The world’s most innovative animation and game companies have just put their video software in your hands.
“Valve has gained a reputation over the years not just for consistently putting out great games, but also for the slick trailers and promo videos that go along with them. But now the developer is turning the tables and handing over its own video-making tools to fans free of charge. With the Source Filmmaker, gamers will be able to direct, animate, and record their own videos as if they were shooting on location inside a video game.”
“Last week at SIGGRAPH, Pixar Animation Studios announced OpenSubdiv, an open source implementation of the Renderman subdivision surface technology, thus releasing the patents to the long standing Pixar ‘secret sauce.’ In addition to the offline subdivision scheme, it also includes a GPU implementation. This video demonstrates a realtime deforming subdivision surface running at 50 FPS in Maya (though it is freely available to use anywhere). The source code is available on Pixar’s GitHub account.”
Looks like Hollywood has finally accepted the changing nature of movies.
the last decade has seen some striking examples of filmmakers exploring and exploiting digital to aesthetic advantage. The single 90-minute Steadicam shot through the Hermitage Museum that makes up Alexander Sokurov’s “Russian Ark” is a specifically digital artifact. So is the Los Angeles nightscape in Michael Mann’s “Collateral” and the rugged guerrilla battlefield of Steven Soderbergh’s “Che,” a movie that would not exist without the light, mobile and relatively inexpensive Red camera.
Digital special effects, meanwhile, are turning up this season not only in phantasmagorical places like “Cloud Atlas” and “Life of Pi,” but also in movies that emphasize naturalism. To my eyes the most amazing bit of digital magic this year is probably the removal of Marion Cotillard’s legs — including in scenes in which she wears a bathing suit or nothing at all — in Jacques Audiard’s gritty “Rust and Bone.” While movie artists of various stripes gravitate toward the speed, portability and cheapness of digital, which offers lower processing and equipment costs and less cumbersome editing procedures, consumers, for their part, are suckers for convenience, sometimes — but not always — at the expense of quality.
Meanwhile, by jumping into hardware manufacturing, Valve continues to push the definition of what a game company can be.
This is no Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
Every way I look, the scene shifts, the battle unfolds. I have a crazy contraption strapped to my head: a boxy set of goggles that looks like a 22nd-century version of a View-Master. It immerses me in a virtual world. I whirl one way and see zombies preparing to snack on my flesh. I turn another and wonder what fresh hell awaits.
Behold the future of video games. Or at least the future as envisioned by a bunch of gamers, programmers, tinkers and dreamers at the Valve Corporation here. This is the uncorporate company that brought us the Half-Life series, the hugely influential first-person shooter game.
The Valve guys aren’t done yet. Founded 16 years ago by a couple of refugees from Microsoft, Valve makes games that wild-eyed fans play until their thumbs hurt and dawn jabs through the curtains. But what really makes Valve stand out is its foresight on technology.
A decade ago, long before every media executive figured out that downloading was the future, Valve started an online service, Steam. It has since become for games what iTunes is to music — a huge online distributor, in its case one with more than 40 million active users and that, by some estimates, accounts for about 70 percent of the PC games bought and downloaded from the Web. Through Steam, Valve effectively collects a toll on other companies’ online game sales, in addition to making money from selling its own products.
On Monday, the company will begin a public test of a new television-friendly interface, Big Picture, for buying Steam games and playing them on computers in the living room.
As explained previously on NMDnet, Valve’s employee handbook turns corporate culture upside-down. Or at least puts it on wheels.
To spur creativity, Google management created the concept of “20 percent time,” the portion of employees’ schedules that they could commit to entirely self-directed projects. At Valve, it’s more like 100 percent time. New employees aren’t even told where to work in the company. Instead, they are expected to decide on their own where they can contribute most. Many desks at Valve are on wheels. After figuring out what they want to do, workers simply push their desks over to the group they want to join.
A few years ago, a Valve hire who had worked in special effects in Hollywood balked at wheeling his desk. The news reached [Valve founder Gabe] Newell, who promptly picked up the desk himself and carried it to the new location, to the new employee’s embarrassment.
The man, whom Valve declined to name, is no longer with the company.