Archive for September, 2006

The Houdini Roadshow 2006

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

The title may sound like I went to some kind of magic show, but for those unaware – Houdini is the name of a particularly snazzy CG package made by Side Effects Software, and for the second of my two nights in London I headed over to Framestore CFC for an evening all about it.

Side Effects are doing a road show, the first (and only European) stop of which was in London. Compared to the night before, this was a smaller crowd in a more relaxed setting but they had a lot to show off, both in terms of what the current version can do, and some of what’s coming in the next.

I won’t bore you with the details, I’ve actually done that already over on 3D Buzz, prompting Side Effects’ Product Marketing Manager, Robert Magee to make a post about their take on the features found in the next version here, but a good night was had by all.
All good stuff, and a nice end to the CG-ness of my trip to London.

The making of King Kong

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

So, I’ve just got back from being down in London for the last couple of days. Most of my trips to London have been because of some kind of CG-related attraction, and this one was no different.

On Monday evening I had the pleasure of attending a lecture at the Tate Modern by Joe Letteri, VFX Supervisor at Weta Digital in New Zealand. He’s been with Weta since they started work on ‘Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’, and his talk was about the making of the recent remake of ‘King Kong’. Supernatural Studios that organised this lecture and indeed, the other two lectures that form part of this series (there was one last Monday, and the last is next Monday – wish I could have attended them all) seem to have really hit upon something. The Tate Modern is a great venue for these lectures, and it seemed to really attract a good crowd of all ages and interests, not just the usual people who are either already in the CG industry, or trying to get into it (that’d be me then).

King Kong

The talk certainly got the crowd excited, the way in which Weta recreated 1930s New York was impressive indeed, quite a mammoth task. When it came to King Kong himself though, there was a surprise guest who joined the lecture to give things from an actor’s point of view – Andy Serkis, none other than the actor behind Gollum from the Lord of the Rings, and King Kong. Andy’s a fascinating guy, he has a lot to say about the whole process, something that’s still relatively alien to a lot of actors, but which Andy is clearly excited about being involved with.
A great night, the last lecture next Monday is being given by staff at Glassworks and The Mill, wish I could make it!

Apple releases something of interest…

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006
Steve Jobs at Apple does like is little press gathering shindigs where he can make announcements from time to time. This evening (or this morning in his case) was one of those times, and unlike the last few occasions he’s stepped on stage there was something of interest to me. Something better than all the rumours that always precede these press gatherings (anything that’s announced is almost always not as cool as what people predict will be released).

You see, the biggest shocker about this ‘Showtime’ Apple gathering was not that Steve wore something slightly different (unbutton that top button Steve!), not the different coloured Nanos (come on in girls, there’s a Pink Nano!), not the even more stupidly small shuffle, nor the games-friendly iPods, or even the Movie announcements that are US-only. No, I’m talking about the new version of iTunes – version 7.0 and get this, it’s actually quite good.

Show someone iTunes 4, iTunes 5 (if you blinked during its release, you probably missed it), or iTunes 6 and they would have struggled to see the difference, or even feel the difference when using it. Show them iTunes 7 though, and not only does it look a bit more polished and modern, but it has the one feature I’ve been wanting ever since I got my first iPod (I have two, a 4G white 40Gb iPod that I never use, and a 4Gb Black Nano) – the ability to browse by album cover art!

Finally I can find music the way I used to when going to grab a CD off the rack – by the cover of the album. I forget all about albums I own, or particularly good songs – but when I see the cover, it all comes flooding back.

iTunes 7 - CoverFlow in actionI guess I should point out that in actual fact, this new spinny CD artwork thingy has been around for a little while for Mac users who downloaded the seperate free application CoverFlow, and my first thought was – damn they must be annoyed that Apple ripped off all their work. Luckily for them, Apple paid for the privilege though, and now Windows users get to use it too.

Okay, so YOU might not be that bothered about iTunes 7, but I use iTunes every day, and this new release actually runs very smoothly and quickly on my PC. The best improvement in this area is that I can now download all my many subscribed podcasts without iTunes dragging my PC down for a minute or two whilst it checks each feed (don’t know who originally wrote that feature, but they clearly knew how to NOT write code on quite a spectacular level).

So there you go, iTunes 7 – never mind that shiny box that’s ‘coming soon’ for your TV, I’m just fine.