Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Linkage

Your Friday linkfest ... now with salty Add On.

Years in the making and still not done?

Less than a month before the scheduled release of James Cameron's new movie, "Avatar," some scenes from the costly special-effects extravaganza remain unfinished.

Pressure to complete the project by the Dec. 18 release date has risen to the point where crews are working "24-8"—that is, eight days a week—said producer Jon Landau during a break from supervising the work in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Mr. Landau said that around 30 minutes of the movie remain incomplete, with issues ranging from sound mixing to more serious aspects like visual effects ...

... The eleventh-hour fixes are driving up costs on a project already on track to be one of the most expensive movies ever made. Several factors make the final price tag difficult to estimate, though people with knowledge of the movie's financing say the tally could exceed $300 million.

Wait a minute. Isn't that the standard package with James C.? Big, expensive movies? Gut crushing schedules? ...

They got your Oscar hopefuls right here.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced the ten animated short films that have advanced in the voting process for the 82nd Academy Awards ...

Happy Birthday to the Mouse ... and sorry about the non-flat ears never catching on.

The cartoon character's "look" has grown with technology, and the celebrity mouse has morphed from a hand-drawn, black-and-white figurine, to a sleeker, colorful, computerized cartoon ...

Character designer and Lucas alumnus Roel Banzon Robles talks about his early inspirations and working at I.M. Digital:

...Ray Harryhausen was a huge inspiration for me when I was growing up. He created all the effects for movies like “Jason and the Argonauts,” “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger” and “Clash of the Titans.” He inspired me to want to work in the film industry. Ralph McQuarrie, Joe Johnston and Nilo Rodis-Jamero, the artists from “Star Wars,” were also a great inspiration, especially Nilo, since he’s Filipino. It helped me realize that I could also thrive in the same profession.

When I was in my teens, I discovered the fantasy art of Frank Frazetta, as well. There have been many more, but those five were the key inspirations. I’m lucky to say that I’m friends with Ray Harryhausen and Ralph McQuarrie. I was so excited when I received a Christmas card from Harryhausen. I totally geeked out!

... I was involved in helping design the characters of “A Christmas Carol.” Doug Chiang, the production designer, would give us his thoughts on the characters, and we would go off and do our take on a particular character. I worked on every character, except for Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

Jeffrey K., his mission having been accomplished with stereo movies, is moving on ...

... Katzenberg ... told Intel Capital's CEO Summit in Huntington Beach, California that he is even more excited about the creative potential of this "scalable multi-core processing".

"Ten years from now I think this will be a tipping point for how we view entertainment and how entertainment views the world," he said of the chips ... He ... screened eye-popping sports footage on 3-D-enabled television that he predicted would be in 30 percent of US households by 2013, with early adoption spurred by sports and video games ....

I''ve been hearing about threatened American animation for years. Now I come to understand that cartoons in the U.S. of A. aren't the only threatened species.

England's animation industry could be "extinct" within five years unless it is afforded tax breaks that the wider film industry already enjoys, leaders in the field have warned

Animation in the country "is at a tipping point: it either survives or dies", industry leaders wrote in a joint letter to The Daily Telegraph.

Shows such as Wallace & Gromit, Bob the Builder and Noddy have made England "a recognised centre for animation", they said.

But they forecast: "Within a matter of years, we will not be producing any such fantastic properties as a result of tax breaks and government incentives in other countries."

And we end on a sad note. Some fans of Tintin are apparently miffed.

French Tintin fans are threatening to boycott a forthcoming Steven Spielberg film after the British husband of Hergé's widow sued a fan for printing pamphlets on the comic hero.

Add On: The LA Times maintains that Oscar "favorites" in the animated shorts department might not be favorites after all:

The Best Animated Short category has been historically a bit of a wild card, due partly to the fact that there are no advance awards to help in the decision-making (there is no corresponding category with the Golden Globes or an award show of equal magnitude), and partly to the fact that because academy voters must view all of the nominees, their decisions in the past have been based as much on their hearts as critical acclaim and box office returns.

It's the weekend, so go someplace tranquil and refresh your spirits.


My job in animation was outsourced said...

Hi TAG bloggers,

There is no email contact listed on your blog profile, so rather than emailing you these links I'm posting here to draw your attention to a couple of recent blog posts that I think would provide some interesting discussion here on the TAG blog.

Did any of you see this article on outsourcing posted Oct. 1, 2009 on the Harvard Business Review blog ? ---

The U.S. is Outsourcing Away Its Competitive Edge

and did you see Ed Catmull's response to this article posted on Oct. 2 , in the comments section below the original Harvard Business Review blog post ? -

Ed Catmull response on Outsourcing

I thought these remarks from Ed Catmull talking about Pixar's approach to making films were especially interesting:

" ... we believe fairly strongly that there’s creativity in every step of our process and that the integration of all those steps – having everyone integrated together and co-located – is what allows us to make exceptional movies.

I don’t think we could get to that level of quality if we separated the physical making of the film from the creation of the ideas. If we did, we would not make the same film.

When companies are driven to outsource for economic reasons, there is a disconnect between the creators and makers of products."

---end of quote ---

(Catmull quote posted on "The Pixar Touch" blog is taken from the comments section below the original blog post on the Harvard Business Review blog )

This seems a bit at odds with Disney Animation's current practices, i.e. the large amount of work that was outsourced on "The Princess & the Frog" and the rumored intention to outsource even more on the upcoming "Winnie the Pooh" feature. Why the different standards for making films at Pixar vs. Disney Animation ?

Anonymous said...

Pixar's opening a branch in Canada, and is already talking about doing work in India (Ed Catmull was scouting several companies here earlier this year). I wouldn't be surprised if some of the Pixar sequels are done this way.

Business is business.

Anonymous said...

The vast, vast bulk of the creative work (story, design, animation) on PATF was done in-house. Very very little was outsourced, and what was was largely not creative work.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that what he just said?

Anonymous said...

Shorter Dr. Ed:

"We don't believe in outsourcing except when we do."

Steve Hulett said...

Actually, sizable portions of cleanup, checking and ink and paint for Princess and the Frog were outsourced.

I visited the production crew almost weekly, and that part of it was way smaller than any Disney hand-drawn feature in the 1990s

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but cleanup, checking and ink arent largely creative. Necessary, yes. Skilled, yes. But animation, story, and design it isnt.

Anonymous said...

Dude, Avatar has 30 minutes unfinished?? And it needs to be in theaters in less than a month?

UH....I bet Fox is FREAKING OUT

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, but cleanup, checking and ink aren't largely creative. "


But that 'tude seems to be at odds with what Ed Catmull is saying about the film making process:

" ... we believe fairly strongly that there’s creativity in every step of our process and that the integration of all those steps – having everyone integrated together and co-located – is what allows us to make exceptional movies."

(but does Ed really believe it , that is the question? And obviously he was talking about Pixar where they do CG , not traditional , so they don't have categories like clean-up or ink & paint , but they do have categories that could be classed as technical and "non-creative" which I guess would be fine to outsource , and just keep the animation in-house at Pixar ... but Catmull says they don't want to do that at Pixar. )

And guess what ? People who are above-the-line don't really in their heart of hearts consider your job (animator, storyboard artist, vis. dev artist) as being one of the elite "creative" positions either. You are below-the-line folk, too, and therefore expendable.

Clean-up outsourced today , animation could be next . Don't flatter yourself. It's just business.

Anonymous said...

but does Ed really believe it , that is the question?

Based on past performance?


Anonymous said...

Clean-up outsourced today , animation could be next . Don't flatter yourself. It's just business.

I know. Its cool. I think as animators, we have 2 primary skills:

1) animating
2) finding our next gig

Anonymous said...

No one else is shocked about the Avatar news? Just me?

Seems like a huge blunder...I hope they get it done

Steve Hulett said...

They'll get it done. They'll just throw huge money at it, and it'll meet it's release date.


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