How ‘Captain Marvel’ got her glow, and how Goose the cat came alive on screen: A VFX interview with ILM

Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Captain Marvel finally gave us a glimpse into the making of the most powerful Avenger yet.

Fans have been on pins and needles to know more about the character since watching Nick Fury’s outmoded pager send her a distress signal in the aftermath of Thanos’ snap. And suffice to say, it was worth the wait.

Captain Marvel beautifully crafted Carol Danvers’ journey from a Kree soldier to a superhero, elevated by flashy and glaring visual effects. Industrial Light and Magic’s Craig Hammock, who served as the VFX supervisor of the film, has further insights to give into the same.

Having delivered about 300 shots for the film, he starts off by explaining the creation of Captain Marvel’s glow: “It is called the binary effect. As you can imagine adding intense lighting on and around a hero character is very difficult to make feel well integrated to both her and the environment around her. On the photography side of things the Marvel visual effects supervisor Chris Townsend did a great job of working with the production crew to make sure there were lighting instruments on set to give passes with a base of lighting for reference as well as in some cases having bands of LED lights that could be worn for the blast moments.”

Whenever Captain Marvel charges up her powers, she’s veiled in a thick sheath of golden rays, which Hammock says is similar to an electric field. And pulling it off has apparently been a great ordeal, especially in that scene where she’s floating across Ronan The Accuser’s spaceship.

“We end up running as many as 12 separate simulations from her and over her geometry to generate the layers of complexity that you see in the final binary effect.  They have various forces that control them, but the dominant one behaves similar to an electrical field. This produces thin strands of energy that peel off of her and arc away,” he said.

“In extreme shots where she needed to show extra power or control, like the Ronan ship faceoff, we tweak it slightly to enhance the idea of electromagnetic forces.  We selected areas on her to treat as magnetic poles, then we transition from the randomly generated areas of repulsion to the very controlled magnetic flow lines. This gives the impression that she can control and channel the energy at will.”

Marvel fans are well versed with Ronan the Accuser, who previously appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume One. But only eagle-eyed followers would have recognised certain subtle differences in that spaceship to the one that he pilots in the James Gunn-movie.

Hammock explains, “In looking at the GOTG Ronan ship it felt like it was constructed of an almost iron ore material that was very slab like. We took that idea and explored other minerals to derive a basic design concept. After looking through lots of natural large stone reference we thought that slate would work well with accents of gold pyrite. This gave it a sculptural quality and a way to feel like alien technology, but still somehow raw and oppressive.

“We also chose to dress Ronan’s specific ship with a pattern based on meteoric iron in the Kree teal color. Once we started blocking in shots the need for Ronan to have a more recognizable silhouette came up so we did an overall twist of the wing tips that also nudged it a little toward the shape of the GOTG ship. Making unique alien ships is harder than you think, but the approach to this one was very rewarding and ended up one of my favorite ships I’ve seen.”

Like every other movie in the MCU, Captain Marvel too was lit with rib-tickling humor and wisecracks. But a large chunk of that entertainment was imbued by none other than Goose the cat, which became one of the biggest talking points of the film.

A “Flerkin” as Danvers clarifies Fury, the alien creature had a strong resemblance to Garfield, but proved to be more notorious and powerful than anyone could imagine.

So how was the cat brought alive on screen? “Goose is actually played by four cats on set. They all had different specialties that made them useful for different scenes. The hero cat, Reggie, was used as often as possible and was the one the digital asset was based on. He was scanned and then another VFX Vendor named Trixter was tasked with building the CG version and doing the majority of the CG Goose shots in the film. They took the scans and the copious amounts of photographic reference and built the asset and then sent it to us at ILM as reference to build our own version. ILM was tasked with the shots where the tentacled Flerkin is seen.  

“We basically had to recreate what Trixter had done to match the cat and then design and build a way for a set of giant tentacles to come out and wreak havoc. The Flerkin has a visual representation from the comics that we needed to work with. The idea was to keep the general intent of the style. After several rounds of concept art it landed with a design that has a hard spikey rigid outer skin and more fleshy inner skin covered by tiny suction cups.  Then the whole thing gets covered in digital saliva that makes it extra sloppy and adds to the comedic moments,” he elucidated.

“The cat movements are based on real world reference that our animators looked at. When the Flerkin comes out we unlock the cats jaw and allow the skin to stretch tight as it opens its mouth like a snake.”

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Broadcasters board ‘The Day Henry Met…’ season three

Monster Entertainment has closed deals with a raft of broadcasters and SVOD companies for the recently completed season three of its hit series, The Day Henry Met…? Internationally, the new season is airing on Pay TV on Nickelodeon in 178 countries and is about to launch on the US Pay TV Service, Condista’s Spanish and English language service, Kids Central.

The new season has also been picked up by Free TV broadcasters including ABC Australia, TV3 Catalunya in Spain, RAI Italy, TVP in Poland, TVO and TFO in Canada and Eesti Estonia Digital rights have been picked up by Jetsen Huashi in China. Svensk in Scandinavia, Azoomee in the UK and TFOU Max in France. The series, which now runs to 4 seasons, each of 26 x 5’ premiered on RTE in Ireland and then on Nick Jr. in 178 countries prior to moving to Free TV and SVOD The Day Henry Met…? won the Pulcinella Award for Best European Work at Cartoons on the Bay in 2015. In March 2017, the series also won Best Animation at the Irish Film and Television Awards and is produced by Wiggleywoo in Ireland.

The Day Henry Met…? reaches 203K viewers with 53 per cent of viewers ages upto four. In Italy, the series is ranked fifth among the most viewed programmes on free children’s channels, with a 13.32 per cent share of viewers aged 4-7. It is the no.1 preschool series in Australia and, following the launch of its third season on Nick Jr Too in the UK, the series has topped the ratings there as well.

Season four of the series is in the production and due for completion in October.

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Xigma Games is working towards the sequel of their celebrated title, ‘The Bonfire’

India is perched to become one of the world’s leading markets in the gaming sector with one of the world’s largest youth population. The Indian market is currently valued $ 890 million, with mobile Gaming taking the lead at 71 per cent share whereas the annual growth rate of the gaming sector is estimated at 14.3 per cent.

In conversation with AnimationXpress Xigma Games founder, designer and developer Himanshu Manwani expressed “Indian gaming industry is still at its nascent stage where the majority of the studios are still trying to find their business model either by providing services or by making their own original IPs. There are big studios that are focusing on the Indian audience and making free to play games, or by providing services to other western companies. On the other side, there are small indie teams who are focusing on the global audience and trying to push creative boundaries. The Indian gaming industry is expected to grow at a rapid rate and there are lot more opportunities present then they were in the past, but the industry still has a long way to go for it to be taken seriously globally.”

Xigma games currently working on the sequel of the game The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands titled as The Bonfire 2. The Bonfire 2 will be a survival simulation game where one has to build, craft, gather resources during the day and defend them from monsters and raiders attack during the night. The primary objective of the game is to survive and manage resources to advance and thrive players’ small settlement.

The development of the first part The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands started in early 2017 and the game released in March 2018. Soon after that, they initiated the ideation for the sequel.”The first two months went into pre-production and later 10 months into development” he added.

For The Bonfire 2 they have a slightly altered perspective as the game has shifted from 2D side view to 3D isometric view. The view is changed to isometric to allow the players to design their own village/city layout instead of fixed building placements like their previous game The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands. “The sequel also increases the simulation aspects, as the AI workers can be seen walking to a building, picking up resources and then using the resource to construct a building or craft an item. Also, the scope is now at least thrice as big, so more content and definitely more gameplay hours with a fair amount of replayability.”

The game has been in the development process for almost a year and they will need another six to eight months to finish it. The studio is planning to finish the game by the end of this year, although, that depends on the quality of the game. If they are not satisfied with the game quality which is expected to be high international standards by the end of the year, they might push it for early next year to add that extra layer of polishing. “Since we have increased the scope by great margins compared to our previous title we are expecting it to outdo our previous game in terms of revenue,” said he.

With the game, they are targeting global audience who are keen playing city builders, simulation, strategy games and for players who have enjoyed their first game of the same title previous game.

Xigma Games is expanding their scope and features for the sequel on every aspect of the game, be it art or design. When asked about the inspiration of the game he added “The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands is our most successful title till date and we wanted the expand on that experience. We asked ourselves how could we improve the experience even further and take it to the next level. There was one major complaint in our previous game people felt it was too short (about 5 hours of gameplay) and somewhat linear. So this time it was clear to us that keeping the base gameplay core of The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands and expanding on other layers of the game will help us to reach new heights. Also by introducing new elements to design your own village/city will make the game feel non-linear and will result in more replayability.”

The response for the previous game under the same umbrella The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands has been positive for them. It won multiple awards which includes IGDC Indie Game Of The Year 2018, FICCI Best mobile and tablet game Indian 2018, FICCI Best mobile and tablet game International 2018. The game was also featured globally under Game of the day and it reached top charts and top paid games on the App Store.

As he said earlier that the first game of the same title was short and somewhat linear therefore keeping that in mind Xigma games straps up for the upcoming game. The indie studio with two members did all the art, design, programming, testing, marketing and got sound outsourced work as per the requirement. As they wanted to showcase the improvement in all aspects which they felt were missing or could have been better in their previous game. Keeping that in mind, the upcoming game of the same title will be available not only on mobile but also on the PC platform.

The workflow of the development of this game has been an iterative process for them, where they regularly showcased and tested their ideas to get as much feedback as possible so that they could incorporate new elements accordingly.

The biggest challenge in the development of the game has been “to manage all the aspects of the development by ourselves. We are a small studio who handles all the aspects of game development. Sometimes it’s quite overwhelming to manage everything. But we love challenges and we love what we do and we hope to keep making amazing games and grow and learn from our experiences,” he expressed.

They seem to have a concrete vision for the game and they believe there are a lot of factors behind the success of a game which includes: understanding your capabilities, direction of genre, understanding the target audience, game design and much more.

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Buck x Apple

VR film series ‘Mr. Buddha’ is setting a long journey in the film industry

HTC VIVE, in collaboration with Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival executive committee, produced VR film series 5×1, of Mr. Buddha directed by Lee Chung was selected for 2019 Tribeca Immersive Cinema 360 category.

HTC VIVE Originals’ president Liu Szu-Ming announced at Tribeca Film Festival premiere that HTC VIVE Orignals’ VR film would be heading to Cannes Film Festival on its next stop.

HTC VIVE   is committed to creating self-produced content and developing original IPs. Last year, in collaboration with Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival executive committee, under the executive producer of Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Liao Ching-Sung, five golden awarded Asia directors including Lee Chung, Qiu Yang, Tan Seng-Kiat, Chiang Wei-Liang, and Midi Z were invited to direct five VR films called 5×1. Following the film The Making Of, directed by Midi Z and nominated in SXSW Film Festival, Mr. Buddha by Lee Chung was selected by Tribeca Immersive Cinema 360 category of 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. The two consecutive recognitions reveal the leading position of HTC VIVE Originals production in international film festivals.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival officially opens on the 24April to 5May in Manhattan, New York. The press premiere of Mr. Budhha opened on the 25th. The premiere attracted many international press’ attention, and the unique narrative style of Mr. Budhha also left a deep impression on the present press. VIVE Originals president Liu Szu-Ming said at the premiere, “We will continue to launch VIVE Original’ self-produced content into the world. Our goal is to cultivate the world’s top content production talents, and bring forward the content ecosystem for VIVE reality.  The goal is to reach out to the world with its original content, as 5×1 will be having a special screening in Cannes Film Festival, hoping to showcase the solid foundation of Taiwan’s VR original content to the global movie industry.”

Director Lee Chung said he is very thankful for the support from HTC VIVE, Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Executive Committee, and director Hou Hsiao-Hsien. New York is where he studied movies, and being back here feels like coming back home. He is quite surprised at how he came back to New York because of his VR film, which means a lot to him. Lee Chung also said, “Although Taiwan is a small country, there is still an abundance of creativity. As a creator, I am fortunate to be able to do creative work in Taiwan.”

Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro founded Tribeca Film Festival. For more than a decade, Tribeca Film Festival has not only been an important event in New York every spring but has also become one of the most important annual events for the American film industry. The number of participants has increased over time, reaching three million participants in total. In the past, Tribeca Film Festival has featured films such as Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon and Midi Z’s Ice Poison.

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Paramount gets on board David Bower to direct ‘Rugrats’ live-action film

Rugrats live-action film with CGI characters has finally named its director, by bringing on board film veteran David Bowers. Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo will be the latest charges for the director, whose animation credits include Astro Boy and Flushed Away, as well as the second, third and fourth Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies.

The latest Rugrats film will be the fourth movie release in the franchise. There was a spinoff series of the show, All Grown Up!, with the babies as adults. But, the new reboot will go back to the babies doing what they do best—crawling in a playpen, playing with toys and finding adventure wherever they can.

Rugrats is produced by Csupo along with Brian Robbins and Karen Rosenfelt. The script is written by David A. Goodman (The Orville, Family Guy).

Part of Viacom, Paramount’s upcoming slate includes other Nick brand adaptations such as this year’s live-action Dora and the Lost City of Gold based on Dora the Explorer, and The SpongeBob Movie: It’s a Wonderful Sponge (2020), as well as feature outings for Sonic the Hedgehog and Clifford the Big Red Dog (2020).

Rugrats live-action is set to be released on 13 November 2020.

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New Modes to arrive in Apex Legends

Apex Legend‘s lack of content has often landed in the opprobrium of gamers. Things are about to change since recently Respawn Entertainment has confirmed that they will be solving the game’s content offering issues with new modes and different ways to experience the shoot in the days ahead.

Respawn was recently asked on Reddit by a player if it has been exploring new ways to play. The user then expressed many players want solo/duos added to the game, while others want features like private lobbies and skill-based matchmaking. Responding to this, a community manager for the studio confirmed it is considering, but, Respawn is not ready to talk about anything right now.

 The community manager also confirmed that Respawn has heard the issues of the game’s higher level progression issues, mainly that progression is too sluggish and not encouraging enough.

The player also asked about in-game events and whether Respawn has any plans for them, which the community manager responded to with no comment which seems to suggest that, yes, it does.

And finally, the player raised with the community manager the pacing issues that sometimes happen in the middle of the games when the circle is too big for the number of squads left. Respawn is apparently aware of this issue, but for the moment, isn’t sure of the correct way to address it.

Recently, Respawn chalked out its plans for the immediate future — which includes fixing the game’s lag issues — and for Season 2 later this summer, which includes map alterations.

Apex Legends is available, for free, via the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

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Xilam Animation names Capucine Humblot as head of licensing and merchandising

French animation studio, Xilam Animation has appointed Capucine Humblot as the position of head of licensing and merchandising. She will report to Xilam Animation Global Sales Development EVP Morgann Favennec.

Capucine Humblot

Taking over her new role, Humblot will be responsible for supervising Xilam’s consumer products activity across its globally successful properties including Oggy and the Cockroaches, Zig & Sharko and Paprika, besides developing the strategic licensing and merchandise plans for the recently announced spin-off preschool series, Oggy Oggy. She will be based in Xilam’s head office in Paris and commences her role today.

Favennec mentioned, “I’m delighted to welcome Humblot to the Xilam team. Her experience in developing and managing successful product ranges, makes her the ideal candidate to lead our consumer products activity and deliver significant value to our business. I look forward to closely alongside Humblot as she not only builds upon the success of our existing international consumer products offering, but also develops an innovative and engaging range of preschool targeted products to support our exciting new series Oggy Oggy.”

Starting her career at Mattel as assistant product manager on brands including Barbie, Monster High and Fisher Price, Humblot joins from established distributor of games, collectibles and toys, Asmodée where she held the position of brand developer and managed the internal creative team. Prior to this, Humblot was product manager at TF1 Games/Dujardin and handled toys and games for kids, from conception through to production.

“It’s a hugely exciting time to be joining Xilam as the company continues to grow its fantastic slate of content and expand into new areas, including preschool and family content. I look forward to working closely with the team to build upon Xilam’s cross-portfolio merchandise ranges alongside assembling a dynamic product range for Oggy Oggy,” Humblot added.

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Marvel Studio’s ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is shattering every box office record

Shattering virtually every box office record in history, Marvel Studio’s Avengers: Endgame, the visually stunning and critically acclaimed conclusion to the historic 22 film superhero franchise is the highest grossing 3D opening of all-time worldwide, with approximately 45 per cent of the film’s estimated $1.2 billion opening coming from the 3D format.

Kevin Feige produces Avengers: Endgame and Anthony and Joe Russo are the directors. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo, Trinh Tran, Jon Favreau, James Gunn and Stan Lee are the executive producers, and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely wrote the screenplay. Avengers: Endgame is in theaters from 26 April 2019. Since then an estimated $540 million in ticket sales was generated by the 3D format.

“Congratulations to Marvel Studios and Disney for their brilliant execution of this 22 film series over the last 11 years. It has been a remarkable achievement in story-telling, production, VFX, marketing and distribution,” said  Worldwide Cinema president and RealD chief operating officer Travis Reid.

The grave course of events set in motion by Thanos that wiped out half the universe and fractured the Avengers ranks compels the remaining Avengers to take one final stand in Marvel Studios’ grand conclusion to twenty-two films,Avengers: Endgame.

IMAX all-time worldwide opening weekend record grossing approximately $91.5 million, surpassing the previous record holder Star Wars: The Force Awakens by an astonishing 92 per cent.

The fact that tens of millions of people all over the world have already enjoyed Avengers: Endgame in just the first few days points to the growing phenomenon we’re seeing among audiences, particularly younger generations, seeking out authentic and extraordinary shared experiences.Like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, our decade-long relationship with Marvel has only strengthened over time with each film creating a deeper connection between these beloved characters and IMAX audiences worldwide. Endgame was filmed entirely using IMAX cameras, which provides a fully immersive experience that ‘eventicises’ the film in a way that no other presentation can ” said IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond. ”

In China, IMAX set a new opening 5-day record with $42.4 million, surpassing its previous record by 65 per cent and already outperforming the entire IMAX China run of Avengers: Infinity War. In addition, IMAX set 50 new opening weekend territory records including FranceGermanyItalyJapanIndiaTaiwanMexicoBrazil and Argentina. The film is scheduled to open in additional territories including Russia. 

In North AmericaAvengers: Endgame grossed $26.5 million in IMAX, surpassing the opening of Avengers: Infinity Warby 14 per cent and marking IMAX’s second highest-grossing domestic opening weekend ever. IMAX reported hundreds of sell-out screenings across its domestic network with IMAX representing 21 of the film’s top 25 North America engagements.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo designed Avengers: Endgame for IMAX by capturing the entire film with IMAX cameras, marking the second Hollywood film in history to achieve this milestone, the first being Avengers: Infinity War. Exclusively in IMAX, the film expands vertically to show up to 26 per cent more picture – providing audiences with even greater scope and breathtaking quality for a truly unparalleled experience.

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Epic Story Media appoints Jessica Labi and David Sztoser to expand its senior team

Independent content creation and distribution company, Epic Story Media (ESM) is expanding its senior team with two new hires –  former eOne acquisitions VP Jessica Labi as head of distribution and brand strategy alongside former Nickelodeon toys VP, David Sztoser as head of licensing and merchandising. Both of them will be working across ESM’s growing slate of creator-led brands.

The slate has recently expanded to represent global licensing rights to international animated series Slugterra, as well as licensing and television rights to Chaotic.

Originally produced by Ken Faier at Nerd Corps Entertainment, Slugterra was acquired by DHX Media in 2014. The series follows the heroic journey of teen Eli Shane and his best friends- the Shane Gang, as they fight for justice in the mysterious, high-tech underground world of Slugterra.

Slugterra aired on Disney XD and Netflix. JAKKS Pacific is the master toy partner for it. Its mobile games are created and distributed by Epic Story Interactive, (Epic Story Media’s sister company), garnering over 25M downloads till date.

Additionally, Epic has recently signed a deal with License Development Group (LLC) to obtain the global licensing and television rights to Chaotic – a sci-fi/action television series produced by Chaotic USA and 4Kids Entertainment. The series follows Tom, Kaz, Sarah and Peyton, a group of teenagers, who play the Chaotic trading card and online game portal. While playing online, he receives a special password and enters another world called Chaotic where the card game comes to life. The series aired on Cartoon Network, Disney XD and CW 4Kids in the U.S. and Teletoon in Canada as well as six European countries.

Epic will handle the Chaotic television sales and global licensing for the brand which previously sold record numbers of trading cards in North America, South America and Europe and had an Activision video game, Chaotic Shadow Warriors, based on the series available on PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS which gained over two million users within the first year.

Epic Story Media founder and el presidente Ken Faier said, “We’ve started the year strong at Epic Story Media with two incredible new team members, Labi and Sztoser joining us as well as adding to a burgeoning slate of dynamic, creator-led brands for them to sink their teeth into. The company is founded on the belief that creators should be in the driving seat for their IP as it’s developed and expanded – an approach which is attracting talent across the board to partner with us.”

Jessica Labi

Jessica Labi joins ESM with over 18 years experience in kids and family content distribution. Beginning her career at kaBOOM! Entertainment, (and then Phase 4 Films) Jessica was responsible for marketing and distributing some leading brands including Franklin the Turtle, The Bernstein Bears, Cat in the Hat, Chuggington, DQ’s Jungle Book and Paw Patrol.

After the acquisition of Phase IV by Entertainment One, Labi became part of Entertainment One USA Films/Momentum Pictures as VP of Acquisitions, tasked with growing the kids and family category along with Entertainment One’s global digital distribution platform. Most recently Labi was at Viva Pictures serving as SVP. She also set up Hubble Entertainment, a production, consulting and sales company focused on global distribution.



Dave Stozer

Sztoser has worked for over 17 years in entertainment licensing and merchandising before joining ESM. He began his career with New Line Cinema as an assistant, then product coordinator on brands such as The Lord of the Rings, Austin Powers, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Following New Line, David went on to work with New York based licensing agency 4Kids Entertainment where he was the Manager of Licensing Sales and Marketing for brands such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Chaotic, and Yu-Gi-Oh!.   

Most recently with Viacom for eight years as the VP of Toys under the Nickelodeon division, Sztoser managed the kids six to 11 team, overseeing the hard goods categories of toys, video games, sporting goods, consumer electronics, and high-end collectibles for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Paw Patrol.

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