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.

performance capture

Rango Wrangles 4 VES Awards

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

Rango followed its Annies victory lap with four more awards from the Visual Effects Society (including Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Motion Picture) at last night’s 10th annual VES Awards at the Beverly Hilton. ILM’s Rango also won Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture, Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture, and Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in an Animated Feature Motion Picture. Hugo, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon all took home two awards in the Feature Motion Picture categories, while Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones each garnered a pair of awards in the television categories.

Stan Lee received the Lifetime Achievement Award, thanking the VFX community for bringing his superhero characters to realistic-looking life, and  pioneer Douglas Trumbull received the Georges Méliès Award at the show, extolling the need for more showmanship and VFX recognition for artists. The host was Patton Oswalt (who’s also on a roll after the Annies). Antonio Banderas, Lou Ferrigno, directors Chris Miller, Marc Webb, and Jennifer Yuh Nelson, and a host of luminaries were on hand to present awards. A surprise appearance by Martin Scorsese, whose Hugo received two awards, talked about his love of Méliès and working with VFX supervisor Rob Legato.

The complete list of winners of the 10th Annual VES Awards is as follows:

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture
Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, Cyndi Ochs, Kurt Williams

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture
Hugo: Ben Grossmann, Alex Henning, Rob Legato, Karen Murphy

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Rango: Tim Alexander, Hal Hickel, Jacqui Lopez, Katie Lynch

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Miniseries, Movie, or Special
Inside the Human Body: Phil Dobree, Sophie Orde, Dan Upton

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series
Terra Nova – Occupation & Resistance: Kevin Blank, Colin Brady, Adica Manis, Jason Zimmerman

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
Game of Thrones – Winter is Coming: Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor, Angela Barson, Ed Bruce, Adam McInnes

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Live Action Commercial
Dior J’adore: Pascal Giroux, Julien Meesters, Stephane Pivron, Manuel Souillac

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Commercial or Video Game Trailer
Diablo III: The Black Soulstone: Nicholas S. Carpenter, Graham Cunningham, Chris Thunig, Taka Yasuda

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project
Transformers the Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle: Lori Arnold, Yanick Dusseault, Delio Tramontozzi, Jeff White

Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Caesar: Daniel Barrett, Florian Fernandez, Matthew Muntean, Eric Reynolds

Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Rango – Rango: Frank Gravatt, Kevin Martel, Brian Paik, Steve Walton

Outstanding Animated Character in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
Canal + The Bear: Laurent Creusot, Guillaume Ho, Olivier Mitonneau, Michal Nauzin

Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
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
Rango – Main Street Dirt: John Bell, Polly Ing, Martin Murphy, Russell Paul

Outstanding Created Environment in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
Game of Thrones – The Icewall: Markus Kuha, Dante Harbridge Robinson, Damien Mac, Fani Vassiadi

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
Hugo: Martin Chamney, Rob Legato, Adam Watkins, Fabio Zangla

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Rango – The Dirt Saloon: Colin Benoit, Philippe Rebours, Nelson Sepulveda, Nick Walker

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
Gears of War 3 – Dust to Dust: Niles Heckman, Richard Morton, Vernon Wilbert Jr.

Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture
Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Driller: Tim Brakensiek, Kelvin Chu, David Fogler, Rene Garcia

Outstanding Models in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
Boardwalk Empire – Georgia Peaches: Matthew Conner, Eran Dinur, David Reynolds, Szymon Weglarski

Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture
Captain America: The First Avenger – Skinny Steve: Casey Allen, Trent Claus, Brian Hajek, Cliff Welsh

Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
Boardwalk Empire – Gimcrack & Bunkum: Anton Dawson. Eran Dinur, Austin Meyers, David Reynolds

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project
a.maize: Roman Kaelin, Falko Paeper, Florian Wittmann

The 10th Annual VES Awards will air exclusively on REELZCHANNEL Sunday, Feb. 19 at 10:00 pm ET/7pm PT with encore presentations throughout February. For more information on the VES Awards and the Visual Effects Society please visit www.visualeffectssociety.com

FMX 2012 Announces Speakers

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

FMX 2012, the 17th conference on Animation, Effects, Games, and Transmedia will take place May 8-11 in Stuttgart, Germany, with Autodesk as the first official partner, and such speakers as Transmedia pioneer Henry Jenkins, Nuno Bernardo, and Marek Koterski. Immersed in Movies is proud to be a media partner and I will be attending for the first time, and look forward to blogging about the presentations.

Jenkins will provide a Transmedia overview, and Bernardo (founder of beActive) will discuss his very own interactive on-line series Sofia’s Diary — the first international series of its kind — in a track curated by Inga von Staden.

Cloud computing trends will be a hot topic, curated by Ludwig von Reiche, senior director for business development of NVIDIA.

There will be a focus on Canada, Poland, and the Baltics, including a presentation of Marek Koterski’s film Baby sa jakies inne executed by the post-production house The Chimney Pot.

Animation/VFX Oscar Surprises

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

I analyze the Oscar surprises and snubs for animation and VFX in my TOH column at Indiewire. Who would’ve guessed that both Chico & Rita and A Cat in Paris are in and both Cars 2 and Tintin are out? Meanwhile, Rango starts a one-week reissue at the ArcLight Hollywood and the nominated shorts will screen theatrically on Feb. 10.

ShortsHD working with Magnolia Pictures will release The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2012 in more than 200 theaters across the US and Canada. Three theatrical programs will give audiences around the country an opportunity to watch the nominated shorts in the animation, live action and documentary categories prior to the 84th Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 26th. This year will mark the second theatrical outing for the nominated documentary shorts, after an enthusiastic reception from audiences for last year’s inaugural run.

The Oscar Nominated Short Films has become a key fixture of the awards season. Last year, the theatrical release broke all records, grossing more than $1,350,000 nationwide and playing in significantly more theaters than in previous years. Since the inception of the program in 2005, attendance has grown by 800%.

Along with the theatrical run, the nominated short films will be released individually on iTunesfrom Feb. 21st in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany and other iTunes Stores throughout the world. The release will also be available via cable’s Movies On Demand (MOD), distributed by leading MOD distributor, iN DEMAND L.L.C. and will be available via Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Brighthouse, Cablevision, and Cox Communication.

VES Announces Board of Directors

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

The Visual Effects Society (VES), announced the 2012 Board of Director officers who were elected at the Jan. 18 board meeting. The list of officials includes Jeffrey A. Okun, head of visual effects for Prana Studios, who was re-elected for a fourth one-year term as board chair; Michael Fink as first vice chair; Pam Hogarth as second vice chair; Bob Coleman as treasurer; and Kim Lavery as secretary.

“I could not be more excited to serve again,” states Okun. “I am thrilled to be allowed to focus on our core mission: creating community, promoting visual effects and the artists who create them.  And I am equally thrilled to continue to push the VES 2.0 initiative forward — the initiative to reach out and bring all parties to the table to secure rights and benefits for our industry — across the board — in film, broadcast, special venue, commercials, games and animation!”

“I look forward to continuing the incredible working relationship Jeff and I have,” states Eric Roth, VES executive director. “He is an extraordinarily talented gentleman with a bottomless passion for visual effects and the VES while being uniquely suited to be the voice of the entertainment industry’s defining resource for our craft.”

The 2011 Officers of the VES Board of Directors are:

Chair: Jeffrey A. Okun

Jeffrey A. Okun has contributed visual effects design and execution to a wide-range of films including the award winning sci-fi hit Stargate (1994), Deep Blue Sea (1999), The Last Starfighter (1984), Sphere (1998), The Last Samurai (2003), Blood Diamond (2006), and The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008).

Okun is known for creating ‘organic’ and invisible effects, as well as spectacular effects which seamlessly expand both the look and scope of a film, but also enhances the storytelling aspect of the movie. Additionally, Jeff is the creator of the revolutionary visual effects techniques dubbed the “PeriWinkle Effect” & the “Pencil Effect,” which have been used in many projects to help achieve more a sense of the fantastic, wonder and more accurate budgets. Okun is the author of breakdown, budgeting and tracking software currently being used by professionals throughout the industry.

First Vice Chair:

Michael Fink, Visual Effects Supervisor

Fink has earned degrees from California State University Northridge, San Francisco Art Institute, and California Institute of the Arts, in an attempt to disguise a checkered past.

Fink began working in film on China Syndrome in 1977.  He “cut his eye teeth” on films such as Star Trek the Motion Picture and Bladerunner, and became a Visual Effects Supervisor on War Games (BAFTA Nomination), in 1982.  He has since worked on over 50 films, including Buckaroo Banzai, Batman Returns (BAFTA and Academy Nominations), Braveheart, Mars Attacks!, X-Men, X-Men 2, Constantine, The Golden Compass (BAFTA Award, Academy Award), Tropic Thunder, Avatar, Tron: Legacy, Sucker Punch, and Tree of Life.

Fink is a founding member of the VES.  He is on the Advisory Board of SpaceCam Systems Inc., and is a Visiting Professor at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, while continuing his visual effects career.

Second Vice Chair: Pam Hogarth – Director of Marketing, Look Effects

Hogarth has spent more than 26 years in the world of visual effects, 20 of which doing marketing and education. Before joining LOOK she spent 12 years helping to build Gnomon School of Visual Effects into the premiere educational institution for careers in high-end CG. While doing that, she found time and energy to devote to the Visual Effects Society, serving multiple terms on the board of directors, including four years as executive secretary, is currently chair of the Benefits Committee and has been one of the abiding chairs of the Education Committee.

Treasurer: Bob Coleman, President, Digital Artists Agency

Coleman founded Digital Artists Agency in Los Angeles to represent an international and award-winning portfolio of artists for work in feature, commercial and related fields. He leverages his experience in top-level management positions at respected industry companies, with his high regard for artists, to further the development of the visual effects craft.

Secretary: Kim Lavery, VFX Producer

Lavery has experience from both the production & post sides of filmmaking and visual effects producing for a total of over two decades, having worked for Universal Studios on film production then shifting to visual effects in 1994. Since then, she has been instrumental in building out specialized visual effects boutique studios, working on films such as Frida, Minority Report, Cats and Dogs, Charlie’s Angels, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Terminator 3, Last Samurai, etc.

Aligning herself with the global marketplace, she worked at Weta Digital in various producing roles on; King Kong, XMen 3, Bridge to Terabithia, 30 Days of Night, Enchanted & The Water Horse, etc. Currently, Kim is continuing to bridge the gap between New Zealand and the US film and post production markets.

She has served on the VES Awards Committee since its inception in 2002; and has also served as a VES board member and Secretary for several terms: 2004 – present.

Oscar Nominations Full of Surprises

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Blu-ray, Books, Cinematography, Costume, Editing, Events, Home Entertainment, Movies, Music, Oscar, performance capture, Production Design, Shorts, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Is it a three-way race for best picture between The Artist, Hugo, and The Descendants? Or really a two-way race between either The Artist and The Descendants or The Artist and Hugo? Hard to tell, but Hugo nabbed 11 nominations and The Artist 10 as the AMPAS announced the nominations for the 84th Academy Awards. But with the DGA honoring The Artist’s Michel Hazanavicius Saturday night, is there anything standing in the way of the black-and-white silent ode to Hollywood taking best picture?

The biggest surprise was that there were actually nine nominees for best picture instead of six or seven, as anticipated: Joining The Artist, The Descendants, and Hugo were Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse. No real surprises as far as the choices. They’re all solid.

The five best director nominees were Hazanavicius for The Artist, Alexander Payne for The Descendants, Martin Scorsese for Hugo, Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, and Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life. Could there be a split between best picture and best director?

With A Better Life’s Demián Bichir somewhat unexpectedly joining the best actor race, this one becomes a lot more interesting with George Clooney from The Descendants (the favorite), Jean Dujardin from The Artist, Gary Oldman from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Brad Pitt from Moneyball.

How about the spellbinding Rooney Mara from The Dragon Tattoo upsetting the heavily favored Meryl Streep from The Iron Lady for best actress? Or does this one really belong to Viola Davis from The Help? Don’t forget the gender-bending Glenn Close from Albert Nobbs and the beguiling Michelle Williams from My Week with Marilyn. This has to be the most competitive category.

Then there’s Moneyball’s Jonah Hill beating out Drive’s Albert Brooks for a best supporting actor nomination. Does The Beginner’s Christopher Plummer still take the Oscar? Or is The Fighter’s Nick Nolte the dark horse? But what about the nostalgia choice of Max von Sydow from Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close?

Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids makes the best supporting actress award a lot more interesting as well. She joins Bérénice Bejo from The Artist, Jessica Chastain from The Help, Janet McTee from Albert Nobbs, and Octavia Spencer from The Help.

Best original screenplay is a lot more fascinating with the surprising Bridesmaids (Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wig), Margin Call (J.C. Chandor), and A Separation (Asghar Farhadi) joining The Artist (Hazanavicius) and Midnight in Paris (Allen). Wouldn’t it be something if Bridesmaids pulled this one out?

Adapted screenplay honors also offered its surprises with The Descendants (Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash), Hugo (John Logan), The Ides of March (Clooney & Grant Heslova and Beau Willimon), Moneyball (Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, story by Stan Chervin), and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan).

The most surprising category of all? Animated feature in which two hand-drawn European indies, A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita edged out Pixar’s Cars 2 and Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin. Score one for the traditionalists. Still, they could’ve gone for Winnie the Pooh to lend a helping hand to Disney’s endangered 2D legacy. And this is the first time that Pixar’s been shut out of a nomination. Rango’s still the heavy favorite, which opens a one-week run on Friday at the ArcLight Hollywood. DreamWorks scored two nominations with Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots, proving that emotional storytelling’s definitely on the rise over there.

Animated short nominees ranged from Pixar’s La Luna to The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, A Morning Stroll (also honored at Sundance), and The National Film Board of Canada’s Sunday and Wild Life. Although this one is also wide open, I think La Luna might have the edge but don’t count out Wild Life or A Morning Stroll.

The VFX Oscar probably belongs to Weta’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes for the emotionally stirring CG Caesar. However, it was joined by the character-driven Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Real Steel (which beat out the favored Captain America:The First Avenger) and the completely inventive Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Hugo.

Best Picture

  • “The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer
  • “The Descendants” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
  • “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” Scott Rudin, Producer
  • “The Help” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
  • “Hugo” Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
  • “Midnight in Paris” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
  • “Moneyball” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
  • “The Tree of Life” Nominees to be determined
  • “War Horse Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

Directing

  • “The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius
  • “The Descendants” Alexander Payne
  • “Hugo” Martin Scorsese
  • “Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen
  • “The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”
  • George Clooney in “The Descendants”
  • Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
  • Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
  • Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
  • Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
  • Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
  • Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
  • Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Viola Davis in “The Help”
  • Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
  • Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
  • Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
  • Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
  • Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
  • Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

Animated Feature Film

  • “A Cat in Paris” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
  • “Chico & Rita” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
  • “Kung Fu Panda 2″ Jennifer Yuh Nelson
  • “Puss in Boots” Chris Miller
  • “Rango” Gore Verbinski

Art Direction

  • “The Artist” Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
  • “Hugo” Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
  • “Midnight in Paris” Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
  • “War Horse” Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

Cinematography

  • “The Artist” Guillaume Schiffman
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Jeff Cronenweth
  • “Hugo” Robert Richardson
  • “The Tree of Life” Emmanuel Lubezki
  • “War Horse” Janusz Kaminski

Costume Design

  • “Anonymous” Lisy Christl
  • “The Artist” Mark Bridges
  • “Hugo” Sandy Powell
  • “Jane Eyre” Michael O’Connor
  • “W.E.” Arianne Phillips

Documentary (Feature)

  • “Hell and Back Again” Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
  • “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
  • “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
  • “Pina” Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
  • “Undefeated” TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • “The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement” Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
  • “God Is the Bigger Elvis” Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
  • “Incident in New Baghdad”James Spione
  • “Saving Face” Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
  • “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Film Editing

  • “The Artist” Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
  • “The Descendants” Kevin Tent
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
  • “Hugo” Thelma Schoonmaker
  • “Moneyball” Christopher Tellefsen

Foreign Language Film

  • “Bullhead” Belgium
  • “Footnote” Israel
  • “In Darkness” Poland
  • “Monsieur Lazhar” Canada
  • “A Separation” Iran

Makeup

  • “Albert Nobbs” Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″ Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
  • “The Iron Lady” Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Music (Original Score)

  • “The Adventures of Tintin” John Williams
  • “The Artist” Ludovic Bource
  • “Hugo” Howard Shore
  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Alberto Iglesias
  • “War Horse” John Williams

Music (Original Song)

  • “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
  • “Real in Rio” from “Rio” Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Short Film (Animated)

  • “Dimanche/Sunday” Patrick Doyon
  • “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
  • “La Luna” Enrico Casarosa
  • “A Morning Stroll” Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
  • “Wild Life” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Short Film (Live Action)

  • “Pentecost” Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
  • “Raju” Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
  • “The Shore” Terry George and Oorlagh George
  • “Time Freak” Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
  • “Tuba Atlantic” Hallvar Witzø

Sound Editing

  • “Drive” Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Ren Klyce
  • “Hugo” Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
  • “War Horse” Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

Sound Mixing

  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
  • “Hugo” Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
  • “Moneyball” Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
  • “War Horse” Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Visual Effects

  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″ Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
  • “Hugo” Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
  • “Real Steel” Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
  • “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • “The Descendants” Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
  • “Hugo” Screenplay by John Logan
  • “The Ides of March” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
  • “Moneyball” Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin
  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • “The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius
  • “Bridesmaids” Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
  • “Margin Call” Written by J.C. Chandor
  • “Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen
  • “A Separation” Written by Asghar Farhadi

Experimenting with the VFX Bakeoff

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

The AMPAS experimented with 10 VFX bakeoff entries on Thursday night, which was met with mixed results. While it made better sense to expand the field from seven to 10, trimming the demos from 15 minutes to 10 was a hard adjustment for some. In addition, for the first time, there was a mix-up when the wrong file was used for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 demo reel. Fortunately, the error was eventually rectified and the complete reel was screened at the end.

As always, it’s a lot more effective when the VFX is tied to a central character that’s animated and offers an emotional hook. And that’s usually what wins the Oscar. Thus, Weta’s senior VFX supervisor Joe Letteri gave an informative and succinct explanation of the extraordinary CG Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the front runner: the new active LEDs for on set motion capture; a new model for the eyes; new fur system; and a new facial muscle system to handle all the dynamic simulations on top of the animation.

However, ILM’s presentation for Transformers: Dark of the Moon was also impressive, as VFX production supervisor Scott Farrar regaled the committee with facts and figures pertaining to the improved animation and the relentless demolition and the challenges of making it all work while shooting in 3-D.

Arguably, the best demo reel was for Real Steel, which involved a breakthrough virtual production system by Digital Domain and Giant Studios. VFX production supervisor Erik Nash explained how the system was instrumental in enabling the production to shoot the movie in 71 days with no second unit. Shooting with the Simulcam on set with MoCap actors resulted in a more visceral viewing experience when replaced with the animation for the boxing bots.

We’ll find out the five nominees on Tuesday, but I’m still going with Apes, Transformers, Potter, Captain America, and Hugo.

Tintin Takes Golden Globe for Animation

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

Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin took the Golden Globe for best animated feature tonight in Los Angeles. Backstage, Spielberg said animation “gives you so much room to hang yourself with,” reports TOH’s Anne Thompson. “It can get complex with lighting and choreography, can change entire sequences, it’s a malleable art form. It’s like a painter, very personal with a canvas, even with 400 animators. After Peter does Tintin 2, I hope I get to do the third one.” He likened Tintin to a Hope/Crosby film.

Meanwhile, in the dramatic categories: The Descendants nabbed best picture honors with George Clooney winning best actor. Martin Scorsese won best director for Hugo; Meryl Streep took home best actress for The Iron Lady; Christopher Plummer earned best supporting actor for Beginners; and Octavia Spencer collected best supporting actress for The Help. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris scored the best screenplay prize. A Separation won for best foreign film.

In the musical/comedy categories, The Artist earned three Golden Globes, including best picture, best actor (Jean Dujardin), and score (Ludovic Bource); Michelle Williams earned best actress for My Week with Marilyn; Madonna earned best original song (“Masterpiece” from W.E.). Morgan Freeman was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award.

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.

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

Anonymous
Andre Cantarel
Volker Engel
Rony Soussan
Marc Weigert

Hugo
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

Rango
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

Gettysburg
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

Fringe
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

Amazin’
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

Hugo
Martin Chamney
Rob Legato
Adam Watkins
Fabio Zangla

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

Thor
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

Rango
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

a.maize
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 www.visualeffectssociety.com.

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.