Meeting Summary September 2000

AFI Mark Goodson Screening Room
------Sponsored by Pinnacle Systems ------

Our "almost September" meeting, held on August 29th due to scheduling limitations at AFI was again packed, as just about every meeting we've had this year has been. This evening's event was sponsored by Pinnacle Systems (thank you very much!). Pinnacle was down in the person of Lee Croft to show CineWave, their uncompressed digital video system for the Mac.

We started the meeting off with our standard Q&A and information banter. The big news was that MGLA now has a website. You should have received the information about our going online recently via separate email. The website is <> and there you'll find meeting summaries, job listing, meeting announcements and - most important of all - an MGLA online forum where we can continue discussions that have occurred at our meeting. It was also announced that ProMax has graciously agreed to sponsor a full year's worth of MGLA meetings. This generous support will allow us to be a little more flexible in how we set up our future meetings. Thanks again, ProMax!

* presentations *

Our first presenter of the evening was Blair Burtan of Northern Lights Productions. Northern Lights has for years been producing superb plug-ins for Electric Image. This evening Blair gave us a preview of Blaster ($349) - an "explosion" plug-in that's really much more as it has a built-in physics engine. With Blaster, once you've pre-scored a model by breaking it into specific pieces in your modeling application, you can use up to 32 independent shock waves to apply force to the model objects. Each object can have rigid body dynamics, surface friction and collision detection. The use of low-res proxies makes the time-consuming physics calculations more manageable. Blair showed us a truck bouncing off the ground-always fun-and an impressive set of dominoes where you only had to push one and Blaster calculated all the movement from that point on.

Blair also discussed the upcoming Secrets of the CGI Masters... Revealed! 2 seminar to be held on Friday, September 29th in Santa Monica, California. Speakers will include Jean-Christophe Enry discussing the creation of fire effects, Alex Lindsay (ex ILM) on realistic surface materials, Julian Love on lighting and Fumi Mashimo on camera mapping. Price is $399 if registered by September 15 th and $499 thereafter. Interested parties should contact Northern Lights at 909-606-9471 or email:

Lastly Blair showed us a book on lighting he recommends, called "Digital Lighting and Rendering" by Jeremy Birn, which seems to be getting good reviews all around.

Following Blair was special effects artist Steven Walker. Steven used Northern Light's Blaster plug-in to create elements of an exploding building effect for the film Ticker. He used Blaster, camera mapping techniques, compositing in After Effects and much more to create the shot. This shot can be viewed on Steven's website. Of particular note was Steven's technique for animating the fog radii of various lights in Electric Image to create a moving mask which he used to control Artbeats pyro and cloud chamber clips. Steven also showed a couple of other shots (Titan AE, USC football stadium) he had recently completed.

More of Steven's work can be found at his web site. As an additional note, Steven has created a few production-oriented After Effects plug-ins, which are also free for download from his site.

After the break the evening's sponsor, Pinnacle Systems, took the stage to demonstrate and describe their CineWave system. Ron Margolis of Intelligent Media brought down the system that was shown and he talked a bit about what the CineWave system has to offer. Because of its unique ability to do uncompressed high-def, Ron noted that he's getting calls from filmmakers who are considering this as an option for post processing their entire film on the desktop. Apart from the high-def option, CineWave looks like it has the capacity to feed multiple streams of uncompressed standard def video in the near future when Apple's Final Cut Pro supports this. The system features a software codec and will automatically introduce 3:2 pulldown for converting film format to video. It will also automatically rez-up standard def footage when displaying on a high-def monitor. Currently CineWave is a Mac-only product and requires a Power Macintosh G4; Pinnacle also has a PC-only product - the Targa 3000 - which can do multiple streams of standard definition video.

Pinnacle's Lee Croft showed us the system and a bit of Commotion 3.1, a free upgrade from 3.0, which has added bicubic scaling and video monitor mirroring.

The price for CineWave is $6995 for the card, an analog breakout box, Commotion Pro, Final Cut Pro and Hollywood FX. Serial Digital support and the high-def options are more.

Our final presenter of the evening was designer Linda Kane of Linda Kane Design. She came down to show and discuss a large amount of her past work, including how she approached and implemented the redesign of KTLA Channel 5 identity. Linda explained how she explored some older classic design elements and color schemes from the '50s and '60s. She then created the type and graphic elements and finished the job in a Quantel. She also discussed and showed us a few other projects including a WB network style guide and in-stadium graphics for the NFL's Cleveland Browns. Linda explained that her classic but contemporary style comes from her "less is more" approach; and perhaps from the fact that when she studied at the Rhode Island School of Design her instructors forbid the students from designing with any typeface other than Helvetica. Finally, she explained that she uses the Quantel system, as opposed to desktop solutions, because she is very familiar and comfortable with it, and because some jobs require a throughput that does not allow additional time for rendering.

* demo reels *

Believe it or not, we again had time for demo reels. Contact information for demo reel presenters follows:

Frank Rosowski
Tel: 818-686-0091
85-90 percent After Effects. Photoshop, Illustrator and some Avid

digital ghetto
1555 cassil pl.
hollywood, ca
principal - roger ramnath
Former Disney Imagineers specializing in art direction, 2D and 3D design and animation, pre-visualization, web design, concept design and special venue projects. Available individually or as a design boutique.

Tsoo Bick
John Crowley
6006 Wilshire Blvd. Ste 228A
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tel: 323-525-1640
After Effects, LightWave, Photoshop

* door prizes *

We had a generous set of door prizes donated for this month's meeting, including: a set of Alien Skin plug-ins for Photoshop, a pair of Digital Vision's stock footage CDs from their new Fusion series; 150 exhibit passes for DV Expo; Intelligent Media (who co-presented with Pinnacle Systems, and also donated one of their Final Cut Pro DV Companions to give away) brought some passes as well, and ProMax also donated a set of the new Monsoon flat panel speakers!

Again, thanks to our sponsor Pinnacle Systems for making the evening free. We look forward to seeing you there! Directions are below.

Trish, Chris, Lucky, and Dan
Your MGLA Hosts

door prizes contributed by:

*** special note: This meeting is our "September" meeting. Our October meeting will be held in Long Beach as part of DV Expo. ***