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James Cameron's Lightstorm
Entertainment Selects Aspera
Software for Avatar

James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment selected Aspera's high performance file transfer software for moving the massive visual effects data in the production of Avatar between their Los Angeles studio and a partner studio in New Zealand.

The Avatar production generates tens of gigabytes of data sets of various formats daily that must be moved to the visual effects team at the partner studio, including small metadata and instructional files, still frames for review, database or Avid bin metadata, Maya files, and large media files from Avid systems.

In addition to the daily transfers, the two companies exchange very large files (about 100 or more) twice a month. The entire process needs to be managed and tracked in a secure environment.

Like most facilities, Lightstorm has previously delivered the data via FTP or, sneaker net, where data is loaded onto hard drives and hand-delivered. Delivering the large high-resolution video via conventional FTP at intercontinental distances was impractically slow and insecure.

Lightstorm turned to sneaker net, although still time-consuming and error prone, and at times, experienced all the usual problems associated with physically transporting critical data, such as lengthy shipping time, damaged drives, and content that had to be dubbed from a master only to be re-ingested on the receiving end.

Lightstorm needed a high-performance and secure file transfer solution that would transfer the data electronically in a practical time period, with consistency and security.

Upon the recommendation of a major studio partner, Lightstorm deployed Aspera Enterprise Server, built on Aspera's fasp 2.0 transport technology, to transfer files to the New Zealand studio. The Aspera software has eliminated the transfer bottlenecks of the past, cutting the total turnaround time for content by about one half, with complete security.

We consistently transfer to New Zealand at 45 Mbps over a 45 Mbps link, a 15-30X improvement over standard FTP. Our operators can track the transfer throughout the process and manage the bandwidth used as needed.

Additionally, we own the software, so there are no ongoing fees or penalties as we deliver more data. For us, Aspera has been a huge step forward in efficiency and cost-savings, says Geoff Burdick, Lightstorm Vice President Production Services & Technology.

Aspera President and Co-Founder, Michelle Munson states, In addition to Aspera's underlying fasp transport efficiency, our software now also includes a unique file streamlining technique that enables the transfer of a large directory of small files as efficiently as sending a single large file without pre-tarring the files, saving hours in some cases.

This capability proved essential in earlier productions moving large sets of individual frame files, and should be valuable to any application that transfers data sets of primarily small files.

With terabytes of sensitive data constantly being transferred, we need a solution that will let us sleep at night, said Jon Landau producer of the Oscar winning epic movie Titanic and now Avatar. "Aspera is a proven high-performance transport solution recommended by our partners that enables us to contain our costs, and maintain a very aggressive production schedule.

"Aspera has made all the difference in the world for us", says Steven Madonna, the production's System Engineer. We're able to have a single, reliable piece of software to support while vendors connect reliably and securely.

With other methods we end up supporting many different pieces of client software or hoping the hard drives/tapes we ship don't get mishandled or shipped to the wrong place. The software allows us to deliver full resolution digital assets in much less time than it would take via normal means.

From a setup and administration point of view, the software is easier to set up and more secure than FTP. It's also very easy to trouble shoot, and the support has been top notch.
" . . . . . Steve Madonna, System Engineer, Lightstorm Entertainment

Click on the source link above for more info about Aspera.

E-on debuts free Vue 7 Personal Learning Edition

E-on Software has announced Vue 7 PLE, a free Personal Learning Edition of its Vue 7 xStream and Vue 7 Infinite software.

The programs are designed to create, animate, render and integrate realistic and natural environments in 3ds Max, Maya, LightWave, Cinema 4D and XSI.

With the Vue 7 PLE, users will receive fully-functional versions of both software’s which enables them to create projects, to render either stills or animations with no size or length limit, and the exporting of their finished work to other applications.

Several technologies available in Vue 7 PLE include the EcoStstem 3 which automatically populates environments with up to millions of wind-swept trees, Spectral 2 atmosphere engine and MetaCloud technology, and SolidGrowth 4 3D.

Vue 7 PLE is compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 or later and can be downloaded from the company’s website.

Best trainers in 3D Modelling and Animation

DBIT is launching the new courses & workshops on Autodesk Maya & 3ds max software in April 2009 to suit the current industry requirement.

This Master course is a design oriented workflow to product visualization & production technologies to designing with studio lighting and photo realistic rendering.

Learn Practical work flows to making 3D modelling with Maya and gain total control over the camera, characters and environments to create one of the most powerful effects in cinema, advertising & TV.

Maya & 3ds max are very powerful 3D imaging software programs that are used mainly for special effects in movies and modelling objects and characters in video games.

In Hollywood films' special effects & 3D games are done mostly using Maya and 3ds max. Movies created with these software include The Mummy movies, 'Final Fantasy', 'The Hollow Man', The X-Man movies, 'Stuart Little', 'Shrek', 'Spiderman', 'Harry Potter', 'Jurassic Park 3', 'Lord of the Rings',' Ice Age' and more.

Software like Maya and 3D Studio Max will provide you exactly what you have imagined, to bring more life to your product and bring it more to reality using 3D technology.

Using high end systems and the latest technology, we are able to animate all objects, camera and light settings, backgrounds, fire, water and even clouds and fog in the atmosphere so that we can simulate a real life world in an even more hyper-realistic environment.

Digital Base Interactive Technologies (DBIT) provides intensive project based training on Modelling, lighting and 3D character animation.

DBIT specializes in Multimedia Training courses in Sri Lanka celebrating 8 years in the training industry has reached new heights in multimedia training and it will continue to do so.

Our teaching and support staff have considerable industrial experience to add to their academic expertise. We guarantee success with best of your commitment.

For further details visit:


All of the articles on this page are excerpts, click on the source link for the complete article.

Film Industry Tools of the Trade Spotlight:
Maxon's Cinema 4D Software
3D For The Real World | Source:

For aspiring artists looking to break into the CGI/Visual Effects field of cinema, this AMZ article highlights one of the digital tools professionals use in the film industry. Besides it's software power, Cinema 4D is a tool that is actually affordable to the individual artist.

This software is a multiple tool package with the following modules - Animaton Layers, Motion Clips, Collada, 3D Painting, and more.

Maxon's Cinema 4D is building a presence in the film industry with some of the recent box office hits. Below are some examples of how Cinema 4D a was used in recent movies. . .

Maxon Bodypaint 3D Helps Rhytm & Hues Unleash its Creative Power on the Feature Film, "The Incredible Hulk"

Animators at R&H took advantage of MAXON BodyPaint 3D's speed, agility and intuitive processes to quickly create the complex and dynamic effects necessary to bring the story to life. In all, Rhythm & Hues worked on 234 shots. A team of eight texture artists used MAXON BodyPaint 3D primarily to paint and texture The Hulk and his nemesis, The Abomination, in addition to painting props and portions of buildings and environments.

R&H features a state-of-the-art production pipeline made up of a balanced mix of proprietary and off-the-shelf software. Sarah Kym, a lead texture painter at Rhythm & Hues, says "BodyPaint 3D's tools make us more efficient. Examples include the Clone tool, the ability to hide surfaces to get around tight spots, multiple cameras, and layer effects."

Additional BodyPaint 3D tools and capabilities deemed particularly useful to the R&H team while working on "The Incredible Hulk" included its extra-large texture map capacity, customizable user interface, Raybrush technology and projection painting.

Additional key scenes developed with the help of BodyPaint 3D included The Hulk coming under heavy weapons fire and both The Hulk and The Abomination demolishing vehicles. The weapons fire scene required painting different types of "damage" onto The Hulk's body - including wounds, dirt and scrapes.

Aaron Skillman, a lead texture painter at Rhythm & Hues, explained, "Using BodyPaint 3D I could project all the reference maps for where the damage needed to be on the model and then paint/project the damage onto the areas of the body where it would normally be difficult to paint, such as the elbow, heel, and side of the torso."

MAXON Software Featured in Spider-Man 3 Effects Pipeline

MAXON's software played an important role in the making of Spider-Man™ 3 according to visual effects powerhouse Sony Pictures Imageworks, Inc. For this record-smashing blockbuster, Sony Pictures Imageworks utilized CINEMA 4D and BodyPaint 3D as part of their production pipeline to bring the third installment of the Spider-Man franchise to the big screen. MAXON's BodyPaint 3D and CINEMA 4D were among the 3D texturing and digital matte environment software used by Imageworks on Spider-Man 3.

While the talented texture artists at Sony Pictures Imageworks used MAXON's products to create detailed textures on objects as minute as a grain of sand and as extensive as multifaceted cityscapes. Concurrently, the equally talented artists in the matte department were busy using CINEMA 4D to create realistic digital environments and repaint sky elements in numerous scenes as diverse as the storm in the bell-tower sequence to the richly colored sunrise sky featured at the culmination of the climactic battle sequence.

The texture work on Spider-Man 3 encompassed an array of characters, vast environments (dozens of highly detailed New York skyscrapers, buildings, street and cityscapes, and an enormous subway cavern), costumes, vehicles, weapons, construction props, alien goo, even detailed individual grains of sand.

"Many of our largest skyscraper models, as well as the subway cavern on Spider-Man 3, utilized multi-layered texture maps as large as 8K square (8192 x 8192 pixels), really pushing the software to its limits," added Yen, "but BodyPaint 3D performed like a champ and we were able to paint and publish all the maps without a hitch." The world's moviegoers were caught in the web of Columbia Pictures' Spider-Man 3 at the global box office opening weekend as the film grossed $382 million worldwide, the highest opening ever in motion picture history.

Beowulf Worlds Created Using Matte Painting In CINEMA 4D

The gifted Matte Painters at Imageworks picked up more than their fair share of the Beowulf production load with ease, with the help of an incredible pool of talent and their artist-friendly pipeline. This enviable pipeline featured a toolset of state-of-the-art applications, including Adobe's After Effects and Photoshop working in concert with CINEMA 4D.

Lead Matte Painter, Steve Matson of Sony Pictures Imageworks says "On a shot-by-shot basis it was necessary for us to do a lot of concept work in the matte department. We would start with 3D elements from layout that were unlit and paint a rough lighting sketch. The sketches played a huge role in setting the mood for the shot, even in shots that didn't require matte painting.

This concept work would be output through the shot camera in CINEMA 4D. This was a great way for the lighters to get started lighting the shot and render their foreground elements right over top of our background. It is a quick way to get shots in front of the VFX supervisor and director, so we could ask questions like, ?is the sunlight going to be obscured by clouds here?' Later, this concept painting would be replaced with a final matte painting and the lighting would match perfectly."

"We used huge projections that really pushed CINEMA 4D," says Matson. Some paintings needed to cover a full 360°. We would split them into 2 - a right and left hemisphere, often at 16k each. To handle these wide angles we used a camera array of fifteen to thirty cameras, projecting a small slice at 5-20° increments.

We also needed to create additional multiple projection cameras to cover the foreground and mid-ground terrain. All within the one project. I don't think we could have done that in any other 3D package with the same ease. CINEMA 4D really handled it well. After Effects was used to add movement to our matte paintings. We animated moving skies, clouds, fog, and water effects."

MAXON Assists Sony Pictures Imageworks on "The Polar Express"

Visual effects giant Sony Pictures Imageworks used MAXON's BodyPaint 3D and CINEMA 4D software in the development of Warner Bros.' "The Polar Express." The grand landscapes, the beautiful digital environments and scenery were created utilizing MAXON's award-winning 3D programs.

"The Polar Express", starring Tom Hanks and directed by Robert Zemeckis, is the first full-length computer-generated feature film in which MAXON and its 3D graphics packages were directly involved.

Since its first introduction nearly two years ago, MAXON's BodyPaint 3D software has become the tool of choice for the texture-mapping artists at Imageworks.

CINEMA 4D is a more recent addition, being used by the Imageworks matte painters earlier this year, specifically for its fast and easy workflow for creating photorealistic 3D virtual worlds.

Ivo Horvat Matte Painting Supervisor for "The Polar Express" said, "MAXON is serious about its artist-oriented philosophy, and they have completely transformed our workflow for 2 1/2D and 3D matte paintings as a result.

While the 3D option has always been one we have used in the past, we are now able to output complex shots with a speed I had never seen previously in my experience."

Cinema 4D Release 11

Craft Animations Offers Crafts Director Tools for CINEMA 4D

Further expanding the artist-friendly workflow, Craft Animations today announced the availability of its Craft Director Tools for users of MAXON CINEMA 4D. Craft Director Tools utilize high-end artificial intelligence and autonomous control systems to drastically condense traditional animation processes.

Combining these unprecedented animation tools with CINEMA 4D's ease-of-use and image quality, users receive a time-saving and cost-effective animation solution capable of saving hours, days and weeks of laborious animation time. "Craft Director Tools make it a breeze to add an extra dash of reality to CG animations," said Marco Tillmann, product manager at MAXON.

"The comprehensive toolset allows the artist to focus on the result rather than the technology behind it. MAXON is pleased that Craft Animations has ported this powerful set of tools to CINEMA 4D, making the life of creative minds easier."

By eliminating the prolonged tasks of key framing and scripting, Craft Director Tools provide artists more time for creative processes. Professional users including Digital Dimension, Toyota and Lockheed Martin have reported reduced production times by up to 90 percent. Additionally, they have gained the opportunity to create natural motion paths on the fly through autopilot functions, or a variety of input devices such as gamepads, joysticks, keyboards, Wacom boards and 6DOF controllers.

Caustic Graphics Breaks Barriers in 3D Graphics
Company Set to Launch the World's First
Massively Accelerated Raytracing
Solution | Source:

Caustic Graphics(R), a new 3D computer graphics company, launches today with a fundamental breakthrough in raytracing acceleration that is set to define a new era in professional 3D production and interactive consumer graphics.

Raytracing, the gold-standard for creating 3D imagery, duplicates the natural physics of light, creating stunning images by meticulously tracing the path of light to and throughout any given scene. Caustic's first-generation technology will deliver an average 20X increase in the speed used to create stunning, realistic 3D imagery for film and video, game development, as well as automotive and consumer product design.

The second generation of Caustic's technology, due early next year, is expected to gain an additional order of magnitude in performance, offering 200X speed over today's state-of-the-art graphics products. This massive speed jump is due to Caustic's patent-pending raytracing algorithms implemented in a semiconductor design. The computational complexity of producing cinema-quality, raytraced 3D images involves large, downstream costs, including slow "black box" design iterations and costly "render farm" server infrastructures.

These costs are symptoms of a problem with today's computer designs where CPUs and GPUs are efficient at accelerating the rasterized graphics in video games but woefully inefficient at accelerating cinema-quality raytraced graphics. Caustic's forthcoming standards-based CausticRT(TM) platform enables highly parallel CPUs and GPUs to massively-accelerate raytracing, putting it on par with rasterization and resulting in cinema-quality 3D delivered interactively on low-cost PCs.

"Real-time raytracing has been the holy grail of computer graphics since 1979 -- a dream always on the horizon but never within reach," said Dr. Jon Peddie, of Jon Peddie Research, the computer graphics market research firm in Tiburon, CA. "Demos have been done with 16 or more processors, super computers, and other esoteric devices, but never anything that was within reach of a PC budget. Caustic Graphics has made the breakthrough with a combination of a small hardware accelerator and some very innovative software to be able to deliver real-time, complex, high-resolution raytraced images -- this is an amazing accomplishment."

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