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Thompson on Hollywood

Seeing VFX Is Believing, From Original 'Star Wars' and 'Superman' Franchises to Woody Allen's 'Zelig'

“You’ll believe a man can fly.” That was the promise made to potential ticket-buyers during the fall and winter of 1978, when Richard Donner’s take on the Superman legend was being readied to soar across Christmastime movie screens all over America. We certainly never believed (nor were we asked to believe) that George Reeves, the Superman known to viewers of the popular TV series which ran from 1952 until 1958, could really fly.
  • By Dennis Cozzalio
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  • March 11, 2013 10:30 AM
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Immersed in Movies: Puppet Cams, China Girl and VFX Wizardry in 'Oz the Great and Powerful'

Bryan Singer and Sam Raimi both embraced lighter, kid-friendlier fables with "Jack the Giant Slayer" and "Oz the Great and Powerful," tapping into their inner child while pushing virtual production and 3-D with theatrical flair. While the results have been mixed (it's hard to pull off innocence after the post-modern "Shreking" of our culture), Disney placed serious pressure on Raimi, whose return to "Oz" was a bumpy ride.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • March 8, 2013 2:23 PM
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VFX Winner Rhythm & Hues Files for Bankruptcy, Underscores Sector's Economic Woes

The fragile economics of the visual effects industry was front and center at last week's Visual Effects Society awards. And even the well-respected company, Rhythm & Hues, that spearheaded and supervised the extraordinary visual effects in Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" --which won best live action feature effects at the VES and BAFTA awards and is favored to win the VFX Oscar-- is in danger.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 11, 2013 3:22 PM
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'Life of Pi' Continues Tech Surge at Visual Effects Society Awards

The big winner at the Visual Effects Society Awards with four wins was VES visonary award-winner Ang Lee's "Life of Pi," which clearly had the support of the room at the Beverly HIlton Tuesday night. Another big winner was "Brave," which swept the four top animation categories. As for star presence, although Harrison Ford presented the life achievement award to veteran VFX master Richard Edlund, who met him 37 years ago on the first "Star Wars," and Oscar nominee Naomi Watts presented the evening's last awards, to best animated VFX to "Brave" and live action VFX to "Life of Pi," the star of the evening with this group was presenter Andy Serkis of Gollum fame.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 6, 2013 4:29 PM
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Now and Then: 'Side by Side,' I'll Still Take Film Over Digital

Smart, wide-ranging, and informative, "Side by Side" may be a postcard from the future of movies, but it's still intoxicated by the past. Its dreamiest moment comes at the outset, a montage of clips from the first century of cinema: Eadweard Muybridge's horses to "Do the Right Thing."
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • February 5, 2013 1:29 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Assessing the Animation and VFX Oscar Nominations

What were the noteworthy takeaways from yesterday's Oscar nominations? In terms of animation, stop-motion was the big winner among animated features, with Sony/Aardman's "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" bumping DreamWorks' "Rise of the Guardians" to join Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie" and Laika's "ParaNorman," and Disney grabbing three of the five nominees with "Brave," "Frankenweenie," and "Wreck-It Ralph." And, of course, "Life of Pi" dominated the tech awards, including VFX, with eight nods overall.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 11, 2013 3:50 PM
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Visual Effects Society Recognize 'Hobbit,' 'Avengers,' 'Life of Pi,' 'Prometheus' and More with Award Nominations

The Visual Effects Society has announced the nominations for its 11th annual VES Awards, recognizing outstanding VFX in film, animation, television, commercials and video games. "The Hobbit," "Prometheus," "Life of Pi" and two films on opposite ends of the box office spectrum...
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • January 7, 2013 1:59 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Uli Hanisch and Hugh Bateup Talk 'Cloud Atlas' Production Design

While "Cloud Atlas" may be the most polarizing movie of the year (winding up on both year-end best and worst lists), there's no denying its ambition and beauty: it's the ultimate time travel movie about connecting and reconnecting and grappling with free will and destiny.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 19, 2012 1:30 PM
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Academy Reveals Visual Effects Shortlist of Ten, Including 'John Carter,' 'Life of Pi' and 'The Hobbit'

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has revealed the Visual Effects Branch's shortlist of ten films vying for the final five Oscar nominations in the Visual Effects category. Members of the branch are invited to view ten-minute excerpts from each of the ten films at the annual VFX bakeoff on Thursday, January 3. Following the bakeoff members will make their choices on the final five to be announced in January 10.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 29, 2012 3:10 PM
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Immersed in Movies: A CG Tiger to Die for in 'Life of Pi' (VIDEO)

Don't be surprised if Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" is right up there competing for the VFX Oscar with "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and all the other prestigious front runners. It's that good. In fact, Richard Parker, the integral tiger, is arguably the best photorealistic CG animal ever created. What a performance: the way he interacts with Suraj Sharma's Pi in such close proximity on a lifeboat. The tiger exhibits such believable expression and nuance; he uses the space underneath the tarp first as shelter and then to observe and control his turf. It's truly an amazing character arc, bolstered by the most spiritual and dimensional use of 3-D yet, which only enhances its Oscar chances.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • November 23, 2012 1:58 PM
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