26th June 2008

Vancouver SIGGRAPH Closes Season with Ratatouille

logo-siggraph Last night we attended the final ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver Chapter seminar for the season, and what a treat it was. Guest speaker Sharon Calahan, Director of Photography/Lighting for Pixar Animation Studios gave a presentation on the lighting processes used in Pixar’s animated film Ratatouille, which was followed with a special screening of a 35mm print of Ratatouille.

Beginning with the research and philosophies that went into the development of Ratatouille and walking the audience through the processes she and her team implemented to achieve the rich appearance of the film, Sharon lead us on a wonderful journey of passion and challenges. Having the ability to learn from the masters in the industry always lends to more appreciation for the talent and processes behind the scenes of any digital media piece which many of the general public never get a chance to learn about.

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24th June 2008

Nintendo Key To Summer Fun Tour

NintendoThis summer, Nintendo Canada has teamed up with smart® canada for the Key To Summer Fun Tour, which is taking place across Canada from June 18th through to September 1. You can test out your skills for chances to win a smart fortwo coupe and a Wii or one of five Family Game Night Packs which include Wii and Nintendo DS hardware, a games library and more. The special Wii and DS equipped cars will be at the following locations this summer:

Golden Spike Days – Port Moody – June 27 – 30

Steveston Salmon Festival – Steveston – July 1

Pacific National Exhibition – August 16 – September 1

Please visit the Get Up And Play Key to Summer Fun Tour official site for full information and contest rules.


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23rd June 2008

TRENDnet To Sponsor Digital Storm

trendnetThe organizers of Digital Storm 2008 are very pleased to announce that TRENDnet will be providing several items for use as prizes at this year’s LAN tournament event. Please be sure to stop by their site and check out their award-winning products.

TRENDnet is a global provider of award winning networking solutions to small and medium size business and home users. Building networking solutions since 1990, TRENDnet enables users to share broadband access, multimedia content and networked peripherals for true anywhere connectivity. TRENDnet’s diverse product line includes Wireless, Fiber, Switch, Gigabit, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Keyboard/Video/Mouse (KVM), Internet Camera, Print Server, Powerline, Bluetooth, Storage Server, Power over Ethernet (PoE), and Multimedia Accessories.

Based in Torrance, California, TRENDnet maintains branch offices in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Central America, South America, and Asia. TRENDnet’s 250-plus product portfolio is distributed in over 125 countries. The TRENDnet brand is consistently recognized for high quality, exceptional performance and professional support.

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23rd June 2008

IGDA To Launch Memorial Project


The International Game Developers’ Association (of which this writer is a member) will be launching a project to remember those game pioneers who came before, as well as those who have become an important part of today’s industry. Begun by the IGDA’s Game Preservation SIG , the Memorial Project will ” contain biographies of professionals from around the world, and is welcome to anyone who worked on a game or with the Industry in the past.”

There will also be memorial areas for those who designed paper-based games, as well as “notable individuals from the toy industry, critical game studies, and computer science, whose work has greatly affected the ways in which we understand, play, and design our games.”

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19th June 2008

Radical Raises the Audio Bar


Radical Entertainment has unveiled their brand new audio post-production suite – the very first THX 7.1 surround sound game audio studio in Canada. Lin Gardiner, Senior Audio Engineer at Radical worked with designer John Vrtacic of Vrtacic Design to plan the new suite. Sonotechnique, THX and Electra Systems assisted with the technical specs and installation. Rob Bridgett, Radical’s Senior Sound Director is looking forward to putting the new studio through its paces as upcoming titles such as Prototype advance through development. It looks like we’re going to have to add to our own surround system to take full advantage of what promises to be new achievements in game audio.

In other Radical news, Sound Effects Designer Cory Hawthorne from Radical Entertainment was featured, along with Prototype, on a recent segment of Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet technology show.

Take a look:

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19th June 2008

Get Your Vote On For Relic


Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – Soulstorm, a game developed by Vancouver’s Relic Entertainment has made it to the shortlist vote for a Golden Joystick Award. Nominated in the PC Game of the Year category, if enough Relic fans go and vote, they could bring home the gold. As long-time supporters of Relic Entertainment, we’ve already cast our vote for them –  and we hope that our readers will do the same and support our local developers in gaining this award. Best of luck to everyone over at the Relic studio, and congratulations on your nomination.

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18th June 2008

Building An Elephant

[Press Release]artifex
Building An Elephant…

Vancouver, Canada June 15, 2008.

Artifex Studios created a photorealistic 3D elephant for Nissan.The carefree elephant hitching a ride on the back of a Nissan pickup truck was built and animated for Filmmates Productions (Mexico City) and Clemente Camara & Associates  in collaboration with The Oranj Group out of New York City. The spot opens on a beautiful field, warm sunlight and an endless winding road.  The new Nissan product carries a statuesque elephant.  The elephant, moved by the view with the wind in its ears and the fantastic looking vehicle it rides on, slowly lifts its hind legs and opens its arms in a human-like gesture that seems to say “I’m the King of the World”. Although a live elephant was used for parts of the commercial, the realistic movement for the last sequence was completed in full CG utilizing a realistic 3D elephant modeled after the live action animal.

The Plates: Since there was a ‘stand-in’ elephant that needed to be painted out prior to moving forward with 3D, there was a great amount of prep work completed on the plates even before animation took place.  First, the plates needed to be tracked in 3D since both the camera and truck moved throughout each shot. Camera solutions were exported to both Maya and Nuke.  Maya was then used to create projection geometry, which was then exported to Nuke.  In Nuke a combination of stills were painted onto the geometry and the exported camera data from the 3D tracking software was used to create a clean sequence without the stand- in elephant.

The Animation: The elephant model was achieved by creating a base mesh in Maya.  ZBrush was used to create high-resolution detail such as wrinkles and folds.  Existing photos were used as reference and colour maps were created by painting.  With the combination of the colour and displacement map, a photoreal elephant was rendered using HDRI photography for lighting and subsurface scattering to help simulate skin.  In addition, for the elephant’s close-up Maya Fur was utilized for an added touch of realism and detail.  Rendering was achieved through Renderman.

Animating the elephant required a balance of realistic motion and pushing the limitations of an elephant’s actual range of motion to achieve the client’s objective, all the while maintaining a sense of believability. Artifex Studios Ltd. is located in Vancouver, BC and has been creating digital effects and 3D animation for film and television since 1997.

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17th June 2008

Ancient Quest of Saqqarah

Final Verdict: Addictive

Developer: Codeminion
Demo: 60 minute trial
Platform: PC
Genre: Casual Match 3 Puzzle
Official Game Site: Saqqarah – note, parts are still under development
Price: $19.95 USD instant download 26mb

System Requirements:

OS: Windows Vista/XP/2000/ME/98
CPU: 800 Mhz
RAM: 256 MB
Hard Drive: 45 MB
Graphics: DirectX 8
Sound Card

All Screenshots in this review are the property of and copyright to Codeminion.

Saqqarah Menu

Saqqarah is a truly beautiful game – the amount of detail the designers have put into the UI and levels for this game is incredible. Everything about Saqqarah is pleasing to the senses – the soundtrack is very fitting for the setting of the game, and is actually something I could listen to all on its own. The puzzles are challenging without being impossible, and the methodology used to solve them is easy to learn. The characters in the game are helpful and amusing – I love how the little scarab rests against a pillar in between levels. You can even learn little bits about Egypt’s past throughout the game.

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14th June 2008

Video Game Night a New Pastime for Many Canadian Families

esacToronto – Video games are increasingly becoming a part of family activities, according to a new study by Ipsos Reid, and commissioned by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC.) Part of the reason, the survey suggests, is because parents perceive a greater availability of games for their children.

According to the study, 69 per cent of adults agree there is currently a good selection of options available that are well-suited to playing video games as a family.

“Stories about the video game market are often saturated in some of the big, hot-button sales titles like Grand Theft Auto or Halo – great games, but definitely not for families. The truth of the matter is family games represent the bulk of the market, and it’s clear from this survey that parents are seeing that, too,” said Nicole Helsberg, Director of Communications for ESAC.

Data from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the independent body that rates video games, seems to support this. According to the ESRB, 59 per cent of the games rated for sale in North America in 2007 were rated for everyone (E) and another 15 per cent were rated for everyone ten years and older (E10+.)

“And this is the story that needs to be told: video games can be a positive option for family time. Parents are playing with their kids, and embracing gaming as a way to spend time together as a family,” said Helsberg.

Additional findings from the Ipsos Reid survey of Canadian households include:

• Forty per cent of parents say that video games are increasingly becoming a part a family activity in their households.

• Forty-one per cent of parents agree say that they’d prefer their child to play video games than watch television.

• Fifty-seven per cent of parents play video games with their children.

• Among adults aged 18+ who have played video games in the past 4 weeks, the average (mean) age of a Canadian gamer is 40.3 years.

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12th June 2008

nextMEDIA 2008 Concludes In Banff

nextMEDIA – The Future of Digital Content wrapped Sunday in Banff, Alberta, concluding two days and threenextmedia1 evenings of presentations, keynote addresses, workshops, and networking events. This was the fourth year for the event, which has consistently delivered a ‘look forward’ on issues affecting both the broadcast and digital media sectors.

“nextMEDIA continues to grow alongside the digital media industry,” said Mark Greenspan, Director of Digital Content at Achilles Media. “For the second year in a row, we have staged a sold-out event that has attracted players from across North America in all media sectors.”

This year’s event was all about content with nextMEDIA taking a leadership role with the launch of ‘nextMEDIA Exposed’, a video and blogging channel covering daily events at the three-day conference.

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