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Siggraph 2010 – Day 2

Okay so day two stared with a speaking session on “Stylized Rendering in Games” this talk discussed why some game developers stray away from photo realistic style and do something out of the box. One example was the new X-box live game “Monday Night Combat”, which puts a whimsical spin on first person shooters. This game was built using the Unreal Engine and 3Ds Max. The the story takes place in the future where Monday Night Football has evolved into a full first person combat game, due to the killing aspect in the games the designers wanted to stay away from a photo realistic look because the player may not buy into the idea that people in the future play a life and death combat game for sport.

Another game that was mentioned was the “Prince of Persia” which during development looked more Miyazaki and didn’t have the unique the designers wanted, so they went through several phases before getting the look they ultimately went with.

The key to developing an effective stylized game was to stay consistent, for example if wild and wacky things happen in your game then the look of your game should be wild and wacky as well, or else the player won’t accept the game world as being real with the game.

The next event of the day was the “Photoshop Illustrations” presented by comic book artist Brain Haberlin. This talk discussed the new brush tools in Photoshop and many techniques for creating new brushes.

The “Traditional Animation in Flash” which highlighted key frame animation, was next on the agenda. It was fun to play with the Cintique monitor and animate, however I was a little let down, since I was hoping to learn something new, and yet it was all stuff I already knew and taught in my 2D animation class.

The highlight of the day was the “Lost Lectures” which was a reflection of Ed Catmull from Pixar about a course he co-taught at Berkly in 1980 and Richard Chuang from PDI who took the course through microwave feed and had the foresight of recording the lectures.

The two spoke about how many of the topics and problems discussed in the course 30 years still apply today.

I got the opportunity to speak with Mr. Catmull and asked what topics should. educators in computer animation entail. His response was that students shouldn’t be given all the answers with software. In other words, students need to learn the basics of the software, but should also be taught skills in creativity and development. They should also be given the opportunity to develop an animation from start to finish where they must workout the problems and to learn new skills on their own as needed to complete the project. He really stressed that students need to be able to problem solve and be willing to learn more on their own.

Finally the last event of the day was the animation festival. The festival featured best visual effects and animations for film and commercials, animated shorts and student animations.

Featured fx included clips from films including: “2012”, “Iron Man” and “Sherlock Holmes”.

Commercial features included a variety of themes and styles, such as “Assassin’s Creed II”, “Beetles Rock Band” and the cute “Milk Sad Princess”.

Studio and student shorts included Disney’s “Tick Tock” which is the story of a small funny looking clock in a clock shop saving other clocks, who previously taught him, from being stolen. Although the characters had a Disney style, the story seemed a little too much like Pixar’s short “Red’s Dream”.

The Jury Award went to an animation from New Zealand, entitled “Poppy”. This independent short set in WW I is the story of two soldiers who come across a baby and their joirney to take it to the nearby French mission by enemy lines. The story is somber but has some what a happy ending and was written by the great grandson of one of the soldiers.

The Best Student Project went to “The Wonder Hospital” Directed by Beomsik Shimbe Shim a student from the California Institute of the Arts. This abstract film portrays the story of a child who enters a hospital that altars the way of seeing beauty. Given the choice of before and after the child realizes that beauty is something very different from expected. This film although creative and uses different cg techniques, is rather creepy and comes off as possibly being footage from a shock rock music video. Although creepy, I find myself wanting to watch it again.

Finally the Best in Show went to “Loom” another student animation, this time from the Filmskademie Baden-Wurttemberg Institute of Animation. This film tells the story of a mouth being sucked dry from by a spider. The film at first seems like some nature documentary shot using micro photography with a few minor cg parts, however it was all cg. The story is creepy and the background music / fx as well as some of the abstract animated sequence made me almost feel like I was watching a THX commercial Still the photo realistic look and behaviors of the characters make it easy to see why it is the best in show.

It was a long day and I returned back to the hotel at 9:00 am just in time for a quick bite to eat before crashing into bed. Remember it’s a two hour time change for me so 9:00 pm is really like 12:00 am my time.

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