3D character animation online with Mixamo/Adobe

On June 1st of this year Adobe announced its purchase of the company Mixamo.

For our meeting on October 15, 7:30pm at Film Oxford, John Twycross will demonstrate some of the features of the current Mixamo website, look at how this currently integrates into game engines and discuss the implications of this for designers.

The Mixamo online service provides a motion capture library, character generation and automated rigging. It is exciting because it makes character animation accessible to all. It also clearly signals Adobe’s commitment to gain a foothold in the 3D character animation field and expanding Photoshop’s 3D features.

johnTwycrossJohn Twycross is Senior Lecturer in Digital Media Production, Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment, Oxford Brookes University.

Visit to Audiomotion and Oxford Film Studios (SOLD OUT)

For our September meeting we have been invited to visit Oxford Film Studios and Audiomotion, Europe’s leading performance capture service provider – right here in Oxford! 17th September from 7:30pm.

Please book your free ticket at Eventbrite using this link. Ticketing is required in order to ensure that there are enough guides for visitors. This is a joint visit with Digital Film Editors Oxford.

There is ample parking at Audiomotion and Oxford Film Studios. London Road, Wheatley, Oxford, OX33 1JG – MAP

Audiomotion Studiosmotion

Mick Morris (Managing Director) and Brian Mitchell (Operations Director at Audiomotion and Founder of The Mocap Academy) will take us through the background of motion capture and how Audiomotion Studios has evolved in the industry. They will explain how the medium can be used, and the benefits of digital characters. We will discover how their technology facilitates directors and actors to bring ideas to life.

cameraIt is Audiomotion’s belief that some may be put off by the restrictions posed by using technology in a creative environment. However, they will demonstrate how understanding this technology will open up a vast array of possibilities.

During the presentation at Audiomotion Studios, Mick and Brian will demonstrate Real-time previs, a visual tool that aids both actor and director to understand, navigate and interpret the virtual environment. Using real character rigs, environments, objects, terrain and props they are able to create a live, accurate and authentic representation of a 3D world.

Whilst motion capture is well know for its use in blockbuster films such as Exodus: Gods and Kings, World War Z, Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, Popular TV titles such as Dr Who, triple-A video game titles such as Ghost Recon and Call of Duty and everything in between, this technology is fast becoming more mainstream, affordable and integral to the entertainment, animation, arts and sports industries.

Oxford Film Studiosstage

With a 32 ft x 16 ft green screen, roller door access, substantial ceiling height, Motion Control Crane, and a VFX 4K camera kit package Oxford Film Studios are equipped for all filming needs.

Just 2 miles from M40 Junction 8, approx 45mins from London, their brand new, large scale permanent green screen appeals to those in the film production, commercial, corporate and photographic fields alike.

Meeting Report: Drones, Aerial Filming and Photography

Matt Nicholson of Hollywood Drones and his colleague Danny MacGreggor Gill brought drones to our May meeting at Film Oxford and talked about the applications and challenges of deploying drones for aerial filming and photography.

Surveying, search and rescue, 3D mapping, building inspection and parcel delivery are just a few of the uses to which drones are being applied today in addition to the more usual aerial photography and filming. Numerous members of the meeting’s audience have drones of various sizes and capabilities.

Matt’s professional background is in aviation which made it easier for him to gain Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) permission to fly an Small Unmanned Aircraft (UAS) for commercial purposes. This permission required that Matt attend a 2 day ground school, plus theory tests on air law, operation of the unmanned aircraft and a risk assessment of flying procedures. In addition he was required to set up an Operations Manual to show how he intended to operate the aircraft.

mattNicholsonAfter discussing the CAA legalities of flying where the pilot is flying within line-of-site up to 500 metres distance Matt showed us his DJI S900 drone. This aircraft requires two-man operation, a pilot to fly the aircraft and an operator to manipulate the camera during flight.

Weighing in at more than 7kg the aircraft carries a GH4 Lumix Olympus camera. The GH4 operates on a radio-controlled 3-axis gimbal and imagery is monitored in real time on a radio connected tablet. Satisfactory filming with a drone was said to take up to three times longer than a ground based cameraman.

To demonstrate the capabilities of the S900 Matt showed a short film he had shot of the new maths building at Oxford University for HobsonCurtis Films.

Matt pointed out that CAA permission is not required for social flying of smaller drones providing that “the aircraft will not be flown close to people or properties, and you will not get ‘valuable consideration’ (i.e. payment) from the flight”. [source]

Film Oxford and Hollywood Drones are planning to run courses on filming with drones in the near future

raffleWinnerMichaelDunningRaffle winner
At the end of the evening photographer Michael Dunning won the twice-yearly raffle. Michael now has a one-year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. Congratulations Michael!

Drones – Aerial Filming and Photography

Everyone’s talking about Drones, come and find what the fuss is about!

Thursday May 21st, 7:30pm at Film Oxford.
Guest Speaker: Matthew Nicholson of Hollywood Drones.

Bring your business card to enter this quarter’s free raffle for a one-year’s subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.

Matthew will bring along his filming drone so you can get close up and see what it is all about. He will explain what is involved in setting up and running the business from a legal perspective, how to operate drones legally and demonstrate some of their more recent short films.

Hollywood Drones is an aerial filming company based in Oxford. Fully licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority they film up to Ultra 4K using the same equipment as used by major broadcasters such as the BBC and ITV. Since setting up in 2014 they have established work for Sky Sports the National Trust and Oxford University as well as other Oxfordshire companies.

(Photos Hollywood Drones)

Meeting Report: The Fantastic and the Invisible – Ken Turner on VFX

chopperKen Turner mesmerised our April meeting with his  show reel of 2D 3D generalist animation and composition work showing spaceships, aliens, angels, falling bombs, helicopters crashing into skyscrapers; all without anyone being hurt in the making of the film.

He was talking to a standing-room only audience about his career. Amongst his many accomplishments Ken supervised computer graphics on The Fades and picked up the RTS award for best effects digital along with Alexis Haggar and Dan Marbrook of Lexhag.

KenTurnerAn illustrator at heart Ken has spent the last 15 years leading teams in animation and visual effects mainly for drama on the BBC but also for computer games. His most recent success was creating composite scenes for the BBC production Poldark.

Using Fusion 7 from Black Magic Ken demonstrated how he used the product to add a non-existent roof to a Cornish mine. He also removed a number of people from the skyline whilst cast members walk in front of these added and removed parts of the scene.

poldark1The tin mine before composition

poldark2The final composited scene

Similarly Ken showed how he had been able to add buildings to a scene along with smoke from chimneys, making ground less green and more industrial, as well as adding a galleon sailing past the coastline, creating what he referred to as a ‘moving collage’.

In addition he displayed a sequence and explained how he used Fusion to create the illusion of a large crowd walking up a long coastal track. The actual scene was shot numerous times as a small group of actors walked up the track. Ken composed the final scene by merging numerous sections of the timeline together to give the illusion of large crowd of people walking up the track.

Ken pointed out that Fusion 7 is available free of charge by simply downloading from the Black Magic site. It runs incredibly quickly allowing for great productivity on the part of the animator. Currently only available for Windows PC a Mac version is being created by Black Magic.

“Most of my work starts with mood boards in Pinterest” said Ken whilst emphasising the critical need for research. “So far I’ve enjoyed a 15 year career in Computer Games and TV. Now with Digital Cinema production the next 15 years promises to be even more exciting.”

The Fantastic and the Invisible – Ken Turner on VFX

Our April meeting is The Fantastic and the Invisible – Ken Turner on VFX, at Film Oxford on Thursday 16th April, 7:30pm .

Ken is an award winning VFX supervisor and Animation Director with almost 20 years experience working in TV and Games. He is sometime CG supervisor at Lexhag in london and runs his own business DesignImage.

He will present a range of work from high budget TV BBC dramas to micro budget sci-fi shorts, using a variety of software.(he uses Photoshop almost every day!)

His talk  is a semi technical presentation with ‘how we did it’ VFX shot breakdowns (including the recent Poldark. and Bafta winning “the Fades” ). He will cover a range of techniques: matte painting, invisible mending, creatures, motion graphics, and more. Plus introduce Blackmagic’s (free) compositing software Fusion.

There will be time for questions including tips for you’re planning a  VFX or animation project.

Work done on current TV series –  Poldark

Also from the “The Paradise”


Joint meeting with Digital Film Editors Oxford

Meeting Report: Augmented Reality – Traak!

John Twycros and Eric White show of ar1 . Eric kicked off with the artistic concept behind the product which was influenced by Avant-garde artists in the early 20th century creating machines to create an artistic audio experience.

Traak uses a specially created app, and a hacked mobile, in an enclosed headset, with high quality headphones, to give a video overlay of reality (as the eyes would see), with superimposed 3d graphical explosions that are triggered by patterns printed on cubes.

ar2I would described it as like downing 10 espressos at once – or an endorphin stimulation device – Richard

Thank you Richard.

Augmented Reality – Traak!

augmentThis Thursday at Film Oxford (7:30pm) we look at the fusion of video production with wearable technology and will have a presentation of Traak! an augmented reality project produced by researchers from Oxford Brookes. Augmented Reality is a cutting edge technology popularised by Google Glass, and being explored by a range of tech companies.

The discussion will be relevant to anyone interested in audio visual production, design, animation and app development. This session will provide a hands on experience and discussion of this emerging future technology that allows great potential for creative digital production.

Traak! is a wearable device that allows users to ‘play’ an animated futurist sculpture and create the ‘future sounds’ of cities. In this interactive installation, participants can use Traak! to explore the possibilities of Augmented Reality (AR) and reconsider their relationship with art, technology, and the environment.


Meeting Report: February Meeting

This month we invited you to share your favourite websites, blogs, short videos and e-zines with the group. You shared with us these websites and short films:

Short Films:
Zoe Broughton
Keith Hoult

Resource websites:
Film Oxford Talent & Crew Skills Database
Shooting People crew recruiting
BBC Technology – test your broadband speed

Inspirational websites:
MUBI curated online cinema
BBC News in pictures
The Boston Globe ‘Big Picture’
Completing Barcelona’s ‘Sagrada Familia’ basilica temple

Industry event:
BVE broadcast and production technology event

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this evening of resources.

Prize Draw
FebruaryDuring the evening we ran one of our prize draws for a one-year free subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. The lucky winner, John Lewis, was presented his prize by Richard Duriez and Dariusz  Dziala. Congratulations John, enjoy your year of Creative Cloud free subscription!

February meeting

Thursday, February 19 – Film Oxford, 54 Catherine Street, Oxford OX4 3AH

This month we are inviting you to share your favourite websites, blogs, short videos and e-zines with the group. Just bring along the URLs and we will display the sites so that everyone can view them.

The sort of sites we are thinking of are technical resources for developers, film-makers, designers and editors; domestic resources; entertainment; news and current affairs; education. In fact without limit (but keep the party clean and the videos short!).

Prize draw
During the evening we shall be running one of our prize draws for a one-year free subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. Bring along your business card or fill in one of our blanks at the door. You have to be in it to win it!

We also have a number of t-shirts and other Adobe collateral to give away!