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.

Virtual Production

Clipping the Making of Tintin

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

Here is a making of featurette that reveals the performance capture work in LA, the molding of Snowy, and the amount of frame by frame animated work from Weta Digital that brought these characters and environments to fully-rendered life, as we are now beginning to witness in the latest trailer below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=op3w_ICK4us&feature=player_embedded#!

New Tintin Trailer More Revealing

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

There’s a new HD trailer for The Adventures of Tintin (Dec. 21), which visually sharpens the focus and provides greater depth, balancing the Raiders-like action with Hitchcock-inspired compositions and fluid overlapping of time and space. It’s really looking more and more like Spielberg was fully liberated, and found a unique hybrid of photorealism and caricature. With critical raves coming out of Europe in anticipation of next week’s opening, I think I’ll be seeing it sooner than later.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=op3w_ICK4us&feature=player_embedded#!

IMAX Partners with Kodak on Laser Projection

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

James Cameron has been touting the coming of digital laser projection to correct the brightness issue for 3-D, and the technology has arrived, with IMAX exclusively licensing rights from Kodak to deliver laser projection to its more than 80-foot screens and to dome theaters in the second half of 2013.

“This Kodak intellectual property is truly cutting edge, and will be used by IMAX’s esteemed Technology Group to enhance the cinematic experience for consumers, enable the application of digital technology in our larger and institutional theatres, and make being in business with IMAX even easier and more profitable,” said IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond. “It is a testament to Kodak’s strong heritage in film and tradition of excellence that we believe this deal further differentiates IMAX in terms of innovation and technological advancement in large-screen cinematic experiences.”

Kodak engineers will work closely with IMAX engineers over the next 18 months to assist with the implementation of the technology into the IMAX product family.

“We are delighted to be licensing our technology to a company as innovative as IMAX,” said Kim Snyder, president, Entertainment Imaging, and VP, Eastman Kodak Co. “Because this technology produces the deepest blacks, and the brightest 3D of any system demonstrated to date, it will truly make the movies more exciting for consumers, and that creates a strong value proposition for the studios and exhibitors as well. That’s the ultimate measure of this relationship. We look forward to working with the IMAX team to make this vision a reality.”

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

Go Deeper into Hugo with Featurette

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Books, Movies, Trailers, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Martin Scorsese provides a brief but stirring glimpse into Hugo (Nov. 23) in this featurette, which is much more illuminating than the trailer. He sets up the story of the eponymous orphan (Asa Butterfield) living in the Paris train station, trying to fix the mechanical man left behind by his late father, and embarking on an adventure. There are beautiful glimpses of the inner world of the station (everything is imbued in blue) and the connections with magic and the cinema, and how it all emotionally resonates with the powerful presence of Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley), the father of special effects. Even though it’s flat, we get a wondrous sense of the depth and the great visuall possibilities of 3-D, with vertiginous Hitchcockian shots and mysterious echoes of House of Wax.

Trailering The Avengers

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

The Avengers (May 4, 2012) appears to be in good hands with Joss Whedon, judging from the new trailer, which exhibits lots of Loki mayhem (ILM and Weta Digital have VFX duty on this epic) and superhero jostling. As anticipated, Robert Downey Jr. gets most of the screen time as Iron Man, and his ego doesn’t sit well with the other team members: Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as the revolving Hulk, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye.

Trumbull to Receive VES Georges Méliès Award

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

Douglas Trumbull will receive the 2012 Georges Méliès Award from the VES, which will be presented at the 10th Annual VES Awards, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Feb. 7, 2012. Trumbull, who’s advanced VFX with his pioneering work on 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Blade Runner, has also directed Silent Running and Brainstorm. He also revolutionized large-format filmmaking with Showscan in the mid-’80s, which offered unparalleled viewing at 120fps.

Trumbull most recently served as a creative consultant on The Tree of Life birth of the universe sequence. With the privately-owned film studio, Trumbull Ventures, he is specializing in the development of advanced integrated systems for high-resolution digital production utilizing virtual sets and locations, high frame rates, 3-D, and advanced previsualization. Trumbull is presently developing multiple feature film projects that he intends to write, produce, and direct, using his virtual set technology

“Doug Trumbull is a leading light in the field of visual effects and technology,” said VES chair Jeffrey A. Okun.  “He is an innovator in all things entertainment and equally important is his genius for re-imagining the impossible into a compelling visual that not only has never been seen before but also goes to the heart of the storytelling. We are seriously honored to know and work with him.”

“It is truly an honor to receive the Georges Méliès Award from the Visual Effects Society,” said Trumbull. “My philosophy is that everything in a movie is an illusion of some kind, and I am very excited that the industry today is now embracing 3D, higher frame rates, and other opportunities that can expand the movie-going experience, and deliver to audiences the kind of immersive and other-worldly images that we in the VES can provide. The role of the VES at this time could not be more important, and I am very grateful to receive this astonishing recognition.”

Trumbull has been the recipient of the American Society of Cinematographer’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and has recently been selected by his peers as a VES Fellow of the Visual Effects Society (only the third to receive this distinction).

Previous recipients of the George Méliès Award were Robert Abel, John Lasseter, Phil Tippett and Ed Catmull.

Hugo Reactions

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Editing, Festivals, Movies, Oscar, Tech, Trailers, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

The reactions to last night’s work-in-progress preview of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (Nov. 23) at the New York Film Festival were mixed in degree of enthusiasm, but the takeaways were pretty uniform: The second-half valentine to silent French director Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley) and the importance of preserving our cinematic heritage was spot on, and the live-action 3-D experience was the most immersive since Avatar.

In fact, Hugo is a thinly disguised tribute to Michael Powell (The Red Shoes). “Marty has restored the reputations of so many filmmakers, mainly my [late] husband’s, and the film’s a wonderful distillation of that,” editor Thelma Schoonmaker recently told me. “But, of course, that is why he was drawn to the story in the first place: the chance to show this genius who is thrown aside and then to show his greatness.”

Weaving the subsidiary characters into the narrative, such as Sacha Baron Cohen’s station master, and not lingering too long on the mysterious setup are among the challenges, and last night’s sneak peek probably confirms what the filmmakers already know.

“Though Hugo will be sold, somewhat correctly, as a children’s adventure film set amid the great creaking clocks and colorful characters of a Paris train station, it’s a love letter to movies, and more specifically the importance of preserving films for future generations,” enthuses Cineblend’s Katey Rich.

“His introduction — comprising a whooshing tour of the station, a hungry pursuit by the game, gimpy Baron Cohen and his equally game Doberman, and finally a gorgeous perspective on winter lowering over Paris — is a thing of nearly wordless beauty,” observes Movieline’s S.T. Vanairsdale.

“Hugo‘s fantastical mystery leads us to the birth of cinema — which is where Scorsese’s heart lies, and the film takes off,” suggests indieWIRE’s Anne Thompson.

“If anyone, it’s for (and about) Scorsese, the great film lover, historian, and preservationist. At it’s core, it is the most expensive and creative Film History 101 course of all time,” offers THR’s Scott Feinberg.

The Hugo Cineaste Factor

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

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (Nov. 23) is indeed the work-in-progress mystery movie tonight at the New York Film Festival, as predicted by, among others, Deadline’s Pete Hammond and Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells. Can’t wait to find out what the reaction is. Meanwhile, what fascinates me is the analysis that Wells got from someone who attended a September test market screening in Chicago. In fact, I already have it on good authority that the depiction of silent film legend Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley), the father of special effects, is “a wonderful distillation” of Scorsese’s efforts to restore the reputation of Michael Powell (The Red Shoes), which is alluded to in the analysis. I’ve also heard that Scorsese’s stereoscopic aesthetic is very much rooted in the theatricality of House of Wax and Dial M for Murder, which is downplayed by the anonymous attendee.

Here are some of his other comments:

“Lots of wide-angle and tracking shots. In fact, there’s one tracking shot in the opening 10 minutes that outdoes the Copa shot in Goodfellas in terms of sheer technical razzle-dazzle — it follows Hugo across and around catwalks, down a ladder, around a spiral slide, through walls, etc.

“The most consistently impressive aspect of the 3D is actually the particulate matter Scorsese adds to all the shots in the train station — amber-hued dust, snow, seta, etc.

“I actually think it may be his most ‘personal’ film since…I don’t know, Goodfellas? … I shit you not — the last act is all about the importance of film preservation…. It’s a movie made for cineastes.”