Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Things on my Desk Today

Weller's post on distribution is excellent. I disagree with his look at LGBT and African-American films though: at this point those two genres are played out. They still exist but the audiences have gotten more discerning because the markets have tended to saturate so they aren't as open to indy filmmakers as they once were.
I would binge-watch all of The Expanse except that only episodes 1-4 are up. Here's an article on the development of the series.
The top and bottom 10 sci-fi and fantasy movies this year. I'm not sure I agree with every choice...
This spoiler-filled review of Star Wars 7 is pretty smart.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Expanse

The aesthetic design of this TV show is... expensive looking. It's also quite sophisticated and beautiful. There are a LOT of different worlds they have to differentiate between, each with their own class systems and such. The story is totally solid with a good mystery to it. Acting and dialog are all top-shelf. I'm pretty happy with binge watching it. Especially whilst rendering.
  • The opening scene has the best 0-G I've ever seen in a TV show. Honestly it's really hard to pull off. Chance and I think her hair was CG, which makes the most sense. The rest of the zero - G stuff doesn't look nearly as nice but that opening... oof.
  • I'm envious of the armor the Mars navy wears. The shoulders are particularly nice.
  • I'm envious of all the chairs in all the cockpits. They're super nice. We have to get our chairs to look that nice.
I'm not a fan of glass cockpits but I do like that hanging Spock viewer thing the character 2nd from the left is looking through.
  • The costume design is overall very nice. Nice spacesuits. Are they refitted drysuits? I don't know.
  • They have nice Pip Boys on their wrists.

Ceilings and actual multi-levels on sets. I presume almost all the lighting is on-set. There's a couple beams from above but other than that the actors are kinda getting slapped with practicals.

  • Another thing which is nice is the wrist lights on spacesuits. Those are also nice.
  • The helmets are very good. You have to have a lot of faceplate so the audience can see who they're looking at. They do that very well as well as make them look fairly robust.
  • The chairs. I love all those dang chairs. Even the slightly dumb jump-seats. 
This is a good view of what the Pip Boys are like. I so want a Pip Boy. For me.
  • The CG ships are really quite nice on the whole. Even in multi-hundreds of million-dollar theatrical releases there are some effects which are just... missed. But they hold their own in this series. And it's not like they can reuse a lot of those effects either.
  • The way the miniguns come out of the hulls of spaceships is a very nice touch.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


The Blender Foundation seems to have done a good job making their Cycles renderer work really well with GPU on an Nvidia card. It doesn't work so great on AMD cards (which sort of eliminates Apple machines from the running). But objects set up with Cycles materials can party with fairly fast renders (on Nvidia cards).

Weirdly, Adobe seems to also favor Nvidia over AMD graphics. In my experience this means their Mercury playback engine works better on Nvidia which again means that Premiere and After Effects work better on PC's than on Macs.

Some ridiculous human (me) is having some old Blender models (which do look beautiful) fly by in a couple scenes and man, they take longer to render than I expect them to.

The thing I do desire with all my heart is that there be an easy way to render out a ground plane that is invisible but otherwise accepts shadows in Cycles. There is a kludgey way to do it by rendering out a separate ground plane which is mostly alpha channel with a shadow on it but it involves setting up multiple outputs and you have to composite them back together again in After Effects. And although that's not a nightmare because at least you get to fiddle with the amount of shadow, it's well... it's a kludge.

"Kludge" is a word according to my browser's dictionary apparently.

Huh. It never occurred to me that Ripley has a watch in Alien. She has one in Aliens. But the one in Alien was not that big a deal. Somebody sells the one from the videogame Alien Isolation. But in the original Alien it was apparently a couple Casio F100's put together on the same band.
So much rendering to do. 0 to 536, and then 936 to 1361.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Composites and Rotoscopes

I'm the one responsible for most of the rotoscoping.
My first complaint is working in 4K. It's like just as we get computers fast enough to do fancy stuff in HD we have to quadruple the processing needs. Sheesh.
For some reason I decided to do this one shot as a 950-frame shot.
After Effects does some fairly decent auto-rotoscoping these days. But sometimes it does something weird like when it took away Kate's face. 

Kate with automatically removed face.
But doing a tiny bit of manual roto to get things back to normal is worth the effort.
Kate with manually replaced face.
I'm adding a lot of dust to shots. The dust is impossible to see in stills.
Kate among the dead and the quick.