Monkey King: Hero is Back (3D) Sheep and Wolves (3D)
Disney CEO. The orphaned giraffe in Zarafa. Last name of the actor who is the voice of the snake in The Little Prince. 2015 animated sheep. In 2006 Nika Futterman played the voice of this animal, called Rosie in an animated film. Little bite. The Cat in the __. Actor who voiced a krill in Happy Feet Two, Matt ____. Late ’80s technology from Pixar that changed the face of the industry. Soup du ___. Top grades. Harry Potter’s mailman. Oscar winner for Affleck. Name of one of the main characters in a 2014 Ghibli production. Classic Welles role. Motif. Song of the Sea production. Expression of surprise. Pixar’s proprietary animation software. ____ificent. Legolas of Middle Earth. Director of The Good Dinosaur. The __ Couple. Needing patching. Cut in places. The main character in a 2015 animated movie where Antonio Banderas plays a pirate.
genre. Legal item. Puss-in-boots is one. Bad actor. The Giants’ Manning. Prequel/spinoff to Despicable Me. Rihanna and J.Lo. were part of this film’s voice cast. Baby in a pack, two words. Computer in 2001. Played a part. King Kong for one. Remy was one. Oprah’s network. Astro or Goofy, e.g. Rap doctor. Note well, briefly.
From Nov. 4-11, the annual American Film Market (americanfilmmarket.com) will overrun Santa Monica with producers and buyers representing all manner of markets, genres and audiences. Here, we have hand-picked a half-dozen tempting titles from this
year’s fresh animated offerings. SC Films International | Loews Office 650 Screening Nov. 6 at 11 a.m., Broadway Cineplex 3 The family action-adventure that smashed Chinese box-office records is ready to take on the world. Directed by first-timer Tian Xiao Peng for Flame Node and its partner, October Animation Studios, the mythological tale follows the powerful Monkey King who is released from his cursed imprisonment by a child whose village is under attack by evil monsters. Wizart Animation | Loews Office 721 Screening Nov. 4 at 3 p.m. & Nov. 7 at 1 p.m., AMC Santa Monica #1 From the top Russian studio behind the Snow Queen franchise comes an original family adventure, co-produced by CTB Film Co. A flock of sheep in a magical, far-off land has its carefree pastoral life interrupted when a pack of wolves moves into the neighborhood. Things get more confusing when goofball Grey, a young wolf on track to be the new pack leader, accidentally takes a magic potion that turns him into a ram. Directed by Maxim Volkov.
really liked that whole grunge movement back in the ’90s and I want to start a new music scene today. Now where are those government incentives to make it happen?”
Starting A Fire For any creative scene to emerge, it must start at the foundational level. A collective, creative culture needs to develop organically with the love of their craft being the main fuel driving them. Some of the greatest artists, musicians and filmmakers of all time
Visual-effects supervisor Anders Langlands got just the kind of subtle, precise dictate you’d expect from director Ridley Scott when he started working on the blockbuster film The Martian. Scott wanted landscapes for his vision of the red planet to look both alien and believable at the same time.
Langlands came by that kind of look for this vision of Mars through careful layering and specifically targeted treatments of plates shot by the director on location and in the studio. The vfx crew carefully gathered extensive lighting information both on set and on location in order to create a match with all the shots for the film, since it was another crucial aspect of making a believable Mars.
They didn’t look to the Mars of the past, though, for inspiration. Langlands explained they deliberately stayed away from previous depictions of the red planet in previous films and TV shows. With everything from the cheeky Invaders from Mars and Mars Attacks! to the somewhat more realistic Red Planet available to them, they chose to go another, more credible way.
“We were trying to get the right balance with fast moving clouds, layers of dust in the foreground and background, to create a compelling landscape,” says Langlands, who is based on Montreal. “The environment is so much like a character in the movie and it’s something that Matt Damon is fighting against all the time as part of his struggle to say alive.”
Langlands and his crew with MPC, one of several visual-effects houses on the film, worked on about 425 shots with about 170 of them — mostly storm work — being completed in Montreal while the remaining ones — largely work done around the habitat — were done at the company’s London location. He came onto the film in November 2014 and was there for six to seven months.
The crew used complex fluid simulations in order to create the sort of cloud movement that the audience’s eyes would accept. This meant allowing a tremendous amount of time to run multiple simulations. According to Langlands, these cloud simulations proved just as challenging as creating the movement of water, which is always a difficult task because of the dozens of variations possible in any one circumstance.
“Ridley is a very talented artist and a very visual director,” says Langlands. “He presented us with drawings of clouds that he’d done directly on some shots that showed us what he wanted to see, and we extrapolated from that, which is a very fun way to work and fantastic as a guide.”
Using Maya, Nuke and proprietary tools along the way, Langlands massaged the natural gradients to create just the right color palette of yellows, oranges, reds and coppery tones for each scene. With so many of these tones in each shot, it was important to create natural looking breaks between the sky, storms and landscape, while also having the right reflection of colors present in each scene.
With literally thousands of photographs and videos of Mars available to the crew through NASA, there was ample reference material around for research as they started to flesh out their version of the planet. The tones of the real Mars were not as dramatic or reddish they expected and the visualeffects crew found that its director wanted something different, while still keeping the feeling of a real, visually believable Mars.
“Ridley wanted a much more intense look than the real Mars,” explains Langlands. “It had to be something more intense, more contrasty, that also reflected the emotion of what was happening in the scene and we used those tones to take the emotion of each scene even further.” [
Director Joe Wright ( Anna Karenina, Atonement) has applied his renowned theatrical flair to Pan, an origin story for J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in which “enemies become friends and friends become enemies.” Set during the outbreak of World War II in London, Peter (Levi Miller) is an orphan kidnapped not by Captain Hook but by Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). In fact, James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) becomes a crucial ally and is more Indiana Jones than croc-fearing pirate.
The movie is quite fantastical, with flying galleons, ocean-filled skies and Neverland re-imagined as a global indigenous fabric. There’s lots of Native American and Mongolian influence for the village inhabited by Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and her warrior clan.
Visual effects were supplied by Framestore of London and Montreal (above and below the mines, Never Croc Alley with mermaids and the cable car escape); MPC of Montreal worked on the village, the forest and the Never Birds; Rising Sun Pictures created the London environment and the Never mist; and Scanline did the crystal cave climactic battle with particle-sim fairies and unusuallooking crystals in spectacular shapes and sizes.
Galleons versus Spitfires The idea of a dogfight in London, though, between galleons and Spitfires was a delightful opportunity. “The original design of the galleons was engine-powered and steampunk, but we didn’t need to explain them,” says Chas Jarett, the production VFX supervisor. “We built the deck of a single galleon that was lifted 25 feet on a large hydraulic gimbal rig so it could be tipped at all angles and rotated. This was retrofitted for three different galleons. And there were CG versions so they could fly around. They did the same thing with Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, with giant spikes in the front. The ship was built in several pieces, with a portion of the central deck on the gimbal.”
Meanwhile, the Never Birds were very lowtech in design. Wright has his roots in puppetry and his instinct was to previs it with puppets. “He brought in his sister, Sarah Wright, and some puppeteers and they built a Never Bird marionette that was strung together quickly,” Jarrett says. “And we built a little set and shot an animatic with the puppets. Joe was really into the puppet aesthetic so his brief design-wise was for MPC to literally make it look like the puppet. He liked the hand-made quality and it looked like it was made by someone. That was in parallel with another idea that was always in the back of Joe’s mind, that all of Neverland was in Pe- ter’s mind but is all somehow connected to the real world. This wasn’t part of the story because Peter does go to Neverland, but the Never Bird was going to be tied to the memory of a squashed pigeon that Peter saw in the road. So the puppeteers mimicked the animatic. It didn’t necessarily have natural movement but it gave it the character that Joe liked.”
Speaking of hand-made, there were three stand-alone animated sequences: The Prologue, Memory Tree and Underwater Flashback. All were supervised by Andrew Huang, a director of shorts and music videos for artists such as Bjork and Radiohead with a very graphic sensibility.
Working with Wolf & Crow, which did the CG, the Memory Tree incorporates some of Peter’s family history in the rings of a tree and is animated on twos as in stop-motion. The style is similar to Huang’s short The Solipsist. The Underwater Flashback comprises a battle between Ink and Bubbles, with the Ink changing to volcanic smoke with interior lighting. Robotic Animated Mermaids
However, the most ambitious visual effects were reserved for the mermaids. “Joe and I had been developing the idea of The Little Mermaid as a live-action film,” Jarrett says. “We spent about six months in development and did a very brief test and the principle was to use KUKA industrial robots and put cameras and lights on them like they did for Gravity. We used the same robotic arms for a scene in Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows and re-engineered them so we could animate the mermaids in Maya and then extract all the animation data and give that to the robots, which was a first.
“So Joe storyboarded the sequence and we prevised in Maya and spent around four months programming the robots to get the moves to work because it’s never straightforward.” Cara Delevingne plays all three mermaids darting and swimming around a lagoon. She was strapped to a large robot on the green screen stage, wearing a harness that kept her legs rigid. They used motion control and shot multiple passes.
As for the CG hair, Framestore wrote special code to get the hair simulation to look natural.
Not surprisingly, the mermaids are a career highlight for Jarrett. Bill Desowitz is owner of Immersed in Movies (www.billdesowitz.com), author of James Bond Unmasked (www.jamesbondunmasked.com) and a regular contributor to Thompson on Hollywood and Animation Scoop at Indiewire.
ie that’s reprised at the end where (Wasikowska’s) standing in this white fog environment,” Berardi says. “We helped create that environment with the white snow covered in red clay, which refers to the title.”
Ghosts Defined Each ghost, meanwhile, has a distinctive look. The ghost of Wasikowska’s mother is all black with ectoplasm (a staple of every ghost). “Beware of Crimson Peak,” she warns her. Mr. X worked in tandem with DDT Efectos Especiales for makeup and costumes.
“We did a full scan of the model with 50 cameras, and then created an anatomically correct skeleton within the model,” Berardi says. “Guillermo wanted to see the interior skeletal structure, so we animated that in
RealFlow 2015 is now available with some crazy new advances. Piggybacking onto the speed enhancements we saw with the Hybrido solver for large-scale simulations, NextLimit boosted its small and midsize smoothed-particle hydrodynamics and created Dyverso, which uses either a souped-up SPH called DY-SPH, or another choice with DY-PBD with position-based dynamics. Both versions have resulted in simulations times that are fractions of the SPH solve times in 2014, and appear to be more stable. Each of the processes, including Hybrido, are more deeply integrated into the GPU, so the beefier your display card, the faster your simulations are going to run.
While we are still into algorithms with acronyms, RealFlow 2015 has also included DreamWorks’ OpenVDB into its workflow for increasing simulation precision in Hybrido and speeding up meshing processes.
All that under-the-hood stuff is all well and good and makes our magic happen faster, but what about the cool new stuff?
The UI has gotten an overhaul with better animation graphs and the addition of ramps and expressions into parameter sliders. But the best of all is the relationship editor, which is now more compact than it was before, and seems to be far more functional, feeling like an honest node-based system, like Houdini.
Additionally, spline tools have advanced beyond something neat but difficult to control into something more valuable and robust and a way to control not only emitting fluids from splines but controlling forces. Splines can be created internally, or they can be imported from SVG files. A text tool also has been incorporated to be used as splines — or you can create solid geometry for rigid-body simulations.
A tasty morsel has spiced up force daemons with control of the forces using tools such as spline curves in the new UI to drive complex falloffs for a high degree of custom control over the simulations. It’s a doubleedged sword, in my humble opinion, as it not only will give the effects artists more control, but that means the director can be more finicky. But this is not a big enough problem to nullify the need for this tool.
And finally — finally! — there is a tool specifically designed to create the frequently sought after “crown splash” that every commercial needs to incorporate. With a collection of controllers, the artist can design the shape and timing of the splash, steering away from what is realistic into the realm of what is cool — shrouded in a thin veil of what is directable. All good stuff, especially the fast simulations and the fancy-dancy and, most importantly, functional user interface.
Pete Docter’s colorful, inventive summer blockbuster about the chaos inside a young girl’s mind trying to adjust to a new life — our favorite online synopsis: What if feelings had feelings?! — is still enjoying second-run theatrical runs as we go to print, and now you can take home the imaginative adventures of Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and, yes, Bing Bong (Richard King).
The DVD release comes with trailers, commentary and James Ford Murphy’s musical CG love story Lava. If you really want to fill up your memory banks, pick up the Blu-ray combo to France and received nominations for the Best Animated Film César Award and Directing in a Feature Production Annie Award.
The film centers on Maki, a small slave boy who escapes under cover of night and encounters an orphaned baby giraffe on the savannah, Zarafa, and a nomad who takes them to see the Pasha. The unlikely trio is then sent on an incredible the triceratops. Steve Purcell ( Brave) directs veteran voicers Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz), Joan Cusack (Jessie), Kristen Schaal (Trixie), Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), Timothy Dalton (Mr. Pricklepants) and Wallace Shawn (Rex) with Kevin McKidd as Reptillus Maximus.
The DVD includes behind-the-scenes featurette Reptillus! and commentary with Purcell and head of story Derek Thompson. The sense, as it comes packaged with an exclusive Finn backpack! (You did get the Me-Mow set with the hat, right?)
Of course, we can’t be all style and no substance in the DVD game. Finn the Human includes 16 fan-favorite episodes: “The New Frontier,” “The Lich,” “Finn the Human,” “Jake the Dog,” “We Fixed a Truck,” “Blade of Grass,” “The Red Throne,” “The Great Bird Man,” “One Last Job,” “Little Dude,” “City of Thieves,” “Conquest of Cuteness,” “Who Would Win,” “Ignition Point,” “Furniture & Meat” and “Sad Face.” You know you want to slump on these lumps. [Release date: Nov. 24]