(thewrap.com) Sony will produce and release two more sequels to "The Amazing Spider-Man," the studio announced on Monday. The studio is already production on "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," which will open in theaters May 2 of next year.
The third "Spider-Man" film will open June 10, 2016 while the fourth will open May 4, 2018.
The first film in the reboot of the comic book franchise grossed more than $750 million worldwide last year and propelled Sony to more than $4 billion overall at the box office in 2012.
"Spider-Man is our most important, most successful, and most beloved franchise, so we're thrilled that we are in a position to lock in these prime release dates over the next five years." Jeff Blake, vice chairman of Sony Pictures, said in a statement.
Marc Webb directed the first and is directing the second film. It remains unclear if he will return for the subsequent movies. Andrew Garfield stars as the titular super hero while Emma Stone plays Gwen Stacy.
George Lucas Says He Hasn't Spoken With J.J. Abrams About Star Wars
(Access Hollywood) When it was first announced that more "Star Wars" movies were coming, and that George Lucas wouldn't be involved with the film, fans were quite ecstatic if not suspicious. Could Lucas really pass off the franchise to someone else without being involved? It certainly seems that way.
In an interview with Access Hollywood (via /Film) Lucas says he hasn't spoken with J.J. about the movie and doesn't appear to know much about the progress of the film.
"I have not spoken to J.J. He’s been busy with Star Trek, and I’m sure that he’ll let me know when he’s got some questions. So, you know, that’s all going well. Kathy tells me it’s working out great."
Star Wars: Episode VII will be directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Michael Arndt and is scheduled for a 2015 release. It is scheduled to begin production next year in the UK.
'Pacific Rim' Movie Early Reactions
(atinospost.com) Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" is slated for release in less than a month and the reactions are slowly arriving.
Publication Movie Hole recently previewed the first 15 minutes of the highly anticipated film and revealed its opinions on the film so far. Writer Mandy Griffiths noted that she was unimpressed by the film's original trailer and had subdued expectations heading into the screening. However, she was ultimately floored by the result.
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"I came into this screening prepared to be unimpressed, but it had very much the opposite effect. Sure this film needed 'Transformers' to come before it, as that franchise has paved the way for many like it, but unlike 'Transformers' you can follow the action, it doesn't chop around to create motion sickness, they have attempted to create characters you can care about, and if you could ever describe robots and aliens as graceful in battle, this is probably it," Griffiths wrote. "It seems like they actually have a story to tell here and whether or not they can sustain this quality over an entire film is still open to judgment, but I'm excited to see more."
Griffiths notes that the film starts off by explaining the history behind a previous Kaiju alien invasion and its eventual annihilation by the world's defenses. Then the viewer is shown the world leaders' decision to create giant robots as its line of defense before catapulting into the story of the film. The writer indicates that the back story is revealed in the film's opening five minutes.
Aside from Movie Hole, Boxoffice.com screened the movie and expressed excitement. "Saw this recently. Action, visuals were awesome...monster versus robot fighting was quite the spectacle (though unfortunately the last big scene wasn't as good as the one before it). Otherwise this quote is right...characters were uninteresting and so was the story. Watch for the action, that delivers pretty well... It's got creativity in its design and style though more than some other blockbusters, but heart? Naa," wrote the publication. "Yeah, the movie is still fun. I mean, it's still giant robots fighting giant monsters. If that's what you want to see...that's what you'll get. And it delivers on that front."
Armann2000 also so the film and added, "For what it's worth, I went to a screening yesterday, and loved it. I haven't read the script yet, so I don't know how much has changed, but the action was absolutely incredible, and the greatest strength of the film was the pacing. There was never a dull moment, and aside from maybe two strange moments in the film, it was very fluid and enjoyable. There were a fair amount of cliche lines, Charlie Hunnam was so-so (my friends thought he was terrible, so maybe I was just easier on him), and Charlie Day was awesome as always. It's a big crowd movie. The big WOW moments play really well, and are extremely satisfying."
"Pacific Rim" hits theaters on July 12, 2013. It stars Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Ron Perlman, and Charlie Day.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For Moves to August 2014
(Dimension Films) It's been a long, hard road for Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's Sin City follow-up to get to theaters. After many years of delays, the film began production last October and was slated for an October 4, 2013 release. This has now changed, as Dimension Films has pushed back the film's release to August 22, 2014 instead. No other film currently holds that release date.
Square Enix Cuts Half of Staff at IO Interactive, Cancels All Non-Hitman Projects
(mcvuk.com) Square Enix has laid off almost half of the employees at IO Interactive as part of “significant changes” at the studio.
In a statement passed on to MCV, a spokesperson for the studio said the Denmark-based company was moving toward a sole focus on the Hitman franchise, and as a result would be cancelling a number of projects and initiatives at the studio. The developer is currently in pre-production on a new triple-A Hitman title.
IO Interactive production director Hannes Seifert will now take over the position of studio head.
The statement added that the publisher would try to relocate staff within the company where possible.
“We are making significant changes at IO Interactive as we align our business against a changing and challenging market," read the statement.
"Hannes Seifert, formerly Production Director for 3 years at the studio, will take over the position of Studio Head at IO. The studio will focus resolutely on the future vision for the Hitman franchise and is in pre-production on a new triple-A Hitman project.
"However we have taken the difficult decision to cancel other studio projects and initiatives at IO and reduce the workforce in this studio, which will impact almost half of the employees currently at IO, as we make internal adjustments to face the challenges of today’s market.
"For those affected, we are extremely grateful for the hard work which they have contributed, and where it’s possible and appropriate to relocate staff to open positions at other studios within the group, we will try to do so. We are also reaching out to other companies for outplacement opportunities. We sincerely wish them well in their future careers.
"Meanwhile, if you are part of a company that is looking for additional development talent, please contact us directly at email@example.com.”
IO Interactive’s last game was Hitman: Absolution, but before that it had developed a number of other titles outside of the franchise such as Kane & Lynch and Mini Ninjas.
"Prometheus 2" Moving Forward - Scott To Direct
(darkhorizons.com) Jack Paglen has been hired to pen the script for a sequel to Ridley Scott's "Prometheus".
Paglen was previously linked, but now comes word that Scott has agreed to his take on the direction for the sequel. As a result, negotiations are now underway.
Paglen would replace Damon Lindelof who penned the first film which scored $403 million worldwide at the box-office. It's expected this sequel will further distance itself from the "Alien"-related elements of the first film.
Paglen penned "Transcendence," the upcoming directorial debut of "The Dark Knight" cinematographer Wally Pfister, which stars the likes of Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall and Morgan Freeman.
VFX & Animation Heavy Hitters Come Out For SIGGRAPH 2013 Final Lineup
(sys-con.com) SIGGRAPH 2013, 21-25 July at the Anaheim Convention Center in California, released the final lineup of 15 Production Sessions to be featured at this year’s conference. These Production Sessions are part of the overall Computer Animation Festival, which is open to the public and accessible for as little as $150.
Warner Brothers Presents the VFX for 'Man of Steel' - (C) 2013 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and L ...
Warner Brothers Presents the VFX for 'Man of Steel' - (C) 2013 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Legendary Pictures Funding, LLC
“There’s only one place where the world’s best creative and technical people converge for a week of exchanging industry know-how and ideas that helps everyone push the boundaries of what is possible forward,” says Jerome Solomon, SIGGRAPH 2013 Production Sessions Chair from Cogswell College. “These incredible production sessions are just one example of what is so great about SIGGRAPH and makes it so unique.”
The Computer Animation Festival, chaired this year by Jason R.M. Smith, is recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a qualifying festival. Since 1999, several works originally presented in the Computer Animation Festival have been nominated for or have received a "Best Animated Short" Academy Award. This year’s selections will be featured during the Computer Animation Festival through a series of daily Festival Screenings and the iconic Electronic Theater, allowing attendees to get a glimpse behind the making of computer generated effects, visualizations, and animations.
In all there will be 15 Production Sessions. Here is the full lineup:
Warner Brothers Presents the VFX for 'Man of Steel'
Tuesday, 7/23, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
The Visual Effects teams from MPC, Weta Digital, Double Negative, Scanline and LookFX will each provide a unique insight into their work on Man of Steel. This session is designed to highlight signature moments from the film and show how creative contributions came from around the globe to help deliver one of the year's most exciting films. The final Q&A with all five vfx studios is not to be missed.
Dan Lemmon - Visual Effects Supervisor, Weta Digital
Guillaume Rocheron - Visual Effects Supervisor, MPC
Ged Wright - Visual Effects Supervisor, Double Negative
Stephan Trojansky, President/Sr. VFX Supervisor, Scanline VFX
Max Ivins - Visual Effects Supervisor, LOOK Effects
Blue Sky Studios Presents: The Fantastical World of Epic
Wednesday, 7/24, 3:45 PM - 5:15 PM
At Blue Sky Studios we have always taken inspiration from nature, and that is certainly true of our latest movie, Epic. For example, the armor of the Leafmen was inspired by the multi-segmented exoskeleton of crickets. Their costumes use iris petals instead of muslin fabric, and thistle down instead of tulle. Looking at real-world physics, Leafmen could jump more than twice their height, and their sense of time would be sped up by the change of scale, which was taken into consideration during animation. Along with that, the selective use of a wider-than-usual lens package helped us tell a story about a seemingly distant and fantastical world that feels right at your fingertips. We plan to show this process, along with portions of Epic, which demonstrate these points. We will show some of the reference material that designers and animators used as inspiration and how our cinematography was carefully mapped out in order to better serve our story-telling endeavor.
Mike Knapp, Art Director
Galen Chu, Supervising Animator
Renato Falcão, Cinematographer
The Making of Pixar's "The Blue Umbrella"
Sunday, 7/21, 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM
A screening of Pixar’s "The Blue Umbrella" will be followed by a "Making-of" presentation with the director Saschka Unseld. He will retrace his journey from discovery of the idea all the way through the Pixar story process and onto the big screen. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the artistry and technology that went into every frame and then re-watch "The Blue Umbrella" with new eyes.
Saschka Unseld, Director of The Blue Umbrella
Industrial Light & Magic Presents: The Visual Effects of "Star Trek Into Darkness"
Tuesday, 7/23, 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett and the team from ILM discuss the visual effects challenges overcome for the intergalactic manhunt portrayed in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek Into Darkness.” From the on-set approach to the effects work to constructing a Starfleet and building and destroying future San Francisco and London, the panelists will cover the creative solutions developed for the film.
Roger Guyett, Visual Effects Supervisor / Second Unit Director
Paul Kavanagh, Animation Supervisor
Rhythm & Hues Studios presents: How to bake a Pi
Thursday, 7/25, 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM
Get a first-hand look at the story behind the stunning, Oscar-winning visuals of Life of Pi as Rhythm & Hues takes you on a journey from script to screen through a world of vast oceans, carnivorous islands, flying fish, bioluminescent jellyfish, whales and tigers. Leaders from the visual effects team will discuss in detail how they attempted to tackle the project, share the hard lessons learned along the way and explain the complex process used to seamlessly combine live-action with extensive digital environments and hand-crafted character animation in a fully-stereo pipeline that required a total rethink of much of the traditional vfx process.
Courtesy Rhythm & Hues Studios.
The Open Source Swimming Hole; C’mon In The Water’s Fine^h^h^h^h Murky
Sunday, 21 July, 2 pm - 3:30 pm
Open Source Software (OSS) has become an integral piece of the ever-expanding Animation and Visual Effects industry. With OSS firmly implemented into many studios’ production and development pipelines, what has been gained? Professionals within these fields will discuss the challenges and benefits of using OSS, reflecting on how the industry has changed as a result. They will look back on their own innovations that have become widespread within the community, in addition to revealing what future developments are in the works.
The panelists represent a community of developers and enthusiasts who encourage open collaboration, as they share their thoughts and experiences with the world.
What are some legality challenges that arise when implementing OSS into a company’s pipeline?
The benefits and disadvantages between closed source and open source software
The future of OSS in various studio settings
Updates and new developments from the panelists
Robert Bredow, Sony Picture Imageworks
Andrew Pearce, DreamWorks Animation
Bill Polson, Pixar Animation Studios
Ton Roosendaal, Blender Foundation
Kevin Gambrel, Disney Animation Studios
The Visual Effects of Marvel’s ‘Iron Man 3’
Wednesday, 7/24, 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
In Marvel's “Iron Man 3,” from Director Shane Black, brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man goes on a harrowing quest to find the enemy who has destroyed his personal world. Marvel Studios, Digital Domain, Scanline VFX, and Weta Digital take SIGGRAPH audiences through their VFX journey as they created some of the movie’s most heart-stopping moments – the house attack sequence, the dramatic ‘barrel of monkeys’ sky rescue and the climactic final battle.
Victoria Alonso, EVP of Visual Effects and Post Production, Marvel Studios / Executive Producer Iron Man 3
Chris Townsend, VFX Supervisor, ‘Iron Man 3’
Guy Williams, VFX Supervisor, Weta Digital
Geoff Baumann, CG Supervisor, Digital Domain
Bryan Grill, VFX Supervisor, Scanline VFX
DreamWorks Animation Presents: A Journey to the Croodaceous
Wednesday, 7/24, 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
A behind-the-scenes look at DreamWorks Animation's hit film "The Croods" directed by Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco. The session explores the artistic and technical challenges of bringing uniquely designed, appealing, gritty and at times dangerous prehistoric characters, creatures and environments to life, all with the ultimate goal of delivering an insightful emotional family journey set against a pending natural disaster. The artistic leadership of the film will talk about the aesthetic decisions made along with the technical and workflow innovations necessary to accomplish the film.
Chris Sanders, Director
Matt Baer, Head of Effects
Mark Edwards, Head of Lighting
Damon Crowe, Character Effects Supervisor
Walt Disney Animation Studios Presents "Frozen": The Craft of Character and Cold
Tuesday, 7/23, 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM
The team from Walt Disney Animation Studios gives a first-time, behind-the-scenes look at the their November 27, 2013 film, "Frozen." Attendees will learn how the team of artists and technologists created the film's characters through visual development, rigging, animation and advanced rendering tools and discover how the elements of cold - ice, snow and frost - were brought to life through new simulation techniques.
OLM Digital Presents the Anime Spirit: From Pokémon, Pac-Man to live action films
Wednesday, 7/24, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Anime has gained great popularity in the world for its unique expressiveness in contrast to western animation. OLM Digital, a digital production company in Tokyo, keeps trying new anime styles, making the Pokémon movies over 15 years. This session presents the company’s various works in 2D/3D hybrid anime, 3DCG, S3D anime and live action films. The showcase focuses on how the anime spirit of OLM Digital is put into various visual forms. The brand-new Pac-Man animated TV series, which is a collaborative work with Sprite Animation Studios, is also one of the highlights of this session.
Yasuhiro Mikami, CGI Director OLM Digital
Masashi Kobayashi, CGI Producer OLM Digital
Moto Sakakibara, CEO and Creative Director Sprite Animation Studios
Ken Anjyo, R&D supervisor OLM Digital
LAIKA Presents: The Seamless Fusion of Stop-Motion and Visual Effects Technologies in LAIKA's Feature Films
Wednesday, 7/24, 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM
LAIKA, the Oregon-based animation studio behind the remarkable features ParaNorman (2012), Coraline (2009) and The Boxtrolls (in theaters 26 September 2014) has inspired audiences -- and industry professionals -- with an unprecedented visual artistry. Animators breathe life into meticulously hand-crafted puppets while visual effects artists seamlessly enhance the performance with cutting-edge technologies. This unparalleled fusion of stop- motion and computer graphics has garnered the studio two Oscar nominations and worldwide acclaim. In this session, Georgina Hayns and Brian McLean address the key interdependent and collaborative relationships between these uniquely different but critically important departments.
The presentation will address the following:
The use of Maya and Zbrush to enhance practical sculpts;
3D Printed material and subsurface scattering to allow puppet builders to break free of previous design limitations;
The advancements in color 3D printing and the enabling of puppet builders to evolve beyond prior design limitations;
The use of in-house developed silicones which enable character performance previously unseen in stop-motion animation;
The utilization of 3D Printers to pre-vis puppet construction issues and control how practical materials perform;
The use of laser cutting fabrics to enhance the design and functionality of the puppets costumes.
Production puppets will be displayed during the presentation.
Georgina Hayns, Creative Supervisor, Puppet Fabrication
Brian McLean, Director of Rapid Prototype.
Sony Pictures Imageworks Presents: Take a Journey Down the Yellow Brick Road
Tuesday, 7/23, 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM
Sony Pictures Imageworks, under the direction of VFX supervisor Scott Stokdyk, created the majority of the visual effects for Disney's OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL. As a cinematic prequel to L. Frank Baum’s first book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” the film explores the backstory of the wizard character. The goal of the film was to create a beautiful stylized environment for the land of Oz and bring to life computer graphics characters that accompany Oz on his journey, including Finley the monkey, the porcelain China Girl, and various creatures that surprise them along the way.
Walt Disney Animation and Pixar Animation Presents: Scare School 101: The Making of "Monsters University"
Thursday, 7/25, 12:45 PM - 2:15 PM
The filmmaking team will guide attendees through the production process of the summer 2013 Disney•Pixar film, "Monsters University." Twelve years after the original film, see how creators rebuilt the Monster world; updated familiar characters into college-age versions of themselves; designed, built and lit a campus fit for a monster; and populated the university with a student body of diverse, unique and terrifying monster types.
Full line up: http://www.sys-con.com/node/
COLLIDER Conference Town Hall Focuses on VFX
(cgw.com) NEW YORK, NY — The just-concluded COLLIDER Digital Production Conference proved to be an energetic and, at times, impassioned forum for the exchange of viewpoints and attitudes about ongoing trends in the visual effects, animation and digital production arenas.
A key part of the inaugural conference, which included master classes, panels and keynotes on the latest trends and techniques, was the VFX Town Hall event that took place on Monday, June 10.
Dubbed VFX Town Hall: COLLIDER 2013, this was the first New York City-based town hall gathering for members of the visual effects industry. It was moderated by veteran 2D compositor and visual effects artist Mariana Acuña - known to many as @vfxchick on Twitter and moderator of an earlier VFX town hall held this last Pi Day, March 14.
The panel of speakers included Scott Ross, Co-Founder of Digital Domain; Eric Robertson, EP/Owner of Mr. X Gotham; Yana Lehman, Founder and Executive Board Member of Post New York Alliance (PNYA); Cecilia Fredericks, National Business Agent, IATSE 829; and Michelle Higa Fox, Founder and Creative Director of the motion graphics shop Slanted Studio
In addition to the experts on stage, VFX Town Hall: COLLIDER 2013 included a round-robin of viewpoints and reports from VFX pros from around the world, who were patched in via a Google+ Hangout session. This included people in Germany, the UK, Mexico City and Sydney.
The Town Hall comments from the various speakers ran the gamut, from Lehman's explanation of the benefits of tax credits and subsidies in New York that apply just to post production and visual effects to Robertson's belief that, despite what many have heard to the contrary, there is reason for visual effects artists to be hopeful. "There's never been so much visual effects work available in film and TV than right now," he said. "I'm here to share a message of hope. The future is bright."
Ross, who appeared on a stand-alone session earlier in the day, updated the audience on his efforts, so far unsuccessful, to launch an industry trade association for visual effects companies, while IA's Fredericks discussed the benefits of unionization at length and explained how visual effects workers at individual companies could seek to organize and request recognition as a union.
COLLIDER also presented the results on an online study that it conducted in the week leading up to the conference. On hand was Jay Van Bavel, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology of New York University, who developed the study for COLLIDER and interpreted its findings.
Van Bavel conducted a similar survey for the Style Frames conference, which took place in February of this year. The Town Hall survey asked participants to rate their responses and emotions on a variety of topics, and to share their feeling about the current state of the effects industry. They were asked what actions, if any, they'd be willing to take to bring about change.
A total of 327 people took the VFX Town Hall survey, of which 272 responses were analyzed, Van Bavel said.
Full article: http://www.cgw.com/Press-
10 things you didn't know about Pixar Animation Studios
(uk.movies.yahoo.com) It's easy to see the wonderful achievements Pixar Animation Studios have created on screen, but what about their antics off it? They've won numerous awards (including regular Oscars) and have broken Box Office records along with way, but what about the things we don't hear about? How did they start out? Who comes up with the great ideas? Where do they do it? Here is a compilation of 10 things that've gone on behind the scenes you might not have been aware of.
Fact 1: Since 1995's 'Toy Story', computers have advanced somewhat. Their 2006 effort, 'Cars', used technology that was an incredible 1,000 times faster than that of their debut.
Fact 2: In 2003's hit 'Monsters Inc.', an astonishing 2,320,413 hairs were created to craft the fur of the film's lead Sulley.
Fact 3: 'Finding Nemo' is the number one bestselling home release of all time, shifting more than 40 million copies on DVD. The previous record stood at 14 million. 'Finding Nemo' sold eight million on its first day of release.
Fact 4: Since hiring John Ratzenberger as the voice of Hamm for 'Toy Story', they've used him in every single one of their subsequent movies and is regarded as their lucky charm.
Fact 5: In its early days, the company used to be a hardware firm catering for American government agencies within the medical profession. The technology they were using was apparently ahead of its time, and didn't prove successful in this sector. John Lasseter made the bold switch, after creating adverts, to begin work as a film animation studio.
Fact 6: The name Pixar isn't an acronym as some believe. It actually derives from a fictitious Spanish word meaning "to make pixels" or "to make pictures".
Fact 7: It was in fact George Lucas and not Steve Jobs that initially created Pixar. The company began in the late 70s as part of the Lucas Arts empire. Jobs subsequently stepped in 1986, paid $5 million for total ownership, and built it from there. The company sold to Disney in 2006 for a staggering $7.4 billion.
Fact 8: As of 2010, their 'Cars' franchise had made a whopping $10 billion for its merchandise, which is more than the entire Pixar film catalogue have grossed collectively.
Fact 9: Over a single lunch one afternoon way back in 1994, 'A Bug's Life, 'Monsters Inc.', 'Finding Nemo' and 'WALL•E' were all conceived.
Fact 10: In order to inspire creativity and a positive working environment, the staff at Pixar were encouraged to completely design their own office space. It clearly worked!
Trouble at Newbreed VFX Cementing Montreal’s Bad Rep
(variety.com) The word has gone out again in visual effects business: “There’s trouble in Montreal.”
Quebec’s new incentives are turning Montreal into a burgeoning hotspot for the global vfx biz. But the city has a bad reputation among vfx artists due to a history of bad management, bankruptcies and/or artists going unpaid at its vfx facilities, notably Meteor Studios, DamnFX, Red FX and Fake Studios.
Now history seems to be repeating itself at Newbreed VFX, whose prexy Josee Lalumiere is the former general manager of DamnFX. Newbreed employees tell Variety they have been paid late or have gone unpaid altogether for weeks of work. According to some of their accounts, most employees have quit and the vfx company is having trouble completing its work.
Newbreed was working on Mandalay Pictures’ “Horns,” starting Juno Temple and Daniel Radcliffe, and “Site 146” for Fox International. On its website, it lists among its credits “Piranha 3D,” ”Mirror Mirror” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”
Lalumiere did not respond to an email request for comment. A phone call to Newbreed went to voice mail.
Several artists provided Variety copies of bounced checks from Newbreed and other documentation of their claims. One provided email chains promising payment, adding that the promised funds have not been distributed. Most asked for anonymity for fear of retribution. However Mikaela Garcia, a former Newbreed artist, agreed in an email to go on the record.
Garcia said she had only two of four paychecks due her or agreed-upon travel expenses, and recounted a series of broken assurances from management, especially Lalumiere.
“To be honest, I was hesitant accepting the job at Newbreed when I saw posts by (vfx pros and pro-union activists) Dave Rand and Scott Squires. Seeing that the posts were from 2010 and 2011, I thought things had changed for the better. I was wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.”
One artist, who requested anonymity, said he had never been paid on time since joining the company and when he was paid, checks bounced. According to his account, artists began quitting once they went unpaid, and production fell farther and farther behind. “Management just walked around with a devil-may-care attitude,” said the artist. “The blame of being behind schedule was of course put on the workers.” HR staff and the company’s secretary have all quit, he said.
Another said he had only just received payment that was due May 17, and is now owed for the pay period ending June 7, “including 120 hours of overtime.”
Montreal’s infamy within vfx circles began with Meteor Studios after it declared bankruptcy in 2007 and left more than 100 artists unpaid. Two years later the artists settled for 70% of their wages. The very name Meteor has since become shorthand for deceptive management in the vfx community. Other companies in Montreal began running business seminars to improve management practices there – but the Newbreed problems suggest that the problems continue.
Vfx artist Dave Rand, one of the most outspoken voices urging artists to unionize, became an activist on behalf of vfx workers’ rights and unionization following his own bad experience at Meteor. In a blast pro-union email to vfx artists with subject “A Brief History of Montreal,” Rand asked them to walk out if they’re not paid promptly.
“There is absolutely no excuse for these practices to continue in that town or any town,” wrote Rand. “You did not sign up to share in the risk or the reward of that business, and you certainly did not sign up to be lied to and manipulated into doing free work for projects that American studios will do quite well with while you go broke under much duress. We are not picking bananas in Guatemala, we are creating very profitable imagery.”
However the financial problems of the vfx industry have come to extend to large and small companies alike, and to numerous locales. In Los Angeles, two of the biggest and most respected vfx companies, Digital Domain and Rhythm & Hues, have declared bankruptcy since last summer.
Cleveland Thumbs Nose At Marvel’s ‘Captain America 2′ Privacy Plea
(deadline.com) Uber-secretive Marvel got its comeuppance when it started filming superhero sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier in Cleveland. The 2014 pic has been shooting in the city for a month – and for a month local newspaper The Cleveland Plain Dealer has stalked and live-blogged the film’s public sets, turning the age-old practice of stealing spy pics into a communal cultural event. The paper even put a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist on the case to snap a shot of Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson kissing in character that went viral. With set security this tight, can you blame the looky-loos?
Video Game Studio From Hell Investigated
(kotaku.com) Seven-day work weeks. Sexist decisions. An office environment so toxic, employees are terrified to speak up for fear of losing their jobs.
That's the atmosphere at the Florida-based game development studio Trendy Entertainment, according to current and former employees. Trendy is responsible for a popular tower defense game called Dungeon Defenders and is currently working on the sequel. Over the past few weeks, I've talked to nine different people with connections to Trendy, and obtained a number of e-mails and Skype logs that show a studio filled with fear and dysfunction.
Current and former employees describe the company as dismal and unpleasant, painting a picture of Trendy president Jeremy Stieglitz as a dictatorial manager who publicly berates his staff and, according to four of the people I spoke with, allegedly makes salary decisions based on gender.
UPDATE: As a result of this investigation, Stieglitz is no longer managing the team on Dungeon Defenders II. Original article follows:
I first heard about the many problems at Trendy from one whistleblower. That source quickly became two, three, and more. Employees were frustrated. They were tired of a miserable status quo at Trendy and wanted to speak out. Soon they were sending along e-mails and chat logs, conversations between each other commiserating about working at the company, snippets of communications with management. Altogether, over the last week, the picture of this studio that came into focus was ugly.
Many staff at Trendy don't plan on putting up with the situation much longer: about a half-dozen developers have already left over the past two months, and according to the people I spoke with, an estimated 5-10 more junior and senior Trendy employees plan to leave once the first part of Dungeon Defenders II goes live in July. The company's higher-ups are aware of this—and Trendy has had a few meetings over the past couple of weeks in order to talk about morale—but some are unconvinced that anything will change for the staff, who currently number around 45.
Long hours and tough management are not unusual in the video game industry; it's common for development studios to subject their employees to periods of "crunch," during the last few weeks of a game's production, when staff will stay late and work weekends until that game is finished. But at Trendy, according to people who work and have worked there, crunch lasts all year round. Staff describe an atmosphere where everyone must work 10 to 12 hours a day for six or seven days a week, and some people fear losing their jobs if they question this arrangement.
Trendy president Stieglitz declined to address any of the specific allegations in this story, but the company sent over the following statement:
Trendy is a fairly young indie videogame developer experiencing some of the unfortunate issues associated with new companies finding their footing: long hours, quick growth, and on-going challenges stemming from working in a highly creative environment. Our management is focused on continuing to grow and develop a positive workplace despite these challenges. We are excited for our upcoming release of Dungeon Defenders 2 and hope that consumers appreciate the results of our efforts.
Based on what I've seen and heard over the course of reporting this story, "unfortunate issues" is one hell of an understatement.
Men Vs. Women
Last year, according to multiple people I spoke with, a man applied for a certain position at Trendy. After some back-and-forth, Trendy offered him the gig at a starting salary of $3,850 a month, but he turned it down.
Not long afterwards, according to the people I spoke with, a woman applied for the same position. Trendy offered her $3,000 a month—non-negotiable.
That's a difference of close to $10,000 a year. I've seen the e-mails detailing both job offers, and while it's possible that gender wasn't the only factor here, one person close to the situation told me that both candidates had the same amount of experience. Others have said it's a trend.
"Artists have been hired (and very quickly left the studio) on the motto of, 'Hire a woman—we can pay women less than we can men,'" one person connected to Trendy told me.
Last week, a departing Trendy employee sent a letter to staff at the company, which I received from two different people. Although the writer declined comment—and asked us not to print what he had written—the note corroborates what others in the company have told me. One section, for example, says that upper management at Trendy pays women less than men. Another section of the letter accuses Trendy of publicly belittling employees and forcing them to work unsustainable hours.
Two different people told me that Trendy president Jeremy Stieglitz treats female employees differently than males. "He won't even look at women," one person said. "He would go [to] the room one was in and stand to the side and yell into the room... without ever going in."
This uncomfortable behavior toward females doesn't seem to be limited to the workplace: A Skype log obtained by Kotaku shows Stieglitz talking about one of the female characters in Dungeon Defenders II in terms that made at least a few employees uncomfortable. "Needs to be more like [a] Brazilian beach super model if you know what I mean," he writes. ""It'd also be nice if the ass was attractive."
Full article: http://kotaku.com/
Michael Bay to Direct His First Video Game Movie, Technically
(avclub.com) Signaling his maturation as a filmmaker and a growing boy, Michael Bay’s interests are moving from action figures to video games, with the announcement that he’s pursuing an adaptation of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon at Warner Bros. As Variety reports, game manufacturer Ubisoft is currently meeting with screenwriters and—“should he spark to the script”—Bay will likely direct, leaving the giant robots of Transformers and Pain & Gain scattered on the floor as he plays with his video game military men instead. Ghost Recon tells the story of a fictional group of Special Forces agents who function as the President’s private team, taking down international threats that he can’t hit with drones for some reason, and doing their job with the kind of stealthy, surgical precision only Michael Bay can capture.
It’s the third major franchise adaptation Ubisoft has launched so far, including the Michael Fassbender-starring Assassin’s Creed and the Tom Hardy-starring Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell (the latter to now be distinguished by its tagline, “This Is The One With The Goggles”). It's also the first of what could be several more years of Michael Bay playing with video games, before he enters his difficult teens and starts directing films about doing whip-its with that no-good Danny behind the Carl's Jr. Michael Bay, how many times have we told you to stay away from that kid?
Studio to Comb New Mexico Landfill for Bad Atari Games
(komonews.com) A New Mexico city commission agreed to allow a Canadian studio to search a landfill where old, terrible Atari games are rumored to be buried.
Alamogordo commissioners decided last week that they will allow Fuel Industries to search the landfill for games, according to The Alamogordo Daily News. The company has offices in Ontario and Culver City, Calif.
One sought-after cartridge, the E.T. video game, is thought by some to be among the worst video games of all time.
Atari paid Steven Spielberg tens of millions of dollars to license the wildly popular 1982 movie's name, and the dud of a game caused the troubled company's worth to sink even further at the time.
The game has since developed a cult following.
The rumored Atari graveyard has long been a fascination of some who consider the commercial flop a part of video game history. It is believed that nine semi-trucks dumped the E.T. game and other Atari toys in the southern New Mexico landfill in 1983.
Alamogordo Commissioner Jason Baldwin says he played the Extra-Terrestrial game and it was horrible. There are listings for the game on eBay that run from under a dollar to more than $30.
Fuel Industries, a multimedia company, has been given six months to search the landfill. The company hopes to document the search.
-H Every major actor on the set was required to read the original comics from the 60s before they could work on Spider-Man (2002). -Moviemistakes.com