Online digital-effects service Zync Render ascends to Google Cloud

BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — Google Cloud Platform has acquired Zync Render, the cloud-based digital effects rendering service which has been used for such recent features as FLIGHT, AMERICAN HUSTLE, STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS, and LOOPER.

“Rendering” refers to the creation of motion pictures from detailed mathematical descriptions, which have been created by digital-effects artists. To efficiently perform the calculations which create the pictures, many computers are set to work together in networks, called “render farms.” The computers are specially made to do the math and do it as quickly as possible. Large amounts of electricity are consumed, and large amounts of heat are generated.

Many studios have neither the resources nor the desire to create their own render farms; or their in-house rendering may require extra rendering capacity but, for only a very short time, observed Google Cloud Product Manager Belwadi Srikanth.

“Zync and Cloud Platform will offer studios the rendering performance and capacity they need, while helping them manage costs,” Srikanth explained. “For example, with per-minute billing studios aren’t trapped into paying for unused capacity when their rendering needs don’t fit in perfect hour increments.”

Zync Render provides distributed rendering, job dependencies, references, pooled images between multiple host applications, and advanced job monitoring for digital-effects application software including Maya, Nuke, V-Ray for Maya, Mental Ray Standalone, and Arnold for Maya, along with plug-ins like GenArts Sapphire, Furnace, and Ocula.

Zync Render was started in 2011 at Boston, Massachusetts visual effects studio ZERO VFX.

Remixed Movies at the Open Video Conference

BY MARTIN LEDUC. TORONTO, CANADA (CINEMA MINIMA) — I got to help collect some of the videos that were playing throughout the Open Video Conference.  The conference took place on June 19-20, 2009.  It brought together an impressive collection of professional stakeholders involved with online video. Their aim was to bring video technology up to the standards of accessibility and decentralization that are currently available for blogs and other web tools.

For the video displays that were playing throughout the conference,  I collected 10 technically and artistically accomplished movie remixes that showcase the value of an open video environment.  The artists I chose take a wide range of  approaches to editing pre-existing movie footage.

Blogger, video remixer, and cultural activist Elisa Kreisinger also curated remix videos that demonstrate the political importance of fair use and open video standards.

You can visit to watch online versions of all the videos Elisa and I screened at the conference.

Color correction in features now as aggressive as commercials, videos

The current trend in motion-picture color correction, observes visual-effects artist Stu Maschwitz, is uncompromising preservation of “correct” skin tones.

As filmmakers’ sensibilities became influenced by the possibilities of the digital intermediate (DI) — popularized by colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld‘s work on Bad Boys II and that of Jet Omoshebi on Underworld — more “pushed” looks became commonplace. Aggressive color correction is more likely to render skin tones in an unflattering way, so a colorist’s capability has been judged by the skill to hold pleasing skin tones through severe corrections.

Maschwitz’s article is illustrated by examples from THE INCREDIBLE HULK and LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD. He offers specific recommendations for primary and secondary color correction, taken from his book, The DV Rebel’s Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap. [Prolost]

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Largest Final Cut Pro User Group meeting in Las Vegas 2008 April 16

The 7th Annual NAB Final Cut Pro User Group SuperMeet will convene in Las Vegas, Nevada USA 2008 April 16 18:30-22:30 at the MGM Grand Hotel, during the NAB Show. The SuperMeet is the annual event of the Final Cut Pro User Group Network, which includes user groups in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Final Cut is a Non-Linear Editing (NLE) application for editing motion pictures, including features, using Apple computers.

The NAB Show takes place 2008 April 11-17 in Las Vegas. The show is put on by the American National Association of Broadcasters. On Monday April 14, Tim Robbins will deliver the NAB show’s keynote speech. The actor-director-producer will look at the changing face of entertainment, and how new distribution and content-creation opportunities will affect Hollywood. [Apple]

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