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Issue: Volume: 30 Issue: 12 (Dec. 2007)

Editors Note - 2007 - A Retrospective


Karen Moltenbrey
Chief Editor
 
Just about now, everyone is ready to kick back and enjoy the holidays. With a new year looming, it seems like a good time to look back on the CG industry happenings from 2007. For instance, CPU/GPU makers continue to build on Tesla, Cuda, Quadro, and the FireGL series. And, expect them to ring in the New Year on a similar high note. In fact, during the first quarter of 2008, AMD plans to deliver the FireStream 9170, the first Stream GPU with double-precision floating-point technology. The workstation market, meanwhile, treated us to machines utilizing quad-core technology. HP, Dell, Boxx, and others are providing the power; it's up to the users to harness it. Working hand-in-hand with the workstation vendors are the chipmakers, who are now looking beyond PCI Express and quad-core technology. So while the user community is just starting to discover the wonders of four cores, these vendors are looking to increase that number to eight, 16, 64, and beyond.

The year also proved big for motion capture, as vendors began offering solutions that ran the gamut from extremely high-end applications to those at the lower end of the spectrum. And, a number of vendors, including Vicon, began offering value solutions, making motion capture more viable to the masses. Another hot topic, particularly at SIGGRAPH 2007, was rendering. After all, who wants to waste valuable time waiting and waiting and waiting. Look for some further relief in this area to come in 2008.

Enough about the hardware. Let's get to the good stuff, the applications. Without question, 2007 brought us a new level of realism for digital characters. Museum-quality lions, zebras, elephants, and even a skeletal T. rex came to life in Night at the Museum, a delight during last year's holiday season. In the fifth Harry Potter movie, Order of the Phoenix, digital effects wizards showed, for the first time, the previously invisible Threstrals, along with fiercer looking Dementors. Elsewhere in the VFX realm, CG was used to establish a new look for feature films, as two ancient tales - 300 and Beowulf - made CG history with their novel, high-tech approaches. Plus, the highly anticipated Transformers, in which actors come in direct contact with the 3D robots, blew audiences away with stunning models and character animation.

Also, 2007 was the year when good things came in threes: Shrek the Third, Spider-Man 3, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, all of which broke new ground in CGI. Besides Shrek the Third, other cutting-edge CG films from 2007 include Surf's Up, which added a new documentary style to the medium. Another CG treat was Ratatouille, which served up 3D imagery in a delicious way. And, comedian Jerry Seinfeld lent his sense of humor to the digital stage with Bee Movie, whose size relationship among the characters challenged modelers' take on scope and scale.

Computer games took a giant leap forward, too, as developers began rolling out true next-generation games that leverage the power of the consoles that were on everyone's wish list last season. Even rivals Sony and 2k Sports teamed up for the sake of technology; both forged an agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association to use state-of-the-art scanning technology for digitizing the MLB players, thus adding a new level of realism to their titles. As the year closes, a handful of games - among them, Stranglehold, Halo 3, Assassin's Creed - are in a tight battle for the crown of true next-gen game. However, that title will be short-lived, as others show they've got game, too.

What do think are some of the year's biggest industry events? Share them on a blog at www.cgw.com.
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