Archive for June, 2015

Groundbreaking Animation Movies – Paranorman

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

It’s now over three years since the film was released yet, although it might look like just another family animation film but the production of ParaNorman used some cutting edge techniques.  The workhorse of this production was a bank of four very powerful 3d printers which were essential to production on the film.  The film was created using a technique called Stop-Motion.  This method was actually developed over a century ago and involves using puppet models that are moved slightly to create the next frame and the illusion of movement.

paranorman (1)

The method is very successful but incredibly time consuming mainly down to people’s expressions.  To complete small movements in the facial expressions, traditionally each look would be sculpted from clay by hand.  However for this film the makers – Laika used the printers.  They had stored on computer a bank of nearly nine thousand 3d faces for just the main character.  Playing around with the various combinations could increase the variations to over 1 million.

They are not the first company to use these sophisticated printers, the famous British company Aardman used them aswell.  In fact their latest film – The Pirates used this technology extensively.  Animators would select  the expressions or looks that they needed then use the 3 printers to produce the finished product.

You can see how essential the printers are to these productions by the amount of work they have done.  In all they used nearly 4 tonnes of ink toner between them.  They were used a total of 572 days mainly printing out the thousands of facial impressions that are required in this production.

As for the film, it is excellent and well worth seeing.   There’s a great little show on the Hulu site at the moment with more on ParaNorman.  You ‘ll need to find way to change your address like a safe VPN – such as this to view though.  This is because Hulu has now locked all it’s content down for visitors from outside the US.  Don’t worry though it’s not that hard to use a VPN to hide your real location from the server.

Citation – additional information

Apple Purchases Digital Media Publisher

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

PRSS is a relatively new firm based in the Netherlands which provides a simple platform for building digital magazines.  There’s long been a debate about the future of magazines and whether they have one, but now it seems that the smart money is looking towards the digital format to save the genre.

We’ve probably all seen a favorite magazine disappear over the last decade or so, along with newspapers and comics from our childhood.  But if you’ve ever looked online you might be surprised to find the number of titles that actually exist in digital format.  It makes sense really, all the digital devices we use are capable of downloading and viewing magazines.  They also have the huge advantage of being instantly available by download and distribution costs are very low compared with traditional magazines.



PRSS owns a platform that makes it much easier to produce high quality magazines online without a team of web designers and coders.  It’s kind of like a version of iBooks Author but just focused at the magazine market.    In many ways it seems a sensible acquisition for the technology giant, a platform that makes it cheaper and easier to produce content that can go straight into the digital news stand and into the iTunes store.

It’s the production of digital content which is essential to Apple, and by taking control of a platform which enables this to happen they’re actually controlling some of the verticals of the magazine production.   What the future holds for the platform is unsure, this maybe simply an exercise in grabbing some design talent from the firm.

Hopefully initiatives like these will allow magazines to flourish in digital format, however there are still many concerns for their future.  One is that for many magazines particularly in niche markets is their potential audience.  You would expect that a digital format would make this much simpler to reach more people but often this doesn’t work out.  In many media markets like films and TV, companies are actually restricting access based on location – so for instance you need to change your IP address to watch most US media sites from outside America – here’s how.  It’s not just the TV stations, big firms like Netflix restrict what you watch to your physical location, so to access the British version you’d need either a UK proxy or to connect from that country.

More here

The Netflix Expansion Continues

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

It’s taken years, and certainly months of speculation but the world of media entertainment is about to change in Australia and New Zealand – yes Netflix is finally arriving. The US based subscription service announced this week that they would be launching it’s latest region service next March. It’s likely to have a huge impact on traditional TV services and the established channels.


Why is it such big news? Well there’s no doubt that Netflix has made a huge impact wherever it has opened but traditionally the Australian/New Zealand TV space has always been very un-competitive. From my own experience I found it to be much less watchable than TV stations in other English speaking channels, there was a distinct lack of quality compared with say British or Canadian TV. I should stress that my opinion was only based on a few brief holidays over the years.

Although popular opinion seems to think something similar, with many Australians often seeming to complain about the quality of free-to air TV broadcasting. The risk is however much bigger for the Pay-to-view services, with the cost of Netflix expected to be at a similar price to the current offerings in Australia. Netflix is a big player on the world media stage, with services spread across North America and most of Europe already, they are planning to invest almost $7 billion in content next year – something that the local pay per view stations will struggle to match.

However there are more complications, one of them being that 200,000 people in Australia already access the US version of Netflix. They set up accounts and then use a US based VPN to access the content, needed to hide their IP addresses – check this out – which shows one such advanced method. Whether Netflix will do anythign about this remains to be seen, after all they’re already customers, the circumvention doesn’t stop customers paying for the service merely being blocked from the service.

Here’s a lost of the shows promised to headline in Australian Netflix for 2015 –

  • Bloodline: A thriller investigating “the demons that lurk beneath the surface of a contemporary family”. Stars Australian Ben Mendelsohn.
  • Daredevil: Superhero action series based on the Marvel comic character, starring Charlie Cox with Vincent D’Onofrio and Deborah Ann Woll.
  • Grace and Frankie: Comedy starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda about two women forced to cooperate when they learn their husbands are planning to run off together.
  • Sense8: Science fiction drama co-written and co-written by the teams behind The Matrix and Babylon 5.
  • Marco Polo: Adventure series following the early years of explorer Marco Polo in the court of Kublai Khan.
  • BoJack Horseman: Animated sitcom following a four-legged celebrity trying to restart his career in a world where horses and humans communicate.
  • All Hail King Julien: Spin-off from the successful Madagascar films following the island’s Lemur king.

For further details on the technical modification required above, please see this video