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Even though Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom was one of the most enthusiastically received films of 2012 here at Creative COW, we didn't hear as much fuss made over his follow-up, The Grand Budapest Hotel. This is despite terrific reviews (92% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and it being by far his highest grossing picture. Not that that's a good measure of a movie's greatness, of course, but especially outside the US, the uptick is startling: from $22 million for Moonrise, to $107 million for The Grand Budapest Hotel!

Still, if it's possible for a movie that grossed $166 million worldwide to be called "overlooked," we think this one qualifies. The good news is that it's now available for home viewing, so now's your chance to catch up with it.

It's got every quality that has made Wes Anderson one of the most distinctive directors working today, especially visually. The Grand Budapest Hotel is absolutely gorgeous, and incredibly detailed, even by his usual standards. One of the people who helped him implement his vision was Gabriel Sanchez at LOOK Effects. This was Gabriel's third feature with Wes, following The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Express. We spoke to Gabriel about his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel -- especially his work with matte paintings and miniatures -- the perfect introduction to a movie we hope you'll see for yourself. Read more....

CSNY 1974: The Long-Awaited Chronicle of One of Rock's Greatest Tours

CSNY 1974: The Long-Awaited Chronicle of One of Rock's Greatest Tours

Meet CSNY 74, wherein Messrs. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young make a definitive 3-hour, 3-set, 40 song, case, supported by 8 video clips and 188 pages of written and photographic evidence, for being one of the world's very biggest and best rock and roll bands, working at the very top of their game. Creative COW's Tim Wilson explores the beautifully rendered, exceptionally satisfying experience of this historically epic tour.
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Season 2 of the pioneering Netflix series House of Cards brought a number of changes, including new Lead Colorist Laura Jans-Fazio. She spoke to us about her approach to this visually distinctive show, her remote collaboration with Executive Producer David Fincher, and her use of the Baselight grading system for fast turnarounds with the show's 5K footage.

Read more here...

Walter Biscardi Jr. photographed and designed this network branding image for Contemporary Living Network.

Contemporary Living Network: Fresh Ideas, Fresh Content

Longtime Creative COW Contributor, Walter Biscardi, Jr. recently announced the upcoming launch of Contemporary Living Network, a digital network focusing on positive lifestyle edutainment. For him, it's a natural progression from production to creating a new home for all original content. We asked Walter to tell us about CLN and his crowd funding campaign for "Ice Cream Nation," one of the first series to be featured on the new network.

Here's what he had to say...

When Walter told us about his idea for the Contemporary Living Network, we wanted to hear more. We also wanted to hear more about why he decided to go the crowdfunding route, and how he's making his pitch. So what about you? Do you have a story about a new project or venture that you're trying to raise money for? Drop us a line, at . Maybe we can help tell your story, too.
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The Monday June 30 premiere of Season 2 of Under the Dome, the record-breaking hit series on CBS, promises another summer of post-apocalyptic tension, suspense, mystery, and contemplation of Big Issues, wrapped in character studies of a small town in crisis -- very simply, trapped under a clear dome of unknown origin, cut off from every kind of contact with the world outside. Under the Dome is executive produced by Steven Spielberg and based on a novel by Stephen King, who wrote this week's episode. The Emmy-winning director of many episodes of Lost, Jack Bender, is at the helm again. (A number of other folks connected to Lost have been involved in Under the Dome from the beginning.)

A series as conceptually intricate as Under the Dome places a lot of faith in its visual effects team to lend plausibility and engagement, particularly with the titular dome. This week offers us the perfect opportunity to check in with Stephan Fleet, the VFX Supervisor for Encore Hollywood of Season One of Under the Dome. Currently at work on the CBS series Extant (premiering later this summer), he talked to us about the effects on Under the Dome, but he also spoke about the challenge of making cinematic-scale VFX on a weekly basis even possible.

The challenge, says Stephan, is to understand the language spoken by each department. "I think one overlooked aspect of the VFX supervisor is that we need to function as a 'digital language translator.' The director and cinematographer and producers in Wilmington are thinking about the work in one way, with a specific set of terms and the VFX team in Hollywood is approaching the same shots from a very different perspective."

Encore VFX is now handling 30 TV shows at the same time, giving Stephan a front row seat for the merging of production and post. Don't miss this unique peek into one of summer's biggest hits.
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Saturday Night Live's film unit produces a pre-taped segment for every live show, with nearly all of production and post happening within a 48 hour period. Director of Photography Alex Buono and editor Adam Epstein rely heavily on communication, improvisational filmmaking skills and the flexibility of their toolset to hit their deadlines and bring film spots to air each Saturday night. Read more...

The Toaster and Tim's Vermeer

The Toaster and Tim's Vermeer

Tim's Vermeer was one of the most acclaimed documentaries of late 2013 and early 2014, but unless you saw it at one of the many film festivals it was selected for, it wasn't exactly easy to find in theaters. Now available on disc and streaming outlets including Netflix and Amazon Prime, here's your chance to see a provocative, highly entertaining film that you're going to be talking about for a long time.

The inventor of the NewTek Video Toaster, Tim Jenison, was certain that he figured out the secret behind the uncanny realism of one of the world's greatest painters, and certain he could use the same methods to duplicate his work. Really? Yes, really. The tale was so remarkable that when Tim told his friend Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller, Penn's response was, "We need to make a movie about this." And so they did, not knowing whether or not Tim was going to pull it off.

Join us for a wide-ranging conversation with Tim Jenison on the unexpected intersection of art, technology, obsession and the Video Toaster in the wonderfully provocative documentary called Tim's Vermeer.

Take Creativity Wherever You Go: Adobe Creative Cloud Updates

Take Creativity Wherever You Go: Adobe Creative Cloud Updates

Blending desktop apps and mobile devices for a "creativity on the go", Adobe announced the availability of 14 newly updated Creative Cloud desktop apps, four new mobile apps, and new Adobe-branded hardware tools for iPad. Creative COW contributing editor Kylee Wall takes a look at what's new.
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Sometimes it might seem that colorists are all about stylized treatments and extreme color correction, but Aidan Stanford's work on season five of Modern Family is all about maintaining realism and hiding all the tricks in the background. Making the jump from film color timing into digital hasn't been easy, but Aidan has found a way to utilize his film skills in the digital world, turning around episodes in a day using his favorite tools in DaVinci Resolve.

Sledding with friends and GoPro cameras

GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros

GoPro footage is making its way into nearly every broadcast project that editor Shane Ross has been working on. It's even showing up in feature film production, so no matter what you're cutting, you're going to work with GoPro soon, if you're not already. Drawing on his real-world experience figuring this out on broadcast deadlines, Shane offers practical advice for editors using Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro CC, and Apple FCPX.
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Jonathan Bird's Blue World is an underwater adventure series co-produced by the titular Emmy Award-winning cinematographer and naturalist, and the Oceanic Research Group. The 30-minute episodes cover a variety of subjects in and around the water, including marine research and underwater exploration. Needless to say, it also features stunning underwater imagery.

This truly epic conversation with Jonathan covered his trajectory across over 20 years in the industry, through NLEs (from Avid, Media 100, FCP, and now Premiere), camera formats (Hi-8 to 4K), computing platforms (adding HP workstations to his previously all-Mac shop), and business models -- starting with creating the TV show he'd always wanted to work on.

Digital Domain & The Many Layers of Maleficent

Digital Domain & The Many Layers of Maleficent

In Part 2 of our look at Walt Disney's Maleficent, we check in on Digital Domain, who drew upon their decades of Academy Award-winning expertise to set a new standard for realistic CG humans -- including, in some scenes, Maleficent herself. VFX Supervisor Kelly Port took us inside the 2-year process of bringing them to the screen. Read more...

Broadcast Editor Shane Ross Rebuilds His Bay with Thunderbolt

Broadcast Television Editor Shane Ross Rebuilds His Bay with Thunderbolt

Broadcast editor and longtime Creative COW leader Shane Ross was onlining a series for MSNBC on Avid Symphony, and noticed a funny thing: his MacBook Pro was outpacing his Mac Pro tower. Follow his adventures as he uses a variety of new products to rebuild the heart of his suite around Thunderbolt and his MacBook Pro.
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Walt Disney Pictures' Maleficent stars Angelina Jolie, Oscar winner for Girl, Interrupted, and among the smallest handful of actors we can refer to as true movie stars. It retells the story of one of Disney's most iconic villains, the evil witch from Disney's 1959 Sleeping Beauty. Its intent is by no means to lighten Maleficent up, as much as to illuminate her. As Angelina told Entertainment Weekly, "It's about the struggle that people have with their own humanity and what is that that destroys that and kind of makes us die inside."

Not exactly kid stuff, but the first reaction of audiences has been strong: an extremely rare Cinemascore rating of "A" from the people who've seen it, on top of an opening weekend north of $170 million worldwide.

Maleficent is directed by first-timer Robert Stromberg, who had a long career in visual effects before moving to Art Direction, where his first two outings (Avatar and Alice in Wonderland) both earned him Academy Awards. Maleficent screenwriter Linda Woolverton also wrote Alice in Wonderland (the first woman to be the sole writer on a billion-dollar picture), Beauty and The Beast (the first animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar), and collaborated on the screenplay for one of Disney's talking animal trifles. The Lion King. You may have heard of it.

In addition to Robert and Linda, another member of the team responsible for the success of Alice in Wonderland, now working again with them on Maleficent, is Visual Effects Supervisor Carey Villegas, whose work on Alice in Wonderland in fact netted him an Oscar nomination. Along with work on vfx-heavy franchises including Superman and Spiderman, Carey's diverse credits include What Dreams May Come, Fight Club, and Cast Away. We spoke to Carey about his work on Maleficent, coordinating the efforts from Digital Domain and the Motion Picture Company, the challenges of making realistic visual effects, and keeping Maleficent the movie grounded while making the character Maleficent fly.

Douglas Spotted Eagle shown skydiving with a 11-camera head-mounted POV testing helmet

The Ultimate POV Shootout

Douglas Spotted Eagle has a broad experience base with POV cameras designed for action shots. Rather than choosing one catch-all, must-buy cam, he will provide information about which action-camera is best suited for specific criteria which can be then used to help you make informed purchasing decisions.
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Here are some of our favorite stories for recent releases for movies you can now catch via your favorite home theatre viewing methods....

VFX & Motion Graphics on Star Trek: Into Darkness

VFX & Motion Graphics on Star Trek: Into Darkness

Andrew Kramer of Bad Robot and author/owner of the site Video Copilot was tapped to create more than 30 title sequences for the resurrection of the classic science fiction franchise with Star Trek: Into Darkness, while the OOOii team created stunning graphics and heads-up displays for the blockbuster film. OOOii CEO Kent Demaine, Lead Designer Jorge Almeida and Andrew Kramer spoke with the folks at Adobe about their great experiences working on the latest entry in the Star Trek universe.

Star Trek Into Darkness: How Editors Shaped The Story

Star Trek Into Darkness: How Editors Shaped The Story

The old saying is that the edit is the final version of the script. For editors Mary Jo Markey, A.C.E. and Maryann Brandon, A.C.E, their work on Star Trek: Into Darkness began far earlier than that -- when they were asked for their advice on how to shape the script in the first place! In one of our favorite articles, they describe the role they play in the storytelling process itself, in a way that far transcends the cutting of scenes.

The Wolf of Wall Street VFX with Robert Legato

The Wolf of Wall Street

With multiple VFX Oscars (Hugo and Titanic, plus a nomination for Apollo 13) plus a couple of Emmys (Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) under his belt, the most remarkable thing about Rob Legato's latest VFX extravaganza is that it doesn't appear to have any VFX at all! Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street is a masterpiece of what has become known as invisible effects, and this article from our friends at Imagineer, highlighting Rob's work with mocha, is a real eye-opener.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Monuments Men and A Career in VFX graphic

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Monuments Men and A Career in VFX

Jon Neill is one of the VFX Supervisors at Cinesite, and Creative COW's Tim Wilson spoke with him from the company's London office. A conversation that began with Jon's recent work on Monuments Men wound up taking in James Bond, John Carter, and some very practical advice for VFX artists who want to grow into leadership roles.

I, Frankenstein graphic with Frankenstein's monster standing on gargoyle

DI: I, Frankenstein

Siggy Ferstl's 32-year color grading career includes romantic comedies, kids movies, TV work, dramas both mainstream and independent -- and action. Lots of action, including House of Flying Daggers, entries in the Die Hard and Pirates of the Caribbean series, and three in the Underworld series. For his work on I, Frankenstein, Siggy spoke to Creative COW's Editor-in-Chief, Tim Wilson about the specific challenges of grading for VFX and 3D, as well as his approach to collaboration and the grading process.

Jurassic Park 3D movie graphic with T-Rex dinosaur

Jurassic Park 3D

Not everybody has a 3DTV of course, but if you do, you know you need this. If there was ever a movie that cried out for a third dimension, it was this one: T-Rex towering over the teetering SUV? Raptors skittering in the kitchen? Jurassic Park's already edge-of-your-seat scenes get even scarier in stereoscopic 3D. Conversions from 2D to 3D have gotten a bad rap due to a small handful of movies that were not done skillfully. Stereo D -- which also did the conversion work for Titanic -- handled Jurassic Park. President William Sherak and Executive Vice President, Chief Creative Officer Aaron Parry talked to Creative COW about their work on Spielberg's dinosaur blockbuster, and why 2D-to-3D conversions are booming.
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"The cloud" can mean a lot of things, and in some cases, it can mean nearly nothing. This can make it hard to even know what we're talking about. The "real" parts are getting more real all the time, though, for everything from collaboration to computation. Creative COW Contributing Editor Kylee Wall has been looking into the ways that "the cloud" in its many meanings is already transforming TV & film production today, and she has some ideas about where things might be going from here.

Screenvision & The Show Before The Show

Screenvision & The Show Before The Show

So you get to the movie a little early. Chances are good that you'll be seeing the work of Screenvision, who builds a combination of trailers, interviews, promos and music videos to create a self-contained show. We spoke to Screenvision Creative Supervisor Brian Mason for our own look behind the scenes.

Douglas Trumbull

Douglas Trumbull: A Writer-Producer-Director-Engineer-Inventor Looks Forward

You know Douglas Trumbull's stunning VFX work in movies including 2001: A Space Odyssey (which he took on at age 23), his Oscar-nominated work on Blade Runner, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and his directing the features Brainstorm and Silent Running. The latest step in Douglas's storied career includes a partnership with Christie on the recent premiere of his film UFOTOG, a dramatic 10-minute experimental sci-fi story about a lone man attempting to photograph UFOs. It was screened on a Christie Mirage 4K35, the world's first and only 4K DLP resolution projector running at a true 120Hz, at the Seattle Cinerama Theater's 2nd Annual Sci-Fi Film Festival. You can read more about that here.

With UFOTOG, Douglas was able to demonstrate his ground-breaking MAGI process, shot in 4K 3D at 120 frames per second (fps). MAGI explores a new cinematic language that invites the audience to experience a powerful sense of immersion and impact that is not possible using conventional 24 fps or 3D standards -- and given how many times that Douglas has changed the language of cinema already, who can doubt that he's done it again?

We had a chance to speak to Douglas 2 years ago, when he was still developing the MAGI process while shooting UFOTOG. He looked back on his VFX career, including his discovery by Stanley Kubrick at the 1964-65 World's Fair, and the work that he was doing to once again change the visual vocabulary of filmmaking. It's an amazing story! Read more....
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How do you tell a story visually without a frame? Mike Sullivan had to build a 360° museum film from 4K footage from the Sony F-55, 9 2K cameras in a dedicated rig, 100 actors, and horses, explosives and a crew of 45 -- and it turns out that figuring out how to tell a story in 360° was only the first of many post challenges that Mike had to face.

For one thing, how do you monitor the project during post? How do you even set up a project like that? How do you manage multiple formats of multiple sizes, which also need to be output at different sizes, in a single place? How do you hide the seams?

All in all, it's a classically epic story for both production and post, fully befitting the epic nature of the story itself. Mike's stories are always amazing, and this may be his most amazing yet.

Title graphic for Behind the Lens: Tom Burstyn Shoots Defiance

Behind the Lens: Tom Burstyn Shoots Defiance

We at Creative COW were pleased to note that Season 1 of the Syfy original program Defiance has been added to Amazon Instant Video. That season was lensed by regular Creative COW contributor Thomas Burstyn, an Emmy-nominated DP who is also a member of the Canadian Society of Cinematographers, and a New Zealand Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Defiance is shot with three Red Epic cameras, recording 4K RAW. Tom's bag of tricks includes his personal collection of antique lenses, including some still photography lenses, that add an organic flavor to the razor-sharp modern cinema lenses the production also uses. Everything about his own personal style and aethetic of the show tends away from conventional approaches to framing and lighting as well. Whether you know Defiance or not, you're going to see a few things you didn't expect in Tom's story of how it's put together.

Walter Biscardi on Archiving Data

Walter Biscardi on Archiving Data

In this digital media world, it's imperative to not only have enough media array space to do your work, but also to store and protect that media for the long term. Biscardi Creative Media have been using a very simple method going on four years now with great success, and discuss the details in this article.
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