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All eyes are on High Frame Rate Cinema, the latest technology shift touted by such heavyweight filmmakers as Peter Jackson and Jim Cameron. But how many frames per second is ideal? How does HFR cinema change the workflow and the bottom line?

Douglas Trumbull is both an expert and a pioneer in high frame-rate cinema, with his development, in the late 1970s, of the 60 fps/70mm Showscan format. Thirty years later, he's as bullish as ever on the aesthetics of HFR cinema. "The higher the frame rate, the more realistic the image, and even more so with 3D," says Trumbull. "My interest is in hyper-cinema. By combining 3D with extremely high frame rate on an extremely large screen at extreme brightness, the result is more like live performance. This offers a new interesting unanticipated opportunity to make movies that are like live events. The viewer is in the movie, on the adventure."

Trumbull isn't the only advocate for HFR cinema. Most notably James Cameron has taken up the cause and plans to produce a high-frame rate sequel to Avatar. Trumbull and videotaped presentation by Cameron were just two of the speakers at a panel on the topic at SIGGRAPH 2012.

The following illustrious group of experts -- moderated by Christie CTO Paul Salvini -- weighed in on why we should be excited by the opportunities of HFR cinema and what we can expect in day-to-day production and post workflows. The panel consisted of:
  • ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Dennis Muren, ASC;
  • Lightstorm Entertainment Producer Jon Landau;
  • Phil Oatley, Head of Technology at Park Road Post Production;
  • Darin Grant, CTO, Digital Domain;
  • Jim Beshears, Head of Post Production and
  • Lincoln Wallen, Head of Animation Technology both at Dreamworks Animation;
  • Luke Moore, Director of Special Projects at Side Effects Software;
  • RealD Chief Scientific Officer Matt Cowan; and
  • John Helliker, director of the Screen Industries Research and Training Centre (SIRT) Centre at Sheridan College in Toronto.

High frame rate (HFR) cinema isn't here yet, but it's one of the most talked-about topics in the media and entertainment space. The recent news that Warner Bros. has curtailed its 48fps release of The Hobbit to a handful of large cities was cause for yet more conversation about the viability of HFR cinema.

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Paul Cameron, ASC, just finished work on the remake of "Total Recall," directed by Len Wiseman and starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel with Bill Nighy, Bryan Cranston, and John Cho. Cameron was last featured in Creative COW for his work on "Henry's Crime." His previous credits include director Michael Mann's "Collateral" and Tony Scott's "Man on Fire."

Cameron, who studied at State University of New York's Purchase College Film School and joined NABET (National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians) while he was in college, started his career shooting commercials and music videos. In 2003, he won top cinematography awards at both the Clio Awards and AICP Awards for his photography on the BMW featurette "Beat the Devil" with director Scott. He won another Clio--his third--in 2008 for the VW Golf Night Drive spot with director Noam Murro.

In this new installment of Behind the Lens, Paul takes Creative COW readers inside the making of "Total Recall." You can find it online at:

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Aaron Sims talked to Creative COW about his work on the much-lauded TV series "Falling Skies," as well as summer VFX hits "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." Sims is also working on a feature-length version of his short "Archetype."

Born in Texas, Aaron Sims began work as a concept artist in California in the mid-1980s. His career in the movie industry started when he designed the creature in From Beyond, a 1985 film based on an HP Lovecraft story. Next came Sam Raimi's Evil Dead II. Soon after he started working with Academy Award® winning effects geniuses Rick Baker and Stan Winston.

Aaron Sims talked to Creative COW about his work on the much-lauded TV series Falling Skies, as well as summer VFX hits Amazing Spider-Man and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Sims is also working on a feature-length version of his short Archetype.

Defined with a broad stroke, a "concept artist" helps the filmmaker realize both characters and environments for his movie. A character concept artist - which is what The Aaron Sims Company is known for - designs a character to be unique and iconic for a film property. A concept artist can also work with production designers to create worlds.

Learn more about The Aaron Sims Company and the work they do, by visiting:

Aaron Sims: Concept Artist in the Creative COW Magazine Library
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Jerome Chen, Academy Award-nominated senior visual effects supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks, talks about choreography and creation of the VFX on The Amazing Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man, directed by Marc Webb, walks a fine web between homage to the Spider-Men who have gone before and a fresh look at the agile super hero and his mythology. The movie is also the first native stereo 3D feature for Sony Pictures Imageworks, which developed a new stereo pipeline for the film.

The Amazing Spider-Man has 1,639 of visual effects, of which SPI did 671. Sony Imageworks Senior VFX Supervisor Jerome Chen, who acted as the feature's overall Visual Effects Supervisor, brought on other facilities to complete the VFX work: Pixomondo, Pixel Playground, Gener8, Nerve, Sony Colorworks, Blur Studios, Arc, iSolve, Legend3D, Method Studios, Flash Film Works, Handmade Digital and Reliance MediaWorks. Between all the VFX and conversion companies, approximately 1,000 people worked on the movie, says Chen.

Jerome Chen is an Academy Award-nominated senior visual effects supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks, and served in this role on Beowulf and the Polar Express as well as the two Stuart Little films. Chen joined SPI in its founding year, 1992, and worked his way through the production ranks starting as a digital artist. Other film credits include Godzilla, Contact, James and the Giant Peach, The Ghost and the Darkness and In the Line of Fire.

Jerome Chen speaks to Creative COW about choreography and creation of the VFX on The Amazing Spider-Man, which you can find online in the COW Library at
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If you think that converting a motion picture from 2D to 3D is a post production process, think again. Stereo D just wrapped up the conversion of director Timur Bekmambetov's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter from 2D to 3D, and the job began before a single frame was shot. "With our company, this is becoming fairly common," says Stereo D Head of Stereography Graham Clark. "We meet with the director, do script breakdowns. We've even done pre-greenlight work by doing proof of 3D concept on concept art."

"We get involved very early in the process on most features, to develop the look of the movie," adds Stereo D Head of Post Production Milton Adamou. "That influences how we convert it and create a 3D version."

Even so, Stereo D's close integration with the filmmakers and VFX houses throughout pre-production, production and post ranks Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter as an unusually close collaboration. "We first met with Timur at Fox Studios in Los Angeles and discussed the prospect of doing a conversion," says Clark. "We realized right away that Timur was very creative and wanted to explore digital 3D as a new language."

You can read all about Stereo D's work on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in Creative COW at:
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Randy Goux, Visual Effects Supervisor at Method Studios in Vancouver most recently supervised the VFX company's work on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, directed by Timur Bekmambetox. Goux's other supervisor credits at Method include Contagion, Red, G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra and Tooth Fairy. Cult TV hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer marked the start of Goux's career in visual effects. His extensive film experience include supervisory roles on The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, Invictus, Get Smart, Pathfinder, Constantine and Serenity. He has previously worked at WETA, ESC and POP.

Randy Goux shared his experiences on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter with Creative COW.

Join us as we go inside the making of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

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Holograms are de rigeur in a sci-fi movie, but in Prometheus, Charlie Holloway steps through one to hand a rose to Elizabeth Shaw, Luma Pictures handled this unique fluid effect as well as placing computer graphics in Shaw's handheld computer.

Charlie Holloway surprises his love interest Elizabeth Shaw on the spaceship Prometheus by walking through a hologram to present her with a single rose. The effect -- along with the graphics on Elizabeth's handheld computer -- only take a few seconds of screen time, but add to the film's futuristic feel and emotional core.

These effects, which were done by Luma Pictures, shine a light on how VFX supervisors divvy up the massive number of effects, often assigning discrete sequences to a single visual effects facility. "They split the work off because it was its own unique effect," says Luma Pictures Digital Production Manager Michael Perdew. "It wasn't our largest project but it had its challenges."

How to distort a hologram was the subject of look-dev discussions between the Luma Pictures team and Prometheus Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Stammers. "It was the only scene where someone distorts a hologram, so it was a stand-alone look in the movie," says Perdew. "They wanted it to look fluid."

The team, headed by Luma Pictures VFX Supervisor Vincent Cirelli, first created detailed holdout geometry and matchmoves of the actors, so they would integrate properly within the CG fluid. To create a fluid look for the distortion as Charlie walks through the hologram, they used FumeFX for Maya, which, reports CG Supervisor Richard Sutherland, they had recently worked with developer Sitni Sati to implement. Nuke was the final compositing tool.

Luma Pictures also added the graphics that showed a DNA breakdown on Shaw's handheld computer. "We had the graphics provided to us," says Perdew, who reports that, "everyone here is a huge fan of Ridley Scott and Alien. The filmmakers had put so much love and care into the 3D aspect of the film that we wanted to give this graphics information some depth."

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Most awards for NAB are picked at the show. Not the Creative COW Blue Ribbon Awards. Our members deliberate live online, where they poke, prod and dig deep to decide which tools are the ones that still matter after the lights have died down and everyone has packed up and gone back to their studios. Over a half-million people logged into Creative COW during the week that NAB was happening and we have followed their posts and comments.

Some might say that the only "real" way to find the Best of Show at NAB is to be there. Maybe, maybe not. Once you're in the room, the goal is typically to see everything possible, and decide which products strike you as most interesting while you're standing in front of them. It may be easier to get the big picture from afar, though. The 500,000 people who came to during NAB told us exactly which companies, products and technologies were compelling enough to reach beyond that big room in Nevada. That's critical, because the importance of the NAB Show to our industry doesn't end at the walls of the convention center. It begins there.

Which is why the Creative COW Blue Ribbon Award is unique: it acknowledges that the real-world expertise of thousands of potential paying customers outweighs the opinion of a handful of magazine editors -- which is why we never vote in the Blue Ribbon Awards. The only vote that counts is yours.

So, what did you vote for this year? What will be the products that matter in the days ahead? Here are your choices for 2012...

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MEN IN BLACK 3 is getting rave reviews at the theaters and in the press, and Creative COW's Debra Kaufman had the opportunity to speak with Visual Effects Supervisors, Jay Redd, and Ken Ralston about their adventures with aliens and the Men in Black.

Five-time Academy Award winner and visual effects pioneer Ken Ralston was Visual Effects Supervisor on Men in Black 3. Ralston, who is Senior Visual Effects Supervisor and Creative Head at Sony Pictures Imageworks, was also recognized with an Academy Award-nomination for his work on Alice in Wonderland 3D. During his tenure at Sony Imageworks, Ralston has collaborated with director Robert Zemeckis on Beowulf, The Polar Express and Cast Away. He also received a Special Achievement Oscar for the visual effects in the 1984 Star Wars: Episode VI -- The Return of the Jedi. Other film credits include the Back to the Future trilogy, Jumanji, Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and several Star Trek films.

Jay Redd, also Visual Effects Supervisor on Men in Black 3, has spent more than a decade at Sony Imageworks during which time he was Visual Effects Supervisor on Monster House and The Haunted Mansion. Previously he was Digital Effects Supervisor on Stuart Little 2 and honored with the VES Award for Best Character Animation in an Animated Film. Redd is also credited with helping to create the title character for the first Stuart Little film. Before Imageworks, Redd spent four years at Rhythm & Hues where he worked on Waterworld and Babe.

Join us as we go inside the making of MEN IN BLACK 3, online now at

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