Across

Mon­key King: Hero is Back (3D) Sheep and Wolves (3D)

Animation Magazine - - Front Page - By Myles Mel­lor

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.

evil war­rior.

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]

At top, a fi­nal im­age from The Mar­tian with color changes and clouds added. The mid­dle im­age fea­tures draw­ings on it from di­rec­tor Ri­d­ley Scott guid­ing the ef­fects team at MPC. Bot­tom im­age is the orig­i­nal plate shot on lo­ca­tion.

Nov. 24 [Lionsgate, $29.95 | BD $34.99]

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