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Cgtuts+ Massive 2012 Buyers Guide: 80 Gift Ideas for the Cg Artist

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This Cyber Monday Tuts+ courses will be reduced to just $3 (usually $15). Don't miss out.

We're back this year with our biggest Holiday Buyers Guide ever and it's jam packed with awesome! We've rounded up 80 great gift ideas that are perfect for cg artists or the everyman. Some are big and expensive, others are small and cheap. So whether you're looking for something for yourself, a co-worker, friend or family member, we've got something for everyone and every budget. Need something big to stick under the tree this year? no problem! Looking for last minute stocking stuffers? We've got those too!



There's a thousand and one plugins out there for 3D apps, far too many for us to name here. So instead we've chosen to list some of the most popular, ones that are sure to give you the most bang for your buck (pun intended!)


FumeFX

$845 - afterworks.com | For Autodesk 3D Studio Max (coming soon for Maya!)

"FumeFX is a fluid dynamics engine designed for simulation and rendering of realistic fire, smoke, explosions and other gaseous phenomena. It's versatility, robustness and intuitive workflow makes it a perfect solution for the most demanding tasks in the computer graphics industry. Almost every aspect of a simulation can be customized through 3ds max scripting, allowing users to interfere with simulation computation at the lowest level."


Rayfire

$325 - Rayfirestudios.com | For Autodesk 3D Studio Max

"RayFire gives you the ability to fragment, destroy, demolish, wreck, break down, wreak havoc, blow up, burst, detonate, explode and do other similar things you have always dreamed of doing in 3D Studio Max."


Forest Pack Pro

€180 - Itoosoft.com | For Autodesk 3D Studio Max

"Forest Pack is a plugin for Autodesk 3d Studio Max, and 3d Studio Max Design, designed to give a complete solution for the creation of vast surfaces of trees and plants. Forest enables you to scatter millions of proxies, high-poly meshes or billboards, using Mental Ray and V-Ray's native shaders, create scenes with a virtually unlimited number of objects and polygons."


RailClone

€180 - Itoosoft.com | For Autodesk 3D Studio Max

"RailClone is a 3D Studio Max plugin for parametric modeling based on custom geometry, definable by the user and a set of construction rules. This new concept of modeling lets you to build complex and realistic structures for Architectural Visualization, Civil Engineering and Interior Design. The software includes a full library of preset models to create Fences, Railings, Barriers, Guardrails, Handrails or Walls. RailClone is not limited to a fixed set of primitives, you can use any geometry from a scene to define your own parametric structures."


PullDownIt

€395 - Pulldownit.com | For Autodesk 3D Studio Max & Maya

"Pulldownit is a brand new dynamics solver which allows for the creation of fractures as well as massive rigid bodies simulations. By using its technology digital artists are able to simulate the collapse of buildings, cracking surfaces or fracturing any kind of brittle material fast and easily."


Ndo2

$99 - Quixel.se | For Adobe Photoshop

"Take unprecedented control of your normal maps with an all-new interface — snappy interaction, instant tweaking results, seamless integration with Photoshop — dive into the most efficient normal mapping work-flow to date!"


dDo

$249 (Currently in Beta, available for Pre-Order) - Quixel.se | For Adobe Photoshop

"Texture entire scenes, props and characters within minutes, all following the art direction you’ve carefully designed. Advanced material definition, designed to work with any material, organic or hard-surface. Realistic or stylized accumulation of wear & tear. Pops right into the industry-standard Photoshop texturing workflow. Full-auto, 100% custom."


TurbulenceFD

€399.00 - Jawset.com | For Maxon Cinema 4D

"TurbulenceFD's simulation pipeline implements a voxel-based solver based on the incompressible Navier Stokes equations. That means it uses a voxel grid to describe the volumetric clouds of smoke and fire and solves the equations that describe the motion of fluid on that grid. For each voxel TurbulenceFD calculates the velocity of the fluid as well as several channels to describe properties like temperature, smoke density, amount of fuel, etc. This simulation process produces a voxel grid for each frame, which is cached on disk for use by the Volumetric Renderer."


Nitroblast

€40 (Donation) - Nitro4d.com | For Maxon Cinema 4D

"A new fracturing plugin from the creator of Thrausi and Catastrophe. Allowing completely automatic, collision driven fracturing, Nitroblast is written from the ground up to be faster, bigger, more powerful and better from all angles than the previous fracturing plugins."


DMM Plugin

$299 - Pixelux.com | For Autodesk Maya & 3D Studio Max

"Create Destruction and Deformation Animations in less time while increasing quality. Now you can use the same advanced simulation technology that high-end visual effects studios use to bring your artistic creations to life. The DMM Plug-in is fully integrated with Maya and 3D Studio Max and can take advantage of features such as fields, as well as keyed kinematic movement. Imagine building a character rig that has DMM flesh that moves in response to kinematically driven bones, or a railroad trestle where the timbers flex and crack under the weight of a passing train. Use your imagination to create animations with DMM with subtle effects that are impossible through manual animation or simple fracture/shatter scripts."



People say print media is dead (RIP Newsweek), and while that may soon be the case for all physical media (thanks Apple.) You can still find a great variety of printed mags in physical form. Below you'll find three great choices for the computer graphics man (or woman) in your life. While they also offer digital versions, there's nothing like the real thing. So kick it old school and grab yourself a subscription to one of these premier Cg mags while you can.


3D World Magazine

Subscriptions From £14 Per Year - MyfavoriteMagazines.co.uk

"There are two great ways to enjoy 3D World. Choose the print edition and receive a free disc complete with video lessons and tutorials. Or opt for a digital edition and start building a collection of 3D World editions that you can store on your tablet and read anywhere."


3D Artist Magazine

Subscriptions From £80 Per Year - Imagine.co.uk

"3D Artist is an authoritative and well-respected source of inspiration for those working or aspiring to be working in the CG industry. Every product in the 3D Artist portfolio features guides for awe-inspiring images, interviews and career advice from industry insiders and behind-the-scenes access on major 3D projects. 3D Artist covers all software packages and disciplines."


Cinefex Magazine

Subscriptions From $36 Per Year - Cinefex.com/

"Cinefex is a quarterly magazine devoted to motion picture visual effects. Since 1980, it has been the bible for effects professionals and enthusiasts, covering the field like no other publication. Profusely illustrated in color, with in-depth articles and interviews, Cinefex offers a captivating look at the technologies and techniques behind many of our most popular and enduring movies."



What better time then the holidays to kick back with a book and hot cup of coco and get your learn on. Below you'll find a pretty extensive collection of books that range in topic from specific 3D training (or "tutorials") to art theory, design and inspiration. Any of these would be a great addition to your book shelf, or conversation piece for your coffee table.


Introducing Autodesk Maya 2013 (Autodesk Official Training Guides)

$30 - Amazon.com

"Maya is one of the industry-leading 3D animation and effects software packages used in movies, visual effects, and video games. This bestselling, official guide is a must for 3D beginners who want a thorough grounding in this dynamic and complex software. Fully updated for the newest version of Maya, the book explains the interface and the basics of modeling, texturing, animating, dynamics, visualization, and visual effects."


Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 Bible

$30 - Amazon.com

"Autodesk 3d Studio Max is top animation software used by developers, visual effects artists, and graphic designers in film, television, and the game industry. One place designers turn for crucial information on how to use 3ds Max is this in-depth book. Whether you're a beginner just itching to create something right away or an experienced user checking out the latest and greatest features, you'll find it here. See what's new, what's tried and true, and just how creative you can get using the tips, tricks, and techniques."


Mastering Blender

$38 - Amazon.com

"Blender, the open-source 3D software, is more popular than ever and continues to add functionality. If you're an intermediate or advanced user, this new edition of Tony Mullen's expert guide is what you need to get up to speed on Blender and expand your skills. From modeling, texturing, animation, and visual effects to high-level techniques for film, television, games, and more, this book covers it all. It also highlights Blender's very latest features, including new camera tracking tools and a new renderer."


Introducing Character Animation with Blender

$27 - Amazon.com

"Introducing Character Animation with Blender, 2nd Edition is written in a friendly but professional tone, with clear descriptions and numerous illustrative screenshots. Throughout the book, tutorials focus on how to accomplish actual animation goals, while illustrating the necessary technical methods along the way. These are reinforced by clear descriptions of how each specific aspect of Blender works and fits together with the rest of the package."


Cinema 4D Beginner's Guide

$40 - Amazon.com

"Cinema 4D enables everyone from professionals to hobbyists to create stunning 3D animations. This book will walk you through all the steps of creating an interior fly-through of an office: creating a 3D structure, adding materials and lighting, animating, and rendering. Then, you'll explore additional features through a series of mini projects: creating motion graphics, exporting a stylized non-realistic image, adding hair and creating cloth. You'll learn how to connect pieces that all work together by exploring node-based programming in Xpresso, then wrap everything up with an introduction to compositing in Adobe After Effects."


Illuminated Pixels: The Why, What, and How of Digital Lighting

$35 - Amazon.com

"This book discusses the properties of light not just in a theoretical sense, but with further discussion of the digital tools you can use to re-create them. "How will you accomplish this?" This book will help you find and apply the appropriate techniques to achieve the best possible digital lighting for your project. Using the questions above as a framework, ILLUMINATED PIXELS explains artistry, real-world physics, and computer technology in a practical, integrated way, giving you the knowledge needed to master the art of digital lighting. All the content and skills taught are non-software-specific, making this book an essential tool for any digital lighting professional or hobbyist."


Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Innovation

$32 - Amazon.com

"Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Innovation is an extensively illustrated oral history of the multiple-Academy-Award®-winning visual effects company founded by George Lucas in 1975. Its tale begins with a small team of craftspeople, engineers, and artists who pioneered analog effects that had never before been attempted or realized on the screen for Star Wars. Industrial Light & Magic continues their story through the effects facility’s mind-bending work, over the following three decades, on more than three hundred films—from optical printing to the digital and computer-generated-effects era. A behind-the-scenes record of the state-of-the-art innovations that have driven movie making magic, the book features candid stories from the filmmakers, artists, and technicians who were there, breaking barriers and changing the history of cinema with their early work on cultural landmarks, such as the Star Wars saga, the Indiana Jones series, E.T., Terminator 2, and Jurassic Park."


The Art of Avatar: James Cameron's Epic Adventure

$11 - Amazon.com

"With over 100 exclusive full-color images including sketches, matte paintings, drawings, and film stills, The Art of Avatar reveals the process behind the creation of set designs for the imaginative vistas, unique landscapes, aerial battle scenes, bio-luminescent nights, and fantastical creatures. Interviews with art directors, visual effects designers, animators, costume designers, and creature makers bring insight into this creative process."


The Art of Blizzard Entertainment

$48 - Amazon.com

"An epic volume of art and behind-the-scenes insights, The Art of Blizzard® celebrates the studio’s genesis by examining the creative forces behind these games and showcasing their artistry through more than 700 pieces of concept art, paintings, and sketches. Commentary on the art is provided by Blizzard Entertainment’s own Nick Carpenter, Sam Didier, and Chris Metzen, who’ve each played important roles in shaping Blizzard’s game universes over the years."


The Art of Assassin's Creed III

$19 - Amazon.com

"An exclusive art book published to coincide with the much-anticipated release of Assassin's Creed III. This book feature concept art and matte paintings all stunningly and historically recreated by the teams at Ubisoft."


Awakening: The Art of Halo 4

$24 - Amazon.com

"Awakening: The Art of Halo 4 will give gamers an in-depth look behind the scenes at the creation of the stunning worlds of Halo 4, with commentary from the art director and game designers throughout. Concept art, character sketches, detailed environments and an additional section on the forthcoming multiplayer game make this the definitive guide to 343 Industries' take on the Halo universe."


Start Your Engines: Surface Vehicle Sketches & Renderings from the Drawthrough Collection

$20 - Amazon.com

"Start Your Engines compiles works from Scott Robertson's vast archives of ground vehicle drawings and renderings, and features the following chapters: Cars, Bicycles, Snowcraft Mechanimals and selected work from the conceptual design of vehicles for the video games Field Commander and Spy Hunter 2. The Cars chapter comprises about half of this book and features original designs both futuristic and retrospective."


Lift Off: Air Vehicle Sketches & Renderings from the Drawthrough Collection

$20 - Amazon.com

"Lift Off presents personal and professional works by Scott Robertson, Program Director of the Entertainment Design major at Art Center College of Design. This book features the following chapters: Airships, Spacecraft, Aircraft, Lefty Sketches, Hovercraft. Anyone interested in air vehicle sketches, concept design and color renderings of the subject will be eager to add Lift Off to their library."


BLAST: spaceship sketches and renderings

$17 - Amazon.com

"BLAST takes the readers on a visual exploration of spaceships. The team from DRIVE, Scott Robertson, Annis Naeem, and Danny Gardner are together again for BLAST, with each of the three artists exploring spaceships and sci-fi environments from preliminary concept sketch to final, fully rendered, photo-realistic detail."


DRIVE: vehicle sketches and renderings by Scott Robertson

$23 - Amazon.com

"DRIVE features Scott Robertson's very latest vehicle designs intended for the video game space communicated through skillfully drawn sketches and renderings. DRIVE builds upon the success of his prior two vehicle design books (Start Your Engines & Lift Off.) Featuring four chapters, each representing a different aesthetic theme, Aerospace, Military, Pro Sports and Salvage."


Structura: The Art of Sparth

$17 - Amazon.com

"Structura: The Art of Sparth is a collection of his personal artwork. Sparth has been an active artistic director and concept designer for the gaming industry for over ten years. Currently with IDSoftware in Texas, a renowned leader in the gaming world with such titles as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom I and II, and Quake I and II, Sparth has been integral in designing the games that video game enthusiasts love, ranging from space to architecture, robotics and beyond."


Structura 2

$40 - Amazon.com

"This visually stunning book includes images from HALO, over seventeen new gorgeous books covers (for authors Greb Bear, Michael Flynn, L.E. Modesitt, Paul mcauley, Frank Herbert, Jonathan Strahan, Peter Watts and Christian de Montella, to name a few) and never before published personal science fiction pieces that will have your imagination running to the future! In addition to the amazing images, Sparth shares his expertise with several step by step tutorials focusing on specific Photoshop techniques."



If you're one of those people who feel that reading is overrated, and "so 90's", then perhaps these recent releases from the good folks over at The Gnomon Workshop and Eat3D are more to your liking. You'll still get the benefit that a training book provides, but without the glaucoma! Both companies offer extensive libraries, but here's some of their more recent additions.


Live Action & CG 4 - Ultimate Guide to Compositing with NUKEX & Maya

$60 - Eat3d.com

"In this DVD, Instructor Matt Skonicki takes you through the full “gamut” of compositing a CG monster into a live action scene using Maya and NUKEX. Matt starts off talking about color management and giving an overview of what will be covered. He then goes into NUKEX and talks about its color space, interface, and other things needed to know before using it.

Matt goes on to talk about lens distortion and then goes into tracking 5 different shot scenarios using the camera tracker in NUKEX. He then takes the solve into Maya, sets everything up, and then talks a bit about the monsters rig, materials, and animation. Matt then introduces Vray and talks about rendering with Vray and Vray RT, and setting up basic IBL. After the lighting is done he goes into rendering with render layers and then brings the layeres into NUKEX to composite. Inside NUKEX he adds a lens flare, chromatic aberration, granularity, roto masks, tracking, tweaks, and finalizing the piece. The DVD is a must-have for those looking to create photo-real, physically-accurate Live Action & CG composites."


Autodesk MotionBuilder - Motion Capture Production Pipeline

$60 - Eat3d.com

"In this DVD, Instructor Markus Hammarstedt goes through the entire pipeline of taking several motion capture data files and creating a complex final scene. He starts off by giving an overview of the UI and then shows how to export your character from Maya and get it into MotionBuilder. From there he goes into assigning the bones and creating the bind pose. Next, he assigns the markers to an actor and takes that actor to retarget the motion capture to the character.

Markus then takes the raw Mocap animation and selects the sections to use in the scene and create clips out of them. He then takes the clips and blends them together to get a rough idea where they need to go and then fixes the timing to make everything look better. After that, he goes into character controllers and then the hard work of polishing the animations to look more natural. Finally, Markus shows how to take everything into UDK to create a full scene, complete with a matinee sequence with sounds, particles, and camera animations. This DVD is perfect for those who want to learn more about Motionbuilder and how to create a complex production scene."


ZBrush 4 - Character Production

$65 - Eat3d.com

"In this DVD, Michael Pavlovich starts from scratch with zspheres and creates an entire character with clothing and accessories in ZBrush 4. Michaels starts off by creating the base mesh and then sculpts out the entire body without cloths. He then goes through re-topologizing the body and the re-projecting the details. Next, Michael sculpts the fine details and then polypaints the entire body to a production finish. Once the body is done, he then creates all of the clothing and accessories, starting in Maya, then detailing and painting them in ZBrush.

As a bonus, he also gives an overview of Fibers and how to use them to add hair to your character. Finally, he shows his render and compositing settings used in this DVD cover. This DVD is an amazing resource for those looking to create their own characters in ZBrush using many of the latest tools and features."


Character Rigging Production Practices and Techniques

$79 - Gnomonworkshop.com

"A quality character rig is a must for any successful animation production. The rig must be stable, and have the controls and flexibility needed for an animator to tell their story. In addition the rigger must be able to make changes quickly. In this set of lectures, Axel will effectively demystify the "art" of character rigging as well as provide a production like set of scripted tools to work with. Using the provided scripted tools, Axel demonstrates the benefits of a multi-pose approach to skeleton setup.

The separation of deformation and control hierarchies is also used and in conjunction with the pose system, provides the flexibility to easily go back to the bind pose and make changes. Through the process, he details the importance of keeping joint chains planar as well as keeping the joint rotations zeroed out, while showing you how to achieve this through a number of production tricks. Once the joints are all properly mapped, he then moves on to creating the control rig for the character. The next phase involves setting up controls like stretchy IK for the spine, IK and FK with blending for arms and legs, and foot/reverse foot controls. Once the controls are created, Axel wraps things up by generating curve controls for the animators to quickly grab and work with."


Production FX Workflows Dragon Age: Origins with Brandon Young

$59 - Gnomonworkshop.com

"Brandon Young presents his production FX workflow by reconstructing a shot from the Dragon Age: Origins cinematic created at Blur Studio. He goes over the shot breakdown, the goals of the shot and how to achieve them quickly. Brandon shows how to use Particle Flow, FumeFX and stock elements to make the effects shine. He then delves into rendering and compositing the effects elements into the actual production shot."


Creating Highly Realistic Composites Feeling Real vs Looking Real

$69 - Gnomonworkshop.com

"In this lecture, Rob will take you through the necessary steps to dial in a composite in order to provide richness and realism required for feature film work. Using a real production shot from the film Priest, Rob will focus on the addition of small details to the composite using Nuke. As he works through the composite, Rob will layer various lighting and atmospheric effects, some which are almost unnoticeable, but can make all the difference when making the shot “feel” real versus just “looking” real."


'ARCHETYPE' VFX Breakdown Lighting and Rendering Pipeline with Rob Nederhorst

$69 - Gnomonworkshop.com

"In this tutorial, Robert Nederhorst (VFX Supervisor on Archetype) shows the entire process on how a shot came to be. He starts at the beginning by creating an HDRI using PTGui and ends with a final composite. After constructing the HDRI, Rob moves into Maya for shader development and rendering, using VRay to output the various passes and layers for the shot. Once the plate is cleaned up and the 3D character has been color graded and integrated into the shot, he constructs a production "gizmo" to give the artists control over various attributes of the composite. Rob then applies the final touches, like atmospheric effects created using PhoenixFD, film flicker and grain, along with realistic camera shake, lens flares and lens distortion to create the most believable result."


Finding textures on the internet is relatively easy these days. There are a number of free resources available, or you can go with a simple Google search and hope for the best. If you have a decent camera you can even shoot your own. But if that sounds like too much work, why not sign up for a membership at one of the many texture sites that populate the interwebs.

Most offer free memberships with a daily download quota in either MBs or number of images, and allow you to grab a few images each day. Or you can go for one of the many paid options and download to your hearts content. To make the decision easier, we've compiled a list of the various membership offers from most of the major players. So take a look below to find one that bests suits your needs!


CGTextures

Cgtextures.com

Memberships come in three flavors, see below!

  • Free - 15MBs P/Day $0
  • Normal - 100MBs P/Day $77 (1 Year)
  • Extra - 250MBs P/Day $155 (1 Year)
  • Corporate - 750MBs P/Day $326 (1 Year)

GameTextures

Memberships From $75 Per Year - Gametextures.com

Three options to choose from!

  • Hobbyist - 15 Downloads P/Day $15 (1 Month)
  • Freelancer - 50 Downloads P/Day $20 (1 Month)
  • Corporate - Unlimited Downloads P/Day $60 (1 Month)

TexturePilot

Memberships From $90 Per Year - Texturepilot.com

Choose from three membership levels!

  • Free - 20MBs P/Day $0
  • Small - 100MBs P/Day $90 (1 Year)
  • Pro - 250MBs P/Day $195 (1 Year)
  • Business - 750MBs P/Day $195 (1 Year)

Environment-Textures

Memberships From $18 Per Year - Environment-textures.com

11 different plans to choose from here!

  • Free - 3 Images P/Day $0
  • 1 Month (Commercial) - 250 Images P/Day $36
  • 1 Month (Hobby) - 250 Images P/Day $18
  • 3 Month (Commercial) - 3000 Images P/Day (+ Zip Access) $97
  • 3 Month (Hobby) - 3000 Images P/Day (+ Zip Access) $43
  • 6 Month (Commercial) - 3000 Images P/Day (+ Zip Access) $171
  • 6 Month (Hobby) - 3000 Images P/Day (+ Zip Access) $74
  • 1 Year (Commercial) - 3000 Images P/Day (+ Zip Access) $275
  • 1 Year (Hobby) - 3000 Images P/Day (+ Zip Access) $116
  • 1 Year Premium (Commercial) - 12000 Images P/Day (+ Zip Access, Premium Content) $426
  • 1 Year Premium (Hobby) - 12000 Images P/Day (+ Zip Access, Premium Content) $261

TextureLib

Memberships From $1 - Texturelib.com

Four types of memberships available, details below!

  • Free - (1 Image) P/Day $0
  • 1 Day - (20 Images/10 High-res Images) P/Day $1
  • 1 Month - (60 Images/30 High-res Images) P/Day $9
  • 1 Year - (60 Images/High-res Images) P/Day $29
  • 1 Year - (300 Images/150 High-res Images) P/Day $99

Carbonite

Memberships From $59 Per Year - Carbonite.com

System crashes and corrupted files are an unfortunate part of working in computer graphics. If you've ever felt the bitterness of getting burned by a system meltdown or software crash you know you should have been backing things up! Once installed Carbonite backs up your files automatically (so you don't have to!) You'll never have to remember to back up again. Carbonite runs continually in the background, protecting new and changed files whenever your computer is connected to the Internet. Never feel the shame of losing data again!


Playstation Plus Subscription

Memberships From $18 - 50 Per Year - Amazon.com


Xbox 360 Live Gold Subscription

Memberships From $23 - 49 Per Year - Amazon.com



Looking to give your work space a much needed sprucing up? Whether you have a home office or work out of a cramped cubical or closet, there's plenty of ways to improve your surroundings. A quite environment with good lighting is an obvious choice (plants don't hurt either), but have you thought about other ways you can benefit your health, while still maintaining that cool esthetic? Not to worry, we've found a few choice picks that will do both, plus some stuff that's just for looks!

Sideshow Collectables

$20 - 5000 - Sideshowtoy.com

Tired of working all day surrounded by plies of garbage, well class up your office with a high quality statue from Sideshow Collectables. They offer a huge variety of different types and sizes, ranging from small and cheap to life size and insanely expensive. Choose from a ton of big name IPs, Start Wars, Marvel, DC, Disney, Lord Of The Rings... the list goes on.

All your favorites are here - Darth and Han, Wolverine and Gambit, Indy and Short Round (OK I lied about short round) but would you have really bought him anyway?


Stainless Steel Gazing Ball

$38 - Amazon.com

Sure these might be the type of thing you see in Grandma's back yard, but little does she know they can also be used to capture environmental information, such as light and reflections. All you need is a gazing ball (polished & scratch free), a tripod and a decent camera to steal nature's innocence and use it for your own Cg purposes. When you're not using it to shoot HDRI's, display it proudly in your office and tell your friends it's an extremely valuable official prop of the "Palantir" (looking stone) from the Lord Of The Rings. Even though it looks nothing like the real thing, they'll believe you!


Lifespan Premium Treadmill Computer Desk

$1,599 - Amazon.com

Is a life spent sitting in front of a computer got you down? Do you feel CG isn't as challenging as it used to be? Why not take things to the next level with this simple, yet elegant treadmill desk. Earn extra XP by tackling you're next project running at full speed! You'll feel better! You'll look better! Your 3d models will be terrible, but who cares! it's a small price to pay for living a healthy lifestyle!


2' x 3' Aluminum Black Framed Magnetic Dry Erase Board

$35 - Amazon.com

If you're a typical CG artist you probably have a ton of ideas running through you're head at any one time. And you probably find yourself jotting those ideas down anywhere you can, you may even be prone to sketching from time to time. Sounds like you need a white board my friend!

Now you can stay sane (and organized) by equipping your office with a official looking white board. These dry erase boards range in size and price, and can be you're best friend when it comes to keeping organized. Hang one on your wall, or pick one up with a stand (shown) and say goodbye to Post it notes forever. For added effect, fill the board with complex equations you've copied from the internet. Nobody will know and you'll instantly feel smarter!


Desk Clamp Arm Rest w/Mousepad

$53 - Amazon.com

If you're prone to arm or wrist pain and work long hours slumped over your computer, it may be worth while to look into getting an arm rest. This modern marvel of human ingenuity, easily bolts onto your desk and gives your mouse hand (some call it an arm) some much needed support. They come in many shapes and sizes, so it's best to find one that fits your specific needs. We chose this one from Ziotek because it looks like something Robocop would use! (that is if he was a desk jockey, instead of a beat cop) but whatever.


Aeron Chair by Herman Miller

$738 - Amazon.com

Nothing sucks more then back pain, and as anyone who works on a computer can attest, it's all too common. Behinds being a major downer, bad posture and back pain can lead to more serious health issues. So do your back a solid this year and spend the money to get a decent chair.

Ergonomic chairs will help you sit upright and the additional support will help you avoid other problems, such as headaches and neck pain. Plus you won't end up looking like Quasimodo when your 50. There's tons of these chairs around, prices range from cheap to pretty expensive (like this model from Herman Miller.) But because it's where you spend most of your time, it's probably worth forking over some serious dough for a good one.



Gift cards are a great gift option if you're not exactly sure what to buy someone, and an easy choice if you don't have time to track something specific down. If your wife or girlfriend returned that crock pot you bought her last year. Give her a gift card so she can find something she likes, rather then yelling at you for buying her something stupid again! Don't spend another Christmas night riding the sofa, give her the gift of plastic.


Amazon

Cards From $10-2000 - Amazon.com


Itunes/App Store

Cards From $10-2000 - Amazon.com


Playstation Network (PSN)

Cards From $20-50 - Amazon.com


Xbox Live Points

Cards From $5-50 - Amazon.com



Everyone knows Hollywood loves to pump out garbage, from sub pair remakes and tween vampire romances, to unnecessary reboots. But every once in a while, something original comes along that's actually good. We've compiled a list of some of the better ones below, as well as some new releases and a few classics for the old timers. Check 'em out below!


Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures

$65 - Amazon.com

Give the gift of archaeology and face punching this year with Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures. Watch Dr. Jones punch Nazi's in the face like never before with these meticulously remastered classics on blu-ray for the very first time. You'll get three movies you love, Raiders, Temple Of Doom and The Last Crusade. Plus the shame that is Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, but at this price who cares! You'll also get a ton of special features and behind the scenes extras. So tell 'em you love 'em this holiday with the gift of Harrison Ford.


The Avengers

$25 - Amazon.com

Five years and many cameo's later, Marvel's master plan for a team based super hero movie finally came to a climax with Joss Whedon's nerd epic The Avengers.

Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk (Ed Norton version) all lead up to this, and it didn't disappoint. Awkward high fives were thrown and riots ensued, as nerds of all ages clamored to the theater in droves. The film made a bazillion dollars, Whedon cemented himself as a legit filmmaker, and Disney execs laughed manically as they counted the mountains of cash. All kidding aside, this is a fantastic movie with great visual effects. Definitely worth a buy!


Avengers Assembled (10-Disc Limited Edition Six-Movie Collector's Set)

$197 - Amazon.com

If you're a completest and have the cash, why not spring for this epic Avengers 10 disc collectors set. It includes all six movies mentioned above - Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The first Avenger, The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers of course. To top it all off, it comes packed in a sweet S.H.I.E.L.D inspired briefcase for easy handling.

For the pimps and ballers out there, there's also a replica Tesseract (Cosmic Cube) mounted inside the case, because nothing says money like ultra bright LEDs. There's also a ton of other goodies included, so pick it up and start blinding your friends and family today!


The Dark Knight Trilogy

$28 - Amazon.com

Here's your chance to grab all three of Christopher Nolan's comic masterpieces for only 30 bones. Featuring Batman: Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, this trilogy is one of the best to come out of tinseltown in the last decade. Give your nerd cred a boost for the holidays with these outstanding films.


The Dark Knight Rises: Limited Edition

From $195 - Amazon.com

The final entry in Christopher Nolan's epic Batman trilogy. While The Dark Knight Rises might not have been as well received as The Dark Knight was. It's hard to deny this is an exceptional movie and a decent conclusion to the main story arc. Featuring a top notch cast and some excellent action scenes, you can't go wrong adding this 3-disc limited addition blu-ray to your collection. (Note* if your movie collection contains Batman Forever or Batman & Robin you should be ashamed of yourself!)


The Bourne Legacy

$20 - Amazon.com (Available December 11th)

If you said to yourself "hey that's not Matt Damon", you sir are right! But that doesn't mean the newest Bourne movie is one for the trash can! Featuring coinciding story lines and a good ratio of elbows to heads, the creators do a great job of tying this into the original trilogy.


Ted

$20 - Amazon.com (Available December 11th)

I haven't actually seen Ted, but I hear it's "freaking hilarious". Mark Wahlberg plays a 35 year old dude who's stuffed teddy bear came to life when he was a kid. Now he's all grown up, still stuck with the bear and hilarity ensues. What's that you say, "there's no way Mark Wahlberg can pull off a 35 year old" Of course he can't, but that didn't stop them from casting him, and it shouldn't stop you from seeing this movie. "Say hi to your mother for me".


Total Recall

$20 - Amazon.com (Available December 18th)

It's no secret Hollywood has run out of ideas for movies and is just remaking everything they previously made in the 80's & 90's. So it was only a matter of time before Total Recall got a reboot. While this takes a significantly different approach then the Schwarzenegger classic, it does feature some cool sci-fi ideas.

Sure it's directed by Len Wiseman, the man responsible for ruining the Die Hard franchise with the atrocious F-22 sequence at the end of Live Free Or Die Hard. But considering the original Total Recall was directed by the man responsible for the gem that is Showgirls, it could have been worse!


Transformers Trilogy

$37 - Amazon.com

Ahh the Transformers trilogy.... Michael Bay's controversial robo-saga has spewed equal parts love and hate since it's release. Nostalgia seeking 30 somethings were overjoyed by the robo-tastic action, while die-hard fans expressed "Nerd-Rage" over how the property was handled.

Regardless of how you feel, you have to appreciate the amazing visuals of Michael Bay's epic trifecta, and I'm not just talking about Megan Fox! The visual effects are equally as gorgeous (especially in HD) and easily justify room on your shelf. So whether you're a closet Bay fan, or think he couldn't direct his way out of a paper bag, these films are worth picking up!


Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy

$36 - Amazon.com

If you work in the CG industry you probably owe, in some small part your job to two movies. One being Terminator 2 and the other being Jurassic Park. While both were huge hits with audiences, they also pioneered huge advances in computer graphics. Steven Spielberg was all set to start production on Jurassic Park using a blend of animatronics and claymation. And only after seeing a proof of concept from the VFX team, decided to take a chance on untested computer animation for the movie. Although a good amount of real-world animatronic dinosaurs were built and used in the final film. Cg enabled them to create something that had never been seen before, and the rest is as they say, history!


Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy

$30 - Amazon.com

Follow Marty Mcfly and crazy old Doc Brown as they travel through time in the classic Back To The Future trilogy. Available in HD for the very first time in this 25th Anniversary blu-ray collection. Get it today and add 1.21 gigawatts of awesomeness to your collection this holiday season....great Scott!


Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy - Extended Edition

$69 - Amazon.com

Peter Jackson's epic nerd trilogy and Cg fest needs no introduction and it's never looked better then it does on this extended blu-ray edition. Get Fellowship Of The Ring, The Two Towers and Return Of The King plus a megaton of behind the scenes goodness in this massive Fifteen-disc (6 BDs, 9 DVDs) collector's set. With The Hobbit hitting theaters next week, this is a great time to refresh yourself on the happenings of Frodo and his band of jheri curled do-gooders. No need to worry about all that 48 frames per second nonsense, this sucker only comes the right way, in 2D @ 24Fps!



Paid cable is where it's at when it comes to watching TV. HBO and AMC have been steadily pumping out high quality content for the past several years. I'm not saying there's nothing good on regular tv, but if you're looking for stuff that's more akin to what you'd find in movies, these networks are a great place to start. Below you'll find some of the more obvious choices!


Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season

$45 - Amazon.com

Are you tired of pretending to know what people are talking about when someone mentions Game Of Thrones? Stop lying to your friends and co-workers and pick up this blu-ray set based on George R.R. Martin's best selling book series "A Song Of Ice & Fire". Game of Thrones is by far one of the best shows on TV right now. If you don't have a subscription to HBO or missed it the first time. This is a great opportunity to ditch that Honey Boo Boo addiction and catch up on what happened in season 1 (before season 2 is out on blu-ray early next year.) The third season won't air until March, so there's plenty of time to get up to speed on the haps in Westeros.


The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season

$25 - Amazon.com

Nothing says Christmas quite like a bat to the head... a zombie head. So get into the holiday spirit this year by teeing off with AMC's The Walking Dead. This gore fest based on the long running comic book series by Robert Kirkman is in it's third season. Already has a rumored movie in the works, a game out based on it (from Telltale) and another on the way. So let's just say it's a popular franchise. If you missed the series when it originally aired, check out the first season on blu-ray to see what all the fuss is about. It's only six episodes long and is a great introduction to the series. Note* If you find extreme gore and human on zombie violence disturbing, might want to skip this one!


The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season

$40 - Amazon.com

Season two picks up where season one left off (obviously), and continues the story with the show's first full length season. All the bat swinging, stabbing and zombie head bashing you grew to love in the first season is back, this time for a full 13 episodes. Season two is much slower paced then season one, but it's definitely worth checking out if you're at all interested in the series.


Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season

$50 - Amazon.com

With The Sopranos wrapping up a few years ago, HBO needed something to fill the gangster hole and struck gold again with Boardwalk Empire! Take a violence filled ride through prohibition era Atlantic City in this show focused on organized crime, corruption and bootlegging. It's like The Untouchables but with more nudity!


Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Second Season

$50 - Amazon.com

If you're picking up season one of Boardwalk Empire this year, why not grab season 2 while you're at it? It's more of the same, but even better! Kick back with the kids as you follow corrupt politician, mobster and all around scumbag Nucky Thompson as he lies and cheats his way to the top. This show is widely considered to be one of the best HBO has ever made, which is definitely saying something.



Having a bad day and need to blow off some steam? We've got you covered. What better way to relax then by kicking back with your feet up and annihilating a entire alien race. Or if you prefer, get back to nature by destroying a pristine tropical paradise. Or maybe you just prefer to blow everyone away, we're not judging (whatever floats your boat man.) Either way we've got some of the best recent releases for you to check out below.


Far Cry 3

$60 - Amazon.com (multi-platform)

The Far Cry 3 trailer blew the doors off the LA convention center at last years E3 with an extremely well written monologue from Farcry's main villain, hair model and all around degenerate, Vaas. Farcry 2 may have taken place in Africa, but 3's going OG and returning the franchise to what made it popular in the first place, a very well rendered tropical island. Take down objectives in a wide variety of ways in this first person shooter from Ubisoft. Come for the beaches, stay for the killing!


Mass Effect Trilogy

$60 - Amazon.com (multi-platform)

Bioware's epic award winning action/RPG franchise is heavy on story and considered by many to be one of, if not the best series of games for the current console generation. Originally Mass Effect was an Xbox exclusive, but made the move over to the PS3 with Mass Effect 2. If you never played the original, you can grab all three for the Playstaion (or Xbox, PC) with the recent release of the Mass Effect Trilogy. At $60 it's a steal for an estimated 150 hours of play time.


Rockstar Games Collection Edition 1

$60 - Amazon.com (multi-platform)

Rockstar gets into the Christmas spirit by giving fans four of their most popular games all wrapped up in one shinny package. Get Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire and Midnight Club: Los Angeles for the holidays, because nothing says Christmas like a shoot out with the cops son.


Dishonored

$50 - Amazon.com (multi-platform)

Dishonered is about as unique a game as we get these days (at least on the consoles.) Think Bioshock without the drill hand and the crazy! Instead of a 1950's inspired underwater city, you get an 1800's steam-punk whaling town! Sounds majestic you say? Yes, yes it is!


Resistance Collection

$49 - Amazon.com (PS3)

The Resistance games are well known for their wide assortment of overpowered weaponry. Letting you lay waste to hoards of alien scum in the shooter series from Insomniac Games (makers of the popular Ratchet & Clank series.) This collection features Resistance: Fall of Man, Resistance 2 and Resistance 3, as well as a load of bonus content. Xbox 360 owners you're out of luck as this is a PS3 exclusive.


Halo 4

$60 - Amazon.com (Xbox 360)

Microsoft darling and fan favorite Bungy. Developer of the original Halo trilogy, decided to move onto other IPs and left the Halo franchise to new developer 343 Industries. In a smart move 343 brought back title character Master Chief to appease the fan boys, and also gave his "lady friend" Cortana two "major" upgrades ;) Kick the covenant's ass in this 360 exclusive.


Call Of Duty: Black Ops II

$50 - Amazon.com (multi-platform)

It's the same COD game you bought last year and the year before (and the year before that.) Alternate developer Treyarch ups the ante once again with Black Ops II, delivering a story spanning from the 80s to 2025. That doesn't mean the soldiers have feathered hair and stretchy pants. But it does mean you get a wide range of familiar weapons, as well as some futuristic tech toys to play with. Popular "Zombie mode" is back and better then ever... feel like a badass as you mow down the undead with state of the art weaponry!


Diablo III: Standard Edition

$55 - Amazon.com (PC)

Diablo III, one of the most anticipated games of all time was ten years in the making. The top down, three quarter view beat'em up from the fine folks over at Blizzard has you battling your way through loads of enemies. All the while collecting as much loot as you can. Bash minion skulls in, as you level up your character and work through multiple difficulty levels in this dungeon crawler for the PC.

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