January 2007 Archives
Ahoy matey! I've made the jump from comping 3D, to comping 2D! Back into the familiar folds of bluescreens/greenscreens and fx composites, and all the headaches and rewards that come with it. So far I've been handed four shots out of... Well, alot. There's quite a bit of cool work, and I'm not going to say what sequences I'm working on.. Why? Well, for one, my NDA forbids it, and two, anything I say will ruin the movie for you! However, when the movie comes out, rest assured that if I worked on them, you'll know.
If you have yet to read it, FXguide has an excellent article (and podcast!) on the visual effects that we accomplished on Letters from Iwo Jima.. Check it out by clicking this link!
Digital Domain handled the vfx on Flags of Our Fathers and the directorâ€™s parallel film Letters from Iwo Jima, which tells the story of the same battle from the Japanese perspective. Digital Domain was called on to create photo-realistic landscapes, battle elements, and soldiers for nearly 760 VFX shots spanning both films.
Michael Owens, Matthew Butler, Bryan Grill and Julian Levi have been already nominated for a VES Award for Flags of Our Fathers in the category of Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture. While the film itself has been nominated for Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Sound Editing, Writing and Eastwood for Best Director.
Do you have more questions that weren't answered in the article? Feel free to post a comment, and someone will get back to you!
So I'm sure some of you may have heard about a VFX shop opening up in the Turks & Caicos. Their site, thewishing.net, doesn't leave much to be desired, aside from the beautiful location. I would love to hear about who is starting up over there. Who are the owners? What shows and projects do they have lined up? What clients might they have? Are possible employees ones from here in LA or from around the world? I wish the website was more indepth than just pretty pictures. Anyone have any insights as to this mystery company?
I've been thinking about this topic while I wait for some frames to render on the farm, and I'm unsure as to what the qualifications of a visual effects union might be. What are your thoughts on visual effects unionization? Would they help or hinder the visual effects industry? What sort of standards are required? Would the marketplace become more competitive or less?
Here's the definition of a union.
Unions are mass organisations of the working class whose primary role is to achieve the common demands of their members. They are fundamentally defensive organizations. A good union can not only improve workers' lives, win more leisure time and a better standard of living, they can also change governments and make very significant changes across society.
Are vfx artists working class? Do we need a defensive organization in a field of work that we are voluntarily a part of? Personally, I think not. If I don't like a company, I leave. There are many studios out there, all wiling to pay for top talent, or even talent as it is. If a bunch of artists decide to stop working because of unfair practices (10 hours is too much! There's no sun in here!), there are a bunch of others that want to take our place. Would I love an eight hour day like before? Sure I would. And of course, I don't need to work 10 hours to get something done. It's all about the organization of the beast. Given the resources, one could work 4 days a week and still get work done. We're not doctors or nurses, we're in entertainment. We're not saving lives here, and our work is forgotten almost the moment after you see it. We live pretty swank lives compared to some, save for the hours some of us put in near the end of a show, but they are far and few between.
In case you are wondering about the VES, it's a guild. We pay annual dues, but there are no distinct advantages that automatically come with enrollment. We have an option for healthcare, and we receive screeners and opportunities to attend Academy (AMPAS) events. But there's no minimum wage, no maximum number of hours to be worked per week, no pension.
I'm interested to hear from folks within a union circle, and how it might have affected you. I also wonder about visual effects artists outside of North America, in the UK and Asia and the South Pacific.. Are there local visual effects unions there, and how do you think your local vfx scene might change if one were formed?
The Golden Globes are usually a foretelling of what might happen at the Oscars. Letters from Iwo Jima took top honors as Best Foreign Language Film, up against the likes of Pan's Labyrinth, Volver, Apocalypto, and The Lives of Others.. Babel wins top honors for Best Motion Picture. Check out the rest of the nominees and the winners at the link below!
Other great wins were Forest Whitaker for Last King of Scotland in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, and Martin Scorsese for Best Director.
Yep, it just gets crazier and crazier. In addition to creating stereoscopic comps, I'm also pumping them out one every other day or so now. Mind you, it's pretty straightforward. I'm not doing a huge amount of creative work, but a lot of problem solving, splitting shots in different layers so I can project them in 3D, and doing occasional clean up and pick up work. So far I've finalled about 30 shots in the two months I've been on the show (I started on this show on November 5th), and I've got four that I'm working on now. I'm switching gears pretty soon though.. Going from Robinsons land to Pirates land in a couple weeks. Meet The Robinsons was a transition show for me while they ramped up for Pirates, and now it's getting into full swing. They say that there'll be some sweet work for me to do once I get on.. The kind of shots that'll take me the entire show to do. Nice. Finally something I can sink my teeth into.
As it stands now, I will not be attending the VES Show & Tell again this year! Work has me committed this weekend, as next Monday is a holiday. I guess my 55+ hours a week isn't enough! My next huge break will most likely be in March or April, whenever we deliver Pirates. Then, I can tackle all the projects that have fallen on the back burner.
Here's the schedule of events for this Saturday. This is a day long event, with breakfast and lunch provided.
# Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture
# Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture
# Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series
# Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
# Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial
# Outstanding Real Time Visuals in a Video Game
# Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Motion Picture
# Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Broadcast Program, Commercial or Music Video
Attendance is free for VES members, $20 for general admission and $10 for students (with valid ID). To purchase tickets or RSVP contact Lynda Curland at the VES office via email or call 818-981-7861.
It will be held at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 Sepulveda Blvd. LA, 90049, starting at 9am!
And they're out! Check out the VESAwards page for details. And looky! Charlotte's Web is nominated up there with The Fountain and Pirates of the Caribbean for Outstanding VFX in a VFX driven motion picture! Go team! :) Also, Flags of our Fathers is nominated for Outstanding Supporting VFX, and Charlotte's Web is again nominated for Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture, going up against the likes of Davy Jones and Wilbur from Charlotte's Web as well. Make sure you attend this weekends Show & Tell at the Skirball to see presentations on these categories! Those guys up at Tippett definitely know how to animate. Good work Todd, Blair, Jason, Sven and David!
Ah.. A long and eventful day.. Today I did my part, and attend the VES Judging event, held at Fotokem in Burbank, CA. It was pretty packed, but that was primarily because the lobby of Fotokem was pretty small for close to 75 people. I met some fellow DDers there, as well as some folks from ILM and the Bay area! Unlike previous years attending events like these, I actually was able to converse with my peers whom I've never met before. It was a great experience. On to the event!
I arrived right on the dot, at 8am. The parking lot was getting pretty full and I could see many people milling around the entrance, checking in. In all, I estimate about 75 VES members were present, with a group of volunteers. I met several of the volunteers from before, at the ImageMetrics event in Santa Monica last month. As we checked in we were given a number, from one to six, which signified which screening room we would be in. There were able 12 members per room. At this moment, the categories we would be judging were not revealed to us. Only after we sat in the comfy theatre seats were we given the outline for the day and the categories we would be voting on. The lucky categories that so enamored us were; Category 8: Outstanding Single Visual Effect of the Year, Category 11: Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue, and Category 21: Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Series, Commercial, or Music Video. The voting went in the reverse order, from 21 to 8. The other five screening rooms had from between 3 to 5 categories to judge.
Unfortunately I won't go into the nominees, as that wouldn't be fair. The three ultimate nominees that are to be voted on by the VES populace will be announced early next week. Suffice to say, many of high profile movies of last year were definitely shown! The selections were shown on either HD or DVD, depending on the format that they choose to submit. A couple entries were in HD, and it was quite apparent that the visual effects were much more noticable. I highly recommend delivering on HD in the future if your show or film is at that resolution!
I don't recall if Category 11 was a category last year, but it seemed out of place at times. Special venues, are, special. They're IMAX films, or ride films, or theme park extravaganzas. Viewing them from a DVD seems to just do injustice to the work that the artists put in. Hopefully this can be remedied in the future, but it's extremely tough to look at work that isn't meant to be viewed at a mere 480i resolution.
If you're in the LA area next weekend (January 13th), make sure you come to the VES Show & Tell, held at the Skirball Center. The top nominees from the categories we voted on today will show up and tell us about the work they accomplished! After you see the nominees, you'll definitely want to figure out how they did things. I'll be attending next weekends event as well.
Do you have questions about this event? Feel free to ask in the comments below!
Happy 2007 everyone.. Welcome back to the daily grind. It's Friday. Unfortunately my day doesn't stop just because it's the weekend. A lot of things are on the horizon! Tomorrow is the VES Awards judging, which I'll be attending over in Burbank somewhere. Keep in mind, this will narrow down the plethora of entries to only three. The VES members will be able to vote online for their choice out of the three starting sometime mid January.
Next weekend is the VES Show & Tell, where those three nominees have an opportunity to present their work to their peers. I'll be attending that as well, and will be able to give a summary here at DigitalGypsy. It's at the Skirball Center here in LA, so if you're local, check it out to see your peer's work! It's free for VES Members, $10 for students, and $20 for general admission. It's a full day, and lunch is provided.
We also finally received the results for the 2006 VES Survey. This was survey given to the VES members, and I'm sorry to say that not that many members contributed to it.. Only a paltry 324 out of 1500 or so members. So given these results, take them with a grain of salt. Click below to see some of the pertinent results which may interest you.