November 29, 2014

Star Wars: Episode VII trailer

The first teaser trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII has been unveiled, and I’m very excited! What I think is so great about this trailer is how it manages to be instantly recognizable as Star Wars, and yet still feel fresh and up-to-date. In particular, the closeup photography of the Stormtroopers feels quite gritty and contemporary, not the kind of shot we would have seen from George Lucas. I think that J.J. Abrams has a good track record on rebooting franchises, and I have high hopes that he will deliver on this.

November 27, 2014

Pan trailer

The first trailer for Pan, Joe Wright‘s upcoming Peter Pan prequel has been released, and it features two shots of mine, plus another couple that I helped out on.

Pan was my last show at Framestore, and I really enjoyed the short time I spent working on it. I’m sure there’s still a lot to do before the film opens in July, but the VFX team is well on its way, and from the looks of the trailer, they are going to do a fine job.

November 26, 2014

Jurassic World trailer

The first trailer for Jurassic World has been released, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. The original Jurassic Park is not only a classic piece of cinema history, and one which paved the way for a digital VFX revolution, but it is also a beloved childhood classic. The original film meant, and continues to mean, a great deal to me, and I have already been disappointed by two sub-par sequels. That said, the chance to see the park fully in operation and the prospect of the hybrid are interesting ones. So I’m tentatively interested, although I’m hedging my bets a little.

November 23, 2014

Solus

Despite its very simple graphic style, this new animation from Identity Visuals is visually stunning, and surprisingly touching. I was immediately engaged with the piece and couldn’t look away, something which I am finding occurs with ever decreasing frequency. Directed by motion designer Zac Dixon and, very importantly, with music from Cody Fry, Solus is a “short story of loneliness, adventure, and self sacrifice”, and a beautiful one at that. Definitely worth 4 minutes of your life.

November 22, 2014

Brian Cox and Framestore to make augmented reality installation

Brian Cox, ex D:Ream keyboardist turned poster boy for popular science, is to team up with Framestore, and film director Kevin Macdonald to produce a show for the Manchester International Festival, which tells the story of the origins of the universe using augmented reality. The show, entitled The Age of Starlight will use the newly developed Magic Leap system, which seems to be a suped-up version of Google Glass. (There’s not much on Magic Leap’s on website about what they do, but they seem to have good a good pedigree – the big names are Richard Taylor of Weta Workshop and Rony Abovitz of medical robotics company MAKO Surgical. There’s an interesting article in Gizmodo which gives a bit more detail).

Cox says that this will be more of an experiential art piece than the documentary style programs he is currently know for.

“Whereas in television documentary you’re attacking these ideas from a scientific perspective, in this case it’s much more of an emotional experience and I think it should be disorientating … I want people to stagger out and have to have a sit-down for a long time before they go home. Don’t forget, it’s an art installation. That’s what the Manchester International Festival does. It’s supposed to be beyond what you would get in a documentary. It’s not a science lecture, it’s not a science documentary. It’s a piece of art.”

Quoted in BBC News

I’m really excited by the idea of the this installation and might even have to take a trip to Manchester to see it if I get the chance. Look out for ticket information coming in Spring 2015.
Read the full article on BBC News.

Relief

Well, this is something a bit different. French artist Julien Maire has created an animated short, in which each frame of the animation is a 3d printed model:

“Relief is a reel of film that’s not actually film at all. It’s a long, looped strip of miniature figurines, 3-D printed out of translucent resin. Each one looks a little like a toy soldier, but instead of guns and grenades, each of the 85 statuettes shows a different posture of a man, shoveling dirt in and out of a hole in the ground. The strip of figurines is attached to a projector, which shines light through the figures.”

from Wired Magazine

Maire produced the piece while on a residency at the Brussels iMAL Center for Digital Cultures and Technology. It is an interesting idea, and one that, to me, really seems to bring home the idea of the craft that animation is – the labor intensive work that goes in to making a piece of animation. This is an idea which is easy to forget with the highly polished CG work we see from Pixar and Dreamworks, and it’s nice to see someone doing something different with the form.

November 21, 2014

explore middle earth

As part of the promotion for the upcoming third installment in The Hobbit trilogy, Google has unveiled an experiment to allow Chrome users to explore Middle Earth the way they might explore Google maps. It is designed to be a 3d gaming experience, playable on web browsers phones and tablets. Here is the trailer:

It’s an interesting idea, with some potential, but I found it somewhat disappointing that the locations are not 3d environments, but simple and rather unsatisfying minigames. I would have much preferred the opportunity to explore at my own pace the environments that we know from the movies. That aside, its an interesting experiment, and I suspect that it won’t be the last time that we see something like this from Google.

Explore Middle Earth here:

November 9, 2014

Drew Tyndell’s seamless loops

One-man creative studio Drew Tyndell has put out a serious of abstract seamless loops. Not sure what the point is, but I really like them.

virtual reality is at ‘year zero’

Framestore‘s Digital Creative Director Mike Woods appeared on BBC Click last week with some very interesting comments on the Oculus Rift and the future of virtual reality.

November 7, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies trailer

The new trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the final installment in Peter Jackson‘s Hobbit trilogy, has dropped in preparation for the film’s Christmas release. While I wasn’t overly enamored with the previous installment, which suffered somewhat from being a middle film with no beginning and no end, the final act looks like a suitably epic conclusion to the story, with the stunning effects work we have come to expect from Weta Digital. I will definitely be booking tickets to see this film in 4K stereo. But I’ll probably give the 48fps a miss this time.