The first month of the year is in the books, and I've gotta say, it's already looking like a good one! Although the long THQ saga (unfortunately) ended with the ailing game developer succumbing to bankruptcy and closing up shop, there's plenty to be excited about elsewhere in the industry. Here are some of the highlights from January:
1. News / Releases Anthony Jones - Heaven's Hell - Anthony Jones' Kickstarter campaign has been wildly successful, raising over $55,000 for his Heaven's Hell artbook. No, this doesn't pertain directly to 3D, but Jones is a fantastic artist, and as an entertainment designer I think his work is relevant here. If you haven't seen his latest stuff be sure to check out his site, or jump over to the Kickstarter page to see what all the fuss is about. It's too late to join the Kickstarter, but you can pre-order on Amazon. Expose 11 is open for submissions - The biggest art annual in the world of computer graphics is currently considering entries for their next edition. Competition is obviously very, very fierce to get in Expose, but if you've got an image you're particularly proud of it certainly can't hurt to submit—I know getting into either would be a dream come true for a lot of us. The info is linked. J.J. Abrams is probably maybe directing Star Wars (he is) - After weeks of speculation, Disney has finally announced Abrams as the director. I admit, I was completely wrong on this one. I didn't think there was any way Abrams would sign onto Star Wars simply because of his involvement in the Trek reboots. Especially when, amidst early speculation that Disney would offer him the job, he flat out said he had no intention to direct. That he'd rather be a fan than a director. But apparently things change.
I don't know if Abrams would have been my first choice, but I really did love Star Trek 2009. That film had style. Oozed style. Style is exactly what the Star Wars franchise needs, so I'm far from disappointed. Abrams is a good director, especially when you pair him with a fantastic writer like Michael Arndt, and even though it feels a little dirty to have Star Wars and Star Trek united under the same helm, it's something I can get past. Things are looking very positive for Star Wars VII. Scott Robertson tutorial Fridays - Legendary industrial/entertainment designer Scott Robertson has quietly taken a page out of Feng Zhu's book and begun a weekly tutorial series on YouTube. Robertson is hands down, one of (if no the best) vehicle designers working in the industry, so this is a channel worth following. He's been putting out 20-40 minute training vids for a few weeks now, and hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. He's also shown quite a bit of info about finishing designs, which is refreshing to see, as it's something a lot of artists struggle with (I know I do). This is free knowledge from a master, you guys—get excited!
2. Visuals New Cinematic Trailers from Blizzard and Bethesda - About a week ago, the CG community buzzed as Blizzard and Bethesda each released (very, very impressive) cinematic trailers within a few hours of one another. Blizzard's entry came first, a trailer for their upcoming Starcraft 2 expansion, but excellent as it was, in my opinion Bethesda (and Blur, who produced the cinematic) stole the show. Their trailer for the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online title, features some of the best CG eye candy I've seen in a long time, and hits that key balance where the ultra-realistic lighting, texturing, and rendering perfectly supports the exaggerated environments and somewhat stylized character design. One of the best cinematics since Assassin's Creed II. Disney's "Paperman" is finally online - This really doesn't need much of an introductionit's one of the most talked about short films in years, and deservedly so. It's innovative. It's stunning. It's Disney at it's absolute finest. You need to watch this. The Hobbit - CGSociety Production Focus - Love it or hate it, the new Hobbit film featured some pretty great work from Weta Digital, particularly on the character animation side of the visual effects equation. Weta has just released three making of videos into the wild, outlining the work they did to bring Gollum, Azog, and the Goblin King to fruition. I was pretty lukewarm on Azog myself, but I though Weta's updated Gollum was excellent, and the Goblin King was downright spectacular. Videos are linked above, with a pretty big dose of technical discussion in the accompanying CGTalk thread. Rollin Safari - Production Focus - These four rapid fire shorts are the funniest thing I've seen all month. Just absolutely genius in both idea and execution. The Rollin' Safari series was good enough to earn the team a VES award for Best Visual Effects in a Student Project. Yeah, this is student work. Excuse me while I pick my jaw up from the floor. Level 10 - Toni Bratincevic - In my eyes, this is the image of the month, no question about it. Just another incredible piece from Toni Bratincevic that's jam packed with detail, expressiveness, creativity, and in contrast with his last piece, joy.