UPDATED, July 3, 6:15PM: Digital Domain issued a statement today to clarify any misconceptions about its ownership in the wake of the deal: “A press release issued on July 2, 2014 announcing the purchase of a 30.2% stake by Mumbai-based Reliance Media Works in Prime Focus Ltd. implied that Prime Focus now has access to or control over the visual effects house Digital Domain 3.0. This transaction had no effect on the management and control of Digital Domain 3.0, which remains unchanged. Digital Domain Holdings Limited in Hong Kong continues to be the majority owner of Digital Domain 3.0.”
PREVIOUSLY: The deal, announced in India overnight, is Prime’s latest move to build a globe-girdling VFX and media-services company, and it comes just days after Prime Focus World merged with Oscar-winning UK effects house Double Negative. The newest deal will merge Reliance Capital subsidiary Reliance MediaWorks’ film and VFX operations — which also include Lowry Digital, a 30-percent share of Digital Domain and 1M square feet of production and post-production facilities in Mumbai — to make what the companies called the world’s largest independent VFX and animation house. Money from the Reliance buy-in, an infusion of about $40 million, will finance the Double Negative merger and further expand operations, the companies said in a release. In return, Reliance Capital will get a 30-percent stake in the merged company, which will headed by Prime Focus executive Chairman and CEO Namit Malhotra. Reliance previously held a stake in Prime Focus, but exited after Prime went public in 2006. Read More »
The VFX workers who made Visual Effects Oscar front-runner Life Of Pi possible are planning a two-fronted protest for Sunday’s 85th Academy Awards. A group of past and present employees of Rhythm & Hues, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week, has commissioned a plane to fly a banner over the Oscar red carpet that will read “BOXOFFICE + BANKRUPT = VISUAL EFFECTS VFXUNION.COM”. Organizer Dave Rand, a Senior FX Artist at Rhythm & Hues, tells Deadline protesters plan on gathering at the Compton airport prior to the plane’s departure and also at a secondary location near the Dolby Theatre, possibly at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. The banner is scheduled to fly over the pre-show red carpet between 3:30 PM and 4:30 PM. “We’re tired of paying for the studios’ movies, our employers paying for the studios’ movies, and foreign tax payers paying for the studios’ movies”, Rand told Deadline. “It’s the greatest con of the entertainment industry”.
Related: Rhythm & Hues Confirms Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing
The VFX protesters pooled together cash to pay for Sunday’s banner fly-over even though many haven’t received paychecks for over a month for ongoing work on Rhythm & Hues’ tentpole projects. With the support of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) the group seeks to shine a spotlight on their situation by bringing awareness to A-list red carpetgoers and … Read More »
Christy Grosz is Editor of AwardsLine.
Although the wait is nearly over for the familiar goblins and mystical forests of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, senior visual-effects supervisor Joe Letteri says the only thing that remains the same for this iteration of Peter Jackson’s fantasy films is on the surface. The digital tools that brought countless Orcs to life and gave Gollum his distinctive distorted face are virtually unrecognizable from those used a decade ago for the The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
“It’s changed almost completely,” Letteri says. “On the outside, you want Gollum to look like the same character, but he’s completely different” underneath.
Related: Distinguishing Best Visual Effects Not As Easy As It Looks
The biggest change from the first set of films is the way that actor Andy Serkis’ performance is captured and analyzed in order to create the digital character, according to visual-effects supervisor Eric Saindon. “Our facial capture has progressed leaps and bounds,” he says. “Now we actually capture all of Andy’s performance, when he’s acting with Martin (Freeman) in Gollum’s cage on set. We have a small camera attached in front of his face that captures his exact facial performance. Rather than an animator going in and doing it frame-by-frame, the computer analyzes Andy’s performance and then fires Gollum’s muscles to do the exact same thing. So the first half of the animation, which is the raw mo-cap data, is really Andy.” Read More »
Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor.
Although the visual-effects Oscar race has long been dominated by summer season superhero epics and action-heavy films, a subtle shift has been taking place over the last few years that makes predicting the outcome a little more challenging than it used to be. While visual-effects artists bring ever more realistic digital characters and environments to convincing life, the effects themselves have grown increasingly sophisticated, to the point that even insiders can’t always tell how an effect was done.
“It gets really difficult for someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time in this business analyzing what’s going on to actually know what they’re looking at on the screen and how it was created and what the level of achievement was that went into it,” says Joe Letteri, a four-time Oscar winner and contender for a fifth as visual-effects supervisor on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Throw in the fact that nearly every film has at least some visual effects, and the field of eligibility includes everything from Men In Black 3 to Silver Linings Playbook to Ted. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Stephen David Entertainment, producer of documentary-style shows for History Channel, TLC, Lifetime and others, and award-winning feature and TV effects house Brainstorm Digital have established an exclusive strategic partnership to create pioneering event TV. First up is History’s The Men Who Built America, about the dreamers and builders who transformed post-Civil War America into an economical, industrial and technological powerhouse. The partnership aims to combine Brainstorm‘s technical know-how with SDE’s storytelling expertise by integrating “invisible effects” to create what they’re calling “the documentary hybrid.” In addition to extensive feature work for several of the major studios and production companies, Brainstorm won an Emmy and two awards from the Visual Effects Society for its work on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Formed by Richard Friedlander and Glenn Allen in 2005, Brainstorm Digital’s feature work includes Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Road, Frost/Nixon, The Adjustment Bureau and Julie & Julia. New York-based Stephen David Entertainment has put together several docu-series and specials including Secret Access: The Vatican, Heavily Ever After, Jobsite, and Big Medicine. SDE is repped by CAA.
Zombies continue to creep into every corner of Hollywood, and now they’re getting their own convention. Todd Masters, an Emmy-winning visual effects artist, and Bruce Haring of JM Northern Media are putting on the “Aliens to Zombies” Convention at the Roosevelt Hotel just before Halloween. The Oct. 21-22 event is a celebration of monsters and their creators. Masters said the idea was hatched after years of attending genre conventions talking about the FX work that went into monster making. Confirmed participants include Dark Skies producer Bryce Zabel, Walking Dead actor Michael Rooker, and ADI Inc’s Oscar winners Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. One highlight will be the return of Masters’ annual “Monster-Makers Bash” costume party, attended by top FX artists. Early-bird registration continues until Saturday. Details can be found here.
The Visual Effects Society, the industry’s organization of visual effects artists and technicians, today released a Bill of Rights designed to call attention to problems affecting its membership and Hollywood. The document follows an open letter to the entertainment industry by the VES, which cited a downward spiral of working conditions and benefits as well as earnings for effects pros around the globe. “In the VES open letter, we said it was time to step up as the voice of the visual effects industry by talking to all parties regarding their concerns,” said exec director Eric Roth. “At this time we have engaged in a vigorous dialog with key stakeholders at all levels and believe our Bill of Rights lays out the vital concerns of each segment of the industry. Our next step is to focus on bringing all parties together to seek solutions.”
“I’m often quoted in the press talking about visual effects like an actress talks about her use of botox… I know visual effects people pride themselves on doing the impossible. I’d just like to encourage you to say no to the unreasonable,” Chris Nolan receiving the inaugural Visual Effects Society’s Visionary Award last night.