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Who will Direct the Next “Star Wars” Movie?

Star Wars fans can breath a collective sigh of relief, Walt Disney Studios has reportedly tapped J.J. Abrams to direct the next “Star Wars” film for the studio. Disney purchased the lucrative franchise from George Lucas for 40 billion dollars in 2012.

Meet the Director
Abrams, the director of “Mission: Impossible III,” and the recent “Star Trek” reboot, is considered by many to be this generations Spielberg. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot is a Hollywood heavyweight, turning out event movies like “Cloverfield” and “Super 8.”

jj-abrams
Director J.J. Abrams will helm “Star Wars: Episode VII,” which hits theaters in 2015.

In November, Abrams told Entertainment Weekly that while the original “Star Wars” and its special effects “blew my mind,” he, declined an offer to helm the first post-Lucas “Star Wars” film. Why? Abrams already has a relationship with Paramount Studios who he will deliver the upcoming “Star Trek: Into Darkness” for on May 18, 2013. Hollywood insiders say if Abrams has signed a deal with Disney it may significantly complicate his relationship with Paramount.

The Power of the Force
The new head of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy has been reportedly meeting with several directors including Zack Synder and Ben Affleck to direct the upcoming “Star Wars” film, already slated for a 2015 release.

It’s rumored Kennedy’s relationship with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas helped bring Abrams onboard. Kennedy, who helped produce the Indiana Jones movies, in addition to “Back to the Future” movies has been a big fan of Abrams and believes he can deliver what fans are expecting. Driving script development for the new “Star Wars” film is screenwriter Michael Arndt, who also penned “Little Miss Sunshine.”

star-wars-space-battle-death-star-super-star-destroyer-tie-fighters
Lucasfilm wrote the book on how to create Hollywood visual effects with ILM and the first “Star Wars” movie.

Abrams, also the co-creator of the popular television franchises, “Alias,” “Lost,” and “Fringe” is a long-time fan of the “Star Wars” franchise, he told Hollywood Life the film “is one of my favorite movies of all time.”

But unfortunately, for any director, “Star Wars” also comes with a lot of baggage, Abrams said this before he got the job: “I frankly feel that — I almost feel that, in a weird way, the opportunity for whomever it is to direct that movie, it comes with the burden of being that kind of iconic movie and series. I was never a big “Star Trek” fan growing up, so for me, working on “Star Trek” didn’t have any of that, you know, almost fatal sacrilege, and so, I am looking forward more [than] anyone to the next iterations of “Star Wars” movies.”

The Next Generation of Filmmakers
Abrams comes from a new generation of filmmakers who are their own PR engine, using ComicCon, Twitter and Reddit AMA’s to engage with fans. They’re making movies with Final Cut Pro and even may have spent a summer at a film camp. For this generation, there are so many ways to make and share films and the results seldom less than amazing.

Personally, we can’t wait to see what Mr. Abrams does with Star Wars…

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posted by Vince Matthews in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

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

Making Immortals: Special Effects Techniques & Pre-Production

This weekend, the 3D sword-and-sandal epic Immortals is set to make its bid as one of the year’s biggest blockbusters. In the film, Greek mythology receives the big-screen treatment with amazing special effects that help make the story larger than life.


Henry Cavill (who will star as Superman in the upcoming Man of Steel) plays Theseus in the sword-and-sandal epic, Immortals.

The Road to Immortality
Immortals was brought to the screen by the same production team that made 300, that movie earned $456 million internationally. For this blockbuster, no expense was spared to create the stunning visions necessary to tell the tale. The supervising producer of VFX estimated that more than 100 shots within Immortals required special effects. And because the producers did not want their movie to look as though it was composed solely through CGI effects, some twenty enormous and intricate sets were actually designed and built.


In addition to amazingly complex battle sequences, there are stupendous visions of mountains falling, tidal waves being created and more.

Immortals’ Cameron Connection
All of the massive production was housed under one roof at film studios in Montreal. And if Immortals looks like no other adventure flick ever filmed, there are several technical reasons why. For starters, during pre-production, the filmmakers relied upon a green screen method called InterSense, which James Cameron used when making Avatar.

The technical system called Moses was used during production for similar purposes. For example, when composing a shot set in a monastery, the director was able to use Moses to look down from that monastery onto an enemy encampment and see exactly where CGI creations would be placed within the actual shot.


Another unique technique used in Immortals involves action speed; the gods featured in the films will be able to move and fight at speeds considerably faster than mere mortals.

Immortals will showcase its amazing visuals in 3D. However, unlike many 3D movies, Immortals was built from the ground up to be a 3D film. Foregrounds and backgrounds were designed specifically so the 3D effects could be shown for maximum visual impact. The filmmakers sought help from Prime Focus, a 3D effects house that had worked magic on blockbusters like Star Wars: Episode One –The Phantom Menace and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2.

All in all, more than 4,000 artists and technicians helped to create the 3D world shown in Immortals. And this figure doesn’t count the number of visual artists who contributed to the making of the film through their mastery of Maya, the software program now driving how characters are generated for films of all types.

Take a look for yourself with the official trailer for Immortals:

Immortals in 3D opens 11/11/11.

The Next Great Action Star
There’s another special effect in the film, in the form of actor Henry Cavill, who will soon be appearing as another larger-than-life character: Superman.

In Immortals, Cavill portrays a fatherless child (Theseus) raised in shame and ridicule who eventually meets a wise old man who counsels Theseus and trains him in combat and philosophy (kind of like the training Bruce Wayne received in 2005’s Batman Begins). Theseus’ mother is murdered and he is put into chains by the evil King Hyperion (played by Mickey Rourke). This all leads to Hyperion facing off against rebel forces led by Theseus in an earth-shaking battle royal.

Cavill will next appear in the action blockbuster Superman: Man of Steel. Warner Brothers is hoping to use the film to rebrand the Superman film franchise and set it onto a fresh and new path, much in the same way that Christopher Nolan’s series of neo-Batman films has accomplished so successfully. There’s been a lot of excitement by fans who want a first look at Henry Cavill as the new Superman.


Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…Henry Cavill in 2013′s Superman: Man of Steel.

The Future of Special Effects
Today technology allows filmmakers to make films they couldn’t have even imagined twenty years ago. Tools like After Effects and Final Cut Pro make filmmaking accessible for everyone. Film production is an amazing process that requires the time and expertise of hundreds of creative professionals who pool their collective talents in the service of a major project, such as Immortals.

Becoming a part of the film industry has never been easier for driven and talented professionals who’ve received the right training with the latest tools. You can start a career in special effects by spending your summer at a film camp that teaches visual effects. Summer camps like Digital Media Academy use cutting-edge software like Autodesk Maya to teach character creation and Final Cut Pro to teach film editing. With hands-on training from DMA, creating the gods on Mount Olympus is just a few keystrokes away.

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

Best Halloween Movies: Six Flix To DIE For

Halloween is the prime time for terror, and few experiences are more visceral than being scared out of our wits by a great horror film. This Halloween, check out one of the following movies. You won’t be disappointed. Scared out of your wits, yes, but not disappointed.

Warning: Some of the movies are not recommended for younger viewers. 


“Did someone say, ‘Halloween’?” You know we couldn’t leave Michael Meyers out of our Halloween round-up.

Setting Up Your Theater
Granted, there’s no trick to loading up a DVD or streaming a movie, but your viewing conditions do matter. Aside from the popcorn, in order to get the most out of a horror movie, try the following tips:

1. Lights out! Getting the room completely dark helps you concentrate on the screen and sets the mood.
2. Silence those cellphones! just like a public movie theater, turn off all those electronic devices. Horror movies are all about sustaining a mood, which you just can’t do it if you’re busy Tweeting your friends.
3. Make sure everyone’s onboard. Make sure your pals actually want to watch the movie. Wisecracks and tweets don’t add to the movie experience.

And now, our feature presentations…

1.  Buried (2010)
(Stream Buried tonight.)


Ryan Reynolds faces one of man’s basic, primal nightmares — waking up in a coffin — in Buried.

Many of the best horror movies tap into our most basic fears, and one of the most frightening is being buried alive. That’s exactly the predicament that Ryan (The Green Lantern) Reynolds’ character faces in Buried, as an American contractor working in Iraq who is kidnapped and drugged. When he comes to, he’s underground, in the dark, in a big wooden box. All that’s keeping him from a slow and terrifying death by suffocation are a butane lighter and his cell phone. It’s an exercise in mounting tension, as Reynolds frantically tries to contact somebody who can scrape together the ransom money his kidnappers are demanding…before the lights go out for good. Buried is a thriller that excels because of its basic and horrible premise, proving that terror doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. It only has to be terrifying.

2. The Body Snatcher (1945)
(Stream The Body Snatcher tonight.)


Bad Boris Karloff gets down to business in The Body Snatcher.

Proving that old horror movies really can be scary, The Body Snatcher boasts a chilling (and true) story by Robert Louis Stevenson about doctors who need cadavers (in order to further medical science) and the creepy criminals who supply them with dead bodies. But the real reason this film makes our list is the casting of Boris Karloff in the title role. Karloff may be best known now as the voice and narrator of the classic cartoon How the Grinch Stole Christmas, although he rocketed to international stardom decades earlier as the first actor to portray Frankenstein’s monster. (He also was the first actor to play the Mummy.) Karloff is horrific here: in his first scene, he’s all fake smiles and good cheer, helping a handicapped girl into a wheelchair. Scenes later, as he prepares to dig up a freshly buried corpse, the smiles are gone and he’s using a shovel to kill a dog standing watch over his dead master’s grave. Karloff’s sinister voice was an instrument of pure terror — maybe the most frightening in film history.

3. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1991)
(Stream Bram Stoker’s Dracula tonight.)


You’ve never seen a vampire (or vampire movie) that looks like this: Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

One longtime staple of the horror genre has been the vampire movie, which routinely gets updated for new generations of audiences. Recently, the Twilight series has leaned toward romantic themes, making for a kind of teenage, vampire soap opera. Meanwhile, the screen vampires of old (going back 80 years now) are usually not scary enough for modern audiences. So what’s a vampire fan to do? Try this curiosity from Francis Ford Coppola, which stars Gary (The Dark Knight Rises) Oldman in a more faithful retelling of the original vampire novel, which is why author Stoker is mentioned in the title. Rounding out the cast is Keanu Reeves, Anthony (Silence of the Lambs) Hopkins, Winona Ryder and others. The movie has great special effects and a rich, gorgeous look to it, thanks to Coppola, who uses some of his same Godfather tricks to make us root for a villain…whether we want to or not.

4. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
(Stream Night of the Living Dead tonight.)


Daylight provides no escape from the zombie onslaught in Night of the Living Dead.

Another mainstay of horror movies are zombies, and although the undead had been featured in horror films dating back to the 1920s, the category really began with a cheaply made “drive-in” movie that contained no stars and only crude special effects. Despite these weaknesses (which may actually be strengths, given the genre), George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead  is among the most influential of all horror movies; it’s spawned a flood of sequels and remakes. The plot is as simple as dirt: Zombie hordes have arisen from their graves and are slowly lumbering across the landscape, desperate to feed on human flesh, while a group of survivors holed up in a farmhouse tries to remain sane and off the zombie buffet. If you’ve only seen the later versions, do yourself a favor and tune in to TCM on Halloween night (9:30 pm, EST) and see where filmdom’s zombie fest began.

5. Halloween (1978)


Turn out the lights: The original Halloween makes more use of shadows than special effects.

This one’s really a no-brainer, given the movie’s title and setting. However, be warned: There’s a hefty difference in quality between John Carpenter’s 1978 film and the many inferior slasher movies that it’s spawned over the years — both within the Halloween series and all the other popular maniac-with-a-knife franchises (i.e., Friday the 13thNightmare on Elm Street, etc.). And while villain Michael Meyers has legions of fans — in fact, it’s more appropriate to say that he’s the hero in the Halloween movies, considering that he’s the character that many (if not most) audience members are rooting for — the real star here is director Carpenter, who relies on traditional horror movie elements (such as expert use of spooky lighting and shadows) to get his point across. Does the original still deliver the goods? One viewing will give you the answer.

6. Below (2002)
(Stream Below tonight.)


What if you were trapped with ghosts? And what if you were six hundred feet underwater? Below takes you there.

Yeah, haunted houses are great for giving us shivers, but ghost stories can happen anywhere — such as onboard a claustrophobic U.S. Navy submarine during World War II. In Below, an American sub rescues some sailors from a sinking ship. The Americans quickly learn that no good deed goes unpunished as things start getting super-strange, with all kinds of paranormal activity taking place. Before long, the sub’s crew starts to crack up. The situation becomes so haunted and intense that in one amazing scene, one of the crewmen becomes completely unhinged and runs through and out the sub’s torpedo hatch while the vessel is still submerged. The sailor is so terrified by the ghostly visions he’s just seen that he doesn’t even pause to consider the watery fate waiting for him. Below is consistently tense and delivers a powerful underwater punch…maybe because it was written by Darren (Black Swan, The Wrestler) Aronovsky, who may just be the best American director currently working.

Gotta Have Horror
Horror movies start with an idea, but require the talents and skills of many creative professionals before they hit the big screen. For aspiring film directors and editors, it’s a thrilling time to prepare for a career in the digital arts. The key is receiving expert instruction from trained professionals, with the latest technological tools and cutting-edge software, such as Final Cut Pro. At Digital Media Academy’s summer computer camps, the emphasis is on hand-on training, delivered on some of America’s greatest college campuses. If you want to be there when the cameras start rolling, start learning the industry with DMA.

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

Walking Dead Episode Guide: TV’s Hottest Zombies

The second season of AMC’s The Walking Dead has begun. And if the first couple of episodes of the new season are any indication, the show has lost none of the intense power (or popularity) it gathered last season. (No wonder the show has already been renewed for a third season.)


Happy Halloween! Looks like this trick-or-treater took a fall coming off the steps.

For a few years now, cable outlets such as AMC have been home to some of the most engaging shows on television. In its debut season, The Walking Dead quickly rose to the top of the cable ratings. The program is so popular that AMC now features a talk show immediately following Dead‘s Sunday night time slot, where panelist and fans discuss the latest Walking Dead episode and all things “zombie.”

Why has AMC’s The Walking Dead been such a huge hit with audiences and TV critics? Part of it is the show’s excellent production values – from the writing to the acting, it’s one of the best-made shows on TV right now. The other part? The “scare factor.” Combined, they make The Walking Dead possibly the best horror series to ever to appear on television.

High Production Values = High Ratings
The production values are extremely high for serial television – this is how digital filmmaking is done – and it pays off in the ratings. TV has waited a long time for a show this consistently scary; at times it’s even more frightening than many horror movies now playing in theaters.

While the zombie apocalypse is the underlying theme (and one key reason for the popularity) of The Walking Dead, it’s the relationships and journey the characters experience that are the heart of the show. You genuinely care about the cast and the predicaments they face.


The Walking Dead began life as a hugely popular graphic novel.

Making The Walking Dead
It all started with a comic book…er, graphic novel. Robert Kirkman, the creator behind the series, already had huge success with the graphic novel, which has seen a resurgence in popularity due to AMC’s series.

Three-time Oscar nominee Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption) developed and launched the series, but a good part of the show’s success has to go to the astounding special effects. The zombies in The Walking Dead will turn your stomach, and their impeccable timing will never bore you: They always show up at just the right moment to peak the suspense and terror.

Sure, zombies don’t always move lightning fast, but when hundreds show up at once (as often happens), it creates an overwhelming effect; everywhere you turn, there’s another dead guy (or gal) – and from every walk of life – with a decomposing face.


The survivors (led by sheriff Rick Grimes) have more than they can handle: a world of undead who are always on the move…and always hungry.

So what if you’re interested in the show but are getting to the party late? No problem; we’ll get you caught up:

The Story
American life as we know it has slipped off the rails. A tide of death—whether from disease or supernatural forces (nobody knows for sure, which makes the premise even that more frightening) has swept the land. Hordes of human undead are now roaming the land in search of flesh to satisfy their zombie hunger. There aren’t many survivors left, but one group in Atlanta has banded together to take on the zombie menace. The group’s priorities are simple: 1) keep themselves alive 2) find a safety zone where they can exist zombie-free; and 3) find the answer as to why all of this zombie madness is happening in the first place.

The Characters
The group changes (based on who lives through the episode) week after week, but here are the major characters you’ll get to know:

  •  Rick: A deputy sheriff from a small Georgia town, Rick serves as the group’s unofficial leader.
  •  Shane: Rick’s partner in law enforcement, and best friend since high school.
  •  Lori: Rick’s wife.
  •  Dale: A retiree, who owns and drives the RV that leads the group’s convoy.
  •  Andrea: A former attorney, she watched as her sister Amy died from a zombie attack.
  •  T-Dog: A former thug, who has become friends with Dale.
  •  Daryl: A survivalist whose favorite zombie weapon is a crossbow.
  •  Carol: A woman who has lost her husband to zombies; her daughter is her only known surviving relative.
  •  Sophia: Carol’s young daughter.
  •  Carl: Rick and Lori’s young son.
  •  Glenn: A former Atlanta pizza-delivery guy, whose navigation skills come in handy.

 

The Walking Dead Episode Guide

Season 1

Episode 1: As the series begins, county sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes comes out of a lengthy coma to find himself alone in an empty hospital. He slowly realizes that he’s been reborn into a world where the dead—the walking dead—have taken over. He leaves the hospital and starts wandering. Along the way he meets other (live) people, all of whom are living under the threat of imminent zombie attack.

Episode 2: Surviving bands of hungry zombies isn’t easy, as Rick learns when he unknowingly enables a group of survivors to be trapped and savaged by “walkers.” Tensions and accusations follow with the small group of survivors that Rick now leads, and criminals within the group threaten to blow any chance of living through the zombie nightmare.


Glenn and Rick work their way through the undead heard by blending in with the zombies.

Episode 3: Rick doubles back to Atlanta to save a man’s life and get a bag of weapons. Along the way, he is reunited with his wife, Lori, who had assumed that Rick was dead. During that time, she became romantically involved with Shane, Rick’s friend. Now that Rick’s back in the picture, Lori and Shane vow to not tell Rick about their affair and pretend as if nothing had happened between them. (And Rick’s son, Carl, doesn’t know the extent of his mother’s involvement with Shane.)

Episode 4: More things go wrong on the path back to Atlanta, where the group is headed to find the headquarters of the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), hoping to find scientists alive who can help them. Tensions are escalating, and people are starting to become unglued by all the stress of living in this horrifying new world.

Episode 5: After being attacked by walkers, Rick successfully leads the group to the CDC, but there’s no time to relax. And the group learns that getting to the CDC doesn’t really solve their mounting problems.

Episode 6: After the group makes its way inside the heavily fortified building to temporary safety, the members discover that there’s only one scientist there. What’s worse—he isn’t altogether sure what caused the zombie epidemic…or what to do about it.  


Rick takes a wrong turn on the streets of Atlanta and finds a group of undead in his path. 

Season 2

Episode 7: Season 2 begins in Atlanta at the CDC, with the group realizing that the lone CDC scientist (seeing no solution to the situation) has rigged the massive building with explosives and a timer and the whole thing is set to self-destruct. Making it out with seconds to spare, the group takes its convoy of vehicles out of Atlanta. They soon find the highway jammed to the hilt with abandoned vehicles. Then they are besieged by hundreds of walkers, with one of the survivors (Sophia) being chased by zombies through woods. At Carol’s urging, the group stays camped in the area while the members search for Sophia. As the episode ends, Carl is accidentally shot by a deer-hunting survivor of another group that lives nearby.

Episode 8: In order to save his life, Carl is taken to another group’s farmhouse, where (despite the lack of ample medical supplies) he’s treated. In order for him to be saved, however, they need more supplies and medical equipment- which can only be found at a medical facility in a zombie-infested part of town nearby. The man who accidentally shot Carl leads Shane head to the abandoned medical facility, where they retrieve the supplies. Now there’s just the matter of getting them and themselves back to safety…

Episode 9: The group desperately awaiting Shane’s return, but he can’t get out of a school he’s trapped in (and which is surrounded by the walking dead). Meanwhile, the search continues for Sophia…but the group knows it can’t remain in this area for much longer.


What’s going to happen next?  Tune in to AMC on Sunday nights to find out.

Zombie Comeback
Zombies are white hot right now, and The Walking Dead is one of the reasons why. But zombies have been making a comeback for a few years; videogames like Resident Evil, Dead Rising and the recent Dead Island have been stoking the fire, as well as movies like Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland and 28 Days Later. Sure, the material isn’t for the faint of heart (or the younger set), still the subject matter makes for some great suspense.

You never know where the undead will turn up next – so you better be ready, especially this Halloween.

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

Total Recall Remake & The 5 Most Anticipated Movies of 2012

With just a couple of months left in 2011, moviegoers are already looking toward 2012. And why not? 2012 looks to be a banner year for big-screen blockbusters. Not only do superhero fans have The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man to look forward to, but sci-fi fans are anticipating the remake of an Arnold Schwarzenegger classic too.

1. The Avengers (May 4, 2012)

Featuring a comic-book store full of A-list actors, fans are counting down the days until The Avengers premieres.

What do you get when you take the world’s hottest superheroes and assemble them for a film? The Avengers, of course! This spring, Marvel Studios will release a superhero action flick that has been in development for years.

Written and directed by Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), The Avengers will bring together the superhero talents of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner),  and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) as agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.


On the set of The Avengers with Robert Downey Jr., Joss Whedon, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans.

The superheroes are assembled to defeat the extraterrestrial invaders led by the super villian Loki, who has come to earth to destory it. The first film to be distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, The Avengers is the culmination of years of groundwork by Marvel Studios. Even the actors know the importance of the film in the Marvel movie mythos and stepped up their game too: Actor Jeremy Renner took archery lessons for his role, while actor Chris Hemsworth maintained his two-chickens-a-day diet for his Thor psychic.

Shot in locations around the country like Albuquerque, New Mexico, Cleveland, Ohio, and New York City, the film promises to blow audiences out of their seats. Need more proof? Check out the official Avengers movie trailer.

2. The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3, 2012)

If  The Avengers doesn’t satisfy your appetite for Marvel superheroes, The Amazing Spider-Man will.

Spider-Man is no stranger to movie screens, especially after a trio of well-reviewed, record-breaking, big-budget action flicks, which starred Tobey Maguire as the world’s greatest swinger. Now Sony, the studio behind Spidey, are hoping to reboot it for a whole new generation.

The Amazing Spider-Man stars Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and this time around Marc Webb is directing the film. The rest of the cast includes Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Sally Field as Aunt May and Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben.

Garfield, who made an appearance in costume at Comic-Con 2011, is a longtime fan of the comic book; his turn as the web slinger is hotly anticipated by not only screaming 16-year-old girls but by longtime Spider-Man fanboys. Mainly because, like The Avengers, this film will return to the roots of our favorite web-head and will focus more on Parker’s high school experience. Accordingly, the grumpy Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson will not appear in the new movie.

Someone who will be making an appearance, is Marvel Comics genius Stan Lee, who probably created (or co-created) more big-name superheroes than any other comics giant. SPOILER ALERT: “Stan the Man” will have a cameo in the new film as a librarian plugged in to his earbuds and is oblivious to a battle between Spider-Man and arch foe, The Lizard. The Amazing Spider-Man will be released in 3D and IMAX 3D.

3. Total Recall (August 3, 2012)

Collin Farrell takes over Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role in the new Total Recall.

Easily the most anticipated sci-fi flick of 2012, the much-rumored remake of the 1990 sci-fi/thriller Total Recall casts Colin Farrell in the role of Douglas Quaid, originally played by Arnold Schwarzenneger.

Not a lot of info has been released about the film, but that still hasn’t stopped fans from speculating about why Ethan Hawke makes a cameo. The original film was well ahead of it’s time, from full-body X-ray video machines to wall-sized televisions; the technology alone made it a cult classic. The latest version will continue that trend, with a futuristic look at a nation-state called New Shanghai. The film also stars Bryan (Breaking Bad) Cranston, Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale.


On location in Toronto, Canada, this futuristic police cruiser gets a little help chasing down Quaid. 

What won’t be appearing in the new version, which will be directed by Len Wiseman, is the planet Mars, which was the main location of the original movie. Instead, this Recall will take place on earth in nation-states called “Euromerica” and “New Shanghai.” As before, the plot will involve a factory drone (Farrell) who comes to believe that he’s being used as a spy, although at this point we don’t know much more than that.

4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 14, 2012)

Martin Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins in the prequel to The Lord of The Rings.

It’s time to return to Middle Earth with director Peter Jackson and the characters you fell in love with in The Lord of the Rings. Hobbit Bilbo Baggins must journey to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim a treasure taken by the dragon Smaug. Bilbo is joined by a group of dwarves, while appearances by new/old friends, Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Elrond (Hugo Weaving), Frodo (Elijah Wood), and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) will keep fans riveted to the screen.

The film itself is eagerly awaited for several reasons, in part because it was in limbo while producer Peter Jackson and the rights were sorted out in a high-profile Hollywood drama. Director Guillermo del Toro (HellBoy, Pan’s Labyrinth) will helm the film.

5. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20, 2012)

Batman takes on Bane in the latest Dark Knight saga.

Following hot on Spider-Man’s heels in July is Batman – that is, Christopher Nolan’s version of the caped crusader. In what many have said may be the final chapter in Nolan’s Batman series, Batman takes on Bane, another comic-based villain.

With an estimated $250 million budget, The Dark Knight Rises is rumored to be best of the bunch. Two new characters are introduced: Anne Hathaway plays Catwoman, Tom Hardy plays the unstoppable Bane, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays John Blake. The formula must be working, because this is the first Batman trilogy to have the same director and actor (Nolan and Bale, respectively).

Making Movies Super
What other movies can we look forward to in 2012? How about a Star Trek sequel, the 23rd James Bond film and Men in Black 3? Movies are still greatest America’s cultural export, and next year’s crop of blockbusters reflect how important digital filmmaking techniques have become to modern cinema. Learning to use powerful editing software such as Apple’s Final Cut Pro is key to getting a foot in the door at today’s hottest film studios. Creating comic book characters isn’t easy either, and neither is digital filmmaking, but the crop of 2012 films listed here seem ready to take on the challenge. What do you think? Are you looking forward to these films?

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

Apple’s Updated MacBook Pro Line

Apple Inc. updated its MacBook Pro line of laptop computers on Monday. The update was made with little fanfare; the machines will keep their current style and price points, but now offer faster processors and better graphics.


The new MacBook Pros feature the same familiar styling but revved-up processors and better graphics. 

The line is based on a trio of MacBook Pros, each of which are powered by Apple‘s Mac OS X Lion operating system:

  • The 13-inch MacBook Pro and it’s being offered in two configurations: a 2.4-gigahertz dual-core Intel i5 processor priced at $1,199 and a 2.8-gigahertz dual-core Intel i7 chip available for slightly more.
  • Stepping up to the next model, the 15-inch MacBook Pro (starting price: $1,799) features a 2.2-gigahertz quad-core Intel i7 processor and a 500-gigabyte hard drive. Like the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, the interim model has an Intel HD Graphics 3000 integrated graphic card, but also sports an AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics card that has 512 megabytes of dedicated memory.
  • The 17-inch MacBook Pro (which starts at $2,499) contains a 2.4-gigahertz Intel Core i7 processor and AMD’s hot new Radeon HD 6770M graphics card.

As you can see, the updated line is pushing its stronger graphics capabilities, as well as its faster processors. The end result for users is that tasks can be accomplished more quickly and the graphics are not only more eye-pleasing but will also enable faster video playback that’s more stable…which makes the new PowerBooks ideal for anyone (such as filmmakers and other creative professionals) who might be using Apple’s Final Cut Pro video-editing software or programs such as Adobe Photoshop.


Apple’s offering the updated MacBook Pro in three models. (Check out the new MacBook Pro specs.)

Test Drive a New MacBook 
Want to get your hands on one of these new machines? Do it while you’re also learning something cool under the watchful eye of a seasoned Apple pro. At Digital Media Academy‘s computer summer camps, students use the latest Apple technology in almost every course and summer camp. DMA offers a wide variety of programs that are located on many of America’s greatest college campuses and they use only the latest state-of-the-art technology, like the new Apple MacBook Pros.

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

Coppola’s Twixt: Using Technology to Re-invent the Movies

He’s acknowledged as one of the greatest directors in film history, and now he’s back with a wild new movie. Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now) has always been a bold filmmaker. His latest film proves once again that he’s not afraid to take chances: Twixt is a 3D movie, with a twist.


Oscar-winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola made the 1972 classic,  The Godfather.

Val Kilmer (Top Gun, Batman Forever, The Doors) plays Hall Baltimore, a down-on-his-luck horror novelist, who specializes in books about witches. Baltimore is touring the West Coast on a self-managed low-budget book tour. When he stops in the small Northern California town of Swann Valley, he realizes he’s wandered into a twilight zone that’s populated by odd happenings, menacing Goth teenagers and other strange characters. He becomes haunted by the ghost of a young girl (played by Elle Fanning, from Super 8).


The ghost of V haunts Hall Baltimore.

Dynamic Cinema
Coppola previewed Twixt at Comic-Con 2011, where he gave out Edgar Allan Poe Masks (with 3D glasses inserted in the eyes) to convention attendees. The preview was one of the highlights of Comic-Con.

Coppola teased the film as a “dynamic cinematic experience.” Basically, his vision is that depending on where and when you see the film, the version of the story you see could be completely different than someone else’s. It’s an interesting take, but one made possible with technological advances, “How dare anyone think all (cinema) has got up its sleeve is 3D. Of course we’re going to see wonderful innovations,” Coppola remarked.

The director went on to demonstrate how scenes might be “remixed,” as Coppola created a couple of different versions of the trailer. The crowd watched as Coppola used an iPad to edit on the fly. Basically what he envisions – to some extent – is what the final film presentation might offer.


The trailer for Twixt is remixed for the audience at Comic-Con.

Poe Show
Cranking the weird meter to eleven is a surprise “cameo” by no less than the godfather of horror, Edgar Allan Poe. Poe died young and mysteriously in 1849, but only after defining American horror with stories and poems like “The Raven” (which dealt with insanity), “The Cask of Amontillado” (where a character is buried alive) and “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” (which includes cannibalism among its many horrors). Given the overwhelming weirdness of Swann Valley, Poe, it seems, finds himself right at home.


Strange encounters are the hallmark of Twixt, including this one with long-dead, horror icon Edgar Allan Poe.

Twixt had its world premiere Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival, and the famous director talked about the movie’s origins during a Q&A session with festival attendees. Coppola got the idea while visiting Istanbul and after a night of drinking a potent Turkish liquor. The film’s concept came to him in a dream. Upon waking the next morning, Coppola immediately preserved his thoughts by using his iPhone to capture the idea.

Because of his legacy, anticipation greets every new Coppola film. And even though he’s made horror films before (most notably, 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula), this is Francis Ford Coppola’s first film to use 3D. (However, the 3D effect is only used in two scenes, and the film signals the audience members about when to put on their 3D glasses.) No release date has been set for Twixt just yet; Coppola is still shopping the movie around and trying to find a distributor.


Coppola, Kilmer and…Edgar Allan Poe (played by Ben Chaplin) on the set of Twixt.

In the Final Cut
It’s no surprise Coppola used an iPhone and iPad to preview his latest creation at Comic-Con. In addition to making some of the cinema’s most important and beloved movies, Francis Ford Coppola has always been a technical innovator. Like many of today’s most celebrated filmmakers, Coppola has been using Final Cut Pro to edit movies for years. Twixt showcases the director’s vision in a way that pushes the cinematic experience to new heights, and we can’t wait to see the results.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

Sesame Street’s Beastie Boys

Grover, Cookie Monster, Elmo and Oscar the Grouch are a bunch of Muppets that have finally shown their true “beastie” sides. In this awesome video we found making the rounds on the ‘Net, the Muppets get down with Bert and Ernie while covering The Beastie Boys classic, “Sure Shot.” It’s truly a sight to behold. So kick back, crack open a can of your favorite soda and get ready to be rocked by Jim Henson’s Seasame Street:

This Sesame “Sure Shot” comes courtesy of the geniuses at Wonderful Creative.

Making a Music Video
If you’re interested in learning how to make a music video, tools like Final Cut Pro can help you. The guys at Wonderful Creative, a British advertising agency, use the same tools.

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posted by Vince Matthews in Digital Video Production,News Blog and have No Comments

Ferris Bueller Turns 25: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?”

It wasn’t a movie that overwhelmed you with its plot: a popular teen tries to outwit his high school principal, ducking class and other responsibilities for a glorious, what-the-heck day with his best friends. Nonetheless, John Hughes’ 1986 teen classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” had so much offbeat charm that nobody ever seemed to mind its simplicity.


Hughes, the director of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, made a career out of 80′s teen-angst comedies.

The film’s many, many fans are now celebrating Ferris Bueller turns 25. Released on June 11, 1986 the movie influenced countless films with its wit and character. For fans of the film, Ferris is not only teacher of life’s lesson but a student as well. In the end the film isn’t so much about skipping out on life and responsibility but to take a chance every once and while and enjoy it.

10. Location, Location, Location Part of the fun of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is its whirlwind tour of Chicago. Actual locations included Wrigley Field, the Sears Tower and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The parade that Ferris single-handedly takes over is the town’s Von Steuben Day Parade.

Meet Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago.

9. Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? While the movie starred Matthew Broderick a nasally nerd named Ben Stein nearly stole the show, Stein played the Economics teacher with the personality of a sleepwalker. Stein voiced the movie’s most quoted line, turning a class roll call into numbing torture. Stein has since been a recognizable presence in movies and television commercials, as well as being a political pundit – a role that makes total sense. Why? His first job was writing speeches for President Richard Nixon back in the early 1970s.

8. Famous Fans Fans of the film include filmmaker Kevin “Clerks” Smith, Simon “American Idol” Cowell and Justin Timberlake, each of whom has listed the movie as their favorite film of all time. Another fan, Charlie Sheen, also made a brief appearance in the film as bad boy. Funny how life imitates art.

7. Home Alone In the film, Ferris’ pal, Cameron, lives in an modernist house. Later, in a jaw-dropping scene, a vintage 1961 Ferrari GT250 (really a modified MG sports car) is driven directly into the iconic residence. It’s not a set but a real house. Use Google’s street view to see how it looks today: 370 Beech Street, Highland Park, IL 60035. Ferris’ house isn’t actually in Chicago, it’s in California: 4160 Country Club Drive, Long Beach, CA.


Edward Hopper’s 1942 masterpiece, “Nighthawks,” co-starred in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

6. Classic Art Ferris made taking in a museum cool. The famous paintings shown in the movie’s Art Institute of Chicago scene included the iconic diner painting “Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper and Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist,” as well as works by Matisse, Jackson Pollock and Marc Chagall.

5. Music Makes A Movie “Ferris Bueller” contained a mixed bag of offbeat tunes, from the Beatles’ manic “Twist and Shout” to Wayne Newton’s lounge classic, “Danke Schoen” to New Wave cuts from the 80s, like Yello’s “Oh Yeah.” The blend of songs was so offbeat (and probably a licensing nightmare) that no official soundtrack album was ever released. Why? Sadly, Director John Hughes said he felt it would have had no commercial appeal and didn’t work as an album.

4. Big Screen Blockbusters Make Good TV After the movie’s surprising success, NBC rushed a television series based on the concept into production. Only thirteen episodes aired. A young actress named Jennifer “Friends” Aniston played Ferris’ TV sister. (In the film, the same role was played by Jennifer Gray, she would later become a star in another 80s classic: “Dirty Dancing.”)

Ben Stein shot to stardom on the basis of one line.

3. Script Supervisor At the time “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” was nearing shooting, a looming writer’s strike threatened to halt production. So Director Hughes, eager to get his script finished before the strike began, hammered out the script – in less than one week.

2. Connect With The Audience Part of what made “Ferris” unique is the way Ferris speaks directly to the audience. Although certainly not the first movie to employ this technique, it’s probably one of the most memorable. (Way back in1966, Michael Caine became a star in the original “Alfie” by doing the same thing. Ray Liotta also talks directly to the audience in “GoodFellas”.) Even today, this technique (called “breaking the fourth wall“) is only used rarely in film, although it’s been turning up in plays since theater’s early origins.

“Life moves pretty fast…”

1. Ferris Makes Bank Instantly beloved upon its release, “Ferris” has become even more respected over time. “Entertainment Weekly” magazine named it number 10 among “the 50 best high-school movies,” while film channel Bravo listed it as number 54 among “the 100 funniest movies.” In 2000, readers of “Total Film” magazine voted the movie the 23rd greatest comedy film of all time. And “Ferris” delivered big-time at the box office: Made for around $6 million, the movie earned more than $70 million in its domestic release. Not too shabby for cutting class.

When John Hughes passed away in 2010, he left behind a personal body of film work that defined “teen” movies, with a filmography that included hits like “Pretty in Pink,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Sixteen Candles,” and “Weird Science,” as well as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” A multi-talented writer and director, Hughes coupled his passion for filmmaking with an unbeatable set film production skills. Are you an aspiring filmmaker looking to sharpen or develop your movie-making skills?

This summer, Digital Media Academy will be teaching Digital Filmmaking Summer Camps and courses using Final Cut Pro, the industry standard among editing software. Take a week-long or three-day certification course or a film & video production course and start your career as a filmmaker.

Cover Final Cut Pro from all the angles – everything from an overview of the software all the way through advanced editing courses that put you in the editor’s chair. See for yourself why legendary filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, Walter Murch and the Coen brothers use Final Cut Pro – John Hughes may have even used it if Final Cut were available when he was shooting “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

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