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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: tech, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 67
1. How A Chinese Animation Studio Uses An American ‘Robot’ Director

The BBC created this video profile of Beijing, China-based animation studio Light Chaser Animation, which is one of numerous companies in China that is aiming to create high-end Hollywood-quality CGI.

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2. Nikon Introduces $4,000 Stop Motion Animator’s Kit

Stop motion animation just got a little easier with the introduction of Nikon Animator's Kit.

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3. A Call to Tech Support

The wifi in my eldest daughter’s laptop died recently. Being the home’s Chief Technology Officer, I worked through the handy troubleshoot on the system which told me it was working perfectly. Of course, the inability to connect to the internet and the distraught look on my poor daughter’s face told me it wasn’t. No worries, I bought a USB dongle and she was up and running.

Little did I know that my trouble-shooting skills would soon be needed again. A week ago, she informed me that her dongle wasn’t working. Of course, at 11:15, my system was shut down, so I didn’t pay much attention and went to bed. When I awoke, I realized it wasn’t her computer – there was a wholesale internet outage in the house!

I think that is mentioned in Revelation, isn’t it? The Mark of the Beast and the inability to access High-Speed Wireless is in chapter 13, if I remember correctly. I looked outside and it didn’t appear the Battle of Armageddon had begun yet. A check of the beds told me the wife and kids were still here, so the rapture hadn’t left me behind (Whew!)

But I still had no internet.

This has happened before and I fixed it. What did I do? Oh yeah, I unplugged it and it rebooted itself. So I pulled the plug and let it regenerate. Unfortunately, the light blinking was still red long after power was restored. So I called my ever-helpful internet service provider and got stuck in the web of automated attendants who sound helpful, but are very patronizing. Don’t they know I am the CTO? That should give me some status, I would think.

My biggest problem wasn’t the self-righteous know-it-all computer voice on the other end of the phone, it was the fact that my cell phone service is spotty in the basement where the router resides. So I put the phone on speaker and listened as best I could. Like a rat pushing through a maze, I found the tech support cheese after seventeen minutes and the new, smarter sounding Tech Support Weenie voice tells me we are going to have to restart the system.

TSW: I will now tell you how to restart your system. This is a medium level procedure and will take approximately 3-5 minutes.

Okay

TSW: Can you see your internet router?

Yes

TSW: Please find the power cable on the back of the router and say yes when you’ve found it.

Got it

TSW: I didn’t understand you.

Er…  Yes

TSW: Trace the cable to the electric outlet. Unplug the cable and wait 10 seconds before plugging it back in.

Well, that’s what I did before, but okay

TSW: Did this solve your problem?

NO!

At that point, my spotty cell service affected my ability to clearly hear the next steps in the process. What I am pretty sure it said was for me to disconnect all cables, kick the box across the room, plug it back in and see if any lights were blinking. Repeat until no lights function.

Done!

After I hung up, I went to work early and left this note on the floor:

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The good news, there is free wifi at the hotel, but I really wish they would call.


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

6 Comments on A Call to Tech Support, last added: 8/5/2014
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4. How Japanese Animators Use Flash to Create Amazing TV Animation

Science Saru, the new studio started by Japanese directors Masaaki Yuasa and Eunyoung Choi, has shared a behind-the-scenes look at how they used Flash in the recent TV series "Ping Pong."

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5. Watch Glen Keane’s New Google Short ‘Duet’

Watch Glen Keane's new short "Duet" that he debuted this morning at the Google I/O developer conference.

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6. Animake It Software Allows Anyone to Make Animation—In One Minute

The world of animation software is dominated by a handful of industry-standard titles. However, the margins are dotted with more specialized pieces of software, often designed for animators who prefer to work outside the demands of studio production. One such program is Animake It, a piece of software that aims to provide an accessible animation experience that ties in with current trends in online content.

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7. Free tech learning resources – short list

screen shot from Chinese advanced email handout

I mentioned back in January that NYPL has said they were putting all of their handouts for their tech classes online. It took a while for them to get that sorted, but they’re online now and worth checking out. There is rarely any good reason to reinvent the wheel in tech instruction. While computers and the internet have changed a great deal, many old favorites like Mousercise still deliver. There are a lot of things people point to for good tutorials and lessons, but very few that have good information in a clear and easy to understand way. For anyone who is looking to actually spend money on tutorials, Lynda.com is the definite go-go. Otherwise the short list of worth-a-damn sites continues to be short.

If you’re on facebook there is a good group there that is low traffic where people regularly swap ideas for this sort of thing (or answer questions) called Technology Training and Libraries

2 Comments on Free tech learning resources – short list, last added: 5/29/2014
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8. Microsoft Aims To Please Artists and Creators with Surface Pro 3 Tablet/PC

Yesterday in New York City, Microsoft unveiled the Surface Pro 3, the latest iteration of its fully-featured PC/tablet with pressure-sensitivity and an abililty to run any PC-based creative software from Adobe's Creative Cloud suite to Toon Boom, Maya and ZBrush, to post-production filmmaker tools like Assimilate’s SCRATCH and RED’s CineX.

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9. A Filmmaker Tests Out The NFB’s $1 Animation App, StopMo Studio

The NFB StopMo Studio app for the iPad provides essentially everything you need to jump into creating an animated film. You won't have any issues getting comfortable with the user interface if you've worked with animation programs before, and it seems more than approachable for newcomers young and old. Once you open up the program, you're welcomed with a short and succinct tutorial that covers the basic tools, and then opens up to allow you to explore the rest of the options available.

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10. This Bear Animation Is Not Computer Animated

This short animation of a seemingly CG bear climbing stairs is garnering a lot of attention on the Internet because it's actually a CG bear printed as 3-D models and then animated in stop motion.

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11. Watch A Rare Demo of Pixar’s Animation System Presto

This is a rare demo of Pixar's proprietary animation system called Presto. The program was written originally for "Brave" and is being used on all of the studio's upcoming films. It offers animators a deep level of control within a real-time, interactive environment.

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12. Animation Paper Aims To Be Easy-to-Use Software for Drawn Animation

Danish animator and director Niels Krogh Mortensen is on a mission: to create "the world's most responsive, intuitive and powerful software for doing one thing, and one thing only: hand-drawn animation."

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13. The Revolution in Interactive Storytelling Has Arrived, and Surprise, Google Is Behind It

Last week, Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group released the second animated short, Buggy Night, in its Spotlight Stories, a series of interactive mobile-specific animated films available on Moto X phones. Like the first film in the series, Windy Day, which debuted last October, the new short relies on spatial awareness and the sensory inputs of a mobile device to create a distinctive storytelling experience. Readers would be warranted in expressing skepticism at the words ‘interactive’ and ‘animation’ being used in the same sentence. The concept has been touted often, yet rarely executed in a manner that suggests it could become a viable alternative to linear entertainment experiences. These shorts have finally proven, to me at least, that there is a promising future ahead for interactive animation and immersive worlds where multiple stories can unfold at the individual viewer’s pace, with no two viewing experiences alike. While it still requires some imagination to see where this could all go, and how it might eventually figure into our emerging augmented reality environment and mixed digital-physical world, the idea no longer seems as far-fetched and impractical as it once did. Before we imagine the possibilities, let’s look at the pathbreaking animated shorts that exist before us today. The stories of both Windy Day and Buggy Night are simple but effective ideas designed to explore the interactive concept: in one, a mouse loses his hat on a windy day, and in the other, a group of bugs attempt to hide from a hungry frog. Since most readers of this site will not have a Moto X readily available to experience these shorts, simply imagine that you are standing in the middle of an animated scene. The action takes place all around you in a 360 degree space. Anywhere you turn your phone—left, right, up or down—could potentially reveal something happening. The film’s running time depends entirely on how often you, the viewer, chooses to move your camera—the more you move it, the longer it takes to finish the story. This video gives a sense of the physicality of the viewing experience: The interactivity in these shorts not only feels natural, but adds immensely to the viewing experience. This success can partly be attributed to the amount of interactivity allowed to the audience. While control of the camera is ceded to the viewer, the overall narrative remains in the hands of filmmakers. It’s a careful balance between interactivity and linear storytelling that recognizes tried-and-true narrative structures can’t be reinvented—the only thing that changes is how we experience them. Over the years, we have moved from oral tradition to literary form, and finally, visual delivery systems like film and video. While each new mode of expression presents a distinct set of narrative possibilities, the underlying story form must remain intact, an idea heretofore not clearly acknowledged in interactive attempts. Google’s entry into interactive storytelling and immersive animation began almost accidentally with their purchase of Motorola Mobility in 2012. Eager to explore the untapped potential of phones as an experiential device, they launched an open-ended research group called Advanced Technology and Projects—ATAP for short—to foster innovation and develop next-generation concepts. Spotlight Stories is one of the ideas that has emerged out of ATAP, alongside complementary technologies like Project Tango. (Google sold Motorola a month-and-a-half ago, but as an acknowledgement of ATAP’s importance, the group was not part of the sale and remains a part of Google.) Google/Motorola also learned something that it took the computer animation industry decades to fully understand: if the creative potential of a technology is to be fully unleashed, creative people need to “challenge the technology,” as John Lasseter is fond of saying. Google hired incredibly qualified people to push the limits of interactive storytelling. The first two films have been directed by Jan Pinkava (creator and co-director of Ratataouille) and veteran animator Mark Oftedal (who animated on Toy Story and A Bug’s Life among other films). Another Pixar vet, Doug Sweetland (Presto), supervised the animation, and notable children’s book author/illustrator Jon Klassen (This is Not My Hat) styled the look of the shorts. Continuing this trend of working with A-list talents, another upcoming Spotlight short will be directed by Glen Keane. The Spotlight Stories aren’t just exploring new ways of telling stories interactively, they are also pushing forward the technological development of mobile devices. Google touts in their promotion of Spotlight Stories that mobile graphics processors now rival the capabilities of video game consoles such as the PS3 and Xbox 360, a fact that will come as a surprise to the average smartphone user who is accustomed to the primitive worlds of Candy Crush and Angry Birds. This dormant computational power is finally being used, and in turn, developed further to meet the demands of the Spotlight Stories. Among the numerous technological highlights, the shorts contain the first-ever real-time subdivision surfaces on a mobile device using Pixar’s open graphics standard, OpenSubdiv. Not so coincidentally, Windy Day’s director Jan Pinkava also directed the Oscar-winning Geri’s Game (1997), which was the first Pixar production to use subdivision. Stay tuned to Cartoon Brew, where next week we will dig more deeply into the creative and technological challenges of interactive storytelling in an interview with Jan Pinkava. (Disclosure: Google provided Cartoon Brew with Moto X phones to view the Spotlight Stories. The phones have been used for the sole purpose of viewing the shorts.)

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14. A Look at Rhythm & Hues’ Oscar-Winning Technology Voodoo

The Oscars just did a little segment on their Scientific and Technical Awards. Among the the winners of the Technical Achievement Award this year was Rhythm & Hues for its proprietary Voodoo software.

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15. Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet Review by Christy Karacas

Editor’s Note: Last Friday, we posted about how Microsoft has recruited Superjail! co-creator Christy Karacas to promote their Surface tablets. The video that Christy starred in was nicely produced, but noticeably short on details about how he uses it and what he thinks of it. Thankfully, Christy left a terrifically informative comment on that post in which he shared his thoughts about the Surface tablet. With his permission, we are republishing his review below. It’s particularly timely, too, since tomorrow in New York City, Microsoft will unveil the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets.

Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet Review by Christy Karacas

For people who want to know, I think it’s a great tablet and I have been using it very often during Superjail! season four production. I use it for sketching/thumbing/boarding on the go. The most important thing I’m looking for in a tablet is a natural drawing experience/interface. I use a Wacom Cintiq to make Superjail!, which is great in my opinion, but obviously that’s a big and powerful non-mobile workstation I can’t take with me.

If you download the Wacom driver for the Surface tablet, the pen pressure/sensitivity is great and I’ve had no latency issues—meaning you can draw very quick and fast which I like to do—and the line doesn’t lag behind the actual pen in your hand. This was a problem I had with previous tablets/laptops.

Prior to this, I owned a Toshiba Portege tablet PC, and used it often to thumb/board during season one. The pressure sensitivity on it kind of sucked and so did the speed, but I would still use it as an option when not in the office or out of town. After season one, I stopped using it. (It was also very heavy and huge by today’s standards…haha). I would only work at the office or home and if I thumbed outside of work, I would do it on paper and then re-draw it in Flash which was kind of a pain in the ass. But when boarding, I like to get away from the office sometimes. I love storyboarding in cafes or bars so I can let my mind wander, people watch, get ideas, etc. I work so often I find a change of workspace inspiring and necessary.

As far as ‘negatives,’ I honestly don’t have any. My biggest hurdle was getting used to Windows 8 as I have a Mac at work and still run Windows Vista at home. I wasn’t used to the ’tiles’ system that is the interface of Surface, but it was just a matter of getting used to it. There is an automatic brightness sensor so when I was drawing sometimes my hand would cover the tablet and the screen brightness would change, but I just disabled that setting so it’s not an issue.

I haven’t and don’t think I would use the Surface for full animation because of its screen size (being a tablet) but I wouldn’t really want to animate in a public space anyways. I would want to work in the quiet of my room or studio. But I do really like storyboarding/thumbnailing in active cafes/bars/even the subway-I don’t know why but I get really good ideas in the subway—and for that, the Surface is great. I boarded a huge chunk of the premiere of Superjail! season 4 on the airplane to San Diego Comic-Con. I was able to email the .FLA file to my storyboard team right on the plane directly from the tablet—super convenient and allows me to get work done, send it to the storyboard artists and keep production flowing while I’m away. The battery life also impressed me—better than my iPhone which I seem to have to charge twice a day.

I think iPads look really nice, but they don’t have the pen driver support, only those blunt ‘stylus’ type pen interfaces that I can’t stand. Also, the iPad can only run apps, not true software like Flash which I need to make Superjail! I know there are more and more tablets on the market these days so there are probably going to be lots of new options.

The Microsoft guys approached me and let me play with it, I loved it and agreed to do the video. Also I have to say that I am really sick of Mac constantly updating their OS. It’s really annoying, and for some reason I find Flash runs better on PC. My PC at home has NEVER crashed making this show—not once! But the Macs at work sometimes do crash when we have a really heavy file. Flash really wan’t designed to do this kind of animation, but that’s a whole other discussion.

So yeah, for directors and storyboard artists, or anyone who wants to sketch digitally away from their workstation with a really sensitive natural pen interface, the Surface has worked out really great for me and I love using it.

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16. Microsoft Recruits “Superjail!” Creator Christy Karacas To Sell Surface Tablets

Animators as spokespeople doesn’t happen often, but Microsoft is trying it out in anticipation of their launch of Surface Pro 2 tablets next week. To reach visual artists, they produced this online video with Superjail! co-creator Christy Karacas as its star.

0 Comments on Microsoft Recruits “Superjail!” Creator Christy Karacas To Sell Surface Tablets as of 9/20/2013 9:58:00 PM
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17. “The Animator’s Survival Kit” iPad App:  An Animation Teacher’s Review

As an animation professor at the School of Visual Arts, I try to keep abreast of all the latest animation how-to books. There are many books—excellent and otherwise—that are published regularly, but there is only one author who can tout having had close personal and professional relationships with such Golden Age greats as Milt Kahl, Grim Natwick, Art Babbitt, Emery Hawkins and Ken Harris, not to mention having won two Academy Awards. That animator is, of course, Richard Williams.

Williams’s indispensable The Animator’s Survival Kit is a book that everyone should already own.  It should be sitting next to your Illusion of Life, wherever you do your animation.  I no longer even list this as a recommended book on my syllabus because I expect students to already own it when they enter my classroom.  Thankfully, most artists starting animation school have picked up the book and have already begun applying the knowledge to their projects.

Then, there’s the 16-dvd set of the Animator’s Survival Kit in which Williams teaches a room full of staff at Blue Sky Studios. The $950 price tag on this set has made its amazing wealth of knowledge unattainable to most art students, enlightened amateurs, and even ordinary working professionals.  

The latest incarnation of the Animator’s Survival Kit is the iPad app, which sells for $34.99 at the iTunes store. The app, published by Faber & Faber, is an interactive blend of William’s excellent book and DVD set.  While the app doesn’t include the Blue Sky lectures/William’s dry erase board lessons,  it is much more personal in nature, with new clips of Williams speaking directly to the viewer. The app also includes the expanded edition of the book—a treat for all of us first edition book owners—with sections dedicated to animating quadrupeds and winged creatures, as well as extra animation exercises and personal anecdotes from Williams himself.

The app interface retains the homey look and feel of the original book, using Williams’s handwriting rather than a print typeface.  Each chapter is clearly laid out and accompanied by dozens of clips of animation exercises. One of the real highlights is the playback function available on all the animation exercises which allows the user to play back the animation frame-by-frame, at full speed, or to scrub back and forth through the action. Some of the exercises have an onion-skinning feature that allows the user to closely gauge each drawing in succession, guided by the animation’s motion charts.  

Completing the app is an extras section, showcasing both new and previously seen work by Williams.  The most intriguing is the nine-minute short film Circus Drawings that spans sixty years of Williams’ progress as a draftsman. Beginning as a montage of circus drawings by young Williams (oh, to draw like that at twenty-years-old!), the figures come to life by his contemporary hand.  It’s an unusual but fun film for any artist with an interest in visual progression.

While I highly recommend this app, I realize that not all students own iPads (or Apple products for that matter).  PC users are out of luck for now. Perhaps the next installment will address this discrepancy. For those who are unable to purchase the app, the traditional book still contains all the essentials of Williams’ advice, even if its format is not as glitzy.

The clarity, draftsmanship, and knowledge of Williams comes through in all three formats—book, DVD series and now, iPad app. Who knows what digital learning tools will come next, but Williams’ Survival Kit will continue to be the standard textbook for generations to come.

Purchase the Animator’s Survival Kit app at the iTunes store.


CELIA BULLWINKEL has worked on feature films (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Chicago 10, Hair High), TV shows (Little Bill, MTV’s Friday, Ugly Americans, Wonder Pets), and far too many commercial projects. “Alpha’s Bet,” her music video collaboration with visual artist and hip-hop pioneer Rammellzee, was exhibited in 2011 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She is a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts animation department, and teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s MFA Illustration program. Her first short film, Sidewalk, recently won first place for independent film at the ASIFA-East Animation Festival.

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18. How Etsy Is Using Vine and Stop Motion to Build Its Brand

Vine, Twitter’s mobile looped video app, is less than a year old and still remains a new frontier. Not everyone is sure how to use it and like most of the Internet, the common subject matter of Vines center around cats, babies and high school kids. For that reason, the people who are experimenting with the capabilities of Vine as a medium truly stand out.

Etsy has recently produced a handful of stop motion Vines that are not only fun to watch, they reinforce the DIY aesthetic that defines the online market’s brand. Etsy’s initial Vines were a product of Hack Week, an event where the company’s engineers are encouraged to abandon their regular work and focus on any project of their choosing. Nicole Licht and Clare McGibbon, one of Etsy’s in-house designers and support staff members, respectively, decided to take advantage of the event. “The goal for us during that week was to jump start Etsy’s participation on Vine, experiment, and collaborate across teams,” Licht told Cartoon Brew.

Even though the team had no experience in stop motion animation, they set out to make at least one video a day. Prior to each shoot, they sketched out their ideas and gathered craft supplies, but kept their agenda loose. “We found that improvising and seeing how the materials responded in the moment made the most sense,” said Licht. With just natural lighting, a lightweight tripod, and an iPhone mount, the process of making a single six second vine took anywhere between one and four hours. “We really had to just go for it once we started shooting,” added Licht. “With Vine, you either post or not. There are no editing or saving functions, so we never reshot.”

Few other companies, thus far, have discovered how to effectively use Vine. They could certainly take a lesson from Etsy, where employees are given the freedom to take new approaches and experiment with ideas and tools along the way.

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19. I’ve been making Primer jokes about the iPad ever since it appeared, but this beats all.

We may not be living in the Diamond Age quite yet, but Neal Stephenson’s Primer is here. My friend Andy Diggle (who’s the reason I read The Diamond Age in the first place) sent me this link about a learn-as-you-go software project influenced by (and named in honor of) The Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, that amazing smart-book device from Stephenson’s nanotech masterwork:

Ethiopian kids hack OLPC in five months with no instruction

“We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He’d never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android.”

“OLPC” stands for One Laptop Per Child:

The One Laptop Per Child project started as a way of delivering technology and resources to schools in countries with little or no education infrastructure, using inexpensive computers to improve traditional curricula. What the OLPC Project has realized over the last five or six years, though, is that teaching kids stuff is really not that valuable. Yes, knowing all your state capitols how to spell “neighborhood” properly and whatnot isn’t a bad thing, but memorizing facts and procedures isn’t going to inspire kids to go out and learn by teaching themselves, which is the key to a good education. Instead, OLPC is trying to figure out a way to teach kids to learn, which is what this experiment is all about.

OLPC created special learning software for the tablets in this project, specifically modeled on the Primer.

If this all reminds you of a certain science fiction book by a certain well-known author, it’s not a coincidence: Nell’s Primer in Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age was a direct inspiration for much of the OLPC teaching software, which itself is named Nell. Here’s an example of how Nell uses an evolving, personalized narrative to help kids learn to learn without beating them over the head with standardized lessons and traditional teaching methods…

(Read the rest of the article to see how it works.)

An excerpt from my 2010 booknotes on The Diamond Age:

Neo-Victorians, nanotech, and education: this novel had me at hello. Top-notch world-building; there’s a little dose of cyberpunk in the opening, with a ruffian named Bud getting himself fitted up with a skull gun that fires explosive bullets upon his mental command; and then we’re whisked off to New Atlantis/Shanghai, the home base of a thriving Neo-Victorian community, where the upper crust are Equity Lords (aristocrats by dint of their corporate ties) and the birthday entertainments involve creating fairylands that rise out of the sea for a day, thanks to the limitless possibilities of molecular manipulation. There is something delightful about this melding of Dickensian characters and futuristic tech.

One of the upper-crustiest of the Equity Lords is an elderly gent who, for all he esteems his phyle and works to protect and promote it, rues the loss of opportunity for young Neo-Victorians to experience character-building adversity. His adult children missed out on something important, he believes—after all, he himself grew up on an Idaho farm, was homeschooled until age fourteen, pulled himself up by his bootstraps and all that. He determines to offer his granddaughter an alternative to the soft Vicky upbringing, in which status and comforts are often taken for granted by those born and raised in the phyle. To this end, he hires a gifted techno-engineer, one John Hackworth, to create a sophisticated, interactive book-slash-computer, the Primer, which will provide his granddaughter with personalized instruction in academic subjects, ethics and morals, handcrafts, self-defense, computer programming—pretty much everything under the sun.

Hackworth rises to the challenge…Hackworth, who, as it happens, has a young daughter of his own. He attempts to procure a bootleg copy for four-year-old Fiona, and therein lies the tale. The illicit copy of the Primer goes astray and winds up in the hands of a young thete child—thetes belong to no phyle at all—named Nell. As in “little Nell”—a Dickensian waif full of pluck, growing up in dreadful circumstances in a cold, cruel world. If ever a child needed a Magic Book, it’s Nell. Well, and Pip, and David Copperfield, and Oliver Twist…but no, really, Nell’s in worse straits than all those lads (her mother, Tequila, has worse taste in men than David Copperfield’s mum), and we’re thrilled to see the Primer offer her some tools for digging her way out of the squalor.

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20. Activision Unveils Impressive Real-Time Rendering for Animated Characters

Video gameplay is about to get a lot more realistic. Game producer Activision unveiled this new demo yesterday at the Game Developers Conference. Uncanny or not, the progresss in computer animation has been remarkable. Real-time rendering techniques today look far more impressive than any rendering from a decade ago:

This animated character is being rendered in real-time on current video card hardware, using standard bone animation. The rendering techniques, as well as the animation pipeline are being presented at GDC 2013, “Next Generation Character Rendering” on March 27. The original high resolution data was acquired from Light Stage Facial Scanning and Performance Capture by USC Institute for Creative Technologies, then converted to a 70 bones rig, while preserving the high frequency detail in diffuse, normal and displacement composite maps. It is being rendered in a DirectX11 environment, using advanced techniques to faithfully represent the character’s skin and eyes.

More details on Jorge Jimenez’s blog.

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21. Artist of the Day: Mr. Doob

Mr Doob

Ricardo “Mr. Doob” Cabello is an innovator in using WebGL technology in modern web browsers to create advanced interactivity and real-time animation.

Mr Doob

WebGL is described on the technology page of one of the projects that he worked on as a technical director:

WebGL is a context of the HTML5 canvas element that enables hardware-accelerated 3D graphics in the web browser without a plug-in. In other words, it enables your browser to show some really beautiful visuals.

Mr Doob

Mr Doob

Mr Doob

That particular project (stills shown above) is an interactive music video for “Black” from the album ROME by Danger Mouse and Daniel Luppi, with Norah Jones on vocals. You can see a talk he gave about the creation of this video here. Notably this video also includes 2D animation from Anthony F. Schepperd, previously featured on Cartoon Brew here and here.

Mr Doob

Ricardo has a blog here where he shares things such as this valuable advice that applies to all creative freelancers. His Mr. Doob interactive portfolio is here which you should access with a modern browser such as Google Chrome to best enjoy all of his strange and cheeky web experiments.

Mr Doob

Mr Doob

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22. iPad and Projector Apps = Cool Learning

 iPad photoMy iPad and I are getting along effortlessly and now to make it even better our Texas library listserve has been touting the advantages of using Reflection to connect and use the iPad with a projector in our libraries. What? Did I need more reasons to love my iPad? We all know we can buy a VGA adapter (limited to a roving range of the length of cable) or use a product like Apple TV (wireless but expensive), but we want to be free and untethered and we want something inexpensive.  Reflection and AirServer seem to both hit the mark. They are still fine tuning some bugs, but I have high hopes for both of these products.


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23. How Giphy Plans to Transform Animated GIFs Into An Artform

When Jace Cooke and Alex Chung founded Giphy, they simply wanted a convenient platform for sharing and searching GIFs. But now, Giphy, which launched in Febrary, is reaching beyond its search engine origins and aims to serve as a tool to empower artists and animators.

The first round of features to roll out on Giphy over the coming month are built to serve GIF makers rather than consumers. Artists will have dedicated URLs, making their work easily accessible for fans. When embedded on another blog, each GIF will include a coded block that shows the creator’s name. That’s right, no more stumbling onto a great GIF on Tumblr and wondering who created it. “I want Giphy to be what Vimeo is for videographers or Soundcloud is for musicians,” co-founder Jace Cooke told Cartoon Brew.

Cooke invited several notable GIF makers to launch artist pages, including  animator Frank Macchia (see GIF below) and wildly popular Tumblr GIF artist Matthew DiVito (aka mr. div). The next step will be providing GIF makers with uncapped uploads—Tumblr, for example, has a maximum upload of 1 MB per GIF. Eventually, artists will have personalized dashboard with analytics for tracking where their GIFs are being shared. “I want to lend more credence to GIFs, give them a wider audience and open up the possibility of monetization for artists,” adds Cooke.

For Cooke there are two major questions going forward: For GIF makers, how can Giphy adapt to best serve their needs? For everyone else, how can Giphy encourage more people to try creating GIFs? Cook is turning to the animation community to find answers to these questions, particularly the latter. Many creative people who work in CGI are interested in GIFs, but they haven’t yet given it a shot. “There’s a learning curve,” Cooke says . “They understand the value and they’re excited about it, but they’re a little apprehensive.” Ultimately, Cooke hopes to see more animators embrace GIFs, which he describes as “animated trading cards.”

Even though there are many GIF repositories and search engines like GIFSoup, Tumblr, and Google’s new animated image search, Giphy is the first coherent attempt to elevate GIFs as an artform. “There is something really powerful about an art that is halfway between a photo and a video,” says Cooke. “GIFs are a legit medium, a form of expression that’s only going to grow.”

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24. Goodbye Storyboard Artists, Hello Amazon Storyteller

Amazon’s filmmaking arm Amazon Studios announced a new tool today that is designed to eliminate storyboard artists from the filmmaking process. Called Amazon Storyteller, the software lets scriptwriters convert their scripts into boards through an automated process.

“We’ve found that many writers want to see their story up on its feet in visual form but find it harder than it should be to create a storyboard,” said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios and a former Disney TV Animation exec. “Storyteller provides a digital backlot, acting troupe, prop department and assistant editor-everything you need to bring your story to life.”

The free online tool, which is currently in beta, works like this:

Storyteller begins by scanning a movie script that has been uploaded to Amazon Studios. It identifies the scenes, locations and characters from scene descriptions, and “casts” them from a library of thousands of characters, props and backgrounds. Filmmakers can recast or change locations, or they can upload their own images. Storyteller places the cast in front of the right background so that filmmakers can focus their time on the emotion and energy of scenes by using pan and zoom, changing the facial expressions and positions of characters, adding vehicles or props or adding captions with descriptions or additional dialogue. Once completed, the storyboard can be published on Amazon Studios where other users are able to view it and give feedback on the project.

Animation artists may be safe for now. The Amazon Storyteller FAQ explains that, “The Amazon Storyteller library of backgrounds, characters, and props currently works best with contemporary dramas or romantic comedies.” But people around the Internet are already envisioning more artistic uses for the software, like this idea from a commenter on Engadget: “Imagine. An illustrated comic of yourself and any given Sports Illustrated swimsuit model in your own porn story.”

(Thanks, James Gibson)

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25. Animography Aims to Bring Animated Typography to the Masses

Animography aims to make life a little easier by offering animated typefaces delivered in neatly organized After Effects files. The type foundry is the creation of Jeroen Krielaars, a graphic designer who runs the Amsterdam-based design studio Calango.

Animation and typography has always been a tricky combination. Hundreds of hours go into designing a family of type, a process that is, at times, highly exact. The moment you start toying with any typeface by scaling and adjusting the characters, you risk creating a warped graphic that doesn’t look quite right. For that reason, Animography should be on your radar. The typefaces offered on the site are scalable without any loss in quality.

What’s particularly promising about Animography is that it creates opportunities for graphic designers and animators to collaborate, experiment and build together. Currently, the site has teamed up with designer Derek Weathersbee, whose newly released typeface called Franchise is being animated one glyph (character) at a time by 110 different animators. In the challenge, each animator is given a single glyph to animate in a maximum of one second, 25 frames, and four colors. There have only been a handful of completed glyphs, but it promises to be a challenge worth keeping an eye on (check out animator Daniel Savage’s letter B submission—B is for Bouncy Beard—above).

Animography seems to have more plans in store, and is on its way to carving out a completely new niche. For more, check out Animography’s brand reel of animated typefaces from dead or fictional brands:

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