DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

2012 Summer Movie Round Up

“The Avengers” is currently ruling the box office. The mega-blockbuster exceeded $207 in domestic box office for its opening weekend, and this past Saturday, “The Avengers” churned more than $69.7 million in ticket receipts, making that the highest Saturday gross of all time. Name a box office record and “the Avengers” has either broken it, or has its eye on it.


Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, no…It’s the soaring box office totals for “The Avengers.”

I Believe I Can Fly
How high will “The Avengers” profits soar during its entire initial theatrical run? Some industry analysts are predicting that the film may not surpass the revenues produced by director/producer James Cameron’s one-two combination of “Titanic” and “Avatar,” but that “The Avengers” will probably blow by another superhero blockbuster, “The Dark Knight,” which made $533.3 million back in 2008.

Can anyone, or any film, defeat Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? There are plenty that are going to try – in addition to “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Avengers” will be competing with Spider-Man and Abraham Lincoln. But the summer has a slew of other great flicks lined up, let’s take a look at what’s adding up to be the best movie summer ever!

MAY

“Dark Shadows” is the eighth film Johnny Depp has done with director Tim Burton. (Warner Bros. 2012)

“Dark Shadows” (5/11)
Johnny Depp stars as Barnabas Collins, a vampire that returns to his ancestral home to find the current inhabitants (his descendants). Tim Burton directs the comedy, which is based on the 60s TV classic – the first horror soap opera.

“The Dictator” (5/16)
Sacha Baron Cohen–who made audiences howl with laughter as “Borat”–is back as the unhinged leader of the Republic of Wadiya (say it out loud). Directed by Larry Charles, of “Seinfeld” fame.

“Battleship” (5/18)
Aliens place a force field around a naval fleet and command them to battle it out. Part sci-fi action movie, part board game “Battleship” stars Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna and Liam Neeson.

“Men in Black III” (5/25)
Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith return as the Men in Black – this time joined by Josh Brolin who plays a much-younger version of Jones – in the third installment of Barry Sonnenfeld’s popular sci-fi series. While script re-writes could have derailed production, early buzz and the trailer have fans eager to take on a whole new alien menace.

JUNE

Thor, uh, Chris Helmsworth plays The Huntsman in the updated version of the fairy tale classic. (Universal Pictures. 2012)

“Snow White and the Huntsman” (6/1)
Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron join a cast that includes Ian McShane and Bob Hoskins in the live-action reboot of the fairy tale Walt Disney made into a household name. Cast also includes Chris (“Thor”) Hemsworth, fresh from appearing in “The Avengers.”

“Piranha 3D” (6/1)
A year after ravaging Lake Victoria, our favorite prehistoric eating machines are back – and swimming through the town plumbing! Next stop: water park! The 3D horror-comedy features Danielle Panabaker, Gary Busey and wait for it…David (“Knight Rider,” “Bay Watch”) Hasselhoff!

“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” (6/8)
Produced by DreamWorks Animation, this “Madagascar” joins back up with Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo. This time, the gang is trying to return to the Big Apple despite detours to Africa, England and Monte Carlo.

“Prometheus” (6/8)
Call it what you like, Ridley Scott epic, sci-fi brain scrambler, but don’t call it a prequel to “Alien” (1979) – although it shares much of the same universe and references the movie. “Prometheus” is a sci-fi thriller that explores the dark corners of man’s origins.


“You think the Confederates are bad? Four score and seven years ago…I fought hordes of zombies.” (20th Century Fox. 2012)

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (6/22)
In the summer’s wildest movie concept, the beloved President does some serious moonlighting, taking the stake to legions of 19th Century undead. Set during the Civil War, the movie plays like “Sherlock Holmes” meets “The Walking Dead.” (Why are we not surprised that this adaptation of the popular novel is being brought to the screen by Tim Burton?)

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” (6/29)
Duane “The Rock” Johnson stars as Roadblock in the sequel to the 2009 dud, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” The trailer looks promising and co-stars like Bruce Willis and RZA (from the Rap group Wu Tang Clan) should help to bring much needed starpower to “Joe.” (UPDATE: G.I. Joe has been moved to March 2013, the studio says it’s so the movie can be converted to 3D.)

JULY

Spider-Man’s back! (Sony Pictures. 2012)

“The Amazing Spider-Man” (7/3)
More Marvel movie mayhem is set to pop in this reboot of the hugely successful film series. Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”) plays Peter Parker/The Amazing Spider-Man with Emma Stone as famous love-interest Gwen Stacy and Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors, the geneticist who transforms into The Lizard. Rounding out the cast: Denis Leary, Martin Sheen and Sally Field.

“Ice Age: Continental Drift” (7/13)
The fourth “Ice Age” film will be the second to utilize Digital 3D, as well as the first to be shot in the really wide widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This time around, Scrat goes nuts over an acorn, leading him and his wisecracking posse on a huge adventure that has “world-changing consequences.”

“The Dark Knight Rises” (7/20)
The last Batman film with Christopher Nolan at the helm has some mighty big shoes to fill. Not only will it finish the “Dark Knight” series, the movie hopes to shatter the record and expectations set by its predecessor, “The Dark Knight.” Christian Bale returns to don the famous cowl, joined again by heavyweights like Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This time Batman is the hunted villain, while trying to save Gotham from Bane, his latest super-foe.

AUGUST

Things get turned upside down when normal guy Douglas Quaid begins to think he’s actually a spy. (Sony Pictures. 2012)

“The Bourne Legacy” (8/3)
You almost need a scorecard to keep up with this franchise; this is the fourth film in this spy-action series, but Matt Damon won’t be returning as series protagonist Jason Bourne. Instead, Jeremy Renner (recently seen in “The Avengers”) plays the lead character against villain Edward Norton and with supporting help from Scott Glenn, Joan Allen and Albert Finney.

“Total Recall” (8/3)
Colin Farrell takes over the role of Douglas Quaid, first made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The “Total Recall” remake promises cooler special effects but sadly, no trips to Mars.

“The Expendables 2” (8/17)
With a call sheet that reads like an 80′s action hero who’s who, the sequel to the sleeper hit stars Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Summer of Entertainment Options
The world looks to Hollywood for its most popular entertainment. Summer blockbusters begin with ideas brought to life by talented creative professionals. Learning filmmaking can be your ticket to the show. Film production or movie-making camps can start you on the way to making your own blockbuster!

SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT -or- SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS:

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

How Did They Create the Tupac Hologram?

When the late Tupac Shakur rose from the grave (and appeared onstage) last weekend at the Coachella Music Festival in California, his virtual self sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry. It was the first time a deceased pop star entertained a crowd on such a grand scale – but based on the reaction, it won’t be the last.


Rapper Snoop Dogg (L) and a “hologram” of the late rapper Tupac Shakur (R) perform at Coachella.

Bringing Tupac Back to Life
At his peak, Tupac Shakur was one of the best-selling artists in the world, having sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. The rapper was cut down in his prime, dying from gunshot wounds on September 13, 1996. To bring the rapper back to life, music producer and Coachella performer Dr. Dre partnered with James Cameron’s Digital Domain, San Diego’s AV Concepts and U.K.-based Musion Systems to create a unique Tupac performance – just for Coachella.

Ed Ulbrich, chief creative officer at Digital Domain, said “This is just the beginning. Dre has a massive vision for this.” In fact, The Wall Street Journal reported that the “hologram Tupac” may be going on tour. Neither Dr. Dre or the companies he hired to help bring Tupac back to life are commenting about a tour or how they pulled off the performance.

Insiders have said the visual effect is the same as the effect that makes the ghost appear in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion and the Tower of Terror. Called “Pepper’s Ghost,” the image is basically projected onto a piece of glass, or in the case of Tupac, a mylar sheet 30-by-13 feet across. So in reality, it’s a 2D image and not a 3D hologram.


Disney Resorts’ Tower of Terror attraction uses the same effect as the Tupac “hologram.” (The Walt Disney Company)

The custom screen, designed by AV Concepts, was lowered onto the stage seconds before his performance. And because it’s clear, other performers (like Dre and Snoop Dog) were able to get up close and personal with the virtual performer.


How it worked: The illusion is almost identical to those seen in theme parks. (International Business Times)

But there’s more to Tupac’s Coachella performance than just digging up archival footage and projecting it on a mylar screen. Tupac’s two-song performance was a year in the making; the performer is actually a computer-generated image.

To create it, Digital Domain used motion capture and computers to create the likeness. “This is not (Tupac) performing at some point. This is a completely original, exclusive performance only for Coachella and that audience,” Ed Ulbrich, chief creative officer at Digital Domain told Bloomberg News.

Digital Domain copied his mannerisms, tone of voice and even his tattoos. Tupac’s performance marks a new era in entertainment. Think for a second about a show that re-imagines The Beatles, or Elvis, years after they actually toured…


Madonna virtually performs with The Gorillaz at the 2006 Grammys. 

Famous Virtual Performers
The holographic Tupac Shakur that performed at Coachella wasn’t the first holographic performer. In fact, holographic performers have been entertaining people since the 1860s. The Pepper’s Ghost effect was first used in an 1862 performance of Charles Dickens’ novella “The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain,” at the Royal Polytechnic Institute in London. Here are a few more recent ones:

Hatsune Miku:
A blue-haired Japanese pop star whose animated 3D manga likeness has been performing to packed arenas since 2010.

Hatsune Miku is an anime hologram that has been performing in Japan since 2010.

Madonna performing with The Gorillaz:
During their 2006 Grammy Awards performance Madonna and the Gorillaz performed as holograms.

Creating the Next Virtual Pop Star
Learning music and beats production can put you on a fast track to becoming a hit maker. But as Digital Domain has vividly demonstrated, the next music star may be a virtual one formed completely out of visual effects. Tupac’s Coachella performance, the buzz and reaction are sure to make other performers (or their estates) consider a virtual performances.

SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT -or-SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS:  

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in Music Production,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.

SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT – or – SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS:  

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments