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It isn’t that long ago that the visual effects and animation industries were concentrated mostly in Los Angeles. For lots of reasons (ask me again sometime) the work is now spread throughout the globe.

One outcome of this ‘globalisation’ of VFX and animation is that there’s never been more conferences, events and meet-ups to hear from professionals about the films and projects they’ve worked on. Which means it’s more likely there will be somewhere near you where you can learn about VFX and animation.

But it’s more than that, too.

OK, what is this Megascans thing?

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A few months ago I started hearing about Swedish company Quixel’s Megascans and that it had been used by MPC on The Jungle Book for some of the intricate plant and jungle life textures on that film. But it was still unclear exactly what Megascans, a material library based on real-life scans of mostly vegetation and other organic surfaces, ‘was’. So at SIGGRAPH I asked Quixel founder Teddy Bergsman. Overnight, Megascans has just been launched in public beta, which seemed like a good time to run this interview – hope you enjoy!

Houdini. So hot right now

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SideFX asked me to find out what visual effects and animation studios were looking for in Houdini artists, and where they can learn more about the software, which I have to say is on something of a hot streak right now.

Stop. Stop-motion.

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Laika’s work on Kubo was just incredible, and although it hasn’t been a huge success, it showed off the magic that still exists in stop-motion animation. So I took at look at some present and previous innovations in the field, for Inverse.

From 20 years ago, Dr. Moreau

This week will be the 20th anniversary of the release of The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), a film plagued with problems. The original director Richard Stanley was replaced by John Frankenheimer, who then faced dealing with the eccentric stars Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer, and even Stanley himself who snuck back on set in an animal costume.

But one even more fascinating aspect of the production was its mix of Stan Winston-crafted creatures and digital visual effects by Digital Domain at a time when so much experimentation was going on in what could be convincingly created in CG on film.

I wrote about the often hilarious challenges the effects team faced at fxguide last year, after make-up and creature effects artist Shane Mahan and visual effects supervisor Kevin Mack shared their experiences on Dr. Moreau in a panel at Trojan Horse was a Unicorn. Check out it for a lot of fun details and imagery.

VFX_on_DVD: Warcraft

There’s a couple of big films released recently that I think are going to have great Bluray and DVD releases. One of them is Warcraft, partly because of the opportunity to see some of the extensive art direction, production and visual effects that went on behind the film. Already you can check out a taste of the DVD featurettes, including this one on ILM’s giant wolves. Also includes some brief remarks from vfx supe Bill Westenhofer and animation supe Hal Hickel. Bluray and DVD is out 27 September.