In This Cor­ner of the World

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Genco, Inc. | Of­fice Screen­ings: Thurs. Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. — Ar­cLight 7; Mon. Nov. 7 at 3 p.m. — Mon­ica Film Cen­ter 1

With well over 500 voice act­ing cred­its, rang­ing from Nancy Drew to World of War­craft, you prob­a­bly know Lani Minella’s work, even if you don’t know her name.

An­i­ma­tion Mag­a­zine: How long have you ac­tively been a voice ac­tor?

Lani Minella: (In a de­crepit, old voice) Over three decades, dar­lin’.

An­imag: So, what’s the secret to longevity in the voice-act­ing in­dus­try?

Minella: I don’t have a life, that’s how. ( She laughs and re­turns to nor­mal voice.) I have made this my com­mit­ment. I have al­ways wanted to be in an an­i­mated movie and got kind of dis­tracted into games, but that goal of achiev­ing that an­i­mated movie is still my car­rot that keeps me go­ing.

An­imag: Be­cause they of­ten op­er­ate be­hind the scenes with very lit­tle recog­ni­tion, do you feel voice ac­tors are the un­sung he­roes of the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try?

Minella: That may be true in some cases, but I ac­tu­ally think an­i­ma­tors are not rec­og­nized nearly enough for what they do and the tal­ent they bring to the ta­ble. In my opin­ion, it’s the an­i­ma­tion that re­ally helps a game or movie stand out.

An­imag: Name a few of the higher-pro­file projects you’ve worked on that you re­ally en­joyed.

Minella: Ru­grats: All Grown Up and Jus­tice League. And a lot of the Bl­iz­zard games — like all the World of War­craft se­ries; Star­craft 1 and 2; Di­ablo 1, 2 and 3; Hearth­stone; Soul Cal­ibur, as Ivy; (in Nancy Drew voice) Nancy Drew for 16 years; Rouge The Bat, Sonic The Hedge­hog; Mor­tal Kom­bat, as Sin­del and Sheeva; a lot of char­ac­ters from Star Trek On­line; Nev­er­win­ter (Dun­geons & Dragons); and Skyrim. (In evil, raspy voice.) I re­ally love be­ing end bosses and mon­sters and (mon­ster shriek) all the lit­tle crea­ture things, and I have to thank Bl­iz­zard a lot for bring­ing me in for sev­eral things like that, and I wish they’d do it more!

An­imag: How im­por­tant is rep­u­ta­tion to en­sur­ing that you con­tinue to have work or that you get good gigs?

Minella: Hav­ing a good rep­u­ta­tion is great, and I’m thank­ful that I do have a good rep­u­ta­tion be­cause one bad ap­ple or one bad ex­pe­ri­ence can ruin the whole bunch.

An­imag: What at­tracted you to this in­dus­try in the first place?

Minella: I was al­ways the class clown be­cause I think that I wasn’t chal­lenged men­tally a lot in classes, so I would im­i­tate and mimic things. I got into ra­dio and morn­ing drive, where you had to be char­ac­ters of who­ever was in the news and the weird­est stuff. Like, they’d say, “This is the first day of the lot­tery so (in Dr. Ruth voice) make up some­thing like Dr. Ruth telling you To ex­pe­ri­ence Lani Minella’s tal­ent and her in­dus­try in­sights, lis­ten to the 30-minute in­ter­view at www.fun­ny­bonean­i­ma­tion. com/ Lani_Minella.html.

our so­lar sys­tem; imag­in­ing the first uni­cel­lu­lar forms of life in all their majesty and mo­tion; and recon­ceiv­ing ex­tinct an­i­mals and con­vinc­ingly blend­ing them with ana­log equiv­a­lents where they ex­ist to­day.

They brought in Louisiana State Uni­ver­sity re­searcher Dr. Werner Benger to help cre­ate a re­al­is­tic, di­men­sional ren­der­ing of a black hole. Although it’s com­pletely CG, it con­tains a pho­to­graphic ba­sis from the Milky Way as a back­ground, ac­cord­ing to Glass.

“It (the VFX) turned out well given re­cent ad­vance­ments in sci­en­tific vi­su­al­iza­tions,” says Glass. “It’s like a pho­to­graphic im­age that in­cludes lens aber­ra­tions and all the stuff that we do in com­posit­ing. They do that so they can com­pare it with the satel­lite im­agery of space. As a re­sult, there are a wider se­lec­tion of sim­u­la­tions that are much more beau­ti­ful and in­ter­est­ing.”

The cel­lu­lar work ben­e­fited from the ef­fi­ciency of some of the bet­ter ren­der­ers (in­clud­ing V-Ray), deal­ing with high lev­els of translu­cency in those kinds of en­vi­ron­ments.

The mi­cro­bial realm was a par­tic­u­lar fa­vorite for Glass. “It’s a great com­bi­na­tion of try­ing to build worlds that are fa­mil­iar and play­ing off familiarity (with more dy­nam­ics),” he says.

The crea­ture work was also vastly im­proved from The Tree of Life. The subtlety of skin tex­ture, mus­cle move­ment and the re­sponse to light is much more con­vinc­ing. There’s a mother and child Parasaur in the Red Woods and on a beach; a Gor­gonop­sid (a large, four-legged, dog-like crea­ture) in the desert; and the fly­ing Pterosaur.

“Terry has strong core rules: keep­ing cam­era move­ment lim­ited and play in depth rather than cross frame,” Glass says. “Ini­tially, it feels quite con­stric­tive but in­evitably it pro- duces some very strong vi­su­als. Terry likes to get in there and feel the ex­pe­ri­ence and make sure that you’re rooted in sci­en­tific truth.”

Much of the VFX work was chem­i­cal- and wa­ter-based, with Glass and the film­mak­ers “drop­ping var­i­ous flu­ids and ma­te­ri­als into tanks, let­ting them merge and come to a place they felt best de­picted what they were seek­ing.”

For a scene de­pict­ing an early life form, for in­stance, they used egg yolk, glyc­er­ine and other so­lu­tions: “What it con­jured for us,” Glass says, “was this idea of the first mo­ment of will or iden­tity, the idea that at some mo­ment be­fore life re­ally ex­isted, that some­thing twitched.” [ Bill De­sowitz is crafts edi­tor of IndieWire (www.indiewire.com) and the au­thor of James Bond Un­masked (www.james­bon­dun­masked.com).

Cities are crazy, com­plex, or­ganic crea­tures. When it comes to build­ing and de­sign­ing them from scratch, there isn’t a good way to ap­proach it. Take a 2,000-yearold city like Cairo, for ex­am­ple. You are talk­ing about a gajil­lion de­ci­sions from in­di­vid­u­als and com­mit­tees on where to put streets, where to build build­ings, how to fix the dock af­ter the last flood, etc. A city is an evolv­ing en­tity, and there is no way one artist is go­ing to recre­ate that — at least not from scratch. And don’t think that recre­at­ing a real city is much eas­ier.

Ci­tyEngine pro­vides tools for gen­er­at­ing cities, both fic­tional and real. It is de­vel­oped from a com­pany called Esri, which has been in the busi­ness of geo­graphic in­for­ma­tion sys­tems for nearly 50 years. And they’ve col­lected an enor­mous amount of data and de­vel­oped al­go­rithms for an­a­lyz­ing that data. They do this for com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ments in­ter­ested in how ge­og­ra­phy af­fects their func­tion­al­ity. But some­one put to­gether that all this data would help the vis­ual ef­fects in­dus­try, be­cause we are al­ways cre­at­ing these things — and gen­er­ally it take a lot of work.

The en­gine within Ci­tyEngine al­lows for ei­ther im­port­ing ex­ist­ing Ar­cGIS data from the Esri data­base — like if you want to de­stroy a fic­tional sky­scraper in place of an ex­ist­ing build­ing in Los An­ge­les. Both the 2D in­for­ma­tion and build­ing foot­prints, and any ex­ist­ing 3D data with tex­tures can be im­ported. Or, say you wanted to fig­ure out a to­tally new (or old) city like ... Troy. You could take the to­pog­ra­phy and gen­er­ate a city pat­tern with new foot­prints.

Build­ings and struc­tures can be gen­er­ated dy­nam­i­cally with a set of rules to de­ter­mine and ran­dom­ize height, fa­cades, roof-styles, etc. And the ge­og­ra­phy can be cus­tom­ized if needed. And these fill into the orig­i­nal foot­prints, to pop­u­late a fully fledged city — which can then be ex­ported to nu­mer­ous 3D pro­grams through an FBX ex­porter.

Most of the ap­pli­ca­tions for Ar­cGIS and Ci­tyEngine are for vi­su­al­iz­ing func­tional as­pects. (You can even de­ter­mine heat con­tri­bu­tion from the re­flec­tions off of a new, yet-to-be-built build­ing, which is kinda cool.) But this means that its not an “ex­port and ren­der” type of tool. You’ll still have to put in some time to make it pretty. But by re­mov­ing the de­ci­sion-mak­ing from the lay­out process, I can see Ci­tyEngine sav­ing weeks if not months of de­vel­op­ment time — and then you can take the time to make it look pretty. [ Todd Sheri­dan Perry is a vis­ual-ef­fects su­per­vi­sor and dig­i­tal artist who has worked on fea­tures in­clud­ing The Lord of the Rings: The Two Tow­ers, Speed Racer, 2012, Fi­nal Des­ti­na­tion 5 and Avengers: Age of Ul­tron. You can reach him at todd@tea­spoon­vfx.com.

“An­i­ma­tion & Act­ing,” “The Oc­to­pus That Nearly Broke Pixar,” “Deep in the Kelp,” “Ca­sual Car­pool” (hitch a ride with Stan­ton and the cast), “What Were We Talk­ing About?” (story de­vel­op­ment), “Crea­ture Fea­tures” (the cast talk about their char­ac­ter species) and deleted scenes. Just keep watch­ing, just keep watch­ing ... . and fea­turettes “Ja­panese In­spi­ra­tion,” “Cor­ners of the Earth” and “The Myth of Kubo.” Blu-ray ($34.98) and Blu-ray 3D ($44.98) packs tack on an in­tro­duc­tion and epi­logue by Knight, “Mytho­log­i­cal Mon­sters,” “Brav­ing the El­e­ments” and “The Redemp­tive and Heal­ing Power of Mu­sic.”

DVD and Blu-ray ($29.98) in­clude an in­ter­view with direc­tors Alain Gag­nol and Jean-Loup Fe­li­ci­oli, “One Heck of a Plan,” “The Mak­ing of Phan­tom Boy” and more from GKIDS.

The sun strips away the at­moso­phere from a planet in one of the as­tro­nom­i­cal VFX se­quences cre­ated for Ter­rence Mal­ick’s IMAX doc­u­men­tary Voy­age of

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