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

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