Getting More Immersed with Indiewire


  The Penske Media purchase of Indiewire has resulted in an expansion of my role as crafts and awards season contributor.  Beginning this week, I begin Emmy coverage of below-the-line contenders along with my usual Oscar season crafts reporting, working closely

Immersed in Blu-ray: Hitchcock and Bogart


The WB Archive Collection gets Hitch and Bogie on Blu-ray and they've never looked better for home viewing. In Kent Jones' indispensable doc, Hitchcock/Truffaut, he reminds us that Truffaut was on a mission to correct misconceptions about Hitch as a lightweight

Immersed in Books: Farber on Film


For the first time, the complete writings of film critic Manny Farber is available from Library of America, edited by Robert Polito (Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson). Manny Farber (1917-2008) was the first modernist film critic to write like a modernist.

Clips

Tintin Getting Early Positive Reviews

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Clips, Movies, Oscar, performance capture, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin opens Oct. 26 overseas, but is already getting positive early buzz in Europe.

TOH’s London correspondent, Matt Mueller, writes, “Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s inaugural instalment in their planned Tintin trilogy delivers the frolicking, boy’s-own-adventure goods in delightful, delirious spades. From frequently breathtaking animated imagery to superb vocal outings by its British cast and a tight screenplay (by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish) that retains the globetrotting charm of Belgian originator Herge’s comic-book series, the movie keeps a could-be-confusing plot humming along nicely while adding in dollops of wry, affectionate humour. Tintin is a fine example of what can be achieved when some of cinema’s brightest minds come together to honour great source material…”

THR’s Jordan Mintzer adds, “…a dazzling flashback scene where past and present are intermingled with plenty of wit and digital splendor (most notably in an image of The Unicorn emerging from the sea and crashing, dreamlike, onto a row of sand dunes), showcase Spielberg’s talent for creating action that is less about bullets and bombs than in keeping things visually alive, introducing dozens of ideas in only a few shots. This is what makes Tintin an altogether more successful mocap experience than earlier efforts like The Polar Express, and the director (who operated the camera and is credited as “lighting consultant”) approaches the medium in a realistic way that’s also far from the epic worlds of Avatar, setting things in a past of lifelike artifacts and locations…”

Premiere’s François Grelet gushes, “Rushing in gap open by James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis the brothers Wachowski, indeed David Fincher, Spielberg seizes itself of his potential movie camera to rethink bottom in height the bases of the storytelling to the old one. The most beautiful moments of his Tintin are situated by there, in this manner to dare impossible transitions to print to the narrative a noisy dynamism, to reinvent the rhythmic binary one alternated mounting for him to infuse more nuances (attention the eyes on the sequence of flash back), to think every scene under the only angle of the piece bravery and to put to poorly the received idea according to which a film has itself Of housewife his spectator with moments of flottement, more commonly called ‘breathings…’”

Empire’s Ian Nathan concludes, “The pace throughout is rat-a-tat-tat quick, the plot tripping along, and the exposition breathless. You have a job keeping up, but never at the expense of the sheer goodwill. While luxuriating in its pre-existing universe, here is a film imploring you to join in. It would take a hard heart to resist.”

This merely confirms the positive takeaway I got from my Weta visit last summer and from what I’ve glimpsed so far since then. It’s looking more and more like Tintin will be a definite Oscar contender for best animated feature.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heU3cmo01fs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=zFt8OpMTEnk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6FDgKv-eBg&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBf79XkC208&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJrWklzb5b8&feature=related

Five New Tintin Clips Released

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Books, Clips, Movies, Oscar, performance capture, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

There are five new clips available from The Adventures of Tintin (Dec. 21). It’s very clear that Spielberg has applied a break-neck Raiders action ethos in taking Herge into the hyper real world of CG. Indeed, it also appears that Weta has taken animated performance capture to the next level with this new hybrid of photoreal and hand-drawn stylization. I’ll have to wait to see the completed film in 3-D, but it’s looking like Rango will have some serious Oscar competition.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heU3cmo01fs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=zFt8OpMTEnk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6FDgKv-eBg&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBf79XkC208&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJrWklzb5b8&feature=related

Star Wars Goes Into Orbit on Blu-ray

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Blu-ray, Clips, Movies, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

So much for the backlash: The Complete Star Wars Saga (Fox Home Ent.) bowed as the all-time catalog Blu-ray title last week, selling 1 million units for $84 million. Are we surprised. That should give Blu-ray a big boost, with Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, Jaws, E.T., and the Raiders of the Lost Ark trilogy.

Ironically, the first time I ever heard of Blu-ray was when George Lucas touted the HD format back in ’95, two years before the launch of DVD. And, not surprisingly, the Saga looks and sounds terrific in HD. Sure, the prequels look superior because of digital improvements, but the original trilogy, despite some blemishes, dazzles as well. You can see such sharpness and detail (including the wear and tear on R2). And it’s fun comparing the wondrous Yoda puppet with the CG version (introduced now in Phantom Menace). Yes, there are the notoriously new revisions, but they’re minor and actually work in the overall scheme of things.

Interestingly, a few years ago I asked Lucas what order I should introduce to my boys, and he unhesitatingly replied chronologically instead of the order they were made. Well, it didn’t work out that way — until now. The boys insisted on watching the prequels first, which are their favorites, and I joined them. I must confess that it was a fascinating way to go. Surprise was sacrificed for suspense, obviously, but they took delight in pointing out the echoes that reverberated: Anakin saying, “I have a bad feeling about this,” which wraps around to Han in Episode IV, even though the trope originated with Han.

I haven’t had a chance to dip into the bonus features yet. I’m still reveling in the movies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bZ0OLfNlN4

A Dreamy Drive

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, Editing, Movies, Production Design, Tech, Trailers, VFX | Leave a comment

Drive (opening today) is like being in a dream. Director Nicolas Winding Refn seems to be channeling Michael Mann from the ’80s with Tangerine Dream. In fact, it doesn’t seem like the 21st century at all. Everything is faded, dingy, grimy, low-tech, thanks to Beth Mickle’s production design and Newton Thomas Sigel’s cinematography. It’s set in LA (downtown, Echo Park, the Valley), and the vibe is neo, neo noir.

Ryan Gosling plays the stuntman/part-time getaway guy (who gets in way over his head) as the iconic loner in his ’73 Chevy Malibu: Steve McQueen-like, only without the movie star charm and charisma. But he’s effective: a quiet, anonymous drifter forced out of the shadows when he befriends Carey Mulligan (a latter day Tuesday Weld) and her son. Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman play terrific baddies; and Bryan Cranston makes a crusty foil to Gosling as his unlucky pal.

However, the opening downtown getaway, which sets up Gosling and the milieu so brilliantly, (edited by Mat Newman), is never matched in terms of excitement and fascination. And the bone crunching, bloody violence is so over-the-top that it wakes you up from the spell. But then that’s probably the intention (VFX is by Ring of Fire and Wildfire). It’s a real treat.

First Digital 3D Rendering from Ed Catmull

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Clips, Education, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

This an invaluable piece of computer graphics history: The first 3D rendered film comprised of Ed Catmull’s left hand created by Catmull and Fred Parke (with audio by Robert Ingebretsen) when they were grad students at the University of Utah in 1972. Eventually this film demo found its way into Futureworld in 1976 (how appropriate). In fact, Ingebretsen’s son, Robby, discovered that his father had a copy of the 8mm reel. After hearing Catmull speak a couple of years ago at his alma mater, Robby and his uncle were invited to take a tour of Pixar, which resulted in Catmull giving his permission for the film to be digitized. Robby made it available earlier in the year on his website, nerd plus art.

It’s a treasure trove of pioneering computer graphics and footage revealing how Catmull mapped the polygon vertices that make up the three-dimensional model, including texture mapping, 3D anti-aliasing, and z-buffering. Enjoy!

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