(comingsoon.net) In a surprise move, Bryan Singer today revealed the title of the next chapter of 20th Century Fox's popular X-Men franchise. May 27, 2016 will see the release of X-Men: Apocalypse!
Apocalypse, created by Louise and Walter Simonson, made his debut in X-Factor #6. The world's first mutant, En Sabah Nur was born in Egypt around 3,000 BC and used advanced technology to make himself an eternal conquerer, believing whole heartedly in survival of the fittest.
The character's most popular storyline, "The Age of Apocalypse," ran in the X-Men books beginning in 1995. Set in a parallel reality formed by interference to the timeline, "The Age of Apocalypse" saw Professor Charles Xavier murdered before he could form the X-Men. Instead, a very different take on the team began with Magneto leading them through a post-apocalyptic America ruled by mutants.
Since next summer's X-Men: Days of Future Past involves a time travel storyline, it's likely that a filmic take on "The Age of Apocalypse" could spin out of the new film's ending. It's certainly something that 20th Century Fox has considered as ComingSoon.net has learned that domains like AgeofApocalypsemovie.com have been registered by the studio for years. What's more, Singer's new film is set to introduce key "Age of Apocalypse" characters like Bishop (Omar Sy) and Blink (Bingbing Fan).
At this stage, however, all that's confirmed is the May 27, 2016 release date, which puts X-Men: Apocalypse up against Walt Disney Pictures' Alice in Wonderland 2.
Fourth "Transformers" Wraps & Hits Superbowl
(darkhorizons.com) Principal photography has wrapped on "Transformers: Age of Extinction" with the film's director Michael Bay indicating that our first glimpse at the new movie might come with a high-profile TV spot during the Super Bowl on February 2nd.
Bay tweeted "We have completed our five and half month shoot. We got back from a month long shoot in China. My crew and I had a fantastic time shooting in Hong Kong and Mainland China. It was an amazing experience, and I love the country. My cast was absolutely fantastic, and a very fun group to work with. We are working hard cutting the movie right now. I think the first piece comes out for the Super Bowl and a teaser right after that. And yes, I'm very excited about this new movie."
Academy Announces Oscar Visual Effects Shortlist
(Variety) Variety has obtained the Academy’s short list for the visual effects Oscar. These 10 films will compete at the vfx “bakeoff” in January. In alphabetical order:
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,”
“Iron Man 3,”
“The Lone Ranger,”
“Star Trek Into Darkness,”
“Thor: The Dark World,”
“World War Z”
The inclusion of Disney’s much-ballyhooed flop “The Lone Ranger” is a mild surprise, given how unpopular that picture was. ”World War Z,” by contrast, survived bad buzz and a troubled production to meet critical and box office success, and remains alive for the Oscar.
Notable vfx pics that didn’t make the cut include ”Man of Steel,” “Ender’s Game,” “Rush,” “47 Ronin” and “The Wolverine.”
Because visual-effects tentpoles usually dominate the top grossing pictures of the year, the visual- effects Oscar race is often an indicator of which studios are doing well at the box office and which are not. Though this year’s bakeoff list includes both hits and disappointments, it is still somewhat telling about the state of studio pictures.
Warner fared well in the Oscar race with “Gravity,” “Pacific Rim” (made with Legendary) and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” “Gravity” is a hit, “Pacific Rim” did solid if unspectacular business and a sequel is likely. “The Desolation of Smaug” is part of a trilogy and is a nearly sure bet to score close to a billion dollars in grosses.
Disney also has three releases in the race: “Iron Man 3″ and “Thor: The Dark World” along with “The Lone Ranger.” Two of the three are big hits. Paramount has two pics in the bakeoff: “Star Trek Into Darkness” along with “World War Z,” both big grossers.
Universal has only “Oblivion” in the race; its “Fast & Furious” franchise has never found love with the Academy’s vfx voters. Sony has only “Elysium” and Fox was shut out.
Though the days when a single company would create the visual effects for a tentpole are seemingly long gone, Weta Digital is the sole vfx studio on “The Hobbit.” Weta also has “Iron Man 3″ in the race.
The bakeoff slots are still dominated by the top companies. Industrial Light & Magic showed its clout within the Acad’s vfx branch with slots for “Pacific Rim,” “Star Trek Into Darkness” and ”The Lone Ranger.” Framestore has “Gravity” and “Thor: The Dark World” in the race. Double Negative also worked on “Thor: The Dark World.” Digital Domain has “Iron Man 3″ and “Oblivion.”
Image Engine and Method Studios of Vancouver, much smaller companies, worked on “Elysium.”
Also notably missing from a prominent place among this year’s remaining contenders: Rhythm & Hues Studios, which was the lead vfx studio on last year’s Oscar winner, “Life of Pi.” R&H has fallen on hard times since its bankruptcy.
Sony Pictures Imageworks has also had a quiet year, as it was working on “The Smurfs 2,” which didn’t make the bakeoff, and the next “Spider-Man” picture, due for release next year.
Can Jurassic World Recapture the Dino Magic of the Original?
(tgdaily.com) Hard to believe it’s been twenty years since Jurassic Park came out and became a huge box office smash. It was a hell of a game changer for FX, ushering in the age of CGI, and it also took Michael Crichton’s career into the stratosphere as a “mega author.”
Many of us still have very fond memories of when the movie came out, and we definitely have high hopes for Jurassic World because the previous two sequels weren’t very good. It’s practically impossible to recapture the magic of an original, but Jurassic World sure hopes to try.
As Giant Freakin Robot and ComingSoon report, the film’s visual consultant, Rick Carter, said, “We’re going to try and visualize where this could go next and make sure it had some of the same –literally the same-DNA of the previous movies. Ed Verreaux is the production designer on that one…We’ve worked together going all the way back to Back of the Future.” (Carter has also worked on Avatar.)
Visual continuity is important for sequels. When Halloween II went into development, Universal insisted that the original cinematographer, Dean Cundey, come back to film for the second installment because his camerawork was a crucial component to the original. How much of the Jurassic past can be dragged forth into the future remains to be seen, but we’re curious to find out when Jurassic World comes out on June 12, 2015 in IMAX and 3D.
Microsoft Shuts Down Victoria Games Studio
(mcvuk.com) Microsoft has shut down its Canada-based studio in Victoria, leaving 30 employees out of the job.
The firm told Times Colonist that the closure was part of a resource consolidation plan, adding that its “working closely with all employees affected by this change to identify open positions in other studios.”
Victoria Advanced Technology Council executive director Dan Gunn spoke with the outlet as well, dismissing thoughts that the closure was tied to the studio's former “champion” Don Mattrick leaving for Zynga.
“I think we all hoped they would continue to expand,” Gunn said.
“Don Mattrick was obviously a massive champion for that office and seeing him go caused us to take notice, but it’s tough to know the inner workings of a large corporate giant like Microsoft.”
The closure takes place just two years after Microsoft announced the studio as a new branch.
Andy Serkis Prepping Motion-Capture ANIMAL FARM For 2014 Shoot
(twitchfilm.com) Andy Serkis, who has become everyone's favorite motion-capture actor thanks to his performances as Gollum in Peter Jackson's Tolkien films and as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (pictured), is moving forward with his motion-capture version of George Orwell's Animal Farm.
Speaking with Screendaily, Serkis provided more details on the project, which was announced in October 2012. "We've started pre-vis," Serkis said, "which in the virtual world in many instances means you've already started shooting the film." The plan is to begin principal photography in the third quarter of 2014, or, sometime between July and September.
Serkis wants the film to be "entirely performance captured," so don't expect talking mouths on live-action animals. Instead, "it will all be generated by the interaction between the actors playing those roles...the physicality and facial expressions of all the animals will come directly from actors' performances,"
The film is being produced independently, with the budget in the $50 million range. The cast has largely been secured, according to Serkis, but further announcements will have to wait until the financing is all locked down next year. Serkis can be seen again as Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, due in theaters on July 18, 2015.
Disney’s Spider-Man Rights Contested In Court Again By Stan Lee Media
(deadline.com) The mantra over at Stan Lee Media Inc must be “if first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Certainly that is its legal strategy. Almost three months after a federal judge in Colorado granted Disney’s request for dismissal of SLMI’s multibillion-dollar Marvel superhero copyright suit, the company is back in Pennsylvania court this week claiming it owns the rights to Spider-Man. “In response to Disney’s Spider-Man claims and/or in response to [American Music Theater's] counterclaims and third-party claims, SLMI respectfully seeks a declaratory judgment … that Disney cannot bar SLMI from using or licensing the Spider-Man copyrights and trademarks by virtue of the fact that SLMI (not Disney) is the owner of various copyrights and trademarks regarding Spider-Man and has properly licensed the copyrights and trademarks to AMT,” says the third-party defendant paperwork (read it here) filed Tuesday.
Oscar, Computer Graphics and the Redefinition of Cinematography
(cgw.com) Is Gravity an animated film? Oscar may want to know.
In 2012, Yuri Neyman and Vilos Zsigmond, two well-known cinematographers obsessed by the idea that the art of cinematography was lost to the flash-bang of digital effects, founded The Global Cinematography Institute (GCI).
Neyman is best known for his work on Liquid Sky and DOA. He has become an instructor, writer, and a developer working on technology and tools to ensure the accuracy of a movie's "look" as content is transferred between cinematographer to effects houses, post, and finishing. While teaching cinematography at AFI in Los Angeles, Neyman was disturbed by the lack of historical knowledge of cinematography he encountered among working professionals in the industry. Neyman found a kindred spirit in Zsigmond, famous for his work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Deer Hunter, and the Long Goodbye. Neyman interviewed him for an article in Neyman's Gamma and Density Journal, and during the course of the interview, they realized they both had a fierce love for the art of cinematography and a commitment to nurturing and protecting that art. GCI, the product of their love for cinematography is a school for industry professionals and its faculty is made up of experienced and well know professionals. The Institute also holds regular screenings and events in Los Angeles to educate people about the art of cinematography.
After the recent Visual Effects Society Summit, Neyman commented on a panel of Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) Presidents. The panel discussed the ramifications of digital technology as it blurs the lines between original cinematography and digital work that comes later.
Neyman says, "It is often problematic to distinguish in the final image where the work of the cinematographer ends and where the VFX begins, and vice versa." He quoted the former Academy President Hawk Koch, who suggested that perhaps a new category was needed. Koch suggested visual imaging.
They're not just debating Academy categories; the bigger question, and the uncomfortable question, is this: When a movie has just as much or even more footage generated by VFX as was originally shot, how does that affect the Academy Award nomination for Cinematography. The question is particularly acute because of the fabulous and utterly seamless work done on Gravity.
Is It Real or Is It Digital Real?
The director of Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron, talks about how much of Gravity was created with the help of digital effects. He is quoted in the Hollywood Reporter as saying roughly 80 percent of the movie was hand animated. During the panel, Bill Kroyer, director of digital arts at Chapman University, said that given the extensive keyframe animation done to enable Sandra Bullock's character to float through space, Gravity might qualify as an animation film.
Things are getting really blurry, indeed. As a matter of fact, the issue brings up James Cameron's frustration that his actors on Avatar were not considered for an Academy Award because they were animations. Cameron claims that the extensive facial mocap used in the production of Avatar means the actors were directly acting. Similarly, some critics have complained that Andy Serkis deserved an Oscar nomination because his creation of characters for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Lord of the Rings, and King Kong were performance captures, not animation.
In the case of Gravity, at least Sandra Bullock's nomination is safe because her face in the film is live action, even if her body is often CG. It could also be argued that the poor woman spent much of the shoot strapped in a harness surrounded by roving cameras, and that delivering the performance, she did was acting - and damn fine acting, by any definition.
Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki is also probably safe because he had a very active role in every part of the production of Gravity. He worked closely with VFX house Framestore to ensure that the lighting in the effects was consistent with the lighting he designed for the entire film.
The issue could be much more of a problem for cinematographers, who have seen their work changed in the process of adding effects and compositing. And Neyman raises the issue of Academy Awards for Cinematography and Effects awarded to the same film numerous times, including for Life of Pi, which, again, is a very CG-heavy film. And in fact, cinematographer Chrisopher Doyle, who has shot Director Wong Kar Wai's films, was moved to dismiss the Academy Award for Claudio Miranda as "an insult to cinematography." It's worth noting that Doyle has no idea what Miranda's actual level of control was in the making of Pi. He's sounding off about the growing role of FX and the lack of recognition the craft often gets. And he's saying that the Academy itself is a crusty old bunch who have no idea where the line is between cinematography and effects.
Enter the DOI
In a paper published by the GCI by Neyman and Zsigmond, the Institute proposes a new role, the Director of Imaging (DOI), who, according to Neyman and Zsigmond, will synthesize into one person: the visual artist, craftsman, and technologist. As cinematographers, Zsigmond and Neyman see the role of the art of the DOI as "expanded cinematography," and, in general, probably assume the job will go to those with training in cinematography - though they admit that Moore's Law and the course of digital R&D means that distinctions blur even to the point that the concept of a camera is changing. Eventually, with the evolution of "ever more sensitive" and the use of more sensors, the camera simply captures the light, it captures everything in front of it, and all the creation is done later in the computer.
In their paper, Zsigmond and Neyman state, "the lack of an aesthetic gatekeeper, with a visual perspective, during preproduction and previs, is generating a noticeable vacuum between the director and his cadre of CG VFX specialists." They see the DOI as being able to oversee production through all phases to ensure the director's vision is captured and maintained. They also believe that having a central person working directly with the director can help protect the effects houses that are being driven to bankruptcy by a lack of oversight in maintaining costs.
Zsigmond and Neyman also see the role of DOI as being important throughout the life of a creative work - as a film is distributed in a variety of resolutions and formats. And they also see the role of DOI as a relevant field for digital game development, which, they say, is become a hugely influential art form in terms of imagery.
Their goal, and the goal of the GCI, "is to enrich the artistic side of cinematography and image making in general."
San Andreas Disaster Epic to Shake Theaters June 5, 2015
(Warner Bros. Pictures) Already one of the more crowded years for major releases, 2015 is now getting split right down the middle with Brad Peyton's San Andreas, starring Dwayne Johnson, targeted to shake theaters in 3D on June 5, 2015.
Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore wrote the first draft of the script with Chad and Carey Hayes recently having provided a rewrite. Set in the aftermath of a devastating California earthquake, San Andreas follows a helicopter pilot (Johnson) and his quest to save his estranged daughter.
The June 5 release puts the Warner Bros. film up against 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation's B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations. It should also face some stiff competition in its second week as Universal's Jurassic World opens June 12.
The Original 'Empire Strikes Back' Wampa Was HUGE!
(moviesblog.mtv.com) With his three books looking behind the scenes of the original "Star Wars" trilogy, Lucasfilm editor Will McCrabb has become the master of rare of pictures and details from the classic films.
The latest picture from the set comes to us from McCrabb's Twitter feed (via Badass Digest). The photo above is a look at the wampa from "Empire Strikes Back" as it would have appeared had Lucas decided to keep the creature in.
The shots with a full-body look at the creature were ultimately redone for the Special Editions, but it didn't appear as big as the wampa we see here.
Over-hyped, Cheesy CGI Served Up For Spider-Man 2
(tgdaily.com) Okay, this is a joke and a half that only a fanboy can love. Peter Parker, Spider-Man, is one of those heroes that you want to punch in the face for being so angst ridden and annoying and whiny and just annoying. But, he has super powers. This sequel is going to make billions. We will see it. We will not be happy.
Yeah, I said it, Spider-Man is a whiny little #@$%. And the special effects look like your typical summer movie fare: physically impossible and very predictable in a shark jumping sort of way.
But, there is Emma Stone. Yes! Emma, Emma, Emma. You are like the one beacon of hope in this travesty of over-hyped, cheesy CGI. You'll be even better once you drop that douchey boyfriend of yours and come live with me and my mom.
VIDEO - Take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
ILM Alum Joe Fulmer Passes
(facebook.com) Very sad news, Joe Fulmer from ILM past away. Joe's long time friend Brad Jerrell, said it best,"He made me roar with laughter and cry in anguish. He made me angry and he taught me many things. Most of all I loved him very much."
I remember really enjoying every visit I had with him welding in the special effects shop.
...as long as I avoided asking him how work was going.
We'll miss you Joe.
His son has requested in lieu of flowers, donations or condolences, him would like people to send photos or fond memories about his Dad to him. This could be sent to his home address or by email. Here’s his information:
88 N.W. Wallula Ave.
Gresham, OR 97030
Email is: email@example.com
Regrets on IATSE Website: http://www.local16.org/
Frozen & Catching Fire Looking For $30M Weekend
(variety.com) ‘Frozen’ Opens Strong, While ‘Catching Fire’ is Still Cooking
A pair of holdovers, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Frozen,” look to heat up what is historically a chilly weekend at the domestic box office. The pair are expected to gross somewhere in the high-$20 millions, low-$30 millions each after fueling a record-setting Thanksgiving B.O. feast last weekend.
“Frozen” might have a slight edge over “Hunger Games” given the toon’s broad family appeal.
Peter Jackson Releases The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Video Production Diary 13
(ign.com) Peter Jackson just released the penultimate episode of his production diaries for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. In Video Diary 13 you’ll find: glimpses of the dragon's head and feet, sword fights, dwarven tomfoolery, hobbit ping pong, Stephen Fry being funny, and people slipping on the 1.8 tons of (presumably) fake gold used in part to create Smaug's 200 billion piece CGI treasure hoard.
The eight-minute video starts at the close of shooting and continues through post-production. It’s a little sad watching the massive sets get torn down as the production crew and extras wonder aloud where their next paychecks will come from. But then they have a nice party so it all works out.
One of the coolest bits is Peter Jackson giddily operating a motion capture rig to record camera movements that will be applied to the film’s computer generated landscapes. He says it’s just like using his old Super 8 camera back in the day. Except, you know, it probably costs a little more.
VIDEO - Take a look: http://www.ign.com/articles/
Flat Growth at Motion Capture Firm OMG Despite Blockbusters
(cityam.com) MOTION capture firm Oxford Metrics Group (OMG), which provides the technology used in Hollywood blockbusters Gravity and World War Z, yesterday reported a loss of £0.4m during the year to 30 September.
“As the global economic outlook shows signs of improvement, we enter the year ahead with cautious optimism,” said chief executive Nick Bolton.
The company’s revenues slipped from £29.5m in 2012 to £29.4m this year, and of OMG’s four divisions only its motion capture Vicon camera business reported a profit of £3m, although three divisions showed a profit before tax on an adjusted basis.
“Our four businesses, three of which are operating profitably, have every opportunity to develop further in 2014,” said Bolton.
OMG has been in business since 1984, and has been diversifying its offerings with the Autographer, a wearable camera that automatically takes photos, which is now available worldwide.
The firm’s list of clients include the UK Ministry of Defence, the US Army, BMW, Airbus and Industrial Light and Magic. OMG’s technology was used in a number of top video games this year including FIFA 2014 and Beyond: Two Souls.
Shares of OMG fell 1.8 per cent in trading yesterday to close at 27p.
"The Chronicles Of Narnia: Silver Chair" Moving Forward
(darkhorizons.com) "Life Of Pi" screenwriter David Magee has been hired to pen the script for "The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Silver Chair," the fourth film in the adaptation of the C.S. Lewis novel series.
Set decades after "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" in Narnia (but only a few years in the real world), Eustace Scrubb and his friend Jill Pole are brought to Narnia by Aslan to find the missing heir of a now elderly King Caspian. The missing Prince Rilian disappeared while on a quest to find the green serpent that killed his mother.
Eustace and Jill set off to the giant-lands north of Narnia to find him, and encounter the Lady of the Green Kirtle and a young man who must be bound nightly to a magical Silver Chair.
In a statement, Magee says: "I have always loved The Chronicles Of Narnia and I endlessly imagined myself finding my own passage into Narnia someday. All these years later, I’m getting to fulfil that wish just a little bit by writing the film adaptation of The Silver Chair and could not be more excited about it."
The Mark Gordon Company and the C.S. Lewis Company are producing the fourth film which Mark Gordon, Douglas Gresham and Vincent Sieber will produce.
Closer to Reality: Photorealism in Computer Graphics
(pcpro.co.uk) Computer graphics are about to take a huge leap towards photorealism rendered in real-time. Stuart Andrews paints a picture
Photorealism is the holy grail of computer graphics. In movies, whether artists are recreating tigers and raging oceans for Life of Pi, or building giant monsters and battling robots for Pacific Rim, the goal is to create something that looks real.
Even when realism isn’t the principal aim – as in Despicable Me 2 or Monsters University – the studios are looking for something to take their film to the next visual level, whether that’s through natural textures, realistic fur or sumptuous lighting.
Photorealism is just as important for games. It might not mean much in an artsy independent game or an iPhone time-waster, but for racing games, fantasy adventures and hard-hitting action titles, the more realistic the graphics, the easier it is to immerse the player in the game’s world. Each new hardware generation, GPU and game engine takes us one step further.
Studios are looking for something to take their film to the next visual level, whether that’s through natural textures, realistic fur or sumptuous lighting
Games and movies face two sides of the same problem. The offline computer graphics (CG) used in movies – where scenes are set up then rendered frame by frame – have produced photorealistic effects for more than a decade. However, this approach is slow and expensive, and makes it awkward to tweak scenes or try different styles or angles.
Game developers, on the other hand, must balance their desire for photorealism with the need for interactivity. A high-end PC could produce Pixar-quality graphics, but not at a playable speed.
Both groups need something that can create photorealistic results in real-time. Amazingly, this might be just around the corner.
Tim Sweeney, the brains behind Epic Games’ hugely successful Unreal Engine, told the UK’s Develop conference in July that “we’ll be able to render environments that are absolutely photorealistic within the next ten years”.
At this year’s Game Developers Conference, Epic unveiled a demo for the upcoming Unreal Engine 4, showing movie-quality animation running on a single Nvidia GeForce GTX 680.
Meanwhile, Mark Cerny, PlayStation 4’s architect, told delegates at Develop that “we are at the point in the PlayStation 4 generation where we’ll forget sometimes that we’re looking at CG, rather than captured video”. This doesn’t mean it will be indistinguishable, but “at times we’ll be able to forget”, he said.
Pixar-quality cartoon rendering in real-time is also on its way. In 2012, Unity Technologies revealed The Butterfly Effect, a short film running in real-time in the Unity engine with Nvidia GPUs. Using techniques traditionally reserved for offline rendering, its visual quality is hard to distinguish from the work being produced by Hollywood CG studios.
Full article with pics: http://www.pcpro.co.uk/
Q&A With VFX Soldier In SF & NY
(vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/) I’ve setup tenative facebook events for my pending trips to the SF and NY areas to meet with VFX professionals and discuss our effort to curb VFX subsidies and the formation of the organization we call ADAPT: The Association of Digital Artists, Professionals, and Technicians:
I will be actually flying out to these locations on a voluntary basis. If anyone in these regions would like to help set these events up please advise.
"Ghostbusters 3" Waits On 'Major Star' For Greenlight
(darkhorizons.com) Last month came word that both Emma Stone and Jonah Hill were offered roles in Ivan Reitman's "Ghostbusters 3". Now, comes word that one of them has dropped out of the running:
Emma Stone is passing on the role of 'Anna' but Jonah Hill still has an offer out for 'Jeremy'." They also add that Sony wants two major stars signed on or they will not green light the picture.
Man Fined $172 For Watching "The Lone Ranger"
(The Canadian Press) Traffic unit officers were dispatched Wednesday night after a complaint came in about someone watching a movie on a laptop while driving a minivan on Highway 2 near Carstairs, Alta.
An officer found the blue Chrysler minivan and saw the driver watching The Lone Ranger.
“He didn’t really say why he was watching the movie but I think it’s just one of those things that he wanted to pass the time while he was driving,” said Sheriff Jason Graw.
Graw said luckily no one was hurt.
“It’s obviously very concerning behaviour to us. Even a momentary lapse in attention can result in a very serious injury.”
A 42-year old male from Red Deer was given a ticket for distracted driving, which is a $172 fine.
-H To better understand practical and digital VFX for X-Men (2000) director Bryan Singer visited the production sets of Titanic (1997) and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).