For the last few months, 3D enthusiasts all over the globe have been nominating and voting in the 3D World CG Awards for what they believe represents the very best products, technologies and CG content of the last year. Now, the voting is over and the results are in. Here we present the winners and runners up in each category.
Redshift was developed from the ground up to be a production-ready renderer. "Redshift was the first commercially-available product to offer out-of-core textures and geometry, and the first to offer both biased and unbiased GPU-accelerated GI algorithms. Key to this was developing a sound technological foundation that allowed us to implement features thoroughly," says Panos Zompolas, chief technical officer at Redshift.
Winner: ZBrush 4R7
With ZBrush 4R7 Pixologic introduced innovative tools, like the new dynamic subdivision mode, the bridge to KeyShot and ZModeler. It's tools like these that have really impressed: "ZModeler has been a game changer for a lot of artists because it enables them to focus on a model's shape rather than accuracy of its topology," says Thomas Roussel, marketing director and 3D specialist at Pixologic.
These features impressed judge Ken McCuen, matte painter and concept artist on feature films: "As a traditionally trained artist I have a high respect for developers who make the transition from painting/sculpting in real life to the digital medium easier. I've found ZBush to be excellent at providing tools to quickly create maquettes as a basis for my work."
Winner: Golaem Crowd 4
With Golaem Crowd 4, the team wanted to make it more user-friendly and more open than previous versions. "We implemented tons of helpers, lessened the number of files to manipulate, enhanced all interfaces, and created new ways of accessing Golaem Crowd's internal data," says Golaem Crowd product manager, Nicolas Chaverou.
"But as we can't help playing with technologies, we also integrated Nvidia PhysX for doing physics simulation with crowds. It is a huge step forward in terms of speed and quality, and it also enables new features like servo force (mixing animation and physics simulation together) or direct physical interaction of the crowds with Maya objects."
Winner: Unreal Engine 4
Unreal Engine 4 is a complete suite of game development tools, but its success has been in attracting new users to those real-time tools, including filmmakers and animators.
"Epic Games made a big, bold move back in March this year that demonstrates it has its eyes looking five, 10 and 20 years ahead, by making UE4 a free platform for the likes of us [arch-viz artists] to tap into its platform and use it to tell our client's story in new and captivating ways," says CG Awards judge Ronen Bekerman.
Winner: Cintiq Companion 2
Wacom has leveraged 30 years of experience in pen-based tablets, patented technologies and unique manufacturing processes to bring a unique solution to us. "The Cintiq Companion is a fantastic tool that allows you to take your studio anywhere," says Iñaki Gonzalez.
"The power CPU means there are no delays or jags while working and with so much RAM memory you can easily work on large files."
"Our ambition is to produce innovative and inspirational products that enhance the creative workflow," says Jeff Mandell, executive vice president branded business, Wacom. "Here we were able to develop a state-of-the-art Cintiq graphic display and integrate it into a stand-alone mobile computing device for on-the-go creativity."
CG animated feature film
Winner: Big Hero 6
Big Hero 6 is a story told in the finest traditions of Disney. Its message is reaffirming and heartfelt, and visually, it's a stunning blend of new technology and well-honed skill.
According to producer Ron Conli, Disney strove to develop a look never seen before in an animated feature film: "We created a new rendering system called Hyperion to produce the incredible world of San Fransokyo. We developed a character-building program called Denizen to populate the streets… Our Effects Department created the 'microbots' and the 'interior of the portal'. Artists and technical teams worked hand in hand to support our story."
CG animated short
Winner: Le Gouffre
The goal of creators Carl Beauchemin, Thomas Chrétien and David Forest was to make a film that they loved and would catch the attention of industry professionals. And Shelley Page, CG Awards judge and head of international outreach at DreamWorks Animation believes that it has done just that.
"The story of the making of this visually exciting and emotionally uplifting film is almost as inspiring as the subject! Made by a group of graduates in Montreal and supported by crowdfunding, this story of the heroic attempt of two backpackers to build a bridge spanning an impossibly wide chasm is as compelling as it is impressive. The main characters never speak, but we are irresistibly swept along by their determination."
VFX feature film (scene)
Winner: Interstellar (space scenes)
Double Negative's work on Interstellar mixes miniatures, opticals and in-camera projection FX with CG research such as the cutting-edge relativistic renderer developed to reveal the way a black hole warps the fabric of space time.
"On one hand we wanted to be absolutely faithful to the reality of space exploration, staying as true as possible to the incredible material captured by space explorers over the last six decades," says VFX supervisor Paul Franklin. "On the other we were passionate about revealing some of the universe's most astonishing phenomena; the reality of the cosmos is so much stranger than fiction."
VFX film short
Ingenuity Studios worked with director Joseph Kahn to create this 'bootleg' short film. The sheer number of shots combined with the complexity of the VFX work is extraordinary. The team spent many late nights and weekends over the course of six months to create this film, and are pleased their efforts haven't gone unnoticed: "We were quite busy with other projects during post-production on Power/Rangers which meant splitting time and a lot of late nights," says VFX supervisor Grant Miller.
CG commercial campaign
Winner: SSE Maya
The Mill took seven months to create a ground-breaking piece of work to showcase the actions of leading renewable energy company SSE. The team collaborated with adam&eveDDB and academy director Frederic Planchon to create the 90-second spot that depicts an entirely CG orangutan climbing up buildings and experiencing all that a big city has to offer, before going back to the forest to nurture its baby.
The dedication of the VFX team's work shines through. The Mill's Dan Moore said: "We looked through hours and hours of footage of orangutan to try and work out how they move, how they gesticulate and how they emote."
3D print innovation
Winner: Clip technology
Carbon3D made its debut at TED 2015 and took the 3D printing industry by storm, demonstrating speeds 25 to a hundred times faster than traditional 3D printing. In his TED talk Joseph DeSimone CEO and co-founder said, "We were inspired by the Terminator 2 scene with the T-1000, and we thought, 'Why couldn't the 3D printer operate in this fashion, where you have an object arise out of a puddle, in essentially real time, with essentially no waste, to make a great object?" The Carbon3D team met the challenge, and Continuous Liquid Interface Production, or rather, CLIP technology was born.
CG arch-viz still
Winner: King Edward Hotel
This image has a beautiful visual narrative that really pushes the boundaries of architectural visualisation. Past, present and future are merged in a frame within a frame. The Canadian studio has been pushing the boundaries of architectural visualisation since 2000. In every single project there is a constant and honest concern about telling the right story, using the appropriate visual narrative.
"With today's technology, it is easier to achieve a hyper realistic look in arch-viz. This doesn't mean that the technique is not important any more, nor that the industry is reaching its end. Just like photography has not ended as a profession with the rise of point shoot cameras with great resolution," explains Zerofractal's Jose Uribe, adding, "It just means that people and professionals are starting to value more what is really important: the message and the story behind each visual."
Winner: Musée Du Louvre
Ryan Groves created this three-minute animation to test his skills as a 3D artist – in fact, it's his first attempt at animation. 3ds Max and V-Ray were the core tools used, along with Nuke Studio (non-commercial) for post-production.
He employed a variety of modelling and texturing techniques, from poly modelling and splines to V-Ray blends, mix maps and composites. The result is a beautifully crafted animation that takes you on a journey through the elegant architecture of the Louvre, showcasing several lighting scenarios.
CG video game in-game
Winner: Assassin's Creed: Unity
This award goes to the title that delivers the very best in terms of art and production design, and Ubisoft continues to up the ante with this latest offering to the Creed series. The art direction is absolutely awe-inspiring. Set in the fictional world of revolutionary France circa 1700s, the game boasts some of the best-looking and most-atmospheric cityscapes we've ever seen.
CG video game promotion
Winner: The Division: Take Back New York
The Division's story is a grand and sweeping one: a whole city dealing with tragedy, but in order to connect with people on an intimate level Blur wanted a microcosm of the larger event, and centres the action on one family dealing with the outbreak to great emotional effect.
Darren Butler, CG supervisor explains: "Initially reading the script, I got a bit of a lump in my throat thinking to myself how were we supposed to pull off 14 days of time-lapse in one single shot… but with the help of the whole team and a few new tools, we managed to pull off something that we are all extremely proud of."
3D World Hall of Fame
Winner: Paul Debevec
Paul Debevec is regarded as one of the most influential visionaries and researchers in the CG scene, and it's easy to see why. Paul is associate director in graphics research and research associate professor at the USC ICT Graphics Lab, and he and his team have a long history of innovation.
His research and algorithms have had a huge impact on computer graphics. In particular, his work on image-based lighting and HDR techniques have resonated around the CG and VFX world, and the 'Light Stages' he created are still widely used today.
Winner: Siggraph 2014: Vancouver
Moving the venue to Vancouver proved a talking point; smaller but beautiful, the Vancouver Convention Centre was a perfect venue.
Dave Shreiner, chair of Siggraph 2014, said Vancouver was, "the perfect city for a conference aimed at creating new experiences that impact on the senses. Technology, the way humans and computers interact, is rapidly growing and Siggraph is at the heart of that evolution."