February 2008 Archives
Digital Domain was born.. Here's the article in Variety which describes the birth of the company I now work for, and who backed it at the time.. Here's a choice quote.
Despite a wealth of competitors, there could be plenty of business. Cameron envisions filmmaking that increasingly embraces the computer. "It will all be done at a workstation," said the director. "Your film will now be in the digital domain." It doesn't mean non-digital tools, from miniature models to duct tape, won't be used when appropriate. However, Cameron said, "the term 'optical' will be obsolete."
I did not know that IBM had a stake in Digital Domain at the beginning! I do remember when it actually started making effects for movies though. Ah, True Lies.. I don't know if that's the first movie that the company was credited for, but it's one of the first couple for sure.
A more pressing question is, did Variety have an online edition 15 years ago? A quick who-is turns up the following.
Record expires on 16-Sep-2017.
Record created on 17-Sep-1996.
Congrats Golden Compass team! There were a ton of houses and a ton of artists that slaved away on this show, and last night the stars were aligned to award the film the Oscar for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Motion Picture. The IMDB visual effects credit list tops 1000 people, at 1015 visual effects artists that worked on the film. Wowzers. That's an amazing amount of talent! The companies that worked on it include:
Digital Domain, Rhythm & Hues, Rhythm & Hues India, Cinesite, Tippett Studio, Rainmaker UK, Framestore CFC, Peerless Camera Company, Digital Backlot, RodeoFX, Gentle Giant Studios, Hatch ProductionCongratulations!
It's interesting how abstract numbers and letters can mean the world to visual effects artists. Over time, artists can often have a humorous conversation with just letters and numbers.. "Remember LP1420? Man, that sucked. I remember when we had to put that guy in that suit into that mechanical monstrosity." Eventually it becomes, "Remember that one shot from that show we did two years ago? With that colored thing? Make it like that." And somehow, it gets made like that. Even certain elements will become a staple in our vocabulary. sidesplash_14v12, static_flurries_7, schwap_14a. Ya, schwap_14a is totally awesome. You remember that shot that was totally just schwap_14a everywhere? Totally, it was LP093X, I think that's still online, lemme bring it up!
The imagery associated with a specific combination of numbers really shows how discreet we can get about our work. We can associate the names and faces of the people that worked on that shot to a particular mix of numbers and letters as well. After a while, it becomes normal, and a conversation on the street is sure to befuddle passerbys!
For the most part, these shot names are temporary. They only exist in our minds for the duration of the show, and completely thrown out at the end, save for those horrendous or cool shots that need a number to be remembered by. I remember several memorable shots only by their shot number. I couldn't tell you exactly how I completed the shot, but that SK9 was totally awesome and I had fun doing it.
Do you have a particular sequence of numbers and letters that you're especially proud of?
We're on a roll! Rob Cohen talks about the vfx work that we're doing on The Mummy.. Read more at his blog.
The visual effects work is going on apace. We have nine finals at this point out of 800 shots. Sounds dismal and hopeless, but this is how vfx work goes: the first 50% of the time on 10% of the shots and the second 50% on the 90%. Meanwhile, over at Digital Domain, Co-supervisors Joel Hynek and Matthew Butler have been working with me on the terracotta Jet Li and the final battle where Michelle Yeoh's undead square off against Jet's terracotta army. There are 400 vfx shots in the last 25 minutes of the film, the vast majority belonging to DD.
The days are starting to get longer.. Waking up at 5:30am is getting to be the norm for me these days, and I'm spending approximately 12 hours per day at work right now. We did work yesterday, President's Day, since we've got a lot of stuff to do every week to hit our deadlines. The good thing is that sunlight is starting earlier! I still get up before the break of dawn, but now I get to watch the sun rise.
Check out the wicked styles over at the Mantastic 2008 Blog! They're looking classy. :) David G. here is sporting a Van Fucking Buren. Over the next week they'll be voting and crowning a winner to the most mantastic one of them all. You don't want to mess with the previous winner, Clemens!
I noticed a couple of hits over the past couple of days from my old alma mater, the Vancouver Film School! I just wanted to welcome you to the blog here, where you'll be able to read about the current state of visual effects in Southern California. If you haven't hit the Bio yet, go ahead and do that, it gives a brief lowdown on how I entered VFS and how I ended up down here at Digital Domain. Very briefly, I was in Class 10 of the Digital Effects and 3D Animation course, more than a decade ago (wow!).
Currently I'm working on The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, with Jet Li and Brendan Fraser. Rob's starting to blog too, but he's pretty busy. You can check out his blog about the show at this Mummy link.
BTL blogs that the writers strike is officially over. You'll probably get this from your normal news outlets this morning, but here's what the WGA has to say.
“We are profoundly aware of the economic loss these fourteen weeks have created not only for our members but so many other colleagues who work in the television and motion picture industries. Nonetheless, with the establishment of the WGA jurisdiction over new media and residual formulas based on distributor’s gross revenue (among other gains) we are confident that the results are a significant achievement not only for ourselves but the entire creative community, now and in the future.”
On February 28th at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects, supervisor Mike Fink and the rest of the team will be describing their work on The Golden Compass. Check out the notice here.
- When: Thursday, February 28th, 2008
- Meet & Greet: 6:00PM
- Presentation: 7:00PM – 9:00PM
- Place: Gnomon School of Visual Effects - Stage 15
1015 N. Cahuenga Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90038
- RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
This event is FREE of charge!
FX Guide has a quick take on the winners of the 6th Annual VES Awards. Here's the pertinent info in our field, compositing..
Outstanding Compositing in a Motion Picture
Pat Tubach , Beth D’Amato , Todd Vaziri , Mike Conte
Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
NIKE - Leave Nothing
James Allen, Rob Trent
Congratulations! There were some tough choices this year.
Another totally unrelated to visual effects post. A couple years ago, I came up with a novelty product idea. I spent a small amount of money creating a prototype, and asking coworkers at Tippett what they thought of it. My ring would be able to pop the top off of a cold brewski. You'd never leave home without it. A couple of months later, I see my idea on Thinkgeek for $7.99. Amazing. Unfortunately, my product was a little more convoluted, so their product would totally own mine. I couldn't get my ring to actually apply enough torque to pop the top off, a design defect, if you will.
Just last week, on Uncrate, I noticed yet another one! Here's the Cheers ring. A $135 bottle opener that does the same thing the $7.99 one does. Here are three pictures of the rings. The leftmost is my prototype from late 2004, followed by The Ring Thing, and the rightmost is the Cheers Ring.
Needless to say, I was a little peeved that these products are out there, and their creators are getting profits (hopefully!). However, I'm not totally despondent. I've got a bunch of other products in my brain, some of which are in the development process, while others are just marinating, waiting for the right time, and the right amount of funds.
Over the weekend here, otherwise known as the Superbowl weekend, I finished up viewing and voting for the top choices for the VES Awards. It took almost five hours, but I watched everything. It's such a shame that there was so much great work, that it was tough to narrow down one winner! The voting closes tomorrow, just as the real voting begins.
Tippett Studio released news about their work on Cloverfield on Digital Content Producer. Check it out, and read more about their work over on Meyemind. Spoiler, he's got the monster on the front page in a thumbnail, so don't hit that link unless you want to see the monster.
Phil Tippett, visual effects pioneer and founder of Tippett Studio states “It’s about time. The planet earth can always use a good monster.”
There were a couple good commercials during Superbowl 42 yesterday, and some nice trailers for movies coming out this summer! Ironman looks amazing. There was also a Ford commercial where they spun a pickup truck. At first a bunch of us thought, wow, well, that's some visual effect. Then we went to the site. Turns out, they built the rig for real, and spun one of their F150s in a centrifuge. Shows you how much we know!