4th August 2011

Thinware Media Announces Partnership with Render Rocket

studioCAPThinware Media Ltd., developers of StudioCAP workflow automation and asset management for animation studios, and Render Rocket LLC, an advanced cloud-based rendering services company based in California, have announced a new strategic partnership and technology integration that will enable animation studios to fully automate the process of rendering completely managed via cloud  computing.

StudioCAP (CAP=Computer Aided Production) is a completely new workflow automation and asset management solution for animation studios. Its cloud-based system enables studios to more efficiently store, track, and move 2D and 3D CGI (computer generated image) assets through the creation process without having to install and manage a costly IT infrastructure to do so. Render Rocket is a cloud-based, high-end rendering service that provides professional-grade rendering power on-demand to any 2D or 3D production team regardless of size or location.

Together, StudioCAP and Render Rocket will enable studios to manage their files more effectively, and automatically trigger a render job by simply submitting an image or shot after an artist has completed it. This will immediately package and send all the files to Render Rocket for rendering. Render Rocket will quickly return the files to StudioCAP fully rendered. The entire process not only automates rendering for artists, it alleviates the need for studios to purchase and maintain dedicated file servers and rendering machines, since both StudioCAP and Render Rocket operate in the cloud.

“We are very excited that Ruben and his team are onboard with Thinware Media,” said Mark Rocchio, CEO of Thinware Media Ltd. “Render Rocket is a well-established, easy-to-use rendering solution that works seamlessly with StudioCAP, and this will undoubtedly simplify how our customers take content from concept to final render.”

Ruben Perez, CEO of Render Rocket, added: “StudioCAP is the perfect complement to our cloud-based rendering solution. Now studios of all sizes can create content more efficiently, manage projects and assets more efficiently, and render more efficiently – all within the cloud and without massive capital investment. This partnership has the potential to re-define how all types of media are produced.”

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4th August 2011

Antic Entertainment Launches Platoonz To Kongregate

antic entertainmentLondon Ontario’s Antic Entertainment, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Casual Connect, has released its latest title to Kongregate. According to the game’s description, Platoonz is an action RPG game in which players build an army base and manage a squad of soldiers. The player’s mission is to recruit, equip and train those soldiers to combat the evil forces of Evil. Platoonz is free to play on the Kongregate platform.

Platoonz

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4th August 2011

Motives in Movement Make a Move to Toronto

Motives In MovementMotives in Movement, the dramatic-content consultancy and providers of the next generation of convergent solutions for animation software developers, has completed its first Proof of Concept with cutting edge French animation company, Dynamixyz. The POC coincides with Motives in Movement founder and Heavy Rain actor Pascal Langlois relocating to Toronto, and he will be attending SIGGRAPH 2011in Vancouver. Dynamixyz will be in Booth 351.

Pascal Langlois

Pascal Langlois

While Motives in Movement still operates from a London base, the recent Dynamixyz POC and relocation of the company founder to Canada demonstrates that it is in countries like Canada and France that leading edge game tech and boundary pushing projects receive significant support. This support is still lacking in the UK games industry and while it is undoubtedly deserved, it is not a reality.

Pascal Langlois explains “The fact is, in France and in Canada, there is a climate of government-level faith in this young industry. It’s founded on a belief that it’s worth investing in, to guarantee being at the heart of its future.”

The Motives in Movement and Dynamixyz relationship started at Gamescom 2010, where the two companies discovered they shared a common and unique approach to animation source material. Instead of using fundamental expressions as a starting point, both companies believe that libraries and animation tools work better with fluid, live performances resulting in the final animation being considerably more believable and engaging than existing systems. The overall process is also radically faster and more efficient.

This collaborative and new wave thinking not only proves that Motives in Movement and Dynamixyz make a good team but also opens up exciting new prospects for both companies.

Dynamixyz is a french company working in the field of high quality 3D facial analysis/synthesis. Distinguished by the French Ministry of Research, Dynamixyz has developed a unique statistical modelling technology making possible to “clone” the expressions and dynamics of a subject. This model can then be used to produce high quality facial animations at low costs. Dynamixyz also develop marker-less performance capture for the entertainment industry.

Dynamixyz and MiM, besides sharing the same point of view on enhancing facial animation, have a really complimentary approach, one providing technology and one providing the necessary high quality content and expertise.

Motives in Movement (MIM) has expertise in both high level traditional media and AAA game development. We provide ‘convergent consultancy’ on performance based library creation, Direction and Acting, for all levels of Capture. Motive’s unique ability to draw on skill sets from both industries, offers developers and animation software providers the next generation of convergent solutions. Motives in Movement now operates from both London and Toronto and is actively engaged in business development in both locations.

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4th August 2011

Visit MPC At SIGGRAPH 2011

MPCMPC reaffirms its commitment to long-term investment in Vancouver by building a state of the art 38,000 sq ft facility in the prestigious Yaletown district.  The building, currently in its second stage of development, is a heritage brick and timber construction situated in the heart of Downtown Vancouver, surrounded by some of the city’s best restaurants and bars.  The building is being completely rebuilt to MPC’s specifications to create Vancouver’s largest and best facility, housing more than 300 artists.

The growing Vancouver team, currently working from MPC’s Homer Street studio, will move to the new facility on completion in early 2012.  MPC Vancouver provides the same best in class VFX services to our feature film clients as provided by our London facility, using the very same tools, techniques and pipeline.

MPC Vancouver’s Head of Film, Michelle Grady said “the new building demonstrates our commitment to our customers and to our artists by offering choice of location while maintaining the level of creativity and quality that is expected from MPC.”MPC YVR Source Code

MPC’s status as a world-class VFX facility has been achieved through marrying some of the industry’s top creative talent with the development of industry-leading software to create stunning visual effects, and provide an infrastructure for completing multiple projects with thousands of shots simultaneously across the globe, efficiently, and with the highest quality.

At SIGGRAPH 2011 three of MPC’s experts will give a fascinating insight into the techniques and technology behind the images. The presentations will demonstrate the solutions developed to achieve the visual treats seen in effects heavy 2011 movie releases including Sucker Punch, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as well as the challenges of developing visual effects in a truly global production pipeline.

MPC Head of Pipeline, Hannes Ricklefs examines “The Need for Standardization within Global Visual Effects Productions through Open Source and Open Standards” on Monday 8th August from 3:45 – 5:15 pm.

MPC YVR Sherlock Holmes Game of ShadowsMPC Vancouver Software Lead, Ben Cole presents “Kali: High-Quality FEM Destruction in Zack Snyder’s ‘Sucker Punch’” on Wednesday 10th August from 2:00 – 2:30 pm.

MPC’s SIGGRAPH 2011 booth (463) is located in the centre of the main exhibition hall, and MPC’s recruitment team will be on the look out for talented and creative individuals to join our expanding teams around the world. With capacity set to increase at all of our facilities in order to fulfil exciting movie projects including Prometheus, Wrath of the Titans, World War Z, 47 Ronin, Journey 2, Jack the Giant Killer and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows as well as a number of openings to join our award winning Advertising team, there really is no better time to join MPC. If you have what it takes to work at a World Leading VFX Studio make your way to our booth where our recruitment team will be happy to offer advice to prospective team members.

MPC Film VFX Supervisors Greg Butler (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian), Guillaume Rocheron (Fast 5, Sucker Punch, Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief) and MPC Advertising VFX Supervisors Anthony Bloor and Carsten Keller will be revealing some of the secrets behind their most recent work at the booth. (Schedule to be announced)MPC-Assassin's Creed

This year SIGGRAPH’s Computer Animation Festival celebrates its 38th year and two of the biggest commercials that MPC completed last year will be screened, Cadbury ‘Spots V Stripes’ and Sky ’360.

Award-winning ‘Spots V Stripes’ features a full cast of over 60 photorealistic CG creatures. MPC worked with Director Nick Gordon, Academy and Fallon to create this spot, which has already received a Cannes Lions, VES and British Arrow award.

’360′ was created for Sky Creative to promote their film channel. Directed by Esther Wallace and Nick Tarte and produced by Sharon Kersley, the spot travels through different genres, unveiling epic landscapes including two fully CG environments.  The screening takes place on the West Building, Exhibit Hall A on Monday 8th and Wednesday 10th August.

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4th August 2011

Brawl Busters Moving To Beta

rock hippo productionsRock Hippo Productions and partner Weezor have announced today that the closed beta test for Brawl Busters will begin next week on Thursday, August 11th. You can apply to receive a beta key by signing up on the game’s web site.

Brawl Busters is a Free2Play dynamic new action brawler that features competitive and co-operative battle modes all in a unique third person view.  With its simple and intuitive controls, this easy to pick up and play game makes team strategy a must as player’s battle against each other or team up against computer controlled enemies.

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“Our fans ask us every day when they will get their hands on Brawl Busters so we are excited to finally be able to let them know the countdown has started and they only have to wait one more week!” said Howard He, President and CEO of Rock Hippo Productions.  “We invite players to go to the website now and sign up so they can make sure to get one of the coveted closed beta invites, and while they are there they should make sure to check out the weekly video lessons we have posted teaching them about Brawl Buster’s gameplay features. This way, they can be ready to jump in and be one of the best Original Busters next Thursday.”

The gameplay lessons help players to learn more about what to expect when they enter the world of Brawl Busters. The video lessons can be found on the front page of the Brawl Busters website and feature a breakdown of each of the five character classes, the missions, the customization, environment and items and much more!

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3rd August 2011

New Shows In The Spotlight At 2011 Gemini Awards

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television is pleased to announce the nominations for the 26th Annual Gemini Awards, celebrating the best in Canadian English language television and digital media.FlashPoint

The third season of CTV series Flashpoint leads the annual TV nominations once again with 17 nods, including Best Dramatic Series. Hot on its heels are two debutant shows, both in the Best Comedy Program or Series category, including the new HBO Canada series Call Me Fitz (with 16 nominations) and TMN/Movie Central’s Living in Your Car (with 10 nominations).

History Channel’s The Kennedys and TMN’s The Pillars of the Earth also achieved an impressive 10 nominations each, including Best Dramatic Mini-Series or TV Movie category.

The emerging Digital Media categories are led by nominations from the National Film Board of Canada with cross-platform producers Marblemedia and Shaftesbury Films also in the burgeoning competition.

“We congratulate all the nominees,” says Helga Stephenson, ACCT Interim CEO. “It is aensational to see brand new television series garner so many accolades alongside established favorites. We are also delighted that there is a strong and growing presence in this year’s Digital Media categories. The arrival of new talent in both industries is a very strong indicator of a robust future.”endgame

For our own part, while we watch many of the nominated shows, we are VERY happy to see that Endgame also received nominations for the following:

Best Cross-Platform Project – Fiction:  Endgame Interactive, Showcase (Shaw) and Secret Location – James Milward, Ryan Andal, Pietro Gagliano, CJ Hervey, Alan Sawyer.

Best Dramatic Series – Sponsored by the Independent Production Fund: Endgame Showcase (Shaw) Thunderbird Films Inc. – Michael Shepard, Avrum Jacobson, Harvey Kahn, Alexandra Raffe

Best Achievement in Main Title Design: Endgame Showcase (Shaw) Ian Kirby, Caleb Bouchard, Aaron Hildebrant, Mark Stuckert

Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role, Dramatic Series: Endgame – I Killed Her
Showcase (Shaw) David Richmond-Peck

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series: Endgame – Fearful Symmetry/Huxley, We Have a Problem Showcase (Shaw) Katharine Isabelle

You can find the full list of nominees on this PDF at the Gemini Awards official site.

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3rd August 2011

BC Film Commission Receives Provincial Funding

Province of BCBritish Columbia’s star power as a film-friendly production centre has received a boost from $275,000 in provincial government funding to help regional organizations attract and provide services to film and video producers from around the world.BC Film Commission

British Columbia is the third-largest production centre in North America after Los Angeles and New York, with the local film industry directly and indirectly employing more than 25,000 people with overall 2010 wages adding up to approximately 450 million dollars.

The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development distributed the funding to regional film commissions, as well as specific tourism associations and municipalities that work closely with the BC Film Commission to showcase and promote their regions to filmmakers and liaise with film production companies. If you would like to talk more with the BC Film Commission, they will be in Booth #889 at SIGGRAPH 2011, which takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre next week, August 7th through 11th.

“Film in British Columbia represents a significant economic enterprise supporting good jobs and bringing substantial revenue to communities across the province,” said BC’s Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Ida Chong. “A visually dramatic landscape, a skilled film industry labour pool and a favourable tax regime established by the Province help attract film and video production, including projects in British Columbia’s regions.”

Every year, British Columbia’s regions provide locations for various film projects, including movies, television series, documentaries and commercials. Motion picture and television producers spent more than $1 billion in British Columbia during 2010. About 90 per cent of productions use the services of the BC Film Commission, including regional film commissions and offices.

“Since 1978, the BC Film Commission has successfully showcased the province as a motion picture production centre and filming destination. Regional commissions and organizations are instrumental in building and promoting B.C.’s inventory of locations,” added BC Film Commissioner Susan Croome. “They provide local production services and support required by visiting film crews and ensuring film-friendly procedures are in place through local regulatory authorities.”

Services provided in support of regional film include:

  • Surveying and scouting film locations.
  • Providing logistical support while filming is underway on location.
  • Supplying information for producers matching scripts with possible locations.
  • Offering production research, location expertise and technical support.
  • Assisting with film permits, labour regulations and immigrant/work permits.

Contrary to popular belief, BC’s film industry, while largely located in the Lower Mainland region of the province, makes full use of the environmental and cultural diversity found throughout British Columbia:

· Since 1996, the Greater Victoria Film Commission (GVFC) has been the go-to agency for film productions doing business on southern Vancouver Island. Over the last decade, GVFC has supported the regional economy by helping to generate more than $165 million in direct spending in the Capital Regional District.

· The Vancouver Island North Film Commission has serviced film productions generating more than $80 million in economic impact for rural communities on Vancouver Island over the past 15 years.

· The Northern British Columbia Film region has played host to several Hollywood feature films including: Double Jeopardy, Reindeer Games, Insomnia, Dreamcatcher, Eight Below and most recently The Grey, filmed in Smithers for six weeks this past winter.

· In the last 10 years, the Thompson-Nicola Film Commission has worked with film projects resulting in $22 million in direct spending in the region, with a total estimated economic impact of more than $77 million in Kamloops and surrounding communities.

· Since 1990, film productions supported by the Okanagan Film Commission (OFC) have generated a multi-million dollar economic impact on the region. OFC has worked with international animation studios set to open offices in the region, including Bardel Entertainment / Nickelodeon, Lizard Brain and Disney. These new studios will employ young professional people at above-average salaries.

· In the fall of 2010, Nelson, Salmo and Ymir in the West Kootenays hosted filming of The Tall Man. The 42-day production generated $11 million in economic activity. More than 1,200 local people responded to an extras casting call.

The B.C. government provides between $130 million and $200 million in annual refundable tax credits for the film and television industry, depending on the level of production activity.

Even though it’s embroiled in a controversial referendum, the current HST assists in ensuring a competitive film industry in British Columbia. Under the HST, the 7% PST portion of the tax is now recoverable and provides significant savings on the purchases of goods and services such as catering and equipment.

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3rd August 2011

Rogers Launches Real-Time Usage Alerts

RogersAs roughly five million Canadians prepare to travel this August, Rogers Communications announced today the launch of innovative new roaming solutions to help Canadians easily manage their data use while traveling outside of Canada.

Starting immediately, Rogers customers on a Roaming Data Pass will be the first in Canada to benefit from real-time data usage alerts while roaming abroad, giving cost certainty and peace of mind. These new Roaming Data Passes start at $5 per day for both customers and small businesses.

The real-time usage alerts (up-to-date within five minutes) will be sent directly to a customer’s mobile device allowing them to monitor and control their data usage. To provide further cost certainty, if a customer exceeds their time or data limit on a pass, they will be notified and then asked to make a choice to either continue at a pay-per-use rate or to purchase another roaming data pass.

“Customers have told us they’re concerned about roaming costs because they don’t have a true sense of how much data they use when travelling abroad,” said Raj Doshi, Vice President of Mobile Product Management, Rogers Communications Inc. “We’ve worked with wireless carriers around the world to deliver this innovative solution exclusively for our customers. The real-time data usage alerts will take the guess work out of roaming while our new data passes will give customers more choice and ways to save money, creating a worry-free travel experience.”

Rogers’ customers can choose from a wide selection of new, affordable day and week Roaming Data Passes depending on their usage needs. Passes are available for both U.S. and International destinations. To make it even easier, data passes can either be pre-purchased before leaving Canada or purchased while roaming directly from a customer’s mobile device.

Last month, Rogers also introduced new unlimited U.S. roaming text messaging offers. Customers now have the option to purchase an unlimited U.S. roaming text messaging pass for $10 (valid for 48 hours) or an unlimited U.S. roaming text messaging travel pack (valid for one month).

“These new options make roaming even more affordable for Canadians,” said Doshi. “We’re continually introducing new plans and new solutions to give our customers the freedom to use their mobile devices worry free when they travel.”

All roaming offers can be added by texting “Travel” to 7626 or visiting www.rogers.com/m/roam directly on a mobile device.  Also, customers are sent a text message when they first arrive at their travel destination with a link to purchase discounted roaming offers directly from their mobile device.

 

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3rd August 2011

Air Miles Warns of Telephone Scam

LoyaltyOne has sent out the following warning bulletin. Please pass the information along.loyalty one

Whether by telephone, mail or email, Canadians continue to be targeted by schemes trying to incent and persuade un-expecting consumers into sharing personal information, financial and even health data for purposes which they never agreed to. Unfortunately, this results in thousands of victims of these schemes each year.

air milesAs a member of the Competition Bureau of Canada’s Fraud Prevention Forum, the Air Miles Reward Program supports the Bureau’s broad-based “Recognize it, Report it and Stop it!” fraud prevention efforts.

Recent information of Air Miles Collectors receiving telephone calls from unknown organizations informing consumers that they have won a prize consisting of between 10,000 and 100,000 reward miles have been reported to the Program. Unsuspecting Collectors are then prompted to press “1″ and are subsequently transferred to an operator who asks for personal and credit card information.

This is not an Air Miles initiative. The Program does not use an automated message to notify Collectors they have won reward miles.

Canadians must take appropriate precautions to protect their personal information to avoid such schemes. Consumers are urged to protect themselves by never sharing personal information or account information with anyone who should not have access to it.

Any suspicious telephone call when personal information is asked for should be reported immediately to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or call 1-888-495-8501.

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3rd August 2011

Space Marine Soundtrack Scored By Celebrated Composer Team

Relic EntertainmentCelebrated composer duo Cris Velasco (God of War Series) and Sascha Dikiciyan (TRON: Evolution) have created an epic original score for Relic Entertainment’s upcoming 3rd person action/shooter, Warhammer® 40,000®: Space Marine® published by THQ. Set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe created by Games Workshop®, Space Marine is scheduled to be released for the Xbox 360®, PlayStation®3 and Windows PC on September 6th 2011.
Space Marine
In Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine you are Captain Titus of the Ultramarines, humanity’s last hope for survival in a war-ridden future. Step into the armor of this superhuman warrior and use a lethal combination of deadly weapons to crush overwhelming alien forces. Fight against the savage Orks and the unholy forces of Chaos in a brutally violent world based on one of the most popular science fiction fantasies.

Inspired by the stunning cinematic visuals and visceral gameplay of Space Marine, the renowned duo of composers Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan crafted an expansive emotional score featuring anthemic orchestral compositions and contemporary Hollywood music production, reflecting the epic scale of this rich, sci-fi fantasy.

Glenn Jamison, Audio Lead at Relic Entertainment commented, “Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan have composed a world-class, emotionally intense original music score for Space Marine that exceeded all of our expectations. We were blown away by the inspired music they wrote for our game and can’t wait to share their epic score with everyone when Space Marine releases this September.”

Composers Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan commented, “Space Marine has been one of the most creatively satisfying projects of our scoring career. This being the first third-person shooter in the Warhammer franchise, we were honored to write an original score that lives up to the games’ prestigious history and also pushes the series forward with a bold and fresh sound.”

The Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine original soundtrack will be included in the Collector’s Edition now available to pre-order exclusively from the THQ store – which has many Warhammer fans around the world (including the Cavechild) very unhappy with THQ.

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