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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 F├╝rmann 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."


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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 June 6, 2006 06:46 AM

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