Great book – The Wizard of MGM: Memoirs of A. Arnold Gillespie

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Terrible cover, great book – The memoirs of A. Arnold Gillespie

I recently finished reading through this brilliant look at mattes and miniatures. Don’t be put of by the cover, this book is an excellent memoir from MGM’s head of effects during Hollywood’s golden age. The manuscript, that Gillespie penned in the sixties, has only recently been published, and so it does suffer from slightly below par photographic illustrations, but this is amply compensated for by their quantity, coverage and the privileges of the authors extensive access.

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Miniature effects scene from Thirty Second Over Tokyo

Penned decades before the pre-digital era, the focus of the book is made up of practical and optical effects, mostly by miniatures and matte paintings. The language verges a little towards lines that sound like they came out of Mad Men at times, but not too much. Gillespie can definitely tell a good story, loves a tangent, and goes into he kind of in-depth details that will make Cinefex jealous.

Fascinating and brilliant, can’t recommend it enough!

Available from Amazon

* I borrowed this shot from one of the best miniatures resources on the web, the blog of Kiwi, NZ Pete (can’t find his real name) – Matte Shot – a tribute to Golden Era special fx

Spectre – the new trailer has just been released.

The latest trailer for Spectre has just been released this morning. There isn’t much new material in terms of sets or design being revealed, but it does expand on what we have seen in the earlier trailers, and in photos from the set. I definitely want to see more of that Spectre conference space that James Bond has snuck into. It’s not quite Ken Adam, but has great qualities, all of it’s own.

I know that there are some pretty impressive backdrops by Rutters in the film, and with production design by Dennis Gassner, and cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema, I am eagerly looking forward to it’s release in October.

RFEL Farda virtual set just went live.

 

The Radio Free Europe’s Farsi news re-launched today, from a brand new virtual set, designed and prepared by Lightwell.

The resolution isn’t ideal, but I have been promised grabs and clips. The broadcasts are recorded in a greenscreen studio equipped with the Newtek Tricaster. The only real, physical elements within the space are the desk, and the rostra (designed by others).

The sets were prepared in 3DS Max, and rendered with V-Ray, but the level of finish within the design isn’t really apparent from this video. Once I have the stills from the recording, I will be able to post these here and illustrate the quality of the lighting and materials.

There aren’t enough Spy movies being made these days – The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

There aren’t enough spy movies being made these days, so its good to see the latest trailer for Guy Ritchie’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. appear on the web yesterday.

The story is set in 1963 – Bond’s From Russia With Love came out in 1963 – which suggests an abundance of opportunities to play on the designs and style and costumes of that period. It will be interesting to see what Production Designer Oliver Scholl delivers. There isn’t anything like MFU on his CV, but Edge of Tomorrow was a fine looking film, so lets see.

Opportunities for digital sets and set extensions should be plentiful too, so I look forward to tracking the behind-the-scenes revelations from the various different effects houses that are involved.

VFX breakdowns of some superb digital set extensions from CGEV

From the box office takings, it would appear that the FIFA vanity project United Passions isn’t going to be seen by many people. Given the revelations coming out of FIFA HQ recently (and for quite some time before then) that’s probably what the film deserves. However, French VFX studio CGEV put together some very nice digital sets for the finished film, and they at least deserve a viewing via the above show reel.

Behind the Scenes of ITV News General Election Coverage 2015

ITV ELECTION FILM 2015 from Sulaiman Sibai on Vimeo.

Scroll to 1:40 for extensive shots of the greenscreen studio, then overlayed with the virtual set and my virtual newsroom.

Although much more complex and developed than the main news studio design, these digital set designs were only used on the night of the election.