March 2005 Archives

A string of updates.

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Well, it's been close to two weeks since I last posted something worthy. Work is picking up, and the new show is really pushing me, which is great. Here are a string of updates of what's been happening in the past week.

SharkBoy, as we like to call it in house, is going well. We're doing a 38 shot sequence for the show. There are many facilities working on this show; Hybride, CafeFX and ILM are just a few. It is a totally 3D show, so we're getting both left and right eye image sequences, which we'll be pulling the greenscreen and applying the correct depth for stereoscopic viewing. Other than that, we'll be starting six day weeks this week, so I will definitely have less time to update this log while I'm hard at work working overtime.

Over the Easter weekend I was up in Vancouver visiting friends and family. I had a great time, and got a chance to relax and chat about all manner or items before coming back. Everyone I saw, except one, is in the visual effects field. It's kind of funny. We all worked together for a former company which has since gone under, and now we're doing our own projects. One is a co-founder and co-owner of Atmosphere VFX, specializing in matte paintings and invisible visual effects, and is continuing their excellent work for the Battlestar Galactica series. Another two are the owners of Mondolithic Studios, which has done magazine covers for Wired, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Scientific American and the like. We chatted about a range of subjects from science and politics to movies and visual effects.

I also finally got the chance to see two films which have been on my list, Ray and Exorcist: The Beginning. I extremely enjoyed Ray, and Jamie Foxx deserves that Oscar. The Exorcist, on the other hand, was disappointing and cliché. Even though I'm not a fan of horror, it didn't really spook me, like the original one did. I really liked The Ring, Saw, and some other horror movies, and appreciated them from a filmmaking and storytelling perspective, but Exorcist had neither, and I didn't emphathize with any of the characters.

On Thursday of last week, I picked up my pre-order of the fancy gadget they call the PSP. I had an enthralling time playing Wipeout Pure and Lumines on the plane ride up and back from Vancouver, and am easily spending my lunch breaks addicted to it! The screen quality is amazing, and I'm finally glad that I can get my gaming fix on the go. My PS2 has been retired for some time now, so this was a step into portable gaming.

The Interim Show

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Well, after a couple months of relaxing R&D and the like, I've been put onto an interim show before I jump onto Charlotte's Web.

This spectacle is called The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl. I haven't had a chance to see the shots that I'll be working on, but it calls for complete greenscreen removal and integration of the main characters into a computer generated environment. I'll be on the show for about seven weeks, and then will jump onto Charlotte's Web.

Robert Rodriguez seems to like the 3D aspect of films. Maybe I should see Spy Kids 3D to see what's in store for me!

Projection - Part 3

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Another quick update on the projection system! Here are a couple photos of how it's coming along.


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Well, it's Saturday morning. Yesterdays festivities of the Irish kind and my last day at Tippett melted together. It was good to see all my coworkers in one situation having a blast while it was my last day. It was very sad to leave.

Unlike other previous studios, my leave from Tippett was not out of spite or because a contract was up. It was simply a time to move on to another company to try new things. Los Angeles is definitely going to be a huge change, but I welcome the opportunity. Tippett has some exciting projects coming up in the fall, and I hope to be back to see some of that action!

Speaking of action, I'm off to the paintball field this morning to play my last game up here in Northern California. We'll be over at the Paintball Jungle in Vallejo, and I'll be capturing it all on DVD via a helmet cam! You can check out what I've done so far if you go to and do a search for g36c. Or you can alternatively click this link. I'll be playing with a better camera today, so the footage should even be cooler!


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After a couple emails and posts, an interesting question came up about recruitment, and how one goes about actually getting their foot in the door at a visual effects company. What does it take?

Something totally different

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Yesterday I received a new toy. It's totally unrelated to visual effects. All of us have hobbies to keep our minds fresh. Here's just one of mine!

Constantine VFXtalk Interview

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After a couple months of negotiating and beating the Tippett leads with a stick, I've managed to wrangle another interview for VFXTalk about Tippett's work on Constantine! Check out the in-depth interview and pictures over in the VFXTalk Features section!

3D and IMAX

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After reading a short blurb on IMDBPro about the state of 3D and IMAX generated films, I started thinking about the future of the industry, and where it will be headed.

With the advent of large format screens, HDTV coming to the masses over broadcast channels, and simple PCs able to handle the brunt of visual effects work, how will the film industry stay competitive? Given that movie piracy is rampant, how will the companies be able to bring the audience back into the theatre?

I love going to theatre. Besides the whiny little kids and teenagers, and the commercials, and the overpriced popcorn and drinks, and the crappy seating (however that is getting better), why should I go? I could wait for the DVD and the wonderful large screen at home!

For arguments sake, the pluses of a theatre are high quality picture and sound. The negatives are everything I listed above, and on top of that, some of the prints for some films truly suck. And some of their audio is in horrible disrepair.

After seeing Robots in DLP and Aliens of the Deep in IMAX 3D, I have come to the conclusion that for film to remain profitable and bring in new audiences, they're going to have to do several things. One is to go to a totally digital projection system. DLP is an excellent example. Robots was an amazing film in DLP, as was Finding Nemo, Shrek 2 and even some films not originally created out of the box, like Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Constantine, both showing in DLP.

Consumer level DLP projectors do not have the resolution and clarity that a feature film DLP projector has. To top that off, your source is usually a DVD, which is lower quality already! Over the weekend I visited a pal that works at a highend audio and video store where I purchased my gear a couple years ago. I was given a test viewing of their latest DLP projector, a Runco, which ran for about fifteen thousand dollars. Looking at it on a 100 inch screen is impressive, but the quality of the picture didn't compare. Even if it was sampling up the image to 720p, the source is still 480 lines!

The other thing that film-makers and studios will have to do is to create either larger, high quality pictures using 4K or higher, or shoot in stereo. The problem with both is that the current technology is at its limit. 4K is approximately the highest resolution you can scan a 35mm film print and still get decent detail. Anything higher and the grain becomes quite apparent, and you have to get a larger film stock to compensate. The 70mm of IMAX is truly great, and I think is a necessary step in advancing. While HD cameras do give some exception picture at a great value; Collateral, Episode 3, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico were all shot using HD cameras; they still don't have the quality of film, and watching it, you can see the differences.

Where can I see my work going in the future? Hopefully filmmakers and studios have got it in their head now that story sells, and the time of the extravagant effects laden blockbuster will slow down. So instead of creating great environments and complex particle and dynamic effects at 2K resolution (which I'm sure will still be done and never go away), I see visual effects artists starting to composite and create in 4K and higher. And when stereo imaging becomes much more developed and involved, allowing for 3D viewing without stereo glasses, compositors will have to learn to adapt and create their magic in true 3D.

That's what will make you see a film in the theatre again.

Robots in DLP

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I woke up early this morning, and made it to the theatre to see Blue Sky's Robots in the Loews DLP Cinema in San Francisco.

An Interesting Leap

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Well, I'm not sure what happened today, but the hit count doubled for this Friday, the 11th.


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I've been doing these Tips of the Week for about three months now, and am curious as to if they are helpful to you, my loyal visitors? I noticed that there more hits on those sections of the website. So any of you lurkers out there that really like the Tips, let me know in the comments section! Here's your chance to tell me what you want to learn, and tell me off and say that it's a waste of my time because you already knew that!

Tip of the Week - NTSC

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NTSC stands for National Television System Committee. It is also jokingly referred to as an acronym for Never The Same Color or Not The Same Color. How does this translate to help you with your composites, and what should you keep in mind when compositing for NTSC?

Gallery Update

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I've added some stills of some of the work I completed for Constantine. They're located in the Gallery section on the right hand side. I hope my brief breakdowns will shed some light on how it was to create the shots! Stay tuned for a future interview with the compositing leads from Constantine to talk place at VFXTalk! They'll be going into more detail about these shots.

Projection - Part 2

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Another update on the creation of the projector! I've received almost all the parts. All that is left to get are the little switches and fuses and relays. Time to visit a Radio Shack!

Tippett Studio

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Tippett has a new and improved website! Check it out at! The two Constantine shots that are on the front page were composited by me! I'll add them to the gallery sometime this week.


Tip of the Week - Smoke & Fire

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How do you add fire to a shot that was not originally filmed with it? What things should you know? How do you add convincing smoke to a shot?

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2005 is the previous archive.

April 2005 is the next archive.

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