Believe it or not its already the 3rd of December and Christmas is fast approaching (just 22 days!) If this revelation has you stressed out wondering how it has crept up so quick and the realisation you still haven’t sorted everyone’s presents fills you with dread. Fear not, here at Kuro Dragon we have compiled a varied list of differing gadgets and software with something for everyone one of these is bound to make a perfect addition to someones stocking this Christmas!

1.

The SelfieStick

2014 has arguably been the year which saw the normalisation of the selfie phenomenon, with many of us unable to complete the simplest day time activity without accompanying it with a selfie. However, are you tiered of spending hours trying to get the perfect selfie only to have it ruined by your arm in the shot? Love facetiming your friends and family but hate dropping your phone on your face? If the answer to either of these questions is yes then the selfie stick is the present for you! Easy to use it fits most camera and phone models and can be used to film concerts, extreme sports, selfies and take group shots more easily.

www.viraleffect.co.uk

 

2.

Pebble Smartstick

Despite all the technological advances in the Smartphone arena and the ever increasing screen sizes battery life still remains an area of concern for users. Often despite your best efforts in leaving your phone to charge all night you still find yourself stuck in town with a dead or dying phone. This compact charger offers a solution to this infuriating problem, no bigger than an average lipstick or USB this handy charger can reboot the battery life of almost any struggling phone. Perfect for any outdoors activities or trips.

 

3.

Google Chromecast

This affordable idevice from Google is the perfect gift for film lovers or those who like to watch catch up TV on ITV player or 4OD etc. Simply plug into the HDMI cable of your TV to watch streaming content straight away. Already a runaway success it is the top-selling electronic device on Amazon, outselling even Amazon’s own Fire TV Stick.

www.currys.co.uk

 

4.

Cordies

This gadget perhaps falls into the category of things which we could probably live without but don’t want, too. Perfect for Christmas season! Based on such a simple concept it feels as if it something like this should already have existed. With segregated rows for separating out all your cables it helps to ensure you don’t end up with a tangled mess of interlinked cables which can lead to wire damage. 

www.quirky.com

 

5.

Go-Pro Hero

The latest version of the worlds best selling wearable video camera will capture every parachute jump, extreme mountain bike trip, white water rafting relay and pretty much any other outdoor or extreme sport activity you throw at it– all in glorious 1080p HD. With updated links to your smartphone by downloading the Go Pro App to your iPhone, Andriod orWindows phone you can view live previews of what your shooting and it gives you the chance to pause, rewind, re-shoot and ajust camera settings. It comes with an array of accessories from custom mounts to an array of garish cases and a remote control which can connect to your camera through Wifi.

recode.net

 

6.

Nest Learning Thermostat

This clever gadget allows you to control all of your heat bills and temperatures from one easy to use device. Within a week the Nest will have learned that you like the heat up in the mornings, down when you leave and back up again with you return. It learns the temperatures which you prefer and then creates a schedule individual to your home. Within a week, your Nest Thermostat learns the temperatures you prefer and sets itself automatically.

 

www.electricty-monitor.com

 

7.

Philips Hue-Connected Bulbs

You may assume that the novelty of the different colored lights may wear off pretty quickly however the Philips Hue- Connected Bulbs can offer you so much more. Using your smartphone table or PC you can control it remotely to do all sorts of cool things. For example by using the GPS on your phone to detect its location it will turn off the lights when you leave home. Equally they can turn on to wake you in the morning and flash warnings when important messages come through.

www.pcmag.com

 

8.

Olloclip

If you are particularly ‘snap-happy’ with your smartphone this may be a device for you. The Olloclip is a clip on lens which enables your phone to take a variety of close up macro shots or extreme wide angle photos. Small enough to fit in your pocket alongside your phone it is avialable for iphones 4 through until 6 and for Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5. 

above-beyond.co.za

9.

Sandisk Ultra Dual USB drive

This handy device boots a flash storage drive with a regular USB connector on one side and a micro USB connector on the other. This enables you to easily move and share data such as photos and videos from your computer to your andriod phone. In addition as it is a flash storage drive you can fill it up with films and photographs meaning that you don’t have to waste all your phones storage!

gadgets.ndtv.com

 

10.

Logitech Keys-To-Go
As
tablets become ever more popular and seem to hail the new era of computer technology we have to remain slightly old fashioned on one particular point. We like keyboards! There is no denying that tablets are efficient and useful but sometimes all you really want is a standard keyboard . If you are in agreement with us on this point then the the Logitech’s Keys-to Go could be exactly what you’re looking for light, portable and yet still pleasantly tangible, Logitech’s Keys-To-Go is blue tooth wired, powered for wireless connectivity and waterproof, its compatible with iPhone, iPad and Apple TV and with its extra water proof feature what are you waiting for?

www.zdnet.com

Comments are off for this post

In basic terms 3D motion capture involves transforming live performance into a digital performance. It is achieved by recording a live motion event which is then translated into data allowing for a 3D recreation of the performance.

Who uses it?

Typically motion capture is associated with the creation of animations and video games, however, its presence is actually a lot more widespread throughout industries than you would think, it is used in;

  • Entertainment
  • Engineering
  • Video Games
  • Television
  • Feature Films
  • Sports
  • Security and Defence
  • Law
  • Role Playing Engineering

What are the different types?

Motion Capture comes in two forms;

Traditional Marker-based Optical Motion Capture Systems

  • This type of software and system uses computer vision, meaning digital images are processed by software in order to identify the source of movement and in turn track its motion. The typical way of achieving this, is for a group of video cameras to be set up and connected to a computer running the specialised software.
  • In order for the computer to detect motion special markers designed to be identified by the image processing software are attached to the subject. Normally the markers are highly reflective balls or small bright lights which are easily identified against the background.
  • Some issues with this type of motion capture include the fact that the markers must be placed precisely in order for the software to correctly estimate the subjects position. If one of the markers becomes blocked or moves the tracking will become inaccurate, this need for precision can be quite inhibiting to the process of capturing the motion..

 

Strengths include;                                                        Weaknesses include;

  • Reliable and speedy                                                     -Expensive
  • Accuracy                                                                    -Set-up is time consuming
  • It can capture a high volume of image                             -Extensive post-processing time
  • High sample rate capture.                                               -Markers need to be precise for the motion to be captured

 

Modern Markerless motion based capture

  • As the name suggests this type of technology does not require a special suit or markers, thanks to new advanced computer vision technology. Instead when hoping to track motion in real time advanced algorithims are required.
  • However this type of technology is not yet wdiely avialable as it is still an active field of reseach at top univerisities throughout the world. Organic Motions OpenStage 2 is the only system commercially avialable.
  • Due to the fact it does not require suits, markers or special equipment it has basically no setup time compared to its more traditional counterpart.

 

Strengths:                                                                                          Weaknesses:

-More data can be captured in less time                        -Implementing accurate tracking algorithms which

-Low cost well enough for real time use.

-No special set-up or equipment required

-Easier to track movement of children or those

whose condition makes wearing the suit difficult. 

www.personal.umich.co.uk

Comments are off for this post

The Illusion of Life – Disney Animation

www.jamesgrahambookseller.com

“Man always has had a compelling urge to make representations of the things he sees in the world around him… ultimately, he seeks to portray the very spirit of his subject. For some presumptuous reason, man feels the need to create something of his own that appears to be living, that has an inner strength, a vitality, a separate identity – something that speaks out with authority – a creation that gives the illusion of life.” – Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

This book is considered to be the “Bible of Animation” and was written by two of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, who among them virtually created hand-drawn animation as it is practiced today. The book covers an incredible time period of animation history, and is a must have for any animator.

The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation (Disney Editions Deluxe)

The Animator’s Survival Kit

www.flickr.com

I remember once saying to Emery Hawkins (a wonderful, unsung animator), “I’m afraid my brains are in my hand.” Emery said, “Where else would they be? It’s a language of drawing. It’s not a language of tongue.”” – Richard Williams.

This book thoroughly covers everything imaginable about animation. It teaches you all the basics of spacing, timing, walks, runs, weight, anticipation, overlapping action, takes, stagger, dialogue, animal animation and much more. It’s not called a “survival kit” for nothing and is definitely worth buying it. It is written by Richard Williams, who studied the art form and learned from individuals like Art Babbitt and Ken Harris. In this book, Williams shares the tips, tricks, and secrets he’s collected over the years, techniques any animator can use to make his or her job easier.

The Animator’s Survival Kit: A Manual of Methods, Principles and Formulas for Classical, Computer, Games, Stop Motion and Internet Animators

 

Cartoon Animation

tallerasteroide.blogspot.com

“An animator must consider a number of things when planning and creating animated movement. First, he or she must devise a plan for the action the character is supposed to perform. Once the plan is set, the actual movements of the character can be designed and rough sketches of the movements drawn. .. Next, key (or “extreme”) poses are drawn; then the key poses are used as guides to draw the in-between movements.” – Preston Blair

This book focuses on the five key areas character development, animation, dialogue, camera synchronization and sound. Preston Blair animated Mickey Mouse so this book is definitely a good inspiration and help for animator newcomers and those who want to broaden their horizon. Preston Blair died in 1995 but he has left a wealthy and vibrant masterpiece worthy of any animator’s bookshelf.

Cartoon Animation (Collectors)

Comments are off for this post

Step 1 – What are we talking about?

The first question on many of your minds may be, what is an explainer video? As the name suggests it’s a short online video that aims to explain your business, products or services to potential customers. It is a fast, memorable way to quickly introduce your brand, its purpose and to make an impact on your audience. In today’s fast paced society customer attention spans wont last long, therefore your video should be simple, clear and short to achieve the best results. 

Step 2 – Variety

There are 3 different types of explainer videos;

Live Action Explainer Videos: These kind of explainer videos are most suited to companies selling people oriented services or a physical product. The video is not animated and in most cases features real people which gives your company or product a human face and promotes an emotional reaction within the watcher. Live action however, means you’re confined to the real world.

Animated Explainer Videos: Probably the most popular type of explainer video. An animated explainer video can bring a lot of advantages such as the space for more creativity and the fact it can be easily edited or updated. This is often the preferred video for explaining services or intangible tech products like software.

Whiteboard Explainer Videos: This type of explainer video contains animation which is hand drawn and erased on a whiteboard. This kind of video has become more and more popular because it is one of the cheapest ways to get a good explainer video. If done correctly it can produce some great results.

Step 3 – Lets start explaining

The most important element to creating a compelling explainer video is the script. You could have the highest budget, the best animation and an awesome voice-over, but all of that means nothing without a good script. The best idea is to write the script on your own, after all, you will be able to explain your business or product better than anyone.

Here are a few tips to get you started writing a good script:

  • The shorter the better – 90 seconds is an ideal template.
  • Use simple language – nobody wants to listen to long complex sentences.
  • Speak in 2nd person – use words such as ‘you’ and ‘your,’ this allows people to identify better with the video, and picture themselves using your product or service.
  • Try a touch of humour- some subtle humour can make a video much more entertaining.

When it comes to the actual creation and production of the explainer videos we recommend you hire a talented, professional or award winning company, for example, KURO DRAGON ;)

Step 4 – Lets Face it

  • A video makes people stay – an interesting video keeps a visitor two minutes longer on your website. (adjustyourset)
  • Videos are Easy to share – on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. making it easier for people to spread details of your company/product etc.
  • Video content improves SEO search rankings - a site which features a video is 50x more likely to rank on the first page of Google.  (searchenginepeople) Recent studies show that video search engine YouTube has now overtaken Facebook as the second most popular site (behind only Google itself), this stands as further evidence that online users interest in video content has only increased. (mashable.com)
  • An explainer video increases conversion rate – Studies have shown that 85% of people are more likely to buy a product which has an explainer video. (invodo)

I Am Sold Seller’s Guide from Kuro Dragon on Vimeo.

If you would like more information or would like an explainer video please get in touch!

 

Comments are off for this post

We’ve had a busy few months in the Kuro Dragon studio, and as a result, we’re looking to grow our team. We’re currently on the lookout for 3D Generalists, preferably 3DS Max based, however we’re willing to consider anyone with a particularly impressive show reel, who could add value to our existing team.

We thought we’d leave you a little advice regarding speculative applications as we often look through numerous emails and CV’s and want to scream with frustration. First and foremost, read, re read and read again before sending any letters or emails. Please ensure your spelling and grammar is correct. We want to be really impressed by you, and if the first impression you give us contains mistakes, you’re presenting yourself in a really negative manner.

Secondly, streamline your message to be really precise and informative. We’re not looking for an essay, just a quick introduction and description about what you do and the role you’re applying for. Always include a link to your work in your first message. That way we can get a really good idea of your skills and capabilities without sending numerous emails back and forth.

Finally, and most importantly, do not cram your show reel with basic work, its better having a shorter, more impressive show reel than a longer one padded out with simple work. We only want to see you working to the best of your ability. We want you to wow us, so that we can’t wait to meet you and hear what you can bring to the team, so please spend a small amount of time perfecting your application, as it will definitely be beneficial in the long run.

We hope you take these tips on board and look forward to reading/viewing your applications! Please send any emails to Kelsey@kurodragon.com.

Good luck!

Comments are off for this post

Working in an animation studio, one of the most commonly asked questions is who actually needs animation and what do they use it for? Kurobot’s answer to this question? Everyone! Anyone with a business or a product/service to sell could harness this method of promotion.

Animation is one of the most versatile sales tools you could possibly use. Instead of expecting your potential customers to read a block of text on a page, you can create an interesting visual of absolutely ANYTHING to demand their attention.

Benefits according to Kurobot

Create a visual of something that could never be achieved through live film. Sub-sea animation demonstrates this need perfectly! 

Demonstrate how your product/service works. This can be particularly useful if your product is the size of a double decker bus! 

 

Present technical information or long explanations * yawn * in a fun, interesting, visually appealing form.

Use your animation to pitch your product/service to your target customer, show them how they could benefit from it and develop your animation to carefully position the product. 

If you’d like to ask me more about how I can help, you can get in touch here… http://www.kurodragon.com/talk-to-us/

Comments are off for this post

These tips may seem pretty obvious but a few applicants still submit sloppy applications. Granted most are fairly new to the game and so, here are some quick pointers because I want to give you a fighting chance in these ridiculously tough times.*

  • Whether you’re enquiring about vacancies or applying for an existing position, put all the bumf (showreel etc) in the initial email/letter.
  • Keep your showreel updated and relevant. Only put your best work in there and don’t pad it out with average stuff. Avoid putting simple ‘exercise’ work in such as somebody walking or climbing a wall.
  • The pace of your reel should be consistant. Try not to linger here and there, you want to keep them entertained as well as impressed.
  • See this article for some excellent showreel tips.
  • Do your research, qualify statements like ‘I really admire the work you guys do’ by picking out some work they’ve done and telling them why you like it. Same goes for saying things like ‘team player’ and ‘enthusiastic’.
  • Spelling and grammer should be impeccable. Goes without saying so triple check your application and cover letter.
  • Don’t worry if English isn’t your first language but you should still display a good level of communication. An obvious language barrier is a big no-no.
  • Make it clear whether you’re applying to come and work in the studio or whether you’re wanting to work distantly. Preempt the questions you think people might ask in your initial contact. Just make it as easy as possible for them.
  • Don’t feel that you need a long cover letter, just be snappy and to the point. The standard of your work will ultimately do the really talking.
  • If you’re struggling to find a job make sure you’re still working creatively, keep practising and producing stuff. At the end of the day, if your cover letter is stinking but your showreel is excellent they’ll still pull you in for an interview because that’s what they want, bloody good animation!

*And I also kind of want to stop shoving my fist in my mouth out of frustration. Although it tends be the ones who do barely any research that submit the truly awful applications, the same guys that probably aren’t reading this.

No comments yet

Cartoon BrewThe go-to website for industry news and a guide to all things animated.

AWN Again, industry news and reviews. There are also links to hundreds of blogs here.

Animation Tips & Tricks “It tells you a lot of specific stuff you don’t often think to ask” via @silibilliamlaw

Big Cartoon Database An online database of animations.

Seven Camels Useful for tips and discussion on storyboarding and drawing.

Mayerson On Animation A blog from a man who knows a helluva lot about animation.

Aniref and Reference Reference Both excellent websites for reference footage recommended by @kaneage

Skwigly Bristol based online animation magazine with features, reviews and articles. 

Internet Animation Archive A (very) large archive of animations. Like a dusty vintage shop there are some hidden gems in here if you trawl.

Colour Lovers Interesting website for exploring colour and gaining ideas for palettes from @bimjus

Drawn Great for inspiration and browsing through other people’s work including illustration and artwork.

Short of the Week There are some amazing shorts on here from all kinds of genres but a lot of animation and stop-motion too.

Carlos Baena Great blog from a Pixar animator.

The Iron Scythe Another blog from Pixar, this time from a storyboard artist.

Deja View And here’s a blog from an ex-Disney animator.

11 Second Club A fun monthly character animation contest recommended by @asianastroboy

Animation Backgrounds A now discontinued blog focusing on backdrops, still useful for reference.

WaveyBrain Informative blog about all things animation and there are other interesting tidbits here also.

Animation Guild Blog Discussion Old hands in the industry dispel nuggets of wisdom.

Animated Music Videos An awesome website setting out to collate all the animated music videos in one place.

Do you have any suggestions?

No comments yet