VFX News 07/29/15

How Many Shots in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Are Completely CGI?

(slashfilm.com)             Due to the overwhelming amount of CGI visual effects used in the Star Wars prequels, and all the complaining that followed from fans hoping for more practical filmmaking, Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams have really been hitting home their use of authentic, real, practical effects for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. They’ve been relying heavily on that message, as seen in the recent Comic Con behind the scenes reel.

But that doesn’t mean Star Wars: The Force Awakens won’t have its fair share of CGI visual effects. Undoubtedly, CG was needed to extend sets, hide puppeteers, and even create entire characters. (Hopefully none are as distracting or invasive as Jar Jar Binks.) However, it sounds like there aren’t a lot of shots in Episode VII that are completely CGI, with no practical effects whatsoever.

Full article:   http://www.slashfilm.com/star-wars-the-force-awakens-cgi-shots/

Avatar 2 Production Delay Explained: Technology Needed Does Not Yet Exist

(ibtimes.co.uk)          Most fans awaiting the release of Avatar 2 will know that the technology (or rather the lack of it) is one of the key reasons for the delay in the film’s production and release. Latest reports reveal some new updates on the Avatar 2 production and explains the reason in more detail.

As per earlier reports, Avatar 2 will showcase the water ecosystem of Pandora and as a result, a major part of the film, will be filmed underwater.

According to Clapway, director James Cameron is planning on using a technology that will help him film breathtaking scenes underwater. The technology that he plans on using is still not present and there is work being done to bring it to existence, and that has led to delay in the production process. (via Day Herald)

“Cameron himself has revealed that the technology will help them speed up the filming process. A lot of the graphics and computer software have been developed at Weta Digital in New Zealand where Avatar 2’s animation and special effects is worked upon,” states the website report.

Moreover, producer Jon Landau earlier revealed that Avatar 2 will have a team which is going to help test out new technology for underwater motion capture. Landau said that they can use animation and graphics to simulate the water, but the same cannot be done for the actors. For this very reason they need technology that helps them capture the actor’s experience when they shoot inside a tank for Avatar 2.

Avatar 2 is expected to release in December 2017.

BFX Pro Festival Tickets On Sale

(bfxfestival.com)                    The seven day festival takes place in Bournemouth at the Bournemouth International Centre on the south coast of England, from the 28th September – 4th October 2015. The festival is split into 3 parts:

BFX Pro sponsored and curated by The Foundry

Monday 28th September

A one day conference of presentations, demos, and networking aimed at CTO’s, pipeline engineers, asset managers, service providers, professionals and academics working within the creative industries. We will be discussing current and future research, services & platforms, and their role within the sector. Our themes will include – ‘Tools for Iteration and Collaboration: Pipeline Empowers Creativity’, ‘The Cloud – Invisible Technology and the Backbone of the Future’ and ‘A/R & V/R – The Reality of Virtual Content’. There will be a clear focus on production and we have some AMAZING speakers lined up. Stay tuned for more information – we’ll be announcing our schedule very soon (you won’t want to miss this).

Presentations, Screenings & Careers Hub

Tuesday 29th September – Friday 2nd October

This unique four day programme is aimed at students, professionals and hobbyists and consists of  screenings, presentations, workshops and a careers hub. Our confirmed speakers include:

Framestore, Method Studios, Iloura, Double Negative, MPC, Animal Logic, Axis Animation, Aardman, Frontier Developments, Blue Zoo, The Chaos Group, The Foundry, Eric Shaw, ILM and The Mill, with more to be announced very soon.

We can already confirm that Iloura will be joining us from Australia to present George Millers Masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road. Dan Bethell, FX Sequence Supervisor (and NCCA, Bournemouth University Graduate) will talk us through all aspects of the film and its effects.

Our  Careers Hub is back, and its going to be even bigger than last years, with recruiters from some of the world’s best VFX, Animation and Games studios. The Careers Hub can be found in the Purbeck Lounge, next to the speakers hall, from the 1st – 2nd October, 10am – 6pm.

BFX Family Weekend

Saturday 3rd – Sunday 4th October

This weekend will be jam packed with family friendly events aimed at those interested in Film, Animation and Computer Games, containing a programme of public screenings, presentations and workshops.


More information regarding the festival will appear online very soon!


Source with links:  http://www.bfxfestival.com/festival/

‘Transformers 5’  To Likely Introduce ‘Beast Wars’

(masterherald.com)               Paramount Pictures has come up with a “Transformers” writers’ room sometime in May as put together by Akiva Goldsman and Michael Bay. The writers’ room assured the next installment of the very successful robot movie series of a good storyline as well as all future films or spinoff movies of the franchise.

It could be recalled that towards the penultimate part of “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, were able to draw support from at least three beast robots, which alluded the possibility that the next installment of the series could focus on beast wars.

Reports coming out as of late indicate that Akiva Goldsman seems to have given the writers a free hand on deciding which direction they want to go in as far as plots and subplots for “Transformers 5” are concerned, details Enstarz.

In a recent interview, Goldsman said that if one of the writers discovers an affinity for Beast Wars, he or she can move forward on treatments that will have been fleshed out by the whole writers’ room.

When the concept of ‘Beast Wars’ materializes for “Transformers 5,” it would mean that the machines will now transform into wild animalistic form.

The beast versions of many of the robot characters of “Transformers” can be found on the G1 toyline series – Optimus Prime is Optimus Primal, Bumblebee is Cheetor, Star Scream is Terrasaur, and Blackout is Tarantulus, and so on and so forth. The rest of the robots from both the Autobots and the Decepticons all have their wild animalistic form.

Martial Arts Legend Bruce Lee Set for a CGI Comeback in ‘IP Man 3’!?

(moviepilot.com)                The magical world of CGI has sprung its latest fascinating surprise on cinema lovers everywhere. For it has just been announced that a computer-generated version of martial arts and action movie legend Bruce Lee will make an appearance in IP Man 3.

It is as yet unknown how much of a role Lee will play in the Ip Man saga, which portrays the life story of Yip Man, the first person to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun, but we do know that Lee was a pupil of his.

Apparently, the film’s producers were unable to find an actor to portray Lee’s intensity onscreen so have decided to use computer graphics to re-create the most authentic Lee in the film.

We have, of course, already seen a CGI-ed Lee in the Johnny Walker whiskey commercial, “Gamechanger.” That ad was directed by Joseph Kahn, who also directed the recent gritty Power Rangers fan film.

Local Studio Wants to be ‘China’s Answer to Pixar’

(CCTV.com)                With China’s hairy hero the Monkey King swinging back into action, it appears people’s interest in Chinese-made animation movies has been re-ignited. And with more local and international talents joining the industry and a more mature financial environment, more local studios are chasing their dream to become the next Pixar or Dreamworks.

The girl needs 300,000 strands of animated hair, almost three times more than a real-life girl, to make this swing appear more real. That is just one of the fun parts of computer-generated-imagery animation. Computers are a necessity, but the believability and acting still come first.

The animators themselves are cast like performers and in this dream-making industry, Hollywood will no longer play the dominant role. On a visit to Light Chaser studio in a Beijing suburb, Yu Zhou, the founder of this three-year-old Chinese company, said that they keep learning from Pixar and Dreamworks. But they do not see them competitors, as the market is large enough.

Zhou said in China you can find capital, artists, and even the most cutting-edge animation technology, but the toughest part is management. In the CGI industry, studios follow a step-by-step integrated system allowing everyone to build off one another’s work, what’s called a production pipeline.

Liu Lu, an industry veteran who worked for Pixar for many years, is tasked with building a powerful management system so this 150-person team can work together.

More international talents have been attracted back to China, looking for new opportunities that are hard to come by in the well-established Hollywood ecosystem.

In the US, animations can take up to 15 percent of movies’ market share. This compares to only 5 percent in China. But more local studios are joining the competition and want to grab a slice of the growing pie. They plan to take advantage of their international experience, as well as local talents and Chinese creativity.

‘Revenant’ Director:  “CGI was out of the question as “the film would be a piece of shit”

(theguardian.com)              Film crew rep claims executives on Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, ignored multiple warnings about safety concerns

How far is too far in pursuit of that perfect shot? Filming during Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest offering, The Revenant, has been described as “a living hell” according to some cast and crew, a fact the director does not dispute.

While conditions were undeniably brutal, now Damian Petti, president of film crew union body IATSE Local 212, suggests that cast and crew may have been in real danger. He told the Hollywood Reporter that production executives ignored multiple warnings about safety concerns.

Director defends Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant as crew call shoot a ‘living hell’

The Revenant sees Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Hugh Glass betrayed by his companions during a fur trapping expedition in 1823. CGI was out of the question as “the film would be a piece of shit”, according to its director, and so The Revenant was shot in harsh conditions in the Canadian winter, a far cry from a soundstage in Los Angeles.

Petti criticised what he calls an “it’s all worth it because the picture looks really good” attitude stating: “That’s a very dangerous road for any of us to be on and to buy into.

“In terms of our industry, it’s important that people differentiate between getting an amazing movie at all costs, and safety.”

The Revenant producer New Regency deny these allegations, insisting that on-set safety was duly followed throughout the shoot: “While filming in challenging conditions, safety was not compromised.”

Petti is acting as a voice for crew members he feels were “not … taken seriously” and who fear the consequences of speaking out. Petti claims that around 15 to 20 crew members quit or were fired during production, some of whom “raised safety issues”.

New Regency, in its defence, say it hired specialists to ensure overall safety while shooting in harsh conditions: “We hired experts who worked with us in swift-water, mountain-climbing, bear behaviour, helicopter operations and cold-weather safety to complement the US production management team.”

Dr Who Special Effects Whiz Sets Students a Space Ship Challenge

(aboutmyarea.co.uk)                  Animation students from Barking & Dagenham College got the chance to learn from creative employers and leaders in the hi-tech world of TV and film 3D visual effects and take part in a speed 3D modelling challenge – with one student winning first prize.

The students, who are studying for a Foundation Degree in Animation with Games Design at the College were excited to take part in the challenge set up by leading visual effects artist, Adam Dewhirst.  Adam has worked on popular projects such as Dr Who, World War Z and Maleficent to name just a few.  Up against animation students from two other colleges, the task saw them create 3D spaceship concept designs in just one hour.  All were hoping they would be in with the chance of winning the prize of a £650 Wacom tablet, the type used by visual effects professionals and graphic artists.

Whilst all work was of a great standard, only one student could win and this honour went to Barking & Dagenham College student Dominic Esprit, 20, from Walthamstow. Adam felt Dominic’s design would work well in full production and looked very realistic.

Commenting on his win, Dominic said: “This opportunity has really changed my life. I hope to one day work in this fantastic industry and want to say a massive thank you to my tutor Matthew Phelan for all his help and support and my classmates Viktorija and Francis for being such strong competition, encouraging me to keep pushing myself harder.”

Escape Technology, the technology reseller and support specialists for the digital creative industry, hosted the 3D speed modelling challenge and event. As well as drafting in Adam Dewhirst to set the student challenge, the company arranged for Adam to also be on hand to offer career advice to students on how to apply for work in the industry once they graduate.

Adam, who has created visual effects for the TV, film, music and gaming industries said: “To succeed in the industry a 3D VFX artist needs speed as well as accuracy. This speed modelling challenge is a great opportunity for students to put their technical ability to the test as well as how they perform under pressure. The Barking & Dagenham College students were particularly strong in both areas and I’m positive these talented students will have no problem securing 3D VFX jobs in the future. It’s important that colleges like Barking & Dagenham College continue to train students to the standard they are – making sure the UK continues to compete as a world leader in the art of visual effects.”

Ana Guimaraes, Curriculum Director Creative, Digital and Enterprise at Barking & Dagenham College added: “As a Digital & Creative Career College we make sure our students get every opportunity to work with and learn from industry experts. Technological advances mean that the world of visual special effects is a hugely rewarding and exciting career option for our students.”

Terminator Genisys Crosses $300 million, Sequel Unconfirmed

(denofgeek.uk)                The future of the Terminator movies remains in the balance, as Terminator: Genisys crosses $300 million at the global box office…

When the rights for the Terminator franchise were snapped up in an expensive auction back at the start of the decade, this is not how things were supposed to have ended up. It cost $20 million to acquire said rights, with Skydance and Paramount ultimately teaming up for a proposed new trilogy of Terminator movies.

The problem is that the series, not for the first time, may not get that far.

Terminator Genisys opened back at the start of July, with reviews ranging from not very good to outright hostile. We’ve heard from a few people who have warmed to the film, but nowhere near the number that director Alan Taylor and his team would have wanted. Right now, Terminator Genisys is being marked down as one of the summer’s disappointments.

Free Preview of Our VFX Supervisior Background Fundamentals Series

(fxphd.com)                The new July 2015 term was just launched here at fxphd and you can check out all the great new courses we have on offer in our term overview video.

This term’s Background Fundamentals, our weekly magazine-style course covering the fundamentals of vfx, focuses on vfx supervision. We’ll be sharing a wide variety of interviews with supervisors from around the world. The first class featured Andrew Jackson, the vfx supervisor whose work includes Knowing, Happy Feet 2, 300 and the last blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road.

Check out a free preview from the first class — and join fxphd to gain access to the full series as well as all of our great courses.

VIDEO – Take a look:  https://www.fxphd.com/blog/free-preview-bkd/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fxpage&utm_campaign=post-andrew

Pixar Bets on Better Image Quality

(bbc.com)         Inside Out is the 15th film to come from Pixar’s computer animation studios and it focuses on what goes on in the mind of an 11-year-old girl.

The film is the first Pixar feature to use Dolby Vision which claims to offer a better quality of picture.

BBC Click spoke to director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera about why they chose to employ the process for this film.

Clips courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures. Inside Out is released in UK cinemas on 24th July.

VIDEO – Take a look:   http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33508826

Ant-Man Crew Insulted At Crew Screening


The Goonies – Sequel in the Works

(usmagazine.com)           When it comes to a Goonies sequel, the film’s original screenwriter Chris Columbus always keeps three words in mind: Never say die. In a new interview on July 20’s HuffPost Live, the filmmaker — currently promoting Pixels with Josh Gad — told fans that yes, the sequel is happening, but no, it’s not on the fast track.

Problem No. 1? There’s no final script. “There are a lot of writers who are interested in writing Goonies, but we’re very protective because it’s such a well-loved movie,” Columbus said. “The Goonies have aged 30 years, so there was a magic about that particular cast. How do you make it work now? That’s a difficult challenge.”

Rumors of a Goonies sequel were first sparked in April 2014 when the original film’s director, Richard Donner, hinted at a second movie, and suggested that Columbus and co-writer Steven Spielberg would return.

Last year, film costars Sean Astin and Corey Feldman admitted they’d be on board, and on Monday’s HuffPost Live, Columbus entertained plot twists and casting ideas. “Do you want to announce that I’m playing Stripe’s brother, or wait?” Gad, the star of Columbus’ Pixels, joked.

Gad had also already thought out how the reboot would get with the times. “What if it’s a crossover so that Josh Brolin’s character from No Country for Old Men is actually what became of Brand? Then you get Anton Chigurh as the guy who’s hunting down the goonies,” he proposed.

Read more: http://www.usmagazine.com/entertainment/news/the-goonies-2-is-coming-chris-columbus-calls-sequel-difficult-2015207#ixzz3hCXgyhjd

6 Tips For Becoming an Artist in Visual Effects for Film

(linkedin.com)                 Batman vs. Superman. Guardians of the Galaxy. Suicide Squad. Films like these and many more are thrilling audiences worldwide and are driving the entertainment business. Their success depends largely on the visual effects artists creating the images and action that expose audiences to new worlds and experiences. It’s a growing field with the work being done globally and young people are clamoring to get into the field. However, it is highly competitive and the expectations for entry level artists keep climbing. Read on to learn a few tips if you want to become part of this exciting field.


Visual effects studios working on feature films tend to want specialists. Compositing and lighting are the biggest departments with the biggest demand. FX artists are always in demand, there never seems to be enough of them. You might also specialize in a more niche department, like crowd or character TD. Even though the number of positions in those departments is smaller, the demand is there because fewer artists choose it as their focus. We need modelers and animators too, however the proportion of those artists coming out of colleges and universities is not in line with the demand. While it’s good to learn a bit of everything, focus on the department that most resonates with you and put all of your eggs in that basket.


Having some scripting skills like Python under your belt will make you more valuable to employers. Many think “I didn’t become an artist so I could be writing code.” However, it can be creative, and further, some scripting saves you from repetitive tasks which frees you to focus on the creative choices.


Visual effects artists make photo-realistic images. While we create fantastical creatures and worlds, they are rooted in reality by believably obeying physics and anatomy of the real world. So when you’re creating your own work, create images that look photo-realistic. Study reference from photos and the world around you. It is better to create a simple scene from everyday life that is convincingly real than to make chrome dinosaurs that look really cool.


Know your industry, find out what films are being made and who is working on them. Learn about the leading artists in your area of interest and find out how they got there. Be sure you are using the latest industry techniques and software; things can change quickly in this field and it’s important to stay up to date.


You’re probably reading this on LinkedIn, so you’re taking good steps already. What often gets overlooked in an era of friending, connecting, liking, sharing, tweeting and following is actual human connections. Look for opportunities to meet people in person. Join organizations like SIGGRAPH, get involved in events, volunteer and talk to people. Make friends, follow up with people you’ve met, don’t expect them to chase you.


MPC is one of the biggest visual effects companies in the world and is committed to help develop the next generation of visual effects artists. MPC Academy is our in-house finishing school where we hire recent graduates and pay them to be trained full time for up to 12 weeks, after which the successful graduates join their department working on feature film visual effects. Find out more at moving-picture.com/academy.

Would you like to learn more about MPC Academy? Sign up now for a live webinar that I’m hosting next Tuesday at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5101753012550018306

This is the Power of Age-Reduction Visual Effects

(petapixel.com)          You’ve probably seen many examples of Photoshop being used to make a portrait subject look younger, but have you seen the same type of age-reduction retouching in real-time video?

Digital artist Rousselos Aravantinos recently did an age-reduction test using the digital compositing software Nuke and Mocha Pro. The 30-second video above shows the results of his experiment.

“I’ve decided not to apply any facial markers, to challenge myself (and make my life more difficult). It’s a 100% work in 2D space,” the Los Angeles-based artist writes. “There are a few things i would like to improve, but I felt like it was time to move on.”

The original video is a short moving portrait of actress Michele Valley shot with a Nikon V1 mirrorless camera. You may not think that Aravantinos’ de-aging work looks completely realistic, but it’s an interesting look at what one person can do these days using the latest software tools available out there.

VIDEO – Take a look:   http://petapixel.com/2015/07/22/this-is-the-power-of-age-reduction-visual-effects/

VFX News 06/10/15

‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ to be Filmed With Arri’s 6K Large Format Camera

(hollywoodreporter.com)             Parts of Star Wars: Rogue One and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation were shot with Arri’s Alexa 65, a large format, 6K resolution model of Arri’s popular Alexa camera that is available exclusively through Arri Rental.

Many cinematographers are in line to get their hands on one of the still limited number of the new cameras, which really dazzled when unwrapped last fall, using test footage lensed by cinematographer Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty), who’s using it on Rogue One (the production is also using film).

Oscar winning director of photography Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood) used the Alexa 65 for an underwater sequence in the upcoming Mission Impossible film, which is mostly shot with 35mm and 65mm film.

The Great Wall is in production with director Yimou Zhang and Oscar nominated cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh (The Piano), who’s using the camera, possibly, for the entire movie.

Also as previously reported in The Hollywood Reporter, Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki—who won back to back Oscars for Gravity and Birdman—used the Alexa 65 for part of Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant.

As part of a partnership with Imax, Arri is also co-developing a version of the Alexa 65 for Imax production. Avengers: Infinity War is set to be shot with it in its entirety, and Captain America: The Civil War will also use the Alexa 65 for an Imax format.

Last weekend, Munich-headquartered Arri — which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2017 — was awarded a technical lifetime achievement award at Cine Gear Expo. Presenting the award, American Society of Cinematographers past president Daryn Okada said, “It’s pretty undeniable what their impact will be in the future. They keep innovating.”

A Visitor’s Guide to ‘Jurassic World’ Dinos

(USA TODAY)        (If you’re going to open up a dinosaur-filled theme park, go big or go home.

Same thing goes for making a dinosaur-filled movie such as Jurassic World, the new movie (in theaters Friday) that director Colin Trevorrow has populated with genetic creations great and small — some with ancient pedigree, some made-up, and most of them deadly.

The Jurassic World theme park in the film is “a massive corporate entity that’s creating entertainment for people all around the world,” Trevorrow says. “They want to make sure these things are as big and bad and exciting as possible, whether they should exist or not.”

The filmmaker gives USA TODAY a rundown on dinos to look out for in the new movie, from fresh species to old favorites from the three previous Jurassic Park outings.

Full article:    http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2015/06/10/jurassic-world-dinosaurs-visitors-guide/28752763/

TONIGHT: BFC Post and VFX Event

(visualeffectssociety.com)     The British Film Commission (BFC) invites VES members to an informal discussion about the UK post-production and VFX landscape with speakers from the US and UK, followed by a drinks reception.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015 from 5:00PM to 7:00PM
The London Hotel (Complimentary valet parking)
1020 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069
Click here for a map.

Speakers will include BFC Chief Executive Adrian Wootton, BFC EVP US Production Kattie Kotok, Post-Production Supervisor Emma Zee and VP Post Production at Focus Features Ben Urquhart, moderated by Bruce Hendricks, President of Dick Cook Studios

RSVP:   https://www.visualeffectssociety.com/events/event/event-bfc-post-and-vfx

200+ New Artists At  DreamWorks Animation Shanghai To Crew “Kung Fu Panda 3”

(latimes.com)               On the 16th floor of a Shanghai office building, dozens of fresh-faced young animators are studying painting, sculpting and acting.

They’re participating in film-appreciation workshops — Woody Allen’s “Match Point” was a recent pick — and learning the latest software tools. Teaching them via video connections were some of the most experienced artists in Los Angeles, veterans who brought to life hits such as “Shrek” and “Madagascar.”

But it won’t take years for these newbies, many of them recent art-school grads, to get their big break working on a Hollywood blockbuster. As employees of Oriental DreamWorks, they’re already staff artists on “Kung Fu Panda 3,” set for release in January.

Reel China: Covering entertainment in China

The runaway success of the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise inspired both awe and envy for Chinese who wondered how Americans came up with a billion-dollar global phenomenon that combines two quintessential elements of Chinese culture — a bumbling black-and-white bear and martial arts.

That sense of admiration and frustration helped smooth the way for DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg to create Oriental DreamWorks in 2012, a $330-million joint venture without precedent in the entertainment industry.

Modeled on agreements that have given American companies like General Motors expanded access to the restrictive Chinese market — in exchange for sharing their technology and know-how — the Shanghai-based entity is 45% owned by DreamWorks Animation.

Other partners include a government investment fund; private equity firm China Media Capital, which has invested in Imax’s China business; and Shanghai Media Group, a multimedia television and radio broadcasting company.

“Being able to be a bit of a pioneer in that market, I think could be incredibly and uniquely valuable for us,” Katzenberg said in an interview. “If we succeed, it could be a game changer for us.”

Hollywood studios have been scrambling to expand their business in China to capitalize on a booming box office, which is expected to overtake U.S. box-office receipts by 2018. DreamWorks is in an enviable position: The $96.3-million haul for the second installment of “Kung Fu Panda” in 2011 still stands as the highest gross ever for an animated film in China.

It also reinforced Katzenberg’s belief that the Middle Kingdom could be a mega-market for his Glendale studio.

Full article: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-china-dreamworks-20150609-story.html#page=1

Maker of ‘Jurassic Park: The Ride’ To Create Mixed Reality VR Entertainment Destinations

(hollywoodreporter.com)     Landmark Entertainment Group — The L.A.-based producer of such attractions as “Terminator 2 3D” and “Jurassic Park: The Ride” — is getting into the virtual reality business.

The company intends to develop virtual reality experiences for VR goggles such as Samsung VR Gear or Oculus Rift, as well as open mixed reality entertainment destinations that it calls L.I.V.E. (Landmark Interactive Virtual Experience) Centres.

The L.I.V.E. Centre concept includes an interactive museum, a virtual zoo and aquarium, a digital art gallery, a live entertainment stage, immersive movie theater and themed-experience retail.

Landmark Entertainment Group recently formed a partnership with a group of Chinese investors to build L.I.V.E. Centres in China. The first is expected to break ground within the next 12-18 months.

“The majority of what exists in the VR market today is shortform content, whereas our goal is to work with brands to create longform VR entertainment destinations.
What we’re creating is the equivalent of taking your family to a theme park,” said CEO and founder Tony Christopher.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Christopher said the concept for L.I.V.E. Centres involves combining entertainment with an education component. “We believe we can do something exceptional,” he said, adding that programming could include animals, art and space exploration — all in expected 200,000-square-foot locations.

Oscar Winning Special Effects Artist Rick Baker has Closed Shop Because CGI Has Made His Job Redundant

(news.com.au)               I love technology, although I like my profession a little more. Source: News Corp Australia

OSCAR winning special effects and makeup artist Rick Baker has showcased his work on some of Hollywood’s biggest sets over the past 35 years.

With credits for his work on Men in Black, Star Wars, Planet of the Apes and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Baker has long been considered a master of his trade.

So, why exactly is he closing his studio and auctioning off 400 of his best-known props?

“When CG (computer generated images) first became popular, we instantly became dinosaurs,
” he told Vice.

“The whole business has changed.”

Full article:   http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/oscar-winning-special-effects-artist-rick-baker-has-closed-shop-because-cgi-has-made-his-job-redundant/story-fnjwucti-1227391567108

Animation Companies to Watch

(animationmagazine.net)       Our subscribers will be receiving in the next few days something special: The 250th issue of Animation Magazine!

For this special issue, we compiled a special list of 250 companies, people, products, events and projects that have — and will continue to — define the worlds of animation and visual effects now and long into the future.

We’re very excited about this monumental event and want to make sure our digital readers got in in the fun. So we’ll be rolling out the list online by categories — there are 10 of them — over the next two weeks. The categories are:

Take a look:   http://www.animationmagazine.net/events/the-animation-magazine-250-animation-companies-to-watch/

‘Become Legend’ Wins Best Visual Effects at AICP Awards

(awn.com)         VFX house Digital Domain was honored at the 2015 AICP Awards for Best Visual Effects for its work on the Destiny “Become Legend” commercial. Directed by acclaimed feature filmmaker Joseph Kosinski, Digital Domain collaborated with agency 72andSunny and live action production company Reset to create this breathtaking piece for one of the year’s best selling games. The piece for the first-person shooter video game features a stunning blend of cinematic live action and visual effects.

“We at Digital Domain are thrilled for the Destiny team,” said Rich Flier, Digital Domain’s President of Advertising and Games. “The artists here continue to produce the best work in the business and this is a well-deserved recognition.”

A longtime collaborator with Director Kosinski (Tron: Legacy, Oblivion,) Visual Effects Supervisor Eric Barba and the live action production company Reset sought to create a visually cinematic narrative that brings the game world to life with a seamless integration of photo-real CG and live action footage. Shot in exotic locations such as Tampico, Mexico and Moab, Utah, the production sought to capture as much in camera as they could so Digital Domain could work their magic. Augmenting everything from characters to environmental elements such as fire and landscapes, the Digital Domain team took the exotic Earth-bound locations and transformed them into the pulse pounding game locations of Mars, Venus and the Moon.

“This project exemplifies our ability to deliver commercial clients the same caliber of VFX that our Hollywood studio clients are accustomed to,” said Digital Domain CEO and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Eric Barba. “We used a lot of the same techniques from our features VFX pipeline.”

The piece delivers the promise of action packed game play from beginning to end. Adding to the adrenaline pumping pace is Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.”

“72andSunny had a strong idea of what music they wanted going in,” Barba said. “Anytime you get to create a piece of cinema to Led Zeppelin, you’ve already got a strong foundation for a visual piece like this. You just have to make sure the picture lives up to that classic track.”

Godzilla Actor Hiroshi Koizumi Dies

(bbc.com)              Hiroshi Koizumi, a Japanese actor who appeared in several early Godzilla films, has died at the age of 88.

According to reports, he died in Tokyo on 31 May from pneumonia.

Koizumi played the human lead in 1955’s Godzilla Raids Again, the sequel to Toho Studio’s first Godzilla film, which was released the previous year.

He went on to appear in a string of monster films, including Mothra, Godzilla vs The Thing and Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster.

Koizumi’s other Godzilla films included Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974), The Return of Godzilla (1984) and Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003).

His other credits included 47 Samurai in 1962, which also starred Toshiro Mifune, and 1963 war film Attack Squadron.

Indian Films that Spend Millions on Special Effects Just Don’t Make Good Business Sense

(qz.com)          Despite their mega budgets of around $250 million (Rs1,600 crore), Hollywood’s special effects blockbusters—from Avatar to the Twilight and Harry Potter series—often make good business sense. They’re served up to a massive global English-speaking audience, and their first-rate visual effects keep moviegoers glued to their seats.

Now, an Indian film—perhaps the most expensive ever made in India—wants to take on Hollywood, but with a budget of only about Rs175 crore ($28 million). Directed by S. S. Rajamouli, Bahubali will release on July 10 in multiple languages, including Hindi (backed by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions), Telugu and Tamil.

“Hollywood is much ahead of us in writing and execution. There’s no need to compare our work with theirs. I think getting 80% of their quality in our content with 20% of their budgets will be an achievement,” Rajamouli said in a recent interview. Some 15 visual effects studios and 600 artists have worked on the film over a period of more than two years.

But big budget Indian films, heavy on special effects, typically just don’t deliver the goods.

Producer Rob Cain, writing in Forbes, had this explanation:

…Hindi speaking Indians buy an enormous number of movie tickets each year, but with average ticket prices of just a dollar or two, and movies that gross only a few millions dollars on average, with little audience appeal outside their home turf, it would be foolish in most cases to spend more than a few million dollars to make an Indian language film.

“Indian cinema, including Bollywood, is popular only among people who know about it and sadly most of the world does not,” Tula Goenka, a filmmaker and professor at Syracuse University, told Quartz. “There is a mixture of genres in many films; the aesthetics are not reality based; the song-and-dance routines need getting used to; and most importantly the films are not readily available or widely shown anywhere.”

And apparently, films with special effects are even bigger losers.

“The big VFX-driven films, which are more westernised in their content, tend to alienate the mainstream audience in the smaller towns and rural areas,” Goenka explained. “And the multiplex audience in the cities stay away from these films because they can easily see the real ‘Hollywood’ production.”

Nothing special

Last year, for instance, Tamil film Kochadaiiyaan was made on a budget of Rs125 crore—and ended up with a net box office collection of Rs81 crore.

Tamil superstar Rajinikanth-starrer Enthiran (Robot in Hindi and Telugu) and Shah Rukh Khan’s sci-fi film Ra.One cost about Rs150 crore each, with heavy spending on special effects. And though both delivered big bucks at the box office, the return on investment was dented because of the high cost incurred on the making of these films.

Enthiran—released across 2,250 screens worldwide, with tickets costing up to Rs2,000 in Indian theatres—clocked a revenue of Rs179 crore, including Rs8 crore from satellite rights. (An unofficial estimate, however, is that the film collected Rs350 crore in worldwide box office sales.) Ra.One‘s return on investment was also low, with the film just about breaking even.

Other films with special effects like Drona, Blue, Love Story 2050, among others sank without a trace.

“Jurassic World” Set For Gigantic Bow

(darkhorizons.com)        Universal’s “Jurassic World” is looking set to score the third biggest opening of the season so far following “Furious 7” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron”.

Early estimates for the domestic box-office haul for this coming weekend were at around $100 million a few weeks back. Those have been upgraded with the latest being around $110-140 million.

Overseas, the film is looking to do anywhere from around $240-300 million in around sixty-six international territories where the film is opening at the same time as the United States. The film is also expected to have legs as there’s little real competition in the same genre until “Terminator: Genisys” in three weeks time.

The first reviews have also started coming in with a very mixed reaction to the film with some stern critics either praising it or ripping it to shreds. Check out the reviews so far at Rotten Tomatoes.

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