For filmmakers who are trying to re-imagine comic-book characters and help them keep up with the changing times, it can be hard working at a real film production studio, because they have to surprise the audience while not turning off lifelong fans. For Man of Steel, director Zac Snyder threw out some of the standard conventions that have been attached to Superman during his first 75 years.
For the new blockbuster, Man of Steel, Superman’s distinctive costume has undergone a few changes. For starters, he’s missing his traditional red underpants. And this is the first time the actor’s costume isn’t made of a form-fitting fabric (Man of Steel‘s outfit is made from rubber). And the logo on his chest has also been revised. But the Superman infographic from halloweencostumes.com reminds us this isn’t the first time that his outfit or the iconic “S” has changed…
There are two comic book fan camps—the art and graphic design camp says that it’s the art, layout and character design that make a comic-book hero great, while the other camp says it’s the story. But both play equally important parts in creating a hero.
It’s Day Three of E3. And the crowds of the world’s biggest video game trade show is are still buzzing about Sony’s PlayStation 4 and battle raging between Microsoft and Sony.
But one company sitting in the back of the convention hall, keeps a lower profile. They’ve been here since 1995, when E3 started, and they’ve seen the trends—and their competitors come and go. And as mainstream gaming content has becoming more mature, Nintendo continues to ignore the controversy and do what they’ve always done…make great family-friendly games.
New Wii U Games Coming…But When?
Despite having a lower profile, Nintendo announced a healthy batch of games for the Wii U. Of those 27 new Wii U titles, 13 of them will be exclusives, thanks to contributions from Nintendo’s mighty stable of game characters and game creations like Mario and his creator Shigeru Miyamoto. That’s the highest number of exclusive titles being shown for any game system at E3 2013—The Xbox One has eight exclusives. The PS4 has five.
Unfortunately, announcing a title isn’t the same as delivering it, and many of the Wii U titles shown here won’t be available until sometime in 2014. Nonetheless, Nintendo fans marveled at video game all-stars like Super Smash Bros. (featuring MegaMan), Pikman and Mario Kart.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the largest annual event supporting and promoting all forms of electronic entertainment, including film and video games. The event is covered around the world and is followed with intense interest by those working in the film and game industries, or those who want to make movies or who want to design video games.
Director Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, Pacific Rim, hits theaters on July 12. The movie is a labor of love for del Toro, who grew up on Godzilla movies. It should come as no surprise then that the movie features massive steel robots that battle…you guessed it, gigantic monsters.
Pacific Rim is one of the most anticipated special-effects movies of 2013 and it’s del Toro’s first in five years. The film features Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), Idris Elba (Thor) and Ron Pearlman (Hellboy)—but make no mistake, the robots are the real stars. Called jaegers, the robots are controlled by pilots through a neural bridge and with names like “Cherno Alpha” and “Coyote Tango,” they are just as tough as they sound. And they had better be, because they’re facing ultra-powerful kaiju (giant monsters).
To create the robots, monsters and their mind-blowing battles, del Toro turned to Industrial Light and Magic to produce the visual effects. Legacy Effects was hired to produce the practical effects and Shane Mahan (who created Iron Man‘s armored suits) served as an effects consultant. And if the computer’s voice sounds familiar to you, it’s because it was supplied by Ellen McLain, who is also the voice of GLaDOS, the AI from Portal and Portal 2.
Here’s how the director describes Pacific Rim:
The Battles: “We take the battles far and above! Two or three of them happen in places where there have never been a battle between kaiju and robots. From the bottom of the ocean to the atmosphere of the Earth. We have a battle in a storm at sea. Every battle we try to do differently. One is seen from the point of view of a single person. We never cut away from that point of view.”
Creating the Robots: “I never ‘bend’ a property to fit me. I just fall in love with the stories and give it my everything. These are proper robots but they obey our own sensibilities in design. I am not making them gear or steampunky at all but I also don’t want them to be just a ‘riff’ on preexisting designs from anime or games.”
Building the Perfect Monster: “We gave them outlandish touches, but we always wanted a vague simile of a species that exists, like a reptile or a crustacean. We used references like iguanas and alligators for texturing. In designing the sound, we used a lot of real animal sounds.” For example, the sound team recorded angry badgers and pitched them down. Director Guillermo del Toro also lent his voice to some of the kaiju. “Because I always voice at least one element of the monsters in my movies.”
Honoring the Heritage: “Even if the anatomy of the kaiju was complicated, I wanted it to feel in keeping with the traditional man-in-a-suit type of puppeteering in the classic kaiju movies.”
But that’s where del Toro is mistaken. Because so far Pacific Rim looks nothing like the original Japanese Godzilla movies of the 50s and 60s, which provided great, goofy fun despite their limited production values and cheap special effects. In comparison, del Toro’s new film looks like a billion bucks.
Pacific Rim is already towering above those earlier films like a giant robot—and we can’t wait until it stomps its way into theaters in July.
Filmmaking by Phill Powell
The hottest show on TV has been described as “The Sopranos in Middle Earth,” and there is some truth to that. After all, HBO’s epic fantasy/action series Game of Thrones was ranked in one 2012 study as having the second-highest number of deaths per episode, with an average of 14 characters biting the dust each episode.
But regardless of the show’s bloodlust, Game of Thrones has exploded in popularity, proving to be a ratings juggernaut for HBO. Now shown in 75 countries around the world, the fantasy series features the largest cast on TV (with more than 275 actors per season) and big-screen production values. The Game of Thrones pilot alone cost between $5 and $10 million, with a price tag of $50 to $60 million for the entire first season.
Now in its third season, Game of Thrones claims one of the most dedicated fan bases in all media. A 2012 Vulture study ranked the fans of various entertainment franchises and declared Game of Thrones fans to be the most devoted—outranking fans that support “Harry Potter” and even…gulp…“Star Wars”!
Based on a fantasy trilogy by author George R.R. Martin (A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords) and primarily shot in four countries (Ireland, Malta, Morocco and Croatia), Game of Thrones is concerned with the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and the various noble families who are trying to claim the power of the Iron Throne.
One of the show’s intriguing aspects is its setting, inspired by one period of European history or another—such as England’s War of the Roses (1455-1485), or France during the first half of the 14th century, or the great Icelandic sagas of the Vikings.
The show is rich in intrigue, deception and treachery—like its New Jersey neighbors, The Sopranos—and its depiction of medieval violence is unflinching and brutal. The show’s plot is so intricate and involved that it can hardly be summarized within any one article. Keep track with the Game of Thrones Viewer’s Guide or visit the Official Game of Thrones Production Diary.
Like any good show there’s even more that goes on behind the scenes to propel it into fandom:
Game of Thrones Stats
Turning Fantasy into a Lucrative Reality
Game of Thrones is just another example of the astounding popularity of fantasy-themed entertainment these days, and it shows the huge market that exists for creative professionals who know how to use today’s sophisticated software tools to produce incredible results for film, television, video games and other uses. Digital Media Academy helps kids and teens discover the thrills of filmmaking through exciting tech camps held on America’s coolest college campuses.
Kids age 8 to 12 will love DMA’s Adventures in Acting & Filmmaking camp, which introduces them to film production and what it takes to appear before the camera as an actor. Meanwhile, in DMA’s Visual Effects for Filmmaking camp, teens learn about green-screen technology as well as fantastic in-camera special effects. And in DMA’s DMA Studios: Film Production camp, teens get two full weeks of film-camp experience, with all phases and stages of production covered by instructors who have rich industry experience. This summer start turning fantasy into a lucrative reality by attending digital filmmaking camp at any one of DMA’s tech camp locations.
Filmmaking by Phill Powell
He’s a first-rate action director. His non-stop mayhem action flicks like Desperado, Sin City, El Mariachi, Planet Terror and From Dusk to Dawn have earned studios millions. He’s also a legend in the world of DIY (Do-It-Yourself) cinema; he made his first movie, El Mariachi (1992), when he was only 23. The film’s budget? A mere $7,000. After El Mariachi was purchased and released by Columbia Pictures, the film grossed more than $2 million.
Rodriguez latest project is a crowd-sourced short film for BlackBerry. To make the movie, Rodriguez has been reaching out to fans, actors and filmmakers, to participate in “Project Green Screen.”
Finishing the Puzzle
“Project Green Screen” is an interactive, video puzzle. It began with a short action film called Keep Moving that Rodriguez directed. He intentionally left certain holes in the story, which is where the audience-participation comes in.
The project first called for submissions from people interested in acting in the final film. Interested actors sent in clips of themselves acting out a portion of script posted on the project website. Then director Rodriguez sifted through all the performances and will unveil his selection to appear in the movie when the final film is eventually revealed.
A second round of submissions called for tweets containing imaginative weapon choices, while a third round requested designs for monsters, with the winning design being turned into an actual CGI monster for the final film.
The different rounds of submissions are now officially finished and Rodriguez is in the Edit Suite, putting the final touches on the movie. BlackBerry will soon unveil the final collaboration between Rodriguez and the many would-be filmmakers taking part in the project. The movie centers around Lola and Lucia, two sisters who operate the Two Scoops ice-cream truck, and also happen to be monster slayers in their spare time. Rodriguez posted the script online for actors and challenged special-effects makers to be creative for the film’s monsterous creatures.
Discovering Creative Approaches
Robert Rodriguez made his first movie when he was nine years old, and he hasn’t looked back since. Along the way he’s shown that you can take a non-traditional path to career success in filmmaking. These days it’s even easier to start learning about film and making your own movies. This summer, kids and teens from across the United States will discover digital filmmaking at Digital Media Academy tech camps.
DMA offers a range of filmmaking courses, according to age and areas of interest. For campers age 8 to 12, DMA’s Adventures in Filmmaking & Special Effects camp offers a fun-filled overview of the film-production process. For teens just getting into moviemaking, DMA’s Digital Filmmaking for Teens – Beginner camp shows them the ropes as they learn cinematography and editing techniques under the guidance of pro filmmakers. Or, for a complete and immersive film-camp experience, check out DMA’s Academy for Digital Filmmaking which gives teens two packed weeks of film-camp project work, shot on Canon HD video cameras and edited with Apple’s® Final Cut Pro X®. If film is in your future, DMA tech camps should be in your summer vacation plans.
Music Production by Phill Powell
Among the various careers possible in the media business, one of the most difficult to fully understand is that of the producer. And that’s because a producer’s range of duties may be a lot broader than that of, say, a film director or a performing artist. A producer often wears many hats–some of them technical in nature and others that rely more on management expertise or “people” skills.
A “producer” does exactly what the term implies: he or she produces the final product, whether that is a completed film, a finished music track, or some other deliverable. It is the producer’s responsibility to make sure that a project gets done in a timely manner and that it is brought in on budget and within the original scope of the artist’s intentions.
A short list of legendary producers might include these guys:
Producer: Quincy Jones
Medium: Sound Recording
Masterpiece: Thriller (1982, Michael Jackson), “We Are the World” (1985)
Currently: About to release Soul Bossa Nostra, with tributes from Usher, Ludacris, Akon, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg, Jennifer Hudson and others.
Why He’s a Legendary Producer: Nobody’s been nominated for more Grammy Awards than veteran music producer Quincy Jones, who leads all other contenders with 79 total nods. And of those nominations, Jones took home Grammy gold 27 times. Over the years, he’s worked with a staggering list of talent: Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Eddie Van Halen, 2Pac Shakur, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Will Smith. Were that not enough, Jones was at the controls of Michael Jackson’s epic Thriller, reputed to be the best-selling album of all time, with estimated total sales of 110 million copies. He then went on to produce the star-studded “We Are the World,” which became the biggest-selling single of all time. He worked on two of Jackson’s other albums, too, not to mention a slew of other projects. In honor of his massive career, this year Quincy Jones will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—which will come as a surprise to absolutely nobody.
Producer: Clint Eastwood
Masterpieces: Million Dollar Baby (2004), Play Misty for Me (1971), Unforgiven (1992), High Plains Drifter (1974)
Currently: Eastwood last graced the screen in 2012’s Trouble with the Curve. He is rumored to be in talks to direct singer Beyonce in a remake of the classic Hollywood oldie A Star is Born (which has already been filmed three times over the decades, once with Barbra Streisand).
Why He’s a Legendary Producer: Eastwood is still such a huge movie icon that it’s easy to overlook his many other accomplishments, which definitely include producing. Since movie star Eastwood started directing his own films with 1971′s shock-thriller masterpiece Play Misty for Me, he has acquired a reputation as a highly efficient film producer. Clint’s record of bringing films in on time and on budget (and often under budget, which is an ultimate rarity in Hollywood) is amazing, especially considering he’s also usually directing and acting in the same film he’s producing. There’s no limit to his energy, either; a pretty solid jazz pianist, Eastwood sometimes even composes the score for his films, as he did for the 2003 Oscar-winner Mystic River. He also flies his own helicopter, which he takes to the studio to avoid traffic jams.
Producer: Phil Spector
Medium: Hit Singles
Masterpieces: “Imagine” (John Lennon), “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” (The Righteous Brothers), Let It Be (The Beatles), “River Deep – Mountain High” (Ike & Tina Turner)
Currently: Serving 19-to-life.
Why He’s a Legendary Producer: In a bizarre showbiz scandal, one of the greatest music producers of all time was found guilty in 2009 of second-degree murder and is now serving a 19 years-to-life term in prison. But at his brilliant peak during the ’60s and ’70s, Phil Spector was the ultimate music producer—recognized as a production genius, as validated through classic songs for groups like the Beatles, the Righteous Brothers and the Ramones. (One of his classics, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” has been credited as the song played most often on TV and radio in the U.S. during the entire 20th century.) Spector’s technique, nicknamed “The Wall of Sound,” was to cram the studio with as many musicians as possible. (His masterpiece, Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep – Mountain High,” featured 21 background vocalists, as well as 21 session musicians—including no less than four drummers.) Spector started when he was 17, scoring a Number One single as part of a singing trio. Soon he was producing. By the time he was 21, he was already a multimillionaire.
Producer: Woody Allen
Media: Film, Fiction, Stand-Up Comedy
Masterpieces: Annie Hall (1977), Midnight in Paris (2011)
Currently: Putting the final touches on his latest film, Blue Jasmine, which will star Alec Baldwin, Cate Blanchett and Louis C.K.
Why He’s a Legendary Producer: Like Eastwood, one-man dynamo Woody Allen shows no signs of slowing down as he approaches 80. He has been churning out one movie a year, nearly every year, since 1965. And although he’s not technically a producer, he runs his movies as if he were one. Also like Clint, Woody has great studio cred for his ability to bring in a great movie on time and within budget. In another Eastwood parallel, Allen is an excellent jazz musician, wailing on the clarinet each week in a New York jazz club as he has done for decades (like on the night in 1977 when his comedy masterpiece Annie Hall won the Best Picture Oscar, beating the hugely popular Star Wars). The late critic Roger Ebert described the filmmaker (who writes, directs and stars in his own productions) as a “treasure of the cinema.” He’s still funny, too: a 2004 Comedy Central ranking of stand-up comics placed Woody Allen as the fourth best of all time.
Producing Team: The Glimmer Twins
Medium: Sound Recording
Masterpiece: Some Girls (1978), Tattoo You (1981)
Currently: Packing the house while on another North American tour. Tickets for the Stones’ recent London show sold out within three minutes.
Why They’re Legendary Producers: Better known as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, “The Glimmer Twins” are the nucleus of the Rolling Stones’ production team. They started producing the band’s albums with 1974′s It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll and for seven years, they were the group’s only producers. Together, they’ve cranked out amazing hit singles (“Start Me Up,” “Shattered,” “Miss You,” etc.) and even now, they still co-produce, although it’s usually with the assistance of a studio ace like Don Was. (They also produced Pete Tosh’s ’78 reggae record Bush Doctor.) The nickname dates back to 1969, when the pair (along with their lady friends of that time) took a vacation cruise. Mick and Keith were spotted on deck by an older, English couple who weren’t exactly sure who the Stones were, leading the wife to ask them to give them a hint to their identity (“just give us a glimmer”). The boys liked the name and kept it.
Become a Legendary Producer
Are you interested in learning how to become a film or music producer? Digital Media Academy can show you how, when you attend one of DMA’s tech camp locations. If you’re interested in becoming a film producer, DMA has you covered with cool courses like its DMA Studios: Film Production camp, which shows you the entire film production process from scripting and planning a production to executing the shooting and wrapping the production. And if music’s your thing, DMA’s Digital Audio, Music & Beat Production camp can teach you everything you need to know to start planning your own master jams. Courses are geared according to age and experience level and are held on some of America’s greatest and most prestigious college campuses. Produce something from this summer vacation…at DMA.
What do you want to be?
“I’m not sure. Maybe a photographer, director or movie editor. I also think of possibly becoming a musician or even a cartoonist. Hopefully, I’ll end up with a career connected to the film business.”
What skills did you learn at DMA?
“I learned how to make a movie using special effects, developing a plot and building characters. Some of the basic effects techniques I learned were motion tracking, adding filters, text overlays, cutting scenes and adding sound and music. I also learned about slowing down and speeding up footage, playing it in reverse and a bunch of other things.”
How did DMA inspire you?
“During my time at DMA, I met some very good friends that helped with some of the stuff I didn’t quite understand, and I also helped them as well. We worked as a team. DMA taught me to find big inspiration from little things. Making a movie was fun, but I thought it would be just a hobby. I never expected it could lead to a real job!”
What was your most memorable camp moment?
“Just making friends. That was priceless, and getting to know them on and off the set was awesome. Just having the freedom to be kids while doing what we love with friends. We had fun while we were coming up with funny scenes that we should put in the movie.”
Are you hoping to attend DMA camp next summer?
“Yes! If possible I would really like to go to Digital Photography camp in New York.”
How much did Ezrah enjoy DMA? At first, his grandparents thought Ezrah was bored because he was so quiet on the ride home after being picked up from camp. Turns out he was just exhausted from a day full of activities! Not only that, but his grandfather reported that Ezrah was roaring to get back to class the next morning – and wanted to be taken in extra early…at 6 am!
When did you start making movies?
“The first real live-action film I made was when I was nine. At this point I’ve posted slightly more than 80 videos on my YouTube Channel, with more ideas in the works.”
So DMA helped build upon your early filmmaking?
“I first attended DMA in Summer 2011 when I took Visual Effects for Filmmaking with DMA Instructor Travis Schlafmann at Stanford. His class expanded on what I already knew and I got a chance to create films with teens from all over the world. I made friends that I still keep in touch with today.”
But your DMA experience didn’t end there, did it?
“At the end of the class Travis recommended that I take a DMA Pro Series course in After Effects® the next summer and that I apply to be a Teaching Assistant. I went back to Stanford last summer to do both of these things. I was a TA in Digital Filmmaking for Teens – Beginner, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I then took the Pro Series After Effects® class (After Effects CS6 Studio – Advanced Techniques) where I learned a lot of new techniques, all of which I still use today. I also use After Effects® much more frequently than I did before I took the class.”
What’s the single most important thing that DMA did for you as a filmmaker?
“To meet me at my own level with filmmaking and help me go further. This boosted my confidence in myself as a filmmaker. At DMA I was consistently challenged to learn or try something new.”
What do you consider the best part of your DMA experience?
“The ability to work with other teens who are also interested in filmmaking, along with knowledgeable, skilled and fun instructors.”
Is your goal to eventually be a professional filmmaker?
“I do envision myself becoming a professional filmmaker. My dream job would most likely involve cinematography or editing. In a way I already am professional in that I’m being compensated for film and editing work on a fairly regular basis now.”
Thanks to his natural talent and DMA training, Ben is making a name for himself as one of the finest online film directors now emerging. Check out Ben’s website for links to his films and music.
Aspiring filmmakers who want to learn how to shoot professional-quality video footage don’t have to wait to be old enough for film school. Digital Media Academy’s digital filmmaking camps give youngsters the chance to sit in the director’s chair, call the creative shots and try their hand at becoming the next Spielberg.
Sony Continues To Provide Professional HD Video Equipment For DMA Film and Video Courses Given At College and University Campuses in U.S. and Canada
Campbell, CA — The Digital Media Academy (DMA), a leading provider of film and video training for educators, adult learners and teens, announced today that Sony Electronics has renewed its official sponsorship and will remain the exclusive supplier of video equipment for DMA’s courses. Sony provides its most current state-of-the-art professional high-definition video cameras and other equipment for use by students in DMA consolidated classes, which take place throughout the summer on college and university campuses including Stanford, Brown, Harvard, U of Chicago, U of British Columbia in Vancouver, U of Texas, Austin and many more.
“DMA is thrilled to continue its successful relationship with Sony as a corporate sponsor,” said Dave Livingston, Director of Instruction for the Academy and its programs. “We’ve made our name providing beginner to advanced training for teens and adults, using the latest and greatest industry standard tools. This relationship puts the cutting-edge, professional Sony video technology, including the HDV™ series of digital video camcorders, directly into the hands of our film and video students.”
Sony’s high-definition camcorders are the choice of professionals working in a range of video applications including electronic field production and newsgathering, and event videography, as well as leading university film and video programs.
“Training programs like the Digital Media Academy are an important part of Sony’s educational focus,” said Shari Sentlowitz, Sony’s Education and Government marketing manager. “We are committed to preparing the next generation of industry professionals and educators, and we’re pleased to continue to be the exclusive video products provider to DMA’s film and video courses.”
About the Digital Media Academy:
The Digital Media Academy (DMA) is a nationally-recognized organization offering hands-on learning in a broad range of digital media technologies. DMA offers a wide range of courses targeted at kids, teens, adults and educators, Founded in 2001 by a group of professionals from Stanford University, DMA is known for its premier summer programs hosted at prestigious destination campuses nationwide. In addition to its summer programs, DMA provides on-site training to schools and companies throughout the year. For more information, go to http://www.digitalmediaacademy.org or call 866-656-3342.
News from HQ by Philip Harding
While MTV isn’t showing music videos anymore, music videos still play a key role in promoting a song. Instead of dialing in MTV, Youtube, Vimeo and Vevo are the way to bring music to life. In fact, PSY’s “Gangham Style” became a YouTube sensation long before it became a chart hit.
Digital Media Academy is partnered with The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus to offer the Academy of Music Video & Production! You’ll learn the skills used by music video directors and artists to make the perfect music video. The only limit is your creativity!