OSCARS: A LOOK AT THE POST INDUSTRY'S CONNECTION TO THE NOMINEES
DLP CINEMA PROJECTOR TEAM HONORED
The Academy Board of Governors presented a 2009 Scientific and Engineering Award (Academy Plaque) to four individuals responsible for the color accuracy of Texas Instruments’ DLP Cinema projectors. D. Scott Dewald, Greg Pettitt, Brad Walker and Bill Werner were all recognized for their contributions in furthering the design and refinement of the DLP Cinema projector, which has achieved a level of performance that enables color-accurate, digital intermediate previews of motion pictures.
The technology awarded the 2009 Academy Scientific and Engineering Award for achievement in Color Accuracy is exclusive to DLP Cinema products, however, Texas Instruments (www.ti.com) works with manufacturers to deliver top-quality and related technology to a variety of front projectors, pico projectors and HDTV models. The highly reliable and full-color imagery in DLP products is achieved by the fast switching speed of the mirrors on the DLP Chip.
The DLP Cinema solution provides the capability to light up theatre screens as big as 100 feet and 3D screens as big as 75 feet, which has been a challenge for competing technologies.
VANCOUVER FILM SCHOOL ROOTING FOR DISTRICT 9
District 9, a film by Vancouver Film School (www.vfs.com) graduates Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, is nominated for four Academy Awards. Blomkamp, a VFS 3D Animation & Visual Effects graduate, directed the film, which was produced for under $40 million and is nominated for “Best Picture.” Blomkamp and VFS Writing for Film & Television graduate Tatchell are also nominated for “Writing (Adapted Screenplay),” as well as in two categories for “Visual Effects” and “Film Editing.”
“I remember sitting in class [at VFS], fantasizing about getting a script actually realized on the screen,” Tatchell says. “When District 9 came about and I was lucky enough to have a feature-length script made — and in my opinion, made well — I didn’t think it could get any better than that. I certainly didn’t even dare to think Oscar nominations! I don’t think I’ve missed a single Oscars since I was seven years old, and to be actually attending as a nominee this year is ridiculous. I couldn’t feel luckier!”
Over 40 VFS alumni worked on District 9. Most were responsible for creating the visual effects, which seamlessly integrated alien characters, ships, and weaponry into a gritty, documentary-style world. Vancouver's Image Engine handled much of the visual effects shots, in addition to local studios The Embassy and Zoic, and New Zealand’s Weta Digital. The visual effects team represents over a decade of VFS Animation & Visual Effects graduates, and includes District 9 visual effects executive producer Shawn Walsh and creature supervisor James Stewart, who played a key role in developing the look of the alien prawns.
The film has grossed more than $200 million worldwide.
SOUNDELUX & TODD-AO NOMINATED FOR SOUND WORK
Supervising sound editor Wylie Stateman of Soundelux is nominated for “Best Achievement in Sound Editing” for Inglourious Basterds. This is Stateman’s fifth Oscar nomination.
Soundelux supervising sound editors Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin are nominated for “Best Achievement in Sound Editing” for their work on Star Trek. This is Stoeckinger’s second Oscar nomination and Rankin’s first. Star Trek also received a nomination for “Best Achievement in Sound Mixing,” with the nominees including Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin.
Re-recording mixer Gary Summers of Todd-AO received two nominations for “Best Achievement in Sound Mixing” as part of the teams on Avatar and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
CUT AT THE WHITEHOUSE
Filmmaker Joachim Back’s dark, satirical film The New Tenants is nominated for an Oscar in the “Short Film (Live Action)” category. The 21-minute film was produced by Park Pictures and M&M Productions, and was shot over a five-day period at the famed Chelsea Hotel in New York City. Editor Russell Icke of The Whitehouse (wwwwhitehousepost.com) frequently collaborates with Back, and cut this piece using an Avid system. The project was shot on film.
TWO NOMINEES MIXED ON EUPHONIX CONSOLES
Console maker Euphonix in Mountain View, CA, had its gear used on two Oscar nominees: Inglorious Basterds and Sherlock Holmes.
The sound mixing team of Michael Minkler and Tony Lamberti were nominated for “Best Achievement in Sound Mixing” for their work on Inglorious Basterds, which was dubbed on a dual-operator Euphonix System 5 digital audio mixing system at Todd-AO Hollywood’s newly-refurbished Stage 1. The pair shares the nomination with production mixer Mark Ulano.
Inglorious Basterds marks the eleventh Oscar nomination for Minkler, who has won three times in the past for work on Black Hawk Down and Dreamgirls, both of which were mixed on the Euphonix systems. He also won for Chicago. The nomination is Lamberti’s first.
Composer Hans Zimmer is nominated for “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures,” for his original score for the film Sherlock Holmes. Zimmer is a long-time Euphonix client with two System 5 digital mixing systems installed at his Santa Monica-based Remote Control Productions. This marks his eight nomination. He won an Oscar for his score for The Lion King.
MAXON SOFTWARE USED FOR VARIOUS VFX
Maxon Computer’s tools were used in a number of films that have received attention this award season, including the Academy Awards and VES Awards.
Vancouver-based Image Engine (www.image-engine.com) created 311 of the 600 visual effects shots in the sci-fi thriller District 9, including a community of entirely CG aliens that inhabit a section of Soweto, South Africa, as well as the alien mother ship, digital helicopters and digital troop carriers. Using Maxon BodyPaint 3D, Image Engine painted complex textures that blended dirt, dust, paint and stickers that cover the aliens’ bodies giving each a distinctive, insect-inspired look that integrated with the characters in the gritty South African ghetto setting.
For Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the visual effects and animation team at Sony Pictures Imageworks (www.imageworks.com) used Cinema 4D and BodyPaint 3D to create exterior environments in the film, including 360-degree skies, hillsides and town extensions. Some sequences had between 50 and 75 matte painting shots. For the "Burger Rain" sequence, where CG burgers fall out of the sky, artists created three, 360-degree sky environmental maps that were UV mapped within Cinema 4D to accurately place the sequence color key for lighting and reflection purposes. The Projection Man matte painting system found in Cinema 4D was also used by SPI to simplify and streamline the workflow.
“Not only did we paint three different skies, but we also extended the FX clouds, animated them and then projected those rendered frames onto geometry that matched it to the FX clouds in 3D space, for stereo,” notes Dave Bleich, matte paint lead at Sony Pictures Imageworks.
For Roland Emmerich’s 2012, numerous studios, including Uncharted Territory, Sony Pictures Imageworks and Crazy Horse Effects called on Cinema 4D and BodyPaint 3D to create VFX.
The matte painting team at Uncharted Territory (www.uncharted-territory.com), supervised by Ivo Horvat, called on Cinema 4D to depict the destruction of Los Angeles and Las Vegas, as well as other key locales in the film. In all, Uncharted Territory contributed 422 shots to 2012’s total of 1,315, including 100 in the Las Vegas sequence and 120 in the Los Angeles sequence, along with green screen and compositing work.
Sony Pictures Imageworks used BodyPaint 3D and Cinema 4D to overcome complex texturing and matte painting challenges in2012. The studio created the massive ark cruise ships.
“Because the arks in 2012 were so large it would have taken hundreds of 4K maps to cover the entire thing,” explains Tom Quach, texture painter for Sony Pictures Imageworks. “With our limited post production schedule we noticed that BodyPaint 3D was capable of handling 8K maps. Using the larger maps was a time-saving solution allowing us to work more quickly and efficiently.”
And at Crazy Horse Effects, matte painter Steve Messing (www.crazyhorseeffects.com), says the studio used Cinema 4D to transform footage of a distant set shot in Kamloops, British Columbia, that included several dilapidated huts on a short stretch of dirt. The team was able to make it look like a sprawling, military-style refugee camp near the Himalayan mountains that appears to stretch on well into the distance.
“Cinema 4D’s projection system is powerful and efficient and lets me see textures in real time,” notes Messing. “With so much parallax involved in 2012 we knew we have to rely upon a 3D application to convey detail and depth-of-field.”