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May 31, 2006

How much "Pirates" is too much "Pirates" ?

bigpic-pirates.jpgHead on over to Jim Hill Media for this article below:

Though it's still a month or more 'til "Dead Man's Chest" opens in theaters nationwide, Jim Hill's got all sorts of info about all of the other "Pirates" -related projects that the Walt Disney Company currently has waiting in the wings. Would you believe "Pirates" comic books, "Pirates" junior novelizations as well as an online multi-player "Pirates" game? And -- even though they haven't yet finished filming "Pirates III" -- there's already lots of serious talk at the studio about "Pirates IV." Jim now shares all of his nautical news

I have to admit - given that no one (outside of the folks who are currently working 'round the clock to finish up "Dead Man's Chest" 's over-1500 FX shots) has actually seen the finished version of "Pirates of the Caribbean II" - that it seems kind of odd to now be talking about what may lie out beyond "Pirates III."

But let's remember that the key word in the phrase "show business" is "business," folks. And given that Walt Disney Studios has spent the past 20 years trying to develop its very own viable film franchise (Remember "Dick Tracy"? Or - better yet - "The Rocketeer"? Or "V.I. Warshawski"? Or "Judge Dredd"?) … Well, now that the Mouse has "Pirates," Disney's going to do everything it can to insure that all that pirate gold continues to roll into the company coffers for years yet to come.

Don't believe me? Then let's talk about "Pirates IV." I know, I know. Gore Verbinski hasn't even finished filming "At World's End" (I.E. The tentative title for the third installment in the series) yet. And - to be honest - everyone at the studio is kind of pirated-out at the moment. Which is why (strictly as a change of pace) many people at Disney are now looking forward to the production of that other Jerry Bruckheimer sequel, "National Treasure II."

But even so, the folks in the studio's strategic planning office are already looking out over the horizon (I.E. Toward 2010 & 2011). And they're wondering if - three to four years after the third "Pirates" picture finally hits theaters - if audiences might then be ready for yet another film starring Captain Jack Sparrow.

Of course, the real key here will be whether or not Disney can successfully persuade Johnny Depp to once again put on his pirate gear. Given that Johnny's soon to be in for one hell of a payday (Once "Pirates II" & "III" recover their full production & marketing costs [Rumored to be upwards of $600 million], Depp, Verbinksi & several other key members of the "Pirates" cast & production team will reportedly split 25% of those sequels' earnings. Which could eventually add up to tens of millions of dollars for Johnny), this Academy Award nominee will never have to work again.

But what's working in Disney's favor here is that Depp seems to genuinely enjoy playing Captain Jack Sparrow. In a recent Time Magazine article, Johnny was quoted as saying:

"I truly love the character and I didn't feel I'd had enough of him in the first (film)."

Which is why Depp ultimately agreed to get his teeth capped again and then play Captain Jack Sparrow in "Pirates II" & "III."

Mind you, just because Johnny enjoys playing Captain Jack doesn't automatically mean that he's a lock for "Pirates IV." But Bruckheimer is optimistic enough about this film series continuing that he's allegedly having the sets for "Pirates II" & "III" stored. With the hope that - in three or four years' time - Jerry will then be able to haul these props & costumes out again. So that Gore & Johnny will then have something familiar to work with as they begin production of the fourth film.

Of course, in the meantime, it's up to the Walt Disney Company to keep the "Pirates" franchise fresh. To make sure that the public stays interested & emotionally invested in these colorful characters. So that they then stay evergreen.

Which explains why expensive new Audio Animatronic versions of Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbarossa are now being folded into both the Disneyland & Walt Disney World versions of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" theme park attraction. But how many of you know about the new "Jack Sparrow" junior novelizations …

That Disney Press has recently begun producing? Which detail Jack's career prior to captaining the Black Pearl. Back when Sparrow was just a teenage stowaway trying to make a name for himself in pirating circles.

These softcover books are designed to keep preteens interested in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film franchise. As is the "Pirates" comic that regularly appears in "Disney Adventure" & "Disney Comics" magazines.

Of course, to keep teenagers interested in this new Disney brand, the Mouse had to mount something much more elaborate: Pirates of the Caribbean Online. Where - quoting this website's advertising slogan now - "The most notorious pirate in the Caribbean … is you."

Though this ambitious & massive multiplayer game isn't actually expected to go live 'til 2007, Pirates of the Caribbean Online is already generating huge buzz. The very idea that you'll be soon able to create your very own captain character, then assemble a crew and go off in search of treasure & adventure. Where you'll then have to battle other players on their own ships with sword & cannon … Well, that has gamers just chomping at the bit to be selected as one of the beta testers for this new online game.

Speaking of which, Disney's Virtual Reality Studio is already recruiting beta testers. So if you want to be among the first to experience the online approximation of Captain Jack Sparrow's world, you might want to drop by www.DisneyPirates.com today and register.

Anyway, Disney hopes that this online game - with its clever mix of swashbuckling daring-do & teen-friendly scares (Check out this cool concept sketch for an undead pirate) Plus the comic books & the junior novelizations & the theme park rides will help keep the "Pirates" film franchise alive. At least until Mr. Depp decides whether or not he's ready to commit to doing "Pirates IV."

But what do you folks think? Is Disney really over-thinking this? Should the studio have waited to see if audiences actually embraced "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" before commiting all of these other "Pirates" sequels & spin-offs? Or was "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" already a big enough success to warrant this sort of ambitious investment in a brand-new franchise for the Walt Disney Company?

More importantly, were Johnny Depp to actually agree to appear in "Pirates IV," do you think that you'll still be still interested in seeing a new "Pirates of the Caribbean" film in five year's time?

Your thoughts?

-JimHillMedia - How much "Pirates" is too much "Pirates" ?

Posted by dschnee at 9:50 AM

May 30, 2006

Spiderwick begins filming in August

The success of Montreal-based CG houses working on Frank Miller's Spartan war epic 300, has prompted Paramount to land Roger Corman-alumnus, writer/producer John Sayles to set up shop for the Spiderwick Chronicles at Mel's Cite du Cinema studio, in Montreal.

Spiderwick will begin shooting in August for 16 weeks, budgeted at $110-million, based on the bestselling books by Tony DiTerlizzi/Holly Black and adapted for the big screen by Sayles.

The film is to be directed by Mark Waters, whose previous films include Mean Girls and Freaky Friday.

The books tell the story of three young siblings who enter a magical world.

The studio will also be hosting another US film, a new 3-D film version of sci-fi classic Journey to the Centre of the Earth starring Brendan Fraser and produced by Walden Media of Chronicles of Narnia fame.

Journey, budgeted at $40 million, will be distributed by New Line, with a June 30 start date.

from SNEAKPEEK.CA
...spiderwick.com

Posted by dschnee at 11:59 PM

May 26, 2006

Pirates 2 all wrapped up?

well for Tippett at least it looks that way, our last chance to tidy up our shots was tonight, and we have everything out the door for ILM, but come Tuesday I'm sure a few shots will swing back across the bay for some more good compositing lovin'. The sequence we have been working on has been pretty brutal in terms of edges... I've definately never found myself paint fixing on so many shots before this show, which involves a lot of detailed FG elements, actors/pirates, and orlando bloom's (Will Turner) frizzy hair moving quickly with lots of motion blur over an uneven, over expoused sky, and this all adds up to worlds of pain trying to pull keys and generate mattes procedurally, this only gets you so far, then it's Paint-Fix Time! Joy!

The past 2 months working on Pirates of the Caribbean 2 have pretty much flown by, especially the last 3 some odd weeks... putting in some quality 'overtime' hours, that which I haven't done for some time... well, since I was working in New Zealand on Kong.

We still have a solid month before the most entertaining movie of the year comes out to a theater near you... In the mean time here are some fantastic pirates links:
~enjoy!

Talk Like A Pirate Day
Pirate Gear
Pirates of the Caribbean Fan Site
Standard Operating Procedure for Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean
Fun Facts of Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean
PiratesInfo.com
And, Is it Still Possible to Find Pirate's Gold?
Undercover Pirate

Posted by dschnee at 9:16 PM

May 25, 2006

Melts in your Eyes!


June 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

Tippett Studio creates warm and fuzzy chocolate characters for Milka commercials.
by Barbara Robertson

Why is chocolate so sweet and delicious? Because it’s made by cute marmots in the Austrian Alps. Ifyou didn’t know that, you haven’t been watching the Milka spots created by Tippett Studio for Frankfurt’s gilvy & Matherand its client, Kraft Foods. In a series of four 30-second spots directed by Frank Petzold, the crews at Tippett have mastered the art of chocolate delivery via marmot. Their marmot has transported the chocolate while riding on the back of a bear that slides down the mountain past a young couple on a hayride. He has flown in while hanging onto the feet of an eagle. He has hidden chocolate bunnies for Easter, and in a spot that will air at Christmas, placed chocolate Santas near a cabin door.

DOWNLOAD this Article - PDF

“It was a lot of fun working on these commercials because the characters were so happy—happy animals creating happy chocolate and finding great ways to deliver it,” says Will Groebe, lead animator. “But it’s very difficult, technical work. They’re always wearing a lot of stuff—hats and sacks of chocolate that they’re interacting with, and they’re interacting with each other. It wasn’t just ‘Bang out the animation.’ It was ‘Whoa! There’s a lot of stuff going on.’ Some shots have four characters. And, they’re furred.” Groebe helped design the animals, which needed to look real but also warm, fuzzy and cartoony, by painting on photographs in PhotoShop. Eyes grew bigger, the eagle’s serious expression changed into a smile, the bear’s teeth shrank and the marmot’s paws became hands.

Even so, the client continued to adjust the balance between realism and cartoon. Thus, knowing that the client might ask for shape changes even after the models were built, the team decided to add controls within the rigging that could scale facial features and body parts. An animator could grow limbs, broaden smiles, shrink ears and widen eyes interactively with the director, get approval on the look, and then give the other animators the new standard character. “By making it possible to do small adjustments in animation land, we didn’t have to send the characters all the way back to modeling and re-rigging,” says character setup Jeremie Talbot. “The rig allowed the animators to jiggle the model in ways they couldn’t with blend shapes.”

For the props and accessories, the modelers created separate pieces that easily attached to the characters because they incorporated the model parts. The marmot’s backpack, for example, which at tached to its spine and shoulders, had the marmot’s spine and shoulder modeled into it. The parts didn’t replace those already built into the character; the mirrored parts were constrained to the base model. “We had nodes in the backpack that attached to nodes in the character so the backpack would be attached directly,” says Talbot. “If the character moved his shoulder, the shoulder in the backpack would also move.” Similarly, when the backpack needed to move with the marmot’s hips, the riggers would attach it using the same technique. In addition, the animators could adjust the thickness and width of the backpack straps.

The backpack wasn’t the only plug and play prop; the crew also created flight helmet with floppy leather straps, a winter hat with earpieces, an investigator’s cap, a scarf for the bear and pouches filled with additional props: chocolate bars and bunnies. “Because we created all the props separately, the director could say that he wanted more chocolate in the backpack, which was often the case,” says Talbot, “and an animator could add as much as he wanted.” Animators could render the scenes without fur on the animals to check the animation and then hand the scenes to TDs (technical directors) who would add fur and lights. “Sometimes, once we’d see the fur, we’d see actions we didn’t see before,” Groebe says, “and we’d have to fix the animation.”

Tippett uses the proprietary fur tool called Furocious. In Maya, the TDs see guide hairs that they shape into a hairstyle. To control the characteristics of the fur—how scraggly it is, the color, how the colors change over the length of the fur and so forth—they used painted texture maps and parameters. As the fur tool runs, it applies these attributes to the thousands of hairs interpolated from the guide hairs that coat the character.

Lighting the fur was particularly critical and Tippett tested its global illumination (GI) toolset for the first time on these characters. On location, they took bracketed fisheye photographs of the environments and used them to build high definition range diffuse environment maps. “If a character is walking across a green meadow, we want the parts near the green to reflect the color in a broad, diffuse way,” says lead technical director Charles Rose. “Before, we did that using lights under the ground. We’d dial a color in and have it fall off as it got higher on a character. But those lights always come from specific positions and even though you may not be able to verbalize what looks wrong, you know it doesn’t look right.” With GI, the TDs apply diffuse light using data gathered by bouncing digital light rays into the entire environment. The lighters also used RenderMan’s deep shadows for the fur, which cause the light to fall off as it moves through the pelt. Calculating the specular light to high light the fur properly was a special challenge. Too much specular and the bear looked oily and the marmot looked sweaty. “If you want characters to look warm and fuzzy, you need the right specular,” says Rose. “It’s not hard to know where to place lights to get highlights on a hard shiny sur face, but because fur is just curves that simulate pieces of cylindrical hair, placing lights to get the specular right is not alwaysi ntuitive.” To test light placement, they would sometimes fly lights in a big circle around a character over a few hundred frames. Rather than simply using Maya’s dynamics on the guide hairs to make the fur look like it was blowing in the wind, the TDs baked out the dynamics pass and used it to generate animated texture maps that affected the entire body of hair. “It’s a slow and iterative process, but we got a better effect,” says Rose.

Animators did all the animation by hand except for such environmental effects as, in the first spot, particle-driven flower bits and pieces of grass tossed up as the bear slid downhill. “We didn’t have time to set up rigs for effects-driven animation,” Groebe says. On a larger show, we’d definitely want help, but because it’s such a fast turnaround, we were able to do some testing on our character rigs and the fur tool. There are a lot of really nice things that come up for short shows. We could do big, happy facial expressions and go overboard a bit on the animation, which we don’t always get to do. It was fun stuff.” Ssssssweeeet, indeed.

Barbara Robertson is an award-winning journalist who specializes in visual effects and computer animation. If you have any cool tips for her, you can e-mail her at brobertson@animationmagazine.net.

Posted by dschnee at 11:13 AM

May 24, 2006

VES 2006 Fact Sheet

more ves stuph...

FACT SHEET - DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE

WHAT:

Festival Of Visual Effects 2006 – Now in its 8th year, the Visual Effects Society once more presents a three-day extravaganza for the VFX community and its next generation. Summer blockbusters such as “Superman Returns,” “Cars,” and television fan favorite “Smallville” will all be the subjects of presentations. The Festival will also include speakers, workshops and panel discussions to showcase cutting-edge technological advances, historical achievements, strategic planning and forecasting for the future of visual effects in film, television, and animation. New elements added this year include a showcase of international, experimental, animated and student film works and the “Festival Courtyard” featuring VFX and entertainment industry vendors, special displays, raffles and the Hospitality Tent (see attached Program Descriptions for more details).

VES Festival 2006

WHERE:

The Egyptian Theatre, featuring The Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre (616 seats) and the Steven Spielberg Theatre (78 seats) is located between Las Palmas and McCadden, just east of Highland Avenue in Hollywood.

WHEN:

Thursday, July 6th – Saturday, July 8th (See Program Descriptions attached for times.)

WHO:

Academy Award winners Dennis Muren, John Myhre, Robert Skotak, and Mark Stetson and 50+ internationally acclaimed entertainment veterans will enlighten the estimated 3,000+ attendees, comprised of working VFX professionals (60%), VFX/film students (30%) and program fans (10%).

HOW:

Purchase sponsorships ($2,500 and up) and program book ads ($1,000 and up) by calling 310-822-9181 (See Sponsorship & Ad Opportunities for more details.)

Purchase passes and tickets at www.visualeffectssociety.com as follows:

$200 – Master Festival Pass including the bonus shows ($295+ value)

$150 – VES Member Master Festival Pass

$100 – Student Master Festival Pass including the bonus shows (requires school ID)

$20 – Individual Program Tickets (After Wednesday, June 7th)

For more information, visit www.visualeffectssociety.com or call 310-822-9181.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS

All programs, descriptions and speakers are tentative and subject to change without notice. Visit www.visualeffectssociety.com for the latest Festival and VES news.

Egyptian Theatre Courtyard Activities

Festival Courtyard - All three days

The Egyptian Theatre Courtyard will be transformed into the “Festival Courtyard” featuring VFX and entertainment industry vendors, special displays, raffles and the Hospitality Tent.

Steven Spielberg Theatre Activities

A Showcase of International, Experimental, Animated and Student Film Works - All three days, schedule TBA

The Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre Activities

THURSDAY, JULY 6TH 2006

Virtual vs. Real Sets: Combining Production Design with Visual Effects / 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Some branches of visual effects are direct offshoots from the Art Department. From the earliest Norman Dawn matte paintings and the first movie miniatures, effects artists realized those visions of the Production Designer that were too difficult to shoot on location (if they existed at all), or were too large in scale, or too expensive or impractical to build. Our panel of distinguished production designers will discuss and demonstrate the evolving, overlapping (and occasionally conflicting) relationship between designers and effects artists in their own films and in movies generally. Panelists: Jim Bissel, Jack DeGovia, Rick Heinrichs, Alex McDowell, Alan Munro, John Myhre, and Jeanine Oppewall – all Production Designers.

VFX Without Borders: A Look Around the World at International Effects / 2:30 – 4:00 pm

Visual effects are an international art form. All around the world artists are not only harnessing the power of state-of-the-art digital technologies but embracing the time-honored techniques of miniatures, puppetry and painting while creating dynamic effects for their local markets -- be it film, broadcast, music videos, commercials or games. As The Visual Effects Society exists to serve and celebrate the global scope of visual effects, the festival will feature a panel of international practitioners who will discuss the challenges, unique perspectives and techniques that individual markets engender. Samples of their work and from other international artists and effects facilities will be screened with an emphasis on local market production.

Looking Ahead at the Future of Visual Effects Tools / 5:00 – 6:30 pm

What’s on your technology radar? From hardware to software, this panel will dive into expected (and maybe not so expected) changes in visual effects tools over the next five years. Hear from some of the leading technologists on issues like pipeline management of multi-vendor data, environmental tools and changes in end format. This program is a must for the VFX professional who wants to stay ahead of the curve.

FRIDAY, JULY 7TH 2006

Invisible Effects: “The Da Vinci Code” & “Casanova” / 12:00 – 1:30 pm

How does a filmmaker capture a location that is inaccessible or one that hasn't existed for hundreds, even thousands of years? Invisible effects in films have been around for as long as filmmakers' have had imagination. And now with digital technologies, it's often hard for even seasoned veterans to decipher what is real and what is not. This panel will take an in-depth look at two recent films that have recreated eras and locales not accessible to their filmmakers. Many of “The Da Vinci Code's” historical and contemporary locales were innovatively re-created by 'invisible' wizards from the United Kingdom and 'Casanova's' romantic time period set in Venice created its own series of challenges for its artists. Join us in going 'behind-the-scenes' of the latest in state-of-the-art seamless effects.

The Challenges of Creating “X-Men The Last Stand” / 2:30 - 4:00 pm

The VFX team on the latest X-Men franchise discusses the challenges of working on a tight schedule and with various VFX houses on three different continents. Panelists: John Bruno, VFX Supervisor; John “DJ” Des Jardin, VFX Supervisor; Ian Hunter, VFX Supervisor, New Deal Studios; and Kurt William, VFX producer

“Poseidon” – A World Turned Upside Down / 5:00 – 6:30 pm

More than thirty years after it was fashionable to be seen in a disaster film, Warner Bros. returns this summer to a world turned upside down with Wolfgang Peterson's “Poseidon”. Following the tradition of casting a who's who of actors in the film, Visual Effects Supervisor Boyd Shermis turned to multiple sources on two continents (including ILM, Moving Picture Company, CIS, and Giant Killer Robots) to produce over 500 shots. Bring your snorkel and swim fins as we go off the deep end with the summer's biggest disaster film.

A Look Back at “Aliens” – 20 Years Later / 7 :30 - 9:00 pm

"Is this gonna’ be a stand up fight or a bug hunt?" In recognition of the 20th anniversary of the release of the science fiction action classic “Aliens,” this retrospective panel will look back at the ground breaking visual effects and animatronic creations for the James Cameron sequel to Ridley Scott's “Alien.” The unique look and style of the film's creations are even more astonishing when you consider the limited budget and resources the artists were given. Undaunted, Cameron's team created some of the most startling imagery seen in a genre film in the last 20 years. The visual effects team, headed by Robert and Dennis Skotak and creature supervisor Stan Winston received an Academy Award for their work on the film in 1987. Panelists: Alec Gillis, Creature Fabricator, Stan Winston Studio; Shane Mahan, Shop Foreman, Stan Winston Studio; Pat McClung, VFX Miniature Supervisor; Dennis Skotak, VFX Co-Supervisor and DP; and Robert Skotak, VFX Supervisor

SATURDAY, JULY 8TH 2006

Creating Life One Frame at a Time: The Art of VFX Animation / 10:00 -11:30 am

Digital techniques have overtaken the roles once played by cell and stop motion animation as visual effects tools, though they continue to flourish as filmmaking techniques. To a lesser degree, animated digital models have supplanted traditional miniatures. An all-star panel of prominent animators and effects supervisors with decades of experience on both sides of the digital revolution will talk about their own work then and now, and the sometimes unexpected consequences. A special demonstration will complement the discussion. Panelists: Steve Chiodo, Randy Cook, and Dennis Muren, Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, ILM

Life in the Fast Lane: The Animated World of “Cars” / 12:30 - 2:00 pm

After taking moviegoers magically into the realm of toys, bugs, monsters, fish and superheros, the masterful storytellers and technical wizards at Pixar Animation Studios and director John Lasseter hit the road with a fast-paced comedy adventure set inside the world of cars. Come hear how the team blended together plenty of humor, action, heartfelt drama, and amazing new technical feats.

Creating Super Effects on a TV Budget: It’s a Big Job at “Smallville” / 3:00 - 4:30 pm

With over 100 episodes aired over 5 seasons, the Warner Bros. television series “Smallville” has achieved a remarkably mature status for an episodic drama based on the teenage adventures of Clark Kent, before he assumes the alter ego of Superman. During the past four seasons, Entity FX created the visual effects that in a large part drive the show. Join the producers of “Smallville” and the staff of Entity as they explain and demonstrate what makes visual effects production of a weekly network series a unique challenge The panel will focus on how the Entity team spurred a creative evolution by developing a strategy to achieve economic production and how that strategy helped to overcome the artistic, budgetary and time limitations common to television production. Panelists: Mat Beck, Kymber Lim, Ken Horton, John Wash – all from Entity FX

Bringing a Super Hero Back to Life: “Superman Returns” / 5:30- 7:00 pm

Academy Award Winning VFX Supervisor Mark Stetson and his VFX team will discuss how they used modern techniques to bring this cultural icon back to life. With multiple VFX vendors and budgetary concerns the challenges included not only how to make a man fly again but how to create a movie that will soar above this year’s summer blockbuster competition. Panelist: Mark Stetson, VFX Supervisor

Special Advance Screening of “Monster House”/ 8:00 pm – For Pass and Invitation Holders Only

The team behind “The Polar Express” have created another hybrid animated thrill-ride utilizing performance capture techniques about three kids who battle a mysterious house. Directed by Gil Kenan, the film is produced by Zemeckis's ImageMovers and Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment with animation by Sony Pictures Imageworks. The voice cast includes Steve Buscemi, Nick Cannon, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James, Jason Lee, Catherine O'Hara, Kathleen Turner, and Fred Willard.

Posted by dschnee at 5:59 PM

May 23, 2006

2006 Festival of Visual Effects

The 2006 Festival of Visual Effects has been set for July 6 - 8, 2006 at the famed Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California

Dag'nabbit, since I'm getting hitched the following week, I won't get to head on down to LA for this years festivities... but I'm sure I'll hear about it from other folks able to attend, should be a solid festival. Details are below from Visual Effects Society

Summer blockbusters such as Superman Returns and Poseidon; Cars, the latest animated feature from Pixar; and television fan favorite Smallville will all be the subjects of presentations at the 2006 Festival of Visual Effects. Panels, special screenings and other events are in the planning phase and a full line-up of activities and participants is expected to be announced by May 15.

The 2006 Festival of Visual Effects will be open to the public. Information on buying festival passes or tickets to individual events will soon be available on this website or by contacting the VES office at (310) 822-9181 or info@visualeffectssociety.com.

Thursday July 6th 2006

1-Visual Effects and Production Design 12:00 noon – 1:30 pm

Not Just a Can of Blue or Green Paint (Yet): Production Design and Visual Effects or To Build or Not to Build: Production Design and Visual Effects or Is the Building of Sets Virtually Extinct? Production Design and Visual Effects.

Some branches of visual effects are direct offshoots from the Art Department. From the earliest Norman Dawn matte paintings and the first movie miniatures, effects artists realized those visions of the Production Designer that were too difficult to shoot on location (if they existed at all) , or were too large in scale, or too expensive or impractical to build. Our panel of distinguished production designers will discuss and demonstrate the evolving, overlapping (and occasionally conflicting) relationship between designers and effects artists in their own films and in movies generally.

2- International Visual Effects 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Visual effects are an international art form because imagination is a global trait. All around the world, artists are not only harnessing the power of state-of-the-art digital technologies, but embracing the time-honored techniques of miniatures, puppetry and painting and creating dynamic effects for their local markets -- be it film, broadcast, music videos, commercials or games. The Visual Effects Society exists to serve and celebrate visual effects from around the world, and as such, will feature a panel of international practitioners, and will invite international artists and effects facilities to submit samples of their work. The emphasis will be on local (i.e. national) work and exploring the challenges, unique perspectives and techniques that individual markets engender.

3- Technology 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

This panel will take a look at what is expected to change in the technology landscape in the next five years.

4- Kick Off Party 7:00 pm – 10 pm - Pass Holders and Invitation Only


Friday July 7th, 2006

5- Invisible Effects 12:00 noon – 1:30 pm

How does a filmmaker capture a location that is inaccessible or one that hasn't existed for hundreds/thousands of years?

Invisible effects in films have been around for as long as filmmakers' have had imagination. And now with digital technologies, it's often hard for even seasoned veterans to decipher what is real and what is not. This panel will take an in-depth look at two recent films that have recreated eras and locales not accessible to their filmmakers. Many of 'The Da Vinci Code's' historical and contemporary locales were innovatively re-created by 'invisible' wizards from the UK and 'Casanova's' romantic time period set in Venice created its own series of challenges for its artists. Join us in examining a 'behind-the-scenes' of the latest in state-of-the-art seamless effects.

6- X-Men The Last Stand 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

The VFX team on the latest X-Men franchise discuss the challenges of working on a tight schedule and the various vfx houses in three different continents.

7- Poseidon 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

More than thirty years after it was fashionable to be seen in a disaster film, Warner Bros. will return this summer to a world turned upside down with Wolfgang Peterson's POSEIDON. Following the tradition of casting a who's who of actors in the film, Visual Effects Supervisor Boyd Shermis turned to multiple sources on two continents including ILM, Motion Picture Company, CIS, and Giant Killer Robots to produce over 500 shots. Bring your snorkel and swim fins as we go off the deep end with the summer's biggest disaster (....film, that is).

8- Aliens Retrospective 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

"Is this gonna be a stand up fight or a bug hunt?" - ALIENS 20th Anniversary Retrospective.

In recognition of the 20th anniversary of the release of the science fiction action classic ALIENS, this retrospective panel will look back at the ground breaking visual effects and animatronic creations for the James Cameron sequel to Ridley Scott's ALIEN.

The unique look and style of the film's creations are even more astonishing when you consider the limited budget and resources the artists were given. Undaunted, Cameron's team created some of the most startling imagery seen in a genre film in the last 20 years. The visual effects team, headed by Robert and Dennis Skotak and creature supervisor Stan Winston (all James Cameron alumni) received an Academy Award for their work on the film in 1987.


Saturday July 8th 2006

9- Animation and Visual Effects 10:00 am -11:30 am

Creating Life One Frame at a Time: The Art of VFX Animation

Digital techniques have overtaken the roles once played by cell and stop motion animation as visual effects tools, though they continue to flourish as film-making techniques. To a lesser degree, animated digital models have supplanted traditional miniatures. An all-star panel of prominent animators and effects supervisors with decades of experience on both sides of the digital revolution will talk about their own work then and now, and the sometimes-unexpected consequences. A special demonstration will complement the discussion.

10- Cars 12:30 pm- 2:00 pm

The animators and story tellers from Pixar Animation unravel how they created the animation for their latest opus.

11- Smallville 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

With over 100 episodes aired over 5 seasons, the Warner Bros. television series, Smallville, has achieved a remarkably mature status for an episodic drama based on the teenage adventures of Clark Kent, before he assumes the alter ego of Superman. During the past four seasons, Entity FX created the visual effects that in a large part drive the show. Join the producers of Smallville and the staff of Entity, as they explore what makes visual effects production of a weekly network series a unique challenge and show how it is done. The panel will focus on how the Entity team developed a strategy to achieve economic production, and spur creative evolution during its long-term work on the show, and how that strategy helped to overcome the artistic, budgetary and time limitations common to television production.

12- Superman Returns 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Academy Award Winning VFX Supervisor Mark Stetson and his vfx team discuss the 1000 plus shots in the latest Superman saga.

Posted by dschnee at 7:13 PM

May 18, 2006

VFX Compositors Group Map

vfx comp mapI was looking around on Amazon.com, I see this 'plog' message, and it's from Ron Brinkmann, it takes me to his profile page where he links to this Frappr!? group map that contains members of people who read/own his book The Art and Science of Digital Compositing. Seeing how cool this Frappr thing is I decided to make a group map that other compositors in the industry can add themselves to, and here it is below: So far it's just me and Aruna(but growing), but if your a fellow comper working in the industry or a student, by all means;
Add yourself!.

Scour the Earth for other Compositors!!! (also a great map of vfx/anim studios, 35 studios so far... keep adding to it)

See Also: VFX Comp Map - vfxcomp.meyemind.com

Posted by dschnee at 3:00 PM

Digital Air - Visual Effects Techniques

I stumbled upon this Digital Air site over on digg.com, what is? "Digital Air produces visual effects worldwide and develops, licenses, and sells imaging technologies for use in visual effects production." Ok what? Just head on over to: http://www.digitalair.com/techniques

As they have recently put up a fantastic spread of in camera(s) examples/techniques covering: Frozen Moment, Long Exposure, Live Action, Multiple Exposure, Stop Start, Open Flash, Slow Motion, Flash Trail, Time Ramp, Light Painting, Space Ramp, Motion Distortion, Time Blur, Match Cut, Space Blur, Universal Capture.

Each page contains examples, equipment used, and a bit about the process involved in creating them, truly great stuff.

-From the News section over on Digital Air
-------
We've recently published detailed descriptions (with examples) of a variety of visual effects techniques that can only be created using Digital Air's technologies:

http://www.digitalair.com/techniques

If you're a tech-head you'll love this. Check it out and help us get it out there by emailing the link to a friend!

The examples include TV commercials directed by some of the great directors we've worked with in the past couple of years - including Vaughn Arnell, Chris Cunningham, Michel Gondry, and Rupert Sanders among others.

On the business side we've just recently had another patent grant in nine European countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. Ten years in the making, this patent is our broadest yet and covers both film and digital camera array systems and processes.

Posted by dschnee at 9:09 AM

May 16, 2006

Michael Bay buys Digital Domain...

dd.jpgSome very interesting news surfaced yesterday as Aruna had mentioned to me that he was going to a big company wide meeting, not sure what about... and after a couple hours broke the news that Digita Domain was bought by Michael Bay and the private investment firm Wyndcrest Holdings, of which Michael Bay is one of the Principals, along with ex-Miami Dolphin superstar quarterback Dan Marino, whew. I'm definitely curious how much a company like Digital Domain goes for... There was a Wall Street Journal article on the acquisition this past Friday about it, but you need to be a subscriber to read it...

Anyhow, head on over to Aruna's digital gypsy VFX blog for the details...

It's Huge - Today we had a special presentation at Digital Domain,
and
More News - Bay master of Domain in special-effects stunner

Posted by dschnee at 9:16 AM

May 10, 2006

The Spiderwick Chronicles

--- wait, why am I posting news on this cool series of fantastical children's books? well it's being made into a movie... and well we(Tippett) were just awarded the show! along with ILM... The Spiderwick Chronicles! more details to follow, the people involved and such, :) --- spiderwick.imdb - spiderwick.official - spiderwick.books ---

onto the news...

Spiderwick Director Wants Twins, Not More VFX

Twins wanted: Mark Waters is looking for twin boys ages 9 to 11 to star in his next feature film. Waters, who directed "Mean Girls" and the new "Freaky Friday," begins production on "The Spiderwick Chronicles" in August, but first he's got to find a couple of kid stars.

"If you call the top talent agencies in New York and Los Angeles looking for twins, you may get only two or three submissions," Waters says on a recent visit to San Francisco to meet with visual-effects wizard Dennis Muren of ILM about possibly creating special effects for the fantasy adventure. "That's why in a situation like 'The Parent Trap,' they said, 'OK, let's just use Lindsay Lohan and we'll duplicate her.' But there are so many other special effects in this movie I couldn't deal with the complication of trying to double the actor."

Waters is steering twins with talent to www.SpiderwickCasting.com for details. He is convinced that, somewhere among the videotapes that arrive by the June 2 deadline, he'll find two boys who can carry his film -- no experience required.

"At that age," he says, "if kids are outgoing and charming and personable, they already have the skills for good acting, as opposed to kids who have been doing commercials their whole lives -- they just have a bunch of bad habits. I'd rather start clean with somebody, so I think it's a benefit to be going with unknowns on this one."

Source from sfgate.com

Posted by dschnee at 7:38 AM

May 1, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean 2 Trailer 2

not much to say, this new trailer speaks for itself... and I'm totally excited to go see this movie, just pure entertainment with tons of great pirates booty.

One of the shots I'm working on is in this trailer, the pirates along with orlando bloom's character are swinging toward a canyon inside a ball shaped cage made of bones and skulls bound with leather and such, they reach for some vines and can't quite grab hold and swing back down over the casm... but the version in the trailer I don't think I touched, something ILM must have did a wireRemoval pass on and threw it in there.

"Aye Mate, check out the official pirates trailer, click here"

un_official links~
pirates2.trailer2
pirates2.trailer2.stream

Posted by dschnee at 10:40 PM