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  • Learning Autodesk Maya 2009: The Modeling & Animation Handbook

6th September 2009

Learning Autodesk Maya 2009: The Modeling & Animation Handbook

Book Cover

Learning Autodesk Maya 2009: The Modeling & Animation Handbook (Buy Book)

By Autodesk Maya Press

ISBN-10: 1897177526

ISBN-13: 978-1897177525

Review by: Josh Martin

I was lucky enough for Autodesk to allow me to review this book.  As an animation student myself, I wanted to continue learning through the summer while school wasn’t in session.  I’ve read many negative and positive reviews on this book and I wanted to get to the bottom of this book and of course, to further my knowledge of modeling and animation in Maya.

The first thing I noticed when I received this book was the great illustrations throughout it. With the illustrations being in full color, it is easy to follow along and find the subjects the book talks about. I was hoping there would be a DVD that came with the book. My hopes were correct! The book comes with a DVD which includes project files, textures, and even a quick video walk-through on different sections of the book. Of course, the book also has the “all important” index which lists every general term a modeler, texture artist, rigger, or animator would use so you can easily look up different techniques and terms.

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4th September 2009

Canadians At PAX

Seattle – Canadian presence will be strong at this year’s Penny Arcade Expo. Studios showing off  Mass Effect 2upcoming titles will include Bioware and EA, Klei Entertainment, Ubisoft, Hot Head Games and Relic Entertainment. Other Vancouverites include Vancouver Film School and Game Design Expo, Simon Fraser University and Swell Games.

Bioware’s Senior Technical Designer Jason Booth will be presenting a session on Why Winning Sucks tonight at 7pm in the Raven Theatre, then at 9pm in the Wolfman Theatre, Tyler Black (Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, BC Children’s Hospital) will be presenting a session called Psychiatry, Video Games, and Kids – The Science, The Opinions, and the Lies. Hot Head Games’ Deirdra Kiai will be a panelist in Saturday’s Girls and Games: The Growing Role of Women in the Game Industry session, which takes place in the Unicorn Theatre at 10:30am. Bioware Co-founder Greg Zeschuk and Silicon Knights President Dennis Dyack will be participating in the Medium is the: Story Matters session at 1pm in the Serpent Theatre. Later on Saturday evening Klei Entertainment CEO Jamie Cheng will be presenting Creating an Xbox Live Arcade Game in the Wolfman Theatre at 6pm.

Ezio Assassin's Creed IIAt 7pm, PAX goers can attend the session I’ve Just Been F#$%ing Fired”: How To Get Back Into the Industry On Your Own Terms Through Mobile Game Development, featuring a full panel of “north of the 49th” speakers: Jake Birkett (Lead Designer, Big Fish Games Vancouver), Tyler Sigman (Consulting Design Director, Big Sandwich Games), Matt Toner (CEO, Zeroes 2 Heroes Media), Nis Bojin (Program Manager, playWRITE) and Brian Zubert (Senior Application Development Consulting – Mobile Gaming, Research in Motion).

On Sunday morning, Relic Entertainment will be unveiling a new play mode for Dawn of War 2 called The Last Stand. Attendees can attend a post-mortem panel discussion in the Raven Theatre at 11:30am. At 1pm in the Serpent Theatre, Hot Head Games Programmers Nels Anderson and Deirdra Kiai will be participating in a discussion about Murder, Sex & Drugs. Art Institute Vancouver alumni Lani Blazier who is now living in Seattle and working as an Associate Producer for NCSoft’s Aion will be speaking as part of the Aion panel.

Ubisoft Montreal will be presenting a live on-stage demo for their upcoming titles Assassin’s Creed 2 and Splinter Cell Conviction in the Main Theatre on Friday evening, and there are new teaser trailers up on Ubisoft’s YouTube channel featuring in-game footage.

Bioware and LucasArts will be Aion KeySet for ZBoardpresenting Star Wars: The Old Republic in the Main Theatre on Sunday morning at 11:00am. Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins will also have a very strong presence at PAX, and judging from their team twitters, they had a great time at the Microsoft Games for Windows event held at the Redmond Campus on Thursday. Dragon Age fans can also look forward to a new 8-part web comic from Gabe and Tycho featuring the characters of Dragon Age. The first page has already been added to the DA:O site.

Don’t forget to check out The Peregrine Gaming Glove and ZBoard’s new Aion Keyboard Set and mouse pad. As we reported earlier this week, The Pergrine was developed in Lloydminster, Alberta. ZBoard is a Canadian company which was recently purchased by SteelSeries. Co-designed with NCsoft ® Corporation, Aion’s publisher and developer, the limited edition gear provides customized functionality and original artwork from the game that allows players to battle and quest with ease into Aion’s breathtaking world of Atreia.

Victor Lucas and Scott Jones from Electric Playground will also be lurking around the conference site. Say hi if you see them, but don’t ask Victor about game recommendations – his answers usually lead to game addictions. Fable 2 is a prime example.

Village Gamer will not be attending this year’s PAX due to family commitments over on Vancouver Island, but we’re certainly looking forward to hearing the reports about this year’s expo from all of our friends who are there. Maybe they’ll even bring us some swag, just because they’re awesome friends and feel our pain in not being able to be there in person.

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3rd September 2009

New Media BC Updates

New Media BCVancouverNew Media BC has sent out a call for speakers for the iPhone Forum which will be taking place in Vancouver on Tuesday November 4. CBC, BCIT and New Media BC are partnering for this forum, which will bring local and international business leaders, educators, designers, and developers together to share knowledge, personal experience, and best practices for doing business on Apple’s Touch Platform. The aim is to grow awareness of the opportunities this revolutionary platform offers and to foster mobile innovation in the Canadian market.

The iPhone Forum will feature two parallel paths of concurrent sessions:

Technical sessions target developers and designers that seek a deeper understanding of how to design and develop optimized websites and native apps for Apple’s Touch Platform.

Business sessions target those that seek to leverage the business potential of Apple’s Touch platform.

The PDF request form can be downloaded from the New Media BC site, and then emailed to Jonathan Carrigan at CBC once completed. The deadline to submit forms is October 1, and only those speakers who are selected will be contacted.

WINBCWINBC and New Media BC invite their members to the MoMoVan season kick-off at the Museum of Vancouver in beautiful Vanier Park this September 14th at 5:30pm.

Collaboration, Community and Convergence have always been the core of MoMoVan. When we think about what differentiates us from other clusters, these are the words that come up again and again. And as we move towards the Olympics in February, these will be the ingredients to the success of our cluster. We have all the right pieces here to make this truly a world-class wireless and digital media centre. Product innovation from collaboration, convergence between sectors bringing new ideas and a strong and interconnected community will ensure that we stand on top of the podium in 2010 and beyond.

Come and kick-start the season with us and ignite your competitive spirit. We have a great evening planned: we will have a competition to get some ideas flowing; we will thank Amielle Lake (Tagga) for being the Face of MoMoVan and we will find the next smiling mug. Come catch-up with old friends and make new ones. There will be hats, there will be prizes and of course, there will be our legendary local beer and pizza. All this with a one of a kind panoramic view of Vanier Park, English Bay, Coast Mountains, West End, Downtown and Stanley Park. The MoMoVan registration deadline is September 11 2009.

MS DynamicsThe Art of Sales presented by Microsoft Dynamics CRM has attracted thousands of sales and marketing professionals from across Canada. On October 19th, 2009, North America’s largest sales conference is coming to Vancouver to present you with the key fundamentals and best sales practices required to ensure stability and growth for your business in a changing world. Featuring an exceptional line-up of best-selling authors, speakers, and sales visionaries focusing on newly developed methodologies for relationship development, productivity and sales strategy makes this conference a must attend. Take advantage of this limited time special offer which is not available to the general public. There is special pricing available for NMBC members – make sure to check your email for the latest event news from NMBC for details.

wavefrontWavefront is presenting the NAVTEQ Breakfast Seminar: What’s New in Fall for Location Developers in Vancouver

Date: Sept 15, 8:30 – 11 AM
Location: 2010 Commerce Center, Suite 1600 – 800 Robson Street (Lower Plaza), Vancouver, BC

Join Tom Tierney, Developer Alliance Manager at NAVTEQ describe what’s new in the fall for location developers in Vancouver. Attend this free seminar and find out recent developments with Discover Cities, MapTP, NAVTEQ Mobility Platform and how you can showcase your apps on NAVTEQ’s new developer showcase at NAVTEQ.com. Tom will also discuss additional opportunities for developers participating in the 2010 NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge. Don’t miss this chance to get the latest scoop. Please also let us know if you would like to set-up a one-on-one engagement meeting with NAVTEQ when you register.

IIMAWIF Info Session at IIMA Conference

The information session is free, but for New Media BC members who want to take advantage of the full International Internet Marketing Association conference and get a wicked discount, please contact Bruce Nickson at +1 (778) 373-8785. To register for the Information Session only, please do so here.

Date: September 17, 2009
Time: 12:10pm
Location: Four Seasons Hotel , 791 West Georgia Street, Vancouver Room: TBA

This September, a representative from the Webdesign International Festival (WIF) is coming to Canada to present the WIF competition and its preselection to potential partners and sponsors. WIF’s organizers, Limousin Expansion, have selected Canada as a partner country for the event. The representative will visit Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver to meet with groups including website agencies, universities and design schools, professional communities and media groups to develop sponsorship, planning, and participation in Canada.

WIF is an international competition where the best specialists in the sector will go head to head in Limoges, France, over 24 hours non-stop. They will be chosen during pre-selections organized by WIF’s partner countries. The pre-selections will be held between mid-October 2009 and mid-February 2010. An online pre-selection is also planned for February 2010 for those participants whose countries are not partners of WIF. The 100 best candidates will go head-to-head in Limoges during the final from June 3 to 5, 2010. To apply, or for more information, visit WIF’s website.

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2nd September 2009

Best Buy Canada To Assist Schools With Technology

Best Buy CanadaBurnabyBest Buy Canada has released its Report Card on Technology in Canada’s classrooms. The report card found that two-thirds of Canadian teachers surveyed believe students are being handicapped for the future by not giving them access to the latest technology. The survey, conducted by Leger Marketing between July 6 and July 19 2009, involved an online survey among 674 respondents randomly selected Canadian adults who are Leger Marketing panelists. The interviews were completed with Canadian teachers from primary to college and university level. This method simulates a probability sample which would yield a maximum margin of error of +/-3.8%, 19 times out of 20.

Best Buy Canada will contribute $300,000 in technology grants to schools in Canada through its Best in Class Fund program in 2009. The survey found that nearly all respondents believe that it is important for students to have the latest technology in order to thrive and succeed in today’s world, which underscores the importance of the Best in Class program.

The Best Buy Canada Report Card on Technology in Canada’s Classrooms, a national survey of 674 Canadian teachers, conducted by Leger Marketing, showed that:

– One-third of teachers surveyed indicated that schools lag behind in providing the best access to new technology to students
– More than half of the respondents (61%) believe that students have the best access to the latest technology at home
– Nearly three-quarters of teachers (74%) agree that having the latest technology in the classroom would foster creativity
– More than half of Canadian teachers use technology as part of their daily curriculum
– Despite the perceived importance of technology in the classroom, as many as one in five Canadian teachers report that they infrequently use technology in their classroom

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2nd September 2009

How to work with an Audio Provider 101

I speak to this from my own experience, and hope that it may be helpful to other audio designers and game aficionados all around.


Audio is an integral part of a video game. In fact, even a simple score can create a very large impact. Take the classic: Space Invaders. The music is 4 tones, but is considered by many to have one of the most successful scores.

Space Invaders
Midway imports Space Invaders from Taito. A great example of simple, effective sound design, Space Invaders owes a large part of its appeal to its menacing, paranoia-inducing soundtrack. Not music per se, the thumping audio track actually accelerates in tempo as the enemy invaders draw nearer (and move faster). The effect: sweat, panic, and increased blood pressure in a generation of gamers.
From “A History of Video Game Music” on http://www.gamespot.com/features/6092391/p-2.html
As the music speeds up, so too does the heart rate of the player; this is so much so, that if one plays Space Invaders with the TV on mute,  s/he will find the game to be much easier. (give it a try! PLAY HERE).
Clearly audio has a great role to play, even on the most basic levels. Audio plays a very visceral role in game immersion and great audio will enhance your game, bringing it to the next level.

So now that the WHY is covered, we will move on to the HOW.


Using an in-house audio provider will surely create a tighter product as the audio designer is involved in and surrounded by all aspects of the game. Of course, budgets do not always allow for in-house audio, and so many game companies choose to farm out the audio to a wide slew of providers of which I am one.

From environmental sound design and SFX to custom compositions and interactive scores, there are many types of audio assets that will add to a game. What all these types of audio have in common is they are all best approached through the five guidelines below.

1) Bring the audio designer into the game development cycle early.

Audio is often thought of as something that can be dropped in last minute, and as an audio person myself, I can often tell this to be the case when playing the finalized game. If the audio provider was brought in early, s/he can give many creative ideas of how to use the audio in a game to not only react to the game, but even advance the story (such as interactive music that gives feedback to the player letting them know they are moving in the right direction). If the audio designer is made aware of the story and game mechanics nearer to the beginning of the production cycle, a more interactive, interesting, and polished sound track can be created.

2) Relate some examples of what you like via links/samples.

Producers, programmers, artists and audio designers are not always speaking the same “language.” If a producer is looking for a sound to be more “sad“, I can easily modify the sound to be so; yet, descriptions are not often that simple. The complications arise when words of more depth are thrown around, or

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2nd September 2009

Canadian Innovation At PAX 2009

PeregrineLloydminster – Today the first videos of The Peregrine gaming glove make Peregrine Glovetheir debut. The Peregrine is a wearable, multiplatform PC input device that gives gamers a powerful edge over the keyboard. Those gamers lucky enough to have the 2009 Penny Arcade Expo on their calendars will have an even better chance to check out The Peregrine, where the gaming glove will be on display at booth #1342.

The videos are presented by Pu “Whisper” Liu, the pro gamer from Team Evil Geniuses who lays claim to the #1 Warcraft III: Dawn of the Ancients (DotA) ranking in North America, as well multiple eSports World Cup USA DotA championships. An avid user of The Peregrine, Whisper shows in the videos how the glove allows users to instantly trigger over 30 in-game abilities literally with the touch of a finger, speeding up their response time while simultaneously offering a more comfortable and intuitive gaming experience.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

“We unveiled The Peregrine to the world at E3 and the response was even better than we could have imagined,” said Brent Baier, inventor of the Peregrine. “We can’t wait to show it off to even more people with the first videos of the product in action, and our hands-on debut at PAX.”

“Everyone on The Peregrine team is on the edge of our seats waiting for the first gloves to roll off the assembly line, because we truly believe it will change the way people play games,” added Baier, CEO of Iron Will Innovations, the think tank founded to bring revolutionary products like The Peregrine to life. “What started more than five years ago as the dream of a starving engineering student is starting to truly take shape, and it’s exhilarating!”

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2nd September 2009

A2M To Develop New Screenlife Title

A2MSeattle and MontrealScreenlife is pleased to unveil the latest home console iteration of the bestselling Scene It?® brand. Scene It?® Bright Lights! Big Screen!™ will be the first videogame in the Scene It? franchise available for Wii™ and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems and marks a return for the brand to the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system from Microsoft. Previous product success on the Xbox platform combined with casual gaming’s explosive growth create a tremendous opportunity for screenlifeScreenlife to bring its unique brand of entertainment trivia game play to millions of new consumers.

To be developed by Artificial Mind & Movement (A2M), Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen! offers a wide variety of media-rich trivia that provides movie fans and social gamers with a lively, competitive group gaming experience. Trivia content in the game will include recently released 2009 movies as well as fan favorite Hollywood hits from the last four decades. There are numerous game improvements, including:

* Thousands of new questions
* A new and improved single player option
* Party play modes
* Many new puzzle types
* 12 all-new player avatars
* A simplified game interface
* A new, very entertaining game host
* New, unique mini-game content

Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen! brings it all together and provides incredible fun for the whole family. Single-player mode challenges player speed and entertainment trivia know-how, while multi-player mode creates a challenging social gameplay experience.

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2nd September 2009

Funcom Montreal Opens Its Doors

FuncomMontréal Funcom is pleased to announce the establishment of a new development studio in Montréal, Canada, where it will build a strong and competent development team that will work on several games in the Funcom portfolio. Besides tapping into the excellent talent pool available in the region, Funcom will also move a certain number of key personnel over to the new studio.

“Montréal has established itself as one of the world’s most important locations for video game production, and we are looking forward to taking part in that success,” says Funcom CEO Trond Arne Aas. “In addition to strengthening our North American presence, the new studio will take advantage of the great incentive programs offered by the Québec region, incentives that makes Montréal one of the most cost effective locations in the world for developing MMO games. This will in turn allow us to better balance our costs, making it possible for us to continue to expand our investments into the MMO segment.”

Funcom is one of the most multi-cultural game developers in the business, with over 320 employees from all corners of the world employed at the company’s offices in Norway, the US, China, and Switzerland. The company is responsible for the best-selling MMO ‘Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures’ that shipped over 1.2 million copies to retail in 2008, as well as the pioneering sci-fi MMO ‘Anarchy Online’. The company has developed more than 20 titles since its founding in 1993; including the critically acclaimed ‘The Longest Journey’ and ‘Dreamfall’ adventure games. Funcom is currently working on the expansion pack for ‘Age of Conan’ called ‘Rise of the Godslayer’ as well as its new MMO ‘The Secret World’. Developers at the Montréal studio will play an important role in the development of both of these games.

“It has been a pleasure for us to work with Investissement Québec in setting up our Montréal studio and we are very thankful for the strong support they have given us throughout this process,” says Ole Schreiner, CEO of Funcom’s new Montréal studio. “We are excited about the opportunity that Montréal represents to our company, not only because of the great incentives offered by Québec, but also the authorities’ strong commitment to training qualified video games personnel and building a video games cluster in Montréal and Québec.”

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1st September 2009

Trulioo Launches Internet ID Verification System

TruliooVancouverTrulioo Inc., today announced the release of the web’s first Community Identity Verification System. Perfect for online dating sites, auction sites, job search sites and age restricted forums and groups. The product is free and can be used anywhere on the web where an increased level of trust between people is required. Facebook users can sign up now for Trulioo at Trulioo, and the Company plans to release versions for other social networking websites in the coming months.

Trulioo's Online I.D.

Trulioo's Online I.D.

Trulioo’s patent pending technology allows its users to verify their identity details by leveraging their real-world relationships with thier friends, family, coworkers and community through online social networking websites.

“Governments around the world have always relied on community based identity verification to issue passports and other important documents to their citizens,” says Tanis Jorge, Director of Business Development for Trulioo. “When your neighbourhood doctor, lawyer or teacher signs your passport application – that is community identity verification at work.” explains Jorge. “With the advent of real world social networks being brought online in recent years, the opportunity for alternative online identity verification now exists.”

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1st September 2009

Spark Animation Festival Updates

Siggraph VancouverVancouverSpark Animation has unveiled the opening night screening for its upcoming Animation Festival which takes place this September 16 – 20 at the VanCity Theatre. The Secret of Kells, which is an animated story of the boy behind the famed Book of Kells, will be the first film to be screened following the Festival’s opening night Industry Mixer. The film’s writer and co-director Tomm Moore will be presenting a session on the afternoon of September 17, but the topic has not yet been announced.

Confirmed speakers and sessions for Spark Animation include:

Coraline: The Changing Face of Animation
with Martin Meunier
The Making of 9
Session Topic TBA – Tomm Moore (Secret of Kells)
Session Topic TBA – Conrad Vernon & David Burgess (Monsters vs. Aliens)

Confirmed Films for the Festival thus far include Secret of Kells, Iron Giant, Mary and Max, $9.99 and The Best of SIGGRAPH 2009.

There are many more speaker sessions and films yet to be announced for Spark Animation, so be sure to check their site often, or sign up for the newsletter.

This year’s Spark Animation sponsors and supporters are:

BC Innovation Council, BC Film, Vancouver Economic Development, AnnexPro, nvidia, Rainmaker, Propaganda Games, 3Vis and Association Friends include Women In Games Vancouver, Casual Games Association, Visual Effects Association of BC, Society of Graphic Designers Canada – BC Chapter .

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