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September 29, 2006

Tippett inspired by latest monster task

Finally, some PR! - from hollywoodreporter.com
By Sheigh Crabtree

Fans of menacing movie varmints bow down before visual effects wizard Phil Tippett. When the Oscar-winning mind behind "The Empire Strikes Back's" sinister Imperial Walkers, "Jurassic Park's" blood-thirsty dinosaurs and "Starship Troopers' " arachnids was tapped this summer by producer Kathleen Kennedy to supervise creatures on Paramount Pictures' upcoming "The Spiderwick Chronicles," a collective 'Hail Mary' could be heard among critter aficionados.

In recent years, Tippett has become something of a rarity on the visual effects scene. He still presides over the 2-decade-old Tippett Studio, but in 2000 he turned his energy to writing and directing. The result was 2004's direct-to-video title "Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation," Tippett's writing and directorial debut. Despite his new direction the beast maestro was unable to turn down Kennedy when his former "Jurassic" producer called with an opportunity to reunite on "Spiderwick," director Mark Waters' adaptation of the six-book series written by Holly Black and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi. eyeing a 2008 release.

Tippett has designed eight to 10 "Spiderwick" characters, ranging from goblins and spirits in various subsets -- from a goblin king to a bull goblin -- with temperaments that range from "really scary to really hilarious to scary and hilarious at the same time," he says.

The creature supervisor's partner in crime is Industrial Light + Magic VFX supe Pablo Helman, who is handling two-thirds of the VFX work at his Bay Area shop while Tippett handles character design, animation and some VFX.
I have to step in here... I don't think it's stressed enough that Phil Tippett is the overall creature and animation supervisor for the show, supervising for ILM and Tippett Studio. Furthermore, "some VFX"? Tippett will be doing a few hundred shots and performing a handful of creatures for the show!
The twosome's overarching goal is to base creatures on DiTerlizzi's pictorial style but transform them into biological creatures believable enough for you or me to encounter them in the woods. The leap of imagination entails crafting anatomically plausible skin surfaces, textures and actions found in a fantasy kingdom still rooted in a tactile world, Tippett says.

But more than the possibility of making great technical breakthroughs in post, Tippett says he is inspired by the possibilities of performance, with lead actor Freddie Highmore, playing Simon Grace, providing rich takes for character animators to work from. "This isn't 800 charging CG horsemen," Tippett says. "What I like most about 'Spiderwick' is it's the story of a very close family pulled into a magical world. It has a very intimate feel, with lots of meaty roles to play."

In the years since 1993's "Jurassic" and even 1997's "Troopers," Tippett says he has noticed a promising shift in the way studios and filmmakers have begun to deal with fantastical creatures onscreen. "The industry has been moving -- due in large part to Peter Jackson and the CG characters in (Andrew Adamson's 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe') -- to more compelling characters," Tippett says. "It's not just a monster chasing a human from A to B or getting blown up. It's daunting character performance."

For the time being, overseeing creature performances infused with emotional nuance is enough to keep Tippett engaged while his personal projects simmer on the back burner.

"I'm not really a careerist by nature," Tippet says. "I don't fit into the whole Hollywood thing being a Berkeley boy. I'm attempting to develop three to four projects that I'd like to direct, but that process takes forever. I'm 100% committed to ('Spiderwick') in between while I try to get the next weird thing going."

Posted by dschnee at 9:18 AM

September 11, 2006

All that Booty from Dead Man's Chest

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" has become only the third film ever to gross more than $1 billion worldwide, it was announced in Hollywood.

The action film joined "Titanic" and "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" as the only $1 billion films of all time when it surpassed the mark Friday, Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook said in a new release.

"To say we are excited is an understatement," said Cook. "This is truly an historical time for The Walt Disney Studios and a time to celebrate."

He said the movie's success was "a real tribute" to producer Jerry Bruckheimer; director Gore Verbinski; actors Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom; and writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio.

The second "Pirates" film has led the international box office for nine consecutive weeks, grossing $587.5 million -- $150 million more than it has taken in at U.S. theaters.

It is the highest-grossing movie in America so far in 2006, with ticket sales of more than $415 million, the studio said.
--- upi.com

Domestic Records:

-- Highest three-day opening in box-office history ($135.6 million)
-- First film in box office history to pass $100 million in only two days
-- Tied as fastest film in history to reach $200 million (8 days)
-- Fastest film in box office history to pass $300 million (16 days)
-- Passed the $305.4 million final gross of its predecessor (Pirates
of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) in the same 16 days as
-- Opening day gross ($55.8 million) is highest single-day gross in box-office
-- "Dead Man's Chest" is the 51st film in Buena Vista history to pass $100
million in gross, the most of any studio
-- "Dead Man's Chest" is the 13th film in Buena Vista history to pass $200
million in gross, the most of any studio
-- "Dead Man's Chest" is the highest grossing film in Buena Vista history
and the sixth highest grossing film of all time ($414.0 million through
9/4/06 and still counting!)

International Records:

-- "Dead Man's Chest" is the biggest international release of 2006.
-- It is the sixth biggest film ever released internationally.
-- The film is the most popular international release in the history of The
Walt Disney Studios.
-- Since its initial weekend of release overseas, "Dead Man's Chest" has
ranked #1 for nine consecutive weekends in a row. This is the longest
consecutive weekend reign of any film this century (and surpasses the
previous record of seven weekends held by "The Curse of the Black Pearl"
back in 2003.

-- Biggest BVI opening of all-time: Australia, Austria, Bahrain,
Brazil, Croatia, Czech, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong,
Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya,
Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, So. Africa, Malaysia,
Holland, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines,
Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, UAE,
Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela

-- Biggest BVI film of all time: Argentina, Bahrain, Belgium,
Bulgaria, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India,
Jordan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Norway, Oman, Russia,
Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, UAE, UK

-- Biggest industry opening of All Time: Greece, Russia, Spain
-- Biggest US film of all time: Russia
-- 52nd in BVI history to pass $100M in gross, the most of any studio
-- 19th in BVI history to pass $200M in gross, the most of any studio

Posted by dschnee at 5:43 PM

September 8, 2006

Barnacles, Flags, and the Metaphysical in Cinefex #107

Check out Cinefex.com for the complete skinny on this issue, but the cover speaks volumes, the work ILM achieved with Davy Jones and his tentacles, the motion capture, the sub surface scattering, the animation, lighting, integration, all superbly done. You most likely won't find a mention of the ~50 some odd shots that Tippett Studio did for the show, we didn't even make a studio credit... but a few others scooped up the farmed out work from ILM, a good friend at Method Studios did some sweet work dealing with matte paintings. Pirates 2 came and went and took the booty on pretty much all the box office records, I think it recently exceeded the $1 billion mark worldwide, that's just silly, silly, a silly amount of money. So as Pirates 3 is in the works, the pipeline has been laid out so we should see a lot more fantastic stuph and bigger payoffs in the 3.

Cinefex #107 will also spotlight one of my favorite directors, one of which who hasn't graced us with any content since Requiem for a Dream in 2000, the long overdue return of Darren Aronofsky... I read this recently got some boo's from a screening at The Venice Film Festival, but I could care less, this movie is going to be different and not for everyone, but I know I'm going to love it! - catch the trailer in HD here

Speaking of trailers... The US version of Flags of our Fathers trailer has hit the streets HERE - your going to see a whole lot of seamless well integrated supporting visual effects work done by the talented artists at Digital Domain, who are in the trenches right now working on the Japanese perspective of Flags of our Fathers, because that is a wrap, so head on over to one of my good friends writing letters for the movie and his blog, digitalgypsy.com|Aruna for more on Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, sweet-as...

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest:
Beneath the Barnacles

In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, a rousing sequel to the immensely popular original, Curse of the Black Pearl, returning director Gore Verbinski once again joins forces with Industrial Light & Magic and a host of supporting visual effects vendors to deliver all-new adventures on the high seas with Captain Jack Sparrow and his cohorts. ILM visual effects supervisor John Knoll, whose work on the original garnered an Academy Award nomination, this time pushes the boundaries of motion capture and CG animation in depicting a tentacled sea monster and legendary pirate Davy Jones and his crew, hideously mutated by an ancient mariner's curse. Other key contributors include conceptual artist Mark 'Crash' McCreery, makeup supervisor Ve Neill and physical effects supervisors Michael Lantieri and Allen Hall.

Article by Joe Fordham

The Fountain:
Celestial Alchemy

Exploring metaphysical themes of life, death and rebirth interwoven in a narrative that spans past, present and future, The Fountain follows one man's quest for the Fountain of Youth and eternal life. Writer/director Darren Aronofsky, who favored a traditional optical approach over CG, called upon visual effects designers Dan Schrecker and Jeremy Dawson to oversee the effects work, which ranged from ancient Mayan battles to a futuristic starship's exploration of uncharted space. Heading up the roster of visual effects vendors was Intelligent Creatures, a Toronto-based company assigned the majority of shots, many of them featuring spectacular cosmic vistas derived from macrophotographic imagery. Zero-gravity rigs and other practical effects were the work of Les Productions de l'Intrigue.

Article by Joe Fordham

Flags of our Fathers:
One for All Time

The iconographic photograph of six young soldiers raising the American flag during World War II's bloody battle of Iwo Jima serves as the focal point of Flags of our Fathers, director Clint Eastwood's latest film, based on the bestselling nonfiction book by James Bradley. Production visual effects supervisor Michael Owens and a team of artists at Digital Domain were challenged to re-create the famous battle and flag-raising, as well as views of 1940s-era New York and other period settings for scenes of the surviving soldiers on a cross-country tour to promote the sale of war bonds. Seeking a gritty photorealism, digital artists augmented live-action, shot mostly in Iceland, with everything from CG environments and set extensions, to virtual ships and assorted atmospheric effects.

Article by Jody Duncan



Visual effects supervisor John Scheele discusses the challenges inherent in simulating the horrific events of September 11, 2001 for Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, a recounting of the nation's worst terrorist attack as seen through the eyes of two New York Port Authority police officers, buried and later rescued from the rubble of the twin towers.


For Lady in the Water, a scary bedtime tale adapted to the big screen by writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, creature effects supervisor Mike Elizalde of Spectral Motion and visual effects supervisor Ed Hirsh of Industrial Light & Magic share their approach to the design and creation of the story's array of mythical creatures.


Lead animator Sterling Allen elaborates on the novel technique of digitally rotoscoping live-action performances to achieve the uniquely stylized, yet realistic look of Richard Linklater's all-animated film, A Scanner Darkly.

Posted by dschnee at 10:04 PM

September 5, 2006

Danny Elfman's CHARLOTTE'S WEB Interview

Here is a nifty little snippet of Danny Elfman discussing the score for Charlotte's Web, and playing Charlotte's theme for the first time!

On a related note: As of September 7th, 2006 Tippett Studio's work on Charlotte's Web is officially complete! The one last lingering shot has been finaled... ~fin

-Ain't It Cool News

Posted by dschnee at 7:52 AM