April 2005 Archives
I attended the sweet premiere of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy yesterday, and it was a blast!
Being familiar with some of the books growing up, I had forgotten about most of the main characters except Zaphod and Arthur Dent. Needless to say, if you've read the books you'll be sure and recognize most of the storyline. However, being a film and not a book, they needed to tie up some loose endings so the movie-going public would be satisfied.
I'm quite happy with the creation of Hitchhikers. The actors did a wonderful job at bringing the characters to life, and all of prosthetic, makeup, and visual effects were amazing. It was quite refreshing to see puppetry in action again, and Jim Henson's Creature Shop did some amazing work.
As you see the film, you may recognize the voice talent and acting of certain performers that were in a similar space comedy, Galaxy Quest. Sam Rockwell played Guy, the expendable crew member in that film, and did an excellent job of portraying Zaphod Beebleblox in this one. Alan Rickman did a great job of voice acting Marvin, the manic depressive robot. Alan just has the right voice to say, the world sucks and I'm depressed because of it.
There are some great comedy bits, and it's a great space adventure film for the family, being rated PG.
Overall, I'd rate The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy a resounding 9 out of 10.
Even though SharkBoy is a show for the kids, working on it is anything but child's play!
Well, it looks like Shark Boy and Lava Girl are pushing us to the edge!
Approximately 240 hours remain until our May 5th deadline. It's sure to be a crunch, but I seem to work better under these pressures. I guess it's from my time on the discreet boxes, where everything was much faster. So far I've gotten one final shot completed (both left and right eye), and several in progress. As I mentioned before, I have around 21 shots that I'm part of, and I think that just increased yesterday, whether it's just the greenscreen removal, look development, or comping the final shot. It's definitely going to get hectic when we finally get our TD renders and plug them in and see what we need to do to finish the shots.
As you may have figured out, or not, I've updated my Gallery section, yet again.
For my 100th post on this log, I have activated the Constantine image links. Upon clicking on them, you're able to view a nice, large image of them. They are copyright and watermarked, so don't think about passing them off as your own. ;) You may also have noticed that some Constantine images are now in rotation as the main banner image. Enjoy the updates! I'll be updating the gallery again once Constantine is out on DVD (July 19th) and will put up video clips and a screenshot of the shake script used to create said imagery.
It's been going around work, but here's a sneak peek at the cover art.
No, I haven't forgotten about this little project! I'm just taking some time out of my other hobbies to continue this one.
What is CN? Constantine. What is schwag? That free (usually) stuff you get at the completion of a show. Yesterday it came in!
Well, looks like things are going well on the notifications.
I'm using a cool Movable Type plugin, called Notifier to help notify you, the readers, of updates. On the main page you can subscribe to this blog and get notified of any updates that may occur if you don't frequent this site often. It's near the bottom of the page just above the Search This Site. As well, you can add your email to any individual entry and follow the comments listed. There is also an opt-out option, in case you're sick of getting emails all the time from here! Just follow the links listed in the email.
Those of you that are on the list already may be getting double emails while this transition occurs. If it does, just let me know!
Last year this master of stop motion came by the office and had a talk with us.
Occasionally, Ray comes by Tippett, since Phil and him go way back. I had the honor of meeting him and getting a chance to see the man of legend. This was when his book, Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life, came out, and he was in the Bay area to do a talk at the San Rafael Film Center, which I unfortunately missed. He did swing by Tippett and have a meet and greet, so that was great fun! Here's a picture of us.
I thought I'd share my home office and work office. They are quite juxtaposed!
Ages ago, in a previous career choice, I worked for NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center, located in Greenbelt, Maryland.
There's a short blurb on this in my bio, but I'll go deeper into it here..
A decade ago I was part of a high school placement program designed to place potential candidates into fields that they would prove promising. For the better part of my senior year, I spend half a day doing work in Building 19, otherwise known to other areas of GSFC as the Photonics Building and Lab. There we assembled and worked on lasers, telemetry and guidance systems. I was there with four other promising individuals, each helping a researcher do their work. One of us was responsible for checking the life expectancy of cryogenically prepared laser diodes (in preparation for Cassini at the time), and the other two were working with optics and computer science as well, but I can't recall their research at the moment.
I was responsible for modelling and checking the dynamic and static analyses of a payload canister, which was called the PAMS-STU. Using NASA's NASTRAN Finite Element Analysis program I was able to accurately analyze and test the PAMS-STU against loads it would encounter during flight. The PAMS mission eventually did succeed, as you can see from this webpage. PAMS stands for Passive Aerodynamically-Stabilized Magnetically-Damped Satellite. The techies at NASA love the acronyms! PAMS went up in May of 1996 on Shuttle Endeavour's STS-77 flight. From a quick search:
The PAMS-STU was intended to test out a passive aerodynamic stabilization and magnetic damping system. It had an unbalanced mass distribution and two magnetic rods. The interaction of the rods with Earth's magnetic field was expected to damp any wobble or spin. There were some problems in ascertaining the success fully because of the malfunction of the laser ranger. It reentered the atmosphere on October 26.
Thank goodness I didn't work on the laser ranger. Here is an obligatory, fancy picture of it in space next to the shuttle!
Earlier in the year I saw a great independent film entitled Primer. Here's a quick plot summary from IMDB.
At night and on weekends, four men in a suburban garage have built a cottage industry of error-checking devices. But, they know that there is something more. There is some idea, some mechanism, some accidental side effect that is standing between them and a pure leap of innovation. And so, through trial and error they are building the device that is missing most. However, two of these men find the device and immediately realize that it is too valuable to market. The limit of their trust in each other is strained when they are faced with the question, If you always want what you can't have, what do you want when you can have anything?
What exactly is this film about? On the recommendation of a fellow co-worker, I attended this film with him and two other co-workers. I had no idea what to expect, but he told me it was mind-blowing. It revolves around time travel, yet not in some fancy visual effects type of time travel like The Time Machine or Back To The Future, but barebones, no-budget time travel. Like Time Bandits. Without the midgets.
The story starts out very well, and you're not really sure what is going on. After an accident, the two main characters find accelerated growth in their fancy device which they are inventing, since they know that their error-checking devices are the means to put food on the table. The film actually takes you through what happens in a recursive time loop, which is mind-blowing in itself. What happens if you create a time machine, and make it portable enough to take that machine with you when you travel through time? Can you travel forward (or back) in time and give yourself that same portable time machine? What would happen? Could you have two time machines then? But wouldn't you be giving yourself more than one? Won't the universe crash? I wish I could explain it in more detail, but I can't ruin the film for you guys! It's really great if you're into mind-bending films like Pi or Memento. Unfortunately near the end, the director (who also stars, edits, and shoots the film) doesn't know how to end it. There are a number of voice overs which try to explain what's been happening, but the audience doesn't really know. Which sort of makes sense, since the film itself is recursive.
I give it a 7 out of 10. It would be higher if the director knew how to end the film without resorting to a voiceover explaining the characters motivations and actions. The DVD comes out on Tuesday, April 19th, so I'll be picking it up to watch again.
I'm working on several new features on the site to help improve the content and interactive nature here.
As you may have noticed, I've added a recent comments section in the sidebar. This will enable you (and I) to check the latest comments, and answer a question or check an answer. I'm also working on a notification system which will allow you to get an email if your comment has been commented on. In addition, I will have an auto notifier which will send an email to you when the site is updated if you choose to. Currently you need to send an email to email@example.com with the email address you'd like to get notified at in the subject line. I'm hoping to make it a more permanent addition in the sidebar. I'm looking at a deadline of next week for this. Those of you currently on the notify list don't have to worry, as I will migrate your information over to the new system automatically.
It's a foggy Saturday morning here in the Bay area. This is my first Saturday of the year working overtime!
And it's only going to get busier. Things are going well at work. Everything's flowing smoothly, and there are no huge hurdles to jump across. At least just yet! I've only recently jumped onto this blogging bandwagon, and I think the success and failure of a blog or weblog of any type depends on the frequency and content of it.
This blogging thing is my own way of getting out my thoughts to people, as well as continuing to improve my grammatical and creative writing skills. I didn't do so hot in my college English courses.. It also helps me to try and create new content by trying out new things in life. Fresh and interesting. Why else are we alive? It's definitely not to work every day for the rest of our lives, but instead to live life to the fullest, and learn constantly day to day.
The only way I can truly be satisfied is to share what I've gained with other people. Life is too short to be selfish, and it takes a long time to gain trust, and seconds to lose it. I've tried to describe alternate ways of thinking, especially in this visual effects log and on VFXTalk, to help out aspiring artists and technicians. I don't know everything, but that's not stopping me from trying to know everything.
While I've been vacant from adding more things the past several weeks, I'm going to try and keep this more regular. And I'll be getting back to Tips of the Week when SharkBoy wraps up, and I have some more detailed and advanced ideas I'd like to share.
The other day a couple of people from the Apple Shake Development team dropped by Tippett for some in-depth discussion about the next version of their package.
While I'm not privy to tell the details surrounding the next Shake release, I am on the beta list and am testing it out extensively. I am not sure when it will be released to the public, but NAB is starting tomorrow, so it might be then. Who knows. I can say that it looks great and addresses a lot of notes that current users would like to have in the software.
As well, with Toxik out for Windows and Linux (soon), Apple will have some more competition. Competition is always good. Ron Brinkmann, who wrote The Art and Science of Digital Compositing, also came by, as he is on the Shake development team. It's interesting to note, that a friend and fellow comp co-worker used to work with Ron back in LA before the book was released. It's a small world!
Yet another update in the span of a week! How crazy is that.
Earlier in the month we got word that a couple of sequences fell into our lap for the upcoming Superman Returns film. I'm not sure of the exact number of shots, but I seem to recall somewhere around 200. Some other shops which will also be working on the show include the Pixel Liberation Front (what an awesome name), Rising Sun (situated in Australia), and Imageworks (Spiderman. 'nuf said).
It looks like all the hard environmental effects work (Matrix Revolutions, Constantine) that the studio has been doing over the past several years is paying off! We're bidding on other shows (isn't every company?), and as soon as it's publicly announced and awarded, you'll know too!
Today marks the three week deadline for The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D.
We're not the only shop working on the show.. Along with The Orphanage, Hybride, CafeFX and ILM, our twenty-one day deadline is fast approaching. We approximately have 40 shots to complete in this timeframe, so everything is going to significantly speed up very soon. Divide our forty shots by six compers, six TDs, several painters and rotoscopers, a plethora of animators and production crew, a large dose of wake up juice, and you can gather an idea of what's required to pull this off.
Hopefully when this show ends in 504 hours, I'll be able to share some of the complexities of comping in 3D.
I've just finished watching the third DVD of The Shield's Season Three. It's an amazingly great show!
All the characters are seemingly well developed, and they all have their quirks and faults. There are, as well, no black or white sides, but a grey nether region which much of the cast occupies. Michael Chiklis plays Detective Vic Mackey, one of the main characters who has two autistic kids, is separated, and is the head of a police force strike team not earning enough to sufficiently pay for all his expenses. The Shield's main IMDB details list some great, underrated actors, and the writers are truly top notch. It is a gritty, realistic, crime and police drama. The camera work is also different from other shows, and it truly needs to be seen to be appreciated. Now that seasons one through three are out on DVD, if you haven't yet seen it, now's the time.
While there are no visual effects in the show, this is still one entertaining drama that will definitely keep you watching. I washooked when FX sent me a sampler box of several of their Emmy contenders, which included The Shield. Naturally I had to add them to my list of future DVD rentals. The show does not disappoint.
A quick blurb about the show from today.
Conservative activist Brent Bozell's Parents Television Council has launched a campaign to urge advertisers to drop sponsorship of the FX cable network hit, The Shield, which it said, "depicts the most explicit sexual content and nudity, obscene language, and graphic violence imaginable." The PTC pointed out that FX airs on basic cable, "which means that if you have a cable subscription so your children can watch The Disney Channel, Nickelodeon or The History Channel, there's a good chance they could have stumbled across this horrific content by mistake." The PTC urged members "to send a loud-and-clear message to FX and the show's sponsors that we're not going away until they either get rid of the obscene filth on this show, or stop forcing us to subsidize it." Producers of the program have pointed out that it airs at 10:00 p.m., that viewers are warned of the graphic content, that the program can be blocked with the V-chip and that cable subscribers can ask their company to block it at their homes.
Siggraph 2005 is coming in a mere four months! At the end of July a gathering of visual effects and graphics professionals will be attending this event at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
In a couple of weeks, broadcast professionals from around the world will converge onto a tiny city in the middle of the desert. Las Vegas will host the NAB2005 Show from April 16th to April 21st.
Some keynote speakers which will be appearing are from HP, Verizon, the FCC, Clear Channel, Sun, and ABC and CBS News. See the full list of speakers and the keynotes for the industry here.
As much as I would like to attend this great event and see all the new technologies and fancy gear, SharkBoy is going to keep me occupied until the beginning of May. This year promises to have some exciting new developments from Apple, and of course Autodesk Media and Entertainment (AME, formerly Discreet). And a chance to see these packages in action!
Some highlights from the show will include forums on HDTV, 5.1 Surround, Digital Media Theatre and Creation, Satellite Business, and Digital Asset Management. If you haven't yet attended this event, and you're in the broadcast and electronic media industry, what are you waiting for?
Check out NAB2005's show site at www.nabshow.com.
On opening day, yesterday, I embarked on a graphic journey through Frank Miller's Sin City.
A bunch of Tippetteers and Pixies made up the bulk of the 8pm showing. Despite crappy projection, the film was, in my mind, a great success. The noirish feel of the film was definitely apparent through Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's collaboration. For those of you not in the know, Sin City is a collection of graphic novels created several years ago. It is full of sex and violence, and is told in black and white, with splashes of color to accentuate certain details.
The movie follows the graphic novels almost to a T. All the characters were well cast, with Mickey Rouke doing an excellent job at portraying Marv, one of the main characters in the film. Bruce Willis was also captivating as Hartigan, and of course, all the girls were great. Frank Miller did a cameo as well, as the priest.
Sean, May, Dan, Christina, if you guys are reading, you did a great job! I saw your names, and am wondering what you did for the show!
Overall, this movie proves that comic to film adaptations don't have to end in a PG or PG-13 rating. I'm going to have to give this movie a 9 out of 10, and will be definitely adding it to the collection!