Boing Boing 

Is bad CGI ruining movies? A nuanced critique

It's an age-old complaint about video games and films: bad graphics make them suck. But plenty of classic entertainment holds up even if the effects don't. RocketJump Film School examines the issue in a brisk overview.

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Latent doglizards of cheeseglopping pizza-ads

Take one Google Inceptionism neural-net system, which, when fed its own output over and over, begins to hallucinate dogish-lizardoids in random noise; add one supercut of cheese-porn pizza ads; stir thoroughly and strain. (via JWZ)

Go behind-the-scenes with 'Mad Max: Fury Road' raw stunt footage

This raw footage provides an inside look at the making of Mad Max: Fury Road.

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Pixar's Renderman released for free

Pixar has released its Renderman imaging software to the public free to download. This version is identical to the software it uses on it's own films, which was invented in-house, and is used today by major film and video game studios for animation and visual effects. This free license is for non-commercial use only, which includes show reels and student films.

Free Non-Commercial RenderMan can be used for research, education, evaluation, plug-in development, and any personal projects that do not generate commercial profits. Free Non-Commercial RenderMan is also fully featured, without watermark, time limits, or other user limitations.

Pixar is also launching a Renderman Community Site to share knowledge and assets, showcase work, and support all the new users bound to take advantage of this unique opportunity.


WATCH: HOWTO create this mind-bending worldscape

the-verge-lightfarm-studios Lightfarm Studios documented the making of "The Verge," this stunning worldscape based on work by Raqsonu Duhu. Lightfarm Brasil has the scoop:

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WATCH: Torturing virtual people with crowd simulation software

Dave Fothergill had some good fun with the Maya crowd simulation stuff in this cheerfully apocalyptic video -- it's even better with Waxy's soundtrack.

The strange power of CGI explored in a strangely powerful CGI video

Spherical Harmonics dwells on the ineluctably CGI-like qualities of even the most realistic CGI imagery.
It is a hermetically sealed fantasy, full of digitally created memories, counterfeit physics and controlled accidents. A place where reality fails because it's too perfect, and where spectacular CGI setpieces are replaced with more introverted and complex fantasies - fantasies of the digital-artist-as-god, lost in uncanny valley.

Farbeit from me to argue with the artist, but let's forget the Uncanny Valley. There's more to this than that. It's not about what the machine can't quite show. It's not even about what the machine sees; it's about what the machine makes you see.

Futuristic armor for organs

Viaframe's renders of armor for your organs are sure pretty. I think they'd be a little terminal for everyday use, but they'd make great canopic storage for the old burial chamber-oonie.

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Fake CGI always looked cooler than the real thing

Neil Emmett writes about fake computer graphics, as so often found in 1980s sci-fi movies and TV productions that were as inexpensive as they were ahead of their time.
Primitive digital imagery has had something of a resurgence across the past decade or so, to the point where pastiches of 8-bit pixel graphics have found their way into mainstream productions such as Wreck-It Ralph. Perhaps it is time that the animators and digital artists of today rediscovered the lesser-known cousin of this aesthetic: the strange world of pseudo-CGI.

SIGGRAPH 2013 computer graphics technical breakthroughs

The Association for Computing Machinery's annual SIGGRAPH conference is where you will find many of the most incredible, edgiest developments in computer graphics research. Above is the video trailer for this year's "Technical Papers" program. SIGGRAPH 2013 takes place July 21-25 in Anaheim, California.

Hunting of the Snark student film, narrated by Christopher Lee

Michael sez, "The Hunting of the Snark is a student short film narrated by Sir Christopher Lee and based on the Lewis Carroll poem of the same name. The film features a bizarre crew on a dangerous adventure to find a mysterious creature called a Snark. The movie was shot using partial sets against greenscreen and features over 150 vfx shots including cg creatures and oceans! The vfx are all being done by a small team at a DIY vfx studio that I built from the ground up! Pledge $5 to the film's Kickstarter campaign and get a DRM-free digital download of the film and a making of documentary!"

The visual effects for the film are already well underway, but in order to get them finished we need your help to bring on a small team of professional visual effects artists. These artists will help to simulate vast computer generated oceans and make our creatures look as real as possible. In addition to helping with the visual effects, funding you provide will also be used to complete the sound and color correction for the movie.

The Hunting of the Snark - Narrated by Sir Christopher Lee (Thanks, Michael!)

TOM THE DANCING BUG: Billy Dare Into the Uncanny Valley

Four out of five dentists recommend the TOM THE DANCING BUG WEBSITE for their patients who visit time-wasting websites. The other one out of five recommend that their patients brush their teeth with pixie stix and follow RUBEN BOLLING (@rubenbolling) on TWITTER.

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CGI has been used to do all the really hard stuff in film effects

A provocative theory about CGI and filmmaking; CGI has cleared the backlog of all the stuff that was hard to do with tradition effects, and Hollywood is still locked into making safe movies:
"Avatar" nailed "alien planet". "Harry Potter" nailed "magic". "Titanic" nailed "big disaster". "Lord of the Rings" nailed "fantasy epic war". "Batman" nailed "comic book hero". The backlog has been worked down. Audiences can no longer be impressed by doing any of those things.

It wasn't cheap. Movies once boasted "a cast of thousands". Now, major films do have a cast of thousands - of artists and animators. "Captain America"'s credits have about 850 people on the effects side alone. Anything can be put on screen, but it costs about $100 million.

That's the problem. The technology didn't make movies cheaper to make. Even if the whole thing is done in front of a green screen, it doesn't save much money. ("Sky Captain" was supposed to cost $20 million, but ended up costing $80 million.) We're not seeing good $20 million movies with high production values. Those economics lock Hollywood into what are considered sure wins.

I'm very suspicious of the argument that all the stuff we can imagine has been done (for one thing, there's a world of sui generis stories to be told about subjects that can only be approached with CGI -- also, there's probably not one canonical way of visually representing subjects like "magic"), but I really hear you about the cost structure of Hollywood driving an inherent conservatism in subjects and approaches.

Working down the backlog (via Hack the Planet)

(Image: American Idol Model, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from bobbekian's photostream)