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“It’s a Movie About LA and Driving in LA — When You Could Actually Drive in LA”: Production Designer Barbara Ling Recreates the Open Streets of 1967 LA for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood’s production designer Barbara Ling built the lurid worlds of the most perverted Batman movies: Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, where Uma Thurman (as Poison Ivy) strips out of a pink gorilla suit while golden Tarzans in table cloths swing from vines and lay belly down to form a human path for her to walk on. I’d be lying if I told you D.P Stephen Goldblatt’s close ups of Batman and Robin’s rubber derrieres and armor nipples haven’t been secured into an easily accessible shelf at the top of my memories, which […]

“…It’s a movie about LA and driving in LA — When You Could Actually Drive in LA”: Production Designer Barbara Lee Recreates the Open Streets of 1967 LA for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood’s production designer Barbara Ling built the lurid worlds of the most perverted Batman movies: Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, where Uma Thurman (as Poison Ivy) strips out of a pink gorilla suit while golden Tarzans in table cloths swing from vines and lay belly down to form a human path for her to walk on. I’d be lying if I told you D.P Stephen Goldblatt’s close ups of Batman and Robin’s rubber derrieres and armor nipples haven’t been secured into an easily accessible shelf at the top of my memories, which […]

Cutting on the Bias: Abel Ferrara Collaborator Frank DeCurtis

With a storied, diverse career, Frank DeCurtis has been a journeyman in the arts for over four decades. His background in performance, casting, fashion, props, set decoration and production design led him to collaborate with Abel Ferrara as a producing and creative partner for a dozen projects spanning more than 18 years. While much has been made of their sojourn abroad in the wake of 9/11, DeCurtis’s perspective has rarely been articulated in print. Filmmaker spoke to DeCurtis in downtown Manhattan about his trajectory, how an artist can effect an impact in many fields, and the inherent challenges to creating […]

Cartoon Animator 4 and Facial Mocap: real time animation for anyone

Cartoon Animator 4 and Facial Mocap: real time animation for anyone

For those dealing with extreme deadlines and limited manpower, Reallusion introduces Cartoon Animator 4 and Facial Mocap Plug-in, to simplify and fasten the whole animation production.

Reallusion launches Cartoon Animator 4 (formerly CrazyTalk Animator), the complete professional 2D character system, and it’s new Facial Mocap Plug-in (Motion LIVE 2D) which allows users to animate characters with their own facial expression in real-time. In the last decade,  says the company, Cartoon Animator has been widely used by million subscriber YouTube channels to online businesses, graphic designers, to marketers and award-winning directors.

“Cartoon Animator 4 is one of the most accessible 2D character design and animation tools in the current market for both entry and professional users.” said John C. Martin, VP of Product Marketing, Reallusion. “ CTA 4 is a complete 2D character system with tools to design and animate in a new way with a unique motion UI and the industry-breakthrough 2D, 360 degree head creator. Indie, pros and first time animators can apply speed to creativity with a new approach to 2D animation.”

From virtual production to web broadcasting

Cartoon Animator 4 is, says Reallusion, more than a character animator, it is a total 2D animation toolbox that can turn images into animated characters, generate lip-sync animation from audio, accomplish 3D parallax scenes, produce 2D visual effects, access content resources, and wield a comprehensive Photoshop pipeline to rapidly customize and create characters.

Today’s challenges for most content producers such as marketers, trainers and YouTubers are the extreme deadlines and limited manpower. The Facial Mocap Plug-in (Motion LIVE 2D) offers a solution that can greatly simplify and fasten the whole animation production.

With Cartoon Animator’s Facial Mocap Plug-in, anyone can animate character with their facial performances via webcams or an iPhone TrueDepth camera to track expressions with head and eyes movements, and natural body animations driven by head position. This solution is designed for virtual production, performance capture, live TV shows and streaming web broadcasting.

Use a webcam or iPhone, add lip sync

The prominent features of Facial Mocap Plug-in (Motion LIVE 2D):

  • Real-time Face Tracking via Webcam and/or iPhone
    Users can utilize any webcam or iPhone X to capture real-time face tracking via Facial Mocap Plug-in, the facial expressions will instantly project onto virtual characters in Cartoon Animator.
  • Head driven body movement
    During facial mocap, users can also add upper body motions by capturing head movements, blending values, and adjusting arm or forearm rotation that can be directly blended during live performances.
  • Real-time lip sync and audio recording
    The Timeline editor can edit motion clips, alter speeds, blend and refine captured phoneme expressions. Turn on the PC microphone for simultaneous audio recording for complete control over talking lip shapes.

From a 2D face to a 3D head

It is also possible to quickly transform a 2D face into a 3D head. The 360 Head Creator streamlines the workflow for head creation and expression setup, while directly applying it to the animation core through face key editing, puppeteering and the timeline system. The 3D Head Creator transforms static 2D art into 3D-styled characters with up to 360 degrees of motion for deeply rich performances. Artists can also use the Photoshop round trip in/out integration for editing multi-angle characters.

The Smart IK (Inverse Kinematic) ) Animation’s simple and functional design sets Cartoon Animator apart from other 2D applications, says Reallusion, as the intuitive IK/FK system auto-switches for a fluid, and logical workflow. Smart Motion Retargeting correctly applies any motion files to different body shapes, while automatically aligning new characters to the original motion pose.

Pricing and Availability:

  • $199 for Cartoon Animator 4 Pipeline edition, $99 for Cartoon Animator 4 PRO edition (lower price compared to its CrazyTalk Animator 3 predecessor).
  • The PC and Mac webcam facial tracker is a separate module along with the “Motion LIVE 2D” plug-in ($199), allowing users to freely choose what to purchase while giving them device expandability for future live performances.
  • Available Cartoon Animator 4 Early Bird discounts. Offer ends on 5/31/2019.

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Harvard University Athletics uses AJA gear for multimedia production

Harvard University Athletics uses AJA gear for multimedia production

Harvard University Athletics relies on AJA HELO, U-TAP and Ki Pro Ultra for streaming collegiate sports broadcasts to ESPN+, regional outfit NESN and the Ivy League’s international streaming platform.

Harvard University consistently ranks among U.S. News and World Reports Best Colleges not only for its academic stature but also for its top-notch collegiate athletics program. The institution is home to 42 NCAA Division 1 teams spanning basketball, hockey, football, squash, tennis and many other sports.

To keep its students, alumni and Crimson fans up to speed on their favorite teams, the Athletics Departments’ multimedia and production arm produces and broadcasts home games in high quality H.264, to ESPN+, regional outfit NESN and the Ivy League’s international streaming platform, and also creates ancillary content, so they felt the need to raise the streaming bar for college sports.

Harvard University Athletics uses AJA gear for multimedia production

In preparation for streaming to multiple CDNs, the department ramped up its production workflow over a year ago – adding more cameras, graphics and audio equipment and other tools to its arsenal, including the AJA HELO, U-TAP and Ki Pro Ultra. “Streaming to ESPN+ has taken college athletics production to a new level, with standards that are higher than ever before. To keep pace, we needed equipment that’s reliable, affordable and easy to learn and use,” shared Imry Halevi, Assistant Director of Athletics, multimedia and production, Harvard. “If you do the math, we’re churning out more than 300 broadcast-quality streams a year. Having tools like HELO, Ki Pro Ultra and U-TAP that tick all these boxes gives me confidence that we’ll be able to consistently meet the production standards expected of us without ever missing a beat.”

Harvard University Athletics uses AJA gear for multimedia production

The highest quality streams

While workflows slightly vary depending upon the sport, the tennis and squash workflows are quite similar. Each squash or tennis court features mounted POV cameras with HD-SDI outputs and a mic output. The audio and video signals go into a rack holding a switcher, video unit and six AJA HELO H.264 recording, streaming and encoding devices. The switcher, with an Intel compute stick that captures scoreboard data, outputs the camera and mic feeds for each court via HDMI to a video unit for Harvard’s international stream while the SDI outputs are fed to each of the six HELOs, one per court, and streamed to ESPN+ in H.264 via RTMP, as well as recorded for archival.

“Most anyone who is streaming is using RTMP because it gives you the highest quality stream at the most affordable price point. We could use a satellite truck, fiber or managed IP transmission to get our signals from point a to point b, but none of these would be as practical or cost effective as RTMP,” Halevi shared. “This is in part why we have 14 HELOs and are eager to add more; they make it easy to change RTMP information, which is crucial when we’re getting new RTMP stream information for every tennis and squash match. We can easily log into each HELO via the web UI, and create a new RTMP URL and ID, which is unique to HELO.”

Harvard University Athletics uses AJA gear for multimedia production

An archive going back to 1920s

All footage that the team captures is archived and has been since the 1920s, partially as a means of preserving Harvard’s history, but also to aid in content creation. “We want people to know what makes Harvard Athletics special and to do that we need to create great content, which often means we lean on archived footage. We never know what footage we’ll need, when we’ll need it and how we’ll use it. By giving us the ability to stream and record at the same time, HELO gives us a peace of mind in that we know we’ll have a high-quality file accessible as you can set different compression levels for each stream.”

Halevi and team also deploy two HELO units across their basketball and hockey/football control rooms for streaming needs outside traditional live production. Connected to DirecTV receivers, the devices come into play when the team needs to capture footage from away games in H.264. “We love having HELOs in our control room,” he added. “It’s great to be able to schedule recordings with HELO’s built in calendar support, stream and record at the same time, preview videos and be able to see the video signal coming in.”

Harvard University Athletics uses AJA gear for multimedia production

Looking to AJA first

To meet requests for uncompressed ProRes and/or DNx footage should melts be needed, the team also keeps a Ki Pro Ultra 4K/UltraHD/2K/HD recorder/player in its hockey control room. Additionally, Halevi recently added AJA U-TAP SDI USB 3.0-powered SDI capture devices to his collection of gear to double the number of feeds that his team could capture when live streaming with Wirecast on MacBook Pros. “Most capture solutions available today come with Thunderbolt ports, which is partially what made U-TAP so appealing. It allows you to take advantage of the MacBook Pro’s USB 3.0 ports to double the amount of inputs and outputs you can tap into,” Halevi explained. “The units were super easy to get up and running on, and we didn’t need to adjust or install anything; they just worked out of the box.”

When the department needs new technology, Halevi often looks to AJA first because of his experience with the gear and the company’s reputation for building reliable products. He concluded, “I love that AJA engineers are listening to the industry and building tools that really meet our needs and always work — and that they’re open to and accepting of customer feedback. You speak up about what you’d like to see and often it pops up in a firmware update down the line.”

The post Harvard University Athletics uses AJA gear for multimedia production appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.