Archive for Film
Some early reviews for ALVH. I grew quite fond of this film while working on it, I’m hoping viewers will have a lot of fun seeing it. Ok, ok I know… It was a ridiculous premise that worked well in the novel but which may simply be ludicrous on screen. And I know, there were people who didn’t like the campy stuff, they retiming or color, etc etc ad infinitum. But it’s a vampire film, not a period drama. Have fun with it.
There is innovative atmosphere galore: this doesn’t look like much of anything we’ve seen before. Mostly, though, the overwhelming impression I’m left with is sheer delight, that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is so very much better than it has any right to be.
But the film’s title tells the whole story and sets the stage for its over the top action and freight train like pace. It’s called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter…Let’s have some damn fun. There are a lot of amusing nods to historical events and characters that anyone with a high school diploma will find entertaining. But it’s the overall feel of the film that I loved most. Beside’s Walkers spot on Abe, it’s a very dark and violent film. Initially I was sure the studio would want to sell as many tickets as possible to a film that had vampire in the title and slap a PG-13 rating on it. However, Fox, trusting a successful R-rated director in Timur, held nothing back and the film is better for it. It’s incredibly violent and features vampires in the correct and demonic light with which they should be seen. It’s not overly campy but it’s just enough to smirk at and you’ll find yourself saying “Really?” only a few times. The action is far too much fun and grabs you from the first axe swing till the last twirl. Abe’s axe is the new bending bullet.
And some viewer reviews from early screenings look promising…
So I saw the first ever premier of the movie. First of all don’t let the title scare you, this movie is an action packed, fun flick. The best part of the movie is definitely the Action scenes, the special effects are awesome. There are some very innovative scenes, and great cinematography. The director used a lot of cool angles with a bunch of slow mo special effects. The plot is decent and there are no lulls, the action picks up right when the movie needs a boost. The vampires look great as well, especially Erin Wasson as Vadoma… gotta love hot evil vampire chicks.
Overall I was very impressed, having never read the book I did not really know what to expect. Acting was good, nothing Oscar worthy but no poor performances….the action was absolutely fantastic. It was over the top, fast paced, bloody, and very well done. If you don’t mind seeing vampires getting hacked, slashed, and bashed to death in a wide variety of ways, you’ll enjoy this movie.
I’m looking forward to seeing the public reaction to ALVH in the theatres: go check it out and let me know what you think. :D
I had nothing to do with the making of Tangled, but it’s a great Disney film which blew me away, and I always like “making of” breakdowns. So I took a look at this, and felt it did such a good job of showing how a sucessful final result comes from a steady progression of improvements. Whether you’re making a fully animated film or a live action sequence, the best results come from a back-and-forth iterative process of test images to build up the final product.
In today’s “faster/cheaper” production mentality there is often significant pressure to reduce iterations and the time spent making a shot – if you watch through this sequence and imagine cutting out a lot of the improvements you see which are made over time you can get a feel for how the extra time and effort makes all of the difference. The flip side of this, of course, is that without good artistry and good direction all the time in the world won’t make a difference.
Too many great ideas are killed by a rush to minimize costs and get stuff out fast. This may make profits for those who deal with high-volume-low-quality kinds of projects, but I note that the giants with some of the most incredible work (and full coffers) tend to follow a mentality where extra time, effort and resources are spent to make a final product which is clearly of superior quality.
In the end, quality pays, and its the result of investing in talent, tools, and organization.
In this sequence we see a lot of things being done right…
- Time taken for previsualization.
- Tools available to allow communication via painting on frames, showing thought and investment in pipeline.
- An area set aside for the artist to make reference, showing insight into artistry and the willingness to spend money to enable it.
- Many iterations, showing time was spent to get the shot right, and the production was organized with regular milestones in place (and time set aside to achieve them).
The final result, a great film which not only was a creative success but one which did well financially ($590 mil box office revenue and a new and lasting Disney heroine providing decades of continuing income.)
FearNet has a nice post on Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. Here’s my favorite bit:
– This movie puts vampires back where they belong, and that’s as bad guys and not heartthrobs; who should be beheaded with an axe and not kissed by tweens. That’s what you can expect. Badass vampires getting treated like the killers that they are.
I can’t tell you how awesome working on this one is. By far it’s the most creative and enjoyable project I’ve worked on in years. It’s a really fun film.
“Visionary filmmakers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted) bring a fresh and visceral voice to the blood-thirsty lore of the vampire, imagining Lincoln as history’s greatest hunter of the undead.”
Update: It’s out, but Disney marketing seems to have melted down and the result has been poor box office returns. A pity, because it’s actually quite fun and well worth a watch. Seriously, it’s a good film – watch and see for yourself. :D
Garman Herigstad once gave me a slew of advice years ago, and every bit of it has proven useful to me over the years. So when he voices an opinion, I listen. Such is the case in his most recent blog post where he discusses dailies.
Dalies are at the heart of VFX. It’s where artists get feedback and develop their eye. It’s where production is kept on track. It’s also where seniors develop opinions on their artists, where directors evaluate their teams, and where critical choices are made.
My best advice for artists attending dailies for the first time is to be quiet and pay full attention. Take notes, as Garman suggests. Keep your mouth shut unless your input is needed or asked for. Never lie, never try to spin anything, never be defensive or explanatory – just listen to the instructions that are given, ask questions if anything is unclear, and be professional.
The people evaluating the work are almost always aware of issues or concerns an individual artist is not exposed to – a VFX sup may be thinking about continuity with other shots, upcoming changes, or criteria passed down from a director. The leadership attending or running the dailies may also not have much time, or the viewing theatre may have other teams waiting, so the general rule is to let the person(s) making decisions quickly and accurately evaluate what they are being shown, make a decision, and convey that decision as directives for action.
And always, always as an artist address the notes you are given. The people giving notes remember what they ask for, and nothing infuriates a director or VFX sup more than to give the same notes over and over. If you are dialing in towards a result, ie if the notes are on the order of “more” or “less,” that’s ok. But if the notes keep coming back as “where’s the fix?” then you are probably pissing someone off.
Anyway, it’s a good read, on an important subject, from a knowledgable source worth listening to.
So I’ve picked up a position as VFX Supervisor at StereoD, a company which started in 2009 doing stereoconversion and which in less than 3 years has grown to a leading edge studio of over 600 artists and growing.
The visual effects department is new, having risen from a small group of artists who performed miscellaneous visual effects as needed to enhance or fill out the stereo process, and my job as I see it is to lay a foundation for growth given the large demand for services we’re encountering. The effects vary from show to show, from environmental and supportive effects (snow, rain, smoke, fog etc) to more unusual effects, some of which are only possible in the realm of stereo.
Challenging, and a lot of fun. When I first arrived at StereoD I was staggered by the number of shows they are running concurrently, below are just a few, in no particular order. If you’re an experienced visual effects artist and are looking for a place that is growing and evolving and has work on some of the largest and most advanced films being created, StereoD should definitely be on your radar. And most amazing of all? Unlike some places (cough) the VFX dept at StereoD is already showing profit and has more requests for work than we can accommodate…. ;)
The pool, known as the Pensieve to Harry Potter fans, contains an oillike liquid that sloshes around in its basin whenever someone gazes into it. While they had managed to make do with available tools in previous Harry Potter movies, this time around animators wanted the effects to be bigger, better and more realistic than ever before.
Houston, 32, sold the company a piece of specially designed software that mimics real world physics and helps to accurately create water digitally. The water special effect had taken Houston more than three years to perfect. The software tool was designed to work with Gradient’s existing special effects software.
“I went and further customized our software to meet the needs of the Harry Potter production,” said Houston, adding the experience has been “awesome.”
Animators at Gradient learned about Houston’s software from a review in a computer graphics magazine, he said.
Having written the magazine article in question, I couldn’t be happier for Exocortex. Good work, guys!
This is an FYI for you iPhone and iPad2 users – vimeo now has a free app supporting their site, which allows very basic video editing, submission, and account management.
(If you aren’t a vimeo user, what is it you ask? Vimeo is a bit like youtube, it’s a free video sharing site, but it’s more targeted towards creatives and professionals. Most of the videos on my site are hosted at vimeo.)
The down side: if your device has no camera, you can’t use the app. Meaning original iPad owners are left out. This is pretty dumb. Just because the device doesn’t have a camera doesn’t mean you don’t have footage on it.
Case in point – a vimeo member takes their iPad, a camera and the camera connection kit (in a day pack, perhaps) to some photogenic place. User shoots some gorgeous footage (with something a lot nicer than a craptastic phone camera) which they want to upload… maybe to be reviewed while they are still on location, or for a family member to see, whatever. So they use the camera connection kit to load it to their pad, select the shots they want to share and then pointedly don’t edit and load the results to vimeo… they can’t…
But still, it’s nice that there’s an app for the iPhone. Cheers.