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: