Sunday, July 27, 2008

Comic Con plays up NM Productions

Comic-Con InternationalImage via Wikipedia
Comic con this past week played up the spate of comic-born movies in theaters now and soon to come. In addition to the recently shot (and fairly soon to open) "The Spirit", Director McG and several members of the new Terminator team impressed attendees with new teaser footage. More below.

From the New York Times:
In Comic-Con Galaxy, Stars and Terrestrials Meet

SAN DIEGO — Deference hung thick over the Comic-Con International fantasy convention here on Friday, as Frank Miller, a revered figure in the comics world, explained how he found the temerity to direct a movie version of “The Spirit,” the signature work of an even more revered figure, Will Eisner.

“If I didn’t do it, somebody else was going to do it, and something very bad could happen,” Mr. Miller told about 6,500 listeners in one of the convention’s big halls. Grizzled and a bit shaggy, he spoke in a voice that crossed the lower ranges of a clarinet with a wheezy vacuum cleaner.

The crowd’s response was muted. In fact, many trickled out before the presentation ended. But the spectacle of Mr. Miller tackling the work of his deceased mentor carried a sense of importance for a group that takes its comics seriously.

Snippets on the screen gave the impression that Mr. Miller had not so much directed the movie as painted it in a hitherto unseen medium. It was colored heavily in black, white and a beyond-neon red that nearly ignited images of the crime-fighting lead character’s tie.

Whether Mr. Eisner, who died in 2005 at age 87, would have approved is far from certain. Nor is it clear that Mr. Miller would have demanded his approval. On the stage Friday, the director described his relationship with the older artist as “a 25-year argument.”

Mr. Miller, now 51, has staked his own claim as a guiding spirit of the convention, the largest of its kind in the United States and increasingly a must stop for the Hollywood marketing machine. More than 20 years ago he earned his place in its pantheon by writing and drawing the text and panels for the mini-series “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns,” which revitalized the DC Comics character and only this month helped power the latest of six films inspired by the books, “The Dark Knight,” to a record-setting opening-weekend haul of $158.3 million in ticket sales.

In the interim Mr. Miller, with Lynn Varley, created the graphic novel “300”; co-directed the film “Sin City,” based on his comic series, with Robert Rodriguez; and then went to work on “The Spirit” at Albuquerque Studios in New Mexico, where he orchestrated hundreds of green-screen shots in his solo directing debut. The film is not scheduled for release until Christmas, but by early July the ministudio behind the film, Lionsgate, had already begun plastering buses in the Los Angeles area with sultry images of Eva Mendes (“Hitch”) as the vampy criminal Sand Sarif. In New York and elsewhere, the movie’s other temptresses (Scarlett Johansson, Jaime King and Sarah Paulson) found their way onto posters of their own.

If the plan was to steal some attention from the major studios’ summer fare, it has certainly worked that way here. Ms. Mendes’s sultry pose has been visible on posters around the city, and Lionsgate on Friday promised plenty more, as it announced a plan to cooperate with nine art schools around the country to come up with student-designed advertising for the film...
More at: In Comic-Con Galaxy, Stars and Terrestrials Meet

There were several reports of the new trailer and other footage of Terminator at Comic Con. From
Comic Con 2008: Top 10 'Terminator' Tidbits
“The first thing McG ever said to me was, ‘I don't want to make a McG movie. I want to make a Terminator movie,’ and that's what he's done,” says Sam Worthington of his Terminator Salvation director.

The new trailer and exclusive clips had Comic Con buzzing this weekend as McG, Worthington, Common, Bryce Dallas Howard and Moon Bloodgood stopped by the convention to talk to fans and press about the fourth film in the franchise. went the extra mile to put together the top 10 Terminator tidbits we learned at the Con...
Read the actual tidbits here: Comic Con 2008: Top 10 'Terminator' Tidbits
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Los Alamos National Labs and the Future of Simulation

One of the interesting things people are working on in New Mexico is the very highest form of simulation. This may not be immediately applicable to traditional media work, but... the products and techniques spun off may help drive the future of virtual reality.
By Davide Castelvecchi July 27th, 2008

Simulating the complexity of quantum physics would quickly overwhelm even the most advanced of today’s computers.

If The Matrix really existed, it would probably have to be a quantum simulator. The fictional computer in that story can create virtual worlds indistinguishable from the real one and project them into people’s minds. But the real world includes quantum phenomena, something ordinary computers can’t fully simulate.

Now physicists have created a rudimentary prototype of a machine that simulates quantum phenomena using quantum physics, rather than using data kept in a classical computer. While the new device can't make people fly like the Matrix does, it demonstrates a technique that could enable physicists to create, in the virtual world, materials that don't yet exist in nature and perhaps figure out how to build, in the real world, superconductors that work at room temperature, for example.

Tobias Schätz of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany and his collaborators built a model of the smallest solid object imaginable — one made of two atoms — by suspending two ions in a vacuum. The researchers used laser light to vary the electrical repulsion of the ions in order to simulate the magnetic interaction of atoms. Essentially, the machine could use one force of nature to simulate the other.

In a paper published online by Nature Physics on July 27, the researchers describe how their system reproduced the magnetic alignment of atoms that takes place when certain materials are exposed to magnetic fields.

“This is pretty important that they’ve been able to demonstrate the principle,” says John Chiaverini of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

“I feel the experiment is an important initial step in the emerging field of quantum simulation,” says David Wineland of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo., whose group in 2002 pioneered a more limited quantum simulation technique by trapping single ions. The new experiment “demonstrates important tools that can potentially be implemented on much larger systems whose simulations are intractable by classical means,” he says.

It was the late physicist Richard Feynman who pointed out in 1982 that ordinary computers can’t possibly simulate true quantum behavior of a large number of particles. That’s because of the phenomenon of superposition, which allows a particle to be in two states at the same time. For example, the spin of an atom — the quantum version of a bar magnet — can point simultaneously up and down.

Feynman reasoned that to simulate, say, the spin states of an object made of two atoms, a computer has to keep track of four possible combinations of spins: up-up, up-down, down-up, and down-down. For three atoms, eight possibilities exist, and the number keeps growing exponentially. For n atoms, the number is 2n, which gets very large very quickly. “This 2n — that’s what kills classical computers,” says Schätz.

Chiaverini says even state-of-the-art supercomputers quickly get overwhelmed with all the calculations required to predict how all those spin states will evolve in time. “You run out of steam at about 40 spins,” he says.

Eventually, Feynman envisioned, a general purpose, programmable quantum computer could itself carry out quantum simulations. But such machines are still decades away, most researchers say, while machines designed only for quantum simulations may become available sooner.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sony IPAX Scholarships Announced

UNM (and its "Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media Program") is proud to be a relatively new member of Sony Picture's Imageworks Professional Academic Excellence program (IPAX), and while New Mexican students haven't been selected for scholarships yet (it's only the Scholarships' second year) -- this is something they can aspire to.

From Animation World News:

Sony Pictures Imageworks' second annual scholarship winners have been announced, presented this year to four students currently enrolled at academic institutions affiliated with IPAX, Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation’s Professional Academic Excellence program.

The IPAX scholarship top prize winner is Luis Rodrigo Huerta of Texas A&M. Through the IPAX scholarship fund, Huerta will receive tuition money towards his master’s degree at Texas A&M in visualization and the online character animation courses he is taking through Animation Mentor.

The other scholarship recipients are Jorge Garcia, a character animator from Ringling College of Art & Design, Rogelio Olguin from The School of Visual Arts, who submitted outstanding examples of painting and lighting, and Christian Haniszewski, also from the School of Visual Arts, who demonstrated a keen aptitude for character modeling and rigging.

Each scholarship winner is currently enrolled full-time at their IPAX member school and is pursuing the goal of a professional career in animation, visual effects, or technology.

Scholarships are solely merit based. The selection committee, consisting of Imageworks visual effects and animation supervisors, producers, executives and recruiters, carefully reviewed each essay, reel and portfolio, looking for the very best use of digital technology and a passion and understanding of visual effects and animation. A record number of applicants submitted this year and the four recipients represent exceptional work of the highest standards.

The IPAX program was created in 2005, under the leadership of Scoredos, with the intent to educate faculty and structure curricula at leading academic institutions in an effort to develop future talent who will contribute to the overall growth of the visual effects and animation industry.

IPAX is a professional development program designed to share, extend and expand the Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation knowledge base. In addition to providing IPAX member schools the opportunity to attend in-house training programs and experience a working production environment, giving instructors valuable knowledge and skills to return to the classroom with, the program also provides a collaborative global knowledge exchange between IPAX member schools and faculty, their students and Imageworks. The IPAX Scholarship Program encourages the best of each member school to continue his or her pursuit of a quality education and to enter the visual effects and animation industry.

For more information on IPAX and The IPAX Scholarship Program, visit

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Steve Buscemi, Terminator

Having seen the new teaser trailer -- and now the Dark Knight... I'm even a little more excited about Terminator.  (check out the trailer to the right or at the Terminator Site, along with this: 
We are half way through filming. Our teaser is in theaters and playing
before The Dark Knight.

You will see that this is a movie inspired by the first films, but is a true new beginning in that it takes place in the future.

All three Terminator films took place present day, with Terminators
traveling back in time to attack. This picture takes place after Judgment
Day. It happened. Everything is gone. The story of the movie is the "brink
moment" Reese always talked about.

From a technical perspective, we have set out to achieve a completely new
visual style that hasn't been seen before. We're shooting the film on color
stock but are using a method inspired by the Oz process which was developed
at Technicolor by Mike Zacharia and Bob Olson. Basically we are adding three
times as much silver. It creates a surreal texture that is in keeping with
the notion of the entire picture - feeling detached from the world we know

Every morning and every night Christian and I work on the story. Sam's
contribution has been excellent. We are committed to putting the story and
character first and then supplementing that with action and visual effects.
It is our intention to make a film on a large scale with the nuance and
subtext of a high quality independent picture.
And apparently there will be a HUGE fireball down there tomorrow. More at the site...

Also in New Mexico... Steve Buscemi! I don't know... I missed the original announcement, but that's pretty cool.
Film starring Steve Buscemi to shoot in New Mexico

The Associated Press
Article Launched: 07/21/2008 04:15:29 PM MDT

SANTA FE—The governor's office says the feature film "Saint John of Las Vegas" will be shooting in Albuquerque next week.
The independent production stars Steve Buscemi and is directed by Hue Rhodes.

Buscemi has appeared in films and on television. He was just nominated for an Emmy for a guest appearance on "30 Rock."

Shooting is scheduled to begin July 28th and continue through August 23rd.

The governor's office says the production will hire about 70 crew members from New Mexico and more than 300 local actors.

Monday, July 21, 2008

NM in the Maryland News

One measure of success (we keep seeing) is being the example others keep talking about. So as other states like Maryland consider incentives for filmmaking, we're the ones they refer to...

From the Baltimore Sun:

Tax credits now critical to region's film industry
July 21, 2008

I would like to set the record straight on a number of inaccurate statements made by Sheldon H. Laskin in his column "Leave film tax credits on the cutting-room floor" (Commentary, July 14).

Mr. Laskin wrongly suggests that state and local governments provide police, fire personnel and other public services "at taxpayer expense."

To the contrary, these services are paid for by the production company and are not charged to Maryland's taxpayers.

Mr. Laskin also suggests that productions "do not create much in the way of temporary employment."

However, during its fifth and final season, the acclaimed HBO crime drama series The Wire hired 364 Maryland film technicians and 2,701 Maryland actors and extras, as well as contributing significantly to the local economy by renting or buying goods and services from 673 Maryland vendors.

In fact, many of Maryland's businesses, from hotels to lumber companies, from car rental companies to bottled water companies, depend on film production for a significant part of their revenues and may even be able to hire additional employees when they are working on a film.

Mr. Laskin's comment that one Bruce Springsteen concert or a play running a week at the Hippodrome Theatre has much the same economic impact as a feature film or television series shows his misunderstanding of the film industry.

In fact, when a production comes to town, it employs hundreds of citizens and does business with hundreds of Maryland companies for anywhere from four to eight months.

And, as for Mr. Laskin's criticism of the idea that film incentives foster economic development, I would direct his attention to New Mexico, where the production crew base has grown from barely 100 film technicians to more than 1,300 professionals since the inception of state incentives.

The state now has four new sound stages being developed by the private sector, and companies like Sony Imageworks, Lionsgate Entertainment, Clairmont Camera, Star Waggons and many others have invested millions and are expanding or relocating into New Mexico.

This certainly does not sound like the "minor, temporary boost" to the state's economy Mr. Laskin describes.

Jack Gerbes


The writer is director of the Maryland Film Office.

Sheldon H. Laskin's column "Leave film tax credits on cutting-room floor" overlooks the needs of those in Maryland who rely on the film industry to make a living.

In a film production, often only the lead actors, producers and key staff such as the director and cinematographer are based out of town.

The rest of the crew - including gaffers, best boys, drivers, makeup artists, background actors, day players, assistant directors, production assistants, accountants, wardrobe department personnel, casting personnel, catering service personnel, hair stylists, locations scouts, set dressers and script supervisors - is based here in Maryland and pays area property taxes, sales taxes and all other taxes

And while Mr. Laskin suggests that because 47 states compete for film business, this is a "race to the bottom," the truth is that 47 states are competing for the industry in a free-market economy because they know how much revenue it generates.

Competitive film incentives produced $900 million in economic impact from 2003 to 2006 in New Mexico and $2.5 billion in Connecticut.

Can Maryland really afford to ignore these numbers?
Can New Mexico?

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NM Short Wins Best of Show

From the NM Film Office Site:

New Mexican Short Film Wins Best of Show

Fear No Film Festival

Contact: Don Gray,;

Santa Fe, July 13, 2008- “Things We Do For Love” wins the “Best of Show” Grand Jury Prize as well as an “Audience Favorite” award at the 2008 “Fear No FIlm Festival” in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Things We Do For Love” was written and directed by New Mexican filmmaker Don Gray. The short film was shot in conjunction with the NM Film Technician Training Program at Northern New Mexico College in El Rito.

“Things We Do For Love” is a short film about how far one family is willing to go to show their love for one another. Set in a small mining town in Northern New Mexico - coffins, fresh graves and a parade of odd funerals provide the backdrop for one family’s affection. In the end, why shouldn’t a funeral brighten someone’s day after all?

The film was shot over a period of five days in the communities of El Rito, Ojo Caliente and Abiquiu, New Mexico.

“This award is very gratifying for me and for those who worked so hard to help me make it...” said Gray, “... and its proof that homegrown filmmaking is alive and well in New Mexico”

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mural Artists, Reel NM

Interesting article in the other day's Albuquerque Journal -- about a couple mural artists working in NM film (and more updates on Terminator). Dan Mayfield covers the local side of filmmaking each Friday in the Journal in Reel NM.

'Crash' Artists Find Their Work is Fleeting

By Reel N.M. DAN MAYFIELD Of the Journal

The TV show "Crash" that's been filming in Albuquerque for several weeks has an official premiere date: Friday, Oct. 17, on Starz.

We're going to see a lot of Albuquerque in the show, though we're playing Los Angeles.

The show is based on the Oscar-winning movie and stars Dennis Hopper. It premieres on the Starz network as its first original dramatic series. Starz is a relatively new cable network that specializes in showing movies, much like HBO.

To make Albuquerque look more like L.A., we needed to set the scene.

Many people who drove through Downtown a couple of weeks ago saw a striking piece of graffiti on the NAPA Auto Parts building. NAPA let local graffiti artists Tad Davis and Tripp Haley paint a woman, a skateboarder, a boom box and more on the blue building.

Davis and Haley have been buddies for years, painting graffiti and stencil work around Albuquerque. Davis also has been working with various films around town, most recently in the art department of the giant "Terminator: Salvation" movie.

The art director of "Crash" called on him and Haley to do what has always been illegal in Albuquerque.

"We were working on the mural, and the cops swarmed us from both sides," Haley said. "They thought we were robbing the place. The guard finally came out and said it was OK. It was kind of a thrill."
More at 'Crash' Artists Find Their Work is Fleeting

Friday, July 18, 2008

Terminator, Felon, Bollywood and More... in NM News

First, Terminator... partially because I'm jealous of all the folks seeing a certain Christian Bale this weekend.

Sneak Peek: Christian Bale takes on the Terminator in the Fourth Installment
From the UK's Daily Mail:

Terminator is back and while there's no sign of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the fourth installment promises to be bigger than ever.

Batman Begins and Dark Knight star Christian Bale steps in as rebel leader John Connor, a decommissioned terminator whose last memory is of being on death row.

The hotly anticipated Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins is set in a post-apocalyptic 2018 and picks up the story of Connor, who is now in his early thirties.
The film also stars Sam Worthington, Bryce Dallas Howard and Helen Bonham Carter, with Josh Brolin rumored to appear as the Terminator...

Bale says he only agreed to the role because he was confident the film will reinvent the franchise.

He revealed: 'What I saw with Terminator was what I saw with Batman Begins.'

More at the article.
Felon Reviewed in the Hollywood Reporter
”Felon” reworks many of the conventions of prison movies that have gripped audiences since “The Big House” in 1930.

In this case, familiarity breeds pleasure rather than contempt. Directed with pounding energy by Ric Roman Waugh and acted to the hilt by a cast comprising several of yesterday’s stars proving their mettle, the movie delivers the thrills and emotion that prison movies require. Although it aims to make a case for prison reform, it essentially is a solid B-movie with just a few pretensions. Boxoffice returns will be limited, but the film will please its core audience.
The most startling performance comes from Val Kilmer as Wade’s hardened cellmate, a man who combines bitterness with wisdom. Although Kilmer’s character has committed heinous acts, the actor brings a genuinely tragic dimension to his portrayal.

Aside from a few overly arty shots, technical credits are strong; the film makes excellent use of the Santa Fe settings, including the New Mexico State Penitentiary. Viewers, like the inmates, will feel the walls closing in.
From the New Mexico Business Weekly:

Bollywood Calling
Hrithik Roshan might not be a household name in the United States, but suffice it to say he's the Brad Pitt of India.

A major star in his home country, Roshan is coming to New Mexico with the new film "Kites," produced by his father, Rakesh Roshan, a Bollywood veteran. It will be a truly international production, in Hindi, English and Spanish, and will also feature Barbara Mori, star of telenovelas and the Mexican film "La Mujer de Mi Hermano."

Film officials here said the production is indicative of an increasing interest in New Mexico by international producers. The weak dollar places the state in an excellent position to lure foreign film companies, particularly if their funding is in euros or British pounds.

"Word has really gotten out in the global production community about what we're doing in New Mexico," said Eric Witt, director of media industries development in Gov. Bill Richardson's office. "It's also a reflection of the increased attention we got from the Academy Award nominations."

Films made in New Mexico garnered 14 Oscar nominations this year, and one, "No Country For Old Men," took top honors in numerous categories, including Best Picture.

"That gave tremendous exposure to us," Witt said. "So all of a sudden inquiries to the film office doubled, and inquiries from overseas started coming in earnest."

Since 2003, more than 100 films and television projects have been shot in New Mexico, bringing about $1.8 billion to the economy, according to Richardson's office.

Lisa Strout, director of the state film office, said the influx of international projects includes several from India, an Italian film and a Spanish production company wooed by Richardson on a recent trip.

She also has had inquiries from television series productions in Germany and London.

The weak dollar and the state incentives are part of that increase, Strout said, but she is also seeing creative trends behind the decisions.

"Foreign filmmakers are expanding their content or storylines to incorporate American themes," she said. "Bollywood films are flocking to the U.K. and have a sudden interest in the U.S., particularly the West."
This subject came up at last night's Coronado Ventures Forum -- and it's true, countries around the world have heard of what we're doing in New Mexico. And sometimes it's just cheaper and easier to shoot here.

AAA calls it: Albuquerque and NM are Hot Destinations:
From the Business weekly:
AAA travel agency managers say Albuquerque and the state of New Mexico are "hot spot" destinations this summer.

A recent survey of the managers indicated that the top domestic vacation destinations were Orlando, Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., with Albuquerque, San Antonio, Texas, Miami/South Beach, the state of New Mexico and the state of Oregon noted as "hot spots."

Top international destinations were Rome, London, Cancun, Dublin and Vancouver; international "hot spots" were Croatia, Montenegro, Vietnam, Cinque Terra in Italy and the Douro River in Portugal.

Destinations noted for providing the most attractive bargains or best values for summer travel were Las Vegas, Orlando/Walt Disney World, Fla., Branson, Mo., Anaheim/Disneyland and San Francisco. Best international bargains were the Caribbean, European Cruises, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and South America.

In another survey, 95 percent of AAA auto travel managers said that high gas prices will impact travel plans, causing travelers to take trips closer to home, take fewer trips and reduce the number of vacation days traveled.

AAA is North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, with more than 51 million members.
In other news possibly more important to media-makers, Starbucks will close four stores in New Mexico (more in the Business Weekly)

Friday, July 11, 2008

NM in the News: Domefest, iPhones & Renee Zellweger

DomeFest in the News...
As DomeFest launched in Chicago and Germany (almost as I type), the New Mexico Business Weekly caught up with our team on DomeFest, its impact and potential...

Peripheral Vision
New Mexico Business Weekly - by Megan Kamerick NMBW Staff

DomeFest, Albuquerque's homegrown digital media festival for full-dome theaters, has made its first debut outside its native soil.

The festival usually premiers in Albuquerque before hitting various venues around the world. But this year it premiered in Chicago at the nation's oldest planetarium, the Adler, following a July 3 meeting of the International Planetarium Society.

The timing seems just right for the festival to hit a bigger and more influential audience. DomeFest, the only worldwide festival devoted to content produced for full-dome (curved overhead screen) theaters, received a record 40 entries this year from all over the world. By tying the showcase to the biannual IPS conference, it has raised its profile significantly among the people looking for the content DomeFest provides: the 700-plus members of IPS from 35 countries around the world.

DomeFest and the related full dome summit packed the 270-seat Adler Planetarium for hours, said Hue Walker Bumgarner-Kirby, multimedia development specialist with the ARTS Lab at the University of New Mexico. The festival's jury selected 13 pieces for the final program and two alternates.

David Beining, founder of DomeFest, which is housed at the ARTS Lab, said the contacts he made in Chicago are already taking hold.

The DomeFest program is showing the week of July 5 in Germany, and it will show in at least two venues in the United Kingdom and in Montreal...

DomeFest 2008 will show in New Mexico on Oct. 14 as part of Motion08, an animation and digital media conference.

Visit the full article here:

Local software developer Andrew Stone is recognized in the Albuquerque Journal for his iPhone 3G work.

Local Developer Get iPhone Rush
(by Nancy Tipton)
For Andrew Stone, today's iPhone 3G release was better than Christmas Stone's company, Stone Design Corp. of Albuquerque, posted three applications for the latest iPhone on the company's new App Store when it opened this morning. The App Store allows customers to purchase and download programs that run on the phone's new software.

“We basically have been waiting for this day since 1987 when Apple released it's HyperCard software,” he said in a phone interview from inside Albuquerque Uptown's Apple Store.

“Today's release is the great-grandchild of that development platform,” he said.

Demand for the new phone in Albuquerque seemed to be brisk this morning...

All of Stone's applications make use of the iPhone's built-in camera. They include Twittelator, a full-featured Twitter client (which has the ability to send a map of the user's location with one click and automatically upload snapshots to, TalkingPics which allows the user to make voice and music recordings for later playback and iGraffiti, which Stone says is “just pure fun.”

iGraffiti lets users take a picture and then paint on it using the tip of the finger on the iPhone’s touch screen. Users can adjust brush stroke, shadow and effects, and can choose from a 48-color “crayon” palette picker for their paint colors. Users can shake the iPhone once to delete the last action, and shake twice to start from the beginning.

“We’ve been having a lot of fun with this one,” said Stone. “Finished images can be saved in iPhotos and e-mailed to friends, used as Contact pictures or can even be shared with the iGraffiti community over the Web.”

The app is $4.99, as is Talking Pics. The Twittelator is free.

You can learn more about the apps from Stone Software.

Meanwhile, the Las Cruces Sun reports on Renee Zellweger returning to NM for a brief shoot.

Zellweger to Shoot a Week in New Mexico
SANTA FE—A film production starring Renee Zellweger is to spend a week shooting in New Mexico.

"My One and Only" is scheduled to shoot in Albuquerque and Santa Fe at the end of July and the beginning of August.

The film also stars Kevin Bacon and Chris Noth.

Most of the film is being made in and around Baltimore, where shooting began in June.

It's set in the 1950s and is based on the childhood experiences of actor George Hamilton.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Rio Rancho Readies Path for Digital Media

Discussions of a production facility in Rio Rancho have been going on for years with groups such as Lionsgate (which does a great deal of production in New Mexico). Will the Digital Media Group with long-time fans of New Mexico Elliott Lewitt and Debra Rosen be the first to break ground?

From the Albuquerque Journal:

Rio Rancho can negotiate on studio
By Rosalie Rayburn
Journal Staff Writer
RIO RANCHO — City councilors here have approved a resolution authorizing city staff to negotiate with a group that wants to establish a digital media center downtown.
The resolution includes an amendment proposed by Councilor Larry Naranjo that requires the proposed City of Vision Studios to produce “verifiable” proof of financial backing by Dec. 31 and draw up an economic development agreement with city staff by March.
Naranjo suggested that requiring the group to pay a deposit or supply letters of credit for building and construction costs might be acceptable proof. Naranjo said city staff could determine the amount of deposit required.
If the group is unable to prove it has financing to fulfill its plans, the resolution would be considered “null and void,” he said.
City of Vision Studios asked the city to make available up to 14 acres in Rio Rancho's new downtown area for its proposed media center.
The group's principals, former city councilor Joseph Cordova, film industry veteran Price Hall, producer Elliott Lewitt and Debra Rosen, a former film commissioner for South Carolina, want to build a center that could do film restoration, animation, special effects, medical imaging and data recovery work...

Rio Rancho in 2006 approved an incentive package to help Lionsgate build a film studio in the downtown area, but the film company has yet to break ground.
Cordova told the Journal the group is talking to several interested investors who were waiting for Rio Rancho to show its support. He was confident the group would be able to meet the deadline to show proof of financing.
Cordova said the center would be a “more than $100 million” project and cover at least 800,000 square feet.
He said the group is also working with Sandoval County to secure its support to help facilitate the purchase, if necessary, of additional land from the State Land Office.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Terminator 4 Photos online...

Of course, the photo in the New York Times the other day was sweet, but here are a few more for a sense of what's going on south of Albuquerque these days.

VideoETA has a story and a few dozen photos:

Back in May, we learned that Terminator Salvation was gunning for a family friendly PG-13 rating and we chastised them and Hollywood in general for going soft. Then, a few weeks ago, an anonymous scooper sent us some pictures they claimed were from the set of Terminator Salvation...

So, imagine our glee and excitement when this post-apocalyptic shot of a charred 7-11 showed up on the New York Times website. As you can see from the shots below, our scooper wasn't stretching the truth at all...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Games *don't* Overtake Movies Again!

A quick note from Kotaku:
The folks over at Entertainment Merchants Association wrote to let us know that the $18 billion for "game sales" includes software, hardware and even accessories. While the DVD sales include, you got it, only the DVDs. The actual apples-to-apples comparison has DVD sales at $16 billion (and box office taking $9.6 billion*) and video game sales clocking in at a meekly $8.64 billion. Even if you add that $503 million in sales the industry is no where near toppling DVD sales from its mighty high roost.
More info at the Australian Gamespot site as well.

The "Games are bigger than Movies" argument is a little tough, and the jury's still out (at least in the US), mostly because as similar as these industries appear to be, on closer examination the direct comparisons break down. Game Console & Platform sales are usually figured into the mix for games, but DVD players are rarely considered for movies -- and that doesn't mention the way some games and movies *require* an awesome display and sound system.

When we move overseas, things might get even trickier. The impression is that there's much more game play in east and southeast Asia -- which is probably right, but that might be as much about the ability to monetize games through subscription services (while movies are more easily copied) than about pure consumption.

Of course games and movies might be the same thing in a few years anyway.

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"Easy Money" TV Show to Shoot in New Mexico

From the NM Governor's Office:
Governor Bill Richardson Announces Easy Money to be filmed in New Mexico

SANTA FE- Governor Bill Richardson today announced Easy Money, a Media Rights Capital television series, will be filmed in New Mexico. Easy Money, a comedic drama, is scheduled to air on the CW Network this fall. Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Hephner, Jay Ferguson, and New Mexico local Gary Farmer will star. Producers are Andy Schneider and Diane Frolov (The Sopranos, Northern Exposure). Co-executive producer is Brandon Hill (Love Lies Bleeding), with Alyson Evans (Rescue Me) line-producing. Alik Sakharov (Rome, The Sopranos) will direct.

The production will be shot in Albuquerque from July 22 through December 8. They expect to hire approximately 100 New Mexico crew members and over 75 actors, including principal and background talent.

Media Rights Capital is thrilled to have our first production shot in New Mexico,” said MRC President of Television, Keith Samples. “The combination of a deep crew and talent base and the far-reaching vision of the New Mexico Film Office made the decision to film here easy. We plan for this to be the first of many projects that we bring to the state.”

Since Governor Richardson took office, over 100 major feature film and television projects have shot in the state, adding over $1.8 billion dollars in economic impact.

From the Hollywood Reporter:

"Money," from MRC, revolves around a family of loan sharks and centers on the matriarch (Laurie Metcalf), who runs the business, and her middle son (Hephner). Ferguson, repped by IFA and 1 Management, will play the eldest son, while Lowes, repped by Innovative and man¬ager David Sweeney, will play the younger sister.
For more about Media Rights Capital (MRC), read the Hollywood Reporter article here:

MRC is the toast of the TV business
It's now the sixth-largest supplier of primetime television programming. Yet few in Hollywood know anything about it.

A year after entering TV, Media Rights Capital has landed series on ABC, HBO, Comedy Central and Lifetime. In the fall, MRC -- backed by AT&T, ad conglomerate WPP, Goldman Sachs and investment fund D.E. Shaw -- will program the CW's entire Sunday lineup.

But despite scoring more new series orders this year than any major TV studio, MRC has kept an extremely low profile...
It's a long and interesting article. Seems like if we're interested in keeping TV production going here in New Mexico, MRC are good folks to know.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

More Terminator, In Plain Sight

Rick Scibelli Jr. for The New York Times
Part of the huge production set for “Terminator Salvation” on the outskirts of Albuquerque.

This Film Will Be Back, Strike or No Strike
Published: July 2, 2008

ALBUQUERQUE — The scorched earth and post-apocalyptic wreckage on a hillside just south of here carry a message for those who think the film industry has been closed down by the stalled negotiations between actors and producers: Hollywood will not give up next year’s pictures without a fight.

For all the talk of a de facto strike — a shutdown caused by studio reluctance to schedule production beyond the expiration at midnight on Monday of a contract with the Screen Actors Guild — a number of high-profile projects are simply pushing ahead.

None have done so more boldly than “Terminator Salvation.” This huge production has tantalized Albuquerque with glimpses of weird military hardware, a blast site marked by the shards of a 7-Eleven sign, and a lot full of battered helicopters, even while establishing this desert city as a manufacturing center for big-budget films...

It's great getting good, positive coverage in the New York Times... but are we really strangers to weird military hardware?

Also, just a fairly quick mention of "In Plain Sight", one of the bigger TV shows shooting locally. As one of the shows that actually claims its Albuquerque pedigree, there's been some discussion about how well In Plain Sight does (or doesn't do) in capturing the city (say, compared to "Breaking Bad" which also depicts Albuquerque).

For those of us without cable, it's been tough to participate, but viewers can now check the show out on Hulu as well.
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Terminator & Imageworks updates...

No, they're not really related.

More cool and interesting casting for the next Terminator movie helps keep it in the news (and bringing star power to NM), and we don't know what exactly Sony Pictures Imageworks will be doing when they start local operations, but their upcoming slate of projects bodes very well.

Helena Bonham Carter Joins McG's Terminator Reboot

If the involvement of Christian Bale and Common wasn't enough to help lessen my worry of McG (director of the Charlie's Angels films) helming the new Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, then today's news of Helena Bonham Carter definitely will. Bonham Carter is apparently in talks to join the film, which has already begun pre-production down in New Mexico. Honestly, Tim Burton's girlfriend seems an interesting choice for the sci-fi flick, but I'm not going to hope for anyone better. Bonham Carter is a brilliant, devilishly complex creature that seems right at home amidst a post-apocalyptic earth. Having lived in Burton's world for some time, she should be used to dim lighting and harried landscapes. Unfortunately her role is not as big as you may think...

Bale Meets Bonham Carter in T4

More high-profile casting in Terminator Salvation: the Future Begins. We’ve got Christian Bale on board as John Conner, Bryce Dallas Howard on as his wife, and now the trades report that Helena Bonham Carter (wife/non-wife of Tim Burton) is in “talks” to join the film in a “small but pivotal” role.


So, yeah: “Small but pivotal?” We’re guessing Bonham Carter is somehow connected to the past of Marcus Wright, our X-factor character who is supposed to be introduced in this film and carried over into two additional sequels. Good thing Marcus’ memory is all screwed, or we wouldn’t get expositional flashbacks!

'G-Force' is with Imageworks

'Watchmen,' 'Valkyrie' on Sony VFX unit's slate

By Carolyn Giardina

July 1, 2008, 12:07 AM ET

Sony Pictures Imageworks is on board to work on the 3-D version of "G-Force" -- one of the earliest scheduled live-action digital 3-D releases -- for Jerry Bruckheimer Prods. and Disney.

Imageworks also confirmed its current slate of visual effects projects. It is the lead VFX house on "Eagle Eye" for DreamWorks, "Watchmen" for Warner Bros., the untitled Ridley Scott film, United Artists' "Valkyrie" and the computer-animated "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" for Sony Pictures Animation and Columbia.

On "G-Force," Imageworks will take the 2-D version of the film and convert all visual effects shots to 3-D. The company's Rob Engle will oversee the stereo effort.

The Imageworks VFX team on "G-Force" is led by visual effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk, who was the VFX supervisor on "Spider-Man 3" and won an Oscar for visual effects for his work on "Spider-Man 2." The "G-Force" crew in¬cludes digital effects supervisor Seth Maury and animation supervisor Troy Saliba.
• Action thriller EAGLE EYE for DreamWorks Pictures
• Mystery adventure WATCHMEN for Warner Bros. Pictures
• Dramatic thriller UNTITLED RIDLEY SCOTT FILM for Warner Bros. Pictures
• Family adventure G-FORCE, a Jerry Bruckheimer Production for Walt Disney Pictures
• Suspense thriller VALKYRIE for United Artists
• Animated comedy CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS for Sony Pictures Animation and Columbia Pictures

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