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Thompson on Hollywood

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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  • 2 Comments

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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Immersed in Movies: Zemeckis Talks 'Flight' and the 'Digital Stew'

While "Flight" marks Robert Zemeckis' return to live-action, he rejects the notion that he spent the last decade wandering in the virtual woods with performance capture. In fact, the Oscar-winning director likes to quote Francois Truffaut in explaining that his movies have always been about "truth and spectacle." In "Flight," we get both, of course, with a harrowing plane crash, and a riveting performance from Denzel Washington as an alcoholic airline pilot forced to confront his personal demons when his heroics turn against him. Indeed, Zemeckis maintains that the real spectacle was navigating the dramatic ambiguity of Washington's crucible.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • November 2, 2012 4:21 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Talking 'Cloud Atlas' VFX

"Cloud Atlas" might not approach the VFX intensity or complexity of "The Matrix" trilogy or "Speed Racer," but it still required the same level of sophistication and flexibility that the Wachowskis demand. After all, you've got six stories about reincarnation spanning 500 years with the same actors in multiple roles...
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • October 29, 2012 5:07 PM
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Immersed in Movies: The VFX Tipping Point?

With Digital Domain Media sinking like the Titanic and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but Searchlight Capital Partners coming to the rescue and buying its Oscar-winning VFX division ("Titanic" and "Benjamin Button") for $15 million...
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • September 11, 2012 3:02 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Revisiting 'The Avengers' and Handicapping the VFX Oscar Race

Unlike the Oscar race for best animated feature, there's already a clear front-runner for VFX: "The Avengers," with its dazzling work from Industrial Light & Magic (especially the Hulk). Of course, there's still quite a heated race ahead when Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" hits theaters December 14...
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • September 6, 2012 3:08 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Immersed in Movies: Halon Partners with Minimo Vfx on New Previs Process

Previs boutique Halon Entertainment ("The Hunger Games," "Prometheus," "Life of Pi") has formed a partnership with Minimo Vfx of Barcelona that will usher in a new "build it once" philosophy for CG creatures during pre-production. This will avoid the duplication of making them again later on during VFX. The two companies are currently working together on "Dome," directed by VFXer Brandon Fayette.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • August 20, 2012 7:56 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Previewing Art and Science at SIGGRAPH, with Muren, Letteri, Trumbull, Landau, Deakins

The prestigious computer graphics conference SIGGRAPH has always been about the convergence of art and science. It's a place to showcase the latest and greatest advancements driving the industry's blockbuster work in VFX and animation. This year, the 39th edition returns to the LA Convention Center (Aug. 5-9).
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • July 26, 2012 12:27 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Dissecting 'Prometheus' with Scripter Damon Lindelof and VFXers

While it's not surprising that critics and journos are deeply divided over "Prometheus," it helps to have low expectations. In my case, I came away with more than I expected. I found Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi enthralling. He seems to have transcended the "Alien" universe by combining it with "Blade Runner."
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • June 8, 2012 6:25 PM
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Immersed in Movies: VFX Vet Dean Wright Talks Directing Mexico Period Drama 'For Greater Glory'

Dean Wright is the latest VFXer to cross over into directing with "For Greater Glory" (opening tomorrow in limited release), following in the footsteps of James Cameron, Peter Jackson, and Andrew Adamson...
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • May 31, 2012 7:32 PM
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  • 2 Comments

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