What to expect from Disney’s new ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ ride

The “Guardians of the Galaxy” ride opening May 27 at Disney California Adventure will replace the venerable Twilight Zone Tower of Terror as the anchor of a new Marvel themed land.

The 2004 Tower of Terror indoor elevator drop ride will be re-skinned with a back story loosely based on the original 2014 movie and the upcoming sequel, which feature a mismatched team of intergalactic misfits who band together to save the universe.

Mission: Breakout, as the new Guardians ride will be known, will take visitors on a comical and thrilling ride with new visual effects and music from the film’s soundtrack, according to Disney.

Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde, who is supervising the makeover, has spoken extensively about the Guardians overlay to numerous publications and in prepared statements and videos.


Disney California Adventure’s Tower of Terror to be Rethemed to GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

Slammer at Disney California Adventures

Guardians of the Galaxy sequel – the band of space heroes would be next taking over Disney California Adventure’s Tower of Terror ride at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California

I have had the pleasure of picking up a gig at  Walt Disney Imagineering  – WDI.  Most of my tasks have been visualizing the elevator part of the ride in motionbuilder. Timing out the media and door animation and audio. I have had to learn how to operate and program a big robotic arm you can ride. We used this as a previz tool since we couldn’t shut down the ride for testing early on. I have also got to hone my skill set in the Unreal Engine doing virtual reality (VR) walk-throughs of the queues.

On-set VR demo.

VFX News – 07/13/15

Animal Logic Looks to Fill 300 Roles

(if.com.au)              Visual effects and animation studio, Animal Logic is looking candidates for its new Vancouver animation studio due to open in late 2015.

The company is looking to fill around 300 roles across the production pipeline.

According to a company statement, the annual SIGGRAPH conference – August 9-13 in Los Angeles – represents an ideal opportunity for potential candidates to meet with Animal Logic’s recruitment team.

Animal Logic recruitment supervisor,  Patricia Kung said the company was especially keen to hear from associate producers, production Managers, senior system Engineers, CG supervisors, software developers and technical directors.

“Siggraph is an important event for us and an important audience,” said Animal Logic’s Recruitment Supervisor

The LEGO Movie Sequel is scheduled to start production at Animal Logic Vancouver in January 2016.

Kung said the opportunities were not just in Vancouver.

Animal Logic’s Sydney studio is also looking to fill a significant number of key roles as it ramps up production on LEGO Batman and Ninjago, as well as its growing slate of Visual FX projects.

“From software developers to digital artists, the available positions at our Sydney, Australia, studio also represent an amazing opportunity for those currently working in the visual effects and animation industries,” Kung said.

Source:      http://if.com.au/2015/07/13/article/Animal-Logic-looks-to-fill-300-roles/XCYUERWXPT.html

12 photos Inside Sony Pictures Imageworks New Downtown Vancouver HQ

(vancouversun.com)            Sony Imageworks revealed their brand new headquarters in Vancouver this week.

The visual effects arm of Sony Motion Pictures Group unveiled its new operations centre on Granville Street in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday with Premier Christy Clark and Mayor Gregor Robertson in attendance.

Sony Imageworks’ Vancouver location is the city’s largest visual effects and digital animation facility, covering 6,900 square metres and housing more than 700 artists. Sony Imageworks first opened an office in Vancouver in 2010 with a staff of 80.

“B.C. is thriving because we have a diverse economy and diverse markets — and tech is leading the way,” Premier Christy Clark said in a statement. “With a highly skilled talent base, attractive lifestyle and business climate, B.C. is increasingly a global destination for digital media giants.”

Sony Imageworks’ contributions in visual effects include the Spider-Man franchises, Disney’s Alice In Wonderland, sci-fi film Edge of Tomorrow, and animated film Hotel Transylvania.

Photos – Take a look:  http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2015/07/sony-pictures-imageworks-vancouver-office-photos/

Hayao Miyazaki To Make Debut 3D CG Animation Film

(variety.com)          TOKYO — Animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki confirmed that he is directing an animated short for the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo. This will be his first animation since completing “The Wind Rises,” a 2013 hit which he said would be his last feature.

The new ten-minute film, starring a hairy caterpillar, will be made in the 3D CG format, a first for the director, and take an estimated three years to complete. Miyazaki did not say whether the film will be shown outside the museum.

Miyazaki spoke to reporters at his studio Higashi Koganei, Tokyo. He dedicated most of his remarks to criticism of the Japanese government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Gameloft Closes Their NYC Studio, Lays Off All Development Staff

(toucharcade.com)               I think it’s fair to say that Gameloft has been one of the most important publishers in mobile gaming’s brief history. They were going big into making mobile phone games before most, and although a lot of their earlier efforts were pretty blatant riffs on popular console and PC games, you still have to give them credit for the amount of effort they put into those games. But the times have changed, and the App Store even more so. The type of games Gameloft made best don’t sell the way they used to, and I think it’s fair to say the company has, like many, struggled to keep up with the movement of the market. There’s only so long that can go on before something terrible happens, and I suppose yesterday was that day for Gameloft’s New York City offices.

According to a report on Gamasutra which cites a now-deleted Facebook post from Gameloft NYC lead programmer Kevin Chen, production at the NYC offices has ceased and all development personnel have been laid off. As many as 100 people lost their jobs yesterday, effectively dissolving a development studio that has produced a bunch of best-selling games over the last 15 years, including one of my recent favorites, Spider-Man Unlimited [Free]. Gameloft has a number of other development studios around the world, of course, but it’s awful to see any developer shuttered, no matter how big or small they may be.

Let’s hope everyone who worked at Gameloft NYC who finds themselves out a job today can land on their feet somehow. Spider-Man Unlimited is probably one of my most-played mobile games since its release, and I know I’m not the only Spidey fan who loves it. Each and every person who worked on it deserves an ultra-coveted TouchArcade Most Spider-Mans Of A Lifetime award, and if you’re going to enjoy some celebratory vermouth, you might want to make it the non-metaphorical kind today. Best of luck to all the folks at or formerly at Gameloft during these difficult times.

Weta Workshop Built on ‘The Hobbit’ Tech to Create ‘Warcraft’ Weapons

(slashfilm.com)               One of the best things about Comic Con is getting up close and personal with objects and costumes designed for many films. Weta Workshop is here with artifacts from Duncan Jones‘s film Warcraft, for example. While waiting to speak to Jones at Legendary’s preview night event, I got a few minutes of private conversation with Richard Taylor, the Weta Workshop founder and creative director whose work with armor and weapons gave such weight to the Lord of the Rings movies.

The work Taylor and Weta have done for Warcraft is spectacular. You can see evidence above — that shot is of a statue of Dominic Cooper’s character King Llane Wrynn, unveiled this evening. We’ve got more shots of Weta’s armor work below, along with a nice chat with Taylor. The armor master says that new digital-enhanced techniques saved the day on Warcraft.

Taylor also brings up Krampus, from Trick R Treat director Michael Dougherty, for which he says about 80% of the effects are practical.

What was the overall approach to Warcraft?

It was terrific for us, because naturally people thought that the film would be significantly digital. But you have two protagonists — you have these equal armies, almost, and you want to tell those two stories. The way to tell the human story is through human actors. That required armor and weapons to be built, which was a joy for us. We’d done some early development with Duncan and Stuart on a previous movie, and that’s how we got to know them. So when Legendary asked us to do this, and connected us with Duncan, you can imagine how extraordinarily excited we were.

The approach, luckily this director has a very strong vision, and he was armed with a studio that would support him and encourage the ideas he had. Initially, the armor was a real challenge, because in the game the human-proportioned armor is significantly off. So there was a little bit of design process to get people through prototyping to understand what was possible. Building the armor to be as significant as possible while still having someone be able to wield a sword.

The test we always use, as crude as it is, is that an actor has to be able to clap their hands in front of their bodies, because that means that they can hold the sword, and wield it above their head. If they can’t do that, it’s because the armor is too encumbering. And you can’t allow the design of the armor to overwhelm the performance of the actor. Otherwise, halfway through the shoot, the actor is going to become disengaged from the armor. These things are really important.

But the design process was a joy, the designs came to us mostly finished and we got to build them. Thankfully, for the last I guess twelve or thirteen years we’ve been investing in digital modeling technology, 3D printing, milling machines. Lord of the Rings was 100% hand-built. The Hobbit was 60% manufactured by robots. The technology that we developed for that film we were able to bring heavily to bear on this.

3D printing and milling, really, milling saved our ass on this. The product requires such a perfect finish. Perfect symmetry. If you look at the Lion shields, the swords, it was never going to be possible through hand-sculpting, in the time that we had. You could arguably do everything that the machines can do, but you could never do it in the time.

Full article with pics:     http://www.slashfilm.com/richard-taylor-warcraft-interview/

Boston Film Tax Credit Survives Attack  – Zero VFX Keeps 25% Discount

(bostonglobe.com)               A controversial state tax credit for the film industry has proved once again to be invincible.

The Legislature rebuffed efforts by Governor Charlie Baker to kill the subsidy. The governor had wanted to use the savings to finance an expansion of a tax credit for low-income workers.

Like his predecessor Deval Patrick, Baker had criticized the film tax credit as a wasteful giveaway that did not generate enough economic activity in Massachusetts to justify the tens of millions in revenue lost to the state treasury.

“My view has been that the subsidy is not worth the value of the return,” Baker said Wednesday. “There are clearly people in the Legislature who disagree with me, but, as I said before, that’s politics. That’s government.”

Baker’s loss, though, is a coup for the thousands of film workers and related professionals who said its elimination would disrupt the burgeoning industry and threaten their livelihoods. They organized a lobbying campaign that included testifying at public hearings, social media call outs, and personal appeals to legislators.

It didn’t hurt that those workers had a well-placed supporter in their corner: House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

“We feel that it’s good business,” DeLeo said Wednesday as the Legislature wrapped up negotiations on the state budget for fiscal 2016, which began July 1. “I know I’ve talked to small businesses throughout the Commonwealth who say when films are made in that particular district, how valuable they can be.”

The Massachusetts film tax credit equals 25 percent, with some exceptions, of the costs and salaries for films, commercials, and television shows shot in the state.

Under Patrick, the Department of Revenue issued a series of reports concluding that the film tax credit did not yield much economic benefit.

For example, Massachusetts paid out an estimated $77.8 million in credits in 2012 that generated $304 million in spending by movie, television, and advertising productions. However, the department said, two-thirds of that spending took place outside of Massachusetts; $101 million occurred in the state.

From 2006 to 2012, the program created the equivalent of about 5,500 jobs, the tax agency said, but each job cost the state approximately $118,000. In that time, the state doled out almost $411 million in film credits.

But some in the industry said the state’s analysis does not reflect the reality at their companies.

Brian Drewes said business generated by the tax credit helped his visual-effects company, Zero VFX, grow from a small operation in a Newton basement to a 12,500-square-foot space in the Back Bay, with 55 artists working on films and commercials.

“What you see is a groundswell saying that this does have an economic impact on the city that is beyond what the Department of Revenue reports like to mention,” he said. “When you actually start to track reality, you see all the people with stories like mine.”

Pixar Reveals Evolution of Troubled Toon ‘The Good Dinosaur’

(Variety.com)               “At Pixar, we ask a lot of ‘what ifs,’” the studio’s Pete Sohn told a crowd of cartoon devotees (a mix of animation students, professionals and fans) at France’s Annecy Intl. Animated Film Festival: “What if the toys come to life when we leave the room? What if the monsters really were real inside the closet? What if a rat became a world-famous French chef?”

So far, those hypotheticals have yielded “Toy Story,” “Monsters Inc.” and “Ratatouille,” respectively, but according to Sohn, “With (‘The Good Dinosaur’), we would ask the biggest ‘what if’ of all.” With that, he cued a clip in which a gigantic asteroid misses the Earth, narrowly averting a mass extinction event: What if instead of being wiped off the Earth, dinosaurs had continued to evolve?

That’s the hypothetical that audiences will see answered when the film opens later this year, just in time for Thanksgiving, on Nov. 25. But internally, Pixar was asking another question: What if you scrap the original director of your upcoming dino movie and plug someone new in his place? In this case, Peter Sohn replaced “Up’s” Bob Peterson — the similarity between their names providing an added irony to the swap.

Of course, “The Good Dinosaur” is hardly the first Pixar movie to get a massive overhaul in production (“Toy Story 2,” “Ratatouille” and “Brave” were all repair jobs of some sort, losing their original directors along the way), but it could be the riskiest. Sohn’s only previous helming credit was 2009’s “Partly Cloudy” short, and though the Korean-American animator is a favorite among his Pixar peers, inspiring the character of Asian boy scout Russell in “Up,” this project put an enormous responsibility in his relatively untested hands.

Full article:    http://variety.com/2015/film/festivals/annecy-pixar-reveals-evolution-of-troubled-the-good-dinosaur-1201521429/

Star Wars: Rogue One Begins Filming Soon, Lucasfilm Confirms

(ign.com)        Star Wars’ first Anthology film, Rogue One, begins shooting in three weeks, according to Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy.

Star Wars: Rogue One is the first Star Wars Anthology film, and it’s about the Rebel Alliance stealing the Death Star plans from the Empire. It’ll be filmed in 6K. The second Anthology movie centers on a young Han Solo.

How the Most Realistic Robot in Cinema History Was Made

(gizmodo.com)           Entirely computer generated characters are now an established part of the Hollywood blockbuster. The likes of Guardians of the Galaxy’s Rocket and Groot are increasingly commonplace – just don’t mention Jar Jar Binks. Perhaps the high watermark for CGI success so far though (at least when you’re talking about silver-screen robots) is Chappie, which came out earlier this year

The film told the story of Dev Patel’s Deon Wilson, an engineer at a South African weapons manufacturer, who figures out how to make the firm’s police robots think for themselves – just like a human. Unfortunately, the eponymous robot (played Andy Serkis-as-Gollum style by Sharlto Copley) ends up getting kidnapped and falls in with a bad crowd of gangsters. Worse still, the authorities decide that Chappie is a danger who must be stopped.

The thing that is really striking about the film is just how good the visual effects are, with CGI robot characters seamlessly blended in with the ‘real’ characters. So how was it done? To find out I had a chat with the film’s visual effects supervisor Chris Harvey, who explained the reason why blending in was so important to making the film work:

“Ultimately the goal of any visual effects is that it is blended seamlessly. My mandate with the team was really that was only step one with what we had to do. It’s like he has to be 100 per cent believable, because as soon as he isn’t the whole point of Chappie – that he’s a character you’re supposed to connect with emotionally – […] he’s supposed to register like any other character. As soon as we break any realism in terms of him blending, you’ll immediately lose that connection.”

It wasn’t easy to achieve though. To make Chappie work, Chris and his team joined the production early in development, much earlier than VFX would usually get involved.

3D Printed Robots

“Typically what will happen with visual effects is that someone will design it practically, build it and we will have to replicate it. And we’re going to be stuck with whatever decisions they made, whether that’s good or bad for us. Chappie was different because we actually came on very early and were part of that design process.”

Full article:  http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2015/07/how-the-most-realistic-robot-in-cinema-history-was-made/

How Photoshop Changed the World

(pcauthority.com.au)              It’s hard to believe there was no Photoshop before 1990. Its impact has since been magnified by the rise of digital photography and social media, and continues through an endless variety of rival products, but for a quarter of a century we’ve been living in the Photoshop age.

“Photoshop changed the ontology of the photograph,” said Caroline Bassett, a professor of media and communications. “It revolutionised our sense of the relationship of the photographic image to the reality it remade. Before Photoshop, it was easier to believe a photograph captured the truth. After, we knew it was constructed. I think it’s the single most influential software package of the PC era.”

This judgement would have surprised University of Michigan postgraduate Thomas Knoll when he began coding a graphics tool on his Mac Plus in 1987. “Painting” programs existed for the Mac and other early PCs, but Knoll’s PhD was in computer vision. His brother John was working for George Lucas’ visual-effects company, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and their father, Glenn, had a darkroom in their basement. Coming at bitmap editing from this fresh angle, they first sold their application bundled with some of the newfangled scanners.

Before long, John had struck a deal with Adobe, which had just catapulted the Macintosh into the graphics business thanks to the Adobe LaserWriter printer. Priced at less than US$1,000 at launch – half the price of Letraset’s ColorStudio software – Photoshop appealed to users who had latched on to the Mac as a way to get into cutting-edge creative work at a fraction of the cost. Previously, photo retouching had been performed by bureaux on six-figure workstations from companies such as Quantel and Scitex, charged at a going rate of $400 per hour. Now, in-house art staff could attempt it with Mac setups costing as little as $10,000 – and pros and amateurs alike could begin to invent new kinds of images.

Read more: http://www.pcauthority.com.au/Feature/406418,how-photoshop-changed-the-world.aspx#ixzz3fmqqS8cS

Warner Bros. to Give that Green Lantern Movie Thing Another Try

(avclub.com)           Along with the similarly timed and equally reviled Jonah Hex, 2011’s Green Lantern movie was one of Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ first attempts to ride the current wave of superhero movies and get a non-Superman or Batman-based comic book franchise off the ground. But the film’s box office failure—barely making back its $200 million budget, most of which appears to have been spent on slathering bright green CGI on every available surface—seemed to have killed those dreams. Until now, anyway.

As part of Warner’s Comic-Con panel today, the studio announced that it was giving Green Lantern another shot. We don’t have any casting details or release dates yet—the announcement was done via a concept art reel, smashed in between footage of Hugh Jackman’s Pan and the new Suicide Squad trailer—but we do have a name: Green Lantern Corps. That name implies a more team-based film, raising the possibility that Green Lanterns beyond series protagonist Hal Jordan, like Guy Gardner, John Stewart, and newbie Kyle Rayner, might all get a chance in the big green spotlight. In any case, it’s unlikely that Green Lantern star Ryan Reynolds will be reprising his role in the film, because he’s busy with Deadpool, and also because he already said that he really doesn’t want to.

32TEN Studios Creates Practical Effects for Jurassic World

(cgw.com)                 The most prominent were the gates that welcomed visitors to the prehistoric theme park Jurassic World. Those gates, which needed to appear massive on screen, were actually “miniature” 19-foot set pieces built at 32TEN under the supervision of model maker Mark Anderson.

While the size of the piece was nothing new for 32TEN model makers, Jurassic World  director Colin Trevorrow and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) VFX Supervisor Tim Alexander wanted to make sure the doors looked exactly as imagined. “It took a while to get the exact look for the concrete and the aging of the wood,” explains 32TEN Studios Executive Producer Tim Partridge. “But, after a couple of go rounds they looked great.”

Once designed and built, the double doors were mechanized with motion control in order to open at exactly the right time to let the monorail pass through. The gates were set up on the main stage at 32TEN and shot using the motion control system to ensure the effects shots matched the location shots.

The flames for the torches on the gate pillars were shot separately, each with its own motion-controlled move, for later compositing.

“Colin felt it was important for the gates to be real,” explains ILM’s Alexander. “32TEN did a great job building them.”

Trevorrow and Alexander also tapped 32TEN Studios to shoot a number of practical scale explosion elements, green screen shots with extras and stuntmen, background plates in northern California locations, and a handful of other practical elements to fill shots, particularly when the elements were near the camera.

“Explosions are always fun to do,” says 32TEN Studios’ Practical FX Supervisor Geoff Heron, “and we have done a lot of them over the years. Tim [Alexander] was very precise in what he wanted, but he also understood that there’s always a chance that something beautiful can happen with a practical effects shoot.”

ILM’s Alexander was pleased with the efforts. “32TEN added just what we needed to add to our CG shots to create the action that Colin desired for the film.”

Read an in-depth story about the VFX in the film in the July/August 2015 issue of CGW.

Source:    http://www.cgw.com/Press-Center/Web-Exclusives/2015/32TEN-Studios-Creates-Practical-Effects-for-Jura.aspx

Big Friendly Giant on Bamburgh Beach

(northumberlandgazette.co.uk)              Filming for a major Hollywood film, based on a classic children’s book, took place this week on the beach beneath Bamburgh Castle.

The filming, which took place on Monday night into Tuesday morning, was for The BFG, a Steven Spielberg version of the Roald Dahl book. The movie, which stars Mark Rylance as the Big Friendly Giant and Ruby Barnhill as Sophie, will be co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, and Walden Media.

It is scheduled to be released on July 1, 2016. Entertainment One will release the film on July 22, 2016, in the UK. Principal photography on the film began on March 23 in Vancouver and concluded on June 12. It is understood that neither the cast nor Mr Spielberg were present in Bamburgh this week.

In April, the beach was used for filming some of Beowulf, a 13-part ITV drama series, while last February, it was used for a new film version of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Macbeth, which is due to be released in October this year. Interestingly, it is the second time the Scottish Play has come to Bamburgh with Roman Polanski’s 1971 version also filming there.

Source with pics: http://www.northumberlandgazette.co.uk/news/local-news/big-friendly-giant-on-bamburgh-beach-1-7342126

Pixar Animation Studios Releases RenderMan 20

(awn.com)            EMERYVILLE, CA — Pixar Animation Studios has released version 20 of its Academy Award-winning RenderMan software, introducing major innovations allowing cinematic quality imagery to be created more easily and faster than previously possible. Highlights include a game-changing noise reduction technology that directly addresses the problem of image artifacts associated with physically based ray tracers, massively reducing the time needed to deliver completed shots and images.

RenderMan 20 also expands the creative choices available to artists and studios through numerous advances in usability including a physical camera, a Visualizer for navigating and inspecting large scenes interactively, expanded shader libraries and presets, and new volume rendering features. A new Marschner hair shader represents the first time Pixar has shipped shading technology specifically developed for use in its feature films, making available truly Pixar quality hair and fur. In addition, RenderMan’s tradition of advanced customization is emphasized through a new light filter API. Rendering shots for dailies is also faster than ever with new enhancements to RenderMan’s noted image checkpointing, allowing entire shots to be quickly previewed nearly immediately and at full resolution. RenderMan 20 continues to channel the combined technology resources of The Walt Disney Company to the desktop of anyone producing visual effects, animation, and visualization.

“The new denoising technology currently being used in our upcoming feature, Finding Dory, has been incredibly valuable, allowing us to compute final frames up to ten times faster. We could not finish this production without it,” said John Halstead, Supervising Technical Director of Finding Dory at Pixar.

“RenderMan’s new and enhanced Interior Integrators provide us with full control over our volumes and allows us to push their visual quality to the next level.” Said Damien Fagnou, Global Head of VFX Operations at MPC Film.

“RenderMan’s new RIS mode was incredibly stable and consistent on Ant-Man. Everybody was blown away by the quality of the renders even in very early tests” Said Fabio Zangla CG Sequence Supervisor at Double Negative. “With such a radically different internal architecture, RIS is a world away from any previous version, but still retains many features that made RenderMan so successful in the past.”

Free Non-Commercial RenderMan is now upgraded to version 20, and existing and new users are invited to download the latest version from the RenderMan website. New tutorials and workflows for RenderMan 20 can also be found on the new RenderMan Community site.

RenderMan 20 is compatible with the following 64-bit operating systems: Mac OS 10.9, 10.8 and 10.7, Windows 8 and 7, and Linux glibc 2.12 or higher and gcc 4.4.5 and higher. RenderMan 20 is also compatible with versions 2014, 2015, and 2016 of Autodesk’s Maya, and with version 2.0 of The Foundry’s KATANA. RenderMan is available commercially as individual licenses with volume discounts or through custom site licensing packages tailored for each customer. In addition, Pixar’s annual maintenance program provides access to ongoing support and free upgrades.

Han Solo Movie Confirmed By Lucasfilm, ‘Star Wars Anthology’ Set For 2018

(cdn.inquisitr.com)               Han Solo is getting his own movie, Lucasfilm confirmed in a statement Tuesday. The spin-off is part of the Star Wars Anthology series, which so far includes Rogue One, and is slated to open on May 25, 2018.

This is such exciting news for Star Wars fans that Han Solo was trending on Twitter pretty much all evening after the news broke. Han Solo is the intergallactic smuggler who becomes involved with the Rebellion when he meets Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Obi Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness).

Solo was immortalized by original trilogy actor Harrison Ford, and is one of the most popular characters in movies. The new Han Solo movie will focus on a young version of the role, which propelled Ford’s career into stardom.)

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Lucasfilm also announced The Lego Movie team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have been selected to bring the Han Solo movie to life, and they couldn’t be more excited.

“This is the first film we’ve worked on that seems like a good idea to begin with. We promise to take risks, to give the audience a fresh experience, and we pledge ourselves to be faithful stewards of these characters who mean so much to us. This is a dream come true for us. And not the kind of dream where you’re late for work and all your clothes are made of pudding, but the kind of dream where you get to make a film with some of the greatest characters ever, in a film franchise you’ve loved since before you can remember having dreams at all.”

Also joining the Han Solo movie production are the father and son team of Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan, who will write the script that explores the smuggler’s younger years before we meet him in Star Wars: A New Hope. Lawrence Kasdan is the writer of another Harrison Ford film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well as the co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Kasdans also expressed their pleasure at being part of this movie, and working with Lord and Miller.

“We’re so excited to be working with Chris and Phil, who will bring a fresh new dimension to the Star Wars universe. They’re two of the smartest, funniest, and most original filmmakers around, and the ideal choice to tell the story of Han Solo, one of the coolest characters in the galaxy.”

We are not sure how young Han Solo will be in the movie, but everyone, including the Lucasfilm President and the film’s producer, Kathleen Kennedy, is super pumped to see how the creative minds develop the beloved character.

“It’s not just any filmmaker who can tell the story of such a beloved icon like Han Solo, and I’m excited to say we’ve found the perfect team to handle the task. Larry and Jon know all there is to know about the character, and Chris and Phil will bring their wit, style, energy and heart to tell Han’s story.”

Some have expressed concern that Miller and Lord already have a full plate with other projects, including The Lego Movie Sequel. However, most believe the pair will bring back the humor that was lost in the prequels. Now, fans have a long time to ponder on who is the ideal candidate to portray young Han Solo in the movie. Chris Pratt seems to be a popular choice, but we will have to wait and see.

Disney is Closing its First Virtual Reality Attraction

(engadget.com)               Disney World broke ground in virtual reality when it launched its DisneyQuest “interactive theme park” back in 1998. To say that times have changed would be an understatement, though — DQ is using primitive VR technology that makes even Google Cardboard look like a quantum leap. Appropriately, the company now plans to close DisneyQuest in 2016 and replace it with an NBA-themed attraction. The exact reasons for the shutdown aren’t clear, but it’s likely a combination of the less-than-impressive technology with mounting support costs. At one point this spring, most of the attractions weren’t working — it’s hard to imagine Disney pouring lots of money into hardware that’s more likely to make you yawn than gasp in awe. You might feel nostalgic if you have fond memories of visiting DisneyQuest as a kid, but it’s hard to mourn the loss when you can have a much nicer experience at home.

VFX News 02/06/14

Disney Projects 40 Years of ‘Star Wars’ Content

(hypable.com)             A long time from now in our own galaxy…

Disney will still be producing Star Wars content.

When Disney purchased LucasFilm back in 2012, many (but not all) fans were upset. The upset fans did not like the idea of Disney coming in and messing with the franchise that they held so dear.

Those fans will have time to get used to it.

Yesterday, the Disney 2013 Financial Report and Shareholder Letter was sent out, and in it Disney gave this piece of information about their plans for the Star Wars franchise (via JediNews):

Intangible assets primarily consist of intellectual property based on the Star Wars franchise with an estimated useful life of approximately 40 years. The goodwill reflects the value to Disney from leveraging Lucasfilm intellectual property across our distribution channels, taking advantage of Disney’s established global reach.

This should not come as a huge surprise. Disney paid $4.05 billion to acquire LucasFilm, and they were definitely going to get their money worth.

If Disney were to continue on their proposed path of releasing a new episodic Star Wars film every two years, that would mean we could potentially see 19 or 20 sequels or prequels, depending on when Disney is counting as the start of their 40 year stretch.

Mark your calendars now. Star Wars: Episode XXVI will hit theaters Christmas 2055.

If you’ve begun to break a sweat, you don’t need to worry. It’s probably not all that likely that they will actually continue to release one every two years. To continue to be successful, they’ll need to have a smart 40 year plan, and that doesn’t sound like a very smart plan.

Luckily, 40 years of content means much more than just movies. It should also include TV shows, comics, books, online content, video games, and media that doesn’t even exist yet.

Note: A smart commenter below pointed out that Disney comments actually means that they project they will cease to earn profits on Star Wars 40 years from now, not that Star Wars movies will be released until that time. Still, Disney won’t be too hasty to stop putting out films that are sure to make them money. See: Marvel.

‘The Lego Movie’ is Looking at $40M Open

(Variety.com)         Warner Bros. and Lego look to be constructing a blockbuster brick by brick as the toy brand’s first full-length feature film is building huge buzz before an opening weekend predicted to hit more than $40 million at the domestic box office.

Though films and TV shows based on toys and boardgames have come under fire for weak storylines (ahem … “Battleship”), “The Lego Movie” may turn that perception on its head with a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes — a strong hook for unattached adults.

That’s huge, because the potential for a sizable upside depends greatly on just how broadly Warners is able to expand the audience beyond families. Depending on how severe the weather is on the East Coast, some observers say strong word of mouth could lead to a opening of $50 million-plus or higher.

The key building block for the PG-rated, $60 million-budgeted “Lego Movie” has always been kids — mostly boys — and their parents. But adults — both the globally fanatical gang of Lego collectors and adults nostalgic for their favorite childhood playthings — are the other cornerstone of Warner’s marketing efforts.

“The movie is a very unique proposition,” said Warner marketing maven Sue Kroll. “First of all, the movie is wildly imaginative, but it also has extremely relatable characters.”

Warners worked with Lego to connect with 19 of the 21 regional domestic Lego User Groups, called “LUGs,” which participated in building in-theater Lego displays, and starting building buzz across the various Lego-themed social-media outlets. Producer Dan Lin also attended the 2008 edition of fan event BrickCon in Seattle, where more than 10,000 adult Lego fans gather to display models, as well as buy, trade and sell parts.

“We know the fans well, so we made it a priority to reach out to those groups,” said Jill Wilfert, VP of global licensing and entertainment for Lego.

The strategy is working so far: Tracking among young adults has been growing steadily each day. The film also represents 67% of Wednesday’s online ticket sales, according to Fandango, a fact underscoring the film’s popularity with fanboys since they are the ones who usually pre-buy tickets.

Jurassic World Lines Up Shooting Locations in Hawaii and Louisiana

(comingsooon.net)       One of 2015’s most highly anticipated blockbusters, director Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World is getting ready to enter production and has today revealed plans to lens in both Hawaii and Louisiana. MidWeek reports that the production will shoot for four weeks on Oahu in April and then two weeks on Kauai. Then, as revealed today by The Times-Picayune, the shoot will head to New Orleans, Louisiana for 11 weeks beginning in June.

Trevorrow also posted on Twitter that the movie will be shot both on 35mm and 65mm.

Set to star Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Jake Johnson, Nick Robinson and Irrfan Khan, Jurassic World will be directed by Trevorrow from a draft of the screenplay he wrote with Derek Connolly. Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley are producing.

Jurassic World will be shot in 3D and is scheduled for a June 12, 2015 release.

BAFTA to Host First-ever Inside Games Showcase

(mcvuk.com)          New pre-awards event will give consumers an early-look at the latest releases.

Taking place on the same day as the British Academy Games Awards on Wednesday, 12 March, the event is the first of its kind by BAFTA and will be a public showcase of the newest games on the horizon.

Consumers can look forward to early hands-on sessions with the likes of Titanfall and Dark Souls II, in addition to some of the most popular current releases including Deep Silver’s Metro: Last Light, RuneScape, Football Manager, Company of Heroes 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Valve will also be in attendance with its first-ever Secret Shop – a pop-up store offering merchandise and exclusive digital in-game items for the publisher’s titles including Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2 and Portal.

In addition to these hands-on sessions, Inside Games will also host BAFTA-curated talks with developers and the Inside Games Arcade – a showcase of upcoming indie games.

Harvey Elliott, Chair of BAFTA’s Games Committee, said: “After a review of last year’s Awards activity, the committee believed it was time to broaden the ways in which BAFTA celebrates games and to enable the industry to engage more directly with gamers.”

“Our Inside Games event has been curated by BAFTA to give gamers unprecedented access to the developers behind some of the best new titles of 2014. Also opening our Awards to the public for the first time is another way in which we are helping them have a better connection with the industry.”

Tickets for this year’s British Games Academy Awards, which includes access to the Inside Games showcase are available now at the BAFTA website.

Presidio Asks Filmmaker to Try Again

(nytimes.com)            National parks are open to everyone, even to the filmmaker George Lucas. That is the message from the Presidio Trust in San Francisco, which this week rejected proposals by Mr. Lucas and two other finalists to build “a cultural institution of distinction” on prized bayside parkland and then turned right around and invited him back.

Nancy Hellman Bechtle, the 76-year-old philanthropist who is the chairwoman of the Presidio Trust, said Tuesday that she had urged Mr. Lucas, the creator of the “Star Wars” movies, to consider putting his Lucas Cultural Arts Museum on a less prime spot in the Presidio, just west of his own former film studio.

“I am really excited about the prospect of this,” she said. “I’m a glutton for punishment.”

Mr. Lucas, through a spokesman, said he was weighing the new offer as well as the possibility of moving his museum to another city, presumably a more hospitable one. He has hinted at a tantalizing invitation from Chicago, where he lives part time. As he describes it, his museum would champion the visual arts in their most popular and critically ignored form — from long-ago comic books and magazine illustrations to the latest experiments in digital animation — and nurture the next generation of graphic artists.

In a telephone interview last fall from his home in Marin County, he expressed frustration with the board and staff of the Presidio Trust, which manages most of the 1,491-acre national park and former Army base. The trust, he said, had stalled for four years on the project and dismissed his museum’s architectural design as an exercise in “mimicking.”

Ms. Bechtle is the first to admit that she does not care for Mr. Lucas’s proposed building. An architectural sketch portrays it as an imposing two-story structure silhouetted against a pink-dappled sky and festooned with Beaux-Arts-style arches, columns and a copper dome. She said the design was unsuited for the eight-acre site on Crissy Field, a former airfield with a commanding view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

“We wanted to have a building that fitted more into the surroundings, and George wanted a building that looked more like a museum,” Ms. Bechtle said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “And I think that’s where the difficulty lay.”

While Mr. Lucas revised his plan to lower the height of the museum’s roof, “it was still too big” for Crissy Field, she said.

Nonetheless, Ms. Bechtle telephoned Mr. Lucas on Monday, right before the trust held a news conference announcing the rejection of the bids, and urged him to consider alternate sites in the Presidio. She said there are two, both less glamorous and politically sensitive than Crissy Field. One site, to the west of his old studio in the Letterman Digital Arts Center, is on land now occupied by a parking lot and “some buildings that are not historic,” she said. The second site, just west of that in the Thornburgh area, is a flat stretch of land with vacant warehouses.

Should Mr. Lucas agree to a new site, he would not have to reduce the size of his proposed building, Ms. Bechtle said. “He could even make it bigger,” she said.

All in all, the goal is to avoid of a repeat of 2009, when Don and Doris Fisher, founders of the Gap, abandoned their plan to build a museum of modern art in the park amid opposition from preservationists.

Mr. Lucas’s proposal, she added, was the leading contender among the finalists, not least because it comes self-funded. He offered $700 million to build and endow the museum, which would be organized around his own idiosyncratically vernacular collection. It includes paintings and drawings by Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell and other newly rehabilitated figures from America’s Golden Age of Illustration.

The other rejected proposals called for a Presidio Exchange, or PX, an all-purpose performing space to be shared by local groups, and a Bridge/Sustainability Institute, which sought to explore issues such as alternative energy and ecosystem services.

“Probably, the Sustainability Institute was never in the running, because we didn’t know who their constituency was,” said Ms. Bechtle, who added that she hoped that the institute and the PX would test their programming ideas in coming years in the park’s existing buildings.

For now, the Crissy Field site is occupied by a retail store, Sports Basement. Its building, a former Army commissary built in 1989, is a generic example of the concrete-box school of architecture. Nonetheless, it is looking newly interesting to Ms. Bechtle.

“It’s fine like it is,” she said, adding that Sports Basement will move elsewhere in the Presidio. “We may just remodel the building ourselves. You can put windows on it. It’s never going to be a beautiful building, but it’s not in your face. You could have a place where people could bring their dogs and sit outside.”

The notion of developing a new dog run might not sound like the height of architectural ambition, but Ms. Bechtle, by her own admission, will be relieved to have the Crissy Field brouhaha behind her. “I was president of the San Francisco Symphony when we had a 10-week strike,” she said. “This was about the same level of intensity and stress.”

Paramount Pushes Back Found Footage Time Travel Film Welcome to Yesterday

(The Hollywood Reporter)          Paramount Pictures is looking for a new release date for Welcome to Yesterday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The found footage time travel film, from Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes, was scheduled for February 28, but the studio is now looking at summer or fall.

Directed by Dean Israelite, Welcome to Yesterday stars Sofia Black-D’Elia, Allen Evangelista, Ginny Gardner, Sam Lerner and Jonny Weston.

The trade says that Paramount will partner with fellow Viacom banner MTV Films for the marketing.


VFX Guru John Knoll on Limiting Waste, Working With Guillermo del Toro

(hollywoodreporter)          But John Knoll, chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic, points to another way in which the monsters vs. machines spectacle movie was a rule-breaker: a prior agreement between the VFX guru and del Toro to limit waste by keeping the extensive effects work efficient and cost-effective in postproduction.

“What I tried to do on the picture, in order for us to take this very ambitious picture, with a large number of shots, and a high degree of complexity, and with a limited budget, the pitch I made to Guillermo was, ‘We can do this by making this the most efficient show we’ve ever done,’ ” Knoll tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Knoll, who is set to give a keynote speech at the Spark FW 2014 conference in Vancouver on Saturday, said waste was minimized by limiting changes during postproduction when it came to completing complex character animation, lighting, digital environments and advanced fluid simulation work.

STORY: Who Is J.J. Abrams Eyeing for ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’?

That frugality is rare in Hollywood, where a virtual environment offers directors endless flexibility in postproduction.

“A lot of filmmakers understand that the work is done digitally, and it’s technically possible to change it late in the game. And so they do, because it’s something you can do, and they’re used to being able to do it,” Knoll says. “It is very wasteful.”

The irony is that directors limit changes in live-action moviemaking — where a set will be built once, for example, not four times — owing to the sheer expense.

“So what Guillermo did, which is relatively unique in this business, is make a commitment to the (VFX) work and treat it more like it’s live action,” Knoll says.

For del Toro, the master of the creature feature, a willingness to limit VFX costs is made easier by his traditional reliance on physical effects, whether through makeup or life-size models.

“The visual effects need to be the last resort,” del Toro said Wednesday from Pinewood Toronto Studios, where he is currently directing The Strain TV series for FX and is soon set to begin shooting Crimson Peak for Legendary Pictures. “Sometimes it’s the last resort that you know you will try right away, like in Pacific Rim, where it’s impossible to build a robot that is 25 storys high, or create a monster in a suit, which was not the effect I wanted.”

Pacific Rim, where the endless action saw Godzilla-like monsters called Kaiju clash with skyscraper-sized robots steered by human pilots, required extensive visual effects.

But The Strain, a TV series long on character development, marks more of a return to Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth for del Toro in its use of macabre physical effects.

“We have a balance between makeup and physical effects, and we also use visual effects,” says the Mexican cineaste.

The Spark FW 2014 conference, which kicks off Wednesday night, runs through Saturday in Vancouver.

$7.4B: Amount Disney Paid for Pixar in 2006

(Bloomberg) –- In today’s “BWest Byte,” Jon Erlichman reports on the amount of money Disney paid to acquire Pixar in 2006. (Source: Bloomberg)

VIDEO – http://sg.news.yahoo.com/video/7-4b-amount-disney-paid-004432051.html

Square Enix: Game industry undergoing “major changes”

(gamespot.com)              The game industry is currently undergoing “major changes” due to the proliferation of smart-devices and the “increasingly competitive” console market, Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy publisher Square Enix said today as part of its latest financial report.

“The business environment surrounding [Square Enix] is in the midst of major changes, where smart devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs are spreading rapidly, while the console game markets in North America and Europe are increasingly competitive and concentrative.”

Square Enix’s comments follow those from Just Cause creator Avalanche Studios founder Christofer Sundberg, who told GameSpot this week that AAA development–in its current form–is unhealthy and unprofitable. Avalanche is currently making a AAA game for Square Enix that is believed to be Just Cause 3.

In light of these “environmental changes,” Square Enix said it plans to reform its business structure and organizations in an effort to reestablish revenue bases for “substantial earnings improvement.”

Part of this effort is releasing more mobile games. To that end, Square Enix Montreal is “fully focused” on making mobile games based on the Hitman series, Square Enix said last month. On the console front, Square Enix explained last summer that it had “walked away” too early from past games like Sleeping Dogs, and in the future it will invest in games with more persistent online worlds to keep players engaged.

Overall, Square Enix posted revenue of ¥102 billion ($1 billion) for the nine-month period ended December 31 and a profit of ¥5.2 billion yen ($49 million). Sales were down just .3 percent, while profit showed major improvement, rising from a loss of $56.7 million last year.

However, Square Enix’s game group–Digital Entertainment–saw revenue fall 2.2 percent to ¥56.5 billion ($558 million), but many titles performed well during the period, the company said.

Square Enix said console titles in North America were “strong” during the period, while Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is currently making “favorable progress.” On top of that, Square Enix said content for smart devices and PC “continued to build upon its already solid growth” during the quarter.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”  Becomes An Animated Musical

(darkhorizons.com)           Elton John’s Rocket Pictures has scored the rights to produce an animated musical film based on Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage version of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.

Based on the Joseph story in the Book of Genesis, the musical has been both a critical and commercial success over the past three decades after humble beginnings as a pop cantata penned for schools.

John will executive produce with Rice and Webber, but no writer or director is yet.

UK Screen Slams BECTU’s VFX Survey

(televisual.com)         The facilities trade body UK Screen Association, which represents vfx companies, has issued a formal letter to BECTU following the publication of BECTU’s Vfx Working Time Charter.

UK Screen has no problem with the charter itself (which lays out eight requests to vfx companies to improve the working conditions of staff), however the trade association takes major issue with a survey BECTU conducted, the results of which were published as part of the Vfx Working Time Charter.

Specifically, UK Screen says the survey data has been misrepresented through the rewording of survey questions in the reported output. Furthermore, UK Screen is concerned about the general validity of the survey as it claims BECTU can’t guarantee all the respondents even work in UK vfx houses.

So, Sarah Mackey, UK Screen’s CEO has issued a formal letter to BECTU’s General Secretary Gerry Morrissey, which includes the following concerns:

Page one of this Charter quotes a number of statistics from your 2013 vfx survey. My concerns are as follows:

1. Your survey contains no identifier questions and was promoted and distributed via a global social media site. As a result you can have no firm evidence as the source of your respondents, whether they are of UK or ex-UK origin, and whether they work in film, television, commercials, corporate or games vfx. Despite this you present the data as if it relates to the UK sector and, more specifically, to film vfx houses.

2. In presenting your outputs the three original questions have been reworded, hence:

‘Do you know vfx artists who have left the industry due to insecurity and/or workloads’ – is reported as ‘77% of people know someone who has recently left the industry because they couldn’t keep up with the workloads, overtime and poor working conditions’.

‘Have you ever been pressured by managers or supervisors to work longer hours for free?’ – is reported as ‘81% of people have felt pressured or bullied into working overtime for free on films’

‘How difficult do you think it is for people with children or caring responsibilities to make a successful career in vfx?’ – is transposed into ‘83% of people said it was difficult or very difficult to raise a family while working in vfx’. ‘

Mackey has requested the union withdraw and correct the vfx Working Time Charter. “Although I understand BECTU needs to grow its membership it should not do so at the expense of fairness and accuracy. This kind of messaging can be very damaging the UK film industry and the vfx sector,” she says.

Disney’s Game Business Surges, but Layoffs are on the Horizon

(gamespot.com)             The media giant announced today that Disney Interactive revenue increased 38 percent to $403 million for the quarter ended December 28, while operating income increased $46 million to $55 million. The uptick in sales was attributed to the success of Disney Infinity and growth from Disney’s Japanese mobile business.

Disney Interactive performed better, on a percentage basis, than all of the company’s other divisions by a significant margin. Its 38 percent revenue surge was better than Studio Entertainment (23 percent), Consumer Products (11 percent), Parks & Resorts (6 percent), and Media Networks (4 percent).

During an earnings call this afternoon, Disney CEO Bob Iger said (via The Wall Street Journal) that future iterations of Disney Infinity will include a “broader set of our more popular characters,” believed to be Star Wars and Marvel characters.

It’s not all good news, however, as The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Disney Interactive will cut “hundreds” of jobs beginning as soon as today. Disney has yet to confirm the news, but The Wall Street Journal’s sources have been accurate before.

Overall, Disney posted revenue of $12.3 billion (+9 percent) for the quarter and a profit of $1.8 billion (+33 percent).

“Noah” Gets Converted To 3D Overseas

(darkhorizons.com)         While Darren Aronofsky’s Biblical epic will only be released in 2D in the U.S, the U.K., Australia and France, Paramount Pictures is currently crafting a 3D version of the movie to pull in audiences in other overseas markets.

Up to 65 foreign countries will get the 3D version of “Noah,” with 32 of those also scoring IMAX releases. The conversion adds $10 million to the film’s already pricey $125 million budget.

The studio reportedly tested multiple cuts of the film in order to score the broadest possible audience, and have reached agreement with Aronofsky as to the final version which premieres in the United States on March 28th.

Film Industry Expert Says it’s Risky to Replace Actors with CGI But It Can Be Done

(mirror.co.uk)             How will Philip Seymour Hoffman’s work be completed?

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was reportedly just seven days from filming his final scenes before his death on Sunday – and a special effects expert has revealed how the movie can be completed without him.

Film studio Lionsgate have said that although Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee was a major character in the films, his death will have ‘no impact’ on production and the series will be able to be released.

And according to The Hollywood Reporter, CGI is being considered to complete the final shots of head gamesmaker character Heavensbee.

A film special effects pro has said that the manner in which the deaths of Heath Ledger, Oliver Reed and Brandon Lee during other productions were handled may hold the secret to finishing the series.

Will CGI play an even bigger role in The Hunger Games?

Reed, who died during the filming of Gladiator in 1999, had elements of his role replaced with CGI – as did Heath Ledger, who died in 2008 while working on The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

In 1993 Brandon Lee was fatally wounded in an accident on the set of The Crow but the Alex Proyas-directed film was released the following year after rewrites of flashback scenes that had yet to be completed.

Different techniques are believed to have been used to complete production. In Reed’s case, the script was partially rewritten and a body double was used in conjunction with wide-angled shots and a digital replacement of the actor’s head.

“When he died we had to make sense of the whole end of the film,” Gladiator’s Rob Harvey told the BBC. “It’s a very weird thing to have to do – particularly then, when the technology wasn’t really there at all.”

Somehow, his team managed it. Harvey detailed of how he sat down with the team to work out which parts would be removed, what had to be reshot completely and when a double would be used, following Reed’s death in 1999.

Harvey also worked on Terry Gilliam’s Parnassus.

Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law were called in to replace Ledger, all appearing as different versions of the star’s character Tony.

After a short break in production Gilliam saved the project by rewriting the script so that Ledger’s character could magically change his appearance.

So when it comes to ensuring The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 gets out of the door, Lionsgate seem to have many options of ensuring Hoffman’s sad loss does not sink the project. Harvey believes that bosses should steer clear of anything that looks ‘too CGI’.

Harvey adds: “Doing a digital version of somebody other than [in] a very wide shot is a bit of a strange one. They’ve got a problem to solve and I guess it’s up to them how to solve it.”

Following the death of the Hollywood actor it was previously reported that a number of top actors were in the running to replace the star in The Hunger Games series.

Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, William H. Macy and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston are all rumoured to be earmarked by studio bigwigs as possible replacements.

But will Hoffman’s sad death resolved silver screen issues or ultimately overshadow the film, as with Ledger, Reed and Lee?

* The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is due for release in November 2015

VFX News 07/01/13

Disney’s Monsters University Enters $300 Million Club

(ComingSoon.net)        After two solid weeks at the box office,
things slowed down slightly with two movies that failed to derail the
Disney•Pixar titan Monsters University which remained at the top spot
with $46.1 million, as it held strong against the competition,
dropping just 44% in its second weekend. It has grossed $179 million
after ten days domestically, as well as another $129 million
internationally bringing its global total to $300 million.

Orlando Bloom Also Finishes Filming The Hobbit

(Source: Peter Jackson)        Following word yesterday that Sir Ian
McKellen had finished his scenes for “The Hobbit” films, Peter Jackson
announced today that Orlando Bloom is done filming his scenes as
Legolas as well (he also says Evangeline Lilly is done with Tauriel).
Jackson posted this:

“A day after saying goodbye to Gandalf and Tauriel, it was time to
farewell Legolas. What a great day it was, with Orlando battling a
serious Orc for all 12 hours of shooting – part of the Battle of the 5
Armies for the third Hobbit movie. When we finally got the day done,
we said goodbye to Orlando, had a couple of beers … and couldn’t
resist doing this!”

Warner Bros. To Visit Post-Apocalyptic Teen Film “The Young World”

(The Hollywood Reporter)           Warner Bros. Pictures has bought
the film rights to Chris Weitz’s young adult novel “The Young World,”
says The Hollywood Reporter. Weitz (Twilight: New Moon, The Golden
Compass, About a Boy) will produce, direct and adapt his book for the
big screen. The book, which is the first of a trilogy, is described as

The Young World is the gripping first installment of a trilogy set in
the not-so-distant future in a post-apocalyptic New York City
following the catastrophic destruction of the world as we know it. An
unknown trauma has left every child and adult on earth dead, but, for
unknown reasons, teenagers are spared. Anyone between the onset of
puberty and the age of twenty-one are in a world with no authority
figures. And while that world would normally be a teenager’s fantasy,
this world has no heat, running water, television, videogames, phones,
or Internet. Teenagers are the heirs to a world brought back to the
Stone Age, and now they must learn to master it in order to survive.

“Call of Duty” Director To Visit Post-Apocalyptic Teen Zombie Film “19” Zombie

(darkhorizons.com)         “Call of Duty” short film director Jeff
Chan is attached to direct the zombie flick “19” for QED
International, Film 360 and Wonderland Sound and Vision.

Jim Agnew & Sean Keller penned the script pitch which posits the idea
that once people turn 19, they become zombies. As a result, the
civilized world is run by kids.

Plans are to turn the property into a potential trilogy, along with a
series of books.

Dreamworks To Visit Post-Apocalyptic Teen Film “Fire Sermon”

(darkhorizons.com)        DreamWorks Pictures has pre-emptively
acquired poet and author Francesca Haig’s “The Fire Sermon,” the first
in a proposed trilogy of young adult novels.

Set four hundred years after an apocalypse, a technology-free society
now exists made up entirely of twins. One of each set is perfect, the
other slightly mutated.

An apartheid system forces the mutated twins to settlements, even
though when one twin dies, so does the other.

The focus is on a brother and sister twin, and what happens when he
becomes a leader in the repressed society. Carla Hacken is set to

Rhythm & Hues Gets $5M To Finish Legendary’s ‘Seventh Son’

(deadline.com)      Rhythm & Hues Bankruptcy4TH UPDATE, THURSDAY 11:00
AM The court has given Legendary the go-ahead to infuse Rhythm & Hues
with another $4.9M to finish Seventh Son. Law firm Venable LLP repped
the studio, which sought the court’s approval to pump additional
payments into the ailing effects house after receiving only 25% of
their commissioned 225 VFX shots last December.

3RD UPDATE, WEDNESDAY AM: Legendary Pictures has officially filed a
motion to be allowed to give Rhythm & Hues an additional $4,961,751 to
complete VFX work on their October release Seventh Son, according to a
change order filed yesterday (read it here).

2ND UPDATE, FRIDAY PM: In a preliminary ruling, Judge Neil Bason has
approved $11 million of the loan. A first disbursement of $6 million
is expected immediately, with $5 million to follow on February 19. On
March 12, Bason will offer final judgement on the loan and, pending no
legal hurdles or objections, allow the remaining $5.5 million to be
given to Rhythm & Hues.

UPDATE, 12:40 PM: Legendary Pictures has asked the court if it can
write a check to Rhythm & Hues outside the DIP loan being offered by
Universal and Fox. The production company said if the “change order”
is not approved it could mean a $9 million hit, and that even though
it’s already paid for the work it’s willing to “pay twice” to get its
movie finished. That could be a reference to Guillermo del Toro’s
Pacific Rim, which already has set a July 12 release date via Warner
Bros. (UPDATE: Nope. Legendary lawyers say it’s the Jeff
Bridges-starrer Seventh Son, which has an October 18 release date via
Warner Bros. A hearing date has been set for February 21.)

Additionally today, two former employees of the VFX company filed
similar class action suits against Rhythm & Hues over letting people
go without proper notification. Former compositing technical director
Anthony Barcelo says in his complaint (read it here) that under the
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act, he and others should have given
60 days’ written notice for being terminated without cause. The other
suit (read it here) is from Thomas Capizzi, who also alleges he and
others were fired from the company without the required written notice
or cause. On Monday, Rhythm & Hues let go 254 of the company’s
approximate 700 employees at its El Segundo offices.

PREVIOUS, 9:37 AM: The Oscar-nominated Life Of Pi VFX house is
desperately seeking approval of a $17 million emergency loan from
Universal and 20th Century Fox at a preliminary hearing in LA this
morning in federal bankruptcy court. The studios are two of Rhythm &
Hues’ biggest clients; another, Warner Bros, has withdrawn its
projects and financial support. The troubled effects company filed for
Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday. If approved, the loan
(read the motion here) will allow the company to complete contracted
work on the studios’ projects and continue operations through the end
of April. The financially unstable company could also seek new work
and possible buyers during this period.

Rhythm & Hues claimed it had $33.8 million in liabilities by the end
of 2012 according to a filing submitted this week. If the DIP loan is
not approved, the company will be unable to operate and must liquidate
immediately, according to the documents. The Rhythm & Hues filing also
reveals that Universal and Fox had already floated the company two
loans in the amount of $750,000 and $5.25 million to clear its payroll
through January 15, the last date many employees reportedly received
payment for completed work. At least 200 employees were laid off last
week without any promise of a paycheck, multiple sources tell
Deadline. CEO and founder John Hughes will appear this morning in
front of Judge Neil Bason.

VFX Unionization Effort Struggles to Gain Traction

(hollywoodreporter.com)         IATSE continues its push to unionize
visual effects work in the U.S. and Canada, but if the campaign were a
movie, it’d be a hand-cranked nickelodeon presentation, not a summer

Translation: progress is slow and faltering. A town hall meeting held
Tuesday night at video-conferenced venues in Burbank, the Bay Area and
Vancouver drew a bare-bones crowd, far smaller than the aggregate 350
who participated in a similar event on March 14.

The effort has been ongoing for more than a year; an earlier
unionization attempt failed in 2003. Meanwhile, a London-based union
similar to IATSE began in April a campaign to organize U.K. visual
effects workers.

Meeting participants in several cities spoke of working hours that
defied rationality coupled with difficulty getting paid at all.
“Driving home, I swerve to avoid things that aren’t there,” said one
panelist, an eerily appropriate symptom of fatigue for someone whose
job is to create things that aren’t there.

From Montreal, VFX artist Diana Marie Wells weighed in. “I bought my
co-worker toothpaste because she didn’t have money to afford it,” she

Back in LA, an anguished young VFX worker told the audience that he
had lost his job and now, “I’m losing my place.” How would a union

How indeed? The VFX industry is marked by temporary, globally
dispersed employment, itinerant labor and razor-thin margins. The days
of stable, staff employment seem largely bygone.

“In my opinion,” said panelist and animation artist Brock Stearn, “the
‘hire and fire’ is here to stay.”

Steve Kaplan, organizer for the Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839,
suggested that unionization represented one way for VFX houses to push
back against studio demands that result in long hours.

Another panelist, dooner, organizer for the Art Directors Guild, IATSE
Local 800, is engaged in a parallel campaign to organize
previsualization artists. He also noted that his Local represents
digital matte artists, but only those at studios that are already
signatory to the IATSE agreement.

The two-hour meeting ended shortly after 10 p.m., at which point some
of the participants returned home while others, perhaps, returned to

Help Us Kill The Movie Industry!

(ycombinator.com)            How do you kill the movie and TV
industries? Or more precisely (since at this level, technological
progress is probably predetermined) what is going to kill them? Mostly
not what they like to believe is killing them, filesharing. What’s
going to kill movies and TV is what’s already killing them: better
ways to entertain people. So the best way to approach this problem is
to ask yourself: what are people going to do for fun in 20 years
instead of what they do now?

There will be several answers, ranging from new ways to produce and
distribute shows, through new media (e.g. games) that look a lot like
shows but are more interactive, to things (e.g. social sites and apps)
that have little in common with movies and TV except competing with
them for finite audience attention. Some of the best ideas may
initially look like they’re serving the movie and TV industries.
Microsoft seemed like a technology supplier to IBM before eating their
lunch, and Google did the same thing to Yahoo.

It would be great if what people did instead of watching shows was
exercise more and spend more time with their friends and families.
Maybe they will. All other things being equal, we’d prefer to hear
about ideas like that. But all other things are decidedly not equal.
Whatever people are going to do for fun in 20 years is probably
predetermined. Winning is more a matter of discovering it than making
it happen. In this respect at least, you can’t push history off its
course. You can, however, accelerate it.

What’s the most entertaining thing you can build?

Full article:       http://ycombinator.com/rfs9.html

Doctor Who’s new Visual Effects Creators Announced

(doctorwhonews.net)           Milk VFX (Credit: Milk)The question over
who would take on Doctor Who’s visual effects in the future was
answered today with the announcement of a new company formed by the
same creative team that worked on the show’s previous series. Milk’s
founders are Nick Drew (Managing Director and Executive Producer),
with Visual Effects Supervisors Jean-Claude Deguara and Nico Hernandez
(also joint Heads of 3D), Sara Bennett (also Head of 2D), and Murray
Barber, with Executive Producer and overall CEO of the company being a
name and face familiar to fans through Doctor Who Confidential, Will

Cohen released a statement about the company’s aim:
Milk aims to be the most sought after visual effects team in what we
believe is blossoming into a thriving industry for high-end TV visual
effects. Our new venture is timed to enable us to capitalise on the
new tax breaks in the UK as we expect to see an influx of TV work, as
well as continued feature film work, coming to London over the next
few months and beyond.

As mentioned above, Doctor Who will be one of the first customers for
the new effects company, with work being undertaken on the 3D 50th
Anniversary Special. The company is also working on Steven Moffat’s
eagerly anticipated third series of Sherlock, and a new BBC One
mini-series Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (due to be broadcast in

Academy VFX Branch Newest Members Announced


Visual Effects Branch Membership Additions 2013:

Jason Bayever (Life of Pi, The Wolfman)

Mark Breakspear (The Great Gatsby, Tropic Thunder)

Philip Brennan (Snow White and the Huntsman, Minority Report)

Tony Clark (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Harry
Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

David Clayton (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Avatar)

Michael Dawson (Snow White and the Huntsman, The Devil’s Double)

Erik-Jan De Boer (Life of Pi, Night at the Museum)

Donald R. Elliott (Life of Pi, Seabiscuit)

John Goodson (Red Tails, Marvel’s The Avengers)

Charley Henley (Prometheus, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

John McLeod (Django Unchained, The Aviator)

Mark Noel (Oz The Great and Powerful, Transformers)

David Prescott (Transformers, X-Men)

Guillaume Rocheron (Life of Pi, Sucker Punch)

Wendy Rogers (Puss in Boots, Shrek)

David Alexander Smith (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Matrix Reloaded)

Wayne Stables (The Adventures of Tintin, Avatar)

Richard Stammers (Prometheus, Angels & Demons)

Richard Stutsman (Zero Dark Thirty, Independence Day)

Christopher Townsend (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Day
after Tomorrow)

Stephan Trojansky (Marvel’s The Avengers, Hereafter)

David Watkins (Ali, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom)

Jeff White (Marvel’s The Avengers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom
of the Crystal Skull)

Trevor Wood (Prometheus, The Golden Compass)

Full coverage:

Pixar Plans To Cut Back On Sequels

(darkhorizons.com)          Pixar and Walt Disney Animation president
Ed Catmull tells Buzzfeed that the computer animation company’s focus
is now moving back to original properties.

Following a flurry of sequels in recent years including “Toy Story 3,”
“Cars 2,” “Monsters University” and the upcoming “Finding Nemo 2,”
Catmull says the company has now set a mandate to release one original
Pixar film annually.

Added to this, the company will also release a sequel or prequel to an
existing work every second year.

4 New Video Game Realities That Will Kill the Industry

(cracked.com)          The video game industry is thriving like never
before. Back in the day, if you bragged to strangers about the
headshot you’d just pulled off, you didn’t get a round of virtual
congratulations; you got a thorough cavity search by vigilant
professionals. But now everybody games — men, women, kids, the
elderly … hell, there are entire online services just for cats to
play video games together in Japan (well, probably not, but you
totally believed me for a second, didn’t you?). But despite this
thriving industry, a lot of sketchy new practices are emerging that
may very well end up killing gaming before it even gets a chance to
grow old, bloated, and entirely corrupt. If we want gaming to outlive
its prime, we have to put an immediate stop to stuff like …

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-new-video-game-realities-that-will-kill-industry/

Spider-Man 2 Actor Trying to Steal Andy Serkis Thunder

Here’s Paul Giamatti on the set of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, in which
he plays The Rhino. I assume he’s doing some sort of motion capture
work here, though he seems a little overdressed for it (MORE SPANDEX
ONESIES!). We all know Paul
Mr.-Academy-Award-Nominee-for-Cinderella-Man Giamatti is widely
regarded as one of the best actors in town, but does he have the
thespian chops to compete with Sir Andy Serkis when it comes to
wordlessly evoking the inner humanity of a fantastical creature? I
guess we’ll see.

Thunder stealing photo – Take a look: