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 media outlets covering Sunday’s Oscars. Organizers are also waging a grassroots campaign to end government subsidies that some blame for the visual effects industry’s woes.
Last Friday the ailing El Segundo-based Rhythm & Hues received interim approval of a $17 million loan from studio clients Fox and Universal after laying off over 250 employees. Yesterday the courts approved an additional $4.9 million payment from Legendary Pictures to pay for Rhythm & Hues’ completion of VFX work for their October release Seventh Son. Earlier today it was announced that investment bank Houlihan Lokey has come on as financial advisor to aid Rhythm & Hues in finding a buyer out of bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the VFX studio is the front-runner to win the Academy Award on Sunday for its work on Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi, for which it already nabbed the VES Award.
Related: Rhythm & Hues Gets $5M To Finish Legendary’s ‘Seventh Son’
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 … Read More »
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 … Read More »
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 … Read More »
“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 … Read More »