Ridley Scott's new film Exodus: Gods and Kings recasts the myth of Moses in typically grimdark swords-and-sandals fashion. It... ain't so good. Want something more artful? Look no further than The Prince of Egypt [alt], an underrated masterpiece of DreamWorks' traditional animation era. Directed by Brenda Chapman (a first for women in animation), scored to spectacular effect by Hans Zimmer and Stephen Schwartz, and voiced by, among others, Voldemort, Batman, and Professor X, the ambitious film features gorgeous, striking visuals and tastefully integrated CGI in nearly every scene. It also manages the improbable feat of maturing beyond cartoon clichés while humanizing the prophet's journey from carefree scion to noble (and remorseful) liberator without offending half the planet -- while still being quite a fun ride. Already seen it? Catch the making-of documentary, or click inside for more. [more inside]
For better or for worse, audiences will get the opportunity to see an all CGI Peanuts movie in 2015. The first trailer was released today and it looks... not bad. Producer Paul Feig has promised a minimum of modern touches. We'll all find out one year from now.
Today saw the release of the first trailer for The LEGO Movie, and there are some interesting things to note about it. [more inside]
Foodfight! is an computer-animated "movie" starring Charlie Sheen, Hillary Duff, Eva Longoria, Wayne Brady, and Christopher Loyd. Set in a supermarket that transformed into a city when the lights came off at the end of the day and inhabited by mascots for food products coming to life. After a theft of company's computers in 2003, and numerous other delays, the film would not see the light of day until 2012 [more inside]
Revisiting Cinefex - a nostalgia wormhole into the golden age of model work and practical effects and the odd piece of early CG via backissues of the quarterly magazine of motion picture visual effects. The latest issues covered touches on Young Sherlock Holmes's Stained glass knight - mainstream cinema’s first fully-rendered CG character created by Industrial Light & Magic's Pixar group.
Archetype is a seven minute sci-fi short by Aaron Sims, which despite being a no-budget project, features amazingly high quality special effects. [more inside]
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba! It's been nearly two decades since that glorious savanna sunrise, and once again The Lion King is at the top of the box office. It's a good chance to revisit what made the original the capstone of the Disney Renaissance, starting with the music. Not the gaudy show tunes or the Elton John ballads, but the soaring, elegiac score by Hans Zimmer which, despite winning an Oscar, never saw a full release outside of an unofficial bootleg. Luckily, it's unabridged and high-quality, allowing one to lay Zimmer's haunting, pulse-pounding, joyful tracks alongside the original video (part 2, 3, 4), revealing the subtle leitmotifs and careful matching of music and action. In addition, South African collaborator Lebo M wove traditional Zulu chorals into the score, providing veiled commentary on scenes like this; his work was later expanded into a full album, the Broadway stage show, and projects closer to his heart. Speaking of expanded works, there were inevitable sequels -- all of which you can experience with The Lion King: Full Circle (download guide), a fan-made, three-hour supercut of the original film and its two follow-ups. Want more? Look... harder... [more inside]
It was bound to happen eventually. After a quarter-century, 26 Academy Awards, and an unparalleled streak of eleven artistic and commercial triumphs, Pixar's latest project, Cars 2, is Certified Rotten. Critics have assailed the film as a slick but hollow vehicle for Disney's $10 billion-dollar Cars
merchandising industry "lifestyle brand," replacing the original's serviceable tale of small-town redemption with zany spy games, hyperactive chase sequences, and even more lowbrow aww-shucks potty humor from Larry the Cable Guy. But it's not all bad news! Along with a fun new Toy Story 3 short, preceding today's (3-D) premiere showings is a first look at next year's Brave -- a darkly magical original story set in ancient Scotland featuring the studio's first female lead (and director). Evocative high-res concept art [mirror] is available at the official website, and character sketches have leaked to the web, with the apparently striking teaser trailer sure to follow. Also, be sure not to miss the sneak peak of Brave's associated short, "La Luna"!
Many would agree that the advent of CGI has made movies worse, not better. Blogger Gin and Tacos makes the argument eloquently: "The fundamental problem is that CGI, rather that being a tool that allows directors to explore new creative possibilities, just enables laziness."
A look behind the surprising amount of CGI used during the production of Black Swan. [slyt] [nsfw] [spoilers]
Peter Chung, the animator who gave us Aeon Flux, The Maxx, The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury, The Animatrix: Matriculated and Reign: The Conquerer, has a new comic-to-film adaptation aimed at more mainstream audiences premiering Wednesday on Cartoon Network (US): Firebreather. Official Site. Trailer. (Caution: Some links in this post autoplay video) [more inside]
The history of Poland, in eight minutes, in CGI, from the country's exhibition at Expo 2010 in Shanghai. The film is full of blink-and-you'll-miss-it references - check the date at the bottom-left of the screen and see how many you can find! [more inside]
Toy Story 3 hits theaters today, and it's already winning universal acclaim as an enchanting and heartbreaking wonderwork, employing understated 3D and a "real-time" perspective that deftly capitalizes on the nostalgia and can't-go-home-again angst of a generation that grew up with the series. It has a strong pedigree, with 11-year-old predecessor Toy Story 2 the rare sequel to equal its forebear, 1995's Toy Story (itself the first CGI feature in history). And it joins a lofty stable of films: over the last 15 years, Pixar has put out an unbroken chain of ten commercial and critical successes that have grossed over $5 billion worldwide and collected 24 Academy Awards (including the second-ever Best Picture nom for animation with Up), a legacy that rivals some of the greatest franchises in film history. But there's rumbling on the horizon. Although the studio has been hailed for its originality (of the 50 top-grossing movies in history, only nine were original stories -- and five of them were by Pixar), two of their upcoming projects are sequels, both of them based some of their least-acclaimed films (Cars 2 in 2011 and Monsters, Inc. 2 in 2012). And while 2012 will also bring
The Bear and the Bow Brave, the first Pixar flick to feature a female protagonist [previously], fellow newcomer Newt has been canceled. With WALL-E/Up/Toy Story 3 guru Andrew Stanton focusing on his 2012 adaptation of John Carter of Mars and with forays into live-action already in development, does this mark the end of the golden age of Pixar? Or is this latest entry lasting proof that even the toughest case of sequelitis can be raised to the level of masterpiece? [more inside]
Fede Alvarez, a Uruguayan filmmaker, posted a short live action/CG video on YouTube back in early November (prev). The short, which features mysterious robots destroying Montevideo and cost approximately $300 to make, received interest from Hollywood days after being online. By the end of November, news spread that Alvarez signed a deal with Ghost House Pictures, reportedly worth $30 million. For now, Alvarez has a six-figure holding deal to wait while Ghost House hires a high-end scribe to turn the idea into a feature. The six-figure deal will be applied against a seven-figure fee if Ghost House makes the film, though Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert are already set up to produce the film. (via) [more inside]
CGI-brows (link goes to video on Vimeo which contains a naughty word but is otherwise SFW.) A short mockumentary about extreme emoting through SFX by RocketSausage (Dir. Andrew Gaynord) which has won the Virgin Media Shorts People's Choice Award for 2009.
Architecture through the cinematographic lens. The visual fusion between the third and the seventh arts.
The "Third&Seventh" project is "A full-CG animated piece that tries to illustrate architecture art across a photographic point of view where main subjects are already-built spaces." In other words, Alex Roman has created a series of CG images and short films, based on real places (like this short film that depicts Louis Kahn's library at Phillips Exeter Academy), with a remarkable level of realism and beauty. (via)
Lifting it's script from the abandonned fourth movie, Mad Max will be returning, sans Gibbo, as a 3D animated feature. I'll see you on the road, skag!
The short films of Floris Kaayk and Sil van der Woerd blend live-action footage and computer animation. Metalosis Maligna. Swim. Duet. Order Electrum. [more inside]
The Steam Tank is a brief visual effects reel by Chris Paul, from the Vancouver Film School. It begins with a somewhat mundane steam powered tank attacking a mounted gun in a downtown building, but then replays the event shot by shot, showing the original filmed plate, and adding on each cgi component, to give a good idea of how cg & reality interface in an effects piece. warning: link goes to direct download of 56MB QuickTime mov
Seeing The Matrix yesterday (and just before it, the preview for the third Terminator movie) reminded me of this old David Foster Wallace essay"F/X Porn", in which he points out how Hollywood blockbusters have become the equivalent of your average "2 for $10.99!!" XXX rentals. [Google cached version here.]
It's the plot, stupid. USA Today runs their usual insightful commentary about the upcoming release of Lilo and Stitch. It obsesses over the absence of CGI graphics pointing to Atlantis as evidence for the failure of traditional animation to draw box office. Funny me, I thought that Atlantis bombed because of a plot better left in 50s serial format, a cast of sterotypes rather than characters, and no sense of humor beyind dirty French jokes repeated over and over again. And is huge success of Pixar due to their pioneering animation, or their brilliant comic talent? What causes FX myopia anyway? Granted I can understand why fanboys obsess over the wrong things in a movie. Do the studios set it up by trying to hype each new summer release as the next big technical development (while the artistic development gets trumped by Waking Life and Insomnia?)
Computer Review While Final Fantasy is the first movie to have only computer generated actors, it's gotten few good reviews. All Things Considered, found a reviewer who wholeheartedly liked it: their Mac G3. Listen with RealAudio: 14.4 or 28.8 (via Macintouch)
Episode II loses the 'humanity' of R2-D2 Artoo to be totally computer-generated? Kenny Baker smells a rat as the Industrial Light and Magic boys wire up a dustbin for motion capture...
Admittedly, this is nerdy-precedent cool, but methinks it will yield celluloid hemlock. Although, if it does work, maybe they can start augmenting the often less-than-lifelike performances of certain flesh-and-blood starlets (who are usually already augmented in other ways). HOO-ah! indeed. Brave new world, and all that.