Dinosaurs, Creatures, and Special Effects in your Videos, Oh My!
Dave Gardner
July 12, 2013

Dinosaurs, Creatures, and Special Effects in your Videos, Oh My!

Until today, if you wanted to add creatures, special effects, or digital props to your home videos, you'd need lots of money, copious amounts of computing horsepower and disk space, very specialized, complex software, and a highly talented team of collaborative professionals to make the elements all come together seamlessly.

This is a new day.

It's now possible to integrate studio-quality, three-dimensional, computer-generated images and animations to video and still images on your iPad, iPhone, Mac or Windows PC using Efexio, a free application coupled to a marketplace of high-quality three-dimensional computer-generated image (CGI) visual effects to support users ranging from novices to content creators and independent filmmakers.

An Efexio user need only either upload or shoot a video file within Efexio, choose an effect from their library, and add the effect into their video using Efexio's intuitive tools. An effect (a creature, prop, or special effect, such as an explosion) can be purchased for less than you'd spend on a large cup of coffee at your favorite caffeine emporium.

Here's a high-level overview of the Efexio:

It is staggering to ponder how far technology has come in the last 20 years that enables this functionality.

A Look Back

Stephen Spielberg's 1993 film classic Jurassic Park represented a watershed moment in film history. For the first time, filmmakers had the power to create creatures that appeared genuinely, stunningly real. The film was a huge commercial success and an even bigger technological achievement. The film pioneered the computer-generated image revolution in which artists and engineers challenged themselves to make better, faster, and even more spectacular effects.

Spielberg wanted to show his audience something they had never seen before-realistic dinosaurs! If the illusion wasn't convincing, Jurassic Park would look like a low-budget sci-fi movie. Achieving this realism is far more difficult than you might imagine.

The secret of realistic monsters lies in the realism of their movement exceeding the realism of their appearance. Fortunately, Spielberg was able to achieve both kinds of realism. The appearance was possible as a result of computer-generated images (CGI) while the movement came as a result of three-dimensional animation. Phil Tippett, Tippett Studio, produced a ground-breaking outcome. He won an Academy Award for his contributions and artistry to Jurassic Park.

Phil Tippett is one of the pioneers of go-motion animation where three-dimensional models were painstakingly animated frame by frame to bring life to the creatures. The CGI revolution made go-motion technique no longer viable, but Phil's knowledge of dinosaur anatomy and ability to visualize how a creature of that size might move and behave made him indispensable to Jurassic Park team. The revolution created by Jurassic Park changed everything for Tippett Studio.

High-performance graphical workstations provided by the then high-flying Silicon Graphics in Mountain View, California, were key to making the production of Jurassic Park technologically viable. Even with with all this computing horsepower, rendering the dinosaurs took two to four hours per frame, and rendering the Tyrannosaurus rex in the rain required six hours per frame. Considering the film was produced at 24 frames per second, you begin to get a mere glimpse of the effort and complexity involved.

Kid riding bike away from T-Rex

Special Effects Pioneers at Tippett Studio

Phil Tippett and Tippett Studio have been in business for nearly 30 years. While the tight-knit, family-owned Tippett Studio may not be a household name, you very likely know of their work:

  • Think "wolves" in the popular Twilight Saga movies
  • Think "Ted" the teddy bear movie with Seth McFarlane and Mark Wahlberg and "Ted" appearing at the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony
  • Think "Enchanted""
  • Think "The Matrix Revolutions"

 Tippett Studio has a small army of people to bring computer-generated images to life: designers, modelers, animators, texture painters, lighters and compositors, and coders and engineers.

Hours of reviews and critiques are required to meets the standards necessary to make a creature, an effect, a prop, or an environment truly believable. In the pursuit of perfection, team members endure dozens, sometimes hundreds of iterations and refinements in order to produce the best possible image for the client and viewer. This sense of quality is apparent in the animations available for purchase in Efexio.

What Is Efexio?

Until Efexio, studio-quality special effects simply weren't feasible for other than large production movie studios. Efexio is as revolutionary as the technology that made it possible to produce Jurassic Park, the next step in a long line of technology innovations.

Efexio is a marketplace for special effects, and, an application for integrating effects into videos. The Efexio Store offers downloadable, high-quality animations of objects including dinosaurs, penguins, robots, dragons, fairies and monsters. Multiple animations are available for each creature. With the Efexio application, users can, for example:

  • rotate and adjust the scale of the effect
  • change the lighting and camera angle
  • adjust the path of travel of the effect
  • capture and save still images
  • create an exportable, fully-rendered movie or photo that can be saved, shared on photo-sharing sites or shared immediately via Facebook, YouTube or email.

The Efexio app employs an array of new and revolutionary technologies made available for personal computers and devices, while the library of animations provides users the benefit of Tippett Studio's elite, seasoned team of animators whose skills have been refined through combined decades of work on feature films.

The Efexio marketplace is powered by ground-breaking technology from Pixelux Entertainment and optimized by Tippett FX to enable the integration of film-quality effects in consumer created videos. Pixelux innovated a real-time material physics technology called "Digital Molecular Matter" (or DMM), which enables simulated destruction of buildings and cities such as those featured in blockbuster films including "Man of Steel" and "Iron Man 3."

Just what are Efexio users getting?

  • The capability to leverage Tippett Studio's years of big-budget movie experience in the creation of unique characters and animations for users at an extremely affordable cost and with minimal learning curve. Standard effects are $1.99 while Pro Versions, allowing output at full HD resolution, run $9.99. Once purchased, there is no limit to the number of times an effect may be used by the licensed user.
  • A rich visual effects marketplace built with an eye on not only quality, but also on price, performance ease-of-use.
  • The ability for people of all ages to get excited about and create video with special effects.
  • User support, including video tutorials, FAQs, user guides, and technical assistance
  • A YouTube Tippett FX Community Channel for people to upload videos, share content and ideas and participate in contests. Tips and video creation tips will also be available there.

Efexio effects are licensed to a specific named user and may be used on different computing platforms by the same named user.  Users may need to disclose to YouTube and other third-parties that they have licensed effects in their videos from Efexio, particularly if their videos are generated revenue from advertisers.

What's Next?

In a digital world tied together with personal devices, social networks, and an incredible variety of video enthusiasts, video is truly ubiquitous. YouTube reports that one hundred hours of video content are currently being uploaded every minute.

Now, with Efexio, adding studio-quality special effects to videos is within the grasp of anyone who can shoot a video and use a slider bar. 

As Phil Tippett offers, "What's exciting about this tool is that it gives a new generation of filmmakers and storytellers a digital tool kit to activate their own imaginations."