Author: Mark Wagoner

Quick History of CGI

  Did you know that the world of special effects and CGI as we know it all started with a cat? That’s right cats have been a trend since the 1960s, more specifically 1968. This is when a group of Russian mathematicians and physicists developed a groundbreaking mathematical model that allowed them to move a cat across a screen.   The journey that CGI has taken over the years since have been astronomical, and I mean that in the most literal sense.The first feature film to use 3D animation was Futureworld in 1976  (Westworld used 2D in 1973) followed by movies like Star Wars (1977), Alien (1979) and Superman (1978) to more modern movies and like Avatar (2009), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), and Black Panther (2018). Of course CGI is used in many things outside of movies like video games, still images, and even things like medical training. CGI is more widely used than ever and has helped us expand the possibilities of art, storytelling and technology. Computer Generated Imaging has given us opportunities that many would have considered impossible.             Companies have greatly benefited from the use of CGI when it comes to advertisements, it has not only cut down on cost but also time and equipment.  Car commercials, for example, have the ability to shoot a commercial without even having the car on site. This awesome device (shown to the right) is called The Blackbird and it is used in the production of car commercials to give the CG car a realistic feel. This has helped create a relationship to the road that can be difficult to create otherwise. PIX-US works in the domain of advertising and marketing images and was founded to do for the home fashion and products industries what CGI had done in the automotive industries.   Outside of cars CGI is used in advertisements all the time from sports, to clothing, even food, the abilities of CGI are only limited to your imagination.         So in the end we owe all of this to a cat, which just means that cats have always owned the internet and always will. ...

Pantone’s Color of the Year: Ultra Violet

        In 2017, Pantone’s Color of the Year, Greenery was a fresh, invigorating shade of green that reflected new beginnings surrounding the political turmoil of the 2016 Presidential Election. 2018’s Ultra Violet wasn’t chosen for its representation of power and wealth, but was selected to evoke a counterculture flair, a grab for originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking.   The color violet has been associated with royalty, power, and wealth for centuries. It’s elite status stems from the rarity and the extraordinary expense of dying fabric purple. Since only wealthy rulers could afford to buy and wear the color, it also became associated with individuality, uniqueness, and originality. Today, purple is still regarded as a bit of an “ooh” color. Purple’s rarity in nature and the expense of creating the color and has given purple a supernatural aura for centuries. Perhaps because of its heritage, it has never been a mainstream choice, which is Pantone’s reasoning for it being the 2018 Color of the Year.   Ultra Violet is one of the more complex colors because it is a combination of two shades that are seemingly polar opposites – blue and red – and brings them together to create something new. It also escapes some of the easy descriptions of other colors – red is hot, blue is cool… but what is the quality of purple, exactly? In our current political climate, where red is linked with Republicans and blue with Democrats, purple is periodically identified as a symbol of bipartisanship — or, in the case of swing states, as a signifier of uncertain affiliation. Pantone hopes the blue and red, the colors used to designate America’s liberal and conservative politics, can become a more harmonious purple. Violet speaks to a global audience, not the left (red) or the right (blue), but everyone. Recall the Ralph Lauren ensemble that Hillary Clinton wore to deliver her official concession speech following the 2016 election: a slate grey suit, with a deep purple silk blouse and matching lapels. Clinton later explained the significance of the color in her book What Happened, writing “The morning after the election, Bill and I both wore purple. It was...

Merry Christmas from PIX-US!

We promise the Grinch didn’t steal our Christmas! All of us Whos down in Whoville (Greensboro)—the tall and the small—are thrilled at the progress being made in our new headquarters. By this time next year, the cavernous space you see here will be full of character, creativity and innovation on top of the regular holiday hustle-bustle. And you’ll have no problem finding us since we’ll be just across the street from where we are now on Wendy Court. Stay tuned for progress photos, and in the meantime, have a holly, jolly Christmas and a happy New Year!...

Sew Happy

Our images are stunning and unique because of the people behind them. Contributions often come from areas of expertise that may not be directly related to CG imaging, such as cooking—or in Mandy Powers’ case, fabric and textiles. “I love building things, making things out of nothing, doing stuff with my hands. Sewing from a pattern is very soothing for me,” she says. Mandy, who has sewed since she was little, uses her mom’s old Kenmore machine to make clothes, curtains, craft projects and Halloween costumes for her kids, including a dog, frog, witch, princess, pirate, storm trooper, grim reaper, zombie, and Wonder Woman. A bit of a Wonder Woman herself, Mandy's other skills include knitting, designing knitwear and spinning her own yarn. And if that weren’t impressive enough, she’s even published a book of knitting patterns and sells her patterns on Ravelry.com. As project manager at PIX-US, Mandy oversees our process from idea to image. Even though her job focuses on logistics, she draws on her life experience in fabric and textiles to make significant contributions to aesthetics. “When I review PIX-US images in production, I can quickly spot mistakes with textiles that wouldn’t be obvious to the average viewer,” Mandy says. “For instance, I can tell what material should or shouldn’t be used to upholster a sofa or chair. And if you’ve never knitted your own sweater, then you might not understand the qualities, drape and construction of knitted material.” Out of habit, Mandy’s eyes dart directly to any textiles in our images. “Because we’re a small team, we all give our input,” she says. “When I’m able to give input on a fabric-related item, it helps production.” ...

Design Trends: Maximalism

Minimalism has dominated the modern design world for far too long. For years, designers have adopted the ideals of elegance and simplicity.  We’ve lived in the era of social media, embracing the Apple aesthetic, Helvetica font, and white walls. But whatever happened to bright colors, bold patterns, and your good old fashioned knick-knacks? If Marie Kondo’s “less is more” mentality is your idea of creative expression hell, you aren’t alone. There is a shift in desire to create spaces that don’t attempt to show the Instagram-worthy, picture-perfect environment. Many designers have been restless for change, and ready to take risks by welcoming the messy world of color, pattern, and texture. Less is a bore, more is more. Maximalism, while being the complete opposite of minimalist design, doesn’t necessarily imply clutter or that you’ll eventually end up on an episode of Hoarders. Maximalism is the idea of excess, luxury, and individuality. In an age where the internet has us communicating in all-caps, LOLs, and emojis, it’s no surprise that our sense of style has evolved to become just as hyperbolic. The trend is particularly taking hold in the interior design world, where we’re starting to see more bold upholsteries, elaborate patterns and embellishments. I myself am a big fan of the maximalist lifestyle, boasting mismatched furniture, numerous artworks created by friends, and countless candles that dominate my home. Whenever I am entertaining, visitors always comment on the surplus of doodads to look at, variety of soft blankets and pillows, and the overall cozy nature of the space. If I'd decorated in a minimalist style, there would be far fewer conversation pieces.   Here are five ways to release your inner maximalist:     I. ENERGETIC COLORS: Forget about those stark white walls, and embrace a bold and vibrant hue. While minimalism uses pops of bold colors here and there, maximalism embraces the use of color.         II. BOLD PATTERNS: From the window to the wall, pattern can play a role anywhere in the room, but the layering of pattern on pattern may seem easier said than done. Pattern can seem overwhelming at first, so try starting small by incorporating some patterned throw pillows. Embrace the...

PIX-US Welcomes Eileen Heilsnis

A 2015 college graduate, Eileen Heilsnis joins us from Dallas, where she was working as a junior look development artist. “Ultimately, I like creating pretty pictures,” says Eileen. “That’s what I left the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) looking for.” And she’s found it at PIX-US, which is also close enough to her family for weekend visits. While at SCAD, where she majored in visual effects, Eileen worked on a video for NASA with other students in a collaborative learning center. They created a short animation with graphics explaining the purpose of NASA's ICE-Sat 2 satellite. When her mind wasn’t on the stars, Eileen took advantage of historic Savannah. “The town itself is very picturesque 100-year-old oaks and Spanish moss hanging down,” she says. “Our classes were spread all across town by the river or the railroad tracks. The college bought historic houses and turned them into classrooms.” Eileen has enjoyed her first few weeks at PIX-US where she gets to use her lighting, texturing and modeling skills. “Just because I majored in visual effects, doesn’t mean I do explosions or blow things up,” she quips. “There are many disciplines.” In her spare time, Eileen plays video games, watches movies, hikes and explores the outdoors....

Doughnut Dynasty at PIX-US

One cold, January day PIX-US partner Mark called up his marketing guru—that’s me, Annie—and started (without saying hello) reading some very familiar words. “Hey,” I said. “How do you have that? It’s not going to be published until February.” Mark just kept reading. Then, since we have a solidly collegial rapport, I said, “I can’t tell if you’re making fun of me, if you really like it, or if you just want a doughnut.” Finally, Mark said that Andie Rose at O.Henry Magazine had asked him to photograph the cover story I wrote about the boom in Greensboro doughnuts shops—a doughnut renaissance if you will. We’d had a conversation about the magazine days before, but neither of us knew we’d been assigned to the same piece. I’d already involved a lot of my friends via Facebook asking for their favorite doughnuts and places to get them, inviting them to taste test with me. Clearly, Mark stopped following me, or he would’ve known the story was mine before looking for the byline midway through his first reading. Just saying. Once we finished laughing at ourselves, the team felt compelled to have our own taste test in the name of science—and photography—of course. Stewart’s obsession with apple fritters got the entire staff hooked, making them the official doughnut of PIX-US. One of the primary results from the test was that Rise, the new shop at Friendly Center, has the best fritters in town—“made with apples, not apple-pie filling.” You might say we were frittering our time away eating them. We bought three dozen doughnuts for the photo shoot, and clean up was a breeze. Somehow, by the end of it, nearly all of them had disappeared. Mmmmm. Donuts: Check out the full story in O.Henry Magazine....