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