Goodbye 2020 and thanks for all the CG

Dec 30, 2020 at 08:00 am by nemirc

I think everyone can agree that 2020 has been an “interesting” year, to put it kindly, with different things happening around the world, and a virus that has caused a lot of problems. However, there’s been a few interesting things in computer graphics, video games and animation. 

One of the most significant changes has been related to events and trade shows. For example, SIGGRAPH 2020 was a virtual event, and while I personally had mixed reactions to it (as you can read in my coverage), I think it is a good way to open the gates of computer graphics to people that might not be familiar with the industry. It also allowed people from all over the world to attend, specially those who cannot afford to travel for various reasons (for example, traveling from my country to the US for SIGGRAPH is a big no because that’s a holiday season for us and plane tickets prices increase a lot during that period). Video game related events did the same in various degrees. GDC cancelled the event and then they had an online “mini GDC” with some talks. Other two events that went online this year were the BIG Festival (Brazil’s Independent Games Festival) and Game Connection. I think things like this show that these events could also work as online events, or maybe offer online counterparts for those who can’t afford to travel. There’s this notion (mostly in game development) that, if you don’t go to events, it means you are not serious about becoming a game developer, and I will only say I completely disagree with that idea, and rather than expecting people to fly around the world to attend a one-week event, the events should offer these online alternatives, specially now that they showed us they can actually do it. 

2020 is also the year “The Exigency” was released. I have written about this movie, completely made in Poser, quite a few times in the past. If you have watched the movie, you know it ends on a cliff-hanger, and Cody is currently working on a sequel. The movie is currently rated 4.5 out of 5 on Amazon Video, and I am glad people go past the less-than-stellar visuals to enjoy the movie. 

As you know, one of my main focuses are videogames, and this year I’ve seen a lot of interesting things in this area. First, my two engines of choice, Unity and Unreal, have made a lot of improvements in different areas. On one side, Unreal Engine has continued to offer high end features for videogames, and it’s been used in TV productions like The Mandalorian. On the other side, Unity has moved into the AAA graphics arena with the new renderer, which can produce amazing results. On top of that, the guys at Unity created the amazing short film “The Heretic” and made available the two main characters of the film. Now, if only Unity came up with a way to render photorealistic hair and fur, I’d be happy. 

Lastly, as you have seen these past months, I have been working a lot with Reallusion software, because I found Character Creator 3 to be an amazing solution for my digital character needs. Making video games is hard, and making the visuals is one of the most time consuming tasks. This is why there are so many independent games with simplified graphics (simplified meaning “low fidelity, stylized, be it 2d, basic 3d or even textureless-3d graphics”). Character Creator 3 has made it very easy for me to have high end realistic human characters very quickly. However, Character Creator 3 can also be used for non-realistic stylized characters, and that is something I will explore next year. 

While 2020 has been an “interesting” year, it has opened the way to a lot of changes in the creative industries. I certainly hope these changes continue. Anything that opens the way to more creators around the world. Who knows, maybe the next “big indie game” or the next “The Exigency” comes from one of these places. 

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