Who Is Watching VFX?

Youtube Analysis Of  VFX Documentary Viewers.

In 2008 I added a Youtube Channel, dedicated to collecting, and favoriting links to documentaries and inspiring visual effects.  I uploaded several of the documentaries that I enjoyed as I was growing up (and had to take a few of them down — thank you Lucasfilm). but it seems to have a reasonably popular following.  When I started doing this there were no channels of this type I could find, but there is now a plethora of content in this realm, and the channel subscriptions follow many of those.  The uploaded content has … Continue reading

Saving VFX: Part One — A Possible Way Forward

Splitting Up to Carry On.

Government kickbacks are not the only concern weighing on the VFX industry. We have innovated our way into solving everyone else’s problems, taking on the burden that used to belong to other departments. VFX have threatened the jobs of other parts of the industry for several years, and these industries have downsized or specialized as a result. Now VFX is at times overburdened with responsibility for the camera, sets, props, hair and makeup, and even actors in a movie — just fix it in post. We have always said we CAN do it, but due … Continue reading

Digital Makeup Joins The Stage February 2, 2014

Todd Masters and Johnathan Banta At The Digital Days Conference.

The Digital Days Conference kicks off Saturday Feb 1, 2014. Todd Masters and Johnathan Banta (spelled wrong on their website) of MastersFX join a panel Sunday to talk about the convergence of practical and digital effects.

Join us as we talk of the crossing between digits and digital.

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UPDATE:
The time of the … Continue reading

Saving Mr. Binks

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Focusing the Hatred of the Galaxy, a Digital Star is Born!

There are long diatribes on the Internet tearing George Lucas to shreds for the creation of Jar Jar Binks.  Such vile hatred for a character in a movie —an individual that does not exist — is curious.  Normally this level of vitriol is reserved for politicians and rapscallions (though the character was a politician in Episode II and III).  Fans of Star Wars despise this creation, and make it their hobby to eviscerate him.

As I said:  Curious.

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Thanksgiving Photogrammetry — The GALACTICA

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Fun With Photoscan.

A year ago I started playing more with Agisoft Photoscan software, at the behest of a very respected VFX artist.  It is now a professional tool in my kit, but also a hobby. On the hobby side it is always fun to do things guerrilla style on purpose — to learn to what extent you can push the software. Take photos, throw them in and eventually read what scant documentation exists.  (Much more fun to kick the tires, and answer questions after the fact). Continue reading

Shaping the Message of VFX

Visual Effects Stories Losing Their Fire?

I remember when something unusual happened while making Special Effects, it was bandied about in a good story, either in a magazine, or as an urban legend. When an artist had a particular view of his or her work, they would let it be known that they disagreed with the solution.  When a particular effect failed, you read about it in gory detail.  Now the message is more often shaped by press agents to make the VFX company, studio, or director look brilliant.  This is unfortunate, but a clear reflection of the changing gravity … Continue reading

The VFX War: Part 2 — Fish In A Barrel

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series The VFX War

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series The VFX War

We Are Eating Ourselves.

It’s almost as if someone planned it. A Macivelian overlord sat down one day, scheming how to drive down prices, institute near slave-driven hours (without compensation as often as possible) by arbitrarily putting a date on a calendar, increase their profits, pay for no benefits, accept government kickbacks and free labor. However no such overlord exists, and we have done much of this to ourselves.

We have no industry standard bidding contracts, and we constantly undermine each other … Continue reading

Adventures in Stereo 3D: Part 2 — The Hyper-Glyph**

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This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Stereo3D Adventures

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Stereo3D Adventures

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Updating the 1850’s French Innovation.

In part one of this series about Stereo 3D, we discussed the use of stereo anaglyph images as a tool for stereo artists and supervisors, not just for novelty 3D prints, and late night 3D festivals on TV.  Lightweight, and easily viewable in many … Continue reading

Halloween Photogrammetry

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Photoscan Software in Action — Where Have You Been All My Life?

Just for Halloween: 3D pumpkins!

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AgiSoft’s Photoscan is a stunning development for visual effects production. It is at its root designed for virtual map making, but is agile enough for full-body scans in action poses. Yes, there are other services out there from Autodesk that do similar things, but this is $180, with … Continue reading

The British VFX tradition — Poppa Day to Alien

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Great British VFX Documentaries Online.

From Poppa Day to Matte Painting in the 60’s and 70’s, Dennis Lowes webpage is an amazing documentary resource of visual effects in Britain. Want some in-depth information on the making of Alien you did not know? He has multiple interviews on video with images to back it up. His videos introduce us to a great collection of talented people, and disciplined work, from which we all can learn. Great education, motivation, and fun, and there is more than what is shown in the images below (including some of Dennis’ own work if you … Continue reading

Why Dimensionalization is Bad

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By any other Name it is Good Old Fashioned Sculpture.

The term Dimensionalization should leave the lexicon of stereo conversion.  First off, it is a buzz-word that Madison Avenue could have invented that says very little about the process, and it also calls forth images of an automated process that is simple to do.  Secondly, it is a copyrighted phrase for a now defunct company, but mostly it is an inaccurate description.

As an example, think of this sentence: “I have converted a 3D world into 2D with the use of a camera lens.  It is now dimensionalized”.  The word … Continue reading

The Best VFX Hot Sheet

Get Your Daily Feed…It’s Worth It

Sure you can have a Google alert come your way for the VFX news of the day, but the best “Hot Sheet” out there is ILM model/monster maker Howie Weed’s Worth a Mention.  I am not sure how he gets the information, but it is more extensive than standard searches, and nicely and simply put together.  Many of us in the industry read it every day he makes it. There are a few collections of this mini email blast out in the ether, but if you know the right folks, and get referred … Continue reading

Adventures in Stereo 3D: Part 1 — The Rebirth of Anaglyph

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This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Stereo3D Adventures

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Stereo3D Adventures

Another French Innovation

toytruck_anaProbably one of the oldest methods of viewing stereo 3D content is Anaglyph.  Invented in the 1850’s by a Frenchman, it has seen little update over the years, other than varying the color of the lenses (mostly as an attempt to deliver better full-color images).  It is a very cost … Continue reading

News Flash! Foreground Miniatures Still Work

We have come so far these days in VFX.  We use computers to do everything, and forget that often the simplest methods are the best.  Here is an idea:  Put models in front of the camera, and take a picture with real places in the distant background.  I think they used that on Aliens and The Abyss, as a matter of fact.  (Do not forget the brilliant work in Dune and Conan: the Destroyer.)

For us digital geeks out there, that is a dense point sampled,  high dynamic range, global illumination algorithm, with energy preserving reflections — in real time. … Continue reading

The Art of Seeing Stereo 3D

Stereo vs. Reality 

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Stereo 3D is not “real,” it is an optical illusion. We are all constantly told that stereo 3D is more engaging visual content, but having actually directed stereo VFX and helped create the whole field of Stereo conversion, I will say the verdict among audiences is mixed. I have been involved in IMAX and feature film stereo projects, and seeing the variation of opinion in online reviews; I am dumbfounded that anyone is actually … Continue reading

Cinemagic Magazine — Back from the past

If you made super-8mm movies in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s, and loved visual effects, you read CINEMAGIC, originally created by Nightbeast director Don Dohler, and then helmed at Starlog press.  (I remember calling David Hutchison and John Clayton to give me information on folks in the SPFX biz quite often).  In these magazines you learned stop motion, rear projection, matte painting, foreground miniatures, and prosthetic makeup as low-budget as you could make it.  It also allowed you to advertise your productions in a section of each issue.  Mark Sullivan (famed matte painter who is also chronicled … Continue reading

MastersFX Digital Makeup Division

The Digital Makeup Initiative in practice at MastersFX for Season 4 of Falling Skies.

Here is a link to their press release:

MASTERSFX Perfects Practical/Digital Effects Mix for Emmy Nominated TV Series “Falling Skies”

“The upgrade of MASTERSFX’s Digital Makeup division occurred in tandem with the launch of “Falling Skies.” Johnny Banta, MASTERSFX’s Lead Digital Makeup Artist, says, “Makeup FX have evolved dramatically over the past 30 years — today, better materials and modern techniques are standard fare. But these are just tools in the hands of an artist. The computer is also a tool, and it is our intent … Continue reading

Correcting Star Wars Tennis Shoe Myths — apologies

In 1996 the Internet was still young, and George Lucas was making changes to Star Wars.

As I was an avid Star Wars fan — it was instrumental in my career choice — I created

The Bogus Star Wars Homepage to chronicle it, collecting what the fans were finding, and directing my hopes to what Industrial Light and Magic might do with its new tools. (The page is pretty long in the tooth design-wise, and is a time-capsule of thoughts prior to rerelease) Little did we all … Continue reading

Matte Paintings — The Lost Art

They used to be called SPECIAL effects, and thats what matte paintings were — alchemy. What else would you call a mixture of paint, glass, and photography with magic as the result?

A few years back I slammed together an outline of a book, and invited several matte painters from the Glass pane days to consider documenting the craft for a generation who is rarely taught any art technique, but surviving on raw talent. There was sluggish response at first, thinking that digital artists have little desire to learn the old ways — no longer deemed relevant. I disagree with … Continue reading

The Digital Makeup Initiative

dMFX joins the pantheon of tools.

FXGuide.com ran a quick blurb on work I am leading at MastersFX for Steven Spielberg’s FALLING SKIES.  Though not intended to be a news item, they introduced my Digital Makeup Initiative to the world, to some degree. The initial goal of the initiative is to put the tools developed digitally back in the hands of makeup creatives, instead of detached visual effects facilities.  It is too easy to just wave the wand of the digital brush and eliminate all the work done on-set, when it can be completed by pushing past the physical … Continue reading

The VFX Tube

In 2008 I was struck by the lack of institutional knowledge of VFX in the industry. Each person has their collection of inspiration that brought them into the artistic field, and most of mine came from the Starlog Press, and TV VFX specials that occasionally showed up. So I set up my youtube account to inspire and educate, and I uploaded many of the old documentaries I could find. I add to the favorites whenever I find inspired VFX visuals, or documentaries that teach us more. Subscriptions to other sites usually lead to bigger collections of VFX know-how and examples.

It is important to know our history so we can learn from it. This channel is a repository, and signpost to VFX knowledge.

Enjoy!

 

http://www.youtube.com/user/AgraphaFX

 

AG

 

The VFX War: Part 1 — The iPhone Analogy

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series The VFX War

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series The VFX War

 A Quality Product Should Be Its Own Reward

It is hard to realize that the iPhone is not even a decade old. For the most part it works so well, that it fades into the background of our daily lives — quietly doing its job. Now remove it from our lives, and see what effect that has, and our reliance on the technology will be evident.

No one in their right mind would even try (apologies to Samsung).

Modern visual effects using computer … Continue reading

The Story Begins

Welcome to the blog. What is PunkWerks, one may ask?  Officially this is an offshoot site of Agrapha Productions, but it is not directly related to the VFX content the company provides — it is one of the side effects of a life of art.  Those projects and ideas that don’t quite fit in, or never really leaped out.  The work of a PUNK.

Hence the name.  This is a blog, not visual effects.

At launch this is expected to be a place where I can share ideas, observations, and generally fascinating art and technology, found or otherwise.  It is … Continue reading