Miami Dance Production Stars an Avatar

DANCE OF THE AVATAR: Bart Hess, the Dutch designer who took slime to new heights for Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” video and album artwork, has pulled off another trick. His futuristic costumes for “Sleeping Beauty Dreams,” a digitally enhanced contemporary ballet that premieres Dec. 7 in Miami, may cause young men to actually want to accompany their mothers. But they won’t be there for the classic fairy tale’s mushy love story or principal dancers Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes in the roles of Princess Aurora and Prince Peter. Their eyes will be fixated on Vishneva’s real-time avatar projected on a giant screen backdrop, which Miami-based production company Magical Reality Group believes is the first time the live technology has been applied to a dance performance.
“I saw a rehearsal, and it’s so amazing to watch her avatar also drinking coffee on breaks,” said Hess, who incorporated about a dozen sensors into Vishneva’s formfitting suit in a reflective, foil fabric inspired by fish scales. “This technology is used a lot in film and video games but not live dance. Being a ballet, it’s even more unique.”
Hess, who’s also worked with fashion designers like Iris Van Herpen and Walter Van Beirendonck, researches

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UPDATE 6-Petrobras’ next CEO says oil firm should focus on exploration, production

A University of
Chicago-trained economist named on Monday as the next chief of
Brazil’s Petrobras has quickly thrown his support behind the
sale of the state oil company’s non-core assets and called for
it to focus on exploration and production.


Reuters: Company News

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Bethesda Changed the Way Avalanche Did Production for ‘Rage 2’

Sometime next year we’ll all get to play Rage 2, a frantic mix of Mad Max vehicle combat and Bulletstorm execution combos. It’s an odd project that probably has more DNA from other franchises than its own — and that’s a good thing. While the first Rage was forgettable, the second looks much better.

We’ll have to play it before we know for sure, but in the meantime we were able to speak to Tim Willits, studio director at id Software, about the knowledge sharing between id Software and Avalanche Studios – one the grandfather of traditional level design, the latter more versed in open worlds – and also how Bethesda checks three key metrics at each milestone to make sure targets are being hit without resorting to crunch.


Tim Willits id Software Bethesda headshot
Tim Willits, studio director at id Software.

FANDOM: We imagine being a level designer under you is both enlightening and challenging, having one of the people who helped create level design as we know it as your boss.

Tim Willits: I love level design. Because I feel level design is kinda where the rubber meets the road in terms of gameplay.

You know I still, when I get the chance, help some of the younger level designers with their levels. It’s really rewarding. Like when I go to Sweden, and I meet with Avalanche on Rage 2. The level designers – they’re so funny – they call it Willits University. So I get them all in a room, and bring up the whiteboard, and I’m like “Okay! Let’s talk about corners…This is a typical corner. But if you add a cutout here, and move the wall here, there’s a little extra gameplay. Most people turn right here… And here’s how to draw attention to something… ” So there are some techniques and things I’ve learned over the years that I try to teach people.


Rage 2 flying hovering mutant enemy
Airborne enemies will add some verticality.

In the old days, when it was just like one or two people working on levels, we did everything. But nowadays level design is kind of a group effort. Where you have a blackout person, and you have a lighting person, an environment art person… So levels are far better now than when I was younger, but they require a much more concerted effort, and better communication between each person who adds to the level at some point.

But I try to work with the kids as much as I can. Newer designers. I love it. Some people just have a gift. Some of the new folks we have on the team are so good. They’re far better than I ever was. It’s fun working with them.


Convoy Rage 2 attack
The Mad Max vibes are not exactly hidden.

You were involved in the earliest days of FPS level design, going from the technological innovation to perfecting how it should be used. Now that open worlds are a more mature technology, what does perfection in open world level design look like to you?

I have learned a lot about that. I discovered that I did know know as much as I thought I did about level design. Before I started working on this.

For example, I’d sit down with the Avalanche designers. And we’d be talking about a mission. And I would go straight into classic id Software mode. And be like “Okay, you start here, we go here, this guy jumps out, and this explodes, and this opens…” And the guys are looking at me, and say “Okay, what happens if you drive a tank through the back door?” And I’m like “Oh, I didn’t think of that.”

So I’ve definitely learned to approach level design differently. So in an open world, it’s the robustness. It’s creating fun play spaces that you can approach from any direction. But then also, you need AI which is smart. Which is way harder than you think. Open world AI is so difficult to program. Because the player can do anything, and approach from anywhere. And when you play Rage 2, you’ll see where we try to push the player in certain directions, that’s the id Software coming out.

So perfect level design is robust enough to approach from anywhere, the AI is smart enough to react, and play spaces that are fun and exciting from any direction.


Giant mutant football helmet miniboss
Things you shoot in this game tend to blow up.

It also has to double as a level for vehicle combat and infantry combat. Outside spaces are used for both, is that right?

So one of the things we struggled with in Rage… We had some fun things in Rage. We had some great levels, we had some great driving. But they were all disconnected. Which kind of made the game feel like separate pieces. Whereas in Rage 2, we’re in a complete open space.

And obviously yes, things like the tunnel, the sewers, there’s a main entrance that you go in. And when you go in there, you’re going to have to feel like you’re really in that area.

But then you just walk out back, and you get your stuff, and you’ve gotta find your car, and you talk to the person that sent you there. Whereas then we have some more areas that are more open and accessible from all directions. So I think we have a good mix. It flows well, nothing feels jarring. There’s no level loads, which is nice.

That’s I think the biggest issue with the first game, all the level loads and all the pieces that didn’t feel like they fit together.


Flexing bandit punk enemy in Rage 2 spiked hair
Using different moves will help your combat combo, similar to Bulletstorm.

The hot topic at the moment is crunch, and some Rockstar apologists point to the attention to detail in Red Dead Redemption 2 as a reason why crunch is a “necessary evil.” Do you think any game could be special in that way, or is crunch just a failure of management planning?

At Bethesda we try to have regular check-ins where we check scope, time, and resources. Because you know every game you start with has more scope than you can ever do. But at each point, along the way, we figure out if we’re still good on all of those.

So we’ve applied those techniques to working with Avalanche, so yes they have their own sprints, and their own scrums, and their own internal development, and they’re very organised. But we had to really change the way they do production, we had to make sure they hit big milestones.

Whenever we have a big sprint, we have a thing we’ll do on Thursdays where we’ll have taco day. We’ll line those up, with our sprints. We have the big team meeting, where the departments showcase what they’ve been working on in the sprint. Then we talk about what the next sprint’s going to be, and then we’ll go eat tacos. Or we’ll have cupcakes or something.

We often give our managers a little leeway there, if you work really hard here we’ll give them a little more time off there. But we try hard not to have death marches, if you like to call them that, in our scheduling, and our check-ins, and it’s a whole thing, it’s a multi-year process that Bethesda has done really well with.


‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ and the Myth of Necessary Crunch

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A ‘Breaking Bad’ Feature Film by the Original Team Is in Production

REUTERS

Fans of Walter White’s unusual chemistry lessons will be delighted to hear that a new Breaking Bad feature film is in the works.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Breaking Bad’s writer and producer, Vince Gilligan, is penning the script for the new two-hour movie, which has the “possible fake/working title of Greenbrier.

The New Mexico Film Office confirmed to The Albuquerque Journal that a project with the title of Greenbrier is slated to shoot in in the region.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast — Entertainment

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Technology News & Reviews | New York Post

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CANNES — “Never predict, especially about the future,” the saying goes. Three of MipJunior’s key speakers and kids industry players – from Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and the BBC –  took that to heart on Cannes’ Saturday afternoon when addressing the panel subject, “View from the Top: Gazing into the Future of Kids Media.” Rather than […]

Variety

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PARIS — European carmakers are rolling out electric vehicles like the ones on view this week at the Paris Motor Show to burnish their reputations as technology leaders and to compete with Tesla. But also because EU regulations don’t leave them much choice. New emission standards mean Europe will soon see an upsurge in electric…
Technology News & Reviews | New York Post

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