Lineup : Maya on the Mac / Jean Shim and Grace Oh of ShimFilms / Final Cut Pro 2 & Matrox RTMac
In September we featured a pair of heavyweight programs, plus a great artist presentation on creating a low-budget high-impact spot for the recent BDA Awards show:
* pre-meeting Q&A *
Hot topics included wrapping up the previous week's After Effects West conference, including several new After Effects plug-ins that were introduced at the show: Color Finesse from Synthetic Aperture, Grain Surgery from Visual Infinity, and Useful Things from Profound Effects. There was also discussion of the recent speed bumps for the Mac computers.
* Alias|Wavefront Maya on the Mac *
The heavyweight 3D program which needs no introduction. The Mac OS-X port has been long anticipated; it shipped September 15th. The initial version is Maya Complete for $7500 including 1 year of support; Maya Unlimited will follow later. Their goal is to be the best character animation software available.
Requirements are a G4 running OS-X with a minimum of 256 Meg of RAM; more processors and memory are both good as the rendered is multithreaded. Fast graphics cards also help. You can do everything using the Unix command line interface if you want, but you don't have to; this port seemed to be very well integrated into the Mac user interface.
Obviously, it's impossible to cover all of the features in a brief summary; you might want to take advantage of their test-drive program. Some of the more notable features they demonstrated included user interface touches such as a status line and custom tool shelves, the ability to edit curves and sweeps after a surface model has already been created, robust surface filetting (rounding intersections of model joints), the hyper shade window, both motion and deformation animation as well as numerous character animation features such as a "grip" which can address multiple translations at once, their powerful scripting language Mel, and both soft and hard body dynamics including wind blowing a curtain, hinge constraints, etc. They also found time to show off Maya Paint Effects.
* break (8:30-8:50) *
A chance to stretch your legs and network. Vending machines and restrooms are downstairs; remember not to bring any food or drink into the Goodson screening room.
* ShimFilms: Creating a "No Budget" spot *
Jean Shim and Grace Oh of ShimFilms - creators of numerous SciFi Channel spots, among others - shared what they've learned about making a "No Budget" spot for the Rocket Awards at the recent BDA conference. This was an extension of their "Designer Secrets" panel appearance at that show.
ShimFilms originally did print and promos, and went to motion graphics and she saw the development of moving live action in broadcast design. They noted that clients like the organic feel that live motion brings. However, the more you add live action, the higher the budget. You have to add a director of photography, lighting, makeup, etc.
For this particular piece, BDA wanted a spot to show for the Rocket Award - and they wanted it in 3 days. The schedule required them to shoot on a Monday (using a Canon XL-1) and deliver on the following Tuesday. As a result, they did no offline, and went straight to online. They used four people who did everything. They even served as the talent, so they saved money there too. Makeup was key to everything they did: To create an alien presence, they used two plastic orbs and a shower curtain <g>. Also, even if the project is low budget, they suggest you dont skimp on your DP - someone who really knows how to light.
* Apple Computer: Final Cut Pro 2 & Matrox RTMac card *
Paul Saccone of Apple was our last presenter, showing the latest version of Final Cut Pro. In addition to the new features added in the move from version 1 to 2, he also demonstrated the new Matrox RTMac card, which includes real time effects and titles, a second VGA port, and a breakout box with S and Composite out. The card is $999.00.
A green bar in the timeline indicates what you can do in realtime. Apple has come up with a scheme where different hardware manufacturers can accelerate the same effect, allowing interchange of projects between different systems with different hardware. If you move the project to a computer with no hardware acceleration, the green bar disappears, and you can render the effects.
Paul showed off several features of Final Cut, including its improved media management tools, audio editing accuracy to 1/100th of a frame, slip editing tools, improvements to the titler, and others. Paul was also very good-natured about taking feature requests, such as the long-standing desire for their titling to accept Postscript fonts (they are still tied to TrueType).
* door prizes *
Some of the door prizes we had at the meeting were from BDA - an awards annual and a copy of their Gold awards tape - and Maxon - a copy of BodyPaint. Many thanks to those who support MGLA, including of course our meeting sponsor ProMax!
Trish, Chris, Lucky, and Dan
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