Saturday, 30 April 2011

If it were up to J.J. Abrams, he'd be able to keep his mouth shut about "Super 8" — his upcoming, Steven Spielberg-produced summer blockbuster — until the movie slips into theaters June 10. That PR-free approach may have flown back when Abrams was making home movies to premiere, say, in his parents' basement, but that's just not how Hollywood works.
And so, as part of MTV News' Summer Movie Preview week, Abrams skipped away from a scoring set, where he's overseeing the orchestral music, to chat about the movie. We already know the film is set in Ohio in 1979 and follows six kids who are using a Super 8 camera to make a zombie flick. One night, they end up filming near a set of train tracks and capture a calamitous wreck and the creature that emerges from the wreckage. Soon the military pulls into town, and things start to get, well, very funky for these unsuspecting residents.
What we haven't learned much about is the nature of Abrams' collaboration with Spielberg, the way the director has managed to nod at Spielberg's films without copying them and much more. Thankfully, Abrams stepped in to provide us with some answers.
MTV News: Are we tearing you away from finishing your film? I hope not.
J.J. Abrams: We're about to lock picture, which I'm excited to do. I'm actually watching the musicians walk into the scoring stage right now with their cello cases and bass cases. It's an amazing score that Michael Giacchino has written. This part of the process is always the most exciting, because everything's coming together. The music is always one of the most exciting parts for me. I'm thrilled to be at this stage.
MTV News: Much of the discussion about this film has been about the blend of your talents and Spielberg's. Is there a nod to [frequent Spielberg collaborator] John Williams' scoring in this, or do you let Michael go at it without the specter of John Williams over him?
Abrams: I feel like on this movie, both he and I were as influenced by growing up and making movies as, let's face it, those loser kids who weren't the most popular, as we were influenced by the films of that era. What's cool about working on this film, especially with Michael, is that he and I shared the same kind of memories of childhood, even though we grew up 3,000 miles apart. When we met, we bonded over how we had the same kind of references and making movies as kids. I don't know how you would separate the various influences that Michael has experienced, including the remarkable scores of John Williams. What he's doing is very much his own voice, which is the only thing I'd want. I'd never ask him to do a score that apes a pre-existing score. But certainly the mood, the DNA of this movie, is as influenced by the films of the era as it was by the personal experiences we both had.

read the rest of the interview over at

Deadline reports that screenwriter David Koepp (The Shadow, Spider-Man, War of the Worlds, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, etc.) has been hired to draft a new Jack Ryan script. The idea is that Koepp will take Tom Clancy's character back to his younger days in an origin story.

The original spec script written by Adam Cozad contains the traumatic helicopter crash that was referenced in The Hunt for Red October, and Koepp's re-writes are expected to keep this part of the story.

Chris Pine (Star Trek) is still attached to star and Jack Bender (Lost) will direct. Shooting is delayed until Pine is finished with the new Star Trek film, but it is expected to go into production sometime in January 2012.
LOS ANGELES — Hollywood had better hope that this weekend means spring will go out like a lion and summer comes in like a bull.

Fresh off one of its worst quarters in years, the film industry is banking on a slate of big-name sequels — and perhaps some amnesia about 3-D films — bringing a jolt to attendance, which has been mired in a six-month slump.
This weekend marked the first in two months in which sales outpaced the same weekend last year, led by the debut of 20th Century Fox 3-D 'toon Rio. It earned $39.2 million.
The need for a rebound, some analysts say, is pressing. The first quarter of 2011 saw just two movies crack $100 million: the 2-D comedies Rango and Just Go With It. And some high-profile movies struggled when they ventured into the third dimension, despite premium ticket prices.
"Audiences are skeptical of us," says Transformers director Michael Bay. "And they should be."
That reluctance put attendance at 261 million tickets sold for the first quarter, the lowest since 1995, according to a study by Box Office Mojo. Though revenue is only at a five-year low, those figures got a boost from the rising cost of tickets, now at $8.01.
Meanwhile, 3-D has slowed in some corners. The $150 million cartoon Mars Needs Moms flopped at $20 million; Nicolas Cage's action film Drive Angry tanked at $11 million.
Those kind of high-profile failures, Bay says, "make people feel burned."
Fox chief Tom Rothman stopped short of criticizing earlier 3-D pictures, but he says moviegoers "are a lot savvier. You can't rush a movie out there and think people will see it because of technology."
They haven't been rushing out, period, says Brandon Gray, president of Box Office Mojo. "As usual, the movies themselves seem to be the main culprit," he says. "They continue to inspire indifference."
Jeff Bock, analyst for industry tracking firm Exhibitor Relations, says Rio could be the start of Hollywood's turnaround, at least fiscally.
"Cinephiles aren't going to be thrilled with the summer, because it's going to have a ton of sequels and animation," he says. "That's not always great for original stories. But it seems to do the trick at the box office."

Telltale Games is currently developing games for Xbox 360, the studio has announced.
Recent titles such as Back to the Future, Puzzle Agent and Tales of Monkey Island have all side-stepped the platform in favour of iOS, PC, PlayStation 3 and/or WiiWare.
However, the developer confirmed on its Twitter feed that it was now working with Microsoft again.
"We're very excited to announce that we are officially publishing games for the XBox 360! We will still be coming to other platforms as well," read one Tweet.
"No announcements on what's coming to the XBox 360 from us yet but we have some exciting stuff in store! Stay tuned!" followed another.
Telltale currently has Jurassic Park, Law & Order: Los Angeles, Puzzle Agent 2, The Walking Dead, Fables, Hector: Badge of Carnage and a new Kings Quest title in development.
A statement from CEO Dan Connors yesterday announcing a delay to its Jurassic Park tie-in read "We'll be investing the extra time into making the game great and it will be released simultaneously on every platform this fall."
The last episodic Telltale game to see an Xbox 360 release was Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures in early 2009.

More over at

Friday, 29 April 2011

The Star Wars crew spoofs Rebecca Black 'Friday' in their own version, called 'Primeday'. Yes, Primeday is actually one of the days of the week in the Star Wars universe.

DreamWorks and Warner Bros., which had been working on competing Martin Luther King biopics, are teaming to make one, TheWrap confirmed Thursday.
The new project is a 50-50 coventure of DreamWorks and Warner Bros.
Kario Salem, who had been attached to Warner Bros. version, will write the script.

read more over at

Prince William and his fiancée Kate Middleton are to make an appearance in the Disney-Pixar film Cars 2 – albeit as talking cartoon automobiles.

Cars 2 Prince William as Prince Wheeliam

The queen’s throne-topped, royal blue car is voiced by Dame Vanessa Redgrave and producers describe it as ‘the definition of decorum and regality’.

Prince William’s flashy car, meanwhile, is given the cringeworthy name Prince Wheeliam and is ‘an avid racing fan’.

The sequel to Cars is set largely in London, with Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton in a starring role.

At one point, Prince Wheeliam hopes to cheer Hamilton on to victory – but must look impartial as he and the queen preside over the finishing line.

Animators have also come up with a red London bus named Topper Deckington III, a black cab called Chauncy Fares and bearskin-wearing Sgt Highgear.

The storyline sees the final stage of the World Grand Prix making its way through the streets of London.

Cars 2 is due to open on Friday, July 22.

Andres Valverde has a rather good spanish blog over at and has put this impressive music tribute to John Williams together with a love theme featuring clips from Superman, Star Wars, Sabrina, Heidi, The River and Earthquake.  Have a listen below.

    WILLIAMS LOVE COLLAGE by Andres Valverde

Spielberg, Williams, Lucas
(Left to right) Stephen Spielberg, John Williams and George Lucas unveil
USC's John Williams Scoring Stage.
Photograph by Brian King
LOS ANGELES—Composer John Williams and directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were on hand as the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts unveiled its newly christened John Williams Scoring Stage on Tuesday at the USC campus.

The 1,900-square-foot room, formerly known as the Steven Spielberg stage, was built in 1983 and is regularly used to record music for student films made by USC directors. The renaming, a USC spokesman said, was "a tribute to Steven and George's long collaborations with (Williams) and a recognition of how important an inspiring name like John's is to the next generation here at the school."

Williams, 79, called it "an indescribable honor and privilege" and spoke of the scoring stage as a place that "brings together the sister arts of film and music.... This stage represents an intersection between the future and the present."

Approximately 70 invited guests listened as Spielberg and Lucas recalled how they met the celebrated composer, four of whose five Oscars (and 17 of whose 45 nominations) are for films directed by one or the other: Jaws, Star Wars, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Schindler's List


The Lucasfilm Animation building in Singapore looks rather like a sandcrawler, don’t you think? This is just an artist’s conception, as groundbreaking occurred only this week.


Thursday, 28 April 2011

This is the Encore Special about how ILM changed cinema forever.
ILM - Industrial Light & Magic: Creating The Impossible in six parts.






PART 6 Below is a little something I did to celebrate the works of ILM.  Click the image for larger version.  Right click to save.

 Watch the new trailer here.  Looks like Industrial Light & Magic are up to their usual high standards.

It was a fantasy world plucked from George Lucas' imagination.
But life could thrive on a planet like Luke Skywalker's Tatooine, with its two suns, in the Star Wars universe, scientists have claimed.
However, the legendary director did get one detail wrong - the trees would have had black leaves.
Two suns: Life could thrive on a planet like Luke Skywalker's Tatooine, scientists have claimed
Two suns: Life could thrive on a planet like Luke Skywalker's Tatooine, scientists have claimed
Scientists have discovered that the temperature of a star determines its colour - and at different temperatures, life evolves in very different ways.
Photosynthesis - the process by which plants produce energy from sunlight - is altered when the light colour is changed.
Researchers carried out computer simulations to model Earth-like planets either orbiting two stars close together or one of two widely separated stars.
They found that plants with dim red dwarf suns - like the desert world of Tatooine - are likely to have black or grey plants.
The study is significant because it means scientists hunting for alien life should not rule out planets with multiple suns as uninhabitable.
Many multi-star systems contain 'red dwarfs'. These are cool, faint stars that are the most common star type in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Around half of all red dwarfs, and a quarter of sun-like stars, exist in multiple systems.
Black plants? Photosynthesis happens differently when the light colour is changed
Black plants? Photosynthesis happens differently when the light colour is changed
Jack O'Malley-James, who is leading the University of St Andrews research, said: 'The temperature of a star determines its colour and, hence, the colour of light used for photosynthesis.
'Depending on the colours of their star-light, plants would evolve very differently.
'Our simulations suggest that planets in multi-star systems may host exotic forms of the more familiar plants we see on Earth.
'Plants with dim red dwarf suns for example, may appear black to our eyes, absorbing across the entire visible wavelength range in order to use as much of the available light as possible.
'They may also be able to use infrared or ultraviolet radiation to drive photosynthesis.
'For planets orbiting two stars like our own, harmful radiation from intense stellar flares could lead to plants that develop their own UV-blocking sun-screens, or photosynthesising microorganisms that can move in response to a sudden flare.'
Plants get their green colour from the pigment chlorophyll. It absorbs the light, which is vital if photosynthesis is to take place.

Read more:

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Joe Cornish has revealed that meeting Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson was "like meeting my maker".

In an interview with The Observer, the comedian explained that he managed to stay professional when he was invited to work on the pair's script for The Adventures of Tintin.

He said: "Meeting those guys was like meeting my maker. Spielberg and Jackson's films are hugely important to me. But I didn't giggle. I got on with the work.

"I put it out of my mind who they were in order to function, but every now and then Spielberg would say, 'When I was making Jaws...' and suddenly my mind would freeze as I was reminded."

Cornish added that working alone without the support of somebody like collaborator and friend Adam Buxton felt strange.

"It was a bit lonely," he said. "I missed the presence of an Adam, a co-conspirator. I'd love to do something with him one day - a musical, perhaps."

Cornish's directorial debut, sci-fi comedy Attack The Block, is released on May 13. He recently returned to BBC 6 Music with Buxton for a run of shows lasting 12 weeks.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

It's all systems go for the construction of Lucasfilm's first overseas production facility in Singapore.

At the groundbreaking ceremony this afternoon (14 April), it was announced that the complex will be named 'The Sandcrawler Building'.

The film production company says it's a playful reference to the famous vehicle seen in various Star Wars episodes.

Located in Fusionopolis, the Sandcrawler is set to be ready by 2013 and will house the Singapore arm of Lucasfilm.

Micheline Chau, President and Chief Operating Officer of Lucasfilm, says this will help the republic make further inroads into the gaming, animation and visual effects industry.

"We are really working out some very, very innovative gaming ideas. We also have a feature animation project that is here, that we've talked about, and that project of course is again top secret, but it will be produced in Singapore. So i think that will be a real milestone for studio."

Monday, 25 April 2011

According to CinemaBlend and What’s Playing, J.J. Abrams is under tons of pressure from Paramount to make the next “Star Trek” film 3D. According to What’s Playing, Paramount’s logic for wanting a 3D “Star Trek 2″ is based on George Lucas retooling the “Star Wars” prequels into 3D theatrical releases. It’s confusing reasoning, to be sure. When approached about the next film being 3D, Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the film, said, “As far as I know, no. I mean…it depends. Maybe.” He went on to say that even though he’s not the hugest cheerleader for 3D, he’s been convinced 3D can work in certain instances, like “The Adventures of Tintin”, his latest acting gig. “When something’s made to be in 3D, if it is somehow part of the experience, fair enough,” he said. “I’ve done 3D movies. ‘Tintin’ is amazing. That is going to be in 3D and that is going to be amazing. Sometimes, it’s like if you see a movie that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to 3D, like perhaps something that is live-action or that isn’t built for 3D, it’s more like they’re worried about it. 3D can sometimes be a vote of no-confidence.”


Sunday, 24 April 2011

Just got back from the Sci-fi fair held at Newport South Wales.  What a great time.  I met Gerald Home who played Squid Head and Mon Calamari in Star Wars, Alan Ruscoe who played Plo Koon and numerous Doctor Who characters and Toby Philpott who helped control Jabba in Return Of The Jedi. Take a look at some of the photos and videos.  Feel free to leave me a comment or tweet on twitter.

Gerald Home - Great guy who spent time to discuss his experience on Return Of The Jedi
Hes the one on the left.

Alan Rusco with me sharing a joke

 Below are some more photos including a video of the fair.  Includes Daleks, K-9, a David Tennant look-a-like, Stormtroopers and errrr a bird!

Thats the the middle

Last time I try the "you don't need to see my identification" trick

 David Tennant look-a-like Matt Holden has a face book page over at

According to a report from Kotaku, gamers may have more on their hands than simple lightsaber combat with a leaked survey document containing information on unannounced aspects of gameplay which is said to include Pod Racing and playing as a Rancor monster.

The Pod Racing sequence is said is allow players to control the Pod Racer by mimicking the movements of a steering wheel with their hands, while playtime as a Rancor will be undertaken by making stomping motions in front of the Kinect camera.

Accompanying the leaked survey document was a number of storyboards for a planned commercial for the title which depicts art drawn in the prequel and Clone Wars era of the Star Wars universe, further suggesting that the game will exist within this timeframe, meaning that there is sure to be some Battle Droid and double-ended lightsaber action around the corner.

Currently LucasArts remains tight-lipped on the validity of the documents leaked.

From -

In the 1980s, little Jedi and Dark Side wannabes sported Star Wars Underoos. Hmm, do you think Darth Vader wore underwear? How about Yoda?
Fun Fact: The blonde C3PO girl is Erika Eleniak of “Baywatch” fame.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

It’s sadly not an official one, but for a custom piece, it’s not so bad! Sure, the face could do with some work (even if it is based on the original pixel art design of LeChuck and not his proper artwork), but the devil (or zombie ghost in this case) is in the details.
Get a load of that base! Not only is there a Stan’s Previously Owned Vessels Sign, but an adorable little Guybrush voodoo doll.
The figure was sculpted by RPGer, and you can see it in more detail at the link below.
LeChuck [Figure Realm, via Toycutter]

Mike Russell went undercover for the New Jersey State Police to infiltrate an organized crime syndicate. He brought down the family, with 48 arrests and 31 guilty pleas in 1986. His work was documented in an HBO special. (Brandon Kruse/The Palm Beach Post)
Mike Russell is the kind of cop other cops call a “dirt magnet.”
Really, they mean it as a compliment.
The bad guys always seem to come to him, even now that he’s 60, semi-retired and living in Delray Beach.
Recently at lunch, he was approached by a local small-time drug dealer about buying cocaine and OxyContin – while wearing a T-shirt from the Hollywood police, a department he consults for from time to time. That was just his latest come-to-papa conviction.
“When I’m at my happiest is when I’m down in the ghetto, making cases,” he said.
Maybe he exudes a passion for his job that crooks find irresistible, a pheromone for thieves.
How else to explain how the former Irish kid with reddish-brown hair was invited into the mob, while he was a known cop, and helped bring down the crime family that inspired The Sopranos?
It’s the kind of story, and he’s the kind of cop, that Steven Spielberg makes movies about.
Russell, a 20-year police veteran, recently signed a deal with Spielberg and DreamWorks to have that episode dramatized into a black comedy for the silver screen, starring Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and How I Met Your Mother).
Steve Zaillian, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for Schindler’s List, is the executive producer.
And Russell, with crime writer Patrick Picciarelli, just sold the book rights to St. Martin’s Press.
Russell is his own PR man because no one can sell the story like he can. Although William Morris Entertainment got him into the room with Spielberg, all he had to do was tell his story of undercover work in that New Jersey accent and loom over them with that 6-foot-1 frame reminiscent of a castle door.
With his physique and bloodline, what choice did he have but police work?
In his neighborhood in the 1960s, a kid grew up to be one of three things: a cop, a wiseguy or a firefighter, like his father.
“And I didn’t like heights,” he said.
He already knew the inner workings of the mob, growing up in a neighborhood packed with mobsters. An amateur boxer, he even worked as a bouncer in a gangster club in Newark, N.J., when he was 18. It was his mother who persuaded him to attend the police academy, and he earned a reputation for taking guys down without a weapon as a street cop.
“I’d just cuff ‘em up quick and get rid of ‘em,” he said.
By 1980, after 10 years on the force, he was working in a tactical squad, specializing in kidnappings, riots, hostage situations – “heavy-duty stuff,” he said.
That’s when the New Jersey State Police approached him about trying to crack the Newark crime family.
He agreed and they planted a story that he had been fired from the Newark police for using excessive force.
He started driving a truck as a side job as he became embedded in the community until one day he saw an older man being mugged by two young Puerto Rican men.
Russell jumped out of his truck and beat down the two men, saving, as it turned out, Andrew Gerardo, the head of the crime family that inspired The Sopranos.
Gerardo invited him to lunch at his favorite diner, and when he learned Russell had been a cop tried to get a foothold inside the police force.
Over the next three years, Russell worked his way into the family, setting up an oil-delivery business that was a front by the state police next to the mob headquarters.
“He has the gift of gab, of convincing anyone of anything,” said Russell’s co-author, Picciarelli, a former New York Police lieutenant who has published four books.
“He was the antithesis of everything an undercover cop should be, but he did it.”
It wasn’t always easy. When he insulted one crime boss, a hit was ordered on him. He was mugged in an alley and shot in the back of the head. But the bullet only grazed his skull as he was leaning down to grab a gun on his ankle. However, he suffered brain damage after hitting the ground, and he lost his sense of smell and taste.
“And my wife at the time was a great Italian cook. But that’s OK. I tried to remember the taste of the food when I ate,” he said.
Meanwhile, since he was only a contractor for the state police, he used hidden cameras to film the entire investigation, which later aired on HBO as Confessions of an Undercover Cop.
And when the state police finally raided the crime family for illegal gambling, racketeering and loansharking, Russell’s film had all the goods.
The investigation resulted in 48 arrests and 31 guilty pleas in 1986, according to the film.

Read the rest of the article here
Who among us doesn't long for adventure, fortune and glory? When I first heard about the Indiana Jones archaeological museum exhibit debuting in Montreal on April 28, I realized we all relate to the epic quests of legendary truth-seeker Indiana Jones. Played by the ever-dashing Harrison Ford in movies released between 1981 and 2008, the earnest, brooding hero made archaeology sexy and ancient relics titillating.
I remember seeing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1984, when I was an awkward, bespectacled kid. I remember the one-liners, the fedora, the triumphant theme song that made me sure that good would triumph over evil. Maybe things were simpler then, or maybe I was just young(er). But like our hero Indy, I believed that things would change.
With the franchise still going strong, there's no better ambassador than Dr. Indiana Jones to make the science of archaeology exciting and relevant to a worldwide audience of all ages. As such, on April 28, the Montreal Science Centre hosts the world premiere of a major new interactive "museum experience," Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology. (And who doesn't love a glamorous world premiere?) Using state-of-the-art multimedia technology, the exhibit features a mind-blowing collection of ancient artifacts and Indiana Jones movie materials (like props, set designs and conceptual art). The show runs in Montreal through September 18 before hitting the road for stints in Canada, Europe and Asia. (New York fans take note: the Montreal show is its closest scheduled stop.)
Here's how the exhibit goes down: You get a hand-held video companion guide to assist on your quest to solve various archaeological mysteries as you navigate through the 10,000 square-foot exhibit, from the "Indy Trail" to various archaeological zones and interactive adventures. Alongside your new BFF Indiana Jones, you'll experience the real stories behind relics like the Holy Grail and decipher ancient scripts. You'll learn how real-life archaeologists solve mysteries around the world from Peru to fictional places like Akator and Mayapore. You will be titillated!
Yet this exhibit is no fairy tale. If you're wondering where the fact comes in, look no further than a little organization called the National Geographic Society, whose other traveling exhibitions have been seen by more than six million visitors. Along with the Penn Museum, they assembled actual artifacts and historical facts and figures for the show, whose other partners include Lucasfilms Ltd. and Montreal's X3 Productions. 

For tickets and information, visit For more about Montreal, check out the Montreal Buzz blog at

Friday, 22 April 2011

Palazzo Editions will publish a "major" retrospective of the work of Steven Spielberg in August 2012, written in co-operation with the director.
Steven Spielberg: A Retrospective will be written by film critic and documentary maker Richard Schickel, who made documentary "Spielberg on Spielberg". The book uses Schickel's own interviews with the director and Spielberg will also write the introduction.
Stills from the DreamWorks archive will illustrate his 40-year career, from his first film, "Duel", in 1971, through to "Lincoln", which stars Daniel Day Lewis as US president Abraham Lincoln and will be released in 2012.
Two other new Spielberg films, "The Adventures of Tintin" and "War Horse" are also due this year. Palazzo, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, has agreed co-edition sales agreed at auction with Sterling (North America), De La Martiniere (France), Knesebeck (Germany) and Forma (Sweden).


LONDON — Before it was made into a hit West End play, before it was bound for Broadway, before it was set to be Steven Spielberg’s next big movie, “War Horse” was a slim, powerful children’s book about a young man and his beloved horse on the front lines of World War I.
Published in 1982, the book was a “huge nonevent” at the time, according to its author, Michael Morpurgo; it drew better reviews than his earlier works but relatively little sales. It did get nominated for a big national prize, which it failed to win. Mr. Morpurgo, transported to the ceremony in a limousine, found that the car had mysteriously dematerialized during the evening; he left by subway.
Undaunted, he kept writing and publishing, sometimes two or three books a year (he has now written more than 120), and his reputation grew. From 2003 to 2005 Mr. Morpurgo was Britain’s third children’s laureate (a post similar to that of poet laureate, but for children’s literature), an honor befitting someone who had become one of the country’s best loved and most visible children’s authors. But while many of his books were hits, “War Horse” seemed destined for noble semiobscurity. “If sales ever reached 1,500 copies a year, I would be surprised,” Mr. Morpurgo said.
But that all changed in 2007, when a dramatic version of “War Horse” opened at the National Theater. Starring, as the horses, life-size puppets created by the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa, the play was a huge, emotional triumph, leaving audiences wrung out and weeping. It transferred to the West End, where it is still selling out. It opens Thursday at Lincoln Center Theater in New York, where Mr. Morpurgo will be in the audience. And in December the film version, directed by Mr. Spielberg and starring the British actors Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch and Emily Watson (and a cast of real horses), is to open in the United States.
The cause of all this excitement is 67 years old, acutely modest and delightfully chatty, able to turn almost any observation into an entertaining anecdote. Dressed the other day in a beret, rumpled Nantucket-red pants and a matching Nantucket-red safari-style jacket (equally rumpled), he seemed alternately thrilled, surprised and amused by what had befallen a book he wrote so many years, and so many books, ago.
He had had his doubts about whether “War Horse” would work onstage. When he first heard of the plans to use puppets, he said, he thought it sounded disastrous, “like a joke.” But he calmed down when he saw the result: life-size puppets that move, whinny, startle and nuzzle so much like real horses, they seem to be fully realized characters.
Mr. Morpurgo’s novels, set all around the world, tend to focus on some favorite themes: humans’ extraordinary bond with animals, children’s courage in adversity, and the power and wonder of nature. Many have gone on to win awards, and four have been nominated for the Carnegie Medal, Britain’s best-known children’s literature prize.
“He’s the most respected British children’s writer working today, whether he’s writing for very young readers or for teenagers,” said Jon Howells, a spokesman for Waterstone’s book chain. “He’s a very powerful, very evocative, very insightful writer. He doesn’t patronize or condescend to his readers, and they really respond.”
“War Horse” is published by Scholastic in the United States, with more than 500,000 copies in print, said Kyle Good, a spokeswoman for the publisher.
Why has “War Horse” broken out in such a big way? The story resonates now more than when it was written, perhaps because of the era we live in. “In 1982 the only war in Britain was the cold war,” Mr. Morpurgo said. “But times have changed in the last 15 to 20 years. War does seem to be endemic. When it’s possible to do it, we seem to do it. It never ceases to amaze me that we fall into that trap again and again.”
The book, which has been called a great argument for pacifism, is written from the point of view of Joey the horse. It was inspired, in part, by a series of conversations Mr. Morpurgo had had years ago in his village, Iddesleigh, in Devon, with an elderly man who had served in a cavalry unit in World War I. “He told me with tears in his eyes that the only person he could talk to there — and he called this horse a person — was his horse,” Mr. Morpurgo said.
From the Imperial War Museum, Mr. Morpurgo learned that between one million and two million British horses had been sent to the front lines in the first World War, and that only 65,000 or so had come back. He resolved to write about them but struggled to find the right voice.
Then one evening he was at the farm he and his wife run in Devon, where poor children come to work with animals. (There are now three in Britain, and one in Vermont.) He was passing through the stable yard when he saw one of the children, a troubled boy who had a bad stutter and had not uttered a word in school in two years, standing head to head with a horse.
“He started talking,” Mr. Morpurgo recalled. “And he was talking to the horse, and his voice was flowing. It was simply unlocked. And as I listened to this his boy telling the horse everything he’d done on the farm that day, I suddenly had the idea that of course the horse didn’t understand every word, but that she knew it was important for her to stand there and be there for this child.” That became Joey’s role in “War Horse” — observer and witness as much as protagonist.
Mr. Morpurgo’s books have been set in jungles, on islands and in communities torn up by the Arab-Israeli conflict and by the 2004 tsunami. His most recent book, “Shadow,” tells the story of an Afghan boy who flees to Britain, only to be put in a detention center as he fights to stay in the country. One of Mr. Morpurgo’s many campaigns has been to end the practice of incarcerating children in such centers.
He is in demand as a speaker and an advocate for, among other things, libraries, literacy and the rights of children. But it may well be that “War Horse” is his defining piece of work.
“All this should have happened 30 years ago,” he said recently. “It’s all come at completely the wrong time. But better late than never — although I don’t think my wife thinks so, sometimes.”
Link -

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Pixar is preparing for the premier in June of its latest animated film 'Cars 2' -- the sequel to the highly successful original 'Cars' from five years ago. It will be released as the studio celebrates its 25th anniversary.

The Make A Wish Foundation is going out of this world to make a little boy's dream come true. They will help transform Matthew Grammer into the droid R2D2 from the Star Wars movies.
Matthew and his mom were surprised by a storm trooper in the lobby of St. Francis Children's Hospital on Tuesday, where Matthew is undergoing treatments for Leukemia. Matthew says he chose R2D2 because of its power to control other droids and machines, and because he's cool.
Engineering students at the University of Tulsa will help construct the mechanical components of the robot. It will be fully operational, allowing Matthew to control it while sitting inside.
The Little Mountain production company will build the shell. It will have all of the lights and make all of the signs that fans of Star Wars will recognize. Construction of the life-sized droid should be complete sometime this summer.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Hidden in Portal 2′s extras menu is an “interactive trailer” for Spielberg and J.J. Abram’s upcoming monster movie, Super 8

AV tech company THX, from Lucasfilm that has set reproduction standards for theaters, is acquiring the cineSpace Color Management suite from privately held Cine-Tal Systems, a developer of image monitoring and color management systems. The acquisition complements technologies and services THX has long been delivering to post-production pros. cineSpace is used for DI, vfx, broadcast, animation and games to produce and render representations of how an image will appear in its final form."With specific requirements from creative artists about the way color is displayed, color matching has become a lengthy, iterative cycle in post-production," per a cineSpace statement. "cineSpace cuts down on these cycles by removing the guesswork when dealing with film images and producing accurate image representations which can be viewed and manipulated on a digital workstation monitor or projector. This translates into a potential savings of thousands of dollars and countless hours on a project."
"THX is the right company to extend the reach and adoption of cineSpace into the post-production space," said Robert Carroll, CEO at Cine-Tal. "It brings years of engineering and industry know-how in the color management space, and the global reach of the company will ensure that more colorists will have access to our software."

Gareth Edwards, director of the sci-fi hit 'Monsters’, out soon on DVD, discusses the first visual effects blockbuster.

Luke Skywalker in Star Wars IV - A New Hope (1977)
Luke Skywalker in Star Wars IV - A New Hope (1977)  Photo: Allstar/LUCASFILM
I compare Star Wars to something like Sgt Pepper in music: the difference between before and after it was so massive that it’s hard to see how you could take that step with one film again. It invented the visual-effects blockbuster.
The planets just aligned. You’ve got George Lucas, one of the genius filmmakers of his generation; John Williams, one of the greatest film composers who’s ever lived, doing probably his best work; and Ralph McQuarrie, the brilliant concept designer, doing his. They bring an actor called Harrison Ford into the spotlight, and so discover the star of a generation. On top of that, Industrial Light & Magic – probably the greatest special-effects company in the history of cinema – is born. And then, there’s a grand George Campbell-ish plot wrapped up in science-fiction clothing. This generation wasn’t going to church and hearing the classic biblical stories – Star Wars gave this to them, just with laser swords and spaceships.
As for its influence, I think it’s like inventing TNT or E=MC² – some people use it for bad, some for good. Many filmmakers learn the wrong lessons from Star Wars. They think: as long as we have lots of explosions and people running around with guns, we’re going to have a hit on our hands.
The script is often criticised, but because it’s packed full of dialogue that makes no sense, this actually adds to the idea of a world. You hear Luke Skywalker say, “I used to bull’s-eye womp rats back home in my T-16”, and you think: was this a scene that was cut? In every moment, the film hints at what could be a whole other movie, but one that you just haven’t had the chance to see, and that’s the difference between the first three films and the three prequels.
What makes the first three so powerful is that you’re sitting there thinking, “What’s down that corridor? Who are those creatures that just walked past? What is a T-16?” You sense that Lucas’s universe is massive compared to the fragment that you’re witnessing – but then, when you finally see all those creatures and buildings in all their glory, it suddenly seems a lot smaller.


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

He was the charismatic buddy of Indiana Jones, the head of the KGB in a James Bond flick and the voice of Man Ray in Spongebob Squarepants.
But John Rhys-Davies - a tall, dark-haired, deep-voiced hunk of a man - is perhaps always going to be best remembered for playing the role of a dwarf.
The Welsh-born actor played the belligerent warrior Gimli in Peter Jackson's Lord of The Rings, enchanting viewers with his well-timed one liners and begrudging friendship with Legolas the elf.
And, at midday on Friday, Stuff will host a live chat with the star who this weekend will be attending the Armageddon Expo in Wellington.
Despite the character's popularity, Rhys-Davies has vowed he will not return as Gimli in the LOTR prequel the Hobbit.
"I've already been asked and to be honest with you, I wouldn't. I have already completely ruled it out," he told Empire Online.
"There's a sentimental part of me that would love to be involved again. Really I am not sure my face can take that sort of punishment any more."
The punishment he's referring to is the five hours of make-up each day an the allergic reactions to his prosthetics - which swelled his eyes shut and burned some of the skin on his face.
However, the 66-year-old is not adverse to helping on the film - offering to come on board as a "dwarf adviser" - or appearing to talk about his time working with Jackson.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Coming to the Mac April 28th
Feral Interactive announced today that LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, the sequel developed by TT Games for PC, Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii, will be released for Mac on April 28th. LEGO Indiana Jones 2 presents a tongue-in-cheek take on all four cinematic adventures of pop culture's most iconic archaeologist, including for the first time ever Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and will give players the ability to create levels of their own.
 MT-32 version starts at 2:10

The title music from Monkey Island 2 played using both Adlib and the Roland MT-32 sound module.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

 by Cameron McCasland.  Really worth following his Youtube channel.  There's some really good stuff in there.  Click here to jump there now.

 What happens when BBC's The Office merges with Star Wars?  Well the answer isn't here but here's a guy in a Stormtrooper's helmet imitating the infamous dance from the hit show.

ILM used around 450 Quadro-based workstations to shorten the production time of Rango.
Wednesday Nvidia said that Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) used Quadro GPUs to help render Rango, the just-released CGI-animated movie from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon. Approximately 450 ILM Quadro workstations were used in both the San Francisco and Singapore studios to help overcome production demands and timeline challenges.
"Whenever you're approaching a film of this scale you need to make your production pipeline operate as efficiently as possible -- especially when it comes to character animation work," said Tim Alexander, VFX supervisor for Rango. "By using Nvidia Quadro processors and building GPU-accelerated processes into our workflow, we saved a huge amount of rendering time."
In addition to using commercialized animation tools like Autodesk's Maya, the Rango team used a wide range of ILM's in-house applications including "Plume," a GPU-accelerated fluid solver/renderer that has been used on previous films like The Last Airbender and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. For Rango, the team added new shadow and lighting features into Plume for more realistic fire and dust effects.
"If we have a character standing in the key light, he'll actually cast a shadow into the dust, smoke or fire. In the past we would fake those biometric ray-type effects or any sort of shading in the composite phase," Alexander said. "By using the GPU to bake shadows and lighting into the simulation, we saved a tremendous amount of time and achieved a more realistic effect by having all of the detail of the object that's casting the shadow actually in the shadow itself."
Alexander added that the team received real-time feedback on dust and fire thanks to Quadro acceleration in Plume. This meant a reduction in time and money, as previously the same feedback would have taken days to simulate the same scene. In addition, the hundreds of GPU cores in each artist's workstation also boosted the performance of ILM's GPU render farm during off-business hours, Nvidia said.

From,news-35322.html Head over there to read the full article

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Fire started at around 11:20 p.m. in a sound stage at Uninversal Studios Hollywood, according to LA Now, and was out within about half an hour. The studio's sprinkler system kept the small blaze tamed. "Initial reports indicate that electrical wiring may be to blame," reports ABC7. Luckily the theme park operations were not affected by last night's fire, and all of the rides were expected to be up and running this morning. No estimates regarding damage, or further details about the incident have been made available. The Universal Studios backlot was the site of a massive and damaging fire in 2008. Restored and renovated portions of the backlot were re-opened in May 2010.
CHRISTIAN Slater has blamed one of his former flames for casting his beloved Star Wars collection to the dark side.The Heathers hunk, 41, says he is still upset at the losing his favorite toys for a second time.
“I used to geek out over action figures,” says Christian.
“I would go nuts for them. I was replenishing the Star Wars collection I had as a kid. I had just about completed it and then I was dating a girl and she thought I was too old to have all that stuff. I had ships hanging and everything but it all had to go.”
Slater recently revealed he “reached out” to Lindsay Lohan to help her deal with her rehabilitation.
Former drug addict Christian admits he has tried to help the 24-year-old star — who finished her fifth rehab stay in early January — by sending her an email because he understands how difficult it is to deal with dependency issues.
“Addiction is not pretty and you don’t fully understand it unless you’re dealing with it head-on,” he said.
“That’s why when I see other kids struggling, I will sometimes reach out to them — a call or an email.”

Friday, 15 April 2011

Actress Sally Field is to star opposite fellow two-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis in Steven Spielberg's film about Abraham Lincoln. Field, 64, who won best actress Oscars for Norma Rae and Places in the Heart, will play the iconic US president's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. Spielberg said Field would bring "fragility and complexity" to the part. Out in 2012, the film is based Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Field can currently be seen opposite Calista Flockhart in TV series Brothers and Sisters, for which she won an Emmy in 2007. In 1979's Norma Rae, Field played the title role in the tale of a Southern mill worker's fight to unionise her workplace. 1984 drama Places in the Heart saw her play a Texas widow desperate to keep her cotton farm running during the Great Depression. Day-Lewis, 53, cast as Lincoln after Liam Neeson dropped out, won best actor Oscars for My Left Foot in 1990 and for There Will Be Blood in 2008. Meanwhile, another Abraham Lincoln-related film - The Conspirator, directed by Robert Redford - is out in the US on Friday. James McAvoy and Robin Wright star in the film which tells of Mary Surratt, a woman accused of playing a part in Lincoln's 1865 assassination.
Consummate nerd supplier ThinkGeek introduced the fabulous Star Wars Lightsaber Popsicles to their product catalog, and fanboys have nary been more excited at the prospect of licking Darth Vader's lightsaber.

Shipping actual popsicles would make your post office all sticky and that's not fair to those poor bastards who have to drive an opposite mini-truck all day, so your $34.99 will get you a mold that comes with two Luke Skywalker and two Darth Vader lightsaber popsicle hilts. Naturally, the hilt lights up, giving the lightsaber pop a Force glow. 

UGO-recommended popsicle flavors include Yoda Soda from the official Star Wars Cookbook, Ewok tears, and booze.

So far, this is just an April Fool's joke product, but ThinkGeek has a history of putting their April Fool's products into actual production, from the 8-bit tie to the stink-less Star Wars TaunTaun sleeping bag. Clicking on the Buy Now will give you a chance to vote for your favorite joke products this year. Those with the most customer interest will actually be made into buyable items! Since the Angry Birds Pork Rinds are getting all the press, hop on your internet box (easier still, you are already there) and make your corporate frozen treat interests known.

The video below is a cute little commercial for the Star Wars Popsicles, starring an ice cream truck-driving Darth Vader trying to sell Dago Balls and Admiral Snackbars to neighborhood summertime children. More ice cream trucks need to play the Star Wars theme song. I mean, I'll still come running out of my house in my size 12 boys' Yoda pajamas to buy an overpriced Colonel Crunch bar even though I have a car and the freedom to take it to any ice cream shop I want at any time I want, but the Star Wars theme song would be a nice touch.


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Watching the trailer for Super 8 (again) and noticed Darth Vader's Tie Fighter hanging from the ceiling just by the Space Shuttle poster. Take a look. The movie is set in 1979 so expect to see some vintage toys in the movie.

Check out the trailer. The Tie Fighter can be seen around 2:21

The Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville is celebrating its 10th year by presenting its 2011 JBFC Vision Award to Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg.
The presentation is part of the Burns Center's 10-year anniversary celebration Sept. 17.
For details and ticket information, call the Center at 914-773-7663.

Lego Star Wars is back and will keep both young and old occupied for days.
The animated Star Wars Lego figures may be funny to look at to start with, but comedy is part of the attraction of the these games and this, the third in the series, is no different.
Players will find the game play is smoother and the campaigns are longer than the previous two versions.
The trademark gibberish dialogue between the characters is as amusing as ever but there is more depth to this game with missions allowing gamers to build armies and defend bases.
The levels span the whole of the Clone Wars era of the hit animated saga so fans of the series will already be familiar with the storylines and the characters.
The new multiplayer modes are a welcome addition, giving you the freedom to play with friends or even grown-ups who will probably beg you to let them have a go when they see how much fun you are having.

Lego Star Wars III

The Force is strong with this


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Mike Koehler doesn't have project funding or construction experience, but he wants to make this life-sized AT-AT walker a reality, dammit.
It's a sad fact that these days, the USA just can't cut it in the global giant robot race. Japan has its Gundam statue and Tetsujin 28-go, South Korea is still planning its gargantuan Taekwon V, and even China has that ... thing ... in Sichuan province. But what do we have here in the States? Nothing, nada, zilch - unless the Statue of Liberty was really a coverup this entire time, that is. (Even then, it'd be on the French).
Star Wars fan Mike Koehler dreams of changing that. He dreams of channeling nerd power into a force for good. He dreams of an AT-AT for America.
In his manifesto linked above, Koehler calls upon the nerds of America to harness their "brain power, [their] manufacturing prowess, [their] organizational skills and [their] geek-fueled eye for detail" to create a life-sized replica of the AT-AT walkers from The Empire Strikes Back. He admits that he has no mechanical aptitude and no funding to get off the ground, but that's what group efforts are for. Plus, come on - wouldn't a full-scale AT-AT be awesome?
Koehler's vision goes beyond the simple statues we see in Asia, though - he wants his AT-AT to be fully functional. I think that may be dreaming a bit too hard there, Mike, but don't let me stop you.
Speaking with The, the Oklahoma City-based father of three said that he hoped to have "several build teams across the country" who would then come together wherever they decided to put the damn thing together.

Read the rest over at
Traveller's Tales has told Official Nintendo Magazine that LEGO Pirates Of The Caribbean could be one of the best LEGO games yet.

TT has released eight LEGO games based on successful films over the last six years including Harry Potter, Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but the company believe its found the perfect fit in Pirates Of The Caribbean.

Asked why Pirates Of The Caribbean was chosen as the next film for a LEGO game, TT's Jonathan Smith said "The Pirates Of The Caribbean movies are full of great characters, varied locations and cool action scenes. This gives us the perfect foundation for a LEGO videogame. Also, the Pirates Of The Caribbean world has a sense of fun and mischief which fits really well with our own sensibilities. Plus: PIRATES!"

In the same interview, he also said that the LEGO version of Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow could be the best LEGO character they've ever created. "We have a really talented team at Traveller's Tales who've done a great job of capturing Jack Sparrow's personality in mini-figure form," he added. "We actually find that people think he could be one of the best characters we've created."

Yet TT Games wouldn't be drawn on what the next project would be after LEGO Pirates Of The Caribbean, simply saying "we've certainly got some surprises in the pipeline for future titles."


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Great review of A.I on Blu-Ray.

Here's a snippet

The Disc: A.I.: Artificial Intelligence [Blu-Ray] dvd star rating

There is well over an hour of extra content loaded on this disc, but I’m pretty sure there’s nothing new here that didn't appear on the original DVD release. Still, it’s almost overwhelming how much content is in the special features. The only thing missing is a director’s commentary, but you get so much in exchange that I think it’s a good thing it’s absent. It probably would have been too much.

“Creating A.I.” is just that, a segment on the creation of the film. There’s a lot of talk and pictures of Kubrick and the deeply etched money bags underneath his eyes here, and it’s great. Being a massive Kubrick fan (he’s my favorite director, by far), it’s nice to hear so much love thrown in his direction and to learn that at one point in his creation of the film he even requested that Spielberg direct it and that he produce it. I never knew that. I always just thought he died before he got a chance to do anything with it, but according to these special features, that wasn’t the case at all. He had already gotten the project off the ground since the '80s.

“Acting A.I.” features both Osment and Law talking about what it’s like to play robots. It’s fascinating stuff. Especially seeing what raw talent Osment once had. He was such a natural actor (jeez, I’m talking like he’s dead).

“Designing A.I.” “Lighting A.I.” “A.I./F.X.,” and the “Special Visual Effects and Animation” features are all deep and introspective looks at everything that went into making the visuals so stunning. “The Robots of A.I.” is a lengthy, but interesting, discussion on the purpose of robots in our society and how they were created in the film. Some were actors is costume and some were actual robots. It’s really impressive. “The Sound and Music of A.I.” delves into the strange sounds that go into a sci-fi flick and also the John Williams’ score that plays throughout. And “Closing: Steven Spielberg: Our Responsibility to Artificial Intelligence” is similar to what I mentioned earlier about the film’s message on how we need to be careful with how much of our souls and intellect that we invest in technology. It almost sounds like Kubrick is talking vicariously through Spielberg in this segment.

Designs and two trailers round out the rest of the special features.

Read the full review here

Monday, 11 April 2011

LucasArts told Gamasutra on Friday that it hired on Crystal Dynamics' former Tomb Raider creative and franchise director Tim Longo as creative director on an unannounced project.

It's not the first time that Longo has worked with LucasArts. He previously worked on LucasArts-published titles including Star Wars: Starfighter and Jedi Starfighter as lead designer, and was creative director on Star Wars: Republic Commando.

Longo even has a LucasArts credit as a playtester on the original X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter from the late 1990s. A LucasArts rep said in a statement that the company is "thrilled to welcome him back to the LucasArts family."

Longo's most recent Tomb Raider credits were on Tomb Raider: Underworld and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Anniversary.

His former employer Crystal Dynamics is currently at work on a new Tomb Raider game, intended to revitalize and reboot the 15-year-old franchise.
Click image and click again for larger version.  Right click to save to your PC/Mac/Magic box/Interweb viewer

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Click the image and then click again for the largest version then right click to save to your PC/Mac/Padd/Data Crystal.
Novelist Anthony Horowitz has claimed that he has been tapped to write a sequel to the upcoming film adaptation of Tintin, if Steven Spielberg's first film proves a success.

Horowitz, writer of the popular Alex Rider series of novels, said that he has been asked to write a sequel combining Hergé's classic Tintin stories The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners Of The Sun.

"As we speak I've been hired to write Tintin," Horowitz told Radio 5 host Richard Bacon. "They've got [The Chronicles Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn] coming out at Christmas, and if that film is a success and works and gets an audience I'm writing the sequel to it."

Horowitz also confirmed that the potential sequel would be titled Prisoners Of The Sun, which will be directed by Peter Jackson.

The writer was appearing on the show to promote Scorpia Rising, the final book in his Alex Rider series.

The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn will be released in cinemas on UK cinemas on October 26, and in the US on December 23.
Get a detailed look into the class system in SWTOR
George Zuller the lead combat designer for SWTOR talks about how aspects of their systems have changed from playtesting and focus groups. This should give the hardcore fans a better understanding of what to expect although I am sure it won’t be enough to satisfy their blood lust. Here are the details for what you can expect in the class department of this Star Wars title.
Class Abilities
As you level up, your character will gain abilities from three sources:
  • Through trainers, from their base class (e.g. Sith Warrior)
  • Through trainers, from their advanced class (e.g. Marauder)
  • Through skill points spent in the skill trees of their Advanced Class
Skill Trees
Each skill tree provides access to a number of active abilities (which are added to your ability bar, and can be activated during play). You can also assign your training points to passive abilities. Passive abilities are ‘always on’, and alter how your base class abilities work.
It is important to note that the choices you make in your skill tree never subtract from your base class abilities; they instead improve and add to the character’s arsenal.
Skill Tree Choices
Imagine a Sith Warrior character, with the Juggernaut Advanced Class. As part of the tanking and control themed ‘Immortal’ skill tree, he may choose to learn Force Grip. This upgrades the base class ability Force Choke from being a channeled ability, requiring several seconds to activate, to being an instantly used ability. This increases the Juggernaut’s effectiveness at engaging multiple enemies at once, as those being choked not only take significant damage, but are also unable to act.
You will always have access to a limited number of training points to spend in your skill tree, so your choices are important. You may choose – for an in-game credits fee – to re-assign your skill points if you wish, so you can experiment to find your perfect combination. Any one of the three skill trees are valid to specialize in, or you can spend training points in all of them for a more well-rounded character.

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