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The genius of Sonic the Hedgehog live-action movie viral marketing campaign — popularity by bad publicity

There's no such thing as bad PR

First and foremost: I'm not a big Sonic fan. All I know about Sonic is that there were "two and a half" incarnations on the character in the games:

  • 2D. For example in my all-time favorites on Genesis: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and 3.

    sonic in 2D
  • "Classsic" 3D Sonic.

    Classic 2D Sonic in 3D
  • "Rad" 3D Sonic. One they've been using for the last... 5+ years, I believe.

    rad 3D Sonic

Compare the three of the well-known designs:

three Sonic the Hedgehog designs

I'm sure this is not news to you. Just like the fact that we now have this one from the April's Sonic the Hedgehog movie trailer:

Sonic the Movie original design

...you can imagine how the internet reacted to this.

Not. Well.

For the past week the web has been boiling with hate, discussions and alternate design propositions coming from every which way. People obviously care about the "Genuine" Sonic the Hedgehog character enough to get enraged over Hollywood butchering the design.

alternate sonic design

But... Did they really intend to release this?

You see, Sonic the Hedgehog may be a popular franchise, but it is nothing compared to Pokémon or Mario for example. SEGA's mascot was a hit back when SEGA was: in the 90's and mid 2000's. Nowadays not many people (myself included) actually care about new games starring the familiar cast.

Movie-making is business. You make a movie to cash in. Throughout the history game-related films never really made any large splashes in the box office, so you need the whole internet to find out about your movie. How can you do that?

By deliberately pissing off the fans and publicly announcing to change the design!

Sonic advice

How can you tell? Simple. Just take a look at the trailer which has been viewed over 22 million times already:

It's obvious not much work went into the "bad" Sonic's appearance in the movie: animation is wonky, in several areas he looks as if lazily "photoshopped" in:

bad sonic shop

At the same time one can tell they tried to hit as many bases as they could to contrast the design with the original as obviously and blatantly as possible:

  • hands instead of gloves
  • "Nike"-looking shoes instead of signature boots
  • blue-haired arms instead of flesh/white-colored ones
  • small, non-bridged eyes instead of well-recognized ones
  • human teeth (oh my...)
  • human-like proportions hitting every checkmark in the "uncanny valley" book.

...and so on. You can't make something like this by accident and have it survive though all stages of expensive pre- and post-production!

So, naturally, people started a real shit-storm on the web and no one really believed that Paramount would listen.

But what's this, Jeff Fowler?

Sonic director replies

Wow! The Director of the movie replied AND listened to us! He's cool! The movie is now cool! I can't wait to tell my friends about this!

The tweet immediately got some serious traction as you can see from the screenshot (taken on May 3rd).

This, coupled with the fact that hundreds of thousands of people who never cared or even knew about the movie are now well aware of its existence, makes for some kick-ass viral marketing campaign.

Now, certainly I'm not alone thinking that everything that happened was a calculated move.

Still. This is one risky, but effective and efficient PR move. Paramount Marketing team, I tip my fedora to you. Great job! sonic fedora tipping

Adobe Gobbles Up Allegorithmic

adobe acquires allegorithmic

Om nom nom.

NVIDIA Volta + Microsoft DX12 = Real-time ray-tracing. Finally?

Whenever I hear the term "real-time ray-tracing", I immediately think of some of the earlier RTRT experiments done by Ray Tracey and OTOY Brigade. You know, those impressive, yet noisy and not quite real-time demos with mirror-only reflections and lots a lots of convolving noisy rendered frames.

Like this one:

I wouldn't dream of seeing something actually ray-traced in real-time at 30fps without any noise in the upcoming 5-10 years. Little did I know, NVIDIA and Microsoft had the same idea and put their best minds to the task.

Results? Well...

Delivered 100%.

This demo, developed by EA (believe it or not) is running on NVIDIA's newest lineup of VOLTA GPUs, which means that VOLTA is also on the way! Yay! NVIDIA RTX tech sure looks promising.

Can you imagine what will happen to offline CUDA ray-tracers following this announcement? Hopefully their devs will be able to make this amazing tech a part of the rendering pipeline ASAP. Otherwise, C'est la vie: you've been REKT by a real-time ray-tracing solution.

Just kidding. We gotta test this thing out first and only then will be able to tell whether we've been led to believe in yet another fairy tale or that you need like 8 VOLTAS to run this demo which would be a let down.

Check out the announcement.

Vicon's VR multiplayer escape room at GDC 2018 featuring Shōgun 1.2

This year at GDC Vicon will be demonstrating its new Shōgun 1.2 MoCap platform. At its core it's an optical MoCap solution (which is quite different from inertial ones like Perception Neuron and is commonly used in professional production).

Vicon Shogun Live Actors

Vicon's Shogun and Shōgun Live are well known MoCap solutions used by Hollywood filmmakers and AAA-game devs worldwide.

This time the company comes to GDC with a treat: they will be coupling Shōgun with VR headsets to immerse GDC visitors into interactive virtual worlds in what they are calling a "VR multiplayer escape room".

What's even cooler is as far as I can tell, all MoCap data will be directly streamed into Unreal Engine 4. I believe this will make the engine even more popular among game devs, especially those interested in VR applications (sorry, Unity).

Shogun live cameraman

Anyway, if this is something you might be interested in, you can read more about the event at Vicon's official website.