« May 2006 | Main

June 13, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 13, 2006

Disney Downshifts Cars Take - Stock Tumbles

Disney downshifted its reported grosses for the animated film Cars to $60.1 million from an initial estimate of $62.8 million, indicating it had a weak Sunday.

As a result, Disney's stock tumbled as opening-weekend estimates failed to reassure skeptics who think the studio overpaid for Pixar, the studio that produced Cars and other recent animated hits.

Shares closed down 1.5 percent at $28.90 after recovering from a sharper 3.5 percent dip earlier in the day, the trade paper reported.

Cars' $60.1 million take is well behind the $62.6 million opening of Monsters, Inc., and Cars is now number four out of Pixar's seven animated features for opening-weekend gross, the lowest since Toy Story 2 in 1999.Variety reported.


Paramount Switches Tim Burton Pics

(empireonline.com) Scratch another Jim Carrey movie from active development – Ripley’s Believe It Or Not is following Used Guys back into limbo.

The culprit, Paramount head Brad Grey, who has shoved the biopic of Ripley that Carrey was to star in and Tim Burton was to direct, off the schedule for a re-write. “In a world where we wanted to do more work on the script, this seemed to make more sense,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. The sticking point apparently came about the budget, which, given the hefty visual effects load, was looking at the $150 million range.

But despite having already started pre-production on the Ripley tale, Burton won’t be cooling his heels… Paramount has simply swapped Believe It Or Not for Sweeney Todd. Adapted from Stephen Sondheim’s musical about the throat-slitting, pie-filling “demon barber of Fleet Street” by John Logan, the film will start its journey towards getting the green light.

And guess who Burton is considering for the lead? His surname rhymes with “step”… Yes, to exactly no one’s surprise, Johnny is top of the list.

If you were disappointed by the news, take heart: this won’t be the end for Believe It Or Not according to Paramount’s Gail Berman. "We love this project and look forward to making it with Tim and Jim - just later than originally planned," she told the Hollywood Reporter.


60% Infection Rate In PCs

(forums.cgsociety.org) Microsoft on Monday said that it found and removed malicious programs - called "bots" - from six out of 10 Windows computers checked during a recent 15-month period.

The disclosure, announced in a report at the Tech Ed conference in Boston, is the strongest proof yet that bots are contaminating wide swaths of the Internet. Bots infect PCs with software that allows them to be controlled by an attacker to spread spam, attack websites or steal identity data.

"We're seeing an extremely active level of activity," says Matthew Braverman, Microsoft product manager. "Most malicious software we see today affecting Windows customers is more tied to financial gain."


'Prettier World' of Computer Modeling

(hindu.com) Taking issue with the perception that computer models lack realism, a Sandia National Laboratories researcher told his audience that simulations of the nanoscale provide researchers more detailed results - not less - than experiments alone.

The invited talk by Eliot Fang was delivered to members of the Materials Research Society at its recent semiannual general meeting.

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory. Fang derided the pejorative "garbage in, garbage out" description of computer modeling - the belief that inputs for computer simulations are so generic that outcomes fail to generate the unexpected details found only by actual experiment.

Fang not only denied this truism but reversed it. "There's another, prettier world beyond what the SEM [scanning electron microscope] shows, and it's called simulation," he told his audience. "When you look through a microscope, you don't see some things that modeling and simulation show."

More: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/008200606131440.htm


Man of Steel Not Gay Says Director

(nzherald.co.nz) After weeks of internet speculation that the new Superman movie portrays the Man of Steel as gay, the director of the film has issued a strong denial, saying it is the most heterosexual character he has filmed.

Superman "is probably the most heterosexual character in any movie I've ever made", said Bryan Singer, director of Superman Returns, a new movie about the crime-fighting superhero that opens at the end of this month.

"I don't think he's ever been gay."

In recent months, the movie's ability to lure its target audience has been questioned by internet buzz probing the superhero's sexuality.

Young men are the movie's target audience and the film needs to attract millions of them to earn a profit and relaunch the Superman film franchise.

A major gay magazine, The Advocate, ran a cover story with the headline: "How Gay is Superman" and the Los Angeles Times weighed in with its own story on whether being gay might hinder or help the movie's box office takings.

After all, gay romance Brokeback Mountain won awards and raked in US$178 million ($281.7 million) worldwide.

So he wears a leotard and flies around in a red cape. Big deal, Singer said, noting Spider-Man wears tights. The X-Men do too, and they aren't gay. Singer ought to know, he directed 2000's X-Men movie and 2003's X2: X-Men United.

Singer said his version of the Man of Steel, who is played by Brandon Routh, is a "very romantic icon" - handsome, virtuous and vulnerable.

In the movie, Superman comes back to Earth after a five- year absence. Early on, audiences learn the love of his life, hard-charging reporter Lois Lane, has moved on from her infatuation with him. She has a new boyfriend and a child.

Yet when he re-enters her life, Lois still has that sexy gleam in her eye, and he can't wait to fly her to the moon.

"We were all scratching our heads," said Paul Levitz, president and publisher of Superman owner DC Comics. "He's not a gay character."

Happy Birthday Ralph McQuarrie

(Theforce.net) Today is the birthdayof the man responsible for the look and feel of Star Wars itself. From all of us at TheForce.net and across the entire fan community, we wish a very Happy Birthday to Star Wars conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie.

Check it: http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Chateau/9532/sw.htm

French Animation Undergoes "Renaissance"

(ca.today.reuters.com) The winning feature film at this year's Annecy International Animation Festival was director Christian Volckman's striking black-and-white futuristic thriller "Renaissance."

The film's title is an apt reflection of the unprecedented boom taking place in the French cartoon business.

A report released last week by the Center National de la Cinematographie showed eight French animated films were completed in 2005, double the number in any of the previous four years.

The lineup at Annecy, which wrapped Saturday, bears testimony to the bursting health of the French animation industry. Two of the five features in competition were French-made, while the fest opened with another local picture, "U," the tale of a princess rescued from misery by a unicorn, directed by Gregoire Solotareff and Serge Elissalde.

Michel Ocelot's dazzling Arabian adventure "Azur and Asmar" also unspooled after its premiere at Cannes in Directors' Fortnight, and "Piccolo, Saxo and Company," based on the best-selling musical children's story, had its premiere in the Alpine lakeside town.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg, as French producers known for traditional live-action movies are increasingly becoming involved in animated projects.

More: http://ca.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=entertainmentNews&storyID=2006-06-13T024356Z_01_N12355534_RTRIDST_0_ENTERTAINMENT-ANIMATION-COL.XML&archived=False


Fighter Wing Commander Learns About Transformers

(alamogordonews.com) Tularosa Basin movie fans have been keeping a close eye on certain goings-on at Holloman Air Force Base and other locations recently. And during a press conference Friday morning, officials were finally able to let the public in on exactly why.

Lt. Col. David Moore, 49th Fighter Wing commander, welcomed the press to the event, explaining what was happening.
"As you know, we have been working in collaborationwith Dreamworks studios over thelastmonth ortwo preparing to support them in filming a major Hollywood motion picture out here at Holloman ... we see thisas a perfect opportunity to showcase all ofthe great capabilities ... our airmen in action, our base," Col. Moore said.

The film, "Transformers," is based on the morphing 1980s Hasbro toy.

For some time, the name of the film was officially withheld by Dreamworks. Friday's press conference was the first time Holloman officials were able to confirm the titleof the film.

"We have been anxious to talk about what we're doing out here," Moore said. "We're happy to finally have the opportunity to discuss the movie publicly."

Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks have been working in the area, preparing for the 10-day shoot for approximately a month. However, the process of actually bringing the filmmakers to the area has taken much longer.

1st Lt. Christian Hodge, who worked with the Department of Defense to bring this film to the area,said he actually began looking at Air Force locations for the filming of "Transformers" last summer aftercoming upon the idea almost accidentally.

"I first found out about the moving surfing around online," said Hodge. "In July of last year I first read about it, thinking, 'Hey, jets that change into robots ... Air Force jets.' So I called over to the studio (Dreamworks), got a high ranking executive on the phone ... about two or three months ago we got a call from a location scout."

Holloman was just one of many bases being looked at in the beginning, said Hodge.

"They looked at seven Air Force bases. Holloman happened to be lucky," he said.

But in saying that Holloman was lucky to get the film shoot, Hodge explained that luck had very little to do with it.

"These guys are working so hard," he said."It's a huge endeavor. This is the best choice because of White Sands ...Holloman itself has been so engaging, arms wide open to try to help them."

Hodge admits that he was a big fan of Transformers when he was a child.

"I grew up watching those cartoons," he said,"I had those toys. I think I played with them a little too long.

"My mom was worried about me," Hodge said, grinning broadly. "She kept saying, 'Why don't you go outside and talk to some girls.'"

Moore said now that Holloman will take a big role in the film -- he estimates approximately one-third of the film will be shot in the local area -- he and his staff have learnedjust how much alikebig movie project and military operations are.

"We have been very excited to see exactly how a major motion picture unfolds," Moore said. "We've discovered something that frankly surprised us, andthat is the great similarity between a major motion picture filming operation and a military operation. There were many commonalities that we were unaware of. We have discovered that they, like us, go to great lengths to organize and prepare to set up their shots to film, considering the camera angles, considering the light, considering when everything will be ready, making sure it's prepared. There is enormous similarities between that and a military operation."

Moore also addressed concerns some may have about folks in the fighter wing slacking up on their jobs in defense to take part in the filming process.

"How is it that we possibly have time to work to support a movie? Well, let me tell you, our overriding position going into this has been that we will not do anything to compromise our readiness," Moore said.

"We see this as a fortunate convergence of talent. We have seen the Dreamworks team come onto our base with many professionals with many different capabilities all coming in working toward a common goal."

There are many issues to consider when bringing a major film production to a base such as Holloman. But one of the most important to the Department of Defense, said Army Lt. Col. Paul Sinor, lead public affairs representative for the DOD, is military image.

The Army will also have a role in the upcoming filming, with a set having been built on White Sands Missile Range. When it came time to give permission to Dreamworks for the shoot, Sinor said the DOD looked at just how the military would be portrayed in the film.

"The DOD gets numerous requests to support TV production and films," said Sinor."And because of the number ... we have to be very selective about the (projects) we support."

Sinor said the production of "Transformers" will be the largest film project the DOD has supported since the film "Blackhawk Down," released in 2001.

"The reason this was selected is "it's a realistic portrayal of what the military does," Sinor said. "That's one of the first criteria of military support, it has to be a realistic portrayal of the military. So this film, even though its somewhat "science fiction," what the military does in this film is a realistic portrayal of actual Air Force and Army personnel. We've worked with the director, Michael Bay, on a film before -- "Pearl Harbor " -- so we understand how (Bay and his team) operates, he understands how the military operates. We have a very good relationship."

The relationships being forged by Dreamworks and Paramount Pictures in Otero County aren't limited to on base, however.

According to Kathleen Curtis of the Otero County Economic Development Council, the impact of such a large film production is also being felt downtown.

"We're really excited that they're here in Alamogordo," Curtis said. "We are most appreciative of the time that they took to scout us out, to look around, to analyze what was here and to really see the advantage (to using) the locations in Alamogordo.

Like Moore, Curtislikened the influx of personnel and equipment to the military.

"It's not unlike a small army," she said.

"Production has needed building supplies, catering services, rental cars, equipment rentals, cleaning and laundry services, dining and eateries ...utilities, everything that you can imagine, they've needed, and our community has been able to respond to that," she said.

Curtis also touched on the economic impact "Transformers" has had on Otero County.

"The easiest way to measure (the economics)is probably the hotel rooms," Curtis said. "If anybody has tried to get a hotel room recently they know that there's been a tremendous impact."

Curtis believes the film's economic impact could number in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"During the shooting period, if we were just to have a 10-day shoot ... in that 10 days we know that there will be about a half a million dollars spent," she said.

And the monetary benefits could wind up being long-term, Curtis believes.

"We're also well aware that having the opportunity to have such a film production here in Alamogordo and inOtero County will have a lasting effect," she said. "Not only will we have an increase in tourism and all the things that follow through that, it will also provide great exposure in the long term because of this film production. (We hope it will)serve to encourage other productions to come to this area and make great use of the wonderful locations we have in Otero County."

Otero County Film Liaison Joan Griggs agreed.

"We're excited to have them here in Otero County," Griggs said. "We appreciate Dreamworks and Paramount, specifically director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg for bringing to us the largest production ever made in the state of New Mexico. We see the film industry as taking New Mexico very seriously at this point."

Griggs said she believes Dreamworks picked Otero County for their latest project because "Otero County is film friendly," she said.

But she gives much credit to Holloman.

"This new Transformer movie simply could not happen without Holloman Air Force Base," she said.

When it comes to finances, some have raised concerns that using Air Force and other military resources in a film might be sucking up taxpayer dollars. But Sinor said that is not the case.

"There is no cost to the taxpayer for these films," Sinor said. "If you see them flying this airplane on the film, whatever that airplane costs per hour, the production pays it. It does not cost the American taxpayer a dime. The military you see in the film working as extras, they're on leave on that day and they're paid by the production. So it's not that this is our regular work day, but instead of working for national defense we're playing soldiers and airmen in a movie."

It's a difficult balancing act, Sinor said, keeping military priorities at the top of the list.

"I'm working between the two biggest bureaucracies in the world, that being the military and Hollywood," Sinor said, grinning. "It's a wild job, a wild life."

Moore admits he's thrilled to have Dreamworks and Paramount use his base as the location for this film.

"I'm excited about the opportunity to showcase our terrific airmen and our amazing Air Force capabilities," he said.

-H

Posted by dschnee at 06:55 AM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 12, 2006

Lucas Wants Connery For Indy 4

(comingsoon.net) Lucas was among those honoring Connery as he received the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award on Thursday. "I would love him to be in the next 'Indiana Jones'... maybe I can push him into it," said Lucas. When asked if he knew whether or not Connery wanted to appear in the film, Lucas said, "I think he does."

Lucas jokingly added, "We are writing him in whether he wants to do it or not."

Excuses Abound as Cars Under-Performs

(jimhillmedia.com) Disney's spin machine went into overdrive yesterday, as the Mouse tried to explain away why it wasn't actually disappointed that "Cars" (Which had originally been projected to take in $70 - $75 million) only managed to make $62.8 million over its opening weekend.

The good news is ... "Cars" was No. 1 at the box office this past weekend, raking in an estimated $62.8 million. Which (according to Box Office Mojo) gave this John Lasseter film the second highest opening weekend gross ever for a film that was released in the month of June (Only Warners' "Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban" -- which debuted back in June of 2004 -- earned more. Taking in $93.6 million over its opening weekend).

The bad news is ... $62.8 million is a figure that's significantly south of what had originally been projected for this Pixar Animation Studios production.

According to Chuck Viane, president of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution: "As far as expectations go, we've all grown accustomed to hitting home runs. And -- in anyone's ballpark -- $60 million is a home run. On Monday, 61 percent of (the children in the U.S. will be) out of school. Then a week from Monday, 81 percent. That's the great thing about the summer — it's not just about the weekend. The week takes on the aura of being a seven-day playdate."

On average -- tickets sales for a Pixar picture tend to drop off by 37.6% from that film's opening weekend to its second weekend in release ... Well, that indicates that Mickey probably doesn't have another "The Incredibles" or "Monsters, Inc." -sized hit on its hands.


That perhaps is the real problem here. That expectations were unnaturally high for "Cars." That -- given the $7.4 billion that the Walt Disney Company just paid out in order to acquire Pixar -- that the investment community unrealistically assumed that this animation studio's string of smash hit films would just go on forever.


Now that attention has turned toward how "Cars" performs during its second weekend in release, a lot of people at Pixar & Disney hoping and praying that moviegoers prefer Lightning McQueen over the more realistic street racers that can be seen in "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" (I.E. That Universal Pictures release that rolls into theaters next Friday).


Because if this new John Lasseter film actually follows current box office trends and its ticket sales fall off by more than 50% during this Walt Disney Pictures release's second weekend in theaters ... Well, Mickey may find himself with some real "Cars" trouble on his hands.

Paramount and Nick Pick Up CG Mayfly

(Variety) Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies have picked up the children's film pitch Mayfly from writing team Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick, reports Variety.

The insects have a very short lifespan, with some living only for one day. The story concerns a mayfly who accidentally oversleeps and, with the help of a tortoise friend, discovers the value of living for the moment. Concept puts the opposing lifespans of the two creatures into play since tortoises often live close to 100 years.

Nick Movies executive Julia Pistor will produce the CG-animated project.

Feast Gets A Release Date - Outspoken FX Artist "Jazzed"

(moviehole.net) Was just talking to one of the producers of "Feast" , who has some good news for those who have been yanking for the film to hit the creamy screen. It's coming. I swear. September. September 22, to be exact.

The movie - which you'll recall was the result of the last "Project Greenlight" - will be released in several theatres, and then will hit DVD sometime near Halloween. So, a very quick window between the cinema release and the DVD release. Regardless, it's great that it's finally coming out - and on the big screen, the way a good ol' splatterfest should be seen.

Fangoria Magazine spoke recently to FX artist Gary Tunnicliffe, who revealed that plans finally seem to have been nailed down to get the movie on the big screen. “We were on the set of PULSE [on which Tunnicliffe and his Two Hours in the Dark company provided FX for extensive reshoots; more on that soon], and we were all going, ‘Look, when’s FEAST coming out?’ And the Dimension guys put their hands on their hearts and said, ‘October, Halloween, this year.’ It’ll be 200 screens, midnight shows I believe, followed by a big DVD release. So finally, people are going to get to see the movie.” Just as we were putting this item together, The Weinstein Company announced on its site that the opening date will be September 22; the size of the release has yet to be officially announced.

“I’m so jazzed about FEAST; people are gonna love it,” Tunnicliffe continues. “Like I’ve always said, I believe it will find its audience, and the audience will find FEAST. I think it will catch on like wildfire.”

That would be a happy ending for the John Gulager-directed film, which has been on Dimension’s shelf for some time now and whose often contentious production was opened for all of TV-land to see on the GREENLIGHT series. “People [who’ve seen the show] say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe you said some of the things you said,’ but the truth is, I could’ve been made to look a lot worse,” Tunnicliffe admits. “I said some pretty horrendous things—I was not backward about coming forward. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty outspoken, and I have a big mouth. Some days I said things, and my crew would look at me wide-eyed, and then the cameras would leave and they’d go, ‘I don’t believe you said that, dude! You just said that guy was an asshole on camera!’ Ah well, it’s all in the heat of battle, who cares? But obviously, it was funny to be standing in a store in Hollywood later, and have someone walk up and say, ‘You’re the guy who said, “You’re the director, why don’t you f**king direct me,” right?’ ”


Harry Potter 5 Shoots In Italy

(comingsoon.net) An Italian newspaper reports this morning that crew and production team members from Order of the Phoenix have been visiting a series of small medieval towns in the Savona area (near Genoa), with a view to shooting part of the movie in Italy. I don't know how reliable this is, given they're not supposed to film outside the UK... Could it be a second-unit crew? The mayor of Balestrino (one of the small towns) says people from WB have "surveyed" the locations, but are yet to get in touch with the local administration. But they said they loved the atmosphere: this part of Italy offers breathtaking landscapes, what with both the Tirreno sea and the Alps being close by. There's also a centuries-old sanctuary to the Virgin Mary, which would make striking background scenery...

The Mayor also says WB asked him to postpone any plans of renovation and repair to the ancient buildings - apparently, they don't want building sites and scaffoldings in the movie... The fact they could come in Italy to film something is important majorly because no HP movie has been filmed outside UK as I remember (maybe I'm wrong)

Superman Returns Gets Spider-Man 3 Teaser

(CGtalk.com) Director Sam Raimi revealed during an interview with Superhero Hype! that the first teaser trailer for "Spider-Man 3" will accompany the theatrical release of "Superman Returns."

Project 880 Sequel In The Works


(cinescape.com) Casting has begun for James Cameron's first major motion picture since TITANIC, PROJECT 880.

The story of PROJECT 880 is set in the future and follows Jake, a paraplegic war veteran who is taken to another planet. The planet, Pandora, is inhabited by the Na'vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture.

Moviecitynews posted the casting details and what they are looking for in each character. For Jake, the male lead, they want: Early- mid 20's. Caucasian. Angry and jaded, he harbors a grudge against the world and his current situation. Highly intelligent and creative, he hides his softer side behind a thick wall of issues. Having suffered great tragedy, he is scarred both emotionally and physically. His encounters with the local indigenous culture changes his life.

Casting details:

[JAKE (FORMERLY YOUNG MALE LEAD)] Early- mid 20's. Caucasian. Angry and jaded, he harbors a grudge against the world and his current situation. Highly intelligent and creative, he hides his softer side behind a thick wall of issues. Having suffered great tragedy, he is scarred both emotionally and physically. His encounters with the local indigenous culture changes his life.

[NEYTIRI (FORMERLY YOUNG FEMALE LEAD)] 16 - mid 20's. Female. Any ethnicity, including Caucasian, but exotic in some way…"other". Jake's lover and teacher, a Na'vi native of Pandora. She moves and behaves with confidence and a sense of nobility. Lithe as a cat. Athletic and agile, she is a warrior. Graceful movement and an ear for languages and dialects are essential.


[GRACE (FORMERLY THE MENTOR)] There is no need to submit on this role.


[NORM] (mid 20's) A scientist who has trained for years to come and work on Pandora with the Na'vi. Can be American or from another country. He feels that he has been pushed aside by Jake, but eventually they come to respect each others strengths. He has an unlikely relationship with Trudy and can't get over her interest in him. Not something he has experienced a lot. Physical agility and an ear for languages and dialects are essential.


[AKWEY] (mid to late 30's) Male Any ethnicity, including Caucasian. A Na'vi who has volunteered to work with the humans. He is a quietly noble presence. Someone to trust implicitly. His relationship with one of the human doctors is touching in its unrequited intensity. Physical agility and an ear for languages and dialects are essential.


[TSU'TEY] (early to mid 20s). Male. Any ethnicity, including Caucasian. A Na'vi who has been chosen to be Neytiri's mate...until Jake comes along. Groomed as the next leader of the tribe, he has a potentially explosive personality. But we must also be able to see his vulnerability when he comes to realize that to save his people he must trust the man he hates most. Physical agility and an ear for languages and dialects are essential.


[QUARITCH] (40-50) Male American. A seasoned Marine Corps colonel who has come to Pandora to be in charge of the troops. One side of his face is twisted by scars from an encounter with some Pandoran predator. He is calm and focused. He has trained his whole life for a war and wants to fight one here. He believes he is doing the right thing.


[SELFRIDGE] (35-50) Station supervisor. Male. American. A smart, forceful, charismatic man who is utterly focused on the success of the operation of Pandora. His calm, almost breezy style belies an absolute ruthlessness in the pursuit of his goals. Like his historical prototypes, the governors of Spanish and English colonies in the Americas, his mission is to overcome all obstacles to gain a foothold in the new world, and more importantly, show a return on the staggering investment. Think of him as a classy, young, ambitious agent.


[TRUDY CHACON] 25-35. Female. Tough, serious, straight-laced ex-Marine pilot. She has an unlikely relationship with Norm. She can't believe this smart scientist thinks she is so cool. And he has never met a woman like her and can't get over her interest in him.

PROJECT 880 is Cameron's first major motion picture since TITANIC. The film will use Cameron's his new digital 3-D technology to film the movie.

PROJECT 880 is aiming for a 2008 release with a sequel already in the works.

Peter Jackson Likes Bending Spoons

(uk.news.yahoo.com) The Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson is reportedly close to signing a deal with celebrity spoon-bender Uri Geller to turn his novel into a movie.

Ella, which charts the story of a young teenager who discovers she has psychic powers, will be a low-budget British-based project, Geller hopes.

The psychic met the New Zealand film-maker last month (MAY06) to discuss the venture, and wowed the director with his trademark metal-bending powers.

Geller says, "I gave the book to Peter Jackson two weeks ago.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed because it's an incredible novel. Ella has some kind of power in it so I believe, if it's done in the right way, it'll be a spectacular film.

"Peter was definitely impressed though. And he even filmed me spoon-bending."

For Indian Superstar, "VFX is the way of the future."

(animationxpress.com) Superstar Shah Rukh Khan really meant it when he remarked,"I want to open my own VFX studio" in a recent interview to a business daily.

Located at Khar in Mumbai, Red Chillies Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. the entertainment company owned by King Khan recently kickstarted its VFX division 'Red Chillies-VFX'.

Shah Rukh who is currently shooting in Kuala Lampur for Farhan Akhtar's Don commented “VFX is the way of the future. I personally believe that with all the colour, charm, passion and the lyricism that already exists in hindi cinema, the way to enhance the romance of films is going to be through the addition of VFX in our technique of cinema. Technology can only better the process of story telling and narration. It is a tool which the largest film-making nation in the world cannot afford to ignore!"

"Also, it is necessary to develop our own system as somehow the understanding of VFX in an Indian way is important because it will help us retain our USP of films and not end up being a reflection of the western way of thinking when it comes to effects. VFX is the next big addition to our films and needs to be nurtured and developed if our films have to truly get international in the near future” added Khan.

"Technology giant HP is providing end to end solutions for our studio. Our team size is currently close to 25 - 30 artists and technicians and we are looking to ramp up to a team strength of 100 in a couple of years time" he added.

CGI Festival UK Coming Soon

The CGI Festival in 2004 was launched to provide creative artists in the UK a showcase of the latest CGI work in Film, Television and Games development. It provided an opportunity to participate in Master classes, Technical Presentations as well as technique based sessions from some of the World's leading artists on the exhibition floor. Over 1,500 people attended the event, with many of the conference sessions sold out.

We are now delighted to announce that our 2006 dates for this bi-annual event will be made available shortly. Once again, we are planning to present world class speakers from the world of 3D and all areas of computer graphics. The event will take place in London in November.

Please be sure to check back to the web site for regular updates to the event and our plans for what will be a very exciting event.

Check it out: http://www.cgifestival.co.uk/


-H

Posted by dschnee at 06:57 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 9, 2006

Spiderman 3 Suffers Sound Stage Fire

(orangecounty.cox.net & cms.firehouse.com) (Culver City, CA)-- A fire broke out in a sound stage at Sony Studios in Culver City this morning, forcing a brief delay in filming of the upcoming "Spiderman" movie. The blaze at Sound Stage 27 was difficult to deal with because it was burning inside a wall. Los Angeles City Fire's Brian Ballton says firefighters used thermal imaging cameras to pinpoint the area in the wall where the heat source was. There were no injuries, but the fire burned up the wall to the catwalk. While no official cause has been determined, Culver City Fire officials say they think it could have been sparked by welding torches that were being used on stage.

Fifteen Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, four LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Rehab Unit, one EMS Battalion Captain, three Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, one Division Chief Officer Command Team and Deputy Chief Mario Rueda under the direction of Assistant Chief Ralph Terrazas responded to a Structure Fire at 10202 West Washington Boulevard in Culver City.

The Culver City Fire Department requested Los Angeles Fire Department assistance to battle a fire on Stage 27 at the Sony Pictures Studios.

A Unified Command was promptly established and Fire Suppression resources from both agencies utilized a combination of "Class A" firefighting foam, wet water and multiple handlines to extinguish the flames.

There were no injuries reported to Los Angeles Fire Department personnel. Both the cause of the blaze and dollar loss will be determined by Culver City Fire Department officials.

Photo: http://cms.firehouse.com/content/article/article.jsp?sectionId=46&id=49668

Intel To Slash Chip Prices Up To 60%

(CGtalk) "Intel Tells Customers It Will Cut Prices by 60%
to Gain Share
June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Customers of Intel Corp. said the world's
biggest computer-chip maker plans to reduce prices on Pentium
processors by as much as 60 percent to reclaim market share from
Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Executives at Micro-Star International Co. and Gigabyte Technology
Co., two of Taiwan's biggest makers of circuit boards for computers,
said Intel officials told them the price cuts will start July 23. Tom
Beermann, a spokesman for Santa Clara, California-based Intel,
declined to comment. "

"Gatchaman" CG Feature Gets Underway

(Dark Horizons) Imagi Animation Studios, in association with
Tatsunoko Production of Japan, will produce a new CG-animated
feature-length motion picture for theatrical release based on the
long-running anime franchise "Gatchaman" (better known in Western
countries for edited and dubbed versions under the title of "Battle of
the Planets").

The new film will be written and directed by Kevin Munroe, who is
currently writing and directing Imagi's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
CG-animation that is being distributed by Warner Bros. in the U.S. and
The Weinstein Company internationally. The announcement was made today
by Francis Kao, CEO and Vice Chairman of Imagi International.

"We will push the wow factor to a new level with Gatchaman, a
groundbreaking anime that has devoted fans worldwide, including
myself," Kao said. "With the visual impact available through
state-of-the-art CG animation, I think the film not only can satisfy
fans, but will also appeal to moviegoers looking for something new and
exciting. I am thrilled to work on this excellent franchise with
Tatsunoko."

Gatchaman centers around five young superhero ninjas who must defeat
the nefarious terrorists known as Galactor, who are threatening to
capture Earth's resources. With 205 TV episodes, one feature film, and
three direct-to-video films, Gatchaman has over 30 years of history.

In addition to its success in Japan, the series has fans in the U.S.
from various domestic re-edited versions of the show, including
"Battle of the Planets," "G-Force," and "Eagle Riders."

"Growing up as a kid, Gatchaman was the first influence that pushed me
into the world of animation, comics and writing," Munroe said. "I'm
honored to get the chance to bring Gatchaman to the big screen the way
it was always meant to be - huge action mixed with the real human
drama. Gatchaman is a great next step after TMNT, in terms of
storytelling and visual scope and also for Imagi as a player in the
animation world."

Imagi Animation Studios is now producing its own feature length
movies, including the first CG-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
movie, which will be distributed by Warner Bros. domestically March
30, 2007 and The Weinstein Company internationally. Imagi has also
produced CG-animated TV series, such "Zentrix," which was released in
Europe and Asia, "Digital Monster X-Evolution" with Bandai and Toei of
Japan, and NBC's "Father of the Pride" for DreamWorks.

Lucas Attends Stem Cell Foundation Gala

(SFgate) Gala ducats were one of the priciest ($1,500) in
recent memory. But super-swell stem cell supporters only paid heed to
the fact they were helping the nation's only such foundation achieve
its voter-mandated mission: privately funded research for therapies to
combat, and perhaps cure, chronic disease and disability.

They got their money's worth: guests were greeted by doormen sporting
Cartier-red uniforms; Lewis Sykes echoed the rotunda's natural beauty
in elegant all-white decor; and McCall Associates served up its
(usual) gourmet fare.

Among the poobahs: Gala chairwoman Deborah Strobin, her brother, Ilie
Wacs; Gap founder Don Fisher and wife, Doris Fisher; Gordon & Betty
Moore Foundation president Ed Penhoet; Ann and John Doerr; David
Dolby; Jan Yanehiro; Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick; Paul Pelosi; Nob Hill
Gazette publisher Lois Lehrman; Anette Harris; Richard Goldman and his
family, Lisa and Doug Goldman and Marcia and John Goldman; Mike and
Kelly Halper; O.J. Shansby; George Lucas; Cartier's Robert Atkinson;
Donna Casey; Darian Swig; and Beth Townsend.

"For many of us, it's been quite a journey," said Mayor Gavin Newsom,
praising supporters who fought to land the institute here. "Tonight is
not only an investment in our future but the chance to make a
difference in the world."

The mayor also paid tribute (in absentia) to sound pioneer Ray Dolby
and his wife, Dagmar Dolby, for their personal donation of $16 million
to UCSF for the new $100 million center.


New HULK Movie Is Not A Sequel But...A Remake?

(aintitcool.com) iFMagazine has an exclusive interview with Avi Arad about upcoming Marvel comic based films.
In the piece, Arad seems to imply that the long-gestating HULK sequel will be more of a remake than a continuation\u2026

ARAD: (edit) \u2026a lot of people are looking forward to the comic book version of the HULK. That\u2019s the one we are making, and I think it will be incredibly satisfying. It will be big and awesome and a big ride.

iF: So will you be recasting HULK with completely new actors?

ARAD: It\u2019s a \u201cdo-over\u201d. I loved the HULK movie, it was just a different approach, and it wasn\u2019t exactly the comic. We want to be much closer to the comic. It\u2019s what we would rather do.

This could be taken two ways.
Perhaps they\u2019re simply adjusting/re-considering Ang Lee\u2019s approach to the first film \u2013 without necessarily negating its spin on Hulk's "origin story"? But, Arad appears to be saying that the follow-up is a remake \u2013 an odd choice that doesn\u2019t seem entirely necessary in my mind. I\u2019d rather see a HULK continuance that is \u201ctruer\u201d in essence and vibe to its source material, than to watch yet another re-hashed origin story.

Management Drain Continues For Digital Domain

(AWN) Michael Pardee joins Sway Studio as exec producer after
serving as head of production for commercials at Digital Domain since
2003.

"This is a key development for Sway," said company founder and former
Digital Domain exec Mark Glaser. "I've known Mike for more than 10
years and he's the perfect person to oversee all of our production in
a seamless, cohesive and streamlined manner." Pardee will work
alongside executive producer Shira Boardman.

Pardee brings vast live-action and post-production experience to his
new position, having worked with directors such as Rob Cohen, Filip
Engstrom, David Kellogg and David Fincher (Nike's award-winning GAME
BREAKERS and last year's Heineken Super Bowl spot starring Brad Pitt).

Pardee grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts, and received his BA in
Political Science from Loyola in Chicago.

"[Glaser] has built Sway into a breeding ground for artists to
showcase their individual talents within a team atmosphere. The work
and the level of talent from the artists are unsurpassed by other
facilities."

Transformers Gets A Very Big Eye

(empireonline.com) For a group of robots that were once advertised as “more than meets the eye”, that’s a gigantic eye.

Yes, the first teaser image from Michael Bay’s Transformers film has arrived, and it must be said… Paramount obviously through that the War Of The Worlds concept of a giant alien body part menacing our planet worked wonders, because for this we get a massive Decepticon eye malevolently observing us.

As well as the poster, the official site has gone live, though at the moment its limited to a countdown and an option to sign up for updates.

Take a look: http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=23545


VES Calls for International VFX

(visualeffectssociety.com) For the first time, the Visual
Effects Society's Festival of Visual Effects will include an ongoing
showcase which will highlight examples of the best visual effects work
being done by international artists. This year's Festival, the eighth
annual, will be held July 6-8, 2006, at the famed Egyptian Theatre in
Hollywood.

Lucas, Spielberg, Ford Attend Connery Lifetime Achievement Award

(SFgate) Hollywood's elite gathered to pay tribute to Sean
Connery, who received The American Film Institute's annual lifetime
achievement award.

Directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, and actors Harrison Ford,
Andy Garcia and Mike Myers were among the stars who cheered on the
legendary actor Thursday at the ceremony at the Kodak Theatre.

Myers wore a tuxedo jacket and a kilt to honor the Scottish actor.

"Men want to be him, women want him, and in my case I both want to be
him and want him," Myers joked.

"He's extremely professional, very talented and has an amazingly
strong presence on the screen," Lucas said from the red carpet.

Connery thanked the audience for "one hell of an evening."

"I got my big break when I was five years old, and it's taken more
than 70 years to realize it," he said. "At five I learned to read, and
I would not be standing here without the books, plays and scripts."

Connery was launched to stardom in the 1960s and 1970s, playing agent
007, or "Bond, James Bond," as he introduced himself to foes.

He also starred in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,""The Hunt for
Red October" and "The Untouchables," which earned him an Oscar for
best supporting actor.

He is the 34th recipient of the award, the Institute's highest honor
for a career in film.

Past recipients include Orson Welles, Bette Davis, Alfred Hitchcock,
Sidney Poitier, Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg,
Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep and
George Lucas.

-H

Posted by dschnee at 06:56 AM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 8, 2006

Rodriguez Readies For Sin City 2

(cinematical.com) Here is a quick update for all you clamoring fans anxiously, breathlessly awaiting a sequel to Frank Miller's Sin City. There's not a lot of detail in this update, but there is some solid, encouraging news which should perk you up for a while. Robert Rodriguez (in an interview discussing his upcoming joint project with Tarantino, Grindhouse) dropped a few words about the plan of action for Sin City 2. According to Rodriguez, "We're going to start that probably in about six months." Nothing like a certain, confident answer -- but at least it is something, right?


LASSETER PLANS TO REVIVE HAND-DRAWN ANIMATION

(showbizdata.com) Hand-drawn animation may not be dead, after all. Pixar's creative chief, John Lasseter, has told Time magazine that he may restore Disney's traditional animation unit, which the studio dismantled in response to the success of computer-generated animation, like that employed by Pixar. "Of all studios that should be doing 2-D animation, it should be Disney," Lasseter said in an interview with film critic Richard Corliss. "We haven't said anything publicly, but I can guarantee you that we're thinking about it. Because I believe in it."


Sci-fi Battle Royale Heads To New Line

(comingsoon.net) New Line Cinema has bought the remake rights to the controversial Japanese sci-fi film Battle Royale and set up the project with Neal Moritz and Roy Lee, reports Variety.

The original film, produced by Toie and released in 2000 amid concerns about its violence, is set in an apocalyptic future in which schools are overrun by uncontrolled violence; the government responds by organizing an annual Battle Royale, in which a school class is picked at random and students are pitted against each other on an abandoned island in a game of survival.

Toie also produced a sequel in 2003, Battle Royale II -- Requiem, in which a new class of teen students are forced to battle a rebel group let by a survivor of a previous Battle Royale.


Google Forging Ahead With Wi-Fi Efforts

(news.zdnet.com) Google will begin a phased rollout of a free wireless Net access service in its hometown of Mountain View, Calif., this summer and is still hammering out details with San Francisco officials for its citywide Wi-Fi service there.

Testers who volunteer to offer feedback for the Mountain View project will be able to sign up for Wi-Fi starting sometime this summer, and the service will be widely available to the public later this year, Chris Sacca, head of special initiatives at Google, said Wednesday.

"The Mountain View network rollout is on track to be completed by (the end of) June," Sacca said. Google will operate the network itself and has partnered with wireless technology providers, equipment vendors and integration providers to design, build and install the network, he said.

"We are going to be an ISP here in Mountain View," Sacca said, adding that there are no plans at this time to put ads on the service.

Meanwhile, Google's free Wi-Fi service in San Francisco may or may not have advertisements, he said. "If we get to the point that we decide that providing ads to end users is a benefit, then we might do it," he said. Ads are "not driving this...For us it is much more of an experiment and a lofty social benefit."

He could not say when deployment might begin.

Transformers Movie Speculation Continues

(CGtalk.com) 'Transformers Fan' from Don Murphy Message Board has send us collective thoughts on the upcoming Transformers movie, shared on dozens of posts that he has put together. (With common miscommunication that occurs when posting in message boards, we update our story to reflect the true meaning of Don's rambling.)

In the first draft of the script there were 4 main characters (Transformers) on each side but the plans are to expand that to 5 on each side in the next script revision.

TF cast is composed of Optimus Prime, Jazz, Ratchet, Bumblebee and Arcee for the Autobots and Megatron, Soundwave and Starscream for the Decepticons. The remaining 2 Decepticons are yet to be determined.

As of now, Soundwave’s alternate mode is a helicopter, however Hasbro prefers Soundwave mass shift and the writers seem to be okay with it.

Hasbro seemed anxious to get Soundwave into musical form to unleash Ravage even if it made no sense. They wanted him to turn into something musical later in the story and spit CDS. Soundwave’s minions are to be included in the film and are said to be “part of him.”

Ratchet is currently set as a fire truck. The writers want to make him an ambulance, DreamWorks doesn't. Hasbro actually doesn't mind if he is an ambulance or a fire truck. Jazz will be some sort of sports car and Arcee will be some type of motorbike. DreamWorks is floating a proposal to all the car companies now and licenses being worked out.

The story that sets in Soutwest, USA will be about Autobots who have been on Earth for a long time, (possibly as far back as biblical times) and are engaged in hidden war with other transformers. It will told from human perspective.

There are currently no plans for a 2nd or 3rd film. Assuming the first film does well, 2 more are likely to follow.

The film is aimed to be rated either PG or PG-13 with a November 17th, 2006 release date. The script is expected to be done by July 1st, preproduction begins September 1st and filming begins December 1st. ILM is expect to do the effects.

Please Note: this is all subject to change.

http://www.dreamworksfansite.com/transformers/fullstory.php?id=1967

Union Deal Increases Animation Salaries and Benefits

(animationschoolreview.com) Animators across the country have something to celebrate. The negotiation team for their union worked out a deal with animation producers that will increase their animation salaries and benefits over the next few years.

The Animation World Network, a website dedicated to the animation industry, recently reported that the union representing animators struck a good deal with animation producers. Negotiators for the Animation Guild and Affiliated Optical Electronic and Graphic Arts, Local 839 IATSE, otherwise known as TAG, unanimously recommended that the Guild accept the terms of the agreement. A spokesperson for the union mentioned that union negotiators went into meetings with animation producer representatives from Adelaide Productions, the Cartoon Network, Disney, Warner Bros. Animation, Columbia, DreamWorks, Fox, MGM, and Universal with goals to increase animation salaries and pensions, as well as employer health and pension contributions for free-lance animators. They apparently achieved these goals.

Animation Salaries to Increase with Employment Longevity

The current agreement seems to increase animation salaries at a greater rate the longer an animator is employed with a studio. Under the terms of the deal, animation workers are only guaranteed a $0.75 increase in the weekly wage minimums after the first year of employment, but receive a compounded 3% animation salary increase after the 2nd and 3rd years of employment. This animation salary increase is commensurate with the increases achieved by unions representing live action members.

If you’re an aspiring animator that has yet to do work for a major studio, this news should encourage you to keep trying to get your foot in the door. Before this agreement was reached, many young animators suffered without healthcare and other benefits while earning their reputations doing freelance work. Today, even if you still have to work for peanuts before getting a break, you at least have the opportunity to earn health care benefits and add a little money to your retirement pension.

Gamblers Put Odds On Cars Opening Weekend

(showbizdata.com) One online oddsmaker is predicting that Disney/Pixar's Cars will earn more than 77 million this weekend. In order to win on the Curaçaon-based Pinnacle Sports website, winners will have to bet that it will make less than that amount. Another website, BetUS.com, is not quite so extravagant in its prediction, forecasting a take of more than $41.5 million for the three-day opening. Meanwhile, early reviews of the film are not encouraging. Variety comments, "With Cars, Pixar's enviable run of creative triumphs comes to a skidding stop." The Village Voice says that the movie moves at "a turgid pace, with all the traction of a boxcar going uphill in molasses." David Ansen in Newsweek was somewhat kinder, writing, "Cars inspires more admiration than elation. It dazzles even as it disappoints." On the other hand, Richard Corliss in Time pronounces Cars, "the first great movie of the summer."


-H

Posted by dschnee at 07:16 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 7, 2006

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES CG Film Announced

(cinescape.com) Imagi and Warner Brothers Pictures have announced a new computer animated TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES film. Warner Brothers, who is handling domestic distribution, will release the film on March 30, 2007.

Studio and TWC said the new PG-rated film will be slightly grittier than the three live-action "Turtles" movies released by New Line more than a decade ago. Combined, those three pics grossed more than $256

million at the U.S. box office.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles represents a brand that is widely recognized all around the world, and we think this new CG version will be a huge hit among audiences everywhere," said TWC co-chair Harvey Weinstein, who made the announcement with Warner Bros. Pictures prexy of distribution Dan Fellman.

Casting Notice for James Cameron's 880

(Movie City News) Movie City News has posted a new casting notice for James Cameron's Project 880, which starts filming in November. The plot for the 20th Century Fox feature is described as follows:

In the future, Jake, a paraplegic war veteran is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na'vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. Those from Earth find themselves at odds with each other and the local culture.

Send in your head shot: http://www.moviecitynews.com/Notepad/2006/060606_npd.html

Alien Vs Predator 2 Set To Sign Directors

(cinescape.com) IGN FilmForce posted a bit of an odd scoop today regarding AVP 2 and a possible director for the film.

The scoop suggests that Greg and Colin Strause are set to sign on to direct the sequel to 2004's Alien vs. Predator. Apparently they have met with the producers and are all set to sign on.

For more details on the scoop you can go here for the story.

AVP2 is aiming for a August 2007 release.

ILM Syncs Up Artists With Production Staff

(vfxworld.com) Iridas announced that Industrial Light & Magic has purchased universal site licenses of FrameCycler Professional 3.5 for its facility in the Letterman Center in San Francisco, Lucasfilm Animation in Singapore and the Skywalker Ranch in San Rafael. Now artists at all three locations will have immediate access to uncompressed frame-based playback for review and analysis of their work on every workstation.

FrameCycler Professional 3.5 uses advanced RAM-buffering for playback, reads and writes virtually all file formats in the industry, and offers powerful playback and image analysis tools for animators, compositors and other artists. FrameCycler Professional also allows users to apply LUTs in combination with Iridas.Look files for calibrated and/or color graded playback. FrameCycler Professional is the only uncompressed playback application to run on the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

"We chose FrameCycler because it's reliable, works across all of our platforms and has a proven track record in the industry," stated Lucasfilm cto Cliff Plumer. "Having a common viewing tool for both digital artists and our production staff greatly improves communication which benefits the entire production process."

"Industrial Light & Magic pioneered modern visual effects," said Lin Kayser, Iridas ceo. "We've been enjoying their work in theaters for years now. It's an honor to be working with them."

Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is a Lucasfilm Ltd. company serving the digital needs of the entertainment industry for visual effects. ILM has been awarded 14 Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and received 17 Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards.

Hellboy 2 Moves to Paramount

(FMagazine) Apparently Hellboy helmer, Guillermo del Toro, revealed at Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors that the sequel has moved from Columbia Pictures over to Paramount Pictures.

The magazine reports the following:

"We're moving studios right now," says Del Toro. "They don't have a deal with Sony anymore and we are looking for financing for Hellboy 2. It's at Paramount right now. It's bigger in scale, but not necessarily in budget. Abe Sapien has a much bigger part, and we're keeping closer to the mythology of the comics." Del Toro giggled with glee as he revealed a singer whose music would be part of the film. "There is a song by Barry Manilow, and you'll have to find out about how that fits in. I know you are all saying 'what the fuck is that?!'"

Personally I thought Hellboy had its flaws, but overall it was a fun movie and I would love to see a sequel. I hope it moves forward.

ILM's Todd Vaziri Talks Mission: Impossible III VFX

(ilmfan.com) Todd Vaziri is of course well known around VFX circles since he started the amazing VFXHQ website, the benchmark of VFX websites. His career has spanned Flat Earth Productions, on the Xena: Warrior Princess TV show, Banned From The Ranch, on such projects as Inspector Gadget, Hollow Man and Doctor Dolittle, and Pixel Magic on projects like Driven and Hart's War. He joined ILM to work on Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and has since served as digital and compositing artist on such projects as Hulk, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Van Helsing, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, War of the Worlds and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

He completed work as Sequence Supervisor of J.J. Abrams' Mission: Impossible III which was supervised by Roger Guyett. He recently took some time to discuss some of the secrets and extensive "invisible effects" in the film.

More: http://www.ilmfan.com/articles/2006/todd_vaziri_mission_impossible_3/

No Australia Shoot For INDIANA JONES 4?

(cinescape.com) Scoop from a reader regarding Steven Spielberg and the potential shooting of INDIANA JONES 4. Take it for what it is:

Assume this is of interest. I'm from Burleigh Heads in Queensland, Australia. You may remember a while back about a rumour that Steven Spielberg was filming "Indiana Jones 4" down here? well, as of today, you can squash it. It's not true.

I just started an internship at Warner Studios (the production side / not the theme park side), and someone told me about that - the rumours - today. Apparently, Spielberg was here doing something for a mini-series or biography channel special, the guys im working for told me. That's it. No "Indy", I'm sorry to say. He had been in at Warner Studios checking those out at one stage too - but not once was anything about "Indy 4" mentioned. It's third-hand talk, but enough to squash the rumour I reckon.

As for what's going on here : A new film from Paul Merurio called "Reality Check" has wrapped, a while back actually, (we saw some of it), Vinnie Jones and Nathan Jones are doing a new movie called "The Condemned", a thing called "Vodoo Lagoon" I've seen mentioned a few places, there's several new kids shows in the works (mostly animated), and John Cena's doing "Demolition Man 2" next.

Report: Harryhausen Tribute in LA

(kongisking.net) Film effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen (JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD) was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in Character Creation at Universal Studios at a special screening of THE SCI-FI BOYS. At the event, Ray Harryhausen and other attendees gathered to send their special greetings to Peter Jackson in New Zealand. Peter Jackson is the "host" of THE SCI-FI BOYS (DVD from Universal), which, with Dennis Muren, Leonard Maltin and Rick Baker, takes us through the history of special effects.

In addition to Harryhausen, those sending greetings to Peter Jackson included director John Landis (ANIMAL HOUSE, BLUES BROTHERS, AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON), Anne Robinson (star of the 1953 WAR OF THE WORLDS George Pal film), Bob Burns (who appears in PJ's KONG and owns the original 1933 KONG armature) and SCI-FI BOYS music composer Brian Lambert, who declares PJ to be the "King of the Spirit of Fun!." You can now see streaming video of their greetings, plus the presentation of a Lon Chaney statuette to Harryhausen at THE SCI-FI BOYS website. At the site, you'll also see video of Peter Jackson's message about THE SCI-FI BOYS, and a historic 20 minute panel discussion between Forrest J Ackerman (editor of FAMOUS MONSTERS), Rick Baker, Steve Johnson (creature creator of ROSWELL alien) and Basil Gogos, who painted almost all the early covers of FAMOUS MONSTERS magazine.

The Video: http://www.pauldavids.com/sci_ficomp.html

Ellen Pasternack Talks Festival of VFX

(fangoria.com) Fango got the exclusive lowdown from publicist Ellen Pasternack on the 8th Annual Festival of Visual Effects, to be held July 6-8 at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre (6712 Hollywood Boulevard). The three-day Visual Effects Society extravaganza, set to feature workshops and discussions led by some of the industry’s leading artists (including Academy Award winners Dennis Muren, John Myhre and Robert Skotak), will focus on “cutting-edge technological advances, historical achievements, strategic planning and forecasting for the future of visual effects in film, television, and animation.” Festival plans also include the transformation of the Egyptian’s famed courtyard into a “Festival Courtyard,” which will host VFX and entertainment-industry vendors, special displays, raffles and a Hospitality Tent.

“We’re thrilled to be at the Egyptian with this year’s festival,” Pasternack says. “It’s a great theatre for the panelists, and the courtyard area provides a perfect place to hold the event for vendors who’ve previously wanted to participate as more than just sponsors. We’re really excited about it.”

In addition to the previously mentioned talent, LORD OF THE RINGS visual FX consultant Mark Stetson, as well as an estimated 50 other “internationally acclaimed entertainment veterans,” will be in attendance to enlighten the predicted 3,000 festival attendees. Panels will include “Virtual Vs. Real Sets,” (hosted by production designers Myhre, Jeannine Oppewall et al.), “Creating Life One Frame at a Time: The Art of VFX Animation,” (hosted by Steve Chiodo, Randy Cook and ILM’s senior visual FX supervisor Muren) and the John Bruno, John Jardin, Ian Hunert and Kurt William-hosted “The Challenges of Creating X-MEN: THE LAST STAND,” among others.

“A Look Back At ALIENS—20 Years Later,” a retrospective of the 1986 horror/sci-fi classic (pictured), should prove to be another highlight of the fest, with panelists set to include creature fabricator Alec Gillis, VFX miniature supervisor Pat McClung, VFX co-supervisor and director of photography Dennis Skotak and VFX supervisor and longtime James Cameron collaborator Robert Skotak. The aforementioned Stetson and his visual FX team will appear as well, hosting the panel “Bringing a Super Hero Back to Life,” in which they will discuss the methods they used in resurrecting the Man of Steel for this summer’s highly anticipated feature SUPERMAN RETURNS.

Finally, festival pass and invitation holders will have the chance to catch a special advance screening of the ImageMovers/Amblin Ent./Sony Pictures Imageworks film MONSTER HOUSE. Opening theatrically July 21, the computer-animated, PG-rated film (created using the same performance-capture techniques utilized in last year’s POLAR EXPRESS) follows the plight of three children who band together to combat the titular mysterious and monstrous abode which threatens their community.

Strike One For Pixar?

(film.guardian.co.uk) After a honeymoon period lasting nearly 20 years Pixar Animation Studios appear to have hit a rocky patch with Cars, their latest cartoon spectacular. Tipped as one of the year's biggest hits, the film opens in the US this Friday and in the UK on July 28. But early reviews are not encouraging.

Directed by John Lasseter, Cars tells the story of a rookie sports car (voiced by Owen Wilson) who becomes stranded in the homespun township of Radiator Springs, off Route 66. Expectations for the film are high following the success of The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, but critics appear to agree that Cars is not in that class.

"With Cars, Pixar's enviable run of creative triumphs comes to a skidding stop," said Variety. The film, it added is "a dusty near-two-hour ride" and "the action keeps running out of gas." For good measure, the magazine went on to argue, "Lasseter discovers that there are only so many car puns he and five other credited writers can exhaust."

The Village Voice agreed that the film has a "turgid pace, with all the traction of a boxcar going uphill in molasses." The film was "a disappointment, following the grown-up comic-book that was The Incredibles."

Many reviewers also felt that Cars' plot was too indebted to the 1991 Michael J Fox comedy Doc Hollywood, in which a hotshot Los Angeles doctor learns a new set of values when he is stranded in an average American town. "It just rips off Doc Hollywood, almost note for note," said Christy Lemire of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Hollywood Reporter was kinder to the film. "It might not be up there in The Incredibles/Finding Nemo/Toy Story stratosphere," it admitted. "But the charming Cars is nevertheless a thoroughly pleasing way to mark Pixar Animation Studios' 20th anniversary.

-H

Posted by dschnee at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 6, 2006

Ghost Rider Approved For Epic VFX Finale

(cinematical.com) When the release date for Nicolas Cage's Ghost Rider got rather significantly pushed back, it certainly raised some eyebrows. Rumors naturally began circulating that the studio was afraid of the film and wanting to bury it in the movie dead-zone of February. According to Cage, the real reason for the delay was a helicopter. Apparently, director Mark Steven Johnson was really interested in packing the film with some serious high end special effects but only managed to convince the studio to add them at the last minute, resulting in a severe production delay. As Cage explained : "There were some effects that finally got authorized by the studio which Mark really wanted and they're pretty big and it took time to put them together and design them. So we had to delay it and I think it's good because it's something we really wanted to fight for with Ghost Rider going into battle with a helicopter." So there you have it, folks. Johnny Blaze will be fighting a helicopter in what is apparently a rather epic CGI scene.


Pine Mulls Postapocalypse

(The Hollywood Reporter) Chris Pine is in final negotiations to star in the untitled Pastor brothers postapocalyptic thriller being produced by This Is That and distributed by Paramount Vantage. The Paramount specialty label pre-emptively bought the film shortly after January's Sundance Film Festival, where Alex Pastor was awarded the jury prize for international short for The Natural Route (La Ruta Natural), which he wrote and directed.

The untitled film, which will be written and directed by Alex and David Pastor, revolves around four friends trying to escape a viral pandemic in the American West who discover that they are more dangerous to one another than any virus. Pine would play one of the friends.

Sony President Predicts End of PC Gaming

(actiontrip.com) In this week's edition of German magazine Der Spiegel, Phil Harrison, president of Sony Computer Entertainment's Worldwide Studios, addresses the issue of Sony's alleged copying of the Wii motion-sensitive controller with their own PS3 tilt-sensitive controller, but what's even more precious is Phil's prediction that PS3 will literally kill the PC as a gaming platform:

Besides defending the PS3, Harrison took time to evangelize the device, which will launch worldwide this November. In particular he said the Linux-based operating system on the console's hard drive will have enough processing power and non-gaming functionalities to render traditional PCs--most of which use a form of Microsoft's Windows OS--moot in the home. "We believe that the PS3 will be the place where our users play games, watch films, browse the Web, and use other [home] computer functions," said Harrison. "The PlayStation 3 is a computer. We do not need the PC."

"The Watchmen" In Production?

(sneakpeektv.blogspot.com) According to the personal blog of composer John "X-Men: The Last Stand" Powell, he is in the 'preliminary' stages of scoring Warners upcoming feature adaptation of "The Watchmen", based on author Alan Moore's graphic novels:

"...The second project is still in preliminary stages. It is entitled "The Watchmen", based off the famous graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. No release date has been set for the film, but I'll be sure to update you if you're terribly curious..."

It was announced March 25 that director Zack "300" Snyder was in negotiations to direct "The Watchmen".

The project was picked up by Warners, after being stalled at Paramount, December 2005.

In development as a film since the 1980's, "The Watchmen" crime-conspiracy stories, set in an 'alternate' America, focus on costumed hero 'Rorschach' and his vigilante lifestyle.

According to sources, Paramount still holds the rights of first refusal to co-finance the film.

TRON CG Pioneer Passes Away

(news.awn.com) Bill Kovacs, who co-founded Wavefront Technologies, earned a 1997 Academy Award for science and engineering innovations and who worked as a programmer on TRON, passed away last Tuesday at his home in Camarillo, California. Kovacs, who was 56, died of a stroke in his sleep brought on by a cerebral hemorrhage.

In 1984, Kovacs co-founded software company Wavefront Technologies in Santa Barbara, California. He was the company's cto until he left in 1994, when the company went public. In 1995, Silicon Graphics acquired Wavefront. Later, both firms merged with Toronto-based Alias Research to form Alias Wavefront. Wavefront's software was combined with code from Alias Research to create Maya software. Maya, of course, is now a leading computer animation tool owned by Autodesk.

In 1997, Kovacs shared the Scientific and Engineering Academy Award with Roy Hall. The two were recognized for their work in developing Wavefront's Advanced Visualizer computer graphics system.

At Robert Abel & Associates, Kovacs was a programmer for Disney's 1982 feature, TRON, which incorporated early computer animation and paved the away for the 3D revolution.

After working for Wavefront, Kovacs was a consultant to game manufacturer Electronic Arts and Hollywood digital production company RezN8. He also was a founding partner in software startup Instant Effects.

Mutant Chronicles Gets Sexy, Fearless Fighter

(ropeofsilicon.com) Devon Aoki is set to join Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, Stephen Rea and John Malkovich in Simon Hunter's sci-fi action thriller The Mutant Chronicles, based on the popular role-playing game.

The site continues to report with the following description of Aoki's role in relation to the rest of the plot:

Aoki will play Duval, a sexy, scarred and fearless fighter with a wild streak who puts her duties as a soldier ahead of her role as the mother of two small children. The film is scheduled to begin shooting in early summer in London and on the Isle of Man. Malkovich's character Constantine heads a United Nations-style council of four corporation-run countries that have pillaged Earth's natural resources. When a marauding army of "NecroMutants" wages a battle against humans for the little that remains, Constantine is tempted to destroy the planet and evacuate some of its people rather than allow it to be overtaken, all with the corporations' best interests in mind. Jane plays Lieutenant Mitch Hunter, a 23rd century Marine who leads the humans in their fight and becomes Constantine's antagonist. Stephen Rea plays the former commander of Hunter. Ron Perlman portrays the leader of a religious sect who thinks he can destroy the mutants and save the planet, recruiting Hunter to join him. Benno Fürmann portrays Hunter's former nemesis who joins him to fight for the greater good, and Malkovich appears as the head of a council of corporations that rule the Earth.

The film is expected to get underway in early summer in London and on the Isle of Man.

IBM To Pour $6 billion Into India

(Reuters) IBM plans to invest nearly $6 billion in India over three years, underscoring the country's ever-increasing importance as a global hub for IT outsourcing and expertise.

IBM, the world's largest computer services company, said Tuesday that it plans to expand its services, software, hardware and research businesses in India, where it already is the largest multinational company with 43,000 employees in 14 cities, up from 4,900 in 2002.

"India and other emerging economies are an increasingly important part of IBM's global success," Samuel Palmisano, the chief executive, told a meeting of more than 10,000 employees in Bangalore, India's IT hub. "IBM is not going to miss this opportunity."


'

Marvel Comic Black Widow Feature Dropped By Lionsgate

(IGN FilmForce) The live-action feature film version of Marvel Comics Black Widow has been dropped by Lionsgate. The studio was said to have let the project go due to the less than stellar box office results from other recent female-driven action films. I'm not buying that excuse however, because even though Ultraviolet and Aeon Flux may not have done as well as expected, other such films as the Laura Croft adventures, Underworld films and the Resident Evil franchise have done exceptionally well.

The film's writer-director, David Hayter, who confirmed the bad news, told IGN that after Lionsgate dropped Black Widow, Marvel and I then spoke to a few other financing entities, but I never felt comfortable that we had found a place that was willing to take the movie, and the character, seriously.

He continued, I have put it aside until a reputable studio comes along, but in the meantime, I am heartbroken. I love this character, I love the story/world we came up with for her, and I sincerely hope the movie gets done some day. In the meantime, I am creating an original feature to shoot next year.

Black Widow was to be a contemporary and realistic espionage adventure that would have taken the Black Widow into Kazakhstan, to the Red Room and beyond.


Motion Capture Studio Acquires 25,000-square foot Facility

(uemedia.net) Vicon, developer of motion capture technology, and House of Moves, the company's motion capture service division, announced the opening of a new 25,000-square foot facility in Los Angeles, CA. The studio brings together House of Moves' motion capture production services with VICON's hardware and software development, product support and consulting to provide film, games and television customers end-to-end motion capture resources and services under one roof.

Located at 5419 McConnell Avenue in the Marina Del Rey area of Los Angeles, the facility offers multiple stages for real-time simultaneous full-body, hand and facial capture with VICON MX40s, the state-of-the-art in motion capture cameras. Stage 1 measures 150 by 70 feet with a 25-foot ceiling and is designed for large-scale, high character count real-time capture. The stage is currently set up to provide a 45 by 35 foot capture volume and can be expanded beyond 100 by 50 feet for massive volume motion capture.

Stage 2 is of the same size and is being designed to record studio-quality audio during performance capture sessions, capturing face, finger and full-body motion of multiple actors simultaneously and at high resolution. Client confidentiality is completely maintained between the two main capture stages. In addition to the VICON and House of Moves motion capture production services team, VICON product developers and engineers are also on site, guaranteeing access to the very latest technology and industry knowledge.

The building offers an array of customer-focused amenities such as dedicated client areas, green room, client offices and workspaces, separate wardrobe rooms for talent, wireless and wired secure Internet access, complete kitchen and food preparation facilities, screening room and conference areas.

Transforming into Davey Jones for The Pirates of the Caribbean series

(movieweb.com) Bill Nighy had a stand-out performance in Love Actually as Billy Mack; we even got to hear his tremendous vocal chords. But, now, Mr. Nighy will be forever known as Davey Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

As he'll explain, Davey is awaiting the repayment of a debt from Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) - but it's not any ordinary debt. As you've probably seen in the trailers, Davey is not a normal human - he's half man, half sea creature.

We had the chance to speak with Bill about joining the star-studded cast for the second and third installments of the Disney franchise. We also talked about his roles in the upcoming DreamWorks Animation film, Flushed Away; and he's also re-teaming with Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz.

Here's what he had to say: http://www.movieweb.com/news/04/13004.php

Visual Effects Studio: The PC Game

(gamespot.com) If Hollywood makes a hit movie, you can expect a sequel, and if a publisher releases a hit PC game, you can expect an expansion pack. So it's not too surprising that Activision and developer Lionhead are prepping The Movies: Stunts & Effects, the first expansion to last year's strategy game that's a blend of The Sims with a virtual moviemaking studio. In The Movies, you could build and manage a Hollywood studio through history, commission scripts, hiring directors and actors, building studio lots and sets, and releasing a steady stream of movies. Or, you could also go into the elaborate moviemaking tools and create your own cinematic wonder that you could upload to the Internet and share with everyone. Stunts & Effects looks to satisfy both kinds of fans of The Movies, and as its name suggests, you'll be able to create more-intense kinds of movies.

Stunts & Effects will be the kind of expansion that integrates itself seamlessly into the original game, which means that you won't have to launch Stunts & Effects separately from The Movies. Once you install the expansion, all the new content will automatically appear in the regular game. And in terms of content, you'll have plenty of new sets, props, and costumes at your disposal, which should allow for greater creativity and flexibility in your scripts.

The "effects" in Screens & Effects are due to some special new sets based on the same type used by Hollywood studios in effects-laden movies. The new blue-screen set will let you place props on the set how you'd like and play out any scene on it. Then there's the new green-screen set for aerial shots using full-size and miniature vehicles, such as space shuttles. A miniature city set will let you create cityscape flybys, and you'll also be able to use miniaturized versions of all the full-sized vehicles in the game to create epic scenes, such as Godzilla-style monster battles. In all, there are approximately 15 new sets in the expansion, though the versatility of the blue- and green-screen sets shouldn't be underestimated.

The other big new feature in the expansion is the focus on stunts and stuntmen (and stuntwomen). Stuntmen are a new class of character in the game, and you can hire and train stuntmen to carry out more-intense physical scenes. In the original game, your main actors had to do their own stunts, but now you can hire stuntmen using the new stuntman building that you can construct on the studio lot. As with actors and crew members, potential stuntmen will line up outside the building, and you can pick who you want to hire as a stuntman. You can then build training facilities that will improve the stuntman's abilities, as well as a hospital where stuntmen can get patched up if things go wrong. Stunts can range from slapstick gags (such as getting hit in the head by a wooden plank) to more death defying acts, such as leaping off of buildings. It all depends on the skill level of your stuntmen.

Using stuntmen in your movies is easy, as the simple and elegant user interface from The Movies has only had a few modifications to accommodate the new features. For instance, when you pick up a screenwriter, a new icon appears in the script office that will let you order that screenwriter to write a script tailored to your stuntmen. You can create a regular action movie, or a "stunt-heavy" action movie depending on where you drop the screenwriter. The writers will then take into account the abilities of your stuntmen and write scenes that are within their range. You can also go into the custom script room and create scenes that are beyond your stuntmen's abilities, though the danger is that the finished film will feature all stunts regardless of whether they succeeded or failed, and that, in turn, will have an effect on the movie's performance with the critics and the box office.

When the script is finished, simply drop it off in the casting office, assign stunt doubles to the appropriate roles, and then start filming. Once the movie is done, you can watch the results as well as see the critical reaction. And there's also a new award category to reward the best stunts of the year, and these rewards will give you new bonuses and achievement goals. Put it all together, and Stunts & Effects looks to be a must-have addition to fans of The Movies everywhere. We played around with a near-final version of the expansion, and it looks like it will be good to go for its release early next month.

-H

Posted by dschnee at 06:46 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 5, 2006

SPEED RACER To Be Made By Wachowski Brothers?

(cinescape.com) Larry and Andy Wachowski, the creators of the Matrix trilogy, may sign on to write and direct SPEED RACER for Warner Bros.

None of the parties would go on record, so as of now it simply stands as a rumor. It was reported years back that Vince Vaughn was in talks to star as Racer X who is the long-lost and very protective brother of the title character.

Can "Cars" Crash Through The $75 - $80 Million Barrier?

(jimhillmedia.com) By this time next week, we'll know.

By that I mean: By this time next Monday morning, we'll finally have the preliminary box office results in hand for the opening weekend of "Cars." And then we'll know for sure if John Lasseter's newest film has actually met Wall Street's expectations.

"And what exactly are Wall Street's expectations for 'Cars' ?," you ask. Well, I just spent this past weekend working the phones. Talking with various investment analysts & entertainment industry observers about what the magic number might be. As in: What's "Cars" actually going to have to earn over its opening weekend in order to please the investment community?

Mind you, none of these folks were willing to go on the record with me. Supposedly out of concern that something that they'd tell me might then come back to haunt them, offend the Mouse in some way.

But – that said – there was a fairly strong consensus among these folks about what the magic number for "Cars" had to be. And that was that Pixar Animation Studios' latest release has to earn at least $75 million over its opening weekend in order to be seen as a box office success.

The message that I kept hearing over & over wasn't that "Cars" had to be No. 1. As in: That it had to beat either"Shrek II" 's $108.0 million and/or "X-Men: The Last Stand" 's $102.7 million. But – rather – that Pixar's latest animated feature had to finish in the No. 2 position in order to be taken seriously. Or – at the very least – as a very strong No. 3.

Okay. Obviously, that's a pretty high goal to shoot for. But given that there's already pretty good buzz going about "Cars" (More importantly, that all the initial reviews for this new Pixar film have been generally positive) … That $75 - $80 million target for an opening weekend gross is still very achievable, right?

I'd told that the folks at Pixar aren't all that pleased that – just four weeks after it hits theater – "Cars" finds itself in direct competition with Captain Jack Sparrow. Which perhaps explains why – in the Summer of 2007 – this situation will be reversed. With Disney's third Pirates picture (Tentatively subtitled "World's End) bowing on May 25, 2007, while Pixar's next animated feature, "Ratatouille" (A Brad Bird-directed opus which deals with the gastronomic adventures of Remy the Rat, who wishes to become one of France's greatest chefs) will debut on June 29th.

More: http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/jim_hill/archive/2006/06/05/2738.aspx

VFX For IMAX: Magnificent Desolation Presentation

(hollywoodindustry.com) Come join us for the GIANT season finale as we discuss some of the very unique visual effects in the IMAX movie Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon, the movie that was awarded Best Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project this year by the Visual Effects Society. Hear Tim Sassoon and Johnathan Banta of Sassoon Film Design present some of their work from the movie with moderator Marty Shindler. Craig Barron of Matte World Digital will present work on the IMAX movie MacGillivray Freeman's Greece: Secrets of the Past. Myles Connolly, Editor on Wired to Win: Surviving the Tour de France, will discuss the unique computer graphics aspects of that movie.

VENUES & MAPS: Social Hour... Karl Strauss Brewing Company / Universal CityWalk http://www.karlstrauss.com/PAGES/Locations/Brewer_Restaurants/Start.htm#cw

Presentation and Screening... IMAX Theater / Universal CityWalk 100 Universal City Plaza Universal City, CA 91608 http://www.citywalkhollywood.com/groupsales/pdfs/ucw_map.pdf

Blue Screen Pioneer Dies

(news.yahoo.com) LOS ANGELES - Arthur Widmer, who developedsome of the most widely used special effects technology in films and
earned an Academy Award last year for lifetime achievement, has died.

He was 92.

Widmer died of cancer on May 28, his publicist Jane Ayer told the LosAngeles Times for a story published Sunday.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave Widmer the awardfor his work in developing Ultra Violet and "blue screen" special effects processes.


"Art's pioneering work has had a profound impact on the filmindustry," said Richard Edlund of the academy's Scientific and Technical Awards Committee when the award was announced. "Many of thefilms we hold dear would not have been possible without his contributions to image compositing technology."

Working for Warner Bros. in the 1950s, Widmer developed the UltraViolet Traveling Matte process, an early version of what would become
known as blue screen, in which two different images shot at differenttimes and places could be combined into one.


"If you want to have a couple sitting at a cafe in Paris, you couldsend the couple to Paris and hire a crew and get all the lights and stop the traffic and shoot it, but that would be very expensive," Widmer told the Los Angeles Business Journal last year. "Instead, you get a little mock-up on the stage of the table and chairs and set the couple there and shoot them against the blue screen in the background."

Widmer left Warner Bros. in 1964 to design and build the optical department for Universal Studios, where he continued the development of blue screen and other visual effects until his retirement in 1979.

Ghost Rider Waits On VFX

(scifi.com) Nicolas Cage, who stars in the much-delayed comic-book movie Ghost Rider, told SCI FI Wire that the film is all but finished and that the delays resulted from a desire to get the visual effects right. "They're just tweaking certain things toward the end," Cage said in an interview during a break in filming of his next film, the SF thriller Next. "The reason why the movie was delayed—I know that's been on people's minds—is there were some effects that finally got authorized by the studio that [writer-director] Mark [Steven Johnson] really wanted, and they're pretty big, and it took time to put them together and design them. So we had to delay it. I think it's good, because it's something we really wanted to fight for, with Ghost Rider going into battle with the helicopter."


In Ghost Rider, which is based on the Marvel Comics series, Cage plays a stunt motorcycle rider who makes a pact with the devil and spends his nights as an avenging demon whose head is a flaming skull. The film has had several rumored release dates and has been officially slated for a Feb. 16, 2007, release, several months after its last official release date of July 14.


How Star Wars Surprised The World

(americanheritage.com) In the late 1970s most movie theater owners simply weren\u2019t interested in a movie set in space. The last truly successful science-fiction film had been 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey; more recent fare, such as the ecological fable Silent Running (1972), had bombed. So on May 25, 1977 29 years ago today Star Wars opened on just 32 screens nationwide.


It didn'9t look like a logical career move for its creator, the director George Lucas, either. After the unexpected smash success of his American Graffiti (1973), which earned him two Oscar nominations and millions of dollars, the then-29-year old director was a hot commodity in Hollywood. For a follow-up he decided to develop an idea he'd been tinkering with for years: a space fantasy, complete with elaborate sets and dazzling special effects. He struck a deal with 20th Century Fox for $150,000 to write and direct the movie that would become Star Wars.

More: http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/web/20060525-star-wars-george-lucas-movies-hollywood-luke-skywalker-darth-vader-american-graffiti-science-fiction-special-effects.shtml

Madsen Denies Playing Mrs. Indiana Jones

(comingsoon.net) The chances of a fourth "Indiana Jones" movie is becoming the stuff of legends after the seventeen-year hiatus since the third movie, and it's become something that many Harrison

Ford fans have been chomping at the bit in hopes it will still happen.


Supposedly, there's a script already completed, and back in February when Virginia Madsen was doing press for the thriller Firewall, in which she played Harrison Ford's wife, word started getting around that the Oscar-nominated actress was in line to play "Mrs. Indiana Jones" in the planned movie.

And the Fantastic Four Sequel Is Called...

(moviehole.net) Does the sequel to "Fantastic Four" sequel have a title? Looks like it.

As of today, it seems to be "Fantastic Four : The Next Chapter", according to a Fox Australia Media Schedule, dispatched to local film hounds this morning.

Interesting. Not bad. Hmmm. Effective enough, I guess.

The sequel, which reunites the cast of the original (Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans), will see the Fantastic foursome discover that there are other people out there like them - i.e with super powers - one of them being, the Silver Surfer.

Tim Story returns as director.

Spiderman Struggles To Remembr Lines

(showbizdata.com) That was Peter Parker himself, aka Tobey Maguire, struggling mightily to get through a one-line scene while filming "Spider-Man 3" in Madison Square Park the other day. "He had to do about 50 takes of a 20-second scene in which he turns to the camera, walks three steps, and says one line," reports a Lowdown spy, noting that the line was inaudible. "Equally over-the-top was Tobey's lion-sized entourage, sitting just behind the shoot. Literally, between cast, crew, family and friends, there were like 50 people watching this shot. At one point, he actually laughed because he couldn't keep it together to deliver his one line. Sad." Maybe Tobey would be less distracted if he left some of his admirers at home.

Vadar Thanks Lucas

(showbizdata.com) Hayden Christensen was named best villain for his turn as Darth Vader in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." at the 2006 MTV movie awards. He thanked George Lucas "for giving me the chance to play such a cool character."

VFX Trends: Virtual San Francisco Cheaper Than Being There

(sfgate.com) With the exception of a ride on a cable car, the mutant heroes and villains in the big action movie "X-Men: The Last Stand," which opens Friday, pretty much complete the San
Francisco tourist checklist.

Magneto, Wolverine, Angel and the rest walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, visit Alcatraz and camp out in Muir Woods; they wander to the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate Park, and even take time for a quick flyby over North Beach.

But although the movie takes place in the Bay Area -- and San Francisco landmarks figure significantly in the plot -- no actor set foot in the city and almost no live action film was shot here.

Unknown to most moviegoers, special-effects innovations have reached the point where a filmmaker can set a $100 million summer blockbuster in an exotic locale without sending the usual fleet of actors, makeup artists, cinematographers and key grips there.

It's a growing strategy by movie studios grappling with the nearly 8 percent drop in box-office receipts from 2004 and 2005. As the visual effects get better and costs for filming in beloved locations like Paris, New York and San Francisco remain high, studios are finding it significantly cheaper and faster to build sets on back lots and use models and computers to fill in scenic backgrounds.

While the third "X-Men" movie is an extreme example because so few crew members actually touched ground in San Francisco, every big action movie released this season has filmed at least one scene using similar techniques.

"The technology is evolving so much faster than any of us as observers are aware," said 20th Century Fox President Hutch Parker, who helped supervise the "X-Men" film and is executive producer of this summer's remake of "The Omen." "It has in some ways made the prohibitively expensive affordable. I'm not going to say we couldn't have done this five years ago, but it wouldn't have been as convincing."

The crew of "Mission: Impossible III," was sent to Shanghai for a few weeks, but spent months building and filming a fake Shanghai in Los Angeles.

"The producers were thinking this could get very expensive with a lot of crews waiting around for something to happen," said "Mission: Impossible III" visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett, who worked for Industrial Light & Magic, based in the Bay Area. "The reality of making big movies is, your daily nut is huge. The cost of location shooting is astronomical, because of the support crew that's required to travel. And the last thing you want to do is go somewhere and not be able to achieve what you want."

Guyett said among the problems with filming in Shanghai is that the city encourages its citizens to turn off their lights at 10 p.m. This would have given director J.J. Abrams a narrow window to shoot the vibrant backdrops he wanted. Fog, haze, safety issues and other considerations led the team to build a pseudo-Shanghai in Los Angeles -- using computers to fill in whatever they couldn't construct.

More: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/05/21/MNGFQIVNA91.DTL&hw=ILM&sn=002&sc=279

Gods & Monsters

(theledger.com) His fingers have molded nightmares, cradled miracles, pressed the divine flesh of gods. Skeletons rise and cackle in his grasp; when he beckons, dinosaurs step roaring through the mists of history.

What drives such a cordial, self-effacing man to raise demons from the darkness and breathe life into petrified myths?

"Maybe I have a Zeus complex!" Ray Harryhausen said, laughing.

It's a line he's used often in his 85 years, and it helps sum up his career as one of the most innovative and influential special-effects wizards in the history of movies.

Harryhausen's mastery of stop-motion animation -- the painstaking technique used most famously in the original "King Kong" -- has spawned screen images that have astonished three generations of moviegoers and moviemakers.

More: http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060507/NEWS/605070323/1021

Take The Lucas Trivia Quiz

(trivia4u.com) Take our 10 Question Trivia Quiz And Earn FREE Tickets To Your Favorite Theme Park. (Of the 40 people who took this trivia the average score was 55 Highest score to date is 100.00)

Get started: http://www.trivia4u.com/trivia/286/George-Lucas/google/george%20lucas%20news/


-H

Posted by dschnee at 06:45 AM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2006

Worth a Mention - June 2, 2006

Dreamworks Animation Expanding To India

(animationxpress.com) It's official and its coming straight from DreamWorks SKG cofounder Jeffrey Katzenberg's mouth.

"DreamWorks is very much looking at doing business in India," he told Animation 'xpress at the Cannes Film Festival where he was promoting Over the Hedge.

Katzenberg said he had been to India twice in the past nine months. "India is a very exciting place and has potential for great animation. We've been very impressed with the Indian animation community's enthusiasm to master the constantly changing tools of CG animation. We believe this eagerness will lead to the development of a highly skilled animation community."

He added, however, that Dreamworks foray into India would not be in the form of outsourcing. "It will be definitely more than that"

Katzenberg pointed out that what animation is witnessing is its second renaissance. "The first wave was in the eighties and was more handdrawn," he pointed out. "Today, animation is digital. Today's animated movies demand superior technological achievement along with tremendous artistry and storytelling. Now is a great time for our industry."

DreamWorks Animation produces two movies per year.

VFX Maven Stan Winston To Procuce Deaths

(scifi.com) Italian commercial director Dario Piana will make his feature directorial debut with The Deaths of Ian, an independent horror film produced by venerable F/X maven Stan Winston's production company, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written by Brendan Hood, Deaths tells the story of an all-American guy who is murdered each day by horrifying pursuers, only to wake up in slightly different lives to experience the terror of being murdered again.

The movie will provide plenty of creatures that will be created by Stan Winston Studios. Producers are Winston and Brian Gilbert. Odyssey Entertainment is financing the movie, scheduled for a summer shoot on the Isle of Man.

Italian native Piana has directed about 400 commercials and also is attached to Phoenix Pictures' Werewolf and Millennium Films' Snakeskin.

How 11 VFX Companies Created X3

(vfxworld.com) When it came time to prepare the last of Fox's mutant-themed trilogy, X-Men: The Last Stand (which broke box office records during its Memorial holiday debut), there were some firm absolutes: One, there would be the addition of new mutants, including impressive examples of their powers in action. Second, the eye-popping visual effects set pieces would raise the bar. Third, the scale and the mortal stakes for the X-team would be raised as well through the complex vfx sequences conjured up by writers Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn. Their epic ideas proved to be so vast and challenging, that 11 visual effects companies were hired. Vendors such as Soho VFX, Framestore CFC, CIS Hollywood, Rhythm & Hues, New Deal Studios Inc., Kleiser-Walczak, Hydraulx and Lola Visual Effects all contributed work to the film, with The Moving Picture Co. (MPC), Cinesite and Weta Digital contributing the largest sequences.

VFX sup John Bruno went to recent collaborators MPC to take on key vfx sequences for the film. Nicolas Aithadi, visual effects coordinator at MPC, explains how they were drafted onto the project. We were supposed to do a lot more than what we ended up doing. In the beginning, there were less visual effects companies, maybe three or four, so the movie was divided into bigger pieces. Quite quickly, we all realized the time we had to do the effects, it was too big and we had to give up on some of the effects and concentrate on what was possible in the time, because it was a really short project in terms of time. For the biggest sequence we did, we got the shots somewhere in December and had to deliver them in March. It was quite tight in the schedule so we preferred to concentrate on what we could do.

More: http://vfxworld.com/?atype=articles&id=2897

Warner Buys Affleck's CG Animated Ark

Warner Brothers has acquired Aardvark Art's Ark, a Casey Affleck screenplay for an animated family film, Variety reported. Affleck will executive-produce.

The movie revolves around the adventures of an animal family aboard Noah's Ark. The script is the second for Affleck, who co-wrote with Matt Damon the Gus Van Sant-directed Gerry, which starred both Damon and Affleck.

Affleck stars with Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman in Gone, Baby, Gone, the Miramax adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel that Casey's brother, Ben Affleck, wrote and directed.

ILM at SIGGRAPH 2006: Preview 5, Sketches

(siggraph.org) ILM members will be presenting 4 sketches at SIGGRAPH 2006 covering such projects as Poseidon and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Other studios presenting sketches include Pixar, Digital Domain, MPC, Blue Sky Studios, PDI/DreamWorks Animation, Weta Digital and Rhythm and Hues...

You can check the ILM related sketches here:

http://www.siggraph.org/s2006/main.php?f=conference&p=sketches&s=1
http://www.siggraph.org/s2006/main.php?f=conference&p=sketches&s=18
http://www.siggraph.org/s2006/main.php?f=conference&p=sketches&s=19

You can check the other VFX related sketches, which cover projects like Cars, King Kong, Over the Hedge, Ice Age: The Meltdown and Flushed Away, here: http://www.siggraph.org/s2006/main.php?f=conference&p=sketches

Man Behind King Kong Takes On PS3 Role

(avinfo.co.uk) The actor who has been heavily involved in computer generated graphics in movies has transferred his knowledge for use in a new game for the Playstation 3.

Andy Serkis was the actor behind Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movie, as well as being the human face behind King Kong.

He is now working on his video game debut, which will come in the PS3 title Heavenly Sword, in which he will play an evil king.

The actor is also the dramatic director of the martial arts game, which is being developed by UK game developer Ninja Theory.

Sony's Playstation 3 will be in UK shops in November in order to catch the Christmas rush and the game is thought to take advantage of its power to make their title closer to the quality of a Hollywood production than anything before.

As one of the leading games, it should be released soon after the console.

MORK & MINDY Movie Coming

(cinescape.com) In the latest issue of ESQUIRE magazine, it states that ROBIN WILLIAMS is involved in a "MORK & MINDY" movie. It's short and sweet, just mentioning that he is involved and that "Pam Dawber, your boat has come in".

Thank god Williams will be Mork again.... you couldn't imagine it with anyone else in the lead role!!

Pam Dawber mentioned this a while back on Dark Horizons actually, saying "Robin and I were speaking at a function, and he's the one who said he'd love to do a 'Mork' movie sometime - and what's great about Robin is that wouldn't even consider doing it if the original cast didn't return. About six, seven months later, I had a call from Miller-Milkis who said that it was a possibility, and if it happened - would I like to do it. It took me all of five seconds to scream yes. But to cut a long story short, it was put in the pipeline, but Robin had just been so busy with all his other movies that we didn't have time for this one. Everytime we bump into each other though, he still insists we are going to do it one day - a Robin promise. I look forward to it, it'll be such a blast".

ALIEN VS PREDATOR 2 Wants Sigourney

(cinescape.com) A report from a studio insider regarding ALIEN VS PREDATOR 2. Here is the basic gist:

- None of the cast from ALIEN VS PREDATOR will be returning.

- Movie will be set in a different time.

- Studio wants Sigourney Weaver to play a part.

- Weaver hated the idea behind the film.

ALIEN VS PREDATOR 2 is a 20th Century Fox film and is aiming for an August 10, 2007 release.

Fountain Released In October

(scifiwire) Ain't It Cool News is reporting that Warner Brothers will release Darren Aronofsky's oft-delayed SF epic film The Fountain on Oct. 13.

The film, which was shot last year in Montreal and elswhere, had been in development since 2002, when it initially featured Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.

They eventually left the project, and Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz stepped in to make the century-leaping story of a man, a woman and the Fountain of Youth. The movie kicked into high gear in 2004.

The movie was teased at last year's Comic-Con International in July, with a press party, interviews and a panel, and expectations were for a release late in 2005. That date came and went.

Two More X-Men Spinoffs For Fox

(moviehole.net) Twentieth Century Fox still haven’t found a cure for their enthrallment with “X-Men”.

On top of the “Wolverine” and “Magento” movies, a studio rep tells USA Today that they’re looking at doing a further two spin-off’s, one featuring popular comic book character Emma Frost.

The character is featured prominently in the comics, but didn’t appear in any of the three “X-Men” movies.

David O’Russell (“Three Kings”) is developing the ‘Emma Frost’ film, which, I’m assuming, will be an origin tale, explaining how the lass became to be a sexy mutant telepath who can transform her skin into diamonds.

According to Wikipedia Frost has been both friend and foe of the X-Men. She was originally one of the wealthy, mutant elites who comprised the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club. She has had a lifelong interest in teaching the next generation and led the club’s junior team the Hellions.

After her students’ deaths, she joined Charles Xavier’s cause, mentoring the X-Men junior team Generation X. She later joined the X-Men and became headmistress of the Xavier Institute, although her ethics and loyalty remain in question.

The other spin-off film they’re discussing, is one that would fix “on the kids in (Professor X's) school, focusing on their lives, and less of a global adventure for the team," says Hutch Parker, production president of 20th Century Fox.

New VFX For Famed Universal Tram Tour

(chicagotribune.com) Fast cars dancing to hip-hop, King Kong's Skull Island and the littered suburban scene after a 747-jet crash from "War of the Worlds" are all part of the newly revamped Backlot Tour here at Universal Studios Hollywood. In the biggest overhaul of the tour since it began in 1964, there will be assorted new attractions added to the leaping dinosaurs from "Jurassic Park" and other stalwart features. The new tour--in the works for about a year--will go into previews in early June, with an official opening on June 26. It lasts about 45 minutes--the same as the old tour--and is packed with lots of information on (and promotion for) the movies made on this working studio lot.

-H

Posted by dschnee at 06:44 AM | Comments (0)