September 2007 Archives
Last night we attended the Below The Line screening of The Kingdom at the Writers Guild of America Theater in Beverly Hills. After a harrowing journey to the theater (rush hour in LA heading towards Beverly Hills, missing the turn off for our street, and heading straight into Arlington Heights on Pico), we arrived just in the nick of time, at 7:30, ready to see the film. I was at the Writers Guild Theater earlier this year attending the VES Festival, so I should have known how to get there, but of course I had taken Olympic previously, and not Pico.
The Below The Line Film Screenings are for qualified artisans whose occupation is below the line producer. A line producer is a key member of the production team for a motion picture. Typically, a line producer manages the budget of a motion picture. Alternatively, or in addition, they may manage the day to day physical aspects of the film production, serving a role similar to the unit production manager. Line producers usually do not act as part of the creative team for a picture. Because line producers work on location, they don't work on more than one film at a time (unlike other producer roles). A line producer may also hire key members of the crew, negotiate deals with vendors, and is considered the head of production on the set.
Being a part of the VES, I was able to RSVP for this screening ahead of time. However, before the film started, one of the BTL crew introduced the film and mentioned that most screenings are open to anyone that is in the industry that is below the line.. Only certain screenings are for guilds, like the VES and other filmmaking ones. After his brief presentation, in which he also mentioned that BTL is going onto its fifth year, the film began, sans trailers.
From the looks of it, the film seemed to be projected digitally, but shot on film originally. There was no gate weave, but the texture and grain of the film was decidedly shot on film. It opens with a brief introduction of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and how it came to be, as well as going into the dates of well known events in the world, such as the date of oil discovery in Saudi Arabia, and attacks on American assets in the Middle East and elsewhere. After the introduction, the film opens on a baseball game, as shown in the trailer, and the predictable results. The film progresses quickly, showcasing an FBI team that works its way into the Saudi world to try and solve the terrorist attack. As foreigners that were only brought on as a courtesy to the Saudi government, they quickly become integral in the solving of the crimes. The actors all play their respective parts well, and this film is mostly action. The politics are left aside for the most part, and this is a simple whodunit plot. The finale is surprisingly abrupt, but it's a fitting end to the film. Most of the key action scenes in the film are shown in the trailer, but they are definitely longer in the film. As a whole, I enjoyed it. Some good invisible effects work and some adequate greenscreens, but nothing that would detract from this film. This film comes out this Friday. I give it a good 8/10.
But noooo.. Somehow the little birdies got out and started telling rumors that today was my birthday. I blame that girl over at Rhythm & Hues, who in turn, probably got it from another girl at home. So now I've got a mass email at work, which just leads to more craziness here. Awesome. Thanks, ladies. And yep, it's a milestone, the big 3-0. From here on out, it's all downhill, so I better pick up speed and start doing everything that I want to do. Hard to believe I've been doing something consistently for almost a decade, and actually made a career out of it.
Enough about my big day today, on to more exciting things. Remember those three shots from earlier in the week that got finalled? They got unfinalled. But now they're hopefully finalled again. An amazing turn of events, but just another day in feature film vfx. These shots, if I've been told correctly, are the first ones in the sequence to get finalled, so they'll now be used as a template to match to.
VFXTalk is getting good. No really, and I'm not just plugging it like I always do. There is a wealth of information on there, as well as contributing professionals as well as professional lurkers, who pipe in when something entices them. Recently there have been a number of great threads and answers, from the likes of nrgy and rueter, to name a few of the more recent posters. Think you can stump them? Head over to the Professional Talk section of VFXTalk and match your wits, and answer compelling questions. For the most part the moderators have been keeping a keen eye on both the Professional and Beginner Talk sections, and will move a thread if it doesn't meet the requirements.
Yep! The Dark Is Rising is now complete! The movie comes out in less than a month, so be sure to check it out. I have no idea where our work is in the movie, but I have a feeling it'll be near the end. Immediately after it last week, I started working on the next show coming out this year, The Golden Compass, which comes out in December. We've got a fair number of artists on the show, and I actually just finalled three shots so far.
The VFXTalk gathering last weekend was a great success! We had close to a hundred people, double what I expected, and it was getting pretty crowded in there. For our next one we'll have a bigger venue. The tentative schedule is sometime in March 2008, so if your company wants to be a presenter, please contact me. These gatherings are a great time to mingle with artists from other companies, network, and see and talk to industry artists directly. Thanks go to Luma Pictures, Method Studios, and Digital Domain, who did some great presentations. The meeting was sponsored by VFXTalk of course, Plugin, and CGNews. They all have some great plans for the future, so be sure and check them out. VFXTalk is the only one that's not currently in beta, so expect occasional changes and improvements on the other two. VFXTalk is our community forum, Plugin is our professional networking service, and CGnews is our computer graphics news aggregator.
Last night was the 59th Annual Emmy Awards. While I could not find it televised anywhere, I was waiting in anticipation to see who would win our categories.
Lo and behold, the team for Battlestar Galactica wins! Congratulations guys, it's well deserved after more than a decade of hard work. The winners are below:
Gary Hutzel, Visual Effects Supervisor
Michael Gibson, Senior VFX Coordinator
Doug Drexler, CG Supervisor
Adam 'Mojo' Lebowitz, CGI Sequence Designer
Jeremy Hoey, Lead Matte Painter
Tom Archer, Lead Compositor
Andrew Karr, CGI Supervisor
Alec McClymont, Lead CGI Artist/ Animator
Brenda Campbell, Lead Compositor
I've worked with roughly half these bozos, so they're pretty good. If I remember correctly, this is the first Emmy to go to predominately Vancouver-based artists. Awesome work, and way to raise the bar!
It's about to hit 8am on on a Thursday here, and we've got about 24 hours to finish up a massive amount of shots. I arrived at work about a half hour ago, and have already got jobs on the farm. I'm the only one on the show so far that's here, but I'm an early bird. I figure the other artists work late into the night, even if I was here with them until 10:30! I had foregone my usual gym ritual this morning in order to get a headstart today, as it's going ot be jam packed. Similar to my very last day of Pirates, but hopefully not too crazy! That day was getting into the office at 6am, and working till 1am. But at least all the shots got approved.
I, and most of the crew, worked the long Labor Day weekend. Over that weekend I ended up finalling my shots, which was great news, so I got handed another shot to help out on. On Tuesday a couple became unfinalled for small notes. But now they're fixed again, and I'm back on yet another shot! Two more shots to go, to finish today! They also have a new poster. The title of the project is now The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising. The hope is that this will do well, and the next couple of books in the trilogy will be made. Time will tell.
This upcoming weekend is the VFXTalk Usergroup Meeting! I'll be there, along with a host of other industry folk, hanging out and talking about the world of vfx. It's a very informal gathering, but we've managed to obtain several presentations for our inaugural meeting. The companies are Method Studios, Luma Pictures, and Digital Domain. You'll get a chance to see their compositing reels, and hear directly from the artists about the creation of the effects of their shots!
Also in two days is the Creative Arts awards ceremony for the Emmys! On Tuesday there was a TD&SVE voting session which narrowed down the top five to the final winner. We find out who that winner is on Saturday evening. I have a couple friends who were again nominated this year for their work on Battlestar Galactica and Eureka, here's to hoping they win this year! Good luck everyone!
Ah.. So here I am, September 1st, working the Labor Day weekend. What exciting times. Our deadline for the show is in a mere six or so days, and I've got some work ahead of me, so the crew is in today and the rest of the long weekend to hit our mark by next weekend. I don't have the most shots on this show, luckily, only four out of less than fifty or so. There's a good crew on the show, and everyone is really quite competent. After this wraps, I may be going onto The Golden Compass, or something entirely different. I won't know until we actually wrap.
Coming up next weekend is the VFXTalk usergroup gathering! It's going to be pretty neat, I think anyway. We're doing this on a limited budget, thanks to the guys over at VFXTalk who are funding it. We've lined up two guest presenters, and we're hopefully going to get two more, which I'll here back from early next week. We've got a good RSVP list, so make sure you do that, if you haven't already.
On a slightly different note, I was awarded a Patent Pending on one of my products in development last Friday! It's been a hectic journey, from the time I came up with the idea about a year and a half ago, to now. I'm not going into much detail about it, since it's not vfx related, but I thought I should share what else I've been doing outside of visual effects. I'm also currently reading Guns, Germs, and Steel, a great book (so far!) about the rise of civilizations and why certain ones surpassed others. Additionally, I'm trying to finish The Intelligent Investor when I can. I'm about 1/3 through that one. Aside from the copious workload, somehow I managed to get into several books.. Sometimes there is just not enough time to do everything I want to do!
Over the previous weekend I went up in a R44 helicopter with a coworker who's getting certified for her commercial license. We had a great time, and it's been something I've been wanting to do for a long time now (flying, not just being a passenger!) Unfortunately, the price is steep, roughly double what a regular plane license will cost, so we'll see when and how far I can get on that.