SIGGRAPH Asia tech papers preview: 3D avatars from a single photo

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Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of reading about and watching the results of digital human and faces research led by Hao Li. He is, simultaneously, CEO & Co-Founder of Pinscreen, Inc., Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southern California, and Director of the Vision and Graphics Lab at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies.

Most recently, Li and his collaborators have been demonstrating tools to produce 3D human avatars directly from facial scans and even just single photos. Their latest research, titled ‘Avatar Digitization From a Single Image For Real-Time Rendering’, is being published as a technical paper at SIGGRAPH Asia in Bangkok (27 – 30 November). I had a quick chat to Li on what the research is all about, and where his startup Pinscreen is up to. Read on to also find out how to get a discount to SIGGRAPH Asia. Continue reading SIGGRAPH Asia tech papers preview: 3D avatars from a single photo

Olivier Gondry on the making of Kylie Minogue’s ‘Come Into My World’

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Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

My recollection of music videos from the 1990s to early 2000s is that they were almost like the ultimate VFX showreel. Of course, this was at the same time that CGI was making headways in feature filmmaking, with music videos taking advantage, too, of advancements in digital effects, particularly compositing, to help tell their stories, often in quirky and unique ways. What better way to stand out amongst the crowd in music video promos.

One promo directed by Michel Gondry that has always stayed in my mind is Come Into My World by Kylie Minogue, released in 2002 and now celebrating its 15th anniversary. In it, Minogue strolls around the same Parisian intersection four times, each loop bringing a further duplication of the singer and the people around her.

To make that possible, the clip was filmed with a motion control camera on the street, with the meticulous rotoscoping and compositing led by Michel’s brother, Olivier Gondry. The two had been regular collaborators on some of the most memorable music videos from that time, including The Chemical Brothers’ Star Guitar; at that time their post production company was called Twisted Laboratories. I recently got a chance to chat to Olivier, now an accomplished commercials director himself, to revisit how Come Into My World was made. Continue reading Olivier Gondry on the making of Kylie Minogue’s ‘Come Into My World’

‘Thor: Ragnarok’s’ Sakaar chase scene was also a courtship dance

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Stuck on Sakaar but looking to get back to Asgard, Thor, Valkeryie and Banner steal one of the Grandmaster’s ships, the Commodore. In a high octane chase scene through the city, they escape Sakaar fighters and exit through a wormhole.

Digital Domain crafted visual effects for the Thor: Ragnarok sequence, overseen by overall visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison. In this special vfxblog, Morrison and DD’s VFX supe Dave Hodgins explain how the exciting chase was pulled off. Continue reading ‘Thor: Ragnarok’s’ Sakaar chase scene was also a courtship dance

What went into those cool title and UI designs in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’?

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The explosion in visual effects work in comic book films is perhaps only matched by the explosion in design work also seen in those movies – everything from logo reveals, to main-on-end titles, screen UIs and other designs.

One of the studios behind much of this work is Perception, based in New York. It recently tackled Thor: Ragnarok’s logo reveal, main-on-ends and other design elements seen in the film, which took on a very ‘Kirby’ and sometimes retro feel. vfxblog asked some of Perception’s key creatives how they accomplished the designs. Continue reading What went into those cool title and UI designs in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’?

Behind the scenes of that super-cool Bifrost scene in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

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One of the scenes, as brief as it is, that really caught my eye in Thor: Ragnarok, was the Bifrost journey taken by Thor, Loki and an uninvited Hela. A mid-journey fight ensues, which ultimately sends Thor and Loki to the planet Sakaar.

We’ve seen the Bifrost before, but this time visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison and visual effects studio Rising Sun Pictures made it somewhat more crystalline. They also dealt with what happens when a character strays through its edges, coming up with a technique that included just the right amount of camera shake. Morrison and RSP 2D lead Jess Burnheim break down the work for vfxblog. Continue reading Behind the scenes of that super-cool Bifrost scene in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’