Read 'COMPUTER GRAPHICS MASTERS' from Future Publishing presented by HP and NVIDIA

Get your free copy of 'Computer Graphics Masters' from Creativbloq today

Get your free copy of 'Computer Graphics Masters' from Creativbloq today

So this is an excellent read, 'Computer Graphics Masters' a 116 page deep dive into the state of the art in Computer Graphics.

How do I know this, well I was lucky enough to write a couple of the articles and I learned a LOT in the compiling of them, especially in the way that we are on the edge of a fundamental change in the way that the hardware that we use will change and that I can see the day when the infrastructure of render farms and multicore CPU workstations change into something much much more immediate and streamlined. 

I can also see the day when a lot of us leave 'Apple' hardware, I have already moved all of my 3D work to the PC) and that's why its good to see both HP and Nvidia involved in the creation of this book, because to be honest, they are the only two large hardware vendors who are actively participating in trying to answer the needs of CG artists, especially since Apple decided that the definition of a 'Creative Pro' user was anyone who used Final Cut Pro X and is a photographer (miaow!!).

Events like HP ZED along with their excellent hardware (looking at you HP Z1 G2 and HP ZBook) and solutions such as Nvidia's GRID system are exciting examples of innovation in OUR space which we should all be paying attention to. HP even do a handy switching from Mac to HP page.

Another great thing about the book, it is completely free, so sign up now to get your free download!


Modo and NUKE Case Study

a tidy NUKE workspace makes Mike a happy boy!!

a tidy NUKE workspace makes Mike a happy boy!!

Delighted to say that I have just finished my first animation using a modo/NUKE workflow. Unfortunately I can't show any of the work, but thought I would outline my experiences of the change in workflow anyway.

There were challenges, namely figuring out how the modo timeline works, it is a very different way of working to Cinema 4D, and I wasn't really taxing modo too much, simple camera moves and on and off states in materials. I learned there is much to like, the different types of markers in the timeline, the ability to pick animated objects AND channels were a real timesaver.

The reason that I had picked modo for this specific job was that a lot of cutaways were required, so Render Booleans were needed, which is modo's excellent ability to cut through objects at render time using either a procedural mesh or a mesh that you have created. 

As Render Booleans work with the shader tree rather than directly with objects (unless you use an item mask), there is a lot more granular control than there potentially would be with a normal geometric boolean, and therefore the resulting image is much cleaner as well.
The Render Boolean effect is animatable at a material level, and this is where the ability to use the shader tree and schematic view in modo was really powerful as I needed to animate the 'same' material at various stages through the animation. 

The modo schematic view for materials, is much better for an artist to get grips with than Xpresso for example in Cinema 4D.

The modo schematic view for materials, is much better for an artist to get grips with than Xpresso for example in Cinema 4D.

I was able to use the shader tree to apply different materials for each stage of the animation, but use the schematic view to pass attributes such as reflections, colour, etc. from parent to child, while adding a separate channel which defined if the material would be affected by the render boolean.

This was a huge timesaver, and the modo workflow of creating new workspaces in the schematic view is much more straightforward than doing the same in CINEMA 4D, where I find XPresso great as a way to drive animations but hopeless to easily keep track of.

When I had the animation laid out, I was able to test using the modo render pass system to switch between full render setup and a pass setup for proxy animations which would render in a fraction of the time that the full size render would. As I was using Render Booleans, Open GL previews where of no use.

I had installed 'Deadline' from Thinbox as a render manager, and while slower than rendering with modo's own native network render, and not ready for cross-platform rendering yet (as there is a bug which doesn't let modo's render outputs save properly) for  simple proxies where I only needed one output it was perfect as I could dedicate one machine to rendering while I cracked on with setting up the comp.

For the comp, I had decided to bite the bullet and use NUKE.

For a year I have been boring everyone I know that for CG compositing work After Effects wasn't working for me, After Effects was still great for motion graphics and text work, but for day to compositing, the cludgy and outmoded After Effects workflow was getting in the way.

I had been looking for a job that I could do from end to end in NUKE and this was it, while I tried to make it a true all in one foundry project, and use Hiero for the edit, I just found that for what I needed Hiero wasn't there yet, (roll on NUKESTUDIO) and the latest release of Premiere came just in time and handled the edit smoothly.

I used NUKE in every stage of my build, where it particularly impressed me was in the middle phase where I was working with the proxy animations, where I needed to check that the animated content supplied from the client would be laid in at the correct points across the edit. This content was to be integrated into the 3D as graphics, so placement was crucial. 

As I was creating the animation in one modo file, and outputting animations at various points along the timeline, NUKE had no problem matching up shots to their correct position and using the time offset node, I could quickly time the client content specifically to where I wanted it for best effect.

Nothing here really that could not have been done in After Effects, but the difference between a nodal compositor and a timeline one really comes through in workflows like this, as I only needed one time offset node, which was easy to find in my node tree. In fact the efficiency of working with a nodal workflow makes it hard to think about going back.

The huge plus point for NUKE was finally getting my head around a modo to NUKE alembic workflow. Not doing this sooner to be honest was due to sheer laziness on my part.

Once the alembic workflow clicked it makes working with the AE/C4D import system look like a toy, the ability to bring in specific model elements along with the correct cameras, meant I was only working with the geometry  I needed, and the ability to use geometry as mattes, etc QUICKLY was great fun. The only thing that was a persistent issue was the alembic reverting back to 24fps on load, but hitting the reload button on any affected 3D element quickly fixed this.

I also used REBUS render farm for the first time on this job, which worked really well for me, although download speed could have been faster (my experience with REBUS is listed here).

Finishing in NUKE was a breeze, the nodal workflow made it so quick and easy to compare workflows between shots, and the dope sheet is a good way to animate.

Comping definitely felt quicker than doing it in After Effects, with none of the waiting for file imports or figuring out which pre comp was where, as everything was there in the nodal view at a glance.

The only downside to working with NUKE is that you need to bring your A-game, while there are a ton of features, NUKE bites back hard if you just try and slap things together which you can do in After Effects (which ultimately always comes back and gets you anyway).  Things which are straightforward in After Effects like using Matte layers etc, take more steps to setup in NUKE, but ultimately thats worth it, as I found with modo's schematic view for textures, Nodes for compositing does make life so much more efficient.

So does this mean I will be doing all my work in modo and NUKE from now on, nope, as the wonderful thing about doing what I do is the variety of work that comes through the door, and in some cases that will  suit Cinema 4D and After Effects better. 

However, there is no denying that for general compositing work, I will be switching to NUKE unless specified by a client and the upcoming release of NUKESTUDIO will hopefully mean I can start to centralise my edit on short form work as well.

Check out my modo deformer Tutorial in this month's 3D world

Turns out Hippos like being bendy

Turns out Hippos like being bendy

Hi Everyone, in this months 3D world magazine, amongst the many great tutorials is my quick one on how to use a deformer to make a simple proxy mesh drive a more complex one, which has tons of uses for still posing and obviously animation. The new issue is out globally on the iPad and in the UK in the good old traditional paper format 

Read my Colorway Review and quick Mari Tutorial in the new 3D World Magazine

In this month's 3D World you can read my review of Colorway the amazing new application from The Foundry, which enables you to iterate colour and image changes on existing scenes without the need to re-renader.

Also there is a quick tutorial which I did to show how sharing channels in MARI can give you amazing textures quickly and efficiently.

As well as the us usual selection of amazing features (with a big one the new release of ZBrush) and a comprehensive range of tutorials there are the results of the 3D World CG Awards, which I was delighted to be a judge on this year.

New 3D world is out with my First NUKE tutorial

Hi everyone, its the end of the month, and that means it is time for the latest issue of 3D World. This month's issue looks in depth at Animation setups, and I am delighted to announce it contains my first (small) NUKE tutorial which deals with how to use mattes created form 3D applications to mask your renders.

After a year of looking at the kind of work that I have been doing, I am very excited at what NUKE (and ultimately NUKE STUDIO) will bring in terms of workflow improvements, new opportunities and hopefully less time watching files import. 

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014 Photos - Day 1 of 7

So yesterday I went to the festival of Speed at Goodwood for the first time, loved it. Naturally I and my cameras handy (gawd bless the FUJI X100S, surprisingly useful at sports shots if you get close enough). I am going to post (what I think) are the 7 best shots from my day over the next week. If you want to buy a print, please let me know.

You can view the images either on Flickr or My favoured choice 500px.

Check out my Appearance on the first Foundry Session

Well that was fun!

I had a brilliant time on Thursday at The Foundry's HQ in soho, discussing the 'CREATION COLLECTIVE' as part of the first 'Foundry Session', where the Foundry get artists to detail how we use their products, specifically I was talking about how I use MODO and MARI. The second half of the presentation was by Boyo from the Post Office who detailed their amazing NUKE workflow as part of the 'PRODUCTION COLLECTIVE', which has made me seriously realise (and after some tinkering at the weekend) that its time to step up to NUKE.

I would also like to thank Becks and Jordan from the Foundry for making sure that Boyo and I were looked after, and a special thanks to our gracious host Matt Plec who helped make sure nobody got stuck in a quad poly loop:D