skill and perseverance. The team displayed all of the above and came out with shining colours. I am proud to say that an Indian team has been able to deliver this quality and quantity with the given experience and budgets,” said Tavaria. “Hopefully, it will be a benchmark and would serve as a good example for the industry to see and it will show how VFX can be used and what can be expected. I can safely say, India has arrived in the VFX space.”… Read More

  • The Mediacorp HD production experience

    By Ong Hee Yah, MD, Caldecott Productions Int’l… Read More

  • From NLE to Blu-ray, the painless way

    You have probably just invested a large amount in cameras, edit systems, and other peripherals needed for an HD workflow. So how can a post house get into Blu-ray authoring without spending huge amounts on new applications?… Read More

  • Cheil Worldwide awarded two prizes at Cannes Lions 2008

    Cheil Worldwide came home with two awards from Cannes Lions 2008 making it the only Korean agency to be recognized within the leading international advertising awards festival. Cheil Worldwide was awarded in the following categories: * Outdoor Advertising (Transit): Campaign: Plus To Your Life – Homeplus Client: Samsung Tesco Award: Bronze * Cyber Young Lions Competition Seokjin Shin, Art Director, Cheil Worldwide & Joong Sik Choi, Student (Hallym University) Award: Silver Cannes Lions 2008 Round Up Three Grand Prix Lions were awarded at the Media, Outdoor and Radio Lions Awards ceremony at the 55th International Advertising Festival this year. Forsman & Bodenfors, Gothenburg, Sweden, won the top prize in Media for the AMF Pension “MMS” campaign; BBDO New York won in Outdoor for the HBO “Voyeur” projection installation; and Dentsu Tokyo won in Radio for Canon’s “Shutter Chance.” Forsman & Bodenfors was also named Media Agency of the Year. The media jury considered a number of criteria when making its choices, explained jury president Dominic Proctor, worldwide CEO of MindShare, London. “We’re looking for entries that have a really fresh consumer insight from which we get a robust media communications strategy which is executed in a breakthrough manner for which there are business results that demonstrate the effectiveness of the campaign,” he said. Proctor said the discussion for the top Media prize came down to two entries: the AMF campaign and a McDonald’s outdoor execution from Leo Burnett, Chicago. The latter was a billboard that featured a live lettuce garden growing to spell “Fresh Salads.” Proctor explained that while the US entry, which won two golds, had a powerful PR program, it was a single execution in a single city. “It was different because it was a one-off execution,” he said, but the judges found the execution unique and the PR and business results were strong, “an uplift of 20 per cent.” In the end, the 25-member jury, which considered 2,000 entries from 64 countries, a 20 per cent increase over last year, chose the Swedish campaign as the winner, Proctor said, because it “had everything.” The campaign, which allowed participants to see what they would look like at 70 years old, “had new media and old media. The role of the different media were very linked to each other, it was against a real consumer insight and it was executed really well in a difficult category.”… Read More

  • Crafted By Metal

    Back to basics. That’s the essence of the new Levi’s Copper Jeans. And so for its TVC, stop motion technique – dating back to the era of the original 1933 King Kong movie – was applied… Read More

  • Ping pong eye candy

    The Skinny The creative concept for Ping Pong was based on a popular Japanese variety TV show Super Change, Change, Change (loosely translated from its Chinese title), where participants including high school students, families, and working professionals create mass display stage performances using elaborate props and costumes. The illusions created are often clever and comedic in nature as some of the participants are dressed in black to help the main characters perform stunts against a black backdrop. Based on that concept, Ping Pong depicts two competitors playing table tennis in increasingly ridiculous and amusing stunts in an extended exchange. Midway through the grueling contest, one of the players tires and reaches out for a Snickers energy bar. Fully recharged from that, he is able to continue in the game with better and stronger moves and outplays his competitor at the end with fast and powerful strokes that make him look like he was playing with six arms. Through the spot, the viewer is also introduced progressively to the men dressed in black who are helping the players jump higher, play faster and pull off seemingly impossible stunts, to hilarious effect. Ping Pong has been on air in China since mid-October 2007, and has sparked positive comments from the Chinese internet community. The ad campaign’s launch has also coincided with a surge in sales of the Snickers chocolate bar by some 30 per cent in the last quarter of 2007. The Production September 2007 saw The Shanghai Job win the pitch for the Snickers’ TV campaign from Mars China against various Thai directors for three spots to tie-in with the Beijing Olympics campaign. Based on the creative vision from the Nitro Shanghai team helmed by executive creative director and managing director, Jennifer Tan, The Shanghai Job produced the 30-second spots titled Ping Pong, Basketball and Blackboard. With choreography of the stunts being a core creative concept behind the TVCs, casting took on great importance in pre-production. Street casting was carried out in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou to recruit hip-hop dancers, mime artists, theatre actors and street performers given that Nitro chose not to cast commercial actors or talent in the ad. Following that, four days of intensive rehearsals ensued in Shanghai before the three spots were shot back-to-back in five days on HD-DV to give the TVCs the intended raw look. The music score for the ad by Beat-Box was then jointly selected by the director David Gaddie and the agency, before Sydney-based Nylon Studios took on the music design task for the advertising campaign. The Post For offline, The Shanghai Job engaged editor Supra from Singapore to cut the three spots at its in-house facility. As for online editing, The Shanghai Job opted to take what the team considered as a “bold” step in post production: remote coordination and control of post production work done by Post Modern in Sydney via the Internet, as well as remote review and initial approval. In the process, only project folders with all the media files stored in a 500GB hard disk drive went to Post Modern. The director briefed and communicated directly with Post Modern’s post supervisor James Rogers and managing director Andrew Robinson via Skype and telephone during the post process. The completed online edit was then made available via Post Modern’s FTP site for download. Nitro Shanghai and the clients were able to review the work direct on their computers to provide comments and initial approval without having to travel. The final review was then conducted at a local post facility on a standard broadcast monitor for the client to ensure that there were no drop frames and colour separation. The final edit was then given the nod without further changes.… Read More

  • Moving in sync

    The Skinny MFX produced a design heavy spot in conjunction with Saatchi & Saatchi Malaysia, commissioned by Guiness Anchor Berhad to celebrate the Tiger Beer brand’s 75th anniversary. The TVC, titled Tiger 75 Years introduces the newly launched bottle with limited edition design from Saatchi & Saatchi, for Malaysia. The TVC’s underlying proposition was to reflect the look of the print ad campaign, also originally conceptualized by Saatchi & Saatchi. Adopting a “fresh, urban and hip” approach to target audiences including the youth and revellers, the 30-second ad features highly stylized animated properties in the brand’s colours and shades of blue and gold, akin to a flurry of fizzling bubbles, confetti and ribbons set against silhouettes of the cityscape and dancers. All the elements are changing quickly to the beat of the increasingly loud, fast and powerful tune played by an electric guitar, set against audio visualization resembling an oscilloscope vibrating in-sync with the music’s changing volume and frequency spectrum. The oscilloscope has been stylized to emit a fluid-like flow and drip similar to overflowing beer at various parts of the line, while the spikes increasingly expands in magnitude to reveal the new design of the Tiger Beer bottle in the background. The Production For production of the animation-focused spot, the team at MFX used the Adobe suite of software including Affer Effects and Photoshop to accomplish the bulk of the work. The dancers’ silhouettes were also produced with actual footage of live dancers shot by the team. According to senior designer and animator Pitt Ong, animating to the pace of the music and synchronizing between the visual and audio components were the main challenges of the project. “Like with all audio-video sync work, we had to manually mark out the key points of the audio piece including the main beats and rests, and use those as key turning points for the animation,” said Ong. Ong also revealed that through the two-week long production timeline, the team at MFX worked closely with the creatives from Saatchi & Saatchi Malaysia to examine and continuously tweak the work to ensure the “flow” of the entire TVC was maintained. Elements including the meshing of scenes from one to the next, the speed of transitions as well as the smoothness of the animation developments were the key areas that were worked on to ensure the TVC was able to bring the message and branding across well. The Post Budgeted at under US$25,000, post production of Tiger 75 Years saw the team place great emphasis in selecting the right dance footage used. The material was then colour graded and matched to the established colour palette before being integrated into the TVC. Overall, Ong found that the team had to constantly ensure that the TVC’s focus remained on the brand rather than let accompanying elements including the dancers take centrestage. He said, “We did have some difficulty ensuring that the ‘hero’ of the piece was the brand rather than the dancers as they are meant to support the message and brand, not the reverse. It’s about juxtaposing the graphic elements to attract audiences to the brand but not allowing them to outshine the brand image on-screen.”… Read More

  • Silky smooth

    The Skinny The description ‘smooth as silk’ takes on a literal meaning in Silk Flowers, a flowing and dreamy thirty-second TVC produced by Malaysia-based Carrot Films and post produced by Thailand’s Fame Post Production for Dove-branded chocolates from Mars Limited. The spot opens with the protagonist in a brown silk dress resting in an armchair in deep thought, set in a courtyard that is muted and barren. Reaching for a bar of Dove chocolate, she breaks off a portion and places it in her mouth. Closing her eyes to savour the taste of the confectionary, the gastronomical experience seemingly brings her into another world as the scene fades into a rich and delicious chocolate flow which transform into smooth, flowing chocolate brown silk. The camera then pans to the courtyard where chocolate brown drapes unfurl to adorn the once rocky surface, and extends to wrap around the woman’s shoulders as she looks on in delight. Wind-blown chocolate drapes then continue to move to the ground and each form chocolate roses that now spread across the once-barren courtyard. The protagonist then proceeds to caress a CG rose which appear fresh and alive as it sways with her touch. The courtyard continues to fill with silk roses which are blooming in the chocolate garden. Walking on in the wonder unfolding before her eyes, she turns around to see one of the drapes floating into the air before transforming into chocolate butterflies fluttering into the air. The TVC concludes with the climax of smooth flowing chocolate drapes, fluttering butterflies, and luscious roses as the lady looks on in awe at the magical environment enveloping her. The Production Prior to production, Carrot Films director Henry Ooi brought the entire production and post team through the concept in detail, with clear illustrations of the CG chocolate silk roses and butterflies. The key creative concept of live action mixed with CG then saw the team shoot footage of the actress’ actions, artificial roses and silk moving at high speed to be eventually composited with CG. Jeffery Chow, executive producer of the TVC revealed that the actress, in her thin silk dress, had to withstand very low temperatures on set during the shoot. The actress, with the help and guidance of the crew and director, then proceeded to ‘interact’ with CG elements that were added only during post production in what was the most challenging part of production. The Post Post production proved the most grueling stage for Silk Flowers as the entire process took an arduous two months to complete. The team at Fame Post used Autodesk Maya and After Effects to create the digital imagery and CG elements, The Pixel Farm’s PF Track for geometry tracking, and Autodesk Inferno for compositing and finishing. According to Chow, an extensive length of time was spent on producing the mock-up as well as matching the colour, lighting and size of the CG roses. And of particular difficulty was the scene that the protagonist caresses the CG rose as the actresses hand’s touch of the virtual flower had to “look real”. With particular attention paid to the contact as well as the ‘reaction’ of the hand and the CG flower, the latter was animated with a life-like ‘bounce’ following the touch to bring the chocolate rose to life. “Our CG animators performed many tests before the final result was achieved just for this sequence alone,” said Chow.… Read More

  • A Photo-shop full of goodies

    Following from the informative product demonstrations at the Adobe Photoshopworld workshop in Singapore last November, Shirley Tan, Adobe master instructor, looks to share even more Photoshop tips with our readers… Read More

  • The coast is clear

    When New Zealand based Execam Television & Video production had to film a documentary recreating World War 2 coast watching activities, their choice of camera was critical. Jim Greenhough, managing director of Execam explains, “We wanted a camera that could cope with the specifics of the coast watchers documentary and this meant starting with a shoot around Australia in Melbourne, Canberra, Townsville and Sydney, then some interviews in various locations around the USA, including a WW2 submarine in the pouring rain at San Francisco and on to the jungles of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. All of this had to be done on a documentary budget so the camera we chose had to be pretty special.” After a few weeks of research and testing Greenhough and his partner Brent Baader decided on the JVC ProHD camera. He continued, “The JVC ProHD was chosen because of the quality of signal, and the fact that it is an affordable HD camera that comes with a proper lens. It works just like our standard production cameras, so our shooters can easily adjust focus, exposure and colour balance with controls they are familiar with. What we like best about the camera is the fact that it has some decent glass on the front end!” JVC’s local agent in New Zealand Gencom Technologies were very much a part of the decision making process consulting and advising Execam from the beginning. Greenhough added, “Gencom were very supportive and helpful with the camera and ensuring a smooth editing process.” Whilst in the Solomon Islands, the documentary team spent two weeks interviewing surviving locals who worked with the coast watchers and visiting some of the key locations involved. Men from a Guadalcanal village were hired to dress as scouts and porters from the 1940s and haul equipment through the jungle and swampy rivers. Unlike most WW2 documentaries, there is no archive film of the coast watchers to help tell the story. Due to the extreme secrecy surrounding coast-watching activities there was absolutely no movie film shot, and precious few photographs either, so the recreations were especially important. Greenough said, “We used the camera in a range of documentary and re-enactment roles. It is simple to transport, and an easy weight for hand-held work; heavy enough to be steady, but not so heavy it tires you out in the tropics. The camera performed without a hitch, and we are very impressed with the quality of pictures. I would recommend JVC ProHD cameras as ideal for a production house that wants to get into high def without the cost of the top end cameras. It is a cost effective way of capturing great pictures which are future proofed for when high def is the norm.”… Read More

  • Stock options

    Asia Image takes stock of what’s on offer from stock footage specialists in 2008… Read More

  • Leaping to the Big Screen

    Asia Image chats with Jean Yeo, an award-winning TV director who takes a leap of faith to make her first feature… Read More

  • Stock OPTIONS

    Asia Image takes stock of what’s on offer from stock footage specialists in 2008… Read More

  • The Coast is Clear

    The JVC ProHD was chosen because of the quality of signal, and the fact that it is an affordable HD camera that comes with a proper lens.… Read More

  • Flexible Post Environment gathers the departed

    The idea of desktop artists operating out of their homes is not an entirely new concept, but few home boutiques boast the kind of firepower The Basement has assembled.… Read More

  • The Art of War

    War is hell. It’s futile in that no one is ever really victorious. When the smoke has settled and the bodies piled high, we look back and see that the consequences and the damage are far greater than the result warrants. Peter Chan’s epic The Warlords drives home the anti-war sentiments with some deft post work in place of fanciful stunts and ‘wire-fu’ gimmicks… Read More

  • Defending the pride of local productions

    National pride was at stake, says Singapore film production consortium, for staging a multimedia A/V show at the Army Museum of Singapore… Read More

  • Contending with reality TV

    The gloves are on for Singapore's Imagine OmniMedia, currently hard at work with US-based Mark Burnett Productions in producing the inaugural Thai kick-boxing based reality series The Contender Asia in Singapore.… Read More

  • The Factual Forum

    With more Singapore-made documentaries gaining traction on an unprecedented scale, what are the implications for content generators, independent producers and the media authority? Asia Image finds out.… Read More

  • Questions Race To Mind

    Questions – or should I say, question marks – abound in this slick racing ad that is both futile and effective at the same time.… Read More

  • A Painstaking Brew

    Franco Marinelli directs a smooth-fl owing beer commercial that trickles through the annals of time. Danny Chan reports.… Read More

  • WAD's new on the Web

    Manila post house Wide Angle Digital hopes to generate a buzz with its new online booking facility.… Read More

  • A Toast to Post

    As the year enters its final quarter, Asia Image checks on equipment upgrades and acquisitions, as well as top projects undertaken by movers and shakers of the regional post production industry.… Read More

  • Plastic Promises

    Is simplicity best or simply the easiest? Despite a pared down concept, the new SonyMaybank TVC still manages to sell the sizzle..… Read More

  • Bangkok's Oriental Post tough it out on Rambo IV

    Few have succeeded in taking on Sylvestor Stallone's film character 'Rambo' and winning. But for production house, Oriental Post in Bangkok, that was the challenge.… Read More

  • Working Magic in China

    Billed as the first-ever Disney co-production in China, The Magic Gourd topped over US$2 million in box-office receipts within two weeks of its opening in the country on June 29. Calvin Wong speaks to producer and director John Chu on the made-in- China children's feature.… Read More

  • Pin-ning down our Proof of Existence

    Singapore Ga Ga's director Tan Pin Pin devotes her latest feature documentary Invisible City to explore our innate desire to leave a legacy.… Read More

  • Seeing is not Believing

    Konnect Films drive optical illusion to new creative heights.… Read More

  • What's your flavour?

    Mmm... F & N's new branding ad a visually 'tasty' treat.… Read More

  • Broadcast graphics becomes part of the game

    Richard Dean reports on how broadcast graphics have progressed from an informative adornment to a sports officiating tool… Read More

  • Snowing In Thailand?

    That can be arranged. With the production support team at Fast Time, Thailand is a filmmaker’s dream location.… Read More

  • Indian Filmmaking On The Fast Lane

    Due for International release, Hindi blockbuster Ta Ra Rum Pum is unlike any Indian movie ever made.… Read More

  • From the Dumpster to the Big Screen

    Involving the post house early in your film project can save a lot of hassles and heartache, as exemplified in the making of acclaimed Aussie mockumentary, Kenny… Read More

  • Sawadee Ultraman!

    Japanese superhero Ultraman is reprised in a new series Project Ultraman made by Thai production company Chaiyo Productions. Asia Image speaks to Perasit Saengduenchai, chief executive offi cer of Chaiyo, who directs the 52-episode TV series… Read More

  • filmanimation: Fleshing out Wilbur the Pig

    Australian VFX fi rm Iloura produced 50 shots for animation-cum-live action feature Charlotte’s Web, which involves the painstaking 3D creation of the character Wilbur. Paramount Picture’s remake of the beloved children’s classic Charlotte’s Web attracted the interest of several visual effects and post facilities across Australia, all hoping to lend their creative resource and expertise towards the Hollywood feature production. One of the companies, Iloura Melbourne managed to secure the bid to build the CG version of one of the main characters, ‘Wilbur’ the pig. It was Iloura’s CG animal work on another project that had piqued the interest of VFX producer Karin Joy. The talented animation and compositing team had produced a CG horse for the Victoria Racing Museum, which was convincing enough to win them a contract to produce the one CG horse shot in Charlotte’s Web for the character of Ike. The team spent months working on a test CG pig in preparation for the bid for the hero character. Not only must the CG pig be able to live up to the scrutiny of fi lm, it must, according to Paramount’s VFX brief, be indistinguishable with a real pig. Obviously, the fi nal decision laid with producer Jordan Kerner, director Gary Winnick and vfx supervisor John Berton. The test primarily focused on the head, facial animation and dialogue. A great deal of time was spent in making the fur look right; the translucent qualities of pigs ears; eye lash detail; and giving the talking mouth a sense of realism and believability. Personifying Wilbur through the stages Deservingly, Iloura won the bid and was awarded the contract to produce approximately 40 fully CG ‘Wilbur’ shots. However, it must be noted that the team had to build not just one, but four pigs in 3D! In the movie, ‘Wilbur’ ages over the 12 months that the story unfolds. Four stages of the pig’s development had been identifi ed; from its birth to a fullgrown animal. In addition to catering for the four stages, the CG pig had to blend with its live action counterpart, which tends to be changed as they outgrow their parts quickly, particularly during the infant stages. This meant that live baby pigs had to be changed constantly throughout the various phases. The 3D pig, on the other hand, had to be matched to whatever pig that happens to be shot in the same scene. Hence the models needed to possess a degree of fl exibility, for example, their snout shapes had to conform to the live pig of the moment. All shots at all stages of the process were submitted for review. The continual review process meant that the shots were continually refi ned amidst questions posed as to the line between what a real pig could do and how closely the CG Wilbur should conform to that model. In some cases the shots strayed from the ‘real pig parameters’ by design only to be pulled back because the effect was too animated or just not quite right. Director of animation Glenn Melenhorst monitored all relevant stages ensuring that the meticulous notes given were taken onboard and all avenues of exploration for Wilbur were pursued with creative freedom and integrity to the character. Building Wilbur from Scratch First, sculptor Mike Logan was contracted to sculpt ‘Wilbur’ in clay as a basis for the computer version of Wilbur. The maquette was scanned and the data brought into the 3D systems ready for Avi Goodman to begin the task of building Wilbur, from phases 1 – 4. While modelling was underway, Grant Adam, lead TD was building up the internal pipeline. After much R&D and cost analysis, the team decided upon a pipeline where rigging and animation would take place in Maya while, lighting and effects animation went through 3D studio max with fur renders going through Renderman compliant software 3Delight. Grey scale models of ‘Wilbur’ were presented to veteran VFX supervisor John Berton on set while shooting was in progress. Once the dimensions and shape etc were locked in with John, the rigging and animation testing began. Concurrently the textures, hair and fur R&D were underway. Lead effects animator Paul Buckley was responsible for texturing the pig. The skin texture of the pig was posing interesting issues. The overriding question was: what does pig skin look like underneath the hair? Paul had put in a request to have one of the actor pigs shaved so that they could obtain textures of a real pig’s skin. This was fairly fl atly refused. Pig cadavers were considered but the idea was quickly discarded as the animators needed to replicate the innate texture of living skin with natural colours, in part supplied by living blood vessels. In the end they shot the skin textures of a human baby that gave the right sense of skin pores and blood vessels etc. Paul combined these raw textures with actual pig and chicken skin references and manipulated the texture maps until he obtained adequate level of detail. Furring the pig was the next step. Iloura’s textures library provided the main reference but the painstaking process was having to match the fur in shade, shape and form to the live action pigs. The intricate furring process took the team the full duration of the VFX process. In total, the team at Iloura produced 50 shots for the fi lm, extending to nonpig shots as well. Other vendors were awarded different characters: Tippett was given ‘Templeton the Rat’; Rising Sun Pictures did ‘Charlotte’; Fuel baby did the ‘spiders’; while Rhythm and Hues were given the task of muzzle replacements on all the talking animal shots where real animals were used.… Read More

  • specialfeature: Are you good enough for Cartoon Networks?

    Today, if you are an animator or animation enthusiast living in Asia or for that matter, anywhere in the world, you would not be struggling to fi nd an audience to view your original works. On the contrary, you may even be spolit for choice deciding upon a myriad of avenues available online – not even mentioning the landscape – changing advent of IPTV on the horizon – on where to best upload your masterpiece. Having said that, getting your works broadcasted on the good’ol goggle box, beamed by an established network station to a captive audience of millions is something else. This is the exposure that you stand to gain, by taking part in SNAPTOONS, a new initiative launched by Cartoon Networks. Asia Image interviews Orion Ross, the vice president of creative & original content, creative services at Turner Entertainment Networks Asia Inc. to find out more about the Asia-Pacific targeted initiative. For more details, visit SNAPTOONS.org Below is an excerpt of the E-mail Interview. What is SNAPTOONS about? As one of the international kids’ channel to recognize the potential in animation, Cartoon Network wants to recognize and promote high quality, home-grown animation programming in Asia Pacifi c by actively scouting for fresh scripts that we can completely fund from start to fi nish – all we need is a “great ideaâ€Â and SNAPTOONS is the perfect way of locating that idea. What are the goals for such an initiative? This shorts programme is to connect with the talent that exists across Asia Pacifi c and to encourage a relationship between them and us to develop the next generation of groundbreaking animation. This approach has been extremely successful at a global level and has led to the creation of many popular Network series. SNAPTOONS is the fi rst stage of a huge, serious and on-going initiative from Cartoon Network, and this is just the right time to roll out the campaign in Asia Pacifi c. Who will be the judges for this contest? We are setting up a special SNAPTOONS “greenlightâ€Â council that will comprise of key members of Cartoon Network. What would the judges be looking for? We are looking for ideas that are unique and innovative in concept and kidappropriate as we are primarily a kids’ channel. The ideas should be smart, fun, funny, fearless, surprising and character driven as well. We will also be looking to evaluate the potential that every idea has to be turned into a series and/or a feature film. We have also found that character driven content resonate well with viewers as well. Importantly, the idea should have the potential to be commissioned as full series and/or feature fi lm! If amateurs were to be picked as the final 10, would there be industry mentors to guide them along in the production of the pilot episode, since this could possibly be their fi rst attempt at anything ‘serious’? We realize that, since this call for entries is open to the public, we may very well pick fi nalists with no animation experience! We are here to extend and ensure that they get the best help/support in realizing their concept/character into a reality. They will be involved in every step of the way right from the scripting, to the voicing, the style of animation, the look of the characters, etc. The objective of this programme is to connect with the talent that exists in Asia Pacifi c and to encourage a relationship between them and us to develop next generation of groundbreaking animation. What is your outlook on the current standards of Asian animation content and production? Historically, Japan has always been the leader for producing ‘Asian animation’ but there has also been a noticeable increase in the amount of quality animation coming out of Korea, India and China. With SNAPTOONS, Cartoon Network wants to continue to promote high quality, home-grown animation programming by actively scouting for fresh scripts that we can completely fund from start to fi nish.… Read More

  • animationsuperpitch2006: World-Standard Pitches Wow Judges

    The Asia Animation SuperPitch saw one of its most hard fought competitions in years.… Read More

  • mediastorage: Omneon Spectrum Supports Broadcast Bouquet at HBO Asia

    In response to the expeditious rate at which new technology is shaping the media industry, HBO Asia is the most recent digital-embracing company to take up the HD gauntlet. Fast-tracking the home entertainment company along the digital highway is Omneon, with its Spectrum media server systems. HBO Asia currently offers viewers across Asia a bouquet of mul t ichannel services that are 24-hour and commercial-free – including HBO, HBO SIGNATURE, HBO FAMILY, HBO HITS and CINEMAX. In total, the cable and satellite broadcaster originates 13 feeds and nine playouts in both PAL and NTSC formats from its Singapore headquarters. Needless to say, a robust server system was needed to meet the digital challenges that laid ahead. To support its multi-channel services, HBO Asia has found a suitable technology partner in Omneon. Vincent Teo, senior vice president of technology & operations, HBO Asia, talks about the initial challenges: “We needed a system with an open architecture that would integrate easily with any third-party system so our internal engineering and integration team could choose best-of-breed broadcast systems most suited to our desired workfl ows. “Also of importance to us, was fi nding a provider that would offer a high level of service and support. Omneon met our requirements.â€Â When HBO Asia launched the Omneon server systems, the process of taking them online was completed easily within a week. Teo elaborates: “We used them (Omneon server systems) in a short trial period and then took them to air. The system we put in place comprises main and backup servers, each of which provides total storage capacity of 2,473 hours for long GOP MPEG-2 content at 8 Mbps.â€Â In addition to the main and backup server systems, Omneon’s MirrorTool software was being utilized. The software was specifi cally designed for facilities that use redundant Omneon Spectrum media servers as part of their overall media server infrastructure. “The MirrorTool simplifi es our workfl ow by automatically copying ingested and edited media fi les to the backup server, duplicating the folder hierarchy so that we can be confi dent that we have complete redundancy at all times. “The sof tware wor ks in the background to manage files, which allows our operators to spend less time ensuring that the file systems are synchronized.â€Â Teo and his team would manage the server systems from Omneon’s SystemManager, which acts as the administrative hub of their Omneon Spectrum media server installation. It features a browser-based interface through which the engineers can adjust system confi gurations, integrate additional components and identify fault conditions. The SystemManager is also equipped with fault reporting and alerting capabilities that bring issues to their attention early and help prevent any disruption to playout. It constantly monitors the main and backup servers, sending out alerts when it detects abnormal conditions with regard to temperature, power, data connectivity, etc. “The SystemManager also gives us the option of working closely with Omneon in diagnostic tasks, upgrades and other support services. We can give Omneon’s engineering team remote connectivity to the system and thus take advantage of the company’s support team – and its expertise – in real time.â€Â To ensure reliable interoperability among their origination systems, the integrat ion team built commands and interfaces to link together the server, automation control and channelbranding equipment. “We operate the Omneon systems in conjunction with NVerzion automation, a Pixel Power Clarity graphics system and a Cavena subtitling system. The Pixel Power Clarity 200 system gives us powerful control over graphics, while the Cavena subtitling system serves as a language-independent solution for subtitle editing and transmission in even the most complex language.â€Â The three systems combine to provide the fl exibility necessary for multichannel playout across 22 authorized territories in a large multilingual market. While the open architecture of the Omneon Spectrum systems – and, of course, their neon blue lights – were important factors in the team’s decision to use them as a platform for program origination, they were also selected for their scalability. “As we continue to increase the number of channels within our bouquet, we’ll be able to make incremental upgrades to the storage capacity of our Spectrum server system. We’re also looking ahead to the launch of HD services. “Omneon’s server confi guration makes the addition of HD storage and playout a very simple affair, which means that when the time comes to make the move to HD, it will require only the addition of an HD-capable Spectrum module.â€Â The playout of all HBO Asia channels rests on its Omneon Spectrum server systems. Teo is pleased with the results thus far: “Since we took the systems online, we’ve been very happy with how they have performed. They have provided reliable operation for us so far, and we anticipate the same high level of performance as we continue to grow HBO Asia and its broadcast offerings.â€Â… Read More

  • mediastorage: Omneon Spectrum Supports Broadcast Bouquet at HBO Asia

    In response to the expeditious rate at which new technology is shaping the media industry, HBO Asia is the most recent digital-embracing company to take up the HD gauntlet. Fast-tracking the home entertainment company along the digital highway is Omneon, with its Spectrum media server systems. HBO Asia currently offers viewers across Asia a bouquet of mul t ichannel services that are 24-hour and commercial-free – including HBO, HBO SIGNATURE, HBO FAMILY, HBO HITS and CINEMAX. In total, the cable and satellite broadcaster originates 13 feeds and nine playouts in both PAL and NTSC formats from its Singapore headquarters. Needless to say, a robust server system was needed to meet the digital challenges that laid ahead. To support its multi-channel services, HBO Asia has found a suitable technology partner in Omneon. Vincent Teo, senior vice president of technology & operations, HBO Asia, talks about the initial challenges: “We needed a system with an open architecture that would integrate easily with any third-party system so our internal engineering and integration team could choose best-of-breed broadcast systems most suited to our desired workfl ows. “Also of importance to us, was fi nding a provider that would offer a high level of service and support. Omneon met our requirements.â€Â When HBO Asia launched the Omneon server systems, the process of taking them online was completed easily within a week. Teo elaborates: “We used them (Omneon server systems) in a short trial period and then took them to air. The system we put in place comprises main and backup servers, each of which provides total storage capacity of 2,473 hours for long GOP MPEG-2 content at 8 Mbps.â€Â In addition to the main and backup server systems, Omneon’s MirrorTool software was being utilized. The software was specifi cally designed for facilities that use redundant Omneon Spectrum media servers as part of their overall media server infrastructure. “The MirrorTool simplifi es our workfl ow by automatically copying ingested and edited media fi les to the backup server, duplicating the folder hierarchy so that we can be confi dent that we have complete redundancy at all times. “The sof tware wor ks in the background to manage files, which allows our operators to spend less time ensuring that the file systems are synchronized.â€Â Teo and his team would manage the server systems from Omneon’s SystemManager, which acts as the administrative hub of their Omneon Spectrum media server installation. It features a browser-based interface through which the engineers can adjust system confi gurations, integrate additional components and identify fault conditions. The SystemManager is also equipped with fault reporting and alerting capabilities that bring issues to their attention early and help prevent any disruption to playout. It constantly monitors the main and backup servers, sending out alerts when it detects abnormal conditions with regard to temperature, power, data connectivity, etc. “The SystemManager also gives us the option of working closely with Omneon in diagnostic tasks, upgrades and other support services. We can give Omneon’s engineering team remote connectivity to the system and thus take advantage of the company’s support team – and its expertise – in real time.â€Â To ensure reliable interoperability among their origination systems, the integrat ion team built commands and interfaces to link together the server, automation control and channelbranding equipment. “We operate the Omneon systems in conjunction with NVerzion automation, a Pixel Power Clarity graphics system and a Cavena subtitling system. The Pixel Power Clarity 200 system gives us powerful control over graphics, while the Cavena subtitling system serves as a language-independent solution for subtitle editing and transmission in even the most complex language.â€Â The three systems combine to provide the fl exibility necessary for multichannel playout across 22 authorized territories in a large multilingual market. While the open architecture of the Omneon Spectrum systems – and, of course, their neon blue lights – were important factors in the team’s decision to use them as a platform for program origination, they were also selected for their scalability. “As we continue to increase the number of channels within our bouquet, we’ll be able to make incremental upgrades to the storage capacity of our Spectrum server system. We’re also looking ahead to the launch of HD services. “Omneon’s server confi guration makes the addition of HD storage and playout a very simple affair, which means that when the time comes to make the move to HD, it will require only the addition of an HD-capable Spectrum module.â€Â The playout of all HBO Asia channels rests on its Omneon Spectrum server systems. Teo is pleased with the results thus far: “Since we took the systems online, we’ve been very happy with how they have performed. They have provided reliable operation for us so far, and we anticipate the same high level of performance as we continue to grow HBO Asia and its broadcast offerings.â€Â… Read More

  • animatedfeature: No Mean Feet

    Eric Whipp, head colorist for animated movie Happy Feet, talks about the grading challenges and Film Master.… Read More

  • editing: editlounge bags doublehonors at ATV Awards

    Melanie Foo beat her own boss at last year’s ATV Awards to bring home the BestEditing trophy, and lived to tell. Melanie was all smiles, grinning fromrosy cheek to cheek, when I met her at apub in December. Her countenance washardly out of place, since we were thereto celebrate her company’s – editlounge’s– recent accolades at the ATV Awards,where she and her boss had just wonfi rst and second place for Best Editing inthe documentary category. That blushedlook of hers could either be attributed tothe evening’s free fl owing champagneor her embarrassment at pipping hermentor-cum-boss, Daryl Burney, forthe award. Melanie’s young talent was beingrecognized for her work on DiscoveryTravel and Living Channel’s VIPWeekends with Ian Wright; the episodein which the celebrity host goes geese hunting with Britain’s earls and dukes,hobnobbing aristocrat-style. Former ATVAwards winner and nominee, Burneycame in second for his cuts on NationalGeographic Asia’s Megaship; thechannel’s fi rst HDCAM documentary. At her good fortune, Foo gushes:“I didn’t honestly think I was going towin… I mean in view of my competition.I guess mine was quite an easy edit. Itjust told the story well and so I guessthat’s what they (the judges) like. And it(the programme) had a lot of humor in itwhich made it very entertaining.â€Â Up-and-coming TalentGiven her youth in the indust ry,Foo’s diplomatic stance is amiablyunderstandable. She joined editlounge; fresh out of Film & Television School ofQueensland University of Technologyin 2004. Interestingly, that same year,Burney won Best Editing at ATV forNational Geographic’s Kwang BangBeetle Battles. In 2005, he was runner-upfor editing MTV’s Simple Plan Concert. Upstaged by his protégé, Burney saysgood-humoredly: With a twinkle in her eye, Foo interjectscheekily, “imagine if he had not wonpreviously.â€Â With a shrug, Burney continues: “Ithink I was in my early 30s when I won(the ATV Award) whereas Mel is in herearly 20s. So she’s doing very well.â€Â Judging by the good-natured ribbinggoing on between the two, whatevercompetition that exist between them mustbe purely professional, and healthy. About editlounge One of Singapore's newest post facilities,editlounge provides post-productionmanagement, offl ine and online editingin HD and SD, as well as technicalservices such as dubbing and encoding.The editing firm shares office spacewith three other business entities atTanjong Pagar road, together providingsynergistic post facility services – underthe same roof. The other companies:2xjump and SCOOP Media providebroadcast design and motion graphics;while SPLiCE Studios provides full audioengineering services. … Read More

  • World of words ==> frame store

    The Toyota Camry is a car that intuitively reads the road. This is the message that the creatives at Sydney-based Publicis Mojo want viewers to read, once they get past the alphabet-soup of a world created digitally by the animation gurus at Fire Horse Studio, whose diverse portfolio includes animation work on brands such as Austar Foxtel, Daikin, and Jacob’s Creek, and Volvo. The 15-second spot was aimed primarily at the 35 years old and above male audience looking for style, technology, and efficiency. The TVC opens with interplanetary pieces spelling the word “meteorâ€Â zooming past viewers, as they stratospherically traject past a satellite (carrying the word “solar panelâ€Â), barely avoid a collision with a jumbo jet (bearing “747â€Â), and speed towards a city that rapidly comes into view (and along with it words such as “city,â€Â “lake,â€Â and “parkâ€Â). Screeching to a booming halt amidst what is now evidently a city of words, viewers touch down strategically at the front grill of the new Toyota Camry, even as a metro trails away spelling “monorail.â€Â A commercial that viewers will no doubt want to watch over and over again if only to best the challenge of catching all the words cleverly presented in various elements, the challenge Mojo issued to Fire House Studio was to create an entire 3D world for the spot, incorporating words as real objects in the world whilst keeping a fi ne balance between cartoon and reality. And while the animation does have an uncanny Google Earth look-and-feel to it, there is much more than meets the eye. “We have found from other projects that we cannot use any imagery from Google Earth due to copyright,â€Â explains Scotty Wilcox, Fire Horse Studio’s animation director. “So we had to fi nd a source of aerial photography and satellite imagery that would fi t within our budget. But considering all of that, we still needed to create our world. We had to design the entire layout of ‘Camryville’ as we liked to call it, and all of the elements within it. It was a hybrid of words built from real world objects and materials to create a strange hybrid World of words of realism and fantasy.â€Â And whi le the presentat ion of “Camryvilleâ€Â in 3D certainly injected an element of the fantastical, Fire Horse Studio took pains to enhance the reality of this digitally created world. And here, the devil is in the air. “I wanted to ensure that even though we were working in 3D, that we had a feeling of real world light and of air. They work hand in hand in the real world,â€Â muses Wilcox. “Air particles are part of our world and I fi nd them strangely vacant in many Hollywood blockbusters when they cut to an effects shot. I looked at fi lms such as ‘Minority Report’ for a color guide and made a decision to take our and more of the ‘set dressing’ on the end scene,â€Â Wilcox confesses. “So a system was devised to split the setup into different scenes, share the camera and move onwards. It was not the way we would have liked to work, but we made the air-date.â€Â Powering the massive 3D datacrunching and animation work was Softimage XSI for modeling, texturing, animation, and rendering. Zbrush was used for sculpting such as the “Meteorâ€Â text. For the 2D elements, Photoshop was used on the textures, while After Effects and Shake were used for compositing. In addition, based on aerial photography, in-house software was written to generate the vast expanses of fully textured 3D residential and commercial buildings from a photographic base. “As with all such developments, these tools are now available to be used and adapted to suit other projects in the future,â€Â quips Wilcox. And the result? A provocat ive commercial for Toyota Camry that puts a new spin on reading between the lines. … Read More

  • Hurricane alert ==> musicvideo

    Even as Hurricane John whipped the southern coast of Mexico’s Baja California peninsular and Ernesto drenched the Mid-Atlantic, Thai-American force of nature Tata Young looks set to do some oceanographic disruptions of her own with her steamy, adrenaline-rousing music video entitled El Nin-yo.… Read More

  • Eastward ho! ==> tv formats

    Todd Miller, SVP and Managing Director of Asia, SPTI, talks to Lee San Chouy about selling scripted formats to the region, as well as new-media opportunities in the Asian market.… Read More

  • Dramatic License ==> Media convergence

    Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) has just announced the issuance of two new licenses permitting delivery of pay-TV services via broadband with more to come. But in such a relatively small market, will there be suffi cient demand for On-Demand? Magz Osborne finds out… Read More

  • Postcard From The Mountain of Fire = cinematographer's special

    The Indonesian Island of Java is located on the legendary ‘Ring Of Fire’, the belt of volcanoes which encircle the Greater Pacifi c Region and Mt. Merapi a.k.a. ‘The Mountain of Fire’. As a team of HD cameramen and crew defi ed the harrowing dangers to document the possibility of an imminent eruption, they had no idea just how close they were… The ‘Mountain of Fire’ sits in the center of the island, only 27 kms from the 500,000 people who live in the city of Yogyakarta. It is the most active volcano in Indonesia, and on a global scale the eruptions are so frequent that scientists include it as one of only 16 designated as a Decade Volcano. Many of the current population of Yogyakarta still remember vividly the 1994 eruption when more than 6000 people had to be evacuated from their homes and 43 people died and as pyroclastic fl ows travelled 7.3 kms from the summit of the mountain enveloping villages in deadly gases superheated to a temperature in excess of 800°C. Most of those killed lived in the region of the Krasak and Boyong Rivers and those who survived still carry the physical and psychological scars from the extreme trauma of the event. The current activity of the volcano is a vivid reminder of this ever-present potential for disaster. In the hot zone The activities of the volcano may bring death to some, but it also brings life and comparative prosperity to millions who live in the region. The dark, volcanic soils that originate from the mountain are both rich and fertile and they support a multitude of agricultural crops that feed the third largest population on earth. Director Elliott Shiff and his production team needed an experienced High Definition camera team operating in the region and they contacted American audio expert Will Hemmerle of Jungle Run Productions in Bali, producer Ruddy Legoh of Bali Satria Films. I was called upon to be the director of photography. The telephone call came in at 10pm on Friday night, 20 May. By 9 am Monday morning, all members of the new team were collecting their cases off the baggage carousel at Yogyakarta airport and making the mutual introductions. The equipment included a Sony F900 Cinealta camera from Nic Koh of A&T Camera Rentals in Singapore, an ingenious but lightweight documentary lighting kit, a Vinten Fibertec tripod equipped with the Vison 100 head and the invaluable Cinesaddle. Leaving the airport, we set off for the Melia Hotel and on the way we discussed the potential imagery that would tell the unique story of the people of the region with everyone injecting their own creative ideas into the mix. Throughout the project this interesting process of unscripted, opportunistic fi lm making was greatly enhanced by the fact that several of the members of the crew had a solid professional background in international current affairs, a television discipline that develops the ability for rapid situation analysis and the skill to tell an evolving story succinctly and economically. Once at our hotel, Will and I organized our production equipment as production manager Ruddy sourced the local seismic experts and vulcanologist who could communicate a scientific perspective and Elliott concentrated on finding the villagers who would illustrate the contrasting human, social and spiritual story. Leads led to contacts and contacts led to interviews and within hours video tape was rolling through the Cinealta as we began to document the story of the unpredictable relationship between the ominous mountain that seemed to greet us every time we turned a corner and the photogenic villages that nestled in the tropical countryside. A sound & light show unlike any other Every morning at dawn the villages and their markets come to life around the base of Mt Merapi. Children leave for the local school and farmers plant and till the soil, with the ominous rumbling activity of the volcano only kilometers away. Many times a day, the sun is blocked by an menacing cloud of dust and debris that reaches miles into the sky – a sight that is always accompanied by the constant thundering of gigantic boulders as they roll down the slopes from the caldera which is continually building, evolving and collapsing. At night, the school children watch in naïve fascination from their homes as spectacular, glowing lava streams down the mountain side in a continual Son Et Lumière show that far exceeds anything a man made theatre could emulate. It is dangerous and it is incredibly unpredictable. But for the spiritual Javanese people, it is their home and they draw a fi ne balance between the benefi ts and the fatal risks every day of their lives. For the next five days we rose at 4 a.m. every morning and headed to different vantage points to see the sun rise and illuminate the mountain as it energetically spewed rocks and clouds of debris higher and higher into the atmosphere. Once we had this daily dawn show on tape, we headed to the local markets to fi lm the villagers going about their daily business, seemingly oblivious to what was happening only kilometers away. Our research eventually led us to Maridjan, the offi cial ‘spiritual keeper of the mountain’, a venerable, white haired old gentleman who climbed its winding slopes almost every day to tend to the public pathways, clear the critical water courses and assess the ever changing moods and the risks created by the mountain for those who lived and worked at its base. Each time the vulcanologist thought the signs of a pressure build up indicated a possible eruption and they initiated an evacuation of the local population, Maridjan would disagree with them as he said the mountain was simply “cleaning its houseâ€Â and in his opinion the villagers were safe from any harm. At sunrise on the Thursday morning, Maridjan guided us several thousand feet up the slopes of Mt. Merapi to an observation point where he then gave us an interview that described in depth the enormous spiritual identity that the mountain has for those who live in its shadow. As he laughed and talked about how one of his sons would soon have to take over his awesome responsibility, he sought to reassure us that the activity we could all see so close behind his head, was just the volcanic pressure dissipating and it presented no threat to those of us standing, farming or even living on the slopes of the mountain. During the week we talked to vulcanologists and seismic experts, many of whom had come to Java simply because their science implied an eruption seemed imminent, and they detailed the process of local data collection and international analysis of that data. We fi lmed the vibrating needles of the seismic instruments as they monitored and recorded the activities at the top of the mountain and we visited the observation towers high above the towns and villages, where long lens cameras were constantly trained at the fragile edge of the caldera above the molten magma chamber. We also visited the camps where villagers had been relocated off the mountain by the authorities into tents and temporary facilities. But every day they would defy the authorities and head back to the mountainside to spend the day tending to their crops and feeding their animals. By Friday night we had nine full videotapes of images, interviews and graphic illustrations of how the mountain dominated every aspect of the lives of the brave and deeply spiritual Javanese population. The day of terror On the last day of shooting, Saturday, 26 May 2006, we again rose from our beds at the Melia Hotel in Yogyakarta and drove for almost an hour to a location that was to offer us the most spectacular view of the mountain. When we arrived at 5.45 a.m. the mountain was considerably more active than we had ever seen it and we were quickly rolling video tape of the long, revolving clouds (known as Curly Sheep) that we could see created by the massive boulders hurtling down the mountainside. As we worked, a deep and very menacing rumbling got louder and louder and suddenly the earth literally began vibrating violently underneath our feet. The rolling camera shook dramatically on the tripod, power poles weaved from side to side, power lines tensed, relaxed and then tensed again. Within seconds the adrenalin was pumping in all of us and the air was suddenly fi lled with noise of chattering radios and strident warning bells as the observation tower tried to warn the neighbourhood of an imminent eruption. The roads were fi lled with screeching motorbikes evacuat ing frightened villagers who needed cloth masks covering their faces just to allow them to breath in the billowing dust clouds. If the mountain was about to erupt, and all indications implied it was, it was very likely we would never make it off the mountain alive and with an intense feeling of doom, we documented the panic and the fear around us, including our own. Almost as quickly as it had come, the vibration under the earth disappeared and the mountain looked very dramatic – but it also looked stable. All around us people stared at the mountain in genuine fear and babbled nervously as we began to interview them. They had every reason to be fearful as one man so vividly illustrated as he rolled up his sleeve in front of us and exposed an arm burned and disfigured by the extreme heat from the 1994 eruption. We had come to Java make a fi lm about the potential of an imminent volcanic eruption on the local population, but had experienced and fi lmed an unpredicted force 6.3 earthquake that they suffered instead. As we watched, waited and worked our craft in HD, reports started coming in on the radio that the powerful earthquake had devastated parts of the city of Yogyakarta and almost all of the coastal villages that were closest to the epicenter. After an hour we realised that the mountain appeared dormant and was less likely to erupt now so we headed back towards the city of Yogyakarta, only to be confronted by four lanes of oncoming traffic as thousands of frightened people used every lane of the highway to evacuate the city and fl ee for their lives. As the congestion slowed the traffi c to a nervous crawl, helping hands assisted running pedestrians to clamber onto the outside framework of buses and onto the backs of construction trucks and fl atbed delivery vehicles. In a frantic attempt to communicate with friends and family, they stabbed at hand phones even as they were running in desperation from the horror behind them and even I sent Nic Koh in Singapore a brief SMS message to reassure him about the condition and safety of his Cinealta F900 camera! As we drove, fi lmed and discussed how the unpredictable events unfolding around us affected our documentary, Will was able to receive a continuous supply of updated information via SMS from his offi ce in Bali who were monitoring the live television reports. Don’t know what hit them Suddenly another unexpected terror reached us because we could recognize the word ‘Tsunami’ in the local radio broadcasts and this then explained the mass evacuation we were witnessing from the city of Yogyakarta. Those that couldn’t escape what they imagined to be an imminent wall of water approaching the confi nes of the city climbed onto the “relative safetyâ€Â of the high motorway bridges, but this of course was the worst place to ever retreat to in an earthquake of this intensity. The rightness and wrongness of their actions vividly illustrates the complexity of frightening scenarios the people of this region are exposed to every day. They literally don’t know if the horror they are experiencing is a volcanic eruption, an earthquake or an imminent tsunami. Or even worse, a combination of all three. Our information from Wills’ office in Bali indicated the epicenter of the earthquake was nearer to the coast than the city center, so after filming the devastation to the hotels, shops and business centers in Yogyakarta, we drove to the villages which had received the most damage and which held the most casualties. The earthquake had struck the population as they were rising from their beds, taking a bath and making their breakfast. Along the road every single house and farm was flattened and people were standing dazed, confused and bewildered as they tried to comprehend what had happened and how many members of their family were now missing or dead. We interviewed one man who explained how he had rescued his son and his daughter as his house had literally collapsed around them, but as he talked to us, his neighbours appeared behind him carrying the dead body of his sister who had not been as fortunate. He made his apologies and took his leave from us because as he explained, he now had to prepare the body of his sister for her imminent funeral. As we turned away from the scene, a second lady stood staring in shock at the ruins of what had been her family home only hours before. Underneath the rubble were the bodies of her husband and her seven year old daughter, but the damage was too extensive and the debris too heavy for her two young sons to locate them. From the devastation of the coastal villages we returned to the city and located one of the city hospitals where the bodies of the injured lined all the corridors, gardens and even overfl owed into the car parks. By 4pm we had as much material as we needed for our rapidly evolving documentary and we made our way back to the Melia Hotel to recover our equipment and our luggage, only to discover that the hotel was actually situated on the fault line and had suffered major structural damage in our absence. By using the fi re stairs, we were eventually able to locate and access our hotel rooms to recover the invaluable master tapes of our documentary fi lm from the rubble that then confronted us. Director Elliott Schiff had been in constant contact with his production offices in Toronto throughout the day and between them they now made the executive decision to withdraw us from Java and get the raw material back to Toronto for editing as fast as possible. With the main runway damaged and the airport out of commission for several days, we hired a car and driver from the hotel and contemplated the prospect of a 13 hour night drive, in heavy rain and aggressive traffi c, on top of a 12 hour working day. Had we actually wanted to sleep, there was little chance of it as soon as the Canadian News Networks discovered one of their own had actually been in the middle of the earthquake and could be contacted in person on my hand phone! The scramble to air programme As we drove through the night, every live telephone interview Elliott conducted and every discussion he and I had together, clarified the extraordinary events of the day in our minds. Elliott started to assemble the foundation of the script and the fi lm structure in his head as we talked and by the time we arrived at the Jakarta Airport Hotel at 8 a.m. Sunday morning he was ready to call the production house in Toronto and put his script ideas and research and graphics requirements into motion. At 6am Monday morning we both left Jakarta International Airport for different destinations. I had a Cinealta production outfi t to return to A&T Singapore and Elliott had 11 x 40 min. HDCam master tapes to get to Toronto that contained all the location material for his production. His fl ight transited through Hong Kong and from the airport he was able to dispatch a script outline and update his immediate production requirements to his associates in Canada. Exactly seven days after Elliott left Jakarta, the hard working staff of Exploration Production Inc in Toronto completed the post production of Panic In The Ring Of Fire and Discovery Channel Canada aired the HD documentary programme the same night to expectant viewers throughout Canada and the USA. Following its initial release, the programme is now on offer to global television networks world wide. When the one-hour programme went to air internationally only eight days after the actual event –to a very positive response – the entire production team in two continents had time to relax and communicate their impressions about the different challenges and solutions they had encountered. It became apparent to everyone involved that two critical elements contributed to the on-air quality and fast turnaround of this unique production. • With the exception of stock footage, every single image was shot and mastered to the highest possible, broadcast quality on the Cinealta HDCam system and when the time came to use the camera in a fast evolving, documentary situation, the camera and the post production system was up to the challenges. The considerable experience of the camera team in operating in full HD allowed them to originate on this format in very challenging conditions, when other organisations may have been tempted to originate on smaller, “easier to operateâ€Â formats. • The extensive experience several team members had shooting global current affairs, on reversal film, gave them an extraordinary advantage in how they were able to shoot and then blend two different, fast evolving, unscripted stories and get them on air, one week later, in the opposite side of the world with full High Defi nition production value. This specialist experience engenders unique disciplines and economies in photo journalistic communication that then benefi ted the post production team in Toronto when unexpected deadlines affected the post production workfl ow. Elliott left Indonesia with only 11 x 40 min camera tapes and consequently the editors only had to digitize and edit 7 hrs of original material from Java. This makes the fi nal ‘shooting : on-air ratio’ very close to 11:1 – a ratio which make the editors’ work, very much easier as they face looming deadlines. In the words of David Rowe, Senior Editor, CTV Specialty Television, the viewers were “awestruck by (the volcanoes’) beauty and terrorâ€Â. In his letter of appreciation, David complimented the team on the quality of the footage and accompanying audio, saying that their professional discipline in shooting helped the editing process immensely, especially with the pressures of having to turn around the post as quickly as they did – the sequences were clean and “just waiting to be put togetherâ€Â. He imbues in writing: “The portrait shots of the villagers were stunning and the scenic shots brought me to tears. Every frame was a masterpiece. Not only did the film look wonderful, it sounded incredible.â€Â From the initial enquiry call, to actually broadcasting this quality of on-air programming on the other side of the world, took a total of only 15 days! Even I was impressed by this achievement and how our global experience in High Def init ion enabled us to bring an audience the Global High Definition Experience. … Read More

  • Film Restoration: From shadows to light

    French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville's WWII film… Read More

Technology Focus

  • ADOBE'S SUITE HAND

    As more broadcasters migrate to file-based workflows, the Adobe CS5 Production Premium, particularly Premiere Pro, is emerging as a serious player in the digital workflow for broadcasters and filmmakers. Adobe vice president and general manager for professional video Jim Guerard shares the company's strategy for Premiere Pro with Asia Image.… Read More

  • RECREATING THE CLASSIC HARE AND TORTOISE STORY - WITH A TWIST

    THE SKINNY Prime Focus’ VFX team recreates a modern day version of the classic tale of Hare and Tortoise for Central Bank of India. Conceptualized by RK Swami BBDO, the commercial was executed by the creative team at Prime Focus VFX consisting of Merzin Tavaria, Raj Tambaku and Sumeet Gupte, supported by a team of 20 artists at Prime Focus’ VFX facility at Royal Palms, Mumbai. The fully animated ad called The Race is one part of a three-part campaign for Central Bank of India, promoting the bank as having ‘Refreshingly Different Ideas’. Merzin Tavaria, chief creative director, Prime Focus said, “The distinct nature of the concept and its execution by the Prime Focus VFX team propelled the existing standard of animation for commercials to a completely different level of creative and technical brilliance.” Speaking about the creative brief Prime Focus’ Raj Tambaku said, “The brief that we received from the agency was to keep it refreshingly different, by creating a much needed modern twist to this classic tale of Hare and Tortoise. It also had to be amusing and should be able to instantly connect with the present day generation. Said Gautam Pandit, creative director, “The brief was to create a communication that was fresh and different to strengthen the Central Bank of India’s positioning in the consumer’s mind, and one that would break the clutter in the financial category. Therefore the idea had to be different and yet with an element of surprise. The agency came up with the concept of communicating the thought through well-known Panchatantra tales; with an interesting twist to make it even more memorable, and refreshing.” THE PRODUCTION The project posed certain physical and creative challenges. Project lead Sumeet Gupte said, “One of the challenges was to keep it modern, yet maintain the authenticity and nostalgia around it. Another challenge was to simultaneously conceptualize three different concepts in such tight deadlines.” There are three main characters in the ad - the Hare, Tortoise and the Monkeys. Prime Focus team started with studying and developing numerous concepts for the look & feel and the behavior of these central characters. “Around 25 blend shapes per character were created in order to aid and facilitate their actions, expressions and dialogue deliverance for the character animators,” explains Gupte. “Another challenge was the texturing of the main characters. Apart from adding the fur and the right amount of softness to it, particularly for the hare, we also had to make sure the fur on each of the central characters is uniquely distinct, which was technically quite challenging.” To make it look more visually appealing, the characters had to be blend in with beautiful background imagery. Prime Focus VFX team created every tree in the background distinctly - every tree was conceptualized, designed and modelled differently. Not only the models but even the textures are unique. THE POST Detailed shadow maps were used from mental ray, to render transparent shadow maps for all the shots. Overall seven passes were used to aid the compositing process and to maintain a surreal and soft look for the overall commercial. “We have already delivered the first two concepts for Central Bank of India and are currently working on the third. Prime Focus has always strived to push the boundaries of visual entertainment and set standards for others to follow. This commercial is testimonial to our unmatched technical and creative expertise,” concluded Tavaria. … Read More

  • A NUMBERS GAME FOR STARHUB

    THE SKINNY StarHub Cable Vision came to Intense Animation Studio seeking a unique creative and technical execution for their upcoming channel renumbering campaign. There are well over 130 channels available on their network so this was no small matter. The campaign needed a creative direction that would immediately get viewers’ attention and gradually help them replace erase what they currently remember about the present system while appreciating the convenience of the new numbering system. With the new system, they would be able to fully appreciate the depth and breadth of content available on StarHub TV as well as remain loyal to the service in the face of mounting competition from other pay TV operators. It was a tough request. THE PRODUCTION The final direction was a parody of Men in Black movies. At the end of every MIB alien adventure, a ‘Neuralyzer’ (memory-erasing pen) is produced and flashed in the face of those who don’t need to recall the details. Swap the pen for the remote control and flash this in the face of viewers. Substitute Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, create new versions of the aliens and we are in business. Intense started by converting the written scripts into screenplays and storyboards and then director’s boards. Scheduling was everything. Only one day’s studio filming was possible, and the initial slate of 14 spots with speaking parts was planned to the minute. The entire shoot was completed on a blue screen set, as all environments were CGI. Intense completed pre-visualization for all spots before camera was turned over so the direction on the day was precise and efficient. There was little choice; so much content required filming that unless the shoot was planned to the maximum degree possible, the entire project would fall apart. Du DaSheng, VP of Starhub’s Multiplatform Solutions Unit who commissioned this project agrees. “The great thing about Intense was the energy and efficiency they brought to the project. Not only did they fully understand our needs, but they value-added in terms of creative execution as well overall planning,” he said. THE POST Intense created six principal character models for the project, with a few small variations of each one for specific versions. There were vast amounts of animation. Intense Head of Production Jason Desjarlais was very particular about the character performance. In total, Intense produced 21 separate spots, all with a unique theme and different animation requirements. There are eight genre-specific spots, two generic and a further 11 short versions (or tags as they are known). “As we began combining the characters with live action, we saw many places where we needed more animation, or we just felt we could enhance the job by adding different characters and performance.” Sealy said. “So we made several animation passes before we were completely happy”. For the Intense team, the most enjoyable aspect of the campaign was being able to create a series of expressive characters and animate them without the regular constraints of commercial work. “Generally commercial animation, or the style we are ordinarily asked to create for advertising, revolves around products or environments” recalls Jason Desjarlais, “but on this job we got to create a whole bunch of cool little dudes and the more exaggerated their behavior was, the better. That’s why we do animation after all.” … Read More

  • Making media asset management work

    The availability of high-performance workflow and media asset management solution for broadcast and professional video delivers the best of workflow management and digital transport, enabling unprecedented productivity for virtually any broadcast or digital media application… Read More

  • Migrating to high definition services

    While the past decade has seen high definition (HD) services taking root across the delivery chain from production to consumer displays, this decade will see the acceleration of growth in HD in a bid to future proof content and to prepare for delivery with stereoscopic 3D. No doubt consumers have been anticipating HD for some sometime now, many have already purchased HD ready flat screens. Key technical issues concerning bandwidth, distribution picture quality, method of transmission and content availability as part of a live or catch up service are challenging both the broadcasters, service providers and their accountants. As it stands, competition is heating up between cable, satellite, telco, terrestrial and even ‘over-the-top’ Internet based video services. HD is no longer a differentiator but rather an expected base service offering. To many broadcasters decisions have been already made in the production environment and the push to deliver HD content to the viewer is the major hurdle. HD is bandwidth hungry. The combination of channel expansion and high definition far outstrip any capacity created by gains at the RF level. In MPEG-2, high-definition requires roughly seven times the bandwidth of a modern standard definition encoder. Fortunately, the introduction of AVC coding technology helps solve some of this problem by requiring only 4x the capacity of a typical SD MPEG-2 service. The single greatest advancement for improving or maintaining a high level of video quality across a number of channels in a multiplex is variable bit rate processing or statistical multiplexing. Unlike Telco IPTV and Internet Streaming architectures where services are delivered individually, traditional broadcast networks (cable, satellite and terrestrial) leverage a larger transport containing many services. In a statistical multiplex, encoders perform a ‘look ahead’ process to generate a quality value or metric based on a characterisation of the video input. The look-ahead metrics are influenced by the input video quality and any pre-processor settings. With the intent to free up bandwidth and all other channels being roughly equal in complexity, the ideal settings will minimise the effect of any one channel skewing the pool average. In some cases the filter tool is adaptive and so setting a nominal value across all encoders is an acceptable practice and reduces the possibility one or more channels gouges bandwidth from the adaptively. The use of statistical multiplexing has become a commonplace practice in the delivery of standard definition services, but in many instances high definition services are only transmitted as constant bit rate (CBR) streams. The use of CBR appears to result from the limited number of HD channels being broadcast by the operator. In cases where statistical multiplexing is used for HD services the services are typically segmented off into their own transports, separate from the MPEG-2 standard definition services. This segmentation by format and codec is useful, especially if different transponders have divergent modulation schemes, but it does limit the operator’s ability to leverage all the possible Statistical Multiplex options. The complexity of effectively sharing bandwidth between mixed formats and codecs is no small task, but the benefits can be noticeable. Digital terrestrial broadcasts in particular are well suited for mixed Statistical Multiplex pools given the fact that there is often only on transport available. Mezzanine audio formats like Dolby E attempt to balance the quality versus compression equation in the distribution channel between programmers and service providers, offering an intermediate format that enables a multitude of format options for the final distribution. With an incoming feed of Dolby E, a service provider is relatively unconstrained in what can be provided to the end user. Both 160Kbps stereo and 384kbps 7.1 multi-channels services can be derived from the Dolby E source. For the most part so-called mezzanine options are not available today for video services. Especially in secondary markets there is no notion where the distribution feed has already been through two or three satellite links and decode re-encode steps, often with bit rate reductions. Such a tier would require a 2-3x increase in satellite distribution capacity and would be cost prohibitive in many cases. As a result, programmers are constrained by the cost implications of the distribution network, which in turn drives codec and bit rate requirements. Programmers understand this reality and go to great lengths to find the ideal compromise between video quality, bandwidth and the constraints of the downstream networks. As operators look to expand or launch high definition services in an ever more competitive PayTV environment it is critical to use all the tools available to balance the need to add as many services as possible and maintain expected levels of video quality. The most significant improvements to video quality can be achieved by acquiring content in the best quality possible. While this is the most difficult area to influence and often out of the direct control of the operator, it is critical that the focus be given to codec selection and possible resolution reduction.… Read More

  • HD video for the web

    When uploading HD clips on the web, make sure they actually reflect the quality of the footage you’ve captured and edited. You will need to know which codec to use and the optimum parameters for encoding. To deliver high definition bandwidth, you have to aware of the difference between progressive download and streaming. If you post files to your web server and deliver them without a streaming server, you’re delivering via progressive download. This means the file is stored to the viewer’s hard disk first and then played by the appropriate media player once enough data has been downloaded to start showing the clip. On the other hand, streaming servers provide enough video data for playback on the viewer’s computer and the video isn’t stored. Clips that are posted for distribution and consumption place a premium on responsiveness, delivery bandwidth cost, and quality. The three main codecs are H.264, VP6 and VC-1. Independent tests show that H.264 is the most efficient and requires the least amount of CPU power. While H.264 is generally higher quality, the difference is minor, and both H.264 and VC-1 files are easily editable in Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, and most other editors. Consider distributing your videos in VP6 format. If you produce in VP6 format, it’s almost impossible to edit the video without time-consuming (and quality-degrading) conversions. The next consideration is choosing an online provider for those who elect to avoid the DIY route. The interesting first question, of course, is why should you use a third-party provider rather than simply posting files on your own site. There are multiple issues to consider. First and foremost are the social networking considerations. In the early days of the web, the overarching strategy was to drive traffic to your own website through various marketing techniques such as search engine optimization and the like. In time, most website owners learned that it’s a big, noisy world out there and getting your share of eyeballs is extremely challenging. More recently, networking sites such as Facebook have evolved from purely social to professional, and if you’re using Facebook for marketing, that’s where your HD videos should reside. Similarly, if you feel there is a benefit from marketing within a community such as Vimeo or SmugMug, where you can build your own commercial channel, you can host your videos there as well. Interestingly, virtually all video-sharing sites let you embed videos in other sites, including your own website. So if you host your videos on SmugMug, you can still embed them into your own website, doubling your exposure and essentially using SmugMug as your content delivery network. With all these sites, you also get a highly evolved, more attractive player than you could cobble together yourself. VIDDYOU Viddyou, now motionbox, is an advertising-free video-sharing service that lets you create channels that can showcase your demo reel. The site converts all uploaded videos to FLV format using the VP6 codec at the same resolution as the upload, and you can make your original file available for download. FACEBOOK Consider hosting your HD demo clips on Facebook if you are already using Facebook as a marketing tool. You can upload an unlimited number of HD videos, each up to 20 minutes long, although the maximum upload size is 1GB. The service is free, though it’s ad-supported. The maximum supported video resolution is 720p, which Facebook encodes at 2.5Mbps using the H.264 format. The embedded window is 760x340, and you can expand to full-screen viewing. YOUTUBE YouTube’s H.264 quality is very good despite data rate of approximately 2Mbps video, with audio at 109Kbps. The embedded display is a compact 640x360, however you can boost display resolution to full screen. There is a 10-minute or 1GB limitation that applies to HD videos. SMUGMUG SmugMug is a video sharing/selling site that encodes all videos into H.264 files with the .mp4 extension, viewed within the site using the Flash player. The size of the embedded videos within the page: a full 720p with no advertising. SmugMug recompresses all uploaded files to multiple resolutions depending upon your membership plan and the resolution of the video that you upload. At the Pro level, if you upload a 1080p video (1920x1080), the site will encode lower data rate copies at that resolution at a combined data rate of 7.34Mbps, as well as an HD version (1280x720 at 3.38Mbps), Mid Def (960x540 at 1.9Mbps), DVD (640x480), and web (320x240). VIMEO Vimeo converts all uploaded HD video to 720p using On2’s VP6 codec, with a combined data rate of 1.56Mbps with 128Kbps audio. Vimeo starts HD playback in a 640x360 window, which you can expand to either full screen or 720p. Vimeo has a nice ability to create custom channels, and you can even customize the controls on your video player.… Read More

  • Smoke 2010 now on Mac Snow Leopard

    Autodesk release of Smoke 2010 for Mac OS X editorial finishing solution combines editing, color correction and compositing into one application designed to run on the Mac. Smoke can perform on Final Cut Pro edit system, import FCP timelines via XML, and reference the original FCP media with transcoding. Smoke on Mac is competitively priced and uses QuickTime libraries so it can understand QuickTime acquisition/intermediate codecs natively, instead of users having to transcode to image sequences. Smoke software’s proven editorial finishing tools harness the 64-bit power of Snow Leopard to provide an interactive, all-in-one finishing experience. “Smoke 2010 on the Mac has been designed to help editors increase creative output, project quality and turnaround times.” said Stig Gruman, Autodesk vice-president of digital entertainment. “It brings production-proven finishing capabilities to the extremely talented community of artists already using the Mac in broadcast and post-production.” “Snow Leopard is the world’s most advanced operating system, ideal for high performance applications like Smoke 2010,” said Ron Okamoto, Apple’s vice-president of Worldwide Developer Relations. “We’re delighted that Autodesk is bringing its premier editorial finishing tool to creative professionals on the Mac.” “The business of post-production is evolving. Post-production and broadcast facilities alike are seeking more affordable, integrated creative tools that can help them stand out from the crowd.” Autodesk Smoke helped define editorial finishing by combining the timeline workflow of a non-linear editor with advanced visual effects tools. CCTV in China used Smoke to help create its 2008 Beijing Olympics packaging and promotions as well as for content production during the Games. Autodesk Smoke 2010 for Mac OS X feature highlights include: • An all-in-one toolset for editorial finishing: editing, conform, 2D and 3D titling, sophisticated color correction, image stabilization, precision tracking and keying, 2D and 3D compositing, paint, rotoscoping, retouch and design • Autodesk Modular Keyer, Master Keyer and Colour Warper advanced image-processing technologies • Ability to import entire timelines from Apple Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer using the AAF or XML format and even finish projects using Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD media used in creative cut • Native support for popular files-based formats: QuickTime, Panasonic P2 HD and Sony XDCam files • Support for uncompressed DPX, TIFF and OpenEXR workflows Smoke is fast and easier at many finishing tasks, especially pulling keys and motion tracking. It is also all available in a single application, so baking effects, round-tripping, and managing edits is simplified. Smoke simplifies workflow and reduces finishing time. The Final Cut workflow, basic keying and motion tracking is tight, the rendering is fast, and the output is good. Facilities providing editing and compositing, or who frequently do client sessions will see the advantage. Smoke’s built-in color corrector comes with a primary and three secondaries. The 2010 release features an extensive creative toolset, expanded format support and increased interoperability with certain third-party applications. Smoke provides an extensive and all-in-one set of conform, editorial and compositing tools. Smoke on the Mac is particularly suited to the pressures of television post-production and helps deliver production-proven performance, reliability, and flexibility at a very affordable price. 3D Effects and Finishing Smoke software features a powerful 64-bit architecture and industry leading tools for tracking, paint, titling, character generation, graphic design and visual effects creation in the Action 3D compositing environment. Conform Smoke is equipped with expanded digital media support for RED files, Panasonic P2 and Sony XDCAM file formats, and expanded Apple QuickTime codec support, as well as support for EDL, AAF, OMF, and FCP XML. Operators can work smoothly at native resolutions or use an efficient proxy workflow for film resolution projects. Autodesk Color Management The system eliminates the confusion over color values and ensures that users across the Autodesk visual effects and finishing software pipeline are working with and approving images with the same color. Projects ranging from commercials, long-form, bumpers and promos are processed from cut to conform to visual effects on a single system. Autodesk Color Management tools provide a more consistent and accurate color rendition of film-originated material. The integrated solution is built upon high-precision spectral analysis of common print film stocks to achieve high-quality print simulation and high-fidelity color space conversion in the form of a 3D lookup table (3D LUT). Color Correction For sophisticated color correction, Smoke offers faster, more accurate color isolation, correction, and matching. The intuitive color-correction interface has advanced capabilities to adjust shadow, midtone, and highlight regions of the image independently. Powerful Keying Capabilities Smoke has high-quality keying tools like the Master Keyer that features one-click keying capabilities, and the comprehensive modular keyer with a customizable processing pipeline environment. Smoke provides an extensive and flexible keying toolset that helps solve keying challenges and work at high resolutions and bit depths, from 8-bit to 10-bit to 16-bit floating points. Motion Tracking and Stabilization Fix camera shakes and track moving elements for seamless composites. Smoke provides the acclaimed Autodesk tracker for faster and more precise, integrated motion tracking with the ability to handle outgoing and obscured tracking elements. Interoperability As part of the larger Autodesk family of interactive, 3D-enabled post-production products, Smoke can exchange data with Autodesk Flame in a 100 percent compatible visual effects and finishing workflow.… Read More

  • Creating the end of the world in post

    Director Roland Emmerich’s epic 2012 has been critically acclaimed for its striking realism, intricate storyline, and cutting-edge visual effects. The film’s storyline revolves around the apocalyptic Mayan prediction that civilisation will end on 21 December 2012. As the Earth’s core rises and the planet’s crust begins to shift, massive earthquakes and tsunamis wreak havoc, cities collapse, and California falls into the sea. At the heart of the production was Avid Media Composer systems, which proved a boon for film editors Peter Elliot and David Brenner and assistant editors Rob Malina and Rich Molina. Having Avid Media Composer systems from beginning to end enabled them to meet the demands of a tight production schedule, incorporate over 1,400 visual effects sequences, and collaboratively edit in two countries. “Media Composer really played an indispensable role, even during the earliest stages of preproduction,” says Elliot, adding that it “really shines during the pre-visualization process.” Pre-visualization, according to Elliot, is a moving storyboard, where computer-animated images are used to map out the action before a single scene is shot. “Pre-vis gives me an opportunity to work with the director prior to shooting, to see what he’s anticipating. Particularly for an effects-driven movie like 2012, Media Composer allows me to map out those pre-vis shots and cut them into the film, so I can work more intuitively, without using a green screen or having to imagine what it’s going to look like.” The logistics of working in multiple locations always present unique challenges, and 2012 was no exception. “The whole movie was shot on sound stages in Vancouver,” says Elliot. “I was working in Vancouver, and David was in Los Angeles. Roland was working between both locations, so we had Sony’s technical people create the same setup in both rooms for consistency – same monitors, same speakers. We were sending files back and forth constantly, and the Avid Unity [shared storage] system made the whole process completely seamless.” Adds Brenner, “We’d set up a Skype chat and have both systems online.” “Working with Unity, we were able to share the same media and maintain a workflow between Vancouver and L.A. that was literally no different than if we’d been in the same room.” The scalability of the Avid Unity system offered distinct advantages as the project developed and more Media Composer workstations were added. “When we’d fill up a drive it was no problem to just increase the size of a volume,” explains assistant editor Rich Molina. “The whole system is infinitely adaptable.” That adaptability also enabled the crew to provide director Roland Emmerich with a working environment that enhanced the creative process. “We had the mixing stage and the screening room both connected to the Unity system,” says assistant editor Rob Malina. “Piping the edits into the screening room was a huge timesaver, and the director loved it. He’s very comfortable working in the screening room, and we could work on edits right from there.” For an assistant editor, organisation is essential. “A first assistant editor’s responsibilities include disseminating information and content to pretty much everyone on the project,” Molina says. “We’re like librarians, keeping things organized so everyone else can find what they need quickly. Media Composer plays a big role in my job, in organizing a massive catalogue of visual effects.” Malina agrees. “Organisation is everything when you’re working on a feature film. It’s critical to be able to pull up anything at any time, and know where everything is. Media Composer and Unity have enabled me to stay organized. All my shots, all my info is there at my fingertips.” While high definition releases have become mainstream, integrating HD into the entire production process has, until recently, been a processor intensive proposition. Using Media Composer Nitris DX empowered Brenner and Elliot to work in full HD from start to finish, significantly enhancing the editing process. “Editing in HD with Nitris has really changed the way we work,” Brenner says. “Especially for a director like Roland, who’s all about visuals, being able to view the material so clearly enabled us to make critical decisions on focus and color content, and to screen our edits on a big screen. No one has any questions on how things will turn out.” The other challenge of working with HD is that of storage space, with each second of uncompressed data demanding 1.5 GB of disk space. Using Avid’s DNx36 codec provided the crew with a compression technology that uses 80% less disk space while delivering images far superior to standard def. “Using DNx36 makes life so much easier,” says Molina. “With this much footage, the amount of hard disk space would have been overwhelming, and any kind of edits or camping would have been far more difficult.” The expanded audio capabilities in Media Composer enabled the crew to incorporate much of the film’s sound design into the editing process too. “It’s a very sound-oriented picture,” says Elliot, “and Media Composer enabled us to really work with manipulating the audio. We were working with a three-channel, left-right-centre setup, and having 16 tracks allowed us to create six mono tracks and five stereo pairs.” “The ability to seamlessly import and export OMF files to and from Pro Tools is a tremendous asset,” adds Malina. “It really enhances the communication between the audio and video aspects of the Avid Media Composer production.”… Read More

  • Forward thinking into a new era

    Bara E. Minata President, 3-DI/PT. Tri Digital Intermedia What is the outlook for the 2010? What are some of the developments in the industry that will make significant impact over the next few years? In answer to your questions, I believe the outlook for 2010 is good. In developing countries like Indonesia, people are still heavily influenced by TV commercials for buying decision and there are always new products which need new TV commercials. Local Indonesian movies are also on the rise again. What are some of the challenges that you face in your sectors of this industry? We’re seeing more and more works done in digital format so companies that are ready for digital like 3DI should benefit. There are more competitions in 2010 but there’s still more than enough market for everyone. What are the advantages and disadvantages of operating in the Asia-Pacific industry? The thing that worries me is the political situation in my country. However, I sincerely believe that if the ruling government can sail this political storm then business should be good. Tng Siew Moi Managing Director, Cine Group of Companies, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Manila and Melbourne I expect 2010 will be a cautious and exciting year. Due to lesser spending in 2009, companies that have make significant recovery in the last quarter will be able to invest in 2010. However it is likely that we will continue to see them being cautious and will invest only in their necessity. HD and 3D will still be the main focal point. I believe the market watcher will continue to look out for a more user friendly, upgradeable with cost effective roadmap offer by individual manufacturer that will stay for the next few years. More and more manufacturers are cutting down their representing agents and going direct. Thus the road ahead looks uncertain for representing agents. Product competitiveness has also gone up to an all time high level in such volatile economy where price sensitivity is the key considering factor for all. Asia-Pacific has continued to grow over the years with huge potential compared to other parts of the world. This is a plus point for any company wanting to do any investment. On the other hand, we have to look at the investment cost and do the figures right to avoid any backfire. Rachel Knowles Head of Post Production, Digital Pictures (Melbourne, Australia) • What is the outlook for the 2010? What are some of the developments in the industry that will make significant impact over the next few years? Digital Pictures has a very steady slate of Feature Films and TV series next year which is fantastic considering the obvious challenge of FINANCE. It’s something the world is facing, including Hollywood , but it’s not necessarily only due to the Global Financial Crisis. The culture of entertainment is changing and accelerating. We constantly need to ask ourselves how, where, are why people are viewing something. With feature films there’s a definite push for things to feel “cinematic” to justify a cinema experience in a theatre or multiplex. Developments in Digital Camera Acquisition, Digital Intermediate technology, Digital Cinema and 3D Stereoscopic film making are going to be the key growth areas in 2010 and the years to come. Digital Pictures is placing itself strongly in each of these areas. Most of not all Australian films are now done via the Digital Intermediate pathway rather than chemically colour timed and doing opticals at a film laboratory. At Digital Pictures we’re finding that our strength in feature Digital Intermediates has grown immensely over the last 2 years, especially in the light of two highly nominated features in this years AFI awards – Balibo and Mary & Max. Mary & Max also won best animated feature at the Asia Pacific Awards in 2009. We’ve also been fortunate to secure James Cameron’s “Sanctum” (3D), filming now at the studios on the Gold Coast. Digital Pictures will complete the 3D stereoscopic live action post production for delivery to Universal by the end of 2010. In terms of Digital Cinema, we have a fully fledged Digital Cinema department that offers DCP encoding, KDM key management, DCI compliant Quality Assurance Screenings and Digital Print Distribution. • What are some of the challenges that you face in your sectors of this industry? See above but also The strength of the Australian dollar compared to the US and unsteadiness in our domestic funding compounds the challenges for us in Australia, but Producers, film makers and facilities are fighting through it. One of the answers has been to streamline traditional ways of film making and “go digital”. There have also been different approaches to financing projects and we’ve seen an increase in discounts, deals, and deferral / investment type agreements just to keep things moving along. • What are the advantages and disadvantages of operating in the Asia-Pacific industry? The advantages of working in the Asia-Pacific industry are that we can adapt to our own markets. Strengths and potential still exist, even though there appears to be so much diversification. We just have to research, be open to new trends, and not be afraid to change. To be ahead of the pack in every one of these different media streams and to create the new rather than just follow it, now that’s the true challenge. We have an exciting interactive company called Boffswana who are doing amazing things in the online market. They recently won B&T Magazine’s 2009 “Digital Services company of the Year” www.boffswana.com. John Rechsteiner Vice President of Sales, Asia Pacific, Avid Technology What is the outlook for the 2010? What are some of the developments in the industry that will make significant impact over the next few years? 2010 year will be better than 2009 in many ways for Avid, although we have no illusions that business will bounce back after the worldwide recession of 2009. We see some inklings of spending again by broadcasters and large post facilities; the need to upgrade aging equipment and introduce new technologies such as HD and 3D workflows won’t abate. Perhaps the biggest development for the industry as a whole will be the continued shift to IPTV and cable broadcasting. What are some of the challenges that you face in your sectors of the industry? Persistent piracy of our intellectual property is the biggest challenge to doing business in parts of Asia, although this problem is by no means unique to Asia. In many markets we also face well-entrenched, local competitors. While this is a challenge it also forces us to be at the top of our game and that is a good thing for us and our customers. What are the advantages and disadvantages of operating in the Asia-Pacific industry? Phenomenal opportunities abound throughout Asia in both the consumer and professional sectors. The large number of countries means though that the opportunities are scattered and not always so easy to address. Customization, localization and differing regulations make it more difficult to operate in Asia Pacific than in a single large market such as the EU or the United States. Chris Thorp Managing Director, PixelBox Our outlook for 2010 is very positive. With the onset of HD in China and across the region the commercial market seems to be maturing. We have also seen a significant increase in the online advertising sector. Budgets are a consistent challenge, but we feel if you add as much value in terms of creative input and post direction as possible, and be open minded to your clients’ needs, this challenge can be overcome. Also, the switch to HD requires more attentive management of the job, that naturally should offset some of these budget pressures. I think the Asia -Pacific region is a great market. The growth in the China market is attracting a lot of new participants that don’t necessarily have the experience to manage and deliver the level of work required for a market that is entering a more mature phase in its cycle. So on the plus side, China offers a lot of creative flexibility and growth opportunities; however, it is high maintenance and requires a greater degree of hands-on management compared with more developed markets. Overall though, its a very exciting place to be developing our business. Les Luxford Executive Producer, UFOFILM Sydney 2010 will continue to see digital cameras such as the Red take over from traditional 35mm aquisition for TV commercials and feature films. Post houses are now pretty comfortable with the Red and the results are, in certain conditions, so close to 35mm it’s hard to see the difference. 35mm will continue to be used for the highest budget projects and difficult lighting conditions, such as cars on location. The challenge as always will be budgets. As the economy recovers clients will expect more for their money, and in many cases the budget allocated is problematic as there is simply not enough to meet the expectations. Big post houses will be challenged by the emergence of boutique post companies. Thanks to the growing acceptance of high end digital cameras like the Red and Arri’s D21, a post house no longer needs an expensive telecine chain to take on “high end” work. Companies operating in this region understand well the local conditions, and tend to trust each other. This makes it harder for distant offshore companies from North American and Europe to have any real impact. There can be major issues when directors are imported from distant shores and they don’t appreciate the cultural differences and sensitivities of the region. 2010 should be a good year for operators in this region, with a chance to grow and improve.… Read More

  • Creating a delicious destruction pipeline

    When it comes to creating disaster movies for the big screen, Sony Pictures Imageworks has a wealth of experience to draw from. In Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, this experience is put to the test as rockets, thunderstorms and earthquakes are replaced with flying hamburgers, monster-sized pancakes and spaghetti twisters. To bring this visual effects smorgasbord to life, Imageworks built a comprehensive destruction pipeline using virtually all of Houdini’s VFX tools. Paths of Destruction To manage the mayhem, the destruction pipeline needed to include effects such as the shattering and destroying of buildings, ground impact, breaking glass, food avalanches and more. These systems were built in Houdini using a combination of Houdini digital assets and custom plug-in operators. “Houdini is an amazing tool for prototyping an effect quickly,” says Dan Kramer, DFX supervisor, Sony Pictures Imageworks. “Generally you can achieve whatever you want with the tools provided and wire together a proof of concept. For one-off effects, this is generally as far as you need to go, but with more reusable VFX Houdini lets you refine the solution into a Digital Asset and, in some cases, turn these into plug-ins to speed the process up.” The destruction pipeline started off with tools built in Houdini for shattering closed volumes into many pieces. Shattered volumes could either be diced up using a 3D voronoi diagram or defined by painting crack patterns on objects then projecting those though the model to split it up. Once split, each object was assigned a simplified convex hull representation to act as that piece’s collision body which was then run though an ODE simulation. “We’ve integrated ODE into Houdini and added quite a few features, all of which are controlled and setup though Houdini,” says Kramer. “For example, convex body collisions, breakable joints and semi-rigid joints to build ‘soft’ body dynamics were all defined using a series of Houdini digital assets to set attributes to pass along to our RBD system. Along with the RBD part of destruction is all the secondary debris, from heavy particulates to airborne dust and leaves which used Houdini particle operators working alongside our custom systems. We utilised every part of Houdini to achieve these shots.” Low Level Access In some cases, the team would write custom nodes into Houdini as is the case with the ODE rigid body solver. Houdini makes it easy to build up an interface for the customized system and allows that system to leverage Houdini’s built-in tools by passing data from custom nodes to any part of the native Houdini package Imageworks even built their own crowd system into Houdini for background characters. This system is made up of channel operators in Houdini managing lots of animation clips and a custom particle operator to steer characters though a scene given specific goals and animation cycles to choose from. “For some packages, in order to get access to the low level data you are forced to write plug-ins to get to your goal. This can be time consuming and takes too long for a proof of concept,” says Kramer. “Using plug-ins also limits the number of artists who can design an effect because the number of artists who know how to code is limited. As with all Houdini workflows, we keep our systems as procedural as possible which allows us to make changes anywhere in the pipeline without losing work. Rarely do we find ourselves getting into a situation where we have to start a shot over in Houdini,” he added. Imageworks made extensive use of Digital Assets to package up their VFX systems. Early on in the show the leads would build the systems into assets, which were then used by the bulk of the VFX team. In this way, a simplified UI is presented to the artists while only exposing the parts they need to tweak. It allows for easy maintenance and versioning when pushing work out to lots of artists. Additionally, Imageworks often turns assets created for one production into generic assets that can be readily used in future productions. Transferring Knowledge The team was quite large with over 30 VFX artists at one point that ranged from novice to expert users. The more experienced users build up the pipelines and package them into Digital Assets while the less experienced artists focus on using the interface provided to them by the leads. In this way, the artists are productive right away while being exposed to Houdini a little bit at a time. At Imageworks, the team uses a proprietary scene and geometry format that all their packages can read and write. They’ve written loaders and savers for all major packages including Houdini as well as proprietary software such as their lighting tool ‘Katana’ and their sprite renderer ‘Splat’. Houdini is used to generate the geometry and export that data to in-house rendering systems where all the assets are rendered though Arnold or Renderman depending on the project. In this way everything lives in the same world and integration is fairly easy. The box office success of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is a testament all the ingenuity and production know-how at Sony Imageworks. With Houdini’s node-based workflow, Imageworks has created a comprehensive set of destruction tools that has helped streamline this process and puts them in a good position for their next VFX blockbuster.… Read More

  • Opening Pandora’s Box breakthrough technology in the making of Avatar

    James Cameron’s Avatar achieves several milestones in filmmaking technology. Cameron wrote his first treatment for the movie in 1995 with the intention of pushing the boundaries of what was possible with cinematic digital effects. In his view, making Avatar would require blending live-action sequences and digitally captured performances in a three-dimensional, computer-generated world. Part action–adventure, part interstellar love story, the project took 10 more years before Cameron felt film technology had advanced to the point where Avatar was even possible. Cameron needed to invent a suite of moviemaking technologies, push theatres nationwide to retool, and imagine every detail of an alien world. With an estimated production budget of US$237 million, the technological mix of real actors and computer-generated imagery (CGI) that is digitally manipulated by originals artists who portray their characters in a studio environment. In addition 3D computer graphics software are used to simulate the imaginary landscapes of the land of Pandora. The characters created with CGI are seamlessly integrated, along with real actors in studio settings into live action scenes. If 3D is the future of movies, the question is how to generate animation inputs that have to be very realistic. The answer lies in performance capture technology. CGI characters have to act and behave like real actors and this has been made possible by performance capture technology. Through this technique, inputs taken from real human actions of Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldanha in the studio settings are fed as input for computer animations of Jake Sully and Neytiri respectively. Motion capture is a technique by which live actions of real actors are recorded to be the inputs that control and manipulate a digital 3D character model. When it goes beyond simple hand, legs, head and body movements to capture subtle facial expressions and finger gestures, then it is referred to as total performance capture. For example, Worthington’s fearful expression when he encounters Pandora’s wild life being shown on his avatar and Saldanha’s gentle touch of her pet ikran the Banshee, captured as Gigabytes of data per second of action through their skull caps and leotards covered in sensors. Worthington and Saldanha work in an empty studio amidst grids so that their performance could be recorded by sensor-based digital capture systems. Later they are replayed on to the models of Jake and Neytiri. Pandora is a distant moon civilized by the Na’vi amid its exotic luminescent living forms. With three feet beings and hanging mountains, it is impossible to dissect what could be real from sets and what is animated in the entire movie. The studio shoots are done in a 16,000 sq.ft film set with a green paint on its inside walls. While most actions takes place in this set-up Pandora, the action scenes are shot amidst a computer-generated lush jungle environment in New Zealand with real actors, robotic animals and plant species. James Cameron’s stereoscopic cameras that each use a pair of lenses built to mimic human eyes capture images with a sense of depth. The mix happens later in digital studios where shoots are merged and appropriate sound effects are added. While previously cameras did exist to make 3D films, the making of the Avatar has resulted in the invention of an agile 3D camera system for 3D cinematography. Cameron used his own Reality Camera System that employs two high-definition cameras in a single camera body to create depth perception in 3D. This camera rig is significantly lighter and the two camera lenses can dynamically converge on a focal point with the help of a computer, which is crucial for sweeping camera moves and action sequences. The 3D version requires special 3D projection facilities and the audience are also required to wear polarized glasses for viewing in 3D.… Read More

  • Sony HD cameras bring Avatar to life in 3D

    Avatar used Sony high-definition digital cinematography cameras to create a visually immersive 3D experience. The movie combines live action sequences with state-of-the-art special effects and, according to the production teams, the Sony cameras were the right choice to deliver the story’s vision. Vince Pace, veteran cinematographer and 3D technology expert, co-developed the 3D camera rigs, which used Sony cameras specially modified for the movie’s requirements for stereoscopic image capture and production. “Avatar used eight Sony HDC-F950 cameras for primary acquisition. Additionally, Sony HDC-1500 cameras captured speed shots during live action, with the then recently available F23 camera also used for specific shots. “It was important that the actual shooting of the movie wasn’t impacted by the fact we were doing it in 3D, and these cameras allowed us to do that,” said Pace. “They allowed us to create a unique and completely immersive 3-D experience. I don’t think it could have been done any other way.” Pace noted that his goal was to create a shooting system that could do both 2D and 3D without impacting the creative direction of the film or disrupting the actors’ performances. The Sony cameras delivered the ideal combination of 2/3-inch image quality and on-the-set flexibility that enabled them to go from handheld to a techno crane to Steadicam at a moment’s notice. “This movie is the result of nearly four years of production, with Vince and his team modifying the Sony camera systems, and continually refining the technology,” said Rob Willox, director of Sony Electronics’ content creation group. “What movie-goers will see on the screen represents the pinnacle of 3-D technology, and the unique 3-D views are the direct result of the Sony camera systems.” The Sony cameras were put to the test in a range of shooting conditions: jungle and action sequences, as well as soundstage work for the interaction with the CG characters. “We knew we could achieve the creative look we wanted with these cameras based on our testing and previous experiences,” Pace said. “Sony’s CineAlta brand and the performance of these camera systems are very well-known and very powerful. The one thing we didn’t want to do was compromise the 2D in the quest for 3D. With these cameras, we were able to tell the story we wanted, in the best way possible.”… Read More

  • Quantel Pablo deployed for Avatar

    The landmark film Avatar is a massively ambitious project that combines live action Stereo3D with cutting edge 3D animation. Around 75 percent of the shots in the movie are VFX shots, which were completed at facilities all round the world and then brought together at US West Coast facility Modern VideoFilm for conforming and Stereo3D checking, adjustment and quality control. The work was completed on Pablo, which included three Quantel Pablo Stereo3D systems. Crucially, the Pablos also handled all the Stereo3D English subtitling required for the Na’vi language used by some characters in the film. Every frame of the film as well as all the trailers and promotions passed through Modern’s pipeline. The project went though a rigorous pipeline which required finishing in both 2D and 3D and at three different aspect ratios. To deal with the massive workload, Modern set up a powerful and efficient post-production pipeline using a wide range of equipment. All the shots were re-named to a common naming strategy as soon as they arrived at Modern and are distributed onto the company’s SAN. From here they were pulled into the Quantel Pablo systems where they were first checked using Pablo’s realtime Stereo3D toolset for stereo and technical quality, then conformed against multiple lists from editorial, requiring speed and accuracy. The pipeline continued with grading and finally, shots requiring subtitling for the alien Na’vi language, were passed back to the Pablos. “We ran our three Pablos pretty much 24/7 for six months,” says Modern VideoFilm supervising editor, Roger Berger, who has worked on a number of Stereo3D projects including James Cameron’s ‘Ghosts of the Abyss’. “One of the Pablos has an incredible 12,000 clips online, and all three machines were running pretty much full throughout. With a project of this complexity, it’s a real benefit to be able to bounce anywhere in the entire movie at any time,” Berger adds. “Quantel gave us terrific support. They were there for us and spring into action when we need them.” Subtitling the Stereo3D versions is a complex process as the subtitles must sit at the right place in 3D space to avoid conflict with the 3D content. The Pablo’s real time Stereo3D toolset enables the subtitles to be viewed instantly and repositioned in 3D space in real time. Berger enjoyed the luxury of being able to see the Stereo3D effects as he created them. “I can’t imagine doing this project without the Pablo’s real time Stereo3D and the total flexibility it gave me,” Berger concludes.… Read More

  • Avatar graphic dimensions come alive

    James Cameron’s stereoscopic 3D feature film Avatar had numerous stereographic and Holotable displays, animated graphics, immersive environments and other visual effects created by Prime Focus. A team of approximately 90 was spread across Prime Focus’ Los Angeles, Vancouver and Winnipeg facilities, with president and senior visual effects supervisor Chris Bond and visual effects producer Chris Del Conte driving the project out of the LA office. Graphics supervisor Neil Huxley art directed and oversaw the design of the motion graphics elements. The bulk of Prime Focus’ work was done for the film’s Bio lab and Ops Center, the bustling hub for military operations and one of the key environments in the film. “Our experience working with stereoscopic 3D material, both on the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D and through our proprietary View-D technology, more than prepared us for Avatar,” said Bond. “Having the resources of our talented teams across Winnipeg and Vancouver at our disposal and set up for remote collaboration with our Los Angeles crew also meant we could ramp up at a moment’s notice when we were awarded additional shots.” Prime Focus designed displays for the Op Center’s Holotable over which the film’s main characters discuss their missions and plans to mine a valuable mineral found on the planet Pandora. In one key scene, the film’s protagonist Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Col. Quaritch (Stephen Lang) bring up a three-dimensional hologram of the ‘Home Tree’, where the Navi, Pandora’s indigenous population, live. Using the original live-action plate of a table with a greenscreen across the top, Prime Focus modeled the hardware that went inside the table, the projector beams, and added graphics projected above the table of the terrain, including the Home Tree. These graphics were designed in 2D in Adobe Illustrator, animated in Adobe After Effects, placed on cards in 3D and rendered in Autodesk 3ds Max. Prime Focus Software’s Krakatoa particle system was used for the 3D terrain, which gave the images a scan-lined LIDAR-like quality, as if a satellite roving the planet’s atmosphere captured the footage. To make the Ops Center feel alive and bustling with activity, Prime Focus also designed interactive stereographic displays for dozens of screens, so every monitor screen had a sense of movement and depth. Each screen was composed of four-to-eight layers, rendered in different passes and composited together. “Chris Bond and our pipeline team developed a custom graphics script we dubbed SAGI, for Screen Art Graphic Interface,” shared Huxley. “This script takes Adobe After Effects renders and binds them to a 3ds Max assembly file, which would negate human error. Considering that some of our shots had 30 screens in them, trying to work out which graphic goes into which screen would be very time-consuming. SAGI helped us streamline this process so if James didn’t like a particular graphic, we could easily swap it out. This enabled us to turn around client revisions very quickly. James would give us the change, the graphics team would address the note, render it through SAGI overnight, re-comp the graphic in the am and then watch it down in our Real-D theater in stereo 3D, do a quality check in stereo, and have it ready for James to check 24 hours after giving us the initial note.” The Prime Focus VFX team also created displays called Immersives that provided a 180-degree stereo perspective, allowing military personnel to control air traffic flow in 3D. Additionally, Prime Focus contributed CG helicopters, buildings and atmospheric elements seen from the Ops Center and Commissary windows in several sequences. Said Del Conte, “Much has been said about James Cameron’s incredible vision as a director, his hands-on style and the very high bar he set for all his visual effects vendors, so playing a part in bringing Avatar to life has been a fantastic experience for our team.” Prime Focus is a global visual entertainment services group that provides creative and technical services to the film, broadcast, commercials, gaming, internet and media industries. The group offers a genuine end-to-end solution from pre-production to final delivery – including previsualisation, equipment hire, visual effects, video and audio post-production, digital intermediate, digital asset management and distribution. Prime Focus employs more than 1200 people with state-of-the-art facilities throughout the key markets of North America, the UK and India. Using its worldsourcing business model, Prime Focus provides a network that combines global cost advantages, resources and talent pool with strong relationships and a deep understanding of the local markets.… Read More

  • Shooting HD video with DSLR cameras

    When Nikon introduced its D90 model as the first Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera to shoot high definition (HD) video, it started a trend which allowed creative camera people to produce high quality footage with a stills camera at a fraction of the budget. Unlike video camcorders, professional stills cameras are full-frame (35mm) or cropped sensor – bigger than the largest 2/3inch professional broadcast camera sensor. Added to that is the ability to put very fast (i.e. low F-Stop number) 35mm stills lenses in front of the camera. This results in an unbelievable shallow depth of field (DoF), a very common practice in the world of professional cinema. A shallow DoF allows one to focus on the subject, leaving the rest out of focus. This isolates the subject from the background and allows the filmmaker to control where the audience puts their attention. One way is to go DSLR and simulate a film camera using a Letus Relay lens and Letus 35mm adapter. The decision to go with DLSR or semi-professional video equipment depends on the project. Compare time and budget. DSLRs are better suited for those who have the time to set things up properly. Without any stabilisation equipment and manual sound recording, DSLR has its limitations. If time is not critical, going with a souped-up DSLR is an attractive alternative. Shooting from the hip is now possible when previously shooting required professional cinema equipment with a minimal crew of four (director, camera operator, camera assistant, sound engineer). DSLRs may be cheap, but talent is priceless. It takes knowledge, talent, a lot of practice and learning from others. With more people having the ability to start shooting beautiful images we can expect an exponential growth in high quality content made for the web (even at 1080p) that looks like it was created using professional cinema equipment. Some of the factors to consider are: 30p versus 24/25p In order to achieve the cinematic or film look, video should be recorded the way film is traditionally made. Meaning 24p or 24 full frames per second. The frame rate in NTSC is 29,97 and 25 in PAL. Stills cameras put 30p as the standard for video. When conforming 30p to 24p, shooting is in slight slow motion giving a noticeable visual effect and audio sync problems. The Canon 7D now supports various frame rates (24/25/50 in PAL and 24/30/60 in NTSC) firmware upgrade for the 5D mark II is due. Compression vs color DSLR cameras recording full frame HD video require a lot of compression for recording to a compact flash card. This means that component video (4:2:2 or 4:4:4) is not available and that color grading is done on a composite signal. Heavy color grading, matte painting, chroma keying or rotoscoping can be done in post. For basic post-production color grading works on the RedGiantSoftware or the use of Magic Bullet Looks allows for fast and efficient grading. Stability A stills camera is built to maintain steady for about 1/60th of a second, not to record 24 frames or more per second (i.e. shooting movies). Innovation that helps DSLR-shooters to stabilize their shot include SteadyBag from CineKinetic which allows you to create stable shots even while in moving objects such as cars and Glidecam for those who like to walk. For more professional dolly shots there is GlideTrack. Sound The built-in mic in DSLR cameras does not feature professional XLR input. Also, it is difficult to monitor the audio by headphones as the LCD is turned off when you attach a head-set to the AV Out on the Canon 5D (the 7D has a different plug). The Zoom portable H4N recorder provides the DSLR-shooter a simple device that excels in sound recording, allowing for up to four independent channels at the same time (1x crossed stereo at the front and 2 XLR inputs for external mics). Synchronization is done in post with a reference signal, It is therefore key to keep recording sound on the DSLR for reference audio purposes. If you are editing on Final Cut or Sony Vegas, there is PluralEyes. For manual control of audio on the camera, the Magic Lantern firmware hack may be an option. Light DSLR cameras outdo video camera when it comes to low-level light situations although having the right amount of light is crucial to the end result. Various suppliers offer useful equipment such as the Dedo Ledzilla and Litepanel Micro. Filters Opening up the iris on the still camera for shallow depth of field may easily result in over exposure. Photographers may be tempted to start changing the ISO setting or shutter speed. Shutter should be kept at twice the frame rate you are shooting to adhere to the 180-degree shutter rule in cinema. Neutral Density filters from Singh-Ray can reduce incoming light from two to a full eight stops. Viewfinder The viewfinder on the DSLR is blocked when entering live mode so it is difficult to see detail from incoming light falling on the LCD screen. The Zacuto Z-Finder and the 720p native resolution LCD-screen from SmallHD can prove useful alternatives. Jello effect This effect occurs when the camera is panned or when fast moving objects enter the frame. The solution is record slowly and speed up in post. An After Effects/Nuke plugin called RollingShutter can fix this. Editing AVCHD The DSLR cameras record in AVCHD format using the H.264 codec. An intermediate format can be created using Neoscene by Cineform which creates wavelets to decipher images. Recording limit The recording limit on most DSLRs is about twelve to fifteen minutes for a single take. Unless recording a live event, most shots are usually shorter than that. For continuity’s sake it is important to record the audio properly.… Read More

  • SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 digital media experience

    Yokohama, Japan – SIGGRAPH Asia 2009, the region’s largest display of the latest in computer graphics, interactive techniques, and digital media and content, attracted 6,500 visitors from more than 50 countries. More than 500 artists, academics, and industry experts presented a vibrant array of thought-provoking works, breakthrough ideas and radical innovations at SIGGRAPH Asia 2009. Leading experts in the field of animation, computer graphics, digital media production, robotics and interactive techniques were also on hand at SIGGRAPH Asia. Through more than 200 talks, workshops and panels including three Featured Speaker sessions, SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 successfully connected enthusiasts and future talents in the digital media industry with established professionals and academics in the computer graphics and interactive techniques field. A total of 400 experts from universities such as Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Stanford University, Tsinghua University and The University of Tokyo as well as corporations including Pixar Animation Studios, Imagica and Sony Pictures Imageworks offered their insights, experiences and speculative ideas at SIGGRAPH Asia 2009. “We are thrilled with the success of SIGGRAPH Asia 2009. SIGGRAPH Asia has become a highly anticipated digital media and content show for enthusiasts and digital media professionals throughout Asia. The increased enthusiasm we see this year is also an endorsement of the quality of works presented at SIGGRAPH Asia,” said Masa Inakage, Conference Chair, SIGGRAPH Asia 2009. A highpoint of the show was the presentation of awards to the winners of the Computer Animation Festival Best of Show Award and Best Technical Award. The winning pieces were chosen by a panel of industry experts based on their commendable use of computer-generated imagery, animation and storytelling. A total of 79 animation pieces, from 16 countries were screened at the Festival. Best of Show Award: Anchored by Lindsey Olivares, Ringling College of Art and Design This production truly deserves the Best of Show title for its innovative and creative expressions of emotions. The skilful integration of sound, character design, art direction and typography creates a beautiful, heartfelt piece that captured the judges’ attention and won their commendation. Best Technical Award: Assassin’s Creed 2, by Istvan Zorkoczy, Digic Pictures This work was selected for its distinct mastery of the finer points in 3D computer graphics production. Incredibly detailed and realistic main characters, clear cinematography, amazing surfacing, and world-class rendering made this a standout piece. Leveraging on its presence in Japan, the second largest computer gaming market in the world, SIGGRAPH Asia included many well-known names in the gaming industry such as Sega Corporation, Square Enix Co., and Namco Bandai Games Inc. On the exhibition floor, the Advanced Robotics Lab pavilion showcased a dazzling display of robotics. A special programme to market the Japan debut of SIGGRAPH Asia, the Advanced Robotics Lab invited visitors to glean from the cutting-edge technologies that Japan has to offer in the field of robotics, such as human-like robots with the appearance and performance similar to humans, home-assistant or domestic help robots, and guide robots for the visually impaired. In addition, household Japanese brands Sony, NEC and JVC also showcased 3D displays and high-end screens for both industry as well as future use by consumers. Japanese works were also well-represented in the Emerging Technologies programme, representing nearly half of the 27 installations. Among the notable displays from Japan are Kaidan: Japanese horror experience in Interactive Mixed Reality from Ritsumeikan University; Another Shadow, a collaboration between Takeo Igarashi of The University of Tokyo and Hisato Ogata of Leading Edge Design; and SCHEMA, a multi-party interaction-oriented humanoid robot by Waseda University. “There is great variety and creativity demonstrated in this year’s Emerging Technologies programme – from display technologies and virtual reality, to gestural interface innovations and robotics. Pointing towards future applications that will be cheaper and simpler to use, you can see the momentum is building for the digital do it-yourself revolution. For instance, there are displays showcasing instant broadcasting through live video mixing, toolkits that make it easy to assemble your own electronic devices, and new forms of music jamming,” said Lars Erik Holmquist, chair, Emerging Technologies programme, SIGGRAPH Asia 2009. The Art Gallery programme drew both interest and curiosity with innovative installations such as Artificial Nature, a bio-inspired, immersive art installation; Swiss-Japanese collaboration Happy Wear that brought a tee-shirt or a bag to ‘life’ through animation; A Head of View, a new approach to player navigation and manipulation of game space through video tracking of body movements; and the sensual Light and Shadows display by WOW from Japan. Said ACM SIGGRAPH president Scott Owen, “Asia is fast becoming a focal point for the digital media industry. SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 expands opportunities for the computer graphics and interactive techniques community from within and out of Asia to network and experience the vibrancy of the industry in this region. Through these interactions, we hope to spark new ideas and breakthroughs that will further seal Asia’s spot as a hub for the world’s most creative talents.” The next edition of SIGGRAPH Asia will take place in Seoul, Korea, on 15-18 December 2010. SIGGRAPH Asia 2010 will be chaired by Ko Hyeong-Seok, professor at the School of Electrical Engineering in Seoul National University, Korea.… Read More

  • 3D – the continuing evolution of HDTV

    There is no doubt that stereoscopic 3D is the next step that many in the movie industry and manufacturers of consumer electronics alike see as the evolution to delivering quality content to the home theatre market. Just how close are we to this reality? What exactly is available to fulfill this in both hardware and content? To fully explore this, let us take a closer look at some of the technologies that are already available today; the products that we have in the market; the products that are set to be introduced as well as the state of play regarding the development of necessary standards to govern this evolvement so that as it grows, there will not be conflicting technologies or situations where the industry is locked into proprietary hardware. Over the years, many consumers have already been exposed to the industry’s various attempts to bring 3D into the cinema. These early attempts made between 1950s and 1970s suffered due to the inadequacies in the technologies used at that time to provide the 3D experience. Most of the basic failings centered on the problems that were encountered with maintaining registration and phasing of the images while using two film projectors at the same time. Additionally, the need to employ anaglyph technology (usually red and green) meant that the colour space of the projected movie was either restricted to black and white or the resultant colours were nothing like real life. With the advent of the digital cinema, 3D had new life breathed into it. Gone were the issues of maintaining registration and phase for projection and, with the use of polarized glasses against the older anaglyph, issues of deficient colour space were much reduced. In the beginning, there was concern expressed by various industry experts that using glasses would be an inhibiting factor to the enjoyment of 3D. However, this does not appear to be the case. One of the main reasons this concern arose was as a result of earlier 3D experiences where a number of people have experienced nausea or general discomfort after viewing 3D movies but such conditions can be easily traced back to the earlier technologies used. Another possible contributor to this problem is the drastic changes in the depth map of a 3D movie which cause the brain to experience situations that are not possible in real life, thereby resulting in confusion which translates into headaches, nausea, etc. Such a problem can be eliminated by good production and post-production along with the sensible use of 3D. Today, the production of 3D content is increasing with Hollywood having proposed approximately 40 3D movies over the next two years. In addition to this development, various sports (NFL, NBA, etc), together with some recording artistes have developed and are continuing to develop 3D material for viewers. For those who are able to view these materials, the experience is an extremely immersive one. Whether you are at a concert or on the playing field, you will definitely be captivated by the emotions of the event. The whole experience becomes addictive and you will want more as good 3D content is not only exciting but is also extremely entertaining. With this, a whole load of other questions immediately spring to mind… When can we experience this at home? Where and when can I buy it? How much will it cost? Do I need glasses? Most of the ‘when-is-it-available’ is linked to getting international agreement on standards for encoding and decoding the left eye/right eye material. Once this is finalised and the HDMI standard for interfacing is signed off and the Blu-ray Disc Association completes the 3D specification, manufacturers can begin to build and supply products to the market. As it is, there are already a couple of major Japanese manufacturers that have announced plans to supply products to the market in 2010. Once the standards are in place, many more will surely follow. With regards to the cost of viewing 3D content in the comfort of homes, this remains unknown. Although by reviewing historical data, it is likely that in the beginning, the price point will be a premium one but as this form of entertainment gains momentum and popularity in the world, the cost will definitely be more affordable, such as in the case of the flat panel HDTVs. For now, wearing glasses to watch 3D content is definitely a MUST as the technologies for viewing 3D without glasses is still in its infancy and very much more work needs to be done to ensure that the final picture quality will be as good as what it is today when viewed with glasses. Depending on the technologies used by manufacturers, we will need either the same type of passive polarized glasses used in cinemas (with reduced resolution) or active shutter glasses that give greater resolution but have a slightly higher cost. Without the introduction of HDTV, 3D would not have had a chance to evolve but now as we look to the future of entertainment in the home, HDTV and HD movies via Blu-ray players will give way to a full 3D experience using the same technologies but with the added dimension and experience of stereoscopic 3D.… Read More

  • Cutting Edge go the organic way

    Last year Cutting Edge Post, based in Singapore, decided to add a DI suite to its existing five Avid suites (DS, Symphony and Media Composer). Much of the facility’s work is sold overseas and with budgets being reduced by broadcasters worldwide, the facility required a high-quality mastering and grading system, which could fit seamlessly into the existing Avid workflow and provide quick and substantial ROI. Cutting Edge Post is a long form post-production specialist and has a reputation for exceedingly high standards with an enviable client list. The facility has edited several award-winning productions such as Caldecott Productions International‘s documentaries Voiceless Art and The Mud. Chua Beng Teck, owner of Cutting Edge, explains, “We looked at a number of systems and the Nucoda HD ticked all the boxes and much more. The system’s tight integration with Avid was a big selling point for us. We can bring the AAF file together with the media file across to the Nucoda HD and the timeline that we see in the Nucoda HD is exactly what we see in the Avid. Comprehensive conforming tools prepare the timeline with cuts, transitions and other commands, which is great for us because the cut points are already there so we don’t need to worry about them!” Cutting Edge has been using the Nucoda HD on a number of high profile productions including: It’s Organic, an 8x 30-minute series by Very! (Singapore) for Channel NewsAsia International, which spans nine countries covering developments in the organic movement. From fashion to communities, It’s Organic tells the stories of organic apparel designers, farmers, grocers, restaurateurs, hoteliers and communities of organic citizens. It takes the viewer on a journey to pristine farmlands, organic mega markets, small grocers, forward-thinking design companies and more, to bring first-hand accounts of these organic practitioners. Beng Teck adds, “Using the Nucoda HD for productions such as It’s Organic we can really experiment with the tool set and because it’s a real-time system it’s very fast; the software is extremely efficient. As you grade the shot it renders in the background, which is very impressive.” He adds, “We can really be extremely creative because the system delivers what it promises: amazing colours and sharp, clean images. The tight integration with Avid and the reduction in rendering time has streamlined our workflow allowing us to turn projects around faster, which not only means the facility is more efficient it also reduces costs.” Nucoda HD’s creative and corrective colour tools combine a traditional approach to grading with the power and flexibility of digital technology. Cutting Edge creatives can select the colour tool that best suits the task from printer lights through colour curves to brightness regions. With the unlimited multi-layer timeline the facility is able to combine capabilities, using different isolation tools to produce complex looks quickly. Beng Teck concludes, “In the current economic situation it is important to be able to go even further to help clients achieve outstanding results at a price that reflects the climate. We graded and finished the entire series of It’s Organic using the Nucoda HD and the system set a high standard; the client was impressed.”… Read More

  • Notes from an Emmy winning editor

    Kris Trexler is a two-time Emmy award winning video/film editor, and has been honoured with five Emmy nominations during his long career. Trexler has worked with Hollywood’s top television producers and directors, having edited many genres including situation comedies, music videos, large scale music-variety shows, and segments for Oscars Academy Awards telecasts. Trexler is one of few editors who has used virtually every editing technology during his career, including the physical splicing of 2” quadruplex videotape with the aid of a microscope. He was one of the pioneers of computerised video editing, using the revolutionary CMX system to edit All in the Family and The Jeffersons, top rated network comedies of the late 1970’s. Since the early 1990’s, Trexler has focused his talents on television comedy programmes. Few editors working in Hollywood have been privileged to be involved with so many projects, or have as many hours of network television airtime as an editor. Among the series he’s edited: In Living Color, Ellen, Titus, According to Jim and Rita Rocks. Trexler worked with some of the top music artists of the 1980’s and 1990’s. He edited countless music videos for performers such as Prince, Huey Lewis and The News, Tina Turner, Olivia Newton- John, and Michael Jackson. Known for embracing emerging technologies, Trexler pioneered the use of the Avid Media Composer for editing multi-camera comedies, and agreed to edit the very first high definition TV comedy series (Titus) for a major television network. Although Trexler has primarily used Avid for his TV projects since 1996, he embraces Final Cut Pro as well. Kris edited the series Sid the Science Kid with FCP in 2008, a children’s series using a revolutionary live animation system developed by Jim Henson Productions. Trexler brings artistry, dedication, and enthusiasm to every project he works on. He thrived on the stresses and challenges of delivering weekly television episodes to the highest standards under tight deadlines. Expanding his horizons in 2007, Trexler developed an innovative workshop to showcase production and post-production techniques used in Hollywood TV comedies. Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic invited him to conduct a hands-on editing workshop in June 2007 for students, faculty, and alumni. Trexler enjoyed the teaching experience in the one week-workshop in Singapore, during which he imparted knowledge, techniques, and anecdotes accumulated during his long career. He introduced Avid Multi-Camera Editing and Avid Script-Based Editing to editors in Singapore who were not familiar with these features. In March 2009, Trexler decided to take a break from Hollywood and the grind of editing weekly TV episodes. Ngee Ann Polytechnic offered Kris a one-year contract as a visiting lecturer, beginning with the April 2009 semester. Trexler relocated to Singapore where he is teaching second and third year students the creative and technical aspects of editing. Also, in conjunction with the Media Development Authority of Singapore, Trexler conducted several one-week workshops for students, faculty, alumni, and the media industry. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Compositing to create crowds

    Here is a practical guide to the commonly used post techniques of green screen and crowd duplication. The green screen is a means to an end, the means by which you separate your subject correctly for compositing purposes… Read More

  • cutting cAPITAL Costs with DreamColor

    Singapore-based Widescreen Media is a post-production house specialising in high definition online editing, colour grading and motion graphics for the broadcast and feature film markets. Responsible for the post-production of award-winning feature film 18 Grams of Love, Widescreen has also worked on a number of high profile international documentaries, television dramas, commercial and corporate videos. These have included work for National Geographic, the Korean Broadcasting Institute, Arte, Caldecott Productions International and the Korean Broadcasting Commission. Colour challenge Like all post-production professionals, Widescreen recognises the importance of achieving predictable and consistent colour across its whole workflow and this total visual reliability depends on efficient colour grading. “Colour grading is an integral part of the post production process for feature films; the final polish,” says Widescreen director, Ian Wee. “Colour correction and treatment achieve the director’s vision of how he wants the film to look and this digital manipulation is important because the vision cannot always be achieved through the camera.” The challenge for post-production professionals is to ensure that corresponding colours are seen on each of their monitors and that the same shades are eventually reproduced on the big screen. The traditional solution has been to use high definition Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors. However, while this older technology provides a wide colour gamut, the monitors are bulky and since they are analogue-based they also tend to go off calibration – a problem that grows with age, increasing the levels of re-calibration and maintenance required. Also, high-end broadcast-standard CRT monitors can cost as much as US$50,000. Slim Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitors are an attractive alternative but they also have problems as Wee explains: “LCD monitors fall short of the mark because they are extremely expensive, costing around US$25,000. Also the prevalent LCD norm is 8-bit which means that they can only reproduce 16.7 million colours. While that may sound a lot, it is not sufficient for broadcast and feature film work where we need a minimum of 10-bit. We work with 1.07 billion colours so with traditional LCDs we just cannot see all the colours we are working with on screen.” Consistent results Now, these problems have been solved by HP with the development of HP DreamColor Technologies and specifically, the HP DreamColor LP2480zx Professional LCD display which is the world’s first colour-critical 24-inch widescreen LCD to offer a viable alternative to CRT for colour critical applications. Delivering accurate, predictable, consistent colour and rich visual quality across total film or video production workflows, DreamColor monitors provide 30-bit, billion-colour accuracy which is 64 times the number of colours supported by traditional LCDs. They can also represent a saving of over 90 percent on the cost of competing 30-bit LCDs. The tri-colour LED backlight enables high colour fidelity with deeper colours, CRT-class black and programmable white. For ease-of-use, DreamColor monitors come with seven colour space presets for luminance, gamma, gamut and white point, enabling the user to achieve completely accurate rendition of sRGB (colour space for consumer digital photography and most Web/CG content), Adobe RGB (professional document and graphics work and professional digital photography), Rec.601, Rec.709 (HDTV standard colour space) and DCI-P3 (Digital Cinema Initiative standard colour space for digital film makers)at the touch of a button. The user benefits from tilt, swivel and height adjustment and a redesigned onscreen display that enables quick customisation settings. DreamColor also offers many options for enhanced connectivity. Huge savings “Our primary use for the DreamColor is as a colour grading reference monitor,” says Wee. “It enables us to be more consistent with our results across a project and has eliminated the need to use what we call ‘hero’ monitors. These are the most accurate CRT monitors we have and are used as the final basis for judgement in our colour-grading of critical work but they have to be shared by teams and transported between suites. “Now, since a DreamColor monitor costs around $2,000 rather than the $25,000 of other LCD screens, even with the necessary converter boxes, it is cost effective for me to buy a DreamColor for every suite which is a major benefit because the accuracy is then consistent across the suites.” DreamColor’s pre-set definitions are also popular with Widescreen operators working on broadcast and feature film markets, the most useful being the DCI-P3 and Rec.709 standards. “In addition to the low price, the sheer quantity of colours we can see on the DreamColor screen is the biggest benefit for us. It means that the quality of our work is improved and we also save time by not having to re-calibrate CRT screens before every job,” adds Wee. “Since everyone sees the same image, using DreamColor makes our work easier and allows us to be more productive, delivering more consistent results across projects which ultimately improves the service we can give to our customers, making us more competitive.”… Read More

  • Azabu on the roll with Glidecam SYSTEM

    Azabu Leasing Corporation, one of Japan’s major broadcasting equipment rental companies, introduced Glidecam products at the same time as when Komamura released the products for the Japanese domestic market in 2005. At present, the company uses three sets of Glidecam 4000 Pro and Smooth Shooter combinations and a set of the Low Mode Kit. Hideo Motoki, deputy general manager (technical department) of the company’s Broadcast Equipment Business Unit talks about the decisions involved in procuring Glidecam. Q: Why is Azabu using Glidecam equipment? Hideo Motoki: We had been looking for equipment suitable for small cameras. We were using steady cams, but wanted to find equipment suitable for smaller cameras and compact high-definition cameras. We happened to be aware of Glidecam products and thought they were most suitable for these cameras. Q: What applications are Glidecam products used for? HM: Glidecam products are used mainly when shooting on-air television programmes and producing video presentation materials for planned programmes. They are also used to capture images for road information to guide the public. Low-mode kits are often used when capturing video programmes from the eye line of animals or for producing scenic travel programmes. Q: Does Azabu loan vests with Glidecam equipment? HM: Yes, we always loan equipment in sets with vests. While handheld shooting is possible, results produced by equipment used with vests are far different. Marginal blur becomes highly visible and frustrating when viewed on large screens. Blur due to camera-shake can be corrected to some extent in the course of editing, but images are much clearer if blurring is prevented at the time of shooting. Q: What is the feedback from customers using Glidecam products? HM: The reaction is very good. Customers usually say, “The equipment is easy to use and handle”. Steady cam operators find it easy to use Glidecam products. They are especially suitable for small cameras introduced recently. Q: How often is Glidecam equipment lent out? HM: Our standard set is lent out 10 days a month on the average. Q: How about equipment maintenance? HM: We use the highest care to prevent rust of metallic parts due to sweat-stain and springs. Faulty springs may cause squeaky sounds, so we use the utmost care in doing maintenance. Q: Have you received complaints from customers or heard about on-site accidents? HM: Fortunately, we have not received a single complaint since we started renting out Glidecam equipment. Our Glidecam equipment has never blown out. We have not heard cases of camera drop or pinching a finger. Q: Do customers find it difficult to keep a balance? HM: Our staff always explain the method to keep a balance to customers who use our Glidecam equipment for the first time. A course of explanation is sufficient in most cases, since our customers are familiar with camera equipment. Q: What is your impression of Glidecam’s new DH series of products? HM: Inconveniences found in conventional Glidecam equipment have been improved. Being able to make minute adjustments to the camera plate portion is an added attraction. Also, weight portions are improved, making balance adjustments easier. We’ll introduce the HD4000 system immediately. Q: What are the advantages of handling Glidecam equipment? HM: Glidecam equipment is suitable for rental service. As the equipment is not essential to customers at all times, they rent only when necessary. Glidecam equipment is essential for capturing blur-free images of moving subjects. Glidecam’s compactness is ideal for smaller cameras introduced recently and rental fees are not high.… Read More

  • Future proof media for the production room

    When the management of Singapore-based MediaCorp set the vision to be Asia’s top media company, they recognised the need to stay ahead of the technological curve in their productions. Accordingly, they selected Sony as part of their ongoing strategy to migrate toward a fully tapeless drama and entertainment production. A part of realising MediaCorp’s vision was to consolidate their various media operations under one roof. XDCAM HD422 represents a direct and practical answer to the challenges faced by MediaCorp, so much so, that the station had no hesitation to make an initial investment in 15 units of PDW-700 camcorder, eight units of PDW-HD1500 recording deck and 23 units of PDW-U1 drive unit for PC. The picture quality and comfortable balance of the XDCAM HD camcorder, as well as the economy and practicality of the disc media were the key features that put the PDW-700 ahead of its competitors. “The camcorders produce fantastic image quality – almost like 35mm film. The picture quality is a whole new level above the older Sony DVW-707 and 709 cameras that the PDW-700s have replaced. Sharpness and colour are noticeably better,” explained Tang Siong Chuan, supervisor for location and production resource at MediaCorp. “The PDW-700 is very well balanced, making it easy to handle and carry for long periods. And the media cost works out to be much cheaper because the XDCAM Professional Disc can be erased and recorded more than a thousand times.” MediaCorp’s XDCAM HD422 equipment is already paying for itself on the production of many programmes, including the comedy First Class on Channel 5. With the first season completed, MediaCorp found many advantages using the Professional Disc system compared to tape. “The media logging with Sony XDCAM HD422 is much faster and easier – about twice as fast as before. You can’t easily over-record or delete a new recording on the Professional Disc, so it is very safe to use. The speed and ease of use has helped us to experience a very easy transition from the old workflow,” says S. Rajen, executive producer, drama & comedy productions. Tan Chee Beng, senior manager of editing and production resource added other convincing observations regarding their preference for XDCAM format. “We chose Sony because the recording media was cheaper than the competition and the 50GB dual layer disc capacity of the cartridges is greater than other brands.” With XDCAM HD422 now at the front end of many productions at MediaCorp, the new file-based workflow allows recording in HD and automatically generates a low resolution proxy version for editing to save time on the post work. It only takes a few minutes for each Professional Disc to load all the Proxy AV clips into the clip at anytime and anywhere. “The time for importing the clips to the editing workstation is 40 per cent faster than before. And the portable PDW-U1 is extremely convenient and flexible for the individual user to begin editing without needing an edit room. We can browse and ingest at any time,” Tan explained. “Editors no longer need to queue up for the editing room to use the deck. It saves a lot of editing time.” XDCAM HD422 is specially designed as more than just a stand alone system. XDCAM users can interface directly with their current hardware and applications. The file structure of XDCAM allows MediaCorp to integrate the new tapeless workflow into their existing AVID editing system. Apart from the compatibility with third party NLE suppliers, day-to-day tasks such as making a ‘dub’ of an XDCAM disc is also very fast, easy and inexpensive with the ‘Disc to Disc Copy’ function. Just plug two sets of the PDW-U1 drive unit into a PC and enjoy double speed copy of video, audio and all metadata direct from the source disc to the destination disc. MediaCorp has no regrets adopting XDCAM HD. XDCAM HD422 has elegantly solved all the major issues associated with migrating their TV production to a file-based platform. The flexibility afforded by the XDCAM HD that supports for both full HD and SD when needed has been fully realised, making the learning curve for the operators simple and enjoyable.… Read More

  • Geng the animation adventure begins

    Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula, the first feature length animation to hit the silver screen in Malaysia raked in the second highest ticket collection in the history of Malaysian film. The film is notable as it is the first 3D animated feature film in Malaysia, a fact recognised by the Malaysia Book of Records. The project began in January 2006 with the development of the main characters in the story, leading to the birth of mischievous twin brothers Upin and Ipin who love to run around finding excitement wherever they go. The project hit a roadblock when the team realised that they were hampered by limitations in the artists’ experience, knowledge and resources. To achieve success, they needed to find the right balance between high-technology animation and a good story with compelling characters, culture and realistic environment. They spent a year researching pre-production and technologies required for the production and produced a pilot of the film to gain some preliminary feedback. To the surprise and joy of the team, the short film won three awards at the Short Film Award 2006 for best direction, animation and overall categories. Armed with these accolades, Les’ Copaque proceeded to win the confidence of sponsors, including the Malaysian Development Corporation who invested in the project. The pilot also gained interest from TV9, a local terrestrial television station who contracted Les’ Copaque to produce a mini-series for children named after the twins. The Upin & Ipin series quickly achieved a loyal following, which led to TV9 investing in a continued series. Eventually, viewership of the series came in second after the most-watched Japanese cartoon series, Doraemon. The process of designing and developing the characters and scenes was time-consuming. Modeling, a process to form the characters and objects in still format, required at least a day per character. Rigging, or specifying the internal skeletal structure and defining the motion, typically takes up another day per character. Rendering is another lengthy process using an ordinary computer. Additionally, there were several other mandatory processes required to ensure quality film, including texturing, animation, compositing, audio, editing, and more. “We understood that we had a relatively low budget, but we knew we couldn’t compromise on the quality of output,” Tuan Haji Burhanuddin, managing director of Les’ Copaque. Art director Safwan Ab Karim selected Autodesk Maya to help fulfill the project as he was already familiar with the software features and functionalities back in school. The open architecture of Autodesk Maya, combined with an industry-leading suite of 3D visual effects, computer graphics, and character animation tools enabled the team to realise their creative vision for the film. Over six months, Les’ Copaque successfully assimilated Autodesk Maya into its production operations and soon, their animators were able to start work. During their initial research, the team developed their proprietary pipeline that not only improved the efficiency of design and animation, but also helped organise files and define the identity of 3D animation products created by Les’ Copaque. Throughout the process of developing Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula, they found that Autodesk Maya worked consistently well with the pipeline they developed. Tuan Haji Burhanuddin added, “We believe that Autodesk Maya is one of the best software tools for movies. The plus point was that our team was already familiar with it. The software is flexible and it worked seamlessly with our pipeline, and we clearly saw the results and value right from the start.” Autodesk Maya allowed them to intuitively help the team discover ways to simplify their job. Maya’s capability with its flexibility and shortcuts allowed faster results, without compromising on quality. Safwan commented, “The software was open and seamlessly integrated with the script we developed for rigging, which significantly cut the total time required for modeling and rigging combined by more than half.” A movie like Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula typically requires about a year to render. Using Autodesk Mental Ray at the Render Farm hosted by MIMOS helped reduce rendering time to about four months. Another advantage of using Autodesk Maya was that the animators, designers and artists (mostly local graduates) were already familiar with the software. They were familiar with Maya and did not have to pursue rigorous training before getting down to work. The project was completed in September 2008, with a total budget of RM4million (USD1.15 million). The film was completed six months ahead of schedule; savings gained from the collective amount of time saved especially from the modeling, rigging and rendering processes. Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula officially opened for screening on 12 February 2009, at 90 percent of its accorded budget, and with half the time and resources required for a typical Hollywood animated feature film. Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula recorded box office collection of RM6.3 million from a total of 813,604 viewers. Not resting on its laurels, the company is now looking to further expand its operations and teams in Malaysia, focusing on discovering home-grown multimedia talents and spurring the animation industry in the country. Les’ Copaque aims to grow its organisation from a staff of 50 to 100 by the end of 2009. “Now is the time to grow the whole ecosystem for the country’s animation and multimedia industry. It is the right time to showcase to the world that Malaysia has the home-grown talent which makes us more competitive than our neighbours Thailand, India and Singapore. It is time to make this a key contributor to our economy,” said Tuan Haji Burhanuddin. As at January 2009, the company received opportunities from across the world, including co-production jobs from Los Angeles, Argentina and Australia. Locally, TV9 has signed Les’ Copaque for 42 new episodes of Upin & Ipin and another new 52-episode series with Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM).… Read More

  • Metrobus On Route Entertainment

    Metrobus are a new force in Bangkok’s hectic transport industry. With a new fleet of 1000 gleaming white buses, their mission was ‘to bring humanity back to bus travel’. E&P Associates were brought in to create the branding for their on-board information and entertainment system, On Route Entertainment. The brand and the fleet went into action in April 2009. The idents had to embody Metrobus’s promise, ‘It’s a good jam’. The situation was a unique one. On board a bus, the viewers are passengers with no opportunity to change channel or switch off the TV. The project called for brand loyalty to be created in a subtle, calm manner to make the viewers feel comfortable and stress free. Designer/director Ben Marshall says, “Our concept was to create a series of panoramic landscapes filled with dreamlike, almost magical, imagery. We wanted to transport the passengers away from their journey – anyone who has travelled in Bangkok knows that the traffic can be formidable, with buses regularly sitting for long periods of time in jams.” “We envisioned one continuous camera movement with no cuts, a seamless pan, mimicking the movement of the bus, as if the viewer has momentarily looked outside the window to find themselves somewhere else entirely – lifted above the bustling streets to an idyllic place, free of blaring horns and exhaust fumes.” “We created three dream landscapes that vary in mood, to avoid being repetitive – in such a closed environment this would have been disastrous. The ‘Kites’ ident is bright and energetic, with colourful kites soaring against a cloudless blue sky. The ‘Windmills’ ident is more sedate, the camera tracking through a landscape of graceful windmills. The ‘Lanterns’ ident is more relaxing – we watch hundreds of paper lanterns float up into an evening sky,” Marshall said. The original intention was to film all the separate elements against bluescreen, but this proved to be prohibitive, not allowing a satisfactory degree of control over the movement of the objects. The challenge was then to create CG that looked every bit as real as the real thing. “The challenge was to get the right balance between direct and indirect light i.e. front lighting and back lighting,” said Sean Elliot, head of animation, Golden Square. “To achieve this quality the right amount of ‘refraction blur’ i.e. defocusing of the background as seen through the material, was balanced with a slight colour variation for the translucent light.” “Apart from the essential colour textures for the kites and sails, the subtleties of the material needed to be described by textures for shininess, bump, transparency of stitches, seams and different coloured panels.” “To get the kites’ movement spot-on, we spent some time studying video of kite festivals from around the world. We focused first on recreating the ambient movement against the wind, getting the feel of slight random variations in speed and direction, gusts and flurries. Once we were happy with the passive influences we turned our attention to the active influences i.e. input from the kite fliers through the strings,” Elliot added. “We decided during early conversations with Rob and Ben of E&P to use live action or photography for the backgrounds. We dedicated time early on in the project to looking through many images and sequences of skies. Nothing we found fitted the bill perfectly, so we manipulated the closest match to create the composition we wanted.” “Another contributing technique we used is depth cueing. The real world effect we’re reproducing is that of atmospheric fogging whereby objects further away subtly fade into the background. This increases realism and helps to separate elements in the Z direction i.e. in and out of the picture, especially helpful for overlapping elements and overall makes the image easier on the eye and more pleasant to take in. The modelling and animation was done in Maya, and compositing in Flame.” “To the same end, we used a wide angle lens as this increases the difference in size between objects near and far away from camera, and in turn increases the perceived depth of the image. Also the wide lens enables us to see a greater area of sky, effectively placing the audience point of view at a small scale relative to the image and enhancing the perception of space.” “The music was specially composed to reflect the subtle changes of mood across the three idents. All share the same signature On Route melody, but the layers are built up or stripped down depending on the ident. All the tracks were engineered by comparing them to audio waveforms from recordings of the buses’ engine noise, so as to be audible even whilst on the move,” Elliot added. Rob Machin, creative director explains, “we worked very closely with the local strategic and creative agency Brand Connections, to ensure there was maximum cultural integration as well as technical continuity with locally produced programme promotions”. Narumon Boontawekit, managing partner of Brand Connections Bangkok, says, “the brand work that E&P Associates have created truly captures the emotive ideas and subtle visuals that appeal to Bangkok residents. This, combined with the international quality look and feel, sets a new standard for Thailand’s media arena”. This project re-enforces E&P’s strong long term relationship with the Thai media and television market whilst continuing to grow its expertise throughout the Pan-Asian region.… Read More

  • DI technology takes flight in asia-pacific

    Digital Intermediate (DI) technology has progressed by leaps and bounds. Industry leaders talk about what DI technology has achieved in end-to-end digital post-processing solutions including editing, VFX and 3D stereoscopy… Read More

  • Direct-to-disk workflow for 3D production

    Filmmakers looking to make strides in the world of stereoscopic 3D filmmaking could do well to explore powerful and affordable solutions teaming up Canon acquisition cameras with Wafian’s stereoscopic recorder for 3D production – the HR-2-DS recorder. The Canon-Wafian HD direct-to-disk tapeless workflow was on display recently at the Broadcast Asia 2009 exhibition. Wafian offers Direct-to-Disk HD video recorders that enable high quality recording and playback, massive storage, and efficient digital workflows for film makers and broadcasters, supporting resolutions from standard def up to 2K, in 10-bit 4:2:2 or 4:4:4. The Wafian HR recorder/player series includes battery powered field recorders. Jeff Youel, president and founder of Wafian Corporation, USA, shared his expertise in 3D workflow in a series of 3D Workflow Workshops at the exhibition. Speaking to Asia Image, Youel shared his enthusiasm: “We are very excited about this product. Features such as live 3D preview and the ability to record and playback non-linear footage on-set, combined with its revolutionary price point will make 3D workflows more efficient and within reach to more content creators”. As with all of Wafian’s products, the HR-2-DS offers massive storage and is capable of recording, playing back, and providing monitoring sources to/from a multitude of devices through various standard I/Os. Canon’s industry-leading lens optics and image processing expertise is crystallized with the XL Series camcorders. The XL Series’ features and open architecture system has become synonymous with high image quality and ultimate creative control. The detachable lens option on the XL-series camcorders allows usage of prime and film lenses, so users can achieve film-quality on their productions. Apart from providing complete control over the image, the Canon XL H1S also provides creative freedom while delivering industry-standard options needed to flow seamlessly with existing workflows and expectations. Canon’s XL-H1S HD video camera is able to deliver full resolution, uncompressed HD/SD SDI at a 4:2:2 color space via its HD-SDI interface. The signal sent is incorporated with both audio and time-code signals. With these combinations from Wafian and Canon, users can expect high-quality video in any type of environment. In addition, one can expect to experience easy file management, convenient storage solutions and reliability of the technology. “The fundamental aspect of 3D filmmaking lies in the process of stereopsis - the word stereo meaning solidity; and opsis meaning vision or sight. Stereopsis is commonly referred to as depth perception. This process in visual perception leads to the sensation of depth from the two slightly different projections of the world onto the retinas of the two eyes,” explained Youel. The HR-2-DS records two streams of full resolution HD into a single file, which contains two independent video tracks for ease of use in post-production. This unique feature allows users to create side-by-side or over-under previews, and it supports legacy workflows by allowing users to edit one eye only with a small reference movie file. Features such as blended video preview allow users to easily set convergence and real-time 3D viewing creates meshes for viewing on supported DLP and Plasmas. The HR-2-DS can rotate incoming video, which compensates for beam splitter 3D rigs in real time. One of the differentiators is that the HR-2-DS records its footage into the CineForm format, which derives beautiful pictures without sacrificing visual fidelity. The HR-2-DS records 3D 1920x1080 24p at 140 GB/Hour, which would require 955 GB/Hour if uncompressed. CineForm files are typically compressed in the range of between 5:1 and 10:1, depending on both user preference and image complexity. This technology has been integrated into the capture environment, and more importantly, into the post-production environment. As a result, the mammoth flow of data that uncompressed 2K or 4K frame sizes would otherwise require can be reduced to a more manageable volume for capture, storage, and processing. As part of this compression technology, metadata describing the original digital video signal is recorded so that image processing throughout post production can be referenced to a core set of baseline values. This helps enhance the full range of post-production tasks: colour correction, white balance, film finishing, and effects processing. “In order to get a WYSIWYG result, the operator only needs to engage the BLEND mode on the HR-2-DS to find the convergence point for the left and right images instantaneously on the set,” said Youel.… Read More

  • China READIES digital production base

    The newly opened China Film Group Digital Film Production Base is proving to be a boon for China film makers with its full range of production and post-production services… Read More

  • Broadcast Design comes of age

    Broadcast design is no longer about doing logos or spinning letters. Studios are now designing for a variety of platforms, providing integrated interactive work, utilising buttoned up workflows and sophisticated design… Read More

  • Canon expands lens range for HDTV imaging

    Canon’s range of products expanded considerably with an eye towards high-end HDTV imaging. The HJ14ex4.3B wide-angle portable HDTV lens led the pack with its new and unique design. The HJ14ex4.3B is the product of Canon’s latest development tools, newly developed glass elements, and highly advanced optical coatings. It combines an extended 14 times zoom range and unprecedented 4.3mm wide angle while also improving on the exceptional optical performance of its predecessor HJ11ex4.7B. In addition, the HJ14ex4.3B’s newly developed Digital Drive unit provides improved operability and ergonomic advances for user comfort and precision control of lens functions. The new KJ17ex7.7B lens is the first within a second generation HDgc line of lenses intended as a cost-effective HDTV solution for HDTV ENG and lower-budget HD productions. After nearly a decade of advances in Canon’s world-renowned optical R&D – and ongoing dialogue with hands-on users worldwide – the new design employs refinements in glass materials and optical coatings with advances in lens element designs, including the use of aspherical elements. The combination of these optical technologies has contributed to improvements in monochromatic defocusing distortions, curvature of field, and comatic aberration, and to a further lowering of longitudinal and lateral chromatic aberrations. Collectively they enhance the sharpness of the images, especially at the longer focal lengths. The new optical coatings have further reduced flare and consequently enhanced lens contrast. They have also introduced important improvements to the minimisation of ghosting artifacts that can be stimulated by strong light sources in the scene. This augments nighttime shooting, which can be very important in ENG. A follow-up to Canon’s BU-45H remote-control outdoor robotic pan-tilt-zoom HD 16:9 camera system, the new BU-50H remote-control robotic indoor pan-tilt HD camera system is engineered for a wide range of indoor applications. It provides exceptional HD video imagery and versatile performance in such locations as houses of worship, legislative chambers, studio POV camera positions, indoor security areas, and many other environments. The BU-50H embodies an extremely quiet Pan-Tilt mechanism featuring a maximum noise level of NC30. It is well suited for operation in very quiet environments, including studios, conferences, lectures, and classical music concerts. Wildlife HD cinematographers and other camera operators doing a wide range of outdoor shooting over long distances have been greatly empowered in recent years by the introduction of the HJ40x14B and HJ40x10B long-zoom portable HD lenses from Canon. Now, Canon technology extends that lens family with the Day/Night DJ40x14B HD zoom lens, which includes special optical coatings that extend the spectral transmittance of the lens into the near-IR region. Over 60 per cent transmittance is achieved at 900nm wavelength. Such long-zoom lenses typically exhibit an unavoidable focal-plane shift due to the difference in light wavelengths when day/night video camera filters are switched from shooting in daylight to shooting in nighttime IR illuminated environments. The Canon Day/Night DJ40x14B HD zoom lens incorporates Canon’s proprietary “back-focus shift correction and control mechanism,” which synchronizes the lens’ back-focus position-correction relative to the camera when the camera is switched between day and night modes. This automatically maintains a sharp focus under all shooting conditions.… Read More

  • DVS makes inroads into Asia

    When South Korea’s leading post-production company, AZ Works, opened a new four-storey complex in the southern port city of Busan, it called upon DVS Digital Video Systems AG to install high-quality hardware and software for its professional film post-production facility. CLIPSTER digital intermediary workflow and Spycer intelligent data manager are key features at AZWorks, which was created as a one-stop DI workflow facility with scanning, CG, restoration, colour grading and mastering. Clipster’s powerful and stable performance DPX 2K workflow has already proven itself as the ideal mastering system for the film industry. The Clipster 4800 system delivered for general mastering and DVS SpycerBox as storage for ingest from the film scanners Spycerbox 1 Gigabit quad port interface provided gateway for bigger and flexible bandwidth for many of the facility’s Ethernet clients. Spycerbox 24TB of local storage proved useful for general purpose. The DVS-SAN (real-time 28.8TB) and Clipster with DCI board installed at the Korean Film Archive (KOFA) helped in accomplishing digital archiving and management of film, and mastering for cinema screenings. As many of the films in the archive are old and defective, restoration and color correction are also a key requirement. More recently, Centro Digital Pictures in Hong Kong installed the first DVS ProntoXway in the Asia-Pacific region. The post house utilizes the multi-channel disk recorder for the implementation of 3D applications and high-resolution presentations. The DVS disk recorder enables the post house to create images using uncompressed data material. With ProntoXway, the editors at Centro are now able to process image data in real time and prepare it for playback. With two video channels, the playback of stereoscopic content is easily possible using only a single DVS system. Thanks to its 2K option, the ProntoXway is a future-proof piece of equipment and supports Centro’s plans for the intensification of 2K workflows. Especially when realising 2K projects, Centro benefits from the reliability and the real-time features of the DVS disk recorder. Hon Fung, senior engineer at Centro: “DVS disk recorders enjoy an excellent reputation. With its reliability, ease of use, and ability to play back stereoscopic images, ProntoXway offers us exactly the features that we need.” Eric Augereau, sales director at DVS: “We are happy to have installed Asia’s first ProntoXway at Centro. With ProntoXway, Centro now owns a future-proof system that is ideally suited for Centro’s 3D projects.” With its DI systems, DVS experience with real-time 4K-processing, the company is primed for the switchover to HDTV in the broadcast sector, and is equally active in the D-Cinema arena. At NAB 2009, DVS advanced its offering in 3D Digital Cinema with innovative CLIPSTER 3rd generation features including DCI Mastering for 3D projects, enabling CLIPSTER to convert stereoscopic film data to Digital Cinema Packages (DCP) in real time. Stereoscopic DCI Mastering, encoding and MXF wrapping is accomplished with CLIPSTER DCI Mastering Wizard. CLIPSTER also provides fast and easy conforming of 3D material. A user can generate stereoscopic images by dropping the EDL for left and right eye directly into the CLIPSTER timeline. Both tracks can be merged together into one stereoscopic video track that can be edited as regular video material. Once the streams are synchronised there is no need to edit left and right eye separately. Bernhard Reitz, DVS head of product management: “CLIPSTER 3rd generation is pioneering new distribution formats such as DCP or Digital Video Packages. With sophisticated software functionality, high-performance hardware and interfaces for third-party applications CLIPSTER ideally fits the requirements of future-proof workflows.” DVS also enhanced its established OEM video board product line with the introduction of Perseus at NAB 2009. Meeting the demanding requirements of digital post-production and high-level presentations, this PCIe interface board plays out uncompressed material in real time at resolutions up to 4096x3112. As Perseus plays out uncompressed images, compression artifacts such as blurred pictures, faded colors and block artifacts can be prevented. A sophisticated SDK provides ideal opportunities for developing systems that meet the requirements of high-quality content creation. DVS also introduced the VENICE broadcast video server for use in broadcast environments. VENICE supports compressed formats such as Avid DNxHD, XDCAM or DVCPRO for fast, secure and reliable processing of digital video content. The VENICE server enables users to achieve fast, consistent workflows with compressed video formats. Different data formats can be converted on-the-fly. VENICE also supports parallel processing of SD and HD projects. “Broadcasters are faced with unique demands for time sensitive content delivery while maintaining high quality. With the introduction of VENICE, we are delighted to offer a powerful toolset that gives broadcasters the flexibility they need to migrate into a tapeless and file-based workflow environment,” added Reitz.… Read More

  • SCRATCH My Bloody Valentine 3D

    At the recent National Association of Broadcasters (NAB 2009) convention in Las Vegas, Patrick Lussier, director of the box office hit My Bloody Valentine 3D (MBV3D), described how some of the existing rules of 3D filmmaking were broken along the way and longstanding perceptions were changed. Lussier, whose film directing career résumé spanned a dozen features, found himself back in school to learn 3D production techniques. “We finished shooting on December 10 and the film opened on January 16 in 1,033 3D theaters,” Lussier said, speaking to a capacity audience. It made US$21 million in a three-day weekend in these theaters,” he said. Lussier said that about 70 per cent of MBV3D was shot with dual RED 4K cameras, and the balance was done with 2K Silicon Imaging stereoscopic units. The last scene, however, involved a slow motion explosion and spreading fireball sequence that had to be shot on film. He praised the efforts of his colour timer for making the different media work together. “We were going to be almost 95 per cent location, shooting in real-world environments and, in particular, underground in a mine with the 3D cameras. We found Paradise FX Corp, who said they could do what we wanted.” “In the beginning, it was a constant challenge to remember that everything had to be set for stereo, and it’s not as obvious as setting focus where you can tell that the thing that’s supposed to be in focus either is or isn’t. For stereo, it’s deciding the point you want, and the part of the frame you want, to be out as well as how far out you want it to be. “I think 3D is remarkably seductive and a very intoxicating storytelling tool. I think it has all the potential to continually capture audiences and envelope them into the cinematic experience. … “ Lussier stressed that producing a film in 3D required a lot of exacting work but that the end results were very rewarding. “When you don’t get it right, it is not a powerful experience, but if you do get it right, it’s a beautiful experience,” he said. The filmmakers turned to Technicolor Creative Bridge (TCB) for the back end post-production, requiring dailies in both 2D and 3D sent to their offices. As early adopters of Assimilate’s SCRATCH digital process solution, TCB knew it could easily handle a variety of input formats, including the RED 4K digital files (native REDCODE RAW files), and output to the format of choice. Brian Gaffney, vice-president/general manager of TCB describes the process: “For My Bloody Valentine 3D, we used SCRATCH as a versatile support tool for four different applications within our 3D workflow.” Virtual Telecine “For all dailies, we loaded the RED R3D files from Paradise FX onto our Globalstor server running SCRATCH, and recorded in real time to HDCAM SR with custom LUTS applied.” Edit Module “We could check that the content was in sync at the beginning of a take. Due to the design of the 3D camera rig, one camera would continue to roll for a few frames after the stop record triggered and could get out of phase. Within SCRATCH construct, the artist could check the left eye and right eye, change the orientation – edit, flip/flop, trim – to get the two eyes properly aligned and ready for the transfer to HDCAM SR.” Quality Control “We did a lot of the QC up front, using LUTs brought into SCRATCH for the color QC to ensure the material was properly matched and the TC and ALE files matched.” Visual Effects “In support of VFX, we would commonly be asked to render out 4K DPX background plates to allow the compositors to pan and scan the plate behind the 2K foreground to achieve the best visual impact. The DI artist could ask for the timecode or filename of any original R3D file for rendering out as requested, and since SCRATCH tracks all of this metadata it was very easy to support these requests.” Gaffney adds, “At first glance, tackling a 3D project appears to be daunting and that’s why we opt for best-of-breed tools like SCRATCH. SCRATCH is a powerful stand-alone workflow in itself, but it also works seamlessly, as in this case, within any digital workflow as defined by the project. Its ability to support any format – HD, SD, 3D, RED 4K, 35mm, 16mm – and its depth of functionality make it a highly used and versatile tool within our workflows.”… Read More

  • AJA adds to product range

    AJA Video Systems, leading manufacturer of professional video interface and conversion solutions, released two new Mini-Converters, the Hi5-3G and the HDP2. These Mini-Converters are designed both for the broadcast and post-production display markets and provide support for a wide array of the latest video and audio formats. The new converters were showcased at the recent NAB conference in Las Vegas. The Hi5-3G converts 3G-SDI, dual or single-link HD-SDI, or SD-SDI to HDMI v1.3a for driving HDMI monitors. HDMI v1.3a capability with Deep Color support at 30 and 36 bits per pixel provides integration with the latest 10-bit monitors. Audio is supported in the HDMI output allowing a convenient single cable audio/video connection. The Hi5-3G provides 2-channel RCA style audio outputs for separate audio monitoring if needed. The HDP2 is a miniature HD/SD-SDI to DVI-D converter for digital display devices, such as LCD, DLP, and Plasma monitors or projectors. Using a very high quality scaling engine and de-interlacer, the HDP2 will automatically size 4:3 or 16:9 video inputs to many DVI-D monitors. For appropriate monitor configurations, scaling is automatically 1-to-1-for example, displaying 1920x1080 video on a WUXGA (1920x1200) monitor. The HDP2 automatically adapts the input frame rate for monitor compatibility. In addition, the HDP2 provides 2-channel audio monitoring and a looping output of the SDI input. The HDP2 is designed for general monitoring, and is ideal for use in applications such as general post-production reference monitoring, client monitoring, presentation, projection, corporate displays, kiosk applications, and much more. “We’ve been making many of the industry’s most popular video converter products for over fifteen years and our Mini-Converters are known for their great price/performance ratio,” said Nick Rashby, president, AJA Video Systems. “With these two new Mini-Converters we’re building new and unique functionality that responds directly to our customer’s demands.” AJA Video also unveiled the Io Express, a new highly portable audio and video I/O device that’s designed for the latest file-based workflows. Io Express is an ideal Mac or PC interface for video professionals looking for an inexpensive monitoring and mastering solution when working with Apple ProRes 422 and Apple ProRes 422 (HQ), XDCAM HD, DVCPRO HD and more. Io Express bridges the computer and video worlds, providing professional I/O options to laptops such as the Apple MacBook Pro, and optionally to desktops such as the Mac Pro or HP workstations. “So many of our customers are adopting file-based workflows and the Io Express is perfect for monitoring and mastering in those environments,” Rashby added. “The Io Express provides lots of connectivity options in a very well designed product that’s extremely portable and flexible.” Generating a lot of excitement is the Ki Pro a portable digital disc recorder that bridges the gap between camera acquisiton and post, recording files to the Apple ProRes codec directly from camera. Ki Pro provides a new way of connecting production and post with its extensive analog and digital connectivity; virtually any video and audio source can be fed into Ki Pro to record pristine 10-bit ProRes 422 media that is then immediately available to edit within Apple’s Final Cut Studio. “Since its introduction two years ago, Apple ProRes 422 has become the codec of choice for professional editors,” said Richard Townhill, Apple’s director of Video Applications Marketing. “AJA’s Ki Pro is the latest product to provide support for ProRes 422 natively in hardware, and for the first time delivers immediate access to the 10-bit, full raster ProRes 422 codec directly from camera.” Ki Pro allows filmmakers, broadcasters and video professionals and prosumers to skip the process of re-rendering to an editing codec by giving immediate access to full raster edit-ready ProRes 422 files directly from camera. Ki Pro records hours of media to a removable storage module with built in FireWire 800 or to 34mm ExpressCard Flash. The device is a small, portable unit that can sit on a table, in a bay or mounted between a camera and tripod. Ki Pro is also ideal for on-set monitoring, providing instant access to multiple display devices simultaneously. Making its debut is the KONA LHi, AJA’s newest uncompressed video capture and playback card for SD, HD and 3G SDI single-link 4:2:2 formats for Apple Mac Pro systems. The AJA KONA LHi allows legacy analogue devices alongside the newest 3G SDI and HDMI v1.3a enabled products to interface to the latest PCIe Apple Mac OSX hardware, with integrated support for Apple Final Cut Studio and other QuickTime software applications. The card also features AJA’s proven 10-bit SD to HD up-conversion, HD to HD cross-conversion, and HD to SD down-conversion, providing complete flexibility when working with multiple SD and HD formats. “KONA LHi represents the next evolution of our massively popular KONA LHe. With the addition of HDMI and 3G SDI support along with up, cross and down-convert, we’re offering even more workflow solutions for our customers,” commented Rashby. “The KONA LHi delivers a huge amount of functionality in a very cost-effective package.” The AJA KONA LHi allows editing, monitoring and mastering of professional quality video in an affordable, easy to use product. Since all of KONA LHi’s conversions are hardware-based, they are available all the time-during ingest or playback. Outputs can be configured independently allowing users to have simultaneous HD and SD output-or two different types of HD, 720 or 1080, output via cross-conversion.… Read More

  • EditShare EQUIPS Chukyo TV in Japan

    Chukyo TV Braodcasting Co.,Ltd (ChukyoTV) is a hub TV station which is a member of Nippon Television Network (NTV) group. It covers three major prefectures in the mid-area of Japan. It handles all broadcasting business, production, sale of programmes and goods, cultural and sports businesses and any other sector which relates to broadcasting. The challenge The key challenge that Chukyo was facing in its production workflow, especially in editing variety programmes is the time consuming effort to copy the master clip from one bin to another editor’s bin. Chukyo has been looking for better usability in its editing environment. Prior to EditShare’s arrival, Chukyo was using a SAN type server for many years. Although the server gave them storage solution for media content, it fell short of Chukyo’s requirement for a better workflow solution in terms of working with the bin’s clip. The solution After a long search for a better workflow solution, Mr. Masaki Kitaori, technical operations division of Chukyo TV, discovered EditShare while browsing the internet searching for information on NAS servers. The discovery fuelled his interest to further investigate EditShare which lead him to discover the Japanese site of Silicon Studio Corporation, a partner reseller of EditShare in Japan. EditShare’s project sharing features got his attention and he promptly called Silicon Studio for a straight forward business dealing. EditShare cut their dependence of SAN based server environment. They stopped the process of buying SAN storage for expanding their system and boldly picked EditShare as their future media contents storage, utilizing EditShare XStream with 32TB storage in RAID5 connection to HP Switch. The workflow Chukyo-TV’s NLE environment is configured with 4 Avid MOJOs for ingesting and 12 Avid Media Composer editing suites for various programs’ editing. All 16 Avid systems are connected to EditShare XStream storage series via HP ProCurve 10Gb switch. The benefit EditShare’s true project sharing features answered Chukyo’s needs of sharing the bin’s clip from one editor to another. Mr. Masaki Kitaori commented ‘This feature is a cool feature to us because it lessens our effort to copy the project clips and smooth the workflow process of the editors.’ He even appreciates the smooth installation of the EditShare storage and was surprise to the performance of the gigabit network that EditShare introduced. At the recent NAB 2009, EditShare announced a technology partnership with ASSIMILATE, a leading developer of high-resolution and stereoscopic applications for the DI market. The new development combines the award winning EditShare shared storage solutions – XStream Series – with ASSIMILATE’s SCRATCH Digital Process Solution, enabling real-time DPX and RED 4K workflows across DI and non DI post-production equipment. Benefits of this new integration offer the highly popular EditShare project sharing with unmatchable real-time performance for SCRATCH artists. “For many years EditShare has been at the forefront of Network Attached Storage solutions for popular post-production tools from Adobe, Apple, Avid and more. With the introduction of digital cameras such as the RED ONE Digital 4K Camera providing stunning performance, there is now a significant move toward DI workflows. The EditShare XStream is a key component in enabling DI production pipelines to be fully integrated and tapeless from acquisition to finishing,” said Andy Liebman, CEO and founder, EditShare. EditShare XStream DI allows the entire facility to be connected, from ingest to delivery of the final cut. EditShare is agnostic to any specific manufacturer so the EditShare XStream has been engineered to work seamlessly with any application supporting 1 and 10GbE. EditShare XStream DI takes advantage of the PCI-e infrastructure to combine high data rate streams, such as DPX, with a large number of simultaneous video streams coupled with almost limitless storage capability.… Read More

  • Sony seals major DEALS in Asia-Pacific

    Sony Australia signed a multi-year deal to become a major partner and the exclusive entertainment technology partner of the iconic Sydney Opera House. The association will enhance the technological capabilities of one of the world’s leading performing arts centres. As part of the collaboration, visitors to Sydney Opera House will benefit from Sony’s cutting-edge technologies across both the consumer and business divisions, including broadcast and production equipment. This incorporates new state-of-the-art digital signage and professional display products around the precinct highlighting the events and activities on the arts calendar. “With over seven million visitors each year, Sydney Opera House is a cultural icon not only in Australia but around the world,” said Carl Rose, managing director of Sony Australia. “It is an absolute privilege for us to become a partner of this global symbol for arts and innovation.” Rose continued, “Not only does Sydney Opera House offer us unrivalled access to some of the most phenomenal cultural performances and events, but it also brings us closer to an audience that has imagination and creativity at their heart. This is especially important for a company like ours, which prides itself on enabling the celebration of life and the creation of products and content to fuel any dream.” Richard Evans, CEO of Sydney Opera House, said, “Like Sony, Sydney Opera House is innovative and committed to pursuing imaginative experiences. This significant partnership will transform and modernise Sydney Opera House public spaces with new technology including digital content delivery, creating a more vibrant and interactive experience for our 7.4 million visitors each year. This partnership will be one that transforms Sydney Opera House in ways we can only imagine today.” Continuing the string of installations, MediaCorp Singapore made substantial investments in the future of broadcasting with recent purchase of Sony XDCAM HD422 camcorders and decks. The equipment was delivered to their Caldecott Broadcast Centre in November 2008 and was put to work immediately on the set of ‘First Class’, one of the many locally produced, award-winning TV programmes. One of the main reasons for this new acquisition was to streamline the production process in the face of technological advances. File-based operations provide more efficient workflows, content management and archive processes. MediaCorp replaced its existing Sony Digital Betacam gear with fifteen PDW-700P camcorders, eight PDW-HD1500 recording decks and eighteen PDW-U1 drive units. According to Tang Siong Chuan, location resource supervisor at MediaCorp, “The Sony cameras are fantastic – I have no regrets buying the PDW-700Ps. The image quality is much better and there is an improvement in the sharpness and colour. The outstanding picture quality can be fully appreciated by the viewing audiences of HD5 – the only free-to-air high definition channel in Singapore. The PDW-700P is very well balanced which makes it easy for the cameramen to handle and carry for a long time. My operators like using the new Sony cameras.” With the growing excitement surrounding high definition pictures and the increasing demand for high definition content, MediaCorp plan to expand their fleet of Sony XDCAM HD422 equipment in the future. Tang said that the fifteen PDW-700P camcorders are constantly in use. “I need more cameras to cope with the demand,” he professed. “We are delighted that MediaCorp has selected Sony XDCAM HD422 as the format of production to meet their need of video tape migration. They are one of the very first broadcasters in Asia Pacific to pioneer in the adaptation of the file-based operation across the production cycle from shooting to editing,” said Isao Matsufune, assistant general manager, Business and Professional Products Asia Pacific Company, Sony Electronics Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. Meanwhile, ABS-CBN Philippines, Asia’s first commercial television broadcaster, also made known its intention to acquire 24 Sony HDC-1400R HD portable studio cameras. ABS-CBN is upgrading its studio facility at Quezon City, north of Manila, from SD to HD and made Sony their choice. ABS-CBN is at the forefront of broadcasting in the Philippines and the first to invest in Sony high definition studio cameras. The decision to upgrade to high definition was based on the increasing demand for high definition content from ABS-CBN’s domestic audiences as well as those they export to around the globe. ABS-CBN owns the biggest cable network in the Philippines and is involved in the production of television programming for domestic and international audiences. The broadcaster delivers content around the world to countries including North America, Europe and the Middle East. Before making the decision to go with Sony, ABS-CBN evaluated a number of products from other suppliers too. The decision to go with Sony was sealed when the technical evaluation team saw the stunning picture quality delivered by the Sony HDC camera. The evaluation team also noted that the portable HD studio camera offered enhanced operational flexibility for a variety of studio and Outside Broadcast applications.… Read More

  • Workflow Solutions For Data Centric Post

    The Media Village is a leading integrator of data-centric, digital post-production solutions to film and video professionals throughout Southeast Asia. It works with its’ customers to help design storage infrastructures and workflows that meets their facility’s business and creative objectives. It represents some of the leading names in post production, including: Lasergraphics The Director scanners and the Producer film recorders from Lasergraphics, are key components in a complete file-based workflow solution and are testaments to the quality, performance, and reliability for which Lasergraphics is well known. The Director generates high quality pin-registered 2K and 4K scans of 35mm and 16mm film at unprecedented speeds and an unrivaled low price, making it the perfect solution for post production and DI work. With the recent introduction of a self-aligning stereo sound-head option, the Director now allows for simultaneous scanning of print film soundtrack and images directly to QuickTime movie files, making it the first scanner that’s also ideal for archive and restoration work. Coupled with Lasergraphics’ proven and highly regarded Producer line of film recording systems, The Director continues the company’s vision to make motion picture film scanning and recording fast, easy flawless, and affordable. da Vinci Systems da Vinci’s Resolve R-series offer unparalleled performance and superior color mastering and finishing toolset. The Resolve couples an industry standard GUI and the new generation Impresario control panels to deliver fast, powerful operation. The R-series establishes the new benchmark in digital intermediate (DI) color grading across feature films, television, and commercials. With Digital Powerhouse and PowerMastering Extreme, Resolve users now have the fastest systems to handle Red material, with the ability to read RED Raw files directly from shared storage, decode, debayer, grade and record to tape without rendering Bright Systems BrightDrive G2 is the first open-architecture, file-based recording system designed specifically to meet the performance needs of the entertainment industry. BrightDrive is interoperable with all leading digital postproduction systems without the need to copy files between workstations. Designed specifically for the high data volumes and speeds required by data-centric workflows, including editorial, VFX, DI, dailies, digital film and all tapeless workflows. BrightDrive delivers real-time media access and playback functionality to all operators across LAN, SAN and video networks in all formats to 4K and beyond. Any mix of IRIX, Linux, Windows, and Mac OSX workstations can connect to BrightDrive via standard Ethernet or fibre channel networks. Cache-A Cache-A’s new LTO-4 A-Series data-tape drives provide networked storage systems to professional video customers that are simple to deploy and allow users a way to easily transfer their content to secure, portable, exchangeable LTO tape cartridges. A-Series drives provide networked storage direct to data tape. This solves a critical need in the Entertainment Industry by providing an economical, archive quality media on which to store file-based content. Every tape cartridge contains a directory of its content making each one a self-contained asset repository that can be shipped around the world and stored for long periods of time. The content can be retrieved regardless of the application or software environment that recorded it. This is important for both portability and longevity since the software and OS environment that recorded a cartridge may not be available across locations or may not persist in time for 10, 20, or even 30 years. MTI Films CONTROL DAILIES from MTI Films, facilitates faster than real time transfer from film or 2k DPX files to HD and SD, automatic synchronization of audio, and output to either tape or file based deliverables. CONTROL DAILIES is a concurrent workflow that optimizes your telecine or scanner investment and frees colorists from time consuming clerical duties, allowing them to do what they do best: COLOR. Whether a project is shot on film, video, or data, CONTROL DAILIES provides a complete workflow that encompasses all facets of the dailies process. The recently introduced DA Head module for Control Dailies enables the faster-than-real-time power of Control Dailies to facilitate the processing of digitally-acquired dailies from virtually any source. Control Dailies for Digital Acquisition (DA) supports Red One, Panasonic P2, Panavision Genesis, Viper FilmStream and Arri D-21 digital cinema cameras, as well as media in DPX file format.… Read More

  • Re:Naissance reanimates classics

    A new animation technique dubbed Re:Naissance plans to invert the adaptation process by taking existing live-action films and faithfully reproducing them in animation. The first live-action feature to be adapted with this new technique Re:Naissance is George Romero’s cult classic Night of the Living Dead (NOTLD). Through the marriage of cult live-action classics and graphic design, the goal is to create a whole new brand of animated film. The creator Chris Panzner details the technique on his blog LicenseToIllustrate.blogspot.com and give regular progress updates on the production of this first feature. Panzner aims to use this technique to create “homages” to older live-action films. Panzner describes the process as ‘rotomation,’ which is a combination of rotoscopy and traditional animation. “Re:Naissance is essentially rotoscoped key frame drawings with traditional in-betweens. It can be defined as ‘the re-creation of live-action films in animation’. It’s a new spin on adaptation and the remake,” according to Panzner. The concept has been variously described as “illustrated film” or “living comic.” “Our goal is not merely to rotoscope the original film – we are creating an entirely new film while remaining faithful to the original; an homage to the source film. The end result is an original animated feature film, meaning the stars in the live-action film will be caricaturised in some form but the movements and expressions (and original dialogue) will remain true to the original actors, although the animated characters will be completely new original graphic representation.” The rotoscope, as a tool, has been used for a variety of effects and to achieve a number of goals: “tracing” film and video images to combine live-action and animation. The most famous instance is in the movie ‘Anchors Aweigh’ in which Gene Kelly dances with MGM/Hanna – Barbera’s Jerry mouse; and for special effects. The technique has been employed exclusively on original film and video sources, however, and never on existing films… until now. Re:Naissance, however, uses rotoscopy only to do key frames and then in-betweens traditionally, using proprietary designs and backgrounds, new voices, new music, new FX, etc. The designs will correspond to the characters in the film but do not have to be exact reproductions of the film images. A way of describing it is to consider the original film as the storyboard and the live action movements the source of inspiration for the animation. On “NOTLD,” for example, Panzner took his inspiration from pre-Code (1940s-50s) EC Comics. “We’re also going to have some fun: change the blocking, action, camera positions, perspective, add sound/visual effects, stretch out/shorten scenes, insert scenes if need be and, well… anything and everything (except the story and dialogue.) The tools for this are proprietary software and a video-based electronic drawing tablet,” said Panzner. The key market of this project is the 15-34 year old graphic novel reader looking for an alternative to Marvel and Manga. The themes are more adult with sophisticated artistic choices. “We’re sure to have critics and fans. Fans are likely to be a younger generation, either slightly familiar with the live- action original or completely unfamiliar with it. They will discover what, for them, is a completely new and original film. Critics are likely to be an older audience who might object to anyone tampering with their favorite or classic film,” said Panzner. While the primary objective is to adapt motion pictures, television shows, series, documentaries, newsreels, archival materials, etc. are just as easily adapted. Re:naissance is an entirely new industry with an extremely large existing market; an industry that Re:naissance defines not only technically but creatively, financially and commercially. Through the marriage of film and design, it creates a whole new brand of animated film. From classic black-and-white and colour films to television shows and series, reborn visually from a vast array of graphic styles, the result is high-quality animation that not only perpetuates the source franchise but creates an entirely new one. The variety of genres and graphic treatments, for both 2D and CGI, means the concept will remain evergreen. A conservative estimate of the candidates for animation remakes would be in the hundreds, if not thousands, of films. These famous and classic films have big name stars, marquee recognition and a huge built-in international audience. Although Panzner and his team work with remastered films, their ambitions are more artistic than technical. The approach is to create an homage to the source film, with designs and animation faithful to the spirit of the original. The team believe they would have achieved their goal if an older generation rediscovers an old favorite and embrace its new form, while a younger audience discovers a new animated film, which may potentially have them wanting to see the older original version. “It is also extremely important to us that not only each Re:Naissance film be completely different stylistically from one to the next but that the genre (drama, horror, comedy, etc.) of film we do also be different each time,” he added. Chris Panzner has been doing mostly television/feature animation for the last 15 years or so, exclusively in Europe. He came up with Re:Naissance in order to combine his passion for art and film. The genesis for Re:Naissance is the result of his experience with colorisation in the USA, animation in Europe and his ever-increasing passion for the Franco-Belgian graphic novel. Although he hated the result of colorisation, it was a technique he considered very interesting. A change of copyright law in the United States made it possible for any significant artistic enhancement of an existing work to result in a new copyright. “I started work on feature animation, the absolute first film I worked on being The Triplets Of Belleville, which was nominated for two Oscars. The style was typically French graphic novel (bande déssiné) and its success in the US got me thinking about how manga was introduced in the Eighties, how huge it became and the spate of graphic novel adaptations – mostly English and American, although it’s a Franco-Belgian invention – to the big screen in Hollywood.” “The real turning point, however, was when I saw a still from Sin City with Bruce Willis side-by-side with the corresponding panel from the graphic novel. It suddenly occurred to me that the reverse had never been done: to take an existing film and do an animated version. “Comics to animation to live-action film/series to animated film/series to comics and back again had been done over and over and over. The best definition of animation is “anything can become something else.” That about sums it up. Your imagination is the limit. “Which is when I asked myself “Why is it okay to do a live-action adaptation of a graphic novel but not a graphic novel adaptation of a live-action film... that moves?” And the paradigm shifted.”… Read More

  • HP PLAYS role in 3D Monsters vs. Aliens

    Hewlett-Packard and DreamWorks Animation SKG worked closely to create the 3D movie Monsters vs. Aliens. Monsters vs. Aliens is the first full-length production from the team in 3D. DreamWorks’ 3D movies depend heavily on workstation technology from HP, said Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of the studio. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration that we couldn’t do what we do here without the support of HP, ” Katzenberg said. “Welcome to what I say is the next revolution in movies.” The movie, which required more than 40 million computing hours to make, is the first full-length digital 3D movie, DreamWorks executives added at a press conference in the company’s Glendale, California headquarters. DreamWorks used HP workstations, HP ProLiant blade servers, and HP’s Halo telepresence technology to create Monsters vs. Aliens, said DreamWorks CTO Ed Leonard. The studio has one Halo site for each 75 employees, Leonard said. “HALO for cross-site collaboration is a real necessity,” he said. Over 500 artists and animators worked directly in 2D and 3D on HP xw8600 dual-Xeon quadcore workstations and with HP DreamColor monitors. The centre of activity is a 3,500 square foot room packed full of blade servers. HP provided over 9,000 server processor cores spread across multiple racks of individual HP ProLiant BL460c blades, each rack demanding 18kw of power. In all, thirty sequences were created, a total of more than 120TB of data and taking over 920,970 man hours. The standout mothership destruction scene alone amounted to 6TB for the single shot. Each is created in multiple versions: both 2D analogue and 2D digital, for the bulk of movie theatres, each of which are taken from a 3D master using the new DreamWorks InTru 3D system. Every frame is HD resolution, and there are over 100,000 frames in the 2D versions and twice that amount in the 3D film. It required hundreds of blades for each individual character but with this current generation hardware, DreamWorks could render a frame in a few seconds, rather than several minutes with previous-gen machines. As with previous 3D films, Monsters vs. Aliens requires special glasses to be viewed properly. Along the way, they tested out just about every 3D display, auto-stereo screen and headset on the market, developing their own proprietary system of full-pipeline 3D authoring, not just of individual scenes but of scene-to–scene depth continuity. Where InTru 3D differs from the older systems is in its use of digital synchronisation: by perfectly matching the separate left- and right-eye images (which are combined into one 3D image by the brain). Not only are ghosting, motion blur and eye-strain bypassed, but animators have far greater control over the depth of the shot. DreamWorks’ animators used depth in front of, and behind, the screen to draw the viewer’s interest. Most of the available systems were either too expensive, too bulky or too individual-user focused to scale up to theatre-size glasses-free viewing. DreamWorks revealed, however, that they are currently in talks with eyeglasses and sunglasses manufacturers regarding building the polarization technology required to view InTru 3D into standard lenses.… Read More

  • NEW Flare and VFX systems Launched

    At the recent National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas, Autodesk, Inc., unveiled the 2010 releases of Autodesk Flame and Autodesk Inferno software for visual effects systems, and the launch of the new Flame and Inferno creative companion, Autodesk Flare software. Stig Gruman, digital entertainment vice president, Autodesk Media & Entertainment, expressed his enthusiasm for two new developments. “First, we are launching Flare, which will be a great creativity and productivity booster for customers of our flagship visual effects software. “Second, we have expanded our RED workflow capability to provide extremely fast and flexible import options. Both are already huge hits with our beta customers. In this economic climate, our software gives entertainment customers a real creative and competitive edge.” Flare 2010 – a fully compatible creative companion to Flame and Inferno Autodesk Flare 2010 is an integral part of the Autodesk solution to bridge the gap between 2D and 3D. Featuring the core creative toolset of Flame and Inferno, Flare is designed to help boost creativity, expand capacity and develop talent for Flame and Inferno customers. Flare is intended for advanced creative tasks, such as compositing, sophisticated graphics and interactive design, as well as support tasks such as rotoscoping, retouching and dust removal, project setup and keying. Flare benefits include: • Software application based on the Batch procedural compositing environment • Action 3D compositing environment with advanced 3D tools • Integral addition to Flame and Inferno workflow New Feature Highlights in Flame and Inferno 2010 Autodesk Flame and Inferno visual effects systems for high–speed 2D and 3D compositing, advanced graphics and interactive client–driven design provide digital artists with reliable, flexible and interactive toolsets to tackle complex high–resolution projects. With a focus on expanding 3D technology in Flame and Inferno, new features and enhancements in these new versions are: • More creative tools such as graphical processing unit (GPU)–accelerated 3D Blur, 3D Path, Normal and UV Mapping tools as well as advancements to 3D Text and Displacement Mapping tools • Expanded format support via Wiretap Central software for REDCODE RAW files, multichannel OpenEXR import and DNxHD with Apple QuickTime • File-based conform workflow with a powerful new search engine and configurable import settings to control metadata mapping • Extended floating-point processing support and redesigned Modular Keyer with customizable presets Recently, Autodesk’s visual effects systems have been used to create numerous blockbuster films, including all three of this year’s Academy Award-nominated movies for Best Visual Effects – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight and Iron Man. Autodesk solutions have also been used to create Emmy-award-winning television programmes and miniseries such as Mad Men, John Adams, House and Entourage.… Read More

  • New solutions from Blackmagic Design

    Blackmagic Design launched a series of new solutions for the post-production and broadcast industries designed to help bring down operational and facility costs, and exciting new tools to improve workflow. These include OpenGear converters, two affordable and powerful Videohub Routers, new Mini Converters, a low-price Waveform Monitor, and support for Linux with Blackmagic Design capture cards. Blackmagic Design also announced its first Optical Fiber solutions – Mini Converter, HDLink monitoring converter, and DeckLink capture card. The OpenGear Converters with SD/HD auto switching, DashBoard network control and 3 Gb/s SDI are eight new card-based converter products. These converters are virtually identical to Blackmagic Design’s popular Mini Converter range and includes models for analog video, HDMI, auto and optical fiber to and from SDI. A new Media Express 2.0 free upgrade for Media Express 2.0 software which includes direct capture and playback of DPX, QuickTime and AVI files, list based batch capture, elegant new software interface and Mac, Windows and Linux support has also been launched. Media Express is compatible with all Blackmagic Design DeckLink, Multibridge and Intensity products. With Media Express 2.0 on Linux, it is possible to build a very powerful and low cost creative workstation for broadcasters and post-production customers who want to take advantage of the emerging creative tools on the Linux platform. In addition, Blackmagic Design products now have support for Sony’s new 3 Gb/s SDI products. Blackmagic Design has been shipping products with native 3 Gb/s SDI support for over two years, beginning with the Multibridge Eclipse in 2007. Blackmagic Design DeckLink Optical Fiber is the world’s first 10 bit SD/HD broadcast capture card with both optical fiber SDI and regular SDI. Optical fiber cable has advantages because it’s commonly available and used in computer networking. Now any PCI Express Windows or Intel based Mac computer can have Optical Fiber SDI and SDI capture and playback. It instantly switches between SD and HD, includes RS-422, internal SD keyer, reference and 8 channels of audio. This card has the benefit of much longer cable runs, plus it will not need to be upgraded as quickly as other cables when SDI data speeds increase. The HDLink Optical Fiber is the world’s first 3 Gb/s optical fiber SDI and conventional SDI monitoring solution for SDI, HD and 2K monitors. This is a solution for large television stations and post-production houses, as well as DSNG trucks for live shots.… Read More

  • HD Technology gains greater acceptance

    As HD technology becomes prevalent in the Asia Pacific, producers realise what the format can do. The once elite space for HD production is expanding with more activities in the use of HD technology. We speak to industry leaders who relate their experience and wishes for the future of HD.… Read More

  • Queuing for the eBUS

    The traditional method of TVC delivery and storage has always been relatively prone to human error, management inefficiency, security issues and, last but not least, cost. Digitalised footage had to be transferred to Beta SP tapes and shuffled between production, post-production and audio companies, which entailed progressive image quality loss as tapes had to be copied over and over again. Physical delivery of finalised tapes by messengers to the broadcasters was not only time-intensive but also potentially compromised security. Then there was the possibility that broadcasters would load the wrong TVC version. All in all, it sometimes could get rather messy. Enter Carmine Masiello, an Italian-born industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience in the international arena. An entrepreneur with intuition, ingenuity and - most importantly - initiative, he developed his brainchild eBUS from scratch with the view of finally archiving traditional tape management on the dusty shelf of history. Partnering with industry icons Michael Orton, Ian Watson and Robert Skinner, he introduced his web-based eBUS system in his chosen new homeland of New Zealand in 2005, where it almost immediately attracted strong interest among agencies and production companies. eBUS renders tape machines obsolete, ensures better image quality than Beta SP, enables an efficient workflow between production house and advertiser and, thus, less man hours, facilitates lightning-fast digital delivery, negates the need for physical tape delivery and eliminates human error. There are no costs for the broadcaster partner, nor is any investment required from either agency or production house. New customers simply open an account with the company, install the system on their existing IT network and all is set. eBUS works with easy-to-use interfaces and provides different system versions specifically adapted to suit the needs of all customer segments. Fully digitalised transfers of a typical TVC can take as little as 50 minutes and broadcasters can put the submitted material on air immediately without having to go through another conversion process. Submitted commercials can be stored on the company’s server almost indefinitely to be accessible to any authorised party at any time. There are no licensing fees for using the software. Instead, the company charges a certain fee per transmission. “In New Zealand, the eBUS system has delivered [since its introduction in 2005] over 32,000 television commercials to leading broadcasters, who are now such strong supporters of digital delivery that TVC distribution [in the country] is completely tapeless,” asserted Masiello. The company opened its first offshore office in Singapore in 2007 and moved into Thailand’s capital Bangkok in November last year. The Advertising Association of Thailand (AAT) indicated early support for the system’s introduction and together with the company organised a series of workshop and orientation seminars that were attended heavily by all leading agencies, production and post-production companies and broadcasters. AAT president emeritus Chaipranin Visudhipol said “the high-level support from leading broadcasters in Thailand shows that the industry is taking a giant leap towards tapeless delivery.” The product was launched in Thailand which is an important hub in the Asia-Pacific region for the creative and advertising industries. Numerous international TVC productions use Bangkok’s state-of-the-art facilities for their post-production work. As such, eBUS has already secured commitments from some of the largest broadcasters, both terrestrial and cable- or satellite-based. “We have installed [the system] and trained staff at leading broadcasters such as Channel 3, Channel 5, MCOT (Channels 9 and 11) and VGI, while others such as TrueTV, are also keen to adopt the technology,” said Noppakorn Thongman, general manager of eBUS (Thailand). “The eBUS digital TVC delivery system is another step in the progression of Thailand’s media industry,” he added. The company also plans to open an office in India later this year where it expects the eBUS system will be welcomed with open arms, primarily because of the subcontinent’s sheer vastness and particularly large industry. “India is a very large market with tens of thousands of commercials being produced each year. Distribution [to the broadcasters] is extraordinarily difficult because of the country’s geographical size. We believe eBUS will bring enormous efficiency benefits to India’s agencies and production companies,” Masiello concluded. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • NAB 2009 sneak peek

    Asia Image takes a look at some of the new product offerings on display at NAB Show 2009, to be held from 20-23 April, 2009 at the Las Vegas Convention Center… Read More

  • Restoration rescues the Godfather series

    Thanks to a painstaking restoration, The Godfather is back with cinematic vengeance on a three-disc DVD set as well as a four-disc Blu-ray set from Paramount Home Entertainment, featuring a fully restored The Godfather: Part II, and The Godfather: Part III. The frame-by-frame restoration of The Godfather began in 2006 under the watchful eye of acclaimed film restorer Robert Harris (who had previously restored Lawrence of Arabia, among other titles). One screening of The Godfather showed Harris just how bad things in the Corleone world had become. “The better a film is, the worse condition it will be in when you go to restore it because thousands of prints have been made of it over the years,” Harris said. “You’re constantly going back to the original negatives for dupes, and the elements of those negatives just get used up until you’re left with a film that’s in a pretty sorry state. And that’s exactly what we found.” Suffice to say there hasn’t been a pristine version of The Godfather since Coppola put it in the can back in 1972. The original film was dark, literally and figuratively, with a rich, deep golden hue, dimly lit and purposely grainy. Over the years, that hue, created by cinematographer Gordon Willis, had turned almost bluish. “The opening of the film [in Don Corleone’s study] is very dark because Wallis purposely gave it a very thin exposure,” Harris said. “Over time, duplication processors that didn’t know what they were doing simply lightened everything so that all that hue was gone. Well, it’s back, and it’s gorgeous.” FilmLight’s Baselight colour grading system played a crucial role in the restoration of The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II and the creation of a new digital intermediate of the Director Cut of Part III as part of The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration Collections on DVD and Blu-ray. Under the direction of Francis Ford Coppola and cinematographer Gordon Willis, the painstaking restoration of the films spanned more than a year, during which the film imagery was rigorously restored, and the films’ soundtracks were given new 5.1 mixes. “It speaks volumes about Paramount’s and its commitment to the preservation of the great films in its library,” said Harris. According to Harris, the Godfather films have, to some extent, been the victims of their own success. “We were dealing with very damaged negatives due to the age of the films,” he said. “Also, because they are extraordinary films, they have been overprinted.” Under Harris’ supervision the existing film elements were scanned in 4K. After all of the various elements were scanned, Baselight was employed to aid in comparison, selection and finally to grade the scanned imagery. That portion of the work was completed in a DI grading theatre at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging in Hollywood. For Harris, it was his first exposure to grading via Baselight, and he came away very favourably impressed. “I don’t look at the Baselight as a machine, I look at it as a musical instrument,” Harris said. “And the colorist, Jan Yarbrough, sitting in front of the Baselight is like a concert pianist. It’s incredible.” Using Baselight, Harris and Yarbrough were able to perform butterfly tests, viewing graded scanned images alongside 35mm projections for making comparisons and matching looks. “Baselight enabled us to do everything we needed to do, which was wonderful,” Harris said. “It allowed us to not only see everything harvested in the scans, but to make the films look as closely as possible to what they did in 1972 and 1974.” Harris is proud of the work that was done on the Godfather films, which have now been restored to pristine condition not only for the new DVD and Blu-ray releases but also for the enjoyment of generations to come. “Our data files are perfect; Baselight gave us everything that we needed,” he observed. He added that viewers of the new Blu-ray collection will be treated to an incomparable viewing experience. “I actually prefer to watch the film digitally,” he said. “Although I am a film purist, you can’t always be watching a print that has just come out of Technicolor. When projected theatrically, the digital version has a higher resolution, a steadier image, and there is no dust or scratches.” No small task when you consider that The Godfather consists of more than a quarter-million film frames. It meant going to the vaults around the world (negatives, B-roll, outtakes and full prints are kept in various locations worldwide to prevent a film’s possible loss). But there was one caveat. “Coppola said we could see if there were shots that were really ragged or destroyed, and if original trims survived, we could use those trims, as long as no one outside a forensic scientist could ever [notice] that a change had been made,” Harris said. “The basic concept of film restoration is do not harm the film, figuratively and literally, and don’t leave tracks. It shouldn’t look like anything has been done to it; as if the original negatives had been hermetically sealed in 1972.” ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • UWE creativity flows with Blackmagic Design

    The University of the West of England (UWE) is a modern, growing university in the thriving city of Bristol - one of the top three media production centres in Britain and one of Britain’s largest and most popular universities with more than 30,000 students. Some of our graduates have gone on to work at the BBC, Aardman Animation, Channel 4, BBC Radio, Hewlett-Packard, and Films@59. For the past 15 years, UWE has offered a Media Practice that is a cross platform, integrated media production course. Students can specialise in many areas of media from film and TV to audio, animation and interactive. UWE’s Best Supporting Technology! Nearly two years ago, we purchased our first Blackmagic Design DeckLink HD Extreme card because it offers far more features than other companies’ cards and fits nicely into our budget. Because UWE have productions shooting on many different standards from high definition using solid state media (720p and 1080i) to uncompressed 10 bit SD, we need edit suites that can cope with a variety of formats with no problems. The DeckLink HD Extreme card has been fantastic and has really stood out for its stability and ability to instantly switch between SD and HD video. I have many years of experience working in post-production on both broadcast programmes and feature films and I have lost years of my life worrying about video cards letting me down! From the moment it was installed, the DeckLink card has been ‘flawlessly reliable’. I have not had to touch a thing and it has proven itself to be completely “student proof”. We installed another DeckLink HD Extreme card in a MacPro Intel Pro Quad core - Ram 4Gb - 3 x internal Intel drives (Raid 0 striped – 2 terabytes total) with a JVC 24inch DT-V24L1U 1920x1080 HD video monitor using HD-SDI, with two 20” Apple Cinema displays. This edit suite has been, by far, the most popular edit suite out of about 40 FCP systems on the campus, with students treating it as an online suite for both Final Cut Pro and Apple’s Colour. With the University recently becoming an Apple Authorized Training Centre for Education, we will increase our capabilities with additional higher end machines, all fitted with DeckLink HD Extreme cards, thereby further increasing opportunities for our students. We have been so impressed with the card that we recently added four cards to go into our newest editing systems, significantly expanding our film instructional and production capabilities. Our new DeckLink HD Extreme cards come with HDMI input/output, so they offer even greater flexibility to students who want to go in straight from a low budget camcorder or out to monitor on a plasma screen. We have been using SDI and component for input, monitoring and play-out, but the addition of HDMI will definitely enhance our choices for hardware that we use in our new production pipeline. The new cards have been installed in new Mac Pros (8 core, 8Gb Ram, 2.5 terabyte video drive, 500 Gb main drive) and will be used by our third-year students. UWE students shoot tapelessly using Panasonic P2 cameras. We’ve had a few longer documentaries produced using HDV and injested using Apple ProResHQ, which has worked great playing out through the Blackmagic Design DeckLink cards. Our Media Practice degree course, which leans towards short film and documentary making, relies heavily on solid post-production solutions for up to 100 films produced by about 170 students each year. ‘Isabella’ Wins Awards in 2007 and 2008 The film “Isabella”, directed by UWE Media Practice graduate Geoffrey Taylor and produced using the DeckLink HD Extreme card, has won several awards: in 2008, it won the Pinewood/Vividas prize and, in 2007, it was the first film ever to win both the Creativity Prize and the Cinematography Prize of the NAHEMI/Kodak Award at the Encounters Short Film Festival, as well as the first time that a piece shot on video has won the Kodak Cinematography Prize. We are proud of the higher quality education our students receive and the first hand practical experience they gain in preparation for a successful career in the film production industry. Not only are we teaching them how to transfer their creativity onto the screen, whether large screen or small, we’re also teaching them to make smart business decisions about utilizing the best tools for the best price; something that is becoming more crucial to the bottom line of production costs. Utilizing the best professional video products, such as Blackmagic Design DeckLink cards, gives our students superior tools that allow their creativity to flow, producing visually stimulating films that will make a difference. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Taiwan’s Xanthus wins Superpitch HD

    This is the second successive year that a Taiwanese entry has come out tops in the Asia TV Forum’s annual pitching contest Superpitch. Last year, ODD Incredible won the pitching contest with their animated concept Splash Nash. Although Xanthus have been in the animation industry for five years working on numerous commissioned animation projects, Yameme is their first original animated series (13 x 22’). It tells the story of the conflict between Yameme, the daughter of Yen-Lo-Wang (the Chinese God of Death), and Damien, the offspring of Satan. Yameme won over the judges with its slick animation and smooth action and the fact that the story line successfully combined oriental mythology with western elements, appealing to a wider market. As Xanthus’s CEO Bruce Yao explains, “This bizarre animation series should be able to attract audiences from different cultural background.” The event also saw spirited presentations by five other production houses from Thailand, China, Malaysia and Taiwan, with HD-compliant, original concepts in contention. As part of the prize, Xanthus have the opportunity to undertake a six-month internship at Discovery Networks Asia Pacific and post-production hours sponsored by Iceberg Design. Organized by trade publications Television Asia Plus and Asia Image, SuperPitch HD was held on 11 December as part of the Asia Television Forum at Suntec City in Singapore. The following are excerpts from an interview with the SuperPitch HD winner. Q: What prompted you to take part? Xanthus Digital Picture (XDP): We always believe that Xanthus is capable of creating world famous animation. In Taiwan, not only do we appreciate animations from all over the world, we can also provide OEM services for countries around the world, and at the same time training and nurturing many exceptional talents and techniques. Therefore we wanted to seize the opportunity to show the world our creative ideas and demonstrate our development strength at this year’s SuperPitch HD. Q: What is the unique selling point of your pitch? XDP: Our work portrays eastern legends from thousands of years ago, but we have redesigned the monsters and creatures from these stories and added characters and cultural perspectives from the Western world, in order to enhance the dramatic elements and provide more fun for the stories. Not only can we satisfy the audience of the Chinese and Asian market, we have also thought about making our work accessible to the Western audience. I believe this was the reason that the judges from various countries gave our work such positive feedback. Q: How well do you think you fared? XDP: Very well! We spent a lot of time preparing and practicing for the pitch. Although we did get a little bit nervous at the conference, but everything went pretty well. Q: How far would you agree with the judges’ assessment of your pitch? XDP: Very much! We are really thankful for their encouraging words. Q: Was the feedback useful? Will you be modifying your pitch to take into consideration the feedback you received? XDP: Yes, the judges gave us a lot of valuable comments and encouragements. We will use these feedbacks as a guide to modify the direction which our project is taking. Q: The Q&A is considered the toughest segment of the pitch - how did it go for you? XDP: The Q&A was certainly the most strenuous part of the whole pitch. But once we prepared all the information we needed and carefully thought through our product strategy, the Q&A was not a problem. Q: On hindsight, what would you have done differently? XDP: We spent a lot of time and effort on the stories and character designs, but the actual merchandised products and market planning weren’t quite enough yet. We will strengthen our merchandising planning and make our product more desirable for the market. Q: What do you consider to be the biggest reward of taking part? XDP: There were many rewards. We met with contestants from other countries. The biggest one would be to give our work more exposure through the SuperPitch competition, and get in touch with a lot of investment companies who gave us valuable feedback that will help us to make our work better and closer to success. Q: Would you take part again? XDP: Definitely! We will be attending again, because this is a wonderful opportunity for us to get in touch with the global markets. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Foley key to good

    What is it about the sound in many student or amateur films that makes them sound so ... well ... amateur? Even if the fidelity or clarity is good, there is often something hollow or thin about the sound - the action lacks aural depth. The answer could be that the filmmakers did not add Foley to the soundtrack. What is it? Foley effects are sound effects added to the film during post-production (after the shooting stops). These include sounds such as footsteps, clothes rustling, doors opening and slamming, glass breaking, etc. Many of these sounds are the ones that sound recordists on set did their best to avoid recording during the shoot. Most times on set, the boom operator’s job is to record the dialogue, and only the dialogue. At first glance it may seem odd that we add back to the soundtrack the very sounds the sound recordists tried to exclude. But the key word here is control. By excluding these sounds during filming and adding them in post, we have complete control over the timing, quality, and relative volume of the sounds. By adding the sound in post, we can control its intensity, and fade it down once the dialogue begins. Even something as simple as boots on gravel can interfere with our comprehension of the dialogue if it is recorded too loudly. Far better for the actor to wear sneakers or socks and for the boot-crunching to be added during Foley. How is it done? Foley is usually created by Foley artists. Ideally they stand on a Foley stage (an area with a variety of possible surfaces and props) in a Foley studio (a specialised sound studio), though any post-production sound studio will do with a little modification. The Foley artists can clearly see a screen, which displays the footage, they are to add sounds to, and they perform their sound effects whilst watching this screen for timing. The actions they perform can include walking, running, jostling each other, rubbing their clothing, handling props, and breaking objects, all whilst closely observing the screen to ensure their sound effects are appropriate to the vision. Increasingly, many simple Foley effects are done without Foley performers - the sounds are stored electronically and performed by the post-production sound engineer on a keyboard whilst watching the vision. Done poorly this type of “Foley” sounds bland and repetitive, and it is nowhere near as flexible as the real thing, but it is much cheaper than renting a Foley stage and paying Foley artists. Why? Without Foley, a film sounds empty and hollow - the actors seem to be talking in a vacuum. The sound recordists, if they did a good job, have given us the dialogue and excluded everything else, but films needs more than this for the picture to come alive. We need to hear the little sounds of clothes, etc - but we need to control them so they don’t obscure any of the dialogue. Another common use for Foley is adding it to documentary footage. Old historical film seems lifeless when it is screened without sound, and adding it helps bring those long dead images to life. Next time you watch a history documentary that uses silent archival footage, listen closely and you should hear at least minimal Foley effects, mostly footsteps, behind the narration. Adding even basic Foley sound effects, such as footsteps, clothes rustling, and prop handling is within the reach of even the low-budget film maker. Even if you have to be your own Foley performer, try to add Foley to your film. Sure, your average audience member may not know the meaning of the term “Foley”, but they will notice an indefinable realism and professionalism to your film/documentary that sets it apart from the others. Foley can also be used to enhance comedy or action scenes. Watch most comedy films and you’ll notice that many of the sounds are enhanced for comic effect, and sometimes the Foley effect is the joke. As for action, most fist fights do not involve the actors really hitting each other, and even if they did we would not be able to record a satisfying punch sound. By punching such objects as cabbages etc, Foley artists can record unique and much more ‘realistic’ action sounds. Why is it called Foley? The technique is named after Jack Foley, who established the basic modern techniques still used today. Like most terms that are named in honour of a person, it is customary to spell Foley with a capital “F”. Foley for the future Digital equipment has given more options to alters sound in certain ways, drops it in octaves, make it bigger or give it more depth to get giant, dynamic sounds that in the old days no one was doing. The equipment includes sound effects processors, reverb units, equalizers and pitch shifters. Often Foley mixers will utilise sonic bending software programs called plug-ins within a digital audio workstation, such as Digidesign Pro Tools. In addition to added creativity, these digital tools have increased the speed of the Foley process. Editors can begin adjusting tracks immediately. That ability removes any questions about sync or how it’s going to sound with the production track. These days it is possible to record right into Pro Tools and see it, hear it and adjust it right off the bat. That doesn’t mean that Foley is a whiz-bang-boom proposition. Many big-budget productions still offer Foley artists up to six weeks of time for creation and editing of the tracks. The interesting thing about Foley is that even though the technology changes in terms of the recording process, the actual process of Foley artistry is still the same. Adding personality to a specific movement is the spirit of Foley and that takes both time and talent. It is not something that can be done with a CD of sound effects. Digital Foley has made inroads into the television world but for features, it does not yet have soul. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR

    Industry movers and shakers share their thoughts on the past year and their hopes for the year ahead… Read More

  • Side Effects opens Asia Pacific HQ in Singapore

    Canada’s Side Effects Software Inc., a world leader in the development of advanced 3D animation and special effects software, opened its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore. Side Effects Software leads the field of procedural animation with its award-winning Houdini high-end software technology. Side Effects Asia Pacific will work closely with studios and educational institutions in the Asian region to deliver Houdini support and training. Houdini, a two time Academy-Awards winner for Technical Achievement, is the leading solution for high-end visual effects and has been used in more than 300 feature films and motion pictures including blockbusters Superman Returns, Spider-Man 3, Bolt, Transformers and The Incredible Hulk among others. Houdini is available for Mac OS X, Linux and Windows and offers digital artists an unprecedented level of power, flexibility and control. During the launch event, senior production specialist and Houdini guru, David Robert introduced Houdini 9.5 to regional artists as well as Houdini users who came to Singapore to participate in SIGGRAPH Asia. With Side Effects establishing a regional presence, Asia will be more strongly connected to other Houdini users in high-end animation and visual effects production studios in Hollywood and Europe, as well as key markets such as Japan, Australia and India. Initially focusing on skills development in the region, Side Effects Asia Pacific plans to create a wealth of new learning and working opportunities for regional talent. Developing Houdini skills will prove invaluable to artists interested in careers in feature film and games, as well as visualisation and simulation. Side Effects Asia Pacific will work in collaboration with Singapore digital media training institutions as well as the industry to develop and upgrade skills to align with the high expectations typically found in Hollywood productions. Speaking about the latest version, Robert explained that Houdini 9.5 brings the 3D industry’s first node-based workflow to the Mac ensuring that 3D artists can collaborate seamlessly in a multi-platform environment. “More and more artists are embracing Houdini’s node-based workflow for their animation and visual effects projects,” said Robert. “Houdini for Mac is an important step in bringing Houdini’s renowned power and flexibility to the wider creative community.” For all platforms, Houdini 9.5 includes a number of key productivity enhancements including FBX export with support for geometry, lights, cameras, animation, hierarchies, skeletons, weighted skins, UVs, geometry caches, particles, and dynamic simulations. Adobe Illustrator and eps import has also been included for motion graphic artists. To streamline workflow and make Houdini more accessible, a tool shelf was added in Houdini 9. Houdini 9.5 continues to utilize the shelf with new Rigid Body fracturing tools, debris generation tools, river and wave simulation tools, and tools for generating fluids-based fire and smoke. In addition, an animatable all-purpose Ramp parameter type has been added to help artists build shaders and control effects such as particles or L-systems. Artists can also use real-time shadows in the viewport and Houdini 9.5 now supports hand-coded OpenGL2 shaders. “Customer requests have fueled many of the workflow improvements in Houdini 9.5, said Robert. “One example is the ability to make nodes inside locked Digital Assets editable. And the Wedge tool is an important productivity enhancement that lets artists render out multiple iterations of a shot using randomly generating parameter values, much like photographers using bracketing to explore exposure variations.” “Houdini is about saving time and money for artist. Instead of learning to write hundreds of lines of MEL script to achieve a particular result, the artist can perform “visual programming” through the proceduralism of the node based workflow. This encourages adventurous explorations therefore a mistake can lead to the development of new art technique.” “Houdini is out to create more options and interoperates; not to compete with other 3D software developers. Houdini aims to change the fixed mindset of Maya/MAX developers and users.” B. K. Ng, Asia Pacific representative said Side Effects Software’s immediate business goal for Houdini is to “collaborate with educational institutes like Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Institute of Technical Education, etc.” “Side Effects wishes to promote the culture of process discipline through the understanding and application of proceduralism in the production pipeline of local animation works,” said Ng. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • SIGGRAPH Asia brings VFX major Craig Halperin to SE Asia

    The team at SIGGRAPH Asia organised a series of seminars in Southeast Asia with animation and VFX technology guru Craig “Xray” Halperin. Halperin gave a procedural perspective on FX in live action and feature animation. Craig began the event with his background and how he ended up in the visual effects industry through a series of fortunate accidents. He also talked about his experience and approach while making the visual effects for live action films such as Titanic, X-Men 2, The Sum of All Fears, Bee Movie, Kung-Fu Panda and the upcoming A Christmas Carol. Speaking to Asia Image, Halperin said, “I am really looking forward to the seminar. This is my first series in Southeast Asia and I hope for an enthusiastic response from the audience. I have always enjoyed education and love sharing information with people. I started out in this career at a very low position with no formal training in computer graphics. I had to work my way up to where I am today. “So I think my story may help artists who wish to start out in this field and give them a perspective on VFX as a career. I will also be explaining how some very complex VFX shots were put together and so it will not only help aspirants but also artists already in the field,” Talking about the changes in the industry in terms of creatives and technology, Craig demonstrated in detail the approach to the FX done in specific scenes, such as Cyclops’ Optic Force Blast in X-Men 2, the meteors in Armageddon, and the Cadillac Turbulence commercial. He also explained the compositing for visual effects through case studies such as rebuilding of locations in China for Red Corner and the blurry guy effect in What Dreams May Come as well as the techniques of crowd animation with Sprite-based system as used on Titanic, DreamWorks Mob system used on Bee Movie and Kung-Fu Panda and massive crowd animation software. Commenting on SIGGRAPH Asia’s initiative in bringing this series of seminars to Asia, Halperin said, “Bringing the conference to Asia will enable many more people to participate in it. The content it brings into the industry is very valuable and not just through its courses and computer animation fest but also through enabling networking. It can also be a great place for job hunting and catching up with colleagues in the industry.” “I would encourage everyone to join the local chapter of the conference and being a volunteer organisation, get involved in its work. If you have an idea for an event, join SIGGRAPH and make it happen. You will find many people stepping up to help you in your initiative,” Craig concluded.… Read More

  • india connects

    Some of the top Bollywood production houses connected with Hollywood at the American Film Market (AFM) 2008 in Santa Monica, California which saw an unprecedented level of participation from Indian content providers. According to the US India Business Alliance (USIBA), a leading business lobby working for increased US and India trade, many leading companies from India made their presence felt at this important global marketplace event. Some of India’s biggest and best including UTV, Percept, Mukta, Ultra, Kaleidoscope, Time Broadband, Nirvana Motion Pictures participated. The global distribution of Indian content has seen dramatic growth over the last several years. Recognising this important trend, the Indian Film and Television Producers Guild participated actively in AFM 2008 under the National Umbrella Programme with its American Associate, USIBA. “We are very excited by the Guild’s participation at AFM 2008. The media and entertainment sector is a vital part of India’s success story. American Film Market is a vital global marketplace for the industry and we will be seeing Indian firms actively participating more every year,” said Sanjay Puri, president of USIBA. USIBA and the Guild are working together to help the entertainment sectors of the two countries leverage their inherent strengths and establish long-term relationships. The AFM is a major fulcrum of the entertainment business for independent motion picture production and distribution. “We are heartened to note the proactive efforts of the Indian film industry to participate in this largest market for films. It is our endeavour to ensure a successful and productive experience so that the Indian film industry attracts more business not only in the US, but also globally,” said Dolly Kapoor, director of Entertainment Industry at the USIBA. Indian entertainment content is in unprecedented global demand with all signs indicating continued dramatic growth. The Indian film industry not only is making strides in conventional media but they are also embarking on major endeavours involving digital content and delivery. “The importance and potential of AFM was perhaps not being properly tapped by Indian content providers. The Guild’s initiative in collaboration with USIBA for this year’s AFM will surely be an eye opener for good things ahead,” said Ronnie Screwvala, chief executive officer of UTV and president of the Indian Film and The Indian film industry is detaching itself from the typical three-hour-long-song-and-dance epics image and emerging as one of the growth engines of the booming Indian economy. Every Hollywood studio has or is currently looking to invest massively in the vertically integrated majors that dominate the Indian media scene. While Hollywood loves to show outside investors just how the movie business really works, some of the people behind Bollywood in India believe they have something to teach Hollywood about making movies. Heading in the same way are the Indian companies, investing in everything from Soho post-production facilities to funding Hollywood stars’ production companies and films. Reliance Entertainment, part of an Indian conglomerate controlled by the telecommunications and finance mogul Anil Ambani, is in talks to finance Steven Spielberg and David Geffen in a new venture. The company also recently signed production deals with Hollywood directors such as Jay Roach and Chris Columbus and stars such as Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Jim Carrey. Reliance Entertainment’s chairman, Amit Khanna, a Bollywood director and producer, and the company president, Rajesh Sawhney, a former newspaper group executive, laid out plans that include creating a US$10billion entertainment company that would be one of the world’s largest. They envision nothing short of remaking Hollywood. After several good years, entertainment companies in India are finding that they have the money but not enough places to spend it. “Although the Indian film industry is having one of its best runs ever as far as cash inflow is concerned, the fact is that the top-bracket talent is booked up for the next couple of years,’ said Hetal Adesara, a founder of Business of Cinema, a Mumbai-based Internet company that provides Bollywood news. Companies such as Reliance are looking to Hollywood to expand their portfolios and ‘create a new genre of crossover cinema’ with talent from India and abroad, he said. Directors who have worked in both Hollywood and Bollywood say the Indian emphasis on autonomy and innovation could have a strong impact on Hollywood. ‘I have complete and total creative freedom to do what I’m doing,’ said Vidhu Vinod Chopra, director of Eklavya, an Indian entry in the best foreign-language film category in the Academy Awards. He recently signed a two-movie deal with Reliance Entertainment for close to US$100million. Revenue from India’s movie industry hit US$2.2 billion last year, says PricewaterhouseCoopers, less than a tenth that of Hollywood. But Bollywood is expected to double in size by 2012, thanks to 13 per cent annual growth, versus less than three per cent in Hollywood. ‘There are a lot of lessons emerging markets can teach the rest of the world,’ said Rajesh Jain, head of media and entertainment for KPMG in India. For instance, Indian entertainment companies have embraced new channels of film distribution such as the Internet more rapidly than the West. That’s in part because of the Indian diaspora, many of whom are eager to see Bollywood films, but cannot find them in the local theatre. Rajshri Group, owner of one of India’s oldest production houses, was the first to tap into those millions, with the premiere of its film Vivah in 2006. It made a download of the film available at the same time it premiered in theatres in India. Thousands downloaded the film, each paying US$9.99. Still, at their roots, Hollywood and Bollywood are starkly different industries, starting with the economics. A Bollywood film costs a fraction of one from Hollywood: A small-budget film in India might be US$200,000 to US$1 million, while a big-budget film is US$4 million or more. The largest-budget Bollywood films have barely touched the US$20-million mark. As much as half of the production cost can go to fees for actors and directors. So far, getting mainstream Hollywood stars into major roles in Bollywood movies has proved difficult. Sylvester Stallone agreed to appear in Kambakkht Ishq, a move seen in the Indian film industry as a big breakthrough. But he made a brief appearance in the movie playing himself, not acting in a major role. For example, The Walt Disney Company (India) plans to independently produce four live action films. These will include The 19th Step with Kamal Haasan and Asin, to be directed by Bharat Bala, and Zokkomon with the Taare Zameen Par whiz kid Darsheel Safari, to be directed by Satyajit Bhatkal. It was Bhatkal who wrote The Spirit of Lagaan and directed Chale Chalo, the documentary on the making of Lagaan. Mahesh Samat, managing director of The Walt Disney Company (India), said this was in addition to its co-production arrangement with Yash Raj Films. On the eve of the launch of the Disney-Yash Raj Films maiden co-production Roadside Romeo, the animation feature directed by Jugal Hansraj with voice by Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, Samat said the company was collaborating with Yash Raj Films for one more animation film. The 19th Step will be a lavish production with an Indo-Japanese cast. “This is an interesting film because it’s a multilingual which will primarily be in Tamil and it is one of those unique films that will potentially be a global film. It’s got some elements of martial arts. We are proud to be associated with Kamal Haasan and A.R. Rahman.” Disney’s foray into film production in India has been triggered by the size of the market. Samat said: “With 3.6 billion movie admissions a year, it’s a remarkable figure. With the value of movie admissions going up, we are talking about a US$7 billion box office. Disney has a huge amount of expertise in telling stories and building a franchise around the characters.” “We are about creating products that take the story beyond the story,” said Roshni Bakshi, regional director, Disney Consumer Products. A whole range of products that took the Roadside Romeo franchise to the consumer reached the retail market in mid-October, two weeks before the film’s Diwali release. “Film is the entertainment option for the family in India,” said Radesh Mishra, CEO/Indian operations at UFO Moviez. “India releases about 1,000 movies a year in more than 20 languages but the cost of prints, not helped by the usual two-and-a-half hour typical running time, is too high. A major film might have just 400 prints made which then trickle down to secondary cinemas. By this time however, piracy has usually kicked in, and in a big way.” The solution, Mishra argued, was digital cinema, and his organisation had already financed about 1,250 screens, and was targeting an additional 1,500 over the next two years. “We provide an end-to-end solution, sourcing the satellite bandwidth, the movies and fund the equipment. We are paid on a ‘per show’ basis, around 21 screenings a week. “Even better, some 50 per cent of our revenue comes from a brand-new source - advertising. Prior to digital distribution there was little or no interest from national advertisers in cinema ads. With 9,000 screens and about 8,000 owners this was an impossibility. Now we are generating widespread interest, and cutting down on piracy.” ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Superpitch goes high definition

    High-definition production is definitely taking root. From EPL soccer games to television mini-series and feature films, the format is changing the way the industry approaches production. The transition to high definition has driven service providers to seek HD content catering to HD media consumption. To address the growing interest in HD content, Asia Television Forum’s (ATF) annual SuperPitch has raised its standards and gone high def. Organized by trade publications Television Asia Plus and Asia Image, SuperPitch HD provides a stage for aspiring Asian programme-makers to pitch HD concepts for original content to regional media players under real-world pitching conditions. Superpitch has evolved from animation only, to include all genres - 2007’s Superpitch 2.0 had a cross-platform theme. Six shortlisted finalists will give a presentation before a jury panel comprising commissioning editors, senior programme acquisition executives and producers from the region’s major networks and production companies. As for what a Superpitch HD entry needs to capture the jury’s attention, Magz Osborne, managing editor of both publications, reckons a well-researched business proposal pitching a novel idea or concept would have the edge. Osborne adds that for Superpitch HD, she’s looking for ideas with sound foundations but an original twist. Apart from the emphasis on HD, another major difference for Superpitch in 2008 is the exciting prizes on offer. Apart from the invaluable pitching experience, media exposure and the opportunity to meet some of the region’s most influential programming decision-makers, this year’s winner has the opportunity to undertake a six-month internship at Discovery Networks Asia Pacific (worth $10,000) as well as post-production hours sponsored by Iceberg. One thing most will agree with is that HD is most definitely the future. Becoming familiar with HD technology is essential, but knowing how to implement the technology to make for compelling and productive programming is of equal importance. Superpitch HD will unearth more than a few winners. Watch out for the next big concept in TV in HD with Superpitch HD at the Asia TV Forum at Suntec City on 11 December.… Read More

  • China in digital ascendancy

    China was the focus of major attention globally this year with the hosting of the Olympic Games. The country provided high definition images and surround sound to the world during the games, signalling an evolution as it switched to digital in all its forms: DTT, cable, satellite, mobile television, IPTV and the web. Speaking at a panel session at the International Broadcasting Congress in Amsterdam, Ken Kerschbaumer, editorial director of Sports Video Group, the international association of sports video professionals and technology providers, described the 2008 Summer Games as the largest all-HD event ever produced in the history of television. “For decades to come it will be remembered as the event that truly made HD a global phenomenon, a truly remarkable accomplishment that brought the global sports production community together,” Kerschbaumer said. Anyone who watched the Olympics coverage on CCTV will be familiar with the work of Red Bee Media. They produced the opening title sequence for the Olympics, plus most of the graphics used in the programming. The UK-based media company secured the contract with CCTV through its China representative office, which was set up last year. The contract was a big win for Red Bee Media, formerly known as BBC Broadcast Ltd. Red Bee Media London office provides “creative services” such as ads, promos and trailers for major TV stations such as the BBC and Channel 4. It also operates a play-out center for television and radio broadcasters such as the BBC, UKTV, Virgin Media Television and ESPN. Sandy Macmillan, Red Bee Media’s creative director for Asia, explained that the contract was won because they have experience working with the BBC, BBC Sports and BBC Olympics. “Our team from London came to Beijing and presented our ideas in collaboration with Workshop, a large local company in Beijing. I think our collaboration with the London team was one of the reasons why we won this contract. Our collaboration with the local company, who are actually one of our main rivals, was also a factor,” Macmillan said. “The storyboard was mostly a Red Bee original creation. The results system you see on CCTV is something we specialise in and the live zipping animation is also our design. The onscreen graphics and presentation system were worked on by Red Bee and CCTV digital, the station’s in-house communications workshop,” Macmillan explained. John Ive, consultant and technologist, who chaired the IBC forum session said, “China is centre stage after hosting the summer Olympics with the opportunity to show that far from being a follower, China is now a world leader in the media industry. An understanding of what is happening in China is vital and cannot be ignored.” China is experiencing unprecedented government-led industry expansion. With an annual economic growth approximating to more than 8 per cent and predictions of that rising to double digits, there’s no doubt China’s influence will grow. Slowly but surely the television and radio infrastructure in China is undergoing radical change as it transitions to DTV in all forms - DTT, cable, satellite, mobile TV, web and IPTV. For example some of the world’s biggest IPTV installations can be found in China as a part of a rapid transition to digital and increased availability to the 1.3 billion population. Mobile and internet use also dwarfs most countries. “Commercially China represents big business both as a consumer of technology and supplier worldwide,” said Ive. “New technologies are being researched and standards established that would have an impact far beyond the country borders. Many companies are looking to develop business links but find it difficult to understand the dynamics of this fascinating country.” ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Serving up technology

    Video servers - sometimes called encoders - primarily convert analogue video to digital format, and sometimes include storage. The term server is confusing, because to some it means a storage device like a computer server and to others it means a device that streams video to the Internet like a web server. What is commonly called a video server is an encoder. The reason they are called servers is that 95 per cent of the products function as web servers. Eventually the word will fade away and be replaced by the term video encoder. A video server can be accessed from any computer if the user has its IP address. For installations with multiple servers, it helps to use a video management software that can view multiple servers on the same screen at the same time instead of accessing each one separately from a web browser. The encoder is hardware with circuit board, a CPU and a power supply. The basic things it has are the input for the camera, the video feed, an RJ45 female socket to plug into the network, and a power source. During the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, ARD/ZDF, Germany’s largest television station deployed 10 Avid AirSpeed servers for ingest and play out with 96 TB of Avid Unity ISIS shared storage. France Televisions, the public broadcaster, established a production studio in Beijing for coverage of the Games. The Beijing production included an AirSpeed server for ingest and an Avid Thunder system for multi-channel video live production. The Avid AirSpeed is a next-generation I/O server is a direct, single channel ingest and single or dual-channel play out system designed to integrate with the Avid non-linear production environment - the most cost-effective and efficient means for the start and finish of a project or getting a story to air. With AirSpeed, direct acquisition of tapes and live feeds into an Avid Unity shared media network or standalone AirSpeed directly into Avid editing systems without shared storage makes incoming footage available immediately to all contributors. AirSpeed offers significant time saving at each end of the HD or SD nonlinear workflow. Its compact, modular 3RU form factor reduces space requirements and its proven IT-based design integrates easily with existing equipment, applications, and processes including third-party automation systems. “The expanded recording and playout capabilities of AirSpeed 2.0 significantly increase the power of an Avid Unity workgroup,” said David Schleifer, vice president of Avid Broadcast and Workgroups. “AirSpeed offers support for high-quality HD and uncompressed SD formats, expanding its application to encompass more types of video production. What makes AirSpeed especially attractive is that it’s more affordable than similar products on the market. It’s versatile, flexible, easy to use, and enables facilities to significantly increase the efficiency of producing SD and HD material.” “By adding playout support for popular HD formats and also improving the bandwidth and storage capacity of the system, we’re enabling broadcasters to scale to their playout operations and keep pace with the demand for HD content,” Schleifer added. Faster, more efficient workflow is the focus for Omneon, and the company has recently won a number of orders on the back of broadcasters’ search for greater efficiencies within file-based environments. Omneon senior vice-president for products and markets, Geoff Stedman said: “Our goal is to provide a platform for efficient file-based workflows. One of the trends we see is broadcaster needing to quickly re-purpose and deliver their media for multiple platforms.” German broadcaster Plazamedia is one such example, and has invested in a new Omneon MediaGrid active storage system to provide facility-wide central storage for its ‘Center’, with Omneon Spectrum media servers performing ingest and play out functionality. The set up devised for Plazamedia ensured that content provided by tape, satellite feed, or file is ingested to existing Omneon Spectrum servers under control of Blue Order media asset management and then sent or imported to two newly installed, fully redundant 24TB MediaGrid units for secure central storage. Directed by Marquis Medway, MXF IMX 50 files then make the trip from the MediaGrid system to Avid editing and back, at which point the ProXchange application transcode designated files into MPEG LGOP for play out under Pro-Bel Morpheus automation. The MediaGrid system also interfaces with EVS servers and SGL tape library. “From our perspective, we like to define a video server as a device that provides the ability at minimum to capture and record video and then provide it back for review, as opposed to in general what I would suggest the industry considers an encoder,” asserted Bob Beliles, senior manager, market management, physical security of Cisco. “An encoder is a device which digitises and compresses video and leaves it at that - that would be your basic function,” Beliles continued. “A function above that would be a device that takes the video, digitises and compresses it, and puts it into a network packet, which is a gateway device, which allows it to connect to a LAN or WAN and ultimately to the Internet and recording platforms.” These would include digital video recorders (DVRs) and network video recorders (NVRs), he said. Some of these may be hybrids that can have analogue or IP cameras connected to them. Servers also can connect to network-attached storage (NAS) devices or storage area networks (SANs). Matt Barnette, vice president of sales at AMAG Technology Inc., agreed that video servers should include storage. “A server not only transforms the signal from analogue to digital but also saves the data,” he insists. He added that such a device allows moving more of the system to the edge to reduce cabling costs. “Our idea was to put the camera out there and put a video server out at that location and be able to connect it to the network wirelessly and have it stream the video back, and you can be recording it or viewing it anywhere you have network connectivity,” he related. “It allows you to increase the flexibility of the design as well as the usability of the system. “There should be a significant cost savings during installation of the system utilising the network infrastructure already in place, so you don’t have to run cables to all these devices - you simply connect them to the network, and your device is now online,” Barnette pointed out. He added that some advanced IP cameras are not only performing the server function, but also storing video. “So in essence those cameras have become very intelligent devices at the edge of the network,” he notes. “They are acting in somewhat of a server capacity, where they are storing the video or making some type of intelligent decision.” “From there, you move up to an analogue camera that has a video server built into it. That video server sometimes is called an encoder, but it’s a single-channel device. The next step up from that is a standalone video server that is often called an encoder and takes from one up to four channels typically,” continued Corbett. Some video servers are mounted in racks if existing video surveillance systems already are configured to send analogue camera output to centralised locations like control rooms. A 19-inch rack can have a capacity of up to 48 ports or channels. Such a rack is made up of 12 four-port video servers, each of which does not have a housing and is called a “blade.” Blades only can function in a rack. Other servers are strictly software that can reside on any off-the-shelf computer and perform the functions of a video server. Because video servers are a transitional technology, Corbett expects the market for them to increase for a while and then drop off. “As we move more and more to IP cameras, they will come to a point where these have saturated the market, and all the analogue cameras that you want to change to IP have been done,” he predicts. “The newer cameras coming on are IP cameras, which are video servers in themselves. “It’s hard to say how much time - IP cameras are growing so fast in the marketplace - but over the next five years, there will be a reasonable growth in IP video encoders, and then after that, they’ll just drop off the market,” Corbett forecasts. “They won’t be needed anymore.” But the number of analogue cameras still in use is high, Barnette points out. “Those aren’t going to go away anytime soon, so over the course of the next five to 10 years, there is going to be a need for hybrid devices to put those cameras on a network,” he concludes. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Digital 3D – the wave of the future

    One of the most talked about topics in the world of digital cinema industry is stereoscopic 3D also known as 3D Digital, the new technology available in 3D format. “The old 3D film was shot in analogue form but in 3D Digital, the film is shot with two cameras simultaneously; each camera imitating the left and right eye. These two images are then projected on screen to create the desired impact,” explains Patrick von Sychowski, chief operating officer, Adlabs Digital Cinema. Shooting the film with a dual-camera setup, however, is not all that is required to translate 3D images in cinema halls. A 2K digital projector, a special 3D filter, a silver screen (which is much brighter than the usual screen) and appropriate glasses for audiences are needed, said von Sychowski. Journey To The Centre Of The Earth is screened in 3D format at select multiplexes around the word equipped with 3D projection. “There’s an additional 25 per cent cost involved. There are not enough 3D films and the technology is not up-to-the-mark.” However, the situation will change the next few years. So far, few films, including the animated Chicken Little, Meet The Robinsons and now Journey…, have been made with the new technology. But by 2009, around 20 Hollywood films are slated to release in the digital format. “Keeping that in mind, one or two screens in every multiplex should be equipped to show these films,” said von Sychowski. Among the big ones expected in 2009 include James Cameron’s big budget Avatar, Horrorween, Final Destination 4 and a retelling of The Stewardesses, which was a money-spinner in the 3D format in 1970. Following the success of its Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour in 3D, Disney is now producing a 3D concert film based on the Jonas Brothers’ Burning Up tour, slated to open next February. The Jonas Brothers project and other upcoming Hollywood productions underscore the prominence of the 3D technology. Disney is particularly bullish about 3D. Starting with the release of CG animated Bolt in November, all CG features from Disney and its Pixar Animation Studios will be released in digital 3D. Future projects include a re-release of Pixar classics Toy Story and Toy Story 2; Pixar’s Up, Newt, Cars 2 and The Bear and the Bow; and Disney’s Rapunzel and King of the Elves. Meanwhile, Dreamworks Animation CEO and 3D champion Jeffrey Katzenberg has committed to expanding Dreamworks’ 3D production infrastructure and releasing its entire computer animated titles in digital 3D, beginning with Monsters Versus Aliens, a March 2009 release. This commitment will include the fourth installment of Dreamworks’ successful Shrek franchise, which is slated for a 2010 release. One of the most anticipated digital 3D releases is James Cameron’s Avatar, which is scheduled to open in late 2009. This ambitious title will combine CG animation and live action. Also where live action is involved, Disney’s upcoming slate includes G-Force - a combo CG/live action film - and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, both of which are scheduled for a digital 3D release. In the live action part of the equation, alternative content such as live sports, operas and concerts might also play a key role in increasing 3D production. Quantel and 3Ality Digital are among those who aim to make 2009 a watershed for stereoscopic 3D. Quantel demonstrated stereo capabilities in tools for production and post - and broadcasting. It is also introduced the first results of its new strategic partnership with 3Ality Digital in Los Angeles. At IBC 2008, Quantel unveiled a technology demonstration of a stereo broadcasting server, based on its sQ broadcast system. The technology is being developed to record stereo, allow users to work in stereo, and send stereo imagery for broadcast, explained Quantel’s Mark Horton. “The pieces of the puzzle are coming together for 3D broadcasting,” he said. Meanwhile, 3Ality Digital introduced its 3Ality-branded SIP2100 stereo image processor, which Quantel will market and distribute. The SIP2100 has multiple functions. “One is for use in production, to set up cameras,” said 3Ality CEO, Steve Schklair. “On the post side, it does colour analysis to make sure the left eye and right eye match. It lets you realign footage and gives you multiple ways to look at 3D in post. Analysis tools identity problems in real time and without rendering.” “In the last 12 months, interest in stereo broadcasting has gone from extremely low to extremely high, and that is worldwide,” Horton observed. “The discussion is about how to do it. People want a practical system.” Schklair added: “3Ality has been doing production while developing technology, and now we are starting to productise technology. Everything that we are showing has been tested.” 3Ality’s 3D camera was exhibited on the Quantel stand, feeding demos of stereo broadcasting and post production applications, including Quantel’s Pablo with 3D capabilities. The post-production focus on techniques necessary for finishing 3D to the exacting standards required for audience satisfaction. One of the issues that impacts on post happens up front with the selection of dry hireable rigs. “3ality rigs sort out the alignment before the images are committed to media,” said Schklair, “but most people correct in post. The wider market will want an affordable rig, and mirror rigs are better for up to 90 per cent of what we are currently doing with 3D.” 3D glasses into focus Dolby 3D reduced the cost of its 3D glasses to US$27.50 per pair. “That is going to make a significant difference to the exhibitor because they are buying in volume,” said Dolby 3D product executive Richard Welsh. “In Europe the idea of re-usable glasses has been popular because of the environmental concern. You can get hundreds of cycles out of each pair.” On the brightness issue, Welsh said: “We have particularly good performance in terms of contrast, which will negate some of the brightness issues. Our image sharpness is also good because the filter wheel is in front of the lamp.” Dolby 3D ties to normal high gain white screens. “This is great because most exhibitors already use what we recommend,” said Welsh. “Most people don’t want a silver screen because of the problem with 2D; you get a hot spot and you don’t get very good off-axis response. Our system does not compromise 2D,” he added. Joshua Greer, the president of RealD, has joined the growing ranks of major 3D players who see broadcast as their vital end market. “The big issue is creating enough content to support that infrastructure,” he said. “The reason we are so excited - even when the major studios are committing to 3D and promising 20-30 titles per year eventually - is that when you talk about the home you need hundreds of new titles,” he said. “Next year we already know 23 major motion pictures are coming out, and the revenue for a 3D screen is 3.5-times that of 2D screens. However, we need to see a whole blossoming of TV capture in order for 3D to take hold in a meaningful way.” Projection brightness is a massive talking point, and Greer was quick to pounce on the issues. “It is the curse of all 3D systems. We lose light in a number of different ways. On one hand the new single projector provides the advantage of being a lone unit offering perfect sync and perfect alignment, but you have to give half the light to each eyeball,” he said. “You get another hit because that light too has to be further filtered. You typically get 14 per cent efficiency from most 3D systems,” he added. “We all have different ways of combating the problem.” RealD recently launched its XL technology, which addresses that polarisation issue. “What is normally lost in polarisation we are able to collect and re-distribute back out through the lens,” said Greer. “It is a very complicated optical system, but the result is we get about twice as much light out of the projector.” Quoting RealD’s technical guru Lenny Lipton he said: “Good 3D is not just about setting a good background. You need to pay good attention to the seven monocular cues - aerial perspective, inter position, light and shade, relative size, texture gradients, perspective and motion parallax. Artists have used the first five of those cues for centuries. “The final stage is depth balancing,” he added. “But once you have done that you may end up with objects breaking the frame.” Along with dozens of others, this problem was resolved, in this case by the use of an opaque mask. Asked what he saw as important, Greer said: “With all the toolsets for post and the new rigs for sale, the cost of entry into 3D has been reduced. At the moment it is a collaborative movement with everyone working together in order to go forward, but it is up to the big post houses now. If they make it expensive or a pain to finish, no-one is going to do it.” 3D at home Several entertainment companies including Disney, Universal, Philips, Samsung, Sony, Thomson and IMAX are already working on ways to get this technology into the living room. DVD sales represent a large portion of revenue, and so it’s important for the studios to recreate the full experience of seeing a film in this medium as it was intended. With an increasing slate of 3D films due to be released in the next few years, that could prove difficult without 3D technology in the home. On the other hand, it could be argued that in a world of US$7-10 movie tickets and huge home theatre screens, it is a unique experience like 3D that will keep patrons coming to movie theatres. In some cases the technology for 3D in the home is already here. With the use the proper 3D glasses, and the right videos discs. consumers could soon watch a 3D movie at home. There are even television sets in the works that don’t require glasses for 3D viewing. Bill Foster, senior technology consultant, Futuresource Consulting, UK said while all the focus has been on the cinema, studios have a need to develop revenues from other sources. “The home video, pay TV and even free-to-air revenue is even greater than that from the box office,” says Foster. “If you take a multimillion dollar film, such as the forthcoming Avatar, if you’re limited to all the 3D costs coming out of the cinema, and with the proportion of 3D even within digital cinema, Hollywood needs the extra revenues.” “We need to have a standardised method of packaging and distributing 3D content,” says Foster. “We need a standardised interface so that if HDMI is going to carry a stereoscopic image we need to know how it will be carried and how an ordinary TV is going to know what to do with it.” Foster says the solution could be to ensure that HDMI has an additional flag to signal the fact it is a stereoscopic image. “If you’ve got one HDMI input on your TV you can put in a Blu-Ray player and it will work. The industry needs a standardised interchange, it doesn’t mean that everybody is going to shoot 3D in the same way and it doesn’t mean everybody is going to display 3D in the same way but the bits in between have got to be standardised.” ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Going Tapeless

    The popularity of P2 and other tapeless camera formats has had a big impact on the post community. Some editors love it while others view it as a huge pain. Nevertheless, file-based production and post-production are here to stay. There’s not only P2, but also XDCAM, XDCAM-HD, XDCAM-EX, RED and a whole slew of camcorders to record various flavors of SD and HD video. Let’s not forget that FireStore and the original Avid/Ikegami EditCam started it all and are still with us today. Sony optical disc XDCAM and XDCAM-HD tend to be the exception, since this media offers a hybrid workflow that bridges the tape and tapeless worlds. There are typically three elements to file-based recordings. The first is essence – the actual audio and video content. Audio and video media that is recorded at a particular size, scanning method and frame rate (e.g. 1920×1080p) and uses a specific codec (e.g. DVCPRO HD). This essence is encased in a file wrapper, like MXF, MOV, MP4 and others. The file method used might also include a small metadata file, which is a data file containing information about the essence. When people talk about P2, that terminology should really only be reserved for the actual card and Panasonic product family. P2 devices can record audio and video essence in various formats and with different codecs, yet it’s all still on the same P2 media card. Even when things look the same, they aren’t. For example, both Sony (XDCAM-HD) and Panasonic (P2) use the MXF wrapper, but the essence inside is not the same. Panasonic P2 MXF files could be natively opened and edited in Avid software, but XDCAM-HD MXF cannot. It doesn’t even stay the same within the same company. Sony’s XDCAM-HD uses the MPEG2 codec for video files, which is wrapped as an MXF file. When the EX-series camera was released, Sony chose to wrap its MPEG2 recordings as MP4 files. You would think the files used an MPEG4 codec by that designation, but not with the EX cameras. In the case of Panasonic, you can now record HD video as either DVCPRO HD or as AVC-Intra and they both appear with MXF file extensions. When you analyse the file structure of any of these media cards, there is a specific folder and file hierarchy. Depending on the format, this structure has to stay intact. Moving video files outside of their folder often results in the inability of an NLE to read or open these files, so be careful how you handle them. With that in mind, here are some workflow tips for dealing with file-based media in a tapeless world. Tip 1 – Clone your camera cards or drives With the exception of XDCAM and XDCAM-HD, all card and hard drive-based media recordings must be backed up for protection, because no one plans to leave the card on the shelf. The recommended practice is to “clone” the card, i.e. copy the card in an exact fashion to preserve the original format and codec and maintain its folder and file hierarchy. This step is often done on location using a laptop, so that cards can quickly be reformatted and used for further recordings during the same day. Card capacity has increased from 4GB to 64GB, but it’s important to realise that a large capacity card is not always the best choice. Yes, you can record all day, but that means you’re likely to spend the rest of the entire evening copying and verifying the cards. Even if you have a “data wrangler” on the crew, they will be sitting on their hands if the card is in the camera all day long. Keep your back-ups native. Some people import their media into FCP or Avid systems and then formatted the cards, thinking that their NLE-compatible media was protected. This may be the case if you also back up your working media drives or your drives are RAID-protected, but the logic is faulty. Once you have imported P2 DVCPRO HD or AVC-Intra files into most NLEs, those files have been altered. Depending on the format and NLE, they have either been rewrapped or transcoded. Destroying the original camera media is tantamount to shooting on film, transferring the film to video and then destroying the negative. If you have maintained a back-up of the camera media in its native form, then you can always go back to these files, should you decide to switch to a different NLE or your working media becomes corrupt. People theorise about burning their media to Blu-ray data discs as an archive, but the reality is that transfer rates, burning speeds and BD-R media costs make this unattractive. Other solutions, like LTO3 data tapes and RAID-5 arrays only appeal to a select few. The solution most producers settle on is to buy cheap commodity FireWire, USB or eSATA drives (Maxtor, Hitachi, Seagate, etc.) and make at least two copies that will sit on the shelf. The hope is that at least one of these will still spin up and work a year or so down the road when you need to go back to this footage. Remember that this is in addition to the working media used during post-production. Tip 2 - Budget time and media costs Capture time has been replaced by import time. Select a handful of good options for each set-up or scene and digitise only those takes. As a result, you might capture about half of the tape, but this is offset by the review and logging time. Logging plus capture time takes about as long as the full running time of the tape. With tapeless media, its best to bring it all in and sort it out in the NLE, which brings us to the point about time and money. Starting a P2 or EX session for example, generally means mounting a USB or FireWire drive and importing all the clips. The average (good) copy time takes about an hour for every 100GB of data. A typical DVCPRO HD shoot recorded on P2 media might be a few hours of footage delivered on a 200GB USB drive. The import is faster than real time (compared to the running time of the footage), so about seven hours of 720p DVCPRO HD media might take about two to four hours to copy, based on your machine and drives. This is in addition to the original back-up time from the cards, of course. It’s slower with AVC-Intra, because some NLEs (such as FCP) have to transcode this codec during the import. RED footage makes time an even bigger issue especially with RED’s QuickTime reference files on substantial projects, like feature films. That’s because the QT reference files have to stay linked to the R3D camera raw files and are essentially “windows” that look into the 4K data and extract lower-resolution media on-the-fly. If you want to edit smoothly, then it’s important to transcode the raw files into something easier on your NLE, like DV25, DVCPRO HD, DNxHD or ProRes. In other words, edit using a standard offline/online approach to RED. Exporting transcoded R3D files with a general purpose computer is pretty tedious. Budget between a 3-to-1 and as much as a 20-to-1 ratio to go from RED One’s raw files to your NLE and be ready to start cutting. Like any other tapeless media, RED camera files also need to be backed-up. REDcode is a variable bit rate codec based on wavelet compression. On average, the files (4096×2048, 2:1 aspect, 23.98fps) consume about 1.5GB for every minute of footage – or about 90GB per hour. An indie feature might shoot around 30 hours of footage, which puts that close to 3TB of required storage, just for the camera raw files. Times two if you rely on redundancy for extra safety. To compare, 1080p/23.98 DVCPRO HD would only use about half of that. Same for ProRes and about two-thirds for ProResHQ. Tip 3 - Organising files in your NLE The hardest thing to get used to with file-based media is the cryptic naming conventions used by the cameras. When you import these files, you typically get long alphanumeric file names and not “Scene 1 / Take 1” or “Wide shot of person sitting on the bench”. Some NLEs will let you safely change the file or clip names. Others won’t. Avid has always let you do this, but it has traditionally been a no-no with Final Cut. Recent versions of FCP have made that safer with some formats, but its best to resist the temptation. Remember that at some point you might need to relink media files or restore from the backed-up camera files. You are only going to be able to do this when the file name matches. Changing the name from “0014EF” to “Scene 7 / Take 3” might be fine and safe in an ideal world, but if all else fails and you have to resort to some type of manual search, keeping this name relationship the same is safer. Instead use one of the other bin description or comments columns as a place to assign a useful name. Both Avid Media Composer and Apple Final Cut Pro include numerous descriptor columns, so feel free to use these for custom names. You can also easily search and sort these, giving you the best of both worlds. The other organising factor is reel ID. Since there are no tape reels in the tapeless world, NLEs vary in their approach. Be sure to rename the cards. Supposing you are handed a drive containing the contents from several cloned P2 cards. A volume for each card will mount on the desktop (on a Mac), labeled “No Name 1”, “No Name 2” and so on. What do you think is going to be on the next day’s drive? Same thing! So properly name the cards in a consistent manner, using either film style (camera rolls) or video style (tape numbers) labeling. This may or may not be important for your NLE, but it is imperative if you have to locate shots on these drives in the future. Tip 4 - Cataloguing your footage You have been shooting with your RED One or HVX-200 for a few months and have started to accumulate a bunch of small FireWire drives holding the footage from each project. That’s easy to do, because the drives are so cheap that you buy a new one for each shoot. Just charge it off as part of the production budget, like tape stock. That’s all well and good, but now these are starting to pile up just like the camera tapes you used to have in the library. What’s the next step? The simple and obvious step is to physically label the drives. Before you get buried in a pile of portable hard drives, start a cataloguing system. There is plenty of software to choose from and can be as simple or elaborate as you need. The main criteria is that the process should be quick and easy when you want to know what’s on each drive or where to look for something shot during a given production. Choices include Apple Final Cut Server, Filemaker Pro or just an Excel spreadsheet. Whatever it is, start doing it right away. Tip 5 - Mastering No doubt, it is a tapeless world. The truth is, it is often easier to ingest a videotape master and make revisions than to reload the entire original project from data back-ups. A typical mastering procedure is to generate four outputs of an edited sequence. The first is a videotape master of the edited program that is mixed, color-corrected and includes all titles and graphics. In addition, output a videotape submaster that is “superless” (no titles) with the audio in “stems” (separated dialogue, effects and music). Such a submaster makes any of the common revisions very easy. That’s two of the four. The third output is an export of self-contained media files (such as QuickTime movies) in these same configurations – final master and superless submaster. This level of simple and easy protection neatly fits into the budget of most producers. For example, an hour-long, 1080i, 8-bit uncompressed QuickTime file with stereo audio requires about 400GB of drive space. Dumping a master file onto a FireWire drive is still more expensive than an hour-long HDCAM tape, but you can work with the media, even if you don’t actually own or have access to the tape deck. Careful planning, organisation and a policy for data management and protection will help you survive and thrive in the transition from tape to files. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Technicolor provides gear for 3D festival

    Thomson’s Technicolor Digital Cinema (TDC) business will provide the necessary digital cinema infrastructure and technical and content management expertise for the upcoming 3DX: 3D Film & Entertainment Technology Festival (3DX), the first-ever festival of its kind dedicated to stereoscopic 3D content and technologies. Technicolor Digital Cinema will be enabling cinema operators in Singapore to screen 2D and 3D digital cinematic content during the festival and beyond. “Thomson recognises Singapore’s on-going commitment to the digital media and entertainment industry and believes there is value in supporting the establishment of 3DX as a premiere film and technology festival demonstrating the benefits of the digital cinema platform,” said Curt Behlmer, VP, COO of Technicolor Digital Cinema, within Thomson Services. “Digital cinema is a rapidly emerging market and we look forward to continuing to lead the way in digital cinema services and expertise in Singapore, Asia-Pacific, and the rest of the world,” he added. The 3DX festival and forum will take place from 19 - 23 November, 2008 in Singapore and will be comprised of a business forum and film festival including: public screenings, festival based showings of newly released 3-D films, international speaker sessions, a gala red carpet reception and a special THR Intelligence trend report on the outlook of 3D for deployment in 2009 and beyond presented by Eric Mika, vice-president of Nielsen Entertainment Group and publisher of THR. The five-day festival will comprise conferences with leading international speakers as well as screening of 3D movies for the public. The 3DX Festival is hosted by the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). Mark Zoradi, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group, will be delivering a key presentation on 3D and Disney’s upcoming slate. “I am very excited to be attending the 3DX festival this year. The Walt Disney Studios continues to be at the forefront of 3D technology with 10 films slated in the format in the next two years - including Bolt. This forum is a great opportunity to engage our partners and to explore the full potential of 3D which is really changing the way we look at films,” Zoradi said. 3DX celebrates the artistic achievements of the world’s leading 3D technology filmmakers. Festival attendees will be able to watch a wide variety of 3D films including features, documentaries, animation and shorts. In addition, for the first time, Singapore will welcome world business leaders in the 3D field for a five-day deliberation of the issues and opportunities for growing this exciting new digital entertainment sector. Dr. Christopher Chia, chief executive officer, MDA said: “ 3DX bridges the East and the West, bringing Asian and Western producers and makers of 3D content together and making Singapore the focal point for the exchange of ideas on 3D content production, developments and technology.” The selection of films to be screened at 3DX includes: • Journey to the Center of the Earth, a live-action adventure from New Line Cinema and Walden Media, starring Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson and Anita Briem; • Fly Me to the Moon, an animated family film from Belgium’s nWave Pictures and Summit Entertainment, featuring characters voiced by Kelly Ripa, Nicollette Sheridan, Tim Curry and Ed Begley Jr.; • Dolphins and Whales 3D: Tribes of the Ocean, an IMAX Digital 3D documentary produced by 3D Entertainment and McKinney Underwater Productions, presented by Jean-Michel Cousteau and narrated by Daryl Hannah; • U2 3D, a real-time recording of Irish band U2’s “Vertigo” concert in South America by 3ality Digital and distributed by National Geographic. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • SIGGRAPH Asia speakers industry FOCUS

    The featured speakers at the first-ever ACM SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Asia will provide a fascinating insight into the industry. Rob Cook, vice president, advanced technology, of Pixar Animation Studios will give a peak Behind the Scenes at Pixar. The talk takes you behind the scenes at Pixar Animation Studios for a look at how its 3D computer graphics films are made. Don Greenberg. director of Cornell University Program of Computer Graphics, Computer Graphics Pioneer will speak on the subject of The Expanding Boundaries of Computer Graphics. Cook was the co-architect and primary author of Pixar’s RenderMan software, which creates photo-realistic computer images. In 2001, he received an Oscar for his contributions, the first ever given for software. In the last 10 years, all but one film nominated for a Visual Effects Academy Award has used RenderMan. The process starts with development of the story and continues with modelling the geometry, animating the characters, simulating things like water and cloth and hair, defining the look of the surfaces, putting lights in the scene, and rendering the images. Making a computer animated film requires close collaboration between artists and technical experts in many areas of expertise and is a great example of the value of bringing different disciplines together. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from Duke University and a Master of Science degree in Computer Graphics from Cornell University. At Cornell, he worked on simulating realistic surfaces, taking computer-generated images beyond the distinctive plastic look they had at the time. In 1981, he joined Lucasfilm/Pixar, where he developed the first programmable shader; programmable shading is now an essential part of GPUs and game engines as well as high-end renderers. He was the first to use Monte Carlo techniques in computer graphics, which was essential for simulation of complex, realistic lights and camera effects. His camera techniques were especially important in the visual effects industry, because they allowed computer-generated imagery to match the motion blur and depth of field of live-action footage when the two were combined. In 1987, he received the ACM SIGGRAPH Achievement Award in recognition of these contributions. Greenberg has been researching and teaching in the field of computer graphics for more than 40 years. His primary focus has been on advancing the state of the art in computer graphics. His current computer science research projects involve realistic image generation, parallel-processing algorithms for rendering, new graphical user interfaces, and computer animation. His current application projects include ornithology and the search for the ivory-billed woodpecker, medical imaging and virtual surgery, architectural design for a green environment, and new types of computer displays, from electronic paper to touch-sensitive table displays. He has taught courses in computer graphics in computer science, computer-aided design in architecture, computer animation in art, and technology strategy for business. Many of his graduate students have gone on to become leaders in the fields of computer graphics, computer animation, and computer-aided design for architecture. Six former students have won Hollywood’s Technical “Oscars”, and five have won the prestigious SIGGRAPH Achievement Award. In his featured talk, “The Expanding Boundaries of Computer Graphics,” he challenges the new generation of computer graphicists - those who will take great professional risks to solve big problems - to dream impossible dreams and extend the influence of computer graphics to many other disciplines. For four fascinating days, SIGGRAPH Asia 2008 will feature creative, scientific, and educational work that provokes thought, explores ideas in innovative ways, addresses contemporary issues, engages viewers in discovery, and stimulates intellect and imagination. All members of the computer graphics community in Asia and throughout the world are invited. Register early and save with discounted fees. Select your hotel accommodations. And finalize your plans to be in Singapore for this historic event. SIGGRAPH Asia 2008 takes place in Singapore on 10 – 13 December, 2008. For more information, please visit: www.siggraph.org/asia2008 ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • IBC 2008 – more bang for your buck

    Visitors to IBC 2008 certainly got a bigger bang for their buck this year, as growth rockets all round the industry made every day a busy and exciting one. Visitors got their fill with IBC Big Screen Experience, business briefings, the Digital Signage Zone, Mobile TV Zone, International Pavilion and IBC Awards. The IBC Big Screen Experience featured an excellent surround system, the finest digital projection using state of the art technology, all tucked up in a Digital Cinema showing the latest demos and previews. Business briefings are also took centre stage this year. Now in their third year, these briefings allowed exhibitors in the Mobile TV and Digital Signage Zones to get across their messages in new multimedia distribution channels. Attendees also took in the sights at the Digital Signage Zone, where the latest developments in this area were showcased. Plus there was the Mobile TV Zone and International Pavilion with the New Technology Campus to enlighten and inspire. Among the exhibitors, Microsoft highlighted advanced media platform technologies and broad partner ecosystem that enable the industry to create and manage endless varieties of media and deliver stunning entertainment experiences to customers. Its content creation and management solutions such as Microsoft Expression Studio, Interactive Media Manager, and enterprise search solutions from Microsoft subsidiary FAST attracted a great deal of attention. Cintel International demonstrated new features for its range of film scanners and image enhancement tools. The new, faster 4K workflow utilising a dataMill film scanner and DVS’ Clipster running at 5fps allowed 4K data to transfer with the HSDL interface. Simon Clark, Cintel’s business development manager said, “There are a number of fast 4K scanning speeds being suggested but we are able to achieve a sustained five frames per second without the need for expensive, and almost proprietary, interfaces or any specialised equipment.” Cintel also showed, for the first time in Europe, the ‘X-Speed’ Digital servo system for the Millennium family of film scanners. This in-field upgrade consists of hardware and software to provide vertical and horizontal stability that exceeds any other constant motion film transport. Crystal Vision’s new area of speciality, Picturestore gets its European launch at IBC. Picturestore combines the different strengths of solid-state fast reading and writing DRAM and Flash permanent memory to create a series of four picture storage products. da Vinci showcased its CORE (Cuda Optimized Resolve Engine) technology innovation, introducing new color finishing products based on a high-performance platform. The new system - the R100 - provides an affordable colour grading solution for broadcasters, post houses, and production studios. The R700 is a fast color grading system that reflects da Vinci’s horsepower and features. The R4K is a true real-time, 4K interactive color grading solution. The R4K’s intuitive interface enables colorists to exercise their full creative capacity while showing their clients pristine images in real time. Stereoscopic 3-D has become an industry buzzword and da Vinci, in conjunction with its largest customers, has developed the ultimate in-context colour grading solution, the R3D. Using the power of da Vinci’s CORE technology, colorists are able to exercise their creativity while grading for the next generation of stereoscopic visual experience. In addition to seeing Sony’s entry-level XDCAM EX PMW-EX3 solid state camcorder, visitors at IBC 2008 discovered new solutions for the acclaimed PDW-700 that include an extension of the range’s meta data management capabilities. Sony’s stand at IBC 2008 showed how Sony’s environmental initiatives went far beyond the basic needs of legal compliance and range across the entire business value chain - from R&D and more efficient manufacturing processes to the use of renewable energy and the voluntary reduction in the use of hazardous substances. “Managing the environmental impact of our solutions has been a central part of Sony thinking for many years,” said David Bush, director of marketing, Sony Professional Solutions Europe. Thomson’s post-production solutions group demonstrated the latest developments for the Spirit and Bones product families - the all NEW OptiPin option for the Spirit 4K, Spirit 2K and Spirit HD and the latest Bones Dailies version 4.0. OptiPin is the latest option for the Spirit 4K, Spirit 2K and Spirit HD. This option addresses imperfections on the film side already in the scanning stage such as bad splices, flawed edges or instabilities. Omneon displayed the MediaPort 5320 series which offers up to four channels of HD/SD record and play in a compact 1-RU package. Fully compatible with existing Spectrum media server systems, MediaPorts provide industry-leading channel density, with all channels available for either record or play in any combination. Bright Systems showed its new BrightClip intelligent data recording technology integrated with a range of best of breed digital film systems. BrightClip is now integrated by leading manufacturers into their products, offering extensive cost-saving and efficiency benefits to post facilities. Front Porch Digital displayed DIVArchive v.6.1 CSM application, which delivers powerful functionality to meet the evolving needs of global broadcasters. DIVAprotect provides continuous monitoring of storage devices and media performance and warns of degradation before it results in catastrophic data loss while DIVAnalyze adds invaluable content-aware feature to the already rich set available in DIVArchive. Finally, it was the 3D experience that left a lasting impact. IBC D-Cinema screened Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3D, the first live action, narrative film shot in digital 3D. “Taking Jules Verne’s novel and developing it into an up to date story using modern technology was a tremendously exciting opportunity,” said director Eric Brevig.… Read More

  • New solutions, new thinking

    Avid Technology, Inc. will introduce the Avid DS version 10 at IBC 2008. Avid DS 10 is designed to save users time and money by offering professional editing, compositing, keying, image retouching, paint and graphics capabilities in one application. Avid DS 10 runs on a new high-performance platform and includes key features such as: full color-managed workflows, advanced color correction capabilities, Interplay support, improved conform options, GPU real-time processing, additional dual-link feature support, integration with Avid shared storage solutions, and a new stereoscopic 3D container. As a result of these new features, Avid DS users can effectively manage their project pipeline, take on a wider variety of projects, work with the highest quality images and continue to deliver the best end product to customers. From offline to online, users spend less time conforming and more time focusing on quality from start to finish. The Avid DS system offers multi-stream, 10-bit uncompressed HD, Avid DNxHD codec, and SD finishing and mastering as well as HD-RGB and 2K/4K file-based editing with real-time playback up to 2K. Designed for broadcasters or post facilities working on high-end projects such as television commercials, music videos, promotional spots, feature films and trailers or projects that require color-managed workflows, Avid DS 10 offers a range of new features and functionality, including: Avid DS version 10 is built on a new platform designed to offer customers a significant increase in performance and speed - resulting in greater productivity and more creative flexibility. The new system is powered by the HP xw8600 with dual-quad 3.0GHz CPUs with 8GB RAM, the NVidia QuadroFX 3700 (G92 GPU) and a dual-link I/O card with a rack mountable breakout box. A new real-time processing framework is designed to empower the GPU to handle a majority of the processes and effects of the system in real-time. Users on GPU platforms now have more time to experiment with new ideas, work more quickly, and improve overall productivity. By offering the option to output to SDI in native 720p23.98 or cross convert to 1080p23.98, customers now have real-time capability to handle two of the industry’s most popular HD formats. Avid has enhanced its color management tool to allow customers to preserve color definitions and define and manage Look-up Tables (LUTs). The system now offers support for the most commonly used LUTs including 3D LUTs with the Thomson Luther, Kodak KDM, Iridas .itx formats and extended 1D LUT support to tape-based capture. Now, customers can create RGB sequences using specific LUTs and view complex LUTs in the system’s viewer. Improvements have been made to the DPX parser to implement several DPX 2.0 capabilities which support RGB and RGBA formats including Filmlight’s RBGA. Additionally, Avid DS will now be able to perform file-based DPX conforms from AFEs (Avid File Exchange) originating from Avid Media Composer and Avid Symphony systems. Other improvements include: • Avid Symphony style Color Correction – Delivers real-time advanced secondary color correction tools previously only available in Avid Symphony products; • New format support – Offers support for a wide array of new HD YUV 4:2:2 formats including 1080p 50, 1080p 59.94 and 1080p 60; • Interplay support – Enables customers to connect to an Avid Interplay and access media via the same indexer as Avid Media Composer – streamlining the workflow between the two applications. Customers will also be able to easily drag and drop media from the Interplay Access system into Avid DS system project folders and check master clips into the Interplay asset manager; • Node Builder – Offers a new interface that enables customers to build property pages to expose only some parameters of an effect tree with multiple effects; • Stereoscopic container – Allows customers to create 48i sequences and set up left and right eyes with output through the dual link card; • Unity 64-bit client support – Delivers full support for Unity MediaNet 5.1 when running 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Avid DS on XP-64; and • New timeline functionality – Eases the process of conform from Media Composer source side color correction and includes a new set of commands to be used in the timeline to select effect filters with the same parameters coming from the same source.… Read More

  • Restoring color back into Guide

    Legendary Indian producer-director-actor Dev Anand decided to colorize and restore the prints of his 1965 classic Guide, made under the Navketan banner, when it was chosen for screening in the Classics section of the Cannes Film Festival this year. Guide, in which Dev Anand plays the role of a tour guide who finds himself entangled in the affairs of a woman caught in a marital discord that drives him to the brink of his own life. Guide is based on R.K. Narayan’s novel of the same name. It has Waheeda Rehman in the most fascinating role of her career that gave the actress a chance not only to prove her histrionic abilities, but her dancing talent as well. Anand approached Goldstone Technologies Ltd, Hyderabad which had colorized Navketan’s 1959 black and white hit Hum Dono, which had Dev Anand in a double role. Nanda and Sadhna played his leading ladies. This is one reason why Dev Anand has opted for color grading of the movie print. “The original negative had gone through a lot of wear and tear over the years and there were a lot of scratch marks on it. So, the print needed to be restored as the movie is highly popular even today. Dev Anand approached us for the job and we worked on it,” Travis Caddell, managing director of Goldstone Technologies Ltd, said. Goldstone recently colorized the Kannada movie Satya Harischandra, in which the Kannada film legend Rajkumar played the title role, was originally released in 1965. Apart from restoration and colorization, Goldstone also converted the format of the movie from 35mm to Cinemascope at its Hyderabad facility. Director Anand wanted to recreate the brilliant colors and delicate beauty of India’s landscape where much of the film is set. Being familiar with da Vinci’s color enhancement products, Anand knew that using these, in conjunction with the modern DI process, would satisfy his needs. However to capture and maintain the full detail and depth of the original negative, he considered completing this project in 4K resolution. For the film, Anand sought to capture an epiphany of the lead character in a visual sense. He wanted to show audiences a clear distinction between the somber domestic world of Rosie, played by Rehman, and the warm, inviting landscape of tourist sites as a metaphor for Rosie’s change. He wanted the sharpest possible detail and resolution for the film. He wanted to transport audiences into the world of the film, and felt that only 4K could provide this kind of experience. It was important for him to show the distinction between marital life, which is depicted as somber and rather moody, and India, which is bright, warm and inviting. Anand preferred working on the da Vinci Resolve at 4K resolution because it produces a much sharper, cleaner, and less noisy look, especially when pushing certain colors. After working on other da Vinci workstations in 2K, adapting to Resolve was quite intuitive. The control panels are virtually the same. “At da Vinci, our philosophy has always been to create color grading information that is not committed (or baked) into the images until the final tweaks and approvals have been made” said Dean Lyon, director of marketing, da Vinci Systems. “The mastering or layoff process is when color grade is merged with the footage. This has been the case throughout our 20 plus year history of providing color enhancement and image processing solutions to the film and TV industry.” “Further, da Vinci created the concept of CDL (color decision lists) and PDL (pan decision lists) so that the session metadata can be stored, recalled, adjusted and reapplied to the original source material at any time in the future.” With the DI process, the film can be cut and re-cut constantly until the last possible moment. This affords a great deal of artistic freedom to a filmmaker, but in the past was a headache for the colorist because the color corrections were always based on the edited time-code and not on the original source code. With Resolve, any color corrections are linked to the original source code, so essentially, the corrections travel along with the image, no matter how many times it is moved around on the timeline. Whenever the editor on the project gave a new EDL, the system reconforms the color corrected clips to the new EDL and any existing color corrections with that EDL. In fact, the edits are changing right until the material is rendered. “We first had to scan the source into storage and conform them, but once that was done, they were ready to be graded. In fact, we didn’t even need an EDL to begin the grading on Resolve,” said Anand. “As long as we had even one clip in storage, we could conform it, load it and begin the grading. Although we don’t use Resolve for conforming, the system does have the option to conform a material list if we so choose. We can load a conformed list onto the system or work with a pre-program list that has already been edited.” “One of the benefits of Resolve is that it actually generates 2K images of the 4K images. The 2K images are not proxies; they are high-resolution images that make the color grading process go more quickly because we can play them back in real time. “So we did most of the grading on the 2K images, but with the push a button, we could switch back to the 4K material. This means that with the press of one button, we can instantly toggle between 2K and 4K as needed,” Anand said. “Whether it is 2K or 4K, is all a matter of subjective opinion and budget realities, but since da Vinci is usually associated with the very high-end of the industry, we were pressed into digital intermediate color grading, in the first instance, and later used to produce a large number of 4K DI’s on high profile projects with our Resolve system,” said Lyon of da Vinci Systems. “With this invention, da Vinci has developed a considerable toolkit of color grading shortcuts that can be used to ripple or replicate color grading decisions through each edit revision, and provide for multiple versions as well as deliverable formats. ColorTrace is available on the da Vinci 2K Plus as well as the Resolve, and is an unprecedented means of manipulating, tracking and versioning color grading information,” he added. “The real challenge to handling a 4K DI is much more complex than holding the color grading metadata separate from the images. Storage, bandwidth, throughput, interactivity and real time processing all come to mind. da Vinci, already the leader in 4K digital color grading, upped the ante with its next generation system, R4K, at NAB 2008. The R4K provides a true real time and interactive color enhancement capability working off of shared storage.” Anand nods in approval. “The movie went through several different looks in the beginning. Resolve allowed us to create multiple saved versions of certain color corrected images for their comparison and selection. We had a plethora of images to choose from and were able to pick the exact look they desired.” Pretty much every tool in the Resolve palette. However, a lot of the specific colors were created with the unlimited Power-Windows function. For example, when it came to coloring the sky, the team didn’t want it to look just dull and grey. They wanted to add a certain brightness to it that would end up giving it a sombre look. Numerous PowerWindows were placed around the images of the sky to create that effect. “We also made heavy use of the auto-tracking feature of PowerWindows. Going back to the example of the sky, if, in a certain image, there would be a tilt on the camera or a zoom into an object, the sky would gradually disappear,” Anand adds. “Obviously we’d have to move the PowerWindow to match the move, following that object. If we didn’t have the auto-tracking feature, this would have been a tedious manual process with the insertion of a lot of keyframes. But with Resolve, there is an automatic tracking scheme whereby the system “looks” at what’s moving within any drawn window and then automatically tracks that object with the window. The process moves quite quickly without need on our part to spend time identifying parts of the image for tracking and linking.” “Grading is not simply a matter of tweaking colors. It also has to do with sharpening the details of objects in the imagery. After we did a correction, we would use the PowerWindows to isolate the amounts of aperture correction we were applying to a certain object or image in order to sharpen it up or make it look a bit crisper and cleaner.” “The Indian landscape is bright, warm, and inviting - very picturesque. So it was really a matter of brightening up the imagery of the greenery, the sky, and the overall environment of the region. One of the mistakes that many colorists make when trying to brighten things up is to simply turn up the saturation control. This tends to make the imagery look over-saturated and unnatural; almost cartoonish. “When brightening an image, we have to strike a very careful balance between primary and secondary coloring. Unfortunately, this is difficult to do with many color correction systems because they only have the typical three channels of RGB. With Resolve we had a fourth channel of color correction - luminance (Y), RGB - which is a black and white channel that affords more control over the luminance of the imagery. “We were able to achieve the bright, warm look by reducing or changing luminance to get the right look. By taking the luminance up and leaving the RGB unchanged, a slightly less saturated look resulted without desaturation. We were able to delve more deeply into different amounts of saturation in the midtones, lowlights, and highlights of the images. “At the same time, if we needed to make something higher in color, then we could turn the luminance down slightly to make the colors more vibrant. Ultimately, we had extremely precise control over the grading of specific images and objects within those images.” A colorist first learning to work in 4K resolution should not to be intimidated just because it’s 4K. Working with 4K is just the same as working with 2K, except you get more detail and better resolution. If you choose to work exclusively with 4K images throughout the grading process, remember that your system will move a little bit slower, simply because of the sheer size of the images. Guide At Cannes Although there were no Indian films in the Cannes official selection this year, the 1965 classic film ‘Guide’ starring Dev Anand, who is known as India’s Gregory Peck and Clark Gable, was screened in the Classic section. Guide was screened on 20 May at the Festival des Palais’ Salle Bunuel theatre. The octogenarian actor/producer attended the screening. “When I got an email from the festival, I jumped with joy,” exclaimed the popular Bollywood star who got his first acting break in 1945 and launched his production company in 1949. Directed by Anand’s late brother Vijay Anand, ‘Guide’ was a commercial and critical success in India and also made its mark as the first Bollywood film to be shot in two languages - English and Hindi. “The English version was co-produced by Pearl Buck and was distributed in America,” said Anand. The Hindi version was screened in the Cannes Classic. ‘Guide,’ was also India’s official entry to Oscar’s foreign language category. Addressing the subject of adultery, ‘Guide’ had its share of roadblocks with India’s censor board, but (the late) Indira Gandhi, then the minister of Information and Broadcast facilitated the clearance, noted Anand. The popular romantic hero of 1960’s and 70’s, Anand is still active in Bollywood and is currently in pre-production on his next film, Charge Sheet.… Read More

  • Step by step correcting with apple color

    The new Color application included with Final Cut Studio 2 greatly speeds up and enhances video work. These steps apply to any type of video work you do. First things first; anyone doing serious video editing work on the Mac should be using a multi-button mouse; Color requires it. It will make your work faster and more efficient. In Final Cut Pro, right-click functions are always mapped to control-click. But Color also includes many essential functions that are middle-click-only, and there’s no way to access them using your keyboard. So if you want to use Color to enhance your work by taking you beyond the colour correction capabilities of Final Cut Pro, now’s the time to buy that three-button mouse and step into a new world of clicking versatility. Step 1 Choose a clip with typical colour issues All of what we do here can be done with the 3-Way Color Corrector in Final Cut Pro, of course, but not with the speed, control, and unbelievably beautiful results Color will give you. Step 2 Correct the hue Start in Final Cut Pro, after all edits are done. Let us say a clip has bad white balance. To correct the problem, first, from the Timeline window, go to File > Send To > Color. The prompter will ask you for a name to save this Sequence. This is typical of Final Cut Studio’s non-destructive editing paradigm. Nothing you do in Color will change the original Sequence, nor the clips in it. You’ll see this as we progress. In Color, what you have to do is go to the Set Up room, and to the Project Settings tab at the bottom of that room, and turn off Broadcast Safe. This is a must-do for all colour correction work. Broadcast Safe filters “clip” whites & blacks, which can have detrimental effects on an image. This is not the same as doing a true colour grade that reins in these extremes. Do not confuse a quick-fix filter’s quality with professional grading work; they do not deliver the same results. Now go to the Primary In room and adjust contrast. Use the contrast sliders first on the Shadow settings, while watching the Luma scope to get blacks close to zero percent, without messing up the image, or going beyond zero. Next work with the Highlight settings, using the contrast slider to get whites up as close as possible to 100%. Adjust the Midtones the same way. Note: Once you adjust a clip in Color, it is vital to play the clip to be sure your corrections hold up through the movement throughout the duration of the clip. Step 3 Colour correct in the Secondaries Room Go to the Secondaries Room, tab 1, Enable it. Make sure you have the Preview tab in the middle section selected so you can see the matte you’re creating. Also, that above the Highlight controls the Control drop-down menu is set to Inside. Using the eyedropper, drag across the pedestal to isolate it. To the right of the matte preview, make sure the button that is red, green, and blue is selected. This shows the whole clip in its final form. Step 4 Correct underexposure using the Luma curve Double-click the next clip in the Timeline to select it. Play it through and watch the Luma scope to get a good feel for what’s going on. You will have to trust the Luma scope more than your eyes. In Primary In room, adjust Highlight contrast slider to bring the highlights way up, adjust Shadow contrast slider to bring the highlights back down, adjust Midtone contrast, and back to the Highlights, etc., until contrast is correctly balanced. Be aware that the contrast sliders are infinite; you can drag them up and down forever. This is good, but be careful. For one thing, it makes it very easy to blow out your Highlight settings. Take a moment to experiment with the Luma curve. Here’s how it works: Click on the line to make a point, then drag it up or down. Experimenting is really important to learning to do colour work properly. Step 5 Correct overexposure In the Primary In room, adjust contrast, watching the Luma scope carefully. Next, go to the Secondaries Room, Tab 1, and enable it. Use the eyedropper to drag across bright spots. Step 6 Additional adjustments Play with the contrast adjustments of Shadow, Midtone, and Highlight settings just for fun. It actually looks like it has more depth - more of a 3D look than the flat 2D medium that video actually is. This can make good shots stand out from the crowd. Correcting the contrast of an otherwise perfectly good shot can really make your productions stand out so much more, and Color makes it very easy to achieve this kind of effect. Step 7 Create custom presets Now for a little bonus lesson to save you time from repeating steps. First, double-click one clip in Color’s Timeline (or just place the playhead over it) to make it active. Then in the Browser, set it for icon view, click the Save button, save it as a custom preset in Browser. Next use Control+click to select all instances of that shot in Timeline, and click the “Copy To Selected” button, and Color will apply that “Grade” to all selected clips. Step 8 Getting back to FCP The final step is to get all this work back into your already-open FCP project. This is the easy part. First, go back to the Set Up Room and turn Broadcast Safe back on. Then go to the Render Queue Room, click the Add All button, click the Start Render button, and let it all render out. Once that’s done, go to File > Send To > Final Cut Pro. Back in FCP, you’ll have a new Sequence. It will have the name of the Sequence you sent to Color with “(from Color)” after the name. You have your original, and your graded versions of that Sequence ready to go. Nondestructive.… Read More

  • HP DreamColor elevates on-screen displays

    After two years of collaboration, Hewlett-Packard and DreamWorks animation launched the new HP DreamColor Technology at the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) show in April this year. It is no secret that colour management has always been a real challenge for designers in the broadcast, film/video post-production, animation and graphic arts fields. High-end colour critical flat panel displays can cost up to $35,000. The landmark collaboration between HP and DreamWorks gives birth to a solution for those in colour-critical industries. Offering a full spectrum of colours (and some shades that only DreamWorks can invent), the HP DreamColor Technology offers beautiful displays in a widescreen LCD (liquid crystal display). The technology is said to offer the colour reproducibility of a CRT screen, backlit with LCD. The new displays offer accurate colours and an easy colour-management process for consistency. DreamColor offers 30-bit colour in a range of 1 billion different shades, made especially for film/video post-production, broadcast, and animation and graphic arts of all kinds. In other words, you’ll get absolutely dazzling images in more colours than you can even begin to count with DreamColor technology. The HP DreamColor LP2480zx Professional LCD Display is the world’s only colour-critical 24” diagonal widescreen LCD display and is the first true CRT replacement for colour-critical applications. It boasts a billion colour palette in a 30-bit LCD panel, tri-colour LED backlight and DreamColor Engine. At a fraction of the price of products of similar capabilities, the display offers a reasonable option at an unprecedented price point for professionals in colour-critical fields. The display can be complemented by a range of accessories such as a monitor hood and calibration kit, available from July 2008. “HP continues to lead this front with the development of high-end personal workstation computers for digital content professionals in the broadcast, film/video post-production, animation and graphic arts industries,” said Jim Zafarana, vice president, worldwide marketing, of HP’s workstations global business unit. Two performance-boosted high-end workstation computers for digital content professionals in the broadcast, film/video post-production, animation and graphic arts industries were recently rolled out in the Asia-Pacific. The HP xw8600 and the HP xw9400 workstations offer users quad-core processor advances to boost performance for power users working with real-time video, high definition, animation and special effects. “The role of the workstation has evolved into a tool for anyone looking to up their computing power or productivity from the single-person firm to global enterprises,” said John Thompson, vice president and general manager, workstations, personal systems group, HP. “Whilst this was never the case when workstations were highly technical RISC-based solutions running UNIX software requiring IT teams to manage them, a new generation of highly transformed and specialised workstations available at commodity-level prices have since emerged,” he added. Thompson and Zafarana were on a recent Asian tour to meet with HP’s team and partners.… Read More

  • Deconstructing Bob Dylan in DI

    When director Todd Haynes told DOP Edward Lachman his idea for I’m Not There, an unusual cinematic portrait of singer/songwriter Bob Dylan, the latter was intrigued. The two found they shared a desire to explore a variety of visual styles in their work. Lachman had also been fascinated with Dylan and his music since his teen years. Haynes’ idea was to approach Dylan by way of a series of self-sufficient, dramatically distinct worlds that would each have an entirely different look, feel and cinematic language Dylan, he elaborates, constantly pushed himself artistically, shedding a persona when it found acceptance and replacing it with one that was often met initially with rejection. After shooting to national prominence as a folk singer, he famously plugged in an electric guitar. Once accepted as a rocker, he made forays into country music and later sang about his conversion to Christianity. As he moved on, he would repudiate his previous incarnation and its fans. Haynes wanted I’m Not There to challenge viewers in the same way. “The only true and honest way to approach Dylan’s story for contemporary viewers who seem to know most of the key events in his life was to reproduce that sense of shock,” he said. “That’s why we have different actors and different characters all representing Dylan.” For Dylan aficionados, the most familiar-looking portions of I’m Not There will be those concerning Jude (Cate Blanchett), who looks like the Dylan who was the subject of DA Pennebaker’s 1967 documentary Don’t Look Back. Lachman and Haynes believed that the more the various looks could be built into the negative, the more authentic the picture would feel. They eventually opted to finish I’m Not There with the digital-intermediate (DI) process, in great part because the mixture of formats could have posed considerable difficulty in the photochemical world on a compressed post schedule. However, they committed to delineating the film’s worlds by using different emulsions, formats, lighting, filtration, camera movement and framing techniques, rather than building the looks digitally after the fact. Lachman filmed Jude’s story on Kodak Plus-X 5231 and Double-X 5222 black-and-white negative stocks. “I know the recent trend with black-and-white scenes in movies has been to shoot color and transform it into black-and-white through printing or DI techniques, but the thing I wanted to reference was the way films looked in the sixties in terms of exposure, texture, grain and latitude,” said Lachman. Working in black-and-white, he continues, is about more than just getting a monochromatic image. “Kodak hasn’t improved those stocks. If I shoot Double-X in 2006, it’s like shooting it back in the sixties; it only has about 11A stops of over- or underexposure. Also, they haven’t T-grained it the way they have their color stocks. “By shooting real black-and-white,” he added, “I was able to use the same methods cinematographers used then to selectively alter tones, like, say, using a Yellow 8, Orange 21, or Red 23A to introduce tonal separations. You can change some values if you use a DI to change color to black-and-white, but it doesn’t feel or look the same in the values of tonal separation. “By originating on black-and-white emulsion, you’re able to maintain a truer black-and-white look than if you shoot on color stock and convert the images to black and white,” Lachman asserts. Black-and-white footage was processed at Alpha Cine Labs in Seattle. The cinematographer had the lab put random shots up on the analyzer, not for printing, but just to get a sense of where his exposure numbers were falling. The DI was carried out at Cinebyte in Toronto with colorist Drake Conrad. “We had stock footage, color, black-and-white, Super 8, 16mm and 35mm, and in the end, due to time limitations, we had to merge it all with a DI,” says Lachman. “Cinebyte scanned the negative at 2K using a Northlight scanner without any kind of grain suppression - Todd and I wanted the grain to be an element of the texture of each story.” Conrad used Filmlight’s Baselight software-based color correction system. “Its interactivity is great; there’s a lot of hardware horsepower behind it, and it really performs well, even with a heavy grade.” “Cinebyte was very committed to the project and did great work,” he continues. “It took about two weeks to do the grading and two weeks to do the filmout, which was done on an Arrilaser. I was worried about the black-and-white getting a kind of tinted look in the prints, because everything was being printed onto color stock. But I was very pleased that the look didn’t shift in the original negative. It shifted very slightly in the dupe neg, but even there it was closer to black-and-white than I ever thought it could be.” He found that Baselight’s matte merging - adding and subtracting different mattes -”was crucial to producing clean, noise-free keys” in the sequence. “When you’re changing the exposure of the sky that much, you’re pushing really hard on the mattes. So there are techniques you can use to make sure your matte edges are as clean as possible. It’s very much drawing upon compositing methods I’ve used in the past.” The grade was carried out using Filmlight’s Baselight color-correction system. “Todd didn’t really want to use any Power Windows,” said Lachman. “There are a few, but we really didn’t use the DI to make many big changes to what was already on the negative.”… Read More

  • Small touches for great sound design

    Big bangs and booms are the quickest way to catch a viewer’s attention. Yet, in the midst, mixers and designers can find moments to work in small details that add to a scene’s realism. I am always on the prowl for those small details that give that slight lift. This is something I like to do - turning location ambient into effect. In The Maid, when Rosa Dimanno, the main character goes underneath the ‘wayang’ opera stage to look for a football, the ambient music of the troupe on stage takes a ghostly turn. Every few bars, I added a subtle low beat. So subtle that it is not really heard but ‘felt’. Then, slowly, I add on more ‘other worldly’ cues letting the music climax. At the point just when the ghost child makes his appearance, I removed all the ambient for the length of a heartbeat, followed by the big ‘bang’... a mixture of samples and recorded material. However, that said, I always do an A-B comparison to see if it is necessary, whether it adds to the story. If it comes across as trying to be clever and not adding anything to the scene, I will throw it out. At the end of the day, it is all about levels, pans and placement. To me a great mix is when the viewer gets into the story, and doesn’t pause to even notice that gunshot, or that scream. It should and must be very natural without questions asked. You don’t want to create a veil between the audience and the characters by playing something too loud or being obvious. You want to support the energy and the tension in the room. More than adding layers to sounds, many are finding they have to add sounds to a score. Quite often, music is going to carry the film so the challenge is not to try to figure out how to poke through (the score), but how to complement it in a way that makes it better. Apart from adding layers to sounds, I also add sound to a score. Or else, I will hear what the sound designer has done and wrap the score around his work. It is a must that both complement each other. Otherwise you will end up with material that ‘fight’ each other and cancel each other out. One of the musical ideas for Rule #1 was to use ‘world music’ instruments, hints of frame drums and various other instruments and samples from other continents. It is to lend the musicscape a sense of ‘otherness’ that mainstream audiences may find alien yet familiar. Likewise, in the plane of existence that our two protagonists operate (they see ghosts and hunt down the ‘possessed’), I wanted to create a musical representation of the unholy world they are in. I drew inspiration from anti-music heroes that I was, and still am a fan of, like Einstùrzende Neubauten and Suicide. Besides the usual reverb, panning and levels, it is also about bearing to what’s on screen. Directors need to understand that a great sound job doesn’t necessarily have to include dialogue, effects and music all playing at the same time. What tends to produce a powerful sound sequence is figuring out how to gracefully pass the ball back and forth from one department to another, rather than using all of your arsenal of weapons firing all at the same time.… Read More

  • SIGGRAPH 2008 unveils featured speakers

    Robotics expert Takeo Kanade, ‘U2 3D’ film director Catherine Owens and Pixar Animation Studios co-founder, Ed Catmull, take the rostrum at SIGGRAPH 2008… Read More

  • Beyond hd demos

    NHK of Japan, RAI of Italy and BBC of UK will collaborate on a unique demonstration in Amsterdam in September: live demonstrations with international links of Super Hi-Vision, the system which combines 7680 x 4320 pixel images with 22.2 channel immersive audio. The demonstration is being actively supported by Siemens, the BBC’s technology partner, Cable&Wireless, which will provide fibre connectivity from London to Amsterdam, and Eutelsat, which will provide a satellite link from Torino to Amsterdam. In the series of demonstrations - which will run throughout the IBC 2008 convention and are open to all visitors - content shot in Japan will be mixed with live pictures from a camera located in central London, operated by SIS Outside Broadcasts (previously BBC Outside Broadcasts). The live feed from London will be compressed using MPEG-2 and delivered over an ultra-broadband fibre, provided by Cable&Wireless. Content will also be played into the demonstration from a server in Torino, Italy, delivered over two full satellite transponders provided by Eutelsat. As well as being shown in the NHK theatre using an 8k x 4k projector, some of the content will also be shown on the EBU Village stand (10.D21) in the exhibition. The EBU Village will house the satellite downlink, and will show the content down-converted for a 3840 x 2160 pixel LCD display, alongside a similar display with a second demonstration showing Super Hi-Vision content coded using the Dirac algorithm. Super Hi-Vision can also be viewed on the Eutelsat stand (1.D59). “We have undertaken a huge challenge with our plans for IBC,” said Dr Kenkichi Tanioka, director general of the Science & Technical Research Laboratories of NHK. “It is a tribute to the alliance of forward-looking companies working on this project that we are confident all will be well. In particular, I know that my colleagues at the BBC and RAI would like to thank our industry partners who are investing heavily in broadband and satellite capacity over an extended period to make this work.” “I am really excited by the prospect of this demonstration,” added Phil White, director of technology and events for IBC. “At IBC we have a strong reputation for leading the world in the way we debate and demonstrate technology and its applications, and we have long been the most important event worldwide in developments for the big screen.” “We first brought the NHK Ultra High Definition Television system to IBC in 2006. This year, through the live links to the UK and Italy - not once but many times a day – the partners involved in this project will be showing absolute leading edge technology with real practical applications: just what our visitors expect from IBC.” IBC, the leading international event for everyone involved in the creation, management and delivery of electronic content, takes place at the Rai Centre in Amsterdam, 11-16 September 2008.… Read More

  • On the wings

    The Skinny This 45 second Coca-Cola TVC made for the Philippines market is designed to create in the minds of consumers the notion that only Coke could give that signature feeling of “Ahhh” satisfaction and that this feeling is worth defecting to the human race for. This was one of the most highly sort after projects floating around Southeast Asia in the last 12 months. According to film director, Adrian Van De Velde, there were many production houses bidding on this job, and the competition was extremely fierce. The advertisement tells the story of an angel who discovers for herself how Coke refreshes and uplifts. In the commercial, a man on earth starts to drink a bottle of Coke. A young and beautiful angel, awakening from her sleep, looks down from the clouds and sees the man drinking. Out of curiosity, the angel flies down to earth where she sees many others on the streets drinking the same drink. The angel then stands in front of a vending machine and decides to get herself a bottle of Coke from the vending machine. A bottle of Coke then appears in the middle of the screen. The angel gets hold of it and starts to drink from the bottle. The spot ends on a ‘happy’ note, the angel reflecting on her new found ‘feelings’ and taking her place in the human race alongside her new human friend. The Production ‘Coke Angel’ was shot on Fuji Reala 500 Film Stock and most distinctively was shot using Panavision Anamorphic Lenses. “This was a creative choice which resulted in the big screen Hollywood look which I knew the agency and client were looking for,” director Adrian Van De Velde explained. According to Van De Velde, this was an extremely bold choice for a TVC shoot - as Anamorphic lenses are both slower (f-stop) and more cumbersome to use than conventional lenses. They also tend to limit lens size choices and thus coverage can be harder to solve on set - which made the need for thorough pre-production all the more important. Van De Velde added that slower lenses also required much bigger and more elaborate lighting setups, which further complicated and slowed the production. Despite this, filming was completed on schedule with a fours days of on-location and in-studio shoot in Bangkok. DoP David Knight was the man behind the camera. The Post Fame Post in Bangkok assumed key responsibilities for the two-month long post production process utilising Maya, Inferno and Spirit 4K software. The post process for ‘Coke Angel’ involved pre-production meetings to establish how the visual effects would be integrated into the live action. “Our approach was to collaborate early and to a maximum extent during the production. We attended the shoot with a fairly precise idea of what was needed to achieve the director’s vision to effectively combine live footage and CGI elements,” said a spokesperson from FAME Post. The wings of the angel were designed to be part of the angel’s body language, and would move according to her feelings. In the commercial, the angel flies to earth, and eventually the angel wings disintegrate in the finale after she drinks Coca Cola. The challenge was to make photorealistic angel wings which had ‘body language’ that not only tracked the talents movements, but also react with the angel’s emotions. There were many other VFX shots, such as creating heaven with stylised CG clouds, matte paintings, feathers trails and explosions, particle FX, CGI bottle of Coke, green screens and combining multiple telecine grades to add separation of the angel with the backgrounds.… Read More

  • Twist of lemon in the park

    The Skinny This Ribena commercial was produced by Geoff Millichamp in collaboration with the team at The Grey Global Group. The primary market for the spot was Malaysia. A lonely lemon sits in a park, envious of those around her who are enjoying the company of their special friends. Even the little bird that she thought was bringing her a flower leaves her lonely. Walking through the park she casually flings a rock across the pond. The rock collides with another, which triggers the start of a climactic moment when Lemon meets Ribena Berry creating “The Perfect Match”. The idea was conceived by the creative team headed by Chris Kwok at Grey Malaysia. The initial brief was to create a commercial to launch a new Ribena variant – Ribena Lemon. The idea “The Perfect Match” was conveyed on television using a “typical Bollywood” scenario. Print and POS was also used to support the idea using the Lemon and Ribena Berry in images depicting “movie scenarios” like Titanic and ET. The Production The TVC is fully 3D animation and was created and completed fully in post. The challenge on this job was the scene of a whirlpool with mixture of Ribena and Lemon. The post-production team was the lead real flow animator responsible for all the water simulation scenes, including water splashing on the lake and the hero shot of the whirlpool. The client requested for the whirlpool to be reined in so as not to appear ‘violent’. It had to come across as harmless and refreshing, akin to a good mix of Ribena and Lemon. Extensive R&D and bucket loads of patience were needed to create the lake and whirlpool effects. The Post MFX assumed key responsibilities for the post production process. The spot was completed in approximately eight weeks, from initial brief to delivery of the final spot. Modeling and animation software used was Maya, water effects were created with Real Flow and composited on Flint. The workflow of the project was as follows: Animation board – scene by scene board showing rough framing of each shot in the film Character development, starting with 2D sketches. Once initial designs were agreed, the team moved to translating the 2D sketches to 3D models. Once models were agreed, rigging and textures were applied to create the final model. 3D sets were designed and built Once the animation board was approved, an animatic was produced using the still images from the animation board. This was to determine timing for each particular shot. The animators then used this cut and timings to animate each shot. The characters and backgrounds were still in gray scale or low-resolution as final textures, lighting, etc. were still being developed. Final renders and compositing were completed. As work progressed, test renders and composites were presented to creative and clients for their input. At this stage the team was able to agree on the final look and feel of the spot. Issues such as lighting, colours and textures were agreed upon. In the final stage, the compositing artists worked closely with the 3D department to ensure that they were able to create the look that all were expecting. In some cases, this entailed extra render passes for highlights, shadows, reflections, etc. to make it work”. It is this detail that separates the good from the great. According to an MFX spokesperson, the rewarding moment was when the completed commercial was presented and the client remarked that a new benchmark had been set for future animation productions. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Dancing beer bottles

    The Skinny When TVC Director Martin R. Wilk was given the assignment from Sudest, a leading production house in Vietnam to create a 30-second animation TVC for Vietnamese beer Dai Viet, he knew it was going to be a big challenge. Given his background and long experience in 3D and CG work, Wilk knew exactly what he wanted to achieve: a photo-realistic 3D animated spot featuring a pair of Dai Viet beer bottles dancing a hot tango while gliding on a flat ice surface. However up to that point in time, Vietnam-produced TVCs featuring any kind of CG and 3D animation were limited to pack shots and cartoon styled characters. With a tight budget and limited time, Wilk had to find a solution right there in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The challenge The production was an ambitious one with a challenging budget. It required numerous details, real camerawork in 3D - including figures, jumps, flying ice-particles, motion blurs, depths of field, slow motion. It also had to have carefully created colours and rendering to simulate a late night mood event. Digipost Vietnam discussed all aspects of production with the director, and with support from Digipost Singapore, was all set to meet the challenge. A lot was riding on delivering a unique production in Vietnam - the first in the country where “photorealistic” renderings were used to create an individual look to become a fully animated 3D TVC. The Production After carefully studying the director’s treatment with detailed reference pictures, technical facts and frame-by-frame defined storyboards, the Digipost team first worked on the basic modeling of beer bottles, stadium and crowd. Then the director started work on the light setup for the scenes, just like on real shooting sets. The reflectivity and shadows were defined and various rendering software was tested in terms of quality and speed as this job had a very tight timeline of just three weeks, from scratch to tape. Wilk also worked in several crane or low angle shots with wide-angle lenses where the camera’s point-of-view was gliding at fast speed right behind the bottles vigorously dancing on the icy surface. Creating realistic elements of the ‘set’, from random scratches on the ice surface, glass, metals, progressive freezing of bottles, crushing of ice and cold sweat drops and more, was a tough challenge for the Digipost animators. The animation was done mostly in Maya 3D, controlled by Digipost’s senior animator Sean Baptist. With the tight deadline clearly in mind, the DP team chose not to render out more frames then necessary, which would require another editing step. Instead Maya was used as a kind of editing tool, where different cameras rendered out exactly the right timelines and frames on position according to the shooting board. Director Wilk remarked, “I appreciate working with Digipost. From day one, they trusted my experience and my judgment on when to scale up or down demands to fulfill the best results possible in Vietnam.” “This production proves that with good briefings, a small 2-3 people team in Vietnam can make a low budget project appear comparable to much more expensive overseas spots set up by a larger group of people,” he said. Wilk added, “The DP support is an example of how we could work out problems and stay unstressed, and on course until the happy clients gave us a big, big hug and huge happy eyes” Post script The Dai Viet beer TVC won the Vietnam ad industry’s Golden Bell awards for Best Spot in the CG and VFX category.… Read More

  • Running the wireless race

    The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon held annually in the metropolitan city of Mumbai, India, is one of few marathons worldwide to be broadcast live. Asia Image hears about the wireless experience of bringing the 2008 races to TV screens nationwide… Read More

  • Lighting for chromakey

    Seeing chromakey used on a movie set and its results on the movie screen is fantastic. Lighting for chromakey is a bit different. There are colour spill issues to overcome from light bounce, and lighting the backdrop properly is as important as lighting the subject… Read More

  • FICCI Frames 2008 overview

    News, film, music, business, capital, sports, VFX, animation: just a few areas in the limelight during three engrossing days of FICCI Frames 2008. The bigwigs of the entertainment industry get under one roof to give their expertise on what was, what is and what could be pertaining to the media industry. Here is a glimpse of some of the ‘hot’ topics of the event. Developing Animation Content: Lessons Learnt From Around The World In recent years, there has been a rise in Indian animated films based on traditional content like Krishna, Vikram Betal, Geet Mahabharata, etc. Should India continue to rely on its rich mythology as source? The session focused on how India’s animation creators should go beyond that, creating content which could be successful with Indians and still have global appeal. A common opinion expressed by most of the panelists was the need for new and original content for animation film making. New Age Tehnologies And Emerging Production Pipelines In Animation Using new age technology and then integrating it to ensure a smooth workflow in animation studios has always been a challenge. This session focused on new age technologies used in animation studios in India. The collective opinion of the panel; a pipeline is as good as the service it provides to the project and the artists. The final objective of a pipeline is to provide efficiency, stability and quality. Gaming: A Status Report A complete review of the gaming sector including key growth factors, future trends, opportunities was provided. The session consisted of PC and console gaming, mobile gaming, ingame advertising, etc. According to Vishal Gondal (CEO, Indiagames.com) gaming in India is what an elephant is for a group of blind men. Every one is involved in developing the content but few know the actual worth of the industry. Revenue Streams In Animation Revenue streams in animation have grown over the years. Animation companies say growth in the outsourcing model has begun to plateau; hence many companies today are working on creating their own intellectual property. The panel discussed how IP can be made to last and how it needs to survive the demand on the market, the tedious licensing process, the do’s and don’ts, the connection that needs to be established between the brands and the people. Dean Koocher (MD, Honest Entertainment, USA) also spoke on how to make the product last while talking about licensing. IP Creation, Protection And Life Cycle India is seeing an emerging trend of original content creation in animation and gaming in the last few years. Understanding international copyright, trademarks, patents, and registration issues is a need of the present hour. These were discussed on a broader aspect in the session by an experienced panel. Sunil Thankamushy (Spark Unlimited Inc, USA) discussed the irony that the best IP came from small studios since they have fresh ideas despite lack of deep pockets. On the other hand, bigger studios were cautious of fanciful content. The Business Of Animation: A Global Team Effort From ‘concept to creation’ and ‘creation to commercial exploitation’ animation has evolved into a ‘global team effort’. The whole animation macro scenario is broken down into sub activities of specialisation and taken care of by specialised organizations across continents. “There is an amazing emergence of technology, heavier budgets, better technologies, no more geographical boundaries,” said Tapaas Chakravarti, chairman of FICCI Forum for Animation and gaming and head of DQ Entertainment (Global). VFX: Making Possible, The Impossible VFX has made virtually everything possible, an integral part of Hollywood today and the Indian film industry is catching up. VFX seems to have grown to be an integral part of every project. The discussion focused on the availability of talent and infrastructure to match up with Hollywood. A high profile panel discussed the needs of the hour and gave their expertise on the available USPs. In short, one could see artists, professionals, investors, businessmen, actors, directors, universities giving their visions on what they are best at, celebrating and contributing the world-wide appeal of animation in all the genres of entertainment industry and that ‘there’s more to come’ as ‘this is just the beginning’. FICCI Frames is set in its purpose of taking the legacy forward and gets better and bigger each year....… Read More

  • NAB 2008 reaches crossroads

    Each year the National Association of Broadcasters holds its trade show in Las Vegas and manufacturers trot out their latest professional gear. Here are the highlights from this year’s show…… Read More

  • Hong Kong’s fine exposition

    In its fourth year, Entertainment Expo Hong Kong, organized by the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council, has grown from strength to strength in 2008 with its series of events concluding on a high. Calvin Wong reports… Read More

  • India’s animation boom

    Ten years ago, India’s animation industry was keen to promote the “Brand India” label, a pitch that suggested the quality of work might be better than foreigners imagined. These days, nearly all the major animation studios in the world have some kind of presence in India or make use of Indian facilities and personnel… Read More

  • ANIMATION-LIVE

    The Skinny Boasting a compact and sleek design as well as five vibrant colour choices, Sony’s new digital camera, the Sony Cyber-shot T2, is a natural magnet for youth consumers. And the challenge of matching Sony’s marketing message to the youth-oriented camera for the China market was taken on by agency Fallon Tokyo, production company Lunar Films Shanghai and post house VHQ Post Singapore with their 30-second upbeat animation-live action mix TVC, Feel It. Tapping on youth culture, the spot follows in live action, five friends’ visit to a dance club. Stepping into the nightspot, each member of the group whips out a Sony Cyber-shot T2 digital camera of the five colours, and starts to snap. As the flash goes out, the five friends are transformed into ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ animated young individuals dressed in each of the five Cyber-shot T2 colours, in the live-action environment of the club. Holding the real digital cameras, the animated characters dance and interact with live actors amidst flashing and coloured lights, drinks, music and action in the real dance club. Integrated with the live-action footage, the animated characters snap away and show off the pictures on the cameras’ LCD displays before a flourish of photographs cascade like confetti over the dance floor and zooms into the camera to highlight the gadget’s built-in storage capabilities. The Production The entire spot, including parts to be replaced by the five animated characters was shot using Arri 35mm film cameras under the direction of Lunar Films Shanghai’s Tan Khiang. “Tan Khiang planned every shot carefully and technically to make sure that the animated characters had enough space and flexibility to interact with the live talents,” shared Terence Leong, associate creative director from agency Fallon Tokyo. “Film was chosen as it provided the desired quality,” Tan Khiang quipped. The director also revealed that the production team took considerable time and effort to find the right acting talents who look similar to the animated characters to represent them in the production phase. The live-action footage served as the guide to integrating the animation elements including actions, positions and scale. The Post Upon confirmation of the characters by characters designer Jason Siu, Bernard Tay and his team at VHQ Singapore went on to test traditional 2D animation. “We used the footage that Tan Khiang shot of the live talents as a guide for the animated characters as we wanted to ensure that we got human-like movements,” explained Tay. Animation started only after offline was approved as placement, angles, and proportions of the characters matched up to the live action footage. Rotoscoping and clean up of the live talents were required for them to be replaced with animated characters in Combustion. Using hand drawn characters, the 2D animation process took a grueling 15 days to complete. “With Flash, we could place the live shots as a background and color directly over the scene and watch a RAM render of the result which is almost instantaneous and does not compromise quality,” shared Wong who revealed the retrace and colouring process in Flash took a further 15 days to complete. After approval of the second work-in-progress presentation, the animation which was made up of multiple layers of colours were pre-composited in After Effects and was then transferred to Flint for the final composition. “This was done to increase efficiency in the time spent on the Flint suite,” Woo noted. Both Adobe Photoshop and After Effects were used in the pre-compositing task, as lighting mattes on the characters were generated based on the live action environment. “Preparing all animation components for the final online helps minimize the layering and job load during final online,” he continued. 3D Maya was also used to generate the cascade of photographs in the last segment of the TVC. Finally, a key challenge came in the task of blending colour and lighting of the dynamic live-action environment with the animated characters. “The real challenge was getting the right lighting for the characters to blend in with the live environment so that they look as though they exist in reality,” she explained. “As the colours and lighting constantly change in the live action environment, attention had to be paid to ensure the lights and colour on animated characters changed accordingly. The characters’ positions and scale in the live footage were also a concern,” Woo added.… Read More

  • A BAD DAY

    The Skinny Made for international markets, the Nokia N96 launch video that aired worldwide in February 2008 to herald the debut of Nokia’s latest product was produced by FHQ Fluid in collaboration with the team at Upper Story Singapore, who conceptualized the idea. Having installed a spanking new plasma TV at home, the protagonist and his friend stood back expecting to enjoy the visual treat, only to see the panel promptly fall off the wall, filmed in almost surreal slow motion, and is damaged beyond repair. In disbelief the protagonist heads to his notebook and logs on to YouTube in the hope for some online video entertainment. Watching a clip of an ‘exploding’ bottle of fizzy drink, he turns around to see his friend imitating the stunt, and a fountain of fluid, also shot in slow motion, reduces his notebook to a smoking mess. Turning to music, he ups the volume and irritates his girlfriend for the umpteenth time, and she throws, also in slow-motion, his stack of music CDs out of the window into the street below. And just as he thinks the day can’t get any worse, he heads to the theatres expecting to see a movie only to have tickets sell out as he reaches the box office. Walking along the streets in disappointment, the protagonist looks up to see a video billboard featuring the latest Nokia N96 mobile handset which promises ‘Video online everywhere’ as the ultimate solution to his troubles. Getting hold of the N96 mobile handset, the protagonist returns home and watches TV shows in his palm sitting in front of his broken plasma TV, he catches online videos on the handset next to his still-smoking notebook, and watches music videos as he steps over his CDs on the street. The TVC then spotlights the new product and highlights key features including its video, online, storage and connectivity capabilities in a showcase segment. Ending the spot with a final humorous twist, the last part of the ad sees the protagonist seated on a bench along the sea enjoying a live basketball match on the N96. And as he jumps for joy at his favourite team’s victory on the buzzer, bands of white paint is seen on his jacket and a ‘Wet Paint’ sign behind the bench that had just been painted over. The Production “The spot needed to reflect the (character of the) phone and the end user. Being the ‘top of the range’ in the series (of Nokia mobile handsets), it was targeting the ‘creative and hip brigade’,” executive producer Ian Kenny explained. Needing to appeal to the younger demographic group, the production team deemed locations, style and feel of the spot to be of key importance. “Every location had to have an edge,” Kenny said, and revealed that the apartment was a warehouse in Brisbane where the production house’s art department emptied and refurnished. To further attract younger viewers, the production team cast a model in the protagonist’s role, whom Paul Giggle, the TVC’s director was on hand to guide, to ensure he could take on the performance-heavy script which relied on dialogue with a neutral accent. “You have to move (the talents) into a comfort zone where they will deliver being themselves,” advised Giggle. With the number of changes in locations across Brisbane required, Giggle was able to keep shoots light and fast with the use of the 16mm film format. “I still like film even though we could have shot (in) HD, as I felt the look could be better achieved with the former format,” he revealed. Recalling memorable production moments, Giggle shared the team’s experience shooting the opening segment, “We had only two TV sets for the scene, and the first one just hit the ground and stayed there when it was supposed to smash and the screen was supposed to fall. Luckily for us, the second TV set worked.” The Post Cutting Edge in Brisbane assumed key responsibilities for the four-week long post production process. Digitizing the footage using the Spirit 4K, Matt Benett, editor at Cutting Edge Brisbane worked with Giggle to select the shots. “The mood of this spot was really important, and we had a few elements such as flares that we could over lay. Inferno was used to tweak the night shots and make the scenes work as we replaced every window with lit rooms,” Giggle elaborated. In terms of visual effects, the key elements were the video billboard, and the segment spotlighting the mobile handset. 3D animation work for the video billboard was carried out by Chye Yong Hock, art director at the Upper Story in Singapore, while the part on the mobile handset was shot using green screen. “The billboard was built from scratch and we spent a great deal of time trying to make it look real,” revealed Giggle. As the handset had a blank screen, the relevant footage had to be placed in each scene that the handset appears in. “Shooting the handset with green screen, we added markers to track the footage. Reflections on the phone posed some challenges to us,” he elaborated. Opting for the minimal use of VFX, Giggle concluded, “I like to keep spots like this quite organic.”… Read More

  • Ram Mohan: Animation GURU

    Ram Mohan, the doyen of the Indian animation industry, received a Special Recognition Award at the FICCI Best Animated Frames (BAF) Awards 2008. It is worthy recognition for a man who has played a significant role in the evolution of animation in India. With over a hundred films to his credit, his contributions span a wide spectrum of work across the areas of 2D classical animation, 3D computer graphics animation to cinema and live action… Read More

  • The Art and Soul of Production Stills

    Back in the days when cinemas had proper foyers, they would display stills that provided tantalising glimpses of the actual movie. Cinema stills is an art form which captures the essence of a movie in just a single frame. How are these stills made? And who makes them? We speak to Darius Manihuruk and Erik Wirasakti, two of Indonesia’s best production stills photographers, who provide answers to these questions and more.… Read More

  • S’NAB shots

    Asia Image sneaks a peek at some new offerings to come on show at NABSHOW 2008, to be held from April 14 – 17, 2008 at the Las Vegas Convention Center… Read More

  • MAM goes to asia

    Richard Dean looks at the increasing importance of media asset management… Read More

  • MAM goes to asia

    Richard Dean looks at the increasing importance of media asset management… Read More

  • A Photo-shop full of goodies

    Following from the informative product demonstrations at the Adobe Photoshopworld workshop in Singapore last November, Shirley Tan, Adobe master instructor, looks to share even more Photoshop tips with our readers… Read More

  • SILKY SMOOTH

    The Skinny The description ‘smooth as silk’ takes on a literal meaning in Silk Flowers, a flowing and dreamy thirty-second TVC produced by Malaysia-based Carrot Films and post produced by Thailand’s Fame Post Production for Dove-branded chocolates from Mars Limited. The spot opens with the protagonist in a brown silk dress resting in an armchair in deep thought, set in a courtyard that is muted and barren. Reaching for a bar of Dove chocolate, she breaks off a portion and places it in her mouth. Closing her eyes to savour the taste of the confectionary, the gastronomical experience seemingly brings her into another world as the scene fades into a rich and delicious chocolate flow which transform into smooth, flowing chocolate brown silk. The camera then pans to the courtyard where chocolate brown drapes unfurl to adorn the once rocky surface, and extends to wrap around the woman’s shoulders as she looks on in delight. Wind-blown chocolate drapes then continue to move to the ground and each form chocolate roses that now spread across the once-barren courtyard. The protagonist then proceeds to caress a CG rose which appear fresh and alive as it sways with her touch. The courtyard continues to fill with silk roses which are blooming in the chocolate garden. Walking on in the wonder unfolding before her eyes, she turns around to see one of the drapes floating into the air before transforming into chocolate butterflies fluttering into the air. The TVC concludes with the climax of smooth flowing chocolate drapes, fluttering butterflies, and luscious roses as the lady looks on in awe at the magical environment enveloping her. The Production Prior to production, Carrot Films director Henry Ooi brought the entire production and post team through the concept in detail, with clear illustrations of the CG chocolate silk roses and butterflies. The key creative concept of live action mixed with CG then saw the team shoot footage of the actress’ actions, artificial roses and silk moving at high speed to be eventually composited with CG. Jeffery Chow, executive producer of the TVC revealed that the actress, in her thin silk dress, had to withstand very low temperatures on set during the shoot. The actress, with the help and guidance of the crew and director, then proceeded to ‘interact’ with CG elements that were added only during post production in what was the most challenging part of production. The Post Post production proved the most grueling stage for Silk Flowers as the entire process took an arduous two months to complete. The team at Fame Post used Autodesk Maya and After Effects to create the digital imagery and CG elements, The Pixel Farm’s PF Track for geometry tracking, and Autodesk Inferno for compositing and finishing. According to Chow, an extensive length of time was spent on producing the mock-up as well as matching the colour, lighting and size of the CG roses. And of particular difficulty was the scene that the protagonist caresses the CG rose as the actresses hand’s touch of the virtual flower had to “look real”. With particular attention paid to the contact as well as the ‘reaction’ of the hand and the CG flower, the latter was animated with a life-like ‘bounce’ following the touch to bring the chocolate rose to life. “Our CG animators performed many tests before the final result was achieved just for this sequence alone,” said Chow.… Read More

  • MOVING IN SYNC

    The Skinny MFX produced a design heavy spot in conjunction with Saatchi & Saatchi Malaysia, commissioned by Guiness Anchor Berhad to celebrate the Tiger Beer brand’s 75th anniversary. The TVC, titled Tiger 75 Years introduces the newly launched bottle with limited edition design from Saatchi & Saatchi, for Malaysia. The TVC’s underlying proposition was to reflect the look of the print ad campaign, also originally conceptualized by Saatchi & Saatchi. Adopting a “fresh, urban and hip” approach to target audiences including the youth and revellers, the 30-second ad features highly stylized animated properties in the brand’s colours and shades of blue and gold, akin to a flurry of fizzling bubbles, confetti and ribbons set against silhouettes of the cityscape and dancers. All the elements are changing quickly to the beat of the increasingly loud, fast and powerful tune played by an electric guitar, set against audio visualization resembling an oscilloscope vibrating in-sync with the music’s changing volume and frequency spectrum. The oscilloscope has been stylized to emit a fluid-like flow and drip similar to overflowing beer at various parts of the line, while the spikes increasingly expands in magnitude to reveal the new design of the Tiger Beer bottle in the background. “We did have some difficulty ensuring that the ‘hero’ of the piece was the brand rather than the dancers as they are meant to support the message and brand, not the reverse. It’s about juxtaposing the graphic elements to attract audiences to the brand but not allowing them to outshine the brand image on-screen.” The Production For production of the animation-focused spot, the team at MFX used the Adobe suite of software including Affer Effects and Photoshop to accomplish the bulk of the work. The dancers’ silhouettes were also produced with actual footage of live dancers shot by the team. According to senior designer and animator Pitt Ong, animating to the pace of the music and synchronizing between the visual and audio components were the main challenges of the project. “Like with all audio-video sync work, we had to manually mark out the key points of the audio piece including the main beats and rests, and use those as key turning points for the animation,” said Ong. Ong also revealed that through the two-week long production timeline, the team at MFX worked closely with the creatives from Saatchi & Saatchi Malaysia to examine and continuously tweak the work to ensure the “flow” of the entire TVC was maintained. Elements including the meshing of scenes from one to the next, the speed of transitions as well as the smoothness of the animation developments were the key areas that were worked on to ensure the TVC was able to bring the message and branding across well. The Post Budgeted at under US$25,000, post production of Tiger 75 Years saw the team place great emphasis in selecting the right dance footage used. The material was then colour graded and matched to the established colour palette before being integrated into the TVC. Overall, Ong found that the team had to constantly ensure that the TVC’s focus remained on the brand rather than let accompanying elements including the dancers take centrestage. He said, “We did have some difficulty ensuring that the ‘hero’ of the piece was the brand rather than the dancers as they are meant to support the message and brand, not the reverse. It’s about juxtaposing the graphic elements to attract audiences to the brand but not allowing them to outshine the brand image on-screen.”… Read More

  • Ping Pong Eye Candy

    The Skinny The creative concept for Ping Pong was based on a popular Japanese variety TV show Super Change, Change, Change (loosely translated from its Chinese title), where participants including high school students, families, and working professionals create mass display stage performances using elaborate props and costumes. The illusions created are often clever and comedic in nature as some of the participants are dressed in black to help the main characters perform stunts against a black backdrop. Based on that concept, Ping Pong depicts two competitors playing table tennis in increasingly ridiculous and amusing stunts in an extended exchange. Midway through the grueling contest, one of the players tires and reaches out for a Snickers energy bar. Fully recharged from that, he is able to continue in the game with better and stronger moves and outplays his competitor at the end with fast and powerful strokes that make him look like he was playing with six arms. Through the spot, the viewer is also introduced progressively to the men dressed in black who are helping the players jump higher, play faster and pull off seemingly impossible stunts, to hilarious effect. Ping Pong has been on air in China since mid-October 2007, and has sparked positive comments from the Chinese internet community. The ad campaign’s launch has also coincided with a surge in sales of the Snickers chocolate bar by some 30 per cent in the last quarter of 2007. The Production September 2007 saw The Shanghai Job win the pitch for the Snickers’ TV campaign from Mars China against various Thai directors for three spots to tie-in with the Beijing Olympics campaign. Based on the creative vision from the Nitro Shanghai team helmed by executive creative director and managing director, Jennifer Tan, The Shanghai Job produced the 30-second spots titled Ping Pong, Basketball and Blackboard. With choreography of the stunts being a core creative concept behind the TVCs, casting took on great importance in pre-production. Street casting was carried out in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou to recruit hip-hop dancers, mime artists, theatre actors and street performers given that Nitro chose not to cast commercial actors or talent in the ad. Following that, four days of intensive rehearsals ensued in Shanghai before the three spots were shot back-to-back in five days on HD-DV to give the TVCs the intended raw look. The music score for the ad by Beat-Box was then jointly selected by the director David Gaddie and the agency, before Sydney-based Nylon Studios took on the music design task for the advertising campaign. The Post For offline, The Shanghai Job engaged editor Supra from Singapore to cut the three spots at its in-house facility. As for online editing, The Shanghai Job opted to take what the team considered as a “bold” step in post production: remote coordination and control of post production work done by Post Modern in Sydney via the Internet, as well as remote review and initial approval. In the process, only project folders with all the media files stored in a 500GB hard disk drive went to Post Modern. The director briefed and communicated directly with Post Modern’s post supervisor James Rogers and managing director Andrew Robinson via Skype and telephone during the post process. The completed online edit was then made available via Post Modern’s FTP site for download. Nitro Shanghai and the clients were able to review the work direct on their computers to provide comments and initial approval without having to travel. The final review was then conducted at a local post facility on a standard broadcast monitor for the client to ensure that there were no drop frames and colour separation. The final edit was then given the nod without further changes.… Read More

  • Leaping to the Big Screen

    Asia Image chats with Jean Yeo, an award-winning TV director who takes a leap of faith to make her first feature… Read More

  • S’NAB SHOts

    Asia Image sneaks a peek at some new offerings to come on show at NABSHOW 2008, to be held from April 14 – 17, 2008 at the Las Vegas Convention Center… Read More

  • What’s your tech?

    Specialists from leading technology providers review the hottest technological trends in 2007 and offer their takes on what’s to come this year… Read More

  • HD Post gathers pace

    Transitioning to high definition post continues apace with more and more companies acquiring HD capabilities and those that already offer HD finishing finding the demand for high definition has moved upstream. Nazir Keshvani gives the lowdown on the high end… Read More

  • Feature Comparisons: Premiere Pro Vs. FCP

    Both the Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 and Final Cut Pro 6 are standalone video editing applications, and both are available as part of larger software bundles. The bundles are highly recommended in both cases, giving you much more power and flexibility over things like audio, graphics, etc.… Read More

  • 64 bit workstations power ahead

    While 32-bit workstations limit users to about 4GB of system memory, 64-bit workstations can offer terabytes - essentially limitless system memory. The processing power becomes incredible when you consider that Intel and AMD, the two leading providers of microprocessors, have started to bring to market 64-bit Dual-Core and Quad-Core solutions that group multiple 64-bit processing units where there used to be just one. For processing-intensive tasks, like 3D animation, real-time colour correction, HD editing and the manipulation of 2K and 4K data for digital intermediates, 64-bit workstations are having a big impact on productivity. It's not so much a boost in speed. The real advantage to the 64-bit workstation is that it offers a quantum leap in system memory. A Dual-Core architecture comprises two microprocessors, each containing two processing cores, for a total of four processing cores; and a Quad Core architecture comprises of four microprocessors, each containing two processing cores, for a total of eight processing cores. The flagship product line for the high-performance workstation market is the Intel Xeon processor. Chief among these are the Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor 5300 Series, which was introduced in November 2006, and the Dual-Core Intel Xeon processor 5100 Series introduced in early 2006. These are based on the new Intel Core Micro-Architecture that promotes performance and energy efficiency. Creating 64-bit versions of massive software applications has required a big commitment on the part of independent software vendors (or ISVs) who have to actually redesign their software from the ground up to take advantage of the limitless system memory. ISVs are also multithreading the software to make use of the multiple cores available in today's workstations. While 64-bit capable workstations are selling, vendors tell us that sales should really take off in 2007 as many software developers complete their transition to 64-bit versions on key software for post-production. And from this point on, new products will likely be developed specifically for the 64-bit platform, which will probably become the standard for the foreseeable future. Here's an alphabetical update on what is being offered for 64-bit. To fully realize the power of 64-bit workstations, users must make sure their operating system (OS), processors, graphics cards, and applications are all 64-bit-enabled and working in sync. Workstations: Hewlett-Packard HP has enhanced its lineup of multiprocessor- based server systems built to improve performance and cut costs in the media creation and distribution industry. The efficient and highly productive development processes lead to faster completion and delivery of content. At the same time, computer, storage and network resources help organizations meet consumer demands for 24x7 access to rich media content. Based on the new Quad- Core Intel Xeon processor 7300 series, the energyefficient servers At the same time, computer, storage and network resources help organizations meet consumer demands for 24x7 access to rich media content. Based on the new Quad- Core Intel Xeon processor 7300 series, the energy efficient servers run digital media solutions on scalable HP StorageWorks hardware and ProLiant servers. HP's rack-based ProLiant DL580 G5 server and the ProLiant BL680c G5, its first four processor (4P) quad-core server blade, offer increased performance with double the number of processor cores. In addition, the DL580 G5 has double the memory capacity of its predecessor. These enhancements offer customers more compute power and memory to improve the performance of applications. The integrated HP Media Storage solution enables organizations to scale as their operations grow, deliver high-performance data access in highly collaborative environments and manage their data on different types of storage. "HP has a long history of bringing innovative server platforms to market on time," said Tony Parkinson, vice president and general manager, Industry Standard Servers, HP Asia Pacific and Japan. "These systems allow customers to meet their rapidly growing virtualization and energy efficiency needs." The ProLiant DL580 G5 is a 4Pbased server ideal for virtualization and mission-critical data centre deployments. The ProLiant BL680c G5 is also built for performance by using up to four Intel 7300 series processors and has a large memory capacity for data-intensive applications. The BL680c G5 is part of the HP BladeSystem portfolio. "Using Intel Xeon 7300 series quad-core processors, HP ProLiant servers are delivering unprecedented performance and energy efficiency," said Parkinson. "The new four socket, quad- core Xeon processor systems will provide 16 cores that enable HP to provide customers with superior levels of scalability, virtualization performance and improve their ability to run mission-critical applications." Using HP Media Storage, creative teams can store and retrieve the massive 4K files in real time while working on the task of transforming a director's raw footage into a finished movie that will be ready for distribution into many different formats, such as 35mm and digital cinema screens, high-definition discs, Internet TV, and mobile devices. A 4K digital master also preserves enough information to guarantee the value of the film for future generations and presentation technologies. Designed specifically for the entertainment industry, HP Media Storage is compatible with Apple's Final Cut Studio through the use of Apple Xsan software. "Working in 4K generates enormous amounts of data and HP has made storing and retrieving that data effortless, while helping to streamline the post-production process," said Parkinson. "The bottom line is we can now meet the creative needs of filmmakers as well as the image quality demands we have as a studio. HP has helped us make that possible.â€Â The HP Media Storage includes HP StorageWorks 8000 Enterprise Virtual Arrays and Linux-based HP ProLiant servers and HP BladeSystem server blades, as well as multicore processor HP workstations. HP partner Quantum provides its storage management software, StorNext, to manage the data via a heterogeneous file system that allows the data to be accessed by all clients. HP also provided specialized consulting and integration service to facilitate the entertainment industry’s shift to digital content, storage management has emerged as a pivotal process, as films, videos, and music move from creation through distribution to final consumer enjoyment. Through the use of StorNext, HP Media Storage provides a single, "virtual disk" view across all the different tiers of storage. This includes high-performance disk for fast, concurrent file sharing for active data; near-line systems for reference or older data; disk systems for back up, and off-line tape for archived data. Expanding on its support for the Linux, Windows, and HP-UX 11i operating systems, HP Media Storage now supports Apple Mac OS X and Windows XP connectivity to the Fibre Channel-based HP StorageWorks EVA SAN arrays. With this addition, HP Media Storage now supports all the major operating systems used in post-production. HP also announced a joint commitment with Microsoft to define a data warehouse reference platform with the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 based on the ProLiant DL580 G5 with HP StorageWorks 50 Modular Smart Arrays. The platform is designed to help mitigate risk and deploy SQL Server 2008 data storage solutions with confidence and predictable results. "HP is committed to helping the entertainment and communications industries meet the technical challenges - and tap the huge opportunities - in digital content," said Parkinson. "HP Media Storage is a key part of our strategy, and our customers have shown that it is delivering positive business outcomes." Recently, for example, the British Film Institute (BFI) worked with HP to begin the task of making available to the public Britain’s film heritage of more than 230,000 films and 675,000 TV programmes. With HP Media Storage as a backbone, the new Mediatheque at BFI Southbank in London provides free access to historic film records. HP also announced that Warner Bros. Entertainment has deployed the company’s media storage technology to help transform the complex postproduction of new films, as well as the restoration of older titles, from the traditional process using celluloid to one that is entirely digital. Apple: Apple’s strategy is to make the 64-bit processing transition as seamless as possible for its customers. In 2003, Apple delivered its first 64-bit desktop computer with the Power Mac G5, so the company was one of the first to embrace 64-bit processing for personal computers. The 64-bit architecture allows for a 64-bit data path that is wide enough to move around extremely large chunks of data. By fattening all the pipes, Apple is able to express 4.3 billion more integers than with the 32-bit architecture - an exponential leap in computing power. This is also important because the system needs to address a single piece of memory with a unique integer, so the more integers you can express the more memory you can address inside the system. Increased memory is important in the digital content creation and high-end post markets because video resolutions have moved from standard definition to HD, 2K and 4K, with 8K on the horizon. The OS is also critical. Since the spring of 2007, Apple released Mac OS X Leopard, which exceeded the 64-bit processing capabilities of Tiger. The 64- bit processor working in conjunction with the 64-bit OS benefits the software layer and ultimately the creative process. This is greatly beneficial to working with Final Cut Studio 2, which features Final Cut Pro 6, Motion 3, Soundtrack Pro 2, Compressor 3, and the new "Colour", a professional colour grading and finishing. Apple is also in sync with third-party software developers from a hardware and software perspective. Boxx: Boxx has engineered a 64-bit workstation, called Apexx 8, which is an eight-processor system, each of which has two processing cores for a total of 16 AMD Opteron processing cores running a single instance of the OS. A 64-bit workstation can, in theory, address 16 exabytes of system memory. For all practical purposes, the amount of system memory is only limited by the amount of memory DIMMS that the workstation can physically accommodate. The ability to handle very large files means that 3D animators and other artists and editors at the high-end of post need not resort to workarounds, such as cutting their work into smaller sections to circumvent the limitations of 32-bit systems. They will be able to work on very large datasets and manipulate them easily and efficiently, and this represents a boost in productivity and quality of the finished material. The Boxx Apexx product lines use Dual-Core and AMD Opteron processors, while the 3D Boxx 8300 can be either Dual-Core or Quad- Core and Intel-based. Boxx Labs tests and certifi es all Boxx workstations and optimizes them to power such processor-intensive endeavors as 3D animation, 3D game development, HD and digital film applications. Boxx offers RenderBoxx, a 64-bit IU render node designed specifically for the demands of rendering and renderfarms in the digital image creation industry. Dell: With 64-bit workstations, Dell has closed the performance gap between desktop workstations and mobile workstations. Introduced in spring of 2006, Dell M90 high-performance mobile workstation incorporates the 64-bit Intel Core 2 Duo processors. The M90 also offers 1394 FireWire capability, 7200RPM spindle speed on the hard disk drives and two memory slots. It also employs the Nvidia Quadro FX 3500M, a leading graphics engine with support for both OpenGL and DirectX graphical languages, with 512MB G-DDR3 memory, a 256-bit memory interface, up to 38.4GBps memory bandwidth and up to 2GBps pixel read back. The Nvidia Quadro FX 3500M graphics card was designed specifically for mobile application, requiring sophisticated engineering to get a high-performance graphic card - normally found in a desktops - to fit into a laptop case. The digital content creation market has readily adopted 64- bit mobile workstations. As a result, one out of five workstations that Dell sells is a mobile workstation. The real advantage to 64-bit computing is the access to larger amounts of memory capable of manipulating larger files. The combination of core logic speed, Open GL support and fast memory enables animators, artists and editors to run the same applications that they run on desktop workstations on their laptops. Dell views its Precision products as a total solution and certifies that thirdparty hardware and software systems have been tested, optimized and certified as compatible with the workstation for the end-user's peace of mind.… Read More

  • Digital Intermediate - what's next?

    Is the industry moving to single-scan ingest of film dailies? Or with the seemingly inexorable growth in digital acquisition, does it matter?… Read More

  • DI: Past, Present and Future

    Kevin Shaw looks at three generations of Digital Intermediate in this installment of… Read More

  • Creativity in motion

    In Singapore to promote the Adobe CS3 Production Premium package ahead of its launch in the third quarter of 2007, Bob Donlon, senior marketing manager for Adobe Dynamic Media speaks to Asia Image and shares a trick with readers.… Read More

  • Sizing up HD cameras

    Asia Image zooms in on the latest and hottest HD cameras on offer right now… Read More

  • High-end animation moves towards profit

    Less Mickey Mouse, more workflow and ROI – Richard Dean confronts the business face of modern animation… Read More

  • Compositing adds a new dimension

    Anybody who's just survived the annual trek to Las Vegas for the NAB show will know that the last 12 months has been a busy time for graphics systems, both in software and hardware. And contrary to what some outsiders might have thought, this even applies to the relatively rarefied worlds of compositing and motion tracking - plus related graphics activities such as rotoscoping where an artist paints over frames of live action, and for that matter automated rig removal. For instance UK VFX specialist Imagineer chose NAB to unveil a dedicated rotoscoping tool called motor, along with new versions of two established applications - namely monet for inserting 2D elements into moving footage, and its mokey wire and rig removal toolset. According to Imagineer, motor benefits from being a dedicated rotoscope application in that it incorporates sophisticated spline tools not available in traditional compositing applications, along with a planar tracker that uses an advanced tracking algorithm rooted in its high-end compositing and removal software. The company estimates that motor users will be able to rotoscope footage three to four times faster than with traditional tools, partly because of tight integration between the tracker and rotoscope. A broad range of design platforms are supported, including Autodesk discreet, Avid DS, Adobe After Effects, Quantel generationQ, and Apple Shake. Incidentally anybody who was able to preview the v1.1 beta test release should note that several major fixes have been made, including the way that edge widths are handled when spline control points are being manipulated. The public version of motor is also the first full release for Mac OS X to include a fully functional curve editor. Prices range from US$1,595 for a single-user nodelocked license to US$6,995 for a 10-user cross - platform floating license. As well as monet and mokey, which both generate numerous elements such as shadow, highlights, patches or backgrounds to make the basic insert look more realistic, Imagineer also offers mofex, a plug-in for Shake with similar functionality to the standalone monet, and a moxel 'standards station'. Imagineer says that moxel incorporates a dedicated toolset for blurring and pixellating faces, logos and other unwanted elements in video, which can be steered by built-in tracking technology to save time and money on non-creative and otherwise laborious tasks. Designed to complement the main editing and compositing systems, it can be run either on the same workstations or as a standalone unit. Importing 3D models to assist tracking This follows the release last Summer by 2d3 - the visual effects software subsidiary of UK-based Oxford Metrics Group plc – of its award-winning boujou automated match-moving application, version 4. Along with general improvements to the interface and workflow, the new release is claimed to offer several features to combat difficult shots, and provide technical users with more control. One new function is the ability to import 3D models, which for example could be used to line up a model with an object in the scene and then track it, or actually use the object to allow users to visualise a camera position. In this instance the user can not only use the information from the 3D model, but also exercise judgment to create approximate camera positionings using the model as a guide. According to product manager Steve Hill, this is the first time that 2d3 has given users the power to manually add additional information to help boujou better refine the solution. Another is the capability to create 3D meshes. Based on 3D predictions, these allow users to build up a 3D terrain or surface onto which convincing shadows can be cast. More detailed control over incoming footage has been added, so that operators can copy and delete individual camera views or frames from scenes - or even interpolate camera views to fill in gaps between frames and remove noise - to help boujou determine the correct camera path. This is designed to speed workflow, as by fixing frames at source the horror of having to redo an entire shot can hopefully be avoided. Finally for the more technically adept, 2d3 has added embedded scripting, which claims to offer an unprecedented level of access to the inner working of boujou. Savvy users could for example write an importer to read camera data from a motion control rig and get boujou to 'solve from approximate camera path' by iteration to optimise and then create a 3D structure. In essence, scripting tackles the common but seemingly unreachable problem in the professional tracking market where users have access to a lot of information from their scenes but previously haven't been able to give that info to the tracking software. Prices start at around US$10,000. The company has also come up with a plug-in for Autodesk's Maya 8.0 called moujou, which offers the automatic tracking power of boujou within the Maya interface. According to 2d3, this is quick and easy to use as operators simply load in their shot, hit the 'Track it' button and let moujou do the rest - meaning more time spent animating and less time tracking. Flexible motion capture Meanwhile the French image processing software development company Realviz, which recently appointed IM Innovations Pte Ltd as its exclusive distributor for the educational sector in Singapore, has released its new Movimento motion capture system. Powered by SMART, the company's established automatic 3D tracking engine, Realviz says Movimento draws on eight years of 2D and 3D motion tracking experience with its flagship MatchMover Pro within the visual effects industry, and captures the motion of any non-rigid object from multiple image sequences. According to Realviz, Movimento offers a complete solution for facial, hand, arm and full-body motion capture, and allows users to combine 3D camera tracking and motion capture ('mocap') processes when using non-static cameras - such as on-set mocap, motions spanning a very wide area, or a complex environment. It is also claimed to automatically reconstruct 3D meshes from tracked data. Using a minimum of two fixed or moving cameras, Movimento capture is claimed to be non-intrusive as it can operate in natural or ambient lighting, and requires no specific hardware within the scene. It is also frame rate and resolution agnostic, while on the output side the mocap data can be exported to Autodesk MotionBuilder, 3ds Max, Maya or Softimage|XSI for further manipulation (with other exports possible through third-party scripting). Movimento currently runs on Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP and is priced at US$19,000, while the Movimento Total Solution including Movimento software, a 4-camera capture system (640x480 CCD cameras at 200 fps) costs around US$45,000, with rental options available in each case. Prices for promised Mac and Linux versions have yet to be announced. Integrated compositing workflow Late last year Autodesk announced the first creative tools extension for its Autodesk Toxik 2007 software, containing advanced features for image transforms, filtering and warping. Autodesk Toxik Extension 1 offers a new 2D Transform feature in addition to the software's existing 3D Transform tool, based on distinct filtering techniques developed by Autodesk's own Image Science Group. The company says 2D Transform tool allows artists to move, scale and rotate an image while maintaining a superior level of accuracy and quality. Other key features in the extension include Lens Distort and Comparison tools. Lens Distort allows artists to correct or simulate lens distortion in a clip, and digital artists can quickly remove or adjust existing camera lens distortion and apply lens distortion to computer-generated and other undistorted layers. According to Autodesk, the Comparison tool is the same as the eponymous feature included in the Autodesk Flame visual effects system, allowing artists to juxtapose images and examine results in context with reference frames or other nodes within a composition. The company also says that Toxik software - which is aimed squarely at a feature film visual effects market requiring 2D and 3D compositing tools, integrated collaboration and the ability to manipulate high dynamic range (HDR) at high resolution - has adopted a modular architecture to allow rapid deployment of new features without disrupting production in the core Toxik environment. Autodesk Toxik 2007 can now be purchased in single seats for US$6,500, while Extension 1 is available to subscription holders for download from the Toxik portal. Subscription has been reduced to US$1,200 (but note that international pricing may vary). Apple windfall for Shake To say that Shake caused a stir in compositing circles when creators Nothing Real burst onto the scene ten years ago would be something of an understatement. The product has been steadily refined since Apple took it over in 2002, including of course a Mac version. But although prices were falling, few were expecting Apple's announcement of a precipitous - some would say predatory - price drop last year from US$2,999 to US$499 which, as Apple proudly points out, is about the cost of a plug-in for Final Cut Pro. Actually the plug-in paradigm appears to be the new modus operandi, as the company - which by the way still charges the old price for the Linux version - has re-aligned Shake as a powerful companion to FCP working straight off the editing timeline, and no longer sells a standalone Apple Maintenance Program for the system. Apple says that particle effects from Motion 2 can now be dropped directly into the Shake process tree to add elements such as smoke, sparkles and fire to sophisticated multi-plane 3D composites, while high resolution work can flow from Motion to Shake by rendering with the shared OpenEXR format. Furthermore, Apple claims that Shake 4.1 delivers significant performance gains on the new Intel-based Macs, in particular by providing artists and editors with 'desktop level experience' on the new MacBook Pro notebook computer. Apparently, performance tests on a MacBook Pro have shown that common tasks such as colour correction, warping and the application of filters are processed up to 3.5 times faster on a MacBook Pro than on a PowerBook G4 - indeed Apple claims that both artists and editors can start compositing with HD, 2K and even 4K shots directly on location with Shake 4.1 on a MacBook Pro. Shake 4.1 is now available at around UAS$499, while existing owners can get a crossgrade to Shake 4.1 for US$49. Apple has since launched the first 3.0GHz, 8-core Intel Xeon-based Mac Pro, which promises to put a rocket under virtually all Mac applications by using two Quad-core Intel Xeon 'Clovertown' processors. Alternatively a new quadcore Mac Pro sibling offers two Dual- Core Intel Xeon 'Woodcrest' processors, also operating at up to 3.0GHz. Mac Pro now accommodates up to four drives and 3TB of storage, offers eight DIMM slots to fill with up to 16GB of RAM, provides up to two SuperDrives, and has four PCI Express slots - plus plenty of input and output options for flexibility. 'Consider the bar officially raised', crows the Apple publicity. Big beast milestone Meanwhile among the other big beasts of the compositing platform jungle, Adobe has announced a new graphics strategy based around Creative Suite 3 (CS3), which CEO Bruce Chizen says is not only the biggest launch in Adobe's 25 year history but also represents a milestone for the creative industry. The radical re-alignment reflects an integration with Adobe acquisition Macromedia that includes six all-new suites or full version upgrades of 13 stand-alone applications including Photoshop CS3, Photoshop CS3 Extended, InDesign CS3, Illustrator CS3, Flash CS3 Professional, Dreamweaver CS3, Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 and After Effects CS3. Also included is an Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection, combining 12 of Adobe's new design and development applications in a single box, which Apple again modestly claims to be the most comprehensive creative environment ever delivered. Significantly, most of the Adobe Creative Suite 3 editions will be available as 'Universal' applications - in other words suitable for both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs, while at the same time supporting Microsoft Windows XP and Windows Vista. Estimated street price for the Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium is US$1,799, with US$1,599 for Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium, US$1,699 for Adobe Creative Suite 3 Production Premium, and US$2,499 for Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection. The company also helpfully points out that 'numerous upgrade paths' have been devised for existing Adobe customers.… Read More

  • NAB2007: Signs of the times

    Tagged 'the World’s largest electronic media show', the NAB has always been an event of superlatives.… Read More

  • filmsound: AFTRS Sydney – an ICON in education and training

    The Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) Sydney has had a sound reputation as Australia’s leading centre for professional education and training in the fi lm, television and radio industries for over 30 years. Renowned for delivering industry-specifi c digital audio programs and courses to students and professionals on cutting-edge technology, AFTRS students and graduates have an impressive credits list which includes recent Academy Award nominations and Australian Film Industry award winners. And with a recently installed dualoperator 32-fader Digidesign ICON DControl console in its ‘showcase’ Mix Theatre, coupled with a pending upgrade to a fully-certifi ed Digidesign Pro School, AFTRS has just amped up its reputation for developing new and emerging talent and up-skilling professionals in a ‘real world’ environment. AFTRS Sydney Audio Mix Lecturer Chris McKeith says ICON allows students to learn and experience the operation of a fi lm mix theatre that is representative of those that are in use around the world. “The tactile nature and the features of ICON make it present like a more traditional console but with the versatility of the full digital system. This gives this Mix Theatre a familiar look and feel for traditional operators, while delivering the versatility and features that come with the digital systems,â€Â Chris says. Used primarily for mixing short-fi lms for fi lm, DVD and video release, the AFTRS mix theatre is an impressive room. It comprises the ICON with surround panner, two Digidesign HD3 Accel systems running the Digidesign Pro Tools platform, with 48 I/O supplied by one Digidesign HD192 and four Digidesign HD192Digital interfaces. This set up is integrated with 5.1 cinema monitoring, Dolby Surround processing, 35mm/16mm Film and Avid Mojo Video playback, and records onto DA88, DAT and multiple Hard Drive systems. “The complete integration with the ProTools environment is a great feature for the AFTRS workfl ow solution,â€Â Chris says. “This is especially relevant as AFTRS uses a complete mix-in-thebox approach for its projects.â€Â The AFTRS workfl ow, while quite common in the production stage, has some unique characteristics during the post-production phase that only a dualoperator ICON could deliver on. Instead of pre-mixing and recording stems of music, which can limit the student in a fi nal mix, the AFTRS workfl ow attempts to keep all of the music as an open wide mix, allowing the student to make changes. This is not available on a smaller system. “Dealing in fi lm workfl ow we carry an enormous number of tracks including all the raw elements with the treatment over the top,â€Â Chris says. “ICON and the two Pro Tools systems allow us to bring up the music as an open mix on one side of the console, with Dialogs, Effects, Atmospheres and Foley on the other side.â€Â Chris says this complements the teaching functions at AFTRS by allowing students to experience the mix process alongside an experienced operator, plus enjoy the versatility and learning elements this fl exible workfl ow offers. “ICON has improved workfl ow schedules through the mix theatre,â€Â Chris says. “Being able to take the session directly from the edit room into the mix theatre, and easily adapt and alter the working session, has meant less set up time and more creative mixing time for both student and teacher.â€Â The ICON’s ‘customised touchsensitive faders’ further assists the creative mixing and learning experience of students. Chris cites the example of how EQ and Dynamics can quickly be assigned to break out onto the touch sensitive knobs, and that this allows you to work like you do on an old style console. “The ICON also allows for customisation of often used plug-in parameters, thus simplifying some of the complex processing tasks,â€Â Chris says. Instant feedback from the knobs as well as the screen is another feature that is an important training tool. “Feedback on what the knobs are doing and where they are going is critical for the student,â€Â Chris says. “This information is instantly available in two places – the screen and on the knobs, and this is very helpful.â€Â Chris says that in fi lm they carry a lot of stems as auxiliary faders, not masters. With ICON, Chris can set up a custom fader layer and the stems are all there ready for you with a touch of a button. “Custom fader sets on the ICON, and now the additional VCA faders inside ProTools, allows the control of large numbers of channels easily.â€Â Chris says. Within the fi lm mix environment where monitoring reference is very important, and can be quite complex as you juggle multiple formats on any one mix, Chris says the ICON monitoring section has simplifi ed this process. “The monitoring facilities in the ICON integrate well with the Dolby 5.1 and Dolby surround system,â€Â Chris says. “This has extended the monitoring capabilities while also being simplifi ed.â€Â Chris says that the surround panner option on the ICON is almost a necessity when working in fi lm. The panner allows the student working in 5.1 surround to quickly and easily move effects around the room. The touch screen is also a handy tool as it quickly provides a ‘starting point’ before the student begins panning sounds around the room. “The surround panner is a necessary tool in the 5.1 fi lm environment, and the touch screen version on the ICON is a great tool that allows ‘fl ying sounds’ around the room to be easily handled,â€Â Chris says. Chris says AFTRS investment in the dual operator ICON has been crucial as the School continues to strive to offer ‘real world’ training on cutting-edge technology, and begins to establish itself as a Digidesign Pro School. Chris says ICON has enhanced teaching by allowing students to experience the mix process alongside an experienced operator. The dual operator system offers the capacity and stability to manage the enormous size of the projects within the AFTRS workfl ow, while maintaining and improving the creative process. Furthermore, ICON looks and works like a traditional large format console, without the expense of one, and has signifi cantly improved the aesthetics of the mix theatre, the showcase of the facility. “ICON offers a cost-effective mixing system that not only integrates perfectly with the existing ProTools platform, but also extends the mixing capabilities of the system,â€Â Chris says. “Also, it looks like it belongs in a room like this, which counts for a lot in this industry.â€Â… Read More

  • 3D Animation Rocks!

    The ingenious use of 3D animation continues to grace countless of TVCs and literally adds a new dimension to channel promos and IDs. We look at three different renditions of 3D animation that show off its versatility in style, form and function.… Read More

  • A kingdom for VFX

    When Bangkok’s Fame Post Production accepted to post produce acclaimed director M.R. Chatrichalerm Yukol’s latest silver screen epic about the life of Thailand’s national hero, King Naresuan the Great, they knew that a gargantuan task lay ahead. The movie was concepted as a trilogy following the life of Naresuan from princehood to the fi nal climax when he, as king, killed Burma’s crown prince in battle and, thus, secured the independence of Ayutthaya, a precursor state of Siam/ Thailand. Part one and two of the trilogy were released in January and February, respectively, with the fi nal episode yet to come. Put together, the episodes, each running well over two hours long, deploy more special and visual effects than any other movie produced in Thailand hitherto. “But with our more than 60 staff, and our modern facilities using the latest software and machines, we were very confi dent that we could handle it,â€Â said New Zealand-born Barnaby Bretton, Fame’s general manager. And impressive the line-up is, indeed. For scanning shots, Fame uses a stateof- the-art Thomson/Grass Valley Spirit 4K, which allowed for scanning the majority of shots at 2K in real time and also 4K scanning of elements for complex effects shots. Their two Inferno, Flame and Flint suites were all upgraded last year to the latest Linux systems, allowing effects artists to work effortlessly in 2K. The company’s Nucoda Film Master software colour corrector permitted them to conform and grade the fi lm at 2K and still remain fl exible as the edit was updated. As a distribution hub to allocate work to different CG workstations, Fame used a Bright SAN system, while building, conforming and compositing of CG images and other special effects was primarily accomplished on Maya, Shake, Combustion, Furnace and After Effects terminals within the company’s extensive CG department, a team of 16 people supervised by Frenchman Olivier Welter. More than 90 VFX segments had to be handled by Fame for the movie’s fi rst episode, while the second one incorporated over 300. The fi nal episode is projected to call for even more. With only one month between the release of the fi rst two parts, time and work output had to be managed very effi ciently. “We accomplished the task within about six months, but our team did a lot of testing prior to that,â€Â admitted Bretton, and added that particular credit had to go to Canadian national, Peter Tresize, who developed the VFX workfl ow and lead the online team. “Shooting (of the movie) started more than two years ago, and it was then when we started getting in shots regularly for the test phase. We really went into top gear in the second half of 2006, when our 2K pipeline was jumpstarted by upgrading our two infernos and our fl ame to the latest Linux versions, and adding a new fl int – and of course the addition of our Nucoda Film Master,â€Â Bretton explained. From this point onwards, Fame was able to pump out a lot of VFX work in quick succession, with the facility running 24 hours a day during the fi nal three months before release. Fame’s team needed to remain fl exible to suit the working approach of director M.R. Chatrichalerm. “Like many great directors, he likes to become inspired on the set. He responds to the environment he is shooting in and weaves it in to his movie,â€Â Bretton said. Close communication between Chatrichalerm, the visual effects supervisor Varaphan Leelachart, and Fame proved crucial as the location shooting took place in Kanchanaburi province, some 130 kilometres west of Bangkok. The large number of photo-realistic matte paintings required to recreate the golden cities and dramatic landscapes of the Burmese Empire in the 16th century were achieved by Fame Post’s CG department with Photoshop and Maya. One crucial scene in Naresuan part 2 was located on the banks of the Satong river. As the set for this particular scene was erected at a purpose-built pond rather than a real river, matte artist Prastna Kidkian (Da), the company’s head matte painter, had to extend the landscape in the background to not only depict the meandering river in a realistic style but also to dot its banks with vegetation and small villages and hamlets. Yet another scene called for even more elaborate measures. As Naresuan and his entourage escaped across a bridge over said river, they blew it up behind them in order to escape the apprehending Burmese. The shots has the King outrunning a cascading series of violent explosions, with billowing smoke and pieces of debris hurled in all directions. “The explosions in that shot were a combination of computer generated elements of exploding bridge and splashes and several huge explosions set off for real on location,â€Â said Apiwat Srimongkolkul (John), one of Fame’s compositors working on Shake. “But,â€Â added Oliver Welter, “we had a problem with the pond in the foreground not fl owing as a river would.â€Â The CG team rebuilt the entire water surface in the foreground pond as well as extending the water into the distance to give the illusion of a dynamic, fl owing river. “A custom-built shader lent more credibility to the scene, letting us precisely control the water surface,â€Â added Welter. These rather subtle changes can pass unnoticed by the audiences watching the movie, but are important to the believability of a scene. Due to their very nature, Bretton described them as “invisible effectsâ€Â, and “Naresuanâ€Â features a plethora of those. Yet another effect that is only recognizable by insiders was a technique commonly referred to as “cloningâ€Â. While the Thai military (the set was erected in an army base) contributed some 10,000 soldiers as extras to be deployed in the massive battle scenes, groups of geared-up warriors were duplicated and copied into other areas of the battle fi eld giving the illusion of vast armies clashing with each other. The same method was used in Hollywood blockbusters like “Troyâ€Â and the “Lord of the Ringsâ€Â trilogy. The Fame team certainly drew considerable inspiration from these fi lms. “Lord of the Ringsâ€Â infl uence was also seen on the costuming and weaponry in the movies - contact was made between M.R. Chatrichalerm and Peter Jackson and through him, Weta Workshop, and a trade of knowledge took place. The New Zealand effects artists shared techniques for making light armor, swords and spears, and castforming intricate carvings while in turn learning from Thai craftsmen about making gold jewelery. One of the last shots in “Naresuan Part 2â€Â played to the creativity of Fame’s CG crew. The scene in question, referred to internally as the “bullet shotâ€Â, showed Naresuan fi ring his musket across the river at the Burmese General on the opposite bank. The script called for the camera to focus on the musket ball as it left the muzzle and track it in slow motion across the water until it found its target. Apart from gunpowder fi re and smoke spurting from the musket, the bullet was built from scratch including air distortions it generated while fl ying towards its target. “It’s an epic, historical movie, not ‘The Matrix’, so we had to exercise some restraint,â€Â Bretton remarked. As shooting for episode three of the trilogy is well underway, Fame currently is embroiled in the testing phase for the myriad of VFX sequences in that fi nal installment. The challenges will be even greater as the story of King Naresuan evolves towards its fi nal climax, the famed elephant-back duel between the king and the Burmese crown prince. Fame’s CG artists are already busily building war elephants. “They’re using real elephants on the set, which are already being trained for these scenes. but they will probably only used for close-ups. It would be very dangerous for actors to be riding fi ghting elephants in the manner the script dictates so we need to create convincing CG elephants for these shots,â€Â Bretton explained. King Naresuan - or rather the actor depicting him – and his “Burmeseâ€Â adversary will therefore battle it out to the bitter end on the backs of war elephants that consist of nothing more than a virtual reality mesh wire skeleton layered and layered upon by Fame’s talented CG artists. Not that the audiences would notice any of that once the Fame Post team has worked it’s magic. Asked about whether they think if the fi rst two episodes of “Naresuanâ€Â were satisfactory as far as they were concerned, both Bretton and Welter answered in a most diplomatic way so characteristic of passionate artists. “To quote George Lucas, anybody who makes fi lms knows that a fi lm is never fi nished. It’s abandoned or it’s ripped out of your hands. Of course, if we had had another two months, we still could have enhanced and perfected one or another scene, but you always have to work within the restrictions of a release date. Given that these two fi lms are the most successful Thai fi lms in terms of box offi ce take, and that all the effects were handled under one roof at Fame Post, we are very proud of what the entire team has achieved,â€Â they mused in unison. Meanwhile, word of the excellence of “Naresuanâ€Â has already reached Europe. An Italian senator has expressed keen interest to screen the fi rst two episodes at the Rome Film Festival this year. Thailand’s fi lm industry has negotiated a long, stony path, but it fi nally seems to have attracted the recognition of the world. A considerable part of that recognition must be attributed to the creativity and professionalism of the country’s post production industry and, with respect to “Naresuanâ€Â, to the dedicated and highly talented people who helped bring this epic to life.… Read More

  • sounddesign: The Curse In The Mix

    The complex and rich layered sounds in Zhang Yimou’s epic fi lm The Curse of the Golden Flower can match the quality of those from any Hollywood production – except that they were produced from studios in Beijing, Melbourne and Sydney.… Read More

  • Animation-live action mix: Logic-ally done and Critica-lly acclaimed!

    Asia Image takes a closer look at two TVCs from Underground Logic and Critica that effectively combines live action with animated graphics.… Read More

  • digitalcinema:Digitizing India’s silver screens the UFO way

    UFO Moviez has burnt a trail converting over 500 cinemas across India to its digital cinema system. Raaja Kanwar, vice chairman of United Film Organizers (UFO) provides the lowdown on revolutionary changes across the Indian cinema industry which boasts Bollywood in its ranks. … Read More

  • Avid to roll out solutions for MacTels

    No sooner had Apple unveiled its new crop of Intel powered Mac Pro workstations, that Avid is set to roll out updated versions of its industry-standard video and audio solutions for Intel-based Macs by year’s end.… Read More

  • Better, faster workstations for less

    The advent of 64-bit workstations has enabled the post industry to accomplish demanding, complex work better and faster. The good news is they don’t come with hefty price tags. Nazir Keshvani reports.… Read More

  • Layer It!

    Those looking to buy, book or use a color corrector are faced with an increasing choice of machines, features and workflows. The only drawback of being spoilt for choice is actually having to make the decision. Price, quality of service, and reliability are all influential factors and all equipment has to be capable of basic standards. However, in order to really evaluate the potential of a color corrector a more in-depth assessment is necessary. In my view, the most informative comparison lies in layers.… Read More

  • Virtual sets and chromakey update

    Superimposing a foreground captured by one camera onto a background from another dates back to film days, but has come a long way since. Richard Dean reports… Read More

  • Media convergence, a win-win value game?

    At the recent Broadcast Asia 2006 in Singapore, technology suppliers were hawking their wares announcing that new media is the way to go. Once again at the crux of every new product or service lies the crucial bottom-line, how much is this going to make for the company, is it a revenue generator or techno-geek’s fad? Is it a win-win situation for consumers and content producers?… Read More

  • Compositing and motion tracking update

    As technology marches on relentlessly, even heavy-duty graphics tasks are set to become just another desktop application menu item.… Read More

  • DAM proves worth as file operation takes hold

    While some lament the demise of tangible tape cassettes, file-based media is more efficient – so long as you keep tabs on your stuff. … Read More

  • A Cut Above The Rest

    HD post has moved from nice to necessity in less than 12 months. But how should the change be made? Richard Dean reports.… Read More

  • HD Demystified

    Working in high definition (HD) is a mystery to many, and industry professionals are hedging their bets on this misunderstood format. Cinematographer Brad Dillon and Editor Rob Tinworth set out to debunk the myths.… Read More

  • Serve it up!

    Robotic cassette libraries were once the state of broadcast playouts, but this scenario has seen a shake-up with the presence of a new breed of video server. Richard Dean explains the appeal of HD-ready servers.… Read More

Advertising

  • DVB-3DTV WINS APPROVAL

    DVB recently announced at the 67th meeting of the steering board the approval of the DVB-3DTV specification. The specification will be submitted immediately to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) for formal standardisation. BlueBook A154 'Frame Compatible Plano-Stereoscopic 3DTV', (DVB- 3DTV) has been published and is available for downloading from the DVB website. The specification specifies the delivery system for frame compatible plano-stereoscopic 3DTV services, enabling service providers to utilise their existing HDTV infrastructures to deliver 3DTV services that are compatible with 3DTV capable displays already in the market. This system covers both use cases of a set-top box delivering 3DTV services to a 3DTV capable display device via an HDMI connection, and a 3DTV capable display device receiving 3DTV services directly via a built-in tuner and decoder. Plano-stereoscopic imaging systems deliver two images (left and right) that are arranged to be seen simultaneously, or near simultaneously, by the left and right eyes. Viewers perceive increased depth in the picture, which becomes more like the natural binocular viewing experience. Since 2010 many 3DTV capable consumer products have been launched in the market. … Read More

  • Wayne Wang goes indie

    Back in the ‘80s, filmmaker Wayne Wang exacted sly humor from the struggles of fellow Chinese-American immigrants. Learning a new language and navigating a cultural minefield of miscommunications provided rich material for the young filmmaker. His first feature, Chan is Missing, followed a pair of cabbies trying to negotiate San Francisco’s Chinatown. His breakout, The Joy Luck Club, traced the intertwined histories of four women born in America and their mothers in China. Born in Hong Kong, he went to the United States when he was 17 as a student. But now, a more mature Wang sees cross-cultural misunderstandings occurring within the Asian community and across generations. Wang found the perfect vehicle to explore these themes with an unusual double feature of new movies based on the short stories of Yiyun Li that span three generations of Chinese immigrants. Wang was in Singapore to take part in a retrospective of his films, leading up to the screening of his two new works, the companion films The Princess Of Nebraska and A Thousand Years of Good Prayers on 16 October. In the first film, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, a father visits his adult daughter in California. They may share a common language, but they cannot communicate. The father and the daughter are from two different generations. The father went through the Cultural Revolution and specifically suffered a lot of injustices at that time, and the daughter was very much affected by it. The second film, Princess of Nebraska, looks to a much younger immigrant, Sasha who lands in San Francisco with plans to get an abortion. She speaks English and is quite westernised in her behavior, attitude, and clothes. These new films returned Wang to his indie roots. He spent the last decade making formulaic Hollywood films such as Maid in Manhattan and Last Holiday. Of the trend in China-backed blockbusters such as Red Cliff and Forbidden Kingdom, he says: ‘These big action things are so boring and I’m so tired of them.’ Wang prefers smaller, more heartfelt films that deal with the reality of life in China such as Ping Guo (Apple, 2007), a China-made film that examines the lives of middle-income and lower income inhabitants of Beijing. Now firmly back in the Asian-American indie film fold, he says his next project will be a film adaptation of the novel, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers by China author Guo Xiaolu, about the cross-cultural mix-ups between a China student and her British lover. Recently, he has moved back to his indie roots. “The Princess of Nebraska” was made to accompany “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers,” which was released to art house cinemas in September. Both are based on stories by the Chinese-born author Yiyun Li. “A Thousand Years” revolved around a 40-year-old woman who grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution and is devastated by what her family had to go through. Alternatively, “Princess” is about a teenager emigrating from China to America who has no sense of history, only of cell phones and modern technology. “When I was finishing ‘Thousand Years,’ we had a little bit of money left and I just went ahead and did it,” said Wang, who lives in San Francisco. The film was made quickly with digital video and was “shot like a jazz riff,” Wang says. “When the idea came up, I said, ‘Well, that makes sense’ - even though I didn’t intentionally make it for that,” said Wang. “The film is very much inspired by new media, by watching a lot of things on the Web and YouTube stuff.” In the movie, a pregnant teenager named Sasha (Li Ling) looks to have her baby aborted, all the while sporadically videotaping herself with her cell phone - poetic moments that pace the movie. “I’m trying not to be judgmental because this is a new generation, this is a new media,” said Wang. Wang pointed out that there’s a Web page where Sasha’s diary is posted, but all the comments from readers are about her attractiveness. Wang believes it is a legitimate platform for films made with a sensibility unique to the smaller-sized medium. “You kind of have to think differently about it,” said Wang. “It has to move faster, the images have to be tighter, you can’t really see a lot of details. If ‘Thousands Years’ was shown on the computer, I would be kind of depressed ... it has to be projected big.” But as the distribution avenues for independent film become fewer, Wang thinks filmmakers need to explore different alternatives and, above all, make better films. “We as filmmakers need to be smart about the kinds of films that we make and take more chances,” he said. “The problem is that most independent films are trying to make Hollywood films. They’re basically straightforward narratives and they’re a little more interesting, but not that much more interesting. Take a film like ‘Blair Witch.’ It’s not the greatest film, but it’s at least something really different.” ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Sony offered viewers a taste of SXRD technology

    Singapore: Movie viewers had a taste of Sony's Silicon X-tal Reflective Display (SXRD) technology at the recently held BroadcastAsia 2006. Special public screenings of "The Da Vinci Code" were held to let viewers experience the quality image resolutions brought by Sony's SXRD digital cinema projector. Sony's SXRD projector's 4K resolution is derived from its 4096x2160-pixel matrix, enabling it to deliver four times the resolution of current high-definition home theater televisions.… Read More

Features

BCA 2012

BCA Reseller Guide

Broadcast Asia Product Guide

  • Blackmagic Cinema Camera

    The Blackmagic Cinema Camera features a 2.5K image sensor with a wide 13 stops of dynamic range for a true digital film camera.… Read More

NAB Wrap

  • CAPTURED

    Held at the Las Vegas Convention Center from April 16-19, the 2012 NAB Show featured around 1,600 exhibitors. Here are a few of the companies that caught the attention of Asia Image.… Read More

Camera

  • LET THERE BE LIGHT

    Saturday Night Live director of photography Alex Buono, who is also a member of the Canon Explorers of Light initiative for photographic education and inspiration, shares why he started using DSLRs for the show and what’s so special about the Canon C300.… Read More

Broadcast India 2012

  • WHAT TO EXPECT

    The Broadcast India Show has consistently remained India’s most attended and expansive marketplace for the latest and greatest technological innovations in the industry. Here are some of the products on show at the Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregaon (E) in Mumbai, India on October 10-12.… Read More

IBC 2012

  • HIGHLIGHTS FROM IBC 2012

    As the six-day IBC2012 closed on September 11, the organizers reported the number of attendees – conference delegates, exhibition visitors and exhibitors – was 50,937.… Read More

  • IBC PRODUCT GUIDE

    The Blackmagic Cinema Camera features a 2.5K image sensor with a wide 13 stops of dynamic range for a true digital film camera.… Read More

  • IBC GOING STRONG

    Despite pressures in the euro zone, most major players are going full steam ahead in the industry’s largest trade show and conference in Europe, IBC 2012, held at the RAI in Amsterdam from September 6 to 11.… Read More

Review

  • FIELD TESTING THE SONY F55

    Craig Leeson of Leeson Media International, an award-winning film, documentary and corporate film production company based in Hong Kong, shares his impression of the Sony PMW-F55 CineAlta from a director’s perspective.… Read More

  • THE CANON 5D MARK III GETS TAKEN FOR A RIDE

    Award-winning cinematographer Lim Teck Siang puts the Canon EOS 5D Mark III through its paces during a limo interior shoot in nighttime Singapore.… Read More

NAB Product Guide

Spotlight

  • A LEGACY OF INNOVATION

    Technicolor Thailand, long a stalwart in the film post-production services, continues its rich vein of innovation even as it remains one of the few high-end post houses in the region offering telecine and full 35mm film processing services.… Read More

Country Focus

  • FINAS AT THE MALAYSIAN PAVILION

    National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) speaks with Asia Image at MIPTV 2013.… Read More

  • LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

    Thailand Film Office ramps up foreign film location marketing on the back of recent tourism successes such as Hollywood blockbuster The Hangover Part II and Thai TV drama Track of Love.… Read More

  • PRODUCTION & POST: MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES

    The recent filming of the blockbuster The Bourne Legacy in Manila put the Philippines back in foreign producers’ map for shooting locations. Meanwhile, boasting high-tech capabilities and highly trained creative professionals, the country has got what it takes to become the next production and post production hub in Asia.… Read More

  • REBATE DEBATE

    The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) recently introduced the ‘Film in Malaysia’ incentive, which provides a 30% cash rebate on audited in-country spend for both local and foreign productions. Asia Image spoke to independents in Malaysian cinema for their take on the generous scheme.… Read More

  • PEDAL TO THE METAL

    Malaysia, home to more than 200 animation companies, is fast becoming one of the most attractive creative hubs for animation production. The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia director general Mohd Naguib Razak shares some of the industry’s recent achievements as it continues to face the challenge of building Malaysia into a regional hub for digital (and creative) content.… Read More

  • MUCH FUND-FARE IN SINGAPORE

    The Singapore film industry looks poised for bigger things, with the implementation of five new Grant Schemes in late-2011 and the introduction of the New Talent Feature Grant last month by the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA). Asia Image speaks to the regulatory board and several production houses located in the city-state, on what this means for the country’s filmmaking sector.… Read More

  • MIDDLE EARTH TAKES ON NEW DIMENSIONS

    Park Road Post’s fi rst assistant editor talks about the challenges in offl ine editing for The Hobbit.… Read More

  • HOLLYWOOD AND THAILAND: BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

    Filming locations were not the only strength Thailand offered. From animation to post-production, Thailand’s fi lm industry has slowly but steadily grown as Hollywood grew. But in a changing landscape, with cost pressures mounting, the government is making sure Thailand stays in the race as an international fi lm partner.… Read More

  • SHOT IN THAILAND

    It’s all good in The Land of Smiles as the booming production industry is fast becoming the go-to fi lming location in the region for foreign productions, thanks to tax breaks and special legislation from a supportive government.… Read More

  • GROWING PAINS

    Local film and television production may be thriving but the Malaysian post-production sector is in a flux of change, as it develops quickly and faces growing pains along the way.… Read More

  • MOVING ON UP

    Indonesia is on the right path as the post industry continues to grow and reap the benefits of an expanding economy.… Read More

  • ON THE RIGHT PATH

    After a tough few years things are starting to look up for New Zealand’s post-production sector, with cautious optimism the current mantra of the industry.… Read More

  • THE HEAT IS ON

    Increasing competition, a strong Aussie dollar and fragmenting media means the post-production industry in Australia is under pressure but not backing away from the fight.… Read More

  • DISSECTING CHINA’S FILM BOOM

    The Chinese film industry is continuing to grow but it still has a set of unique challenges to face. Asia Image takes a look at how China’s presence on the big screen has evolved over the years.… Read More

  • MAKING ALL THE RIGHT MOVES

    As the post-production industry in Singapore reacts to the Media Development Authority’s stronger lead role, a new set of challenges and dynamics have emerged. Asia Image looks through the cutting room floor to find how the sector is adapting.… Read More

  • VENTURING INTOTHE GREAT BEYOND

    Korea’s animation studios are now trying to make headway by fostering co-production deals with foreign partners, but doing so will not be easy. Asia Image finds out.… Read More

  • INDIA’S MEDIA INDUSTRY TO REACH US$24.57B IN 5 YEARS

    The Indian media and entertainment (M&E) industry currently valued at US$13.17 billion is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13% over the next fi ve years. The industry is expected to reach US$24.57 billion by 2014, according to a report released by accounting group KPMG. According to the report, the television industry is projected to grow at the rate of 15% over 2010- 14 and reach a size of US$11.69 billion by 2014. This growth is expected to be driven by a rise in subscription and advertisement revenues for the industry. The television industry, which is currently pegged at US$5.73 billion, has been growing at the rate of 6.8% since 2008. The industry has seen growth in TV penetration and an increase in the number of digital homes, leading to a rise in subscription revenues for distributors and broadcasters. Though the average time spent on watching television remained largely flat, the number of TV advertisers increased from 8,500 in 2008 to 9,400 in 2009. Out of this, 4,600 were new advertisers on the medium. Apart from that, TV’s share of ad spend was 40% in 2009, indicating its nature as a powerful medium for advertisers. Rajesh Jain, head media and entertainment, KPMG India, said, “2009 saw the M&E industry growing through a tough phase as advertising revenues were impacted in line with the challenging economic scenario. However, the subscription revenues continued to grow. The untapped potential for growth in media reach, impact of digitisation and convergence, better consumer understanding, sustained efforts in innovation and enhanced penetration of regional markets all augur well for the industry.” The report also highlights that the growing potential of the regional markets, penetration of newer digital TV distribution platforms, increasing competition, innovation across product, processes, marketing and distribution models and growing importance of pay audiences were some of the key highlights of the previous year. However, it was DTH sector that proved to be a successful medium and helped in increasing the pay TV subscriber base even during challenging market conditions. However the report emphasised that to see positive results taking shape, the Indian M&E industry was in need of improved institutional mechanisms to ensure greater transparency and strong enforcement of the existing laws. An increase in documentation, awareness of rights among people and adoption of international practices were positive steps towards adopting a new legal and fi nancial framework for the industry. Executive director (M & E) of the market research firm, KPMG, Jehil Thakkar stated the pressing need for a financial framework for the industry in the wake of increasing activity like Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows, mergers and acquisitions, private equity deals in the entertainment sector. “Although India was increasingly becoming compliant with the global legislations, there was a need to open the doors to give remake rights and obtain picture licenses,” said consultant Dina Dattani. Besides the obvious benefits of avoiding legal hassles, it would also lead to opportunities for greater funding. Patricia Myer, partner, MS & K, welcomed the change in selling of rights of Bollywood films to Hollywood, which indicated greater acceptability of Indian films. For this trend to continue there was a need to ensure better legislative processes and resolving the problem of the change of titles. Bobby Bedi, managing director of Kaleidoscope Entertainment, feels the changing financing model of the Indian film industry has revamped the process of filmmaking. With the fi lm sector accorded industry status, banks, corporates and film studios were coming in with investments. However, he emphasised that the growth of newer models of financing would overtake the traditional models only if the risks were covered through the creation of a robust and more stable financial framework. Karan Ahluwalia, executive vice president & country head, (Media & Entertainment, Fine Arts, Luxury, Sports Banking) of YES Bank, disclosed the rising appetite of the banking sector to lend to the media business. He said there should be actualisation in terms of newer products such as syndicated bank film financing structure. He pointed out that the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) would lead to greater transparency and discipline, which in turn would help acquire more support from the banking sector. On the adoption of international practices in India, Ashni Parekh, legal consultant, said these would surely benefit India in the long run. She talked about the advantages arising out of the amendment to the Copyright Act, which was underway. While the broadcasting industry is in favour of establishing an independent and autonomous regulator for the sector, which would spearhead India in the new media space, it would want selfregulation as far as content code and policing issues are concerned. The assessment was based on the industry’s feedback from the recently concluded FICCI Frames 2010 conference. More than 600 representatives from the broadcast sector attended the event. Top decision-makers and industry representatives deliberated on the pressing issues relating to the broadcast sector. Amit Mitra, secretary-general of FICCI, said while big broadcasters have their own content code, all stakeholders should come to an agreement with the code of this nature developed by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) for its members. Weak infrastructure is an area which needed to be looked at by the government. Efforts also had to be made to improve the reportage of cable subscription in the country. Further, a clear roadmap from the government on the digitalisation process would make a positive impact on the sector. In order to enhance the technical aspects of the Indian film industry and to increase the trend of animation and gaming, the ministry also had plans to set up a national centre for animation and gaming industry at an initial investment of US$115,000. The need for a single-window clearance for producers reemerged as a topic. Veteran media professional, Ravi Gupta, said, “The last thing a producer needs is to have to go from the state to the central government, to defence and archaeology departments and railway departments and so on, only to find that once he has set up, some authority comes along and disallows shooting saying some licenses are missing. We need reforms for people to shoot in India. Just being cheaper and offering good landscapes is not enough.” This issue was brought to the fore at the Cinemascapes conference when filmmaker Shekhar Kapoor pointed out the significance of locations to producers and also how producers helped destinations gain large-scale visibility. Cinemascapes is an annual convention aimed at creating alliances between Indian producers and potential locations including destinations and hotels. It also includes a forum and business sessions to debate issues between the film industry, locations and the government. Kapoor cited the multi-Oscar winning movie Slumdog Millionaire as a successful example of the importance of a film’s location and the role that backdrop and environment played in allowing the film to tell its story. In various interviews, director Danny Boyle had related how his interaction with the locals and the environment’s representation in the film was key to the success of the film. Filmmakers lamented that while overseas destinations tried to woo Indian producers, there was little assistance from the Indian authorities towards India’s fi lmmaking industry. “The infrastructure is not adequate and there is no support from the local government and from the local police to control crowds, or any facility to obtain permissions and licenses. We need a much longer lead time to shoot in India as a lot of time is lost in obtaining permissions and licenses,” said renowned filmmaker Yash Chopra. In response to Chopra’s comments, Maharaja Arvind Singh Ji Mewar of Rajastan remarked, “Unfortunately, films are considered no more than entertainment and, sadly, its contribution to the economy and to employment is overlooked. If this dimension could be projected to the government by filmmakers, it could result in a change in attitude.” Producer Kuldeep Sinha went on to suggest that approvals should be all encompassing and government controlled locations could be made available to producers at no hire charge. He also pointed out the duplicity in permission requirements for news shooting (where there is no need for permissions) and film shooting (which entails an endless list of permissions required). While domestic locations presented a host of licensing problems, thus sending producers overseas, producers claim that shooting overseas often leaves a hole in their pockets, particularly in European destinations. However, film commissions in these countries were more than willing to offer reduction in costs, free shooting in some areas, assistance in obtaining permissions etc., to offer some relief to producers. Meanwhile, other industry issues raised included piracy and high entertainment tax in some states – some as high as 40%. Information & Broadcasting minister Ambika Soni praised the industry on its proactive approach to solving problems and expressed her desire to introduce positive reforms to aid the industry in solving its issues. “I sincerely appreciate the film industry’s depiction of the plurality of India and therefore accelerating tourism over the years. I do believe in the industry’s role in creating employment,” she said. Minister Soni explained that a meeting had already been called between individual state Information & Broadcasting ministers to discuss issues with piracy regarded as the first on the agenda She also added that a tax structure was being planned, termed as a ‘general sales tax’ which would address the taxation issues. Archiving of old films was another concern that the industry put forward suggesting that the treasure of archival films could be lost due to lack of storage facilities and maintenance. To this minister Soni remarked, “We have identifi ed 8,000 films to be archived out of which 7,000 have already been digitised and restoration work has already begun on those that have been digitized. A temperature-controlled facility in Pune for these has already been established.” If there were any doubts about the importance of the Indian media and entertainment industry, they were dispelled when minister Soni revealed government plans to set up a national museum for Indian cinema by 2013 to commemorate the centenary of the film industry. “We are committed to the national heritage mission and will be celebrating 100-years of Indian cinema in 2013 for which we are setting up a national museum of Indian cinema in Mumbai ... we have already allocated US$1.45 million for the project,” said Soni. … Read More

  • Malaysian film industry aims to expand

    Malaysia’s National Film Development Corporation (Finas) plans to approve 10 films under its Fictional Films Loan Fund, that will see it disbursing capital of RM50 million (US$14.9 million) this year. In addition, Finas plans to approve 20 projects involving allocations of RM500,000 each and another three nationalistic films under the Film Arts and Multimedia Fund. According to Finas director-general, Mohd Mahyidin Mustakim, the agency expects at least six feature films to be processed at the four-storey. state-of-the-art studio costing RM53 million called the Digital Mix Stage Studio that started operations last year. Finas will also take positive steps in developing human resources in this field by hosting 38 workshops and six master class programmes. The efforts taken by Finas aims to create a conducive environment for the development of the Malaysian film industry and to encourage the opening of more cinemas in the future. Presently, there are more than 90 cineplexes with 500 screens nationwide. The Malaysian film industry has made important progress over the last few years. In 2009, there were 26 cinematic releases with a total collection of RM50 million. This compares favourably with the situation 10 years ago when only seven films were produced with ticket sales amounting to RM10 million. The outlook for 2010 looks even brighter with 30 releases on the cards and box office collection expected to exceed RM55 million. Getting the year off to a good start is the highly successful Adnan Sempit, produced by Metrowealth International Group (MIG). that has raked in RM7.5 million since screening started in January. At broadcast level, Finas collaborated with the National Geographic Channel, Discovery and History Channel to produce several documentaries on Malaysia that was broadcast worldwide through these channels. “This helped to highlight Malaysia at the international stage and train local industry players as the programmes were produced under the supervision of renowned broadcasters,” Mahyidin told national news agency Bernama. A total of 14 documentaries have been produced through this collaboration last year alone – five by Finas and Discovery Networks Asia, two by National Geographic Channels and seven by AETN All Asia Networks. The documentary and animation project received encouraging response from export markets. As such, BBC and National Geographic expressed their interest in the Malaysian film industry and this provides optimism to Mahyidin on Malaysian films’ potential in the overseas market. Finas’ helping hand towards the film industry is part of the agency’s ongoing support for the industry. Before the National Film Policy (DFN) came into effect in 2005, Finas provided several basic facilities apart from the Compulsory Screening Scheme and the entertainment duty refund to help local filmmakers. The compulsory two-week screening pre-requisite throws a lifeline for local film producers who otherwise have no chance of competing with foreign productions. Producers can now complete almost whole entire production process at the Digital Mix Stage Studio. Only the final print needs to be produced overseas. To promote the fictional, animation and documentary films, Finas has identified annual film markets – American Film Market, Cannes, Hong Kong and Busan in South Korea. “Between 10 and 14 film makers will be sent to attend the film markets with Finas sponsoring the exhibition booth and the fees for the participants,” said Mahyidin. These efforts are also to entice foreign investors in the long term in line with Finas’ vision as the leading proponent and catalyst of the Malaysian film industry. In reaffirming the government’s support for local creative industries, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in his Budget 2010 speech, announced that a comprehensive Creative Industry Policy is being formulated. Also on the cards are provisions for a RM200 million Creative Industry Fund and RM3 million Arts Activist Welfare Fund. In addition, Information Communication and Culture Minister Dr Rais Yatim recently announced that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has allocated RM50 million for the making of local documentary films to be aired over Malaysian cable provider Astro’s Discovery and National Geographic channels. Malaysian filmmakers generally feel that their contribution to the economy is neither well understood nor appreciated by consumers, most of whom appear to pay scant respect for intellectual property (IP). Producers are compelled to assign away their IP rights to private television stations that have the capacity to take their work to the market. Advancement in digital content creation – while paving the way for innovative filmmaking – has also created unprecedented challenges for copyright law, challenging revenue raising models and resulting in far reaching effects across the creative industries. The Video and Film Industry Association of Malaysia reportedly complained that CD pirates were sucking the life out of the film industry. There was a need for a solid legal foundation with respect to rights management to support these kinds of activities and to take full advantage of digital technologies. To safeguard the interest of content creators, the Malaysian government has undertaken to spearhead a review and revision of the Malaysia Copyright Act 1987, to provide for a heavier penalty for IP infringement as well as ensure the equitable implementation of the Act. The government also established a National Innovation Centre and a network of Centres of Innovation Excellence, to encourage creative and innovative solutions, which it believes will lead to improvements in terms of efficiency in management and the delivery system. However, the parameters of what constitutes a Malaysian film are not clearly defined. Finas incentives in the form of the Compulsory Screening Scheme and 20 percent tax rebate only apply to films with 70 percent of their dialogue in Bahasa Malaysia. Malaysian-made films in other languages do not enjoy these incentives. Malaysian Film Producers Association president, Ahmad Puad Onah, said the association had sent a memorandum asking for equal treatment of all Malaysian-made films to Finas in July last year. The memorandum was also submitted to the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry. Tayangan Unggul general manager Gayatri Su Lin Pillai agrees with Ahmad Puad that all Malaysian-made films, irrespective of language, should get the same incentives. “There is a market for locally-made non-Malay films. Unfortunately, not many producers are willing to make them because of the risks involved,” said Pillai. The company’s first Chinese-language movie, Tiger Woohoo, was proof that a Malaysian production could compete with products from Hong Kong and China. Tiger Woohoo collected more than RM2 million at the box office, becoming the most successful non-Malay film. KRU Films recently released its first English-language film, The Malay Chronicles (The Chronicles of Merong Mahawangsa).… Read More

  • JIffest 2009 opens with local film

    The Jakarta International Film Festival (Jiffest) marked its second decade of existence with the screening of an Indonesian film as the festival’s opening premiere. Festival manager Navaul Yazid said it was the first time in Jiffest’s 11-year history that an Indonesian film had been selected for the opening night. “This shows the quality of our films is on a par with international films,” Navaul said. Sang Pemimpi (The Dreamer) is an adaptation of the second novel in a series of four by Andrea Hirata, based on the author’s childhood in Bangka-Belitung, a province off the east coast of Sumatra. The movie version of the first novel in the series, Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops), was released last year to critical acclaim. Jiffest 2009 screened 23 Indonesian films in total, including the world premier of Fugu, a movie by experimental filmmaker Faozan Rizal about a love triangle between Japanese newlyweds living in Jakarta and a local woman. A talking point at Jiffest 2009 was the programming of two controversial films: The 10 Conditions of Love, an Australian-made documentary about the Uighur leader, Rebiya Kadeer, who China blamed for deadly ethnic riots, and Balibo, a dramatized account of the murder of five Australian-based journalists during the 1975 invasion of East Timor, which the Indonesian military raised objections to. Balibo was withdrawn after the Film Censorship Agency (LSF) banned it. According to a law on film censorship, no film can be publicly screened without LSF approval. Another Jiffest selection that rankled some viewers was Burma VJ: Reporting From a Closed Country, which recounts the efforts of a band of video journalists to capture footage of the Burmese under the military junta and smuggle it out of the country. However, Nauval emphasized that Jiffest remained decidedly apolitical. “These movies are just as important as films like 500 Days of Summer and Departures, which are not about politics,” he said. Departures, a Japanese film by Yojiro Takita, tells the story of a cellist who loses his job after his orchestra is disbanded and takes a job as a nokanshi, someone who prepares corpses for burial. Jiffest also had a programme called the Madani (Civil) Film Festival, focusing on international films with an Islamic theme. “Despite Indonesia being the country with the largest Muslim population, the general public has little knowledge of the lives of Muslims outside their own country,” Nauval said. “Jiffest tries to show the lives of Muslims from other parts of the world.” Other noteworthy selections include Letters to the President, an observational documentary about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime, told through the millions of letters sent to him by the people, and Muallaf, a Malaysian film that chronicles the tales of three characters struggling to find religion. The festival also featured documentaries about prominent figures from different walks of life. Love the Beast documents Australian actor Eric Bana’s 25-year romance with his first car, Around the World with Joseph Stiglitz tackles the issue of globalization from the Nobel prize winner’s perspective, and The Beaches of Agnes is a first-person documentary by French film director Agnes Varda. The festival, which is supported by Yayasan Masyarakat Mandiri Film Indonesia (The Independent Film Society Foundation), also held the Indonesian Feature Film Competition, which saw a panel of judges selecting the best Indonesian film and film director. Jiffest organizers also invited a number of speakers, including documentary maker Petr Lom, who directed Letters to the President, and graphic designer Christian Scheurer, who has worked on visually compelling movies like Final Fantasy and The Golden Compass. Nauval said the aim of this was “to provide an alternative education for those who want to pursue a profession in the film world, or to the general public who are interested in those topics.”… Read More

  • Australian film industry looks forward to growth

    When the acclaimed Australian movie Samson & Delilah won the top honour of Best Feature Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA), it was a signal that good things were around the corner for Australia made film. Adding to the quotient, Australia also took the honours for Best Animated Feature Film with Mary and Max, which was produced by Melanie Coombs Award-winning actor, Jack Thompson, told AAP that the establishment of a new film office and adjustment to the new film deals available to producers would result in a spurt of growth for the Australian film industry. “We now have certainty, and within that framework I think we’re going to see a lot more films being made and a lot more opportunity for Australian filmmakers,” Thompson said. He also sees huge opportunities opening up with the industry in Asia. “With the growth of this academy, APSA, and with the relationships built when filmmakers get to meet each other here, I think we’re going to see a lot more co-productions,” Thompson added. “We’re going to see Australians making films with people from the Asia Pacific region. It’ll be fantastic for diversity—and I hope I’m in one of them.” Indeed 2009 has been a strong year for the Australian screen industry, according to Ruth Harley, chief executive officer of Screen Australia “A record number of films have achieved theatrical release, the Australian share of the box office looks set to exceed the five-year average, and television drama and documentary continue to draw strong audiences,” said Dr Harley. Buoyed by this success, Screen Australia recently gave its approval to 22 projects including four feature films, four television dramas and 14 documentaries. The organisation committed more than A$13 million to these projects, triggering production valued at over A$65 million. Amongst the feature projects to be approved is Bait 3D, the first Screen Australia–funded 3D dramatic feature, and Burning Man, a new feature by critically acclaimed writer/director Jonathan Teplitzky. Bait 3D is Australia’s first high-octane 3D action film. When a freak tsunami hits a sleepy seaside town on the Gold Coast dozens of local shoppers and tourists find themselves trapped in a flooded underground supermarket and car park. Trapped, with the water rising, they find they’re not alone; the tsunami has brought some unwelcome visitors from the Deep … a pack of hungry tiger sharks. They must now band together with all of their resources before they get eaten and entombed in a watery grave. The film was written and will be directed by Russell Mulcahy (Razorback, Highlander) and produced by Gary Hamilton, Todd Fellman and Ian Maycock with Chris Brown and Mike Gabrawy serving as executive producers. Another feature is Burning Man, a reckless, romantic, irreverent and ultimately tear-jerkingly beautiful story of a father and son’s struggle to deal with the unimaginable. The film marks writer/director Jonathan Teplitzky’s (Better than Sex, Gettin’ Square) return to the big screen following a period directing television and commercials. Teplitzky will co-produce along with Andy Paterson. Television drama to be approved includes a third season of the award-winning SBS series East West 101 (Producer: Steve Knapman, Kris Wyld, Director: Peter Andrikidis) and Like a Virgin (Producer: Liz Watts, Writers: Marieke Hardy, Kirsty Fisher), a mini-series about a woman whose sexual history catches up with her in the most unusual of ways. Documentaries to receive Screen Australia support include Fromelles’ Lost Soldiers, the story of the worst 24 hours in Australian military history, to be screened on Channel 7, and Machete Maidens Unleashed!, a fast-moving odyssey into the subterranean world of the rarely explored province of Filipino genre filmmaking populated by miniature James Bonds, karate kickin’ soul sisters and anorexic Rambos. The Board also congratulated the winners of the Australian Film Institute awards, noting that Screen Australia–funded films and programmes had taken out 29 awards including Best Film, Best Television Drama Series, Best Documentary Series, Best Telefeature, Mini-series or Short-run Series, Best Childrens’ Television Drama and Best Short Fiction Film. “We are very pleased to have played a role in bringing these productions to audiences,” Dr Harley said. “The 22 projects announced reflect the diversity of Australian storytelling and build on the success enjoyed by Australia’s talented practitioners this year.” Australian actor Aden Young, who featured in Bruce Beresford’s hit movie Mao’s Last Dancer, was one of the six members of the APSA international jury. Like Thompson he’s optimistic about the future for Aussie filmmakers, but reluctant to lay down a roadmap for its development. “I’m always very cautious about any dictation of the path a particular industry should take,” Young said. “In a boutique industry, which is essentially what we are, our population base is very small and we should be concentrating on all different approaches to cinema.” He said it was not possible for Australia to directly compete against the ‘leviathan’ American film industry. “I think we should be focusing more on cinema as an expression of vision from this country’s filmmakers,” Young said. “If you only focus on the commerciality, films like Samson & Delilah will disappear and the Australian public will be absolutely mortified about what’s been done with their money.’ Young believes there should be a focus on stories like Samson & Delilah that help the nation “feel understood”. This understanding is strengthened with Screen Australia revised draft of the guidelines for its Enterprise Program. “The Enterprise program is central to our vision for a more commercially sustainable screen production industry,” said Screen Australia’s Dr Harley. “Based on industry feedback and our experience of the inaugural round in 2009, we’ve reworked the guidelines with the aim of better meeting industry needs as well as streamlining our processes.” A total of A$3 million will be available over a three-year period for the 2010 round, with a maximum of A$350,000 per year proposed for each successful applicant company. “No company was awarded more than A$350,000 per year in the 2009 round so it seemed appropriate to reduce the cap from A$500,000,” said Dr Harley. “The lower cap also allows us to spread our allocation further to support a diverse range of companies.” “Eliminating the EOI stage will reduce the cost and time burden of a two-stage process for both the applicant and Screen Australia,” Dr Harley said. “We are also proposing, under certain circumstances, to allow Enterprise recipients to apply for single-project feature development funding,” said Dr Harley. “Feature development requires a very particular skill set and we only want Enterprise funding to be used for features if the company can demonstrate strong capability in this area. “However, we don’t necessarily want to dissuade Enterprise funding recipients from pursuing feature ambitions, given that finding and developing extraordinary feature projects is a very high priority for us. “So, in situations where feature development is not part of a company’s Enterprise funding, under the proposed new guidelines the company might still be eligible to apply to our single-project feature development program. “The application would be subject to the normal assessment process for that program, of course, and there would also be limits on what the funds could be used for, to ensure there was no duplication of Enterprise funds,” said Dr Harley.… Read More

  • Philippine indie films make headway

    While independent films are largely ignored by ordinary movie-goers in the Philippines, the genre has become the ‘in thing’ in the country as indie movies gain international acclaim and generate worldwide interest. Industry experts noted that indie filmmakers produce more movies now than mainstream studios, which have been saddled by huge losses due to piracy, high taxes and stiff foreign competition. Brillante ‘Dante’ Mendoza, director of Serbis, said indie filmmakers have taken the lead role in reviving the Philippine film industry as budding directors turn to the genre because they would need less money to produce. ‘It’s very accessible. You just go out, write your script and shoot the film,’ said Mendoza, who has directed and produced a total of seven indie films since 2005, most of which have won several awards abroad. ‘You don’t need a production team,’ he added. ‘You don’t even need actors, just as long as you have your camera.’ But while the indie industry is flourishing, the main problem is getting the audience, Mendoza noted, lamenting that Filipino movie-goers are so used to big-production movies that showcase their favourite stars. ‘Realistically speaking, indie films don’t have commercial value because we don’t have the famous stars, we don’t have the formula story and we don’t have the money to promote the film,’ he said. The 47-year-old director said he has been going to Philippine schools to prod students to patronize Filipino films, especially local indie productions. ‘What we are doing is going straight to schools and talking to the students and showing our films to the students,’ he said. ‘We want to raise their awareness on indie films.’ Mendoza stressed that he does not discourage people from watching mainstream movies, saying, ‘If in a month you’re going to watch three movies, then watch two Hollywood or local mainstream movies and then watch one indie film.’ ‘That way, you get yourself entertained and then you also watch something for your soul,’ he added. Vicmar Turtal, an official of the Philippines’ Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, said indie films could eventually replace mainstream cinema amid a moribund movie industry. He lamented that many major studios in the Philippines are no longer producing new movies because it has become too expensive. ‘On the first day of showing of most movies, one can already find pirated copies of the film in the streets,’ he said. ‘No one is going to the theatres because they just watch out for the pirated versions. This is a business, so why would anyone invest in something that is losing?’ From a high of 200 films a year during the 1980s, the country’s film industry was down to making a total of new 56 films in 2006 and around 30 in 2007. Industry leaders say the Philippine film business is the most overtaxed in the world, pushing up the prices of watching movies in theatres. While the country still has the highest level of theatre admission in South-East Asia, it registered the steepest drop in movie-goers, from 131 million in 1996 to 63 million in 2004. Mendoza said the country’s movie industry, including the indie genre, needs the support not only of the Filipino moviegoers but also of the government. ‘We need major support of the government,’ he said. ‘If the government can support athletes and spend millions on their training, why not give a bit of attention to filmmakers?’ The Philippines has caught the attention of many filmmakers in recent years due to its competitive filming costs which negate budget restrictions, allowing for the creation of seemingly high-budget motion pictures that won’t break the bank. With an English-speaking population and a world-renowned sense of artistic creativity - not to mention a lush tropical landscape of unparalleled beauty - the Philippines is an up-and-coming film industry with several films recently winning awards at independent festivals, and others promising works in the pipeline. “The Philippines offers state-of-the-art equipment and post-production service providers with cutting-edge technology on par with that of Hollywood,” said Digna Santiago, executive director of the Philippine Film Export Services Office (PFESO), the division of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) which helps facilitate international filming projects. Once pigeonholed as a set location merely for war pictures such as Apocalypse Now, Born On The Fourth Of July and Platoon, the Philippines has recently attracted a much greater variety of films from award-winning independent dramas showcased at Cannes and other key festivals to major Hollywood blockbusters including Josh Hartman’s upcoming I Come With The Rain. This can be attributed in part to local Filipino directors such as Ishmael Bernal and Lino Brocka, known respectively for confronting controversial feminist and gay and lesbian issues in their films. Brocka, whose masterpiece Insiang was the first Filipino film shown at Cannes, has been honored with accolades worldwide, including the Peace Film Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. Filipino director Cirio H. Santiago, known for his work with prolific American “pulp” producer Roger Corman, has been identified by filmmaker Quentin Tarantino as one of his greatest influences. Several characters in Tarantino’s award-winning Kill Bill epic were based on Santiago’s movies. Tarantino’s most recent Grindhouse collaboration with Robert Rodriguez is believed to have drawn on images from another Filipino film, Twilight People, directed by the acclaimed Eddie Romero, who was named National Artist of the Philippines in 2003. These notable Filipino directors, as well as a host of younger filmmakers following in their prestigious footsteps, have raised the country’s profile in the industry and brought attention its many diverse offerings which extend far beyond the jungle and include the fast-paced cosmopolitan city of Manila, as well as centuries old churches and other structures dating back to the Spanish Colonial period. The Philippines shines artistically as well due to the unique character of the Filipino soul, which is a product of many cultures from all over Europe, Asia and North America. This unique sense of artistry is evident in the country’s architecture as well as the handcrafted furniture, props and costumes which add a inimitable flavor to any movie set. Filipino pictures have been described as “a cinematography filled with energy and audacity” by the organizers of the 2008 Paris Cinema International Film Festival, which honoured the Philippine film industry and its new generation of directors showcasing 40 of country’s most remarkable titles. ASIAIMAGE More information on filming in the Philippines is available at (011) 632-633-2204 or (011) 632-632-9512, e-mail: fdcphil@yahoo.com or visit: www.filmdevcouncil.com… Read More

  • New facilities BOOST Malaysian industry

    Two new entrants herald an encouraging push for the Malaysian film industry. The National Film Corporation (Finas) launched its own digital studio called the Digital Mix Stage Studio. The studio, located at the Merdeka Studio Complex in Kuala Lumpur, was built at a cost of RM53 million (US$14.3 million). Construction of the studio began in 2006. The four-storey studio covering 2,396 sq metres is equipped with the Dolby system and provides the first audio dubbing, foley and optical sound camera mix stage facilities in Malaysia. The director-general of Finas, Mohd Mahyidin Mustakim said the studio was expected to help spur the development of the Malaysian film industry. Foreign moviemakers would also be courted to make use of the facility. “We have been going to Thailand for sound editing but with this studio, the whole editing process, from dubbing to the Dolby Digital special sound effects, can be done here,” Mohd Mahyidin told media representatives at the opening. The facility was officially opened by Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who said the studio would be a springboard for the Malaysian film industry to leap forward by strengthening the technical aspects. The Digital Mix Stage is equipped with a 96-channel Euphonix System 5-FP console, a Euphonix R1 Recorder, Steinberg Nuendo as well as Pro Tools HD audio workstations, Tascam DS-D98 audio recorders and Lexicon 960L reverb. Behind the Harkness projection screen there is a TAD cinema speaker system, accompanying JBL surround monitor speakers and Dolby Digital Surround EX and DTS equipment for encoding, recording and monitoring of up to 7.1 audio channels. With better technical aspects, he said, not only would Malaysian films no longer need to be sent to neighbouring countries for post-production processes but foreign filmmakers could also be drawn to Malaysia for their films. “This is in line with our wish to market Malaysia as a good filming destination with its many suitable locations for various types of film,” he said. Najib said the studio would make efforts to promote Malaysia as a complete filming destination easier. “Finas will be able make full use of the sophisticated studio and at the same time propel the Malaysian film industry to a more developed and competitive level,” he said. Najib said the government saw the local film industry as important and would give it due attention. According to Finas, the system runs on 2 x 3.0GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5300 series processor, 16Gb main memory and 3 TB HDD internal storage. 8TB external storage is added to ensure the capability of film editing in high resolution. The system is also equipped with Capture Card AJA CONA 3 with full digital capabilities. The software is based on the Final Cut Pro Studio 2, which includes Final Cut Pro 6, Motion 3, Soundtrack Pro 2, Color, Compressor 3 and DVD Studio Pro 4 and value added with Adobe Creator Suite 3. The set up enables one to edit the film on HD as well as Standard Definition (SD). Color grading and special effects also can be done on this machine. Finas provides the industry with technical services, related training workshops and professional infrastructure at its facilities in Kuala Lumpur. These include a large sound stage, as well as an extensive inventory of sound, camera and lighting equipment - among which are Steenbeck 16mm/35mm and digital Avid Symphony film editing systems, Apple Final Cut Pro video editing systems, film and video postproduction and transfer stations, DVD/VCD authoring systems, HD/SD/DV digital and analogue Betacam camcorders, analogue and digital recorders, Nagra field audio recorders, Shure portable mixers as well as other accessories for film and video production. There is also a library resource centre, a telecine transfer room, a film recorder room for Kine transfers, several digital colour correction and grading suites, a recording studio for audio post-production, a mini preview theatre equipped with Ernemann-Multihead 16mm/35mm film and LCD projectors, and Dolby Digital Surround EX as well as DTS Digital playback facilities. In addition to all of this, Finas also provides in-house consultants, technicians, film and video editors and sound engineers. Finas also plans to set up an animation centre, archive centre and a museum on some vacant land adjacent to the new building to provide more facilities to film makers. In 2008, Malaysia signaled the broad appeal of its multi-ethnic heritage when of the 60 films made, 75 per cent were made in Bahasa Malaysia (the national language), with the balance were in Mandarin, Cantonese, Tamil or English. With support from the Small and Medium Enterprise Bank, Finas administers a Local Feature Film Loan Scheme - RM50m (US$14.28m) in funds to help the local feature film production in terms of pre-production, production and post-production as well as publicity and promotions costs. The Malaysian government will consider pumping more money to revitalise local film industry as it is considered important to the country. One of the initiatives being considered includes increasing the funding for the Film Loan Scheme from RM50 million to RM100 million. Management grants for film associations would be increased from RM20,000 annually to RM30,000. The government would also broaden its scope internationally for the production of documentaries and animated movies. The existing Finas complex would be equipped with more facilities and special incentives for foreign film-makers who want to shoot in Malaysia. Finas has set a target of producing 50 films of all genres every year from 2009 to 2013, compared with the 20 to 25 being produced previously. However, the country need not only more films, but to improve the quality as well. Adding to the optimism is the recent opening of Los Angeles-based award winning visual effects studio, Rhythm and Hues Studio, which will set up a high-tech studio in Malaysia. Rhythm and Hues is internationally recognised as one of Hollywood’s top visual effects and animation facilities, with more than 100 feature films to its credit including Babe, The Hulk, The Golden Compass, The Chronicles of Narnia and Night In The Museum. “The Malaysian studio will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rhythm in the US,” said Rhythm senior advisor Shahril Ibrahim. “Rhythm is not outsourcing or doing back office work in Malaysia. The work done here will be the same sort of thing being done in LA.” “For instance, while shooting a film, the lighting is done in Mumbai, the animation in Kuala Lumpur and the visual effects in LA. So it’s a very collaborated effort which is broken up into task groups.” The studio in Malaysia will be Rhythm’s third outside of the US. It also has studios in Mumbai and Hyderabad. Presently, there are 300 people in the India outfit. Rhythm has already identified the Cyberjaya precinct for the studio premises. Malaysia was chosen because of support from the Multimedia Development Corp’s (MDec) for its sort of work, he said. Cost was a huge factor, as well as the big pool of students studying multimedia in Malaysia. “We did get some incentives from MDec, but it is minor support things,” he said. “Putting the technical elements into the studio is not difficult. The main priority is to recruit and train people. Rhythm is cautious because it wants to hire people who are culturally Rhythm. In Rhythm, we’re very open and transparent. Its not truly hierarchical, it’s more matrically in culture,” said Shahril. Rhythm’s present primary need is talent, and it is looking to hire 200 to 225 skilled workers. The studio is expected to be running by year-end, with 40 recruits for a start. In the process of film and animation, Shahril said the Malaysian studio would initially be more involved with background works. After the necessary training (three to six months of in-house training), it will start moving into animation works. Most of Rhythm’s technology is its own proprietary software. “Rhythm is creating high end jobs. The next best equivalent of Rhythm is probably Lucasfilms Ltd Studio in Singapore. So it’s definitely a coup for Malaysia. The Malaysian studio will be doing Hollywood work. So Malaysians get a chance to be involved in the making of an international movie. For instance, the Indian studio did parts of The Hulk, Narnia and The Golden Compass,” said Shahril. He added that Rhythm had no plan to enter the Malaysian movie industry. Rhythm is a privately owned company, which makes about US$100 million a year in revenue. Shahril said Rhythm was in need of a third studio and had looked at a few countries. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Australian cinema renaissance on the cards

    Ruth Harley, only recently took up the role of CEO of the newly created Screen Australia, but many are hoping the former head of the New Zealand Film Commission can revive Australia’s filmmaking fortunes in the way that Lord of the Rings and Whale Rider turned New Zealand into a cinematic titan. “Things are already looking up,” said Tait Brady, Screen Australia’s executive director of marketing. Brady feels that 2009 has a strong slate of films that could ride the momentum of Baz Luhrman’s epic film Australia. Indeed, an Australian clay animation feature titled Mary and Max has just been chosen as the prestigious opener for January’s Sundance Film Festival. One or two more hits could restore confidence in Antipodean fare. The key is to make films with an emotional experience, said Tristram Miall, producer of Strictly Ballroom and The Black Balloon. “That’s the one area where you can compete with anybody, Hollywood included,” said Miall. “You don’t need mega-budgets to do that, you just need a good story.” Australian cinema has come a long way since creating the world’s first feature-length film. The nation’s cinematic legacy includes Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Man from Snowy River, Muriel’s Wedding and Shine. Indeed, Babe was so popular worldwide that its talking pig briefly threatened to eclipse the kangaroo as Australia’s most iconic animal. The vast but sparsely populated continent also launched a number of A-list actors: Mel Gibson, Naomi Watts, Heath Ledger, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, and Cate Blanchett. Australia has produced directors of the calibre of Robert Luketic, Peter Weir, Gillian Armstrong, and Phillip Noyce. However, in recent times, films from Down Under are rarely screened overseas. Home-grown Australian films accounted for less than one percent of the country’s total box office in 2008 - the lowest share in 30 years. The release of Luhrmann’s Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, has raised optimism that Australia’s film industry has the potential for a comeback. The Australian government, which funds most of the domestic industry, recently initiated a 40 per cent rebate on the film budgets to encourage production. It has also consolidated the country’s three film agencies into an entity called Screen Australia. But there’s widespread agreement that Australian films need to gear themselves to what audiences want to see. Given that the English-speaking nation enjoys American movies, Australian filmmakers face a fundamental quandary: How to compete with Hollywood films yet still maintain a unique cinematic identity? “We don’t feel we should be copying Hollywood models - we don’t think that’s our strength,” said Brady. “We are continually emphasizing that ... the way you break out is to be different.” A number of Australian films have appealed to both domestic and international viewers by adding an Australian twist to different genres. Mad Max was a road movie set in apocalyptic Australia, The Man from Snowy River was an outback Western, and Crocodile Dundee was a fresh take on the fish-out-of-water comedy. “In a curious way, Australian cinema ... seemed to shy away from genre, as if it wasn’t quite respectable enough,” says Brian McFarlane, author of The Oxford Guide to Australian Cinema. “We had a lot of films that seemed preoccupied with projecting the national life and taking on big issues.” In recent years, the industry has been dominated by small-scale, personal films dealing with subjects such as immigration, dysfunctional families, and coming-of-age rites. Unfortunately, these films often lacked drama. Case in point, a 2007 film called Noise focused on a passive policeman tasked with solving two sets of horrific murders. But the laconic character just sits in a van while people in a community vent their frustration at him. In the end, he doesn’t even solve the case. Its star, Brendan Cowell, later noted that in American stories, the protagonists feel a sense of crisis if they don’t get what they’re after. “In Australia, if they don’t get what they want, it’s kind of all right. And that’s the problem,” Cowell said in a 2008 documentary about Australian cinema titled Into the Shadows. A few commentators attribute this lack of cinematic tension to a cultural trait: Australians are generally averse to conflict. Another reason Australian screenplays sometimes eschew a classic storytelling structure is that filmmakers want to distance themselves from seeming too Hollywood-like. There are commercially inclined filmmakers in Australia who make low-grade thrillers about killer crocs, but few filmmakers are making comedies, despite the fact that Australians love to laugh. But the root of the matter is that most Aussie scripts aren’t good enough to compete with international fare, says Screen Australia’s Brady. There’s widespread consensus that the industry needs to invest more time in rigorous assessment of screenplays. Eric Bana, for one, has indicated that he’d make more films in his home country if he were offered better material. The actor returned to Australia to film 2007’s Romulus, My Father. The weak Australian dollar, coupled with cutting-edge production facilities, means that Australia is poised for a resurgence in location filmmaking. Production companies are smiling, as overseas producers are again looking Down Under to save money on big-budget productions. One of the first to be announced is the all-dancing, all-singing sequel, Happy Feet 2. This production will be based in the new Dr. D digital production facility in Sydney employing an average of 438 people over the period. Another bright spot for the industry: Australian crew members flying back to make Hollywood-financed blockbusters such as Happy Feet 2, and the X-Men spin off, Wolverine. These overseas productions will give young Australian filmmakers invaluable experience. The challenge will be nurturing that talent. The Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards were announced and the year’s highest-grossing local film, The Black Balloon, has emerged on top. The Black Balloon grossed A$2.1 million at the local box office. Altogether, the four nominated films grossed less than A$4 million. Local producers and commentators were up in arms over the poor box office of these movies and compared them to the American comedy Step Brothers, which was critically panned in Australia but still took in A$8.7 million. In that regard, all eyes are on the newly created Screen Australia. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • New scheme boosts

    Since the middle of last year, the government launched a Screen Production Incentive Fund (SPIF) designed to boost New Zealand’s film and television industry. The fund provides a five-year pool of funding worth NZ$68.5 million. It is administered by the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) which is actively involved in the development of the fund and its eligibility criteria. The fund will provide a 40 per cent grant on qualifying New Zealand feature film production expenditure, and a 20 per cent grant on qualifying New Zealand television and other screen production expenditure. “The New Zealand screen industry has been rightly concerned about the risks of important New Zealand screen projects moving offshore to take advantage of other opportunities, such as a grant scheme similar to this in Australia,” said David Cullwick, chairman of the NZFC. “The funding is structured in such a way that fluctuations in demand on the fund can be managed across multiple years, to ensure that all eligible projects will receive a grant. The funding is baselined at NZ$14.75 million a year.“ “With the creation of this new fund to support domestic film and television, the Large Budget Screen Production Grant and other government initiatives such as the funding available through Creative New Zealand, New Zealand On Air, Te Mangai Paho, and TVNZ’s charter funding, we now have a full slate of government mechanisms to support the Kiwi screen industry. “I am confident that this fund will bring considerable benefits to the New Zealand screen production industry. The feedback received from the sector on the concept for the Fund has been extremely positive,” Cullwick added. With the aid of the fund and various schemes, 2008 has been a busy and significant year for New Zealand with six domestic theatrical releases, increased local TV and DVD audiences for films, strong international sales and festival premieres. “In the past year more than two million New Zealanders watched New Zealand-made films supported by the NZFC. Our top movies have reached more than 95 per cent of the population and have become part of our popular culture,” said Cullwick. While the commercial success of films in cinemas, and their continuing life on DVD and TV, is hugely important, the bigger job still is to ensure the industry remains viable. The NZFC is working hard with the industry to maintain filmmakers’ skills in an environment of rapid technological and market change. Films in production include: Kingdom Come A new movie about Jesus Christ shot in New Zealand’s capital city Wellington. Kingdom Come swings into production in early 2009 with filming taking place in Peter Jackson’s studios and rural South Island locations. The big-budget film is being made by South Vineyard, whose Japan-based directors Paul and Joshua Broman and Naoyuki Baba are also executive producers for the movie. The Truth About Men The Truth About Men is written by political cartoonist and playwright Tom Scott, who is producing the film with Angela Littlejohn and Mark Overett, and is scheduled for release in late 2009. Already pre-sold to Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Belgium and Indonesia, the feature is the third to be directed by internationally acclaimed Australian-based New Zealander Paul Middleditch. Show of Hands Anthony McCarten’s second feature Show of Hands has just been released in New Zealand. Shot in Taranaki and starring Taranaki-born Melanie Lynskey, it tells a story of desperation, determination and love - involving a gruelling endurance contest. It is based around a real life competition where to win a car contestants have to keep their hands on it. Dean Spanley Eight-times Academy Award nominee Peter O’Toole stars alongside New Zealander Sam Neill. Dean Spanley has already had several showings at film festivals and received a standing ovation at the 2008 Toronto film festival. Dean Spanley is a whimsical tale of fathers, sons, and dogs. The film is set in Victorian England, and was shot both in the UK and NZ. Apron Strings Apron Strings also appeared at the 2008 Toronto film festival. Set in suburban New Zealand, it is a parallel story of two families and two cultures: Pakeha NZ and Indian. Directed by Sima Urale, the film was shot in the multi-cultural southern suburbs of Auckland. The cast is headed by Bollywood star Laila Rouass. Films in post-production: Under the Mountain Jonathan King’s sci-fi adventure based on NZ author Maurice Gee’s Under The Mountain has just finished filming and is now in post-production. Weta Workshop is handling creature effects. Sam Neill heads the cast, with newcomers Sophie McBride and Tom Cameron playing teenage twins who battle alien forces hidden beneath Auckland’s volcanoes. Laundry Warrior With a 2009 release date, and a NZ$46 million budget, Laundry Warrior is filmed mainly in West Auckland, it stars Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth (ex-Superman) and Tony Cox. Vintner’s Luck Niki Caro’s Vintner’s Luck, from the book by NZ writer Elizabeth Knox and starring Keisha Castle-Hughes, is in post-production with likely release in February 2009. It is shot during harvest time in a West Auckland vineyard, and in France. The Dam Busters / Lovely Bones Peter Jackson’s remake of The Dam Busters is in post-production, along with Lovely Bones starring Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg. Due for release late 2009. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Lights, camera, high definition

    Singapore is positioning itself as a film-making hot spot with the necessary elements to complete a film. From funding schemes to providing filming locations and equipment facilities, and now, the ability to shoot in cost-effective tapeless HD as shown with these two projects.… Read More

  • indochina post upgrade

    Cambodia is one of the fastest-growing broadcast advertising markets in Asia-Pacific, as is its Indochina neighbour Vietnam. Although advertising spend in both markets is still minimal, stable political circumstances and opening economies have meant that foreign direct investment - and, in turn, ad spend - is on the rise. This is one of the factors that prompted Singapore-based post-production house Digipost to open for business in Cambodia, thus becoming the first full-service post-production facility to operate in the country. Up till now, agencies and broadcasters in Cambodia have had to use post houses in neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. Digipost, which has been firmly established in Singapore for over 15 years, plans to deliver cutting edge technology and a team of creative professionals with international and regional experience on board. The Cambodia launch marks the third Southeast Asian outlet for Digipost, which opened in Ho Chi Minh City in 2005. Like the Cambodia operation, it offers post-production for TV commercials, broadcast design, branding and on-air promos, 3-D animation and content development. The Phnom Penh operation became fully operational mid-February this year, and is targeting regional and global as well as local advertisers with a full suite of post-production services, including visual effects, 3D animation, motion graphics and audio engineering. “We feel the time is right to introduce world class facilities in Cambodia where the local advertising and broadcast industries are growing steadily,” said Allen Seet, founder and CEO of Digipost, at the launch ceremony which was graced by Mr Veng Serei Vuth, Cambodia’s Senior Minister and Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, as well as Her Excellency, Tan Yee Woan, Singapore’s ambassador to Cambodia. “Additionally, we can now offer our regional and international clients creative collaboration and solutions for completing sophisticated, high end post production projects in Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia,” Seet added.… Read More

  • Indonesia’s industry in search of direction

    As a result of its growing strength, Indonesia’s film industry is now planning a drive to sell its movies in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. At the same time, pressure is growing on the government in Jakarta to begin offering increased incentives for foreign film production companies to boost film production in the country. In this respect, the Indonesian government plans to provide a framework for the protection of copyrights and financial assistance to help encourage creative businesses, as outlined by trade minister, Mari Elka Pangestu. “The framework will form part of the industry’s development blueprints. With the protection of copyrights and provision of financial assistance for small and medium businesses, we expect to be able to nurture the industry,” Pangestu told The Jakarta Post. Apart from an improvement in quality of movie making and the push to upgrade cinemas, Indonesia’s film industry appears to be driven by the success of Indonesian directors in coming up with stories that strike a chord with the movie-going public in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Hanung Bramantyo’s Ayat-Ayat Cinta (Verses of Love), which opened this year, has become Indonesia’s highest grossing film ever with 3.7 million people seeing the film about a young Indonesian Muslim who faces moral dilemmas when he goes to study in Egypt and is confronted by four different women. “Every month two new movies are filmed in Indonesia,” said Gope T Samtani from Persatuan Perusahaan Film Indonesia, adding that eight out of ten movies prove to be hits with Indonesian audiences. This means that there can be six new Indonesian movies screening in the country at any one time compared to three to four from Hollywood. With cinemas emerging in smaller cities across the country, the boom in interest in Indonesian movies has also spread to the nation’s television. “There are often no slots on TV for English language movies,” said Samtani with digital technology helping to cut the cost of filmmaking in Indonesia sometimes by about one third. This is seen by some as a progression over 2007 when the industry was dominated by horror, genre and teenage-drama movies. “In 2007, the number of teenage-films increased, and this continue until the end of this year, including horror films,” according to Upi Avianto, writer and film director. There is still residual demand for teenager and horror films, so the film industry preferred making these movies in increasing number, she said. “Now we should be clever in exploiting the financial resources of other people, that is if the market prefers teenager and horror films, by producing these types of movies,” she cited. Begging to differ, industry veteran, Deddy Mizwar, believes that while more Indonesian films are being produced, their quality lags far behind India and South Korea - the result of film producers underestimating the public’s desire to see good films. Having worked for more than two decades in Indonesia’s film industry, Mizwar is in a good position to comment. “In general, we’re no better than ten or eleven years ago. Entertainment taxes, outdated film production technology, a small number of theatres, a lack of education institutions to train people in the industry - they’re all the same problems that film was struggling against years ago,” said Mizwar, who recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Indonesian Movie Awards. Mizwar added he was one of the few people who still believed films served as a mirror to a country’s social and cultural condition. He was saddened to see what was being shown in cinemas. “If we look at films produced at home, we’ll see the problems faced by this country reduced to dramatic teen romances and ghost-busting mysteries. There are plenty of interesting aspects of life here that are waiting to be explored,” he said. His deep concern over the current state of the country’s film industry spurred Mizwar to release Naga Bonar Jadi 2 (Naga Bonar Becomes 2), starring Tora Sudiro. The film is a sequel to Naga Bonar, which was directed by M.T Risyaf and released in 1987. The drama-comedy, also starring Nurul Arifin, brought him fame and the Best Actor award at the then-prestigious Indonesian Film Festival. Naga Bonar, also the name of the main character in the film is set in Sumatra before the independence war. Naga is a petty criminal who pretends to be a general who takes up arms against Dutch soldiers to make his life easier. However, a series of events - the death of a sidekick and a crush on the daughter of a local figure - bring Naga Bonar to his senses, and he eventually fights for the independence movement to rid Dutch soldiers from the island. In the sequel, made twenty years later, Naga Bonar Jadi 2 has the now-older Naga Bonar visiting his son Bonaga, played by Tora Sudiro, who is a successful executive in Jakarta. Father-and-son conflict over their generation gap is at the core of the film. But Mizwar said he wants to show more than that. “Naga Bonar Jadi 2 explores different perspectives on love. This country is made up of tens of thousands of sprawling islands, and God knows, with so many tribes and languages, if they are not tied together with love for this one Indonesia, we’ll have to witness never-ending bloody conflicts here and there,” he said. Before its release Mizwar said he realized his film would be at odds with most teen flicks and horror films at the theater. But he believes the success of a film also depends on other non-cinematographic aspects. “There is no theory that says films that are not teen or horror films will not be watched, or vice versa. What I know is how to make good film. To sell the film, we need promotion and marketing. Teamwork is the key,” Mizwar, who owns Demi Gisela Citra Sinema production house, said. Teamwork has obviously worked, with Mizwar considering re-releasing Naga Bonar after a warm public reception to Naga Bonar Jadi 2. The picture quality was updated at its repeat release, and Mizwar invited singer Melly Goeslaw to compose a new soundtrack score. “The re-release of this film will introduce a different kind of Indonesia to film lovers today. Although it was made 20 years ago, I believe the themes are still relevant to today’s context,” he said. When the country’s film industry was comatose, Mizwar, like many other film stars, turned to television while it was booming in the 1990s with the arrival of new private stations. Yet he took the path not taken by most production houses that flooded television with teen or Cinderella-like sinetron soap operas. Mizwar produced religious ones. He made television versions of one of his films Kiamat Sudah Dekat, and several other religious titles including Para Pencari Tuhan (God Seekers), Lorong Waktu (Time Tunnel), Pengembara (Traveler), which reportedly received good ratings for their timely release during the fasting month. He said he was happy to produce religious-themed soap operas because he thought people - regardless of their religion - strived to find a “creator” and he wanted to provide a window through his works in which they were able to. “Two-or-three minute-long commercials for television can influence many people to buy stuff, why not influence people to do some good with our soap operas?” he said.… Read More

  • Rights of passage

    Every industry has its growing pains, and for a number of years, independent producers in Singapore expressed discomfort with the PSB programme rights ownership regime. That, however, may be about to change, with MDA introducing a new ownership arrangement. David Lee finds out more from MDA and gets reactions from the industry… Read More

  • India rising

    India's creative industry is surging ahead in 2007, spurred on by international deals and partnerships on all fronts for India-produced content.… Read More

  • Into high gear

    Media 21, the Singapore Media Development Authority (MDA)'s strategic blueprint to power the local media industry into a new era of growth enters its fourth year since its high-octane launch in 2003. Asia Image takes stock of the impact of the initiative on the production and post production sectors thus far, how players have fared over the past year, and their forecasts for the road ahead. "The past year saw a healthy buzz and vibrancy in the Singapore media industry," reflects Dr. Christopher Chia, MDA's chief executive officer. And indeed, from flag-off, the year has not been short of mileposts. Singapore saw trials of HDTV piloted on terrestrial and cable platforms and a commercial rollout within seven months of the trials; some 100 hours of Singapore-made HD content clocked in tandem, which MDA expects to double by the end of 2007; and the country's largest MIPCOM 2006 presence ever, featuring a 51-member contingent which marketed a trove of 30 HD programs, sealing deals worth some US$50 million. Stepping on the accelerator, Singapore companies upped the ante at MIPTV in April 2007, presenting a record slate of over 50 HD programs and hauling in some US$128 million worth of international collaborations, including the first-ever Singapore-Korea-India co-production in an adventure drama series called Asian Crisis Center. The US$5 million project will be produced by Singapore-based Upside Down Entertainment, Korea's Dreamville Entertainment, and India's Clapstem Productions. The industry has come a long ways since the early days. Players and analysts welcomed Media 21 at its inception, hailing it as the government's bold commitment to the industry, providing much-needed succor at a time when business climate the world over was noticeably bearish in the wake of September 11 and SARS. Sharing his own assessment of the agency's progress against its goals, Dr. Chia says, "We have made significant strides in building Singapore into a global media city as set out in Media 21." By MDA's own reckoning, the media industry has raised revenues from S$18.1 billion (US$11.9 billion) in 2003 to S$19.9 billion (US$13.1 billion) in 2004, as well as increased the absolute number of employees working in the industry to a present tally of over 50,000 people. Still, the race is not without its speed bumps, and one issue that confronts independent producers is intellectual property ownership, with some suggesting that the current ownership regime is retrogressive and would have deleterious effects on the industry. "MDA has decided to claim copyrights of all programs funded by MDA," observes Pedro Tan, managing director of Ochre Pictures. "This is going backward." Citing Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Idol as examples, Tan adds, "In international markets, copyrights are owned by producers and funding entity will only own the rights of program and program sales. This allows producers to further exploit the same concept elsewhere with other broadcasters as format." Ochre Picture's Beauty Past Perfect, an infotainment program produced for Channel NewsAsia, was nominated at the 2006 Asia Television Awards in the Best Infotainment Series Category. Echoing the sentiments is another established industry player. "As a member of AIPRO about 4 years ago, I wrote a proposal to use the existing license fees to go into content development," recounts Galen Yeo, CEO of The Moving Visuals Co, which recently produced Kick Off, a 26- part game show series for ESPN-Star Sports and will premiere China Fast Forward on Discovery Travel & Living with David Wu. "Rights were remaining solely with the broadcaster and a lot of content wasn't going anywhere. Why not use those funds to create bigger and better projects?" Yeo quizzes. Noting that not a lot has changed and that industries beyond Singapore are "highly progressive," Yeo asserts, "IP rights are crucial for the industry to grow. Without IP, the industry is and will remain contractors. Singapore needs to recognize that this impacts the entire industry." "Within the domestic market, producers have been asking for copyright to their ideas to be recognized," agrees Adrian Ong, CEO of The Right Angle Media whose most recent series Gateway Asia aired in June on the Discovery Channel. "For projects outside Singapore, I believe producers have had better luck moving this." Noting that already a small number of local producers are capable of independent funding, Tony Chow, president of the Association of Independent Television Production Companies (AIPRO) Singapore says, "I believe it is a matter of time that our local producers will be commercially ready, and engage private funding or other sources of funds to take their ideas with commercial values to become fully independent of government funding. This will be the day, when our local independent producers are truly content owner, with the power to negotiate deals commercially." Indeed, Threesixzero Production's experience seems to bear this out. "2006 has been significant for us as we spent considerable time, effort and money creating productions that we fully or partially owned. Signs are there that we should be reaping the benefits in the years to come," says Han Kwang Wei, its managing director. The company recently produced two documentaries for the National Geographic Channel. And while content ownership is a bugbear for independent producers, developing a ready talent pool for an industry that harnesses rapidly evolving technology to produce cutting-edge work is an issue that continues to draw the attention of post facilities. Noting that much has been invested into the technological capabilities offered by the local polytechnics and professional schools, industry players note that there are still a number of gaps. "Technology continues to simply provide tools," says William Woo, head of production/post & VFX supervisor at VHQ Post, which has completed projects throughout the region with clients such as Dubai Properties and Al Tarza for the Middle East, Limca for India, and Hitachi for Shanghai. "Without the talent to creatively use these tools, Singapore post facilities would attract very little work both locally and regionally." Likewise, James Brooks, managing director of Nine-V Post, which has done work on local films such as Singapore Dreaming, Solos, and the upcoming China-Singapore co-production of Anna and Anna believes that there is room for improvement, although he advocates competence in the fundamentals of the profession. "This is mostly in the technical area, as the polytechnics seem to emphasize the creative side more than anything else," Brooks elaborates. "This results in a pool of editors and content creators who have limited knowledge beyond the camera and software, and consequently this puts them at a disadvantage to overseas graduates. The local educational institutions forget that it is still important to learn television- digital or analog-basics." Noting that the talent pool has grown with every batch and that more talents are choosing to remain in the industry, Calvin Tng, business director of Lights & Shadows adds, "Having said so, the lack of talents is still very real in all aspect of skills. I would define creative development of programs and shows as a key new gap." The company has done work for leading broadcasters such as Discovery Asia, Disney Asia, and HBO Asia. Offering another perspective, Freddie Yeo, general manager of Infinite Frameworks says, "There is currently a lack of a critical mass of experienced personnel but this will be resolved as the industry matures and together with international companies being set up here as well as specialized schools such as Tisch and DigiPenn offering specialized courses, the future will be a lot brighter in terms of exposure and quality." The industry bellwether has recently completed TVCs for Toyota for China and Kiah Jewellery for India, and worked on 881, a feature film directed by Royston Tan. While some of the challenges are unique to each sector, one trend that threads both is the advent of HD. On this front Dr. Chia professes that he is "encouraged" by the results of MDA's efforts to stimulate content production and post production. "Recently, MediaCorp shared its plans to produce 150 hours of HD content this year, in tandem with its planned launch of an HD channel. In all, we expect this year's output of locally-produced HD content to double that of last year's. "On the post-production front, more Singapore production houses are equipping their facilities to handle HD post production work. Some, like Infinite Frameworks, have moved into production; Infinite Frameworks is partnering Raintree Pictures to produce Sing to the Dawn, a HD animated feature slated for release in 2008," Dr. Chia notes. In the past year, Moving Visuals produced Express Yourself, a HD production for the Disney Channel; Threesixzero managed to pre-sell Little Big Dreams, an HD documentary telling the stories of young struggling gymnasts in China; Ochre Pictures is currently producing for Voom, a U.S.- based HD broadcaster; while The Right Angle Media, whose first HD production Megastructures: World's Busiest won best editing at the Asian Television Awards, notes that its newer projects are increasingly being delivered in HD. And the pipeline looks equally healthy for post companies. Blackmagic Design has done HD work for Disney, Discovery, Nova, and National Geographic. Meanwhile, boutique post facility ten: one having just completed First Flower, an HD project for Nova, notes that all but one of its projects in 2007 will be HD. For Nine-V Post, its recent HD projects include Zheng He: Emperor of the Seas for Discovery and Kingdom of The Elephants for Animal Planet. And to capitalize on a quickening of HD uptake, post facilities especially have been investing in upgrading their capabilities to take on increasingly high-end assignments. VHQ Post for example, has spent a considerable amount to bring the facility to be fully HD-capable, including grading, transfer and VFX capabilities. Lights & Shadows has likewise ramped up its HD capability including techniques, deck, multiplexer, computer machines and beefing up of rendering cluster. Meanwhile, ten:one has invested in a new HD edit suite which allows for offline editing in HD and for onlining in uncompressed HD. "More than what we expected," Infinite Frameworks' Yeo enthuses, referring to the rate of HD adoption. "We are ecstatic with the results and will continue to drive this area." Blackmagic Design, another player known for its HD capabilities, has invested aggressively in its business to stay at the leading edge, having grown from just 3 employees and 2 suites less than four years ago to now boasting over 30 staff and 18 suites. "In fact we've now gone beyond HD and finish most of our commercial work at 2K resolution which is fast becoming the accepted new standard internationally for high end work," says Peter Barber, the company's director of creative services. So far, 2006 leading into 2007 has been a bonanza year for the production and post sectors, with plenty of work to go around. Still, industry players are not resting on their laurels, and are looking ahead to expand their revenue streams. Referring to Threesixzero's business strategy, Han shares, "One such is to invest in our own productions and capitalize on the distribution networks we have forged overseas. We foresee a healthy growth in distribution income in the years to come." Urging players to take a more collective approach, Ochre Pictures' Tan says, "In addition to MediaCorp, there are many regional and international broadcasters who are based here. Independent producers could capitalize on such proximities and opportunities at our own door steps. Producers could also come together to pitch for larger projects at regional and international level, leveraging on each other's strength and expertise." Noting that with new platforms comes multiple sources of revenue possibilities such as mobile, IPTV and web TV, AIPRO's Chow offers, "I see the growth of specialized or niche contents in the months and years ahead. This will be a way to position contents amidst all the sources of information or materials available everywhere." Agreeing, Lights & Shadows' Tng muses, "Media activities are picking up globally, with many more 'windows' like Internet, mobile, IPTV platforms for programs and movies. Volume and diversity of services will increase, and very much it will depend one is open-minded, savvy and ready to take on the challenge to service new needs." Acknowledging that while TVC post production is still Infinite Frameworks' main source of revenue, Yeo offers a peek into the company's new growth areas: "We expect to see growth in the areas of 3D animation via a combination of coproduction deals and outsource work, broadcast design from the regional markets, HD post production for feature films and TV programs and post production services for the new media areas." The MDA believes that Singapore's cultural diversity, East-West sensibilities, and a cosmopolitan media workforce will play to its advantage. Still, it is not taking chances. "Moving ahead, we believe investments in growing the interactive and digital media sector will be critical in propelling Singapore forward onto its next phase of growth. There will be opportunities for content to be made and distributed across different delivery platforms. And we will continue to anchor Singapore as the place where media services and projects are created, developed, traded and distributed to the international market," Dr. Chia pledges.… Read More

  • Movie industry is silver lining in Thai cloud

    The Thai creative industry has had a relatively smooth year but advertising segment may falter with new laws on the horizon… Read More

  • Network wars on a different planet

    Network-produced TV commercials redefine advertising boundaries in The Philippines. Will they change the landscape forever? Or are they just a fad.… Read More

  • Underwater animation kicks off new shoe campaign

    Cutting Edge VFX creates 3D underwater stadium for Lynx commercial… Read More

  • Beyond 30-second Spots

    Two Hong Kong-based production outfits take the concept of multi-platform marketing to sizzling new heights.… Read More

  • Keeping Singapore Animation Afloat

    Singapore's hopes to secure a place on the global animation stage may well rest on the shoulders of Benjamin Toh, executive producer and director of the upcoming 3D animation feature Legend of the Sea.… Read More

  • Stocked up to go!

    Need royalty-free footages to spruce up your content? Asia Image talks to stock footage companies and finds out what’s on offer… Read More

  • Becoming Web Filmmakers ==> hdfeature

    Got an independent movie to plug? Let Nicholas Chee and Randy Ang show you how they attracted an online cult following for their movie Becoming Royston.… Read More

  • What Did A Colorist Ever Do For You? --> coloration

    There are far fewer colorists than editors, cameramen or directors, yet most of what we see goes through their hands.… Read More

  • Philippine movies plot digital comeback

    Believe it or not, the Philippines can claim to have the oldest cinema history in Asia. Yet the Philippine movie industry is faltering compared to Asian neighbors. To predict its future we need to take a step back into the country’s past.… Read More

  • Gumption and growth

    Some three years since the launch of a US$57 million five-year industry development blueprint, there are signs of a quickening of pace in Singapore’s production and post production media sectors. However, some perennial issues remain, while new challenges beckon on the horizon. Industry insiders talk to David Lee about how 2005 has been and the confluence of factors needed to drive growth moving forward.… Read More

  • For Better or Worse

    The consolidation of Malaysia’s free-to-air channels this year has increased the demand for good content, translating into lucrative business for local production and post houses. Asia Image’s Asiya Bakht and Ritesh Gupta tell us more.… Read More

  • Riding on the wave of innovation

    Thanks to proprietary software and a little “Blackmagicâ€Â, Warren Lynch is able to extend his post-production expertise to feature films like Happy Feet and Puppy. Asia Image catches up with the expert colourist and finds out what’s cooking at his DI facility, Intercolour.… Read More

  • Thai Empire Strikes Back

    TV programme production in Thailand is experiencing a renewal. Companies involved in big-screen movies are seeing consolidations and partnerships as the path forward in this potential upsurge.… Read More

Profile

  • TIME AND AGAIN

    Asian Television Awards’ Superpitch winner Execam is not afraid to dig up the past – for documentaries, that is. Asia Image talks to the New Zealand production company about their project Coast Watchers of the South Pacific.… Read More

  • CREATIVITY IN THE CLOUD

    Ahead of the 2013 NAB Show, Craig Tegel, regional president of Adobe Japan and Asia Pacific, shares his insight on second screen, and the launch of Adobe’s Creative Cloud.… Read More

  • SNAPSHOTS

    Blackmagic Design founder and CEO Grant Petty shares the development strategy behind some of the company’s most popular products.… Read More

  • SHOW RUNNER

    Stuart McAra, executive producer at Industrial Light & Magic Singapore, talks about his fascination with the movies, and an enviable career in VFX.… Read More

  • THE POST MASTERS

    Highly regarded and awarded, The Post Bangkok is looking to take it up a notch.… Read More

  • EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY

    Dayne Cowan, who recently joined Infi nite Frameworks as VP of post production, VFX and CG, tells Asia Image about his journey to VFX, and how he came to specialize in particle effects.… Read More

  • THE ELUSIVE ART OF MONETISING MULTIPLATFORM TV

    Monetization of multiple screens will fi gure prominently within IBC’s conference program this year, which will focus strongly on the growing battle among pay TV operators to exploit different platforms both to gain market share and fi nd new sources of revenue.… Read More

  • Social makeover for broadcasting

    The widespread phenomenon of social networking has seen broadcasters evolve their business models so as to remain engaged with shifting audiences… Read More

  • From Caterpillar to beautiful butterfly

    Thailand’s “ladyboys” (transgender people) are renowned – or rather, notorious – all over the world. In fact, the country seems to sport more of them than anywhere else on the globe. Many of them may be engaged in dubious professions such as prostitution or are restricted to a limited range of respectable occupations like salesgirls or makeup girls (it is estimated that 60 per cent of all makeup girls in Thailand’s entertainment industry are actually transgender), but they are tolerated due to the country’s predominantly Buddhist religion. In that context, they prefer to refer to themselves as members of “the third sex”, which is appropriate enough. It may take a veteran Hollywood producer like David Winters to recognise the true potential of some of these “women trapped in men’s bodies”. Winters has produced and directed over 80 feature films and more than 200 TV shows including Once Upon a Wheel starring Paul Newman, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde starring Kirk Douglas, The Ann-Margret Show starring Ann-Margret and Lucille Ball, and others. After moving to Thailand, he made the epic adventure film The King Maker, which featured John Rhys-Davies and Gary Stretch in the male leads and was the first English-language movie ever to be entirely produced in the country. “Many of them are not only very well educated but also, arguably, more beautiful than real women,” he asserted. It was with this impression that Winters recently came up with his latest brainchild, Papillon. A long-term resident of Thailand, Winters brainstormed: “What is unique about Thailand?” The answer dawned on him soon. Apart from magnificent sunsets, warm weather, colourful temples, terrific hospitality, world-class cuisine and some of the finest beaches, Thailand could boast an extraordinary assembly of transgender persons. “Papillon is both a movie and a singing group. Its members are ladyboys. As you know, ‘Papillon’ is French and translates as ‘butterfly’. I chose the name because I likened the group members to caterpillars who, after emerging from their cocoons, had transformed into beautiful butterflies,” he explained. The movie Winters is currently shooting will document the making of a “never before seen” international pop group and has been designed to be “cross-promoted” with the group’s debut album. Both are expected to be released simultaneously in 2009. “Only a few years ago, the world wouldn’t have been ready for it, but I think the advent of the Internet has changed all this, because it has effectively made people more liberal and open-minded,” asserted Winters. After tedious auditions of almost 300 applicants, Winters narrowed down his choice to six members, all of whom are very well educated, with some of them holding several university degrees. Most important, of course, was their ability to perform, to sing and dance and, at the same time, being gorgeous. “It was a very hard choice, and it is simply the pain you have to go through as a producer” he attested. Papillon, the movie, is conceptualised as a documentary drama following all stages from the basic idea to the initial creation of the group to their coming-of-age period through meticulous and tedious coaching and it finally culminates in their first live on-stage performance. “What you don’t know, and I’ve kept it wrapped under secrecy so far, is that the movie is going to open with shocking images,” Winters filled me in. The first few minutes will be dedicated to showing the real-life surgical procedure of transforming a man’s genitals into a woman’s. The operation, the filming of which several of Papillon’s members had agreed to beforehand (others were already “transformed”), might be censored if it is to be shown on TV, according to Winters. “What you have to understand is that it is a real commitment. It’s irreversible. I am not sure if we straight people could ever agree to such a commitment in our lives. It will create a blast, and possibly some raised eyebrows, but showing those images is a crucial part of the movie to make the audience understand in what kind of emotional dilemma transsexuals live, and that ultimately there is only one way out for them.” The movie will incorporate a lot of re-enactments, hence it is a documentary drama rather than a fully fledged documentary. Winters only thought about creating the movie to go parallel with the album release some while after he had devised the group as a musical outfit that would display traditional Thai dancing moves to the tunes of snappy and fast-paced pop tunes. For shooting, Winters prefers deploying Sony HD digital cameras, which he has already used for his previous movie, The King Maker. “The transfer from film to HD resulted in magnificent quality. The images were first class,” he confided. The King Maker, of course, sold in more foreign territories than any other Thai-produced film. Sony Entertainment bought all US release rights and Universal purchased a lot of other territories. If that is any indication, Winter’s forthcoming film will succeed as well. Hell, the guy has a touch for gold! But most of all, and what his movie will hopefully accomplish, is to foster an understanding that even transgender persons warrant the respect that every human being deserves and regardless of their creed, sexual orientation, social standing or financial circumstances. ASIAIMAGE… Read More

  • Bankrolling Asia’s ambitions

    Asia Image speaks to Upside Down Entertainment’s Chan Gin Kai and Standard Chartered Bank’s Lee Beasley on some of the regional media financing available to Asian filmmakers… Read More

  • The VFX Solutions Guy

    A skeptical English teacher's chance encounter with digital graphics changed his life forever.… Read More

  • Posting from Strength to Strength

    Khun Sue, president of The Post Bangkok, talks to Asia Image about how the facility has evolved into a world-class service provider and technology trendsetter.… Read More

  • Technical skills come before creativity

    Award-winning cinematographer Rob Draper, A.C.S. spends his days between fi lming projects giving fi lm and HD workshops around the world. Danny Chan talks to the image maestro about the oft-misunderstood digital format.… Read More

  • HD in Asia – Hype or Reality? ==> hdtv

    A spate of High Definition activity across Asia has sparked significant interest in the format’s future here. But what is the current HD reality in the region? Magz Osborne checks it out… Read More

  • Shooting for the Big Screen

    Shooting Gallery Asia has recently added ‘motion pictures’ into its already cramped portfolio that includes still photography, graphic design and video productions. Danny Chan interviews Juan Foo, one of Singapore’s pioneering filmmakers, who now sits at the helm of SGA’s new moviemaking arm.… Read More

  • Breaking New Ground

    James Chung, creative director of Bruce Dunlop and Associates (BDA), and the brain behind MTV’s, cheeky but successful, Taiwan launch campaign in the nineties, believes in attracting attention- not toward himself but his work.… Read More

Wrap

Careers

Editing

Preview

Lighting

Broadcast Asia Wrap

  • 4K TECHNOLOGY SHINES AT BROADCASTASIA2013 EXHIBITION

    CommunicAsia2013, EnterpriseIT2013 and BroadcastAsia2013, the most relevant and largest industry event of its kind in Asia, closed today after a week of fulfilling business interactions and knowledge exchange amongst like-minded industry professionals.… Read More

  • HIGHLIGHTS FROM BROADCASTASIA2012

    This year’s CommunicAsia and BroadcastAsia, held June 19 – 22, attracted more than 49,000 industry visitors, exhibitors, conference speakers and delegates from around the world.… Read More

Frame Store

  • ANIMATION IS CHILD’S PLAY FOR FSM

    FSM’s animated spot for Aspen’s S26 Gold Junior formula tracks the transformation of a drawing into a real adventure.… Read More

  • MIXING IT UP

    Porjai Film and Spice Shop get interesting results when they mix oil and water in this project for Fuse condominium.… Read More

  • VALUE THROUGH MUSIC

    Vodafone India plays into Hindu festival with devotional music to highlight its value added services in this promotional campaign shot by @Infiniti Films.… Read More

  • SQUEAKY CLEAN

    Pots, pans and kitchen utensils come alive in this 3D animation by VHQ Post for Sunlight’s Lemon 100.… Read More

  • RITUAL CLEANSE

    Mumbai-based @Infiniti Films gets in the thick of a Hindu festival for a Lifebuoy handwashing campaign.… Read More

  • MODEL BEHAVIOUR

    Greenpeace braves the polluted waters of the Qiantang River for a time-lapse video on fashion industry waste disposal.… Read More

  • THE BALLOON’S GREAT ESCAPE

    Cutting Edge helps create a storybook look for a humorous Tropfest trailer on the origins of the balloon.… Read More

  • CHILL, SHAKE AND SERVE

    Welovepost ramps up the party for the Tanduay’s TVC featuring a new range of ready cocktails.… Read More

  • WARNING: THIS TVC HAS NINE LIVES

    Shiroku Production took on the challenge of shooting nine market-specific versions for Zalora’s TVC Warning.… Read More

  • CAPTURING THE FRESHNESS

    Gung Ho Films highlights the right texture in this spot aimed at promoting feminine freshness.… Read More

  • SIMPLE, QUICK AND BEAUTIFUL

    Jungleboys creates a natural, effects-free MasterCard spot amid harsh supermarket lighting.… Read More

  • A MOTHER’S LOVE

    Bangkok-based The Sweet Shop chronicles the growth of an Olympic diver through her mother’s eyes.… Read More

  • KEEPING IT PURE AND SIMPLE

    Taika Waititi’s TVC parody on recreating New Zealand clichés builds up to one thing: enjoying things that are simple and pure.… Read More

  • WHAT LIES BENEATH

    Director Adam Taylor captures the absurd in this eye-opening TVC for Refresh Eye Drops.… Read More

  • UNMASKING THE SEXY NEWCOMER

    Malaysia-based deTOUCHE Post helps throw a masquerade for the darkly seductive TVC unveiling the Peugeot 408.… Read More

  • ENGINE GETS A CRUSH ON MOUNT FRANKLIN

    Engine creates a new, character-based Mount Franklin TVC for Coca-Cola and McCann Sydney highlighting the brand’s more environmental approach to bottle production.… Read More

  • QUICK BITES, LASTING IMPACT

    This TVC spot was produced with the aim to re-introduce the popular KFC Tom Yum Crunch to the Malaysian market. The main idea is to highlight the intense fl avors associated with the product as well as its crunchiness. To achieve this, the viewer’s attention is drawn towards scenes native to Thailand and their senses teased with the intensity of the fl avours of the natural ingredients used.… Read More

  • CROWD CONTROL

    Spice Shop creates a stadium for Gudang Garam InterSport TVC No Drama.… Read More

  • GOING THE DISTANCE

    88storey Films and Central Digital Lab take on the challenge of one continuous shot for Great Taste coffee with Glee.… Read More

  • ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

    Central Digital Lab combines astral elements to create an out-of-this-world TVC with 88storey Films for the updated Toyota Fortuner.… Read More

  • RISE OF THE MACHINE

    Engine produces third in series of new TVCs for Debit MasterCard starring Florence and the Machine.… Read More

  • ENGINE ROCKS WITH KASABIAN AND MASTERCARD

    Engine creates second in series of new TVCs for Debit MasterCard’s Priceless Music series.… Read More

  • EASY RIDER

    FSM takes the driver’s seat for a comical point-of-view in a TVC for Australian insurance company Allianz.… Read More

  • TALKING THE TALK

    Oktobor keeps the time zone difference clear in Telecom’s story of a transcontinental friendship.… Read More

  • RAINY DAYS AND LAUNDRY

    Apostrophe Films weathers last-minute changes and a tight production schedule to deliver the TOP detergent TVC TOP Working Gals.… Read More

  • BREAKING THE CURVE

    JL Design helps Levi’s accentuate the positive in a TVC for the denim company’s new line of body shape-specifi c jeans.… Read More

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