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Mark Ruffalo & The Avengers Sequels

He plays Dr. Bruce Banner in the summer blockbuster “The Avengers” – and he is the third actor to play the doctor and his raging alter-ego, the Hulk. His name is Mark Ruffalo and he’s got some pretty big shoes to fill – literally and figuratively.


Ruffalo, in this scene from “The Avengers,” is probably best known for his supporting actor role (opposite Leonardo DiCaprio) in Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island.” (Walt Disney Studios)

“Hulk Smash Box Office!”
Ruffalo replaced actor Edward Norton, who was originally cast to play The Incredible Hulk (Norton’s difficult demands apparently cost him the role). It has turned out to be a career-maker for Ruffalo, who just signed a six-picture deal to play the hulking green giant.

After ”The Avengers,” Mark Ruffalo will appear as the Hulk in five more films, according to insiders. Two of those are Avengers sequels and at least one will be a Hulk movie that he will star in (plus we also expect him to show up in “Iron Man 3″).


Before Ruffalo was cast as the not-so-jolly green giant, Joaquin Phoenix (“Walk the Line”) was being considered for the part. 

Ruffalo, who was interviewed at the premiere for “The Avengers,” described Bruce Banner’s alter ego as ”a loose cannon – he’s the teammate none of them are sure they want. It’s like throwing a grenade into the middle of the group and hoping it turns out well!” He’s also called the famous Marvel character “my generation’s Hamlet.”

When asked about the talents of “Avengers” director/co-writer Joss Whedon, the actor had this to say: “I was so impressed and blown away by how much he packs into this movie and how exciting it is and what a great ride it is, and how it just works on every level.” And work it does; early reviews for “The Avengers” are calling it one of the best superhero movies to date.


Ruffalo also provided the motion capture for the face and body movements of the Hulk – while Lou Ferrigno (who played the Hulk in the 1970s television show) will provide the Hulk’s voice. As you can see, Ruffalo’s facial likeness comes through amazingly. (Walt Disney Studios)

Bringing Monsters to Life
It’s not only great Hollywood visual effects artists who bring creatures like the Hulk to life. Actors like Ruffalo learn how to act through years of dedicated training. Ruffalo has definitely honed his craft and it shows both in the character of Dr. Banner and the computer-generated Hulk. What do you think of Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk?

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

How to Celebrate “Star Wars Day” & Father’s Day…with Darth Vader

“Star Wars Day” is May 4th. In honor of that occasion and Father’s Day (which is also right around the corner), we’ve found a piece a piece of pop culture that “Star Wars” fans are gonna love…and if you’re looking for the perfect gift for dad, look no further.


Darth Vader takes little Luke Skywalker shopping. Ah, the joys of parenting. A panel from “Darth Vader and Son.”

Ever wonder what Darth Vader would have been like if he raised Luke Skywalker as a child? Thanks to cartoonist Jeffrey Brown, we’re about to find out. In Brown’s new book, “Darth Vader and Son” (from Chronicle Books) which releases on May 4th, the artist explores the legendary relationship in a fresh and funny new way.

“Luke…I am Your Father!”
Officially licensed by LucasArts, the book imagines what might have happened if Darth Vader—despite his ominous role as the Dark Lord of the Sith—had actually been present and actively involved in raising his son, Luke Skywalker.

The concept started out when Brown was approached by Google to create a Father’s Day-themed Google Doodle. While the idea was ultimately abandoned, Brown liked the concept so much that he asked Google if he could pursue it on his own. Google agreed and Brown took the concept to Chronicle Books, which helped broker a deal with Lucasfilm and George Lucas, the rights holder.


Brown’s whimsical illustrations show warmhearted father/son activities such as Trick or Treating.

For Brown, it was a dream project. “‘Star Wars’ was the first film I saw in the theater,” he said an interview, “And half my toys growing up were ‘Star Wars’ toys.” He also got complete creative control over the project from Lucasfilm – something that Lucas is not known for. Aside from suggesting a few minor corrections here and there, Brown said he received no interference whatsoever.

Another bonus for Brown was being able to reflect the very real relationship he has with his young son, who was four during the creation of the book. “I think part of what was so fun about this idea is like, as a parent, there’s things you just kind of have to put up with,” he explains.

“They can be really frustrating. So the idea of this dark master, lord of the Sith, having all that power, and in the end, here’s this 4-year-old who can be, ‘No Dad. I don’t want to do it.’ And he’s powerless against it. He’s gotta maintain that presence of power in the universe, but when it’s his own son, he has to rein it in a little bit. That tension is what was fun to play with.”

If the book is successful, Brown hopes to do a follow-up featuring Princess Leia. (That seems very likely since pre-orders for “Darth Vader and Son” have far exceeded the publishers expectations.) “Darth Vader and Son” can be pre-ordered through Amazon and Chronicle Books – just in time for Father’s Day (June 17th).


Even the Empire supports “Take Your Kid to Work Day.”

Creating Character
“Star Wars” has provided a treasure trove of entertainment for generations of moviegoers. Not only did the franchise create characters that have stood the test of time, but George Lucas created an entire universe with special effects that sparked the imaginations of writers, directors and others for years to come.

Creating comic book characters or learning the art of Hollywood visual effects can get you into the film or publishing industry. And before you know it, you could be the creating the next “Star Wars”-inspired blockbuster or fan comic that becomes a bestseller…like “Darth Vader and Son.”

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posted by Phill Powell in 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

What is Looper? Movie Trailer: First Look

What is “Looper?” Only the coolest sci-fi movie you’ve never heard of. The film, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis has tones of “Blade Runner” and “Total Recall,” and is set to be the sleeper sci-fi hit of the year.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt aims to take down Bruce Willis in “Looper.” (Tristar Pictures)

Directed and written by Rian Johnson, the movie takes place in 2042. Gordon-Levitt pays Joe, a killer that works for the mob, while Bruce Willis plays the older version of Joe. The film also stars jeff Daniels and Emily Blunt.

The story is a bit of mind-scrambler, but breaks down like this: In 2072, the mob sends people back in time to be executed. During the course of his job, Joe finds himself pointing a gun at his older self. Things go sideways when his older self (Willis) escapes death and younger Joe has to track him(self) down.

Make Believe
For the part, Gordon-Levitt spent hours each day in makeup to look more like Willis but the special effects team even took the transformation a step further, digitally changing the color of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s eyes to match Bruce Willis’.

In a Apple.com behind-the-scenes preview the director called the movie, a “very gritty, grounded action sci-fi” comparing it to Willis’ 1995 “Twelve Monkeys.” The “Looper” movie trailer is online now, the film hits theaters on September 28, 2012.

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posted by DMA Phill in News Blog and have No Comments

“Doctor Who” Movie in Pre-Production

It’s official: Director David Yates will bring the BBC’s time-traveling Time Lord to the big screen. The announcement came today via the Hollywood industry trades. The Doctor Who film, which still has an undetermined release date, will be an entirely new take on the popular franchise.


Director David Yates calls the shots on the set of Harry Potter and the and the Order of the Phoenix, as actor Rupert Grint looks on. 

The Doctor is In
Yates is teaming up with Jane Tranter, head of L.A.-based BBC Worldwide Productions to develop Doctor Who into a feature film – with the same idea to make Doctor Who a multi-film blockbuster series – much like the Harry Potter films.  ”We’re looking at writers now. We’re going to spend two to three years to get it right,” Yates told Variety. “It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena.”

Doctor Who is the BBC’s most popular television series ever, with the original Dr. Who series running from 1963 to 1989. The latest version, which was rebooted in 2005, stars Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor Who. The show is the BBC’s most lucrative franchise and airs on BBC America.

What Came Before 
For the uninitiated, Doctor Who is a traveler, a super-intelligent alien who battles universal enemies across time and space. Yates is obviously intrigued by the character: “The notion of the time-traveling Time Lord is such a strong one, because you can express story and drama in any dimension or time,” but while the director appreciates what has come before, Yates acknowledged, ”Russell T. Davies and then Steven Moffat (the series re-booters and writers) have done their own transformations, which were fantastic, but we have to put that aside and start from scratch.”

The movie version would not follow the TV show and the film’s makers are looking for writers who will understand a fresh approach, while at the same time capturing the essence of the TV show. “We want a British sensibility, but having said that, Steve Kloves wrote the Potter films and captured that British sensibility perfectly, so we are looking at American writers too,” he explained.

Two previous films were based on the TV series: Doctor Who and the Daleks (1965) and Doctor Who: Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966), both of which starred Peter Cushing as the Doctor. And while BBC had attempted to remake the show into a film before, the clout that Yates and Tranter bring to the table promise the film should be fast-tracked.


Director David Yates gives direction to actors Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe on the set of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.

The Digital Filmmaking Frontier
Director David Yates is no stranger to blockbuster franchises. In fact, Yates helmed the last four Harry Potter films: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Parts 1 & 2), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The director uses state-of-the-art cameras and special effects to make his blockbusters but he also understands story and character development. Learning special effects and high-end production are just a few of the requirements for movie-making. The movie-making craft can take a lifetime to master; looks like Mr. Yates certainly mastered it.

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

After Effects: From Fan to Feared to Favorite (plus tips)

We’ve all been there, watching a film when an amazing special effect blows your mind – leaving you to wonder how did they do that? Well, several years back, I started asking fellow editors and educators this very question – and again and again I heard the same response: After Effects. Want to motion track? After Effects. Want to green screen? After Effects. Want color correction? After Effects. Want an intergalactic light saber fight scene with explosions and an amazing 3D camera move? After Effects.

I started to see a trend . . .

Satisfied with this answer – I happily downloaded the free 30-day trial of AE (that’s After Effects for short) from Adobe’s website. However, my initial enthusiasm soon waned, well, plummeted actually. Almost immediately after launching AE, I had a common new user experience – I will politely dub “After Shock”. To explain, as a full-time teacher of Adobe software for years, I had taught literally thousands of people how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, and/or Premiere Pro. Some would even say I’m bit of an Adobe zealot: I’ve beta-tested new releases, done workshops all over, and even trained new Adobe employees through the Digital Media Academy. Indeed, when it comes to Adobe software no mysterious button, workflow, or special effect is safe from my twisted desire to know everything an application can do.

But here was After Effects, and it appeared to be a different animal entirely. I must confess, I was a grown man . . . and I was afraid.

Like most who experience such After Shock, I did my best to poke around and bend After Effects to my will – but with little success. For those comfortable with other Adobe apps, there are some truly strange and downright spooky moments to be had when first looking at AE – for example, creating a new project does not involve a settings menu, there is no razor tool to cut clips with, there are over 200 effects each with a range of adjustments allowing for literally millions of possible combinations . . . and seemingly as many shortcuts. Clearly, this was not my beloved, intuitive Photoshop.

So given the choice of abandoning the AE quest – or to stubbornly plod on – I looked at every AE website I could find, read every book I could get my hands on, watched DVD tutorials, took a class with my fellow Adobe Ed Leaders, and even bothered contacts at Adobe for more info. It was not always a smooth journey, my friends, but along the way I came to three important conclusions:

1) AE is just as amazing as they say.

2) AE can be easy to learn – if approached the right way.

3) I could have realized #2 a whole lot sooner.

Essentially, in looking back at my AE travails, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I slowed down my own progress by forming some common AE misconceptions. So for those of you just setting out with AE (or hoping to someday), I hope this list of “5 Beginner After Effect Tips” might make your experience much better – and possibly save you a few months of your life:

5 Beginner After Effect Tips

1) Know your DV basics first. As a longtime editor, this was the only thing I had going for me when I started with AE – and probably the only thing that kept me going early on. Basically, if terms like 24fps, interlacing, NTSC, or compression are entirely new to you, help yourself out by visiting some useful websites that define such basic DV terms and concepts:

For just the bare bones of DV, you can start with: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_video#Technical_overview

For the hardcore user, checkout the extremely thorough DV primers on Adobe’s site: http://www.adobe.com/motion/primers.html

2) Know what After Effects is (and is not) for. Think of AE as a dedicated special effects application for individual shots and short animations – and here’s critical part- you typically perfect these shots in AE and then export them to your preferred editing application. In other words, AE is a great enhancement to (but not a replacement of) your editing software. This paradigm shift is really important– because AE is not really designed to: capture footage, make a bunch of tight cuts, work with transitions, etc. as you would with Final Cut, Premiere Pro, etc. Because AE is dedicated to special effects, it is appropriately different in many respects and truly does have a logical structure and workflow. Embrace these differences (and the rationale for them) and you’ll be far less likely to fall into the common trap of thinking “why doesn’t AE work like my editing software?”

3) Know just enough of the AE keyboard shortcuts to be dangerous – and realize that this does not mean that many. While certain shortcuts are essential to AE, most are simply there to save you from a deep dive into the pull down menus and an extra click or two. Do not feel that you need to know a hundred of these to be an AE editor. By learning 10-20 of these clever little guys, you’ll soon adapt to a new way of editing – and find yourself having a much better time. To get you going, here are 10 shortcuts that I particularly like (and that took a while to discover):

 

When getting started:

With a new project, import a video clip, and drag it to the comp timeline. This is often preferable to creating a composition first because it auto-creates a new composition that matches the chosen video clip’s duration, scale, frame rate, and pixel ratio.

 

When making edits in the composition timeline:

Page Down moves the current time one frame forward

Page Up moves the current time one frame backward

; toggles the view to a full zoom in or out at your current time.

Ctrl + [ trims the “in” point(s) of the selected layer(s) to the current time - and as you might expect it has a twin . . .

Ctrl + ] trims the “out” point(s) of the selected layer(s) to the current time.

Ctrl +D duplicates selected layers or effects

Ctrl + Shift + D duplicates and cuts a layer at the current time. It’s as close to a razor tool as you will find in AE.

 

When animating/keyframing:

U shows only the keyframed attributes of a selected layer.

Alt + Drag selected keyframes stretches (or squeezes) the distribution of selected keyframe groups uniformly. This can save a ton of time when retiming a complex multi-layered effect.

4) Start simple, and I mean super simple. With all that you can do in AE, it’s tempting to try to make first project something colossal. So while making an HD sequel to the movie “300” (green screen and all) is certainly do-able in AE, it would lead to more than a little frustration for a newcomer. (Not that I’m speaking from experience . . . ahem). Try experimenting in a standard definition project with a few foundational elements – 3d space, keyframing, text animation, camera moves, etc. and you will have a much easier (and more fulfilling) sense of what can eventually be done on the grand scale.

5) Take a class (and yes, this is a shameless plug . . . but hear me out). The incredible range of AE means that its structure has a corresponding range of complexity – which can be tricky to figure out. To this end, I am all for books, web tutorials, DVDs, etc., but there is simply nothing like project-based, hands on training. Moreover, having learned differing approaches from so many AE experts over the years, I have worked hard to come up with a streamlined approach to learning AE that is enjoyable, easy, and avoids the mistakes that so many of us have made when first starting out.

Looking back, I’ve come a long way from my initial day of After Shock, but I am proud to say that After Effects is now my favorite application to use – and to teach. Even though I took the long way to get there, I am now proud to have clients pleased with AE results - and students creating with some of those the same special effects I first fell in love with on the big screen.

Hope to see you at DMA this summer,
Kevin McMahon

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posted by Instructor in News Blog and have No Comments

Exploring After Effects CS4

By  Thomas Hensler Lead After Effects Instructor (Adobe Certified Expert)

Adobe’s exciting new release of the Creative Suite applications welcomes a wealth of features to streamline workflow, customize workspaces, and save you time.  After Effects has long been one of the industry standards for effects compositing and working with motion graphics. DMA’s Introduction to Motion Graphics & Visual Effects with Adobe After Effects course will allow you take an in-depth look at this powerful program and explore many of its new features.
Integrating multiple applications for seamless project workflow has never been easier than with the new Adobe Bridge and the Adobe Dynamic Link.  Learn how to import files from Illustrator and Photoshop and bring them to life in both 2D and 3D environments inside After Effects.  Key-framing, motion control, and various video exporting tools will be covered as we work on individualized projects to suit each student’s interests.  At the conclusion of the course you will walk away with your own motion graphic demo reel that includes all of your project files and animations! Be sure to take the opportunity to view the online course outline to see all of the topics we will be covering.

It has been an exciting journey working with DMA and we can’t wait to see you this summer at one of our many amazing locations!

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posted by David in News Blog and have No Comments