100 Years of Visual Effects

I’ve been reading a lot into visual FX lately again – there is a project in my head that I am trying to suss out details for, and I keep running into all of these digital lighting research materials.  Here’s a good one – special effects from the last 100 years:

Details of the video:

A “5th-grader-friendly” collection of clips and making-of footage from notable visual effects films of the past century.
Originally intended for educational use as an introduction to a classroom lecture.
The music track is “Rods and Cones” from the album “Audio” by Blue Man Group.

1900 – The Enchanted Drawing
1903 – The Great Train Robbery
1923 – The Ten Commandments (Silent)
1927 – Sunrise
1933 – King Kong
1939 – The Wizard of Oz
1940 – The Thief of Bagdad
1954 – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
1956 – Forbidden Planet
1963 – Jason and the Argonauts
1964 – Mary Poppins
1977 – Star Wars
1982 – Tron
1985 – Back to the Future
1988 – Who Framed Roger Rabbit
1989 – The Abyss
1991 – Terminator 2: Judgement Day
1992 – The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
1993 – Jurassic Park
2004 – Spider-Man 2
2005 – King Kong
2006 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
2007 – Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
2007 – The Golden Compass
2008 – The Spiderwick Chronicles
2008 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

TRON – It’s Baaaack

Tron was one of the first movies I remember as a kid being very influential to my desire of working with light. Much to my pleasure, another version of the movie is coming out – Tron Legacy – and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Am I a nerd? Of course. But the original movie and all of its early 1980’s graphics was excellent.

Check out the trailer:

MSNBC Reporter Monica Morales VS. Lighting Equipment

Did anyone see these clips?  MSNBC reporter Monica Morales had a little accident on air when a c-stand smacked her right upside the head.  It was obviously not happy with the way the story was going.  Monica, I kid!  This kind of thing happens all the time, I’m sure.  Anchor Mika Brzezinski clearly waxed poetic on this subject when she said “Oh my goodness, I love it when the wind blows down the light thing.

Me too, Mika, me too.

My sister-in-law is a reporter – hey Carolyn, this ever happen to you?

Goodness indeed.  That stand cracked her right in the head!

Gekko’s Keddo LED Fixture Wins at NAB 2009

prg_gekko_kedo_1hr

Have you seen the Gekko LED fixtures?  They’re primarily marketed towards stage and screen, but they’re pretty awesome – they have self-monitoring to make sure that the illumination level coming from them is consistent.  That’s my favorite thing about them – they’re also pretty brilliant in their saturated colors.  PRG has exclusive distribution rights for their stuff, and the keddo fixture just won  two big awards at NAB this year.  The press release is below, please check it out.

Gekko kedoTM Wins Two Awards at NAB 2009

New Windsor, New York-May 4, 2009-Production Resource Group, LLC (PRG), the exclusive rental and sales distributor for Gekko Technology Ltd. products in North America, is pleased to announce that the Gekko kedoTM won two awards at the recent 2009 NAB tradeshow in Las Vegas. The just-launched Gekko kedo, a focusable luminaire powered by an LED source, won two awards-the DV magazine 2009 Black Diamond Award and TV Technology magazine’s Mario Award for Innovation. The Black Diamond Award recognizes the best products making their debut at the NAB show, specifically those that will appeal to video professionals. A select panel of engineers and editors, as well as production and post professionals joined the DV magazine staff to judge the Black Diamond Awards. The Mario Awards, named after Mario Orazio, a pseudonym for a nameless engineer who pens the industry’s most widely read technology column The Masked Engineer, in TV Technology, were established to recognize products that represent significant technical breakthroughs and companies that demonstrate forward thinking and technical excellence in their products. Both DV magazine and TV Technology are a part of NewBay Media’s Broadcast & Video Group of products.

“At NAB this year, PRG again enjoyed introducing new technology to the industry,” comments Brian Edwards, General Manager of PRG’s Los Angeles depot. “The enthusiastic response was terrific. As always, we work very hard to supply the film and broadcast industries with the tools and services that will help support their creative efforts. It is always particularly gratifying to get the opportunity to introduce products like the Gekko kedo or the Nila Lighting System and see them so immediately embraced. I think it is evidence that PRG continuously works to source new technology with a true understanding of these industries.”

In addition to the kedo, UK-based Gekko Technology also manufactures kisslite, lenslite, kicklite and george. The new kedo is a focusable spotlight equivalent in output to a 1kW Fresnel that is powered by Gekko’s kleer colourTM light engine. Kleer colour is the world’s first adjustable, focusable single source multi-color light engine. It uses a single-array of high-power LED that can be tuned under software control to produce a wide array of different color temperatures and colors. The LED array can be tuned locally or remotely via DMX. The kedo can produce an extensive range of different colors and a range of high quality whites allowing it to match any color required to illuminate a specific scene. In addition to primary and intermediate colors, kedo can precisely emulate a high quality tungsten reference source. It can be switched quickly and easily to produce 2,900K, 3,200K, 4,300K, 5,600K and 6,500K as well as a wide range of virtual color filters, all of which remain stable throughout dimming.

“The kleer colour light engine represents something of a ‘Holy Grail’ in the lighting world,” explains Gekko Technology’s founder and Managing Director David Amphlett. “Designed specifically for the needs of image capture, it gives lighting directors and camera crews unprecedented control of color temperature and illumination level. Unlike multi-source RGB color-mixing devices, kleer colour delivers a broad spectrum of light that can be adjusted by the operator to match a vast array of hues across the visible range. Self-monitoring sensors ensure stable color across a range of output levels as well as correcting changes in performance caused by ambient temperature and component ageing. In addition to its unsurpassed creative versatility, the kleer colour engine delivers far higher color rendering than any other lighting technology powered by discontinuous sources, across all operating temperatures and illumination levels.” The kleer colour system provides consistent color quality from lamp to lamp, with tight calibration and sophisticated closed loop feedback.

PRG has represented the Gekko Technology products-including kisslite, lenslite, kicklite and george-since February 2009 and has been very encouraged by the industry’s enthusiastic response. Gekko film credits include Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Death Defying Acts, Mama Mia, The Golden Compass and television dramas including Waking the Dead, New Tricks and The Commander. The kedo will no doubt be in great demand with cinematographers and lighting directors for their toolboxes.

For more information on the award-winning Gekko Technology kedo as well as the whole Gekko product line, please visit http://www.prg.com/market/tv-film/gekko-technology-ltd.

prg_gekko_kedo_2hr

prg_gekko_kedo_3hr

Making of Honda’s “Let It Shine” Video

Remember this video?

My lovely wife just sent me the video below, which is a short “making of” video, featuring the crew, designers, director, and lighting designer Tim Dunn.  I had no idea this was done on a GrandMA!  Cool!

Thanks, honey!

Digital Video Art: Two Interesting Techniques

As I’ve been playing around with content creation lately for whatever purpose my subconscious has dreamed up, I found a few really interesting techniques that produce beautiful, creepily wonderful results.  These techniques appear to be usable as either a live effect or in the creation of recorded content.

The first – Liquified Video:

The blog where I found these techniques, Create Digital Motion, is a grrrrrreat resource for aspiring VJs, content creators, or interested enthusiasts like yours truly.  From the article on Create Digital Motion on Liquified Video:

Datamosh? (The “forbidden” but harmlessly meaningless word?) Video squishification? Mushy data?

Call it what you will, but applying real-time distortion and displacement to video so that video textures become flowing layers of pixels looks absolutely beautiful. Andrew Benson of Cycling ‘74 has only just begun playing with this in Jitter using GLSL shaders, and already the results are really compelling. (For a simpler example that looks more like the compression artifact technique we’ve seen recently, have a look at the second video – though, personally, I like the more sophisticated, layered approach of the video at top. This is going some very cool places.)

This is a Jitter patch, but would be simple enough to port to code for Processing, FreeFrameGL (which implements shader code), or other tools, too, in case you can’t bear being away from your moshness.

The second technique is akin to all of the Light Painting I’ve been writing about; a technique that employs a chroma sample and exploits it, as if you’re painting live with the color:

User naus3ayt on YouTube has penned this technique – his channel is interesting, and I highly recommend checking out both it and Create Digital Motion. Great work, fellas!

ETC’s Eos Console Lights The Golden Globes

eoshighres

The Golden Globes awards show featured lighting control by the Eos from Electronic Theatre Controls of Middleton, WI this year; an Eos console and a 2X20 ETC Universal Fader Wing were used to control the over 700 channels of lighting used in this year’s awards show.  The press release is a great read:

The glamour in Hollywood’s annual awards shows is as much about specialty lighting as it is about red carpets and celebrities: from podium-spotlighting for the award recipients, to concert lighting for changing musical acts and moods, to house lighting for the audience, and effects lighting for broadcast requirements. ETC’s flagship lighting control system, Eos (itself an award winner, having taken top honors at the LDI, Showtech and PLASA tradeshows) handled all those challenges this year to make the recent Golden Globes and Academy Awards shine brighter.

For the 2009 Golden Globes, an Eos console – along with a 2×20 ETC Universal Fader Wing – controlled all of the conventional and practical lights. Board programmer Gil Samuelian built all of the cue- and submaster-contents in Blind and was then able to modify the lighting smoothly during rehearsals before the show. Once it came time to stage the whole show, everything went efficiently with Eos. Samuelian especially appreciated the ‘About’ function: “It’s one of my favorite tools. I can quickly see exactly what is influencing the current output, and it gives me detailed information on a selected target. It takes out the guess-work.”

An Eos console also controlled 700 channels of conventional dimming and hazers, as well as house-, architectural- and on-stage conventional lights for the Academy Awards on February 22nd, 2009. Backing up the Eos on this high-stakes, most-watched entertainment program in two years, was an Eos Remote Processor Unit and two 2×20 Universal Fader Wings with added additional playback options.

“The Academy Awards can be very unpredictable, so hands-on control and fast manual overrides are absolutely critical,” says Samuelian. “Eos easily handles that because of the number of physical faders that can be attached. The combination of motorized and non-motorized faders – both of which provide matching data – makes working in that sort of live environment manageable and clear. The displays provide a complete and easily understood picture of the current state of the rig.”

“These were some of my first shows on Eos,” says Samuelian, summing up the awards-show process this year, “and despite the pressure of the working environment, I found it fast and simple to make changes and keep up with the demand.”

Did You See The Giant Projected Dr. Manhattan?

On March 4 for the opening of the movie Watchmen a large water screen and projector were used to project a 100 foot Dr. Manhattan in the middle of the Thames in London.  Did you see this?  Did they at least blur out the big blue penis?

A press release governing the event and movie release gave some info, but not enough.  Hell, I don’t even know what projector was used!  What is THAT about?!

From the press release:

London, 4 March 2009 – To celebrate the Paramount Pictures UK release of the hugely anticipated and revered Watchmen (in cinemas 06.03.09), at exactly 8pm GMT, London’s River Thames gave birth to a Watchmen spectacle that was beyond the thinkable. Dr Manhattan, the blue skinned, super-powered being beloved of all Watchmen fans, appeared above the murky depths of the Thames to a height of over 70 feet and towered over all those who dared to attend.

This dramatic, one-off spectacle was created using the world’s biggest water screen projector. The water screen, moored especially for this occasion in the middle of the Thames between the London Eye and The Shell Building, created an enormous vertical screen of water that extended to 72 feet in height and 100 feet across. Specially created, never to be seen again Watchmen footage, was projected onto the screen to showcase Dr Manhattan’s translucent and shimmering form in dramatic and gigantic effect -an excellent and exciting medium to see Dr Manhattan in all his super human glory as he hovered over the city in true Watchmen style!

A complex, multi-layered mystery adventure, “Watchmen” is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the Doomsday Clock–which charts the USA’s tension with the Soviet Union–moves closer to midnight.

When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the outlawed but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion–a disbanded group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers–Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future.

Their mission is to watch over humanity…but who is watching the Watchmen?

My wife didn’t seem too pleased with the movie, but make your own opinion.  All I have is one question – why couldn’t he wear some kind of pants?

Thanks, DVICE!

Toshiba’s LED Spotlight for TV Studios

thumb_230_4a

Toshiba is releasing a high-output LED fixture for use in television studios – as we all know, I’m sure that we can adapt the fixture for uses outside of the TV studio, just give it a few hours.  Toshiba’s fixture, the AL-LED-FS-6, consumers 100W and outputs about 860 lux at 3 meters with a 2 meter pool – which compares to a 500W halogen at 870 lux.  Nice!

The AL-LED-FS-6 is claiming to solve some of the problems that putting a 500W fixture close to something in a studio creates – “it’s too hot on my face!” comments, fading from irradiated items, power consumption.  You know, typical gripes.  The fixture is looking like a $5100+ fixture (about 500,000 yen), and you’ll see it at Light Fair 2009.  A few of these and a few LDDE SpectraWOW+ fixtures, and you’re set!

I’m doing a show during Light Fair 2009 – will someone please take pictures?

Thanks, TechOn!