Category: Animation & FX Blog

Eddie Izzard promotes Rock Dog at Cannes: ‘I wasn’t channelling cat, per se’

Rock Dog screened at Cannes film festival on Sunday, and the results were spectacular. Eddie Izzard was in the south of France and spent an entire day promoting Rock Dog with director Ash Brannon. The film was a huge hit, and immediately secured international distribution. Looks like an international release for October starting in China.

I’m the Head of Layout and DP on the film, which was the smoothest production I’ve ever been on. What an incredibly funny, heartfelt film, thanks in a large degree to Eddie Izzard’s improv performances, and the directing skills of Ash Brannon. And wait till you hear the original rock songs!! This is what happens when proven film makers are allowed to make films. Click below to read the full article in the Guardian.

The actor and comedian on his feline alter-ego in new animation Rock Dog and what happens to the human soul when you start sending out for Polo mints

Source: Eddie Izzard in Cannes: ‘I wasn’t channelling cat, per se’

The Untold Story of ILM, a Titan That Forever Changed Film | WIRED

An incredible story that changed stories for me and millions of kids around the world. ILM is one of the reasons I’m in the film business, because inspiration is required for aspiration. They inspired me and the seeds George Lucas planted helped forge me into an artist, animator and VFX professional. There were other inspirations of course that created my love of camera and cinematography, but Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park were fundamental guides that helped me find my way down this winding path. Here’s a great article on Wired about the history of ILM.
The definitive oral history of ILM, the special effects powerhouse that revolutionized moviemaking and changed entertainment forever.

Source: The Untold Story of ILM, a Titan That Forever Changed Film | WIRED

Riot CEO Brandon Beck sharing core corporate values for a creative industry

Brandon Beck talks about team building in the game industry and the essential, core values that lead to real success and happy teams. A message geared to the games industry, that the VFX industry could learn much from.

Paul Smith – artist

This is Paul Smith, a man with cerebral palsy, who learned to use a typewriter as a paintbrush. This video blew me away. He has been practicing his art since the age of 11. He didn’t even learn to speak until he was 16. He’s been living in the same care facility since 1967, producing artwork and bringing joy to his world. Check it out.

Unseen Footage From Disney’s First Attempt at ‘Beauty and the Beast’

An early interpretation of the Beast by Glen Keane.

As Disney prepares its live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, it’s worth taking a look back and remembering that the beloved Disney feature was not always intended to be a musical.

The story reel clip, which starts at the 5:17 minute mark, provides a glimpse of a lighter, less gloomy prologue to Beauty and the Beast, with a temporary music box soundtrack, an excised sinister aunt character, and a cheery old-fashioned narratorial style that makes one long for the dark, rich tones of David Ogden Stiers. Executives back in Burbank, California felt that it wasn’t the right take on the story and eventually pushed the film in a more musical direction with different directors. Below is an extended look at the Purdums’s reel:


Behind-The-Scenes Videos Show How Iconic Movie Special Effects Were Made

When you’re watching a movie, it’s easy to get lost in the magic and not think too hard about how King Kong climbed the Empire State Building, how Jurassic Park‘s T-Rex roared to life, or how Charlton Heston encountered the Statue of Liberty at the end of Planet of the Apes — but these videos reveal all those movie secrets.

Check it out:

Beyond cool . . . into awesome

Sure, the dudes in `Surf’s Up’ are penguins, but this flick looks bodaciously authentic

June 8, 2007|By Roger Moore, Sentinel Movie Critic

Surf’s Up is an animated mockumentary that is nearly pitch-perfect in the movies it spoofs — surfing films such as Riding Giants, and interview-on-the-spot sports documentaries in general.

But it has surfing cred, too. The waves and those who ride them look so right it’s scary — even if the surfers are penguins.

As critic David Edelstein says in New York magazine, “Kids won’t know how terrific Surf’s Up is.”

The surf of Antarctica and the fictional South Pacific Pen Gu Island is dazzling. But it had its origins in the milder-mannered waves of Florida’s east coast. That’s where Cocoa Beach natives Kelly Slater, the eight-time world champion surfer who consulted on and appears (as a penguin version of himself) in the movie, and animator and animated-wave specialist John Clark first hit the water.

“The movie got it all, from the `surf talk,’ which isn’t all over-the-top cliched, to the elements of the water, to how you look riding it,” says Slater, 35, marveling at the finished film. “The one thing that sticks in my mind is the way the palm trees in the background sway to the wind on a beach where you surf. Unbelievable.”

“You really have to be a surfer to get the shape of the waves and where the surfer would ride on the waves,” says Clark, 39, who grew up “in the water: Cocoa Beach, Indian Harbor Beach, that whole stretch of coast.”

What Clark wanted, working with Slater and his fellow Imageworks animators, was a surf look “that was really authentic. If somebody from the Midwest sees it, we want them to say, `Cool.’ But we wanted surfers from Florida, California, everywhere, to go `That’s awesome.”

Slater says that “learning to see, to read, a flat surface, when you’re learning to surf, is pretty hard.” That’s what Clark and his team were up against.

“My job was to figure out the wave science, to go over tons of reference materials and to find the actual shape of the waves, figure out how it is supposed to move, how a surfer would ride it and where the [nonexistent] camera is supposed to be that’s capturing this image,” Clark says. “What sort of surfing is happening on a wave that shape? Kelly came in early on to look at our waves, and he stood up and drew, on the screen, what the arc of the trough of the wave should be and how he’d ride it.”

Clark, an animation veteran, says that understanding how fast the water moves, “how fast the lip is moving, the curl, getting the physics right” allowed him to create those perfect waves for the penguins to ride.

“I did an animated spot on surfing for ESPN a few years ago, but this is the place where being a surfer really helped the animation,” he says.

Clark and Slater crossed paths many times in the water, growing up. Slater picked up the sport more than 25 years ago on the surf rolling into Cocoa. Clark was friends with Slater’s older brother, Sean, and “all of us knew, back when Kelly was 10 years old, that he was going to be a champion,” Clark says.

But a champion from Cocoa Beach? An upstart kid facing the scorn and confidence of “the big boys”?

Sounds a lot like the story of Surf’s Up. Slater can certainly relate to Cody Maverick’s climb to surf respect.

“When I started off, East Coast was frowned on by California surfers,” Slater says. “It’s flip-flopped, now. On the World Tour, we have more Florida guys than California guys on the water.”

Slater says that his years in the Atlantic off Cocoa Beach were the training he needed to make it big, “where you learn on small waves, long, slow four-foot waves where you can make more turns, do more stuff, spend more time on each wave and learn faster.”

And like Cody Maverick, the brash penguin surfer in the movie, Slater had his Big Z, the guru who teaches him not just about surfing, but how surfing relates to life.

“Tom Curran is a world champion, still around, still was a guy I looked up to, who sort of taught me how to take the surfing to the next level, but how to carry yourself, how to love what you do, even if you’re at the competition level,” Slater says.

“That used to be just a surfing thing, that `love what you do’ lifestyle,” Slater adds. “But you see people in my generation and younger really living it. It’s translated into all parts of life. That’s a great message for the movie to have because it’s kind of the best thing about surfing.”

Another Summer of CG Water Effects

Water is everywhere for the second consecutive summer movie season, and J. Paul Peszko dives in once again to navigate the latest breakthroughs with ILM, PDI/DreamWorks Animation and Sony Pictures Animation.

A more in-depth article on Surf’s Up:


The board members who loved ‘Surf’s Up’

The animated flick was a bit of a washout at the box office, but real wave riders gave it a thumbs-up. And now maybe Oscar will too.

A great La Times article on Surf’s Up. Stuff about your’s truly on page 2.


No one was more obsessed with film’s realism than John Clark, who led the wave animation team and recently won an Annie for his work. He grew up near Slater’s home break in Cocoa Beach, Fla., and started surfing when he was 5. He never let up.

Clark considered the waves as important as any character in the movie and scoured surf videos and photographs for every conceivable angle. He was obsessed with guarding against visuals or story lines that would “make surfers groan.”

“My goal,” he says, “was to fight tooth-and-nail to ‘keep it real.’ ”

One of the film’s most dramatic — and real — moments is a wipeout scene in which the aspiring penguin champion is pounded and dragged under by a succession of dark, monster waves, modeled after Mavericks’ dangerous break. Clark says he drew from experience. “I know what it’s like to be annihilated by huge waves.”

And by smaller ones.

During the film’s production, Clark suffered a freak accident while surfing head-high waves in northern Malibu. The tail of his board sliced the bottom two-thirds of his eyelid, denting the eye itself.

“I scared everyone out of their wits,” he says. “I was the only one animating waves at the time.” But two surgeries and six days later, Clark was back at work — and back in the water.

Clark says that although everyone was disappointed by the film’s showing at the box office, the Oscar nomination “is confirmation that the movie is as good as we thought it was. . . . I wanted my part to be such that it was the one movie that came out of Hollywood that surfers really liked.”

The dude got it right.

As the review in Surfing magazine put it: “For the first time ever, Hollywood doesn’t make us want to quit surfing, it makes us want to go surfing.”




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