Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Movie Magic is back!

Only every-so-often does a film come along that changes the future of film making forever.

Iconic films of the past have have steered the course of movie making history to where it is today. The landmark films that have made advances in production techniques, cinematography and story telling that have set the benchmark for all other films to be compared against. Such films as Toy Story, Jurassic Park, The Matrix ('The Matrix' I hear you say... yes, The Matrix...with it's revolutionary bullet-time photography). A few films recently have also pushed the boundaries in new CGI and special effects. I am thinking along the likes of The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Transformers and 2012 (if you can get past the dull/non existent plot).

So when I watched the new James Cameron movie, 'Avatar', it felt like I was watching history in the making.
Firstly, Cameron has used a new 3D filming technique that he calls 'real 3D'. It was pleasing to see that the 3D was not some novel attempt to simply make objects come out of the screen and wow people with the 'look, it's right in front of my face' factor. Instead the 3D element gives the film a more realistic depth of field, which feels more natural to watch as this is how your eyes view objects in the real world.

Secondly, whenever I watch a film, I want to be taken on an adventure and lost in the story, I want to feel like I have seen new things and been completely submerged in the surroundings. Cameron does this magnificently with Avatar, he takes you on a journey into another world and envelopes you into a new culture and alien civilisation. You feel like you are discovering the sights and sounds of a new planet for yourself. If you can deliver this experience to an audience, then you know it has to be a pretty good film...Avatar is not just a film though, if you watch it in 3D as it was meant to be viewed, then it is a full on experience to another realm!

Avatar comes fully recommended as one of the must see film of 2009.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Introducing VFX Supervisor Blake Winder

All too often in big feature film productions the praise goes to the director and it is a sad state of affairs that many of the unsung heroes go unnoticed.

Most cinema going audiences these days will see a big special effects bonanza and while they will be aware that a lot of time and effort has gone into making the film, they won't fully understand the level of intricate detail and man hours that have really gone into creating the picture. This is mainly because, for the most part, the effects are not visible. There are so many technical levels involved that are not initially noticeable on the surface.

Even the small things in film that are never noticed, like removing bad camera bounce or correcting a green screen shot that did not have enough tracking markers in place. These can be nightmarish jobs to undertake, but no one ever knows or hears about them. There always has to be someone sitting there hour after hour to make the film seem faultless. Their job is to sell the illusion and make the film come to life, because the second we see a bad special effect, we notice it...and then we are pulled from the story and reminded that it is actually...just a film!

This is especially true as the 'new age cinema hungry culture' feasts on a veritable banquet of DVD 'special features' and a constant stream of 'making of footage'. We feel more savvy with the making of a film than ever before and crave more knowledge into the behind the scenes. But while we are more familiar with the roles of these FX wizards, the average 'movie goer' still won't fully understand the levels they go to in order to trick the viewer that the effects are real.

Therefore it is more important now than ever to have seamless special effects and in turn a good special effect supervisor that is worth their weight in gold. It can be the difference between a good film and a great film.

Therefore, I am pleased to announce that visual effects supervisor Blake Winder will be the VFX supervisor for the upcoming film 'The Survivor'. Blake brings a whole host VFX knowledge after working on some truly epic titles such as, 10,000BC, Hellboy 2, The Fantastic Mr Fox, the upcoming release of Green Zone and many, many more.

To view more about Blake's professional work, please visit www.imdb.com/name/nm2791602/

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Bayer re-run Rennie Ice Adverts

Last year I created two 10" adverts for Bayer to promote their new range of Rennie Ice. The adverts ran for four weeks on all major commercial channels including most Sky/cable channels. After the adverts had aired, the sales of Rennie Ice went up by more than 40%.

Bayer were extremely pleased with the results and we were asked to film a pocket pack version to tag on the end of the current commercials. We filmed the pocket pack commercial back in January '09 and so I had completely forgotten that they were due to re-run on air.

I was in the middle of reading a treatment for 'The Survivor' when the commercials came on in the background of 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here' and took me completely by surprise. It's quite a strange feeling to suddenly see and hear something that you had spent so much time staring at in production. There is a slight synaptic lapse where your brain recognises it, but doesn't register where from...then a millisecond later you realise that you actually created it! It's similar to that split second that you recognise someone you haven't seen for a long time and then realise that it is not them!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The best laid schemes of mice and men.

I have always believed in the old 'five Ps' phrase...'Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance'.

Therefore, I always try to plan a project in great detail. I try to anticipate as many problems as possible and take into consideration all the possible downfalls that can occur along the production process...then I like to firmly cross all fingers and toes in the hope that all goes according to plan!

However, the most carefully prepared plans may go wrong and it is adapting to these external problems and unforeseeable conditions that makes a good project manager.

These problems will always creep in, no matter how hard you try to eliminate them. From unavoidable budget costs to uncontrollable weather conditions you will have to think quickly in order to solve the problem, but you must do this while maintaining a cool, calm and collective council. By staying calm in the face of a problem, you will be better equipped to think more clearly and concisely, but more importantly, you will maintain the confidence from the crew around you. There is no point in Frrrrrrrrreaking out because this has a negative feel that is passed on to the rest of the crew. There is nothing worse than watching a director who has lost control of a shoot, the confidence of the crew and more importantly...him/herself. The director is paid to make these decisions. So while it is fine to be 'frustrated', you should put on a poker face and keep it all inside, the responsibility ultimately stays with the director...and so do the pressures.

Remember that good solid planning is essential to any project, but never be so focused on the 'plan' itself, that it can not change. Roll with the punched and adapt the plan to fit with the solutions needed to get passed your sticking point. The good thing is that if you have planned properly in the first place, you will know it inside out and therefore you will know where and how to restructure the timings and adapt the plan to fit again and move forward.