Just over sixty years ago the Reverend W. V. Awdry
told his sick son a series of stories based on real life incidents with trains
, which he later wrote up
as the Railway Series. Now Thomas the Tank Engine
and the other engines of the Isle of Sodor
(somewhere between Barrow-in-Furness and the Isle of Man
) are a global phenomena, with toys
, books and of course the TV series - filmed using model trains on more than 70 1:32 scale 16-by-20-foot sets
, and voiced by the likes of Ringo Starr and Alec Baldwin. 2008 has been a rough year for Thomas: George Carlin, who voiced the series in the US up until 1998, passed away (previously
), as did David Mitton
, who had written and directed over 180 episodes (and who has previously worked on the special effects for Thunderbirds
). There's changes ahead for Thomas as well - this year saw the faces of the engines, which had previously been cast in silicone and attached with double sided tape, replaced by CGI faces
, and from 2009 onwards Nitrogen studios
in Canada will be taking over production with an entirely CGI Thomas
. Meanwhile a group of British students continues the tradition of model engine-based storytelling with their YouTube based British Railway Series
posted by Artw
on Dec 21, 2008 -
Although the movie Tron was groundbreaking due to its unprecedented and extensive use of CGI in 1982, after pre-production, it only took four months to shoot and nine months to complete all of the special effects. From Computer Animation Primer published in 1984
, we learn a bit about the technical process, which seems amusingly tedious by today's animation standards. [more inside]
posted by SpacemanStix
on Dec 11, 2008 -
Peeing robots, rockin' office workers, engaging panoramas, and even a few sexy girls.
posted by artifarce
on Sep 6, 2008 -
In the years after leaving MST, Joel Hodgson of Mystery Science Theater, and his "smarter brother" Jim Hodgson, worked on a new movie-repurposing concept for USA Networks. The introduction for the test clip read:
"The Jolly Filter segment
is a proof of concept test for a new film process. You will first view 2 minutes of the original film 'Rollercoaster' and then the same 2 minutes utilizing the JollyFilter technique.
"Note: If you find yourself getting bored during the original 'Rollercoaster' footage, don't worry, this is normal."
(SLYT, but an awesome one.) [more inside]
posted by JHarris
on Jul 27, 2008 -
is an ultra-lightweight piece of blogging software that uses the existing structure of a file system to index and date your posts. The program itself weighs in at a scale-tipping 16.4 kilobytes, and does everything you need to tell the world about your navel. And for those things it doesn't do, there are plugins
. At the other end of the weight scale is the >160 page annotated source code
posted by kaibutsu
on Mar 6, 2008 -
(embedded QT) is a gorgeous & interesting animated short about a worker bee in a factory who rebels; bonus points for awesome soundtrack by menomena.
posted by jonson
on Nov 8, 2007 -
"No matter how good CGI
looks at first, it dates quickly...So I set the ridiculous goal of making a film
that would reinvent space without using CGI." Director Aronofsky tapped into the microphotography
work of Parks and Parks to bring a new look to special effects
in science fiction cinema.
posted by dhruva
on Feb 13, 2007 -
In 2003, Paramount proposed redoing the special effects for the original "Star Trek" series and rereleasing the episodes as "Star Trek Enhanced"
. Two CGI firms redid the effects
for the teaser, the opening credits and title, and the first two acts of The Doomsday Machine
as a proof-of-concept with no changes to the acting or the story. Paramount ultimately decided not to pursue the project, but it's interesting to see how two different CGI firms handled the transporter, phasers, and starship effects.
posted by fandango_matt
on Jun 23, 2006 -
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
posted by jonson
on Feb 7, 2006 -
Eat Dog Cat Mouse (link goes to embedded QT movie with audio)
is a charming, weird 3 minute cg cartoon described as a folk tale about the food chain. More info here
posted by jonson
on Dec 12, 2005 -
Bizarre music video
featuring a cgi animated Nazi army composed of anthropomorphized piglets. The video is for a song called Shvayne by a 19 year old Russian singer named Natasha Ionova
, who performs under the name Glukoza
. Video is embedded flash animation.
posted by jonson
on Sep 8, 2005 -
"The drama takes place on Darwin IV, a fictional planet 6.5 light-years from Earth, with two suns and 60 percent gravity. Having identified Darwin as a world that could support life, Earth sends a pilot mission consisting of the mothership and three probes." Discovery channel feature, Flash heavy site, via Pharyngula
posted by dhruva
on May 9, 2005 -
How Bob the Tomato got squashed by Barney the Dinosaur
Phil Vischer, creator of those Veggie-Tales cartoons gives a reflective account of why he did not
become "The Christian Disney". So why did Big Idea Productions fail while other "Holy Cultural Warriors" are thriving? (Maybe this guy was too sincerely Christian?) A shorter version of this Tale from "Christianity Today" magazine here.
via the spiritual center of animation on the web: Cartoon Brew
posted by wendell
on Apr 30, 2005 -
Our Whizeels iz tha Shizeel
Awesome compositing, audio and 3D work. I like art that make me want to step in to its world, (Note: QuickTime). The incredibly low barrier to entry for this kind of project, as compared to 10 or even 5 years ago blows my mind.
posted by Scoo
on Nov 19, 2004 -
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.]
posted by slipperywhenwet
on Jun 13, 2003 -
Ability vs. Guile.
If you've seen the latest Gatorade commercial where 39 year old Michael Jordan plays against himself circa his 85 - 86 Bulls era and wondered "how'd they do that?", here's
a very cool description of one of the neatest tricks I've seen recently.
posted by jonson
on Jan 16, 2003 -
The Vancouver Company that created ReBoot
will be making a CGI Spider-Man cartoon
. Neil Patrick Harris as Spidey, Lisa Loeb as Mary Jane and Ian Ziering as Harry Osborn will inhabit a "seemingly realistic neon lit city of the immediate future"
. Will this show set a new standard of production for cartoons based on comics? Will MJ wear glasses?
posted by will
on Jul 30, 2002 -
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
posted by KirkJobSluder
on Jun 18, 2002 -
Best. Transformers. Video. Ever.
CGI render of a new VW Beetle transforming into a transformer with live background [1.5 meg mpg video]. Makes me wonder if a live-action Transformers TV show would work, with real actors and CGI rendered robots. I'd certainly watch it.
posted by PWA_BadBoy
on Jun 9, 2002 -