July 2005 Archives
The other day I decided to go see Michael Bays The Island. Despite the horrendous reviews, I wanted to see what the fuss was. The last Bay movie I saw was Armageddon, and that was just painful. Cool effects, but painful.
What happens if cloning humans becomes a reality? The storyline of the film isn't that deep, but it is interesting. I really had no idea what this film was about until I actually started watching it. In that sense, I was led along as just another captive audience member. The performances by all the main actors, Steve Buscemi, Scarlett Johannson, Ewan McGregor and Sean Bean, were fairly well done. Djimon Hounsou continues to impress. He was Papa Midnite in Constantine, among other films. All the roles by all the actors in the movie were played level, no over acting it seems, but definitely some over directing. Lots and lots of wild camera moves, wild effects, several "how did they get out of that?" scenes. Luckily nothing overtly pro-American, like Armageddon was.
Visual effects wise, ILM (they touch EVERY film, don't ya know?) and Black Box are the ones I remember. I was not really focused on the visual effects, for once. They did stick out, but I wasn't really bothered with it. Lots and lots of greenscreen work, some digital double work, and expansive matte paintings are some of the more obvious shots.
As an action movie, I'm fairly impressed. It did go long at times, two hours and fifteen minutes is way too long to tell a story of this simplicity. A couple of scenes could have been cut for sake of timing, but it seems that if it was huge and crazy, it was in the film. I quite like the giant iron wheels rolling down the freeway, and the destruction of the cars and the like are quite impressive. Practical effects rule.
There wasn't a time that signified when this cloning would take place, except for a comment Sean Bean makes about human cloning being illegal as set forth by a law set in 2050. Which is all fine and good, but then don't make the technology 2005! RX-8s and Dodge Magnums and Chargers roam the streets, and Cadillac has debuted a supercar called the Cien. Which, apparently, is still the new thing in 2050 or after. Save for that one comment, I would have enjoyed most of the film and not have said, WTF? There's a Dodge Magnum. In 2050. Ugh.
Overall, decent film. No Americanism, perse, which is good. Hopefully this film will appeal to the rest of the world with its look on cloning. 6 out of 10.
Ah yes. The reviews have been pouring in. I just recently saw this movie, and while I wasn't sure what to expect, it didn't totally suck. I haven't really read any of the FF comics, so I'm approaching this movie as a general audience member who does visual effects on the side.
From it's 56 million dollar opening weekend, to some good word of mouth around the studio and from friends, I had to see this for myself. A good friend was compositing supervisor for one of the sequences (you go girl!), and several others (you go boys and girls!) worked on other areas of the film.
I had a really great short conversation with one of our veteran animators here at Tippett earlier today. He was an animator on Star Wars, and machined many of the intricate parts for the AT-ATs and creatures of James and the Giant Peach to name a few of his film accomplishments.
Ah.. So the deadline is today. Well, one of the deadlines. We'll hopefully be getting feedback sometime tonight, tomorrow, and Friday on the work that we've done on our last spot for the client.
Everything's looking pretty good, but it seems that the more and more I look at my shots, I feel they could be improved! A little light tweak here, a little more glow there, a better background, a better key, or a better color correct. Like I say, "It's always ninety-nine percent complete." The key here is to LIKE what you've done at 99 percent! And of course, you've got to make sure that the client likes what he sees 100%.
Right now we're waiting for our director/vfx supervisor to give us the heave ho on our shots. I've got two down, one more to go! Hopefully it'll be good to shoot and we'll be done, until tomorrow. The next tasks are to create breakdowns and archive. I'm really not sure if we'll be able to get copies of these commercials. I'm not even sure when they'll be on German TV! I'm pretty sure we'll have copies of the clips on the Tippett site, so make sure you check that out in the near future.
After a very brief amount of downtime, depending on if we have outstanding notes from Kraft (knock on wood), I'll be moving over to another set of commercials for a US client, Chevrolet. That looks to be a fun set of commercials too! Not sure how many shots we're doing or what exactly we are doing, but it's a car company. It's gotta be something with cars, right? ;) I think we'll have the same amount of crew on that show (one lead comp, three compers total). I've had a really enjoyable time on Milka, despite my posting earlier in the month about burn-out. I still enjoy doing visual effects, but I guess we all have are down days or weeks.
Ah.. Just got word that my latest shot was given the greenlight. So three down, none to go. Sweet.
Work is going swimmingly these days! We're just finishing up our second Milka commercial, which hopefully will either be done this week or early next. Our first spot, which I'm not at liberty to disclose just yet, was approved by the agency and then by Kraft. Yes, Kraft. They own almost everything.
This second commercial has several more shots than the first one, with some different characters! The painters and modellers did an excellent job of creating the creatures in such a short time frame. There are only three compers for the spot, so we'll have ample time to complete the shots. We're getting quite the extended breakouts from our TDs, so we can pretty much change everything in the comp. Our director/visual effects supervisor likes it that way, as do I! It definitely gives more freedom to haphazardly change something. Almost like working on a flame, without the real time feedback, fancy 3d space, awesome tracking, or phenomenal color corrector.
Over the weekend I delved into one of my hobbies. Paintball, this time. Over the summer I've been converting my A5 marker into a G36c. It's taken a while, and there were some slight hitches along the way, but check out the progress over at A5og if you're interested. This week/weekend I'll be finishing it up. It's a unique item for sure. One of a kind.
A new service appeared to me yesterday! It's called LinkedIn, and provides networking services between clients, employers, employees, and business associates!
I just signed up yesterday, and have slowly been building up my network ladder. It's quite cool to see who knows who and how everyone is truly within six degrees of separation! At the moment I only have 13 contacts, and those combined 13 contacts trickle down to a total of 6200+ people in my network within four degrees of separation. Try it out, and let me know what you think of this service! Oh ya, it's free. ;)
I broke down and ended up buying the two disc Collectors Edition of Constantine. Well, I didn't really break down. I wanted it since I worked on the film. :) It just came out today, and I had heard rumors that some of the color was taken out for the DVD release!
Wow. It seems that the weeks just pass on by when you're on an intense show! Milka is approaching our first spot deadline, which we'll hit with ease. I'm doing two shots for this first deadline, and three for our next. I have no clue as to when these commercials will premiere in Germany, but I'll be sure to let you know!
There's not much else to say today, it's been a pretty uneventful week here at work. You may have noticed, if you've visited the gallery section, that I've removed several images and shake screenshots of my work. I've had to comply with some criteria at the moment, regardless of my Academy and VES affiliations. Once things cool down, I'll see about putting up DVD or HD resolution images of my work up. It's such a shame that I've had to do this, because it's all in the interest of you guys, and learning about the techniques and the art that I've thrown into my work.
As you may have noticed if you're subscribed to this site, that I'm starting to get comment spam. I'm really trying not to have to enable comment moderation or require you to register just to comment. That takes the ease out of commenting! So I'm going to be blacklisting comment entries that contain more than one html link. It's going to be on an automatic basis, so if you can't comment, check it for html links. In addition, you can always manage your subscriptions to this site, and only get notified of entries, instead of both entries and comments.
I managed to catch War of the Worlds on Sunday, and while it didn't exceed my expectations, it did meet them. I'm not a huge fan of Mr. Cruise, and this film only solidifies that opinion.
Let's start right off the bat with the visual effects. Amazing. To say the least, some of the most well done invisible compositing in a long time. Lots of dust and debris compositing, combined with digital stunt doubles and digital machinery truly evoke a sense of panic several times in the movie. As the crowd melees away from the first tripod, you definitely feel trapped in their situation, and it's an awesome feeling, however dreadful it may be. I haven't been truly impressed with the level of an invisible effect like the minivan shot in a long time. The last time was during Contact, when young Ellie (Jodie Foster) runs up the steps to the medicine cabinet. In WotW, Cruise and family are in a minivan, and while they are talking, the camera does and long and deliberate 360 degrees around the minivan, sometimes coming into the vehicle as it speeds along. It's a great shot, and kudos to the team that accomplished that! I would love to see those breakdowns.
The mechanical tripods are done very well, however the people eating anus brought imagery from Evolution to mind, and I could have done without that specific sequence. Like I wrote above, the heat rays were excellent, and I think that the sound effects team did a great job of bringing the horror of being evaporated into reality, if there could be such a reality.
The actors got the job done, and Tom Cruise as the derelict, inept father figure works well. I'm impressed with Dakota Fanning, and I have a feeling she'll be a great actress in the future, as long as she doesn't burn out! Her and Haley Joel Osment are definitely the child actors of our time that will turn out to be great. Tim Robbins does a great job with his portrayal of Harlan Ogilvy, even though it's a small sequence in the film.
All in all, I'd give this movie an 8 out of 10. Some great visuals, and a decent story (even if it's a century old). This is something the film reminded me of; if you have shields on your mechanical ships, you can survive anything.
What did you think?