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How Did They Create Iron Man’s HUD?

Iron Man’s Heads Up Display (HUD) is one of the cooler effects in “The Avengers.” To create it, filmmakers turned to a special effects house to re-imagine Tony Stark’s new toy.


Robert Downey Jr. plays the billionaire Tony Stark (and Iron Man).

The computer graphics wizards at Cantina Creative were one part of the visual effects team of “The Avengers.” The company helped create not only Iron Man’s HUD but also assisted in the development of the screen graphics for the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, lab sequences (like those featuring Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner) and other cool technology used by Tony Stark.

Making Iron Man Fly
Designer Jayse Hansen of Cantina Creative told fxguide how he created the effects for the Helicarrier’s computers. “I started by researching real aircraft carrier screens and then designing based on what purpose each had…Fury’s screens would be the overall screens and he would have a high-level view of basically everything in the Helicarrier and the world. There would be map screens with globes. It also had security cam footage and video feeds from news footage.”

For Iron Man’s HUD, the digital artists used After Effects to create the visual display that keeps Tony Stark informed on what’s going on when he’s in the air. After Effects is the movie industry standard for adding computer effects to live images and learning After Effects can lead you to a job in the movie industry.


Iron Man’s HUD was created using After Effects (click the image for a larger view).  

Iron Man’s Next Outing?
The success of “The Avengers” assures not only a sequel for “The Avengers” but for Iron Man, too. “Iron Man 3″ is scheduled for release on May 3, 2013.

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

More Marvel-ous Movies: Avengers, Captain America 2, Thor 2

“The Avengers” has wowed audiences and broken box offices records. And in the not-too-distant future, “The Avengers” will be joined by even more movies from the Marvel Universe.


“The Avengers” assemble at Comic-Con in San Diego. From left: Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo.

How about an”Incredible Hulk” franchise helmed by Mark Ruffalo? For now, all eyes are turned toward “The Avengers,” which is expected to be the blockbuster of Summer 2012.

Assembling a Cast of Heroes
“The Avengers” trailer features Robert Downey Jr. (as Iron Man/Tony Stark), Chris Evans (Captain America/Steve Rogers), Mark Ruffalo (The Incredible Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye/Clint Barton), Stellan Skarsgard (Dr. Erik Selvig), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury).

The story, written by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon tells how the Avengers came together to fight Loki and an alien army he brings to Earth to destroy mankind. Whedon wrote the screenplay and directs the film.


On the set of  “The Avengers,” director Josh Whedon looks on while the actors relax between takes. 

The film, which was first announced in 2005 has taken a long road to completion. Originally delayed by the release of “Iron Man” in 2008, “The Avengers” was pushed back to July 2011. Then actress Scarlett Johansson signed on and the film was delayed again to accommodate her schedule.

Fine-tuning the script (which director Whedon rewrote after joining the project in 2010) additionally delayed production. And finally, there was the much-publicized substitution of Mark Ruffalo to portray the Incredible Hulk – after actor Edward Norton left the cast. (Longtime Hulk fans may be pleased to learn that the Hulk’s voice will come from none other than Lou Ferrigno, who played the not-so-jolly green giant on TV back in the 1970s.)

So much for the art of digital filmmaking, still both the studio, cast and director understand the urgency to get it right, because multiple sequels are riding the film’s success, like…

Thor 2
In November 2013, moviegoers can look forward to the arrival of “Thor 2,” which will again star Chris Hemsworth as the hammer-swinging Norse god from Asgard. His last screen outing, 2011’s “Thor,” earned nearly a half-billion dollars ($449 million internationally). Suffice it to say, Marvel already has high hopes for the follow-up film.


Immediately on the heels of “The Avengers,” release, Hemsworth will start shooting “Thor 2.” 

Filming on “Thor 2″ is set to begin late this summer in London and while several big-name directors have been attached to the project, it appears Alan Taylor (“Game of Thrones”) will get the assignment. The screenplay is being written by Robert Rodat (“Saving Private Ryan”). Along with Hemsworth, Natalie Portman is scheduled to return for the sequel, along with Tom Hiddleston, who will again portray Thor’s evil brother, Loki.

Captain America 2
Last summer’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” also scored big at the box office, raking in more than $368 million worldwide. The film was a solid hit with critics, too. Critic Roger Ebert wrote, “I admired the way that director Joe Johnston propelled the narrative. I got a sense of a broad story, rather than the impression of a series of sensational set pieces. If Marvel is wise, it will take this and ‘Iron Man’ as its templates.”


The good Captain will return to movie screens in April 2014.

Marvel has been listening. The publisher/studio (now owned by The Walt Disney Company) has been planning a Captain America sequel since before the first film was released, they’ve even camped out a release date: April 4, 2014.

Captain America 2 is rumored to take place mainly in the present day, with the Cap’n adjusting to his new surroundings, although the screenwriters have said they’re experimenting with flashbacks to the World War II period.

Get Your Hero On!
Whether it comes to saving the universe or dominating movie screens, superheroes rule. And today’s superhero movies finally deliver the explosive, larger-than-life hollywood visual effects that comic books can only depict through illustrations. Creating comic book characters isn’t the easy and bringing them to life on screen is even more difficult. We’ll be headed to a theater to see if earth’s mightiest heroes “The Avengers,” really do save the day.

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

iPad 2 vs. Kindle Fire vs. Xoom & Others: A Tablet Buyers Guide

Entertaining the idea of getting (or giving) a tablet computer this holiday? Why not? Tablets like the iPad 2 will be the hottest hi-tech gift this holiday season. Tablets give you the world on a platter, compressing all the processing muscle of a laptop computer into a handy-dandy slate that you can hold in your hand — and which is light and portable enough to take anywhere.


Santa’s not the only one putting smiles on faces this Christmas; the iPad 2 will again light up the holiday.

The real question is which tablet computer is right for you? Apple’s iPad 2 is the market leader but other tablets have come along that solidly compete with it. It’s debatable if these contenders match the iPad’s grace and power. Still, these other devices may prove attractive to consumers since they are priced well below the iPad.

We’ve evaluated the leading tablets and have a side-by-side tablet-comparison chart below for your holiday shopping, but we’ve also listed our picks in order of preference:

1. iPad 2
 
Pros: Apple’s iPad 2 expands upon the original iPad in several ways. For starters, it has two cameras for FaceTime (video chat) and HD video recording. It’s powered by Apple’s dual-core A5 chip and features a 10-hour battery life. The latest iOS 5 adds more than 200 new software features. With the iPad 2 you also have access to Apple’s iCloud. Apple’s App Store showcases games and productivity. Apple has also added more apps (some 140,000 in all) to the store, making it the largest library of content for any tablet. It’s the market leader — and our top pick — for a reason. The interface is graceful, intuitive, easy to use and beautiful. If you’ve never owned an Apple product, this one will make you a lifelong fan.

Cons: The iPad 3 is scheduled for release next year.

Overall Dimensions: 9.50 inches (height) x 7.31 inches (width) x 0.34 inches (depth)
Weight: 1.33 pounds
Display: 9.7-inch diagonal LED-backlit glossy widescreen
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 768 pixels; 132 pixels per inch
Screen Display: Multi-Touch display with In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology. Screen treated with fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
Manufacturer: Apple, Inc.
MSRP: $499—$829

2. Kindle Fire

Pros: Incredibly compact (small enough to slip in a purse), the Kindle Fire is as small as its price. Enhanced with Amazon Silk, a “split browser” that divides the tablet’s web-browsing chores between the tablet and the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), the Kindle Fire boasts its own dual-core processor. And since it’s made by Amazon, it’s backed with an incredible amount of content,  including 18 million movies, TV shows, apps, games, songs, books, newspapers, magazines and more (with comics provided by DC Comics). The Kindle Fire offers 8 GB of internal storage; Amazon figures that’s enough for some 80 apps plus 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.

Cons: No camera for video chat or taking pictures.

Overall Dimensions: 7.50 inches (h) x 4.7 inches (w) x 0.45 inches (d)
Weight: 14.6 ounces
Display: 7-inch diagonal
Display Resolution: 1024 x 600 pixels; 169 pixels per inch
Display Screen: Multi-Touch display with IPS technology and anti-reflective treatment
Manufacturer: Amazon
MSRP: $199

3. Nook

Pros: When you’re the world’s largest bookstore, it’s assumed that content won’t be in short supply and Barnes & Noble estimates its book holdings at more than 2.5 million titles. And at 16 GB of internal memory, the Nook Tablet has twice as much storage as its closest competitor, the Kindle Fire. (We still like Kindle Fire’s resemblence to the iPad.) The Nook Tablet also contains a microSD card slot that offers extra storage, which is noticeably lacking in other tablets, like the iPad 2. Interested in the Nook Tablet for reading purposes? You’ll be happy to know the adjustable fonts customize your reading experience (eight text sizes and six font styles). In addition to what B&N calls the largest digital collection of newspapers and magazines, the Nook Tablet is the tablet home of Marvel Comics.

Cons: No camera for video chat or taking pictures. Interface is sometimes clunky.

Overall Dimensions: 8.1 inches (h) x 5.0 inches (w) x 0.48 inches (d)
Weight: 14.1 ounces
Display: 7-inch diagonal
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 600 pixels; 169 pixels per inch
Screen Display: VividView Touchscreen, fully laminated for remarkable clarity and reduced reflection and glare-read indoors or outside
Manufacturer: Barnes & Noble
MSRP: $249

4. TIE: Xoom / Galaxy Tab
Xoom

Pros: Sporting a hefty 10.1-inch display, the Xoom is able to take advantage of hundreds of thousands of apps from the Android Market. Through Google eBooks, the Xoom is able to draw upon a library that ups the ante at more than 3 million titles. To enable video-chat capabilities, the Xoom has front and rear-facing cameras. It’s powered by Google’s Android and has plenty of horsepower. A MicroSD card slot allows for addition storage or moving your media, and it performs more than adequately.

Cons: At 1.6 pounds it’s one of the heaviest tablets out there. Google’s operating system has stability issues and it has other issues like images displaying properly in the Gallery viewer. An added insult, almost all of the Android games in the Android app store aren’t optimized to run on the tablet. (FAIL!)

Overall Dimensions: 9.81 inches (h) x 6.61 inches (w) x 0.51 inches (d)
Weight: 1.6 pounds
Display: 10.1-inch diagonal
Screen Resolution: 1280 x 800 pixels; 150 pixels per inch
Manufacturer: Motorola
MSRP: $499

Galaxy Tab

Pros: Like the Xoom, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 also boasts a 10.1-inch diagonal screen. Samsung claims faster and more stable online connection thanks to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 having both HSPA+ and Wi-Fi access. Also on-board: front- and rear-facing cameras that support video chat functions. Also powered by the Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) platform, which Samsung claims allows quicker processing times because the platform excels at multi-tasking. And speaking of multi-tasking, the Mini Apps used with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 let you perform multiple key functions while working with other applications. It is one of the thinnest Honeycomb tablets available and it comes packaged with earbuds(!).

Cons: The App selection is subpar. During our tests, even with a full Wi-Fi signal the online video playback had issues.

Overall Dimensions: 7.48 inches (h) x 4.74 inches (w) x 0.47 inches (d)
Weight: 13.6 ounces
Display: 10.1-inch diagonal
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 600 pixels
Manufacturer: Samsung
MSRP: $499—$629

5. Kobo Vox

Pros: Love to read? The Kobo Vox has a library that exceeds 2.2 million books.The Kobo Vox is focused on the reading experience and Kobo claims a total library of more than 2.2 million books, as well as more than a million free titles. Magazine content is supplied via thousands of popular magazines from Zinio and newspapers from around the world. Kobo is marketing the Vox as a “free reader,” meaning that once you purchase a Kobo Books title, the user/owner can then enjoy it on any opened reading device. Should you need more external stimulation, the Vox offers unlimited web browsing and open access to Android 2.3, including more than 15,000 apps. It’s a new entry to the tablet world.

Cons: It’s a cheap alternative to the big boys by a relatively unknown tablet maker, which could make for technical-support nightmares. Kobo’s books are more expensive than Amazon’s.

Overall Dimensions: 7.57 inches (h) x 5.06 inches (w) x 0.53 inches (d)
Weight: 14.2 ounces
Display: 7-inch diagonal
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 600 pixels; 150 pixels per inch
Screen Display: Multi-touch screen optimized for reading outdoors. Features extra-wide viewing that its makers say is ideal for shared reading.
Manufacturer: Kobo, Inc.
MSRP: $199

Side-by-Side Comparison

Apps Make the Tablets
In the end, it comes down to two things: a good operating system and (just as important, if not more so) apps. Making apps for the iPad isn’t easy but it is fun. Creative app developers are really driving tablets. Ultimately, buyers should decide which applications or what they intend to do on the device first, then find the tablet that fits their needs.

Bottom line: If you already own Apple products, like the iPhone 4S, you will probably want to get the iPad, mainly because of the App Store, iTunes and iCloud support. If you prefer the Android operating system then the Xoom might be best for you. If you want a much cheaper tablet that kind of feels like an iPad,  then Amazon’s Kindle Fire is your best bet. Whatever you choose, one thing is for certain: you’ll most likely be giving or getting a tablet this holiday season.

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posted by Phill Powell in App Development,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

Official Avengers Movie Trailer Released

Showcasing possibly the most anticipated movie of 2012, The Avengers official movie trailer was just released and fans are already buzzing with excitement.


The Avengers cast at Comic-Con in San Diego this past July (from left to right): Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk (Bruce Banner). The film is directed by Josh Whedon. 

While we’ve already met some of these characters individually (such as Thor, The Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America), the trailer introduces us to the group of superheroes collectively known as The Avengers.


The very first Avengers comic-book. 

The two-minute Marvel Studios preview gives fans a sneak peek at the explosions, epic battles and (of course) wise-cracking Tony Stark. Not since The X-Men has a group of actors in comic-book costumes so energized the movie screen.


In this screen capture from The Avengers trailer, Captain America leaps into action. 

Avengers Assemble
Directed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon and set for a May 4, 2012, release, The Avengers finally brings together the Marvel superheroes that we’ve been following individually – and which have been dominating the box office since Iron Man flew into action back in 2008.

The heroes are assembled by Nick Fury (agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.) to take on a super-villian (Tom Hiddleson plays Loki, Thor’s brother) that wants to – you guessed it – rule the earth. Nine Inch Nails’ “We’re In This Together,” provides the soundtrack for the trailer, while Whedon’s directing skills provide the action. Check it out:

Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) stars alongside Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) in the soon to be blockbuster, The Avengers.

From Comic Books to the Big Screen
“Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” were Marvel Comics’ answer to DC Comics’ Justice League. The comic book was the creation of writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Jack KirbyThe Avengers #1 first appeared on newsstands in September 1963. The original Avengers didn’t include Captain America, though. It wasn’t until issue #4 – when the team discovered the Captain, trapped in ice – that he joined the team.


Mark Ruffalo replaced actor Edward Norton as The Hulk. Ruffalo’s likeness is very noticeable in the new Hulk. Ruffalo also did his own motion capture for the CG shots of The Hulk.   

As for the first cinematic treatment of the comic book, fans should expect both the Avengers’ trademark battles and team squabbles. Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor, told The LA Times Hero Complex, “I’m looking forward to being in a room with not just those actors but those characters, these larger-than-life characters, and seeing how that turns out. I want to see how Captain America and Thor and Iron Man react to one another.” If the trailer is any indication, the chemistry will be electric.

Making Heroes Super
There’s a lot of movie production that went into The Avengers. If you want to make special effects for the movies or direct your own film, why keep putting off your dream? You CAN have a career in the movie business – and maybe someday direct a team of all-star actors like those featured in The Avengers.

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