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

Jackson Unveils 3-D Hobbit Video Blog

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

Peter Jackson recently released production video blog #4 for The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey (Dec. 14, 2012). This one’s devoted to 3-D and they provide a nice intro to how it works: Jackson shows off the Red Epic camera system and the 3ALITY stereo rig; Gareth Daley, the 3-D camera supervisor, explains interocular distance; Angus Ward, the stereographer, reveals how one camera shoots through a mirror and another bounces off a mirror; and Sean Kelly, the lead stereographer, describes the convergence point. There’s some nice green screen footage shot on set. View all four video blogs below:

Spielberg, Tintin, and the Race for Oscar

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

In my TOH column, I discuss my positive reactions to The Adventures of Tintin, which closed the AFI fest Thursday night. It’s not only a serious animated Oscar contender but also a game-changer for performance capture, as Weta navigates successfully through the uncanny valley.

18 Animated Features Submitted for Oscar Race

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

Here are the 18 animated features submitted for consideration in the Oscar race for the 84th Academy Awards. They will now be evaluated and short listed by the animation committee, which will lead to five eventual nominees if 16 qualify or four if at least 12 qualify. And, yes, in the end I think The Adventures of Tintin will qualify because it meets the qualifications of frame by frame animation despite the performance capture. Same should apply to Mars Needs Moms.

The Adventures of Tintin
Alois Nebel
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
Arthur Christmas
Cars 2
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Gnomeo & Juliet
Happy Feet Two
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
Kung Fu Panda 2
Mars Needs Moms
Puss in Boots
Rango
Rio
The Smurfs
Winnie the Pooh
Wrinkles

Fall/Holiday Preview: Four Films to Get Animated About

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

I provide a sneak peek of The Adventures of Tintin, Puss in Boots, Happy Feet 2, and Arthur Christmas in my weekly Immersed in Movies column at indieWIRE’s TOH. Can’t wait to see them all, but from what I’ve seen they strive for strong performance and thrusting us in unique worlds (or, in the case of Happy Feet 2, returning us to the Antarctic with a new adventure).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=op3w_ICK4us

Tintin Fanboy Fun

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

Now we have a Tintin fanboy featurette that gives us the marvelous backstory of Spielberg and Jackson teaming up to adapt Hergé and what attracted them to his fantastic adventures and Ligne claire (clear line) style that he pioneered. We get a glimpse of the performance capture process, the Raiders connection, and the seminal CG Snowy dog test with Jackson pretending to audition as the drunken Captain Haddock.

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#!

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

New Action-Packed Tintin Trailer Unleashed

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

A new Adventures of Tintin (Dec. 21) trailer has arrived, and it definitely amps up the action, which isn’t surprising after the slam-bang footage I viewed at Weta in July.

As I commented for indieWIRE, “[Tintin] looks like the best example yet of the fledgling and controversial [performance capture] technique, thanks to noticeable improvements in facial modeling, skin texturing, and more believable eyes. The result is a unique hybrid of caricature and photorealism. And despite the fact that most Americans are unfamiliar with Herge’s Belgian comic books, Spielberg has potentially pulled off a rousing adventure in the spirit of Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

And that’s what Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson are now trying to emphasize.

As for the performance capture, the rendering continues to improve and I see no Uncanny Valley ill-effects. The animation Oscar race just got potentially more interesting: “Tintin clearly pushes boundaries with a new kind of artistic layering of animated expression.” But I’ll know more, of course, after viewing the finished film in 3-D.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLkgH8ORfk0

VES Production Summit Take Aways

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Blu-ray, Events, Home Entertainment, Movies, performance capture, Tech, VES, VFX | Leave a comment

Here are some take aways from Saturday’s VES Production Summit at the beautiful Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills:

* The industry needs better educated stereographers: They should know camera as well as post/VFX. However, there’s a DP turf war going on between the cinematographer and the stereographer, so the cinematographer needs to embrace bringing the stereographer in on the trio with the director, and the stereographer needs to understand the needs of the cinematographer.

* The latest tax incentive wrinkle has high-end VFX artists being lured away to other countries as a result of better lifestyle opps. So the talent pool is definitely improving overseas.

* Former MPAA president Bob Pisano suggested that sequencing and pricing have to be rethought since time-based windows obviously don’t work in the era of social media.

* X-Men: First Class had a hectic four-week post schedule for VFX and the whole production was turned around in less than a year, but, because they pulled it off, there’s a concern that this will become the norm and not the exception.

* Rise of the Planet of the Apes was hailed as “Apeatar” in the way that it leveraged the Avatar performance capture system and was done quickly and efficiently. But the original version had James Franco dying but it didn’t test well, but you can be sure the alternate version will be touted on the upcoming Blu-ray.

* A lack of clarity and preparedness before you go into production is consequential — that is the systematic problem at the heart of so much abuse of VFX artists that the VES is currently trying to address in its Bill of Rights.