CGI

Oz the Great and Powerful

We’re on the cusp of summer with all of its glistening promise of wide-eyed wonder, and the most pressing question is whether we’d even be able to recognize amazement if it slapped us in the face and called us Sally. For what it’s worth, I don’t think summer is a wasteland for movies. Sincerely. Far from it. However, it’s easy to get discouraged about Blockbuster Season because the batting average isn’t good. Bad movies outweigh the amazing across all genres and styles, but blockbuster movies feel different because of the full-court advertising press and the sheer number of movies arriving within a short amount of time that typically look the same, feel the same and have the same basic story. I’m not ashamed to admit that the explosive growth of Blockbuster Season has been an exhausting shift (I was hoping to evolve faster), but it’s also important to remember the wonderful, truly fantastic movies that have emerged from the noise. Holding that optimistic remembrance in mind, I read Drew McWeeny’s “Has Life in the Age of Casual Magic Made Moviegoers Numb to the Amazing?” with rapt attention. The kind you give to a comedian who keeps nailing exactly how you feel about air travel. He explores complexities beyond the headlining question, but at its heart lies a spot-on idea about how we’re spoiled by an all-powerful cinematic tool that’s being used ad nauseam for the same handful of simple tasks. First of all, “casual magic” is the perfect phrase for what’s […]

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? The opening shot will hook anyone with its gorgeous, highly-detailed cityscape from a neon-infused future. Fortunately, the rest of this short from Andre Surya manages to dodge the bullet of boredom with a heroine that’s running for her life in a Tron-inspired super suit. The voice over design is a bit bizarre (and breathy), but there’s a lot of free-falling fun to be had here. It’s an impressive piece of work that’s unashamed to be 100% spectacle. What will it cost you? Only 3 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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Editor’s note: With FSR favorite ParaNorman opening today, we thought it was only appropriate to re-post our very special set visit from the film, originally posted on May 21, 2012. I recently visited a nondescript building outside Portland, Oregon that would feel right at home in any corporate office park in America. Nothing about the bland, uninteresting exterior even hinted at what to expect beyond the front doors. There’s no sign outside to tell you where you are. No iconic sculptures alluding to what they do inside. Nothing at all that even hints at the harmonious blend of magic and technology within. But make no mistake, what LAIKA Studios is hiding inside those four generic-looking walls is nothing short of a revolution in film production…a revolution 115 years in the making. LAIKA is the studio behind 2009’s critical and commercial hit, Coraline, a film that utilized creepy but beautiful stop-motion puppetry to tell Neil Gaiman’s dark childhood fable. Their follow-up feature is an original work called ParaNorman. It’s an Amblin-like tale of a small New England town, a very special boy who can see and talk with the dead, and a zombie uprising that threatens to destroy them all. And yes, it’s a comedy. Keep reading for a peek behind the scenes of LAIKA Studios’ upcoming production, ParaNorman, and their secret, high-tech weapon…Rapid Prototype 3D printers.

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Through his work on things like the first two Star Wars films, Temple of Doom, and the Robocop series, Phil Tippett has established himself as something of a legend in the world of creature effects, puppeteering, and stop-motion animation. One thing he was never able to do, however, was create his own animated short. He tried, earlier in his career, to put together a project called Mad God, which he describes as being, “an experimental, hand-made, animated film, set in a Miltonesque world of monsters, mad scientists, and war pigs.” Unfortunately for fans of interesting and weird animated things, it never quite got finished. As Tippett recently explained to Indiewire, “I started shooting on 35mm film way back in the early 90s and then the project kind of fell into disrepair when the digital age hit. So I had to recalculate and spend a lot of time re-engineering our business from photographic to digital, so Mad God kind of went on hold.”

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The Great and Powerful Oz

There’s no doubt that Sam Raimi learned a lot (and proved a lot) about big budget filmmaking when he took on Spider-Man, so it will be interesting to see whether his particular brand of humor and action will translate well to the wonderful world called Oz. Oz the Great and Powerful is a promising project, but the images from it are doing a lot of work to raise expectations. They may say nothing about the story, but they ensure that the visual experience will be the closest thing to a gorgeous legal drug trip that we can get. Check out these 6 new images from the Disney flick:

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Ridley Scott on Alien Set

Of the directors we’ve covered in this feature, Ridley Scott might be the most forward. He’s brash an unorthodox, and when speaks, you get the sense that he threw his filter in the trash years ago. At this point, brass buttons are well-deserved. Alien, Blade Runner, Black Rain, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Black Hawk Down, and a popcorn bucket-full more prove the man’s vision as a storyteller. A movie fan from a young age, Scott first found success as a commercial director. His first flick, The Duelists, was hailed at Cannes but made it to few screens beyond. It was a science fiction journey featuring a seven-member crew woken from stasis to explore a strange signal that made him a major name, and this weekend he dives back into that world with Prometheus. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a bloke from South Shields.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Yesterday, we wrote about the theory that sites like YouTube and Vimeo would make festivals obsolete for independent filmmakers looking for an audience. In the age of the internet, they can directly connect. It’s no surprise that Freddie Wong‘s work has connected, because he makes accessible, unbelievably good CGI-driven, geek-friendly films. Video Game High School is his latest work – a project that was funded on KickStarter to the tune of over $270,000. All they were asking for, was $75k. That’s what internet popularity can get you. Fortunately, the work doesn’t disappoint. Granted, it’s not exactly a short film, but they’re releasing it in installments online so definitions are hard to come by here. It’s a feature length film, being told as a serial. Regardless of what Webster’s will do, this film is the future in more ways than one. What will it cost? Only 12 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Editor’s note: With our own Junkfood addict Brian Salisbury busy writing through the typhoon that is SXSW, we’ve farmed out his column to similarly-minded Rejects. This time at bat – Kevin Carr! Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema, where our best exercise is lifting food into our mouths and working those jaw muscles. This week, we’re looking ahead to the future by looking into the past. Remember when reasonable people saw virtual reality for its true dangerous potential: to control people’s minds? You don’t? Well, try telling that to the filmmakers from 1992 because apparently it was a real threat. Today, we’re examining the gloriously convoluted dangers of virtual reality in a world of ooey gooey polygons and cybersex. The film that warned us of these dangers: The Lawnmower Man.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? It’s absolutely the look of the animation that steals breath here, but in this shot from Paris Mavroidis, it’s also the tension created by the simple act of falling. He turns it into an aerial ballet – a sort of synchronized free fall where women in bright bathing suits jump off of sky diving boards. It toys around with geometry and dimensional space in a trippy, yet graceful way. Like taking shrooms in a tuxedo. Plus, there’s even a last laugh (after the oddly affecting question of what will happen when all of these sky dancers run out of sky). What will it cost? Only 3 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? From the sweeping soundscape of industrial music to the first-rate CGI effects to the raw and dynamic visuals, everything about this short film is stunning and fantastic. The imagery is conflicting and toys with the mind – a cow meanders down a highway with a decaying billboard in the background, a happy mascot sings the joy of a new solution to radiation-riddled cities while the husks of civilization prove otherwise. All of this delivered along with the gritty narration of a man with cracked lips and a voice worn from swallowing gravel creates a huge rust-covered impact. Watch it, and the District 9 connection should be clear, but this is an animal all its own. Amazing work from Factory Fifteen. What will it cost? Only 6 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films. Special thanks to Hector P. for sending this to us.

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Why Watch? The short that gave birth to CGI animation at Sony. In the early 2000s, the studio decided to test its ability to put together a completely CGI animated film, and the result/challenge was The ChubbChubbs! – a goofy animated story about a night club janitor on an alien planet that is called to the higher task of saving his people from a roving band of monsters (after he’s warned by Jar Jar Binks that they’re coming). It’s funny in a ridiculous, under-dog sort of way, and it represents the first movement into territory that’s now a decade old for the company. For more historical context, this won the Oscar in 2003 after seeing theaters…in front of Men in Black. What does it cost? Just 5 minutes of your time. Check out The ChubbChubbs! for yourself:

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Why Watch? A thrilling WWII dogfight on a low budget. Writer/Director Nick Ryan‘s glorious short film is proof that with the right artistic eye, some effects equipment and a hell of a lot of time, you can create something truly jaw-dropping for a price that will drop that jaw even lower. And you can even do it with a great story and rock solid acting. Starring Toby Kebbell (RockNRolla), this short tells the story of a fighter pilot who chases down a Nazi ace who shot down his friend. Part revenge story, part morality play, it’s beauty injected with adrenaline and Spitfire fuel. Eat your heart out, Howard Hughes. Nick Ryan has a promising career waiting for him. What does it cost? Just 10 minutes of your time. Check out The German for yourself:

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A couple weeks ago a spy photo from the set of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel made the Internet rounds. It contained what appeared to be Michael Shannon wearing what appeared to be a motion capture suit. If that was the case, then that would mean General Zod, the Evil Kryptonian General that Shannon is playing in the film, would have a completely computer generated outfit akin to the super suits in the recent, awful looking Green Lantern. Okay, so your opinion may vary, but I thought that the effects in Green Lantern looked horrible. Depending on whether you agree with me or not, a recent interview that Shannon did with MovieFone could either make you weep or make you cheer. It turns out that yes, that was Michael Shannon in that photo, and yes, the General Zod costume will be created using CG. When asked about the motion capture suit Shannon said, “ … it’s funny because when I met with Zack we were talking about it before it started and he mentioned that there was going to be a lot of CGI, or whatever. I said, ‘Just don’t make me wear one of those silly suits.’ He said, ‘Oh, yeah, don’t worry, I know exactly what you’re talking about.’” It turns out that Zack Snyder is a liar. Shannon is wearing the suit. However, even though Shannon was forced to wear a silly suit because of Snyder’s lies, he assures everyone that fans will be happy with how […]

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In theory, CGI should never break your suspension of disbelief (unless you’re watching a Syfy Original or Birdemic, in which case it was never there in the first place).  In practice, budgets get tight, time gets short, and even mega-blockbusters like Lords of the Rings or Harry Potter will have a couple of crappy looking scenes. But sometimes movies that don’t even really need much CGI will toss it in for a short sequence, whether it’s just to show off,  save money, or even to mask Bill the microphone guy’s fuck up. Inevitably, though, at least one of those scenes ends up looking like the production company outsourced the job to someone’s Nintendo 64. When big budget movies have bargain basement special effects, everyone wins. And by “everyone,” I mean “no one,” and by “wins,” I mean “is paying attention to the movie anymore because they’re too busy laughing.” I’ve taken the liberty of considering this part 1 of a multi-part series, because I know that this is an endless well from which I can perpetually draw. In related news, I am lazy and uncreative.

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Why Watch? Technology is getting cheaper by the minute. The long, Kurzweilian talk about technology aside, there’s a major news story that makes this short timely. It involves the scrapping of The Lone Ranger due to its inflated budget. It’s a blockbuster, sure, but studios are now realizing that effects work is being innovated by many, and the cost of shots is coming down. To that end, here’s a Coke commercial from The Purchase Brothers who utilize that inexpensive CGI pedigree better than most. It’s a stunning use of popular imagery that Neill Blomkamp and Andy Warhol would both be proud of. Is it an ad? Yes, but it also tells a story, and it’s the best kind of bizarre. What does it cost? Just 1 minute of your time. Check out Coke Babies for yourself:

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One of the great challenges of telling a story about apes is that you either have to have thousands of well-trained apes for the project, or you need superior technology to bring human actors to simian life through motion capture. Really, you have to do all that without making it look silly, so it’s fortunate that WETA has had so much experience in the past few years bringing mo-cap to the heights it’s at today. This quick, informative featurette shows off WETA’s talents alongside the blinding brilliance of Andy Serkis (with side-by-side video of his performance and what it would become) and seeks to shed a bit of light on where the tech is at this point, and how they utilized the emotions of a human to build Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It’s still unclear how they’ll conquer us considering we’ve got guns and tanks, and they have sticks, but this featurette is still very, very cool.

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Boiling Point

If you tried, you could probably find a bigger Evil Dead fan than me. It might take a little bit, but you could. I mean, I’ve got my three T-Shirts, my Necronomicon copies of the movies on DVD in addition to several other versions, including Blu-ray transfers, I’ve got my toys, books, comics, and video games too. So while I’ll never claim to be the biggest Evil Dead fan, I can say I’m a pretty big one. For years I’ve waited on a continuation to the story. I remember my first experiencing watching the original movie at a sleepover. It was Steve’s house, but he fell asleep early after playing too much Command & Conquer. Only me and Matt were awake and he, no joke, got a boner from the tree rape scene. There was always something off about Matt. But it wasn’t long after that I found the second. I remember Army of Darkness in theaters. Everything Bruce Campbell wrote or said about the franchise, I ate up. Waiting to hear about Evil Dead 4. When talk turned to a remake instead of a continuation, I was upset but hopeful. Maybe Campbell would be in it. Maybe they would cast Seann William Scott and that wouldn’t be all that bad, would it? Now we have firm news that the Evil Dead reboot is moving forward – time to praise the lord? Hardly. What we know sucks and here’s why.

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Why Watch? Because it’s children blowing shit up. Some may think that special effects need to be mind-blowing. After all, they keep getting better and better, and they’re meant to show us something amazing with every new innovation. Sure, giant effects can be magical, but sometimes it’s a lot better when they aim solely to be insanely fun. There’s nothing ground-breaking here, but the combination of playful CGI, violence that seems drawn from a children’s book, and a group of underage badasses makes this music video something special. What does it cost? Just 3 minutes of your time. Check out The Greeks for yourself:

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Last year, I had the honor of traveling down to New Orleans, piling in a van, heading to a secluded warehouse and talking to an alien. I also spoke with the first human member of an elite group of interstellar heroes, a director who has more energy than anyone at his age has a right to, and I got a glimpse into a world beyond our own. So before comic book purists protest the insanely small number listed in the headline, these are the Green Lanterns hanging up on a wall somewhere in New Orleans – character design sketches to fill out the alien landscape of those who bravely, selflessly, and fearlessly patrol the universe. Some were born from the comic books, others from the minds of the production team. Some will be featured heavily, others will be hanging out (valiantly) in the background. We’ll be bringing Green Lantern set visit coverage to you all week, but to get things started, we figured it would be a good idea to do a round of introductions. Some you already know, and some you haven’t yet had the pleasure, so we wanted to make it official. Green Lanterns, meet the world. The world, meet the Green Lanterns.

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Boiling Point

The Green Lantern movie has an uphill battle from the start. Why? Because it’s not starring Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, or anyone remotely near that level of recognition to the average viewer. The first question many may ask when hearing there is a Green Lantern movie is “Why?” The second is probably “What?” or possibly “Who?” I’m willing to give The Green Lantern the benefit of the doubt and not just because I have a huge man-crush on Ryan Reynolds. Well okay, yeah, mostly because of that. And so far, much of what we’ve seen looks pretty good. The trailer was fun. And the costume is… Well… Uh…

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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