Nickelodeon Creates Original Movie In-House with Dell Workstations

Did you spend as much time watching television over the holidays as I did? If so, then you might have caught Nickelodeon’s first original animated TV movie, Albert. In the film, Bobby Moynihan (from “Saturday Night Live”) is the voice of a little Douglas fir tree named Albert who wants to become the Empire City tree.

 A Nickelodeon employee works on the Albert movie using Dell Precision workstation and Dell monitors

Albert’s 3.1 million total viewers in Live+7 (which in TV ratings talk means the number of viewers within seven days of first showing) helped Nickelodeon finish 2016 as the number-one kid’s network for the year, according to numbers released last week.

Even if you were one of those millions of viewers, I bet you likely missed the story about how Dell Precision 5810 workstations helped them bring their first 45-minute movie to life, though.

“Using the Dell Precision with NVIDIA Quadro M6000 graphics cards has allowed us to stay competitive with overseas studios because we’re able to turn around results much faster and we’re able to keep a smaller team longer and be more efficient,” said Jason Meier, animation director at Nickelodeon, in the video below.

And if you missed it, or just want to hold on to that Christmas spirit and watch it again, the full Albert movie is available on Nick.com!

The Cintiq Companion from an Animator’s Perspective

In this edition of Old But Good Tech, we’ll review Wacom’s Cintiq Companion which at this point is 3 years old and two generations behind the times. That of course doesn’t mean it’s not a viable option for an artist or animator, so read on and we’ll go over why we think it’s still a good purchase.

The beauty herself!

The tablet features a full HD display with touch control, Wi-Fi connectivity, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and rear 8-megapixel camera, stereo headphone jack, and microphone. It also comes with the Wacom Pro Pen with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Out of the box the Companion runs Windows 8 (mine is updated to Windows 10) and houses a third-generation Intel Core CPU and Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU. The base Windows 8 version houses 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, and the Windows 8 Pro version includes 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. My device features a 512gb HD and 8gb of memory as well as an i7 chip.

I bought my Companion off eBay for $900 have been using it now for about 4 months and in that time I have found it to be a capable device if you take the time to hack it to work correctly. Below are my reactions to this old school device.

Unboxing
First off, when you buy one the basic things you get are: the tablet, tablet stand, power cord, pen, pen case, nibs, and a faux leather carrying case complete with two custom pockets for the charger and the pen case. Your mileage may differ since it’s hard to find a new one at this point but it is cool to note that if yours doesn’t come with a pen, the Cintiq 22HD’s pen works with it as well which is nice, although it doesn’t look the same.

The Stylus box

A comparison of the Companion’s pen vs. the 22HD’s pen.

The carrying sleeve that comes with the device. Also note the pockets for the stylus box and charger cord.

Hardware
From a Hardware standpoint the Cintiq Companion performed admirably with any piece of software I threw at it. It worked well with every Adobe application,  Photoshop, Illustrator, Audition, Premiere and Animate all performed exactly as they would using my desktop Cintiq. I found them all responsive and snappy when trying to access menus or drawing or scrubbing the timeline.

The Companion’s programmable buttons.

There are four buttons and a ring with a button inside it which combined with Wacom’s software you map functions to and you can even have the same button do different things depending on which program you’re using which is extremely valuable to me and I get a lot more use out of having them as opposed to another device like the Surface Pro 2 which has no such buttons especially when using it without a keyboard for programs like Animate (Flash), Storyboard Pro and Photoshop which are all keyboard heavy apps. The device itself is extremely solid if not a little heavy and I read that the Cintiq Companion 2 is lighter in weight but I don’t personally use it while holding it in my arm so I really don’t care about the weight so much but you might.

The Cintiq Companion’s stand

The stand the unit comes with is extremely odd in its setup and feels clumsy because doesn’t attach securely and instead just has tabs that fit into slots which I find to be lazy in such an expensive flagship device. There are some larger folios that you can purchase which is the same form factor but are essentially attached to the unit which cost more but I think might be worth it if you find you’re traveling with it and setting it up and breaking it down a lot. As I said I don’t use it like that much so for me the stand is fine.

The slot the Companion’s stand slides into. No it does not lock which is one of the reasons I don’t like it much.

A view of the Cintiq Companion’s 3 stand ‘flaps’ which slide into slots depending on what height you want.

One other frustrating thing which has largely been reported about his the power button is exactly where you put your hands to grab it and therefore makes you turn the device off constantly whenever you pick it up. Another odd choice by Wacom was putting the webcam top of the device when it is in portrait display as opposed to landscape display which really to me is quite short-sighted. I don’t know who they assumed it was going to be drawing in portrait mode all the time I’m but I guess they clearly thought people would prefer it that way. In the companion 2 they moved it to the landscape View. So I guess they realized their mistake and fixed it.

Storyboard Pro works perfectly well on the Companion but the menus are small and I did miss the screen real estate compared to my 22HD but that said it’s definitely still usable. Plus you can connect an external monitor to it to add to that real estate. Harmony worked well too and I even managed to animate a little scene without much issue, although I never finished it.

Autodesk Maya also works perfectly with the Cintiq Companion and my only gripe was the tiny menus which was fixable with a small hack (more on that later). I have built multiple models with many parts using and it handled each model like a champion and did not lag when rotating the models I built. I built this kitchen using the companion and it rotates with ease.

Granted the kitchen I built does not have a lot of textures so there is that to consider about its performance but I don’t really spend much time texturing 3D models so for me it works perfectly.

Another example is this shelving area which I also built using the Cintiq Companion and Maya and the companion performed admirably when rotating this model around as well despite there being many small parts to the scene. It has yet to be sluggish in anything I have thrown at it!

When using the Companion, it’s performance seems exactly like using a much larger Cintiq only smaller. The strokes work just as quickly and it feels very responsive when trying to draw quickly as opposed to other devices like the Surface Pro which I have found to lag behind when I draw. One of my biggest tests is using Adobe Animate to see if a device’s Graphics chip can keep up with rapid drawing because it is the processor-intensive application and many people post frustrations when trying to use it with a tablet PC because of its lag of underpowered hardware. The Cintiq Companion however, chews it up and spits it out with ease and I have not seen any delay whatsoever while using it. I’ve tried a lot of Tablet PCs over the years and really it is the only one that is able to handle Adobe Animate.

A small piece I animated using Adobe Animate on the Cintiq Companion

All this said there are a few small things that you need to do to make the Cintiq Companion 1 usable when you take it out of the box. Particularly so because of the high-resolution screen if your eyesight is not fantastic as it’s high resolution screen causes most applications to display extremely tiny menus. Adobe’s applications are notorious for this issue and I have read many times people returned the device rather than finding a solution but sine there are ways to hack the system to fix it, I feel that to return the device is silly for something so fixable. Now granted you might be saying, “Gee I know nothing about hacking and I don’t want to ruin my expensive device.” and I’m with you there but it’s really not a huge issue as this is fairly simple to do and can be done with a simple piece of code which I posted about last year during my review of the Surface Pro 2.

One exception that I found using it however was with Maya whereby regardless of hacking the system to display larger fonts and menus Maya would not actually display them larger regardless. But again thanks to google, I found a hack for fixing Maya’s tiny menus as well and was able to increase the fonts the size that I could see far more easily. That’s said I think you are willing to make a few small tweaks to it it is an extremely powerful and useful machine. In fact I would say that it is the only Tablet PC that I have found that is able Toon Boom Harmony and Storyboard Pro capably

To sum it all up I feel the Cintiq Companion 1  is a  hardy device and I think both hobbyists and professionals alike  we’ll enjoy it regardless of it being an older  device. The added plus is that now that it is an older device it’s cheaper and more likely to be  attainable for an artist.  There are things about the companion to that I have read make it  a better device  but it’s also more expensive because it’s newer and if you don’t have the money the Companion 1 will work very well in your workflow and be a great addition to your arsenal.

I did not see any units available for sale as of this writing on eBay or through Google’s Shopping search but they pop up now and again and you just have to look for them! If you decide to get one based on this review or already have one let’s us know in the comments below!

Wacom Introduces MobileStudio Pro Line

NEW YORK –Wacom has introduced Wacom MobileStudio Pro, a new line of lightweight, powerful mobile computers with Wacom’s new pen technology.

MobileStudio Pro features the newly-designed Wacom Pro Pen 2, with 4x higher pen accuracy and pressure sensitivity than the company’s previous professional pen, enhanced resolution, leading-edge graphics, excellent color performance, 3D camera and other innovations.

Wacom has developed a family of 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch MobileStudio Pro computers to fit virtually every professional’s creative computer and budgetary needs (starting at $1,499). There are six configurations to choose from. Four 13.3-inch models combine maximum mobility with high performance and color accuracy and two 15.6-inch models deliver a larger work area, 4K resolution, high color performance as well as superior Nvidia Quadro graphics. Bundled with Windows 10, MobileStudio Pro has the power professional creatives need to run industry-standard applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator as well as demanding 3D creative software applications.

MobileStudio Pro 13: four models come with an IPS high-brightness panel, 2.5K (WQHD) resolution and 96% Adobe RGB. Customer options are defined by Solid State Drive (SSD) size – 64GB ($1499), 128GB ($1799), 256GB ($1999) and 512GB ($2499).

MobileStudio Pro 16: two models are fit with an IPS high-brightness panel, 4K (UHD) resolution and 94% Adobe RGB. There’s a 256GB ($2399) with NVIDIA Quadro M600M with 2GB VRAM and 512GB ($2999) with NVIDIA Quadro M1000M with 4GB VRAM.

The 3D camera is available on both models of the MobileStudio Pro 16 and on the 13 model’s 512GB version.

MobileStudio Pro is expected to be available online and at select retail locations in late November.

wacom mobile stuido overview features3 f

FEATURES

Wacom Pro Pen 2

Natural feel with pinpoint accuracy

Learn more

Computing and graphics power

Run demanding creative 2D, 3D and CAD software – anywhere

Learn more

3D camera

Bring 3D object scanning into your creative work

Learn more

Stunning display

Life-like color and up to 4K resolution for a brilliant creative experience

Learn more 

wacom mobile stuido overview pen features FPO Crop 2

New Wacom Pro Pen 2:
natural and precise

Our new Wacom Pro Pen 2 will instantly become your favorite creative tool. It’s more sensitive, more accurate and more responsive than any pen we’ve ever made.
Wacom mobile studio pro pen feature pressure sensative icon1

4x more pressure sensitive*

Wacom mobile studio pro pen feature accurate icon2

4x more accurate*

Wacom mobile studio pro pen feature no lag icon3

Virtually no lag

Wacom mobile studio pro pen feature tilt icon4

Natural tilt support

Wacom mobile studio pro pen feature paralax icon5

No parallax

Wacom mobile studio pro pen feature no batteries icon6

No batteries or recharging

*Compared to Wacom Pro Pen

Ready for the biggest projects

Wacom MobileStudio Pro is designed for serious creative workloads. It’s a full-featured, Intel powered computer with the muscle you need to run professional creative 2D, 3D and CAD applications. Multi-layered, hi-res, CMYK Adobe® Photoshop® files? Seven million vertices in your PixologicTM ZBrush® file? Let Wacom MobileStudio Pro take on the challenge. Choose up to 16GB of RAM, an Intel® CoreTM i7 processor and NVIDIA graphics – with up to 512GB of storage.

3D ready

Wacom MobileStudio Pro is ready-made for 3D. It’s available with powerful Intel™ processors, memory and storage configurations. And Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 even offers high-performance NVIDIA Quadro graphics. Plus, select models include built-in Intel™ Real Sense camera and scanning software – perfect for product designers, CAD engineers and 3D sculptors who want to capture real world objects to start their creative process.

You’ll see – and feel – the difference

Whatever you’re creating, you’ll see every pica, pixel or polygon in perfect detail. With a resolution of up to 4K and color accuracy to 96% of Adobe® RGB, the screen on your Wacom MobileStudio Pro will make your work look amazing. But while you work, it’ll feel amazing too. The new etched glass surface provides the perfect amount of resistance to recreate the familiar feel and control of pen on paper. So working on Wacom MobileStudio Pro feels totally natural, instantly.

Designed for the way you create

The choice is yours

With six configurations to choose from, there’s sure to be one that fits your unique creative needs. The Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13 blends mobility with high performance and lets you sketch, draw, edit, and create with ease. Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 models offer a larger mobile creative workspace and higher graphics performance – perfect for 3D design and sculpting, illustration, photography, video, animation and complex photo retouching.

Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13

i5 64

• Intel® CoreTM i5
• 64GB
• 4GB
• 
Intel® IrisTM Graphics 550

Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13

i5 128

• Intel® CoreTM i5
• 128GB
• 8GB
• Intel® IrisTM Graphics 550

Made for sketching and illustration, graphic design and image editing.

Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16

i5 256

• Intel® CoreTM i5
• 256GB
• 8GB
• NVIDIA Quadro M600M graphics with 2GB GDDr5 VRAM

A larger space for drawing, detailed concept art, 3D sculpting and painting, 3D CAD, motion graphics and advanced image editing and retouching.

Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13

i7 256

• Intel® CoreTM i7
• 256GB
• 8GB
• Intel® IrisTM Graphics 550

A great choice for drawing, image editing and retouching, detailed concept art, graphic design and 2D animation.

Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13

i7 512

• Intel® CoreTM i7
• 512GB
• 16GB
• Intel® IrisTM Graphics 550

Intel® RealSenseTM 3D camera and scanning software

Built for drawing, detailed concept art, 3D sculpting and painting, motion graphics and advanced image editing and retouching.

Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16

i7 512

• Intel® CoreTM i7
• 512GB
• 16GB
• NVIDIA Quadro M1000M graphics with 4GB GDDDR5 VRAM

Intel® RealSenseTM 3D camera and scanning software

Maximum power for drawing, detailed concept art, 3D sculpting and painting, 3D CAD, motion graphics and advanced image editing and retouching.

Customize your Wacom MobileStudio Pro

However you like to work, there’s an accessory to make Wacom MobileStudio Pro suit you (each sold separately).

wacom mobile stuido pro 13 customize keyboard icon
Wacom Wireless Keyboard

Wacom wireless keyboard is the perfect partner to your MobileStudio Pro for creative and office work. The slim, compact Bluetooth® keyboard charges quickly through a USB cable.

Wacom Link

While Wacom MobileStudio Pro is a powerful computer in own right, you can also attach it to another Mac or PC with Wacom Link so that you can use it as a standard Cintiq.

FPO wacom mobile stuido pro 13 customize stand icon
Mobile Stand

The new Mobile Stand holds the MobileStudio Pro at three different drawing angles, so you’ll always find a comfortable working position. When you’re ready to move on, it folds flat for easy transport.

Animating with Mike Milo on Adobe Twitch Episode 8

If you missed our 8th broadcast it’s up now on Youtube… come on now you know you wanna listen to my Jersey accent for 3 hours!

Or not.

Well, it’s there either way… Join us live from 12pm to 3pm PST every Saturday on http://www.twitch.tv/adobe where I broadcast and animate stuff live using Adobe’s Animate software.

Adobe Animate CC 2015.2

Animate-2015.2

Following Animate’s rebirth just a few months ago, Adobe’s latest update is actually attempting to include animators and artists, which a huge welcome change! The two biggest additions are allowing a layer to be transparent! I know that’s SO 1995 but at least they’re finally listening! Also a new inclusion is the Frame Picker which mimics Lipper and Keyframe Caddy but is now included in the Application itself. The one thing I’m hoping for in the next version is to have the Frame Picker set a keyframe when you select a drawing form it’s display. Also there is the new-ish Pattern Brushes, which is very similar to Illustrator’s brushes and while I personally have not found much use for them, they ARE an artists addition and you might find a need for them. Actually I take it back, I made wallpaper on a background once using them.

 

Frame Picker

(graphic symbol thumbnails)

Visually preview and choose the first frame for a graphic symbol. In previous releases, you could not preview the frames without getting within the symbol. This feature enhances the user experience for animation workflows such as Lip Sync.

image03 image02

Layer Transparency

You can now skip manual workarounds and sketch on top of other layers right inside Animate. To set the visibility of the layer to transparent, Shift+Click on the eye column in the timeline.

image05

Pattern Brushes

Paint a vector pattern along the path or stretch to its entire length. You can use the integrated global library within Animate to use Art and Pattern brushes. In addition to the default brush presets, you can import new Pattern Brushes to your Animate document using the CC Libraries. See them in action here.

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Cintiq Alternative- The Artisul D13

ArtisulD13_sideview

Here’s an interesting new tablet on the market, or at least new to me and my friends… The Artisul D13 which is essentially a 13″ Cintiq type device. you draw directly on the screen and connect it to your laptop or desktop. No word on whether it has Wacom drivers or is N-trig but it seems to be a neat little device and if you read the story behind it, it was designed BY an artist so you know that they’re catering to our community. In the box are the tablet with stylus, Pen Case (10 tips + Pen and inbuilt tip remover), Pen stand HDMI & USB cable, Universal Power Adaptor and 12 Month Warranty. The Artisul D13 sells for $599 and the stand is an extra $60.

SPECIFICATIONS

specification-iconsORANGE_07
Compatible

with MAC and Windows

Advanced Precision

2048 pen pressure for easy control along with 10 pen tips

HD Display & Connections

13.3″ screen size, wide degree viewing angle, USB and HDMI cable

Ergonomics

right or left-handed adaptability

Hot Keys

for shortcuts and increased productivity

Portability

Can be powered by two 3.0USB

Here’s a short video of Roberto Blake using the device. He seems to like it and can clearly draw on it. Still no word on those damn drivers though!