Computer Graphics World

Dec/Jan 2011-12

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 33 of 51

■ ■ ■ ■ VFX•Animation started off rather slowly at the box offi ce—possibly an economic statement more so than one refl ective of the movie releases. Despite a fi rst-quarter lineup with virtu- ally something for every taste—Th e Rite, Green Hornet, I Am Number Four, Battle: Los Angeles, Rango, Mars Needs Moms, and Sucker Punch, to name a few—audiences just didn't open their wallets as expected. However, the dour box-offi ce numbers changed quickly for the better during the summer holidays, as moviegoers, likely feel- ing less fi nancial pinch, fl ocked to theaters to see a number of highly anticipated fi lms. Records were broken on Memorial Day. Crowds were entertained. Hollywood smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. As of press time, there were still a handful of tent-pole fi lms yet to be released, including Th e Adventures of Tintin and Hugo. And judging from the hype surrounding these movies, as well as a few other holiday releases, there's little doubt that 2011 will close on a very happy note—both fi nan- cially as well as with amazing movies. How studios and digital artists were able to achieve such a high level of work and continue to push the visual eff ects and animation bars ever higher in these economic times is a double feat for which they should be applauded. Studios spend a long time working on a fi lm that's in theaters briefl y, only at the end of the year to have viewers narrow down their favorites that, for some reason or another, grabbed their attention. Th is is what awards season is all about—what people liked both then and now. People love superhero movies. And this year, there were plenty of choices in this regard: Captain America, Th e Green Lantern, Th e Green Hornet, Th or, X-Men. Some of these heroes were larger than life, capti- vating audiences with their digital powers; others dazzled with amazing CG sets and backgrounds. No matter how you look at it, visual ef- fects played a major role in the fi lms. Perhaps the most popular super- hero fi lm this year did not contain live-action stars, but a unique set of computer-generated characters who kicked their way into the hearts of theatergoers: Po and the Furious Five in Kung Fu Panda 2. Th e year also gave us some rather unexpected treats at the theater: a range of entertaining characters and story lines—and, of course, jaw- dropping visual eff ects. While many are still trying to comprehend the story from Th e Tree of Life, there is little confusion about its beautiful imagery, especially during the formation of the universe and expan- sion of the galaxies, followed by explosive volcanoes and prehistoric beasts. Johnny Depp, reprising his role as Captain Jack Sparrow, left us scratching our heads at times. But that's Jack. And while he had a 32 December 2011/January 2012 somewhat new crew onboard with this latest Pirates of the Caribbean fl ick, we were treated to some nice VFX gems in the fi lm, among them the digital mermaids. And if Depp's live-action alter ego was not enough to entertain us, we also had his CG character Rango kicking up dust in a very uncommon all-CG spaghetti western—live-action director Gore Verbinski's fi rst animated feature foray and the fi rst animated feature to move through ILM's VFX pipeline. Th e dirt and dust of the desert created an unusual look for the movie—nearly as unique as the computer-generated char- acters. ILM was also kicking up more dust (sandy grit and star dust) with the eff ects in Cowboys & Aliens, a sci-fi western directed by Jon Favreau. A strange clash of worlds, both ripe for awesome visual eff ects. A sci-fi fan favorite for decades, Planet of the Apes burst into theaters as a series reboot, using new methods of motion capture to give the movie's simian cast their realistic performances, especially Caesar, the chimpanzee star performed by Andy Serkis. A relatively new sci-fi fa- vorite, Transformers rocketed to the top of the box offi ce with even more complicated Autobots and Decepticons to fi ll the screen. On the animated side, like in Rango, we met entirely new casts of CG characters starring in Rio, a colorful production from Blue Sky; Hop, an Easter-themed movie delivered by Rhythm & Hues; Gnomeo and Juliet, a unique twist on a classic; and Mars Needs Moms, an out-of-this-world fi lm from ImageMovers Digital before the innovative performance- capture technology company closed its doors. 2011 also brought back older classics albeit in cutting-edge computer graphics form (Smurfs) as well as updated characters for grand re-entrances (Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Happy Feet Two, Cars 2). As we close out the year, anticipation is high for the hair-raising ef- fects of Breaking Dawn and the digitally boosted action in Mission: Im- possible – Ghost Protocol. Yet generating the biggest buzz seems to be Peter Jackson/Steven Spielberg's Tintin, a CGI stereo presentation of a classic Belgian comic-book character. Released early overseas, Tintin quickly established itself on the Oscar watch list. Another late-year re- lease, Hugo is mesmerizing audiences with its dazzling digital work. But let us not forget the year's top box-offi ce champ as of press time: the last fi lm in the Harry Potter series, with its ambitious visual eff ects that spanned a decade and culminated in digital mastery. We know what the box offi ce says, and we have heard what the press and audiences have said, about this year's fi lms. Now, let's hear what the experts in our industry think.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Computer Graphics World - Dec/Jan 2011-12