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March 29, 2006

Dead Man's Chest

"We have just been awarded some 911 work on "PIRATES 2" through our good friends at ILM!!"
-Tippett Studio

Enough Said. Time to start counting some Pirate's Booty, Aye! I'm damn excited to get to comp on this pirate ship, Yaaar!

Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest THE TRAILER

Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest @ IMDB

Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest @ CINEFEX

Official Site http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/pirates/

Posted by dschnee at 1:43 PM

March 28, 2006

King Kong is Out on DVD Today!

Excited! but Dissapointed...

DVD Features:

Disc 1 >>>
* The Volkswagen Toureg & King Kong
I remember when we started working on this, and many peoples were upset due to throwing this extra work in right smack in crunch time to finish the main vfx work for the show, it was during the Rampage sequence
* Wish You Were Here
This is a damn trailer? lame, just lame.

Disc 2 >>>
* Special Introduction by Peter Jackson
* Post-Production Diaries: Director Peter Jackson takes you on an unforgettable journey revealing virtually every aspect of post-production with nearly three hours of exclusive behind the scenes footage.
Basically the only thing different from these diaries and the ones released when the film hit theatres is the additional 2 diaries for the world and Wellington premieres, and it's a bit easier to navigate to areas of the diaries. But I'm really dissapointed that there were not any additional vfx related diaries, covering comp and td especially, the dvd crew came through our dept a number of times, but I have yet to find anything on the dvd showing that.
* Kong's New York, 1933 - 1930s New York comes alive in this fascinating piece that explores vaudeville, the skyscraper boom, the construction of the Empire State building and more.
* Skull Island: A Natural History - Travel to treacherous Skull Island with Peter Jackson and his crew
I caught this on Sci-Fi last week and it's cool way of showing the story behind skull island, and it's inhabitants, a 'real' life documentary, but not for real.

So that's it??? No deleted scenes? No 4 hour director's cut? There were several vfx sequences cut from the film, I would have loved to see them make it into this 2 Disc special edition.

- King Kong 2-Disc @ amazon.com

Posted by dschnee at 1:28 AM

March 27, 2006

Back from Vacation, -minus Aruna

After the final push for Charlotte's Web ending a few weeks ago, I took a couple of weeks off which synced up my fiance, who also had her 2 week break from teaching. Time was spent mainly running around taking care of those things in life I never seem to have time for, not much R+R but it was still nice.
So I'm back to work today, but things are a bit slow at the moment, and something is missing around here... Aruna has up rooted from his 3 year tour at Tippett to sunnier skies and smog down in L.A. working @ DD, for Flags of our Fathers. Check out his blog entry 'The End' for the details. So god damnit go work on a cool WW2 project, learn Nuke, but get your ass back up here, sooner or later! ;)

Posted by dschnee at 3:47 PM

March 24, 2006

Download King Kong! via LOVEFiLM

This is pretty cool, I'm curious what the quality will be like... but download-to-own movies!, the time is now... well in the UK, through LOVEFiLM (The Netflix of the UK)

"Exclusively to LOVEFiLM, you can be amongst the first to download King Kong to own on April 10th. In our unique offering you'll get to download a copy of the movie to your PC, plus an additional copy for your handheld device PLUS we'll post you a copy of Kong on DVD."

Uni U.K. bows download arm with 'Kong' bid

LONDON -- Universal Pictures U.K., the British arm of NBC Universal's home entertainment division Universal Pictures International, said Thursday that it will use Peter Jackson's "King Kong" to launch a groundbreaking new broadband movie distribution service with U.K. rentals-by-post operator LOVEFiLM.

According to UPI president Peter Smith, the service -- dubbed DTO or download-to-own -- will debut April 10 with a choice of 35 films day-and-date with their DVD releases and will offer a triple play to tempt consumers. Uni's top home video executive in the U.S. said the U.K. initiative is a harbinger of things to come in other regions in the near future.

In the U.K., at a price of £19.99 ($35) for such new releases as "King Kong" or "Nanny McPhee," buyers will get two Windows Media Player downloads -- one for their PC and one for their portable device -- and a copy of the single-disc DVD sent to them by mail. Catalog titles will be offered at £9.99 ($17) or £14.99 ($26) depending on the film, but there is no model yet for a download-only sale, Smith said.

Describing it as a "revolutionary" initiative, he added that conditions now are right for film downloads. Computer penetration stands at 70% of U.K. homes, while broadband has reached 37% and is, according to analysts Screen Digest, set to top 60% (17 million homes) by 2008.

"The growth in broadband offers us a tremendous new distribution platform," Smith said. "It will be a tremendous growth engine for our business."

He declined to put a figure on the number of downloads that the service will achieve in its first year but said he believes it offers the potential to provide "sales like we have never seen before."

Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, said Thursday the U.K. broadband movie distribution service is a model for what will one day be prevalent everywhere.

"I see it happening in the United States very, very quickly," he said. "This is not a test, it's happening. That is the future. People are going to be able to buy our movies online, and they're going to be able to dowload them and send them to portables and play them on their PCs."

Changing consumer habits are the driving force behind the U.K. venture, according to Universal Pictures U.K. chairman Eddie Cunningham.

"Consumers are becoming more demanding, they want higher-quality products, they want those products to be more accessible," Cunningham said. "In our case, they want them anytime, anywhere. The days of just DVDs, which play on a television screen, are moving on. People want to be able to consume films on portable devices on train journeys and so on."

Cunningham said research revealed that consumers still wanted a DVD copy. "It was a bit surprising to us, but people are saying that at this stage of the game, they would still like to receive a physical copy as well."

Revenue will be split under the current DVD model, with Universal charging a standard wholesale price for each sale rather than any form of revenue sharing, Cunningham said.

UPI said it is keen to expand the model to other territories as soon as the infrastructure is in place. The U.K. service also will be available via www.aol.co.uk -- which has a rental download service provided by LOVEFiLM, a unit of digital cinema provider Arts Alliance Media.

LOVEFiLM CEO Mark Livingstone said an average movie will take about 40 minutes to an hour to download in a 2MB broadband household, but that wait is expected to shrink rapidly.

"The important thing to note is that 2MB is going to become 4MB, 8MB, 16MB, 24MB, etc. We think it is no more than 12-18 months to the time when you will put the kettle on, get the kids ready to watch a great movie and you will be ready to go," Livingstone said. "We are really at the point when this technology has become a reality, which is why we are so excited about it."

The deal is nonexclusive, and Cunningham said that Universal is open to similar propositions with other retailers and platforms like Apple's iTunes.

Livingstone also said he was keen to offer the service to Apple users but the chance to do so would depend on technological solutions from Microsoft and Apple. The move in part reflects the desire among rights-holders to more fully exploit their content libraries.

"On DVD at the moment, because of the limitations of shelf space, we make about 800 titles available out of a library, which has about 6,500 films in it," Smith said. "This is a really exciting opportunity to make them available in due course."

Thomas K. Arnold in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Posted by dschnee at 4:49 PM

March 22, 2006

Circle 7 Closed

It's only 20% of the 168 artists, but this is still shitty.

Disney Closes Unit Devoted to Pixar Sequels

With the firm's planned acquisition of Steve Jobs' studio, the division is no longer needed. Thirty-two are laid off.

The first casualty of Walt Disney Co.'s acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios came Monday when the Burbank entertainment giant shuttered a computer animation unit created to make sequels to such Pixar hits as "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo."

Thirty-two employees, or nearly 20% of the 168 artists, production managers and support staff, were told they would lose their jobs effective May 26.

The remaining 136 will be absorbed into Disney's feature animation division and redeployed to work on such productions as "Meet the Robinsons," "Rapunzel" and "American Dog."


In a statement, Disney confirmed Monday's developments with The Times and said it would help laid-off employees find new work. At least half a dozen or more hired to work on "Toy Story 3" were foreigners working in the U.S. on visas.

Workers should find themselves in demand, with computer animation enjoying a boom. Studios such as DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures are poised to release a slew of digitally animated movies this year.

Dubbed "Circle 7" after the Glendale street where the unit sits, the sequels operation was quietly set up last year by former Disney Chief Executive Michael Eisner at a time when Disney's lucrative partnership with Pixar was strained and in danger of dissolving. Rivals derided the attempt to replicate Pixar's unique creativity, nicknaming the operation "Pixaren't."

Disney had the right to make Pixar sequels under its previous distribution agreement. But its decision to move ahead irked Pixar executives, who worried that a botched effort would hurt their company's reputation.

All of that changed in January, when Disney agreed to buy Pixar for $7.4 billion. Disney CEO Bob Iger and Pixar Chairman Steve Jobs pledged that any Pixar sequels would be produced at Pixar's Emeryville, Calif., headquarters using artists who worked on the originals.

In addition, Disney's core animation operation will now be run by Pixar creative director John Lasseter — who directed "Toy Story" and whose next film, "Cars," is due out this summer — and Pixar President Ed Catmull.

Disney declined to comment about the future status of Circle 7 chief Andrew Millstein, who announced the layoffs to his staff at a noon meeting.

But it is believed that he will look for another job within Disney. Millstein, who once ran Disney's now-defunct Florida animation studio, has worked at Disney for nine years.

Also unclear is what will become of the multimillion-dollar computer animation facility in Glendale, although it is likely the company would use it for future productions.

-source LA Times

Posted by dschnee at 9:43 PM

March 21, 2006

Cinefex #105 includes Shaggy Dog Overview

I have yet to see the spread in April's issue, but it's damn cool know that they have done so, Cinefex continues to report and support Tippett's movies, even if they are a bit silly and not vfxBlockbusters.

"Visual effects supervisor Stephen Rosenbaum expounds on the efforts of Tippett Studio and CIS Hollywood to sell the comic premise of a man morphing into a dog in this remake of the Disney comedy classic, The Shaggy Dog."

Fantastic choice for the cover! Seeing this thing the trailer had me completely intrigued, the look, feel, and lighting of this underwater creature is beautiful, one of my favorite bits in the film. (as were the dragons, but dragons are always damn cool)

as posted over @ cinefex.com

Posted by dschnee at 11:29 AM

March 16, 2006

Crew Screening of The Shaggy Dog

Tonight was Tippett Studio's crew screening of Disney's The Shaggy Dog! I was excited to bring my cousin Mellissa and my pops to the show this time around. Now I asked my cousin (who is 14), if she would have gone to see it had she not came tonight... and she honestly told me yes, that her and a few of her friends were planning to go see it. I thought that was great!

What typically happens before the lights dim to darkness and we enjoy the show, is the VFX Supervisor gets down in front and says a few words about the work we did and such, but Tom Schelesny is off in New York working on set for Disney's 'Enchanted'. So our Comp Lead, Alan Boucek and back for a special visit former Tippett CG Supervisor Matt Robbinson delighted us with a brief overview of work completed on Shaggy Dog, and they both went into a round robbin of thanking departments, and even giving shout out's to most all of the individuals involved in bringing our work to the silver screen. Sadly, comp was pretty much left out, but all is good and everyone else was recognized, well almost everyone:

Alan (at the screening last night, after his and MMR's speeches): "We forgot Roto!"
Kane: "We're used to it! F@%# off!"

As for the movie... a few heart warming craft cheesey macaroni moments aside, this was a damn fun flick to watch, if your here to watch The Shaggy Dog, I think you enjoyed it, I mean your watching another re-make, and it is a man, freaking Tim Allen, who changes back and forth into a sheep-dog for frog-dog's sake! But Tim Allen does do a fine funny job with the physical comedy and if you own a dog especially the stuff is funny.

The effects... hmmmm, well there was some brutal stuff, but 98% of it wasn't ours, cough, (long shots of shaggy dog surfing) cough*

Anyhow a good time, and it was cool to see something different as the credits rolled, apart from the white text over black screen.

Posted by dschnee at 7:45 PM

March 12, 2006

Tippett Studios Barks Up VFX

So here we go, some more Shaggy Dog VFX to go with the release this past Friday, Also as of this past Friday I'm all finished up with my help on Charlotte's Web (Phase 1), I say phase 1, because it looks as if there will be a phase 2 with some additional sequences, it seems they need more funny, so there will be some more shots to come... So VFXWorld.com interviewed our kick ass VFX Soup on Shaggy Dog, Tom Schelesny, it's a nice spread, and it covers a number of the more complicated shots that were started and finished up while I was in New Zealand working on Kong. Shaggy Surfing, the DNA sequences, and a couple of Shaggy Transforming shots, I peaked at the final shots after I got back, and they all turned out great, and you can go see them in the cinema now!

Tippett Studios created many animals for the film, including mutants such as a King Cobra with a dog’s tail, rabbits that bark and meditate, lab rats that acted like dogs and a “frog dog.” (This shot above was one of the shots I composited, cool shot to work on with sweet rabbit-dog animation and a snake-dog slithering his way up through the sun-roof) anyhow check out the article below:

The Shaggy Dog: Tippett Studios Barks Up VFX

Tara DiLullo talks with Tippett Studios’ Tom Schelesny about the transformation vfx that transpire in Disney’s The Shaggy Dog.

It’s been 47 years since Disney first turned a story about an average guy that miraculously changes into a shepdog into a big screen hit. Now almost 50 years later, the House of Mouse is contemporizing their family classic, The Shaggy Dog, with funny man Tim Allen following in the paw prints of Fred MacMurray, as a family guy transformed into a furry alter ego. Technology has come a long way since the high concept, low-tech original, so it makes sense that the new Shaggy Dog is much more cutting edge and illustrative of the actual human-to-canine transformation process. Under the supervision of visual effects supervisor Stephen Rosenbaum, several vendors worked on the film with the 3D character work going to the highly respected Tippett Studios. Tom Schelesny was the Tippett-based visual effects supervisor and he details how he and his team tackled the upgrades to the concept of the film.

“Our involvement with the project was based more on the fact that we, and I, had done this style of work in the past,” Schelesny details about why Tippett was awarded the film. “There is a subtlety required for comedy, which in a way goes beyond just the technical requirements of creating a computer graphic image. It’s a subtlety that’s not really present in let’s say a horror movie. In a horror movie, something that is intended to be frightening may be unintentionally funny, and that’s OK. But if you are working on a comedy and something that you intended to be funny turns out to not be funny, it’s usually not an option,” he chuckles. “So their interest in us had very much to do with our comedy work in the past, including the sequel to The Mask, The Son of the Mask, so my sensibilities were already working in that area.”

“This is not one of your classic visual effects films, in that the main characters in it are not computer graphic characters,” he continues. “The main character is Tim Allen. It wasn’t one of those situations where we had to augment anything he was doing. He is a very talented physical actor. In fact, it was quite surprising when we got out there, they’d roll the camera and he would just turn it on. It gave us a huge confidence in the project because it wasn’t like they were going to solve any problems in the show with just throwing visual effects at it. Clearly a lot of the responsibility fell to Mr. Allen and he is actually very funny. So the kinds of things that we needed to do, which go against our general visual effects m.o., was to not to mug for the camera for every shot. Generally, we mug for the camera to show everybody that they are getting their money’s worth in terms of a visual effects character. But for the computer graphics characters in this show the comedy was in their situation. They weren’t juggling plates; instead it was a King Cobra that has the tail of a shaggy dog. With that came different challenges, like does he act like a King Cobra or something else? Our main impetuous on the show was to come up with a supporting cast to support Tim’s performance.”

Detailing exactly what Tippett brought to the table, Schelesny explains, “We did about 110 shots. We weren’t the only vendor, but we did all the 3D animation and characters. We had about 50 artists at our studio working on it for about a year. We modeled and animated using Maya. We created 12 computer-generated characters.” Giving some context as to how they were integrated into the film, he details, “At one point in the show, we find ourselves in a lab and there are all these animals that were being experimented on with this ‘shaggy dog’ virus, which are very, very small, green, furry dog-shaped cells, that swim through your bloodstream. They were using that to try and find the fountain of youth, because the original shaggy dog was from Tibet, it’s not Tim Allen at all. The Tibetan dog is very old and the evil scientists got onto this thing to find out what makes this dog live so long via this virus, so they can find a fountain of youth and be trillionaires. So they had all these failed experiments and the things we did were a King Cobra with a sheep dog’s tail in CGI. We did four rabbits that bark like dogs and sit in lotus position and meditate. We also did six lab rats, which would bark, chase their tales and sit up and beg. The last mutated animal was something called the ‘frog dog,’ which had the body of a bullfrog and the head of a bulldog. It was very disturbing,” he chuckles.

Technology has come a long way since the original Fred MacMurray film, so the new Shaggy Dog is much more cutting edge. All images © 2006 Disney Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

“As for Tim Allen, who is bitten by the Tibetan and is infected with this virus and ends up in this lab and he transforms into a dog, which is where all the funny stuff comes from,” he continues. “He starts behaving like a dog, so we did a shot in an elevator where he begins panting like a dog and this giant tongue extension comes out of his mouth. In the lab, Allen is in a form of a sheep dog and they have all these voiceovers and images of the dog and he’s saying he should meditate to help him transform back into Tim Allen. They show all of our animals meditating and then there is an extreme close up of the dog’s face, which is 90% computer graphics and all the rest is CG fun. When the sheep dog opens his eyes, we reveal Tim Allen’s eyeballs and the hairs begin to retract into the skin and reveal Tim Allen’s skin underneath. They did not want to have Teen Wolf, with Tim Allen’s face and a bunch of funny hairs sticking out of it. So we took the effect about half way through, but we took our time so you would see the bone structure shifting and hairs that are discreetly receding into his face.”

Describing the other work they did on the film, he adds, “We had to build a cat for limited shots, a furred cat, and we also did two huge fully CG shots. We went into the project not even assigned to these shots, where we fly into Tim Allen’s body amongst these red blood cells and show these ‘shaggy’ virus cells. We had all these pictures on the wall of what red blood cells look like and tried to find what audiences would accept. We flew into a wound on Allen’s hand, which was a photographic plate and transitioned into a CG wound and flew through the blood stream and take a red blood cell and rip it open showing shaggy dogs cells swimming on the inside and then we’d fly out of his mouth at the end. It would hook up two photographic plates together with this huge 15-second shots. We did two and the other was inside his heart. Those were really tough shots mostly because we had to self-art direct it and pitch it back to the director. He was busy editing the film so we took the bull by the horns and presenting work to them saying here is what we wish to do.”

The Shaggy Dog offered plenty of other creative challenges for the team, including ways to handle the dog to human transition sequences. Schelesny says the one he was most satisfied with occurred at the end of the movie. “Allen visits his wife and there is one big shot on these courthouse steps where the camera is on a profile of his wife and the dog has its front paws on her shoulders and the camera tracks around her back and goes all the way around to the profile on the far side. As the camera begins passing behind her, the hairs retract into the paws and fingers extend into full human length and grab into her shoulder and he transforms into Tim Allen. On the first side, we see the dog’s face and then on the far side, using her head as a wipe, we see Tim Allen.”

Tippett’s biggest challenge was making the dog surf. Not only did the digital artists have to make the dog hang 10, but also simulating the dog’s long, flowing hair was a hurdle.

As for the biggest production hurdle for Tippett, Schelesny says it was a sequence that closed the film: another surprise addition to their workload. “The intention was for it to be entirely photographic with simple composites. At the end of the movie, [Allen’s family] go to Hawaii and in the far distance, surfers are on the waves and you see out in the ocean a shaggy dog surfing. The first two shots were done by CIS, where they composited a very small greenscreen element of a dog standing on its hind legs and they tracked that one on a surfboard. We then tracked our surfboard under their dog in those two shots and then we got the third shot — the payoff everyone wanted to see. The camera is inside of the wave as it is breaking and there is a completely computer graphic shaggy dog with his long hair flapping in the wind, shooting the curl right past the camera. We had a background plate given to us from production, which was stock photography of a surfer shooting the curl right past us. We painted out that surfer and we had to build this shaggy dog.

“Simulating the hair, which was very long, was a huge technical challenge! The new frontier of fur is how to do long hair and how to style long hair and in the case of the shaggy dog, it has to flow in the breeze and react to his motion. It was a huge simulation to figure out and halfway working through that shot we weren’t sure if it was even renderable. We started painting the dog like he was totally wet with clumpy fur and it was very uninteresting and unrecognizable. I called production and the visual effects supervisor Steven Rosenbaum and told him it did not look like the dog people had been staring at for 90 minutes, so we needed the license to make it look like the dry dog and find areas where to make his fur clumpy. We found a halfway in between look where he still looked wet. The background plate was also shot in slow motion, but they didn’t want the dog in slow motion. We had to find a halfway slow motion speed for the dog’s performance so our CG water around the surfboard was allowed to be in slow motion, the body was partly in slow motion, but the fur was almost in realtime!” he sighs. “We do have a proprietary hair tool we use at Tippett and we had to modify it for extremely long hairs. It was an R&D project built into a project, which we typically don’t want to do but it always ends up that way. It was a fairly significant move forward for us. Our fur tool allows us to bridge from Maya into RenderMan, where the hairs themselves are grown. We do a final composite using Shake. It was the single hardest shot of the show.”

Tara DiLullo is an east coast-based writer whose articles have appeared in publications such as SCI-FI Magazine, Dreamwatch and ScreenTalk, as well as the websites atnzone.com and ritzfilmbill.com.

Posted by dschnee at 5:59 PM

March 10, 2006

The Shaggy Dog is Released!

in the USA 10 March 2006

visit The Shaggy Dog @ imdb.com

Box Office Results Mar. 10-12, 2006

Number: 2
Weekend Gross: $16,310,058
Theatres: 3,501
Theatre Average: $4,658
Weeks in Release: 2
Total Gross: $35,635,419
Budget: ?$?

BoxOfficeMojo.com's "The Shaggy Dog" Statistics

Posted by dschnee at 6:29 PM

March 5, 2006

Winner: Visual Effects - KING KONG

Can you hear me pounding my chest in celebration? Wow, So I got to work on an Oscar Award Winning VFX Film, amazing! King Kong took home the Oscar for Achievement in Visual Effects tonight at the 78th Annual Academy Award tonight.

Ben Stiller presented the category in a full on greenscreen gimp suit, that was great! and there were many'a green & blue screen gimps in Kong. You can see part of Stiller's presentation and performance here.

See Also:
Acceptence Speech
Back Stage Press Room Interview


Joe Letteri, Brian Van't Hul, Christian Rivers and Richard Taylor

Struggling vaudevillian Ann Darrow embarks on a sea voyage to a mysterious island, where director Carl Denham hopes to film a jungle adventure. There they encounter dinosaurs, gigantic insects, and the terrifying Kong, a gargantuan gorilla whose ferocity is soon overcome by his love for the beautiful Ann.
Thank you. This is tremendous. For those of us who aren't actors it's really a thrill to be able to create a character and a performance like Kong. But I've got to say we had a great actor working with us the whole time to show us how it's done. I've got to thank Andy Serkis for really giving us the heart of Kong, thank you. Peter Jackson, Peter, thank you for continuing to surprise us, and delight us, guide us, and for making films that we all love. Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens thank you for giving us this incredible story, to our producers Carol Cunningham, Jan Blenkin, Eileen Moran, Annette Wullens thank you for keeping it all together. To everyone at WETA, just a fantastic group of artists, we loved working with you, thanks for your dedication and to all of our friends at Universal, thank you for making it all happen.
Brian Van't Hul:
It's an honor to thank the academy on behalf of the hundreds of artists and technicians that were required to create the visual effects of King Kong. The process of bringing to life the character of Kong and the environments of Skull Island and New York was spread over so many production and post production departments that it becomes impossible to single out a handful of individuals that should solely be accredited for its success. I hope that this award will help each and every person working on Kong recognize not only how important the success of their role was but also recognize how important the passion for what they were doing helped inspire those around them on a daily basis. It's been my own personal reward to have had the opportunity to be part of the amazing crews of Big Primate, Weta workshop and Weta Digital.

A small and hopelessly incomplete list of those who personally inspired me by their hard work, friendship and support includes Annette Wullems, Nic Marrison, Caro Cunningham, Jan Blenkin, Malcolm Angell, Marion Davies, Jeremy Bennet, Gus Hunter, Andrew Lesnie, Alex Funke, Richard Bluck, Stan Alley, Lee Bramwell, Alex Kramer, everyone in the Weta Digital Camera Department past and present, John Baster, Alistair Maher, Paul Van Omen, Moritz Wassman, Dave Brown, Steve Ingram, Geoff Curtis, Scott and Sven Harens, Matt Aitken, Dan Lemmon, Jon Allitt, Emma Harre, Mark Lewis, Nick Booth, Erik Winquist, Eric Saindon, Greg Butler, Matt Holmes, Belindalee Hope, Randy Cook, Christian Rivers, Eric Leighton, Grant Major, Ed Mulhullan, Mike Heffernan, Joe Bleakly, Victoria Sullivan, Steve Bayliss, Tony Keddy, Huw Griffiths, Danny Williams, John Cavill, Glenn Anderson, Gayle Munro, Joe Lewis, John Sheils, Jamie Selkirk, Jabez Olssen, Jenny Vial, Andy Buckley, Mike Hayden, Ants Farrell, Warwick Peace, Gino Acevedo, Kirk Maxwell, Rodney Cook, Brigitte York, Ben Snow, Scott Anderson, George Murphy and everyone who made the effort to put part of themselves into the tireless work they did. This award ultimately is theirs.

Also a special, personal thanks to my parents, Barbara and Arthur Van't Hul for their constant encouragement over the years, family, friends and teachers who continue to remind me that learning, creating and sharing is an essential part of daily life, and most importantly, my wife Trish who continues to be my strength.

Last but not least I'd like to thank Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor who constantly challenge and inspire everyone on the crew to reach beyond what we think we're capable of and who created not only an amazing world on the screen but also one to work in each and every day.

Joe Letteri:
Happy Birthday Mom Jill Letteri.

Christian Rivers:
Animation and Motion Picture Department at Weta Digital. Also Andy Serkis, Eric Leighton, Atsushi Sato.

Richard Taylor:
John Baster
Ben Wooten
Weta Workshop, guys that have gone the distance again and all the families of the technicians at Weta.

F/X Giants Celebrate Kong Oscar

(Scifi) The Oscar-winning visual-effects team for King Kong
celebrated Kong actor Andy Serkis and said the award was a "celebration of
the geeks in the world, which is a good thing," in remarks backstage at the
78th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles on March 5. Joe Letteri won his
fourth Oscar, along with Christian Rivers, Brian Van't Hul and Richard
Taylor, for their work in Peter Jackson's Kong remake.

"What's great about it is it's sort of like an incredible variety, because
every time you have to do something, you have to immerse yourself in it,"
Letteri said. "For Kong, we have to learn the history of New York. We have
to learn all about gorillas in the wild, learn about the history of the film
itself. You sort of take all that and you get to do it in as big a way as

Letteri has won three Oscars in the past for visual effects for The Lord of
the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,
as well as a special technical award for Return of the King. He was
nominated last year but did not win for I, Robot.

Taylor, who also worked on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and
the Wardrobe, won four past Oscars for costume design and makeup for Return
of the King and visual effects and makeup for The Lord of the Rings: The
Fellowship of the Ring. This is the first nomination and win for both Rivers
and Van't Hul.

Rivers credited the whole project to director Jackson's vision. "In 10
years, I think we will see Peter's directors cut on DVD," he added.

The New Zealand F/X business continues to thrive. "We are working on a small
splatter movie at the moment called Black Sheep, right down to our Brain
Dead days," Rivers said. "But the industry is sound, because there's an
amazing community of film makers in New Zealand that want to keep making an
incredible product."

Letteri gushed about Serkis, who provided the movements of King Kong's title
great ape. "It's an amazing, you know, asset to have, because what an actor
brings to it is years of training in their craft in kind of understanding
spontaneously how to react to a given situation," he said. "And just having
someone to work with and talk that through. Andy did a lot of Kong, but he
couldn't do all of it. A lot of it came back to us to figure out on our own,
but because Andy set the blueprints for it, we knew what he was thinking and
how he might carry that through that gave us the character. ... This is the
first time a digital character has risen to a level of performance that's
got an audience to a point that they cry, that they can empathize with this
character, that means cinema digital cinema has a bright future. ... But
it's all relative to the performances of the actors around them. If Naomi
[Watts] hadn't given such a performance, Kong would have been nothing. So
it's an amazing amalgam of traditional and modern-day techniques."

Posted by dschnee at 6:24 PM