VFX: An Industry Worth Staying In

VFX: An Industry Worth Staying In? –  “Inside VFX” Book Review

(insidevfx.com)                 Pierre Grage’s book “Inside VFX” is an informative read looking at the visual effects industry from its earliest days up until today. If you want a look into the rich history and the many industry pressures found in today’s Hollywood VFX industry this is the book for you.

As an industry professional myself, and having garnered interest to pursue a career in this field due
to some of the work mentioned in Grage’s book, I was interested to read about the possible economic forces at play in an industry that has been facing financial difficulty and a race to the bottom.

Grage provides many cited sources and graphs showing Hollywood trends over time, and his book is well researched and insightful on the politics that play into the financial aspects of the industry. I felt he really hit the mark when discussing how tax incentives have affected the globalization of the VFX community’s workforce, why Hollywood chases these subsidies follows them around the world.

The book portrays a dire situation with a grim outlook,
but I found the solutions lacking. I can only assume Grage feels the same way as a principle reason behind the book seems to be whether VFX is an industry worth him staying in. He is also under the assumption that the VFX companies hate their artists. While I find that a bit of a stretch, I do agree that we, as VFX employees, are a commodity. And yes, I AM going to call us employees even though many workers are freelance and on short term contracts. So often are we taken advantage of and have to pay the price for bad VFX business practices like fixed bidding with endless client corrections, you have to wonder… did they forget that we are human? Yeah that dinner they provided us with is nice, but I don’t want to be eating it at work five nights a week and miss out on seeing my family, and I need sleep to make quality changes effectively.

Someone should show the visual effects industry the charts on lost productivity with increased hours. They actually get a worse product and lose money, while also getting burnt out and tired employees.


This is also where I felt Grage missed a great opportunity in this book. I really feel like this book left the humanity of the workers out, rather as many VFX companies miss the humanity behind their great productions. He briefly mentions the turmoil some employees face, but could have gone much further in expressing this. He does provide an extensive chapter on mental health issues, which he feels a lot of people in the industry seem to have (mainly being sociopaths and having Asperger’s). While I think it’s an interesting idea, I can’t say that I’ve felt the same way. Despite the “Hollywood glamour” which Grage seems to think lures sociopaths in, I do wonder why he feels there are more sociopaths in VFX than in other jobs? I would think there’d be just as many/few in any organisation.

If instead we had seen what I feel is the actual humanity behind VFX we might hear stories of workers whose contracts get cut short in foreign countries and are forced to suddenly sell everything and move back to Forces of capitalism: Avatar, one of the many VFX-heavy films on which Pierre Grage worked their home countries, finding themselves without jobs and losing their deposits on flats. Or maybe we might have heard about those who waited at home over a weekend when the news broke that Rhythm and Hues was going under, to find out if they weren’t going to get paid or have a job to show up to on Monday. We might hear about the men and women who don’t put their children to sleep or maybe don’t even live in the same countries. If we could have heard their real stories maybe it would really explain to people what it feels like to be in the trenches working long hours to finish a blockbuster and the abysmal outlook and hopelessness many employees feel for future and longterm job stability in an industry they have given so much to.

Grage mentions BECTU’s work reporting this human side of the industry, quoting: “77% of people knew someone who had recently left the industry over workloads, overtime and poor working conditions; 81% of people have felt pressured or bullied into working overtime for free on films; 83% of people said it was difficult, or very difficult, to raise a family while working in VFX.”

I think that sums up a little of where we are today in the industry. Grage’s ideas for the future are to take a long hard look and think about if this is the right industry to work in and the whole industry needs a reboot and maybe some new technology much like stereo 3-d helped to boost sales. He suggests it may come from oculus rift, but cautions the reader that the vFX studios would be happy to replace us with computer algorithms and low-wage workers who wouldn’t need the knowledge to produce great results.

Overall I would recommend reading Pierre Grage’s Inside VFX. It’s a good look into the history and economics of Hollywood’s relationship with VFX. As for my opinion on the future, let’s just say I think a united front with collective bargaining would help immensely, especially in the case of long hours. While Grage touches on this, it’s not his solution.

Just remember, it’s not just BECTU we will need to rely on to help achieve changes in workers’ rights and compensations, it’s you. You are the union. You will make the difference to change BECTU’s survey results on hours and poor working conditions. Are you ready to step up to the plate? I’m in, are you?

“War of the Planet of the Apes” Swings Ahead

East Los High’s Gabriel Chavarria has signed on for War of the Planet of the Apes

Following the announcement earlier today that 20th Century Fox has wrapped principal photography on both X-Men Apocalypse and Independence Day Resurgence, Deadline brings word that the studio is also moving forward with casting on their 2017 franchise feature, Matt Reeves’ War of the Planet of the Apes. According to the outlet, the sci-fi sequel has hired “East Los High” star Gabriel Chavarria. He’ll be playing one of two key human roles.

“I know that part of the desire for Matt [Reeves] to do this next movie is about continuing the enjoyment of seeing these apes evolve. So I don’t think we’re going to see a situation where we’re jumping [ahead in time],” series star Andy Serkis said of the film last year. “…It might be three films, It could be four. It could be five. Who knows? But the journey will continue. It might not necessarily be summarized or completely fulfilled in this next one. The point being, eventually we know that we’re going to end up back at ‘The Planet of the Apes,’ but whether it’s this film or not, I don’t know.”

Reeves, who directed last year’s Dawn, will return for the sequel, the script for which he is co-writing with Mark Bomback.

“The notion of what we’re after with the third is to sort of continue that trajectory and see how he becomes a seminal figure in ape history,” Reeves previously told us. “He almost becomes sort of like an ape Moses. A mythic status… We’re trying to play out those themes and continue to sort of explore it in this universe. Exploring human nature under the guise of apes.”

Gabriel Chavarria, who also recently appeared on NBC’s ‘Aquarius,” can be seen coming up in Ricardo de Montreuil’s Lowriders, starring opposite Melissa Benoist, Demian Bichir and Eva Longoria.


Disney Previews Iron Man Experience Ride

(variety.com)          Bob Bacon, Paramount Animation’s executive VP, production, is leaving the studio and his position will be eliminated.

Bacon had been at Paramount for just under four years. He had previously been a producer and consultant, after having been an executive VP at Walt Disney Feature Animation from 1991 to 2006.
n chief at a major with both live-action and animation responsibilities — Warner’s Steve Papazian, for one, also oversees animation production.

Paramount Animation, the studio’s animation division, was created after the studio released “Rango” and ended its relationship with DreamWorks Animation. It released its first feature, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water,” in February 2015. Its slate includes “Monster Trucks,” and it recently struck an alliance with Ilion Animation Studios of Spain, which will handle production on a tentpole film with IP created at Paramount. Both pics are scheduled for release in 2016.

VIDEO – Take a look:   http://bamsmackpow.com/2015/08/16/d23-expo-2015-disney-previews-iron-man-experience-ride/

Production Wraps on Suicide Squad Movie

(comingsoon.net)       Filming has wrapped on the Suicide Squad movie

Following in the foot steps of Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Independence Day Resurgence, production has wrapped on Warner Bros.’ upcoming Suicide Squad movie. CTV News put together a story about co-stars Margot Robbie and Jai Courtney visiting a local girl’s lemonade stand, perhaps the nicest thing that members of Task Force X have ever done. The station revealed the pair were on their way to the wrap party for the film afterwards. You can check out the video below.

Suicide Squad stars Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness, Focus) as Deadshot, Joel Kinnaman (RoboCop, Easy Money) as Rick Flagg, Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) as Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney (Divergent, The Water Diviner) as Captain Boomerang, Cara Delevingne (Anna Karenina, upcoming Pan) as Enchantress, Karen Fukuhara as Katana, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, Jay Hernandez as El DIablo, Adam Beach as Slipknot, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller and Jared Leto as the Joker. There’s also mystery roles for Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, Raymond Olubowale, Alex Meraz, Jim Parrack, and Common.

Created by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru back in 1959, the Suicide Squad team has included countless DC villains among its ranks, including Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Bane, Killer Frost, Poison Ivy, Count Vertigo, Deathstroke, and Harley Quinn. The CW’s “Arrow” introduced their own version of the team in the most recent season of the series and the recent animated film, Batman: Assault on Arkham, offered another version of the team.

Suicide Squad will debut in theaters on August 5, 2016.

Academy Considers 20 Sci-Tech Achievements

(animationmagazine.net)               The Scientific and Technical Awards Committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that 20 scientific and technical achievements, involving 11 distinct investigations, have been selected for further consideration for 2015 Academy Awards. The list is made public to allow individuals and companies with similar devices or claims of prior art the opportunity to submit achievements for review. The deadline to submit additional entries is Tuesday, September 1, at 5 p.m. PT.

A remote-controlled lens attachment that enables highly adjustable in-camera
distortion effects. Prompted by Squishy Lens (Clairmont Camera)

A remote-controlled lens attachment that allows viewable, easily manipulated, real-time image movement without displacing the camera. Prompted by Image Shaker (Clairmont Camera)

Portable, inflatable panels for on-location motion picture production. Prompted by Inflatable Airwall (Aircover Inflatables)

Displays that provide P3 color space for image review in motion picture workflows. Prompted by Dolby Laboratories model PRM-4200 Professional Reference Color Monitor (Dolby Laboratories)

Tools that are used for the creation and quality control of DCI compliant digital cinema packages for the motion picture industry. Prompted by easyDCP Software Suite (Fraunhofer IIS)

Rig-based solvers for tracking and animating deforming objects from image sequences. Prompted by Geometry Tracker (ILM) and FACETS – Directable Facial Motion Capture (Weta Digital)

Integrated computer solutions for collaborative, iterative review of cinema resolution shots and sequences within the visual effects and animation studio environment. Prompted by RV Media Player (Tweak Software)

Clip – A Comprehensive Playback, Editing and Review Suite (Double Negative)

DreamWorks Animation Media Review Ecosystem (DreamWorks Animation)

FrameCycler (IRIDAS)

Global DDR (Rhythm & Hues)

HiDef – Media Review System (Weta Digital)

Itview Collaborative Review System (Sony Pictures Imageworks)

WDAS Collaborative Enhanceable Image Playback and Review Systems (Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Large-scale, massively parallel, distributed, multi-physics simulation systems. Prompted by Odin: A massively parallel simulation environment (Weta Digital)

Image compression coding and parameters that adhere to the specifications for the theatrical release of motion pictures. Prompted by JPEG 2000 Digital Cinema and IMF Profiles (Fraunhofer IIS)

3D texture paint systems capable of dealing with large texture sets for production assets. Prompted by MARI (The Foundry)

Rule-based frameworks for the art-directable creation of computer-generated structures and urban environments. Prompted by CityEngine (Esri R&D Center Zurich)

After thorough investigations are conducted in each of the technology categories, the committee will meet in early December to vote on recommendations to the Academy’s Board of Governors, which will make the final awards decisions. The 2015 Scientific and Technical Awards will be presented on Saturday, February 13, 2016.

Visual Effects Society Demo Material Guidelines

(visualeffectssociety.com)                  Overview

From the earliest beginnings of our industry, compilation or “demo” reels as they are known in the industry have been the standard vehicle that artists and facilities use to promote and market their skills and services.  With the proliferation of online distribution and digital media formats, and concerns for security, this industry standard practice has been challenged for a myriad of legitimate reasons. However, the practices and policies implemented to date have become inconsistent among producers, studios and production companies.  This, in turn, has negatively impacted visual effects practitioners who are increasingly denied access to their work while trying to survive in a highly competitive and global marketplace.

As stated in the Visual Effects Society’s VFX Bill of Rights, the Society upholds the concept of Portfolio Rights.  More specifically, we recognize the right of artists and facilities to show work that they have contributed to in order to seek and gain employment in the field.

Using work from a project on a demo reel may seem a logical and even moral right, but it is critical to acknowledge this is an arena fraught with complexity that can result in legal action and even criminal proceedings if mishandled.  Copyright law can be a delicate arena to navigate.  Thus the VES makes the following recommendations on how materials are handled, both at the facility and the artist level.

General Guideline:  As a rule, any work-for-hire material presented as part of a demo reel portfolio must be shown in a private, non-commercial format. It should be presented only after public release of the work, and done in a manner that does not interfere whatsoever with the copyright holder’s ability to promote and exploit their own work for commercial gain as set forth in the practices stated below.

Guidelines For VFX Facilities

1. Contract Clause:  It is in your best interest to negotiate the right to use project material for your demo (as well as the right for your artists’ use) as part of your initial contract with the studio or producers. This is often a complex negotiation and not always approved, but it should always be attempted.

2. No Use Before General Market Release:  Never allow footage from a media project to be used in any format before the project is commercially released in the United States. This is the most sensitive time for the distributor, where a single image might impact the ability to market the project. Any release of information during post-production can expose the facility to the risk of litigation. Direct requests for pre-release materials by the studio or producers for purposes such as public relations, test screenings or toy design, are, of course, appropriate.

3. Images from Released Version Only:  When including imagery in your demo reel, only use shots that appear in the released version of the movie. Do not publicly release shots that were cut from the final project or use alternate takes that you may prefer unless specific permission has been granted.

4. Actor Approvals:  Be aware actors often have clauses in their contracts that give them final approval over how and when their images are used. The company should seek permission from the studios in these cases.

5. Plates:  Do not release original plates in any form without the express written consent of the studio or distributor.

6. Utilize PR Channels for Public Usage: Whenever possible, utilize a publicist or public relations firm to obtain permission for use of materials in a public forum, such as industry presentations, promotional events or any other widely-viewed format or venue.  Following the film’s release, the studio’s marketing department will continue to carefully manage information to best promote the movie. Unapproved materials can impact carefully laid plans and thus harm your relationship with the producer or studio. A well-connected public relations firm or publicist will know the proper communication channels to utilize in order to receive permission. Under no circumstances should you publicly show any “making-of” material, shot builds or any information that reveals the “secrets” of the film without studio permission.

7. Third Party Usage: While it may not ultimately be your responsibility to obtain permission for an outside group (media, educational group, news program, etc.) to use your demo reel or to display your work, permission should nonetheless be sought by either you, the third party who executed the work, or the organization that seeks to present the materials.

8. Provide Only Shots in Release:  Unless otherwise negotiated, only provide shots to artists that: 1) have appeared in a theatrical or mass-market promotional trailer or 2) have been released as into the home video market (DVD, Blu-Ray or On-Demand format).

9. Footage Request Forms: When providing information to artists, determine a company policy and create a form that allows an artist to request a “reasonable” number of shots. The form should require the show supervisor confirm the artist worked on “significant elements” in the requested shot.

10. Provided Footage: When providing shots to artists, always include the company logo “bug” or other on-screen ID.  Establish a standard delivery format for the artist. For example, you can provide HD Quick Times in a specific compression. Make this part of your employee manual so the procedure is clear to all employees.

Guidelines For Artists

1. Deal Memo Clause: Much like a facility, you should attempt to negotiate the use of shots you’ve contributed to for self-promotional purpose at the time you negotiate your deal memo. It may not be possible to put this in writing, but making it clear you are thinking of this prior to the start of the project is good practice.

2. Wait for General Market Release:  Never use footage from a media project in any format before the general market release of the project.  This includes the home video market (DVD, Blu-Ray or in an On-Demand format) for theatrical film projects or the mass-market television or internet release of other media projects by the copyright holder.

3. Plates, Intermediate Materials & Builds: Never use original plates or other non-final material in any form without the express consent of the visual effects production company, or distributor  Any “builds” or shot breakdowns that utilize intermediate materials to demonstrate how a shot was executed should be approved by the facility or copyright holder and should be properly credited as work contributed to create the shot.

4. Images from Released Version Only: When including imagery in your demo reel, only use shots that appear in the released version of the media project. Do not publicly release shots that were cut from the final movie or use alternate take that you prefer.

5. Actor Approval:  Artists should be aware that lead actors in film and television projects will normally have clauses in their contracts that give them final approval over how their images are used.  Any unauthorized use of an actor’s image by an individual artist could result in legal action or industry blacklisting of both the visual effects company and the individual artist.  Never show camera original plates (“before” portion of a before/after comparison) of a lead actor without the express written consent of the copyright holder or visual effects company.

6. Theatrical Trailer Shots: If you worked on material that has been released in a theatrical or mass-market promotional trailer, it is generally considered acceptable to use those shots in your demo.

7. Social Media: A demo reel is a professional tool to help you market your skills for future employment.  It should not be intended for public consumption. Avoid unwanted and unnecessary exposure on public forums and social media sites.

8. Third-Party Websites: Do not provide your demo reel to any other websites. If you receive a request to show parts of your demo reel, refer the requester to the studio’s or VFX facility’s marketing departments or publicists for their own approval.

9. Breakdowns: Always provide a reel breakdown in text or pdf format on your website. It’s important to explain to a viewer what you did on every shot.

10. Proper Credit:  Give credit where credit is due. In your reel breakdown, identify the work you did, and the work you didn’t do. Thank the VFX facilities and/or studios, and acknowledge the copyright owner for the material (i.e. “copyright Paramount Pictures”), preferably as a small watermark on the shot.

11. Private Viewing Format & Security: When possible, show your demo reel on a portable device and do not leave it behind. If posting the materials on your own website or a video sharing website (such as Vimeo), always use password protection. Passwords should then only be provided on a one-to-one basis to potential employers.  This will enhance security and limit the ways you might be exposed to legal consequences.

For both facilities and artists, it is always best to be cautious, as well as honest, about your use of copyrighted material. Though there are no clear cut rules on these matters, the more that you can show you are being responsible with the material, the less likely you will offend someone. By following the rules above, and basic common sense, you should be able to safely present your work to potential employers and clients.

Source:     https://www.visualeffectssociety.com/post/visual-effects-society-demo-material-guidelines

Watch the Peanuts Kids Scream About the CGI Peanuts Movie

(vulture.com)            In the past decade, an insidious force has crept its way into the lives of America’s youth: CGI cartoons. It only used to appear in the occasional TV show (remember ReBoot?) and movie (the less said about The Polar Express, the better). Now it’s everywhere in children’s programming.

But CGI has finally gone too far: This fall, the beloved characters of Peanuts are being tossed into the Uncanny Valley of computer-generated cartooning. The trailer for The Peanuts Movie is disorienting and disturbing for anyone who loves the timeless Charlie Brown masterpieces of yore. It was too much to bear. In the latest “Vulture Remix,” video artists Diane Bullock and Mike Schuster force the beloved hand-drawn tykes of Peanuts to see what’s been done in their name. The results aren’t pretty.

Tune in Mondays for more Vulture Remixes, and check out our past episodes, in which wonderful things happen, like Doug Funnie singing Fetty Wap and Howard the Duck getting a big-budget Marvel-movie reboot.

VIDEO – Take a look:    http://www.vulture.com/2015/08/vulture-remix-peanuts-movie.html

Blue Sky and PacMin Studio Form New Partnership –   Focus On Immersive Exhibits / Uncanny Realism

(PRWEB.com)         Blue Sky CGI, an award-winning studio specializing in CGI and multi-media, and PacMin Studio, an industry leader in visually dynamic scale models and prototypes, announce a new partnership beginning this year. The partnership connects Blue Sky CGI’s photorealistic creative content with PacMin Studio’s precisely engineered models to create accurate, immersive exhibits for virtually any product—existing or conceptual.

Blue Sky CGI produces a wide spectrum of multi-media and creative services including CGI renderings, creative retouching, mobile app design, and 3D projection. With a photographer’s eye in mind, they can seamlessly incorporate a product into any environment.

PacMin Studio utilizes detailed engineering and customer provided data to design scale models and prototypes. Models range in size from 5 inch (12.7 cm) palm-sized marketing models to full size engine nacelle mock-ups measuring over 12 feet (3.7 m) in diameter.

“Blue Sky CGI and PacMin Studio are a natural match. Each of us is an industry leader in our field and to stay leaders, we constantly challenge boundaries and strive to create a better product for our customers. It was actually one of our mutual airline customers who suggested that our two companies should team up,” said Dan Ouweleen, PacMin President.

The automotive and entertainment industry are leaders in immersive environments and emerging technologies. Other industries, such as aviation and aerospace, with complex or high-risk products can benefit from taking advantage of these advances.

With in-flight experience innovations and new aircraft expecting to enter market in next 20 years, PacMin-Blue Sky CGI’s precise scale models and realistic projection technology can enhance product launches and demonstrations. Once a model is produced, creative content is custom programmed to complement the model. Content can then be easily refreshed for unlimited future uses.

PacMin-Blue Sky CGI’s approach gives clients greater control over the customer experience, and creates new ways to promote their brand and message.

“We share the common goal of providing the finest visual assets to meet the specific goals of every project. Our clients are part of the team. Creating amazing imagery is an exciting process, and we’re excited to bring our clients in to share that experience,” said Lee Waters, Blue Sky CGI Director.

Pixar To Release A New Open-Source Tool For Animators

(techtimes.com)                  Pixar Animation Studios will release an open-source universal scene description tool to be used as an industry standard. It’s expected to better streamline the workflow for animators by combining objects from various apps into one “scene graph.”

Pixar Animation Studios has been entertaining us for years, inspiring audiences and filmmakers alike with its level of creativity and high-quality animation. And now Pixar fans will have help making their own animated shorts and films because Pixar plans to release a new open-source tool that is expected to roll out in the summer of 2016.

Pixar previously released its in-house animation software called RenderMan for free for noncommercial use. This time its Universal Scene Description open-source software will help animators and filmmakers better streamline production since the tool allows them to input from animation apps to combine objects into one “scene graph.”

“USD is the marriage of Presto’s ‘composition engine’ to lazy-access cached scene description, with top-to-bottom enhancements for scalability and leverage of today’s multicore systems effectively,” says Sebastian Grassia, lead engineer for the USD project, in a press release. It lets studios assemble and modify highly complex virtual scenes created with different digital content creation tools more easily.

The open-source tool will include embeddable 3D visualization via the GPU renderer Hydra, plugins for several visual effects digital content creation tools (VFX DCCs), tutorials, and Python bindings.

Pixar is still developing and optimizing USD, but has already began sharing snapshots with studios and vendors like The Foundry and Fabric Software for feedback.

While the tool will provide an industry standard, it may come later then expected since Pixar announced RenderMan, the renderer to create complicated 3D images, in June 2014, but it wasn’t released until March 2015

SIGGRAPH 2015 Pays Homage To Aardman Animations, Showcases New Technology

(shootonline.com)              At the recently concluded SIGGRAPH 2015 confab–about as high a high-tech event as you can find–a century-old technique, stop-motion animation, was given its due with tribute paid to one of its leading practitioners, Bristol, U.K.-based Aardman Animations.

On opening day of SIGGRAPH 2015 last week, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences presented a session devoted to Aardman, as its co-founder David Sproxton and cinematographer Dave Alex Riddett chronicled the studio’s voyage over the past three decades–and counting. Founded by Sproxton and Peter Lord, Aardman is no stranger to the Motion Picture Academy, having won four Oscars, the first coming in 1991 for the animated short Creature Comforts directed by Nick Park. That year, Creature Comforts beat out another Park-directed, Aardman-produced short, A Grand Day Out, for the Oscar statuette. Park’s later work featuring his A Grand Day Out stars–the eccentric inventor Wallace and his no-nonsense canine sidekick Gromit–yielded three more Oscars for the animated shorts The Wrong Trousers in 2004 and A Close Shave in 1996, and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (directed by Park and Steve Box) which won the Best Animated Feature Oscar in 2006. Aardman thus far has amassed a total of 10 Oscar nominations.

Aardman’s filmography spans not only features and shorts but also TV programs, special venue projects, commercials and music videos. On the latter score, the studio made a major global splash in 1986 working alongside Stephen Johnson and the Brothers Quay on the seminal Peter Gabriel clip “Sledgehammer.” Fast forward to today and Aardman’s latest feature, Shaun the Sheep, has just been released in the U.S. by Lionsgate after receiving acclaim and a strong box office showing internationally. Written and directed by Aardman veteran Richard Starzak, Shaun the Sheep is based on a British TV show that was a spinoff of the aforementioned Wallace and Gromit short A Close Shave.

Full article:    http://www.shootonline.com/news/siggraph-2015-pays-homage-aardman-animations-showcases-new-technology

“Jonny Quest” Film Set For 2017

(darkhorizons.com)                With “Hitman: Agent 47” set to hit cinemas this week, there’s been a bunch of press regarding the film and interviews with the film’s producer Adrian Askarieh. Askarieh is a man in demand these days and one of his upcoming projects is that of the live-action film adaptation of the “Jonny Quest” franchise which Robert Rodriguez recently became attached to write and direct.

Speaking about ‘Quest’ this week with Collider, Askarieh confirmed that Rodriguez recently turned in the script he co-wrote with Terry Rossio which they crafted out of an earlier draft by Dan Mazeau. The script reportedly isn’t ready for the studio yet but will hopefully be handed in shortly after the Labor Day holiday.

In terms of the content, Askarieh says they’re using the original 1960s Jonny Quest prime time animated show as their source of inspiration, rather than the more recent “The New Adventures of Jonny Quest”. As a result, the original characters of Jonny Quest, Race Bannon, Benton Quest, Hadji, Jezebel Jade and even Bandit are all there.

In terms of a rating, he says “We want to make a PG-13… This is not going to be a kiddie action-adventure movie; this will be an action-adventure that happens to have a 12-year-old in it… That’s, all of us, that’s what we want. That’s our M.O. for this movie. Indiana Jones meets James Bond.”

“Hitman: Agent 47” opens in cinemas this week. “Jonny Quest” is targeting a 2017 release.

50 Jobs to be Created by Brown Bag Following Takeover by Canadian Firm

(rte.ie)                      Up to 50 jobs are to be created in Dublin after Irish studio Brown Bag Films was bought by Canadian animation studio 9 Story Media Group.

In a statement, Brown Bag Films said it will retain its brand, with the senior management team continuing to lead the company.

Brown Bag Films has received both Oscar and Emmy nominations for its past work, including ‘Give Up Yer Auld Sins’ and ‘Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty’.

The company also animates a number of high-profile cartoons for companies like Disney and Nickelodeon, including Doc McStuffins and Henry Hugglemonster.

Co-founder and CEO of Brown Bag Films Cathal Gaffney, said: “Over the past 21 years, Brown Bag Films has constantly evolved its business model, always keeping quality at the forefront of everything we do.

“This new chapter is the next logical step for us in our ongoing evolution and will ensure that audiences around the world.”

Watch 5 Completely Unnecessary Uses of CGI in Movies

In recent years, there’s been a lot of backlash against CGI visual effects as movie studios rely on them more and more instead of practical set pieces, models and make-up effects (mostly because there’s some pretty terrible visual effects out there). We’ve already highlighted a thoughtful look at how CGI effects are actually great when not relied upon too heavily and blend seamlessly with practical filmmaking techniques.

But sometimes CGI special effects are just downright unnecessary and baffling, and the folks at Dorkly have assembled a short list of five of the most unnecessary CGI special effects, but beware of some brief NSFW nudity. Somehow one of the Star Wars prequels only appeared on the list once.

Here’s the 5 Most Baffling Uses of CGI in Movies from Dorkly:

I’ll bet you didn’t know about that John Wick “special effect.” Seriously though, why the hell did $5,000 need to be spent to make a digital pile of dog poop for a shot that barely lasts a few seconds when a prop piece could have done the trick just as well. That money could have gone towards something much useful, like paying off my student loans.

It’s impressive on some level that visual effects are so good that they can fake nudity on real people now, however, The Change-Up is not a very good example of this. I always knew there was something weird about Leslie Mann‘s topless scenes in that movie, but I thought she was just wearing some kind of chest prosthetic, which is why they looked so artificial.

And as ridiculous as it is for Fifty Shades of Grey to add digital pubes to obscure nudity, it’s nowhere near as terrible or stupid as that digital pear in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. It’s excessive and even poorly done. Like the video says, it would have been much easier to just dangle a pear on a string and then take it out in post-production. But then again we’re talking about a movie that used visual effects to create all the Clone Troopers.

VIDEO – Take a look:   http://www.slashfilm.com/unnecessary-cgi-special-effects/

‘Terminator Genisys’ Is A Flop No More

(forbes.com)              Terminator Genisys may not be a box office flop anymore, but rather a groundbreaking smash hit. The Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi sequel opened with a whopping $27.4 million on its first day in China. That is the fourth-biggest opening day in that territory ever, behind Transformers: Age of Extinction ($30m),  Avengers: Age of Ultron ($33m), and Furious 7 ($63m). It’s higher than the $17m single-day debut for Jurassic World. Now the three films above it on the single day record list, and at least one film below it (Jurassic World with $229m) all earned over $200 million in China alone, with Transformers 4 and Furious 7 both earning over $300m ($320m and $390m respectively). Now for the record, we’re only talking about one day of box office and frontloading is as much a thing in China as it is in America. Word of mouth for the film likely won’t be much better over there than it was over here. It is probable that the movie’s opening week grosses will make up around 50% of its overall box office take, especially with the likes of Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, Minions, and Ant-Man coming down the pike in September.

The film was the first American release to debut in China since Jurassic World debuted back in June, as its release ended the mid-summer “blackout” or moratorium on American which allows local productions (like the $330m+ grossing Monster Hunt) to have their piece of the box office pie. But with an opening day this big, there aren’t many scenarios by which Terminator Genisys isn’t a huge hit in China. From the moment it debuted in America seven weeks ago, I was careful to confine my analysis to its domestic performance, because I had an inkling that something like this might happen. Arnold Schwarzenegger still has a significant following in China, especially when it comes to franchises and/or team-ups with Sylvester Stallone. Escape Plan earned $40 million there in 2013, or 36% of its overall $112m foreign total. The Expendables 3 made a whopping $72m (43%) of its $166m overseas total to give the film a vaguely face-saving $200m+ worldwide cume.

VFX News 8/17

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Starts Filming in England

(comingsoon.com)      Principal photography has begun on Warner Bros. Pictures’ highly-anticipated feature Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the studio announced today. The all new adventure is set in the wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling in her best-selling Harry Potter books, which were adapted into the highest-grossing film franchise of all time.

Filming started today, August 17, at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, under the direction of David Yates, who helmed the last four “Harry Potter” feature films.

Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) stars as Newt Scamander, the wizarding world’s preeminent magizoologist, who stops in New York following his travels to find and document magical creatures.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them also stars Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice) as Tina; Alison Sudol (“Dig,” “Transparent”) as Tina’s sister, Queenie; Tony Award winner Dan Fogler (“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”) as Jacob; Ezra Miller (Trainwreck) as Credence; two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton (In America, Sweet and Lowdown) as Mary Lou; Jenn Murray (Brooklyn) as Chastity; young newcomer Faith Wood-Blagrove as Modesty; and Colin Farrell (“True Detective”) as Graves.

Marking the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, the script was inspired by her character Newt Scamander’s Hogwarts textbook, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

The film is being produced by David Heyman, producer of all eight of the blockbuster “Harry Potter” features; J.K. Rowling; Steve Kloves; and Lionel Wigram.

Collaborating with Yates behind the scenes are: Oscar-winning director of photography Philippe Rousselot (A River Runs Through It, the “Sherlock Holmes” movies), three-time Oscar-winning production designer Stuart Craig (The English Patient, Dangerous Liaisons, Gandhi the “Harry Potter” films), three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, Alice in Wonderland), Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor Tim Burke (Gladiator, the “Harry Potter” films), Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor Christian Manz (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1), and Yates’ longtime editor Mark Day (the last four “Harry Potter” films).

B.C.VFX  Industry Struggling with New TFW Rules

(theglobeandmail.com)           B.C.’s digital entertainment sector has become one of the province’s fastest growing, but its expansion is being cut short and Canadian jobs are being lost by the clampdown on temporary foreign workers, say those in the industry.

The Vancouver chapter of the Visual Effects Society held a job fair last weekend seeking out prospective workers, but Canadian talent is in short supply. To win contracts, those in the industry often have to supplement their Canadian work force with temporary foreign workers. Without the foreign talent, the Canadians aren’t working either, says Nancy Mott, manager of digital entertainment at the Vancouver Economic Commission.

Last June, the federal government unveiled a series of changes to the temporary foreign worker program, including an increased application fee of $1,000 and also a new labour-market impact-assessment process. LMIAs determine whether there is a need for a foreign worker, rather than a Canadian, to fill a given position.

Ms. Mott said the long waiting times for these new impact assessments are often untenable in a fast-paced and highly competitive industry.

“We used to have a fast-track in the creative industries; a two-week turn around. … The LMIA [process] kind of said, ‘No exceptions for now.’ And companies, large companies like Digital Domain, couldn’t bring in the 20 to 40 people they need to hire 80 to 200 Canadians.

“The visual effects, animation and even games [industries are] a global work force. You’re always going to have about 20 per cent of your team for a project [that] is going to be international.”

In Vancouver alone, there are more than 900 companies in the digital entertainment and interactive sector, which includes digital effects for television and film, video game animation and smartphone apps and games.

“[Studios] are really, really hungry for especially Canadian talent,” said Ria Bénard, who runs Lost Boys Studios visual-effects school with her husband.

“It’s been hard to grow Canadian talent, so they have to reach out to internationals. And that’s become a bit of a problem with our government, which is putting some roadblocks in the way of … getting international talent.”

Los Angeles, London and now Vancouver are the world’s biggest hubs for digital animation and effects, which means that workers with the most expertise find themselves frequently hopping from country to country depending on the latest project they have signed on to.

“Most of the teams for large projects are 150 to 200 people, sometimes even more, and in order to secure that work you have to make sure you can get that temporary foreign worker expertise in. And quickly,” Ms. Mott said.

“Often what happens in the film industry is it’s like, ‘Okay, you’re hired, go.’ You don’t get a lot of lead time.”

Daniel Duwe is a visual-effects artist from Belgium who has worked in London, Singapore and now Vancouver. Since arriving, he has done postproduction work on such projects as American Sniper, Game of Thrones and the coming film Jurassic World.

He said he would like to continue working in Canada but the new system has meant constant uncertainty about what will happen when a project ends.

“If my contract ends and I don’t have a visa, I basically have to leave the country,” he said. “So for me it’s really crucial to get a work permit processed quickly.”

The Vancouver Economic Commission estimates that about 16,000 people are employed by digital entertainment and interactive companies in B.C., with more than 60 per cent of these companies in the greater Vancouver area. The commission’s chief executive officer, Ian McKay, could not say what percentage of these workers are from outside Canada, but described it as a small but important percentage.

“I think the government needs to look at the unintended consequences of the TFW and other immigration reforms … and make some real strong policy overhaul recommendations.”

And there is an incentive. In 2003, the provincial government launched the British Columbia Digital Animation or Visual Effects (DAVE) tax credit for companies hiring domestic workers.

A statement from federal Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre’s office said the department has been in talks with the digital entertainment and interactive industry over the past few months “to better understand the sector’s needs.”

“The department received positive feedback from the industry following the engagement and has not heard recent concerns about having applications approved in a timely manner,” the e-mailed statement said.

‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ Books ‘Jurassic World’ Director

(geekwire.com)           The next Star Wars trilogy is complete as far as naming directors goes. Lucasfilm announced that the director for Star Wars: Episode IX would be Jurassic World‘s Colin Trevorrow.

Variety reported on the announcement that was made at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif., over the weekend.

“Colin is someone I’ve been interested in working with ever since I saw ‘Safety Not Guaranteed,’ ” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement as Variety reported. “The power of that film paired with the enormous success of ‘Jurassic World’ speaks volumes about his abilities both as a storyteller and skilled filmmaker. We are thrilled to have such an incredible talent as Colin join our family and step into the Star Wars universe.”

Jurassic World, starring Chris Pratt, became the third highest-grossing movie ever, Variety reports.

Trevorrow said in that same statement that helming a Star Wars would involve “channeling something George Lucas instilled in all of us: boundless creativity, pure invention and hope.”

The next trilogy goes: J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens out December, Rian Johnson’s VIII out in 2017, and Trevorrow’s IX due out in 2019, according to imdb.com.

Tag Graphic Novel Picked up by Fox for Annabelle Director John Lonetti

(comingsoon.net)          The latest graphic novel to be picked up for an adaptation into a movie is Boom! Studios’ Tag, created and written by Keith Giffen and drawn by Kody Chamberlain and Chee, with Annabelle director John Lonetti attached to helm from a screenplay by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, according to Deadline.

Serialized as a three issue mini-series and then collected, Tag is about a man who is “tagged” by a random stranger who then discovers his body is decomposing, forcing him to figure out the origins of the curse and decide whether to pass it onto someone else by tagging them.

Tag was originally in development at Universal but after the rights lapsed, Fox picked it up under their first look deal with Boom! Studios. Boom! CEO Ross Richie will produce the movie along with  BOOM’s President of Development Stephen Christy and Senior Vice President of Film Adam Yoelin. Ryan Jones and Mark Roybal will be on board to produce for Fox.

Lonetti recently finished filming Wolves at the Door for New Line, following the enormous worldwide hit of Annabelle, which grossed $255 million worldwide after spinning off from New Line’s other horror megahit The Conjuring.

For writers Collins and Piotrowski, this will be their follow-up to the Blumhouse Productions film Stephanie being directed by Akiva Goldsman and another untitled horror film being directed by Marc Munden for A24.

Inside Industrial Light & Magic’s Secret Star Wars VR Lab

(theverge.com)                I’m on Industrial Light & Magic’s motion capture stage, standing inside what they call “the cave.” It’s not much to look at: two big screens angled at 90 degrees, awash in a smeary blur of images. But put on a pair of modified 3D glasses, and bam — it’s the Holodeck, and I’m on Tatooine standing face to face with one of the most famous robots in movie history. I walk around C-3PO, crouching one moment then jumping the next. The mo-cap performer across the room raises his hand, and the CG Threepio waves. It’s exhilarating and immersive, and it’s all happening in real time.

The cave is a place for filmmakers to test out worlds that don’t exist yet, and for ILM to demo and build augmented reality experiences for its recently unveiled skunkworks division, ILMxLab. The lab is a developmental playground for any and all kind of interactive or immersive experience. Virtual reality, AR, theme park attractions; it’s all up for grabs, uniting decades of visual effects expertise, computer wizardry, and Lucasfilm’s own creative team into a self-contained entertainment studio of the future.

The goal isn’t to just create what people will be trying out on their Oculus Rift next year. It’s to come up with the interconnected virtual experiences we’ll be having 10 years from now. And you’d better believe they’re starting with Star Wars.

Full article:   http://www.theverge.com/2015/8/13/9131805/ilm-ilmxlab-interview-virtual-reality-star-wars-movies

Pixar Announces Day of the Dead Film ‘Coco’

(cartoonbrew.com)                Pixar announced today that it will move forward with its Day of the Dead film project, now called Coco.

Coco will be directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3). Unkrich’s project will answer the question, What if a Mexican boy named Miguel could meet his long-dead Mexican family members? It was described by Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter at the D23 Expo as “breathtaking, beautiful, and fun.”

If Unkrich, a white Jewish gentleman from Cleveland, Ohio, sounds like an odd choice for directing a film rooted in a centuries-old Mexican tradition, fear not. Unkrich explained today that he has traveled several times to Mexico to study real Mexicans doing real Mexican types of things. Plus, he’s surely seen the illustrations of Posada, so he’s at least as qualified as any other white person who wants to appropriate Mexican culture for the purpose of boosting an American corporation’s bottomline.

Producer Darla Anderson and director Lee Unkrich announce “Coco” at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. (Click to enlarge.)

In an interview with Cartoon Brew last year, actual Mexican director Jorge Gutierrez, who directed Fox/Reel FX’s Day of the Dead-themed feature The Book of Life, shared his thoughts about gringos who go on “research trips” to learn other country’s cultures:

Personally I’ve always found it a little ridiculous that animation artists can go on a research trip and think they understand the culture. I never, never bought that. I think you get the tourist version of a culture if you do that. So I said to the crew, ‘No research trips to Mexico. I am Mexico! You guys have any questions, you come to me.’

A few years ago, in preparation for this Pixar film, the Disney Company unsuccessfully attempted to trademark the entire Día de Muertos holiday, which caused widespread outrage in the Latino community. William Nericcio, a scholar specializing in the representation of Latinos in American pop culture, told Cartoon Brew at the time that Pixar’s film would be “a public relations nightmare” because Disney and Pixar are “not really equipped to talk about other cultures in a way that shows even the slightest sensitivity.”

We’ll find out how well equipped to talk about the culture and customs of our southern neighbors when they release Coco in fall 2017.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Who was this Movie’s Ralph McQuarrie?

In the mid-1970s, when George Lucas was struggling to persuade 20th Century Fox that his script about a farmboy who teams up with a wizard, a pirate, and a space-ape to rescue a princess from a black knight was worth doing, he turned to the talents of illustrator Ralph McQuarrie.

McQuarrie, who died in 2012 at age 82, painted countless concept images for the original Star Wars trilogy, creating the iconic landscapes of Tatooine, Hoth, Cloud City, and Dagobah, as well as the visage of characters like Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO (pictured above), and many, many more.

His influence can still be found in the details of The Force Awakens, more than 40 years after the artist began visualizing the galaxy far, far away. But in talking with writer-director J.J. Abrams about this first step back into the cosmos, I wanted to know: Who was his Ralph McQuarrie?

In other words – who helped him see the unimaginable?

“I was incredibly blessed to work with Rick Carter, who – beyond being a brilliant production designer – is a font of imagination and associations,” Abrams says, without having to think long, “He is able to make connections to things that no one else can see, and he has such a trove of references and life experience and images and design ideas.”

Carter is a recent Oscar winner for the production design of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (seen below), and he also picked up a trophy for creating the alien forest-world of James Cameron’s Avatar. A frequent collaborator of Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, his other credits include Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump, the Back to the Future sequels, Cast Away, and A.I. Artificial Intelligence. In case you needed to love him more, he also was the art director on The Goonies and 1984’s cult classic The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.

Carter had never worked with Abrams before, but he proved to be as a vital partner as McQuarrie was to Lucas back in the day.

“I brought him in very early on, when I was working, originally, with [screenwriter] Michael Arndt,” Abrams says. “I brought Rick in to our story meetings, which is atypical in a production designer’s job description, but I wanted him there because he was a dreamer – a complete dreamer.”

Abrams described Carter as “a giddy, excited genius, and he was a muse for me in that regard. Not just visually, but also spiritually, and he was just a terrific partner in crime.”

Another person who was Abrams’ Ralph McQuarrie was … Ralph McQuarrie. Even though he’s gone, his illustrations are still influencing Star Wars, and the late artist was a kind of guardian angel for both Abrams and Carter.

“We both knew the importance of what McQuarrie had done, and how critical he was in creating the aesthetic of what we all know is Star Wars,” the director says. “We could have taken another path and said, ‘Okay, everything that we all know about Star Wars has been done; let’s go somewhere else and do something totally different,’ but when you’re lucky enough to inherit the history of this world that we know, there should be a continuum.”

The key to finding a path back to Star Wars, he said, was not just to follow the best idea at the moment, but to look back at what had been done, well … a long time ago.

“I don’t know what a Star Wars movie would look like without TIE fighters, and stormtroopers, and that pill-shaped lighting from the Empire,” Abrams said. “All things that are Ralph McQuarrie’s brainchild.”

Siggraph 2015 Launches VR Village

(billdesowitz.com)                SIGGRAPH 2015 (Aug. 9-13 in LA) capitalizes on the Virtual Reality craze by introducing the 2015 VR VILLAGE, featuring real-time immersion in the latest virtual and augmented realities, including Nomadic Virtual Reality (VR), Tabletop Augmented Reality (AR), Full-Dome Cinema, and live performances and demonstrations in a 360-degree immersion dome.

The VR Village at SIGGRAPH allows attendees to explore the fascinating potential of VR, AR, and Immersive Environments as a means for telling stories, engaging audiences, and powering real-world applications in health, education, design, and gaming. The curated programming offers a wide range of content from major studios and game developers to non-profit institutions, including research labs and planetariums.

“Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Immersive Environments are part of a fast-growing, emerging market,” said Ed Lantz, SIGGRAPH 2015 VR Village Program co-chair. “As it grows, there’s room for alternative and independent producers, developers, distributors, and manufacturers to make important and original contributions to consumer products and programming. For the debut of SIGGRAPH’s VR Village, my co-chair Denise Quesnel and I wanted to ensure that attendees have the chance to see amazing applications that have been developed by the world’s best programmers, cinematographers, artists, and game developers that are currently out there. We also hope to inspire and bring together the larger VR community.”

Full article:     http://billdesowitz.com/siggraph-20015-launches-vr-village/

Disney Announces ‘Gigantic’ Animated Feature

(AWN.com)   Today, during the Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films panel at D23, Disney Animation announced a new feature film called Gigantic.

Gigantic, Disney’s unique take on Jack and the Beanstalk, will feature music from Oscar-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Frozen’s “Let it Go”), who greeted D23 EXPO fans in song alongside director Nathan Greno (Tangled) and producer Dorothy McKim (Get A Horse!).

Set in Spain during the Age of Exploration, Disney’s Gigantic follows adventure-seeker Jack as he discovers a world of giants hidden within the clouds. He hatches a grand plan with Inma, a 60-foot-tall, 11-year-old girl, and agrees to help her find her way home. But he doesn’t account for her super-sized personality — and who knew giants were so down to earth? Gigantic hits theaters in 2018.

The 6 Best Video Game Movies Coming Out Soon

(gq-magazine.co.uk)               These are the console classics making their way onto the big screen. And yes, that includes Angry Birds

1. The Angry Birds Movie

The annoyingly popular Finnish game by Rovio Entertainment – that sees you sling-shotting birds at pigs – will be made into a 3D animation film produced by Sony Pictures Imageworks. It’s rumoured to have a budget of $80 million (£51.3m). Jason Sudeikis will be voicing “Red”, the main bird, with Bill Hader as the Minion Pigs and Peter Dinklage (aka Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones) as the “Mighty Eagle”.

Expected to be released May 2016

2. Warcraft

If you liked Lord of the Rings then you’ll like Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft game-series first launched in 1994. The film is said to depict a long-winded war between the human race and orcs (similar to the first game), and has been given a budget of over $100m (£64 m). Paula Patton, Toby Kebbell, Dominic Cooper (aka Howard Stark from Captain America) will star. According to film news site IGN, the movie will feel like “a cross between Game of Thrones and Avatar”.

Expected to be released June 2016

3. Assassin’s Creed

The action-adventure game series by Ubisoft featuring protagonist Desmond Miles will follow the conflict between the Knights Templar and the Assassins. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard have been tied to the film, and Olivia Munn has expressed some interest according to IGN. If the film is as good as the game then it is definitely one to watch.

Expected to be released December 2016

4. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Rex Features

Capcom recently stated that they would be updating Resident Evil for modern consoles. But did you know that another Resident Evil film could be in the making? Milla Jovovich will return as Alice in a post zombie-apocalypse world that has been inflicted with the T-Virus. It will be the sixth and final film in the series.

Expected to be released January 2017

5. Uncharted

The brilliant action-adventure game, developed by Naughty Dog, is to be made into a film. The story follows Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter, and his journey across the world trying to decipher mysteries. Nathan Fillion has expressed interest in the role, but all we know is that Mark Boal (writer and producer of Zero Dark Thirty) is currently working on the script. It is expected that this live-action thriller might take its cues from Indiana Jones.

Expected to be released June 2017

6. Tomb Raider

Rex Features

Rumour are spreading that another Tomb Raider –  the game series developed by Core Design, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix – could soon be coming to our screens featuring a young Lara Croft. Evan Daugherty (who wrote the script for Divergent) is said to be working on the film’s script. The Tomb Raider series, featuring Angelina Jolie, was the highest grossing film-of-a-video game ever made. Nina Dobrev, Gemma Arterton, Jennifer Lawrence are some of the fan favourites to play Lara. Whoever it is, they will have big boots to fill. Who do you think can play the next Lara?

Source:   http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/entertainment/articles/2015-08/17/video-games-made-into-movies-angry-birds-resident-evil

VFX News 8/12

China is Creating its Own Sci-fi Franchise to Rival “Transformers” and “The Hunger Games”

(qz.com)        Hollywood remains the global mecca for big-budget sci-fi movies, producing global multi-part powerhouses such as The Hunger Games and Iron Man. As Chinese financing flows into Hollywood movies, China’s own fast-growing film industry wants to try its hand at building a sci-fi franchise of its own.

Chinese film studios have wrapped up production of The Three-Body Problem, an adaptation of a popular sci-fi novel about an alien invasion that takes place during the Cultural Revolution. The three-part series that it’s the first part of has sold more than a million copies in China—unusually high popularity for the genre in China. In November 2014, the first book was translated into English and published in the United States by Tor Books.

The film will be the first of a five-part series co-produced by Alibaba Pictures and Yoozoo pictures, both relatively new players in China’s film industry. Each feature is reported to have a budget of 200 million yuan (about US$32 million), and the first feature is to hit theaters in July 2016.

China’s consumers have an appetite for foreign and domestic films alike. Six out of the ten highest-grossing films in China were from Hollywood, while the remainder were produced at home.

What China’s film industry lacks is a very specific type of franchise—series that have a large narrative universe, and that rely heavily on special effects. Hollywood studios love these franchises because audiences prefer to see them in the theater rather than at home (which helps curb piracy), and they also come packed with intellectual property that’s easy to license out. The Three-Body Problem marks an early Chinese attempt to follow this model.

China’s domestic film industry remains an important part of the nation’s entertainment industry as a whole. Box office receipts hit $4.82 billion in 2014, and that figure will likely exceed the US by 2017. And with a quota of only 34 foreign films that can show in theaters each year (expected to increase by 10 movies in 2017 for art-house and Oscar-winners), Chinese movies have some advantage.

Moreover, the industry has plenty of room to grow—America has 20 movie screens per resident, while China has less than five.

2015 VES Summit Keynote Speaker Announced – Dean Devlin

(us2.campaign-archive2.com)                 As we move from the information age into the Visualization age where every industry uses imagery to educate, communicate, entertain and sell —  it’s creative development and its aligned businesses that will drive this developing economy. Virtualization speaks to cloud-based production, to augmented and virtual realities, to multi-platform experiences, and the broad idea of hyper-connectivity. It encompasses heightened realities, immersive experiences, presence capture, and more. This evolution is bringing about changes and expansion in Storytelling.

Exceptional Storytelling remains the ultimate goal but approaches are open to innovation. From TV taking non-time-constrained forms, to audience-driven narratives, to 360° experiences, webcasts and six second videos — all being told across multiple platforms — the creative world is in a seismic shift.

The VES Summit will delve into these exciting times and processes. Come join us!

Source with more info:    http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=3ca9b54d75b9a3b8dbabefd4f&id=1f9956f890&e=5b7f035ef9

Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 Finishes Filming

(denofgeek.com)            Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales has wrapped production in Australia, it’s been confirmed.

For the last few months, production on Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales has been ongoing in Australia. Johnny Depp is reprising the role of Captain Jack Sparrow for the movie, and Javier Bardem leads the new additions to the cast.

This time around, the film is being directed by Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning, and it’s been revealed that production wrapped on the new movie at the end of last month. Not that you’re going to be seeing it anytime soon. We’re still just under two years away from the release of Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which is set to arrive in cinemas on July 7th 2017. We suspect there might just be a fair amount of post-production work to get through.

See Every Visual Effects Winner in Oscar History

(time.com)      Visual effects have come a long way since Star Wars took home the first Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1978. Revisit everything from a galaxy far, far away to a dream near you with a look at every Visual Effects Oscar winner since the award’s inception.

VIDEO – Take a look:   http://time.com/3717348/see-every-visual-effects-winner-in-oscar-history/

‘The Thing’ Actor Jamie Bell inspired by Andy Serkis

(TV3.ie)             Jamie Bell is inspired by Andy Serkis, and followed his lead when using motion capture in ‘Fantastic Four’.

The 29-year-old actor used motion capture to portray The Thing in ‘Fantastic Four’ and learned a lot about the technique from his ‘Tintin’ co-star, who most famously used it in ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘King Kong’.

Jamie said: ”I’ve worked with Andy Serkis a few times now, and seeing how he creates those characters is inspiring.

”When I did ‘Tintin’ I was asking a lot of questions.

”It’s all about breaking through that wall of technology and getting through to people. You need to work closely with the visual effects people to make sure you have authorship of your performance.

”That can be blurry at times, but as long as you’re in close contact, then you’re fine.”

Jamie also had his voice digitally altered because he and film bosses felt it would be ”pretty silly” for him to change his tones himself.

He explained to Shortlist magazine: ”We had a few conversations and we ultimately decided it would be pretty silly for me to put on a voice.

”You lose a sense of who the character was before. They’ve changed my voice in post-production – it’s me but slightly warped.”

NUKE and V-Ray

(fxguide.com)            Today at Siggraph the Foundry and Chaos Group are announcing V-Ray for Nuke. The renderer allows Nuke artists to render full V-Ray on any version of Nuke or Nuke Studio and runs on Windows and Linux. For artists doing environment work camera projections are an essential tool environment work, and so Chaos have worked closely with The Foundry to, for example, support NUKE’s Project3D.  As a result V-Ray now emulates the Project3D node as closely when rendering V-Ray in NUKE. This means you have the option to avoid having to pass assets back and forth between departments to adjust 3D elements to match live action elements. It also means for the generalist, far more control without having to leave their current work space.

V-Ray’s Nuke version is built on the same adaptive rendering core as V-Ray’s standard plugins for Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya. “The introduction of V-Ray for NUKE adds a powerful component to a comprehensive pipeline,” said Sean Brice, product manager for NUKE, The Foundry. “By bringing increased creative capabilities and efficiencies to the pipeline, artists can focus more on the creative process, achieving better results in less time.”

We caught up with the Chaos developers and spoke to a team of artists who did a brilliant test during the Beta cycle, to answer the question: “why would I want to render in NUKE and not just MAYA?”.

Full article:   http://www.fxguide.com/featured/nuke-and-v-ray/

UK Needs 1.2 Million New Digital / Creative Workers

(screendaily.com)               A total of 1.2 million digital and creative skilled workers needed by 2022 says Creative Skillset

The digital and creative sector is expected to need 1.2 million new workers by 2022 – equivalent to half the current workforce.

Creative Skillset, the creative industries skills and training body, has accepted the challenges of the unprecedented growth outlined in the UK Commission for  Employment &  Skills (UKCES) report, Sector Insights, Skills Challenges in the digital and creative sector.

In order to meet this level of growth, fairer access to job opportunities and training is essential, according to Creative Skillset.

The report demanded that the digital and creative sectors speak to a wider field of potential recruits with different educational and professional backgrounds.

Outside of IT and Tech, the creative digital sector is formed of small businesses and has high levels of freelancers, characterised by informal recruitment and barriers to training.

Creative Skillset CEO Dinah Caine said: “With a growing workforce, ensuring fair access is an absolute priority for our industries. That’s why we’ve launched Hiive, a professional networking site for the creative community.

“No matter what background you come from or whether you’re a filmmaker, photographer, games developer, an apprentice a school leaver, a graduate or a digital design veteran, Hiive has the right mix of tools and resources to help you start or further your career.”

Powered by Creative Skillset and with startup co-investment from UKCES, Hiive has gained more than 23,000 members since its launch in March. The site provides information on accessing the industries, including apprenticeships.

Later this month, Creative Skillse will launch a Trainee Finder service that matches trainees with companies across the UK’s animation, games, film, high-end TV and VFX industries on the platform.

Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey said: “The latest report from UKCES confirms how important diverse talent is for these fast growing sectors, and initiatives like Hiive and the work of Creative Skillset have already made great strides in championing fairer access and training in the creative industries.”

Paramount VFX Supe Takes us Behind the Scenes of the Effects Created for Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation…

(3dtotal.com)      Tom Cruise (Risky Business) has developed a reputation for performing his own stunts, but even the fearless actor needed some digital magic conjured by David Vickery (Furious 6) who supervised the visual effects for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015).

“The marketing campaign has focused on the practical effects, and that is fair to a certain extent because Chris McQuarrie’s (Jack Reacher) mantra was always do it for real, get it in-camera, and no CG for CG sake,” notes Vickery, who was responsible for over 1,200 visual effect shots. “But inevitably there are portions of the movie that rely on visual effects to enable them to be brought to life.”

A particular example comes to mind. “You could have had Tom Cruise at the side of the A400 with wires everywhere which aren’t much fun to see. Visual effects steps in and paints the rigs out. In addition to that the vision of the filmmaker was to make the location more acceptable to the story. We filmed it in the UK but the A400 environment was supposed to be a disused military airfield in Belarus. We replaced large portions of the background, reorganized the structure of the airfield, and put in grass covered hangers and fencing.”

“We did previs for the A400 because Airbus was going to be picky about where we could put our rigs and mounts,” states David Vickery. “We knew exactly the shots we were going to get, exactly where Tom was going to run on the plane, exactly where camera angles needed to be, and the speed the plane would be travelling.”

Full article:     http://www.3dtotal.com/index_interviews_detailed.php?id=622#.VctuckarGzk

Angelina Jolie Pitt to Exec Produce Animated Feature ‘Breadwinner’

(animationmagazine.net)            Angelina Jolie Pitt and her Jolie Pas Productions have teamed up with Aircraft Pictures (Toronto), Cartoon Saloon (Ireland) and Melusine Productions (Luxembourg) to executive produce a new animated feature, The Breadwinner. Based on the best-selling YA novel by Canadian author Deborah Ellis, the project is being directed by Cartoon Saloon’s Nora Twomey (co-director, The Secret of Kells) from a screenplay by live-action writer/director Anita Doron.

The Breadwinner is the story of an Afghani girl named Parvana living under Taliban rule, who passes herself off as a boy in order to support her family when her father is unjustly imprisoned. According to the producers, in addition to highlighting messages of self-empowerment and ingenuity, the film will also celebrate the culture, history and beauty of Afghanistan — and a version produced in Dari is planned in addition to an English cut.

The Foundry introduces MARI 3

(screenafrica.com)                  At Siggraph 2015 – the world’s largest conference on computer graphics, taking place from 9 to 13 August at the Los Angeles Convention Centre – The Foundry is demonstrating MARI 3, the newest version of its 3D paint package. Ideal for texturing and look development artists in the VFX, animation and games industries, MARI 3 combines productivity enhancing features with broader and tighter pipeline integration. This includes an exposed node graph for advanced users and integration with the rendering and baking capabilities of MODO, The Foundry’s 3D content creation solution.

“Fitting into the pipeline or creative lifecycle in which an artist works is just as important as enabling artists to create beautiful 3D painted and textured content,” said Jack Greasley, head of new technologies at The Foundry. “Therefore, MARI 3 continues The Foundry’s commitment to addressing not only what artists need to do but how and where they do it. This includes seamless integration with third parties, open APIs and support for industry standards.”

MARI 3 brings support for widely used shaders such as Unreal, as well as for OpenSubdiv geometry. Within the games market, more AAA and indie game developers have adopted MARI to create the cinematic quality characters and experiences required in today’s most successful games.

For visual effects artists, MARI 3 delivers creative tools that provide the performance, power and quality that the creation of today’s high resolution assets require. Prior to MARI, 3D paint solutions could only handle a small handful of textures at one time. Now, with MARI, artists can create and edit thousands of high resolution textures, freeing them to concentrate on their art rather than technical details. As film and television audiences demand more spectacular visual effects, MARI lets artists push their artistic imagination.

“I’ve used MARI for almost five years now and really don’t know where I would be without it. It has been the cornerstone for all of my texture work both personally and professionally,” said Justin Holt, texture paint lead, Sony Pictures Imageworks. “MARI is a world-class tool for any serious texture painter and I highly recommend to anybody who wants to succeed in the world of textures to pick this tool up now because it will quickly become one of the only tools you will ever need. I have spent time exploring MARI 3 and I simply cannot wait for the official release in order to take advantage of all of the wonderful new tools it will offer.”

MARI 3 will be commercially available in Q3 2015. For more information on MARI 3, visit The Foundry website.


(awardscircuit.com)             The likes of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “In the Heart of the Sea,” and “Jurassic World” look like the top contenders at the moment.  “The Martian” can break up the party if it becomes the technical marvel of the year.

The full list with runner-ups:     http://www.awardscircuit.com/oscar-predictions/2014-oscar-predictions-visual-effects/

Unionizing VFX  In Vancouver – Frequently Asked Questions

(vfx.iatse.com)          VFX is a modern labour chimera of part-time and full-time artists and technicians. Successful labour movements of the 21st century will need to reflect global competition and evolving digital technologies as traditional jobs are supplanted with ever increasing contract employment. The question is “Do you want to have a say in the way it evolves?” We invite you to do your own research. Talk with other union members in the industry. Ask IATSE members about working under a union contracts with benefits. If you have already made up your mind or want more information call 604.664.8921 or email the union at vfx@iatse.com

Let us know when you are ready to join the Union behind entertainment and we will assist you.

IATSE 891 responds to questions and concerns expressed by VFX artists:

“Why is IATSE 891 interested in unionizing all BC VFX artists?”

“Will I make more or less money in a union?”

“Will IATSE 891 be involved in management?”

“Is there seniority?”

“I want the freedom to negotiate my own contract”

“Does a unionized VFX industry mean I can’t be laid off or fired?”

“What are we guaranteed if we organize a union with IATSE?”

“IATSE 891 is a business that only wants our dues.”

“What type of benefits does IATSE 891 offer to its members?”

“Does IATSE 891 provide training?”

“When can we expect union contracts?”

“Will 60, 70, or 100 hour work weeks be common with a union contract?”

“Is it possible to contractually sign away my right to overtime?”

“I hear unions protect ‘Lazy Joes'”

“I’m an artist. I donate my time to make my art better. I make enough money and don’t want or need overtime, or a union contract.”

“Will a unionized VFX industry just encourage studios to leave Vancouver?”

Source with more:     http://vfx.iatse.com/faq.aspx

VFX News 08/11/15

Fox Taking A $60M Write-Off On “Fantastic 4”

(darkhorizons.net)         In the wake of a high-profile studio failure, there’s often reports that said studio is taking a write-down on the film. Some are small like the $13.5 million Dreamworks Animation lost on “Turbo,” some are huge like the $200 million Disney lost with “John Carter”. Others are in between including “The Lone Ranger,” “47 Ronin” and various Dreamworks Animation films.

Today, THR reports that according to analysts it seems that more than a $60 million write-off is looking in store for the failure of Fox’s “Fantastic Four” reboot which scored just $26 million domestically its opening weekend. The film cost a reported $120 million to produce and made around $59 million worldwide on opening weekend.

Siggraph: ‘Star Wars’ VFX House ILM Looks Back on 40-Year History

(hollywoodreporter.com)        Four decades ago, George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic created its first visual effects for Star Wars. During a 40th-anniversary session held Monday at CG confab Siggraph, the company thrilled an estimated 1,500 guests with 90 minutes of rare images, behind-the-scenes footage and clips from Star Wars and other iconic works. That included models and miniatures of the Millennium Falcon, the Death Star and early motion control sequences shot on blue screen.

At the event, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, a group from the studio participated in the session, which also included looks at VFX imagery from films including The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Jurassic Park. But highlighting the session was Dennis Muren, the studio’s nine-time Oscar-winning VFX supervisor who has been with ILM since the start.

“It’s been an amazing experience to go through something like this over 40 years,” he said, admitting of some of the early Star Wars scenes, “I didn’t know if it was going to work. I don’t know if it looks real, but it looks confident. That film went a long way toward changing the industry. Now movies are filled with VFX, but before that point, that wasn’t the case.”

He recalled a shot from the sequence on the ice planet in The Empire Strikes Back that initially he just couldn’t figure out how to accomplish. ” ‘Just think about it,’ George said, and within 15 minutes I figured it out. I learned that there are so many ways to do this. The trick is a combination of things to put them together.”

One of the big challenges to Return of the Jedi was the chase scenes. “I heard from George and he wanted to do this speed bike thing,” Muren related. “Joe Johnston and I got together and shot an animatic. This gave us a guideline for how to do the shots.”

In the end they filmed live footage, including with a Steadicam, and combined techniques. “I believe if you can shoot something real, you shoot it real. It was a hard shoot but it really helped the reality of the sequence.”

ILM VFX supervisor Scott Farrar (Oscar winner for Cocoon) recalled how VFX were becoming more and more sophisticated as they approached films such as Back to the Future 2 and 3. “That’s an example of working with a director — Bob Zemeckis — who loved to be innovative; he always came up with ideas to make it more complicated,” he said, adding that the hover board was particularly difficult.

“We used every kind of old and new trick,” he said, showing clips of Michael J. Fox hanging from wires on location. “There were days that we barely got a single shot.”

The team next recalled how Lucas pushed ILM toward computers, based on the belief that this would be the future of visual effects. Among its most memorable early uses was the CG waterpod on James Cameron’s The Abyss in 1989. The entire film had just 17 shots that involved CG.

Cameron returned to ILM for 1991’s T2, a film remembered for such techniques as the morph, but Muren clarified that Willow was actually the first feature to use a morph. “I don’t think people realized what they were seeing in T2. That changed things,” he said, acknowledging that when the masses really began to understand the potential of digital after ILM’s next film, 1993’s Jurassic Park, “it was an incredible time.”

Jurassic Park had just six minutes of animation when it opened in 1993, but the business started to grow, fast. Casper, released in 1995, had 40 minutes of character animation.

Muren next remembered working on a test for Twister. “I don’t like to do anything twice,” he said, citing the twister in The Wizard of Oz. “Nobody had ever done an F5 [and that’s what we did]. Steven [Spielberg] says that [test] is what greenlit the movie. Steven’s got a great eye.”

Soon ILM was tackling demanded 2,000-plus VFX-shot films.

Also featured were 2006’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and the CG Davy Jones, based on the reference performance of Bill Nighy using ILM’s iMoCap process.

ILM continues to innovate. ILM’s vp new media Rob Bredow discussed the recently launched ILM Experience Lab, aimed at creating immersive entertainment such as virtual reality and augmented reality.

He showed a short test for an upcoming Star Wars-based VR experience that sets up the story of Stormtroopers beginning a search for rebels on Tatooine. Bredow added that the company also is working on navigational tools including the ability to tap on a character and watch the story from his or her perspective. In the demo, that was a Stormtrooper.

“It’s neither a game or a movie, it’s something else,” said Breddow of VR.

What’s next? Muren summed up that “we need the risk-taker filmmakers. We all want to do something that’s new.”

‘Godzilla’ to Be Terrifying Thanks to Japan’s Cutting-Edge Special-Effects

(bloody-disgusting.com)                With Attack On Titan, its sequel and accompanying television miniseries releasing through this fall, Toho is now focused on brining Godzilla back to Japan.

Godzilla hasn’t had an impact in years, and didn’t become part of the general public’s conscious until Warner Bros. rebooted the film here in the States last summer.

Now, with the new Japanese Godzilla, the stakes are high. Not only do they need to make a movie better than the U.S. remake (that won’t be hard), but they need to reinvigorate the franchise that’s become nothing more than a cheap rubber costumed joke.

Shinji Higuchi, the director and special-effects whiz chosen by Toho Co. for the made-in-Japan comeback, is hoping to one-up last year’s Hollywood version, with not only the biggest Godzilla filmed ever, but one that takes up challenges previous ones haven’t attempted, reports ABC News.

“Godzilla had to deliver more and more, responding to calls from the audience, as well as creators,” said Higuchi of the series’ trappings.

“Godzilla went through these stages, resetting itself, developing and then succumbing to exhaustion, until it just got so big it had to stop.”

And so Higuchi plans to keep his Godzilla, in a sense, simple, stripped to the essentials.

With shooting to begin next month, Higuchi is under order to keep Godzilla details secret. But he is promising the most terrifying Godzilla that Japan’s cutting-edge special-effects movie-making can muster.

Higuchi’s special-effects techniques were amply demonstrated in Attack on Titan.

The work combines computer graphics with manipulating a towering doll of rippling red muscle that resembles a giant biological anatomy chart, as well as special-effects filmmaking, using actors moving through miniatures, to depict grotesquely enlarged humans.

Applying to Godzilla that kind of technology, which Higuchi calls “hybrid,” has never been attempted in Japan. Higuchi is promising just that.

But why is Higuchi the right man for the job?

“I’m confident I am among the top-50 lovers of Godzilla in the world. That’s how much I love Godzilla,” he explained. “Maybe I’m not in the top 10, but definitely in the top 50.”

I’ve never thought Godzilla was scary, and he’s never been a great anti-hero either. The idea that they’re going to try and make a terrifying movie out of Godzilla is more than exciting as most feel more action-oriented than anything else.

What would you like to see? First and foremost, I want there to be some character interaction with Godzilla, as opposed to watching from miles away like in the U.S. remake. Second, we need some fresh mythology, and for Godzilla to be a real threat to the entire planet…

Source:    http://bloody-disgusting.com/news/3356330/godzilla-terrifying-thanks-japans-cutting-edge-special-effects/

‘Shaun the Sheep Movie’ is Aardman’s Worst-Performing Film at the US Box Office

(rotoscopers.com)     August is typically known to be a ‘slow down’ period and a dumping ground for films that studios and/or audiences have low expectations for. This weekend in particular had everyone feeling that August drag, but none of them were feeling it as badly as the first animated offering of the month.

Despite near-universal praise and a decent fan base, Shaun the Sheep Movie has become the second animated film this year to outright bomb at the US box office (with the first being Strange Magic).

How hard did it bomb?

It didn’t even crack the top 10.

The film opened in eleventh place with only an estimated $4 million on opening weekend. Right now, their US box office total stands at just $5.6 million. The film has had better luck in its native Britain and elsewhere, grossing nearly $60 million.

According to a report by Deadline, Lionsgate paid an acquisition cost of $1-$2 million for the film. As such, Shaun the Sheep Movie would have needed to earn somewhere in the mid-teens ($15 million or more) to break even, especially where marketing and distribution costs were concerned.

As far as where to put the blame, the easiest target would be Lionsgate’s marketing department (which is fair, since the campaign was soft in comparison to other animated films this year). The film’s intelligent humor and British charm being a deterrent for US audiences isn’t quite accurate either (it currently has an audience score of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes). But a report from Cartoon Brew does propose a different theory, one that might make sense upon further research: Aardman’s popularity in the US is fading out.

Ever since their feature film debut (and their first collaboration with a US studio) on Chicken Run, each of Aardman’s feature films have earned less than the previous one. Prior to Shaun the Sheep Movie, Aardman’s The Pirates! Band of Misfits (the last film to be made with Sony Pictures Animation) only brought in $31 million in the US, jossing any hope of a potential sequel.

Now for the odd part. The report pins the downward trend on Aardman’s box office numbers on their “stale” and “predictable” visual and comedic styling. The report puts forth the argument that since Aardman’s inception, their style has been copied by other studios, apparently to the point where audiences have the mindset that Aardman’s latest offering is very been-there, done-that.

Render Wars: California Needs To Further Measures to Reverse VFX Work Going to Canada & UK

(kftv.com)                 California has always been regarded as the film production capital of the world. But the last few years have seen a number of major productions decamp to other parts of North America.

The key reason for this has been the introduction of regional tax incentives, which have made US states like Louisiana, Georgia, New Mexico and New York attractive alternatives to California. There has also been a migration of work to the UK and Canada, both of which offer competitive tax breaks.

The extent of the shift has been meticulously documented over the last two years by FilmL.A. showing in their reports where the six major US studios and five of the best known independent studios have been taking their film production work.

FilmL.A.’s research showed that 2013 was a particularly bad year for California, with just 15 out of 103 surveyed movies shooting in the state. This was the same as Canada and less than Louisiana, which was the top of the pile with 18.

Luckily 2014’s figures showed a bounce back for the Golden State, when it hosted 22 movies out of 106. There was also a strong showing for New York which welcomed no fewer than 13 productions. Georgia was fairly stable (10) but Louisiana was significantly down, with just 5 productions recorded for the year. Canada, at 12, was possibly a victim of California’s return to form while Massachusetts saw its share drop from five to just three films.

The big question then is – what happens next? Is California’s strong showing in 2014 a blip? And how is the rest of the US market likely to carve up the spoils in the near future?

Until July 2015, California offered a total of $100m worth of tax credits to film and TV projects on a lottery basis. However, only films with a budget of less than $75m were eligible to apply. As a result, virtually all blockbuster productions left the state in search of more attractive tax regimes (with the exception of those films whose directors had sufficient clout to demand that they be shot in California).

Recognising it had a problem, California changed its tax rebate regime in July so that big budget films are now eligible. It also increased the size of its tax rebate fund to $330m. These changes have come too late to impact California’s performance in 2015, but there is no question films will start to come back – with an impact on the statistics from 2016/2017.

When this happens, presumably some other production hubs will suffer. But FilmL.A. doesn’t take a particular view on whether this will be a shared pain – or whether one of the major hubs will bare the brunt. Its overall assessment is that “Canada, New York, Georgia, Louisiana, and the UK are California’s primary competitors for the foreseeable future. While these jurisdictions may trade yearly rank positions for total project count, budget value and production spending, there are no jurisdictions poised to dethrone them.”

One factor that may change the market’s dynamics is if one of these states drops its tax incentives reasoning that it can’t compete with the major players. New York is unlikely to do so because it is reckoned to benefit most from film induced tourism. California won’t because it is trying to win back work from rivals, and Georgia is seemingly happy with its regime, having won projects such as The Hunger Games and Ant-Man.

In terms of other states that may become bigger threats, the most obvious is New Mexico, which recently extended its tax credit programme in ways that will benefit TV producers and independent filmmakers.

Overall then, it looks like California is set to reassert its dominance, though it may need to take further measures to reverse the trend of VFX work going to Canada and the UK.

Creature From The Black Lagoon Remake Goes Scarelett

(denofgeek.us)              The new Creature From The Black Lagoon movie has also recruited The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s Jeff Pinkner to rewrite the script…

It was reported some time ago now that Universal was looking to press ahead with a classic horror characters cinematic universe. We already know that a new take on The Mummy is high up the agenda, and now we hear of progress on a remake of Creature From The Black Lagoon.

Based around the idea of scientists looking for fossils on a trip up the Amazon river,
Creature From The Black Lagoon sees them discover a half-human, half-fish character, who in turn falls for one of the female scientists on the expedition.

The role of said scientist has reportedly been offered to Scarlett Johansson, as Universal looks to move forward on the project. Furthermore, it’s now hired The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s Jeff Pinker to do a rewrite on the screenplay. Pinkner previously was a showrunner on Fringe, he’s  hard at work on the script for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, as well as being part of the team coming up with future Transformers movies.

There’s no release date thus far for the new Creature From The Black Lagoon, but we’ll keep you posted as we hear more.

Why the VFX of Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers Hold Up

(denofgeek.com)            When Jurassic World stomped into multiplexes earlier this summer, its visual effects were inevitably compared to its predecessor – 1993’s Jurassic Park. At a time when CGI was in its relative infancy, Steven Spielberg’s movie set a new standard in visual effects. For those two-or-so hours, an entire generation believed that dinosaurs were once again walking the earth.

In fact, Jurassic Park’s effects are so good that it still stands up more than 20 years later – and, as many other writers have already pointed out, its dinosaurs are hardly less convincing than the ones that charged across the screen in this summer’s Jurassic World.

Another ’90s film commonly held up for the quality of its visual effects is Starship Troopers. Directed by Paul Verhoeven and released in 1997, it wasn’t a hit of Jurassic Park’s magnitude, but its anarchic humour and superbly-wrought planet of giant, bloodthirsty bugs has earned it a cult following. So why do the effects seen in Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers still look so good today?

This very subject came up when we spoke to Fon Davis, a longstanding miniature maker and production designer who worked on Starship Troopers in 1997. He points out that, while Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers, and the Star Wars prequels (the first of which also came out in 1999) were all praised for their groundbreaking use of CGI, a great percentage of their effects were achieved practically.

“Jurassic Park had a lot of Stan Winston creatures in it,” Davis says. “There are the close-ups for the feet and the heads, and we had a lot of beautiful, beautiful animatronics in that movie. Those things always integrate with the lighting in the scenes perfectly because they’re actually there. They glisten, they do all the things your brain expects an object to do, or a dinosaur to do. So I think those are the best visual effects, probably, that have ever been done.”

Starship Troopers was created with a similar mix of miniature effects, animatronics and CGI, with each technique carefully chosen to suit its particular sequence.

“[Starship Troopers] is a good example of hybrid moviemaking,” Davis tells us. “We had a lot of miniatures, a lot of really spectacular CGI from Phil Tippet’s studio for the bugs. We had prosthetics and they had all the physical effects artists in that movie. The movie holds up a lot better than movies that have come out since.”

The reason for this? Davis refers to a theory put forward by Dennis Muren, the Oscar-winning special effects artist who worked on the Star Wars movies: practical effects give CG artists a physical, real-world basis for their own work.

“Dennis Muren is always saying that CG artists copying photographs makes it easier for them to make the CG look real too,” Davis explains. “So you have a bunch of real objects, a bunch of miniature objects, and then there’s CG to bind all those things. The miniature things based on reality raise the bar for CG, and CG raises the bar for the whole thing. So you have a benchmark you have to hit. It’s too easy to get lazy and think you’ve nailed it when you’re not copying some sort of reality, you’re creating reality completely from scratch. It’s so easy to get it wrong, because the physics engines and rendering packages on computers don’t always get it right.”

For Davis, the balance between established practical effects techniques and CGI was one of the main reasons why the visuals in Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers look so good. But there’s also another reason: those movies arrived at the beginning of a visual effects boom; compared to the movies of the 21st century, the number of effects shots in Jurassic Park was relatively tiny, as Davis explains:

“It’s interesting, because I think CG came in right about the time movies also started to amp up the number of visual effects. It’s like the birth of the rollercoaster ride visual effects movie, right? So this all happened while we were still at ILM. You used to get movies that would come in and there would be like a hundred shots, and we’d be like, ‘Wow, a hundred VFX shots. Jurassic Park only had 65.’ But then we’d hit 200, and then 300, and we’d be saying, ‘Woah! 300 effects shots in a movie!’ Then the next thing you know we’re doing 900, then a thousand. By the time we’d finished the third Star Wars prequel it was over 2,000 shots and we stopped counting!”

With increasing workloads like that, it’s little surprise that the effects shots in some modern movies can look variable at times – technology may have evolved, but the pressure on VFX artists and designers to get 100s of shots done on time and on budget has also escalated.

Working within the constraints of time and budget, effects artists are continuously trying find new, effective ways of making audiences believe that what they’re seeing on the screen is real. For Davis, the best way to create those effects is with the same hybrid approach we saw in Jurassic Park or Starship Troopers – and if we look at some of the movies with the best visual effects over the past five years, almost all of them have mixed the physical with the digital to create their illusions.

In Neill Blomkamp’s 2013 film Elysium, a mix of CGI and miniature effects was used to create its futuristic landscape. For one sequence, Davis and his team built a 12-foot long scale model of the Raven – the ship belonging to Sharlto Copley’s villainous character – and crashed it into an 80-foot long set. Terrifyingly, budget and time constraints meant that they only had one chance to get the shot right.

“We only had one shot to crash the ship, have it laying on the ground, spin on its side, its wings break off, flames shoot out, and it has to come to a stop at a very specific location,” Davis tells us. “Seven cameras on it, one take, and we did not have a second version of the set or the ship. That was definitely one of the most stressful moments of my career. It was seven months of work leading up to a couple of seconds of shooting.”

Stress aside, this is a modern example of multiple disciplines coming together in one shot to create a realistic whole. The scale model effects (or “bigiatures” as they’re sometimes dubbed) were later augmented with CGI, while a full-scale version of the crashed Raven was created from the model for the live-action scenes which came after it.

Davis cites Christopher Nolan as another director who’s using the same hybrid approach as Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers. For 2014’s Interstellar, Nolan used a blend of model spacecraft – some spanning as much as 50 feet in length – physical sets and CGI to fill in the gaps.

The resulting effects shots – some 900 of them – create the illusion of real craft flying through space precisely because so much of what we see was physically built; as Davis puts it, “You don’t have to fight it – you don’t have to try to make it look real. In so much of computer graphics, you have to go to a huge effort to really do that.”

So while CGI has become a hugely powerful filmmaking tool, it’s when the digital and the physical are combined that the most effective sequences arise. It was true in the days of Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers, and it’s still the case in movies like Elysium, Interstellar and this summer’s Mad Max: Fury Road, with its stunning mix practical stunts augmented with CG.

Whether it’s bringing dinosaurs back from extinction, scaring up hordes of giant bugs or sending spaceships to the other side of the universe, the visual effects artist’s job remains the same as it ever was: using technology to tell a story. As Fon Davis puts it, “You don’t want people to think about visual effects. You want people to care about the characters. So if we’re doing our jobs right, we go completely unnoticed.”

Source:    http://www.denofgeek.us/movies/jurassic-park/248312/why-the-vfx-of-jurassic-park-and-starship-troopers-hold-up

VFX Artist Charles Gibson to Direct Action Movie ‘Crash Site’

(variety.com)                Alcon Entertainment has tapped Charles Gibson, winner of two visual effects Oscars, to make his directorial debut on the action movie “Crash Site.”

Producers are John Baldecchi and Alcon co-chiefs Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove. Gibson is directing from a script by Chuck Pfarrer with the logline under wraps.

Gibson won Oscars for the effects in “Babe” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and picked up nominations for “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.” He also has credits as VFX supervisor on “The Green Mile” and both “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” movies.

Pfarrer’s credits include Sam Raimi’s “Darkman” and John Woo’s “Hard Target.” Baldecchi is a producer on Alcon’s “Point Break” remake.

Samsung’s New Mission: Discovering VR Film Talent

(fastcompany.com)        Samsung today became the latest entrant in a growing field of companies and organizations supporting and fostering the creation of independent virtual reality content.

With the launch of Gear Indie, a new channel available solely on Samsung’s Milk VR section of its Gear VR virtual reality headset, Samsung is placing a bet that independently produced content can be as important as that made by filmmaking professionals. Done right, the company clearly believes, this kind of content will help sell a lot of hardware.

Gear Indie joins programs like those from Jaunt Studio, Nokia, Tongal, and others aiming to help inspire or reward VR filmmakers.

Samsung’s new initiative will have three components, Fast Company has learned: a curated showcase for short virtual reality films; a system of challenges that will reward a small number of filmmakers; and a mentorship program that will team some of those creators with established VR filmmaking professionals.

According to Matt Apfel, vice president of strategy and creative content at Samsung Media Solutions Center America, the Gear Indie channel is launching today with five short VR films, and two more will be added each day this week.

In coming weeks, Apfel said, there are likely to be more films added to Gear Indie, but it’s not going to be “a channel where there are 1,000 independent videos and no one can find them.”

Rather, Samsung wants to help the videos selected to appear there stand out from the crowd.

Full article:    http://www.fastcompany.com/3049611/tech-forecast/samsungs-gear-indie-channel-aimed-at-discovering-next-great-vr-filmmakers

FX House Bucks Visual Effects Biz Trend With Move to Downtown L.A.

(variety.com)            Company settles in Fashion District while most vfx production flees SoCal.

The Siggraph computer graphics conference and trade show, long the most important confab for the digital visual effects business, returns to the Los Angeles Convention Center this week. But the L.A. region is no longer the hub of vfx production that made it Siggraph’s favorite home for many years.

Visual effects production has largely fled to Vancouver and other locales with richer subsidies, leaving only a modest presence in L.A.

One small vfx company, though, is bucking the trend, not only staying in SoCal, but moving to newly revitalized downtown Los Angeles.

Locktix is a boutique vfx company, specializing in “911” visual effects emergencies — a shot or group of shots that has to be completed within days, sometimes within hours. Sometimes that’s last-minute additions, sometimes it’s adjusting shots in trailers to address MPAA notes, sometimes it’s alternate cuts for different markets. It’s recent credits include “Ted 2,” “Nightcrawler” and “Wet Hot American Summer.”

The company was based in Santa Monica, but was outgrowing its space there. “We were looking for was more power, more space, more parking — that was challenging to find in Santa Monica,” Lochner told Variety.

Power is a particular concern, even for a small vfx firm. The “machine room” for a visual effects company holds the servers for complex CG rendering. A machine room needs a lot of power for the servers and for air conditioning to keep them cool.

Lochner didn’t want to follow most of the vfx business out of town in search of a vfx subsidy. “For me, a tax subsidy shouldn’t be a main part of your business model. You should be able to operate without anyone subsidizing your business. So that’s the way we structured things internally, so we wouldn’t have to rely on subsidies to survive.” He also felt that being close to the editorial facilities in L.A. was advantageous; he and his team could run across town to those editing bays as needed.

Lochner looked at spaces in Hollywood, Venice, El Segundo, Culver City and Burbank, but couldn’t find anything the right size with the necessities. Then he checked out a space on East 9th Street in downtown L.A., where audio equipment maker Audyssey had space available to sublease. There was ample space, parking and power. Audyssey director Tyson Yaberg said “The building is built for a high capacity of occupants but currently I believe occupancy is still relatively low, leaving plenty of resources, such as power, available.”

Lochner said “This is the Fashion District so for us it’s kind of unusual for a visual effects company to move down to this area,” Lochner said, “but that just screamed opportunity,” he said. They were able to modify their sub-leased space in just under two months and moved in days later.

Downtown L.A. has long had a sketchy reputation, but that is turning around fast, thanks in part to downtown’s burgeoning food and arts scenes. They too, proved a draw for Locktix. Nicholas Rosselot, comp lead for Locktix, said “There’s a lot of art everywhere. There’s a big community. I feel like I belong here.” Public transportation is plentiful, and some staffers take trains to work, but when they’re on deadline they work late, and need to commute by car, so the plentiful parking is crucial.

There are some downsides to moving into L.A.’s urban core. Tarlton says “The challenge with Los Angeles is something that we found in the city’s gross receipt tax … that is something that you have to be aware of when moving to the City of Los Angeles, places like Santa Monica don’t have that.”

But Locktix is blazing a path other vfx and high-tech entertainment companies may find tempting — at least until Fashion District rents get too high. When that happens, though, there are likely to be other parts of downtown available to such urban pioneers.

‘Deadpool’ Sequel Possible For June 2017

(themovienetwork.com)              20th Century Fox built up big buzz last week with the Deadpool trailers, before it was all canceled out by Fantastic Four’s bomb of an opening. In trying to turn the page from one failed reboot of Marvel characters to another more promising one, Fox is now rumored to be considering a Deadpool sequel for summer 2017 — right where a Fantastic Four sequel would be.

The allegations came from the website The Daily Superhero, although they are still only allegations. Between the newfound Deadpool anticipation and the far less pleasant downfall of Fantastic Four, the source and even the Fox execs may just be prisoners of the moment.

One source messaged The Daily SuperHero saying how there is already some rumor buzz regarding the date Fox had originally set for FANTASTIC FOUR 2 on June 9, 2017. The insider says due to Fox’s less-than-stellar weekend box office estimates for the reboot it’s become a topic of discussion pretty quickly behind studio doors. A discussion rumored to be taking place is the consideration of removing FANTASTIC FOUR 2 from its June 9, 2017 release date and eventually plugging DEADPOOL 2 into that spot.

If there is actual serious consideration in doing this, Fox would have to move pretty quickly. Since Fox likely didn’t plan to give Deadpool a sequel that soon, it would have to make sure Ryan Reynolds can return fast enough, get a script together and see if its original creative team can return or not.

It might be premature to give it a sequel since the original won’t be out for six months, but a Fantastic Four sequel was green lit fairly prematurely as well. Reynolds already knows something about a would-be comic book franchise jumping the gun, since any Green Lantern sequels Warner Bros might have considered were scrapped pretty quickly.

Perhaps Fox might think it can keep a Fantastic Four sequel where it is if it just gets rid of Josh Trank and starts over, whether or not that would help keep Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell around. Considering Fox’s determination to hold the characters’ movie rights — and keep them away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe — it could be too risky for it to delay a sequel, no matter how much audiences wouldn’t actually mind it.

Deadpool had a failed movie debut just like the Fantastic Four did in the past decade — albeit not in one or two of his own solo films — yet now he may be more in demand by Fox than Marvel’s original heroes. Few could have seen that coming years ago or maybe even months ago.

It’s still just as likely that both potential sequels will go forward, even if a Deadpool sequel is placed sometime after June 2017. Given that Fox didn’t show enough patience with its Fantastic Four plans before they blew up, waiting until the full length Deadpool movie delivers or not to expand that character may be worth trying.

Either way, the first Deadpool won’t be able to erase Fox’s Fantastic Four backlash until Feb. 12, 2016.

Greebles: How Tiny Details Make a Huge Star Wars Universe

Did you know the engine panels on the back of the Millennium Falcon were shovels from a bulldozer?

The space ship roars overhead, a huge bulk pale against the inky depths of space. It’s an Imperial Star Destroyer, its surface spiky with an incalculable number of spiky outcroppings. As the craft’s multiple engines rumble into view, we can only guess at its size.

Except, of course, the Star Destroyer isn’t really a colossal military ship, but a scale miniature, one of dozens expertly crafted by a team of artists and builders at Industrial Light and Magic. Those spiky outcroppings, which hint at all kinds of mysterious scientific applications, are in reality tiny pieces of plastic, cunningly applied to the model to suggest a ship of unfeasible size.

It worked, too: when the Star Destroyer made its grand appearance in Star Wars’ opening shot in 1977, it set the tone for the entire movie: this wasn’t just another low-budget sci-fi B-picture. This was a film with a scope that audiences hadn’t seen before. Star Wars was a hit on the scale of the Star Destroyer itself, and the movie landscape – not to mention visual effects – would never be quite the same again.

Star Wars introduced the idea of a “used future” that small films like Dark Star could only imply. Special effects artist John Dykstra, then aged just 29, led the team responsible for building Star Wars’ huge array of exotic craft. Stretched in terms of both time and budget, they came up with all sorts of ingenious ways of making futuristic and believable-looking ships using materials readily at hand.

Full article:   http://www.denofgeek.us/movies/star-wars/248265/greebles-how-tiny-details-make-a-huge-star-wars-universe

Jumanji Remake Happening; Causes Social Media Uproar

(movienewsguide.com)      More and more movie remakes are happening now and although some people are pleased with these reboots, others don’t agree with some movie remakes. The latest possible movie remake is the 1995 hit movie “Jumanji,” which starred the late Robin Williams.

“Jumanji” is a board game and Williams played the man trapped in the game for 26 years. He was then released when two kids discovered the game and played it. Since playing the game, the kids as well as Williams went through a lot of obstacles to finish the game. When Sony Pictures announced on August 5, 2015 that a reboot is happening for the movie, not everyone was pleased.

The remake of “Jumanji” is slated to to hit cinemas on Christmas Day of 2016. However, the movie still has no director and the actors haven’t been named yet. Fans of the movie took to their social media accounts to express their displeasure about the “Jumanji” reboot. One user said that “Hollywood has run out of ideas.” These comments were triggered due to the fact that Williams can’t reprise his role anymore and fans think that it would never be the same.

Check out some of the Twitter feeds below regarding the “Jumanji” reboot:   http://www.movienewsguide.com/jumanji-remake-happening-causes-social-media-uproar/82126

Animation and VFX Fall 2015 Movie Preview

(AWN.com)    Variety abounds in the animated and VFX-focused films headed our way this fall.

As we anticipate the depressing thought of swapping out our summer t-shirts for fall jackets, take heart in knowing the spirit of the summer blockbuster season will live on at the multiplex. Two ‘60s-set thrillers are on the way, as well as CG, stop motion and even hand-drawn animated offerings, amidst a spattering of sequels, reboots and spinoffs. In short, plenty to make the transition bearable, as evidenced in this shortlist of noteworthy animated and VFX-filled films.

Take a look:   http://www.awn.com/animationworld/animation-and-vfx-fall-2015-movie-preview

Why Does Clay Animation Matter at Hollywood’s Annual CG Conference?

(hollywoodreporter.com)             Stop-motion cartoons may seem a bit old school for a super-high-tech graphics event like SIGGRAPH. But the brains behind ‘Shaun the Sheep Movie’ are there to offer a warning: “Danger if you take technology to an extreme.”

This story first appeared in the Aug. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

At this year’s SIGGRAPH convention, there will be the usual panels about breakthroughs in virtual reality and other cutting-edge developments in computer-generated entertainment. The projected 14,000 attendees at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 42nd annual gathering of the Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, set to take place Aug. 9 to 13 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, expect nothing less. But one panel in particular will offer a unique peek into an animation process so sophisticated and specialized that only a handful of geniuses have mastered it well enough to succeed in Hollywood: molding lumps of clay with one’s fingers.

It indeed is ironic that a convention dedicated to super-high-tech computer graphics would hold a panel for Britain’s Aardman Animations, one of the last studios in the digitized world still producing old-fashioned handmade stop-motion cartoons. But the timing couldn’t be more perfect: Aardman, home to Nick Park’s beloved Wallace & Gromit films — including the Oscar-winning shorts A Close Shave and The Wrong Trousers and the Oscar-winning feature Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit — will release its latest feature, Shaun the Sheep Movie, on Aug. 5, only days before the conference-opening panel.

“I think there’s a danger that you can take technology to an extreme,” says Shaun executive producer (and Aardman co-founder) David Sproxton, who will appear on the panel alongside the film’s cinematographer, Dave Alex Riddett. “It can become a little bit too polished or too CG. The imperfections of stop-motion give it charm because you can sense the craftsmanship. And the other key thing about stop-motion is that the animators themselves have to be performers in their own right.”

Park didn’t direct Shaun — he’s in England preparing to shoot his next feature for Aardman, Early Man, which is said to be set in prehistoric times. But as with all of the studio’s projects, his DNA is all over the screen. Shaun co-director Mark Burton was a writer on Park’s The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and Shaun the Sheep himself first appeared in 1995’s A Close Shave before the character got his own BBC show in 2007 (produced and directed by Shaun’s other co-director, Richard Starzak).

“We were certainly inspired by the way Nick Park animated Gromit — he’s a very deadpan puppet,” says Burton, referring to the clay-animation dog’s ability to convey a wide range of emotions without saying (or even barking) a word. “We tried to be true to that with Shaun; you have to let the audience know what’s going on in the character’s head at all times. If you do that, you don’t need a lot [of dialogue] — it’s a little look or a slight movement of the eyes that will tell you everything you need to know.”

But in the world of stop-motion animation, those little movements can take months to get on film. To make Shaun, craftsmen constructed 197 sheep puppets (21 for Shaun alone), 157 human figures and dozens of miniature motorcycles, cars and bikes — along with a mini town square where some of the “action sequences” take place — all of which painstakingly had to be adjusted and shot one frame at a time to give the illusion of movement. Making a stop-motion feature takes so long and can become so involved, it’s easy to lose track of what’s real and what’s clay. One of the animators even might have gone slightly bonkers during production.

“He invented a little story for each character, so he was talking to them while he was animating them,” says Starzak. “It helped him remember what the character was up to. It looked a little bit insane, but it worked.”

Source:    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/why-does-clay-animation-matter-812982

The Greek Billionaire Whose Celebrity-Hologram Business Would Bring Back the Beatles

(vulture.com)                Alkiviades David sips some tea and shakes his head. “One could argue,” he says, “that pornography is the be-all and end-all for holography.” Dressed in ripped blue jeans and a crisp multicolored pin-striped button-down shirt open to his chest, the 47-year-old Greek billionaire — one of the heirs of the Leventis-David Group, which made a vast fortune bottling Coca-Cola — is sitting 35 stories above Columbus Circle in the lounge of the Mandarin Oriental hotel. It’s a drizzly July day, and he’s mulling the future of entertainment. “Unfortunately,” David says, “to holographically display real people having sex in real time requires installation of half a million dollars of proper equipment. Strip-club owners are just not going to pony that up.” David’s words fall nonchalantly from his tongue in a posh transatlantic accent — he was schooled at the prestigious Stowe School in England and the prestigious-er Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland — and the effect is as if conversation were a leisure activity with which he’s become slightly bored. “Fortunately, the hologram business is bigger than porn. It’s going to be as big as the movie market.” He gently places his teacup in its saucer. “There is no impediment to that happening. None.”

David says he has so far invested $20 million toward making this a reality, with more money yet to be spent. He has a company, Hologram USA, which he started in 2014 after buying the patent for the technology that created the Tupac Shakur hologram that performed at Coachella in 2012, and he’s aggressively sued for patent infringement against Fox and Cirque du Soleil. David intends to put on shows featuring digital likenesses of Ray Charles, Richard Pryor, Jim Morrison, Liberace, Mariah Carey, and other dead or otherwise past-their-prime performers. And he has, he believes, foolproof plans to get these apparitions to materialize for paying audiences. “I’ve got deals in place,” David says, leaning forward in his chair. “I’m in with the Apollo in Harlem, the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre in Branson, the Saban Theatre in Los Angeles, and the hologram comedy club at the National Comedy Center in upstate New York is opening next year. I’ll pay to retrofit venues and theaters across the country with the technology to deliver holographic shows. My digital holdings — social media and websites — have over 70 million monthly uniques. The pipeline is being built.” He leans back. “It’s just a matter of time.”

Full article:   http://www.vulture.com/2015/08/alki-david-celebrity-hologram-business.html

Call for Papers:  Conventional Special Effects & Unconventional Thinking – The Legacy of Harryhausen

(popmatters.com)            Without Ray Harryhausen’s monstrous inspirations, would so many films we love to fear have been as terrifying?

Deadline for essay pitches: Friday, September 11th
First drafts: Friday October 23rd
Final essay: Friday, November 13th
Submit your pitches to: PopMatters’ editor Dawn Eyestone eyestone@popmatters.com; cc: zarker@popmatters.com
Email subject line: Harryhausen SFX Legacy

Although filmmaker and special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen officially retired from feature filmmaking in the ‘80s, his legacy continues on the set of B-movie films and Hollywood blockbusters alike. Even filmgoers who’ve never heard of Harryhausen are likely familiar with his film techniques and might recognize one or two of his creations. Without Harryhausen’s creatures in Clash of the Titans, film geeks everywhere would be without the battle cry “Release the Kraken!” Without Harryhausen’s development of stop-motion filming, how would George Lucas have made Luke Skywalker run across a frozen wasteland on the back of a fictitious Tauntaun? Without Harryhausen’s monstrous inspiration, would Spielberg’s Jaws have been as terrifying?

Ray Harryhausen’s contributions to the film industry, especially to conventional special effects development and storytelling in the genre of science fiction and fantasy, are incalculable.

This series of essays seeks to examine and analyze this pioneer (dare we say titan?) of special effects (SFX) in-depth.

Essays for this series could touch on Harryhausen’s career, legacy, and inspiration; or specific films, SFX techniques, and genres. Authors are encouraged to be creative and, like Harryhausen himself, explore unique and interesting perspectives on the subject matter. Possible topics include:

SFX as an intrinsic part of good storytelling

Specific techniques as developed or used by Harryhausen and his contemporaries (e.g., Dynamation, Stop Motion, Rotoscoping)

Harryhausen’s early career and inspiration, e.g., Willis O’Brien’s King Kong

Critiques and analyses of feature films and other projects important to SFX development (e.g., Jason and the Argonauts, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, 20 Million Miles to Earth, Mysterious Island, Clash of the Titans (1983), George Pal’s Puppetoons, WWII Army propaganda films)

Influences on later entertainment and contemporary pop culture, including connections to films/filmmakers (e.g., Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, Star Wars, The Terminator)
Comparisons between films and their remakes as related to special effects and storytelling (e.g., Clash of the Titans 1981 v. 2010, King Kong 1933 v. 2005) though such essays should be scholarly and thoughtful, focused on filmmaking, genre, technique, and/or storytelling rather than fan arguments about “which was better”.

Of special interest to the editors are essays that touch on Harryhausen’s development of special effects in science fiction of the ‘50’s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, which contributed to the genre’s current place in mainstream entertainment; and essays that provide in-depth analyses of the connection between the use of conventional special effects and strong storytelling. The editors are not looking for essays focused on computer generated effects; however, they will consider essays that discuss CGI as directly related to the use of conventional SFX and/or storytelling.

Essays accepted for this series should target Harryhausen and SF film fans or cultural generalists and will be published on the PopMatters website. Essays should be written in PopMatters style; erudite, engaging and entertaining, but not laden with academic language. Essays length is approximately 1,500 – 2,500 words in MLA format.

Source:    http://www.popmatters.com/post/196112-call-for-papers-ray-harryhausen/

VFX from a Tropical Paradise

Technology has changed the world of post-production, not just in terms of the work produced, but in the way that work is approached.

The proliferation of high-speed internet; the continuous move towards a cloud-based workflow; and new tools like Skype and cineSync have allowed post-production teams to spread out, often working countries and even continents apart on the very same projects. Technology has seen the post-production world expand and yet grow tighter and more interconnected all at once.

It’s also allowed very unique vendors like capital T to set up shop – vendors that simply couldn’t exist in years gone by.
capital T is a new kind of studio, and one we’re seeing proliferate in the early part of the new millennium. It’s comprised not of whole departments, supervisors and runners, but of just two employees – the husband and wife team of Lindsay and Jamie Hallett. And they’re not based in any of the VFX capitals of the world – their outpost lies nearly 4,000 miles west of California, resting on the idyllic shores of Maui, the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands.

capital T is living proof that successful VFX doesn’t have to come from darkened rooms, but can also be made in the fresh, tropical climes of an island paradise. This small studio in such a remote Pacific location is still equipped to deliver work on Hollywood’s most prominent shows, from Ant-Man and Captain America: The Winter Soldier to Insurgent and American Sniper .

Full story:   http://www.cgw.com/Press-Center/Web-Exclusives/2015/VFX-from-a-Tropical-Paradise.aspx

From Scooby-Doo to LOTR: Witness the epic evolution of VFX

(hindustantimes.com)                Visual Effects have come a long way. Remember when George Lucas tried to remaster Jabba the Hutt for Star Wars? That was forgivable, it was still the early days. But when Lucas went and created that most annoying of all cinematic creatures, the evil atrocity that is Jar Jar Binks, it couldn’t be ignored. For more reasons than one. Not only was he an affront to the very existence of movies, he was also the worst example of characters created entirely in computers.

The mess of 0s and 1s made a lasting impact, though. Even after all these years we look back at Jar Jar and his vaguely racist ways and shake our heads in dismay.

But the annoying Gungan wasn’t the only bad CG character to emerge in an era when filmmakers didn’t really know how to utilise the new technology effectively. For many, it was just an excuse to create something that couldn’t be captured in camera, usually resulting in some sort of outlandish extravagance.

But there were others who cracked the code. They figured out the secret: The key wasn’t going big on the spectacle (although there are good examples of that as well), but the key was implementing visual effects in a way that contributed to the film. Directors like David Fincher use VFX like a artist uses paint, while the blessed Michael Bay (although technically unmatched, falls in each and every trap laid out by the possibilities of VFX).

But, as is usually the case, there is good, there is bad, and there is ugly. Here is our rundown of the evolution of visual effects, focusing on entirely CGI characters.

Full article with video:    http://www.hindustantimes.com/hollywood/from-jar-jar-and-the-rock-to-gollum-the-epic-evolution-of-vfx/article1-1377598.aspx

Stephen Colbert’s Latest CBS Trailer Pokes Fun at Special Effects (VIDEO)

(themalaymailonline.com)               LOS ANGELES, Aug 8 — Stephen Colbert’s latest CBS trailer for his upcoming “Late Show” is billed as a movie theatre trailer. Unlike standard movie trailers, it seems to be missing a green screen or two.

Colbert hilariously acts as though 3D and CGI effects are going to be added, miming a rather accurate representation of how ridiculous it does look before the effects wizardry happens.

Knowing Colbert, his wit will be enough to sustain him without fancy CGI dragons.

Take a lookt: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/showbiz/article/stephen-colberts-latest-cbs-trailer-pokes-fun-at-special-effects-video#sthash.gPrlqhm9.dpuf