FX Movie News: 11-21-06


Ripped From Today’s Headlines: New Line Nabs Fantasy Nicholas Flamel; San Francisco Society of Illustrators presents Pixar Under the Hood; VFX Company “Engine Room” Relocates To Bigger Digs; ‘Narnia’ vs. ‘Pirates’ at BAFTA kids; Jackson and Hobbit Break Up Far From Over; Lego Star Wars Commercial Wins International Animation Award; Bootleg Versions of Vista and Office 2007 Appear; VFX Sup Become Winery Owner; Men’s Owen Focuses On F/X; Buffalo Transforms Into Movie Role; Happy Feet Sets New IMAX Record; King Kong DVD Offers 230 New VFX Shots; Animal Logic “…near the top of the pack in the world in terms of digital animation.”; Steve Carell To Get Smart; Learn Pre-Production for Creature Creation; Casino ‘Downloaded 200,000 Times’

New Line Nabs Fantasy Nicholas Flamel

(scifi.com) New Line Cinema has made a deal for Michael Scott’s fantasy series The Immortal Nicholas Flamel, which Mark Burnett will produce, Variety reported. The series is being eyed as a six-picture franchise.

Burnett, the producer of reality shows Survivor and The Apprentice, used his own money to land the book series rights in an auction held in the early fall. The studio and Burnett will set a writer to adapt The Alchemyst, the first title in the series, which will be published by Random House Children’s Books next May.

In the book, two teenage twins find themselves on the adventure of a lifetime when legendary alchemist Nicholas Flamel loses a book holding secrets that could spell the doom of humanity if it falls into the wrong hands.

San Francisco Society of Illustrators presents Pixar Under the Hood

(animated-news.com) Cartoon Brew hosts the advertisement for Pixar Under the Hood: The Making of Cars, presented by the San Francisco Society of Illustrators. Held in the Morgan Auditorium of San Francisco, California, the event will occur Friday, December 1, at 7 p.m. Pixar Under the Hood is explained as, “A team of Pixar’s creative talent, led by Lighting Technical Director Jeremy Vickery, will break down the process of what it takes to make a winning collaborative effort…”

Sign up: http://www.sanfranciscosocietyofillustrators.com/pixar_event.html

VFX Company “Engine Room” Relocates To Bigger Digs

(vfxworld.com) Hybrid visual effects & specialty shooting company Engine Room has relocated to Hollywood Center Studios. The 3,800-square-foot, custom designed space features workstations for the company’s 20 digital effects artists as well as headquarters for its live-action film unit. The move marks the next step in the company’s development, including infrastructure growth, additional talent and key international alliances.

Engine Room has revved up on a number of projects, including visual effects for television episodics, commercials, independent films and studio features.

“This is a strategic move for us,” explained Dan Schmit, a visual effects supervisor and cinematographer who founded Engine Room in 2001. “The opportunity to live within a production community was a significant draw. Further, it allows us to expand into a welcoming environment designed from the ground up with space for all of the interconnected departments and visiting clients in mind.”

‘Narnia’ vs. ‘Pirates’ at BAFTA kids

(Variety) “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” will battle it out with “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” at the British Academy of Film & Television Arts’ children’s film and TV awards.
The nominations in 18 groups were announced Monday in London and include five new ones: channel of the year, independent production company of the year, shorts and two categories for educational programming.

The BBC’s CBeebies will compete with Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. for the channel honor. Collingwood O’Hare Entertainment, Darrall Macqueen, Ragdoll and WisedUp are the nominees for independent producer.

Awards take place Nov. 26.

Jackson and Hobbit Break Up Far From Over

(Variety) A day after Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson said he’s bowing out of a film based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, MGM is saying the matter is far from closed.

Jackson had told TheOneRing.net that he and partner Fran Walsh were bowing out after New Line, which produced the Rings films and has production rights to The Hobbit, told them the studio was moving ahead with the project without them. Jackson has said he won’t discuss The Hobbit until a lawsuit against New Line over Rings accounting practices was settled.

But MGM, which owns the distribution rights to The Hobbit, on Nov. 20 told Variety through a spokesman that “the matter of Peter Jackson directing the Hobbit films is far from closed.” New Line had no comment about Jackson’s statement.

In his online statement, Jackson said that New Line executive Mark Ordesky, who shepherded the Rings trilogy, argued that New Line is dumping Jackson because the studio has a “limited time option” on the film rights, obtained from Saul Zaentz.

Lego Star Wars Commercial Wins International Animation Award

(gameplanet.co.nz) Brain Zoo Studios’ work on the Lego Star Wars commercials garnered them a Davey victory for the second year in a row. The Lego Star Wars commercials, produced by Brain Zoo Studios and Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners for the LucasArts game Lego Star Wars, garnered Brain Zoo a Silver Award for Animation. The Davey Awards are conducted by the International Academy of Visual Arts to honour outstanding media creative.

The win marks the second year in a row Brain Zoo has taken an award for animation. Mohammad Davoudian, president of Brain Zoo Studios, stated, “We had such a great time working on this project that it wasn’t like work for us. It’s nice to see positive results from something that we enjoyed immensely. We are huge Star Wars fans, so we were excited to dive in and make this the best project we could.”

The winning commercial features a light saber battle between Lego Darth Vadar and Lego Luke Skywalker. The commercial’s aim was a spoof on the original scene in Star Wars the movie and has received praise from critics and industry insiders. Brain Zoo Studios recent projects include Sony’s Untold Legends trailer and Konami’s Steel Horizons.

Bootleg Versions of Vista and Office 2007 Appear

(toptechnews.com) Reports have surfaced that bootleg copies of Windows Vista and Office 2007 can be obtained from Web sites that offer not only the software itself, but also a working product key and a hack that circumvents Microsoft’s activation system.
A product key is a unique number that serves as proof of purchase for Microsoft’s software, which requests the key upon installation. Once installed, both Vista and Office 2007 must be registered with Microsoft over the Internet, at which point Microsoft screens the software to determine its authenticity.

Software that fails the screening might be locked down, giving users access to minimal features, or simply shut down, giving users no access at all.

According to reports, several Web sites selling the pirated software have offered an “activation crack” — a small, additional piece of software that tricks Vista into skipping the registration process once it has been installed on the user’s system. No such hack has been reported for Office 2007, but given the speed at which software pirates operate, such a hack could appear in the coming months or even weeks.

VFX Sup Become Winery Owner

(fwbusinesspress.com) Caris Palm Turpen admits her first bottle of wine was a disaster, but as the owner at LightCatcher Winery, she now has a carafe of wine awards as well as plenty of loyal fans cheering each crushed grape.
Turpen, along with her husband, Terry, own and operate LightCatcher Winery, located on four acres of oak-covered rolling prairie in the far west side of Fort Worth. LightCatcher now releases a total of approximately 2,000 cases of about 10 different wines annually, using primarily grapes from Texas vineyards. It is one of 29 wineries in the North Texas area, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture. The winery includes a tasting room, a barrel room and a flagstone terrace where the Turpens host live jazz on the first and third Sundays of the month.

�I started making wine as a hobby while I was the visual effects supervisor on Wishbone,� said Turpen, who spent several years working in the film industry, credited on such films as The Witches of Eastwick and working at special effects house Industrial Light and Magic.

More: http://www.fwbusinesspress.com/display.php?id=5496

Men’s Owen Focuses On F/X

(scifi.com) Clive Owen, who stars in the upcoming SF film Children of Men, told SCI FI Wire he’s slowly getting used to the blue-screen special effects in such movies. Owen, who was nominated for an Oscar for Closer, said he still gets distracted by the technical aspects of films such as Children and his earlier genre movie, King Arthur, but that he nevertheless enjoys the process. “Yeah, I’m hugely aware of it,” he said in an interview. “It’s part of it. It’s one of the elements of making movies that I actually really enjoy. I love the collaboration of doing shots like those in Children of Men, because there is something about filmmaking that if it was just about putting great directors, great scripts and great actors together, and you’re guaranteed a great film, that would be one thing, but that’s not the case.”

Children of Men, based on the novel by P.D. James, is set in a dystopian future London in a world where humans have stopped reproducing. Owen plays a doctor, Theodore Faron, who becomes caught up in the story when a pregnant woman is discovered.

Computer imagery was used to create the futuristic world. Owen said that acting becomes more complicated when working with backgrounds that need to be added in later. “We’d have to rehearse for a very, very long time, and it was very painstaking and specific,” he said. “But then when we came to shoot it, it had to feel like we were catching it on the run. You have to feel like you’re in the thick of it, and it’s all about pacing. If you hold a beat a bit too long, it will suddenly feel a bit manipulative, like he’s held there until we see the tank just over his right shoulder or whatever. So we worked very, very specifically about what we wanted to see and what we wanted to catch, and then we went for it we had to shake that up and keep energy that was much looser than that. They’re very adrenalized, those sequences, because they’re hugely set. Some of those bigger ones are four and five hour resets to try and go again for a take like that. … I think that, technically, some of this film is pretty staggering.”

Owen’s next heavily computer-generated role, he said, will probably be Sin City 2

Buffalo Transforms Into Movie Role

(charleston.net) A Ladson-based defense contractor is going Hollywood.

Or at least one of its marquee products is.

Force Protection Industries Inc., which makes armored vehicles for the military, recently loaned one of its hulking tank-like Buffalo models to the makers of “Transformers,” a live-action science-fiction film based on the popular 1980s cartoon and toy line.

The 23-ton claw-equipped behemoth, now back in the company’s plant across from Exchange Park on Highway 78, spent about two months on the set, said Force Protection spokeswoman Tommy Pruitt. The vehicle was cast in the film as a “Decepticon” named Bonecrusher, as suggested by emblems that have been painted on its sides.

Pruitt said he did not know who or what the filmmakers plan to transform the Buffalo into.

It is one of about 300 blast-resistant vehicles that Force Protection has made for the armed services. They have been in service for nearly three years in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The company has said no troops have been killed or seriously injured while riding in one of its heavy-duty transports.

The filming of “Transformers” started in May, according to reports. It is being produced by Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks, among others.

The tentative release date is set, fittingly, for next July 4.

Source: http://www.charleston.net/assets/webPages/departmental/news/Stories.aspx?section=businessreview&tableId=119055&pubDate=11/20/2006

Happy Feet Sets New IMAX Record

(IMAX Corporation) IMAX Corporation and Warner Bros. Pictures today announced that “Happy Feet: The IMAX Experience” contributed $2.4 million of the film’s $41.5 million domestic gross on its opening weekend, representing the strongest IMAX opening ever for an animated title. The IMAX gross came from 79 IMAX� theatres, posting a three-day per-screen average of approximately $30,000 from Friday, November 17 through Sunday, November 19. Happy Feet has been digitally re-mastered into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience� with proprietary IMAX DMR� (Digital Re-mastering) technology.

“We are thrilled with the opening weekend success of ‘Happy Feet’ in both conventional theatres and IMAX theatres,” said Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution at Warner Bros. Pictures. “The IMAX version has been well received by moviegoers of all ages, continuing IMAX’s tradition of turning exciting films into events for the entire family.”

“The record-setting box office performance of ‘Happy Feet: The IMAX Experience’ demonstrates that the consumer demand for event motion pictures in IMAX theatres continues to be strong,” said IMAX Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler.

King Kong DVD Offers 230 New VFX Shots

(vfxworld.com) As with THE LORD OF THE RINGS, Peter Jackson has double-dipped with KING KONG, providing 13 additional minutes of new footage, including 230 new VFX shots from the Oscar-winning Weta Digital, and nearly 40 minutes of deleted scenes. The KING KONG DELUXE EXTENDED EDITION three-disc set (Universal Home Ent., $34.98) was produced by the award-winning Michael Pellerin and was released Nov. 14, 2006.

The bonus features include special introductions by Jackson, a host of fascinating mini-featurettes, concept art galleries, outtakes and gag reels, trailers and commentary by Jackson for the first time.

Animal Logic “…near the top of the pack in the world in terms of digital animation.”

(theaustralian.news.com.au) IN animation terms, the image of Mumble – the penguin hero of the Australian film Happy Feet – dancing across the screen is just the tip of the digital iceberg. Beneath his tap-dance routine and playful smile are untold gigabytes of computer grunt.

Director George Miller made Happy Feet under his production banner Kennedy Miller in association with Sydney-based special effects company Animal Logic.
“I am confident we now sit near the top of the pack in the world in terms of digital animation,” says Zareh Nalbandian, the managing director of Animal Logic who has an executive producer credit on Happy Feet, the most popular film in US cinemas at the weekend.

“To deal with the production of an entire feature is a multifaceted challenge. It is technically challenging, visually complex, it involves performance. It takes us from thinking about shots to thinking about an entire story and becoming film-makers not shot makers.”

Until now Animal Logic has principally worked with film-makers to enhance the look of their movies with visual effects, either by manipulating film shot by cinematographers or creating images from scratch. The aerial scenes of Paris in Moulin Rouge, and the fancy sword action and stunning scenery in House of Flying Daggers and Hero is Animal Logic’s work. So are the visually stunning sequences in The Matrix. Recently the company contributed to a crucial scene in World Trade Center in which the interior lobby and concourse of Tower 2 collapses on the two protagonists.

More: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20876,20798203-16947,00.html

Steve Carell To Get Smart

(scifi.com) Warner Brothers is close to setting Anne Hathaway to star alongside Steve Carell in a film version of the classic TV spy sitcom Get Smart, Variety reported. Mel Brooks and Buck Henry created the 1960s TV series, about a bumbling spy. Peter Segal is directing. Shooting will begin in March. Village Roadshow is co-financing.

Hathaway, who last starred in the summer sleeper The Devil Wears Prada and Brokeback Mountain, will play the role originated on the small screen by Barbara Feldon. Carell will play the Smart role originated by Don Adams.

Get Smart is produced by Mad Chance’s Andrew Lazar and Mosaic Media Group’s Charles Roven and Alex Gartner. Tom Astle and Matt Ember (Failure to Launch) wrote the most recent draft of the script.

Learn Pre-Production for Creature Creation

(cgindia.blogspot.com) Surrealistic-Producing Effects announces Creature Concepts: A Look into Pre-Production Design. Good ideas come from good pre-production. Without it, even the greatest of ideas fail. Pre-production is not just necessary, it is vital to bringing 3d characters to life.
Creature Concepts instructs you from the ground up on how to design, draw, sculpt, mold, and paint every aspect of your characters evolution. More than just a book, it is a bible for anyone developing characters, whether you are into film, games, or toy design. Each chapter is filled with industry proven tips, techniques, step by step tutorials, and material lists.

Pricing and Availability

Creature Concepts: A Look into Pre-Production Design, will start shipping in december 2006 with a price tag of $59.95 U.S. But you can pre-order it for $47.95 and Save 20% on MSRP.

More: http://www.speffects.com/creatureConceptsBook.htm

Casino ‘Downloaded 200,000 Times’

(news.bbc.co.uk) The latest Bond film Casino Royale has been illegally downloaded 200,000 times since opening last week, according to internet monitoring company Envisional.
Two pirated versions were available for free access on public file-sharing networks over the weekend, it said.

It is believed that one was recorded by camcorder in Russia, while the other is thought to have come from Italy.

The announcement follows reports that pirated DVDs of Casino Royale were on sale in London and Scotland last week.

Envisional claims the film – which opened in the UK on Thursday and the US on Friday – was available to download by Saturday morning.