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.

Crafts

How They Puppeteered Anomalisa

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Annies, Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, Movies, Oscar, stop-motion, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

With Oscar-contending Anomalisa from Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, stop-motion studio Starburns Industries blurs the line between animation and live-action. Caroline Kastelic, the puppet supervisor, tells us how they did it, 3D-printing 1,261 faces to go along with more than 150 puppets. Meanwhile, the Museum of the Moving Image is currently presenting “The World of Anomalisa,” an installation of two sets and puppets through March 27, 2016. Read more

How Blue Sky Rigged The Peanuts Movie

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Annies, Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, Movies, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Given the Picasso-esque posing of Charles Schulz’s beloved characters, Blue Sky departed from its customary procedures for the Oscar-contending The Peanuts Movie. This included rigging and materials. They created hundreds of poses, but to hit all of the poses that Schulz drew and stay on model, they built a system of parts that they could move, slide, switch out and replace. When I was up at Blue Sky last summer, I spoke with Sabine Heller, character development supervisor, Justin Leach, rigging supervisor and Nikki Tomaino, lead materials tech director
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10 VFX Contenders Chosen for Oscar Bake-Off

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Below the Line, Crafts, Events, Movies, Oscar, previs, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

The Academy’s Visual Effects branch executive committee determined a shortlist for the bake-off that includes two blockbusters (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World) and two surprises (Ex-Machina and The Revenant). Read more

Kasdan on The Force Awakens Repeating History

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Crafts, Screenwriting, Tech, Trailers, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

It wasn’t easy penetrating the veil of secrecy surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) enjoyed discussing themes and metaphors as the Yoda of the inner circle with J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy. Read more

Recreating The Twin Towers for The Walk

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, Movies, Oscar, previs, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

The Walk, which recreates Philippe Petit’s amazing high-wire act across the World Trade Center Twin Towers in 1974, has been shortlisted for the VFX Oscar. And on Tuesday, it was the subject of a special case study on virtual production held at Sony for a joint tech committee comprised of the ASC, ADG, VES, the Previs Society, the PGA and the ICG. Read more

The 6 Best Score Oscar Contenders

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, Movies, Music, Oscar, Tech | Leave a comment

It’s an awards season full of musical riches: the rousing update of a legendary score, the return of an iconic composer at home with the Western, a chamber piece for a journalism triumph, the fascination of forbidden love and a sublime animated tour-de-force. Read more

Alê Abreu Talks Boy and the World from Gkids

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Below the Line, Crafts, Movies, Tech, Trailers | Leave a comment

Boy and the World, the hand-drawn Brazilian festival fave from Alê Abreu, unfolds like a sumptuous tapestry for a small stick figure of a boy, who experiences an exciting yet difficult rite of passage. At the same time, Abreu offers a devastating political critique as the boy travels from the simple line drawings of his village to bushels of cotton-lined country roads to industrial landscapes filled with animal-machines, whirling carnival colors, exploding fireworks and flashing neon adverts. All of this accompanied by pan-flute, samba and Brazilian hip-hop. The visceral impact is startling for this Gkids Oscar contender. Read more

Clipping 10 Years of Innovative Laika Stop-Motion

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Books, Clips, Costume, Crafts, Events, Movies, previs, Production Design, Sound, stop-motion, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Portland-based Laika has released a terrific video reel commemorating 10 years of bold storytelling and innovative stop-motion (Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls and next year’s Kubo and the Two Strings). Read more

How They Scored Steve Jobs as Three-Part Symphony

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, Movies, Music | Leave a comment

In keeping with Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle’s vision for Steve Jobs as a trio of product launches (the Macintosh in ’84, the NeXT in ’88 and the iMac in ’98), composer Daniel Pemberton wrote three different pieces that underscore the story arc and complement the distinct visual styles of director of photography Alwin H. Küchler. In fact, it became a very personal journey for the surprise Golden Globe nominee for Best Original Score, who exclusively composes on the Mac. (Watch an exclusive featurette on the making of the score below, and listen to it on SoundCloud, via USA Today.) Read more

How They Edited Straight Outta Compton

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Crafts, Editing, Movies, Tech, Trailers | Leave a comment

With its dense, real-life narrative, Straight Outta Compton posed a unique challenge for editors Billy Fox and Michael Tronick. Their dilemma? How to streamline F. Gary Gray’s biopic of hip-hop group N.W.A to make it accessible to a wide audience, while remaining true to subjects Ice Cube and Dr. Dre—both producers on the film. The result is a portrait of N.W.A’s ”reality rap” as a cultural document of gang life, drug dealing, and police harassment in ’80s and ’90s L.A. that’s rooted in the fascinating stories of its three central figures: Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), and Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell). Read more