Saturday, September 19, 2009

NM in the News

This fall, people around the US are seeing New Mexico -- and movies made or partially made here -- on screens big and small. Season 2 of Crash is now up on Starz, "Burning Plain" and "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" premiered Friday, "Georgia O'Keeffe" plays on Lifetime tonight -- "Gamer" and "My One and Only" premiered earlier this month. Others like "The Men Who Stare at Goats" and "The Book of Eli" will be coming out shortly.

From the Las Cruces Sun-News / California Chronicle:

By S. Derrickson Moore, Las Cruces Sun-News, N.M.

Sep. 18--MESILLA -- Internationally-renowned writer and director Guillermo Arriaga said he plans to make more movies in Las Cruces and hopes to someday buy a home here.

"To be making a film here is to be blessed. I love it here. I love border towns," said Arriaga, in Mesilla for a Sept. 11 screening of "The Burning Plain," which goes into limited national release in the United States today. It was filmed principally in Las Cruces and Oregon in late 2007 and early 2008. The film, which stars two Academy award winners, Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger, has garnered several positive reviews.

Novelist and screenwriter Arriaga, who was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for "Babel," makes his directorial debut with "The Burning Plain," which he also wrote. He was nominated for The Leone d'Oro (Golden Lion) Award, the highest prize given to a film at the Biennale Venice Film Festival, where actress Jennifer Lawrence won an award for her portrayal of a tormented teen in a border town (Las Cruces).

During a Sept. 10 interview in Mesilla, Arriaga put down his cell phone and reported that his family, including his teenage son and daughter, "are really excited to hear I'm here. We had a great time here. I love this place. I love the people and I hope they're happy with us. I think Las Cruces looks beautiful in the movie."

A friendship with Gov. Bill Richardson and an extensive tour of the state was not enough to entice him to shoot the film in northern New Mexico, he said.

"I suppose the right thing to do was to shoot in Albuquerque. But it was not the kind of landscapes I thought would work for the movie. I was mesmerized by your place -- the Organ Mountains, the flavor, the light, the neighborhoods." ...

More at: 'Burning Plain' Arrives Amid Passionate Reviews

Meanwhile, the Valencia County News-Bulletin has news about New Mexico's latest animation program:
UNM-Valencia strikes a pose for animation degrees
Written by Shirl Sazynski/News-Bulletin
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 07:51

"Tango tango!" the room chants.

"Do the Macarena!" someone else yells.

Red lights flood the stage and a scintillating, futuristic backdrop sets off her every move, but Nadja Burns of Houston isn't in a club.

She swings her arms and trailing flames appear on the maquette projected on a pull-down screen at the far side of the room. It's 9 a.m. in the simulation lab at the Digital Media Arts building on the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus.
College administration and staff cluster inside a room that looks like some magician's trick -- the unassuming door tucked into a corner of a wall gives no indication of the lab's cavernous size. Freshly minted monitors line rows of desks, so new they're still loosely wrapped in the lightweight, protective dust covers from shipping; shallow white cardboard boxes conceal keyboards that haven't been hooked up yet.

Thanks to a $2.5 million Federal Title-V STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) grant covering a comprehensive technology and science makeover throughout campus, the campus just received a revolutionary motion-capture animation suite, the Open Stage Markerless Capture System. Dominick Murphy of Organic Motion, Inc was there to demonstrate it.

The next volunteer, Chad Perry, senior public affairs representative for UNM-VC, walks into the aluminum frame and white cloth cube, left open on one side. He's wearing a blue Hawaiian shirt, khakis...and socks, so as not to damage the special reflective-fabric floor. Perry jumps around playfully and nothing happens for a minute.
"Strike the pose," Murphy offers.

Once Perry holds his arms out in a rigid cross shape, the video stream begins. On cue, a spiky, blue-haired woman in a sci-fi bikini-covered body suit jumps around and shoot fireballs.

Earlier motion-capture technologies (used to animate characters such as Gollum in the "Lord of the Rings" movies) relied on painstaking measurements of tracking markers dotting an actor's spandex suit, meticulously calibrated to a computer system.
The setup process for each actor took several hours before shooting could begin. Whenever a hand or limb overlapped another part of an actor's body in a pose, the rendering system became confused as to which body part went where.

Now, programming innovations and a higher hardware processing speed allow actors to enter the motion-capture studio without a constricting suit. A battery of 14 cameras shooting red beams tracks basic motions in real-time, creating a 3-D mesh skeleton linked to the movement of 21 bones -- even following foreshortened poses, such as an actor holding his or her arms crossed at the chest...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

County Backs Loan for Santa Fe Studios

From the Santa Fe New Mexican:

Development of complex off N.M. 14 could begin within weeks

Phaedra Haywood | The New Mexican
9/11/2009 - 9/12/09
Santa Fe County will lend $6 million to a production company to build a film studio complex on N.M. 14 near the Penitentiary of New Mexico.

County Commissioners approved the loan unanimously Friday morning in a special meeting held in a chamber packed with local film union members.

The county will generate the $6 million for the loan through the sale of bonds backed by gross-receipts tax revenues.

Executives of Santa Fe Studios — the entity that will use the money to build the studio — will provide a $2 million letter of credit or escrow payment to secure the loan.

If Santa Fe Studios defaults on the loan, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 480 would take over operating the studios on behalf of the county.

Though the general terms were agreed to in Friday's meeting, several specifics of the deal have yet to be finalized...

Friday, September 11, 2009

El Salon Mexico Premieres tonight!

Perhaps one of the more highly anticipated movies to come out of the NM Filmmakers "New Visions | New Mexico" contract award program, El Salon Mexico premieres later today at the NM Film Museum (Jean Cocteau Theatre under the NM Film Office).

Here's the info from the Weekly Alibi's Reel World column from Devin O'Leary:
On Friday, Sept. 11, the New Mexico Film Museum at Jean Cocteau Theatre in Santa Fe will host the premiere of Tamarind King and Paul Glickman’s just-completed New Visions 2007 Contract Award winning short “El Salon Mexico.” Inspired by the exuberant composition by Aaron Copeland, the animated film was made using Photoshop and Illustrator and consists of more than 22,500 individual frames. Previous animated films by King and Glickman will also be screened. There will be two free showings at 6 and 8 p.m. Seating is limited, so be sure to RSVP to using “ESM Screening” in the subject line. The Jean Cocteau Theatre is located at 418 Montezuma in Santa Fe
Which seems like a good reason to remind everyone that the deadline for the latest New Visions | New Mexico Contract Award Program is coming up on October 16th. Visit the NM Film Office site for details.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cinnafilm & Arri @ IBC

CINNAFILM and ARRI Partner to Showcase Latest Innovations in Film and Video Post Production Technology at IBC 2009

Highlights Will Include A Look At Cinnafilm’s Pixel Strings GPU-Based Parallel Processing Software Engine – Featured in the ARRI Relativity Software Solution – and New ‘Clean Module’

Albuquerque, September 8, 2009 – Cinnafilm, Inc., the software engineering developer of advanced GPU-based film and video post production tools, announced the details of its IBC 2009 presence – the leading international forum for the electronic media industry (September 11 – 15, at RAI Amsterdam). Cinnafilm CEO Lance Maurer will be at the convention with partner ARRI, the professional motion equipment world leader, showcasing at its booth the latest versions of Cinnafilm’s high-performance image processing technology tools found in ARRI Relativity™ (Relativity™).

Relativity, the groundbreaking modular suite of software tools developed by Cinnafilm, leverages its Pixel Strings™ technology, the first software engine to harness the potential of GPU-based parallel processing for motion estimation and spatial-temporal image filtering. The software provides unprecedented levels of power and performance for professional-grade format conversion, retiming, film simulation, degraining and texture control. With Relativity users can instantly visualize, lengthen or shorten a clip, change its delivery standard, change the frame rate, add believable film simulation effects — all without rendering. [Editors’ Note: In May, Cinnafilm signed a multi-year, multi-million dollar global reseller agreement with ARRI, giving the company worldwide rights to market and resell ARRI Relativity™, formerly known as Cinnafilm Dark Energy™. Press release details on the agreement are available at:]

Maurer will also help introduce its new Relativity Clean module, originally shown at NAB and developed in association with Digital Film Central Inc., a recognized leader in image optimization. The Clean module is a “first-pass” treatment for the removal of fine dust, fibers and scratches from scanned film images. It harnesses the blazing speed of the Pixel Strings™ technology to efficiently restore images by addressing particles and artifacts that typically make up 90% of image defects. A typical 20-minute reel of 2K footage can be processed in less than 40 minutes.

According to Maurer, in addition to the new Clean Module, ARRI Relativity now features additional refinements for improved productivity and performance. “ARRI Relativity is a ‘Swiss army knife’ for format conversions and restoration and the first marketable software suite to build on our Pixel Strings, GPU-based motion estimation engine technology,” said Maurer. “Relativity provides real-world solutions for both Digital Intermediate and broadcast file-based work flow, and is already in use at prominent facilities in Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver and Germany. At IBC, I’m looking forward to showing European creative professionals the latest enhancements we’ve developed for Relativity and future Cinnafilm technology developments.”

More details at the Digital Content Producer blog.