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By Scott Fegette | Sunday, July 20, 2014

Deconstructing Game of Thrones' Visual Effects

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It’s often said that visual effects only succeed when you don’t notice them. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” received a staggering 19 Emmy nominations in 2014, including Outstanding Special and Visual Effects. It’s no surprise, given the show’s beautifully integrated visual effects are largely responsible for immersing viewers into its fictional world of Westeros. German VFX house Mackevision recently published a video breakdown of its visual effects work on the show’s fourth season, and as stunning as it is, the FX techniques they employed to create the world of “Game of Thrones” aren’t as out of reach to mere mortals as you may think. First, watch the reel.

By Jason Baskin | Monday, May 05, 2014

Free Maya Character Rig: Mike and Tina

Mike and Tina - a free Maya character rig from Jason Baskin

Looking for a new customizable 3D character rig that includes both male and female options? I’ve got great news: Mike and Tina, my new Maya character rig, is now available for download. Mike and Tina is free for non-commercial use, and packed with options, including:

By Aaron F. Ross | Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Production rendering from the Maya Camera Sequencer

Production rendering with Maya's Camera Sequencer

Maya’s Camera Sequencer is an amazing tool for nonlinear editing and previsualization. It lets you create a cuts-only edit of multiple cameras and shots within a single scene, and render the edited sequence out to a Playblast. There’s just one catch: By default, the framing and aspect ratio of the exported sequence doesn’t match that of the cameras. I wasn’t able to cover this in my recent course Cinematography in Maya but in this article, I’ll describe how to work around the issue.

With the following steps, the Maya Camera Sequencer can render movies and image sequences with the same crop factor as the Batch Renderer. Depending on your needs, you may even be able to render final production animations using Viewport 2.0! Imagine that: You can stage, animate, and edit an entire movie within Maya, basically erasing the distinctions between pre-production, production, and post.

By David Mattingly | Friday, March 28, 2014

Digital Matte Painting is Just Good Painting!

Matte painting is just good painting!

Matte painting is meant to fool the viewer’s eye. It is a special effects technique that combines live-action footage with painted imagery that dates back to 1907— the very dawn of filmmaking. Mattes were originally painted on a sheet of glass, which was suspended in front of the camera. Today, with digital imaging, artists can work in Photoshop, and combine their paintings with a live-action plate in programs such as After Effects, Maya, or Nuke.

The tools and techniques I advocate aren’t just helpful for matte painting, but form the building blocks of all good paintings. If you want to learn the tools and techniques I use for creating a strong digital matte painting, here are five artistic principles to set you on the right path:

By George Maestri | Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Softimage fades away

Today is a sad day in the 3D community—Autodesk has stopped development on Softimage. They’ll continue to support the software for two years as the Softimage community transitions to Maya or 3ds Max.

The history of Softimage is interwoven with the history of 3D animation. The program goes back to the 1980s, when it became the first go-to software tool for character animation. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park? Animated in Softimage 3D. In fact, many early CG milestones used Softimage. In the mid-1990s, Microsoft purchased Softimage Co. and ported Softimage 3D to Windows. The software was then purchased by Avid Technology a few years later, where it became Softimage XSI, then sold again to Autodesk. And with every one of those changes, the software lost momentum; it never fully recovered.

By Ryan Kittleson | Thursday, January 16, 2014

Delicious like bacon: 3D printing comes to Photoshop CC

3D printing features in Photoshop CC 3D printing is a lot like bacon: Everyone’s talking about it these days—and it’s popping up in places you wouldn’t expect. The latest news is that Adobe Photoshop CC’s new release includes 3D printing tools.

I’m creating an upcoming course on these new features for lynda.com. As I started researching them, I was admittedly skeptical. Having worked with more advanced 3D software like Maya (check out my lynda.com course on modeling for 3D printing with Maya), I thought Photoshop’s previous 3D tools felt rather bolted-on. So it was with cautious optimism that I looked into Adobe’s plans. What I found was pleasantly surprising—including some features that have been lacking in more specialized 3D printing software.

By Chris Meyer | Friday, November 15, 2013

After Effects 12.1 Update

After Effects CC - Mask Tracker

Explore this course at lynda.com.

Adobe recently released a nice update to After Effects for Creative Cloud subscribers. Todd Kopriva of Adobe has provided an exhaustive list of what’s new in his blog. I’ve also added to my After Effects: Creative Cloud Updates course on lynda.com to demonstrate my favorites among the new features, including:

By George Maestri | Monday, September 16, 2013

3D printing comes to lynda.com

3D Printing with Maya and Shapeways

Explore 3D printing at lynda.com.

We’re proud to announce our very first 3D printing course: Ryan Kittleson’s 3D Printing on Shapeways Using Maya. 3D printing allows you to take almost any 3D object file and print it out in materials such as plastic, ceramic, and metal for use as prototypes, products, jewelry, or works of art. This technology has really caught on in the past few years, thanks to inexpensive 3D printers and online printing services.

Author Ryan Kittleson is an expert in 3D printing and his work has been featured in publications such as Boing Boing, Time, and others. His course covers the basic workflow needed to print 3D objects using the Shapeways online printing service, which can print objects in a variety of materials and colors. Using a 3D printing service is a great way to get your feet wet by creating a few models without the cost of buying a 3D printer.

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