Antics at the UFVA Conference – University Film and Video Association

August 16, 2008

Antics exhibited v4 at the UFVA conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado this past week from August 12-16.

The UFVA hosts an annual conference where university professors can share curriculum ideas and educate themselves on cutting-edge technologies for the film classroom, such as Antics. Next year’s UFVA conference will be hosted at the University of New Orleans.

Antics was very well-received by over 350 university professors from across the United States and the educators immediately saw a wide variety of applications for Antics within their classrooms.

Most professors were unhappy with their current storyboarding programs at their respective schools and were very enthused about Antics’ ability to add character animation and camera choreography to bring their storyboards to life.

Not only do the educators plan to implement Antics into their campus computer labs for students to use, but many saw the benefits of using Antics for visualizing the core concepts of the director in a virtual environment. The ability to view multiple camera viewports simultaneously was a major plus while also being able to watch the cameras animate from an overhead view wowed many.

The new lighting and shadows features of v4 added another jaw-dropping moment to the demonstrations, when professors began to realize that Antics is an all-encompassing virtual filmmaking tool. I could see the wheels spinning when the educators realized that Antics allowed a student filmmaker to wear many hats, including that of the set designer, director, cinematographer and editor, which gives students a well-rounded education.

One department chair at Flashpoint Academy in Chicago even saw the advantages of using Antics for pre-visualization for his animation students who are using Maya for high-end 3D animation classes. Because traditional keyframe based animation programs like Maya are much more time consuming than a real-time application like Antics, he plans to have his students do animated pre-viz in Antics before committing to the final render in Maya.

As you know, Antics offers free Professional licenses to educators, so many educators are returning home to evaluate Antics for immediate implementation this Fall.

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Antics V4 – How do you use yours?

August 12, 2008

Antics users are already getting creative with the new shadows and lighting features. Even though V4 has only been available for a week or so, we have seen some interesting techniques which really bring a scene to life.

How about this police car?

To find our how that effect was achieved, there’s a step-by-step guide you can follow over in the Tips & Tricks section of our forum.

We would love to see how you’re using the new V4 features in your movies. Post a link to them in the Showcase section of our forum.

Don’t forget that the new shadows and lighting tools are backwards compatible – that is you can drop a new light into any scene you have created in previous versions of Antics and easily add V4 levels of depth and realism. So why not dust off that old favorite project, you’ll be amazed at the difference a couple of V4 lights will make!

Gary


Antics at the Director’s Guild of America Annual “Digital Day” Event

August 1, 2008

Antics will be exhibiting V4 Professional at the Director’s Guild of America annual “Digital Day” event on Saturday, August 2nd from 830am-4pm in Hollywood, CA.

The event is put on by the DGA’s Special Project’s Committee and this is the 2nd year in a row that Antics has been invited to demonstrate. It will be a whole day of learning and networking with guild members and industry colleagues exclusively for DGA members.

Other than the exhibitor area, the agenda looks interesting: sessions on motion capture, performance capture, 3D television/films, virtual worlds, and developing content for the Internet and mobile phones. The theme for this year is “Size Matters: Creating Content for Big and Small Screens.”

Among the speakers are 3D cinematography gurus Vince Pace and Steve Schklair; Eric Brevig, director of ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’; directors Penelope Spheeris, Marshall Herskovitz, and Demian Lichtenstein; and lots of animation and visual effects supervisors.

There’s also going to be a session on “Working in Virtual Worlds: More than Fun and Games? Using Online Virtual Worlds as a tool for Pre-Production.” I’ll be sure to check out the seminar and let you know what is discussed, but I already know that Second Life will be covered and how some are using it to hold virtual production meetings remotely.

Apple, Avid, Red, Panavision, Thomson Grass Valley, JL Fisher, ARRI and Technicolor are some of the other vendors that will be giving hands-on demos.

Antics is the lone pre-viz software that will be exhibiting, as Antics’ usability and speed in which 3D animation can be produced, accommodates the director’s busy schedule and is the only tool that allows them to visualize their own creative ideas.


Antics V4 now available to download

July 31, 2008

Champagne all round here at Antics HQ – Antics V4 is now available to download from our website!

As we pass through the 10,000 Antics users mark, V4 features adaptive lighting, realtime shadows, character to character interactions and more.

All existing Antics users, please keep an eye on your inbox as you will receive an email in the coming days with instructions on how you can upgrade.

All new lighting system

The new lighting system allows shadows to be cast adding depth and realism to movies. At the touch of a button you can create incredible atmosphere and amazing effects.

See the shadows in action

Character to character interactions

It is now possible to command your characters to interact with each other. You can tell your actors to hug, kiss, shake hands, all from a handy menu.

Improved path planning and animation blending

The intelligent path planning in Antics has been improved to ensure characters take the optimum route to their destination. Animation has also been improved to make a characters transition between states appear more natural

Improved Google SketchUp importer

Many usability and workflow enhancements have been made to the Google SketchUp importer. It is now even easier to use than ever.

We have also made changes to our product lineup and pricing. The Antics V3.1 BasePack and ProPack have been replaced by Antics V4 Home and Professional.

The Home version is our standalone product, still free to download and is not time limited.

The Professional version is now even better value for money at $295, and includes the full range of importers (.3ds, .skp, .fbx, .bvh).

For full details of how the two versions compare, take a look at this overview

Many thanks to everyone in the growing Antics community. You’ve given us great feedback, and some great videos, which have helped us shape V4. Keep the feedback coming, we love to hear from you!

Gary


Pixar loves WALL-E so much, they made it twice…

July 25, 2008

There’s a fascinating interview over on Adaptive Path with Pixar’s Michael B Johnson. He gives an interesting insight into the processes Pixar use off the back of the recent release of WALL-E.

What caught my eye was the fact that they effectively made WALL-E twice, once as a story reel and then again as the final film. You begin to see how it took four years to finish.

This is an excellent case study in the value of previz. Johnson sees the value in being able to ‘fail fast’. That is, he accepts that mistakes will be made and problems will arise. So the quicker those issues are identified the better. Having a previz of a movie helps you spot those problems before you get into the expensive realms of production. Not to mention the boost it gives communication between departments in those crucial early stages.

I went to see WALL-E at the weekend, it’s an amazing movie, I would say my favourite from Pixar. Great animated short to kick things off too. I must admit to being left a little flat, but I think we can put that down to the mountains of spoilers and opinion I had read before seeing the movie. In this online age you can go to a movie premiere feeling like it’s a re-run.

So if you want Antics V4 to be a fresh, sparkling surprise, don’t read this blog, it has spoilers. I’m off to mail a USB stick with a copy of Antics Professional to the guys at Pixar.

Have a great weekend, Antics V4 will be with us next week.


Antics V4 in action – realtime shadows video!

July 23, 2008

Well, we’re a day closer to the release of Antics V4. To celebrate, I’ve decided to trump the sneak preview screen shot I blogged yesterday with a short video!

Antics comes out of the shadows:

You can find it directly on Youtube here:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=wGXN69YnXlM

I’m still constantly amazed by how much extra depth, realism and atmosphere you can get in a simple scene just by adding shadows! Just drop a light into any Antics scene, and hey presto – realtime shadows.
Credit to Amos in our QA team for putting that together!


Take a sneak peek at Antics V4!

July 22, 2008

Our Development and QA teams tell me we are now days away from the next major release of Antics – V4.

They have worked tirelessly to perfect the new features in V4, and from what I’ve seen the results reflect the hard work!

So here’s a screen grab I would like to share with you. I think it tells you all you need to know about one of the headline features in V4!

Antics comes out from the shadows

Antics comes out from the shadows

Shadows and lighting are perhaps the features we receive most requests about. The screen shot shows a simple set with two spot lights dropped in. The spotlight on the right shows the gizmo which allows you to point the light, as well as adjust the radius, falloff and hotspot.

The shadows are created in realtime, just wait till you see it moving for yourself! The amount of atmosphere these lights add to a simple scene is astounding.

Also included in V4 will be improved animation on pre-walks, character-to-character animations (so you can have your characters hug and kiss!) and several very useful improvements to the SketchUp importer that was introduced in V3.1.

We’re very excited about the release of V4, I’m sure you will be too! Not long to wait now… be sure to set aside some time in the coming days to try out all the new features!