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  • A Peek Behind The VFX of “Avengers: Infinity War” with New York Film Academy Alum Francesco Panzieri

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    Francesco Infinity War

    A shot from The Avengers: Infinity War

    Francesco Panzieri is no stranger to big hits, both in television and film. Panzieri’s name has been included in the credits for Spider-Man: Homecoming, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mad Men, True Detective, Westworld, and many others.

    Still, the New York Film Academy alum’s most recent work on Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War may be the biggest film he has worked on to date. The superhero blockbuster raked in $630 million on its opening weekend, which is the biggest opening of all time.

    The digital effects compositor sat down with us to discuss Avengers, his upcoming projects, and how his time at NYFA helped prepare him for career.

    NYFA: How did your experience on Infinity War compare to the other Marvel films you’ve worked on?
    Francesco Panzieri: On my first Marvel movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, I was actually working in-house within Marvel Studios, where I was tasked with 2D live-action visual effects. As such, my work scope was compositing actors from green screen onto photographed backgrounds, monitor insert, wire removal, plate re-timing, re-positioning, scale-up and split-screen.

    On Thor: Ragnarok and eventually Avengers: Infinity War, the team at Digital Domain had to deal with some intricate compositing of CG characters onto live-action plates. I came aboard late in the game on Thor, yet I was still lucky to get some cool looking shots, including the composite of a blue-screen take of Chris Hemsworth over a fully-CG environment in the Sakaar chase sequence, where Thor smashes the engine of a spaceship barehanded.

    On Avengers, stakes got higher. Almost every one of our shots in the sequence featured Thanos versus an Avenger; I was very lucky to get him in each of my five shots and by getting to work on one of the trailer shots released to the public two months before the movie came out. Captain America and Thor were the other two characters in my shots, so I also focused on locking down their hands onto Thanos’ gauntlet and head, to make sure that the audience would really perceive that rock solid hold as the Avengers attempt to save half the universe.

    DD had developed a technique to color-grade Thanos in a photo-realistic yet nonhuman way while adding some splash of purple on selected areas of his face and body. We also made a great use of the subsurface scattering render-layer to fine-tune his color and deep ID’s for his stubble and hair. Thanos was fully rendered in VRay with many proprietary skin shaders that DD has been continually refining for years; all the compositing was done in Nuke.

    NYFA: Was it harder to deal with mo-cap and completely CG characters like Thanos, Groot, and Rocket, or easier to incorporate VFX in their scenes?
    Francesco: The photo-realism that Digital Domain was trying to achieve on this feature definitely pushed the CG characters to be the most-challenging part. The team really cared about giving them a perfect fitting in the scene under every point of view. We made sure that black levels matched accurately to the live-action plate and brainstormed every possible interactive light from the environment onto the characters and vice versa.

    Ultimately, during every session of dailies, the supervisors kept asking, “How can we make the shot look spectacular?” or ‘What is this shot missing from looking memorable?” For Thanos, we had some great rigging work done to enhance all the muscle tension from Josh Brolin’s performance onto his digital character to help perceive the struggle during the fight scenes, as well as the weight he is bringing in the game to fight the Avengers.

    All of the Thanos work you see in the movie, with the exception of the sequence on Titan, belongs to the tireless work of the artists at Digital Domain.

    NYFA: How much direction, or conversely, freedom, are you given by the directors when crafting VFX?
    Francesco: It can vary. As previously mentioned, with Marvel, if you’re tasked with something that has already been done in their previous movies, you can rest assured that they will ask you to stay on that same beaten path. Of course, your work might exceed their expectations in terms of presentation and integration, but they really care about keeping the continuity with their previous movies as the MCU is a big shared playground.

    On another note, if you’re being asked to introduce something new to the visual story, you can really push the limit of your creativity and submit different versions for their review, as long as you also keep in mind what your VFX supervisor asks you to do and that your work must look coherent with the storytelling.

    Infinity War Francesco

    A shot from The Avengers: Infinity War

    NYFA: Was it easier creating VFX taking place in NYC and the real world or easier creating them in the totally made-up space fantasy worlds?
    Francesco: It is always easier to work with a photographed plate as a reference for compositing anything over it. Trying to create a fully CG environment without any real photographic reference can really make things unfriendly, unless you know precisely what you’re aiming at and what you want it to look like. The flexibility that comes with it can very well be a double-edged weapon if you’re on a tight deadline, however it also gives you plenty of creative freedom to fully express the storytelling.

    NYFA: How did NYFA prepare you for this particular job?
    Francesco: NYFA trained me to work very hard and for long hours. I was able to grasp a solid knowledge of 2D and 3D during my time there, thanks to a very organic and inclusive approach to the art of filmmaking and storytelling. I was able to develop technical and artistic skills that could help me find a job once I graduated, and I had a fantastic time during my studies.

    NYFA is excited Francesco’s upcoming work following the tremendous success of Avengers: Infinity War. You can learn more about him and his credits on his website.

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    May 17, 2018 • 3D Animation, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2968

  • The Simpsons Director Mike Polcino Shares Special Master Class at New York Film Academy

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) 3D Animation & VFX and Filmmaking students packed the Riverside Theater at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus for a storyboarding master class from veteran The Simpsons director, Mike Polcino.

    The Simpsons just surpassed Gunsmoke to become the longest-running scripted show in television history, and Mike Polcino has been with the Simpsons from the very beginning, directing 31 episodes in addition to episodes from the first season of Family Guy.

    Polcino started his career in animation doing all of the tedious work that goes into a massive production such as The Simpsons, such as animation timing and quality control.

    “Occasionally, we’d get the final animations back and Bart’s eyes would be looking in two different directions,” Polcino reminisced. “You’d be surprised what people miss.”

    His talent was unmistakable and, after a few short years, he moved up to become a director. Since then, Polcino has been a staple at Fox Television Animation, whose office is next door to the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus in Burbank, California.

    Polcino took the students through his process of breaking down an Emmy-winning script to put it on screen. Episode #593, Fland Canyon featured some of The Simpsons most cinematic sequences, such as great sweeping shots of the Grand Canyon. Polcino took the enraptured audience through a visualization process to find the key shots.

    “Part of the fun,” he said, “is coming up with shots that would be impossible without the animation.”

    He then melded the material for both the Animation and Filmmaking students by sharing his process for storyboarding The Simpsons and how it is more directing than animating. The students loved the class, asking for autographs and even taking selfies with the Homer Simpson drawing Polcino left on the whiteboard.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mike Polcino for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with our students.

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  • Celebrating Craig Caton-Largent’s 1st Anniversary as Chair of 3D Animation & VFX at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    Craig Caton-Largent has just marked his first anniversary as Chair of 3D Animation & VFX at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Campus. Caton is renowned in the film industry for his groundbreaking VFX work on beloved blockbusters including Jurassic Park, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, Big Trouble in Little China, Edward Scissorhands,  Apollo 13, Tangled, and more.

    To celebrate Craig’s anniversary, we’re sharing some highlights from his first year as chair of the Animation School at NYFA Los Angeles. Here’s looking forward to another great year!

    Building Community

    At Home

    This year, the NYFA Los Angeles 3D Animation School created an art wall and added a display cabinet to show off student work. The wall was a wonderful encouragement and inspiration for 3D Animation & VFX students as they worked on their showcase projects, creating a great talking point in the community and sharing their work with others. It was a great to share all their hard work with the rest of the NYFA community!

    Numbers

    It’s been a big year at the NYfA Los Angeles Animation School — this year we’ve seen a 283% increase in student enrollment in our 3D Animation & VFX programs!

    On Social

    The NYFA Los Angeles 3D Animation & VFX School also joined Instagram this year! Follow “nyfa_animation_gaming” and join the conversation!

    Alumni News & Credits

    It’s been a great year for our NYFA Los Angeles 3D Animation &VFX alumni! Here are some inspiring stories:

    • BFA grad Jessica Chung is the Winner of the LA Livescore Film Festival for Best Original Score for her animation short, Sushi Man.
    • 1-Year Conservatory grad Alex LoRusso isurrently working as an FX Artist at Scanline. Her 2017 major film credits Include Justice League, Pirates 5, & Alien Covenant. She also recently worked on Suicide Squad and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
    • 1-Year Conservatory grad Soraia Malaquias is working as a 3D Generalist at TNF Visual Effects. Her impressive list of 2017 film credits Include: American Gods and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
    • 1-Year Conservatory grad Gabriel Fernandez currently works as a Production Assistant at Eight VFX.
    • 1-Year Conservatory alum Ujala Saini is a VFX/Post Production at Electric Theatre Collective.

    Events

    There have been a lot of special events to celebrate this year!

    Monsterpalooza

    Chair Craig Caton’s new animation software Animservo was announced, and NYFA conducted the test phase. The announcement was broadcast live, then received over 20K views in the first hour.

    Siggraph

    SIGGRAPH is the world’s largest, most influential annual conference and exhibition in computer graphics and interactive techniques. Chair Craig Caton gave demonstrations during the course of the convention at the Faceware Technologies booth.

    Motion capture data from Faceware’s Analyzer and Retargeter software was output to an animatronic goblin using Caton’s new animation software, AnimServo.

    Media Lab

    This year also saw NYFA Los Angeles’ launch of the the Media Lab, to create opportunities for students and instructors to collaborate on research projects.

    The first project was testing Chair Craig Caton’s animation software Animservo. With testing successfully completed, Animservo has now be become available at animservo.com.  

    Matt Sheehan has been given directorship of the Media Lab and there is an exciting list of topics coming up … stay tuned!

    Industry Guests

    The New York Film Academy’s Guest Speaker Series saw a number of incredible animation and visual effects artists visit to share their insights with NYFA Los Angeles Animation School students.

    Amy Lawson Smeed, lead character animator of Disney’s Moana, came for a special screening and talk with Chair Craig Caton. That’s not all — NYFA alum Hanna Johansson then had a chance to meet with Amy personally to discuss her reel!

    Amy Lawson Smeed

    Byron Bashforth, character shading lead of Disney’s Coco, revealed more Disney magic in an intimate Q&A with Chair Craig Caton.

    Byron Bashforth answers questions about Disney's Coco at NYFA LA

    Byron Bashforth

    Head of Research and Development of DreamWorks Animation, Jeff Wike, was another honored guest, who treated Animation School students to a remarkable industry insider perspective on the innovation and inspiration behind much of today’s most cutting-edge animation.

    Jeff Wike atNew York Film Academy Los Angeles

    Chair Craig Caton-Largent and Jeff Wikes at NYFA Los Angeles

    Jason Liles, the Lead Actor in Netflix’s DeathNote, gave Animation School students an inside perspective of what it’s like for the actors working on the other side of motion capture technology.

    There are many exciting projects as we move into Chair Craig Caton’s second year of leadership — stay tuned for more. Congratulations, Craig, on a remarkable 1st anniversary!

     

     

     

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  • NYFA 3D Animation Instructor Craig Caton Creates Animservo for Maya

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    New York Film Academy Instructor Craig Caton has created a new plug-in on Autodesk Maya that may revolutionize the way digital puppetry in both independent productions and major motion pictures.

    The new software is called Animservo. It is non-real time facial recognition software that allows a single puppeteer to craft and save a performance before ever arriving on set. The software records a performer using a go pro. Facial recognition software captures the performance, and it is then uploaded into the puppet. With Animservo, the nuances of facial recognition performance by the puppeteer are recorded and then uploaded to Maya. The performance is refined and then downloaded into the puppet.

    Utilizing a GoPro and marker-less facial recognition software, the puppeteer does not even have to be in the same state as the production. A recent test allowed a puppeteer to give a performance in Texas for a puppet in Los Angeles.

    Usually, crafting a performance with a puppet requires quite a few performers. For example, the T-Rex in “Jurassic Park” utilized five union performers: one controlled the eyebrows, another the mouth, a third the neck, and so on.

    Animservo can save productions a ton of money on performers and allows directors to have a picture-ready performance with less rehearsal time. If a director changes his or her mind about the way a performance looks it will take the puppeteer just a few minutes to make adjustments and the puppet will be ready for the next take.

    As great as this invention is both financially and on a time crunch Caton says he has “something even better on the horizon.” In the mean time, Caton will be previewing Animservo at SIGGRAPH, or the Special Interest Group on Computer GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques in Los Angeles.

    In order to get this new plug-in sign up for the training class here. The software comes free with the class.

     

     

     

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  • Lessons From Storyboard Revisionist for DreamWorks Animation

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    This past week New York Film Academy Animation students were given an opportunity to meet with Diana Ling, storyboard revisionist for Hasbro’s Transformers. Ling has worked in advertising, storyboarding commercials and on animation projects including Transformers.

    diana ling

    Ling began her career by drawing ten hours a day. She drew over and over until she could sketch at a lighting pace. “Fast is fifteen to twenty clean sketches a day,” said Ling. “So, I decided to go back to school…to specifically learn how to draw, because I still didn’t know what it is I wanted to do. I built up my drawing chops. You sit there for five hours drawing and then you go home and you draw for another ten hours for each class. It’s a lot of mileage.”

    “I took this storyboarding class because I thought, ‘Well, I know how to draw.’ That means I can probably apply it to a practical skill. I used the portfolio that I had, the work that I had for that class, and decided to try advertising boards.”

    She would get a call asking if she could be at the studio in an hour. She’d meet with the commercial director. They’d talk about the look and story. By the end of the day, Ling produced a series of sketches that made up the entire advertisement.

    “In advertising boards you have to be able to draw relatively realistically,” said Ling. “A lot of it’s photobashing if you want it to be. But, for me, I just did everything hand drawn. You also need to know how to draw cars and environments. Your perspective has to be pretty good. And you have to learn to draw really fast too, because the turn around in advertising is one to two days.”

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    “The agent will call you and say, ‘Are you available today at 1:00 PM to come and work at the studio? They need boards for a pitch.’ I would meet with the director, one on one in a coffee shop or a Starbucks. We’d go over the boards and what he wants. I’d do little sketches. It was a really good experience because it introduced me to a lot of different people. It introduced me to what a director’s life is like. Where you just go from job to job. And it introduced me to the advertising world. In the process of doing that I learned to draw, really, really fast.”

    After some time, Ling began to have a crisis. She realized that she wasn’t fulfilled doing promotional work. So, she quit. She took some time to consider what she wanted and decided she wanted to tell stories. This is how she ended up at DreamWorks Animation working on Transformers.

    “In advertising you make a lot of money, but if it’s not fulfilling you artistically then you haven’t really succeeded. So I think my advice would be sit down, go to the beach, relax and think about what it is you want to do. I would write it down. It doesn’t have to be really specific, but if you keep thinking about that thing that’s on the tip of your tongue. If you just keep trying to kneed that dough than it’ll come in to fruition and it’ll be beautiful. And you’ll like it. You won’t be doing things that you don’t like to do.”

    “When I graduated in 2012, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that I really wanted to draw for a living and so I tried finding work as an artist. I realized that it was really difficult. I was kind of just getting these one to two day jobs for about a year or so. It was like one a month. It was very, very little.”

    diana ling

    Ling continued, “I realized, like some people, all they want to do is draw and enjoy themselves doing that. But I realized that I kind of wanted to create something for myself. I wanted to create a name. In the past year I had been starting to think, ‘What kind of mark do I want to put on the world?’”

    Ling then looked over the students’ reels and sketches. She gave them advice and encouragement in applying themselves in the future:

    “A job is really just a job and as an artist you really need to think a little more entrepreneurially because there’s so many great artists in the world. Anyone can pick up a camera nowadays. Anyone can create a film on YouTube. Anyone can draw. There are lots of people who can draw very, very well. I used to be really worried about beating the competition. But now I’m not worried about that anymore. Your career is not really about beating other people. It’s about fulfilling what you want to do in your own life.”
    “If you want to become a master draftsman than you go do that and then the jobs kind of come. So you’re thinking more like an artist, rather than trying to progress your career. I think it’s more important to focus on your internal growth rather than begging for jobs.”
    “I believe the road to mediocrity is conformity. Trying to do what everyone else is doing and just trying to fit in to what all the people at Disney are doing. Rather, if you want to be successful you have to think about your own voice and be a non-conformist and trust that your voice and your skills will take you in the direction you want to go. You want to get job that you want. You don’t want to get jobs that you’re not interested in. You want people to be like, ‘Oh, Diana Ling she does that kind of stuff. We want that.’ They recognize your work and they associate your name with your work, because it’s not like anyone else’s.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Ms. Ling for taking the time to come speak with students. You can find Diana Ling’s work here.

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    August 2, 2016 • 3D Animation • Views: 9171

  • 3D Animation Alumni Highlight: Yukari Akaba

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    yukariAfter graduating from New York Film Academy’s One-Year 3D Animation & Visual FX Conservatory, Yukari Akaba created a reel to showcase her talent and capabilities in the craft. From her reel, which NYFA Animation and Game Design Chair Phoebe Elefante says is “excellent,” Akaba was able to secure a position at a New York based production company called The Brigade.

    The project she’s currently working on, Hair Guitar, is a short animated film created by the digital artists at The Brigade for the purpose of refining their craft as storytellers and promoting their technical abilities in the space of advertising and entertainment.

    “We have taken the story from inception to completion, involving every step of the character animation pipeline from character development to motion capture and post production,” said Akaba. “We are excited to finish in early summer, and grateful for all of the help from our talented team!”

    Akaba admits she didn’t have any art background prior to attending NYFA, and learned everything she knows from the Animation program at NYFA.

    Her goal is to become a senior modeler and texture artist at a studio and work on feature films and high-end commercials. Though, she is also considering working with major game companies such as Blur or Blizzard studios, particularly on game cinematics.

    You too can see Yukari’s talent by having a look at her animation reel below!

    Yukari Akaba CG Artist Demo Reel 2016 from Yukari Akaba on Vimeo.

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    April 7, 2016 • 3D Animation, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5007

  • Mindfruit Studio Stops in at NYFA’s Stop Motion Class

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    mindfruit

    Last week New York Film Academy’s 3D Animation and VFX students got to meet and talk with Damon Stea and Cassandra Chowdhury, the dynamic duo who run Mindfruit Studios.

    Mindfruit is a Los Angeles-based team with the goal of creating diverse, unique, and beautiful videos. Fantastical costumes, puppets, and stop motion are their bread and butter. They’ve worked on everything from a video billboard for Forever 21 to a film shot entirely on a computer scanner. Their work has been featured at South by Southwest, Vimeo Film Fest, the Disposable Film Fest, and on screens around the globe.

    Not only did the students of Matthew B.W. Sheehan’s stop motion class get to pick Damon and Cassandra’s brains about all things stop motion, they even received help wrestling some deeper questions when 3D Animation BFA Jessica Chung asked about the do’s and don’ts of freelance work and making your first deal.

    All in all, a victory for education at the New York Film Academy.

    -Matthew B.W. Sheehan

    Professor of Animation and VFX

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    April 5, 2016 • 3D Animation, Game Design, Guest Speakers • Views: 4003

  • Mark Sawicki, Chair of NYFA LA’s 3D Animation and Visual Effects

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    One of the more enticing aspects of the New York Film Academy is its belief that our instructors should not only be well versed in their crafts, but also strongly established in their respective fields. As a testament to this commitment, we focus on the New York Film Academy Los Angeles 3D Animation and Visual Effects Chair, Mark Sawicki.

    After attending USC film school, Mr. Sawicki entered the film industry as a lab technician at Cinema Research Corp., where he worked on the original Superman film. He later began working as a cameraman for Roger Corman’s New World Studios on low budget sci-fi pictures such as Escape from New York. From there, he went on to shooting effects and creating award-winning animation for commercials, rock videos and 3D features including Jaws 3D and Friday the 13th Part 3.

    sawicki

    In 1986, he became the matte photographer for Illusion Arts, working under visual effects masters Albert Whitlock, Syd Dutton, and Bill Taylor. During this period, while working on mainstream films, Mr. Sawicki became an instructor for Kodak’s Cineon system (a landmark digital film compositing system). After a 10-year stint of compositing matte paintings at Illusion Arts, for such projects as Cape Fear, The Birdcage and Star Trek IV, he became a co-supervisor for Area 51 on Tom Hanks’ From the Earth to the Moon.

    Mr. Sawicki was later the head effects camera supervisor and digital colorist for Custom Film Effects, contributing to films such as Gangs of New York, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Tropic Thunder, and The Dark Knight Rises.

    As to reaffirming his remarkable insight into the field of animation and visual effects, Mr. Sawicki has authored three DVD’s on the art of clay animation and a documentary entitled Twilight Camerman, which focuses on the craft of optical printing available from firstlightvideo.com. He is also the author of the book “Filming the Fantastic: A Guide to Visual Effects Cinematography,” published by Focal Press.

    And to top it all off, Mr. Sawicki frequently performs as an actor in independent films. Indeed, an incredible career that carries with it a lifetime of knowledge and hands-on experience that can be passed on to his students.

    sawicki

    “Whenever possible, I will take pictures of professional green screen set-ups and share them in the classroom,” says Mr. Sawicki. “This is extremely helpful in giving the students an up to the minute, real-world exploration of what is happening in the industry today.”

    His involvement with the school’s animation and visual effects students is not only valuable to NYFA, but also to himself. “Teaching at NYFA has been a rewarding experience for me as I am able to address an international community with different insights and attitudes. The one commonality among them all is the love of movies and the desire to work hard toward their goals. It has been a pleasure to see them blossom and grow to be artists in the field.”

    His advice to students graduating from his program, with the intention on working in the field, is to build up an impressive reel and resume that can only be created by working with a small team or as a vendor on independent films and TV commercials. Graduates should expect to work on projects that may not be particularly glamorous, but getting even the most mundane animation job will keep animators focused and allow them to build credits and move up the ladder.


    As a professional who embraces most aspects of the entertainment industry, Mr. Sawicki recently wrote a feature screenplay called Call Center, which he describes as a comedy comparable to Mike Judge’s Office Space. He also has a short film in the works that he hopes will bring interest to the script.

    One thing is for sure, Mr. Sawicki’s hard work and dedication to both his career and his students is extraordinary. There is no doubt that under the tutelage of Mr. Sawicki, NYFA’s 3D Animation and Visual Effects department will continue to grow as one of the most demanding schools for aspiring animators and visual effects experts.

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    August 31, 2015 • 3D Animation, Community Highlights • Views: 6728

  • NYFA Alum brings 3D Animation to the Stage

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    bob marley

    On Wednesday, May 13, New York Film Academy 3D Animation alumnus and instructor Mark Reynolds stormed Baltimore’s prestigious Center Stage Theater — not as an actor or musician, but as a 3D animator.

    As a member of the animation team for Center Stage’s production of the new musical Marley, a biography of reggae legend Bob Marley, Mark provided 3D models and animation of numerous locations in the play, from Jamaica’s Trench Town slums to the mountains of Ethiopia, and some very specific locations such as Bob Marley’s house and the breathtaking Bet Giyorgis church in Lalibela, Ethiopia. Under the direction of Projections Designer Alex Koch, the team created a stylized look that combines the earthiness of hand-drawn lines and textures with the bold camera movements and dramatic lighting at which computer graphics excel.

    “What we accomplished is pretty remarkable,” Mark says. “The projections and animation run pretty much throughout the play. We essentially made a two-hour animated feature in ten weeks.”

    Mark, who himself completed NYFA’s one-year 3D Animation program in 2013, now teaches at the school, in addition to working as a freelancer. Most recently, his work was seen projected on the H&M tent ceiling at Coachella. “I spent a week making cartoons of cats shooting lasers out of their eyes. It was ridiculous. This is the kind of gig where you can leave work at the end of the day and say, ‘That was so silly. I love my job!'”

    Marley was written and directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, and runs through June 14.

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    May 14, 2015 • 3D Animation • Views: 5053

  • VFX Oscar Winner Ian Hunter Speaks on “Interstellar” at NYFA

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    ian hunter

    “Interstellar” VFX Supervisor Ian Hunter

    New York Film Academy students in Los Angeles had a glimpse into the new dimensions of filmmaking with a screening of Interstellar and the subsequent presentation by VFX supervisor and Oscar winner Ian Hunter, co-owner of New Deal studios. The film event was reminiscent of Star Wars screenings in the 70s with a line stretching out down the long hall in front of the NYFA Theater and around the corner!

    After the screening, Ian gave a brilliant PowerPoint presentation giving a rare behind-the-scenes look at the making of the epic film. He related that the models were built at a massive 1/5 scale and shot with high resolution Vista Vision film cameras running at 72 frames per second to create the majestic imagery. Miniature explosions, rotating rigs, special light sources and tons of in camera VFX work were the primary techniques. Only one green screen shot was used in the entire film.

    hunter sawicki

    NYFA LA Chair Mark Sawicki with VFX Oscar Winner Ian Hunter

    At the end of Ian’s presentation, chair of animation Mark Sawicki spoke with him to reflect on the modern shooting methodology used for the tentpole picture. Ian shared that unlike many productions, the pre viz of the film was used as a starting point and not a locked down template. Director Christopher Nolan, in his wisdom, knew that the final models photographed in real light would give rise to different and better ideas spring boarded from the pre viz. As a result, shots were not shot to the frame but as full takes, as if shooting live action, giving editing options later on. The process points out the proper use of pre viz as a starting point, thereby allowing the iterative filmmaking process to continue yielding happy accidents and lightning in a bottle. Mr. Hunter shared that pictures done in the 90s such as From the Earth to the Moon had 10% miniature and 90% digital effects, whereas Insterstellar reversed the equation with 90% of the imagery executed with real world miniatures to a stunning effect.

    mark sawicki

    At this time Mark pointed out Ian’s groundbreaking involvement as a director in the new immersive cinema experience of Cinema VR where audiences witness the photoplay in a full 360 degree panorama. This new miracle of the screen is tantamount to adding to the cinema language itself. Ian made note that while takes are much longer when using this process, cuts are possible and sound cues and other techniques can be used to direct the audience’s attention. Mark could not think of a better person than Ian to take on and develop this exciting new art form. Ian’s film Kaiju Fury was shown at Sundance’s new frontier category launching the spectacular screen spectacle.

    Thank you, Mr. Hunter, for shedding light on your process and guiding us to the next dimension of movie making!

    sawicki hunter

    NYFA LA Chair of Animation Mark Sawicki with Ian Hunter

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    April 27, 2015 • 3D Animation, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 6096