FX Movie News: 11-2-06

Yesterday’s Headlines [Sorry, was too busy to post this yesterday, so you’ll get two installments today]: ‘Pirates 3’ Flies With More Dutchmen; Mad Max 4 Gets Nod From Director; Can Soho Become The Special Effects Capital Of The World?; How ILM Is Manipulating Images So Fast Your Brain Can�t Tell The Difference; Bee Movie A Disaster; Eragon Game Demo Goes Live; The Time Traveler’s Wife Inks Director; Sandman Studios to Produce Animated City of Gold; Superman II: The Other Director’s Cut; Key Anim Producer Takes “lengthy sabbatical” From Disney”; LucasArts Thrillville Survey; Castlevania To Fly On The Big Screen; Talking CG Animal Movies Are Ruining My Life; Car Thieves Cost VFX Team an Arm and a Leg…and a Head;

‘Pirates 3’ Flies With More Dutchmen

Effects on third film going swimmingly.

(zap2it.com) Davy Jones and the cursed crew of The Flying Dutchman will get a few more barnacle-encrusted hands on deck.

Before the highly anticipated sequel “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” sets sail next spring, the visual effects department will have the task of creating new computer-generated shipmates to man the ghost ship.

“We’re actually working on between six and ten new creatures. They’re additional Dutchmen,” says Industrial Light & Magic’s Aaron McBride, the visual effects art director on “Pirates.” “We just got approval last week on some of the designs that we did. So yeah, [I’m] looking forward to developing those guys.”

These aren’t any ordinary sailors, though. Each of Davy Jones’s cursed seafarers exhibits physical deformities of an aquatic or nautical nature, such as the Dutchman Maccus, who has a hammerhead shark-style head or Penrod, who looks like a giant shrimp.

“A lot of the art we do here at the ILM art department is to kind of develop a look for the curse,” explains McBride. “A lot of these were taken from the initial design pass that was done down in LA with [director] Gore Verbinski and his art department, including Crash McCreery. So what we tried to do was develop kind of a hierarchy to the curse, the idea being that the longer you serve on Davy Jones’ crew on the Flying Dutchman, the more sort of encrusted you become, the more calcified, caked with barnacles and sea life.”

Each of these unique characters is 100 percent CG on the big screen, including Davy Jones, the crew’s murderous leader who has a rather squidlike face sporting 40-something squirming tentacles in place of hair and a beard. The captain provided the biggest technical challenge for the second “Pirates” movie because of the tentacles, his interaction with other characters and the need to create something creepy yet believably humanoidd.

Although British actor Bill Nighy performed the part, his physical presence only provided the animators with a reference for how the digital character would appear and interact on the screen. Only Nighy’s voice and inspiration remained in the finished cut.

“There’s not a big, technological hurdle with those [new] characters, but there is an aspect to ‘3’ that’s a huge hurdle for the visual effects crew,” adds Animation Supervisor Hal T. Hickel. “I can’t really say what it is, but as big as Davy was for us on ‘2,’ this other stuff is going to be just as big a headache for us on ‘3.’”

At least this time around, creating Davy Jones won’t be quite so difficult since the special tools they created for him are already in place. In addition, Nighy won’t have to wear strange makeup around his eyes and mouth, which was Verbinski’s backup plan. In case the VFX team couldn’t create a 100 percent believable CG Davy Jones, Plan B was for the CG character to be laid on top of Nighy’s footage, with the actor’s eyes and mouth peeking out.

“That was a hindrance to us,” says Geoff Campbell, senior digital model supervisor, whose job is to pore over every nuance in Nighy’s expression to recreate it in the digital Davy Jones. “In some of these shots, certainly in the [dice game] sequence, sometimes because it was so dark in there, it was so hard to see what his eyes were doing. Sometimes you’d be staring at the lips, trying to understand a contour that was somehow making our model look very different from Bill Nighy’s performance. Then you’d realize that you were misunderstanding where that lip line dropped off. So we were really happy to not have to deal with that on this last one because now we have a much cleaner plate of the actor to reference.”

The third time’s the charm for the ILM crew, whose work on “Pirates 3” is progressing right on schedule. The team already has a quarter of the approximately 800 shots that require their expertise.

“We have about 200 shots right now that have been turned in to us,” says Hickel. ‘So we’re cruising along. In an ideal world, all the shooting would be done and the edits would be at a great point where the running length of the film felt pretty good before the visual effects were really underway in earnest. But that’s just not the world we live in … so there’s going to be overlap. But you know, Gore is delivering sequences to us pretty regularly … so that helps a lot.”

“At World’s End,” starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, takes to the cinematic waters worldwide on May 25, 2007.

Source: http://www.zap2it.com/movies/news/zap-pirates3newdutchmenmoredavyjones,0,6655461.story?coll=zap-news-headlines

Mad Max 4 Gets Nod From Director

(cinematical.com) Last we heard from the Mad Max 4 camp, director George Miller was bummed after having to abandon production on the film in Nambia, Africa due to the war, and the fact that they couldn’t get insurance or their vehicles shipped into the country. Mel Gibson, who had reportedly signed on to star (for a crisp $25 million, mind you) bailed, and a lot of the budget was lost, as well as a heck of a lot of time. This is the reason why it’s been 8 years since Miller directed a film — before the upcoming Happy Feet, his last pic was 1998’s Babe: Pig in the City.

However, more time has passed, and in a recent interview with In Focus Miller once again addressed the question on everyone’s mind: Will he or will he not be helming a Mad Max 4? Says Miller, “Mad Max 4 is so prepared, there seems to be a lot of momentum for it to get done. Right now, I’ve got another, smaller film to do, and then we’ll gear up and do Mad Max again. In what form and so on, I don’t know. But it hasn’t gotten stale in the meantime, and I’m very very keen to do it. It seems like there’s the appetite out there.”

The title of the film (we’re assuming) will still be Mad Max: Fury Road, and although originally pegged as a prequel, Miller denied those rumors without saying anything more about the project.

Can Soho Become The Special Effects Capital Of The World?

(thebusinessonline.com) To walk through the doors of the Moving Picture Company�s offices in the heart of London�s Soho is to enter another world, where woolly mammoths stalk the earth and ships sink into the ocean depths with all hands on deck.

These scenes are being created on hundreds of computer screens � the only source of light allowed in offices that are otherwise pitch-black so that what�s seen on these computers replicates what cinema-goers will see on screen.

Hunched over these screens are London�s new cyber-elite: young 21st century artists who create the digital visual effects for Hollywood�s blockbuster films. Until very recently this type of work has been a cottage industry, a legacy of Pinewood Studio�s traditional expertise with physical special effects and the increasingly sophisticated demands of the advertising industry. Now Hollywood has come to Soho, turning a cottage industry into one of the fast-growing sectors of London�s booming creative community.

Hollywood directors have forsaken scale models and stunt doubles for effects that can be more easily and impressively achieved on a PC screen. Computerised visual effects, the process known in the film business as post-production, now account for up to half the budget of a modern Hollywood production, which is typically about $60m (�31,6m, E46.1m) though some cost up to $200m.

Soho is attracting a growing slice of Hollywood�s production budgets thanks to the quality of its army of visual effects artists and Britain�s generous tax credits system for film production. It is a business where there are no giants but lots of profitable worker-ants.

[Editor’s Note: The person responsible for making MPC the largest EFX house in London shall remain nameless since he is the world’s most humble human being]

More: http://www.thebusinessonline.com/Document.aspx?id=60C49CBA-B748-4EAC-9DF3-5BFA4B1AB9E3

How ILM Is Manipulating Images So Fast Your Brain Can�t Tell The Difference

(PopularMechanics.com) When Disney executives first approached Colum Slevin about revamping its stop-motion animated classic �The Nightmare Before Christmas� into three dimensions, there was more head-scratching going on at George Lucas� Industrial Light and Magic offices than by Chewbacca with a hide full of fleas. Could Slevin and his team really engineer a computer-graphics miracle to recreate all of Tim Burton�s beloved puppets for high-quality (and high-grossing) 3-D, or would this just be a gimmicky feature like the 20 minutes of �Superman Returns� in IMAX? Thirteen years after the original, with no quick-fix digital version to work from and the necessary polarized projection technology just beginning to roll out, was it really worth it?

�It seemed prohibitive, and that in and of itself seemed appealing,� says �Star Wars� vet Slevin, ILM�s executive in charge of production and a “Nightmare 3D” executive producer. �We don�t like to be told what we can and cannot do.�

What the ILM impresarios did was digitally transform Jack Skellington�s Halloweentown into perhaps Hollywood�s finest technical accomplishment of the year, completing the first-ever conversion of an entire celluloid film into 3-D at a breaking point for the now burgeoning format of red-and-green glasses lore. Take that, Superman.

The fundamental trick of 3-D film is to convince the brain into having depth perception by sending discreet images to each eye. While the left eye can enjoy a cleaned-up version of the original movie, the painstaking challenge of 3-D conversion lies in reconstructing each frame for the right eye�essentially making a second version of the movie that appears rotated two or three inches to the right to make up for the interocular distance and create a combined, or �stereo,� point of view.

That was easy enough for Slevin and his computer-graphics designers when they developed Disney�s 2005 �Chicken Little� in both 2-D and 3-D with only computer-animated graphics. But for �The Nightmare Before Christmas,� with its 770 shots of meticulously constructed stop-motion puppets, they had to create computer-generated proxies of every character and set. ILM, using digital effects tricks it had discovered in the �Star Wars� re-release days, was able to project the digitized original version directly onto these new CG �mannequins,� then swing the digital camera over a few inches for the right eye�s brand-new perspective.

[Editor’s Note: I’m not sure whether accolades in Popular Mechanics further legitimizes ILM or not]

Much more with pics: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/industry/4200796.html

Bee Movie A Disaster

(usatoday.com) Jerry Seinfeld’s new film is a disaster.
First, the comedian is costumed in a fluffy honeybee suit for a live-action family film about the insect world. His cranky co-star Chris Rock agreed to play a mosquito only if Seinfeld would show up at his wife’s book signing.

Even the crew can’t believe this is how Seinfeld follows up his Emmy-winning sitcom.

A shoot taking place on a giant windshield has gone awry, with water sprayers misfiring on the plastic wipers. The director is incompetent. Bee Movie is just not working.

All of that is according to the movie trailer out Friday.

The ad, which says the film is “trying to open November 2007,” is Seinfeld’s latest approach to the anti-trailer, a film promo that doesn’t focus on clips of the real movie.

Bee Movie actually is a computer-animated comedy, and this trailer � the first of two live-action spoofs � is a bid to snag audience attention by mocking the idea of doing it with real actors. The follow-up trailer is due in February.

“Obviously I don’t have a problem with it,” Seinfeld says. “I wasn’t even in the last one,” referring to the teaser for his 2002 documentary, Comedian.

The trailer for that film, which became a Web phenomenon, featured an increasingly agitated voice-over actor describing the documentary in such movie clich�s as “In a world where …” or “A renegade cop, a robot renegade cop … !” No footage of the movie appeared.

“It’s a chance to be funny and spend someone else’s money,” Seinfeld jokes. He says DreamWorks Animation, which is releasing Bee Movie, was wise to invest in the live-action gag. “Let’s face it; if it was just a regular trailer cut with footage of the film, you and I wouldn’t be sitting here talking about it.”

Christian Charles, who directed Comedian and its trailer, oversaw the promo for Bee Movie. He says an anti-trailer is a good way to make an impression when people are tired of studio hype.

“You have to get the audience aware a year out, so instead of exhausting them with the same footage, you develop a relationship with them by tricking them into believing it’s something else,” Charles says.

Eragon Game Demo Goes Live

(boomtown.net) A demo for Stormfront’s movie tie-in game Eragon is now available on the Xbox Live Marketplace. However at this time it’s only available to those of you with a gold account.

The game is based on the movie based on Christopher Paolini’s fantasty series about a hero who discovers he is a Dragon Rider.

The demo weighs in at a rather bandwidth friendly 415MB. It’s still shuffling down my net pipe right now so I can’t tell you if it’s actually any good.

The Time Traveler’s Wife Inks Director

(scifi.com) Robert Schwentke is in final negotiations to direct a film version of the best-selling SF novel The Time Traveler’s Wife for New Line Cinema, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Audrey Niffenegger book focuses on a couple in which the man has a genetic disorder known as “chrono-impairment,” a condition that causes him to involuntarily travel through time. Jeremy Leven wrote the adaptation.

The film, produced by Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Nick Wechsler, has long attracted directors. Steven Spielberg and David Fincher both flirted with it, and Gus Van Sant was in negotiations to direct it early last year. No star is attached at this time.

German-born Schwentke made his English-language feature debut with the 2005 Jodie Foster hit Flightplan.

Sandman Studios to Produce Animated City of Gold

(news.awn.com) Following her success at the La Femme Film Festival in Beverly Hills, film and screenplay finalist Jeanne McKinney signed a production agreement for an animated feature film with the principals at Sandman Studios Shawn Neider and Stephen Sobisky.

Award-winning screenplay and animatic film short, CITY OF GOLD chronicles Mesoamerican culture and history telling the stories of these lost tribes, their rise and fall their dreams and passions now buried by jungles or under modern-day structures.

McKinney said, “We can learn from them and make our world a better place.”

McKinney and Sandman are raising funding capital and looking for distribution to produce this first film of the Trilogy.

Superman II: The Other Director’s Cut

(showbizdata.com) Time Warner plans to issue a director’s cut of Superman II on Nov. 20 that will feature the work of director Richard Donner, who was fired from the movie and replaced by Richard Lester midway through the movie in 1979. According to today’s (Wednesday) London Times, the film will include 15 minutes of previously unseen footage of Marlon Brando as Superman’s father, Jor-El. The film also employs footage from Donner’s screen tests and numerous alternate sequences. In fact, according to the Times, the film uses less than 20 percent of the footage shot by Lester. A spokeswoman for Warner Home Video told the newspaper that the new film was made possible because producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind, who fired Donner, sold their interest in the film to Time Warner. A critic for Britain’s Empire magazine who viewed the new version said that it was plagued with continuity problems arising from the fact that Donner was forced to make do with footage on hand, including the screen-test footage. “It’s patchy (Reeve’s hairstyle changes from shot to shot), badly lit and stagy, but watching Reeve’s performance is electrifying,” according to the Empire review.

Key Anim Producer Takes “lengthy sabbatical” From Disney”

(animated-news.com) Producer Don Hahn is “taking a lengthy sabbatical” from Walt Disney Feature Animation, reports the Animation Guild Blog. The word was spread to animation staffers on Friday via an e-mail, in which Hahn explained that he needed a break. How long that absence will last is uncertain. In the meantime, the site also breaks the news that producing Rapunzel will be Roy Conli, who also produced The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Treasure Planet.

LucasArts Thrillville Survey

(comicbookbin.com) Lucasarts is celebrating the release of its theme park creation game by asking theme park enthusiasts to vote for their favourite theme park out of the twenty most visited theme parks in the U.S. From now until November 15th anyone who wishes to, can go online at http://www.thrillvillegame.com and vote for their favourite park. In addition to being able to vote for their favourite park, people who go online to vote will also be able to pick the park which has the sickestroller coaster, the best midway games and which is the best hangout. The results will be announced on the day Thrillville is released, November 21st. Thrillville will allow player to race on go kart tracks which they construct, play on their own mini golf courses, tour their own park on foot and build out-of-this-world roller coasters. Multiplayer features will also allow players to try out a number of mini games, including bumper cars and midway shooting games. Thrillville will be available for Playstation 2, PSP and Xbox on November 21st.

Castlevania To Fly On The Big Screen

(actressarchives.com) The long-anticipated Peter Jackson version of Halo may be running into studio and budget problems, but another beloved video game is taking off with Variety reporting today that Rogue, the genre label of Universal, has come on board to produce and distribute Paul W.S. Anderson’s Castlevania.

Anderson, the man who gave the world video game adaptations of Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil already, will make Castlevania for $50 million and it will be co-financed by Crystal Sky Entertainment.

Anderson also wrote the script, which will take place in 15th century Transylvania and offers a “fresh take on the much-filmed Dracula legend.” A Paul W.S. Anderson take.

“You could almost call this movie ‘Dracula Begins'” said Anderson.

Rogue co-prexy Andrew Roma added, “It’s an action/horror project in the vein of ‘Underworld’ and ‘Blade,’ and hopefully it will be a big franchise for us.”

Paul W.S. Anderson added to Variety, “Ever since I made ‘Event Horizon,’ I’ve been obsessed with the idea of a location that’s a character in the story, of being trapped in an environment that’s out to get you.”

Anderson and producing partner Jeremy Bolt are scouting locations in Romania and Hungary with castle interiors being built in Budapest. Shooting should begin in the spring.

[Editor’s Note: Do they really have to ruin everything that is good and pure in this world?]

Talking CG Animal Movies Are Ruining My Life

(msnbc.msn.com) Dear Hollywood,
Why are you so lame? Why don�t you have a single original idea left in your collective head? Why do you hate audiences? Why do you continue to crank out by-the-numbers animated films that hold ticket-buying families and animation fans in contempt while trying to sell them tie-in merchandise at the same time?

Why do �Madagascar� and �The Wild� and �Open Season� and �Flushed Away� all have the same plot? How many domesticated menageries of circle-of-life-defying zoo pals actually find themselves tossed into the wilderness on a regular basis, learning the true meaning of family and home in the process?

Why did you make me sit through �Barnyard,� a movie where a bull with a milk-heavy udder played a guitar and sang Tom Petty�s �I Won�t Back Down?� And why was I expected to take that scene seriously for even one second? Why did that lactating bull�s pals have a rave in the barn, dancing to techno and getting fake-drunk on milk and honey? Was it his milk they were drinking? And why did my four-year-old and nine-year-old nieces willingly walk out of that movie with their mother, unconcerned with how it all ended?

Why did �Doogal� get made? What was it even supposed to be about? Why was Jon Stewart a talking coiled spring?

Why weren�t �Antz� and �A Bug�s Life� enough? Why did we need �Ant Bully� too? Were there not enough ant-centric films on the pop culture landscape? Did all the DVDs of those other two movies turn to dust, creating an aesthetic void?

Why would I rather watch someone get beheaded on the Internet than sit through another one of these stupid, cheap, insulting, corporate toy commercials? When will the eyeball-scorching awfulness end?

I don�t think you have an answer for that last question, studio pals, so I would like to be your guide in the wilderness. You are apartment-bound cats lost in the jungle right now and you need someone to show you the way back to safety. I think you can still save yourselves before you all eat your own tails and audiences begin turning their backs on you. This will be hard advice to follow but I can�t believe that none of you are up to the task.

Car Thieves Cost VFX Team an Arm and a Leg…and a Head

(glasgow Evening Times) CAR thieves must have got the shock of their lives when they raked through their �40,000 haul and found… a severed head.

Raiders stole a car near Byres Road in Glasgow’s West End before fleeing across the city.

But they didn’t know they had targeted a vehicle belonging to a boss of a London special effects company which has just set up a city branch.
The boot contained valuable props – including a very realistic looking severed head, hand and foot – used for films and TV adverts.
Joanna Dewar Gibb is business development manager of Artem, which has created special effects for films such as V for Vendetta and the second Harry Potter movie.

She had stored the severed body parts in the boot before a presentation with a new client. She said: “These are very special, very specific props. They cannot be replaced. There’s no way to put a price on them.” Joanna is concerned the props will fall into the wrong hands, around Hallowe’en.

She said: “The props are incredibly realistic. My worry is the thieves will use them to scare members of the public.” The car was stolen late on Thursday night.

Police found the vehicle dumped the next morning in Milton but so far there has been no sign of the fake body parts. After living in London for 15 years working for Artem, Joanna decided to return to Glasgow and help expand the company.

Among the missing props are two well-known monkey puppets from a BBC trailer and Windy, a character made popular in a Quaker Oats commercial. A police spokeswoman said: “I’d certainly like to think we stand a good chance of getting the props back.

“They are very unusual and instantly recognisable so they would be very hard to hide.

“We are taking clues from the abandoned vehicle but obviously the investigation is ongoing so we cannot comment on the details.”

Artem has helped with campaigns for Playstation and Esquire and title sequences for the BBC.

Anyone with information should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Source: “>http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/hi/news/5058717.html”> http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/hi/news/5058717.html

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