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.


Frankenweenie Gets an Art Exhibit

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Clips, Events, Festivals, Movies, Shorts, stop-motion, Tech, Trailers, VFX | Leave a comment

Disney is launching a touring exhibition featuring the art of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, the black and white, 3-D, stop-motion, animated feature film coming Oct. 5. The Art of Frankenweenie exhibition will premiere in Barcelona, Spain, at CineEurope, June 18-21, and at Comic-Con 2012 in San Diego, July 11-15, followed by a visit to the Disneyland area in Anaheim, Sept. 14 – Nov. 5. Read more

Star Wars 1313 Offers New Convergence

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Clips, Events, Movies, performance capture, Tech, Virtual Production | Leave a comment












The new, more adult-themed Star Wars 1313 was demo’d this week at E3 and the bounty hunter shooter appears to offer a more compelling cinematic convergence, thanks to the first-time collaboration between LucasArts, ILM, Lucasfilm Animation and Skywalker Sound. Read more

LACMA Presents Bond Opening Credits Exhibition

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Below the Line, Clips, Education, Events, James Bond, Movies, Tech | Leave a comment

This weekend LACMA celebrates the 50th anniversary of 007 with …Is James Bond, the first exhibition featuring the complete opening credits from the current 22 Bond films produced by Eon Prods. Co-organized by LACMA and Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television (SFTV), the exhibition runs June 9-Sept. 9. Read more

Disney Delivers Game-Changing Paperman Short

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Clips, Education, Events, Festivals, Movies, Shorts, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

Disney’s top secret black and white Paperman animated short premieres Monday at Annecy. I haven’t seen the minimalist Manhattan chance encounter yet that blossoms from afar between a dreamer and a beauty through the power of drawings, (it bows locally later this month at the Los Angeles Film Festival), but I spoke last week with director John Kahrs and producer Kristina Reed. Read more

Restored Colonel Blimp Coming to the Academy June 27

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

Emeric Pressburger’s favorite film from the famed Powell & Pressburger oeuvre, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), will screen in a new digital restoration, June 27, at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The West Coast premiere of this surreal, bittersweet, war-time saga will be introduced by Oscar-winning editor and Michael Powell’s widow, Thelma Schoonmaker. Read more

Animation Mentor, Autodesk Offer Shot Breakdown Workshop

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Education, Events, Movies, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Animation Mentor will host an all-day workshop with Autodesk, Breaking Down the Animated Shot: Live & Uncut, June 30 at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Read more

Digital Animation Discussed at the Academy

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

Tom Sito hosted a fascinating discussion about the  evolution of digital animation last week at the Academy’s Goldwyn Theater as part of the 18th Marc Davis  Celebration of Animation series.  Read more

FMX: Wreck-It Ralph and Disney’s New Virtual Camera

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Events, Festivals, Movies, Tech, VFX, Videogames, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Walt Disney Animation Studios has launched a new virtual camera system with the upcoming Wreck-It Ralph (Nov. 2), which is a potential game-changer. Evan Goldberg, manager of animation technology, gave an informative sneak peek at FMX 2012 in Stuttgart, Germany, last week. He revealed with some making of footage that they created the virtual camera system to replicate the feel of a real camera in layout. It was particularly suited to Wreck-It Ralph, the story of an ’80s video game baddie turned hero, with its “hand-crafted” and “organic” feel.

While Disney embraced the Vicon camera for optical tracking, it had to think long and hard about switching from Maya to MotionBuilder. In the end, the studio stuck with Maya when it figured out how to run at 24 fps with Open GL.

Likewise, introducing capture technology into the Feature Animation pipeline proved challenging, but well worth it, considering the dynamic advantages you get with the new system: a digital scouting device, closer involvement for the director (Rich Moore), hundreds of takes in an hour, the ability to scale a virtual world up and down, as well as translate and rotate, and an unparalleled camera polish. Plus the ability to introduce different looks for the movie’s three worlds, including a hand-held one for the futuristic first-person shooter game, Hero’s Duty (the second image). The other two are Fix-It Felix Jr. (the first image) and the candy-colored Sugar Rush racing game (the third image).

Goldberg proclaimed that the future would offer a simple operator view, gestural, lyrical motion for simulation and VFX, such as velocity-driven particles.

Wreck-It Ralph takes animation and virtual production to new heights at Disney.

FMX: Virtual Production and Higher Frame Rates

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Events, Festivals, Movies, performance capture, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

I’ve returned from a glorious week at FMX 2012 in Stuttgart, Germany. Still a little jet lagged but I will be posting about some of the panels throughout the week. However, I managed to post about the higher frame rate panel I moderated with Doug Trumbull, Ray Feeney, and Johannes Steurer of ARRI for my TOH/Indiewire column, along with a few highlights related to virtual production, which was definitely the most popular track, organized by FMX primary partner, Autodesk. In fact, you can view my session at The Area.

As you might imagine, our discussion of The Hobbit was enlightening. Trumbull offered some solutions to combating the video look, Feeney said we shouldn’t rush to judgment, and Steurer suggested that there’s a balance between pushing photographic boundaries that are appealing for filmmaker and viewer alike.

Bond Analyzed at Instanbul Press Conference

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Events, James Bond, Movies, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

The site of the Istanbul Skyfall press conference Sunday conjured up images of From Russia with Love. Mendes reaffirmed that he wishes to convey both the classicism and modernity of the iconic city in keeping with the tone of the 23rd Bond film. This marks the third time for Turkey in Bond (the second was The World Is Not Enough).

“You always go back to the Fleming because the character Fleming created over a number of novels was incredibly complex,” Mendes explained. “Some people sometimes forget in the cliche of Bond, which is the international playboy, and someone who’s always untroubled, and almost never breaks a sweat, that actually what [Fleming] created was a very conflicted character.”

Mendes added that Bond suffers from a “combination of lassitude, boredom, depression, difficulty with what he’s chosen to do for a living, which is to kill. That makes him a much more interesting character, and some of those things are explored in this movie, because Daniel as an actor is capable of exploring them.”

At the same time, Mendes promised a more playful, humorous Bond while Craig reiterated a preference for dark, gallows humor. His Bond certainly is not in a comfort zone and is pushed to extremes both physically and emotionally, as the personal histories of Bond and M are explored for the first time.