Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Rango" Wins The Oscar

Congratulations to director Gore Verbinski on his win for "Rango", the Oscar winner for Animated Feature at the 84th Academy Awards!

This was Industrial Light & Magic's first feature-length animated feature, and we were so very happy to bring Gore's vision to the screen.  A hearty congratulations to visual effects supervisors Tim Alexander and John Knoll and animation director Hal Hickel, and absolutely everyone at ILM that contributed to the film.

23 Years In A Row

As detailed in this post, we used The VFX Predictinator formula to predict the winner of the visual effects Oscar, "Hugo". We were correct.

Our single formula has now accurately predicted the winner of the visual effects Academy Award for its 23nd straight year.

Heh heh.

"Hugo" Wins The Oscar

Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossmann and Alex Henning

Congratulations to the visual effects team behind Martin Scorsese's "Hugo", the winner of the Oscar for Visual Effects, at the 84th Academy Awards.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Oscar Pool Ballot, 84th Academy Awards

It's time for the Awesomest Oscar Pool Ballot In The History Of Oscar Pool Ballots.

Every year I create a special ballot based on the printable ballot -- but on my ballot, each category has a different point value. The highest valued category is "Best Picture," while the mainstream films' categories are valued at two points. The non-mainstream categories (like the documentary and short film categories) are valued at one point.

This way, in a tight race for the winner, the winner most likely would not be determined by the non-mainstream films (i.e., blind guesses).

Download the ballot here for the 84th Academy Awards and use it at your Oscar party.

And if you're wondering why Tom Cruise is on my ballot... he's on every one of my Oscar ballots. Because he's soooooooooo cool.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The VFX Predictinator in Podcast Form

Mike Seymour, Jeff Heusser and I talk about the Oscar race for visual effects on FXGuide's podcast, "The VFX Show" #142.  The podcast leads to a discussion of The VFX Predictinator, my formula that has correctly predicted the visual effects Oscar winner every year since 1989. If don't want to wade through the zillions of posts I've written about The Predictinator, this podcast is for you.

I had a great time talking with Mike and Jeff, and it's always a pleasure to be on the podcast.

"The VFX Show" #142,   Oscar Preview.  Mike Seymour, Jeff Heusser and Todd Vaziri speak live from Los Angeles to preview the VFX Oscar nominated films of 2011.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

ILM Wins Big at VES Awards

Last week at the 10th Annual VES Awards hosted by the Visual Effects Society, my friends and colleagues from Industrial Light & Magic were honored with seven awards, including a clean sweep for our first animated feature, "Rango".

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" won two key awards: one for Outstanding Created Environment and one for Outstanding Models. Both of the awards centered heavily around the Chicago destruction sequence, where Driller, the giant snake-like Transformer circles an already damaged building, squeezing it to the point of spitting the edifice in half, with the top half crashing onto another skyscraper.  Taking home awards for that work was Tim Brakensiek, Kelvin Chu, David Fogler, Rene Garcia, Giles Hancock, John Hanson, Scott Younkin, and my very good friend Tom Martinek, who did an extraordinary job supervising the tilted building sequence.  I have been fortunate to work with Tom for many years now, and I'm glad he now has this tangible proof of his enormous talents.

I have been very lucky in 2011: the three films to which I contributed ("Rango", "Transformers 3" and "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol") have been showered with praise for their innovative visual effects work. I'm proud to have been a part of these magnificent productions.

Congratulations to all the winners that night, and thank you so much to the Visual Effects Society for sponsoring the event.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Resident Universal

I just watched the new teaser for Sony's new film, "Resident Evil: Retribution", and I couldn't help think that the title card's design looks awfully similar to a rival studio's iconic logo.

Monday, February 06, 2012

"Transformers 3"

Two very amazing things happened recently, related to the visual effects of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon".

For one, Deadline Hollywood reports that Michael Bay, Paramount and Dreamworks are buying television commercial ad time to help with the Oscar push for the latest "Transformers" film.  This is unprecedented and very much appreciated.  The commercial also touts the incredible sound work of the "Transformers" team.

Here's the commercial:

I contributed to shots throughout "Transformers 3", and was also compositing sequence supervisor on the tilted building sequence.

On behalf of all the artists at Industrial Light & Magic who worked on your film, I'd like to say, Thank You, Michael.  We appreciate your very public support of our work, and for calling us "The Best Visual Effects Team of the year".  (Here is The Hollywood Reporter's coverage of this event.)

Michael also released the bake-off reel for "Transformers 3" on his website,  The bake-off reel is the montage shown to visual effects Academy branch members to help determine the final nominees for the Best Visual Effects Oscar.  Each of the 10 bake-off candidates brings a 10 minute reel of finished work as it appeared in the film (no before/after's or breakdowns allowed).  After seeing all the reels, along with brief Q&A with each visual effects supervisor, the visual effects branch votes on the five final nominees.

The edit clearly illustrates the massive amounts of work put into the visual effects of this epic film.  In most cases, these reels are only seen on the night of the bake-off.  Again, thanks to Michael for sharing this impressive reel with the world.

Transformers' Oscars VFX Reel from Michael Bay Dot Com on Vimeo.

Visual Effects Are Important To Box Office

An image from "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part II", which has earned over $1.3 billion at the global box office.

Last month, I tweeted this:

If only there was some way to visualize the importance of visual effects films to the box office.

The above chart was made by the website, which, as many pointed out, only chose certain categories to chart, since they made the chart to support a specific point in one of their articles.

This inspired me to make my own, complete chart, customized to include everything I wanted to see.  I wanted to visualize the average global box office take of each of the nominees of each category of the 84th Academy Awards.  I had an idea of how the graph would ultimately turn out, but I wasn't expecting it to be this lopsided.  Click here to see a larger version of the chart.

Now, I can happily, confidently and completely say that visual effects films have a significantly higher box office take than any other Oscar category for this year's 84th Academy Awards.  The average nominee for Best Visual Effects earned over $662 million in global box office.

This should surprise virtually no one.  Visual effects get people into the theaters.  Our amazing images, brilliant spectacles, and never-before-seen worlds are the new movie stars, not just domestically, but globally.

To be fair, the Academy usually rewards actors and directors of prestige pictures with nominations-- films that don't typically earn hundreds of millions of dollars.  I think it is, however, significant to illustrate this idea - out of all of these important categories of filmmaking that the Academy wishes to celebrate with awards, it is clear the visual effects branch's films are doing the heavy lifting of selling tickets around the world, lifting the industry.

It also illustrates the sad state of the visual effects community. The average Oscar nominee for visual effects made over $662 million globally, and yet our industry has relatively little power in Hollywood.

Some notes: Had this been a typical year, the Animated Feature average would have been much higher, since two out of the five nominees from this year have yet to see a wide release.  But even if those two nominees made, say, $350M globally, it wouldn't have pushed the average even close to the visual effects average of $662M.  Also, the Makeup category was significantly bolstered by the inclusion of "Harry Potter 7.2" (which currently has a global box office take of $1.3 billion), which offset its two very modest fellow nominees, "The Iron Lady" and "Albert Nobbs" (which has yet to have a wide release).

And, just to state the obvious, it would be interesting to see what this chart looks like for, say, the last 10 years of Academy Awards, to see if this years' chart is an anomaly, or if this is a good reflection of a decade's worth of data.

Showing my work; a CSV of the data is here.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Tim Burton's Secret Formula Proven Correct... Again

An old story that was already creepy + Johnny Depp + buckets of white makeup + Helena Bonham Carter + they're all dead (vampires) + black costumes + Danny Elfman score = Tim Burton's new film, "Dark Shadows", based on the cult TV series, coming May 2012.

All of this was prophesized by the prescient College Humor video from March 2010 titled, "Tim Burton's Secret Formula".