Wow. A lot has happened since I last posted. It has been a busy few weeks for new product releases. Photokina 2010 has come and gone with the announcement of several new cameras. Maxon has released Cinema 4D version 12 and Nik Software has released their excellent new plugin HDR Efex Pro. In other news, I am plugging along in my courses for my MFA in Web Design and New Media, teaching Maya and After Effects to high school students, trying to get my design company up and running, and raising a 4 and a half year old boy. It’s a busy time to be sure, but it has also been rewarding. I am doing what I love and still finding time for myself (video games). Photokina had some new announcements, but the one that really grabbed me was the announcement of the Olympus E-5. Regular readers of the blog know that I am a big fan of Olympus and almost purchased the E-3 last year. I do really like my D300s, but I really like the Olympus cameras and Zuiko lenses. When I was trying out the E-3 and the 35-100 lens last year, I was really impressed. When Olympus announced the E-5, I was really excited. The only thing that worries me is the price. At $1700 I think it is a little overpriced. Don’t get me wrong, it looks like a fantastic camera, but I think at $1,300 - $1,500 it would be a must buy. However, this is the top of the line camera from Olympus, and it is still in the range of a D300s from Nikon and 7D from Canon. I would love to shoot with one of these, so maybe I can make some money and get a second system.
The next big announcement for me was the news of Cinema 4D release 12. I have bounced back and forth between 3D applications for several years trying to figure out which program would get my hard earned, and limited, money. I never thought I would say it, but I was really starting to like Maya 2011. I guess things finally started to click with the program. I was able to finally understand the workflow and the modeling tools and was thinking this would be my app of choice. The only problem was the price. $4,000 for the program and subscription is a bit pricey. I know how powerful it is and that it is the industry standard but it is a lot of money for me. When C4D release 12 came out I was really intrigued because I can still animate faster in it than Maya and I really like the motion graphics aspect of the program. What troubled me was that the price for a new license was more than Maya. I have been using Cinema 4D since version 8, but the latest version I have is 10.5. I thought I would check out the upgrade price, and it is two thirds the price of a new license of Maya. That might be worth it for me to upgrade so I figured I would think about it. Then, I got an email from Maxon with great news. They are running a deal until the end of the year where upgrades are half off with the purchase of the Maxon Service Agreement. Wow! That was great news. I downloaded the demo and really liked what I saw. I am still not happy with the modeling tools, but the animation, motion graphics, and new dynamics systems have sold me. I will definitely be upgrading to version 12. My 3D pipeline will consist of modo/C4D for modeling and C4D for texturing, animation, and rendering. From there I can export to After Effects for further tweaking.
Last week was great in that HDR Efex Pro from Nik Software was released. I have been looking forward to this plugin for a while now. I am a huge fan of HDR photography and I have been using Photomatix Pro and Photoshop for my HDR images in the past. However, given my fondness for Nik plugins, I could not wait for HDR Efex Pro. The plugin makes it really easy to get fantastic results quickly from your images. I have posted a few of the photos I have made using the plugin and I have to say that I am quite happy with the results. A lot of photographers talk about straight-out-of-camera shots and while I see the benefit of getting things right the first time, I like to go in and tinker with the images after I shoot them. Also, a lot of people either love or hate the “HDR Look,” but I think it brings a soul to the image and captures every nuance. I won’t get in to my workflow using the plugin now, but I will make a video soon showing how I make my images. Hopefully it will inspire you to make your own HDR shots if you are not already doing so.