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.

Events

Academy to Honor 8 Sci-Tech Achievements

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

The AMPAS announced the eight sci-tech achievements represented by 28 individual award recipients, who will be honored at its annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation at the Beverly Wilshire on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012. They include Mantra software for the rendering of volumetric effects, the Phantom cameras, and “The Lowry Process” for digital noise reduction and other artifacts.

Indeed, how fitting that “The Lowry Process” be honored during the 50th anniversary of James Bond, since it was applied to the digital restoration of the Bonds several years ago, and we’ve reaped the benefits in the subsequent Blu-rays. (The Dr. No screen capture above courtesy of Gary Tooze’s DVD Beaver.) The Lowry touch has also been applied to the Star Wars and Raiders collections, as well as hundreds of other evergreens.

The Academy Awards for scientific and technical achievements are:

Technical Achievement Award (Academy Certificate)

To Andrew Clinton and Mark Elendt for the invention and integration of micro-voxels in the Mantra software.

This work allowed, for the first time, unified and efficient rendering of volumetric effects such as smoke and clouds, together with other computer graphics objects, in a micro-polygon imaging pipeline.

Scientific and Engineering Award (Academy Plaque)

To Radu Corlan, Andy Jantzen, Petru Pop, and Richard Toftness for the design and engineering of the Phantom family of high-speed cameras for motion picture production.

The Phantom family of high-speed digital cameras, including the Phantom Flex and HD Gold, provide imagery at speeds and efficacy surpassing photochemical technology, while seamlessly intercutting with conventional film production.

To Dr. Jürgen Noffke for the optical design and Uwe Weber for the mechanical design of the ARRI Zeiss Master Prime Lenses for motion picture photography.

The Master Primes have achieved a full stop advance in speed over existing lenses, while maintaining state-of-the-art optical quality.  This lens family was also the first to eliminate the magnification change that accompanied extreme focus shifts.

To Michael Lewis, Greg Marsden, Raigo Alas, and Michael Vellekoop for the concept, design and implementation of the Pictorvision Eclipse, an electronically stabilized aerial camera platform.

The Pictorvision Eclipse system allows cinematographers to capture aerial footage at faster flying speeds with aggressive platform maneuvering.

To E.F. “Bob” Nettmann for the concept and system architecture, Michael Sayovitz for the electronic packaging and integration, Brad Fritzel for the electronic engineering, and Fred Miller for the mechanical engineering of the Stab-C Classic, Super-G, and Stab-C Compact stabilizing heads.

This versatile family of 5-axis camera and lens stabilizers allows any standard motion picture camera to be fitted into the open architecture of the structure.  The system can be quickly balanced and made ready for shooting platforms such as helicopters, boats, camera cars, or cranes.

To John D. Lowry, Ian Cavén, Ian Godin, Kimball Thurston, and Tim Connolly for the development of a unique and efficient system for the reduction of noise and other artifacts, thereby providing high-quality images required by the filmmaking process.

The “Lowry Process” uses advanced GPU-accelerated, motion estimation-based image processing tools to enhance image quality.

To FUJIFILM Corporation, Hideyuki Shirai, Dr. Katsuhisa Oozeki, and Hiroshi Hirano for the design and development of the FUJIFILM black and white recording film ETERNA-RDS 4791 for use in the archival preservation of film and digital images.

Specifically designed for laser film recording and widely used in the industry today, the high-resolution FUJIFILM ETERNA-RDS 4791 film stock is an important step in protecting the heritage of the motion picture industry.

Academy Award of Merit (Oscar Statuette)

To Franz Kraus, Johannes Steurer and Wolfgang Riedel for the design and development of the ARRILASER Film Recorder.

The ARRILASER film recorder demonstrates a high level of engineering resulting in a compact, user-friendly, low-maintenance device, while at the same time maintaining outstanding speed, exposure ratings and image quality.

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.

10 Vie for Oscar VFX

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

The AMPAS Visual Effects branch executive committee has announced its shortlist of 10 for VFX Oscar consideration, leaving behind J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 in favor of the Abrams’ produced Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. Also left off were Cowboys & Aliens, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Sucker Punch, and Thor. ILM has three contenders (Ghost Protocol, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon). And Digital Domain is involved with three as well (Real Steel, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and X-Men: First Class).

The films are listed below in alphabetical order:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • Hugo
  • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  • Real Steel
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • The Tree of Life
  • X-Men: First Class

All members of the Visual Effects branch will be invited to view 10-minute excerpts from each of the 10 shortlisted films on Thursday, Jan. 19. Following the screenings, the members will vote to nominate five films for final Oscar consideration. The five favorites for nomination remain: Captain America: The First Avenger, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Hugo, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. However, Tree of Life remains a definite spoiler because of the Doug Trumbull factor.

Paramount Launches 100 Years Promo iPad App

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

To start the new year, in honor of Paramount Pictures’ centenary, they’ve launched a new iPad promo app to explore the studio’s rich history. From Paramount’s modest beginning in 1912 with Queen Elizabeth to Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, the app provides a fresh and innovative opportunity to experience your favorite films by flipping through never-before-seen photos, watching memorable film clips, and listening to timeless music scores.

This unique keepsake also includes an overview of Paramount’s story, a Studio Tour and a specially designed Scene it? game, all of which you can share with your friends and family on email, Twitter, and Facebook.

See the links below to download this promotional app to your iPad, or download to your PC or Mac with the Adobe Air version; available via the 100th Anniversary Intranet site on Jan. 4th.

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Australia http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

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Brazil http://itunes.apple.com/br/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

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Canada http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

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China http://itunes.apple.com/cn/app/paramount100/id488890759?l=en&mt=8

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Denmark http://itunes.apple.com/dk/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

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Finland http://itunes.apple.com/fi/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

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France http://itunes.apple.com/fr/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

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Hungary http://itunes.apple.com/hu/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

9

Ireland http://itunes.apple.com/ie/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

10

Italy http://itunes.apple.com/it/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

11

Japan http://itunes.apple.com/jp/app/paramount100/id488890759?l=en&mt=8

12

Mexico http://itunes.apple.com/mx/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

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New Zealand http://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

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Norway http://itunes.apple.com/no/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

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Spain http://itunes.apple.com/es/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

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Sweden http://itunes.apple.com/se/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

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The Netherlands http://itunes.apple.com/nl/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

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United Kingdom http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

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United States http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paramount100/id488890759?mt=8

Meanwhile, Paramount unveiled it’s new 100th anniversary logo (the latest variation on the stars circling a Wasatch Mountain, which originated in 1916) with the opening last month of Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. Next year, the 100 years insignia will be removed but the logo will stay.

Golden Globes Gets Animated

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

Grabbing Best Animated Feature nominations today for the 69th Golden Globe Awards are the five studio films you could count on: Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin from Weta Digital (Dec. 21); Aardman/Sony’s Arthur Christmas; Pixar and John Lasseter’s Cars 2; DreamWorks’ Puss in Boots; and Gore Verbinski’s Rango, the front runner and ILM’s first animated feature. Gnomeo & Juliet’s “Hello Hello” from Elton John and Bernie Taupin was nominated for Best Original Song.

What does this mean for Oscar? I think it’s a race between Rango and Tintin with the other two or three spots wide open. But don’t be surprised if one of the 2D indies sneaks in, such as A Cat in Paris.

“To make a movie so far afield from the norm was very gratifying,” admits Hal Hickel, Rango’s animation supervisor. “It’s hard to buck the trend but we’re so thrilled to be getting such a great response. And it was a great fit for us to work in a world that had such a photographic and textured look. The freedom not to be in that live-action box was new and exciting and it was helpful having Roger Deakins come in and show us that we had all these lighting options. We looked at There Will Be Blood, and liked the solutions they came up with for those hot, dusty exteriors.

“Where do we go from here? We’re dying to do another one, with or without Gore. In fact, I’d prefer to do something else that’s completely original. We can do so much more.”

For director Chris Miller, Puss in Boots provided an opportunity to do something totally different from the Shrek world and was a liberating experience. “It’s reflected in the movie,” Miller adds. “Guillermo [del Toro] came aboard at a great time for us. It was fated in a way. It was surreal when he asked to participate and helped us achieve the story we wanted to tell. We’ll see if there’s an appetite for the cat to come back.”

“I’m just delighted that the brilliant craftsmanship, hard work, and dedication of the team who made Arthur Christmas has been honored by a Golden Globe nomination,” remarks director Sarah Smith. “Thank you to the HFPA; we hope the movie gives Christmas pleasure!”

The Golden Globes will air live on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012 at 5:00 pm PST on NBC.

Trailering Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

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

OK, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (opening Christmas Day) could be the Oscar wild card to challenge The Artist and War Horse. Judging by the second trailer and everything I’ve read, it’s tailor-made for the Academy (especially the all-important acting branch) in this 10th anniversary of 9/11. Tom Hanks plays a sensitive father killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and the bittersweet story directed by Stephen Daldry and scripted by Eric Roth revolves around his “gifted” son (Thomas Horn) scouring Manhattan in search of the lock that corresponds to the key he left behind. You see, before his death, Hanks and his son played a little game in which the boy collected relics from every decade of the 20th century.

Meanwhile, the anger and grief are eating away at widow/mother Sandra Bullock, and the boy befriends a mysterious, mute stranger (Max Von Sydow, a strong Best Supporting Actor contender) with his own tragic past. Together they go on a mad quest to find meaning and salvation. If the execution works, we could have another Best Picture contender.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUIafzL6Le8

Jennifer Yuh Nelson Lifts Kung Fu Panda 2

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

Talk about timing: On Monday, the Annies announced that Kung Fu Panda 2 got the most nominations with 12. Meanwhile, I spoke with Jennifer Yuh Nelson on the same day for my TOH column at Indiewire. She discusses why the original cried for a sequel, deepening Po, providing a more devious villain in Lord Shen, and expanding the universe to take Po out of his comfort zone. In this year of the sequel, KFP2 needs all the help it can get in distinguishing itself for an Oscar nomination. It’s coming out next week on Blu-ray/DVD (DreamWorks Home Ent.) and deserves a second look.

Kung Fu Panda 2 Leads Annie Noms

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

Well, how fitting that on the same day that I spoke with Jennifer Yuh Nelson about directing Kung Fu Panda 2, that the DreamWorks sequel wound up leading the pack of Annie nominees with 12. And, with Puss in Boots grabbing nine (tied for second with Paramount’s Rango), it was a very good day for DreamWorks. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see what the impact will be on Oscar voting, but, for now, Yuh Nelson can bask in the glory of more epic and exotic Po.

“We are really excited about the expanded list of nominations this year…in all 28 categories,” said Frank Gladstone, president, ASIFA-Hollywood.  “All of the major animation studios are represented, as are some of the independent productions from Europe and South America. This certainly is a testament to the wide reach and appeal of animation and the people who create it.”

Special juried awards honoring career achievement and exceptional contributions to animation will also be awarded: Winsor McCay Award — Walt Peregoy, Borge Ring, and Ronald Searle for career contributions to the art of animation; June Foray Award — Art Leonardi for significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation; and Special Achievement Award is given to an individual, individuals or a company for unique and outstanding achievement falling within the Annie Award eligibility period and not recognized within the existing award category structure. This year’s Special Achievement goes to Depth Analysis.

The 2011 Annie Award winners will be announced at the 39th Annual Annie Awards ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, at UCLA’s Royce Hall. For more info, please visit www.annieawards.org.

Here is the complete list of nominees:

Best Animated Feature

  • A Cat in Paris – Folimage
  • Arrugas (Wrinkles) – Perro Verde Films, S.L.
  • Arthur Christmas – Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
  • Cars 2 – Pixar Animation Studios
  • Chico & Rita – Chico & Rita Distribution Limited
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 – DreamWorks Animation
  • Puss In Boots – DreamWorks Animation
  • Rango – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production
  • Rio – Blue Sky Studios
  • Tintin – Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall

Annie Award for Best Animated Special Production

  • Adventure Time: Thank You – Cartoon Network Studios
  • Batman: Year One – Warner Bros. Animation
  • Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas – Blue Sky Studios
  • Kung Fu Panda – Secrets of the Masters – DreamWorks Animation
  • Prey 2 – Blur Studio
  • Star Tours – Industrial Light & Magic

Best Animated Short Subject

  • Adam and Dog – Lodge Films
  • I Tawt I Taw A Puddy Tat – Warner Bros. Animation
  • La Luna – Pixar Animation Studios
  • (Notes on) Biology – Ornana Films
  • Paths of Hate – Platige Image
  • Sunday – National Film Board of Canada
  • The Ballad of Nessie –Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • The Girl and the Fox – Base14
  • Wild Life – National Film Board of Canada and Studio GDS

Best Animated Television Commercial

  • Audi “Hummingbird” – The Mill
  • Geico “Foghorn” – Renegade Animation
  • McDonald’s “Apple Tree”– Duck Studios/Kompost
  • McDonald’s “Suzi Van Zoom” – Duck Studios/Kompost
  • Norton “Stuff”– Psyop
  • O2 “Niggles & Narks” –The Mill
  • Statoil “Good Night” – Studio AKA
  • “The Pirate” – Meindbender
  • Twinings “Sea” – Psyop

Best General Audience Animated TV Production

  • Archer – FX Productions
  • Green Lantern: The Animated Series – Warner Bros. Animation
  • Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas – Hallmark
  • MAD – Warner Bros. Animation
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2 – Starburns Industries, Inc.
  • Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
  • The Simpsons – Gracie Films

Best Animated Television Production – Preschool

  • Chuggington – Ludorum Pictures
  • Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates – Disney Television Animation
  • Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – Disney Television Animation
  • The WotWots Season 2 – Pukeko Pictures

Best Animated Television Production – Children

  • Fanboy and Chum Chum – Nickelodeon and Frederator
  • Kung Fu Panda – DreamWorks Animation
  • Penguins of Madagascar – DreamWorks Animation
  • The Amazing World of Gumball – Cartoon Network in Association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi

Best Animated Video Game

  • Bumpy Road – Simogo
  • Catherine – Atlus
  • Gears of War 3 – Epic Games
  • Gesundheit – Konami Digital Entertainment
  • Ghost Trick: “Phantom Detective” – Capcom
  • Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet – Shadow Planet Productions, Gagne/Fuelcell
  • Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One – Insomniac Games
  • Rayman Origins – Ubisoft Montpellier
  • Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Naughty Dog

Animated Effects in an Animated Production

  • Can Yuksel “Puss In Boots” – DreamWorks Animation
  • Chase Cooper “Rango” – Industrial Light & Magic
  • Dan Lund “Winnie The Pooh” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Dave Tidgewell “Kung Fu Panda 2” – DreamWorks Animation
  • Eric Froemling “Cars 2” – Pixar Animation Studios
  • Jason Mayer “Kung Fu Panda 2” – DreamWorks Animation
  • Joel Aron “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” – Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
  • Jon Reisch “Cars 2” – Pixar Animation Studios
  • Kevin Romond “Tintin” – Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
  • Willi Geiger “Rango” – Industrial Light & Magic

Animated Effects in a Live Action Production

  • Branko Grujcic “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”– Industrial Light & Magic
  • Florent Andarra “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” – Industrial Light & Magic
  • Gary Wu “Cowboys & Aliens”– Industrial Light & Magic
  • Lee Uren “Cowboys & Aliens” – Industrial Light & Magic

Character Animation in a Television Production

  • Chad Sellers “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Michael Franceschi “Kung Fu Panda” – Nickelodeon
  • Rebecca Wilson Bresee “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Sihanouk Mariona “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” – Starburns Industries, Inc.
  • Tony Smeed “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Character Animation in a Feature Production

  • Andreas Deja “Winnie The Pooh” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Dan Wagner “Kung Fu Panda 2” – DreamWorks Animation
  • Jeff Gabor “Rio” – Blue Sky Studios
  • Mark Henn “Winnie The Pooh” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Olivier Staphylas “Puss In Boots” – DreamWorks Animation
  • Patrik Puhala “Rio” – Blue Sky Studios
  • Pierre Perifel “Kung Fu Panda 2” – DreamWorks Animation

Character Animation in a Live Action Production

  • Andy Arnett “HOP” – Rhythm & Hues, Illumination Entertainment
  • David Lowry “Paul” – Double Negative Visual Effects for Universal Productions/ Relativity Media/Working Title Films/Big Talk Productions
  • Eric Reynolds “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” – 20th Century Fox
  • Mike Hull “Paul” – Double Negative Visual Effects for Universal Productions/Relativity Media/Working Title Films/Big Talk Productions

Character Design in a Television Production

  • Bill Schwab “Prep & Landing” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Carl Raggio “Disney Kick Buttowski” – Disney Television Animation
  • Chad Hurd “Archer” – FX Productions
  • Chris Battle “Dan Vs.” – Starz Film Roman
  • Eric Robles “Fanboy and Chum Chum” – Nickelodeon & Frederator
  • Gordon Hammond “TUFF Puppy” – Nickelodeon
  • Mike Dougherty “TUFF Puppy” – Nickelodeon
  • Robert Ryan Cory “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome” – Cartoon Network Studios

Character Design in a Feature Production

  • Jay Shuster “Cars 2” – Pixar Animation Studios
  • Mark “Crash” McCreery “Rango” – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
  • Patrick Mate “Puss In Boots” – DreamWorks Animation
  • Peter de Seve “Arthur Christmas” – Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
  • Sergio Pablos “Rio” – Blue Sky Studios

Directing in a Television Production

  • Brian Sheesley “Dan Vs.” – Starz Film Roman
  • Chris Savino & Clay Morrow “Disney Kick Buttowski” – Disney Television Animation
  • Dan Riba “Ben 10 Ultimate Alien” – Cartoon Network Studios
  • Duke Johnson “Community” – 23 D Films, Inc.
  • Gabe Swarr “Kung Fu Panda” – Nickelodeon
  • Ken Bruce “TUFF Puppy” – Nickelodeon
  • Kevin Deters & Stevie Wermers-Skelton “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice”– Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Matthew Nastuk “The Simpsons” – Gracie Films
  • Mic Graves & Ben Bocquelet “The Amazing World of Gumball” – Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
  • Peter Hausner “Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu” – Wil Film
  • Steve Loter, Christo Stamboliev, Shaun Cashman, David Knott “Penguins of Madagascar” – Nickelodeon and Technicolor
  • Tony Craig “Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas” – Hallmark

Directing in a Feature Production

  • Carlos Saldahna “Rio” – Blue Sky Studios
  • Chris Miller “Puss In Boots” – DreamWorks Animation
  • Don Hall & Stephen Anderson “Winnie The Pooh” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Gore Verbinski “Rango” – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present a Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
  • Jennifer Yuh Nelson “Kung Fu Panda 2” – DreamWorks Animation
  • Kelly Asbury “Gnomeo & Juliet” – Touchstone Pictures

Music in a Television Production

  • Adam Berry, Bob Schooley, Mark McCorkle “Penguins of Madagascar” – Nickelodeon and Technicolor
  • Ben Locket “The Amazing World of Gumball” – Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
  • Frederik Wiedmann “Green Lantern The Animated Series” – Warner Bros. Animation
  • Grace Potter, Michael Giacchino “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Joel McNeely, Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda “Pixie Hollow Games”– DisneyToon Studios
  • Kevin Kliesch “Thundercats” – Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network
  • Shawn Patterson, Zeb Wells “Robot Chicken” – ShadowMachine and Stoopid Monkey in association with Adult Swim

Music in a Feature Production

  • Henry Jackman “Puss In Boots” – DreamWorks Animation
  • John Williams “Tintin” – Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
  • Mikael Mutti, Siedah Garrett, Carlinhos Brown, Sergio Mendes, John Powell, “Rio” – Blue Sky Studios
  • Zooey Deschannel, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Henry Jackman, Robert Lopez “Winnie The Pooh” – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Production Design in a Television Production

  • Mark Bodner, Chris Tsirgiotis, Sue Mondt and Daniel Elson “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome” – Cartoon Network Studios
  • Peter Martin “Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas” – Hallmark

Production Design in a Feature Production

  • Harley Jessup “Cars 2” – Pixar Animation Studios
  • Paul Felix “Winnie The Pooh” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Raymond Zilbach “Kung Fu Panda 2” – DreamWorks Animation
  • Tom Cardone, Kyle MacNaughton & Peter Chan “Rio” – Blue Sky Studios

Storyboarding in a Television Production

  • Barry W. Johnson “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Benton Connor “Regular Show” – Cartoon Network Studios
  • Brian Kesinger “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Dave Thomas “TUFF Puppy” – Nickelodeon
  • Fred Gonzalez “TUFF Puppy” – Nickelodeon
  • Joe Mateo “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Justin Nichols “Fanboy & Chum Chum” – Nickelodeon & Frederator
  • Katie Rice “Fanboy & Chum Chum”– Nickelodeon & Frederator
  • Rebecca Sugar “Adventure Time” – Cartoon Network Studios

Storyboarding in a Feature Production

  • Bob Logan “Puss In Boots” – DreamWorks Animation
  • David Gosman “Rango” – Paramount Pictures & Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production
  • Gary Graham “Kung Fu Panda 2” – DreamWorks Animation
  • Jeremy Spears “Winnie The Pooh” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Josh Hayes “Rango” – Paramount Pictures & Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production
  • Kris Pearn “Arthur Christmas” – Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
  • Nelson Yokota “Gnomeo and Juliet” – Touchstone Pictures
  • Philip Craven “Kung Fu Panda 2” – DreamWorks Animation
  • Scott Morse “Cars 2” – Pixar Animation Studios

Voice Acting in a Television Production

  • Carlos Alazraqui as Denzel Crocker “Fairly OddParents” – Nickelodeon
  • Dan Harmon as Jekyll “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” – Starburns Industries, Inc.
  • Daran Norris as Cosmo “Fairly OddParents” – Nickelodeon
  • Dee Bradley Baker as Obi-Wan “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”– Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
  • Diedrich Bader as Batman “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” – Warner Bros. Animation
  • H. Jon Benjamin as Sterling Archer “Archer” – FX Productions
  • Jeff Bennett as Kowalski “Penguins of Madagascar” – Nickelodeon and Technicolor
  • Jeff B. Davis as Victor Frankenstein “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” – Starburns Industries, Inc.
  • Jessica Walter as Malory Archer “Archer” – FX Productions
  • Judy Greer as Cheryl Tunt “Archer” – FX Productions
  • Logan Grove as Gumball “The Amazing World of Gumball” – Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
  • Nika Futterman as Asajj Ventress “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” – Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
  • Scott Adsit as the Creature “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” – Starburns Industries, Inc.
  • Tara Strong as Timmy Turner “Fairly OddParents – Operation Dingleberg” – Nickelodeon

Voice Acting in a Feature Production

  • Ashley Jensen as Bryony “Arthur Christmas” – Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
  • Bill Nighy as Grandsanta “Arthur Christmas” – Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
  • Gary Oldman as Shen “Kung Fu Panda 2” – DreamWorks Animation
  • James Hong as Mr. Ping “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
  • Jemaine Clement as Nigel “Rio” – Blue Sky Studios
  • Jim Cummings as Featherstone “Gnomeo and Juliet” – Touchstone Pictures
  • Zach Galifianakis as Humpty Alexander Dumpty “Puss In Boots” – DreamWorks Animation

Writing in a Television Production

  • Blake Lemons, William Reiss, C.H. Greenblatt, Derek Evanick, Diana Lafyatis, Neil Graf “Disney Fish Hooks – Fish School Musical” – Disney Television Animation
  • Carolyn Omine “The Simpsons -Treehouse of Horror XXII” – Gracie Films
  • Dani MIchaeli, Sean Charmatz, Nate Cash, Luke Brookshier, Paul Tibbitt “SpongeBob SquarePants – Patrick’s Staycation” – Nickelodeon
  • Josh Weinstein “Futurama – All The President’s Heads” – The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
  • Kevin Sullivan, Will Schifrin, Ray DeLaurentis “TUFF Puppy Thunder Dog” – Nickelodeon
  • Matt Maiellaro, Dave Willis “Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 – The Creditor” – Williams Street Studios, Adult Swim
  • Ray DeLaurentis, Will Schifrin “Fairly OddParents “Invasion of the Dads” – Nickelodeon
  • Steve Wermers-Skelton, Kevin Deters “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Writing in a Feature Production

  • Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil, Mark Burton, Kathy Greenburg, Emily Cook, Rob Sprackling, John R. Smith, Kelly Asbury, Steve Hamilton “Gnomeo & Juliet” – Touchstone Pictures
  • Brian Kesinger, Kendelle Hoyer, Don Dougherty, Clio Chang, Don Hall, Stephen Anderson “Winnie The Pooh” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • John Logan, Gore Verbinski and James Byrkit “Rango” – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
  • Sarah Smith, Peter Baynham “Arthur Christmas” – Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
  • Steve Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cronish “Tintin”– Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall

Editing in Television Production

  • Garret Elkins “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” – Starburn Industries, Inc.
  • Hugo Morales “Kung Fu Panda” Nickelodeon
  • Jason W.A. Tucker “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” – Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
  • Paul D. Calder “Futurama” – The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
  • Ted Machold, Jeff Adams, Doug Tiano, Bob Tomlin “Penguins of Madagascar” – Nickelodeon and Technicolor

Editing in a Feature Production

  • Clare Knight, A.C.E. “Kung Fu Panda 2” – DreamWorks Animation
  • Craig Wood, A.C.E. “Rango” – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
  • Eric Dapkewicz “Puss In Boots” – DreamWorks Animation
  • Michael Kahn “Tintin”– Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
  • Stephen Schaffer, A.C.E. “Cars 2” – Pixar Animation Studios

Hanging with Some Disney Legends

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Events, Movies, Music | Leave a comment

Imagine my surprise on Thursday when I found myself hanging out with 11 Disney Legends at a lovely reception after a special D23 photo shoot for next year’s magazine cover honoring the 75th anniversary of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and feature animation.

Not only that but Richard Sherman entertained us at Walt’s old piano upstairs in the archive in the Frank Wells building (above), performing “Feed the Birds” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins. And for good measure, he ended with the deleted song, “Chimpanzoo,” which was added to the stage show.

In fact, when I chatted with Sherman, he told me that he got to meet Cary Grant at a party and informed him hat he was so inspired by seeing Gunga Din as a child that he paid homage in “Super…” by including “dukes and maharajas” in the lyrics. He said Grant couldn’t help but laugh.

Meanwhile, I asked Alice Davis (above, left, with Ruthie Thompson) how she met her husband, the late, great Marc Davis. She smiled and explained that while they were both studying she was introduced to Marc and invited him to a girlfriend’s party. Afterward he had such a good time that he asked her out out on a date to thank her. But she told him she’d only accept if it was more than just gratitude.

And Tinker Bell’s Margaret Kerry related how she recently chastised two men for being critical of the current state of Disneyland. “It’s a gift what Walt and Roy gave us and we should appreciate the magic every time we go there.”

Here’s the full list of luminaries:

  • Kathryn Beaumont, voice of Alice and of Wendy Darling
  • Alice Davis, Imagineer and costume designer
  • Lisa Davis, voice of Anita in One Hundred and One Dalmatians
  • Joe Hale, animation producer
  • Dickie Jones, voice of Pinocchio
  • Margaret Kerry, live-action model for Tinker Bell
  • Floyd Norman, animator and “story man”
  • Richard Sherman, composer and lyricist (Mary Poppins)
  • Ruthie Thompson, supervisor of Scene Planning department (Ink & Paint)
  • Burny Mattinson, storyboard artist (Winnie the Pooh)
  • Tyrus Wong, background artist (Bambi)

Pixomondo Helps Hugo

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

Pixomondo came of age with Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, tapping more than 400 artists in 10 of the company’s 11 facilities in Germany, the US, Canada, China, and the UK with a unique 24/7 global pipeline for 800 plus VFX shots.

After an Autodesk sponsored screening on Monday night at the Landmark in LA, Pixomondo VFX supervisor Ben Grossmann explained that they had a hand in tailoring every conceivable kind of animation, including stop-motion for a toy mouse that the compositors complained lacked motion blur because they didn’t realize Scorsese wanted to go old school for his valentine to film history and preservation.

Pixomondo’s London facility completed a heavily-CG opening fly-through sequence and shots involving the inside of the train station; Stuttgart handled most of Georges Méliès’ apartment, graveyard sequences, and Paris exteriors; Berlin managed complicated fire and debris VFX simulation scattered throughout the film along with portions of the train crash sequence; Shanghai completed shots focused around the clock tower staircase and green screen composites; Beijing worked on a magic show sequence, crowd duplication, match-moving, and wire removal; Burbank created a magical animation sequence of flying papers, character animation and CG face replacement; Toronto and Frankfurt worked on train station coverage, with Frankfurt executing Hugo’s nightmare transformation into the automaton. Pixomondo’s LA team completed specialized shots throughout the film, and Hugo’s nightmare in the train station, while also acting as the hub for all VFX work and editorial for other studio-produced VFX shots.

Grossmann told me that the VFX was intricately intertwined with the 3-D as part of the narrative, and that everything for Scorsese was based on 3-D. The idea was to be on the set with the characters. You’re with Hugo in the train station; up in the clocks; in the toy store; or with Méliès in the toy store or his glass studio. It was about the thrill of discovery. In fact, to get 3-D so precise and to have so much control over it was difficult but vital. They worked very closely with all the principals, particularly Rob Legato, the production VFX supervisor who had previous stereo experience on Avatar.

“You string it all together and then sweeten the interocular distance and convergence for different parts of the shot,” Grossmann explains. “It means the stereo settings are constantly changing. For instance, you start out by separating the left and right eye cameras by 10 feet at the head of the shot and then slowly start animating them closer together as you get closer to the station, so that by the time you’re swooping through the crowd of people, the interocular distance gets much shorter. For a lot of our big stereo shots we matched the camera separation to the human eye. Most 3-D movies have a 1/4 of an inch or a 1/2 of an inch. And a big stereo shot would be about an inch. On Hugo, a big stereo shot was 2.2 inches. That’s unique. It takes a lot of refining.”

DreamWorks Goes Real-Time

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

DreamWorks’s Jeffrey Katzenberg revealed at this week’s Techonomy Conference in Tucson, Arizona, that after three years his studio is making great progress with real-time rendering R&D with Intel, teasing that the Holy Grail is within sight for animation and social media.

”An expert animator can do about three seconds of animation in a week,” Katzenberg suggests. But DreamWorks is currently spending “many tens of millions of dollars” and as a result of experiments with Intel’s Sandybridge multi-core processor, has already seen 50 to 70x improvement in productivity.

”The problem is software does not let you optimize all this,” adds Katzenberg, with animators working with low-res files before sending it overnight for rendering and then having to do it again. “It is almost like having a 1,000 horsepower engine in your car and driving 30 mph… The Holy Grail would be for us to have an artist actually see their work as they do it.”

DreamWorks (which is exploring the idea of going solo after its distribution deal expires with Paramount) has already rewritten all of its in-house software during the course of this collaboration that runs through 2012.

However, while real-time rendering is working wonders for lighting and simulation, some animators remain skeptical that real-time rendering will offer appreciable improvement for all rendering needs.