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.


Serkis Talks More Apes, Hobbit

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Blu-ray, Clips, Events, Home Entertainment, Music, Oscar, performance capture, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

With a Best Supporting Actor nomination at stake, Andy Serkis was back in town discussing performance capture and trying to educate his fellow actors on getting over the fear of computer technology. You can read all about it along with the unusual approach to sound editing/mixing of Rise of the Planet of the Apes in my latest TOH column at Indiewire.

What’s changed as a result of Weta’s new active-LED system used for Apes is that there are no longer any breaks in the capture sequences: “Every reaction, every emotion, every acting choice and beat happens there and then,” Serkis emphasized.

Korzeniowski Talks W.E.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Events, Movies, Music, Oscar, Trailers | Leave a comment

Golden Globe nominee Abel Korzeniowski tells me about scoring W.E. and working with Madonna in my TOH column at Indiewire. With its haunting melodies, we get the back-and-forth between illusion and reality that underlies Wally’s misconception that King Edward VIII’s (James D’Arcy) abdication of the British throne for the woman he loved, chic American divorcée Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough), was the perfect love story of the 20th century. In fact, it was a constant struggle.

You can listen to the score on TWC’s awards site.

New Rio Making Of Clip

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Blu-ray, Clips, Events, Home Entertainment, Movies, Oscar, Tech, Trailers, VFX | Leave a comment

Oscar nomination ballots are due today and Blue Sky’s Rio is aiming for an animated feature nod. Fox has provided me with an informative making of clip, which shows off a flying scene and and putting the birds together. We go behind-the-scenes in a progression from story reel to layout to animation to lighting.

It was a personal project for Carlos Saldanha, the Rio native and Blue Sky Studios vet, director of the first two Ice Age sequels. Saldanha was passionate about accurately capturing the look and feel and rhythm of the beat of the Latin American paradise that is so dear to his heart.

Yet it took a long time to gestate. Saldanha first started thinking about Rio 10 years ago, but had to abandon the idea of a hero penguin after that trend came and went, switching to the brightly colored blue macaw appropriately named Blu (Eisenberg). Then, once he had his story in place about Blu’s fear of flying (“Adapt or Die”), Saldanha and his Blue Sky colleagues had to figure out the complications of feathers and cloth and animating humans on a large scale, and, most crucially, how to render Rio just right.

Academy to Honor Trumbull and Erland

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Blu-ray, Events, Home Entertainment, Movies, Oscar, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

The Board of Governors of the AMPAS has voted the Gordon E. Sawyer Award to Douglas Trumbull for his lifetime of technical contributions and leadership in the motion picture industry, and the John A Bonner Medal of Commendation to VFX technologist Jonathan Erland.

Trumbull and Bonner will receive their awards (an Oscar statuette and a medallion) at the Scientific and Technical Awards presentation on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Beverly Wilshire.

Trumbull has distinguished himself as a visual effects pioneer with major contributions to such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Andromeda Strain, Silent Running, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek — The Motion Picture, Blade Runner, and The Tree of Life.

Silent Running, in fact, is now available in a stunning Blu-ray through Eureka’s Masters of Cinema Series in the UK.

In the course of his work, Trumbull created, developed or improved numerous filmmaking techniques and tools. These include slit-scan photography, process photography, miniature compositing, interpositive matte painting, large-format filming, high frame rate photography and projection, synchronized multiscale filming, motion control photography, virtual reality systems, interactive motion simulators, and digital cinema. He has been awarded more than a dozen related patents.

In 1975 Trumbull founded Future General Corporation, a research and special effects house that not only served as a training ground for many leading filmmakers and visual effects artists, but fostered several related companies as well.

Trumbull has earned three Academy Award nominations for Visual Effects and received a Scientific and Engineering Award in 1992 as part of the design team for the CP-65 Showscan Camera System for 65mm motion picture photography.

Established in 1981, the Gordon E. Sawyer Award is presented to “an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry.” Trumbull will be the 23rd recipient of the award.

Erland began his professional training in the entertainment industry studying theater at the Central School in England and film at the London Film School. His knowledge of theater technology made him a desirable asset to the team building the audio-animatronic puppet theaters for the I.B.M. Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

After moving to Los Angeles, Erland maintained dual careers in both the entertainment and the industrial exhibit design fields. He joined the newly created Industrial Light & Magic to work on the visual effects for the 1977 film Star Wars. He continued in the burgeoning visual effects field as director of research and development for Apogee Productions, where he received patents for a reverse bluescreen traveling matte process, the Blue-Max flux projector and a method for making front projection screens. The innovations, along with the development of a digital traveling matte system, also earned Academy Scientific and Technical Awards.

In 2007 Erland received an Award of Commendation for “his leadership and efforts toward identifying and solving the problem of High-Speed Emulsion Stress Syndrome in motion picture film stock.”

An Academy member since 1984, Erland was instrumental in establishing Visual Effects as a separate Academy branch in 1995. He has served 11 years on the Academy’s Board of Governors and many years on the Executive Committees of both the Visual Effects Branch and the Scientific and Technical Awards. He also is a founding member of the Academy’s Science and Technology Council.

Named in honor of the late director of special projects at Warner Hollywood Studios, the John A. Bonner Medal is awarded for “outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.”

Portions of the Scientific and Technical Awards presentation will be included in the Oscar ceremony.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by ABC. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

Bond 50 Blu-ray Set Announced

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Blu-ray, Events, Home Entertainment, James Bond, Movies, Trailers | Leave a comment

What a week for Bond: First Thomas Newman was officially announced as the composer of Skyfall (Nov. 9) — no surprise considering his association with director Sam Mendes (American Beauty). Now word comes out of CES that all 22 current Bond films (Dr. No through Quantum of Solace) will be released on Blu-ray this fall from MGM Home Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment in in a special Bond 50 anniversary box set. This includes nine previously unreleased films (You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, GoldenEye, and Tomorrow Never Dies).

Bond directors John Glen (For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, Licence To Kill), Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, Casino Royale) and Michael Apted (The World Is Not Enough) with special guests Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) and Caterina Murino (Casino Royale) made the Blu-ray announcement today during a Directors’ panel discussion in the Panasonic Booth at the annual Consumer Electronics Show.

More than 130 hours of bonus features are promised, including some new and exclusive content.

“With all 22 feature films available on Blu-ray in one collection for the first time this is a great way for fans to catch up on 007’s epic journey before Skyfall hits theaters next Fall,” said Michael Brown, SVP, MGM Home Entertainment. “Now viewers can enjoy the intense action of the innovative franchise in the most immersive home experience possible.”

“We have a whole program of exciting activities planned for our 50th anniversary year, beginning with today’s announcement, by Fox, of the release of all 22 films on Blu-ray for the very first time,’’ added Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, with Eon Prods. “We are also delighted that Fox has unveiled a specially designed anniversary poster which we hope the fans will love as much as we do. Our website, will be regularly updated with all the latest anniversary news and events.”

Universal Launches Centennial Celebration

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Blu-ray, Events, Home Entertainment, Movies, Oscar, Tech | Leave a comment

Universal will mark its 100thanniversary in 2012, and will commemorate its centennial with a yearlong celebration of its cultural legacy.

This includes the extensive restoration of 13 of the studio’s most beloved titles: All Quiet on the Western Front, The Birds, Buck Privates, Dracula (1931), Frankenstein, Jaws, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Schindler’s List, Out of Africa, Pillow Talk, Bride of Frankenstein, The Sting, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment will kick off the celebration on Jan. 31 with a special 50th anniversary release of To Kill a Mockingbird, debuting on Blu-ray for the first time ever. Throughout the year, Universal will pay tribute to other influential films in the Universal library with special events and Blu-ray releases of such iconic classics as Jaws and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, which celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Universal will reveal an updated animated logo tied to the centennial. The animated logo will make its first appearance in front of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax at its premiere in February, and for that film’s U.S. theatrical release on March 2nd. (The new static version of this logo is unveiled today and is featured at the top of this release.) Other activities surrounding the studio’s 100th anniversary include a vibrant social media campaign, special events, theme park activities, and promotions.

“This is a proud moment for all of us who’ve had the privilege of working at Universal Pictures,” said Ron Meyer, Universal Studios President and COO. “Our centennial is designed to bring special memories back to longtime movie lovers and fans, and to engage new audiences with our extraordinary library of films for the first time. Our goal, 100 years later, is to preserve, restore and continue the iconic legacy of this studio for generations to come.”

Fans and film enthusiasts can start celebrating online today at the official Universal Centennial website,, a one-stop destination dedicated to Universal’s 100 years.

In the spring, select fans will have the opportunity to attend a special gala anniversary celebration on the lot featuring many of the filmmakers and artists who shaped the studios history. In addition, the studio will spotlight the 100th Anniversary throughout various worldwide film festivals and other featured events, panels, and activities.

On April 30, 1912, Universal Film Manufacturing Company filed its certificate of incorporation with the state of New York. In 1915, Carl Laemmle officially opened Universal City, the largest film production facility in the world. Throughout Universal’s 100 years, the studio has served as a home for many of the most talented filmmakers of all time (such as Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Peter Jackson, Spike Lee, John Hughes, and Judd Apatow).

Tintin Leads VES Nominations with 6

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Events, Movies, performance capture, Production Design, Tech, VES, VFX, Videogames, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

The Visual Effects Society (VES) announced the nominees for its 10th Annual VES Awards ceremony recognizing outstanding visual effects artistry in 23 categories of film, animation, television, commercials, special venues, and video games. Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin led the pack with six nominations for Weta Digital, including outstanding animated feature and three for environments. The nominees for visual effects-driven feature were Captain America: First Avenger, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

The other nominees for animated feature were Arthur Christmas, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, and Rango. The nominees for supporting visual effects were Anonymous, Hugo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Source Code, and War Horse. The big surprise is that The Tree of Life was shut out, especially considering the involvement of Douglas Trumbull as creative consultant, who’s receiving the Georges Méliès Award. Perhaps this has to do with the lukewarm response to the dinosaurs. This does not bode well for its VFX Oscar chances.

Nominees were chosen Saturday by distinguished panels of VES members who viewed submissions at the FotoKem screening facilities in Burbank and New York, FotoKem’s Spy in San Francisco, and other facilities in London, Sydney, Vancouver, and Wellington, NZ.

“The standard of the creative work that is being considered this year is unbelievably high across all categories,” said Jeffrey A. Okun, chair of the Visual Effects Society. “The judges faced a huge challenge because all of the work was so far above the norm. We’re honored to have the opportunity to focus the spotlight on the outstanding work that has contributed to some of the highest grossing films and broadcast projects of all time.”

Along with Trumbull’s Georges Méliès Award, Stan Lee will be honored with the VES 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award.

The 10th Annual VES Awards will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and will air exclusively on ReelzChannel.

The nominees for the 10th Annual VES Awards are as follows:

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture

Captain America: The First Avenger
Charlie Noble
Mark Soper
Christopher Townsend
Edson Williams

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Tim Burke
Emma Norton
John Richardson
David Vickery

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Gary Brozenich
David Conley
Charlie Gibson
Ben Snow

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Dan Lemmon
Joe Letteri
Cyndi Ochs
Kurt Williams

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Scott Benza
Wayne Billheimer
Matthew Butler
Scott Farrar

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture

Andre Cantarel
Volker Engel
Rony Soussan
Marc Weigert

Ben Grossmann
Alex Henning
Rob Legato
Karen Murphy

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Laya Armian
Chas Jarrett
Seth Maury
Sirio Quintavalle

Source Code
Annie Godin
Louis Morin

War Horse
Duncan Burbidge
Ben Morris
Mike Mulholland
Chris Zeh

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Motion Picture

Arthur Christmas
Doug Ikeler
Chris Juen
Alan Short
Mandy Tankenson

Kung Fu Panda 2
Melissa Cobb
Alex Parkinson
Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Raymond Zibach

Puss In Boots
Joe Aguilar
Guillaume Aretos
Ken Bielenberg
Chris Miller

Tim Alexander
Hal Hickel
Jacqui Lopez
Katie Lynch

The Adventures of Tintin
Jamie Beard
Joe Letteri
Meredith Meyer-Nichols
Eileen Moran

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Miniseries, Movie, or Special

Finding Life Beyond Earth
Simon Clarke
Hasraf Dulull
Vikas Gandhi
Francisco Lima

J. David Everhart
Kent Johnson
Jon Rhinehardt
Jon Rosenthal

Inside the Human Body
Phil Dobree
Sophie Orde
Dan Upton

Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice
Kevin Deters
Dorothy McKim
John Murrah
Stevie Wermers

The Bomber
Igor Gotsulyak
Dmitriy Kolesnik
Egor Olesov
Dmitriy Ovcharenko

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series

Falling Skies
Rob Biagi
Curt Miller
Andrew Orloff
Sean Tompkins

Robert Habros
Andrew Orloff
Jay Worth
Chris Wright

Once Upon a Time
Laura Jones
Douglas Charles Ludwig
Andrew Orloff
Nate Overstrom

Planet Dinosaur
Phil Dobree
Luke Dodd
Haz Dulull
Mark Sherwood

Terra Nova
Kevin Blank
Colin Brady
Adica Manis
Jason Zimmerman

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program

Boardwalk Empire – Georgia Peaches
Richard Friedlander
Robert Stromberg
David Taritero

Bones – Tornado Case
Christian Cardona
Buddy Gheen
Beau Janzen
Andy Simonson

Breaking Bad – Face Off
Bruce Branit
Werner Hahnlein
Gregory Nicotero
William Powloski

Game of Thrones – Winter is Coming
Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor
Angela Barson
Ed Bruce
Adam McInnes

Pan Am – Pilot
Tavis Larkham
Chris Martin
Sam Nicholson
Matt Robken

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Live Action Commercial

Dior J’adore
Pascal Giroux
Julien Meesters
Stephane Pivron
Manuel Souillac

Jameson: Fire
Chris Bankoff
Dan Glass
Sascha M. Flick
Jeff Willette

Johnnie Walker: Rock Giant
Vincent Baertsoen
Camila de Biagi
Angus Kneale
Rob Petrie

Kia: Share Some Soul
Charles Abou Aad
Andy Boyd
Nordin Rahhali
Mike Wigart

Volkswagen: Hedgehog
Mhamed Elmezoued
Stephane Montel
Emilie Nicodex

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Commercial or Video Game Trailer

Audi A6 Avant – Hummingbird
Tom Bussell
Hugo Guerra
Rahel Makonnen
Jorge Montiel

Coca-Cola Siege
Russell Dodgson
Simon French
Diarmid Harrison-Murray
Sarah Hiddlestone

Diablo III: The Black Soulstone
Nicholas S. Carpenter
Graham Cunningham
Chris Thunig
Taka Yasuda

Prey 2
Heikki Anttila
Brandon Riza
Al Shier
Dave Wilson

Sony: 2 Worlds
Melanie Larue
David Liu
Richard Morton

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project

Marc Rienzo
Eric Sanford
Lisa Zusmer Delprete

Humbugged! Rockettes to the Rescue
Troy Griffin
Jasmine Johnson
Greg Lyons
Glo Minaya

Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
Bill George
Jeanie King
Glen McIntosh
Marianne McLean

Transformers the Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle
Lori Arnold
Yanick Dusseault
Delio Tramontozzi
Jeff White

Typhoon 360
Peter Crosman
Seungyong Lee
Michael “oz” Smith
Brent Young

Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – Ukranian Ironbelly
Yasunobu Arahori
Tom Bracht
Gavin Harrison
Chris Lentz

Paul – Paul
Anders Beer
Julian Foddy
Jody Johnson
David Lowry

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Caesar
Daniel Barrett
Florian Fernandez
Matthew Muntean
Eric Reynolds

The Thing – Edvard/Adam
Lyndon Barrois
Fred Chapman
Greg Massie
Marco Menco

Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture

Puss In Boots – Puss
Antonio Banderas
Ludovic Bouancheau
Laurent Caneiro
Olivier Staphylas

Rango – Rango
Frank Gravatt
Kevin Martel
Brian Paik
Steve Walton

Rio – Nigel
Diana Diriwaechter
Sang Jun Lee
Sergio Pablos
Aamir Tarin

The Adventures of Tintin – Tintin
Gino Acevedo
Gustav Ahren
Jamie Beard
Simon Clutterbuck

Outstanding Animated Character in a Broadcast Program or Commercial

Audi A6 Avant – Hummingbird
Tom Bussell
Jorge Montiel

Canal + – The Bear
Laurent Creusot
Guillaume Ho
Olivier Mitonneau
Michal Nauzin

Carls Jr. – Robot
Matt Heimlich
Fredd Hopp
Philip Ineno
Rob Ramsdell

Game of Thrones – Fire and Blood
Henry Badgett
Mark Brown
Rafael Morant
James Sutton

Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture

Anonymous – London
Andre Cantarel
Robert Freitag
Rony Soussan
Greg Strasz

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: Hogwarts
Keziah Bailey
Stephen Ellis
Clement Gerard
Pietro Ponti

Thor – Heimdall’s Observatory
Pierre Buffin
Audrey Ferrara
Yoel Godo
Dominique Vidal

Transformers: Dark of the Moon – 155 Wacker Drive
Giles Hancock
John Hanson
Tom Martinek
Scott Younkin

Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture

Puss In Boots – The Cloud World
Guillaume Aretos
Greg Lev
Brett Miller
Peter Zaslav

Rango – Main Street Dirt
John Bell
Polly Ing
Martin Murphy
Russell Paul

The Adventures of Tintin – Bagghar
Hamish Beachman
Adam King
Wayne Stables
Mark Tait

The Adventures of Tintin – Docks
Matt Aitken
Jeff Capogreco
Jason Lazaroff
Alessandro Mozzato

The Adventures of Tintin – Pirate Battle
Phil Barrenger
Keith F. Miller
Alessandro Saponi
Christoph Sprenger

Outstanding Created Environment in a Broadcast Program or Commercial

Audi A6 Avant – Hummingbird
Amaan Akram
Tom Bussell
Alex Hammond

Boardwalk Empire – Two Boats and a Lifeguard
Matthew Conner
Robert Stromberg

Game of Thrones – The Icewall
Markus Kuha
Dante Harbridge Robinson
Damien Mac
Fani Vassiadi

Pan Am – Pilot Worldport Terminal
Bill Arance
Martin Hilke
Diego Galtieri
Anthony Ocampo

Terra Nova – Terra Nova
Michael Bozulich
Eric Hance
Kevin Kipper
David Morton

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture

Martin Chamney
Rob Legato
Adam Watkins
Fabio Zangla

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Thelvin Cabezas
Mike Perry
R. Christopher White
Erik Winquist

Xavier Allard
Pierre Buffin
Nicolas Chevallier

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Michael Balog
Richard Bluff
Shawn Kelly
Jeff White

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in an Animated Feature Motion Picture

Arthur Christmas
Michael Ford
David Morehead
Emi Tahira

Cars 2
Mahyar Abousaeedi
Sharon Calahan
Jeremy Lasky
Jonathan Pytko

Colin Benoit
Philippe Rebours
Nelson Sepulveda
Nick Walker

The Adventures of Tintin
Matt Aitken
Matthias Menz
Keith F. Miller
Wayne Stables

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Broadcast Program or Commercial

Gears of War 3 – Dust to Dust
Niles Heckman
Richard Morton
Vernon Wilbert Jr.

Ghost Recon – Future Soldier “Camo Up”
David Liu

Mattel: Hot Wheels
Steve Beck
Robert Sethi
Feliz Urquiza

Once Upon A Time – Cinderella’s Courtyard
Stephen Jackson
Salyanne Massimini
Nathan Matsuda
Kevin Struckman

Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – Hogwarts School Buildings
Steven Godfrey
Pietro Ponti
Tania Marie Richard
Andy Warren

Hugo – Train Crash
Scott Beverly
Allan Faucher
Forest P. Fischer
Matthew Gratzner

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – Parking Garage
John Goodson
Russell Paul
Kristian Pedlow
Vick Schutz

Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Driller
Tim Brakensiek
Kelvin Chu
David Fogler
Rene Garcia

Outstanding Models in a Broadcast Program or Commercial

Arrowhead Nature’s Fix
Carl Horner
Ian Hunter
Miyo Nakamura
Hayley O’Neil

Boardwalk Empire
Matthew Conner
Eran Dinur
David Reynolds
Szymon Weglarski

Falling Skies
Jon Chesson
Steve Graves
Michael Kirylo
Renaud Talon

Once Upon A Time
Michael Kirylo
Jeremy Michael Melton
Jason O. Monroe
Chris Strauss

Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture

Captain America: The First Avenger
Casey Allen
Trent Claus
Brian Hajek
Cliff Welsh

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Michele Benigna
Martin Ciastko
Thomas Dyg
Andy Robinson

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Jean Luc Azzis
Quentin Hema
Simon Jung
Christoph Salzmann

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Chris Balog
Ben O’Brien
Amy Shepard
Jeff Sutherland

Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Program or Commercial

Any World: Jeep Call of Duty MWF3
Jason Bergman
Steve Meyer
Peter Sidoriak

Boardwalk Empire – Gimcrack & Bunkum
Anton Dawson
Eran Dinur
Austin Meyers
David Reynolds

Channel 4 – Street Summer
Stirling Archibald
Anthony Bloor
Michael Gregory
Giacomo Mineo

DirecTV – Hot House
Franck Lambertz

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project

Roman Kaelin
Falko Paeper
Florian Wittmann

Aquatic Bloom
Susie Hong
Bokyeong Kim

Defective Detective
Avner Geller
Stevie Lewis

Hai Hase
Florian Greth
Julia Reck

Renee the Movie
Syrena Edmonds
Zack Heimbegner
Brian Mullen
Nathaniel Skinner

We Miss You
Jann Doeppert Hannah
Tonio Freitag
Hannah Maria Heidrich
Sebastian Nozon

For more information on the VES Awards, sponsorship, and tickets, please visit

Michael Giacchino Performs at Bad Robot

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

Last night film composer Michael Giacchino gave an intimate concert on the roof of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot studio. The performance was in honor of Super 8, and the illustrious crowd included Brad Bird, Jon Favreau, Dennis Muren, and Karl Urban. Giacchino led off with the tender theme from the Steven Spielberg tribute, saying he was glad to have the opportunity to be “10 again.” With his small orchestra, Giacchino also performed suites from Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, Star Trek, and Lost.

Afterward, I remarked how wonderfully romantic and melancholy his music is, and Giaccino said that’s what he lives for. My late father used to call it “smaltzy,” and Giacchino responded, “Smaltzy is good.”

Meanwhile, Abrams begins shooting his Star Trek sequel next week and showed some of us around his geeky-looking studio. He lamented the closing of Kerner Optical (the former ILM practical effects division). “It’s over, it’s all CG now and I have to live with it.”

I also had a chance to congratulate Bird on the enormous success of Ghost Protocol, which surpassed his own expectations. He was glad people enjoyed the old-style action that wasn’t too intense.

Daldry & Crew Discuss Extremely Loud

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Books, Events, Movies, Music, Oscar, Production Design, Tech, Trailers, VFX | 2 Comments

Director Stephen Daldry discussed the delicate balancing act last night at the Landmark between “what to show and what not to show” in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Joined onstage by production designer K.K. Barrett, composer Alexandre Desplat, and VFX supervisor Kevin Mack, Daldry explained that the film works as a catharsis for dealing with the aftermath of 9/11.This was as true for the cast and filmmakers as it is for the viewers.

The director told moderator Pete Hammond of Deadline Hollywood that the key decision was casting newcomer Thomas Horn. Producer Scott Rudin discovered the prodigy on teen Jeopardy! (Rudin is a former winner) and he was invited to audition rather late in the casting process. Daldry worked out an analytical methodology with Horn that worked out well, and the director believes he’s delivered one of the best child performances in movie history.

Barrett added that Horn was able to tap into his emotional life for the role and, as production designer, it was his job to convey the character’s point of view. Barrett went on a “lost and found” expedition throughout New York City in search of distinctive ways of portraying the various locations. He found it helped being a New York outsider.

Desplat, who came in at the last minute to compose a whole new score in only three weeks, said he wept when viewing the rough cut before beginning work. The use of piano was instrumental in conveying the haunting tone and Desplat said he was fortunate to hire pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet (who is performing the Liszt Piano Concerto No. 2 with the LA Phil through January 8 at Walt Disney Concert Hall).

Mack said he was charged with recreating the attacks on the World Trade Center in the background with matte paintings and the New York skyline before and after 9/11, which has obviously changed. They also played with camera perspective shifts. But Mack’s proudest shot is the devastating image of the falling man that opens the film and recurs as a metaphoric thread.


Trailering Oscar: Off the Grid

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Events, Movies, Oscar, Trailers | Leave a comment

The search is on for Billy Crystal in the new AMPAS trailer for the 84th Academy Awards(Off the Grid) produced by Funny or Die. Josh Duhamel and Megan Fox are charged with “tracking down a legend.” There are cameos by former Oscar host Robin Williams, William Fichtner, and Vinnie Jones.

“We wanted to try something a little bit different this year instead of a traditional, clip-based piece,” said Academy chief marketing officer Christina Kounelias. “The trailer has a fun twist that conveys how excited everyone is to have Billy back [hosting his ninth ceremony].”

The trailer will have a one-month run in more than 2,000 theaters beginning today and can be viewed online at

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by ABC. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.