Archive for the ‘Technology and work stuff’ Category


Quantel Break The Marketing Mould and Get Formula One Branding

February 1, 2011

Quantel Break The Marketing Mould and Get Formula One Branding

Graeme Lowdon, CEO of Marussia Virgin Racing and Ray Cross CEO of QuantelQuantel is set to partner the Marussia Virgin Racing Formula One team throughout the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship season. The deal will see Marussia Virgin Racing’s brand carrying the Quantel brand at 20 races around the world, kicking off at the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix on 13th March.  Drivers Timo Glock and Jerome D’Ambrosio will also sport the Quantel logo on their race wear.

Ray Cross commented on this unique tie-up: ” Quantel is currently enjoying great success. Stereo3D and our Enterprise sQ system with its unparalleled scalability, performance and ease of use are key drivers of that success. Our new QTube technology will have massive positive impact on our customers’ organisations when it is introduced next quarter.  We need to get our message out to News and Sports broadcasters and Post organisations worldwide strongly if we are to deliver on the potential of QTube. We want every broadcaster and Post house in the world to know about us. Which is where Marussia Virgin Racing comes in.”

Graeme Lowdon, CEO of Marussia Virgin Racing, commented: “I am delighted to welcome Quantel to the Team as an official partner. Quantel is a company that is passionate about creating solutions for its customers on a worldwide scale and we both have a shared commitment to excellence in technology. Quantel has pioneered many new technological advances and as Marussia Virgin Racing enters its second season of racing we hope that our own advances in technology provide the success that we aim for.”



Moore’s Law CPU scaling “is now dead” claims NVIDIA VP; GPU parallel computing is the future

May 1, 2010

By Chris Davies on Friday, Apr 30th 2010 2 Comments

cpu and gpu medEarlier this month, SlashGear columnist Michael Gartenberg pondered whether Moore’s Law was still relevant to PCs; obviously NVIDIA chief scientist and vice president Bill Dally has only just got the memo.  The engineer has penned a guest column for Forbes on the limitations of current CPU technology, and more specifically the fact that – while processor speed has increased pretty much as Moore predicted – the power scaling part of Moore’s Law has ended.  ”As a result, the CPU scaling predicted by Moore’s Law is now dead,” Dally suggests, before suggesting that parallel computing will be our saviour.

Continued »


Effects Corner: Visual effects service – The Big Picture

April 3, 2010

This is an absolute must read article by Scott Squires, covering the business of visual effects

Effects Corner: Visual effects service – The Big Picture.


Intel i7 980x (Extreme) –

March 22, 2010

With the Intel Core i7 980x in hand benchmarks have been humming along. Strictly business gaming sessions (that’s our story), photo editing, and general computing have been eye popping. Some things have been flying by so fast that we had to re-check them just to make sure they actually happened.

With six cores (32nm) and 12 threads pushing the Westmere processors, 1.17 billion transistors sitting on a 248mm square die data isn’t the only thing pumping along. Once in a great while you get your hands on a game changing product that sets your blood pumping and the mind careening wildly along possibility paths previously unexplored. The Intel Core i7 980x is one of those products.

When the Core i7 965x hit the bench it was a thrilling day even for seasoned reviewers. At that time it meant upgrading your motherboard to LGA 1366, upgrading to (then) expensive DDR3 triple channel RAM, and purchasing a top end i7 965 that ran (at release) $1200. The thought of sitting on a cutting edge i7 965 was a daunting proposal. The i7 980x is an LGA 1366 drop in upgrade. If you’re sitting on a LGA 1366 platform already, simply flash to the latest BIOS, pop out the old processor and drop in the i7 980x and you will be running the top desktop processor on the planet.

In the short time we’ve had the Core i7 980x we’ve been flooded with benchmarks and fielding a lot of inquiries. We couldn’t comment on the i7 980x because of Non-Disclosure Agreements but one question we get asked almost daily is: “What’s the fastest desktop computer on the planet?” All we could do under those conditions was point to the test bench and say with certainty, “That one.”

Intel i7 980x (Extreme) –


3ds Max 2011 Announced!

March 12, 2010

3ds Max 2011 Announced!

We’ve annouced 3ds Max 2011 at GDC and can now reveal the feature set (officially). We had a tough chore in topping the feature set for 3ds Max 2010, we hope we’ve come close with this new release. You’ll find a mix of new features, XBR features and improvements to previous features. More details will be available March 25th, but here are more vdieos/pictures on the Area:

3ds Max Design is not officially announced at this time, so we’re keeping the focus on 3ds Max and Entertainment uses right now. Feature-wise, they are effectively the same (thought there is an added benefit for 3ds Max Design subscription customers that will be announced).

Key Features and Benefits

Autodesk® 3ds Max® 2011 software offers compelling new techniques for creating and texturing models, animating characters, and producing high-quality images. Incorporating tools that accelerate everyday workflows, 3ds Max 2011 software helps significantly increase productivity for both individuals and collaborating teams working on games, visual effects, and television productions. Artists can focus on creativity, and have the freedom to iteratively refine their work to maximize the quality of their final output in the least amount of time.

Top Features and Benefits

Slate Material Editor
Easily visualize and edit material component relationships with Slate, a new node-based material editor that helps significantly improve workflow and productivity for artists creating and editing complex material networks. The intuitive schematic framework is engineered to handle the vast numbers of materials required by today’s demanding productions.

Quicksilver Hardware Renderer
Create high-fidelity pre-visualizations, animatics, and games-related marketing materials in less time with Quicksilver, an innovative new hardware renderer that helps produce high-quality images at incredible speeds. This new multi-threaded rendering engine utilizes both the CPU and the GPU, and supports alpha and z-buffer render elements; depth-of-field; motion blur; dynamic reflections; area, photometric, ambient occlusion, and indirect lighting effects along with precision adaptive shadow maps; and the ability to render at larger-than-screen resolutions.

Local Edits to Containers
Collaborate more efficiently with significantly enhanced workflows for Containers that enable users to layer local edits non-destructively on top of referenced content. Meet tight deadlines by working in parallel: while one user iteratively edits unlocked aspects of the container, another can continue to refine the underlying data. Multiple users can contribute changes to different elements of the same container at once, while simultaneous edits to the same component are prevented.

Modeling and Texturing Enhancements
Accelerate modeling and texturing tasks with new tools that extend the Graphite modeling and Viewport Canvas toolsets: a revised toolset for 3D painting and editing textures within the viewport; the ability to paint with object brushes to create geometry within a scene; a new brush interface for editing UVW coordinates; and an interactive tool for extending edge loops.

Viewport Display of 3ds Max Materials
Develop and refine scenes in a high-fidelity interactive display environment—without the constant need to re-render— with the new ability to view most 3ds Max texture maps and materials in the viewport. Modelers and animators can make interactive decisions in a context that more closely matches the final output, helping reduce errors and enhance the creative storytelling process.

3ds Max Composite
Enhance rendered passes and incorporate them into live action footage with 3ds Max Composite: a fully-featured, high-performance, HDR-capable compositor, based on technology from Autodesk® Toxik® software. The 3ds Max Composite toolset incorporates keying, color correction, tracking, camera mapping, raster and vector paint, spline-based warping, motion blur, depth of field, and tools to support stereoscopic productions.

In-Context Direct Manipulation UI
Save time when modeling and maintain focus on the creative task at hand with a new in-context user interface (UI) for polygon modeling tools that eliminates unnecessary mouse movement away from the model. Modelers can interactively manipulate properties, enter values directly at the point of interest in the viewport, and preview results prior to committing changes.

CAT Integration
More easily create and manage characters, and layer, load, save, remap, and mirror animations with the Character Animation Toolkit (CAT). Now fully integrated into 3ds Max, CAT provides an out-of-the-box advanced rigging and animation system. With its approachable, flexible toolset, animators can use default settings in CAT to help achieve high-quality results in less time—or completely customize rigs to include arbitrary morphology, embedded custom behaviors, and procedural controllers for more demanding character set-ups.

Ribbon Customization
Maximize the usable workspace and focus on the features that matter most for specialized workflows with customizable Ribbon layouts. Create and store personalized UI configurations that include frequently-used action items and macro scripts, and toggle the display of these configurations with the touch of a hotkey or button.

Other New Features

Autodesk 3ds Max 2011 software also includes the following key features:

mental ray 2011
The latest version of mental ray® renderer included with 3ds Max offers enhanced performance and stability.

Updated OpenEXR Image IO Plug-in
An updated OpenEXR plug-in supports unlimited layers in one EXR file and automatically stores Render Elements and G-Buffer channels to EXR layers.

Save to Previous Release
Manage the transition to 3ds Max 2011 with the option to save scene files in a format compatible with 3ds Max 2010.

Windows 7 Support
3ds Max 2011 adds Windows® 7 operating system as a supported platform.

FBX File Link with Autodesk Revit
Receive and manage updates to a file imported from Autodesk® Revit® Architecture software using the new FBX File Link.

Native Solids Import/Export
Non-destructively transfer trimmed surfaces, solids models, and assemblies between 3ds Max and certain other CAD applications that support SAT files.

Autodesk Material Library
Choose from up to 1,200 material templates, and more accurately exchange materials with other supporting Autodesk applications.

Google SketchUp Importer
Efficiently import Google® SketchUp™ sketching software (SKP) version 6 and 7 files into 3ds Max.

Inventor Import Improvements
Import Autodesk® Inventor® software files into 3ds Max without the requirement for Inventor to be installed on the same machine. Plus, get better results when importing solids objects, materials, surfaces, and composites.

For a complete review of the new features and enhancements in Autodesk 3ds Max 2011, view the “What’s New” documentation on the 3ds Max family product center at Note: this link won’t point to the 2011 release until the release ships in April.

NOTE: more feature videos and screen shots will be posted on March 25th

3ds Max 2011 Changes/Enhancements

This is a more complete list of changes organized slightly differently. It’s important to understand that the 2011 release delivers on some aspects of our XBR vision (as did 3ds Max 2010). XBR is being implemented in a series of phases, and with 3ds Max 2011, we can say that Phase 1 is complete. One down, two to go!

  1. XBR Graphics
    1. New Quicksilver hardware rendering using the GPU
    2. Enhanced viewport material display (most 3ds Max legacy shaders were converted to metasl)
    3. Improved MetaSL Shaders (performance and quality improvements in many areas)
  2. XBR UI
    1. New Slate Node-based Material Editor (with integrated metasl workflow)
    2. Simplified material/map browsing
    3. New Caddy UI for faster modeling
    4. Fully customizable ribbon
    5. New collapsible command panel
  3. Workflow
    1. New Local Edits to Containers
    2. New object paint feature in Viewport Canvas
    3. New layered texture painting features in Viewport Canvas
    4. New 3ds Max Composite (based on Autodesk toxik technology)
    5. New mental ray 2011
    6. Better snapping
    7. Shift clicking selects loops or rings intelligently
    8. CTRL clicking only adds to the selection sets instead of toggling
    9. Bitmap pager changes (user control of paging)
    10. New CAT character-animation toolset (with bug fixes and stability improvements)
    11. New FBX File Link for Revit files (with several import optimizations)
    12. Dynamite VSP for civil visualization (3ds Max Design subscription customers only)
    13. New Autodesk Materials library and workflow (over 1,200 presets)
    14. Native import of Inventor IPT/IAM files as solids
    15. SAT file import/export and solid-model support
    16. Native SketchUp file import
    17. Improved OpenEXR support
    18. Enhanced SGI RGBA file support
  4. Misc:
    1. New “Save to 3ds Max/Design 2010”
    2. 100% plug-in compatible with 3ds Max/Design 2010
    3. Windows 7 Support
  5. New Third-party tools:
    1. Craft Animation free tools
      1. SoftMotionCam, ObserverCam, MultiStateCam, HumanizerCam, PreRigged Models (4)
    2. Pixelactive Cityscape free tool for GIS import
  6. New Content:
    1. (10) Biped and (10) CAT rigged hires characters from aXYZ Design
    2. (60) low-poly, mix of trees and palms from Marlin Studios
    3. (25) high-quality vehicles from aXYZ Design
    4. (50) low-poly, vehicles from Cacheforce
    5. (70) pedestrian motion capture clips (male and female)
    6. “The Dark” animation (and related files) from NMTrix (
  7. Unsupported features (not documented to work):
    1. Exposed mental ray string options for “under-the-hood” manipulation of mental ray
    2. Native import of Alias Design files (.WIRE) as surfaces

3ds Max 2011 Announced!.


Fairness for Visual Effects Artists: Following-Up

March 3, 2010

Motionographer | Sharing the best in motion graphics, design, animation, filmmaking and visual effects.

Dancers by (3) on flickr. CC some rights reserved.

Lee Stranahan wrote an open letter to James Cameron last week that has received a lot of attention, prompting an article in Variety and an FXGuide podcast on the issue: Why is there no union or collective bargaining for the majority of Visual Effects artists while the industry is growing and the majority of successful Hollywood hits depend on increasingly complex visual effects that demand an ever-increasing workload on the people in the field? It’s a question we’ve often asked ourselves as workers in the Motion Design and Animation industries. And we were curious to find out more; what prompted Lee to write the letter, what he’s been hearing as response to it, and what plans he has to follow up on the letter.

Lee is a blogger at Huffington Post and an educator. He also has a long history in the field of television, visual effects and motion graphics, and runs the sites Lee Stranahan, Online Producer and Film School Bootcamp.

Read the Q&A with Lee Stranahan


Mitsubishi’s upconverting technology takes 1080p to 4K x 2K, you to cloud nine

February 21, 2010

Mitsubishi’s upconverting technology takes 1080p to 4K x 2K, you to cloud nine

So, there’s good news and bad news, and we tend to prefer starting with the former. According to Akihabara News, Mitsubishi has whipped up an upscaling technology to end all upscaling technologies — one that takes vanilla 1080p material to 4K x 2K without breaking a sweat. Now, for the less-than-awesome tidbit. For whatever reason, the tech is not yet compatible with Blu-ray content, and moreover, you’re still nowhere close to being able to afford a 4K television or projector. Here’s hoping this breakthrough makes ’em a wee bit more feasible for the layman, though.