UK’s ‘Compelling Plan’ For VFX World Leader Transformation
All those involved with the UK games industry have been invited to attend next week’s presentation of the Livingstone-Hope report.
The skills review for the video games and visual effects sectors, based on input from the industries, along with universities and schools, promises to deliver a significant analysis of how the UK can best encourage and develop UK talent.
It will also sets out what the organisers have described as ‘a compelling plan’ for how the UK can transform into a world leader in both games production and visual effects.
Ed Vaizey, culture minister, Communication and the Creative Industries, is set to speak at the event, along with the report’s overseers, Ian Livingstone, life President of Eidos, and Alex Hope, managing director of Double Negative.
The presentation takes place on Tuesday, February 1st at the Vue West End in central London.
‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ Shoots In IMAX
This bit of info was confirmed in a press release sent out today in which a number of Paramount projects will be supersized for the format you have to pay extra for, including J.J. Abrams’ mysterious “Super 8,” Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg‘s tentpole “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” and Michael Bay‘s robots fighting movie “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” Of course, those films don’t have anything shot with IMAX cameras but the studio hopes you’ll fork over a few more dollars to watch them on a bigger screen. And it’s intriguing with the release of ‘Ghost Protocol’ and ‘Tintin’ 12 days apart, does that mean the Cruise vehicle—with scenes actually shot in the format—will barely get two weeks on IMAX screens before being booted off? Hmm.
VFX Unionization In The U.S. – A No-Win Scenario ?
(Variety) Runaway production fears loom over organizing efforts
At last week’s Academy visual effects bakeoff, Acad governor Bill Taylor introduced the evening by noting that the seven films still in the Oscar race earned more than $3.3 billion in box office and employed 2,800 artists on six continents.
It went without saying that almost none of those artists did any of that valuable work with the benefit of union representation.
Taylor went on to note the power of the vfx industry and asked the business not to squander its power in squabbling.
He didn’t say what squabble he meant, but everyone in the vfx business knows the industry is facing its first serious unionization push — an effort that’s dialing up passions on both sides.
The news that the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Intl. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers were seeking to organize vfx artists — after decades of indifference to pleas from their ranks — came at a peculiar time.
The combination of the 2007-08 WGA strike, the protracted 2008-09 negotiations by SAG and the recession caused the vfx business to plunge, and while the business has picked up in preparation for this year’s crowded tentpole schedule, some companies didn’t survive the downturn.
Most notably, CafeFX and Asylum visual effects of Southern California both closed their doors in recent months. Both were highly regarded for the quality of their work and their humane management.
The global pursuit of tax incentives and cheap labor has sent vfx work to Canada, U.K., Eastern Europe and India, with Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and China also getting into the mix.
As a result, even people who have been vocal supporters of unionization in the past are worried that this isn’t the time — even though vfx artists remain one of the largest non-unionized groups in Hollywood without access to key benefits such as health and retirement plans.
“If the economy was in better shape than it is now I would be all for it,” vfx supervisor Rob Legato wrote in an email.
“My only fear for the rest of the community is, at this time, the studios don’t have much of a reason to stay in Los Angeles for this type of work as it is.
“While I am all for representation and agree in principal that vfx should be unionized, I feel that the same effort to help the workers also hurts them in that the jobs will essentially go away.”
Legato worries that work will flee California, talent will follow the work (as it does already), resulting in a no-win scenario for the American vfx business.
Vfx artists have become numerous and their contributions often replace stars as the main marketing hook for many studio tentpoles.
Cinesite Scores Annie Nom for Clash of the Titans
Now in their 38th year, the Annie Awards honor excellence in 26 categories in the field of animation and are presented by the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood. The awards will be presented on Saturday February 5 at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles, California.
Among the fearsome beasts that Perseus encounters on his perilous journey to defeat Hades in Clash of the Titans are giant scorpion-like creatures known as Scorpiochs. Six of these creatures take part in one of the film’s main battle scenes – a 15-foot fighter, two 30-foot fighters, two 40-foot travellers and a 60-foot mother. The battle evolved from being three separate battles to one huge six-minute-long fight sequence, consisting of 97 shots involving photorealistic CG creatures interacting in a highly complex fight scene.
Oscars Favour Movies Using High-Tech Visual Effects
Competing for the title of best motion picture of the year are Black Swan, Inception, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter’s Bone.
Among this collection of pictures, many were created using advanced video production equipment.
This includes David Fincher’s The Social Network, which was filmed using Red Camera technology.
Fincher’s movie – based on the story of how social media site Facebook was created – could be in with a good chance of winning the prize, as it walked away with the gong for best dramatic film at the Golden Globes earlier this month.
Movies such as 127 Hours, Inception and Black Swan also demonstrate advanced use of broadcast editing tools, as they have impressive visual effects.
‘Iron Man 2’ Nabs Only Oscar Nomination Of 2010 Comic Book Movies
The 2011 Oscar Nominations were announced today, and “Iron Man 2” received a nomination in the “Visual Effects” category. The only comic book movie named in this year’s nominations will face stiff competition in the category from “Alice in Wonderland,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” “Hereafter,” and “Inception.”
Sure, 2010 wasn’t exactly the strongest year for comic book movies, but was “Iron Man 2” the only project worth a nod? I’d argue that there’s another movie that could have made the list, too.
When we named “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” our favorite comic book movie of 2010, we cited the amazing visual effects that director Edgar Wright incorporated in the live-action film to translate it from page to screen. From hyper-kinetic fight sequences to eye-popping digital effects, “Scott Pilgrim” felt like no other film released this year — and its visual effects were a big part of that.
While I’m fairly certain that “Inception” will run away with the category, “Scott Pilgrim” could have easily taken the place of “Hereafter” or — dare I say it — even “Iron Man 2” in this year’s Oscar Nominations. Having seen all of the films nominated in this category, “Hereafter” seems like the weakest nominee, and while “Iron Man 2” certainly looked amazing, its effects didn’t feel as groundbreaking as “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.”
Sadly, that seems like the only potential snub in this year’s Oscar nominations. While a great movie, “Kick-Ass” wasn’t quite Oscar-worthy (though I wouldn’t be upset if Chloe Moretz got a nod for her Hit Girl performance), and both “Jonah Hex” and “The Last Airbender” already got the Razzie nominations they deserved.
Universal’s ‘Dracula’ and ‘Frankenstein’ Turn 80
Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” in 1818, while Bram Stoker wrote “Dracula” in 1897. Both were made into movies before 1931. Perhaps the most famous of these was F. W. Murnau’s film Nosferatu (1922), which was the first film adaptation of “Dracula.”
It was in 1931, however, that Universal Studios would make both stories into movies which would forever ingrain themselves into the public consciousness when it came to the count and the monster.
Dracula was released on Valentine’s Day of that year. Bela Lugosi portrayed the count and his performance became instantly iconic. Frankenstein was released around Christmas and Boris Karloff’s performance as the creature made from cadavers became just as memorable. To this day, these are the depictions which come to mind whenever people think of Dracula or Frankenstein.
The success of these films led to other roles for Lugosi and Karloff. Many of these were also in the horror field. Lugosi’s later films include classics such as White Zombie (1932), The Black Cat (1933) and Son of Frankenstein (1938). Karloff would go onto other memorable films such as The Mummy (1932), Targets (1968), as well as voicing the title character in the classic cartoon How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966).
Universal would use the success of these films to begin their reign as the king of movie horror for the next 20 years. The studio would go on to create other classic monster movies such as The Mummy, The Invisible Man (1933), The Wolf Man (1941) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).
Factory VFX Expands to New Orleans – Tax Credits Helps
“We chose to open an office here because of the great vibe in the heart of the city. New Orleans is such an artistic city. It was an easy decision to place our visual effects team in this beautiful city full of amazing artists,” said Eric Christensen, CEO of Factory VFX. “We’ll be bringing some of our northern California Digital Commandos to New Orleans to help get us started as well as to train some of the local artists. We’re all very excited.”
Working with sister company RotoFactory, Inc. in their northern California offices, Factory VFX has completed work on over 60 feature films, commercials, and episodic television series since 2006. Factory VFX’s clients include Columbia Pictures, Fox Studios, Universal Studios, Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros. Studios. The firm has worked on such feature films as Lincoln Lawyer, The Next Three Days, Anonymous, Furry Vengeance, 2012, and the upcoming The Big Year and Fast & Furious 5. The New Orleans office will be located in the Nelson Building Complex on Prytania Street, a centralized location for production crew during the filming of major projects.
“Factory VFX is a huge win for our area. Looking at our film production sector in the Greater New Orleans region, it’s not enough to have production companies just film here and outsource their post-production work to other places,” said Michael Hecht, President & CEO of GNO, Inc. “We want to become a film industry hub, and Factory VFX is helping us achieve that goal.”
Factory VFX began exploring the possibility of doing business in New Orleans last summer. GNO, Inc., Louisiana Economic Development, Louisiana Entertainment, and the City of New Orleans Film Commission worked in tandem to facilitate the company’s move here and to introduce Christensen and his staff to key members of the entertainment community.
“Factory VFX is another big win for Louisiana’s growing entertainment industry,” said Sherri McConnell, Director of Louisiana Entertainment. “Their presence in New Orleans adds to our robust motion picture infrastructure and provides more options for filmmakers to post their films in state, while taking advantage of the production incentives. Factory VFX’s commitment to Louisiana further demonstrates that the incentives are working to grow an indigenous and sustainable entertainment industry.”
Factory VFX will initially bring a group of visual effects artists from California to open the New Orleans office, but the company plans to hire up to 50 new employees in the coming years as it expects operations to grow quickly thanks to its client base.
“We are interested in working with the local digital arts community, and we hope to become involved with training programs through NOVAC and other venues,” said Liz Crawford, Producer with Factory VFX.
ILM and Skywalker Sound Nominations
In the category of Best Achievements in Visual Effects, ILM’s work on Iron Man 2 has been nominated for an Academy Award. Recognized in the nomination are ILM’s Ben Snow, along with Janek Sirrs, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick.
Skywalker Sound was also honored with four nominations, including Toy Story 3 for Best Sound Editing, Tom Myers and Michael Silvers nominated; Tron: Legacy for Best Sound Editing, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague nominated; Inception for Best Sound Mixing, Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick nominated; The Social Network for Best Sound Mixing, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten nominated.
Other Star Wars alumni to receive nominations today include Natalie Portman (Episode I-III), Best Actress for Black Swan; David Fincher (Episode VI), Best Director for The Social Network; and Rick Baker and Dave Elsey (Episode IV and Episode III, respectively) for Best Makeup, Wolfman.
VFX PROS TO RECEIVE ART DIRECTORS GUILD’S CINEMATIC IMAGERY AWARD
(HollywoodNews.com) Emmy Award® winner Bill Taylor, ASC and Emmy Award® winner Syd Dutton have been selected to receive the Art Directors Guild’s coveted honorary Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award, it was announced today by Thomas A. Walsh, ADG President, and Awards co-producers Dawn Snyder and Tom Wilkins. Taylor and Dutton are co-founders of Illusion Arts, where they earned credits on nearly 200 films. As Illusion Arts wound up its 26 year run, the company completed dozens of shots for Michael Mann’s Public Enemies (2009) for supervisor Robert Stadd and some key environments for G.I. Joe. One of their first major assignments was to create special effects for the new version of the television series The Twilight Zone.
Both Taylor and Dutton were visual effects artists on numerous notable films together, including U-571 (2000), The Fast and the Furious (2001), Bruce Almighty (2003), and Casanova (2005). More recently Taylor and Dutton co-supervised Milk (2008) for which they created more than 150 “invisible” shots.
Inspired by Ray Harryhausen’s miraculous effects in Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and fueled by a lifelong interest in stage magic and sleight-of-hand, visual effects supervisor and director of photography Taylor, began his career as an optical cameraman specializing in blue screen compositing. In 1974 he created optical effects (and title song lyrics) for John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon’s ultra-low-budget Dark Star (1974); in the same year he began work at Universal Studios Matte Department as the cameraman for the renowned Matte Artist Albert Whitlock, a longtime mentor. Dutton, his future business partner, came on board a month later. The Hindenburg (1975), Taylor’s and Dutton’s first film with Whitlock, received the Special Achievement Award for visual effects from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Starting off in the mailroom at Universal Studios, Dutton was first exposed to the art of matte painting through daily visits to the studio of Whitlock. Dutton’s talents were recognized at an early age and his personal ambition to improve his artistic skills followed him through studying art at U.C. Berkeley where he received his BA and Master’s Degrees. Soon after graduation, Dutton’s interests broadened to include filmmaking and writing. He feels that the most successful special effects are those the audience does not realize are effects at all. He strives for realism, whether it is recreating the past in an ancient Roman city or imagining a future world. He has worked for a diverse group of the top directors, including: Martin Scorsese, Terry Gilliam, Wolfgang Peterson, Robert Redford, Mel Brooks and more.
In 1985 Taylor and Dutton won the Emmy® for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for their work on the television miniseries “A.D.” In 1981 Taylor was awarded the Technical Achievement Award from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the concept and specifications for a Two Format, Rotating Head and Aerial Image Optical Printer. Additionally, in 1992 Dutton won the Emmy® for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Oscar Brouhahas – “Tron: Legacy” Bumped From Best VFX Nom
(btlnews.com) As for imbroglios and brouhahas, perhaps the most interesting was in the visual effects category, where presumed front-runner Tron and visual effects supervisor Eric Barba (who’d previously won for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) were left off the list, replaced, it would seem, by the redoubtable Michael Owens’ work for Clint Eastwood in Hereafter. This clears the way for Inception as a heavy favorite, though Iron Man 2 was nominated, along with the latest Harry Potter installment.
In addition, Disney’s other non-Pixar tent-pole picture Alice in Wonderland was nominated in the same category, about which, VFX supe Ken Ralston said “the nomination is wonderful because working on Alice was one of the best creative experiences of my entire career. Tim Burton trusted us with his vision and the work on the screen is the result of an amazing collaboration with hundreds of brilliant artists, including my fellow nominees and a great team on set. You hope to have an experience like this at least once in career and I am so happy that our peers recognized the extraordinary complexity, detail and accomplishment that the visual effects Alice in Wonderland represents.”