(theglobeandmail.com) Mark wonders whether we're now at the point where CG characters matter more than human ones to Hollywood...
This article contains spoilers for Godzilla and Transformers: Age Of Extinction. Also, there are some mild spoilers for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, but nothing you haven’t seen in the trailers.
In the last decade or so, computer generated characters have taken a quantum leap forward in blockbuster cinema. You can probably mark the transition around the time that Yoda went from being a Jim Henson creation to a digitally rendered sprite in Star Wars: Episode II, but bigger technological leaps have followed, particularly in performance capture.
Andy Serkis has been a big ambassador for this, earning a reputation as a Boris Karloff figure for the digital age in the process and a loyal core of fans who still insist that he deserved an Oscar for his turn as Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings. New fans are now saying much the same about Caesar the ape.
While it’s unfair to neglect the work of the animators and software designers who facilitate Serkis’ digital transformations, he’s undoubtedly the public face of the movement, as well as a respected authority on performance capture in the industry. For instance, he’s nabbed a role in Avengers: Age Of Ultron after initially being recruited to consult on the film’s performance capture work.
But this summer, he’s been involved to a certain extent in two of the biggest CG character pieces- Godzilla and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. Aside from Serkis’ involvement and generally being sort of excellent, these films have one big thing in common. They’re both films in which the computer generated characters are arguably better characterised than the live action human characters.
When we ask whether or not this means that computer generated characters have surpassed their human counterparts, we’re not suggesting that live-action actors will become obsolete. It would be needlessly complicated, even if performance capture had yet given us a photo-real human in the same way as it has given us photo-real aliens or animals.
Films that have attempted this in the last decade, such as TRON: Legacy, with its digitally de-aged Jeff Bridges, and the uncanny valley epitomised in Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf and A Christmas Carol, attest to the difficulty of realising human characters in animation. But that’s why we have human actors.
What’s interesting is the way in which filmmakers are chomping at the bit to tell stories through non-human characters that would not previously have been possible to realise in a live-action film, sometimes at the expense of the actors with whom they share the screen.
Few people came out of watching Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla claiming that the big lug overshadowed the human characters - in fact, it was quite the opposite. Many viewers have said that either the title character or Bryan Cranston’s Joe Brody should have stuck around longer. There’s a better argument for one than the other (the movie’s not called Cranston) but in either of those cases, it feels like it’s because there was something lacking in the characters that got more screen-time.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Ford traipses from disaster area to disaster area on a mission to get back to his family, constantly telling his wife (poor Elizabeth Olsen) to wait for him back home rather than move to safety and meet him elsewhere. Elsewhere, Ken Watanabe gets some awesome lines about the ancient, primal purpose of Godzilla, even though we have no way of knowing how his character knows any of this.
But the film still garners a ton of goodwill as an off-kilter, somewhat misanthropic blockbuster of the kind that we seldom see. The futility of the humans’ actions throughout the film is in service of a larger point of mankind’s arrogance in trying to control nature. Edwards’ triumphant conclusion to the movie, from the human point of view, is the utterly ineffectual detonation of a nuclear bomb near a populated area, after the threat has already been neutralised by Godzilla.
It’s an interesting and frankly ballsy way to lead off a new franchise, but it’s not one that would work as well if Edwards wasn’t able to so deftly characterise the 30-storey-tall beastie of the title. He may not be on screen much, but whenever he does rock up in the movie, his motivation is apparent, (though admittedly with an expository assist from Watanabe.)
On a similar level to the thematic anti-human aspect of Godzilla, the gulf between humans and apes is a crucial part of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. However, it’s another film where the human characters suffer by comparison, not least because the script sets most of them up as binary opposites to the apes.
The movie is pretty much excellent, but the humans are far more vaguely coloured in than their better rendered primate counterparts, both visually and emotionally. Jason Clarke’s Malcolm may only have just shown up in the franchise, but the only reason we have to root for him is that he finds common ground with Caesar, who we already know and like.
Gary Oldman’s Dreyfus gets a little more to chew on, but he’s sidelined by Toby Kebbell’s towering performance as the treacherous ape Koba. Both of these characters are introduced for the first time in the same film, but aside from one stirring scene in the middle, Dreyfus’ arc mostly takes place off-screen, to the point where his actions in the final act of the film almost seem jarring. By contrast, Koba makes his mark as one of the most effective franchise antagonists in recent memory.
In all fairness, if there’s one blockbuster franchise that has consistently zigged away from the zag of putting computer generated characters before the live ones, it’s Transformers. Whether it’s Shia LaBeouf or Mark Wahlberg stealing the limelight, few could argue that the Autobots and Decepticons are the main characters in those movies.
Even Age Of Extinction, a soft reboot which introduces two new factions of Transformers and establishes a creation mythology for the CG characters, still juggles as many conflicting human characters as the original trilogy, (i.e. umpteen-squillion of them) and saves the CG characters for the fight-y bits.
After the film cliffhangered with Optimus Prime blasting off into space to confront his creators (the film’s bookends are uncomfortably reminiscent of Prometheus) it’s tough to imagine how Transformers 5 will manage to be set on Earth and based around a whole bunch of perma-tanned ingénues and alumni of the Coen brothers’ movies. But four films in, it behoves us not to underestimate Michael Bay’s adherence to formula.
Outside of this summer’s new films, it will be interesting to see how performance capture continues to dominate in blockbuster cinema. There’s another Apes movie on the horizon in 2016, just ahead of the first of three Avatar sequels. Given where the previous instalments of those series left us, all of those movies seem likely to roll back the human element even further than before.
In the nearer future, Jon Favreau’s live-action remount of Disney’s The Jungle Book hits cinemas next autumn. The most recent announcement was that Neel Sethi’s Mowgli will be the sole human character in the whole movie. Other than him, we’ll only see computer-generated animals, voiced by the likes of Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Lupita N’yongo and Scarlett Johansson.
Not to be outdone, Andy Serkis has his own performance capture-centric version of The Jungle Book in the works at his studio, The Imaginarium, as well as a previously announced film adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
Performance capture has opened up whole new avenues of character and representation in cinema and it all points to exciting new showcases for the technology in blockbuster cinema. We couldn’t blame anyone for being anxious about human characters falling by the wayside, even in movies with a big live-action presence, but mostly these characters have only given filmmakers more tools with which to tell new stories, in franchises that could otherwise have used a little more awe and wonder.
Iron Man's Robert Downey jnr Highest-Earning Actor: Forbes
(smh.com.au) Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. tops Forbes highest paid actors list.
Robert Downey jnr, the star of Disney's Marvel superhero film franchises Iron Man and The Avengers, is Hollywood's highest paid actor for the second consecutive year, with estimated earnings of $US75 million ($80 million), according to Forbes.com.
The 49-year-old star made most of his money from June 2013 to June 2014 from Iron Man 3, which made $US1.2 billion at the box office and assured him the top spot again in the annual ranking.
"As Iron Man, he's the driving force behind four of Marvel's biggest hits, including The Avengers," Forbes.com said.
Guillermo Del Toro Talks ‘Crimson Peak’ Special Effects Approach
(sciencefiction.com) On the look of the film, for the special effects side of things they went an interesting route and used traditional camera tricks and actors as ghosts as he didn’t want to use CGI. Also. he wanted the final product to look like a Mario Bava Technicolor movie so we’re going to be getting an older feel to what we see on screen. To help achieve this look, the house and everything in it was built specifically for the film.
Speaking of the look, del Toro wanted a gigantic chandelier to be used in the film. The studio told him it was going to cost too much but agreed when he offered to pay for half of it himself. I wonder if he got to keep the prop? Still, the majority of the effects for the film were practical over CGI. It is rather impressive to note that with practical effects they only had 68 days to film the movie while ‘Pacific Rim’ had 100 and ‘Hellboy’ had 135.
Full article: http://sciencefiction.com/
Suitors Being Rounded Up To Buy China’s Galloping Horse
(variety.com) Beijing Galloping Horse, a high-flying private sector Chinese film company, is entertaining a number of takeover bids.
Suitors are believed to include China Media Capital, a state-backed Chinese private equity fund, and Shanghai Media Group, among others.
Galloping Horse became known internationally for its 2012 takeover of troubled VFX house Digital Domain in a joint bid with India’s Reliance MediaWorks. Galloping Horse is currently in post-production on John Woo’s $50 million two-part epic “The Crossing” (pictured).
Word of a takeover of Galloping Horse emerged initially on social media and was carried by local and financial media, but they reported that the company had been sold to SMG.
“Those reports are simply wrong,” a source close to the negotiations told Variety. “There are a number of companies currently doing due diligence. We are maybe two weeks away from knowing which one to go with.”
Officially the company is saying nothing. And a spokesman for CMC said it was company policy not to comment on market rumors.
Galloping Horse, which emerged originally from the advertising industry, was one of the fast-moving, second tier Chinese film producers and distributors. And until late last year it had planned for either an IPO or a backdoor listing of its stock through a takeover of an existing company. It is a significant producer of TV series and had been backer of films including Zhang Yibai’s “Eternal Moment” and Ning Hao’s controversial hit “No Man’s Land.”
But crisis struck the company when founder, chairman and CEO Li Ming died suddenly on Jan. 2, reportedly in police custody.
Later in January, Li Jingyan, Li’s widow was appointed chairman and CEO. But there have been repeated hints of infighting between Li Jingyan and Li Ming’s two sisters, who are significant shareholders in the company. The sale to a third party is a likely solution to the internal management problems. Chinese media reports say that Li Jingyan will continue as chair of the company, but leadership seems unlikely to be settled until the buyer is decided.
Even while Li Ming was alive the company reportedly received takeover approaches from both Huayi Brothers Media and Zhejiang Huace. The principal attraction of Galloping Horse is likely to be the company’s TV series library and its production operations.
Galloping horse sold off its stake in Digital Domain in 2013. That 70% holding is now controlled by Hong Kong-listed Digital Domain Holdings Ltd.
For Cars, CGI Is For Real
(mediapost.com) One cannot imagine an automobile ad without beauty shots, action shots, or driving shots of cars cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway, or the desert, or urban streets at night with satisfied men and women behind the wheel. And if the cars are moving through surreal landscapes, or doing impossible feats, or moving through a shifting, transmogrifying terra un-firma, all the better, even if you know it’s all by virtue of CGI.
In movies CGI has pretty much replaced good writing and an actual storyline, but in advertising CGI often is the story. You only have 30 seconds to grab a consumer's attention, or what attention span people actually have these days.
But CGI is becoming reality in other, ways, too. Realistic depictions of the vehicles in realistic settings are often not the photographs you think they are. This happening for a few reasons. First, the quality of the CGI is at a point where you can't really notice the difference anymore between real and surreal. Or unreal. Second, CGI no longer requires computer geeks in some back office, probably converted from the server room, or a coat closet. It can be done by the creatives themselves because you can do high-end CGI now with a Photoshop-type interface. Third, it takes way less time than a traditional ad shoot, and costs less.
As Mercedes-Benz internal lead internal art director Armando Diaz told me, a physical ad production means a big set truck with equipment, cars, and drivers, “And you have risk of needing the right weather, and it gets even more expensive.” On CGI, you can have every conceivable setting in a database from different angles. So, as mentioned, it’s relatively inexpensive.
Diaz and Roberto Hegeler, CEO of CGI stock photography house Maground, which does both virtual and real settings and something called CGI HDR (high dynamic range) domes — one of the terms that zoomed over my head like so many CGI star fighters — sold me on CGI, though I think can still tell when a car is real and when it’s margarine. An apologia, though: I am sure in a day or two some of you will have populated the comment section below with reposts around “ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby.”
But, as Diaz pointed out, sometimes that “real thing” just isn't handy, especially if the campaign you need it for is for a vehicle that isn’t even here yet, officially. "Sometimes they just aren't available. And using beauty images composed of CGI makes for a better process. And we are able to create specific locations. Having access to thousands of images we create the locations and create mood for that."
Diaz says the benefit of the easy interface is that you now have creatives working on it who understand it. “Not some computer guy deeply into a program that needs two days to make changes." He says that having access to thousands of images on a relatively fluid user-friendly platform makes anything possible, and allows meshing of real and virtual, which is meat and potatoes work for companies like Maground, of which Mercedes-Benz is a client.
"A friend of mine does shooting for BMW, and afterward both (CGI images and photos) go to same pipeline," says Diaz. Which means you can alter the real car, change its environment and futz with reflections, shadows, even how much mud is on the wheel faring (critical for off-road pitches) and, of course the background.
Maground’s Hegeler said that like most stock photo companies, his has a huge archive of real photographic setting images garnered from a global network of photographers. "What we like to do is enhance detail, things like color, shadows. We get as close as possible to real.” Maground is working with a lot of automakers and brands from other categories. And the demand is what drove them to set up a shop in the U.S. Now can we get a shot of that E-Class sedan orbiting Klaatu while battling the insect-like Blortz, please?
How Will the CGI Generation Find Magic in the Movies?
(theglobeandmail.com) Until recently, I had a sure-fire way of sparking classroom discussion on the history of special effects. In my teaching capacity, I'd ask college students to remember their seminal magic moments: the movie tricks that really blew them away.
I've had a bunch. There was the giant squid in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which blew my six year-old mind. There was Jerry Lewis's Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation in The Nutty Professor, which scared me sleepless. The towering inferno of Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. The flying monkeys on black-and-white TV broadcasts of The Wizard of Oz. Then, momentously, the first glimpse of armed gorillas on horseback in the original Planet of the Apes, which prompted the same reaction from me as it did from Don Draper's son in Mad Men: “Gee-zuz.”
These were the moments that branded my brain and sealed my destiny as a lifelong movie nerd. And for the longest time, students seemed to have their own: Some would cite the silent vastness of space in 2001, others the hovering immensity of the mothership in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And more of them than I could ever count name-checked Star Wars, a movie that did for their generation what King Kong had done for my dad's during the Depression.
But recently, the question yielded zip. A cough or two, some shuffling in seats.
“Really?” I said. “Nothing?”
A hand rose and a student replied: “It's kind of hard to say when you've been raised on that stuff. I guess it doesn't have the same impact.”
But of course, how could it? I was staring at my very first class of wall-to-wall post CGI students, who'd grown up fully immersed in digital imagery. James Cameron's T2 was already on late-night TV when they were born, about the time of Jurassic Park's release, so they were too young to see The Matrix when it first opened. For them, the term “special effect” was quaint holdover of another era. Mine.
So a pop-cultural Rubicon is crossed. Special effects, key components of what historically made movies magical, have lost most of their magic because they have become so realistic and commonplace. A scan of the current movie menu suggests there'd be hardly any movies at all without CGI. You can choose from skyline-flattening monsters (Godzilla), multiple superheroes (X-Men: Days of Future Past), rampaging alien robots (Transformers: Age of Extinction), rampaging alien bug-thingies (Edge of Tomorrow) and yes, even armed gorillas on horseback (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). And you might wonder: Is it still worth the money and parking hassle, and is there any chance you'll experience the giddy sensations you love about the movies?
There might be good news. When movies have reached the point where nothing imaginable is beyond computerized visualization, other forms of creativity may be poised for a renaissance. Indeed, that might already have happened. Consider the most frequent complaint about the recent Godzilla – that the monsters were more fully developed than the human characters. Others compared the sheer narrative complexity of X-Men, a comic-book movie, to the intricacy of a Philip K. Dick story. And note the praise for the current Planet of the Apes movie: It's actually about something, a slice of state-of-the-art pulp that resonates in the contemporary moment.
The 12-year-old in me might have wept at the prospect of mainstream movies trafficking so heavily in superheroes, sea monsters and angry monkeys, but that boy has had his fill. And I doubt he's alone, even among less grizzled viewers.
In fact, it's possible that this surfeit of sensory overstimulation has contributed to the recent surge in TV excellence. Movies once provided all the drama, intelligence and adult entertainment that TV lacked; now that situation has almost completely flipped. Not only do Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, True Detective and Game of Thrones provide characters and storytelling depth that Hollywood movies seem to have lost, but they've become the best place to watch that most old-school of theatrical movie attractions: acting.
Case in point: On Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston delivered one of the most accomplished performances in the history of TV; in Godzilla, he had less screen time than it took to run the closing credits. And can anyone remember another year when the Academy Award for Best Actor was handed to someone (Matthew McConaughey) who was turning in an Oscar-calibre performance on TV (True Detective) the very same night? The best back-to-basics commercial moviemaking – story plus camera plus editing – hasn't disappeared, it's just fled the megaplex.
So while a part of me mourns for the passing of the old, low-tech movie magic, and pines nostalgically for the primal sensation of seeing those giant squids, mounted apes and flaming witches for the first time, there's another part that says bring on the boredom. It could restore the magic, without the tricks.
ORIGIN DIGITAL STUDIOS OPENS IN BURBANK AS NEW COLLECTIVE OF VETERAN VISUAL EFFECTS ARTISTS, PRODUCERS AND SUPERVISORS
(creativehandbook.com) Origin Digital Studios has been launched in Burbank as a new collective of veteran visual effects artists, producers and supervisors. The company has been designed to service the needs of high-profile television programs, commercials, feature films, and special venue presentations. Miami-based Lincoln Road Advisors, headed by Eric J. Bertrand, is the primary investment company behind Origin. The announcement was made today by company president Mark Miller.
In addition to its Burbank headquarters, Origin Digital Studios also has studios in New York, NY, and Albuquerque, NM. The company expects to open additional studios in Atlanta, Georgia, during the coming year.
Said Miller, "Having enjoyed long-standing partnerships with studios, VFX Supervisors, and post production producers for many years, I, along with our newly assembled collective of veteran artists, producers and supervisors, have developed a unique culture. We have long been trained to help our clients efficiently manage visual storytelling, from concept to completion. Our experienced and award winning staff is available for a diverse range of new productions. Our Burbank studio is located in one of Fotokem's production centers, which instantly allows us the ability to connect to their high speed networks which cross the country. With their nextLAB and Global Data technology, our clients can get plates to us simply and quickly, no matter where they are based. Our studio in New York is fiber connected to Fotokem's network, to ease the transport of information to our Burbank location. The same will hold true for each of our future studio locations. These unique services allow us to do what most other mid-level VFX companies simply cannot."
Adds Bertrand, "What makes Origin Digital Studios unique in a sea of mid-sized VFX companies in 2014? One reason is the fact that they have a strategic relationship with Fotokem - one of the last remaining, and highly respected independent, full-service post production companies in Los Angeles. Through this relationship, Origin has the advantage of not only providing top tier VFX work, but they can also offer all of the support services their clients need - from on-set dailies to final color. When a deal can be packaged that includes all needed services, the project can run much smoother, thus saving time and money for their clients."
"Origin is an independent company, and their clients can pick only the services they need or want. The company is able to collectively collaborate on a workflow strategy that will result in significant savings to a diverse range of clients," Bertrand said.
Jason Zimmerman, VFX Supervisor on the hit FOX TV series "Sleepy Hollow," says, "VFX Supervisors want a company that has the top artistic talent supported by a bulletproof, fast and efficient pipeline. They want a VFX company that works with them and the production to create the best possible product. Collaboration is key and Origin Digital Studios is now the place. Working with Origin allows me the freedom to interact directly with my team and to collaborate directly with numerous digital artists I've worked with for many years. This type of talent is hard to find all in one place, but I'm fortunate enough to now be working through Origin on 'Sleepy Hollow' with many top artists."
ABOUT MARK MILLER:
Prior to forming Origin, Mark Miller was GM for three years with Pixomondo. There, he was involved with visual effects production on a number of hit TV series, including: "DaVinci's Demons," "Terra Nova," "The Mindy Project," "Sleepy Hollow," "Devious Maids," "Community," "Game of Thrones," "Hawaii Five-O," and "Grimm." During his tenure with Pixomondo, he also produced VFX for such feature films as "Spring Breakers" and "A Good Day to Die Hard."
Earlier, for nearly a decade, Miller was Co-Founder and President of Hollywood-based Eden FX, overseeing VFX production for numerous high-profile TV shows and feature films. These included: "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," "Star Trek: Voyager" and "Star Trek: Enterprise," as well as such other projects as "LOST," "Hellboy," "Across The Universe," "Nim's Island," "Superman," and "The Road."
Miller has an extensive career in the post production industry. He was
Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Digital Magic (1997- 2000,) President of Unitel Video/Hollywood (1993 - 97,) VP of Engineering and Operations for Unitel Video/Hollywood (1985 - 93,) Technical Supervisor
for Compact Video (1979 - 1982,) and Technical Director for CBS Television (1971 -1979.)
Miller is a founding member of the Visual Effects Society, and a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He is also a past member of SMPTE, and was Emmy Award nominated for his work on the CBS series "On The Air" for Technical Direction and Camera Work. He was also Emmy Award nominated for Best Visual Effects for his work on the two "Star Trek: Enterprise" episodes: "Broken Bow" and "Countdown."
Fantastic Four Script Is Still “Evolving”
(wegotthiscovered.com) While Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice have all been making headlines almost daily with rumors and scoops of all sorts, another superhero tentpole has been stealthily flying under the radar – Josh Trank’s The Fantastic Four. We had only gotten a few scraps of information about the Fox flick over the past few months, such as that it’s going to be “more grounded” and a coming-of-age story. Then, earlier this week, star Kate Mara stirred the pot in a big way by telling Esquire Mexico that the movie isn’t based on any of the comics.
As you can imagine, her comments got fans in a bit of a tizzy and will surely come up when The Fantastic Four goes to San Diego for Comic-Con this year. But before the film hits that massive event, we’ve got a little information about what working on the project has been like, courtesy of star Michael B. Jordan. Speaking with MTV, the actor commented on the lengths Fox has gone to in order to keep The Fantastic Four under wraps for the time being:
“Yeah, we have been pretty much in our own world, that’s really the only way we could get a project like this done. It is so massive, so many moving parts, so many moving pieces, things are changing every day.
“The script is evolving, [you make] on set decisions on the fly, things are always constantly changing. Me personally, I block out that extra noise and I focus on the job I have to do. It is an important film for all of us… We’re taking it seriously, taking a lot of risks. I think it’s going to pay off.”
Of course, Jordan saying that the script is “evolving” set off some alarm bells with the interviewer, who asked him to clarify. Jordan set the record straight, saying:
“As much as everybody thinks that these projects are cemented in years before, they’re not. There’s so many things that you just can’t account for. You know, you can try and plan as much as you want, but you get there on game day and you get thrown a curve ball, I guess, hey, the game plan goes out the window. You’ve got to adapt.”
When you add in Mara’s comments that the film isn’t based on any pre-existing storylines, it does make sense that Trank is still toying around with the script, making sure that what worked on the page still holds up on the screen. But especially for a movie as big as The Fantastic Four, it’s got to be nerve-wracking for fans to hear that the team handling this adaptation doesn’t have it all figured out even as production continues.
Women in Animation to Launch Mentorship Program
(bostonherald.com) Women in Animation is drawing up more plans to bring females into the industry. The professional organization focused on more inclusion for women within the entertainment industry announced Monday the creation of a mentoring program.
The six-month program will connect experienced animation talent with newcomers in the art, science and business of animation. For its inaugural year, WIA's program will be open to current members throughout the Los Angeles area.
"We are excited to launch the mentoring program and look forward to helping each participant develop the professional skills and knowledge she needs to succeed in the animation industry," WIA co-president Kristy Scanlan said in a statement.
The program launches in October and will last until March . Based on the outcomes of the pilot program, the org looks to expand it to its seven other chapters worldwide.
Tarzan Movie-makers Head to Town for Blockbuster VFX Film Shoot
Warner Brothers film crews were at the Shipyard Estate to shoot water scenes in Brightlingsea Creek.
Tarzan, which is not due for release until 2016, stars Hollywood A-lister Samuel L Jackson and Wolf of Wall Street actress Margot Robbie.
Onlookers said there was no sign of the film’s high-profile stars during last week’s brief visit.
Morgan Marine’s yard was used as a base by producers.
Company director Steve Morgan said: “They went out on boats to do the filming, so we never saw any actors.”
The Brightlingsea water scenes will be transformed, using special effects, to create an African jungle setting for the Tarzan story.
The 3D blockbuster is being directed by David Yates, who made four of the Harry Potter films.
The title role is expected to be played by Alexander Skarsgård, of TV vampire show True Blood fame.
Blockbuster movie 'Brilliance' Delayed for Pittsburgh Shooting
(triblive.com) Backers of a big-budget movie determined to press on and film in Pittsburgh this summer, despite the last-minute loss of actor Will Smith, have decided to postpone plans after failing to find a suitable replacement for the lead role.
“We plan to shoot again next year,” said Paul Phlug, a spokesman for Legendary Pictures, which had opened offices, hired some crew and made other arrangements for the science-fiction thriller “Brilliance” before pulling its application with the state film office June 26. The film office in May awarded the project $19.5 million in tax credits over several years.
Steelers minority owner Thomas Tull is chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures. He was instrumental in having part of “The Dark Knight Rises” filmed in Pittsburgh in 2011. Tull is committed to bringing “Brilliance” and its more than $100-million budget to the Steel City, Phlug said.
“Pittsburgh is his second home,” Phlug said. “It's definitely a place Legendary likes to produce.”
Pittsburgh currently is home to two movie productions – “Southpaw” with Jake Gyllenhaal and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” based on a novel by Point Breeze native Jesse Andrews. Lionsgate is opening offices for “The Last Witch Hunter,” starring actor Vin Diesel, and should start filming this summer. The big-budget production is slated to receive more than $14 million in film tax credits.
“Fathers and Daughters,” a movie featuring Russell Crowe, finished shooting in Pittsburgh in May.
Pennsylvania awards up to 30 percent in tax credits to productions that spend at least 60 percent of their budget on qualified expenses in the state. The program is capped at $60 million a year.
With 'Planet Of The Apes,' Do We Still Need Actors?
(forbes.com) Who needs big stars when you've got CGI apes?
This weekend, the second of the Planet of the Apes reboot movies hits theaters and by all accounts, the human actors are a sideshow.
Instead, the action focuses on the apes, a digital band of simians led by the most prominent motion-capture actor around, Andy Serkis who plays Caesar. Serkis filmed the role in a studio in a unitard with sensors all over his face and body to capture his movement and expression. That data was fed into a computer to help make the incredibly life-like ape audiences will watch in theaters. According to Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers, the apes look even better than they did in the 2011 original reboot. However, “It’s a bummer when the damn dirty humans show up, trying to regain the upper hand. The apes are horrified. I was, too. No slur on the actors.”
Serkis is the top man in his field but the movie is populated by lesser known (cheaper to hire) actors, including Toby Kebbell and Nick Thurston, playing the other apes . When actors you’ve never heard of are outshining Gary Oldman and they’re playing computer-generated characters one has to wonder, are we at the beginning of the end of actors?
Actors are expensive and can be difficult to work with. There are some actors who make insane demands to appear in a movie, some actors don’t show up on set and worse, some actors get injured. Just look at what’s happened with the newest Star Wars film. Because one of the stars, Harrison Ford, injured his ankle, the crew had to take a two-week break in filming. A hiatus like that can cost millions of dollars.
Wouldn’t it be easier if J.J. Abrams was working with a computer generated Han Solo? He could tailor the performance to be exactly the way he wanted it and wouldn’t have to worry about pesky things like injuries. (Serkis is in Star Wars too.)
It’s not a far leap from the kind of work Serkis is doing in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to an actor that just lives in the digital world.
Back in 2010 I did a story about the work being done at USC to create a completely digital actor. At the time, the ground-breaking technology was being used on the film Benjamin Button where Brad Pitt’s character spanned the decades with the help of CGI faces added to different actors’ bodies. But the technology was (and is) there to digitize an actor and then use all of his or her movements to create new performances. Imagine a digitized Andy Serkis. There’s no end to the roles his avatar could play. (For a nightmare scenario of this check out this trailer for The Congress.)
Of course actors will never go away. There will always be movies that require live actors or that are cheaper to produce with real actors. But Dawn of the Plant of the Apes is expected to top to box office this weekend with $65 million, according to Exhibitor Relations. Rise of the Planet of the Apes earned $482 million at the global box office. That’s the kind of money that can help push studios to move more into digital performances. And eventually, that will mean a movie that looks like live action but with no actual humans in it.
Kids React To Michael Bay ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Trailer & Orig Cartoon
(thewrap.com) A new “Kids React” video from YouTube content creators The Fine Bros. shows then viewing “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” movie from producer Michael Bay.
VIDEO - Take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
-H For Godzilla (2014) a 400-foot model of the Golden Gate Bridge, built at a ratio of 1:0.045, was built for the San Francisco sequence. -IMDB Trivia