Tonight, it looks like the Tron Legacy viral is going to take things to the next level.
The Flynn Lives website has announced that they are going to try to disrupt a special “Encom Press Conference” where “Alan Bradley” making an appearance. Fans of the original Tron will recognize that Encom is the fictional company behind Tron while Alan Bradley is Tron’s fictional programmer. Actor Bruce Boxleitner plays Bradley in the upcoming film. Hit the jump for more details about the event.
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During the Star Trek panel at WonderCon, JJ Abrams was asked to give a status update on a sequel to Cloverfield. I’m not going to pretend like some big news was dropped, as Abrams basically said what he always says. He reiterated that if they do a sequel, it won’t just be a business decision, and that they need a good idea before moving forward. Here is where things get a little bit interesting. Abrams says there is an idea.
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Not much going on at WonderCon today. The big event seemed to be a small panel on Walt Disney Animation’s Art of 2D Visual Effects. A bunch of the movie writers from all the movie sites were crammed into the front rows of the small conference room in hopes of seeing the first footage of The Princess and the Frog, Disney’s return to 2D hand-drawn animation. And while we did get to see a glimpse of that movie, the panel was mostly uneventful. I guess we were hoping that it would be less about the art of 2D animated visual effects and more about Princess and the Frog, but that teaches us for not trusting the official panel description.
The panel was hosted by Marlon West, a animated visual effects artist for Walt Disney Animation Studios. He started with the company 15 years ago on Lion King, and has since made the transition from 2D to 3d back to 2D again. Most recently he worked on the Goofy short film How to Hook Up Your Home Entertainment System. His job is basically to add effects to animated sequences. When a dust cloud rises from the ground after someone falls, that’s Marlon. When you see some shadows or background props moving around due to an earthquake, that’s Marlon. I learned a lot about the job of an effects animator, probably more than I’ll ever need to know. It was fascinating.
But what about The Princess and The Frog and the future of 2D hand-drawn animation at Disney? One thing West made clear is that Disney is trying to go back to their roots. He said hybrid films that combined hand drawn animation with computer animated backgrounds now have a stigma attached. And because of that, John Lasseter and company have mandated that The Princess and the Frog not look like it was touched with computers at all. In fact, most of it is not. There are no digital characters or backgrounds, and the film returns to the old multi-plane roots of Snow White. The only thing created for Princess and the Frog that is “digitally created” is the animated effects.
We were shown an early sequence where the film’s villain, a Voodoo hustler named Dr. Facilier, is giving a prince a tarot card reading. The Doctor flips the cards through the air in “maneuvers more inspired by the Harlem Globetrotters than Rickey Jay.” At one point, the arm of the chair the prince is sitting in turns into a snake and a green cocoon engulfs the royal son, as Facilier appears to grow into a giant. None of the footage was finished enough or long enough to really give you any fair review of it, but I will say it looked like an old school Disney feature film, and that made a lot of the people in attendance very happy. West showed us how he integrates computer animated effect elements into the hand drawn character and background elements in a way that everything blends together. And while future hand drawn animated features might feature more computer generated elements such as backgrounds (a la the dance sequence from Beauty and the Beast), the plan is to blend the elements together so that they seem stylistically as one.
West says that Disney plans to have a digital animated film out every 18 months and a traditional hand-drawn animated feature out every two and a half years. The Princess and the Frog is scheduled to hit theaters later this year, and the digitally animated Rupunzel is scheduled for 2010. But what does Disney has up their sleeves for Summer 2011?
Comic Con has announced the complete programing schedule for the 2009 WonderCon in San Francisco. I’ve included the tv/movie-related highlights after the jump.
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It appears that someone at WonderCon leaked footage from X-Files 2 on to YouTube. I know it sucks for con attendees, but the studios should just put all this footage officially online the Monday following the convention. The movie studios appear to be fine with thousands of people seeing this footage, so why not show a couple hundred thousand more? Footage will always get leaked, the studios and Comic Con will probably never be able to prevent that, especially with the rate the technology and cameras are shrinking. So the question to the studios are, would you rather the interested fans see the presentation in a crappy handheld video clip shot on a cellphone and uploaded to YouTube, or in a nice quicktime where they have full control?
Check out the trailer after the jump.
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Wonder-Con premiered a new, exclusive trailer during the first panel of the day presented by Warner Brothers, 10,000 B.C., Roland Emmerich’s (The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, Stargate) latest magnum opus (okay, slight overstatement). Emmerich’s films tend be big, loud, and, more often than not, ridiculous, contrived and, for those of willing to admit it to ourselves, guilty pleasures of the highest order (or lowest, depending on your perspective). From the trailer we saw, 10,000 B.C. looks like more of the same.
The trailer seemed to have a lot in common with Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, except in reverse. Thanks (or rather no thanks) to an advanced, pyramid-building civilization hunting for slaves, a mammoth hunter, D’Leh (Steven Strait), loses his lover Evolet (Camilla Belle). The rest of the film keeps the characters separated while D’Leh makes his way across treacherous terrain to an ancient city and the already mentioned pyramids.
Like Emmerich’s previous big-screen spectacles, 10,000 B.C. relies heavily on state-of-the-art visual effects. Every shot in the trailer was crammed with CGI, most of it solid, but some scenes still looked rough and the CG mammoths and saber-toothed tiger looked good in some shots, worse in others. If the online reports are true, 10,000 B.C. wasn’t ready for a fall release, so Warner Brothers decided to push it back five or six months while Emmerich and his team completed the visual effects. That, of course, says nothing about the story, which looks as cheesy as anything Emmerich’s done so far.
Emmerich, Strait (the forthcoming Stop Loss, Sky High), and Belle (When a Stranger Calls, The Quiet, The Invisible Circus) were all on hand for the panel discussion, which went from a brief introduction by Emmerich where he mentioned the lengthy, difficult shoot (n New Zealand and Africa to the Q&A session that began, naturally enough, with a question about 10,000 B.C.’s historical accuracy.
The short answer: not much. For Emmerich, the setting and time period allowed him to combine his research into mammoth hunters and their society with a fictionalized prehistoric civilization. Emmerich cited Fingerprints of the Gods (a questioner mentioned Chariot of the Gods) that posits an ancient, unknown civilization as a source for 10,000 B.C.. The voiceover narration in the trailer indicates as much (maybe even the “lost” continent of Atlantis). Emmerich wanted the freedom the combine facts, fiction, even Robert E. Howard “Conan the Barbarian” style fantasy (as another questioner mentioned). Emmerich later mentioned Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Quest for Fire as an inspiration for 10,000 B.C..
As for the actors and preparation, both Strait and Belle confirmed the obvious: it was a hard, time-consuming, physical shoot that required intense preparation and training. Strait, however, mentioned that Emmerich shot 10,000 B.C. in sequence (meaning scenes were shot in the order in which they appear in the screenplay and in the film). It’s rare for a film to be shot in sequence, but it seems like it’d help actors, since they wouldn’t have to worry about where a scene fits into the overall film or where in their character’s inner arc the scene appears. Belle did add something interesting; the characters speak in accented English that mixes Standard English with Arabic (since, presumably, 10,000 B.C. takes place in the Middle East.
As for future projects, Emmerich confirmed that he’d be making 2012 as his next film, he refused to say anything else. IMDB still lists the remake of Fantastic Voyage as his next project, but as is often the case, it’s probably out-of-date. Given that Emmerich didn’t mention Fantastic Voyage, it’s been either temporarily shelved or permanently postponed.