Tuesday, 31 May 2011

THX interview
24 May 2011 13:24 GMT / By Libby Plummer

Imagine you're a passionate film technician who's spent hours laboriously ensuring that the look and sound of your latest feature film is up to date. It launches at the cinema and it looks fantastic - just as the director intended. But what happens when it reaches the home? People watching your movie on DVD, Blu-ray or on TV might not even be able to see the picture tweaks that you've spent hours of your life perfecting. THX is set to put that right, by bringing cinema-quality audio and visuals to your home TV.

In the heart of London's Marble Arch, Pocket-lint settled down with THX senior vice president and chairman of the 3D@Home Consortium, Rick Dean, over a cool glass of water to tell us a little more about it.

"THX first came into being when George Lucas wanted to enhance the entertainment experience. He was frustrated as he was focusing on making great movies but disappointed when he went to the movie theatre and saw them played back. It was at a time when digital sound was just coming out.

"He was in the process of building Skywalker Sound [a division of Lucas Digital responsible for every sound Oscar since 1977] and he hired Tom Holman who helped him create some of the technologies in that auditorium - widely regarded as the best mixing room in the world. Tom made a crossover network and from that they developed a standard for the auditorium that could be moved into cinemas as well."

Holman's initials and the word 'crossover' were used to create the THX brand in 1981, primarily to ensure top audio quality on the third Star Wars film - Return of the Jedi. It's also a nod to George Lucas' first movie - THX 1138. Formed as part of Lucasfilm, THX is now a separate entity, albeit one that still works closely with its original parent company.

Despite a very busy schedule and imminent key note speech at the 3DTV World Forum 2011 event in a swanky central London hotel, Dean is perfectly relaxed and more than happy to field our relentless geeky intrigues about Star Wars and George Lucas and, of course, to tell us some more about THX's new offering.

"THX isn't a sound format. We work with all the existing sound formats, such as Dolby and DTS, to come up with a standard for high-quality audio [and visuals]. We work both in the creative process and then in the rendering process."

THX's new technology is called Media Director and is designed to bring the optimum cinema experince that THX offers in the cinema to home TVs. So, where did the idea first come from?

"It came out of things that I was doing a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...." quips Dean, before apologising. Not a problem - we love a bit of Star Wars humour.

"I worked with Jim Cameron when we mastered Aliens for the first time. We finished up the movie and there were some mistakes that were made in the process which we corrected. And at the end of a long day's work he turned to me and said 'will the consumer ever see this?'. That was back in the days of component video, and I had to say 'probably not, because we can't control the home'.

"Anything that we do in these studio rooms is all about trying to create the best consumer experience, but the consumer's home has always been out of our control, so we've always had to estimate what they should be able to see. There's no reason why we can't have something that's rendered perfectly in a post-production room and transfer that to the home."

And that's the basis behind Media Director. Like THX, it's not designed to make bad content look good. It's there to make sure that films are rendered correctly - as the filmmakers intended you to see them. Although the technology is proprietary, THX is planning to license it out as much as possible so that eventually it will appear on panels from all the big TV manufacturers. It was announced at CES 2011, that several big-name brands were already on board including LG, JVC USA, Epson America and Onkyo. The idea is that the tech will intially appear on top-tier models in each of the manufacturer's ranges, before being ported down to the rest.

"Media Director's first iteration will concentrate on excercising all the settings and presets within the display. Over time we'll be implementing more technologies into the display to work with that. To make sure that when a 14-year old at home plays Xbox, the TV goes into gaming mode. Then when the parents come home and want to watch a Blu-ray movie, it switches to movie mode. We can also do things like independently adjust noise reduction and anything else that could adversely affect the presentation of the film."

While THX and Media Director aim to bring quality images and audio, both to the cinema and home TV, the advent of 3D represents even more of a challenge, and what's the biggest issue for THX when it comes to 3D?
"Crosstalk - we're very bothered by inconsistent screen lumincance over the surface area. Also differences between the left eye and right eye can be a problem as that tends to be what leads to fatigue and headaches while watching. It's easy to make the picture look okay, but to make it look okay and be completely comfortable is another challenge.

In this way, the new technology is a good springboard to look into the the clinical proof for what makes 3D uncomfortable for some people. We recently signed a deal with the American Optometric Association to carry out some research on how to make content and what makes it uncomfortable. What we're finding is that people have undiagnosed, untreated vision issues that means that they don't find the 3D experience very enjoyable. When these things are corrected  - their quaility of life increases because those same depth perception factors can improve their coordination."

As well as bringing Media Director to the masses, and trying to bring attention to sight problems along the way, THX is currently heavily involved on the Star Wars Blu-ray release which is due to land in September 2011. The famous sci-fi saga has has seen several re-releases in the past, but how easy it going to be to convert it into 3D?

"The way that the Star Wars movies were made [part IV, V and VI, followed by the prequels - I, II and III] means that the three most recently made films will be out in 3D first, as the they're being released in chronological order. We have the option of re-rendering out 3D in the normal process that we use today. All the layers that created the movie to begin with can be separated back out if need be, in order to perfect the 3D experience. There's a lot of flexibility there that other movies don't have.
"However, episodes IV, V and VI [the orginal Star Wars trilogy] are going to be more challenging. As these were originally done on film, we don't have all of the same elements to work with. Obviously these will be coming out at the cinema later, so by that time we'll be further down the line with the technology and we'll have plenty of time to create a good 3D experience."

We couldn't resist asking - will the new 3D releases include any never-seen-before footage like the Special Edition releases did back in 1997 but Lucas has clearly trained apprentice Dean well in the ways of not giving too much away. However, he did hint that there might be some new goodies for us Star Wars nerdlings to look forward to.

"Don't you think that George always does that? He's shown in the past that everytime he gets his movies back up, he changes something else."

Not a definitive statement, granted, but we're willing to bet that they'll be something in the new releases that we haven't seen before (besides from the 3D effect, of course).

Messing around with the Star Wars films has angered some of its loyal fanbase in the past - with elements of the new trilogy, such as Jar Jar Binks, sending some of them into apoplectic rage. Isn't there a danger that the converting Star Wars into 3D may be a gimmick too far? After all, 2D-to-3D conversions don't have the best reputation in the world.

"We've seen some very negative impacts of 3D conversions. I'm not prepared to ever say that 3D conversion is always bad because I've seen some that are quite good. It's very much down to the amount of time you take and the attention to detail, and Geroge Lucas is such a perfectionist, that he wouldn't release anything that wasn't up to standard. Even James Cameron, who has in the past exclaimed his dislike of 3D conversions, is all set to transfer his 1997 record-breaking Titanic into three dimensions.

There's a big difference between a 3D movie and a movie that uses 3D. If you're making a movie and applying 3D to it, it's an artistic and emotional experience and not a technolgy demonstration. I think too many times people want to jump on the 3D bandwagon, which isn't doing us any favours."

Working closely with George Lucas and his crew for many years, Dean has seen some of the most advanced movie effects there have ever been created first-hand, but what's the best thing he's ever seen in 3D?

"I'd have to say Avatar. That was the most comforatable experience I've had in 3D. THX has also certified the 3D Blu-ray disc which looks fantastic, although it's not available to everyone yet [it's currently exclusively bundled with Panasonic Blu-ray decks]. I'm a fan of bigger screens, particularly for 3D. I think that's one of the challenges for the home - if you don't have a big screen, you're not getting the compelling 3D experience. As 3D progresses, I think that we're going to see projectors becoming more popular."

We've already heard about the challenges of converting older 2D films onto three dimensions, but are there are old movies that Dean would like to see given the 3D treatment?

"I've never given it much thought before. I think Indiana Jones would be kinda cool. And The Abyss - the underwater scenes would look fantastic."

And that's what it all comes down to for THX and Media Director - making things look fantastic.

"Nothing has ever bridged the information base that we've collected in post-production with the home, both in video and audio. That's the secret - the home cinema envinronment in the home is currently way too complex. We want people to buy a good quality product, but not have to go through all the complications to get the best entertainment out of it."
Anything that helps to bring the cinema quality pictures and audio into the home can only be a good thing, and we look forward to eventually watching Star Wars in quality 3D from the comfort of our sofa - something that we could have only dreamt about about when the A New Hope was first released in 1977.

FROM http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/40062/thx-media-director-cinema-quality-to-home-tv-rick-dean-interview

Monday, 30 May 2011

A European investment fund has emerged as a potential rival bidder for Pinewood Shepperton PLC (PWS.LN) following last month's recommended offer from Peel Holdings, the film studio's largest shareholder, valuing the business at GBP96.1 million, the Financial Times in London reported Saturday, without citing sources.
The mystery fund, which has not yet approached the board of Pinewood, is understood to have hired Zurich-based investment advisers Clariden Leu, and its interest may not necessarily lead to an offer, the FT added.
The board of Pinewood on Friday changed the structure of its recommended takeover from a scheme of arrangement, requiring approval from three-quarters of shareholders, to a straightforward takeover offer, which needs only 50.1% approval, the newspaper added.
Pinewood has irrevocable commitments from its directors, Crystal Amber fund, its second-largest shareholder, and Peel Holdings. Together they represent 63% of the total share capital.
Should the European fund make an offer at 250 pence or higher, Crystal Amber would be allowed to withdraw its support for Peel's offer.
Peel Holdings, which owns 29% of Pinewood, made an improved offer of 200 pence a share last month for the film studios following rival interest from Mohammed Fayed, former Harrods owner, the FT said.
Peel's original offer was 190 pence a share plus the dividend.
Peel and Pinewood and Fayed declined to comment, The FT added. 

LucasArts released a small treat for fans as Youtube animator Jordan Johnson, aka FancyPants, has created a new trailer for the game using stop motion animation with the Lego-counterparts inspired by the series.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Geoff Keighley has officially confirmed that the new Star Wars game title for Kinect will be unveiled at E3 2011. The title would be present at Microsoft's conference.
Star Wars Kinect screenshot
Keighley confirmed the news of his Twitter account:
“Yes, Star Wars for Kinect will officially be unveiled live during the Xbox 360 E3 briefing on Spike. Tune in on June 6 for more.”
Star Wars for Kinect is expected to launch this holiday season. The game was first unveiled at E3 2010, a teaser trailer was also revealed at that time, you can have a look at it below:

FROM http://www.gamepur.com/news/3909-microsoft-unveil-star-wars-kinect-e3-2011.html
A veteran of landmark effects films such as Blade Runner, an Oscar winner for Innerspace, and having worked on multiple Star Wars, Star Trek and Harry Potter projects (and yes, even The Twilight Saga), ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Bill George has earned his self-imposed title of "effects goon." With respected, in-demand skills that continue to evolve, Bill has moved from miniature construction to matte painting to art direction and beyond, and is now one of the most accomplished names in computer-generated effects, having earned coveted gigs such as digitally updating the title character for the 20th Anniversary Edition of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.
Since joining George Lucas' best-of-the-best team at Industrial Light & Magic in 1981, Bill has worked as model shop supervisor, art director, commercial director, and now visual effects supervisor. For his most recent feature film, I Am Number Four, now on Blu-ray from Touchstone/Walt Disney, he was tasked with creating super-powered aliens, some of whom look like innocent teenagers or perhaps a dog, others who look and act like nothing we have ever seen before, which brought a host of new challenges. We here at Big Picture Big Sound were invited to join a select corps of journalists in a recent roundtable interview with Bill.
Question: How did you start out working with visual effects?
BG: I started out making models for a hobby after Star Wars came out in 1977. Two years later I got a job in L.A. building models for movies. In 1981, I got a job at ILM in the model shop working on Return of the Jedi. After that show, ILM allowed me to try new things and expand my abilities. I was lucky in that as the company grew, so did I.

ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Bill George.
Question: For those not familiar with your job, what were your responsibilities on a film like I Am Number Four? BG: I oversaw the creation of the shots involving the (giant, nasty) Piken, Bernie (the shape-shifting dog) and the stadium explosion. I was there when the backgrounds were shot in Pittsburgh to make sure that when the CG characters were added, all the pieces would fit together. I then led the team of artists here at ILM that worked on the shots and interfaced with (director) D.J. (Caruso) to get his input and feedback.
Question: How do you decide which movie you are going to work on?
BG: Our executive staff reads a script and assigns a supervisor to it who they think is best-suited for the project. Many times a studio who has worked with a specific supervisor in the past will request him or her.
Question: What was the most challenging aspect for the team when it came to the visual effects of I Am Number Four?
BG: The design of Bernie was our biggest challenge. He needed to be both aggressive and appealing at the same time. D.J. wanted him to be able to kick the Piken's ass but still have the audience go "Awww...." We revised his design a lot.
Question: What's the most fun part of your job?
BG: I love leading the creative team on a show. It's like having the best toys! There is a lot of planning that goes into a project like I Am Number Four but my favorite part is when you are on the set and things change, or the director comes up with a new idea, and you have to shoot form the hip for a solution. That flash of creative on-the-spot problem-solving is when things get really fun for me.
Question: What was the most significant factor in creating the proper imagery from the book?
BG: That was left up to our director, D.J. Caruso. It was his movie and my focus was to create the visuals he wanted.
Question: How closely did you work with him?
BG: On set the ILM team met with him every day. We kept him updated on the construction of Bernie and the Piken and I would discuss with him his plan for any of the plates we were shooting. Early on in post, we would travel down to L.A. for creative meetings and later at the end when things were super-crazy we had video reviews. Early on I told D.J. to think of Steve (the animation director) and I as the Piken. Give us direction the way you would an actor and we'll give you a performance. D.J. directed every performance from the Piken and Bernie and he seemed to be having a blast doing it.
Question: There are tons of sci-fi movies out there. What did you try to put into I Am Number Four that would separate it from all other alien films?
BG: Cute teenagers in love!

A close look at some of Bill's handiwork. (See what I did there?)

Question: Besides the digital creatures in the film we also can see digital doubles and other really spectacular effects, such as Number Six fighting against the bad guys in the high school, with her appearing and disappearing. What can you tell us about these shots?
BG: There were over 700 visual effects shots in the film. The majority of those were supervised by Greg McMurray. I supervised the sequences with the CG creatures (Piken/Bernie) and the Mog blast in the end of the film. I do know there was a huge amount of complex stunt work that went into those shots.

Read more of this fantastic interview here http://www.bigpicturebigsound.com/Interview-Bill-George-of-ILM-on-I-Am-Number-Four.shtml

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The release date for the UK has been brought forward to August 5th from August 19th.
We're pretty certain that the ex-Infinity Ward team isn't making a game staring a Jedi Knight Guybrush Threepwood, but we can't be sure.
Nobody knows what will come out of Respawn Entertainment, the new studio formed by ex-Infinity Ward employees after the little kerfuffle the developer had with Activision. We do know, however, who one of the primary concept artists is.
Said artist is Iain McCaig, a concept artist who has touched many a piece of geek culture before. McCaig helped define the looks of Darth Maul and Queen Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, he's designed characters for James Bond games, and he also worked on the classic Secret of Monkey Island.
Despite a storied resume that includes designing overwrought hairdos for Natalie Portman, McCaig told Develop that working with Respawn was one of his career highlights, calling it "the most exhilarating experience I've ever had in my career." High praise indeed.
He also said that he didn't really care that he wasn't designing pirates or space aliens at Respawn. "Whether it's military games or things set in space, it doesn't matter, my huge burning passion is in designing people," he said.
Could that be a hint that Respawn's new game will in fact be a military-themed title? Perhaps a game where you shoot enemies from a first-person perspective in a story of modern intrigue, terrorism, and warfare?

FROM http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/110457-Respawn-Hires-Star-Wars-Monkey-Island-Artist-for-Its-New-Game
Long before the clones started fighting the robots, Republic Troopers roamed the galaxy, keeping the peace with the aid of the finest weapons and sexiest armor this side of a Bounty Hunter. Let's take a look at how Troopers progress in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

You don't start out with the good stuff. You have to build to that. Troopers don't come straight out of character creation looking like the second biggest bad-asses in The Old Republic. They start off looking like the world's most inept Stormtrooper cosplayer. It's only when the character branches off into either a Commando or a Vanguard that they take on the appearance of soldiers somewhat reminiscent of guys we've seen in Star Wars.

Isn't this a military organization? One would think there'd be a certain uniformity to the outfits. I guess the Republic just took a cue from Halo's UNSC and lets their people decorate their armor as they see fit. The enemy has a harder time returning fire when they're trying to figure out which costume is the coolest.

From http://m.kotaku.com/5806239/the-life-and-times-of-a-star-wars-the-old-republic-trooper

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Peter Hartlaub interviews Pixar's John Lasseter in his closet, where the Oscar-winning animator keeps 374 festive shirts separated by subject.

Friday, 27 May 2011

NEW YORK, May 27, 2011- James Cameron and Michael Bay speak exclusively with The Hollywood Reporter about the world of 3D blockbusters in the new issue hitting newsstands Friday, May 27th. It was only two years ago that the Transformers’ Michael Bay called 3D a "gimmick". Now, he's just finished his first 3D picture, Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  What caused the once hesitant director to branch out into the 3D genre? James Cameron. Bay recalls being on the fence about shooting the new Transformers in 3D when Cameron advised, "You gotta look at it as a toy.  It's another fine tool to help get emotion and character and create an experience."  

Bay found his first shoot, a scene on the moon, using Cameron's 3D technology incredible.  The start wasn't as auspicious as it seemed- the following morning Bay received a call from his producer saying that all the footage from the first day was lost.  Putting that behind him, Bay went on to use the 3D technology in ways that had never been done before.  A 3D camera was put on base jumpers who dove off Chicago buildings at speeds of 150 miles per hour. One person caught by surprise by this was Shia LaBeouf who was eating breakfast in his underwear at the Trump building when he saw four men fall by his window.    

More insights including how Cameron tested the technology (on the bottom of the Atlantic!) and the challenges that are to come, can be found in The Hollywood Reporter on newsstands May 27th and now online (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/magazine/june-1-2011).
BioWare has posted a substantial new essay to the official development blog of Star Wars: The Old Republic, in which audio designer Scott Morton goes over the creative process behind the upcoming MMOs rich batteries of sound effects.

Who farted?
In addition to talking about how the games audio is designed to mesh with the established canonical sounds of the Star Wars universe (Lightsaber buzzing, etc), Morton also delves into how each class will have their own bespoke sound-banks designed to maximise aural penetration.
Designing sounds can end in some delightfully deceptive results when it comes to supporting a visual component of a particular ability in the Player’s mind. There are many cases where the source layers we put into a sound aren’t at all what the listener might expect. A great example of source layers is with the TIE Fighter from the first Star Wars trilogy. Believe it or not—the core sound Ben Burtt used for the screaming engine was actually an elephant call!

In our game, the Bounty Hunter’s Rail Shot uses a combination of interesting layers. A number of these sounds incorporate other noises that have been distorted or otherwise altered using computers, such as the tail end of an explosion that was processed and delayed to create the echo of the shot, or the time-stretched sounds of smoke that were used to make the entire effect sound more “metallic.” Other sounds were much more simplistic, like the sound of a solid object striking wood.
Interspersed throughout the essay are embedded videos demonstrating the SFX in action; you can check out the article by clicking here.

Article from http://games.on.net/article/12579/The_Sound_Effects_of_The_Old_Republic_Explained

Thursday, 26 May 2011


Film is Golden-Globe nominated composer's 52nd film score and stars Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard and more

Los Angeles, CA- World-renowned film composer and trumpet player Terence Blanchard is set to score the soundtrack for RED TAILS, the feature film directorial debut by Anthony Hemingway. Based on the true story of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, RED TAILS tells the tale of a group of African-American combat pilots at battle. This marks the first Lucasfilm production in 17 years that is independent of the Indiana Jones and Star Wars film franchises.

RED TAILS stars Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding, Jr., Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard and Emmy Award winner Bryan Lee Cranston. The film addresses racial prejudice, war and showcases the human spirit as it rises above all odds.

Produced by Lucasfilm, RED TAILS began development by George Lucas over 20 years ago. Several writers contributed to the script, but ultimately John Ridley completed the screenplay. Producers interviewed surviving original Tuskegee pilots and even gained access to official logbooks from their missions in World War II. The film was shot in Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy and England, and the film score will be recorded in Prague this June.

Terence Blanchard's work on RED TAILS comes fresh off the heels of his critically acclaimed score for the Broadway play, The Mother****** With The Hat, currently playing in New York and starring Chris Rock. He is currently at work on the music for the Broadway remake of A Streetcar Named Desire and has also been commissioned by the Opera St. Louis for a project that will premiere in 2012.

Blanchard just completed a national co-headlining tour with Branford Marsalis and will continue to tour with his quintet throughout 20ll. Additionally, after serving as Artistic Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute, Blanchard has now been named Artistic Director of the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music.

As a film composer, Blanchard has more than 50 scores to his credit and received a Golden Globe nomination for Spike Lee's 25th Hour. Blanchard's music was also recently seen in Spike Lee/HBO's If God's Willing And The Creek Don't Rise, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina disaster and the sequel to the critically-acclaimed 2006 film, "When The Levees Broke." The film shows the current state of Blanchard's native New Orleans five years after Hurricane Katrina, and follows the lives of several individuals and their families in the aftermath of one of the worst disasters to occur in U.S. history. Blanchard won a Grammy for his 2007 CD "A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina)," which included tracks from Levees.

In 2009, Blanchard loaned his musical voice to Louis the Alligator in The Princess and the Frog. He has completed scores for Lee's Miracle at St. Anna, the soundtrack for Darnell Martin's Cadillac Records and Guy Moshe's adventure thriller Bunraku (Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson and Josh Hartnett). Other film music written by Blanchard includes Kasi Lemmons' Eve's Bayou and Talk to Me, Oprah Winfrey's Their Eyes Were Watching God, Tim Story's Barbershop and Ron Shelton's Dark Blue and music for over one dozen Spike Lee films and documentaries.

Terence Blanchard has established himself as one of the most influential jazz musicians and film score masters of his generation, a member of a jazz legacy that has shaped the contours of modern jazz today. With more than 29 CD's to his credit, Blanchard is a four-time Grammy Award winner and has received multiple Grammy nominations as well as a Golden Globe nod. His latest CD, "Choices," was released by Concord Jazz in 2009 to widespread critical acclaim. Recorded in New Orleans at the Ogden Museum Of Art -- itself a survivor of Hurricane Katrina -- "Choices" addresses the choices we all make in life - both as a society and on a personal level. Guest artists on "Choices" include writer, speaker, educator and activist Dr. Cornel West and singer, musician and composer Bilal. West performs spoken word pieces on the album with Bilal providing vocals on several of the tracks.

Article from http://www.jazzcorner.com/news/display.php?news=1867
Disneyland's relaunch of Star Tours is now just days away (the ride officially opens to the public next Friday, June 3), but George Lucas himself was at Disney World's Hollywood Studios last week for the ride's ribbon-cutting ceremony in Florida.

Will Lucas be around for the Disneyland relaunch next week? The official verdict is still out, but some sources speculate that it would only make sense to have George around for both openings.

Since its soft open a couple weeks ago (as well as the hard open in Florida last week), more details about the ride have begun to make their way around the Internet including an official Star Wars/Disneyland-approved image still, and a new 30-second spot.

Check out both after the jump.

The new film still shows what appears to be a pissed-off Darth Vader flanked by some just-as-angry Stormtroopers aiming their weapons.

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

I'm not sure what audio will go along with this particular scene, but a part of me really hopes it will go something like this:

Darth Vader: Dudes, if you don't turn that ship around I'm gonna throw my magical choke-y powers upon you.

Stormtroopers: ...

And then they all fire on us and the ship blows up, but we can't hear it because there is no sound in space. The end.

Of course, having a ride where passengers die would be a first for Disneyland, so I'm not holding my breath.

Oh, also check out those sweet TIE Fighters in the background. I had that toy when I was a kid and I always liked making the wings pop off mid-flight and then having it pretend crash to the ground. Unfortunately, as an adult I've become horribly scared of flying, so playing out that scenario now doesn't seem nearly as funny as it once did.

Disneyland also released this official 30-second commercial, titled "Piece of Cake," to get fanboys and fangirls (yes, they do exist) fired up for next week's relaunch.

From http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2011/05/disneylands_star_tours_commercial.php
As part of an extensive Gamasutra feature interview with BioWare founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka, the pair discuss the inevitability of their MMO being compared to World of Warcraft and why it doesn't bother them.

When asked if he's bothered that Star Wars: The Old Republic is compared to WoW, Zeschuk tells Gamasutra, "No, I think it's inevitable. We're a pretty big developer that happens to be using the biggest license in the world."

World of Warcraft, he says, has "set consumer expectations" and "conventions of gameplay that have been experienced by millions."

"So, you know, you pay attention to those things, but while you're paying attention, you're doing your own thing," he tells Gamasutra. The Old Republic "is a very different experience."

He continues, "It's obviously a BioWare game... It's very, very compelling. I think it's different. I think WoW and all the other MMOs, they have the same sort of challenge... There are thousands and thousands of heroes. You don't really feel special. It's an amazing experience, and it's really rewarding and fun, but you just don't feel special. That's what we're trying to do."

Muzyka takes the contrast further. "The reaction that we've had, and a lot of people playing it have had... is that frankly once you've tried it, you just can't go back. You don't want to try other MMOs anymore. I think that's what imbuing the game with a sense of heroic purpose and identity achieves."

He's confident of the product's quality. "We've got the best-of-breed features from other MMOs, progression, exploration, customization, combat... Once you've tried it, there's no looking back. You really want to keep playing that new approach to MMOs, I think, is really refreshing."

The full feature, in which the two discuss much, much more about the present and future of BioWare, is live now on Gamasutra.


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Maker himself, George Lucas, appeared on G4's Attack of the Show on Monday and Tuesday nights to discuss three major contemporary Star Wars topics.

G4's Kevin Pereira interviewed Lucas and Disney Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald about Star Wars in 3D, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, and yes, briefly, the upcoming live-action series. Lucas and Fitzgerald described the unique nature of the new Disney ride and its evolution over the years. Lucas also discussed the challenges of converting the Star Wars film series to 3D and the fact that everyone involved is being very careful to do it right.

However, the hottest segment of the AOTS interview by far was the part where Lucas discussed the live-action TV show. Here are some of the things that he said about the eagerly-awaited series.

  • "We have 50 hours and we're just waiting to figure out a different way of making movies, a different technology we can use ... to make it feasible to shoot the show."
  • "[W]hen we do figure this problem out it will dramatically affect a lot of movies."
  • "Right now it looks like the Star Wars features."
Last we heard, the series was still in the script stage, so this is a significant jump forward in the creative process. With Celebration VI hopefully just a year away, is there a chance that we'll have new live-action Star Wars footage waiting for us in [insert CVI city here]? Here's hoping!

Watch the interview over at http://www.theforce.net/topstory/story/George_Lucas_Talks_SW_LiveAction_Series_138409.asp

TNT has no idea how fans will react to a Season 1 of "Falling Skies," but that's not stopping the cable channel from looking ahead to Season 2.
Remi Aubuchon -- whose pilot concept to Syfy was later turned into the short-lived "Battlestar Galactica" prequel "Caprica" -- will be the showrunner for "Falling Skies" if and when TNT decides to renew the show.
Aubuchon will take over a brand new writing room this summer if there is a second season, mostly because the time from production of the first season to air has made most of the original writers completely unavailable because of other projects, according to Deadline.com.
"Falling Skies" is a Steven Spielberg production starring Noah Wyle and produced by Spielberg's DreamWorks TV. Aubuchon was apparently Spielberg's first choice to run "Falling Skies," according to reporter Nellie Andreeva. However, Aubuchon had already committed to the second season of "Stargate: Universe," where he was an executive consultant.
Aubuchon is the son of character actor Jacques Aubuchon who appeared in more than 100 television shows between 1953 and the mid-1980s. His writing credits include "From the Earth to the Moon" in 1998, "Chicago Hope" and "24." He received co-creator billing for "Caprica" based on a concept that was later adapted to Syfy's "Battlestar Galactica" universe by Ronald D. Moore.
Since then, Aubuchon worked on both the NBC miniseries "Persons Unknown" and SGU.
Like "Terra Nova," which is being developed for Fox by former "Star Trek: Enterprise" showrunner Brannon Braga, "Falling Skies" is very special effects-intense, and has taken more than a year for it to make its way to television. TNT, however, seems to be firmly behind the show, and is expected to green light a second season if there is a big opening and minimal audience drop-off in the second season of the show.
"Falling Skies" is an alien invasion series created by Robert Rodat. He's best known for his Oscar-nominated screenplay "Saving Private Ryan" as well as the 2000 film "The Patriot." Spielberg won his second directing Oscar for his work in bringing Rodat's "Saving Private Ryan" to life.
"Falling Skies" premieres in June on TNT.


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

ILM will produce their magic once more this time for The Avengers.  The Academy Award-winning motion picture visual effects company have confirmed via their official website that they are working on The Avengers for Marvel Studios...

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (Disney)
When Oscar-nominated director Rob Marshall came aboard as the new captain of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, he was immediately possessed by the siren call of one particular element in the script — beautiful mermaids.
No one needs to explain cinematic possibilities of dangerous lust and predatory women to the director of “Chicago” and “Memoirs of a Geisha,” and when he took over the Disney buccaneer franchise he zeroed in on the script’s presentation of the magical aquatic creatures as a place to make his mark. “They are beautiful, seductive women but they use that beauty to lure men to their deaths,” Marshall said with an approving grin. “They are women but they are also animal. These are creatures and carnivores and they want to feed.”
And when they feed, sailors in salt water are the main course. Marshall made the mermaids a paramount priority for Ben Snow of Industrial Light & Magic, the visual effects supervisor for “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” which opens Friday. Snow said months were spent in the concept stage working out questions about vision and visage when it came to the deadly beauties.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (Disney)
“It was a very long process and there were a lot of decisions,” Snow said. “In some of the concept art they became very beastly but Rob felt all along that they had to be attractive — even when they were about to kill you – although right before they strike you do get a sense of the predator.”
In many portrayals, the mermaid has a fish tail but is human from the waist up. Snow said the “Pirates” team opted to change that a bit — the division is more fluid, so to speak, with fish scales appearing over the body parts that are immersed. The waterline is the key — it’s fish scales below, human flesh above — although the opaque fish scales do not venture anywhere above the collarbone. There were, at one point, some concept proposals that gave the mermaids fearsome, fishy faces, but Marshall believed that would undermine the romance between a captured mermaid named Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) and the handsome missionary Philip (Sam Claflin).

Sam Claflin and Astrid Berges-Frisbey in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (Disney)
“We knew they would have a giant, long, elegant tail but there was a lot of to and fro about the way they would look beyond that and it was important to Rob that they not look too icky,” Snow said. “The big question: ‘How creature-y should they be?’ In the end the decision was made that they should always be appealing … some of the people here at ILM found the beastly mermaids attractive, too, but that’s just the way people are in this building.”
Snow said the team came up with a mythology, physiology and “set of rules” for the mermaids that never reaches the screen but makes the movie “internally consistent.” For ILM, with the reduction in the number of effects shots and the subtraction of any sea-battle scenes, there was a lot invested in the mermaids in ambition, emotion and time and Snow said the payoff in the film is very satisfying. “For all of us, you like your work to support a good film above all else; it’s not about the number of effects shots or making everything huge, it’s about the storytelling.”

Monday, 23 May 2011

Guests at Disney's Hollywood Studios on Saturday had an opportunity to ride the revamped Star Tours attraction before its official reopening. The unannounced preview, which began about 2 p.m., allowed Disney to test the ride before it reopens to the public May 20, the first day of Star Wars Weekends.

Star Tours has been closed since September while it was transformed into a 3D attraction.

During the "soft opening," cast members in Jedi costumes lined the queue to make sure guests did not photograph or videotape the ride. Imagineer Kathy Rogers and Hollywood Studios' Vice President Rilous Carter were on hand for the debut, Ricky Brigante of InsideTheMagic.net reported.

Disney fans trying to see as many of the 54 combinations of scenes as possible said on Twitter that they had the opportunity to ride multiple times. They reported wait times ranging from 10 to 45 minutes.
In anticipation of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, ILM has just released a new Transformers Visual Effects featurette, which chronicles how Industrial Light & Magic visual effects supervisor Scott Farrar conceived and shot a massive climactic scene for the first film that features Optimus Prime and Megatron fighting as they rip through a Los Angeles skyscraper. Check out all the dirty action in the clip below.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The actor who played Alan Grant in the first and third installments of the dinosaur series denies any plans for another go-around. More after the jump!
They're calling this the Empire Strikes Back bike, but at first glance it totally looks like the Pee-wee Herman bike from Pee-wee's Big Adventure, right? Nevertheless this is way cool -- it was created at Skywalker Ranch using one of the bikes they had lying around in honor of Bike to Work Day, which was apparently yesterday (did you know? did you bike?). It's a pretty badass super-cruiser that contains all sorts of geeky Star Wars nuggets. Here's a description from StarWars.com ... "Literally created in a residential garage, the frame, wheels, and crank were acquired directly from an official Skywalker Ranch staff bike. From there it was a matter of accessorizing the bare-bones frame and wheels with pieces found on eBay to give it an Empire spin: fenders, chain guard and skirt guards came from various 1940s cruisers, including a J.C. Higgins Colorflow and Monark cruiser; the springer forks were pulled from a 1960s Sears Spaceliner; the tank combined a '60s Roadmaster body with a Hasbro AT-AT head rigged to "fire" its reciprocating chin guns with lights and sound; Master Replicas FX lightsabers were gutted and re-worked to become the headlight (Luke's) and taillight (Vader's) with lights and sound activated by switches on the lightsaber handgrips; the luggage rack was a modified 1982 Kenner Rebel Transport toy, now with swing-back rear to stow gear; a Hasbro Titanium Series Slave I worked nicely as a fender ornament; finally, the chrome Vader handlebar topper was lopped off a giant PEZ dispenser, having the added bonus of built-in light-up eyes, music and dialog from the films. Chrome tail, leather streamers, and torpedo pedals were added for flair." Unfortunately they're not selling this bad boy, but you can scope out some detailed pics over at StarWars.com and build your own at home.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Hundreds of stormtroopers and other Star Wars characters, including Anthony Daniels, better known as C-3PO, joined George Lucas and Disney President and CEO Bob Iger with lightsabers in hand to celebrate the opening of “Star Tours- The Adventure Continues” at the Walt Disney World Resort.
clearpxl The new 3-D attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios sends guests on a virtual journey through the world of Star Wars. With 50 possible adventures, guests never know if they will end up on the icy planet of Hosh, in the jungles of Kashyyyk or underwater on Naboo or who they will meet. This is one ride you can’t go on just once!
The opening of “Star Tours-The Adventure Continues” kicked off the Star Wars Weekends that take place every Friday-Sunday through June 12, 2011 and consists of special attractions dedicated to Star Wars.
Disneyland will open its version of “Star Tours-The Adventure Continues” on June 3, 2011.
"Star Tours immerses guests into the Star Wars universe like never before," Iger said. "The innovative technology and storytelling take guests on thrilling new adventures, bringing George Lucas' iconic characters and locations to life in a completely new way."
With a powerful score and motion simulator based technology, Walt Disney Imagineering, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Industrial Light & Magic have been working since 2010 to bring this Dolby 3-D masterpiece to Star Wars fans and Disney lovers alike. Guests will once again be able to experience the popular ride that has been a part of Disney since the 1980’s, yet see it like never before.
Location filming in Queensland for Terra Nova will resume next week, marking a step forward for the Fox network as it attempts to draw the big-budget programme's faltering production process to a close.
Cast and crew on the costly science-fiction series - the brainchild of the film director Steven Spielberg - will recommence filming on 25 May. The thirteen-part series follows the adventures of a family travelling through time in an effort to save the human race.
Despite having strong financial and corporate backing, Terra Nova has experienced a number of delays. The series was initially meant to go to air as a mid-season replacement in 2010, but as the project fell behind schedule, the network was forced to revise its plans.
An initial stint of location shooting took place in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast in November last year, but filming was hampered by poor weather including flash floods. Some insiders claimed that when producers returned to the United States, it was discovered that there was insufficient material to fill out a two-hour pilot episode. Fox said publicly that delays had been caused by slow progress on visual effects.
The network confirmed at its 2011 upfront presentation to advertisers that the series would form part of its fall line-up, occupying the 8:00pm timeslot on Mondays. The programme is due to air on the Ten Network in Australia.
Maureen Barron, the chief executive of Screen Queensland, expressed relief that filming would soon resume. In a statement today, she alluded to the ongoing delays that have afflicted the series.
"Terra Nova is an ambitious big-budget television series that Queensland and international audiences are impatient to see. We are thrilled to welcome back the production to complete filming of season one," Barron said.
The protracted production process mirrors the experience of Spielberg's last television project, The Pacific, which also went to air more than a year later than originally planned.


Friday, 20 May 2011

The Old Republic Thumbnail
I am a hero, sat in a room full of heroes. The Old Republic is a massively multiplayer game that starts by condensing down, aiming to deliver an experience comparable to a single-player RPG. Then, once the quests and dialogue and twists and moral choices are in place, its overlaid with the trappings of an MMO: the groups, the clans, and the promise of glorious, shiny loot.

During the first fourteen hours of the game, the former seems to win a powerful victory over the latter. Every single person has their own story, and it’s at this stage in the game that BioWare want you to buy into their quest.

To that aim, TOR is a success. An hour with my character (an Imperial Agent), and I had more of a sense of him as my character than I’ve ever had with an MMO. My Agent was closer to the RPG hero of BioWare and Bethesda games than MMO heroes: outside of RP servers, often little more than vessels for skills. My Agent was sympathetic to a Hutt’s right-hand man, cold to his money-grabbing usurper, and genuinely remorseful when I had to betray him. I could’ve approached the situation differently – chiding the guy for his trusting naivety – but the outcome would’ve been similar. The game’s starting planets are launchpads for galactic exploration and story-forging, so your trajectory is somewhat fixed. Still, you take the lessons you learn and the memories of the people you insult off-world with you – some of which may come back to bite you in the blue-toned rear end in your later levels.

The Old Republic’s story – where everyone has a life-altering personal quest – would be torture to implement in any kind of context. If you’re an Agent, every Agent you see has been told by the same handler you have that only they have the ability to complete the mission. That setup isn’t far off other MMOs – you have to save my X from ten rampaging Ys! – but The Old Republic’s quests are multi-tiered things, incorporating kill and fetch quests into more creative and engaging missions. Your actions force people off-world, result in deaths, relationships breakdowns, and the fate of your chosen faction across the whole sector. Like BioWare’s approach to character, the plot is epic and fluid in a way more typically seen in single-player RPGs – just with a gang of human-controlled avatars sprinting in and out of your peripheral vision.

There’s a slight disconnect between the Old Republic’s flavours of RPG. Seven hours into the game, and I was feeling lonely. I’d been levelling Imperial Agent in London (Tom, meanwhile, had played as a Bounty Hunter a few days before at BioWare’s Austin studio, and had found little cause for human interaction. In a bid for some contact – be it human, Twi’Lek, or blue-skinned, red-eyed Chiss – I took to hanging around outside a bar (one of the game’s quest hubs), trying to find a friend to go adventuring.

The Agent shares their first planet with the Bounty Hunter. Hutta (shedding the ‘Nal’ prefix common in the galaxy’s later lore) is the home of the Hutts: giant slug-men, as well you know, with a propensity for organised crime. Both classes have a good reason to be planetside: the Bounty Hunter wants to earn his/her Bounty Hunting stripes in a hunting contest. I – as Chiss Imperial Agent – was aiming to get the support of the region’s fattest slugs to make life easier for the Sith Empire.
The Imperial Agent is suave, cold, and ruthlessly calculating, voice acted to perfection by a conspicuously clipped-tone Brit (remember: in Star Wars, the British are evil. In real life, we’re more chaotic neutral). It felt a little strange to take my character – one who consciously flies under radars to complete covert jobs – and make him hop up and down outside a pub, pleading for friends.

Eventually, after countless players averted their eyes from the strange bouncing man, I found a buddy. Following him out into the wilderness, we got down to killing. For all the Old Republic’s character focus, it’s not above a ‘kill X things’ quest. The Imperial Agent’s first set of missions are riddled with these jobs: kill five bandits, murder seven rogue droids. What they lack in creativity, they make up in tutorial: the Agent’s skill-set is more complex than the stand-and-shoot Bounty Hunter, or the stand-and-stab Jedi Knight (the other two classes I’ve played). The Agent’s best suited in cover, and comes pre-loaded with a skill that, when activated, launches him behind the nearest hard surface. It’s not a perfect system – the game sometimes pushes you against a wall facing the enemy – but it clicks well with the Agent’s other long-range skills, and makes thematic sense. Aup to level 10, my Imperial Agent had the same skillset as every other Imperial Agent in the room. Skills are bought via a trainer, but not specialised: gain a level and you unlock one ability. Reaching level 11 allows you to specialise to an extent: I got to choose between Commando and Sniper as my secondary class, with the former acting like a typical rogue and focusing on invisible backstabs, as the latter dealt long-range damage. But leaping down these skill-paths didn’t bust the game open. Instead, all Agent Snipers continued to get the same Agent Sniper skills as each other, at least up to the level 14 I reached.

Of the skills I did get, I got on best with ‘suppressing fire.’ Aiming at a mid-range target and tapping the skill launched a steady stream of blaster bolts, powerful enough to knock most of the health bar off three clumped enemies. For longer range engagements, I’d use ‘snipe’: a second or two of aiming, and my Agent would launch a well-aimed blaster shot at an opponent’s neck. Close-up, my tactic involved more gibbering and sprinting away: the Agent’s built for ranged damage.
Myself and my new chum had grouped up soon after meeting, but he was playing an Agent too. Our attempts to share quests on Hutta went slightly awry: trying to coordinate our actions and quests after a few hours levelling separately became more trouble than it was worth. We soon split up, agreeing to meet again later for more murdering. I spoke to Daniel Erickson – the game’s lead writer – about the lack of group activities on the first planet. He explained that Hutta, like all of TOR’s starting planets, is built largely for solo play.

Across the fourteen hours I played, that sensation was fairly constant. The next planet – the dark jungle world of Dromund Kaas – had many more opportunities for group play. But buddying up felt more like a distraction than a goal, time taken away from my own progression to help someone else see the revelations I was missing out on. It made more sense to save my group play to the game’s ‘flashpoints’ – something Tom covers in detail in his magazine preview – and become the solo hero the first part of the game is keen for you to be. How that translates to the late game is yet to be seen. Daniel suggested that a lot of players, instead of sticking around in their existing skin, will switch class and see the galaxy from another perspective. The range of stories open to different classes means many who would otherwise be tempted to stick around at the level cap may well do just that.


Thursday, 19 May 2011

Click image for larger versio
Earlier today on its official TRANSFORMERS Facebook page, Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) announced the induction of film industry legends Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg—the director and executive producer of the blockbuster TRANSFORMERS film franchise—into its TRANSFORMERS Hall of Fame. The second annual TRANSFORMERS Hall of Fame ceremony, which celebrates more than 25 years of “MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE” action, will take place during the 2011 TRANSFORMERS “BOTCON” fan convention in Pasadena, California, and will feature TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON director Michael Bay in person to accept his honor and share some special surprises with the audience.

Founded in 2010 to honor those influential in creating and building the iconic TRANSFORMERS franchise, as well as actual “ROBOTS IN DISGUISE,” the 2011 TRANSFORMERS Hall of Fame will induct the two legendary filmmakers who were instrumental in launching the live-action film franchise that brought the TRANSFORMERS brand to more fans than ever before. Bay and Spielberg will join previous honorees Bob Budiansky, Peter Cullen, Yoke Hideaki and Kojin Ohno in the TRANSFORMERS Hall of Fame.

Michael Bay: For the last sixteen years, Michael Bay has been one of the world’s boldest filmmakers as both director and producer. His films have grossed over $4 billion worldwide. Since his 1995 breakout Bad Boys, Bay has directed a succession of international hits that have redefined the action genre, including The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys 2, The Island, and three Transformers films. The third movie in the franchise, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, will hit theaters July 1; it is Bay’s first live-action film shot in 3D. A graduate of Wesleyan University and Art Center College of Design, Bay began his career as a distinguished commercial and music video director. He has won virtually every major award in the commercial industry, including Cannes’ Golden Lion, the Grand Prix Clio, and the Directors Guild of America’s Commercial Director of the Year award. His “Got Milk?” campaign resides in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Bay is also co-owner of production company Platinum Dunes and owner of Digital Domain, one of the entertainment industry’s premier special effects companies.

Steven Spielberg: One of the industry’s most successful and influential filmmakers, Steven Spielberg has directed some of the top-grossing films of all time, including Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, and four Indiana Jones films, including the most recent, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Among his myriad honors, he is a three-time Academy Award® winner, earning two Oscars® for Best Director and Best Picture for Schindler’s List, and a third Oscar® for Best Director for Saving Private Ryan. He has been awarded the Academy’s prestigious Thalberg Award. He earned his first Directors Guild Award for The Color Purple and has been nominated by the DGA a record ten times. He has received the Kennedy Center Honor for his body of work. Last year he served as an executive producer on the Academy Award nominated film True Grit, which was directed by the Coen brothers. A principal partner of DreamWorks Studios, he is also the producer of Super 8, directed by J.J. Abrams, an executive producer on TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, directed by Michael Bay and Cowboys & Aliens, directed by Jon Favreau, all of which will be released this summer.

Hasbro will also induct four more iconic robot characters into the TRANSFORMERS Hall of Fame. Heroic AUTOBOTS RATCHET and IRONHIDE, as well as evil DECEPTICON SOUNDWAVE will join 2010’s class of five robots, as chosen by Hasbro’s TRANSFORMERSHall of Fame internal panel of judges. In addition, TRANSFORMERS fans around the world voted on Transformers.com for a fourth robot to receive the 2011 “Fans’ Choice” honor. The winner, from among the nominees GRIMLOCK, SHOCKWAVE, ERECTOR, WASPINATOR and JAZZ, will be revealed for the first time at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony at “BOTCON” on June 4, 2011.

First introduced in 1984 by Hasbro and Takara as a toy line, the TRANSFORMERS brand has provided kids with hours of MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE fun with their action figures that convert from robot to vehicles and back again. Legions of boys around the world grew up creating fantastic adventures and battles set on both the planet CYBERTRON and Earth that featured the “good-guy” AUTOBOTS and the “bad-guy” DECEPTICONS. Since then, more than 7500 robots have been introduced in countless animated TV series, comic books and two live-action feature films. A third film, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, will be released on July 1, 2011, as the first 3D film in the franchise.

For further information visit the official TRANSFORMERS Facebook page at Transformers.com/facebook.
“Archaeology is the search for fact, not truth. If it’s truth you’re looking for, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall.” – Indiana Jones,  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The exhibition, Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology, now at the Montreal Science Centre, examines the facts and fiction behind the legendary Dr. Jones. Combining props, costumes, scene sketches, and clips from the Indiana Jones films with stories of real life archaeologists, the exhibition makes excavation exciting.
“Indiana Jones is a great set of films that was a huge inspiration when I started out in archaeology,” said Fred Hiebert, National Geographic Fellow, archaeologist and co-curator of this exhibition.  “Even though Indiana Jones is a fictional character created for the big screen, there’s a lot of reality reflected in his character.”
“When Indy drops into a tomb full of snakes, I think to myself, that’s normal—all most of my excavations are full of snakes.”  That’s because Hiebert’s focus puts him primarily in the deserts of Central Asia, where the local poisonous snake population likes to cool down in the soft sand of a fresh dig.
“On a field expedition, we experience the same frustration you see in the Indiana Jones films. Anything can happen, trucks break down, the road ends, or we have to go by foot or horseback—experiences like these make me feel at one with Indy.”
However, Hiebert notes, sometimes the movies stray into total fantasy. “We don’t actually search for treasure. We search for knowledge, it’s our real gold.”  Is the search for the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail really feasible? Hiebert dodges the question as his eyes light up, “Did I ever tell you about the time that we found a 2,500-year-old temple on an island in the Persian Gulf built by the generals of Alexander the Great?”
Hiebert is quick to explain, “In the early 1990’s, I was with an archaeological team following clues from legends and myths that Alexander’s army returned from their campaigns in Afghanistan by ship through the Persian Gulf. Referencing historical texts, we were looking for a certain kind of ancient pottery used by the Greeks.  On an island so close to Iran and Iraq that the sky lit up at night with bursts of shells from the war, one local told us about a small mound called “The Mound of the Treasure (or Tel Khazne)”. ‘Oh boy!’, we thought. Unfortunately, with a name like that, it had obviously been dug through for centuries, but it did have fragments of those specific Greek ceramics we were looking for!   Through systematic excavations we ended up finding a temple offering set in Greek style—definitely from the time of Alexander the Great.”
Often, says Hiebert, fact is more interesting than fantasy.
Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology was developed in partnership with Lucasfilm, X3 Productions, Penn Museum, Universit√© Laval, co-curators Michel Fortin and Fredrik Hiebert. It will be at the Montreal Science Centre from April 28-September 18, 2011.


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The deal's only open to Xbox Live Gold members. Here's the full list:

Age of Booty - 200 MS Points
Deadliest Warrior - 400 MS Points
Deadliest Warrior Pirate Outfits - 160 MS Points
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition - 400 MS Points
Monkey Island LeChuck Pirate Suit - 120 MS Points
Monkey Island Pirate Telescope - 80 MS Points

Nice load of Monkey Island goodness there at ridiculous prices.

Time Warner's Warner Bros. Consumer Products came in fifth with $6 billion, followed by Marvel, which rose to the sixth spot with $5.6 billion.

NEW YORK - The Walt Disney Co.'s Disney Consumer Products unit once again ranked as the top licensor in the world in 2010 with $28.6 billion in retail sales of licensed merchandise worldwide, according to an annual ranking by License! Global magazine.
That is up 5.1 percent from $27.2 billion.
The Toy Story franchise, driven by the box office success and merchandise demand for Toy Story 3, was the company's "most dominant property of the year" at retail, generating $2.4 billion in sales, the trade publication said. Disney also believes that Cars 2 could have a similar impact  this year, it said.
Disney's figures do not include Marvel Entertainment, which the company now owns, but which were reported separately. Marvel's retail sales of licensed merchandise for 2010 amounted to $5.6 billion, up from $4.9 billion in 2009, and earning the licensor the No. 6 spot in the ranking, up from the eighth spot.
Time Warner's Warner Bros. Consumer Products came in fifth with $6 billion, unchanged in terms of sales, but down one rank, followed by Viacom's Nickelodeon Consumer Products with $5.5 billion in the seventh spot, also unchanged in terms of sales, but down two spots compared with last year.
Other entertainment companies on the list include DreamWorks Animation, which wasn't on the list in 2009, and Lucasfilm, which ranked 14th in 2009, in the 16th and 17th spots, respectively, with around $3 billion in estimated retail sales of licensed product.
Time Warner's Cartoon Network Enterprises, with $2.4 billion (up from $2.1 billion in 2009), landed in the 24th spot (down from 21st), and Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products ranks 26th (down from 24th last year) with $2 billion (unchanged).
NBCUniversal rose from 41st to 35th with $1.3 billion (up from $1 billion).

If you watched the new TV spot for FOX’s forthcoming series Terra Nova about a week ago (check it out using the player at the bottom of this page), you were probably struck by one overriding element: “Man this show looks elaborate!” The dystopian future meets Jurassic past storyline blends many motifs we’ve seen before: Irwin Allen’s classic skiens The Time Tunnel and Lost in Space; Swiss Family Robinson; Jurassic Park; Avatar…[insert reference here]. To employ these antecedents is to say it looks BIG. Big not just for television, but cinematically big.
Terra Nova was reportedly spawned by a June 2009 lunch in which FOX execs told Steven Spielberg’s top TV lieutenants that the network was in the market for a family adventure story that evoked the feel of Spielberg’s classic films such as E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and the aforementioned Jurassic Park.
Of course, these things don’t come cheap.
The series, about a family from the year 2149 who travel back 85 million years in an attempt to “restart” humanity, is being touted as possibly the most expensive broadcast television series ever made. It has also turned out to be one of the most challenging.
The first two hours of the show — lensing in Australia — cost about $16M. The crew consists of 300 individuals. To put that in some perspective, a typical core shooting crew for network television is 100 to 130 people (not counting construction).
The enormous sets include the Terra Nova “colony”—a massive piece the size of a football field inside 18-foot walls. The set comes complete with a market, hospital and residences.
Meanwhile, an eight foot animatronic velociraptor makes a cameo in the second hour of the pilot.
All of this is something of a television experiment. Networks are recognizing that dramatic television is under siege. Under siege from reality TV, the Internet, Web-based programs, new forms of mobile media…and it’s own tired legacy.
Go big or go home seems to be the new mantra. As cable networks like HBO continue to air epic dramas complete with fully-fleshed out characters (Deadwood, Rome, Game of Thrones), the traditional networks are realizing that to compete in this new world they need to crank out similar offerings so as not to get lost in the media echo chamber.
Still, it’s a gamble. Other major network genre shows in recent years have come and gone rapidly. ABC’s Flashforward and Invasion; CBS’ Threshold; NBC’s The Event and Surface—all failed to garner the viewership needed to succeed.

If Terra Nova is to succeed, it will need more than just Spielberg's visual pastiche, it will need the filmmaker's deft grasp of story and character.
Lost, on the other hand, worked. What it all boils down to at the end of the day is characters the viewer can care about. All the sets and visuals in the world are of little consequence if the characters don’t breathe; if they don’t resonate with an audience. Lost worked because it slowly built up the mystery of the island, while allowing us to get to know a fascinating group of characters in the meantime.
Terra Nova will need to adopt a similar approach if it is to succeed. If we care about this extended family, then their peril will seem far more real. So when those cool CG dinosaurs show up, the whole thing will work organically.
Spielberg’s films, like E.T. and Jurassic Park, only worked, after all, because the director had not only a long-standing eye for the fantastical, but a very acute sense of story, character…and, it should be noted, always picking exactly the right cast.
Meanwhile, the scuttlebutt is that the purportedly troubled Terra Nova production continues to have problems. According to the folks over at Vulture, they wouldn’t be surprised to see the project pushed back once again, this time to a mid-season debut.
Here’s hoping they’re wrong. We fervently hope that Terra Nova can deliver on its promise.

From the excellent http://www.cinemaspy.com/television-news/foxs-terra-nova-gambles-on-catapulting-network-numbers-6114/

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Celebrating All the work from George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and John Williams. All the latest news updated daily. We are geeks and huge fans of their works. from Lucasarts to Lucasfilm, Star Wars to Indiana Jones. We will try to bring all the latest everyday. We will also report on other fandoms and geek stories. Follow us on Twitter or on Facebook. Feel free to let us know what you feel about our site or if you have an article you would like us to post.

The Bearded Trio Spotify Playlist

A Return to 1977. Cast Members Talking About Star Wars In 1977


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