Entries Tagged 'Animation' ↓

Witch Better Have My Potion.

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Rumpelstiltskin reappears as the central villain in Shrek‘s fourth installment, Shrek Forever After (formerly Shrek Goes Fourth). Looks like he brought the whole coven for yo’ behind.

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[via IMP Awards]

How the West Will Be Won: Red Dead Redemption Brings Amazing, Bloody Play to the Gaming Frontier.

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I’m in awe of this Red Dead Redemption gameplay introduction trailer, above, and so hot to play this game I’m melting rivets on my jeans. The usual disclaimer applies.

Take a Look at the Real Set of Avatar.

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At this point, millions have visited the glowing world of Pandora, in director James Cameron’s Avatar. The highest grossing film in history, with nearly $2.5 billion earned worldwide, it is, as of this past weekend, still the third-most popular film in the U.S., and has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

avatarWhat fewer have seen, however, is the real glimmering world of Avatar, namely, the humming, 10,000 square-foot server farm at WETA Digital, in Miramar, New Zealand, above, where the film’s photo-realistic images, above right, were wholly generated. The system literally “occupies spots 193 through 197 on the Top 500 list of the most powerful supercomputers.

As reported on datacenterknowledge.com,

Thirty four racks comprise the computing core, made of 32 machines each with 40,000 processors and 104 terabytes of memory. Weta systems administrator Paul Gunn said that heat exchange for their servers had to be enclosed. The “industry standard of raised floors and forced-air cooling could not keep up with the constant heat coming off the machines,” said Gunn. “We need to stack the gear closely to get the bandwidth we need and, because the data flows are so great, the storage has to be local.”

By the time the production was in its

last month or more of production those 40,000 processors were handling 7 or 8 gigabytes of data per second, running 24 hours a day. A final copy of Avatar equated to 17.28 gigabytes per minute of storage.

That’s. A. Big. File. Imagine if someone accidentally deleted it.

“What You Hear, Kemo Sabe?”: Does Avatar Merely Revive Old Movie Stereotypes of the “White Savior”?

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James Cameron’s Avatar has been hailed for its medium-busting visual effects and astounding commercial success. Since its release on December 18th it has repeatedly topped the box-office in multiple countries, and is now the highest-grossing film in history, having taken in nearly $1.9 billion worldwide.

But, underneath the breathtaking graphics and lifelike performance capture, does the story of Neytiri and Jakesully, above, just retell the story of a white person finding himself by “going native”? Is it merely a fable about Europeans who would take over non-white people, save for the leadership of a Caucasian guy who leaves his reprehensible, bloodthirsty tribe, in order to cast his fate with the natives?

Avatar has famously been compared to Kevin Costner’s Oscar-winning, 1990 work, Dances With Wolves, which also raised similar charges regarding the consistency of the “white savior” myth. Disney’s Pocahontas has also been i.d.-d as Avatar‘s spiritual predecessor, though, perhaps no more pointedly than in these two YouTube clips, the first of which remixes video from Avatar to audio from Pocahontas‘s trailer, and the latter which does the reverse.

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Today, this afternoon, Friday, April 25, at 2 pm ET, on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, my guests are:

Rebecca Keegan, author of The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron;

Dr. Mikhail Lyubansky, a professor in the psychology department of Psychology at the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign. He authored “The Racial Politics of Avatar: Part 1″ and “The Racial Politics of Avatar: Part 2″ for Psychology Today‘s web site;

Dr. Raymond A. Winbush, author of three books on race issues, and director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University. His post, “Avatar, Africans and Racism: Some Brief Reflections on James Cameron’s Tale about White Supremacy,” appears on his blog, Reparations for Enslavement and the Blackside of Things.

They’ll talk about Avatar, race, and these issues, with the goal of giving listeners some clarity on them.

chrismatthewsBut first: After the President’s state-of-the-union address this past Wednesday, Chris Matthews, right, of MSNBC’s Hardball fame, opined that Obama “is post-racial, by all appearances. I forgot he was black tonight for an hour.”

I’ll talk with Jesse Washington, race and ethnicity editor for The Associated Press, and author of the essay, “Do Blacks Truly Want to Transcend Race?” about what Matthews meant, and what it means for Obama and our national understanding of the subject.

You can hear these thoughtful individuals’ ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

The Dream of the Blue People.

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avatar-james-cameron-interviewjpg-670a6289770f7c9e_largeThroughout his career, writer/director James Cameron, right, has pushed an insistent, technologically-demanding style of filmmaking seemingly up a cliff. From seeing Star Wars, as a 22-year-old truck driver in his native Canada, to becoming creator of the highest-grossing film in history—1997′s $1.8 billion Titanic—he has taken hold of the film industry by sheer force of will. Meanwhile, with each advancing step, the creator has fought off naysayers and second-guessers, each expecting his next outrageous vision to be his final folly.

With the release of his latest work, Avatar, above, however, Cameron has shattered expectations, as well as creative and financial barriers, to make what is, after five weeks, already the second-highest-grossing film in history, with eyes on its older sister’s No. 1 position.

116347_keegan_rebeccaWho is James Cameron, and what makes him the man and artist he is? In her new book, The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron, author Rebecca Keegan, right, works to get inside his life and thinking. By interviewing Cameron, his family, and his numerous collaborators, the journalist gives a detailed, never-before-seen picture of this remarkable, often confounding auteur; the drive behind the driver, so to speak.

Rebecca Keegan is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, January 15, at 2 pm ET.

That conversation, though, will be preceeded by a discussion of the crisis in Haiti. This week’s devastating 7.0 earthquake, which killed an estimated 45-50,000 people, deepens the woes of the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation. We’ll examine the disaster, and the forces at work, globally, that keep the country in its troubled state.

You can hear Rebecca Keegan’s thoughts, and others, by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

UPDATE: These are links to the Haiti pieces from which I read during today’s NONFICTION broadcast:

Why We Are Partly Responsible for the Mess that is Haiti by Thomas Fleming

Haiti: the land where children eat mud by Alex von Tunzelmann

Also recommended:

Catastrophe in Haiti by Ashley Smith

Why Can’t U.S. TV Stations Give Us Tiger Woods Visuals Like These?

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My friend MaryKay sent me this riotous clip, above. Apparently, it uses Maya, Poser, or some other animation software to visualize a likely scenario for Tiger Woods’s November 27 car crash—the one that has opened up, not only the right front end of his car but, a window into his clearly troubled marriage.

The bit, produced by 1-Apple news of Taiwan and narrated in traditional Chinese, is mixed with photo stills and police press conference footage, but that’s merely styrofoam peanut padding for the good stuff.

screen1In the videogame-looking sequence, Tiger’s wife, Elin, becomes enraged and strikes Tiger in the face, above, upon learning of his relationship with his alleged mistress, Rachel Uchitel, pictured in the thought balloon inset. The golfer escapes their home and the conflict in his car, but his wife then takes off after him, above, clutching one of his prized golf clubs, striking at the car. Woods, distracted by her pursuit, then runs into a hydrant and a tree.

Of course, this is all still hypothetical, as the couple have not detailed what actually happened, and why, that night. Also, none of this accounts for the latest revelations: That Jarius Lavar Adams, the neighbor who called 911 upon hearing the commotion, rushed out to find the star athlete “unconscious and snoring [my emphasis], in the street on the passenger side of his 2009 Cadillac Escalade.” But it does make fine entertainment out of other people’s ongoing misery.

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[via huffingtonpost.com]

Hungry Heart.

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Astro Boy, the American CGI feature based on Japanese manga master Osamu Tezuka’s 1951 character, opens today. It features the voices of Freddie Highmore as Astro Boy, with Nicolas Cage, Charlize Theron, Samuel L. Jackson, Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Matt Lucas, Bill Nighy, and Donald Sutherland, among others, pulling up the rear.

Cage, who plays scientist Dr. Tenma, the robot’s creator, says “the sadness of the story”—that of a machine who dreams of becoming human—drew him to the movie. For the rest of us, there’s this stunning, double-sided teaser one-sheet, above, dramatically rendering Astro in silhouette, save for his awesomely-powered heart. $25, Movieposter.com.

Cat Got Your Tongue…With His Big, Freakin’, Lion-O Sword, Baby.

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I wasn’t a big ThunderCats fan. They raised their leonine heads in 1985, long after I’d stopped watching violent, action-packed, Saturdaymorningesque animation. In fact, the only reason I probably know anything at all about this profoundly ugly pride of superheroes is that my youngest brother, Louis, couldn’t stop talking about them.

Well, Lou, knock yourself out: Early next year, Hard Hero Enterprises, makers of collectible fantasy and comic book statuary, will release a limited-edition, cold-cast porcelain statue of Lion-O, leader of the T-Cats, above.

Sculpted by master artist Paul Bennett, the fully-painted piece is a whopping 14 inches high from its rugged, stone outcropping base to the tip of Lion-O’s gleaming sword. Packed with detail, as you can see in this 360-degree QuickTime movie, the work comes with a “color collector box,” whatever that is, and retails for $199.00, $215.00 for one with Bennett’s John Hancock ‘pon, thus. Hey: Since Lou just had a birthday, maybe his wife will jump in with one more present. Cue intro.

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[via tomopop.com]

The Simpsons Go Blackface?: In Ad For Their African Edition, Homer, Marge, and the Kids MASSIVE FAIL.

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The Simpsons is America’s longest-running sitcom, with 441 episodes shown since 1989. (Their 20th season begins next month.)

But for their upcoming debut on Africa’s digital satellite television service, DStv, an Angolan ad agency decided to give the saffron-colored family a “makeover.”

6a00d8358081ff69e2011570465543970c-800wiThose are the results, above, says the UK’s Telegraph: “Brown skin instead of their usual yellow,” right.

As the publication details:

To make them appear more like a typical Angolan family, Marge has also been given a black Afro hairstyle instead of normal blue bouffant, while Lisa’s hair is stood up on end in short braids.

The image also shows the family dressed in clothes bearing traditional African designs and they are all wearing flip flops.

To be clear, this change was not made to the actual animation, but to print advertising being shown in the broadcast area.

Will Angolans be offended? Actor Kirstie Alley once told me that African-Americans…are “more free and fun and light hearted” than white people. Did she mean Africans, too?

Let’s hope so, and let’s trust they won’t be put off, here, by dumb, cloying marketing at its worst, and, in so doing, avoid what’s still a very funny show.

China: You’re next.

[via alltop.com]

Not TRON To Feel Your Legacy.

screen15Flame on: TRON: Legacy light cycle gets the blazes outta here

For the recent Comic-Con, Disney released light cycle footage, above, from the upcoming TRON: Legacy, the 2010 sequel to 1982′s geek classic, TRON.

So why am I not feeling the new stuff?

Take a look for yourself, below. First, the original trailer, then their visual effects test.

Thoughts?

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