Sunday, December 30, 2007

Simulation Work at NM Tech

Professor, students work on computer simulation

Argen Duncan El Defensor Chieftain Reporter, aduncan@dchieftain.com

Organizations can predict what people will think and what influences those opinions, courtesy of a New Mexico Tech computer simulation.

Associate Professor of Management Peter Anselmo and students are developing and working to market an interactive computer simulation that outputs an opinion.

Such organizations as marketing companies and political groups need to talk to people to get opinions, and the Remote Interactive Simulation Engine could replace focus group meetings.

It also has potential for remotely training groups of people.

The program deals with whom people talk to and how they share opinions within their social networks.

"That has an impact on our opinions of things," Anselmo said.

With the computer program, live people can remotely participate in simulations with certain other individuals to allow researchers to study the effect on the output opinion of the structure of those networks, the way information is presented and what facts are exchanged.

"This is kind of a hot topic now," Anselmo said.

Duke City Fix on Ning


Duke City Fix
, an Albuquerque focused blog, made the move to Ning.com several weeks ago. (Ning is a fairly new free online service for creating, customizing and sharing Social Networks that was co-founded by Netscape founder Marc Andreesen.)

Duke City Fix has been pretty prominent in New Mexico's blogging community, and was recently featured on Ning's own community blog -- it's still on the Ning front page at the moment.

Duke City Fix makes me want to roadtrip to Albuquerque, NM. I found out about it from this article in the New Mexico Business Journal which I found out from, well, the Internet.

The focus of Duke City Fix is on local blogs - including a really comprehensive blogroll put together using our Page feature - groups, and discussions. They do a beautiful presentation of Flickr for photos from the Main page. If they wanted, they could also set up Flickr importing directly into Duke City Fix, but it looks great and they have an established Flickr community, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Chantal created Duke City Fix and her profile has the best summary of why she loves Albuquerque:

I love Albuquerque's long history and rough edges -- the chaos, the culture, the hole-in-the-wall eateries. I also love supposedly "bad" neighborhoods and anything off the menu that people call "strange."

That just rocks. The opportunity for local social networks is a pretty profound one and - with two and a half years under their belt as a blog - Duke City Fix is an inspiration.


Chantal and the group seem to get the real possibility of using today's technologies for connecting people and building community.

Friday, December 28, 2007

NM Media 2007 Wrap-Up (& MISP)

By all accounts, it's been a great year for New Mexico's Film and Media Industries, with production, income and employment all up, more locally shot work hitting the screens and students beginning to graduate from programs ushered in with the state's Media Industries Strategic Plan a few years ago.

For portion of what's going on with all that, you might be interested in the 4th Annual Media Industries Conference: "Media Industries 4 New Mexico's Future" (also known as the "MISP" Conference, for New Mexico's Media Industries Strategic Plan). It'll run Saturday this time, January 12th at UNM's Student Union Building from 9am - 5pm.

We've got an exciting line-up with Maggie Macnab on Design, Making NM's Incentives Work, Indie Filmmaking Essentials, Animation, Game Development and Education sessions (and more). The event is free, but registration is required (Click here to Register). More info at the ARTS Lab site as well.

NM Business Weekly: New Mexico's Close-Up
by Megan Kamerick

Ann Lerner can barely repress her excitement in looking back on 2007.

"It's unbelievable!" said Lerner, director of the city of Albuquerque's film office.

Lerner used to read the list in MovieMaker Magazine each year with the top 10 cities to live, work and make movies and dream of seeing the Duke City among the metro areas. She got her wish this year when Albuquerque appeared in the No. 4 position.

Anyone who has spent time in downtown Albuquerque in the past year could barely avoid running across a film or television production. The apex of this activity came with "Game," the biggest production to hit the Duke City yet.

With a local spend of about $18.8 million, according to the State Investment Council, the film built an entire set on Silver Avenue of shipping containers and a three-story facade that was then progressively blown up on a regular basis. There was even a huge fireball on Civic Plaza. The futuristic film stars Gerard Butler of "300" and Kyra Sedgewick of the television program "The Closer."

And a number of other cities around New Mexico got their own close-ups as well, with production spread from Lordsburg to Las Vegas and points north. New Mexico was the backdrop for a number of high-profile films this year, including "No Country For Old Men," "Wild Hogs," "In the Valley of Elah" and "3:10 to Yuma."

The state also was in the international spotlight when the Association of Film Commissioners International held its annual "cineposium" in Santa Fe in August. Keynote speaker Taylor Hackford spoke highly of New Mexico's film incentives and is now in pre-production for his next film, "Love Ranch," starring his wife, actress Helen Mirren.

The sizable budget of "Game" (about $50 million) capped off a year of 34 major feature film and television productions shooting or starting production in the state. Total economic impact was $479.7 million for fiscal year 2007 (July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007), up from $443.4 million in FY 2006 and $208.2 million in FY 2005. Year to date as of October, the impact had already reached $170.3 million. The number of film worker days has risen to 173,376 in FY2007 from 101,645 in FY 2005.
...
The opening of Albuquerque Studios in early 2007, with six sound stages and two more in the works, in the Mesa del Sol project south of the Albuquerque International Sunport opened up the market to larger productions, particularly those with special production needs like green screen work, which is one reason "The Spirit" was filmed at the ABQ Studios this fall. The Frank Miller-directed picture is based on a graphic novel and stars Samuel L. Jackson. A number of ancillary businesses have moved into ABQ Studios, including Stunt Facilities Southwest, payroll and rebate service Axiom, and Star Waggons, said Nick Smerigan, chief operating officer for the studios.

The possibility of another studio also popped up near the end of the year. New Mexico Film Studios is a project slated for the former ¡Traditions! site on Interstate 25 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. If that deal closes, construction could begin in January.

A New Jersey firm, WorldScape, plans to put post production facilities at that studio and is also building a new immersive theater in Los Alamos. And Sony Pictures Imageworks broke ground on a new building in Mesa del Sol for a facility that will boost New Mexico's post-production capabilities and its animation infrastructure.


Also from the NM Business Weekly:
Picture Imperfect: Sectors Shine, Decline
by Megan Kamerick

The film industry was the brightest spot in economic development in 2007, say state experts, and despite layoffs at Intel and the national labs, New Mexico continues to have low unemployment and healthy growth.

The booming film industry helped push employment growth in the information sector to a 5.6 percent increase, or 900 jobs, in the third quarter. Growth at T-Mobile, Verizon and Comcast contributed to that number, according to the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of New Mexico. Film growth would not have happened without tax incentives passed by the Legislature, said Larry Waldman, senior research scientist with BBER. They have resulted in the state paying out at least $30 million in credits this year, he said.

"But the idea is to get the film cluster here," he added. And that is happening -- with the opening of Albuquerque Studios, plans for another studio at the ¡Traditions! site on I-25 and the creation of a program in digital media at UNM.

BBER also issued a comprehensive survey on the impact of the arts and cultural industries in Bernalillo County this fall. It found those sectors generated $1.2 billion in revenues in 2004, $413 million in wages and 19,500 jobs (6 percent of all employment in the county). And half this activity was funded by dollars from outside the region.
...


REBATES & INCENTIVES

Credited by nearly everyone as the centerpiece for New Mexico's success in this area is our incentives and, in particular, our rebate program.

From the Las Cruces Sun-News:

The Taxation and Revenue Department paid $30 million in the first four months of fiscal year 2008, which began in July, to cover rebates paid to filmmakers, according to the committee.

That's up from $17 million for all of 2007, Abbey said.

If that trend continues, Abbey said, the payouts could grow to $100 million in 2009—far exceeding estimates of $30 million that New Mexico film industry backers have made to legislators in the past.

Eric Witt, director of media arts and industry development in the governor's office, said any increase in rebate payouts would be proportional to the increased revenues the state receives in the form of gross receipts, corporate and personal income taxes.

"They may be paying out more, but that means they're bringing in more," he said.


There are some important distinctions here.
First, our rebate percentage is near the top of those offered nationally.
Second, and nearly as important, is their ease of use. As a rebate (not a credit), the producers know how much they're getting money back on every in-state expenditure. Additionally, unlike some states, our rules are really clear, and dozens of companies have used them -- as a result productions can avoid unpleasant surprises with real budget figures from day one.

From the Albuquerque Journal:
Incentive programs include a 25 percent tax rebate on all film expenditures subject to taxation by the state, loans of up to $15 million per project, with back-end participation instead of interest, and no state sales tax (an option that can't be used with the tax rebate).
New Mexico's programs are "clean, simple and directly accessible by productions themselves," Witt said. "I think that's key to going forward."


WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Nearly as important as our Rebate program to visiting productions is the availability of skilled crew and production staff and incentives for hiring and training New Mexicans. It's also essential to growing our broader media industries.

From the Albuquerque Journal:

Work-force training was singled out by some of the panelists as an important initiative.
Currently, the state provides a 50 percent wage reimbursement for on-the-job training of New Mexico residents in advanced below-the-line, or technical, positions. The program requires that New Mexico-based supervisors serve as mentors to the trainees.
During the past several years, the number of New Mexico residents qualified to work on sets has grown from 60 or 70 people to about 1,300, the panelists said.
With work-force initiatives, "that's where we're the leader in the country," Strout said.
Those programs, as well as a push for increased higher education offerings related to film and television productions, give New Mexico an advantage over states who "just pop in a rebate or tax incentive," in their film programs, Witt said.


TECH DEVELOPMENT

From the NM Business Weekly:
It's been a great year for Novint Technologies Inc.

After more than three years of research and development, the Albuquerque company launched its "Falcon" 3-D game controller on the market last June.

The device -- built with technology from Sandia National Laboratories -- integrates a sense of touch, or "haptics," with 3-D computer graphics, allowing PC gamers to feel the blast of a gun or the swipe of a sword.

Thousands of Falcons are available on store shelves coast-to-coast thanks to distribution agreements that Novint signed with big retail chains, including CompUSA and Fry's Electronics. The company has ramped up its workforce from 15 last January to 32 now, and is moving into a new, 4,300-square-foot office with a small storefront near Cottonwood Mall.

"Falcon sales are going extremely well," said Novint CEO Tom Anderson. "A number of stores have sold out on the device. We're poised for a lot of growth next year."

Like Novint, dozens of New Mexico high-tech startups came of age in 2007, either by launching their products after years of R&D or by expanding operations with fresh investments from venture capitalists...


Also of interest here is Worldscape (mentioned above), an immersive imaging company with deals announced with Los Alamos National Labs and a production facility scheduled for New Mexico Film Studios at the ¡Traditions! site.

As Radical Entertainment CEO Kelly Zmak said during his talk for the Albuquerque Game Developers Association Chapter, these developments (along with business, government and education working together) are important to creating the conditions where a media industry can thrive. Growing an ecosystem with skilled people working in movies, games, aerospace and other media and technology related sectors creates both a pool of potential employees and helps mitigate downturns in any particular area.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Beer For My Horses Announced

Governor Bill Richardson Announces Beer For My Horses to be filmed in New Mexico

SANTA FE—Governor Bill Richardson today announced that Beer For My Horses, a feature film starring country music star Toby Keith (Broken Bridges), and Rodney Carrington (Rodney TV series) will be shot in New Mexico. Multi-award winner Michael Saloman will direct. Toby Keith, Donald Zuckerman (Not Forgotten currently prepping in Santa Fe, Broken Bridges) , and local New Mexican Brent Morris (Monster, Smoke Signals) will produce the film. T.K. Kimbrell will be the Executive Producer.

The film will be shot in Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and other north-central New Mexico locations from February 10 through March 13, 2008. The film expects to hire approximately 75 New Mexico crew members, 25 SAG principal roles and 350 background talent.

Beer For My Horses tells the story of two best friends that work together as deputies in a small town. The two defy the Sheriff and head off on an outrageous road trip to save the protagonist’s girlfriend from drug lord kidnappers.

Since Governor Richardson took office, over 85 feature film and television projects have been shot in the state, adding over $1.4 billion dollars to New Mexico’s economy.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Serious Games Update

Coming on the heels of the NM Higher Education Summit (12/5), the HTC sponsored Digital Media Summit in Las Cruces, and last night's Rio Grande IGDA meet-up, it's more evident than ever that the area of serious games offers great potential for New Mexico. Work in areas similar to what's described below is already happening locally, and the possibilities for application in health/biotech, clean energy, aerospace -- and other high priority fields are tremendous.

The US Army has founded a new project office for games that will focus on training simulators.
The new project office is called TPO Gaming, short for Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) Project Office for Gaming, and is part of TRADOC’s National Simulation Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

TPO Gaming hopes to fulfill certain elements of soldiers’ training needs—needs that some soldiers are satisfying at the local Best Buy, reports TSJOnline.

“Units should not have to spend training dollars to purchase training simulations,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Maffey, who’s the training director at the Pentagon. “If Army units are expending training funds to purchase games, there is probably an unfilled training requirement.”

TPO Gaming is developing a toolkit that soldiers will be able to use themselves to create combat training scenarios. The toolkit is still a ways off, as it’s slated for release sometime between 2010 and 2015.

“We will focus on the visualization piece of those technologies, not so much the entertainment piece,” said TPO Gaming’s director Col. Jack Millar.

Currently, TPO Gaming is focusing on FPS and RTS games, although it may expand into other genres.

While there are plenty of war videogames available to everyday consumers, TPO Gaming doesn’t believe that any fill the requirements of a true simulation.

Millar said that aside from being immersive, the simulations should be “scalable, feature an intuitive interface, model behavior at the entity level, contain an after-action review capability and allow easy distribution.”


While military and federal research once drove fields like graphics and high end computing (New Mexico was once home of one of the largest, most active SIGGRAPH Chapters before CGI Animation and Game Development really took off), the needs of business in fields like Bio (Health, Tech, Big Pharma), Oil & Gas, and enterprise level IT are, let's say, considerable markets as well.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Duke City Shootout 2007 Up Now @ Crackle!

They're up!

Full Disclosure: I'm a Board Member with DFI, which produces the Shootout -- and UNM's ARTS Lab is a long time supporter -- along with Intel, the State of New Mexico, City of Albuquerque, IATSE, Apple and many others. At least three of the movies this year involved use of the ARTS Lab Green Screen and heavy use of compositing and visual effects -- especially for seven days of production and post.

They're up at Sony's Crackle -- and already racking up some some good numbers.

Visit the page here: http://crackle.com/members/2310055
Subscribe, and let us know what you think.

Thanks!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Santa Fe Film Festival Winners Announced

From the NM Business Weekly...

Santa Fe Film Festival names winners

New Mexico Business Weekly - by Megan Kamerick NMBW Staff

A film about a rebellious young woman growing up in Iran won the Best of the Fest award at the 8th annual Santa Fe Film Festival.

"Persepolis" was co-directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi. TheFilm Festival animated feature was made in France. The Best Documentary award went to "Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez," about a goat herder shot and killed by American soldiers patrolling the Texas/Mexico border.

Best Short went to Australian filmmaker Darlene Johnson for her film "Crocodile Dreaming," which focuses on two Aborigine brothers who bond through the spirit of their mother. It was presented by National Geographic's All Roads Film Project.

The Audience Choice award went to "JUMP!," an account of young athletes competing in a national jump roping contest. What might be the first woodcut motion picture, "The Jackleg Testament: Part One, Jack and Eve," won Best Animation.

The Best Indigenous film award went to "Miss Navajo," which showcases the tribe's tradition-oriented pageant. Contestants are tested on everything from their knowledge of Navajo history to their skills butchering sheep.

"The Replacement Child" won the Best Editing award and "Finding Kraftland" won Best Creative Spirit award.

The Tamalewood award for best New Mexico-made film went to Albuquerque filmmaker Billy Garberina's "Necroville," about a pair of slackers who take on zombies.

The Best of the Southwest award went to "Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa," about a renegade community in northern New Mexico.

"The Longing: Forgotten Jews of South America" won the Best Latino award. And the raucous road movie "Two Tickets to Paradise," picked up the Independent Spirit award.

Festival organizers estimate they sold about 20,000 tickets over the five-day event, which brought in more national sponsors this year as well. The festival presented about 250 films and collaborated with National Geographic as well as the New York Jewish Film Festival and the Kids First! Film Festival.

Celebrity presenters at the awards ceremony included Alan Arkin, Gary Farmer, Jihmi Kennedy, Wes Studi, Ali McGraw and Raoul Trujillo.

mkamerick@bizjournals.com | 348-8323

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Showbuzz @ the Santa fe Film Festival

Local filmmaker Betsy Burke made it to the CBS Showbuzz site for her 48 Hour Film Project piece, "Teardrop" which showed at the Santa Fe Film Festival's New Mexico Film Expo.

Showbuzz gave some great coverage to the festival -- you can check it all out here: http://www.showbuzz.cbsnews.com/sections/movies_santafe/main502383.shtml

...Screenwriter Betsy Burke sat down with The ShowBuzz to explain how the film was made - from concept to finish - in just 48 hours.

Q: Tell me about "Teardrop."

A: It's about a piano prodigy who gets an idea to rescue her grandfather from a stuck life and also her piano teacher, who's in a deep depression.

The remarkable thing about the film is we did it through the 48 Hour Film Project. It's an international contest that centers in major cities, in the States, and a few cities in Europe and a few in Asia even, and you have 48 hours to make a film.

Q: What's the process like?

A: You sign up Friday night at 7:00 p.m. and they give you a genre, a character, a line of dialog and a prop you have to use. You write the film, shoot it, edit it, and turn it in by Sunday at 7:00 p.m.

So, I have some filmmaking friends and we've worked together a couple of times before and they asked if I wanted to join the team and I almost didn't do it because I thought, "What could you do in 48 hours?"

Q: How did it turn out?

We really pulled it off and it came out amazing. My friend just bought a new high def camera and he was all hot to try it out and it looks beautiful. I won best writer and it won seven awards, it swept the 48 Hour Film Project New Mexico awards. It was shockingly good how it came out.

Q: Why did you enter it in the Santa Fe Film Festival?

A: Well we just did it this summer so we're just starting to ramp up and get it in festivals. So we thought we'd start here in our home base. More than the screening I think it's just about meeting people. I love meeting people from all over the world and I try to get to see the international films and things that I can't see at the theater or things I can't rent. I really try to catch the more obscure things.

Q: Are there a lot more filmmakers coming to the festival than in previous years?

A: I think so. I've met a lot of Los Angeles transplants and I think there are a lot of people that were born and raised here that are getting excited about it.

Monday, December 3, 2007

3D & Immersive Talk at the Santa Fe Film Festival

One of the interesting topics covered at last week's Santa Fe Film Festival was the increasing adoption of 3D and immersive technology by Hollywood, and New Mexico's potential role as the Visualization group at Los Alamos National Labs and others try to take advantage of this opportunity.
Check out the latest in the Los Alamos Monitor: Immerse yourself

By ROGER SNODGRAS, Monitor Assistant Editor

SANTA FE – A town that not so long ago had to live without any movie theaters may be about to make up for lost time in a big way.

Los Alamos is a front runner to become the location for the world’s first Immersive Visualization Theater.

Peter Rogina, president of WorldScape Inc., said he has begun discussions with Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation with an eye to installing a new multi-dimensional immersion facility in the Research Park. The theater would be located outside the security perimeter and adjacent to the main administrative buildings at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Rogina said the theater could be a major new attraction for the county.
“To use a Star Wars analogy,” he said, “it would be the world’s first holodeck.”
The holodeck, a geek icon, enabled crewmembers in the television series to fuse imagination and reality.

Rogina appeared on a panel Saturday presented by the Santa Fe Film Festival on “Entering the Third Dimension,” about new 3-D media technologies.

Moderator Peter Warzel, senior vice president of Veriana Networks, introduced the participants and what he called the “hot topic” and “hot product” of the hour, 3-D and immersive imaging technologies.

“These technologies are moving beyond the big screen, conceptually, if not in fact,” he said. “Everything will be 3-D from now on.”

Rogina’s company is putting together a partnership that involves the laboratory’s Tech Transfer Division and the New Mexico Film Studios.

Steve Stringer, an Industrial Fellow at the lab, also participated in the panel. He was involved in creating the laboratory’s visualization room in the Nicholas C. Metropolis Center for Modeling and Simulation.

The “Cave,” as it is known, is one of the highest resolution visualization spaces in the world It links 33 stereoscopic digital projectors to provide a 43-million-pixel display on and within three walls and the floor and ceiling.
...

Warzel, who is a former president and chief operating officer of United Artists Theaters noted the dramatic box office success of the 3-D version of the Robert Zemecki’s new “Beowulf” movie.

“The 3-D version is being shown on 20 percent of the screens and bringing in 40 percent of the revenue,” he said. “Is it a drive to higher ticket prices by providing a different experience, or is it the wave of the future?”
...

Read the full article here: Immerse Yourself

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Activision & Vivendi merge to become Activision Blizzard

From Games Industry Biz: Activision Blizzard deal valued at $18.9 billion

Activision and Vivendi Games are to merge, becoming the world's largest independent videogame publisher, in a deal valued at USD 18.9 billion

The new company, Activision Blizzard, now boasts a portfolio bursting with some of the top-selling videogame franchises including Blizzard's World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo, Vivendi's Crash Bandicoot and Spyro and Activision's Guitar Hero, Call of Duty and the Tony Hawk series.

...

"This alliance is a major strategic step for Vivendi and is another illustration of our drive to extend our presence in the entertainment sector," commented Jean Bernard Levy, CEO of Vivendi.

"The combined strength of the existing management teams at both companies will set the stage for further profitable growth of Activision Blizzard.

"We look forward to being an active and supportive majority stockholder in a company that is poised to lead the worldwide interactive entertainment industry in the years ahead," he said.

Shares of Vivendi Games will be converted into 295.3 million new shares of Activision, which values Vivendi Games at USD 8.1 billion. Vivendi will also purchase 62.9 million newly issued shares in Activision for USD 1.7 billion in cash.

"By joining forces with Vivendi Games, we will become the immediate leader in the highly profitable online games business and gain a large footprint in the rapidly growing Asian markets, including China and Korea, while maintaining our leading operating performance across North America and Europe," he added.

...

Activision also said that it will now have access to Universal Music Group, the world's largest music company, "which will benefit Guitar Hero and further extend our sizeable leadership position in music-based games."

On Set: GAME in Albuquerque

We've seen and heard bits and pieces of what's been happening with Game -- and it looks like we're beginning to get coverage (Spirit has been getting a ton from fans of Frank Miller, Comic Books and much more).


From JoBlo.com:
No matter how exciting the film at hand, being on a film set can often be a dull and tedious process. And yet, there was something extremely satisfying about being on the set of the upcoming action sci-fi flick from CRANK creators Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, tentatively titled GAME. Perhaps it was the warning of a crewmember as he yelled, "Falling body parts!" followed by a smattering of limbs being exploded into the air, as well as their eventual collapse onto the automotive wreckage below.

Normally studios set it up so that any observational visits to a set happen on an uneventful day of shooting. But based on my experience with the obviously action-packed GAME, I'm guessing no day of shooting will be without its fair share of explosions and body bags. This makes me all the more fortunate to be able to fill you in on the awesomeness of the sequence that was currently being shot.

...

THE SET

Lionsgate took the liberty of flying us out to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where filming is currently taking place (they were on day 9 of a 53 day shoot when we showed up). After enjoying the fine dining of the hotel we were set up in, a van came to pick us up and take us to the set. As we neared the location, off in the distance was what looked to be a stadium, with a metal ceiling covering the top. Dust clouds were emanating from the inside.

We hopped out of the van to get a closer look.

The entire set was covered in mounds of dirt. Wooden spiked barriers covered in barbed wire were littered across the arena, as were about half a dozen broken down cars, many of which were set ablaze. BMX bikers darted up and around the scene as a geared up Gerard Butler stood menacingly with his gun ready to fire. And then, an explosion. The fire launched full blast into the air, debris flying everywhere, and the temperature rising exponentially for about three seconds. It was at this point I realized, "This film is gonna kick ass."

Twenty feet away they had a collection of monitors showing the take being filmed, but the directors were up close and personal on set, with Mark Neveldine operating the camera.

Surrounding the area were backlit white sheets, which we were told would later be turned into holographic advertisements. It will be interesting to see whether they go with brand-name products, or something made up. At any rate, it was confirmed they'd at least be "exotic," probably giving off the vibe of those whacked out commercials you might see in Japan.

Also occupying the set were a small group of extras playing Genericons (discussed above), spread across bleachers on the sidelines. Additionally, we were informed that everything surrounding the arena would all be CGI'd in later, basically having the prisoners battle in a confined, isolated part of the city.

Having just finished one of his takes, Gerard Butler rose from the storm of dust and removed his army vest. The just recorded dailies played back on the monitors as he chugged down a cup of coffee, watching attentively. It's looking good. He then proceeded to gear up again and get right back into the action.

A bit later, writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor also made their way to the monitors, reviewing previously shot footage. Recognizing a couple of the other journalists (Peter from slashfilm.com, and Alex from firstshowing.net), they asked us how we were doing. "Haven't seen you before," Mark pointed out as he bumped fists with me. Apparently, they had a private party with a bunch of the online journalists at one of the past Comic Cons. Looks like I've been missing out. These are definitely the kind of guys you'd wanna chill and drink a beer with.

...
OTHER COMMENTS

Available to answer some of the other questions we had was Executive Producer David Rubin, who kicked things off by discussing one of the other major battle sequences in the film.

Rubin: Did you guy get a chance to drive through downtown at all? We built this big structure down town, on the four corners. We are going to destroy it in the middle of one of the battles. This is right in the middle of downtown. Albuquerque had four corners that were vacant. Which is strange to see in the middle of a city. We took advantage of that, and we built a set. One of the major battles takes place in what we call "Container City". It's kind of exciting. We just shot the beginning of that battle last weekend.