October 2006 Archives


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Last week I finally had the chance to hit Universal Studios Hollywood for a full day of rides and attractions. It's been a while since I've been to a theme park, the last time being in '99 in Orlando, when we went to Universal Studios Orlando and Disney World. This time around was pretty cool, and it was surprisingly empty. Of course, we went during the week, in the middle of October. The weather was still kind of warm, and the lines were non-existent. We did all the attractions in the span of about eight hours! The couple new ones which we went on were The Mummy, Jurassic Park, Shrek 4D, Van Helsing, and the Waterworld stunt attraction. The staples are still there, Back to the Future, T2:3D, Backdraft. I didn't see the Twister one, but that might have been only for the Orlando location. We also went on the studio tour, which was impressive near the end of it. They had the regulars, Jaws, King Kong, and some new ones, The Mummy, War of the Worlds. They had the full set from the airplane crash sequence there, and it was awesome.

Back at it

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Hello dear readers! It's been a little while since the last update, and for good reason. The last week and change I've had some downtime, where I had a chance to relax and do some little side work unrelated to visual effects. But now that time is over, and I'm back at Digital Domain on a new project for the next several months. No hints or tips about it yet, but suffice to say, they'll be out mid next year. It's shaping up to be an interesting year or so, with some interesting career opportunities (Flags of our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, Charlotte's Web, and these two unnamed features).

During my time off I did some sculpting/modelling. Not in the CG realm, mind you, but with clay. On this side project it's required that the item I'm making be prototype-able, so all little nuances in the clay must be retained, but also be easily formable within a mold. It's pretty neat work, but I've hit a roadblock which I'm trying to pass. While doing this clay work, I accidently removed some clay from the model, and I immediately thought, "Where's the undo button?", immediately cursing under my breathe that there wasn't one, and I had to redo that feature from scratch. Doh.

I've had the chance over the last couple of weeks to attend some VES screenings here in the Santa Monica area. So far for Little Miss Sunshine, and tonight, for The Last King of Scotland. This year they're actually doing it in a place that's close to home, and at a time that I'm able see the films (evenings and weekends, yay)! A couple ones that I'm eager to see are The Good Shepherd and Children of Men. Those are next month, which will be here shortly!

Pictures from our Flags wrap party will be up later this week, as will some interesting ones from the annual DD Halloween party as well. That happened over the weekend, and it was extremely impressive; dancers in cages, kettle corn, food, psychics, open drinks, awesome costumes and music. Just, wow.

Hopefully most of you have seen Flags of our Fathers. What did you think? At the moment it's at 73% over at Rotten Tomatoes. It was third in its second weekend here in the States. This weekend will change that, with Saw III and Catch a Fire premiering. Remember that other film that I finished up at the beginning of the year? Charlotte's Web? That comes out in less than two months, on December 20, and I'm eager to see that film too! It's definitely more family friendly, but the characters within the film should be great. Tippett did some excellent work on the rat (Templeton, voiced by Steve Buscemi) and the crows Brooks and Elwyn (André Benjamin and Thomas Haden Church). Check out Meyemind for some new posters for the film!

I'm slowly checking out the new threads over at VFXTalk, CGTalk, and the PixelCorps forums, so I'll be answering the questions that need some help, or contributing when I can. All your posts in the Open Call entry do help, so continue to post away! It'll give a number of topics for the rest of the year that I can go over.

Open Call

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After last weekend's festivities, the Flags of our Fathers wrap, I find myself wondering what's next. I'll be posting some photos from the weekend later today or tomorrow, and am going to be taking a little bit of time off to recuperate and recharge.

This week I'm dealing with some small final fixes for a shot, and will happily be moving onto another film very shortly, which like Sharkboy, will be in 3D. However it's not live action 3D, it's all CG 3D. The tools will definitely be different, but the concepts are the same.

I've got a couple more tips of the week under wraps, which I hope to add to the front page soon. However, this is an open call to see what you, my dear readers would like to read about! Feel free to comment on possible tips or hints you'd like to have, and I'll try my best to accommodate you! You don't need to register to comment, but if you do your message will show up immediately. If you don't register, I do have a email whitelister which I manually update, so once approved, you'll be able to comment without waiting for moderation.

The Screening

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Last night the cast and crew had our screening of Flags of our Fathers at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences theatre, in Hollywood on Wilshire. The screening started at 7:30pm, and most of us struggled through rush hour traffic to make it a mere 12 miles in an hour. I don't know how people can do it day in and day out.

The film itself is quite good, and I may be a bit jaded, but I felt detached from it as a whole, I guess because we've been working on it for a while. Most of the other films that I've been a part of, I feel the same. However, the parts that we did do, the storming of Green Beach and all the armada shots, were amazing, especially with sound. Some I hadn't seen before. The color tones for the film sequences that we worked on were quite muted, in blacks, greys, tans and olives. The visual and audio impact of these sequences was quite powerful. Many may compare this to Saving Private Ryan, which was told in a linear storyline fashion. Flags is a retrospective on the past, with snippets of the battle dispersed throughout the film. It jumps forward and backward in time quite a bit. At the end of the film during the credits, actual photos from the campaign are displayed. It's uncanny how closely our work mirrors that of the actual battle! We sat among the rotoscopers during the show, and while the credits were rolling their names, most of the theatre broke out in applause. They were definitely the unsung heroes in the vfx department, every shot on the beach was touched by a roto artist. They had an extremely tough time, but it paid out in spades. We had 35+ compers, and there more rotoscopers than that!

It's quite possible that this film will be up as an Oscar contender, but only time will tell. Rumor has it that the film projected in the theatres may have a Letters from Iwo Jima trailer at the end of the credits, so don't miss that when you go!

Close to the Finish Line

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Yep.. Only a couple more days! I'll be finishing up Letters from Iwo Jima with a record 39 shots. I was hoping for fewer shots, but more elaborate ones. Most of the stuff I'm doing you'd be hard pressed to figure out what was added or changed. A couple of the compers are working on some spectacular stuff, and their shot count is around six to ten. And some stuff other compers are working on are things you'd never notice as vfx shots. Very cool. I can't recall the shot count for this show, but I think it's bordering around 200? Seems about right. Almost every week for the past several months, Clint has been coming in to see our shots and approve them, so we're somewhere in the double digits now.

Tonight we have the cast and crew screening of Flags of our Fathers, somewhere in Hollywood. The Red Carpet premiere was earlier this week on Monday, and seems to have been getting great reviews. A bunch of the artists here are going in a limo when '40s dress. Should be an interesting time.

Nearing the End

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It's been close to a week since I last posted, and as you can tell, we're getting pretty close to finishing up our set of vfx shots for Letters from Iwo Jima. So far I've completed 29 shots for the film, in a scant six or so weeks. While definitely not as sexy as some of the stuff from previous films I've worked on, the shots are gratifying, and are definitely challenging in their own right. I'm unsure as to when the trailer for this second film will be out. There might be something at the end of Flags to whey your appetite, but don't count on it. A couple more of my shots made it into the TV spot trailers during the Lost season 3 premiere, they go by quick!

The days are growing shorter, and I'm staying here at work longer... I hit the vacant parking lot this morning at around 6:45am, with the sun just dawning. Settled into the chair and started working away. On other days I grab a coffee from the kitchen before getting down, but recently I've just been sitting at the desk and starting to comp right away. I usually leave a script or two up at the end of the day, and render something overnight, so it'll be ready in the morning. Today was no exception. Five finals from the supervisor today.. A couple more to go! Next week is my last week here at Digital Domain, with a possible extension or rehiring depending on shows available at the end of the month. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on what you like), I left a full time gig at Tippett to do contract work here at Digital Domain, a place I've always wanted to work. Now that this chapter of my life is complete, it's on to bigger and better things, which could be anywhere, local or abroad. I'm sending my new reel out and talking to prospective employers and seeing what may come up. At the moment I'll be staying local to the LA area, unless something amazing pops up elsewhere in the world. There's lots of stuff on the horizon, it's just too bad it's not immediately after Letters from Iwo Jima! A couple weeks of downtime should be good though.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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