Meeting Summary July 2000

Our July meeting was one of the most well-attended meetings we've had at AFI. In fact, we've had 'em standing in the aisles for most meetings held this year. Not that we like to have folks without seats, but it's nice to see that a good amount of people continue to enjoy coming down to our meetings despite summer vacations and the like.

We opened with our regular Q&A session. Topic covered included assessing the quality of RAM (general consensus is that Techworks and Kingston can be trusted), possible techniques for creating 3D video by placing separate images in the odd/even fields, and the state Pinnacle's new Targa boards (the Cine board should be at the August 29 meeting). Co-host Dan Warvi also had a suggestion for a place to get deals on new equipment which can be found at <http://dealmac.com>. We then proceeded to the main meeting.

This meeting was sponsored by Newtek (thanks much) who came down to show us LightWave 6.0 running on an Apple Macintosh (it is also available for Windows). Newtek's Brad Peebler opened the meeting by showing us a tape of work done in LightWave by the studio Station X - it was quite impressive.

Next, Brian Frazinger of Newtek took the stage to give us a lightning-fast demo of this impressive software. Brian started with the Modeler portion of the program. He showed us how both poly and subdivision surfaces could be used to create complex shapes. One of the unique features demo'd was Smooth Shift (a form of complex beveling). Brian then showed us how to build a finger and a hand very quickly and in doing so showed us how good LightWave is at creating very complex single-surface shapes. Finally, Brian showed us how LightWave allows you to define morph targets and change geometry after the fact, a very unique and powerful feature.

Brian then moved to the animation/rendering portion of the program. First up he showed us VIPER and interactive preview rendering feature. Up next was Hypervoxels, a mix of volumetrics and procedural textures that can be used to create fire, water, clouds, etc.

Next, Brad came up to talk about rendering improvements and some very exciting new features. He pointed out that LightWave uses 320 bits of floating point data in computing it's images. This allows them to calculate high dynamic range images (HDRI) which they used to create some stunning and absolutely realistic images rendered via radiosity.

Newtek concluded by showing another tape, this one from Rainmaker, and announcing some very attractive upgrade/crossgrade pricing. The upgrade from LW 5.6 to 6.0 is currently $495.00 and they also currently offer half-off the $2495.00 retail price for Electric Image and Strata owners.

Moving somewhat to 2D in a heavily 3D evening our next presenter was Zax Dow of Zaxwerks who came up to show off the latest developments in his 3D Invigorator for Adobe After Effects. After seeing the LightWave demo Zax was quick to point out that Invigorator was designed as a "just enough" 3D tool for designers. It gives AE users a quick and easy way to create 3D type and other objects w/o having to move to a complex 3D program. Zax showed how 3DI works well with layers Adobe Illustrator files which you can import, extrude, texture and animate. Zaxwerk's 3D Invigorator for After Effects is available for $695.00 but a special introductory price of $595.00 is currently available.

After our break we were privileged to have Steve Kazanjian and Mike Goedecke of Belief come down to reprise an installation called "Untitled: Darkness" they presented at the recent BDA conference. Steve and Mike noted that the BDA had moved away from the "creative" in their recent shows and they took it upon themselves to formulate a presentation that would show in an interesting way the work of a number of studios. To accomplish this they sent twelve different studios Super8 cameras and film and told them to shoot images based on the theme of "darkness." The films were then returned to Belief, digitized and randomly distributed back to the studios assuring that each studio received images shot by another. Each studio then created a short piece with music added. The result was "Untitled: Darkness." If you missed it at our meeting, the tape can be purchased online via BDA <http://www.bdaonline.org/northamerica/resources_darkness.asp> with the proceeds going to benefit a scholarship foundation for design students.

Our final presenter of the evening was Foundation Imaging in the persons of Kyle Toucher and John Allardice. Foundation does a lot of work with LightWave and they came down to talk about some recent projects, show some work, and discuss workflow, etc. One recent and very large project was a 3D animated version of Starship Troopers. For this project they used a lot of motion capture to animate the models they created, animated and rendered in LightWave. To get this job out the door Foundation completed up to 450 shots per week with a staff of 150. The series consisted of 30 shows. With the need to quickly ramp up and down for shows of this nature Kyle and John were asked what they like to see in a freelancer's demo reel. First, they want to see stuff that looks like it could have come out of their shop, for obvious reasons. But if you have not done that type of work, that's fine. They also noted that reels which show a good sense of camera movement stand out from the crowd.

For the first time in a long time we were actually able to make time for demo reels. A list of presenters who furnished us with contact information follows:

John Vandewege
Los Angeles Times,
Media Production
(213) 237-3045 day
(626) 358-5711 home
(213) 788-1314 pgr.
john.vandewege@latimes.com

Alex Harmon
spaceweave@mediaone.net
EI work, some Maya Inspector Gadget title.

Lei Taguchi
lmaya@earthlink.net
School project / Photoshop and AE

Don Terlinden
DTerlinden@aol.com
Flash Showed Frog/Heron flash animation which can be seen at: <http://home.earthlink.net/~dterlinden>

Roger Mocenigo
xdi@gte.net AE,
Photoshop and some Electric Image

We ended the evening with a few door prizes, including a set of LightWave training tapes from Desktop Images, a copy of Belief's Darkness tape, an Awards Annual from the recently completed BDA show, and a copy of co-host Chris and Trish's book Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

Of special note is that Desktop Images, in addition to their normal quantity discounts (10% on 4 tapes or more, 15% on 8 tapes or more), offers an additional 10% discount to MGLA members - thanks! And of course, thanks again to the evening's sponsor, Newtek.

Thanks - Trish, Chris, Lucky and Dan Your MGLA co-hosts