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Scorsese & Coppola: Old-school Directors Embrace Digital Filmmaking

They are two of the greatest directors in film history, each the maker of acknowledged movie masterpieces. Both Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese came to prominence during the 1970s, one of cinema’s greatest and most productive decades.


Hugo is director Martin Scorsese’s first film to use 3D.

But both directors are closely identified with the films they made thirty to forty years ago and that presents a small problem. Now each director has to compete with his own legend, and each must prove that he can make new films that are accessible to younger audiences. To that end, each director has a new project that takes advantages of new techniques in digital filmmaking.

Coppola: The Godfather of Cinema                       
Before he was known as a master filmmaker, Francis Ford Coppola was a respected stage director and had directed a couple of films. But that was before 1972 and the release of the movie that would secure his reputation as a giant in cinema. The Godfather created a sensation and became one of the best-loved films of all time, and Coppola hasn’t been out of the public eye since. Along the way he’s made other masterpieces, including the Vietnam war drama,  Apocalypse Now.


From young lion to grand old man of the cinema: Francis Ford Coppola talks about his passion for film at the Toronto Film Festival.

For his latest project, Twixt, Coppola returned to one of his favorite film genres — horror. In the movie, a horror writer (played by Val Kilmer) visits a bizarre town which may or may not be inhabited by vampires. In one amazing scene, director Coppola has star Kilmer engage in a one-on-one conversation with the father of all modern horror, Edgar Allan Poe.

Coppola not only experimented with story elements but the director was also using an iPad for film editing. For example, when Coppola appeared at Comic-Con 2011 to showcase Twixt, he talked about his desire to take the film on the road and present it along with an orchestra — basically directing the film’s performance as a fresh audience experience each time out, even shuffling the order of shots as the mood of the performance struck him.

He told the Comic-Con faithful, “What I’d love to do is go on tour, like a month before the film opened…and go to all the cities myself, with my collaborators, with live music and actually perform the film for each audience uniquely for them — a different version for each audience.” The maestro also put his own unique stamp on using 3D. In Coppola’s case, that meant utilizing the effect selectively and only in certain scenes.

Coppola had seen a recent blockbuster and liked its use of 3D, but didn’t care for keeping on the special glasses throughout. “I enjoyed very much Avatar,” he said, “But I confess that I took the glasses off during much of the movie. And whenever I saw the images start to show that it was going to be 3D, I put them on and saw a wonderful sequence, and then I took them off again.”


Coppola not only paid tribute to early horror writer Edgar Allan Poe in Twixt; the 3D lenses Coppola handed out at Comic-Con 2011 were inset into Poe face masks. 

And although Coppola enjoys 3D, he doesn’t want to use it as a one-trick pony. “How dare anyone think that all movies have up their sleeve is more 3D. Cinema has many more surprises that you and your children will invent, because it’s at the beginning of this expression of image and sound.” While other art forms are thousands of years old, Coppola noted that film is still in its infancy as an art form. “Music and theater are thousands of years old. Cinema’s a baby.”

Scorsese: Genius Moves to the Third Dimension
Among major directors, few are as passionate about the craft of filmmaking as Martin Scorsese. Through landmark films like 1976’s Taxi Driver and 1980’s Raging Bull, Scorsese tackled tough subjects and did it all with a virtuoso’s artistry. His uncompromising vision has led him to a Best Director Oscar (for 2006’s The Departed), as well as other prestigious awards, such as the Cannes Film Festival’s highly prized Palme D’Or for Taxi Driver.

In 2006, Scorsese was presented the Oscar for Best Director for The Departed by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola…the other major American directors who came to prominence during the 1970s. Scorsese’s natural sense of humor was on full display when he asked the presenters to “Check the envelope, please.” (Scorsese had been nominated five previous times before winning.)


Few directors have made more great films than Martin Scorsese, and even fewer have studied film in depth as Scorsese has done.

Now Scorsese is back and with a different type of movie than he’s ever made. Hugo (which opens November 23rd) is an adventure/puzzle of a movie, and it follows the title character, a resourceful boy trying to unlock a secret left to him by his deceased father. A dazzling visual experience, Hugo is Scorsese’s first foray into making a 3D movie, and he recently talked about embracing the popular technology.

“Most people have stereoscopic vision so why belittle that element of our existence? Why not use it? We’re basically headed for holograms. You have to think that way.” He’s convinced of the screen power of 3D, although combining the technique with Scorsese’s patented perfectionism didn’t lead to quick results. “It really was an enjoyable headache,” the famous director said. “It demands respect. We just kept pushing it to see how far we could go. We would look at a shot and say, ‘What could we do to use the depth?’”

A Fresh Approach to Filmmaking
When Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese were learning film production, the only real source of training (besides on-the-job experience) was offered by film schools. Today, anyone interested in filmmaking can pull out their smartphone and post a video up to their YouTube channel. Still, the professional world of filmmaking demands that you master new technologies; after all, it’s a digital filmmaking world.

Aspiring filmmakers can now study film production and learn how to make a movie at film camp without waiting to be accepted to a full-time film school. Digital Media Academy is a state-of-the-art, critically acclaimed digital media education company that offers personalized instruction from seasoned industry professionals. You’ll also get exposure to the latest film-production techniques and hands-on training in film production and how to use editing software (like Final Cut Pro). Interested in becoming the next Coppola or Scorsese? Learn how from DMA.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Five Best Videogames of Comic-Con 2011

As the movie, videogame and comic book industries invaded the San Diego Convention Center last week, Comic-Con 2011 dominated media coverage. Fans mobbed the Convention Center, too, looking for the  latest in cutting-edge entertainment. This year’s show is now history and for our gamers out there, we’ve rounded up for you the best five videogames of the show:

MASS EFFECT 3 (BioWare/Electronic Arts)
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Release Date: March 6, 2012


BioWare’s Mass Effect 3 is easily one of the most anticipated games of 2012.

The long-awaited sequel to the make-your-own adventure, Mass Effect 3 was playable for gamers at Comic-Con. We saw this game at E3 but Comic-Con gave us a chance to spend more time with it. What did we like best about it? BioWare enhanced the third-person shooter aspect and RPG elements of the game and gave gamers the option to play as a female Shepard.

For the uninitiated, Mass Effect mixes sci-fi themes with elements of action RPG gaming. As the new game begins, Commander Shepard is being put on trial for what happened in ME 2. However during the trial, Earth is besieged by Reapers. Shepard uses the opportunity to make a quick exit and goes off to summon help from other alien civilizations. While Shepard is recruiting help, he encounters resistance from former allies, the Cerberus, and the space opera plays out from there. For players that worked hard on those previous game saves, you’ll be happy to know your progress will pick up where you left off with ME 3.

Expect multiple versions of ME 3 to be available — such as a collector’s edition and a digital deluxe edition. And get this: The special editions are set to include exclusive weapons found in the N7 Arsenal Pack. We’re totally buying that.

SPIDER-MAN: EDGE OF TIME (Beenox/Activision)
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Nintendo Wii, DS & 3DS
Release Date: October 4, 2011


“Excuse me, do you have the time?”  Spider-Man: Edge of Time floats between two time zones — the year 2099 and 2011. 

Spider-Man is everywhere these days — including a new movie and even a Broadway musical. Not to be left out, he makes his latest videogame appearance in Spider-Man: Edge of Time. In a videogame that can be best described as Spider-Man meets Inception, there are actually two Spider-Men – one from the present (whose alter ego is Peter Parker) and one from the future (alias Miguel O’Hara) who rose to fame in the comic series Spider-Man 2099. Gamers play in either time period, but the game’s “Quantum Causality” feature, causes the actions you make in one era to have an effect in the other (like the cause-and-effect logic in Inception). If that isn’t enough to make your head spin, toss in the villainous antics of The Black Cat and Anti-Venom – and it’s really “game on.”

The present and the future link up in Edge of Time, with the 2099 version of Spider-Man working overtime to protect the original web-slinger from harm…and save the future from being devoured by an ultra-greedy corporation called Alchemax.

STREET FIGHTER x TEKKEN (Capcom/Capcom)
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita
Release Date: March 2, 2012


Two of the greatest fighting games franchises in videogame history come together for the ultimate smack-down in Street Fighter x Tekken.

In a grudge match that could only be described as videogame nirvana, Namco and Capcom are pitting their toughest fighters against each other for the first time in the HD era. Fighters from the Tekken and Street Fighter series  face off together for what gamers are hoping will be the fighting game to end all fighting games. Street Fighter x Tekken (which Capcom translates as “Street Fighter cross Tekken”) pulls in all your favorite characters from Street Fighter (Ryu, Guile, Abel, Chun-Li, Poison, Dhalsim and more) and throws them in Tekken greats (such as Kazuya Mishima, King, Steve Fox and Yoshimitsu). And although this isn’t exactly the first time these two powerhouse rival companies have united to do battle (that honor goes to 2005’s Namco vs. Capcom), it’s the first time that gamers outside of Japan will be able to enjoy the mayhem.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: SKYWARD SWORD (Nintendo EAD/Nintendo)
Platforms: Nintendo Wii
Release Date: Fall 2011


Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is actually a prequel to Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

In the latest installment of Nintendo’s legendary Legend of Zelda action/adventure series, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the game FINALLY gets the high-definition treatment and a pick-me-up from the addition of Wii Motion Control Plus technology – which gives Link’s movements (such as shooting an arrow) new precision and power. Swordplay, in particular, is also given special attention, with this game paying attention to details such as how Link’s sword is angled before it cuts something (or somebody).

Nintendo gave additional depth to the environments between dungeons, too. And while the locations may be familiar, Nintendo has slipped in new gameplay surprises. Plus, as we mentioned, this will be the first time Link will be in HD glory.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: SUPER SOLDIER (Next Level Games/Sega)
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS
Release Date: July 19, 2011

Cap’s come a long way — originally debuting in Timely Comics (which evolved into Marvel Comics); Captain America is now starring in his own hit movie.

Captain America is an original superhero; he first appeared in comic books in 1941. But don’t count him out because of his age; his recent live-action feature (Captain America: The First Avenger) had enough muscle to knock the latest “Harry Potter” flick out of the top slot at the Box Office.

Captain America: Super Soldier is almost a companion piece to the movie, and follows the film’s general plot and action. As the Star-Spangled Avenger, Captain America sets out to explore a huge castle that’s been turned into a rogue military installation. Aside from using his own spectacular acrobatics and trusty fists to make his way through this third-person action game, Cap is equipped with his trusty shield, which he can hurl at enemies, protect himself from gunfire, and even scale walls when the need arises. It’s an action game through and through but captures the feeling of the film pretty well.

Get Into Games
Are video games your favorite form of entertainment? Have you ever imagined making your own game? Make your own game ideas come to life by learning video game design or 3D animation. Or explore your passion creating comics. Who knows? In a few years, they could be showcasing your creations at Comic-Con 2020!

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog,Video Game Design and have No Comments

Guillermo del Toro at Comic-Con 2011: Digital-Age Renaissance Man

He may be the greatest director you’ve never heard of. But you should definitely make note of who he is, because you’re going to be hearing a lot about the “Digital-Age Renaissance man” known as Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro will be appearing this week at Comic-Con in San Diego, and while he may not be as well known as directors J.J. Abrams or Steven Spielberg, he’s just as influential – and is certainly someone to watch in the future.


“Boo!” For the Fantasy/Horror sleeper hit Pan’s Labyrinth, director Guillermo del Toro put his personal touch and imagination into every frame of the film, including the creation and visual design of this character, the Pale Man.

All Eyes on Del Toro
Guillermo del Toro – much like his contemporaries Peter Jackson and Robert Rodriguez - is one of a new breed of filmmakers that can’t be categorized. Del Toro dabbles in all sorts of media, including movies, games and comic books. As a gamer, del Toro reportedly enjoys playing Half-Life and BioShock. As a sketch artist, he keeps huge volumes of drawings; he even used these to help him design the creatures and environments for his 2006 masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth.


One-man production crew: del Toro.

This week, this Digital-Age Renaissance man will be addressing crowds of fans at Comic-Con 2011 in San Diego. What will he talk about? No one knows for sure, but he could speak about any of the following projects, since he’s involved with all of them:

    • Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (opening Aug. 26). Del Toro co-wrote and co-produced the film.
    • Peter Jackson’s much-anticipated film version of The Hobbit. Del Toro co-wrote the script .
    • Disney’s The Haunted Mansion 3D remake. Del Toro is co-writing, producing and directing it.
    • He’s the co-author of a trilogy of vampire novels (including the already published The Strain and The Fall).
    • He’s overseeing the creation of a new videogame called Insane, expected for 2013 release.

 

Exploring a Passion for Film
Guillermo del Toro has been seriously making movies since the 1980s (he started by helping out on film sets as an eight-year-old, back in Mexico). You can trace del Toro’s success back to the moment when he discovered his creative passion and then dedicated himself to mastering the craft of film.

When it was released, Pan’s Labyrinth was compared to some of the greatest fantasy films ever made – such as The Wizard of Oz and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Del Toro’s most critically acclaimed film combined fantasy and war into a powerful and unique modern fable. Pan’s Labyrinth topped many critics’ polls as the best film of 2006, and when the film played at the Cannes Film Festival, the crowd saluted it with a standing ovation that lasted 22 minutes. The film captured three Oscars (Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Makeup) and won the Best Picture award from the National Society of Film Critics. In addition to the great critical success of Pan’s Labyrinth, he’s also made a number of great action and horror films, such as Blade II, Hellboy (I & II) and The Devil’s Backbone.


Part fairy tale, part war film. Pan’s Labyrinth took a unique concept and blended it with amazing special effects.

Do you have a passion for filmmaking? Then follow your dream. There are plenty of ways: Take a course in movie making from professional filmmakers. Online courses can be good sources of information too, although the best training occurs when an industry veteran is at your side, passing along their real-world experience.

At Digital Media Academy’s Stanford Filmmaking Summer Camp, students learn how to make digital movies from the pros. The program is taught by professional filmmakers, and daytime activities include real production meetings (just like Hollywood studios have) and shooting a movie. Evening activities can include taking in a movie premiere like real Hollywood filmmakers do (such as the special pre-release screening of the new Harry Potter that DMA’s Stanford campers recently attended). So now, are you ready to make a movie?

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Comic-Con 2011 Preview

It’s the pop culture event of the year. When Hollywood and the comic-book and toy industries roll out the upcoming slate of movies, TV shows and toys. For a week in San Diego (July 21- 24), comic book fanboys (and fangirls) collide with superfans at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con.

It wasn’t always about movies, toys and TV shows. Once Comic-Con was only about comic books. Thirty-five years ago, the only movie that Hollywood marketeers were promoting here was an unknown film called Star Wars. And that was from a folding table where George Lucas’ marketing manager was selling Star Wars posters for $1.75. (Those same posters go for around $3,000 on eBay…) This year, Lucas’ company will be promoting Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray. Comic books however, are making making noise this year, too.


The reboot of the DC Universe, just one of the hot topics of 2011 Comic-Con. 

DC Do-Over
This September, DC Comics plans to restart its entire comic line-up of superheroes. The entire DC Universe will essentially get rebooted back to Issue No. 1. Gasp. Fans have come out against the reboot – and it’s easy to see why. Marvel pulled a similar trick a few years back and their faithful fans revolted, too. Ultimately, the uproar convinced Marvel to continue publishing the regular lines. For comic-book fans, throwing out everything you’ve come to know before is a serious issue.

The announcement has sent shock waves throughout the industry. The matter is of such importance that several different Comic-Con panel discussions from Day One will be devoted to the subject. Expect a big turnout for Thursday’s 12:45PM panel, with DC’s Grant Morrison. Likewise, that same day, the 2:00PM panel with DC Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and DCU Executive Editor Eddie Berganza. For rival Marvel Comics, they’ll be joining Sony Pictures in pitching the superhero reboot – The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network).


Colin Farrell plays Douglas Quaid, in the $120-million remake of Arnold Schwarzenegger 90′s classic, Total Recall (Sony Pictures).

Sony will also exhibit the much-anticipated remake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi actioneer Total Recall, now starring Colin Farrell. There’s also a new Twilight and plenty of other big-screen blockbuster surprises. Last year, a few of the highlights included unannounced appearances by Will Ferrell to promote his superhero tale, Megamind, and an extremely rare appearance by Harrison Ford to promote this summer’s Cowboys & Aliens.

Making Money with Comics
This year’s Comic-Con show has as much to celebrate as to promote; in addition to showcasing new and ultra-creative comics and graphic novels, this year’s show is celebrating the comic culture’s greatest influence on American pop culture. Never before has the local Cineplex been so dominated by superhero movies; never have comics been received with as much critical appreciation as they are now.


The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network).

Careers in comic books and other types of creative media are easy to pursue. In fact, there have never been as many opportunities to explore a talent for creating content for comic-books and/or cartoons. Information about breaking into the comic-book industry can be found online or you could spend a week this summer learning from a professional comic-book or cartoon creator at a digital media camp to learn how to create comics. Know how to tell a story with words and pictures? Then share your ideas and help create the superheroes of tomorrow.

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posted by Vince Matthews in Comic and Cartoon Creation,News Blog and have No Comments