The other United of Manchester release 3D impression of new stadium

clock November 19, 2013 18:31 by author christpaul

There are many potential applications for 3D animation, and as the technology becomes ever more popular, and increasingly cheaper, it is almost inevitable that we will see ever more eclectic sources of 3D animation popping up. But an organisation in Manchester, UK who one would definitely not associated with the world of animation, released a 3D animation this week that has garnered a lot of attention.

FC United of Manchester were formed when a splinter group of footballer supporters, who were dissatisfied with the commercial policies of the world famous football club Manchester United, decided to form their own club. FC United have grown from the grass roots up, until they have reached the seventh tier of English football, no mean achievement given their mere eight year existence.

This week the club’s progress was exemplified by the release of a 3D animated impression of their new stadium, which is expected to be completed next summer. The 3D animation of the club’s new 5,000 capacity ground gives indication of the progress that the club has made in a short period of time. Previously the club have been playing their home fixtures at Bury’s Gigg Lane, although they have played home league games at five other venues due to fixture clashes.

The FC United animation just indicates the extent to which 3D animation can serve any number of organisations in a variety of different ways. It is the popularity of this medium on the big screen which has indicated its viability to a huge number of eclectic businesses and organisations.

 

 

This enthusiasm for 3D animation in all its various guises, lead to the Natural Front technology being created. In the case of Natural Front, the focus of the software is very much on the creation of 3D animated characters, with facial animation a particular speciality. But the usage of 3D animation for this football presentation shows that many different applications of 3D animation are possible.

Natural Front is perfect for organisations of similar size to FC United, with the technology particularly targeted at small and medium-sized professional animation studios. The beauty of the Natural Front software is that it renders many of the most time consuming and expensive procedures associated with animation completely irrelevant. The software’s unique and sophisticated modelling system renders some of the most reviled and laborious techniques of 3D animation obsolete, and ensures that professional animators can create engaging character and facial animations with the minimum amount of fuss.

Still operating on a beta basis, Natural Front is thus encouraging professional animators to get involved and shape the direction of this exciting software package.



3D skeleton animation has jaws dropping all over the globe

clock November 13, 2013 17:48 by author christpaul

We are all so used to seeing 3D animations nowadays, with the genre having become hugely popular in the last few years in particular. They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and while this certainly may be a considerable exaggeration with regard to 3D animation, with 3D animated movies remaining hugely popular with viewers of all ages, what can be said with some conviction is that the more we become familiar with something, the less likely we are to be blown away.

It says something significant that a recent animation produced by the 33-year-old South African animator Olaf Louwinger has created quite a splash. The short animation in question was created by Louwinger quite recently, and to his surprise has captured the attention of the world media, despite its low budget nature. This just indicates that even budget 3D animations can create results that impress, entice and amaze people.

 

The animation in question is a quite incredible 3D animation which involves the anatomy of a tennis player striking a ball. The footage has really impressed even animation industry veterans, as  the short movie shows the form and position of the skeletal structure, circulatory system, muscular system, and organs, and how they move within the body. The detail of this 3D animation has drawn plaudits from virtually all who have viewed it.

In addition to the animation techniques adopted, the short movie also features an amalgamation of live footage combined with 3D animation. The Louwinger film includes footage of a tennis court, which was taken on a basic handheld camera, before the sophisticated CG model was superimposed over the top of it. This commonly used animation technique nevertheless creates a lasting impression on the viewer.

As 3D animation becomes an increasingly important part of the mainstream movie industry, and a technique by which many smaller enterprises wish to get their corporate message across, professional animators are always looking for new techniques and procedures in order to create innovative new animations. Natural Front is one such resource, enabling professional animators to create the highest quality animations at a price that doesn’t break the bank.

In addition, Natural Front saves valuable man hours via its innovative technology which renders many stalwart 3D animation techniques obsolete. The technology really is a quantum leap in the world of 3D animation, and is set to grow, develop and evolve more, as its beta status ensures that professional animators can get involved with the process of building the core of the software as they use it. With Natural Front, skilled professional animators can soon be creating movies every bit as innovative and jaw dropping as Louwinger’s excellent skeleton tennis player.



Hugely successful 3D animation Monsters University gets home release

clock November 10, 2013 14:41 by author christpaul

One of the most beloved 3D animated movies in the history of the genre has recently made its way to Blu-ray. Monsters University, one of the iconic Disney corporation’s biggest hits and most loved movies has recently seen a release on both high-definition Blu-ray and the more populist DVD format.

Directed by the veteran Pixar operator, Dan Scanlon, Monsters University did extremely well for Disney, making nearly $275 million in the United States, and close to $750 million in worldwide box office grossing since its release in June. It is thought that DVD sales could push the overall money made by this 3D animation over the magical $1 billion threshold.

A prequel to some of the previously released Monsters movies, at least in terms of the films’ timeline, Monsters University attracted some of the most renowned vocal talent in the movie business to voice the adorable three-dimensional characters who appear in the film. Thus, in the course of watching Monsters University we hear from the likes of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Dave Foley, Julia Sweeney, Joel Murray and Peter Sohn.

This particular DVD release has been particularly praised for the extent of bonus material which comes on the disc. This is of particular interest with regard to animated movies, as people are generally fascinated by how the 3D animation process is achieved. The Monsters University release contains a great deal of material looking at the animation process, and really casting a spotlight on all the hard work that goes on beyond the scenes of such a movie to bring the characters to life via 3D animation.

 

Of course, any 3D animated movie is hugely reliant on the quality of the animation techniques that go into its production. And any professional animator will tell you that producing convincing character animations, particularly facial animations, is an extremely challenging process. Not merely is it extremely demanding for animators to produce detailed 3D animated characters, but the expense to the production can also sometimes be prohibitive.

There are no such concerns with Natural Front, because ethos behind the software from day one was to create a 3D animation system that delivers both high-quality 3D facial and character animations at a price point that doesn’t exclude small or medium-sized enterprises. We believe we have achieved this, and the instigation of such innovative technology as curved controlled modelling has also enabled us to make the animation process much easier.

With Natural Front, creating absorbing 3D characters such as those featured in Monsters University becomes much easier and more affordable. It is a very powerful implement in the right professional animator’s hands.



3D animation is novel way to promote rail safety in Australia

clock November 6, 2013 17:11 by author christpaul

A new Australian advertising campaign is looking to utilise 3D animation as a novel way to get its message across. And the campaign has been so successful, exploding on the social media scene, that its impact has created a splash among the entire world of advertising.

The advertisement in question has been produced by the Metro Trains organisation of Melbourne, Australia. The public transport firm was apparently extremely irritated by its failure to convey to the public the importance of rail safety, and thus turned to 3D animation to get the public onside with this important principle.

The 3D animation video can be viewed on Youtube and other popular video hosting sites, and has created quite a stir. The video draws heavily on gallows humour, and features a series of 3D modelled cartoon characters, who have a decidedly cute demeanour. Not many people who view the video expect the grisly and shocking end to the film; three of the characters are killed by trains due to their unsafe and irresponsible behaviour.

This film has been a huge hit on Youtube, with over 62 million views thus far. Metro Trains has been delighted by the public response to its 3D animated movie, with the company claiming that it has made a significant contribution to a 30% reduction in so-called ‘near-miss’ accidents.

Perhaps what the campaign has best illustrated is that communicating a serious message to the public does not have to be achieved via dry and sober means. Human-beings of all ages respond enthusiastically to animation, and the popularity of the 3D variety pretty much ensures that any movie of any nature made in this way will garner public attention.

Natural Front offers one of the most intuitive and technically superior ways of rendering 3D animated movies. The sophisticated Natural Front software is particularly designed to create three-dimensional animated characters, and does a supremely good job of 3D facial modelling; long since acknowledged to be one of the most expensive, time consuming and complex tasks involved in 3D animation.

What the Australian advertising campaign shows is that 3D animation doesn’t just have to be used to create light-hearted animated films. To some extent, despite the critical and commercial success of programmes such as ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘South Park’, animation is still thought of as something aimed at children, whereas the reality is that is can be used to target any audience when utilised effectively.

Natural Front is one of the best and most cost effective 3D animation solutions available, and promises developers the opportunity to participate in the development of the software as well. It is well worth a look for any professional animator.



Dreamworks to Release new 3D Mr. Peabody & Rocky and Bullwinkle Movies

clock November 3, 2013 12:50 by author christpaul

There is no bigger name in the world of animation than DreamWorks, and the multi-billion dollar animator has built up a formidable reputation in the field, since its inception in 1994. Associated with one of the very biggest names in the movie business, Stephen Spielberg, Dreamworks animation arm was created in 2004, and since then has presided over some massive hits. The most notable productions of Dreamworks in commercial terms were the Shrek movies, with three of this series – Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, and Shrek Forever After – being ranked among the fifty highest grossing movies of all-time.

The studio is the perfect entity then to relaunch a once popular character back into the mainstream. This is precisely what Dreamworks are attempting with the forthcoming 3D animated adventure comedy Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which features characters updated from the classic 1960′s animated TV series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Dreamworks will thus be tasked with updating some of these loved characters for the 3D animation platform.

The plot of Mr. Peabody & Sherman revolved around the eponymous character of the animated film, who is the most advanced and intelligent human-being on the planet earth. He’s a business titan, a Nobel-Laureate, a two time Olympic gold medalist and, most significantly, an inventor – hence the ‘Peabody Award’. The new 3D animated film featuring this character sees Peabody invent a time machine which enables him and his adopted son Sherman to travel back in time and come face to face with some of the most important people in history, while trying to avert disaster to the space-time continuum.

Dreamworks are predicting that this movie will be a massive hit, and have recruited a cast of big names to try and ensure that this is the case. Thus, this new 3D animated movie features Max Charles (The Amazing Spider Man) as Sherman, Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report), Ariel Winter (Alex on Modern Family), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), and the infamous Mel Brooks (The Producers).

 

In addition, Dreamworks will also be packaging the movie with a 3D animated Rocky and Bullwinkle short which will only entice animation fans into cinemas in larger numbers.

Recreating these classic characters in three-dimensions will be a challenge for the animators, as 3D character animation is always a massive undertaking. It is with this realisation that Natural Front has been created, in order to provide an intuitive and powerful platform for professional animators to produce enthralling and absorbing characters.

Natural Front makes 3D facial animation in particular considerably more easy and intuitive, negating the need for many of the time consuming processes generally associated with 3D character animation. Why not check out our site today, and you could be benefiting from this superlative software in no time at all.



Chairman Mao is unlikely subject of new 3D animation

clock October 29, 2013 14:02 by author christpaul

With the 3D animation market becoming increasingly popular, we have seen all manner of characters, settings and storylines hitting the silver screen as animators attempt to take advantage of the popularity of the genre. But a new movie from China is introducing an animated character that few outside of the world’s second largest economy would ever have expected to see in the cinema.

China has recently announced a new animated film which is intended to bring to life and celebrate the life of the infamous Communist leader Mao Zedung (often known Mao Tse-tung in the West). The South China Morning Post reports that the animated film will depict the former Chinese leader in his teenage years, with early footage from the film showing an adolescent Mao wearing his hair in a traditional braid.

The animated film has been made with the intention of enhancing Mao’s reputation and image with China’s young people, with the former leader of the nation having had a profound influence on the nation’s culture, having been in power in China for several decades.

The animated film will cost an estimated 30 million yuan, which equates to approximately $4.5 million, and will be a 3D animation once it is finished. The 3D version of the movie is expected to be released some time in 2014.

 

Given the fact that the Mao film will require a particularly distinctive 3D modelling and animation solution, in order to satisfactorily create a young Mao that audiences could recognise, the animators would be well advised to opt for Natural Front’s curved controlled modelling, especially as our unique animation system is particularly designed to produce high-quality 3D facial animations.

Natural Front would be a real boon to the production of the Mao movie, as not only can it deliver the highest quality of 3D facial animation, but also does so in a way which is convenient and intuitive for professional animators and that save the production money.

While 3D animators are used to utilising laborious and time consuming methods of animation, such as 3D rigging, Natural Front renders such painstaking procedures redundant, at least with regard to 3D facial modelling. Instead of a professional animation modeller being forced to create a 3D animated character by binding to a system of joints, Natural Front enables the professional animator to shelve the rigging process completely. Natural Front ensures that animators will no longer have to slave over complex and intricate systems of joints in order to create world-class 3D facial animations.

With Natural Front as part of their portfolio, the Mao animators could produce the best 3D facial animation available, and probably trim their $4.5 million animation budget. So if you’re a professional animator, get in touch with Natural Front today, and begin to learn how our unique, state-of-the-art technology can assist with your animation projects.



3D Tarzan movie shows the importance of high-class animation

clock October 29, 2013 13:55 by author christpaul

All professional animators, and even many accomplished animators, know that 3D animation can be an expensive and demanding process. In every respect, it remains a labour-intensive and laborious process, even with the advent of massive computing power, which has made the technical aspect of 3D animation to be a little more manageable. But there is one thing potentially more costly that the 3D animation process itself for professional animators, and that’s having a lousy product once you’ve finished the animation process.

As if to prove the point, a recently released trailer of a forthcoming 3D film fully underlines just how even the most expensive productions can fail to deliver if the 3D animation process is insufficient for the needs of the animator.

The film in question is the motion-captured animated adaptation of Tarzan 3D, which is being made by Constantin Fims. This is a serious commercial movie, which has enlisted Twilight star Kellan Lutz to play the eponymous hero of the movie, with Spencer Locke of Detention fame taking the part of Jane.

 

 

Initial reports from the animation process of this movie did not reflect favourably on the 3D animators efforts, but one year on, and with the trailer out, some of the reaction to it has been distinctly underwhelming. And this is for a movie that has already been released in Germany and Russia, and is essentially completed. 

This just shows that you can pour a stack of cash into producing an animated movie, and still get substandard results if you don’t use the right 3D animation system. There can surely be nothing worse for the professional animator than going through all of the rigmarole which 3D animation entails, and still finding that the end product is less than ideal.

Thankfully, with Natural Front’s intuitive and innovative new approach to 3D animation, dubbed ‘Curve Controlled Modelling’, there is no need to worry about your professional animations failing to impress audiences. The approach of Natural Front to 3D character animation enables animators to confine some traditional 3D modelling techniques to the dustbin, and makes the process as fluid as possible for professional animators.

With Natural Front, traditional 3D modelling techniques such as 3D rigging, morphing targets and blending shapes can be jettisoned, as Natural Front’s cheaper, faster, unique animation technology makes 3D modelling better, quicker and cheaper. Natural Front is particularly proficient at creating 3D facial animations; notoriously the hardest and most time consuming part of 3D animation.

In summary, Natural Front enables an animator to produce the highest quality work, at the lowest possible price point, and with the minimum amount of effort. This is a package that will attract the attention of all animators, particularly as its beta status means that you can contribute to the development of the program as you utilise it.

Don’t be like the makers of Tarzan; check out Natural Front and be at the cutting edge of 3D animation today!



Why Motion Capture Isn’t The Best Bet for Your 3D Business

clock October 11, 2013 23:18 by author MattW

Facial Animation is one of the hardest things to do when dealing in 3D animation. Capturing the exact expression of a face and then translating that into a 3D program is very difficult. Many animators turn to a technology called Motion Capture to successfully animate the face, but it isn’t always necessary to do so. There is a better alternative, called Curve Controlled modeling which could be better for facial animators.

Why Isn’t Motion Capture Best Bet?

So basically the way motion capture works is by placing cameras and markers (in many cases)  around the subject, capturing the motion of the specific parts and then applying that movement to the 3D model piece by piece. This includes expensive software and equally expensive hardware. The cameras that are used can be very pricey, especially when you get up into the higher resolutions.

Motion capture also needs to happen in an environment conducive to collecting motion data, in other words, a studio. The lighting and space needs to be perfect in order for the motion capture to be as accurate as possible.

What is Curve Controlled Modeling?

Curve Controlled Modeling or CCM is a type of 3D animation that is completely software based, meaning that it doesn’t require the expensive hardware costs of motion capture. It uses software tool called a NURBs or Non-uniform rational B-spline curve to simulate the movement of muscles, making it ideal for facial animation.

Without getting into the complex equations that make it work, NURBs curves are equations that allow animation software programs to animate the muscles of a 3D object. Changing a part of the equation correlates to a specific movement around a control point (or more than one). This allows for astonishingly complex movements to be generated very quickly, which is something you will need in order to successfully animate the facial muscles. 

Why is it Better?

There is no denying that motion capture has its uses. In fact, it is one of the most used technologies in the animation industry. The biggest problem, at least for most animators, is that it requires expensive equipment to pull off, and also requires the right environment to get it right. That means that unless you have a huge budget or a corporation backing you, large scale motion capture is probably out of your price range.

With CCM, all you need is a software program, and the knowledge of how to use it. It is relatively easy to get both of these things, while it might be relatively hard to obtain the tools to correctly use motion capture.

Conclusion

Curve Controlled Modeling is not simple to grasp but it IS simple to use once you start. CCM is also much cheaper since it is a software-only solution. It will allow even the most modest animator to pull off facial animation without spending thousands of dollars on expensive camera and sensor equipment. With the complex and feature rich software that is available on the market for CCM animation, you’ll be able to animate complex facial muscles without spending an arm and a leg and without setting up a studio.




What is Motion Capture?

clock October 11, 2013 23:16 by author MattW

3D Animation is one of the fastest growing niches of software development. One of the areas that is most interesting inside that niche is motion capture. Motion capture is one of the best ways to translate living and moving objects into 3D projects. The question is what is it really; what is it used for; and what are some examples of its uses. That will be our quest in this article.

First Off What is Motion Capture?

To put it simply, motion capture is the act or process of recording a moving object. The object can be anything from your mom doing dishes to a rock rolling down a hillside. Sensors and cameras catch the motion of the real world object and then translate that movement on to a digital oriented object. So, for example, if you were capturing a rock rolling down a hill, the movement of that rock would be translated into the computer and projected on to a similar digital object, like a rock on a hillside.

To get more technical, at least for a minute, motion capture takes snapshots at a certain rate of the real world motion. This is done by using sensors attached to the object (in many cases), and by pointing precision cameras at the object as it moves. The rate at which the motion is captured determines the accuracy of the digital transformation. The data that comes out of the cameras and sensors is then fed into a computer running 3D animation software, which coordinates the real world movement with the digital object.

What is it Good For?

So motion capture has many uses, and in many ways the technology is still evolving. As cameras get better at capturing small movements, motion capture technology also gets better. Motion capture is used in many places that you see animations such as movies (particularly 3D movies), television shows, and more entertainment-style uses. It is also used in universities and laboratories to study human movement for medical purposes and user interface study.

Examples of its Uses

So the most obvious use of motion capture is in moves. Films like Happy Feet (which portrayed a group of penguins) and Cars(which was a story about cars) both used motion capture to assist in the animation of the movie elements.

Other, more obscure, uses of motion capture exist. As we mentioned above, it is used in medicine to study the effects of motion on the human body. It is also used to study the way humans interact with both digital and real world user interfaces. The data collected from both of these uses is used to better medical equipment in the former, and to improve how we use machines and digital interfaces in the latter.

Motion capture is also used in virtual reality and augmented reality. Both of these fields have uses outside of the university. Virtual reality uses it for gaming, and augmented reality uses it to overlay information on the real world.

Conclusion

In an upcoming piece, we’ll talk about the disadvantages of using motion capture in certain 3D animated situations. Until then, the best thing to know about it is that it is widely used, especially by moviemakers. You should also know that the technology is still advancing. Devices like Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect use similar technologies to advance gaming and fitness, as well as controlling user interface. Like most technology, it isn’t over until it’s over.



Why 3D Morphing Isn’t Necessary For 3D Facial Animation

clock October 11, 2013 23:13 by author MattW

3D morphing is one of the most used forms of 3D animation technologies. It allows animators easy access to complex and simple motions that just can’t be done by 3D rigging. On the other hand, it isn’t the best option for every situation. For example, while it is often used for facial animation, it isn’t the best option. So what makes 3D morphing so bad for facial animation?

Why is 3D Morphing a Bad Bet for 3D Facial Animation?

There’s no doubt that 3D morphing has its uses. It is one of the premier animation technologies. It just isn’t as good for facial animation as it is for less complex animations. 3D morphing works by creating a series of poses of an object that are outside of its neutral position. These poses, or blend shapes, are then blended together in rapid succession to create movement.

This is fine for movements that are fairly large scale, or that don’t need to be that precise. With 3D facial animation, animators need to be able to control the smallest movement of the muscle underneath the skin in order to create the motion of facial expression. 3D morphing can do this, of course, but it requires a ton of morph targets in order for it to work. That means that the animator needs to create and manage every single target, and then use them as they correlate to the other targets and the neutral expression. This is time consuming and just plain difficult to do. Curve Controlled Modeling is a much better option.

What is Curve Controlled Modeling?

The better option is called Curve Controlled Modeling (CCM). This is a 3D animation process that uses complex calculations to simulate the movement of underlying muscle. It is designed specifically to control objects that have multitudes of movement positions. It uses complex data curves called Non-uniform rational B-spline or NURBs. These are complex equations that calculate and display the position of each muscle in the face, as well as their complex interaction.

Why is it Better?

CCM is better because it allows animators to have full control over the complex movement of the face without having to spend a ton of time setting up morph targets for every potential facial expression. This means a lot less time spent on the animation, and more control while it is being produced. Obviously, the complex the animation is, the more time CCM can save you.

Conclusion

The best way to do an animation is as simply as possible. The fewer points of stress on an animation, the easier it will be to finish and the better it will look when it is finished. 3D morphing does offer benefits, and can be used for 3D facial animation, but since it requires so much work, it makes the animation process much more complex. With CCM, you can make the animation much less complex by focusing on animation techniques meant to be used on complex movements. 




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