Thursday, December 18, 2014

Worth a mention - 12/18/14

Cinematographers "Insulate" From VFX Supervisors for Control of the Image

(              Cinematographers live in interesting times, with technological developments offering more options, but also opening the door for others to meddle with the image.

“It’s a changing time and that’s not a bad thing because we have new tools. The bad part is that our influence is diminishing,” Steven Poster, who is a former president of the American Society of Cinematographers, said recently at a session organized by Technicolor at Camerimage, a festival dedicated to cinematography.

Poster, whose credits include “Donnie Darko,” said that this decline in influence started when crews stopped watching film dailies and switched to lower-quality video dailies. With film dailies, everyone could appreciate the look the cinematographer was trying to achieve.

“It gave a sense of the scope, the look, the feel and the emotional output of the movie,” he said. “It created a kind of gestalt that made everybody work in a particular direction.”

“We started living with people watching our work and not knowing what it was we were doing,” he said. “We lost a sense of the magic of what we were doing as directors of photography.”

Poster said that one option was to do the coloring on the set in front of everybody, as he did on his last movie, “Amityville: The Awakening.”

“They are seeing what your intent is. All of a sudden people start to feel the magic is coming back,” he said.

Poster said it is very important to work closely with the digital imaging technician, as “it gives you the control over the image that has been lost.”

Unfortunately some studios had started to say it wasn’t necessary to have a DIT on set, especially on TV productions.

Digital technology offers the director the opportunity to change the look of the film in post.

Ed Lachman, who was Oscar nommed for “Far from Heaven,” said that he recently worked with a director who wanted to color correct every shot with him.

Matthew Libatique, who was Oscar nommed for “Black Swan,” said: “Directors think they have ownership over the color of a movie because they see something they like and they know they can do it on their f—ing laptops.”

He added: “If you are worth your salt as a cinematographer, you’ve already baked in the majority of the look. You are 99% there. Why are we spending four weeks doing it again?”

Shooting in 4K offers the chance to reframe shots. Libatique said that David Fincher sits down with his d.p., Jeff Cronenweth, and reframes every shot.

Nancy Schreiber added that if there are visual effects that can make it even more difficult to control the image. “The VFX supervisors are really trying to take control, and we have to insinuate ourselves in that situation very early on, even if they don’t want us to,” she said.

‘Transformers’ At the Oscars Isn’t The Joke You Think It Is

(              What’s the easiest target in Hollywood? Simple. Transformers: Age of Extinction for Best Picture of the Year.

Awards season is upon us, and like every other studio in existence, Paramount has been sending out a bevy of “For Your Considerations” — polite requests that you consider their year’s fare for a crop of Oscars. Among that crop is Age of Extinction, a film with a sickly 18% on Rotten Tomatoes, that managed the unconscionable sin of having a giant robot wielding a sword and riding on an even giant-er robot that’s also a T-Rex that can breathe fire…and still being a thick grey slab of dullness.

Check out the “For Your Consideration” here if you’d like — it’s probably worth a look, if just for Stanley Tucci’s “running in slow-mo” face. And, as you can expect, this move is the current laughingstock of the Internet, prompting a stream of pointing, giggling and the occasional middle finger from both online publications and regular Joes on Twitter. Let’s get something straight. You and I and people who’ve never seen a single Transformers film and even the Pope, probably, all know that Age of Extinction will never be nominated for Best Picture. It’s probably safe to say that Paramount knows it too (hell, if they’re savvy enough to steer this clunker to more than a billion dollars worldwide, they’re savvy enough to know how Oscars work).

This is more than likely just a push to get Age of Extinction out there on the awards circuit in a big way — where it will no doubt be passed over for Best Picture (also Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, both of which are on the ad) and considered for the mass of technical nominations that are more Transformers‘ forte. Also, awards pushes like these are often part of the contract when studios finance a film, meaning Transformers for Best Picture was a gambit decided upon long ago.

But even that’s beside the point. Because while the Internet was busy pointing and laughing at these silly metal monstrosities — how dare they think they can win awards? – Transformers was busy reeling in a shit-ton of awards.



First, there’s the original 2007 Transformers, which was nominated for three Oscars, albeit with no wins: Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement in Visual Effects.

That’s about par for the course — Transformers scored either sound effects or mixing nominations from the Cinema Audio Society, the Motion Picture Sound Editors and the Online Film & Television Association. Effects-wise, Transformers won awards from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, the Awards Circuit Community Awards, Hollywood Film Awards, the Los Vegas Film Critics Society, the Online Film & Television Association and the Visual Effects Society Awards. And then a heap of noms on top of that.

Then come the categories you’d never expect — a Saturn Award nomination for Best Science Fiction Film and a BMI Film Music Award for composer Steve Jablonsky, And of course, wins that absolutely don’t count- stuff like the MTV Movie Awards or the British National Movie Awards, which are decided on by popular vote (where a box-office slugger like Transformers is a shoo-in to win).

That Transformers gets so many sound/effects-based nominations shouldn’t be surprising in the least — when picking a crop of four or five top films, people will probably choose the largest films with the largest amount of dollars spent on VFX. Films that are exactly like Transformers.

What’s odd is how often Transformers won out against others, considering how often the Transformers look and sound like mismatched Erector sets having sex. Especially in 2007 — a year that also hosted the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie and its remarkably real Davy Jones. That Pirates didn’t sweep every category may have more to do with the technical side of things — how well did the sound effects team capture the sound of lusty Erector sets? — more than the artistic value of such an awful thing.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Next comes 2009’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. It’s largely a repeat of last time. A sound mixing nomination from the Academy Awards, the Cinema Audio Society, the Motion Picture Sound Editors and a Satellite Award nom thrown in for good measure. Visual Effects nominations came from the Satellite Awards and the Visual Effects Society. Like the first Transformers, Steve Jablonksy’s getting a BMI Music Award and the film’s getting a Best Science Fiction Film nom from the Saturn Awards.

Yet there’s a general drop in quantity here. There’s a handful of new accolades — say, a nod for compositing from the Hollywood Post Alliance, a SAG Award nomination thrown at a laundry list of stuntmen, or a hard-to-believe acting nomination for Ramon Rodriguez (playing Shia LaBeouf’s wacky roommate is apparently worthy of praise) from the American Latino Media Arts Awards. But mostly, what was “won” is now “nominated,” and what was “nominated” is now gonezo. Transformers won more VFX awards than Revenge of the Fallen was even nominated for.

Whether the effects in Revenge of the Fallen were actually worse or not, the movie certainly was. And that might have been all the awards-giving population needed (that and the general sense of “been there, done that” that comes standard with any sequel) to move onto greener technical awards pastures.

Also, Revenge of the Fallen was the only Transformers film to win a Razzie (three of them, no less- Picture, Director, Screenplay). That’s got to count for something.

Full article:

For Your Consideration Link:

From Hero to Zero – Famous Action Films with Special-effects Trickery Removed

(            Take away the CGI and 300: Rise Of An Empire is just a bunch of blokes with no shirts on.

Computer-generated imagery is now so important in the film industry that it is shoe-horned into almost every movie.
CGI is used for tiny things, such as adding or removing objects in the backgrounds of scenes, or it can totally replace actors and sets for entire scenes – sometimes entire movies.
When done correctly, computer animation is breathtaking, and can transport audiences to places they could never normally go.

VIDEO - Take a look:

This is not CGI or Pre-render:   "Uncharted 4" Dev Sheds Light on Stunning Visual Shaders

(             Naughty Dog’s Yibing Jiang has spilled some tantalizing tidbits on the shader work that goes into creating the stunning visuals seen in its hotly anticipated action-adventure sequel, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

As the game’s Shading Artist, Jiang is instrumental in creating Nathan Drake’s dashing next-generation looks, and shared some comments on how the studio was able to overhaul his chiselled features for PS4.

"Real-time rendered in game. This is not CGI or pre-render, which means all the shading features for skin, hair, eyes need to be written in code.

Using Disney Diffuse model, GGX Brdf model and Screen Space Subsurface.

Hair is using Kajiya-kay Brdf model.

Frank Tzeng did the sculpting and texturing for his face and arms."

It’s not just Drake’s boyish good looks that have seen a considerable improvement for his PS4 debut. The cheeky fortune hunter’s clothing has also received just as much attention, which Jiang further explains:

“Real-time rendered in game. This is not CGI or pre-render, built the fabric shader package for all the main characters and npc characters as well.

Using Disney Diffuse Model, recreated Brdf model just for the fabric, also added special cheap Sub-surface Scatter.

All the fabric details, stitches, small wrinkles, wear and tears were built in shader.

Colin Thomas did modeling and texturing part for the outfit.”

Uncharted 4 received its first gameplay video at the PlayStation Experience a few weeks ago. Naughty Dog soon begun drip-feeding us a number of facts about its upcoming sequel, including the fact Drake will support 800 facial animations and fully-animated gun straps.

The developer also released a high-res comparison shot of Drake’s Uncharted 4 model alongside his Uncharted 3 counterpart.

Uncharted 4 is due for release in 2015.

Five Years Ago, 'Avatar' Grossed $2.7 Billion But Left No Pop Culture Footprint

(               James Cameron’s Avatar defied the skeptics and became the highest-grossing film of all-time, but five-years later it is all-but-forgotten in the pop culture landscape.

Today is the fifth anniversary of the theatrical release of James Cameron’s 3D action spectacular. Avatar earned rave reviews, went on to become by-far the highest-grossing movie of all time, and won several Oscars. It absolutely almost immediately vanished from the popular zeitgeist leaving almost no pop culture impact to speak of. It did not inspire a passionate following, or a deluge of multimedia spin-offs that has kept the brand alive over the last five years. Few today will even admit to liking it, and its overall effect on the culture at large is basically non-existent. It came, it crushed all long-term box office records, and it vanished almost without a trace.

Full article: 

Live-Action Film Sailor Moon To Get Transformers Cred?             Their have been talks that Sailor Moon, which was created in the 1990s and spawned a series of manga and eventually an extremely popular anime series, may be turning into a live action movie in the near future. Sailor Moon was just revised in celebration of the 20-year anniversary, with a direct adaption of the original series but new styling to keep it fresh and interesting. This revamp has spurred a resurgence of the already-popular series and has led to talks of the live-action film in its future.

Rumors flew when previous talks said that Geena Davis would be starring as Queen Beryl, and now Megan Fox has expressed interest in playing the lead role of Usagi Tsukino, Sailor Moon's civilian alter ego. According to Kpop Starz, Fox revealed that she would be excited to bring the project to the big screen as the lead role, though she expressed some concern about American interest.

“That could feasibly be made into a live-action movie. I don’t know how many Americans were into that. I was into that, but I don’t know how huge it was here,” says Fox.

Though Fox seems skeptical, Sailor Moon has far-reaching capability, with fans of the show on nearly every continent. Many die-hard lovers of Sailor Moon have expressed that they do not believe Fox to be the right choice for the film. But others praise her natural passion for the project and believe it may shine through in her acting.

Whatever the case may be, hopefully, for anime lovers, the rumors of this live-action adaptation become a reality in the near future.

Call for Entries Issued For 2015 AICE Post Prod Awards

(               14th Annual post production industry awards competition to honor excellence in a wide range of disciplines on May 14 in Los Angeles.

AICE has announced its Call for Entries for the 14th annual AICE Awards competition, the premiere creative competition for the post production industry in the US and Canada. The 2015 AICE Awards includes 21 categories: 16 for editorial and five for other post production crafts such as audio mixing, color grading, design, sound design and visual effects. Winners will be announced at the AICE Awards Show, set for Thursday, May 14, 2015, at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

The deadline for entries is Monday, February 2, 2015. Full d


Rachelle Madden
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Hulk Movie Excluded From Future Standalone Marvel Projects

(            The Hulk movie is officially a snubbed franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It looks like The Hulk movie isn't a Marvel Studios priority, in spite of continuing clamor from fans that the Green Avenger have his own standalone outing in cinemas.

A recent interview with Joss Whedon confirmed the Hulk will remain confined as an Avengers teammate, that is, he will be in the same league as Hawkeye, excluded from future standalone projects.

Whedon quoted Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige as saying, "We think right now it's good to have somebody who we could only have in The Avengers," referring to The Hulk.

Whedon was somewhat relieved he didn't have to make another solo Avenger movie; Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America came out with blockbuster solo films, with sequels and trilogies to boot.

"Everybody loves Mark [Ruffalo]. He's phenomenal. But the fact that there hasn't been a Hulk since that Hulk, it doesn't suck. I mean, my job is hard enough.

Cap's had a movie, Thor's had a movie. Everyone's gone through big changes. Iron Man had a movie. So I have to juggle everybody's perception of that while still making a movie that you can see having not seen any [other Marvel movies] except the first Avengers - or not even that." (

Marvel Studios promises both Hulk and Hawkeye will have pivotal roles in the upcoming "Avengers: Age of Ultron," though. It's expected The Hulk movie will remain snubbed during Marvel Cinematic Universe's phase 3, especially with projects exploring more characters in the comics.

Robert Downey teases as much in an interview, which could mean Marvel is planning on an "awakening" of sorts for the franchise in "Avengers: Age of Ultron."

"I think that there has to be a bit of transcendence of formula. And so without giving too much away, I think that's why I just kinda stamped it when the first draft came in, 'cause I thought, 'Oh wow, it didn't fall into that trap.' And I read the last page and I got chills for a reason I definitely can't explain."

What is the New York State VFX/Animation Credit?

(               The VFX/Animation credit is a fully refundable credit of 30 percent of qualified VFX costs incurred in New York State (NYS).

 An additional 5 percent credit is available for VFX/Animation costs incurred in Upstate NY, outside the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD). The MCTD includes New York City, Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester counties.

How do I qualify for the VFX/Animation credit?

Spend 20% or $3 million (whichever is less) of your VFX/Animation budget in New York State.

 Can I apply for the VFX/Animation credit and not the Post Production only credit or the Production credit?

Yes! The VFX/Animation credit is a stand-alone credit.

Can I apply for the Post Production only credit and the VFX/Animation credit in New York, and not the Production credit?


Can I apply for the Production credit and the VFX/Animation credit?

No. You don't need to! When your production becomes eligible for the Production tax credit, any qualified post production or VFX work completed in NYS is automatically eligible for the Production tax credit.

If I am applying for the Post Production only credit,is VFX spend in NYS eligible for the Post only incentive?

No. The VFX/Animation incentive requires a 20% or $3million spend threshold to be eligible for the credit. It is a stand alone credit and cannot be folded in to the Post Only credit. Any part of VFX/Animation done in NYS is eligible for the Production credit. Not the Post Only.

Is there a deadline to apply to the VFX/Animation credit?

No. But only costs incurred after your initial application is received by the Film Office will be eligible for the credit.

Full information link:

Are These Trippy Visual Effects Real Or Computer Generated?

(              I can’t figure out if this music video was made using computer graphics or macro photography. Maybe it’s a combination of both. Or maybe strong cheese I had before bed causing this all to happen inside my head.

VIDEO - Take a look:

Star Wars Episode 7 Bucks CGI For Real Life Props: BB-8 Is Real

(               One common criticism of modern film is its over reliance on CGI and digital effects. While the field has certainly progressed leaps and bounds in the past few decades, it still isn’t really that realistic for audiences. Remember the lion in I Am Legend? Or the multitude of werewolf movies that can’t hold a flame to American Werewolf in London? When a filmmaker is forced to use physical props and makeup, it always has a semblance of reality,because it IS real. CGI and digital effects can replicate reality, and create new realities, but at the end of the day the human eye can still tell that those dinosaurs in Jurassic World were never really captured on camera.

Enter Star Wars Episode 7. It was revealed this week by Mark Hamill, who is back playing an older version of Luke Skywalker, that the new BB-8 droid is not some flying CGI creation, but a real prop. Although he didn’t go in to detail about how the rolling contraption was created, he said he was stunned by it and had a lot of fun playing with it at Pinewood Studios.

The 63 year old actor who first appeared in the franchise in the first 1977 film, says he didn’t think they could do better than R2-D2 which was also a physical prop with practical effects, but was blown away when he saw the “rolling ball.”

2015 Creative Trends: 20 Leading Designers & Artists Reveal the Biggest Influences & Changes Coming Their Way

Leading graphic designers, illustrators, art directors and creative professionals reveal their plans for 2015, what’s likely to influence their work and how their style may evolve in the new year.

"I will be disappointed if budgets continue to decline for work that has a high production value. Almost daily we get a call describing a job to us that has live action, design, CG and VFX in it. We get the rundown on the commercial to find out it’s pre-roll and the budget is not doable. Just because the spot airs online, doesn’t make it any easier to produce." Erin Sarofsky, president, owner and executive creative director, Sarofsky (creators of the film titles for Guardian's of the Galaxy)

Full article:  

-H        -  "The interior of the nuclear missile is entirely made up, but Mohen Leo is on a watch list somewhere for his attempts to lookup reference."   - VFX Supervisor John Knoll   Source -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Worth a mention - 12/17/14

Michael Bay 'Eyeing' 'TMNT' Director For 'Age Of Extinction' 2016 Sequel

(            New "Transformers 5" rumors suggest that Mark Wahlberg or no other human will be cast in the next 2016 movie, and that Michael Bay is eyeing "TMNT" director Jonathan Liebesman for the director seat.

As fans are trying to figure out who will replace Michael Bay as director for "Transformers 5," new plot rumors hint that the setting for the next Transformers movie will be in space with no human beings involved.

One rumor floating is that "T5" could be set in space in Cybertron, and that everything will be CGI, according to

How could this be true?

Remember what happened at the end of "Transformers 4: Age of Extinction?" Optimus Prime flew up to space to confront the ones who created the Autobots in the first place. He was going back to his home in Cybertron.

Maybe this is why we didn't hear any casting news yet?

Other rumors floating around insist that Mark Wahlberg is returning to the popular franchise anymore, and that he will be replaced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Bruce Willis, somehow.

Back in September, reports were saying that Wahlberg decided not to reprise his role in the next installment, even though he really kicked butt in "Age of Extinction" and created more "Tranformers" fans now that Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf are not involved anymore.

So if it's true that Wahlberg is not returning, The Rock and Willis could replace him and be the next action duo to be more involved with the Autobots vs. Decepticons war. That's going to be very interesting to say the least.

In terms of director, is reporting that Bay is looking at this "friend and protégé," as well as "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" director Jonathan Liebesman to replace him to helm the next installment.

"There's a lot that's unexplored, but that's for the next director to figure out," Bay told He added, "They're hard movies to do and it takes every day for two years. They're fun, but they're hard."

"Transformers 5" will release in theaters on June 24, 2016.

Sony Attempting to Secure Rights for an Animated ‘Super Mario Bros.’ Movie

(              The last time a US company made a movie based on Super Mario Bros., things did not go so well. The terrible production, awful film and disappointing results pretty much soured Nintendo on making live-action movies of their characters, period. Still, the popular video game company did continue to make some animated films, mostly based on Pokemon. It seems they were more open to that idea with their iconic roster of characters.

Now, revealed in the mountain of leaked e-mails coming from Sony was the revelation that producer Avi Arad (Spider-Man) was in the process of securing the rights for Sony to make an animated Super Mario Bros movie.

Buzzfeed was the first place to report on this very surprising news.

According to their report, in the e-mails illegally obtained in the Sony hack, Avi Arad had emailed Sony studio head Amy Pascal in October 2014 and told her “I am the proud father of mario the animated film.” In the e-mail were photos of him with Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata. Pascal then forwarded that e-mail to TriStar head Tom Rothman saying “Avi closed Mario brothers. Animated.”

After first reporting this, Arad contacted Buzzfeed and told them the negotiations were real but had not closed. They were “just beginning.” That seems to be in conflict with the emails from October, but who knows.

Frankly, I’m surprised Nintendo is considering this at all. Mario seems to be doing just fine on his own. His new WiiU games, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. are massive hits, almost every game before that has been a hit, and Nintendo continues to thrive.

I guess, if they were dead set on making a movie, this would be the safest bet. You wouldn’t have to worry about Mario not looking the way people think he looks, and there would be no limit to what the character could do. Nintendo might even be able to create assets to use in animation. Still – I don’t know. I kind of like Nintendo’s policy of keeping Hollywood at arm’s length.

‘Hobbit’ Finale Races to $11.2 Million at Tuesday Box Office

(                 “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” rung up $11.2 million at the box office in early shows Tuesday night.

That easily tops the $8.8 million that last year’s “The Desolation of Smaug,” the previous film in the franchise, scored in its early shows for Warner Bros. The strong early number also eases concerns that Tuesday’s terror threat by the Sony hackers related to “The Interview” might spook moviegoers and keep them away from theaters.

By Wednesday, the finale to Peter Jackson’s trilogy will be in more than 3,875 theaters nationwide. The Middle-earth epic from New Line and MGM should take in north of $75 million over the five days, say analysts, and easily unset the current No. 1 film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”

Also Read: Rival Studios Fuming at Sony for Not Yanking ‘Interview’ in Wake of Hackers’ Threats, Insiders Say (Exclusive)

The first two “The Hobbit” movies have grossed more than $1.9 million worldwide. “An Unexpected Journey” took in $303 million domestically and $714 million from overseas in 2012, while last year’s “The Desolation of Smaug” rolled up $258 million in the U.S. and $700 million from abroad.

The finale could ultimately finish somewhere between the first two movies domestically and has a shot at topping both abroad. It’s off to a great start overseas, taking in $122 million in its debut last weekend.

The weekend’s other two wide openers — the Fox comedy sequel “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” and Sony’s musical “Annie” – roll out Friday and are expected to take in $25 million and around $15 million respectively. Fox Searchlight is expanding the Reese Witherspoon survival saga “Wild” into a 1,035 theaters — up from 116 — after two strong weeks in limited release for the awards hopeful.

"Pirates of the Caribbean 5" To be a Reboot

(                On the heels of yesterday’s casting story for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, another interesting tidbit about the high seas franchise has emerged as series star Orlando Bloom (who has previously revealed there are talks he could return) has offered up that the next entry could serve as a reboot.

“I’m not entirely sure that [I'll be back] just yet, but there are talks,” he tells IGN. “Basically they want to reboot the whole franchise, I think, and do something with me and the relationship with my son… I’m of course Davey Jones now, so I’m down the bottom of the ocean. It might be kind of fun to do something where I’m rumbling round the bottom of the ocean, because I won’t look anything like me. [Gestures to face] Get all gnarly.”

Should he return, Bloom will join newcomer Brenton Thwaites along with Johnny Depp, reprising his iconic role as Captain Jack Sparrow, Geoffrey Rush, returning as Captain Barbossa, and Javier Bardem, debuting as the film’s villain, Captain Brand.

Although full plot details are not yet available, the film is said to see Brand as a ghost hellbent on getting revenge against Sparrow, blaming the rake for the death of his brother.

The most recent chapter in the highly successful franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, was released in the summer of 2011 and grossed more than one billion dollars at the worldwide box office.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is set for a Queensland, Australia production. Kon-Tiki helmers Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg will direct with Jerry Bruckheimer back to produce. Look for it to hit theaters on July 7, 2017.

Is A More Jiggly Animation A More Realistic Animation?

(             "Part of being human is we jiggle when we move," says one researcher in a video from Germany's Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, where a team has created software that tweaks the standard motion capture procedure used for 3-D animation.

Most motion capture software filters out any movements of soft body tissue (muscles, skin and fat) as "noise" and focuses on the rigid movements of the skeleton. Their program, called Motion and Shape capture, or MoSh, is based on the idea that body shape and soft tissue movement is just as important to creating realistic animations as the movement of the skeleton, and that ignoring this data will lead to lifeless renderings.

"We argue that these non-rigid marker motions are not noise, but rather correspond to subtle surface motions that are important for realistic animation," the researchers write.

MoSh both measures the movement of motion capture markers on the surface of a body, allowing collection of data about the movement of soft tissue, and can conveniently replicate body shape with 47 to 67 markers—relatively sparse by motion capture standards—which is information that would otherwise need to be obtained with a full body scan.

The data from MoSh can also be combined with regular motion capture data to enhance existing animations. The team was also able to transpose their data set, which consists of the movement of individual markers placed on bodies, onto invented 3-D animations with different body shapes or even cartoon-like non-human characters. This new technology could lend a heightened realism to 3-D animation, even with fantastical, fictional beings, solving some of the uncanny valley problems that have plagued CG since its inception. In the future, we can look forward to Shrek's beer belly moving just like the real thing.

VIDEO - Take a look:

New 3D Models in Google Maps are Incredibly Detailed

(             Google has started updating its 3D models of buildings in Google Earth and Maps, and the details on the ones we've seen are nothing short of stunning.

According to Google rep Susan Cadrecha, the first cities to receive the new imagery are New York City and San Francisco (including Bay Area).

To see them, either view them in Google Earth or enable the Earth View mode in Google Maps.

Some of the most impressive examples are the recently finished Freedom Tower as well as the Statue of Liberty in NYC and the Bay Bridge in San Francisco.

Google updated Maps in May 2013 to include 3D imagery from Google Earth. The new imagery, as you can see in the comparison below, is much more detailed than the old one.

A comparison between the old and new 3D imagery in Google Maps. Pictured: City Hall in San Francisco.

Google promises to update the 3D models in more cities around the world in 2015.

Photos - Take a look:

Marvel Officially Announces Inhumans Movie

(                                   Marvel's Inhumans movie has been given a November 2, 2018 release date, though there isn't any word yet on who will star in the superhero studios upcoming film. The movie will introduce a lesser known team from the Marvel universe, much like the Guardians of The Galaxy. The "Inhumans", are human test subjects given superpowers after being experimented on by a militaristic alien race called the Kree.

The production of Guardians of the Galaxy was a gamble for Marvel Studios; introducing lesser-known heroes compared to those in the Avengers But the success of the unfamiliar characters in Guardians paves the way for the Inhumans, leading to Marvel giving the green light on its production.

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Movie Pilot also confirmed the news, adding that the decision of the studio had been logical and carefully planned. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced the "Inhumans" to the comic book world, debuting in "Fantastic Four" dating back to 1965.

Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige talks about "Inhumans" and its potential (via Slashfilm):

"Inhumans is cool, they're really great characters. The most powerful guy is the king who doesn't say a word and if he does - lookout. That's awesome. And the notion of the Terrigen Mists, this notion that you go through and don't know what you're going to be on the other side, is incredibly compelling dramatically. In other words, all the craziness that comes with Inhumans, we've done in the other movies already. But this would have some of the social drama that we haven't really done yet. [Fox's] X-Men, obviously, has been touching on that stuff for a while."

It is also rumored that Vin Diesel might return to another Marvel movie after his voicing duties with Guardians of the Galaxy as Groot. The 'Fast and The Furious' actor hinted at his possible lead cast with the Inhumans movie on his Facebook page in a post:

"Vin and Marvel... you all made it happen! I get the strange feeling that Marvel thinks I'm Inhuman... Haha."

Diesel might have also hinted his involvement with the Inhumans movie in an earlier interview with IGN:

"I get the call, I go down to Marvel. A great meeting. It was even talking about something so big I can't even talk about because it's like the merging of brands in a way, which I won't get into. That was something way, way, way, way, way down the road."

Nicole Kidman: It's Strange Shooting CGI

(                 Nicole Kidman feels "grateful" when she gets to act opposite a live person.

The film star has been involved in several movies featuring CGI throughout her career, most recently Paddington. Although they are visually appealing, they can be tricky to make.

"[I've not done one] like this [before]," she told BBC Radio 1. "This was really... you're acting opposite a stick with a red hat on it until you see the movie and then you're just completely... I was gobsmacked at how adorable he is. They'd shown me an image of the bear, so I'd already seen how cute he was going to be, but to see him come to life and all the little nuances, I was amazed.

"That's how it goes these days. You're grateful these days when you get to act opposite an actor."

Nicole also chatted about how she manages when making a movie, especially one which features day and night scenes. Those can mean working at all hours for continuity purposes, so she isn't above delving into the on-set catering.

"I do go in there and raid the catering truck sometimes, because you work weird hours on a movie. Sometimes you're starting at 3pm and you're finishing at 3am so everything always feels a bit sort of twilight zoney," she laughed.

The 47-year-old star has appeared in many huge films, such as Moulin Rouge!, The Hours and Cold Mountain. Her back catalogue is varied so there isn't one set thing her fans shout when they see her on the street. Instead they are usually astounded to have come face to face with her, which Nicole finds hard to handle.

"Sometimes people will go, 'Are you Nicole Kidman?' It's almost a weird thing, I whisper, 'Yes,' or nod. I get a bit awkward. I'm not a big extrovert, I'm an introvert. I'm shy, what can I say," she explained.

"Most Effective Client-Side VFX Supervisor" Golden Pixie Award Goes To...

(              Over quite a few years now I've been bitching about toxic client-side VFX supervisors. These are the ones who are insecure or ego-involved and wreak havoc with VFX houses by demanding way too many redos — and then going back to the original after wasting sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars of the VFX house's budget. These people cause untold emotional upset and financial loss and have contributed to the demise of some good houses. Enough about them!

What I've never taken the time to do is talk about the good guys. These are the client-side VFX supes who work well with VFX houses, have compassion for their situation, and have the personal self-confidence to call shots without many unnecessary redos. These are the men and women who are efficient and solution-oriented.

Supervising for a studio is a high-pressure, high-responsibility job. You have to translate the director's vision into specific instructions and work with VFX houses to make it happen. You're ultimately responsible to the studio and the director for the final product. The number of technical, artistic and people skills required is immense. These are the people who help VFX houses blossom—help them create imagery that we all love—and, each time, they have to make it beyond what has ever been seen before.

I have selected one person whom I have had the good fortune to observe for nearly 20 years. I have met him a few times and find him to be a good and fun guy in real life as well. In fact, I walked with him once through an eerie, very old German cemetery at midnight while we were both attending FMX in Stuttgart. Okay, so we'd had a few German beers and there was dancing involved. But that's not why I picked him.

Inspired by Doug Trumbull's amazing VFX in 2001: A Space Odyssey way back in 1968, this Wisconsin-born sci-fi buff got interested in film at the University of Michigan, where he discovered and entered their film program. He eventually went to work with VFX pioneer Richard Hollander at VIFX, where many a young artist got their start. If I give you too much more, I'll spoil the surprise.

His list of major VFX films is remarkable, including such seminal opuses as The Relic, Broken Arrow, From Dusk Till Dawn, The Matrix Reloaded, Fantastic Four, X-Men: The Last Stand, Watchmen, Man of Steel, 300: Rise of An Empire. As you read this, he's supervising work on Batman v Superman. When he's finished there he hops right into Justice League. Phew. That might have given it away. But, continuing on…

Over the years I've heard his name mentioned by key people at several houses in London, L.A., and Vancouver as being the kind of VFX supe you want to get — not because he's easy, but because he is solution oriented, creative, talented and helps achieve images and sequences they had not imagined, all without excess drama. (As an aside, I've heard that Zack Snyder would agree with my choice here.)

The person I choose for Peter Plantec's Entirely Biased Golden Pixie Award for Most Effective Client-Side VFX Supervisor is: (imagine a drum roll here) GADZOOKS! It's Warner Brothers' legendary VFX Supe John "DJ" DesJardin!

John "DJ" DesJardin; photo by Jean Ho

This is a quote I found from DJ recorded by journalist Trevor Hogg at It sums up the reason he is getting this award. DJ was asked what is most essential about being a good VFX supervisor, and I think he answers for both sides.

“I almost want to say temperament more than anything.  You have to ask yourself: 'Can you keep yourself regimented, and disciplined to be able to get through what you’re going to have to go through to get something done? Can you keep your ideas fresh? Can you be a nice person…' Just be pleasant about it because it’s a pretty lucky job to have. You’re not mining sulfur, your lungs are not filling up with sulfuric acid and you’re not dying when you're 30. Have a little humility, keep your head down and do the work. That, I think, is the most important thing about being a visual effects supervisor.”

Apparently he's right. I would add that, while perhaps he doesn't even realize it, his creative and practical approach to getting things done is another key.

Though I have never worked with DJ, the stories abound. Stories about how houses and their people love working with him. "He's fun."  I would hear these nice stories about DJ and about how his vision, and humanity and talent work together with house-side VFX supervisors to help create great cinema. It is refreshing. He's not the only one. But he is the one I've heard the most good things about and followed the closest. Thank you, DJ, for being a breath of fresh air in our beleaguered Industry. Congratulations, kiddo. You deserve it.

Star Wars Disney Theme Park Attractions to be Based on New Films

(                The Star Wars attractions at Disney's theme parks will be based on the new films, rather than the original or prequel trilogies.

Walt Disney Company chief Bob Iger outlined the theme park plans during a Variety Q&A. The attractions will be based on the new series of movies, along with planned spin-offs, so Disney Imagineers had to wait until they saw what J.J. Abrams had in store for the series.

Iger says that early in development, they were making rides based on the first six Star Wars movies. Ultimately, though, they decided they didn't want to disappoint audiences who had just seen the films and expected to see it realized at the park.

“I didn’t want someone to say, ‘I just saw the movie and there’s nothing in that movie in this (attraction),” Iger said. “We waited to see what this film would have in it. I slowed it all down so what we come forward with will have a blend of the past, present and maybe the future. Now we have a sense of what’s in ‘Star Wars 8,’ and what some of the standalone films will have in them.”

That's not to say the attractions will be entirely removed from the original trilogy. Iger said the film will be "extremely respectful of the look George [Lucas] created in the '70s." And, of course, many key elements from the original films are in the new films as well (Millennium Falcon!).

Computer Science Degree Now A Waste Tme and Money

(             When he was 15, Shlomo Zippel got his first job programming. And that was pretty much the end of his academic career.

"I had an arrangement with the principal — as long as I showed up for tests and did well in them, he wouldn't tell my parents that I wasn't at school," recalls Zippel. "Instead of getting on the school bus every morning I got on a normal bus that took me to the office I worked at." Zippel, who lived in Israel at the time, was developing software used by all major banks in the country plus Reuters Israel.

At 17, the hourly rate Zippel was making for coding was higher than his parents'. "My dad is a surgeon," Zippel says. "This might say more about how little doctors are paid in Israel though."

The tech world is filled with famous dropouts. David Karp, for instance, ditched high school at 15 and never graduated. Instead, he created Tumblr, which he later sold to Yahoo for $1 billion. Mark Zuckerberg left Harvard University in his sophomore year, mirroring another famous Harvard dropout, Bill Gates. Tech billionaire Peter Thiel has also been a vocal critic of college, famously offering selected students $100,000 to drop out of college and instead focus on developing their ideas.

Michael Solomon, founder of 10X Management, which represents about 80 coders, notes that many of them don't have degrees or didn't major in computer science. "One of the biggest issues with post-secondary education in the technology industry is it's ability to keep a curriculum current and at the cusp of technology," says Erik Zuuring, a 10X programmer who dropped out of college. "Just in the web-sphere, trends and technology change on a monthly basis."

See also: 7 Hot Majors That Didn't Exist When You Were in College

"You can get a computer science degree and after four years you're $100,000 in debt and you still don't know everything you need to code," says Jordyn Lee, a rep for SkilledUp, a self-styled curator of online and alternative education sources. Zippel says he's also run across comp sci graduates who couldn't code. "When I was 17 there was a new employee in the company, fresh out of a CS degree. I was shocked when he didn't really know how to program. I remember that's when I decided I probably wouldn't go to school. What is the point?"

The four-year computer science degree has its defenders, too, of course. Don Burks, head instructor of Lighthouse Labs, a Vancouver-based programming boot camp, says the people who create the next version of Windows or OSX or the next Android phone likely studied computer science. "It's fantastic if you're going to become a computer scientist," he says, referring to a comp sci degree. "But for someone who wants to build websites, SaaS products or work on startups, what they need at that point is a practical understanding."

Beyond that, though, a deep understanding of computer science can help you become a better programmer, says Yuri Niyazov, a Ruby on Rails expert. "

I happen to think that this new movement of 'techies don't need education' is really dangerous

I happen to think that this new movement of 'techies don't need education' is really dangerous," he says. "Sure, in my professional experience, when I've been asked to build a 'yet another Rails app that brings the contents of a database into a browser' then someone who just read a book is probably just as good as I am. However when time comes to fix the database, or the browser, or any other number of tools involved in the process, the theoretical underpinnings of computer science became quite important."

As Danny Sleator, professor of computer science and the coach of our programming teams at Carnegie Mellon, one of the nation's top computer science schools, acknowledges, "there's a lot of stuff [we] teach that you may not end up running in to...but you might."

That may seem a faint promise to justify the $100,000-plus cost of a four-year degree. Not surprisingly, many of those with an affinity for coding are opting for alternatives to a traditional degree, like online courses and boot camps.

The former seem a viable alternative except for one thing: Their woeful completion rate. According to SkilledUp, only 5% of people who sign up for an online course finish it to completion. If you pay for a course, the figure doubles.

Boot camps have a much higher completion rate — 90%. Relatedly, they demand a much bigger commitment. Because they require your physical presence, you sometimes have to move to attend them. The cost also range as high as $36,000 though the average is a lot lower and some programs will even pay you to attend, if you're accepted. An exhaustive list of the dozens of boot camp programs can be found here.

They don't call them boot camps for nothing, though. Lighthouse, for instance, is an eight-week program of 10- to 12-hour days that will cost you $8,000. The placement rate is 100%, but you're only going to make about $500 a week or about $25,000 a year for a three-month coop position. After that, salaries range from $45,000 to $80,000, Burks says. (CodeFellows, another boot camp program guarantees you a job making at least $60,000 after you graduate.)

Such programs are viewed as an entry point for junior positions where you can work your way up. Solomon's 10X coders, who can make up to $300 or so per hour, usually have more than five years of full-time coding experience.

Samsung Seeks to Ban Nvidia Computer Graphics Chips in U.S.

(             As patent wars wage on, Samsung Electronics has asked the International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban California-based Nvidia Corp's computer graphics and mobile chips in the U.S.

Samsung filed the complaint with the U.S. ITC on Friday Nov. 21, requesting it to halt the sale of Nvidia's GeForce graphic processing unit (GPUs) and Tegra system on chips (SoCs) as they infringed the South Korean company's patents.

Earlier in September, Nvidia had filed a patent violation complaint against Samsung, requesting the ITC to ban Samsung's Galaxy phones that included the supposed infringed chips.

"We are asking the ITC to block shipments of Samsung Galaxy mobile phones and tablets containing Qualcomm's Adreno, ARM's Mali or Imagination's PowerVR graphics architectures. We are also asking the Delaware court to award damages to us for the infringement of our patents," disclosed Nvidia in a blog post at the time.

Samsung's complaint to ITC is seen as counter attack and labeled "predictable tactic" by Nvidia.  Earlier on Nov. 4, Samsung filed a counter lawsuit against Nvidia at a federal court seeking damages for "deliberate infringement."

According to Samsung's petition, under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (which pertains to SoCs and GPUs) the ITC has been requested to conduct a thorough examination of the alleged infringement by Nvidia. Majority of Nvidia's GPUs are deployed in PCs rather than tablets or mobile phones or tablets. It is also used in Shield Portable Android devices, HTC's Nexus 9 and Nvidia's Shield Tablet.

In the event, the ITC established that Nvidia's chips indeed infringe the patents, then it is in a position to ban the sales of these products in the U.S.

However, usually, such appeals take several years to be investigated and a majority of the violating products do not end up getting banned.

The two companies continue to remain at loggerheads and deny violating each other's patents.

"We have not seen the complaint so can't comment, but we look forward to pursuing our earlier filed ITC action against Samsung products," said Nvidia's spokesperson Hector Marinez, to Bloomberg an e-mailed statement.

Buy Pixar Guru Ed Catmull's Hawaiian Hideaway 

(             Kudos to the property gossips at who turned up the nearly year old listing for Ed Catmull’s his beachfront hideaway in Kailua, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, that’s currently available with — in our humble and utterly meaningless opinion — an unnecessarily complicated price of $20.138 million.

Dr. Edwin Catmull, for all the hardcore celebrity gossip glossy readers who don’t recognize his name, is am uncommonly brainy fellow who is a co-founder of animation juggernaut Pixar and the current and long-standing (if mildly beleaguered) president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. He may not be a household name outside of Hollywood but, children, he is unquestionably a Tinseltown player of the highest order. Okay? Okay. Anyhoo…

Property records Your Mama peeped show the much-lauded CGI pioneer purchased the .7-acre oceanfront property on the northeast coast of the island of Oahu in August 2007 for $6.2 million. Mister Catmull and his wife, Susan, soon engaged the services of GAST Architects in San Francisco who custom-designed a LEED certified two-story residence equipped with a (coffin-sized) elevator, seven bedrooms and 9 full and 2 half bathrooms in 8,182 square feet of interior space done up in comfortable if bland Polynesian seaside-inspired luxury by an accomplished design firm out of Honolulu.

Spacious interconnected living spaces unite the U-shaped house and blend together to incorporate several lounging and dining spaces plus a double-island kitchen with finely crafted custom wood cabinetry — probably and one hopes something preposterously expensive and native to Hawaii — and a full collection of high-priced appliances that include an integrated, under-the-counter ice making machine.

Private quarters include a handful of guest/family bedrooms of varying sizes and features — one is lined with lighted bookshelves and another has furniture built with Legos — plus a self-contained studio-style guesthouse and a second floor master suite complete with dual bathrooms and two ocean side lanai. Listing details also call out a fully equipped fitness room, a media room, an office and garaging for half a dozen cars.

Numerous patios and lanai surround the house and include an outdoor kitchen with built-in barbecue and pizza oven located just outside the indoor kitchen. A resort style swimming pool, spa and waterfall are tucked privately in to the grassy and tropically landscaped courtyard making it ideal for skinny dippers and nekkid sunbathers who prefer not to be peeped by passing beach combers along the property’s deliciously pristine 125-feet of beach frontage.

Take a look:!19//

-H                     "I want to be invisible."       -Megan Fox