CAME-TV ST- RONIN S Video Stabilizer

The CAME-TV ST has been specifically designed for the DJI RONIN S. The vest when used in combination with the support arm takes the weight off of the operator’s arm and transfers it to the body. The DJI RONIN S can certainly get heavy if you are running a small or mid sized digital cinema … Continued

The post CAME-TV ST- RONIN S Video Stabilizer appeared first on Newsshooter.

YUNEEC Partners with Leica to Release the Typhoon H3 Drone

YUNEEC has just introduced a new drone, the Typhoon H3 co-engineered with Leica. This new engine features six rotors and boasts an impressive 20MP 4K Leica camera that can capture up to 10-bit YLog footage. Let’s take a closer look at this powerful drone for photographers and filmmakers.


Image credit: YUNEEC

YUNEEC Typhoon H3 Features

The Typhoon H3 (codename YUNTYH3EU) is YUNEEC’s latest flagship six rotors drone. This sturdy beast weight close to two kilograms with the built-in camera, and can fly for up to 25 minutes. Despite its heavyweight, the aircraft can fly at an incredible speed of 72km/h (44mph). Also, more rotors mean more risks of failure. But if a rotor is damaged or fails, the Typhoon H3 automatically activates a 5-rotor mode to return home safely.


Image credit: YUNEEC

Like every modern drone nowadays, the Typhoon H3 is full of sensors to avoid obstacles and make your flight safer. Indeed, there are intelligent auto flight modes, similar to DJI’s ones, like Follow Me/Orbit/Journey/Curve Cable Cam.

Due to the camera’s position, which is pretty low, there are two landing gears to take off and land the Typhoon H3 on any terrains. These landing gear are retractable once the aircraft is in the air so the camera can freely turn 360 degrees around the engine.

To control the aircraft, the Typhoon H3 comes with a remote control that features a 7″ LCD screen, that can control the drone up to 2 km, and that runs on Android. So, the engine is excellent, but the power of this drone for filmmakers is in the camera, which is a first-time partnership between YUNEEC and Leica.


Image credit: YUNEEC

YUNEEC Partners with Leica

The Typhoon H3 comes with an ION L1 Pro camera engineered in partnership with Leica. This camera features a 1″ CMOS sensor that can take 20MP photos and record 4K videos at up to 60 frames per second. The six rotors aircraft should be quite stable, but the camera is mounted on a 3-axis gimbal for more stability. The lens of ION L1 Pro is a 23mm Leica Elmarit-D glass, with a maximum F/2.8 aperture.


Image credit: YUNEEC

The camera can shoot stills in DNG Raw. On the video side, the camera stores your recordings on an SD card in H.264 and H.265 codecs at a bitrate up to 100Mbit. Various picture profiles are available, including normal, vivid, WDR, B&W, and 10-bit Log/YLog. The 10-bit Log picture profile is the one that provides you with the broadest dynamic range possible.

According to YUNEEC, Leica developed the built-in software with features that “works now like a photographer is used to. Semi-Auto modes, ISO increments or EV intervals were made to feel like a regular camera.” Of course, you can set all your settings to manual if you want full control over your image.

Finally, there is an exciting feature that is called “Cruise Control” that keeps the speed of the drone constant. That way, you can concentrate on your shot and framing without having to worry about the drone trajectory or inconstant speed.

Pricing and Availability

The YUNEEC Typhoon H3 comes as a kit that contains the drone, the camera, the controller, and two batteries. It retails for $2599.00/2399€ and should start shipping by the end of October.

What do you think of the YUNEEC Typhoon H3? Do you think it could be an interesting contender to the DJI Mavic Pro 2? Let us know in the comments!

The post YUNEEC Partners with Leica to Release the Typhoon H3 Drone appeared first on cinema5D.

Magic Cinema ViewFinder – Free Director’s Viewfinder App for iOS & Android

Magic Cinema ViewFinder is an application for iOS and Android devices that makes location scouting a lot easier. Although there are already a couple of apps in the market that do the same thing, the Magic Cinema ViewFinder is free. Let’s take a closer look at it!

Location Scouting with Your Smartphone

Back in the days, I used to take stills with a point-and-shoot compact camera while doing location scouting. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still relevant today. But, we now all have in our pocket a smartphone that features a capable camera, and that can launch dozens of apps to make your life easier. I use tools like Sun Surveyor to know where the sun will be at any given hour. Also, Green Screener is an excellent app if the job requires green screen lighting. But one of the most useful to me is Cadrage, which is a viewfinder tool for location scouting.


Image credit: Holger Link

All these smartphones apps are great and make your location scouting task much more relaxed. Instead of carrying a light meter, a point-and-shoot camera, a compass and so on, you have everything in the palm of your hand.

Why You Should Use a Viewfinder App

A viewfinder app is a must-have tool. Inside the app, you start by selecting the camera/sensor size you will be using for your project. Once this is set, you can look at the shot with any focal length you want. It is especially useful in tight locations like houses and apartments. For example, the same shot with a 50mm lens will not look the same if you select a Micro Four Third sensor or a Full-Frame one in the app.


Image credit: Magic Cinema ViewFinder

These viewfinder apps help you choose the right lenses depending on the camera and location you’ll be using. Also, you can take stills and videos with any camera/lens combo to do a proper location scouting report later.

But, all these apps have something in common: they all cost a couple of dollars. Until Magic Cinema ViewFinder, which is free.

Magic Cinema ViewFinder Features

First, let’s start by saying that Magic Cinema ViewFinder is the “generic” app, that can emulate every Blackmagic Design camera available on the market. Other applications are available for Lumix, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Arri, and RED cameras. There are multiple versions of Magic ViewFinder available on the App Store and Google Play Store. I’d love to get a version that can do it all, instead of carrying multiple apps, but it will maybe come in the future.

All the Magic ViewFinder apps are free. It’s one of the only viewfinders of his kind that I know that is full of features, and that is free.


Image credit: cinema5D

Once you launch the app, the user interface is straightforward. In the middle, there is your shot. On the right side, there is a slider to adjust the focal length you are seeing. All the framing/settings controls are located around the frame, and they are intuitive.


You can adjust the white balance, focus, and exposure settings. Image credit: cinema5D

On the bottom left side, you can change your white balance, exposure, and focus settings. You can either set them to auto or switch to manual by tapping on it.


Image credit: cinema5D

In the top right corner, you can select the frame guide that you want: 16:9, 4:3, 3:2, 2:40, 5:4, and 1:1. If you want other options, you’ll have to buy the Premium version. We’ll discuss the Premium option later in this article.


Image credit: cinema5D

At the top of the screen, you can select a LUT. There are dozens of built-in LUTs like BMD Film emulation, KDX, Teal & Orange, Posterize and so on. Next to the LUT button, there is a little “Ref” option. This option let you choose a camera and focal length that you want to display in your frame, as a reference.


Image credit: cinema5D

Finally, if you click on the top right camera button, you open the main menu that shows you everything you can adjust. You can select your camera. Also, you can tell the app if you use an optical adapter like a Speedbooster, or if you are shooting with anamorphic lenses, and so on. The list would be too long, but all these features are available for free.


Image credit: cinema5D

Once all your settings are set, you can either take a picture or record a video by pressing the little capture button at the bottom right. Please note that the free version can only record up to 5 seconds of video, without sound. But, the primary purpose of Magic Cinema ViewFinder is to take stills.

When you take a picture, it is saved to your library. All your camera/lenses settings are written at the top of the image. This settings reminder is helpful when you’re back at the office.

Magic Cinema ViewFinder Premium

As I told you previously, 95% of the features are available for free. After some number of launches, in the iOS version, some banner advertising appears, but it’s not on the main screen, just contextually in between menu options when the user is about to choose a new frame guide, LUT or a camera. It’s a fair trade-off to an otherwise free app.

Otherwise, if you want to support Roman Medvid – the creator of the app – you can upgrade to the Premium version. Here are the extra features you get in the Premium Magic Cinema Viewfinder:


Pricing and Availability

The Magic Cinema ViewFinder is available for free on iOS and Android. It is available now. If you want to buy the Premium version, it’s $1.99/month or $6.99 for lifetime usage. I think that the Premium version is a bargain, in terms of comparison, the Cadrage app retails for $14.99.

What do you think of the Magic Cinema ViewFinder app? Do you use viewfinder apps on your smartphone? Let us know in the comments!

The post Magic Cinema ViewFinder – Free Director’s Viewfinder App for iOS & Android appeared first on cinema5D.

Skydio 2.0 – a DJI Mavic Pro 2 competitor?

The Skydio 2.0 is being marketed as an alternative to a DJI Mavic Pro 2. DJI has and continues to dominate the consumer and prosumer drone market. We have seen quite a few drone companies try and take them on with not much success. It will be interesting to see if the Skydio 2.0 gains … Continued

The post Skydio 2.0 – a DJI Mavic Pro 2 competitor? appeared first on Newsshooter.

Here is How Billie Eilish Danced on the Ceiling LIVE

SNL shares how they turned Studio 8H upside-down for Billie Eilish’s live performance.

Billie Eilish’s debut SNL performance set the internet ablaze last Saturday night during the premiere of the show’s 45th season.

At the start of her hit tune “bad guy,” there were very few indications that something unique was brewing, despite a few camera shakes and a couple of nervous cheers from the audience. But then Billie proceeded to dance on the walls and the ceiling in what is believed to be the first performance of its kind on live television.

Besides a brief look at the camera rig at the tail end of Saturday’s performance, few secrets were given away on how SNL pulled off the live Fred Astaire inspired scene. But today, Saturday Night Live finally lifted the curtain on the historic Studio 8H performance by sharing a video on how they achieved the feat, including Billie’s original filmed proposal (complete with a tissue box) and rehearsals with the camera rig, which was attached directly to the moving set to create the illusion.

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Netstor NA622TB3 – World’s First Thunderbolt 3 External M.2 SSD Storage with Built-in PCIe Switch

If you need extremely fast read and write speeds while on the go than the new Netstor NA622TB3 enclosure may be what you need. The NA622TB3 is the World’s first Thunderbolt 3 external enclosure that lets you use M.2 SSD drives rather than spinning disks or SATA SSD drives. Using NVME SSD drives, which currently … Continued

The post Netstor NA622TB3 – World’s First Thunderbolt 3 External M.2 SSD Storage with Built-in PCIe Switch appeared first on Newsshooter.

A Warning About Film Aggregators & the Future

A Warning About Film Aggregators & the Future Joe Dain from Terror Films reached out to me to share his warning about film aggregators and what the downfall of Distribber means to the indie film community in the future. Please read below. Dear Aggregators & Fellow Distributors, As many of you have likely already heard, Go…

The post A Warning About Film Aggregators & the Future appeared first on Indie Film Hustle®.

Epson reveals SureColor P7570, P9570 wide-format printers that offer ‘museum quality’ prints

Epson has expanded its SureCore P-Series line of printers with the new wide-format SureColor P7570 and SureColor P9570 models offering 24in and 44in print sizes, UltraChrome PRO12 pigment ink, and PrecisionCore MicroTFP printhead tech. Epson’s Reed Hecht calls the P7570 and P9570 its ‘most advanced printers to date.’

Both printer models feature dedicated nozzles for Matte and Photo Black ink, which eliminates ink switching and improves overall printing speeds. According to Epson, the new 6.6cm (2.6in) PrecisionCore MicroTFP printhead combined with the new 12-color UltraChrome PRO12 pigment ink enables these models to print up to 2.4 times faster than the previous models.

Other features include a new print mode called Black Enhanced Overcoat offering improved DMAX for what Epson says is better sharpness and wider contrast ratio on glossy prints, as well as a 4.3in customizable color touchscreen, support for the optional Epson SpectroProofer, a built-in LED light for viewing prints as they’re printing, and a sealed roll media door designed to better protect against dust.

Talking about what users can expect from these two models is Wilhelm Imaging Research director of research Henry Wilhelm, who said:

Preliminary data for the Epson 12-color UltraChrome PRO12 pigment inks in the new SureColor P7570 and P9570 create stunning museum-quality prints with WIR Display Permanence Ratings that will equal or exceed the ratings achieved by the current UltraChrome HDX inks of up to 200 years for color prints and up to 400 years for B&W. Prints framed with UV-absorbing acrylic – and those displayed under LED illumination – will achieve significantly higher ratings.

Epson plans to showcase its new printers from October 3 to 5 at PRINT19 in Chicago. Both models will launch in December at around $4,695 USD (P7570) and $6,595 (P9570).


Action packed first trailer for the new movie by Michael Bay, 6 UNDERGROUND!

The VFX are made by:
Industrial Light & Magic (VFX Supervisor: Jason Snell)
Scanline VFX (VFX Supervisor: Jan Krupp)

Director: Michael Bay
Release Date: December 13, 2019 (Netflix)

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2019

The post 6 UNDERGROUND appeared first on The Art of VFX.

“The Tapes were Sticking Together When I Found Them”: Asif Kapadia on Diego Maradona, Digitizing U-Matic and Mindhunter

The greatest soccer player of his time, Diego Maradona was also the sport’s highest-paid athlete until he was forced out of competition due to his criminal connections and substance abuse problems. Director Asif Kapadia built the HBO Sports release Diego Maradona from over 500 hours of archival footage, much of it never seen by the public. After a theatrical run for Oscar consideration, Diego Maradona is now screening on HBO. The documentary focuses on Maradona’s years in Naples, where he led the Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli team to its first league championship. A native of Argentina, Maradona also played in […]

Microsoft Unveils a Slew of New Surface Devices (and They’re Kind of Mindblowing)

Microsoft unleashed a hoard of exciting new Surface goodies, including both a tablet and smartphone with the same foldable dual-screen design.

As expected, Microsoft unveiled a bevy of new Surface devices at today’s big event in New York City, including the Surface Laptop 3, the Surface Pro 7, Surface Pro X, and Surface Neo tablets (the latter of which is foldable), the Surface Duo smartphone, and Surface Earbuds.

Let’s take a look at each offering, including tech specs, pricing, and availability. Or, if you’ve got an hour and a half to spare, you can watch the event in its entirety below:

Surface Laptop 3

The new Surface Laptop 3 is was designed not only to be sleek and lightweight but powerful for all types of users. Microsoft improved its speed and performance, ramped up its battery life, and included best-in-class graphics. The Surface Laptop 3 now comes in two sizes, 13.5″ and 15″, and offers two types of keyboard finishes.

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“We Have to Start Making the World that We Want to Live In”: Gordon Quinn and Julia Reichert in Conversation

[The following conversation was provided by Kartemquin Films.] This October 29 at the 2019 Empowering Truth Benefit Luncheon, Kartemquin will honor documentary trailblazer Julia Reichert with the inaugural Empowering Truth Award. The Empowering Truth Award recognizes the extraordinary accomplishments of an individual or organization whose work has made a significant contribution to social issue storytelling or has strengthened the landscape of the field in ways that foster diversity and empower marginalized perspectives. For nearly 50 years—since the release of her groundbreaking debut Growing Up Female in 1971 —Julia Reichert has consistently championed the unsung, fought racial and gender discrimination, and laid […]

Duet Display adds support for turning Android tablets into secondary displays

Duet Display, the software that was launched as a way to turn an iPad into a secondary Mac display, has launched support for Android. The new Duet Display for Android app enables users to turn an Android smartphone, tablet, or Chromebook into an extra display for use with a PC or Mac computer, a feature that is particularly useful when working outside of the office.

Apple made the Duet’s main product defunct with the launch of its Sidecar feature, which now directly offers a way for using an iPad as a secondary Mac display. Users had anticipated an eventual arrival of Duet Display for Android given the sudden change in its primary market.

As with iPad, Android and Chromebook users can turn their devices into secondary displays for a main PC or Mac computer by connecting the two with a USB cable. Users must install the free Dual desktop client on their computer and the Duet Display Android app on their supported secondary device.

Duet supports gestures and touch control, enabling users to scroll and zoom, among other things, directly on the secondary device. The Duet Display for Android app costs $19.99 USD, but is temporarily discounted on the Google Play Store at $9.99 USD.

Instagram’s New ‘Restrict’ Tool Lets You Shadow Ban Trolls and Bullies

After first revealing the feature in July, Facebook-owned photo sharing behemoth Instagram has officially released a shadow-banning feature, called Restrict, to all of its users today.

Restrict gives Instagram users who are dealing with trolls or bullies a third option that’s not quite as obvious as reporting or blocking someone. It’s being positioned as an anti-bullying tool that designed to “quietly protect your account while still keeping an eye on a bully.”

You can restrict an account by going to their profile or swiping left on one of their comments. Once restricted, only they will see comments the that they post, and they’ll no longer be able to see when you’re active online. You won’t receive notifications when a restricted account comments on your photos, but you will be able to see that they commented, check the content of their comments, and potentially approve their comments for public viewing one at a time.

DMs, meanwhile, will automatically be sent into the Message Requests folder, and the users who are Restricted will not be able to see when you’ve read their message.

The feature is rolling out now, and should be live in your Instagram app on both iOS and Android as soon as you’ve updated to the latest version. Whether or not it will actually help to improve Instagram’s purported negative effects on mental health … that’s yet to be seen.

Photographer’s iPhone Recorded Its Own Fall from Airplane Over Iceland

While on an aerial photo tour over the Icelandic wilderness late last year, photographer and pilot Haukur Snorrason dropped his iPhone 6s Plus out of the plane’s window and onto the tundra below. 13 months later, the phone was recovered, revealing a video of its own fall.

Fortunately for Snorrason (and the smartphone) he was only flying about 200 feet above the rivers below when the wind ripped the iPhone from his grip, but he still gave up the phone for dead. It may have landed in one of the overflowing glacial rivers below, and besides, what phone survives a 200-foot fall? Well, he shouldn’t have given up so easily.

13 months later, Snorrason received a phone call from a group of hikers who found his phone. They were able to trace it back to him because it still works, and showed up as “Haukur’s iPhone” when they plugged it into a computer. What’s more, it turns out the phone had recorded its own fall.

Snorrason tells The Next Web that he believes the phone survived because it landed in a patch of thick moss, face down. The moss—which can get up to 30cm thick in this area—cushioned the fall, and the case then protected the phone from 13-months of Icelandic weather.

But it didn’t just survive, it’s almost entirely funcitonal. The only issue the old iPhone 6s Plus has after all this time is that the microphone doesn’t seem to work. “I can still go on the Internet, I can send photos and video like the one of the fall,” he tells TNW. “The only real damage is that I can make calls but the other persona can’t hear me.”

Check out the video above to see the phone’s “fall from grace.” And if you want to join Snorrason on an Icelanding photo tour of your own, head over to his website here.

(via National Post)

From boring to stunning: This is how to replace the Sky in Luminar 4

If you see the image on top I have a hard time to think this has anything to do with real photography anymore. Luminar 4 (all info here) with the new AI engine will allow you to create stunning pics…

The post From boring to stunning: This is how to replace the Sky in Luminar 4 appeared first on sonyalpharumors.

CARNIVAL ROW: Max Riess – VFX Supervisor – Pixomondo

Max Riess began his career in visual effects there are more than 10 years at Pixomondo. He has worked on many projects such as HUGO, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, GAME OF THRONES and IRON SKY 2.

What is your background?
I started out as a 3D generalist about 12 years ago for Pixomondo – Commercials in Frankfurt. After a couple of years, the company’s scope of work changed more to feature films and I got interested in the possibilities of compositing. In 2012 I moved to Los Angeles to focus more on matte painting, look development and compositing. Three years later, I moved back to Germany with my family and have been working as a VFX Supervisor for Pixomondo Frankfurt since.

How did you and Pixomondo get involved on this show?
Lea Prainsack, VFX Producer and Betsy Paterson, VFX Supervisor on CARNIVAL ROW, Season One, had just started pre-production and shot stunt tests to figure out how the fairy wings should behave in flight. They were looking for a VFX house with an experienced flight animation team and invited us to join. Even though we gained a lot of experience with wings over the years with Daenarys dragons on GAME OF THRONES, we quickly realized that fairy wings work very differently than dragon wings! We did a lot of research, presented first flight cycle render tests and concept work to Betsy and Lea, and then they placed a large part of the wing work with Pixomondo.

How was the collaboration with VFX Supervisor Betsy Paterson?
I enjoyed working with Betsy Paterson very much. She has a specific idea of what she expects in a shot and for the overall look of the show. From the beginning, she gave us a good understanding of the world of CARNIVAL ROW, while still leaving space for the team and I to contribute our creativity. Considering the complexity of the shots and the high quality level, it was a pretty smooth ride and fantastic overall experience.

In the midst of working on the re-shoot material, Betsy had to leave for her new show, handing the remaining work over to Todd Shifflett. Even though we were working on one of the most challenging sequences at that time, they made the transition very easy with a well-coordinated turnover. The rest of the show was handled graciously by Todd for which we are very thankful for.

What was their expectations and approach about the visual effects?
One of their main goals was finding the right balance in CG effects to achieve the realism needed. Seamless integration of CG elements was crucial. All of the set work was very well organized. We always had a lot of reference material like chrome ball, clean plates and light stand-ins with prop wings at hand. Their art department created very elaborated production artwork which gave us tons of inspiration and ideas.

How did you organize the work with your VFX Producer?
Pixomondo VFX Producer Mona Mohr and I have been working together for several years now so there is a good sense of understanding between us. I oversee the creative direction and the technical side, while she deals with the timing, crew management and everything related to the budget.

How did you split the work amongst the Pixomondo offices?
Frankfurt was the lead facility. Since we have worked on a lot of creature assets in the past, our team was ready to put its knowledge into the fairy wings. The groundwork on asset and animation was done here and then shared with some of the other branches. The Toronto team was led by Bojan Zorico and Celina Zoleta, while the Stuttgart crew was supervised by Julian Lojek and Sebastian Meszmann.

They took on full sequences with wings and set extensions. They all did amazing work and brought in the individual strengths of their teams. This is one of the reasons why we decided to split the big aerial fight sequence above the roof tops in Episode 3. It has been a shared venture between Stuttgart handling the full CG environment and Frankfurt creating the animation and final compositing.

What are the sequences made by Pixomondo?
We worked on all episodes and did mostly wing replacement or enhancement. In a couple of shots we did some CG set extensions as well. The sequences include the library environment in Tirnanoc, most brothel interior shots, the wings of the dead fairy, Philo’s baby wings, and the big aerial fight over the rooftops, just to name a few.

How did you work with the art department about the Faerie wings?
The art department sent us a lot of reference material and as a starting point we received hires scans and texture photography. The prop wings looked magnificent and convincing in a lot of shots, but had their limit when it came to action shots or special abilities, like the fluorescence. 

Can you explain in detail about the design and creation of the wings?
The fairy wing asset was initially developed by Pixomondo and shared with the other vendors on the show, who adapted it for their own pipelines.

We started out with basic 3D sketches and concept artwork even before we received the hires prop scans. We spent a lot of time researching animal wings in nature. One of the biggest issue was the scale. A dragonfly has very filigree wings, which we needed to modify in order to carry a human-sized creature convincingly. Some of the first models had wings in a more realistic proportion but that created massive problems in the way they were supposed to fold and caused an inconsistency with the wings on set. 

In the design process we spent a lot of time thinking about the anatomy of the fairy wings. The first version had more bone and skin in it. Later, we developed a look closer to insects with very flexible wings that can go from limb to solid. This way we were able to blend CG wings seamless into the rubber prop wings which affected the way we animated them. 

How did you create the various shaders and textures?
We used Mari for the texturing and Zbrush for most of the surfacing. The base was done with classic texture work but there are some procedural shaders on top for further breakup and detail. The shading was done in Arnold. First we created one main shader and then we produced variations. Some of the later close-up shots required more detail, which was added in another layer of micro detail displacement and further texture detail in the areas that were needed. In addition, we set up a couple of extra render passes for reflection with iridescence shaders to get additional shimmer on the wings later in compositing.

The wings are translucent. How does that affects your work?
For some of the close-up shots we used a shader model with a lot of sub-surface scattering and different breakup maps for the individual cells, giving the wing a nice look of organic complexity. As a result the render times were quite expansive for a full 4K image. Whenever we had wings in higher frequency we rendered a less expensive transmission shader and controlled the needed amount of light scattering in compositing. In some cases we had to cheat the transmission manually to get a more visible shape in high frequency shots against bright backlight.

Can you tell us more about the glowing aspect during the sex scenes?
This one was a bit tricky and is probably the sequence that went through the highest amount of iterations. It was important to get the right balance and to avoid a cheap and unrealistic look. One of the major inspirations were deep sea fish and jellyfish. We created a couple of extra geometry inside the wings that were able to illuminate inside the cells. It took us quite a while to get the right pattern and speed.

How did you manage the challenges for the connection of the wings and the characters?
Technically this was the most complex part on the wing asset. We did an extensive body track and rotomation. We have developed a couple of tools that allowed the animators to bring in the wing rig and snap it automatically to the tracked wing position marker. Some shots had an extra CG back patch to integrate the wings on bare skin.

Can you explain in detail about the wings animations?
Especially time consuming was finding the right speed. The highest frequency that we used has around 4 full flaps per frame using about 24 sub-steps between each frame. We had to come up with new tools and changes in our animation and rendering pipeline.

Eventually our Animation Lead Philipp Winterstein created a motion library of wing cycles with different flap rates and styles. We also differentiated between male and female flight cycles.

Our Lead Rigger Johannes Wolz has a lot of experience rigging wings and creatures. The wing rig is very versatile and able to adapt for different kind of marker positions and body sizes. Each wing can be scaled and formed individually and a second level of deformers allow for all kind of more complex shaping actions. This was needed for a couple of shots where we had special interaction with the wings, like wings unfolding or someone grabbing and touching them. The goal was to achieve an organic cloth/skin feeling without time consuming simulation and keeping creative control.

Can you elaborate about the big fight sequences over the roofs?
This might be the most complicated sequence we worked on. I find it always difficult to transform a full greenscreen set to a 100% believable environment. We wanted the whole sequence to feel very dynamic with a frantic camera style supporting the “life or death” nature the fight. The wing animation is mostly very high frequent with a lot of subtle changes in speed and angle. A couple of shots forced us to re-project the actors to get rid of the feeling of having them glued to invisible ropes and give them weight shift coherent to the wing cycles.

Pixomondo Stuttgart handled the full CG environment. They started out with concepts and blockings, for all different types of houses and street assets. We used an aerial map for the art department to divide the city in blocks and create a rough street map. To create a diversity we gave the districts specific purposes. In the beginning we start near the river across the rich quarters, then we fly over Carnival Row and the adjacent industrial quarters with high chimneys and factories, ending up in a big, old backyard.

Which sequence or shot was the most challenging?
I think the aerial fight sequence between Vignette and Hamlyn due to the complexity of the shots. The stunt team on set did a fantastic job with the rope work on set, but the very dynamic camera work was a challenge for most of the VFX elements. Paintout and rotomation were very time consuming and of course bringing all the elements together. For one shot we had to create a full CG double of Hamlyn falling into the courtyard. 

Is there something specific that gives you some really short nights?
In my opinion we handled the project quite successfully with a minimal amount of long hours. There was one shot in the brothel with a fairy lifting off during intercourse, that turned out much more difficult than expected. It was one of the earlier shots that gave us a bit of headache with getting the wings attached to the body. The shot was very long, almost 600 frames, and had flickering lights from several light sources, which made the paintout and CG integration very time consuming. 

What is your favorite shot or sequence?
I can’t really decide. Even though the major focus of our work has always been on wings, the sequences and shots have all been quite different. 

For the emotional effect and the mystery, I really liked the library scenes. They really give us a glimpse into the magical world of the fairies that is hidden to the human eye. From the technical aspect my favorite of our sequences was the fight above the city. It was very demanding and the most complex shots we have done on the show so far.

What is your best memory on this show?
I had a lot of great experiences. One specific moment was when we changed the way we animated the wings. I was sitting in dailies looking at new render tests that showed for the first time how we solved the High Speed Frequency Problems.

How long have you worked on this show?
Long… almost 2 years. We started in September 2017 with first tests for the CG wings and completed the last shot in June 2019.

What’s the VFX shots count?
268 shots.

What was the size of your team?
At peak times about 90 people worked on the show simultaneously. Due to the long production time the team changed quite a bit over those two years. In total around 200 people spreading over 4 facilities worked on CARNIVAL ROW.

What is your next project?
I am not allowed to say at the moment!

What are the four movies that gave you the passion for cinema?
There are a ton of movies that inspire me, but if I had to pick: JURASSIC PARK, BLADE RUNNER, STAR WARS and ALIEN.

A big thanks for your time.

Pixomondo: Official website of Pixomondo.

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2019

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The Palace of Versailles: going behind the scenes of a VR production

Palace of Versailles: going behind the scenes of a VR production

Never a 3D model will replace the emotion of actually stepping into the monument, but the new app “VersaillesVR: The Palace is Yours”, gives users a new way to explore parts of the majestic place.

A private virtual tour of the former home of French royalty, “VersaillesVR: The Palace is Yours”, is a tour that invites you to see the Palace both during opening hours and under the light of chimney fires. Being able to wander through the different rooms without crowds of tourists, with the ability to see paintings, statues, exquisite furniture and other works of art without having to fight for space, is a bonus that, even if you’ve visited Versailles, you’ll appreciate.

This invitation to visit Versailles is FREE, all you need is a VR headset. Yes, it is possible to watch the app on a flat screen, but believe me, nothing is as exciting as using a Virtual Reality headset (Valve Index, HTC Vive or Oculus Rift), which transports you, not into a 360 degree flat experience, but a real 3D tour developed by Google Arts and Culture and makemepulse and published by the Château de Versailles. One word of caution: you need a powerful computer to view the experience. Windows 10 64bit, an Intel i5 6600K, Nvidia GTX 1070ti and 20GB of available space are recommended.

Almost touch masterpieces with your nose

Some of the first comments about the app point to the resolution, which could be better. Well, there is something that can be done, if you’re familiar with your VR headset: use super sampling, which creates a larger image, with more resolution, that is then sent to the VR display. On the Oculus Rift, I use the free tool OTT – Oculus Tray Tool, to create a profile for each app I want to run with super sampling, also controlling, from the app, how the CPU is used. That will give you some extra detail.

True, “VersaillesVR: The Palace is Yours” is not a high resolution experience, but there are some surprises, as the level of detail you can go when looking at the paintings. In fact, Google used its Art Camera to capture the detail. As the engineer Ben St. John, from the Google Cultural Institute wrote back in 2016, “so much of the beauty and power of art lives in the details. You can only fully appreciate the genius of artists like Monet or Van Gogh when you stand so close to a masterpiece that your nose almost touches it”. Well, that’s exactly the type of experience you get here, a whole new way to discover the paintings at the palace, something that is not even possible to do during a regular visit to Versailles.


Palace of Versailles: going behind the scenes of a VR production

A partnership started 7 years ago

The Google partnership with the Palace of Versailles  goes back to 2012, when the Palace History Gallery opened (June 14, that year). As a prologue to the visit to the State Apartments, eleven rooms explain to visitors the richly varied functions of the places they are about to explore. The visit combines the presentation of the collections of Versailles with physical scale models and striking 3D reconstructions.

Google and the Château de Versailles have worked together for some years now, and this new VR tour is the result of that cooperation. The experience is not perfect, the control and locomotion system could be better, but the chance to “be there”, to see objects close and move around them, will, if the theme interests you, make for an enjoyable experience. Catherine Pégard President of the Palace of Versailles says that the palace “has always been an incredible place to visit. Today, opening the doors of Versailles to the world means opening them virtually, too.”

Palace of Versailles: going behind the scenes of a VR production

The new app, “a technological first in the cultural world”, says Catherine Pégard, takes visitors on a virtual reality tour of the Royal Grand Apartments, the Chapel and the Opera. To recreate the palace,  photogrammetry was used, with 132 thousand images captured over a two week period. Then the technology, which reconstructs three-dimensional models of objects and landmarks from two-dimensional photographs, made the magic.  Add the tour guide and the support texts and you’re about to enter a unique experience.

Try the night mode when in Versailles

“VersaillesVR: The Palace is yours” offers you a unique visit of the palace built by Louis XIV. Alone, and free to discover the works in the most emblematic rooms, immerse yourself fully in the Palace of Versailles. The King and Queen’s State Apartments are all yours, plus other locations besides… Climb onto the stage in the Royal Opera House, draw up close to the high altar in the Royal Chapel sculpted by Corneil Van Clève in the 18th century, and discover the Hall of Mirrors, one of the most iconic places. Tapestries, paintings, ceilings, sculptures and furniture, everything is within reach of your controller to grant you unlimited and privileged access to the treasures of Versailles. For a more intimate experience, switch to night mode and explore the Palace by the light of chimney fires.

The President of the Palace of Versailles says the new app is “an invitation to discover the secrets of Versailles, and a magnificent sneak peek for those who might plan to visit in person. Though nothing will ever replace the emotion of actually stepping into the Palace, we hope this visual immersion might inspire you to do just that.” In fac, the VR tour can be the start of a never ending exploration, as the Palace History Gallery website offers much more information you may want to read. Maybe in preparation of a visit the the real thing.

Versailles has always interested creators

In fact, discovering a place before visiting it in person can be an asset. Back in the mid 90s I wrote a review of a 3D adventure game, developed by Cryo Interactive Entertainment, and published by Cryo, Canal+ Multimedia and the Réunion des Musées Nationaux. The title was Versailles 1685 or Versailles: A Game of Intrigue, a story that used Versailles as background. The title was a commercial success, and my newspaper editor at the time acquired it for his son, a student who was going to visit Versailles during a school trip. The 3D adventure gave him a knowledge of the palace his classmates did not have, so everybody, even his teachers, were surprised. It explains why the title is used in French schools to teach History.

I tell the story here because it reveals how 3D, and now VR, demonstrate a continuity in the evolution of tools used to explore the world around us. Both use the same base techniques, photography and or video, and while the end result may have changed, the goal – to share culture and information – is the same. To see the video with the making of of Versailles 1685, follow the link. It’s time well spent, believe me!

Experience Versailles, one more VR tour to see

Versailles 1685 was followed by Versailles II: Testament of the King a video game released in 2001, another 3D game created with Cryo’s game engine, Omni3D. The French company, responsible for the creation of titles based in Philip K. Dick (Ubik) or Philip José Farmer (Riverworld)  novels and also titles based in the tridimensional recreation of places, from the Ancient Egypt to China under the Qing Dynasty, is somehow mirrored in the experiences followed by a new French company, makemepulse, developers of “VersaillesVR: The Palace is yours”, but also of another title, with VR support, launched in 2018, “Experience Versailles”, which invites you to live two historical events that took place at the Palace of Versailles : the visit of the siamese ambassadors during Louis XIV’s reign, and the Yew Tree Ball, organized by Louis XV.

“Experience Versailles”, also published by the Château de Versailles, can be considered as a first essay from where the team moved to offer “VersaillesVR: The Palace is yours”. The title is, again, compatible with Valve Index, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift VR headsets, and is free to download from the Steam platform. A Windows 10 64 bit PC is needed, and from a Intel i5 6600K to a Nvidia GTX 1080, the recommended specifications are a clear indication of how much VR needs a powerful machine.

The two Virtual Reality titles, plus the 3D games using Versailles as background, are not only important to the general public, but also to anyone interested in exploring the production side of this type of material. The information made available and the “making of” of both the VR title and 3D game point to the specific problems posed by these reconstructions, either for fictional narrative or real representation of the spaces to audiences searching for other forms of seeing content.

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