Ratchet & Clank Animated Movie Indicative of Video Game Trend

clock January 17, 2015 13:24 by author christpaul

Video game tie-ins have been an obvious source of material for the movie industry in recent years, not least because gaming platforms have become hugely successful commercially. As Hollywood's attempts to regenerate an industry which is struggling to keep up with video games, its producers have naturally plundered successful video games in order to find material.

This is of particular relevance to 3D animation, as firstly 3D animation techniques are obviously prevalent in contemporary video games, and, secondly, in many cases the movies based on video games which are produced implement modern 3D animation techniques.

One such example of the 3D animated game which is now becoming a 3D animated movie is Ratchet & Clank. PlayStation veterans will be familiar with the video game series, and now Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment are turning the popular platformer into a fully fledged movie.

When such popular games are turned into 3D animation, authenticity is always a major concern. The Ratchet & Clank series is relatively lighthearted, but is nevertheless has attracted a vast following in the years in which it has been produced. In conjunction with the forthcoming feature film, another 3D animated Ratchet & Clank game is also planned for 2015, which the developers state will completely reimagine the Ratchet & Clank universe.

Insomniac Games is in fact involved with the production of the movie, and this seems like a wise decision. It is telling that another major movie based on a video game which will appear in the next year or so, The Last of Us, is being primarily written by Neil Druckmann; the person most responsible for producing the plot of the video game.

As games increasingly develop as a form of storytelling and even art, so Hollywood is increasingly learning from the way that the industry operates. It is hoped that this will occur with the new 3D animated Ratchet & Clank movie, which runs the risk of alienating fans if it fails to deliver an experience which is consistent with the video game originals.

This quandary is a major problem for animated movies based on video games, even if the temptation to produce them has by no means receded. There haven't been a huge number of successful movies based on video games, not least because the unique qualities of video games as a genre and storytelling medium do not necessarily lend themselves ideally to Hollywood.

Perhaps Ratchet & Clank will buck this trend and deliver a truly absorbing and successful 3D animated movie when it hits the cinema. It is currently scheduled for a theatrical release in early 2015.



Peanuts 3D Animated Movie Nears Completion as Trailer Emerges

clock January 10, 2015 22:25 by author christpaul

The new 3D animated Peanuts Movie is evidently developing rapidly, as a new trailer emerges to showcase the much loved and legendary characters in a new, updated animation. This is in fact the first ever full-length film which focuses on Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the characters created by Charles M. Schulz, which ran in a cartoon strip form for many decades. The movie utilises both CG and 3-D animation to provide an updated view of the characters.

Producing a Peanuts movie has been a huge challenge for the animation house, not merely because an animation style needed to be produced that was a faithful to the original, but also because the source material is held in such esteem.

It would be difficult to name a cartoon that has had a greater cultural impact than Peanuts, with the possible exception of The Simpsons. The strip which appeared in newspapers all over the world was characterised by a subtle and dry sense of humour, as events focused on the perennially unfortunate Charlie Brown.

After the passing of Charles Schultz, Peanuts was effectively ceased, as his family did not want anyone to continue with the strip and potentially sully the Peanuts legacy. So this places even greater pressure on this forthcoming 3-D animated movie, as the producers need to ensure that the family of Schulz will be happy with the results.

Thus, while the animation may be updated, the story appears to be staying firm with the spirit of the characters fans have been familiar with for decades. Although Peanuts was produced right up until the death of Schulz in 2000, the Peanuts cartoon strip remained steeped in nostalgia throughout its run of nearly five decades. 

While converting any strip to 3-D animation is challenging, the animators thus have to deal with the fact that the movie needs to have a modern look, but one that is effectively rooted in the past. Creating an authentic 3-D animation for this Peanuts movie will be a massive challenge, and it is intriguing to finally view the trailer and see to what extent this has been achieved.

Similarly, writing a plot for the Peanuts movie must have been a serious undertaking, and this has been kept pretty quiet from the public thus far. As in the aforementioned Simpsons, writing a movie regarding such an iconic cartoon and producing a script worthy of a full-length movie must be extremely difficult.

The state-of-the-art 3-D animation that has been produced for this Peanuts film should at least ensure that it is a good-looking movie, and there is no doubt that Peanuts fans all over the world will be interested in seeing the final product.



Latest Natural Front Intuitive Pro 3.1 Animation Software Released

clock January 4, 2015 21:51 by author christpaul

It's not that long since we released the last version of Natural Front, but we are never inclined to rest on our laurels in terms of providing the best possible service to our customers. So we have already taking feedback from our valued users to help create the next version of Natural Front Intuitive Pro, which we are naming the 3.1 version of the software.

We are quite pleased with the new improvements that we have included in this already powerful software package. Updates that have been made to the Natural Front Intuitive Pro 3.1 program include the ability for users to play a captured video directly from the software.

This particular innovation was strongly requested by users in feedback, so we were keen to deliver this particular form of animation support as quickly as possible. We are delighted to announce that it is now fully in place for the 3.1 version of the animation software, and we are extremely confident about the robustness of this feature.

Users downloading the 3.1 version of Natural Front Intuitive Pro will find that they can use any captured videos as a reference for 3-D facial animation. It is possible to place the video and any animation produced side-by-side, which greatly facilitates the process of creating 3-D animation. Already Natural Front Intuitive Pro was a massively slick and powerful animation program, but we're confident that this feature takes it to the next level.

We have also addressed several bugs which existed in the 3.0 version of the software. Of course, we work diligently to ensure that there are no errors in our Natural Front program, but it is almost impossible to eliminate these completely even with diligent testing. But after a lot of work from our engineers, we're now confident that the animation will be even more consistent when different levels of abstraction are used in the same animation process.

This means that animating different parts of a face individually, or animating the whole face based on a few primary expressions, will become even more easy, user-friendly and efficient than before. We are extremely proud of the animation capabilities of Natural Front Intuitive Pro, and equally proud of the fact that animation studios all over the world have used this powerful program to create absorbing 3-D animations.

Finally, Natural Front Intuitive Pro also benefits from a new user-friendly user interface. We were already happy with the ease-of-use of the program, but believe that we have bettered it with this new interface.

All in all, this is another excellent Natural Front Intuitive Pro release, and we can't wait to see what professional animators are able to produce with it.



3-Bahadur Release Underlines the Growth of Animation in Asia

clock December 29, 2014 15:50 by author christpaul

The Asian subcontinent is an increasing source of 3-D animated movies, with India being particularly prominent in the industry. However, a recent development in Pakistan is putting the neighbour and rival of the Indian nation on the animation map as well.

Pakistan’s first-ever feature length animated film, ‘3-Bahadur’ is set for release in the summer of 2015. This historic film is being produced by Waadi Animations of Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and sponsored by English Biscuits Manufacturers (who aren’t actually English!).

While the Western world was enjoying the holiday season and Christmas celebrations, the animation studio behind this pioneering movie unveiled the first images and clips from the film at a special event in Pakistani city of Karachi. ‘3 Bahadur’ debuted at an exclusive event held at Nueplex Cinemas, which was attended by a raft of media and industry personalities.

Given the huge nature of this particular movie for the Pakistani film industry, there were no shortage of leading lights in attendance. According to reports, the event was hosted by leading television and film personality Fahad Mustafa who introduced the project’s core partners to a packed house. The director of the film, Salman Iqbal, also took time to speak to the audience, and he particularly praised the work and efforts of the animation studio who have been involved in the movie.

Although Waadi Animations wishes to keep the film under wraps to a certain extent, those who were present at the screening were fortunate enough to experience an exclusive behind-the-scenes video preview, along with a premiere of some of the imagery and animation involved in this huge cinematic event.

‘3-Bahadur’ follows the adventures of three friends who set out on an epic journey to save their town from some unfortunate events that currently hang over the heads of people residing there. This is very much a tale of courage against the odds, and the central theme of the movie would seemingly be the need to restore peace and harmony in the face of apparent misfortune.

It will be interesting to see whether there is a clear demarcation between good and evil in this film, or whether it is more sophisticated in town. However, given that the director has previously won an Oscar, this would seem to be a particularly credible movie, and one that will doubtless achieve massive success in its native Pakistan. 

The producers have proclaimed that this movie will change the way that partnerships are carried out for films in Pakistan, and are said it'd be very excited about the results. It will certainly be interesting to see how Pakistan's first animated movie turns out when it is released in 2015.



3D Printing and War Games To Stimulate Animation

clock December 26, 2014 11:58 by author christpaul

The phenomenon of 3-D printing has had a significant impact on the types of animation that can be carried out successfully, but one realm that few people will have considered in which 3-D printing is having a genuine impact is that of tabletop war games. Of course, 3-D animation has had a huge influence over the video games industry, and modern games such as Call of Duty greatly benefit from complex and absorbing 3-D animations.

However, tabletop war games remain extremely popular for a variety of reasons, not least that strategy is central to what takes place. Essentially, the most popular board game in human history, chess, is a war game, and the enduring popularity of this ancient game is indicative of the degree to which traditional tabletop games can still attract players.

Although tabletop war games can to some extent to be viewed as a dated, or at least traditional, hobby, hundreds of thousands of the players are still involved in the pastime. And the notion that this is a dated way to spend time is being challenged by one company, which goes by the name of  Printable Scenery. The  Printable Scenery company is combining the modern-day technology of 3D printing with that of those traditional games.

It is here that 3-D printing has come in useful, as the Printable Scenery company is able to combine this very contemporary technology with the traditional tabletop game. The creation of miniature fantasies scenery has really enhanced the tabletop gaming community's experience.

Representatives of the Printable Scenery company suggest that the process for modelling for animation and the process for modelling 3-D prints can be quite different, with keeping everything to scale being a serious challenge in the latter. Nonetheless, the Printable Scenery company is also intending to work in animation in the near future, with 3-D printing seen as a viable option for absorbing animated movies.

In the process involved in this innovative gaming device, creating brick patterns that don’t tile or repeat can take a while to model. This differs with animations, where applying a tile-able texture is much easier.

Several 3-D animations based on 3-D printing technology have already been produced, perhaps most notably the short film which went viral on the Internet, Bear on the Stairs. Although the technology is still in its infancy, as it develops it seems more likely that 3-D printing could become a staple of the 3-D animation industry.



Natural Front Intuitive Pro - Latest Version is a Game Changer

clock December 15, 2014 14:25 by author christpaul

We have recently released the latest version of Natural Front, which we are dubbing Natural Front Intuitive Pro 3.0. This is the latest and greatest version of the 3D animation software that we have poured our heart and soul into, and we are extremely proud of the results. 

Natural Front Intuitive Pro 3.0 has all of the qualities that you have come to associate with our 3D animation packages, and delivers the user-friendly software that you’ve come to expect. No more 3D rigging, or other expensive and time consuming 3D animation techniques; Natural Front Intuitive Pro delivers a truly intuitive animation package that makes facial animation in particular extremely easy and fluid to produce.

But we’ve also crammed in our fair share of new features as well. In our last blog we examined the new facial modelling, rendering features and animation improvements. In this post we will be looking at a few more improvements that we have also added into the software.

One particularly visionary user informed us that our software could be a serious game changer if the range of motion and the deformation could be significantly extended. We are very grateful to Loring Robbins, the Animation Director at Bouncyfruit.com because we have taken on board these suggestions and we believe greatly improved the Natural Front package as a result.

With the improvements we have made to the smoothness of 3D modelling in this latest version of Natural Front Intuitive Pro, allied with other aspects of 3D modelling and animation, we believe that we are approaching this goal rapidly. This is reflected in the new version of the software which features some brand new effects and functions. Users can find in the new version a significant extension of deformation, which is reflected in new features such as more extreme facial expressions.

Additionally, we have added several other tweaks to the Natural Front software with Natural Front Intuitive Pro 3.0. Both the internal animation and user interface have been made even more intuitive for users, ensuring that this is the easiest Natural Front package to use that we have ever created. We definitely believe that ‘intuitive’ is the word that sets us apart from other providers! We never stand still with Natural Front, though. We are already looking at improving the software, and users can expect to be see more significant improvements in our future releases. And we very much value the feedback that we get more our users. We rely on you to outline for us what you require in the Natural Front package so that we can deliver the software that will continue to attract the praise that we’ve received for our existing version of this 3D animation package.



New NaturalFront Intuitive Pro 3.0 Version Released!

clock December 10, 2014 16:35 by author christpaul

We have just released our latest version of NaturalFront Intuitive Pro, and we’re very excited about the new improvements in this version of our heralded 3D animation software. As always, we have listened to our customers in developing this animation package, and as such have been several key improvements into our latest package. 

For this new version of NaturalFront Intuitive Pro (which we are dubbing NFIP 3.0), there are significant improvements in the following areas: 

- much better rendering of details;

- much smoother animation;

- significant extension of the range of movement achievable, e.g. more expressive facial features;

- a variety of other tweaks, upgrades and improvements.

Two of the key aspects of the NaturalFront Intuitive Pro package are the improved rendering functions and smoother animation. These two factors are key to everything we’re doing with the NaturalFront package, so this blog post will take a little time to discuss these animation upgrades.

One of the most frequently requested improvements to the NaturalFront package has been a desire for better rendering. This can be a time consuming process with other animation packages, and we have put user friendly rendering at the heart of the NaturalFront experience. But we’re always looking to improve things so we have make significant breakthroughs with NaturalFront 3.0.

For our new version of the software, as long as a photograph of a face has sufficient detail, the 3D facial model will enhance the details after the photo is converted into the model. This can pick up incredibly fine details, whether you are dealing with he beard on a man’s face or the smoothness of a woman’s face. Even tiny droplets of sweat can be picked up during the rendering process, which gives some idea of the minute level of detail possible.

NaturalFront Intuitive Pro 3.0 also features a greatly improved animation engine. We have again listened to the feedback of our users, who have indicated that he movement in some areas of the 3D model is not as smooth as desired.

We have therefore worked hard to upgrade the program code for NaturalFront to achieve this. Considering all movements related to the software are achieved by program code - i.e. without any manual building of bones and morph targets - this limitation might be understandable to some degree. 

However, we have strived to improve this, while still sticking to our treasured software-only approach, and we are very happy with the results. 

This is the most powerful NaturalFront package yet, and if you want to check it out for yourself, sign up to the 30 day free trial today.



New Report Predicts Evolution and Growth for 3D Animation

clock December 4, 2014 18:29 by author christpaul

A recent marketing report indicates that the 3-D animation industry is to experience significant growth in the coming years. The report has been authored by Grand View Research, a U.S. based market research and consulting company, registered in the State of California and headquartered in San Francisco.

Grand View Research came to the conclusion that major industries will increasingly utilise 3-D animation in the coming years. These will include education, defence, and of course media and entertainment.

Additionally, 3-D animation is expected to particularly thrive in the newly industrialising economies of India, China and Japan. These three important Eastern nations are expected to drive 3-D animation market growth in the next few years.

While the story is one of growth, it is also one of evolution in the approach to 3-D animation. The coming years will see co-production strategies adopted by cable channel operators, TV broadcast companies, and multinational studios in order to increase market opportunities. As 3-D animations become more complex to produce as the industry develops further, collaborations between studios across international borders will become commonplace.

In such a context, the increasing use of 3-D animation software throughout the entertainment industry is almost inevitable. According to the report this will be a key animation market driver. There is also expected to be significant market growth in so-called hybrid animation; combinations of 2-D and 3-D animation techniques. This is expected to be a major trend over the next few years.

The San Francisco-based report focused on the world of animation up to 2020. And while there may be a great deal of growth in this period, it is also predicted that some truly revolutionary techniques and technologies will emerge. Among these will be the development of 4D animation technology, and propagating awareness of its potential is expected to spur adoption in the animation industry.

Meanwhile, 3-D applications will be utilised across a variety of industries, as stereoscopic 3D gaming and 3D character merchandise are among the factors expected to boost the 3-D animation market.

The report overall paints a picture of a very healthy landscape for 3-D animation, and one in which the industry both develops and becomes more diverse in nature. This will happen both at the level of technology, but also with regard to the geographical location of animation studios that are prominently involved in the industry. 

As 3-D animation grows, small and medium-inside animation studios will find it increasingly feasible to produce world-class animation using such software as Natural Front.



Indian Cricketer Virat Kohli Launches 3D Animated Avatar

clock November 22, 2014 10:20 by author christpaul

The Indian cricketer Virat Kohli is already a famous name and figure within the subcontinental Asian nation. But a recent innovation on his website is aiming to improve his image and reputation still further.

Kohli recently unveiled a 3-D animated character which will form a major part of his website going forward. This new animation will be used in conjunction with a newly unveiled logo on this new website which aims to further advance the batsman’s image.

Image rights of sportsmen are incredibly important in the modern era. Many sports personalities make far more money through their off-field activities that they do actually playing the sport from which they made their name. For example, the tennis player Roger Federer makes tens of millions of dollars every year from products he endorses, such as the Gillette razor range and Rolex watches.

Kohli  is already a hugely popular figure in cricket-mad India. Since the retirement of the legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar, the Indian public have been looking for a new hero in what is regarded as its national sport (officially the national sport is field hockey). The dashing and exciting play of Kohli has fitted the bill in this regard, and the middle-order batter is already well on his way to being one of the best one-day international batsmen of all-time.

The decision of Kohli to launch a website specifically based around animation shows the growing significance of the 3-D animation genre in developing economies such as India. The Indian animation industry is in fact extremely established, with the production of feature-Lancs animated movies in the world is the second most populous nation dating back to 1956. 

At this time animator Clair Weeks, who have worked on the imaginary Disney film Bambi, was invited to Films Division of India in Mumbai to establish and train the country's first animation studio as part of the American Technical Co-Operation mission. The first Indian 3D animated film was Roadside Romeo, which was a joint venture between Yash Raj Films and the Indian division of the Walt Disney Company.

 

These historic events set in motion the wheels of Indian animation, and today feature length animations particularly in the 3-D genre are commonplace within the nation. India is symptomatic of a growing popularity of 3-D animation, and it is significant that a hugely popular public figure such as Kohli has chosen this medium to extend his already burgeoning popularity.



Queen's Brian May Involved in New 3D Animation

clock November 6, 2014 06:35 by author christpaul

Brian May has had a varied career, most obviously being associated with his role as the lead guitarist in Queen. But unlike many rock musicians, May also turns his hand to a wide variety of other ventures. He is a very well qualified astrophysicist, vice-president of animal welfare charity the RSPCA and a keen stereoscopic enthusiast. The rock icon has certainly earned his award of being a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).

But his latest venture is a departure even for May. The former Queen axeman has been involved in making the music for a new 3-D animated film. One Night in Hell, filmed in Dolby 3D and Dolby Atmos, is a devilish and spectacular animation short that tells the story of one skeleton's journey into a stereoscopic Hell. And the music for this ghoulish animation has been provided by May, with the trailer featuring one of the Queen’s greatest hits, We Will Rock You. 

Although Queen were a stadium rock band, May has for many years sought the opportunity to work with classical musicians. This has been exemplified by this latest animation project, as the former Queen nurdler has worked closely with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra to produce pieces for the film that are truly dramatic and atmospheric.

May's brief synopsis of the film is that a man is condemned to hell, and then plays music while confined to eternal damnation. The film actually builds on a French tradition which dates back to Victorian times, and May has stated that the movie is very historically accurate in this regard, and shows great authenticity and respect to this cultural element.

This is another example of the pull of 3-D animation in 2014. Increasingly artists from all manner of different walks of life want to work in this vibrant and exciting creative field, and the possibilities for collaborations in the future are clearly extremely high. One Night in Hell has already been premiered to the press, and media has reported that the animation involved in the film is both very technically impressive and visually appealing. 

One Night in Hell, will premiere on Sky 3D & Sky Arts on October 31st at 7:40 PM, and will be available from iTunes early November, £1.99 The film's soundtrack, composed by Brian May is now available on iTunes, £79p, and a related App, Diableries, is now available from the App Store, £1.99.



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