January 2008 Archives
It's the end of January already! How time flies. Work is flying by as well! Before you know it, it'll be summertime, but I've got lots of deadlines before then. A couple days ago we had our Monthlies, which I've discussed in previous entries. The Monthlies have changed to Quarterlies, but the content is the same, final and in-progress footage from all of our shows and commercials. Needless to say, everything looks great, both the in progress stuff and finalled shots from commercials and film. A nice surprise we saw was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, being directed by Fincher. I can't say at what the stage the work was, or how much we have, but I can say that it's going to blow your socks off when it's completed and comes out later this year. IMDB puts its release date as Nov 2008, so mark your calendars!
The VES View and Vote has begun again, narrowing down the three or four choices we have to the final one which will earn a statuette at the VES Awards later this year. Lots of great footage to look at, as well as some great behind the scenes, which most of the general public will never get a chance to see.
The VES Mentoring program should also be starting sometime in the next week or so. Like last year, I'll be mentoring a student. My last student landed an apprenticeship/internship at Rhythm & Hues, and is staying on to work on another show as a comper after her work on Alvin. They've opened up the program to a couple more schools, and I think we have a couple more mentors, but I'll know more later this week or next.
I mentioned before that a product of mine has undergone PPA evaluation and approval, so I now have patent pending. However, I didn't mention that I also submitted it to a group at the end of the last year to test its commercial feasibility, of which I received the results.
The PIES format is a comprehensive, structured evaluation system consisting of 45 criteria that are used to evaluate the commercial potential of your idea or invention and to provide you with a risk profile of your project. These criteria are based on over 35 years of research and new product experience, and will provide you with insights into the risks you face and the strategy you will need to employ to reach the marketplace.
Out of a possible 43, I received a 39! Pretty, pretty close.
I've got a couple hurdles before this sucker makes it to market, but I'm getting there. I've also submitted the product to a infomercial marketing company, of which I should hear back in the coming weeks.
We hit the theatres Sunday morning to see Cloverfield in all its glory. The great thing about going at that time is that there's no line up, and it's half price, at six bucks a person! There were a number of great trailers in front of the film, including a teaser for the next Star Trek, and of course, The Dark Knight, all of which look great!
The film itself was short, at around 75 minutes long. The story progressed quickly though. I felt that it could have been longer, or even better, this could be one story among many in a miniseries! I left the theatre wanting more; more effects, more story, more drama. The effects work was wonderful, and integrated beautifully with the erratic camera work. If you see the movie, make sure to sit further away from the screen, as it's filmed from a handicam ala Blair Witch, and could really make you nauseous. It took a little while to get used to it. Tippett Studio and Double Negative worked on the visual effects, while Company 3 took care of the DI and The Third Floor managed the previs. I can only gather that Tippett did the creature effects, while DNeg worked on greenscreens and matte paintings. Overall, they did a spectacular job!
People, people! Welcome to Mantastic 2008, featuring yours truly, Don Cheadle, and the Funky Presidents. We've got Van Buren in the house, we've got Taft...hell, we even got Colonel Sanders. He ain't even a President, but we got him anyway.
Here's the deal, folks. We're growing facial hair and it's a contest that takes one month. Middle of January through middle of February. One month devoted to the dopest styles in history. You'll be shaving it all off for your ladies just in time to get some sweet lovin' on Valentine's Day.
A crazy productive past week. I wasn't sure what would happen to my provider given all the hits from that CGTalk post, but this place managed to stay up, and serving content to boot.
I hope I've gained some readers from the surge, but if not, that's ok too! Work is going well on the Mummy, and I've got a couple shots to complete for the director. We're pretty close on finalling some shots too, which is great. I've been going through all the pages on the site, making sure that everything's linked the way it should be, but if you encounter a page that should be there that's not, drop me a line, and I'll try to find out what went wrong.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Four major studios have canceled dozens of writers' contracts in a possible concession that the current television season cannot be saved, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
The move means the two-month old writers strike may also endanger next season's new shows, the Times said.
January is usually the beginning of pilot season, when networks order new scripted shows. But the strike leaves networks without a pool of comedy and drama scripts from which to choose.
20th Century Fox Television, CBS Paramount Network Television, NBC Universal and Warner Bros. Television told the Times they have terminated development and production agreements.
Studios typically pay $500,000 to $2 million a year per writer for them and their staffs to develop new show concepts.
"I didn't see it coming," Barbara Hall, a writer and producer whose credits include former CBS series "Joan of Arcadia" and "Judging Amy," told the Times, which said ABC executives gave her the news Friday. "I am not entirely sure what their strategy is, all I know was that I was a casualty of it."
The newspaper said more than 65 deals with writers have been eliminated since Friday.
On a different note, from The Hollywood Reporter, Blue Sky Studios is relocating.
Blue Sky Studios, the digital animation production company best known for its successful "Ice Age" franchise, is planning a move from White Plains, N.Y., to Greenwich, Conn.
The wholly owned subsidiary of Fox Filmed Entertainment intends to relocate about 300 employees later this year after renovating a new 105,000-square-foot space in Greenwich, which is close to the company's current location and to New York.
Key drivers for the move are recently passed production tax credits and DECD incentives. Under the new program, production companies are eligible for tax credits of up to 30% on production expenses or costs incurred within the state.
A couple moments ago this message trickled into my inbox.
Tips began flooding the Defamer mailbox just minutes ago that Axium International, a leading entertainment industry payroll agency that works with Warner Bros. among other studios, shut their doors overnight and have apparently declared bankruptcy.
Check out Defamer for more information.
From: LAProducer@yahoogroups.com [mailto:LAProducer@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of [REDACTED] Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2008 1:36 PM To: LAProducer@yahoogroups.com Subject: [LAProducer] For those of you not on CoPros
Axium/Avalon closed this morning. Here are two emails that were on copros and since no one here is talking about it I thought maybe some of you might not know.
I just spoke with Andre at Axium and it is true. They were told yesterday to remove their personal belongings and not do any more work. All the Axium offices worldwide (LA, NY, CHI, London, Mexico City, Canada) are shut down permanently, and the accounts have been frozen. It does not appear that the Axium employees are going to be
paid for their last week of work or any sort of severance, as it is indeed a bankruptcy.
If anyone knows more, I'd love to hear about it. This, in addition the Golden Globes cancellation, and the WGA strike, looks like it's going to be a tough beginning to this year.
After a plug on CGTalk pointing to this thread which currently numbers over 5000 views, I've gotten a huge number of hits in the last couple of days. This has forced me to reorganize the pages which are listed. If you hit the gallery section, you'll notice it's been broken down into individual show pages. This should ease the load and make navigating a little easier. Let me know what you think. In addition, I've attached a hard link to my latest reel on the Reels page, which should hopefully prevent browsers from crashing on people if you don't have QT7 installed within your browser.
But this post isn't just about my latest reel. It's also about what I actually do. Last week on New Years Day, we were over at a party, and someone, an older gentlemen not in this field, asked what I did for a living. How do you explain what a compositor is? Wikipedia has a lengthy definition of what one is. But it's a bit too extreme for a general description of what I do, and when I start to talk, my audience glazes over. Basically it's
...the combining of visual elements from separate sources into single images, often to create the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene.
Digital compositing is still very new, and trying to elaborate on the above results in tears and confused looks. The gentleman I was talking to had a friend in post-production as well, in ADR. That's a profession which has a simpler explanation, it's a shame compositing really doesn't.
In a nutshell, the work that is shown in my reel is a combination of live action and 3D plates which I assembled together, applying color-corrections, shadows, depth of field blurs, warps, dissolves, some 2D lighting effects, some 2d dynamic effects, and often lots of look-development. As you can see, my job is a bit more complicated than putting A over B. I mean, just look at this script.
Many of you Nukers out there already know this, but for those readers out there who haven't ventured into the Nuke fray might not. Nuke has a 3D compositing environment, which allows you to position objects and cards and cameras in 3D, while using their placement to accurately give positional data in the 2D comp, usually motion vector information. I've been playing around with it much more recently for a shot I'm doing for Mummy, which involves a bunch of projected textures onto geometry within the scene, and then rendering the whole shebang out through several ScanlineRenders (which renders the 3D output to 2D plane). Artists here have been doing this for ages, but I remember first reading about it on I, Robot. The sequence where Will Smith is interrogating Sonny has a number of 3D projections for the synthetic environment. In every show the 3D compositing environment struts its stuff, and pulls us compers out of the fire when we're in it.
And the nominees are out! Digital Domain has a number of entries, and here they are!
Digital Domain's work has been recognized with six nominations for this year's VES Awards. Congratulations to everyone who contributed their tremendous talents to these shows, and we'll find out the VES Award winners on Sunday, February 10th. Click here for the full list of nominees in PDF.
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture
Eric Barba, Craig Barron, Janelle Croshaw, Chris Evans
--We Own the Night
Kelly Port, Julian Levi, Brad Parker, Olivier Sarda
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial
BMW - Road
Chris Fieldhouse, Jay Barton, Ron Herbst, Dave Stern
Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Broadcast Program or Commercial
AMP - Paper
Fred Raimondi, Chris De Santis, Angie Jones, Narbeh Mardirossian
Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Motion Picture
ZODIAC - Washington and Cherry
Wei Zheng, Greg Szafranski, Janelle Croshaw, Karl Denham
Other entries include one from my former employer, Tippett. Congratulations fellas!
Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture
Tom Gibbons, James W. Brown, David Richard Nelson, John Koester
Over the holiday break we caught the film No Country for Old Men, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and a newcomer I had never heard of, Javier Bardem. While the visual effects were very subdued and nondescript, Luma Pictures did a wonderful job. This Coen brothers film is in very much the same way as Fargo, violent and unpredictable. Unless you read the book of the same name, of course. After watching the movie I ended up hitting the library (they still have those!) and borrowing the book by Cormac McCarthy, to see what I might have missed. True be told, not much! The film is a direct copy of the book, almost down to the dialog, and in some cases, exactly like the dialog. As well, the way McCarthy writes doesn't leave much to the imagination, as his words are very direct and to the point.
The film (and book) follows the plot of a drug deal gone bad, where our main character, Llewelyn Moss, wanders upon the scene and takes off with a large sum of money. He's now being chased by three parties; a psychopathic and methodical killer, Anton Chigurh, a small town sheriff, Bell, and a Mexican outfit who wants their money back. The scenes with Chigurh (Javier Bardem) are wonderful and very telling of his character. You don't want to get on his bad side. The rest of the cast does wonderfully as well, portraying the Texas life to a T. As the films ends, I was struck by its abruptness, and I decided to get the book, instead of watching the movie again and listening to the Bell speak near the end of the movie. Because the book is almost exactly like the film, I was able to read it over again, and it does make more sense on the written page. The executions and murders by Chigurh are just shocking on the page as they are in the film, and Bardem does a great job.
As a film, 7 out of 10. As a book, 8.
Recently announced today.
Seven in Running for 2007 Visual Effects Oscar®
Beverly Hills, CA --- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that seven films remain in contention for Achievement in Visual Effects for the 80th Academy Awards®
The films are listed below in alphabetical order:
- The Bourne Ultimatum
- Evan Almighty
- The Golden Compass
- I Am Legend
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
On Wednesday, January 16, members of the Academy's Visual Effects Branch will view 15-minute excerpts from each of the seven shortlisted films. Following the screenings, the members will vote to nominate three films for final Oscar consideration.
The 80th Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 22, 2008, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2007 will be presented on Sunday, February 24, 2008, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network beginning at 5 p.m. PT. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.
What are your votes for the final three? For purely technical achievement, I'd vote The Golden Compass, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End, and Transformers. Most likely it'll end up I am Legend, 300, and Transformers.
A new year, and new objectives and goals! What are yours? Here's the time to put those thoughts down into writing, so we can check up on them a year from now! Here are mine, in no particular order, and subject to additions!
- Save more
- Hit the gym a little bit more
- Finalise patent for production spout
- Add a couple more chapters to the book
- Get the VIP and Pro sections of VFXTalk up to par
Happy New Year everyone! Did you have an exciting night? After a days work (yep, I went into work on the 31st), we headed out to our visual effect supervisors New Years Eve gathering up in the Santa Monica mountains, roughly 30-40 minutes outside of town. He has a great domain up there, where you can actually see the stars! It became a fairly windy night, but not before we were able to get some pyrotechnics in.
After driving down Kanan-Dume, we turned onto a nondescript lane, with a wrought iron gate. After hitting the correct sequence of buttons, we entered the 'compound' and drove for about 5 minutes through a blacked-out, single lane road, into the 'facility'. In my small car it was fairly easy, but very slow going. I even had to crane by neck out further to make sure I would be able to take some of the hairpins! Once we got there, we parked in the main parking lot, with overflow parking just to the south. It was an impressive location. We walked up to the home and were greeted by our supervisor and his wife, and were left to fend for ourselves with late night food and alcohol. Being the designated driver for the evening, I was content with the gratifying effects of Red Bull! We hung out for a little while before more of our brethren from Digital Domain showed up, and we relaxed until midnight, when the real festivities began! We started off with a bucket of arrows, of which the tips were lit, and then the audience fired upon hydrogen filled balloons. These produced a sweet explosive and temporary flame up, which the embers were reduced to ashes by the time they hit the ground. These weren't small balloons, by any means. More like industrial size ones, of between 3-6 feet in diameter. Impressive pyrotechnics! We were also treated to some roman candles and fireworks on the deck, before the wind picked up and slowed it down a notch. All in all a very good evening, and we ended up getting back into Santa Monica around 2am. Surprisingly, no CHP was on the streets of PCH. They must have been elsewhere in the other cities, instead of out in the boonies of Malibu.