Thanks to Hinge Digital & The Foundry

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Thanks everyone again for coming out last night to see Hinge Digital and The Foundry show us the goods.  I have the usual blurry iPhone pics to prove it!








Mariana from The Foundry sure knows her stuff, and it was good to get the low down on Katana and a snapshot of Deep Compositing using openEXR 2 renders in Nuke.

And what can I say about Hinge?  Incredible.  Unprecedented.  The Hinge Digital troops brought a big platter of awesome to show and dropped science like Galileo dropped the orange.  I can only speak for myself here, but I have never, EVER in my days seen such an in depth breakdown of a project – detailing the process from inception through execution.  This was like a Bobby Knight basketball clinic, without any chair throwing.

I especially liked seeing the previz and storyboards come to life from infancy to fully realized renders.  Heck, I even worked on this project and was with them for the bulk of it, and I didn’t realize how much prep and hard work went into selling the designs and story.  My head is spinning just as much as yours!  They have a knack for cheating the gremlins and don’t let any problem stand in the way of delivering great results.  It was also great to get the Hinge partners’ unique take on the Portland scene and how they’ve navigated the waters the past 3 years.  I can’t applaud them enough for giving this presentation and I think we all expect big things going forward from the Hinge crew!



















Heads up – the next meeting is slated for late January.   More info as things develop.  Until next time!

Next VFX/PDX Meeting: Thursday, September 20th

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Last time we met, promises were made.  Now it’s time to deliver!

Mariana Acuña from The Foundry joins us to pick up where we left off.  She’ll be giving us an intro to Katana, the new Lighting and Look Dev tool that was formerly the in-house Lighting and Compositing app at Sony Imageworks.  It’s a different approach to rendering that allows for scenes to be managed and scalable into massive constructions like never before.  Other than Sony, ILM is all over it, and even locally,  Laika Entertainment has adopted it for use on their next feature.  Get prepped, because Mariana will give us the live demo & overview and we’ll leave plenty of time for questions.  We’ll also touch on Mari, which is now at version 1.5 and continues to push the boundaries of 3d paint and texturing since it was released from inside the incubator at Weta Digital out into the wild by the Foundry.  Finally, last but most definitely not least we’ll be going over Nuke’s use of OpenEXR 2.0 and the deep compositing and rendering pipeline.  The days of rerendering for holdouts and pulling your hair out trying to correctly layer CG are finally over.

Also joining us will be the talented and hardworking filmmakers from Hinge Digital, who’ve had a busy summer and just wrapped on a character design/rebranding commercial campaign for Carrington College.  They hit a home run on this one and have a lot to show – you won’t want to miss this!

Thursday,  September 20th – 6pm-9pm @ the Art Institute Open Space.  Enter on NW Davis St between 11th and 12th.  Take the main entrance elevator to the 2nd floor – the open space is a right and then another right.

Be there or be [ ].

Siggraph-bound and down

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Heading down to Siggraph this year?  Such a great chance to network and hang out; this year should be no exception.

Hinge Digital will be there and actively recruiting freelancers for upcoming projects.  Remote artists also considered.  FYI – Hinge is a Maya/Mental Ray house with compositing in Nuke, motion graphics in AE.  Also currently looking to fill out the roster of Katana/Arnold and Motionbuilder TD’s, and aside from that they’re always on the hunt for talent in the following disciplines: Hard Surface Modeling, Look Dev (Shading and Lighting), Character Rigging, FX TD (Hair/Cloth/Particles/Fluids), Pipeline TD, Compositing/Grading, Editing, and Design/Motion Graphics.

To express your interest, drop an email to and we’ll see you in LA!

While you’re there, be sure to catch Fred Ruff from Bent Image Lab presenting for the Foundry.  Then again, if you were at the VFX/PDX meeting, you’ve already seen it.  🙂

For other hot Siggraph action, watch the building FXGuide thread.

Lunchin’ II, electric boogaloo


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Picking up where we left off, the lunch post got some of us talking – let’s cruise around town and see what everyone’s up to.

Helvetia Tavern, if you can find it

SE Division – Bent Image Lab’s neighborhood is jealousy inducing for sure.  The sweet spot on Division & 26th unlocks the Division/Clinton strip and is within striking distance of Hawthorne/Belmont.  The quadruple threat!

I could eat Pok Pok Thai every day and not flinch, it’s the best I’ve had outside of Chiang Mai.  Also a fan of the beer slushie at the Whiskey Soda Lounge across the way – and if there’s a wait at Pok Pok, take full advantage of the Shanghai Chiang Mai tunnel (ha ha) – put your name in @ Pok Pok and they’ll retrieve you from WSL when your table is ready, and consolidate the bill.

But if I had to pick one lunch down Bent’s way, it’s gotta be Dots Cafe; that candlelit black velvet “Vegas” interior and it’s surprisingly healthy food options.  But that’s just me – we all know compers fear the light.  Update:  curse those new owners for opening at 2pm!  Hear that rattling at your door at 1?  That’s me.  Let me in.  I will take your food by force if necessary.

Take it from a bona fide Benter – Jalal Jemison (Head of Compositing) chimes in here and pimps both Sushi Mazi ($$ Amercicana Japan Fusion Fun Food) and the quickie Sushi Ben (more homey, mom & pop).  He also drops mention of Clay’s Smokehouse for it’s solid southern BBQ.  Mmmm…  catfish plate…

Nick Childs wouldn’t let me off the hook if I didn’t drop a truly FAT mention to Fat Kitty’s falafel cart, (btw – I’m mildly surprised the kitty has a website?) and oh will this guy give you much more than the steamy falafel you bargained for!  Fully take in the potentially slowest falafel in town and  remind yourself it’s not a speed contest…  time ceases to exist once the laughs start.  You’ll leave with enough deep belly laughter to last you for days.  Your face will hurt.  He’s both wild AND crazy.  Lube him up with some sports talk and see where it goes.  Tell him it’s your first time and to be gentle on the Siracha.  Just thinking about our guy here makes me laugh out loud.  So awesome, words cannot really do him justice.  No more spoilers;  this is something to experience for yourself.  Off early and looking for a happy hour?  Night Light (they finally bought a sign!).  Another gem:  the swedish meatballs at Broder.  Cart land:  32nd & Division   Coffee:  Little T’s

DUMBO/OMSI/Industrial – Hive-FX is nestled in what I’ve dubbed “down-under-the-morrison-bridge-overpass” kinda by OMSI.  Dangerously close to Bunk Bar and it’s deadly pork sandwich.  Compositor Adam Sager gets around town, and knows the spots down there – he’s quick to point to Le Bistro Montage, Produce Row Cafe, Robo Taco and if you’re in a pinch, there’s the cheap & quick Sparky’s pizza.  Coffee:  Water Ave

Pearl/Downtown – our man in the Pearl is Ryan Shanholtzer – long time Portlander who’s digging his, uh, digs over at Wieden & Kennedy these days.  In rapid fire succession:  The People’s Sandwich of Portland, in a cool location in Old Town.  The aforementioned Bunk Sandwich has the location downtown.  Ryan’s also a cart regular – which could be a post all to itself. “If you want unhealthy but delicious an Argentinean cart opened on I think Washington? In that pod by Alder/Galeria/Jakes.”  Steaks 5th Avenue, the cheesesteak cart (been going 15 years strong!).   I think we all know the carts can be a moving target, and Ryan added, “There was a ramen cart I loved that moved to Alberta and a Pork Sandwich place I loved that also moved. Man, those carts move often.  But I guess it’s in the nature of being a cart… ”

Tom Burney, pimpin' the Huggie Bites

Speaking of carts, my view of Mac ‘n’ Cheese is forever skewed by Compositor Tom Burney and his award winning recipe that was the basis of Starchy and Husk – not afraid to say that it was (formerly) best Mac n’ cheese in the city;  a bold statement indeed.  Speaking of course of the gourmet Gran Torino and it’s butternut squash w/japanese bread crumb perfection…  complete with a side of Huggie Bites (gluten free sweet potato “hushpuppies”).  Unfortunately for us all, Tom shuttered his cart after his new location didn’t work out.  Fortunately for us all, however, he’s sitting right next to me and pushing sweet pixels again.  Maybe if I do some roto for him he’ll whip me up some huggie bites for old time’s sake…  eh, Tom?


I'll take a Gran Torino to go

On the flipside of the Pearl, Co O’Neil (Dean of Education @ the Art Institute) hooks us up:  “At the high end, I like Irving Street Kitchen. Mid-range would be Lovejoy Bakery. Low brow would be Cha Cha Cha and Fuller’s.  Ooo! I also like Peem Kaew on the park blocks – Thai.”

Recent grad and Compositor Karch Coon (who we’ve loaned out to NYC temporarily) also had some good Pearl tips:  the basement burgers at Life of Reilly (ask for Dave), Little Big Burger (get 2! and don’t skip the fries), and a nod to the conveyor belt goodness that is Sushiland – tip: freshness is a factor, and the earlier in the day the better.  Cart land:  several   Coffee: Barista

Hillsboro – sure it’s out of town a ways and sometimes leads me to believe that it’s the edge of civilization as we know it, but let’s round things out with a whirlwind tour of the “renowned” Hillsboro cuisine.  An oasis or 2 in the desert out there near Laika Entertainment, for sure.

A smile @ Sweet Lemon (photo: Kent Estep)

The diamond in the rough in all my days out there turned out to be a little Thai Vegan Bistro 2 exits down Hwy 26 (Bethany) named Sweet Lemon.  Let’s talk muse power – because, no joke – songs have been written about this place.  Sing it with me…  “Sweet sweet lemon, she’s oh so fine…”    ha ha, the pop genius of Aidan Fraser right there.  Walk in and ask for the Alfie special, you won’t be sorry.

Roundabout that way is also the Fresh Thyme Soup Co, which does a brisk biz and never disappoints.  If you’re going to be out in the middle of nowhere anyway, you might as well go all the way:  a burger with a side of trucker hats at Helvetia Tavern ranks as one of the top burgers in the metro area (although I’m partial to Portland’s Violetta and the 10 hour tomatoes m’self).

Follow the tumbleweed across West Union and you’ll eventually come to Allan’s.  That’s pronounced “A-yans” for those in the know.  Jalepeno margaritas make the rest of your day interesting, and honestly darn near hallucinagenic.  It’s ok…  we are artists after all.  Aren’t we?

Also qualifying in the “where the hell are we?” category is the Rock Creek Tavern, a part of the McMenamins mafia and the only McMens venue making our little post here.   Do not go there if you are in a hurry.  No one cares if you have the menu memorized and can order immediately, especially not the wait staff.  Out past the airport – ViVi’s does a killer noodle bowl.  I’ll drop props to Longbottoms for the Salmon BBQ plate Wed-Fri, because last time I was in there they gave me a Bronto sized plank of Salmon.  Other than that, the sandwiches are usually good and if you can talk them into it, “Dave’s” bagel from the breakfast menu and it’s avacado+tomato goodness is a killer combo.  10% discount for Laikans don’t ya know, just flash your badge (why don’t more places do that?).  Speaking of salmon, the salmon fish & chips at Baker’s in Hillsboro proper is worth the trip.  In a hurry?  A bowl of Pho at Pho Tango gets you in ‘n’ out quick, unless of course you decide to order the Pho Challenge – oh yes, this is apparently the Vietnamese equivalent of the old 96’er steak from The Great Outdoors.  If you can finish off that marathon and evade death by Pho, pause for your photo because you’ll be a Pho King Star! (yes, yes I did)  cart land:  yeah right.  Coffee: Longbottoms.

What gets you going?  Drop a note in the comments and let’s do lunch.  🙂

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