Dreamworks Announces History Making Feature 'Home' with Rihanna as its Lead

clock April 22, 2014 12:13 by author christpaul

Given the vast canon of animated movies that now exists, virtually every conceivable base has been touched in terms of character demographics. Anthropomorphic animals are a common theme of modern 3D animations which date back, of course, to the earliest Disney features. Meanwhile, all manner of human characters, and even inanimate objects such as cars have been used as the centrepiece of animated movies.

It is surprising then that a Dreamworks picture is about to break new ground in the world of animated movies. Dreamworks’ forthcoming movie ‘Home’ will be the first 3D animated film to have a black lead character. The pop star Rihanna will voice the character of Tip, a “resourceful girl” who teams up with a banished alien called Oh when Earth taken over by an alien race, according to the synopsis released by the studio.

With animation studios constantly looking for a new angle to attract viewers into the cinema, it seems odd that such a simple thing has been overlooked. ‘Home’ is sure to attract attention due to Rihanna’s star turn, and the film will surely pave the way for more black characters to be at the forefront of animated movies going forward.

Aside from this unique aspect of the film, ‘Home’ also features an all-star cast which will doubtless have animation and cinema fans alike excited with anticipation. Jennifer Lopez will voice Tip’s mother and Steve Martin also stars as the voice of Boov leader Captain Smek. The movie will be based on Adam Rex’s children’s book ‘The True Meaning of Smekday’, which suggests that the film will have a young audience at its heart. In common with many animations, though, the film might slip in some adult jokes to please parents who are in attendance.

 

The movie sounds as if it offers interesting potential to explore a number of issues. A synopsis released by Dreamworks states that the plot will develop along the following lines. “When Earth is taken over by the overly-confident Boov, an alien race in search of a new place to call home, all humans are promptly relocated, while the Boov get busy efficiently reorganising the planet.”

Apparently the character played by Rihanna in this forthcoming animated film manages to avoid capture, an  subsequently finds herself the accidental accomplice of a banished Boov by the name of Oh (Jim Parsons). From this point the animation takes on something of the flavour of an intergalactic road movie.

‘Home’ sounds as if it could be another hit for Dreamworks, and it is refreshing to see animation breaking new ground once again.



Bournemouth University Pioneers 3D Animation Courses for Budding Animators

clock April 10, 2014 13:57 by author christpaul

In a world in which the 3D animation industry makes billions of dollars for some of the most prominent companies in the world, it’s hardly surprising that young people are looking to get into the animation industry as a sensible career move.

Thus, adolescents are increasingly seeking a way to get a foot in the door in the world of animation, and studying the subject, particularly 3D animation and visual effects, is proving to be a common approach to breaking into this exciting and profitable industry.

Within the field of 3D animation, the British university of Bournemouth has marked itself out as a leader in educating students in its critical aspects. The university has been very much a pioneer in running courses in 3D animation and particularly 3D animation, and with its alumni working on blockbusters like Avatar and Gravity, Bournemouth University is very much a force to be reckoned with.

As a result of the success of its most prominent graduates, Bournemouth University has gained a reputation as one of the best centres in the UK for anyone wanting to get into VFX and 3D animation, whether graduates wish to go on to work in fields of cinema, animation or video games. Increasingly there is a lot of overlap between these areas, as video games become more cinematic and both animated and live action movies attempt to attract gamers through their doors.

 

Graduates from Bournemouth have recently worked on the sci-fi blockbuster, and hugely acclaimed movie ‘Gravity’, while more than 50 graduates and former Bournemouth University academics worked on the Oscar-winning visual effects for Avatar. Elsewhere, other Bournemouth graduates have gone on to work within the animation studios of Disney and Pixar, and a plethora of students have secured positions within the flourishing British video games industry.

While traditional educational paths are still open to students, and still perfectly valid, the rich cultural society which exists today has naturally led to large numbers of young people wanting to work within creative industries. Young people today grown up in an environment in which they have never had more choice regarding entertainment, and many are inspired by popular 3D animation and 3D animated video games to want to work in this field to help play their part in creating the next generation of masterpieces.

In a world in which the animation industry is worth billions of dollars, universities and colleges are increasingly offering students an opportunity to study with a view to a career in 3D animation. As 3D technology becomes more sophisticated in the coming years, it seems highly likely that this will become ever more popular in the coming years.



Angry Birds Animated Movie Signs Distribution Deal with Sony

clock March 29, 2014 15:41 by author christpaul

Sony Pictures Entertainment has recently announced a deal which will see them act as distributor for a forthcoming CGI animated feature film. The blockbuster video game franchise ‘Angry Birds’ will provide the template for the Sony movie, with the movie production, consumer electronics and video game giant having pitched the movie for a July 1, 2016 worldwide release.

‘Angry Birds’ has certainly become something of a global phenomenon. It is hard to believe that it is less than five years since the original ‘Angry Birds’ game was released by Rovio Entertainment, but since then it has become one of the world’s most successful video games, and the most prolific download game of all-time.

It is natural that a game based around bold cartoon characters would make the perfect subject matter for an animated movie. With ‘Angry Birds’ still a very significant video game franchise, and continue to rattle up the downloads as well as moving into disc-based versions, there will be a great deal of anticipation surrounding this movie. It will be intriguing to see how the animators bring the outrageous characters of the ‘Angry Birds’ series to life, and what sort of 3D animation that they ultimately opt for.

It has already been a good year for Sony, with their Playstation 4 video games console being very well received and comfortably outselling its Microsoft Xbox One rival. The ‘Angry Birds’ tie in thus makes perfect sense for Sony, and they have already spoken glowingly about how excited they are to be involved in the distribution of this exciting 3D animated movie.

Certainly this is not going to be an animated movie which is rushed out in a third-rate manner. The timescale involved, with work having been ongoing on the 3D animated version of ‘Angry Birds’ for some time, yet the movie still not expected to hit the movies for another two years, indicates that Rovio are taking this movie extremely seriously.

This is a sensible approach for the video game producer, as if they can establish ‘Angry Birds’ as a serious animation franchise, then it could obviously make a significant contribution to revenue, while providing the video games series with plenty of potential material as well.

‘Angry Bids’ will be computer-animated, and at present it appears that it will be released in 3D only. John Cohen is the producer assigned with the job of bringing a credible ‘Angry Birds’ animation to the big screen, while David Maisel is the executive producer. Sony has insisted that it will come out on July 1, 2016, but there must be a little uncertainty about this at this point in time. Nonetheless, it remains an intriguing prospect on the horizon for both video game and animation fans.



Natural Front Intuitive Pro Release Imminent

clock March 25, 2014 14:41 by author christpaul

We are very excited at the moment, as the release of the latest version of our NaturalFront software is imminent. We believe that this breakthrough technology will achieve a literal revolution in 3D facial modelling, and provide the slickest 3D animation package available, at the usual affordable price.

The world-class professional results that can be achieved with NaturalFront offers incredibly speedy animation solutions which are also intuitive and user-friendly. In this latest NaturalFront release we have built on our experience in creating facial animation software to make the process of producing 3D facial animations even more simple and straightforward than in previous NaturalFront releases.

We strongly believe that all professional animators at all levels of the ainmation industry can benefit greatly from the NaturalFront software. We are offering a free thirty day trial of the new NaturalFront Intuitive Pro edition as usual, and you can even win a year’s free access to the full version if you offer us feedback and are selected as the lucky winner of our free prize draw.

NaturalFront ensures that realistic 3D facial animation can be achieved at a fraction of the expense and time that must be invested in other approaches. With NaturalFront’s curved controlled modelling, you can produce double the work in half the time, and get incredible and absorbing results.

We have long since prided ourselves on ensuring that the NaturalFront package renders some of the most laborious animation techniques obsolete, but the new Intuitive Pro version achieves this even more profoundly. With NaturalFront Intuitive Pro there is no need for rigging, no need for morphing, no Need for key-framing and no need for motion capture. We’re sure that professional animators will be rubbing their hands with glee at that prospect!

Another unique element of NaturalFront is that we adapt and evolve the software on a lightning fast and ongoing basis based on your direct feedback. We value our customers extremely highly, and a continual feedback loop is at the heart of NaturalFront’s ethos.

We pride ourselves on this interactive approach – if you see something you'd like added to, or changed within, NaturalFront let us know - because we can usually get your idea created and updated quickly. And if we can’t, we will work tirelessly to do so in the medium-term. We greatly value our users and their feedback and consider our users as more than customers, rather we view all NaturalFront users as a genuine community helping build the software together.

To read more about our NaturalFront Intuitive Pro software, browse our website, or you can download a beta version if you want to check out the 30 day trial.

 



3D Animated Movie Based on Peanuts in the Pipeline

clock March 19, 2014 19:49 by author christpaul

One of the most iconic animated cartoons in history is Peanuts. The creation of Charles Schulz inducted readers into a world that was much loved by followers of the strip for many years, but his untimely passing brought Peanuts to an end after half a century of work in 2000. With Schulz suffering from ill health, he passed away just weeks after ending the Peanuts strip, and with his family expressing the desire for no-one to continue his work, it looked like the end of the line for Charlie Brown and co.

However, the news has broken in recent months that Fox and Blue Sky are working on a 3D animated version of Peanuts. This was a natural move in many ways; Peanuts is a hugely popular strip, and had already appeared on television in an animated form. But given the passing of Schulz and the potential for an incredible legacy to be tainted somewhat, there are naturally those who are not overly keen on the notion of a 3D animated version of Peanuts.

Fans of the series are pretty much split on the idea. On the one hand, the prospect of more canonical material from the Peanuts universe is an extremely seductive one for fans of the cartoon strip. On the other, the prospect of it being a total disaster is obviously not a pleasant one. Additionally, the notion of a 3D animated version of Peanuts is a completely new one, and even those looking forward to seeing how it turns out can’t be entirely sure that it will be a success.

However, the first trailer for the forthcoming 3D animated version of Peanuts is already out, and the general reaction to it has been pretty positive. All of the famous characters from Peanuts – Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy – have all been recreated very faithfully, and there is already a lot of excitement around fans of the Peanuts strip regarding this 3D animated version of the classic comic strip.

There have been proclamations from the filmmakers from day one that they would do justice to the creations of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz and that they would handle the material very respectfully. The proof will be in the pudding on this matter, but Schulz would certainly be pleased with what has been released so far, as the characters look the same and have the same dynamic as the classic cartoon strip.

The rumored release date for this animated movie is 2015, so fans of Peanuts will get their change to see it then.



Disney's 'Frozen' Continues to Smash Animation Records

clock March 6, 2014 11:26 by author christpaul

The 86th Oscar ceremony just took place, with many famous faces and films getting the usual attention, but there was also a raft of animated movies competing to pick up a covered Academy Award. However, despite stiff competition there was only one likely winner this year.

Disney’s ‘Frozen’ has been something of a phenomenon, overshadowing all other releases in the animation field this year. The 3D animated picture which which features the voices of Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, is already the highest-grossing animated non-sequel in history, but is set to go beyond that and become the most commercially successful animated movie of all-time in due course.

‘Frozen’ crossed the $1-billion mark over the weekend, and should soon become the most successful animated feature of all-time; no mean feat given the surge in popularity of 3D animation in particular in the last few years. Ticket sales for the winner of the ‘Best Animated Feature’ at the Oscars reached a staggering $388.8 million in North America alone over the last week, with an additional $611.5 million having been gleaned from all the other territories in the world combined. It is only a truly special movie that rakes in over $1 billion at the box office whether animated or otherwise; by point of comparison, the biggest movie in North America of 2013, ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’, failed to break trhough the magic $1 billion figure.

 

Despite the fact that it was released some months ago, ‘Frozen’ continues to be shown in movie theatres worldwide, with the popularity of the animated film apparently knowing no bounds. Thus, ‘Frozen’ can expect to rack up quite a few more dollars for Disney yet. And with one more opening in Japan still to take place in the next seven days, Frozen is closing in on the record set by the Pixar animation 'Toy Story 3', which grossed $1.06 billion dollars when it was released just four years ago.

The success of ‘Frozen’, both critically and commercially, is indicative of a changing movie landscape in which mature 3D animations can attract as much of an adult audience as live action films. While there is a natural conservatism among older audience to animation, younger generations that have grown up with shows such as ‘The Simpsons’, ‘South Park’ and ‘Family Guy’ simply consider animation to be an absolutely viable art form.

The success of ‘Frozen’ has been a massive coup for Disney as the legendary animation studio continues to add to its already mammoth reputation.



The New Natural Front Professional Release and Curved-Controlled Modelling

clock February 26, 2014 19:28 by author christpaul

With the release of the new professional version of the Natural Front software not long away, we just wanted to take a little time in this blog post to go into the standout features of this exciting piece of software in a little more depth. Whether you’re already familiar with a previous iteration of Natural Front, or completely new to the program, it would be in your interest to read on to find out more.

The whole ethos of Natural Front is to provide the highest quality of professional animation at an affordable price point. But perhaps the most notable and unique feature of the software is its ability to make the hardest part of animation considerably easier.

Any animator worth their salt will know that facial animation is the hardest part of character modelling. Rendering facial expressions so that they are accurate and convincing to highly demanding audiences is an extremely complex task. It is thus very labour intensive, time consuming, and consequently quite often the most expensive part of an animation.

Natural Front addresses this by introducing a completely new form of 3D character animation software. ‘Curve-controlled modelling’ makes the whole process of making world-class facial animations considerably easier by negating a lot of established 3D modelling techniques that are both time consuming and  laborious.

Curve-controlled modelling enables 3D animators to create highly realistic facial animations via a ‘NURBS curve’. This process acts as a control mechanism which enables animators to simulate muscle movements. This new advanced procedure makes the well-known technique of 3D rigging largely redundant, at least for facial animation. There are surely few animators who will shed a tear at this prospect given how expensive, involved and labour intensive it can be!

The new professional edition of the Natural Front software enhances the Curve-controlled modelling element of the software further, making it slicker and even more powerful. Whereas once animators could look forward to grafting a series of complex joints onto a ‘rigged’ skeleton in order to achieve plausible 3D facial animation, Natural Front’s new professional release will make this a thing of the past, at least with regard to facial animation.

With the professional version of the Natural Front software there is no need for 3D rigging, and no need for morphing. Natural Front enables you to create photo-realistic 3D animation intuitively. Furthermore, another part of the software that we’re particularly excited about is the ability to create unlimited photo-realistic 3D models from one or more photos of a person. We anticipate this being extremely useful for our customers.

We’ll be bringing more updates on Natural Front in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes on this blog for the latest information.



New Natural Front Professional Release on the Horizon!

clock February 22, 2014 20:50 by author christpaul

We’re very excited to announce that the latest professional version of the Natural Front 3D animation software is nearly ready to be unveiled. We’re extremely proud of our latest product, and can’t wait for 3D animation professionals to get their hands on it, and for that matter to see some of the results that are produced with it.

The latest version of the Natural Front software still bears all of the hallmarks that professional animators have come to associate with the intuitive 3D animation package. Thus, Natural Front’s enhanced curved controlled modelling ensure that there is no need for time consuming and costly processes such as rigging and morphing. You can create world-class 3D facial animations for a fraction of the time and expense that would have been incurred previously.

This latest version of the software has stepped up the animation features within the program even further, to ensure that photo-realistic 3D animation can be produced without difficulty. We pride ourselves on making the Natural Front package as user-friendly as possible, so you can be reassured that this latest professional version comprises a highly intuitive user interface that makes producing the most absorbing 3D animation easy.

One of the features that we’re particularly excited about with the professional edition of the Natural Front software is the ability to create unlimited photo-realistic 3D models. These can be rendered from merely one photograph of a person, although several can be used if they are available. This is a really neat and exciting feature that is sure to create a big impression on those that witness it.

Natural Front is standalone technology which is not reliant on expensive and logistically complex techniques such as motion capture or tracking. However, in order to make the software as flexible as possible and meet all of the needs of our audience, it is possible to incorporate these techniques into Natural Front if you do desire.

 

The Natural Front software has been built with a unique 3D algorithm which has never featured in any other software program. This unique approach to 3D animation produces spectacular results that rival any major cinematic production.

We’re fully aware that professional animators are very passionate about their work, and also understand some of the frustrations involved in what is an extremely complex and involved process. Our goal from day one with Natural Front has been to produce software that takes all of the headaches out of creating 3D animation. We believe that our latest professional package achieves precisely this, and is our best yet, and we’re extremely excited about its imminent release.

Keep watching this space for more on this new release in the coming weeks.



Calgary Municipal Land Corporation releases unique 3D animation of city

clock February 13, 2014 09:19 by author christpaul

With 3D animation becoming hugely popular in recent years, the uses of the technology are becoming ever more diverse. We’re all used to seeing 3D animations up on the big screen in feature films, but businesses and corporations are also finding ever more innovative ways of utilising 3D animation techniques in order to make their enterprise seem more attractive to punters.

One of the latest interesting examples of this has recently been unveiled by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation. The local authority involved in town planning in the Canadian province has released a unique 3D video which outlines their vision of what the East Village of Caldary will look like in coming years.

This 3D rendering presents a highly realistic view of how the east side of downtown Calgary will be transformed by urban development into a new urban village. The animation has been produced to show how revitalization projects are slowly but surely changing the face of the city.

The 3D animation presents viewers with a fly-by overview of some of the notable landmarks of Calgary, including public art installations, the 4th Street underpass and RiverWalk features. Meanwhile, future attractions which are to be developed imminently are also featured in what is effectively an artistic impression of the future, with upcoming projects like the National Music Centre, new Central Library and the revitalization of St. Partick's Island and accompanying bridge all featured in the video.

The animation shows once again what an innovative and flexible medium 3D animation offers. It is in this spirit that Natural Front was created, with the intention of creating intuitive and innovative approach to 3D animation. The ‘Curve Controlled Modelling’ incorporated into the Natural Front software enables 3D character animators to negate some time consuming traditional 3D modelling techniques, while making the process as fluid and painless as possible for professional animators.

Natural Front’s innovative package ensures that traditional 3D modelling techniques such as 3D rigging, morphing targets and blending shapes can be discarded, as Natural Front makes 3D modelling much easier, quicker and more affordable. With a particular focus on 3D facial animations, Natural Front offers great practical and economic benefits in this notoriously trickiest and most laborious area of 3D animation.

Natural Front enables an animator to produce the highest quality work, at the lowest possible price point, and with the minimum amount of effort. And it constantly grows with the animator, as we treat Natural Front as a ‘beta’ project, and are constantly looking for feedback from users to help grow and mould the future of the software.

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation recognized the power of 3D animation, so why not check out Natural Front today and become acquainted with it yourself.



Animated 'Lego Movie' draws on unique 3D techniques

clock February 9, 2014 19:38 by author christpaul

One of the most surprising phenomena to hit the world of video games over the last decade has been a series of games based on lego. Perhaps most famously associated with the ‘Lego Star Wars’ games, the franchise has become hugely successful against all the odds. Now, with the games seemingly set to go on for many years into the future, lego is about to make its way into the cinema with a 3D animated movie.

‘The Lego Movie’ would scarcely have been believable a few years ago, but the commercial success of the television series has ensured that we are about to see it in multiplexes all over the world. The animators involved have a big challenge on their hands; deliver something as slick as the biggest productions of Disney and Pixar, yet retain the humour and lo-fi look of the video games.

Thus, although the entire world which the characters populate in ‘The Lego Movie’ naturally enough looks as if it has been constructed from lego, in actual fact the whole construct is based on rather sophisticated 3D animation. Actually constructing the sets from lego would have been far too prohibitive in terms of cost, so the animators turned to computing techniques instead.

The animation team involved in ‘The Lego Movie’ have opted for a largely CG animation based solution to deliver the sophisticated 3D animation effects which appear in the movie, and have also mixed in some real lego as well. Co-director Chris Miller addressed some questions about the film’s animation technique directly on Twitter, and stated that using computer-drawn 3D animation allowed ‘The Lego Movie’ team to utilise the same techniques as some of the biggest and most popular animated films, while retaining the unique look of the film.

In order to create a lego universe that was authentic to not only casual viewers but also fans of the kids’ plaything, the team behind ‘The Lego Movie’ literally spent hours playing with actual lego, including building models of even large-scale vehicles such as a pirate ship. The early trailers certainly suggest that this has paid off as the animation and visual effects involved in the movie are extremely pleasing.

While this movie will doubtless attract a captive audience among people who enjoyed the video games, it also seems certain that those fascinated with animation will particularly want to see this film in order to check out the unique 3D animated world which has been created to bring this movie to life.



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