Friday, July 31, 2009

Soap Bubble in Space

"IT LOOKS like a soap bubble or perhaps even a camera fault, but the image at right is a newly discovered planetary nebula.

Planetary nebulae, which got their name after being misidentified by early astronomers, are formed when an ageing star weighing up to eight times the mass of the sun ejects its outer layers as clouds of luminous gas (see Why stars go out in a blaze of glory). Most are elliptical, double-lobed or cigar-shaped, evolving after stars eject gas from each pole (see a gallery of the nebulae).

Dave Jurasevich of the Mount Wilson Observatory in California spotted the "Cygnus Bubble" while recording images of the region on 6 July 2008. A few days later, amateur astronomers Mel Helm and Keith Quattrocchi also found it.

The bubble, which was officially named PN G75.5+1.7 last week, has been there a while. A closer look at images from the second Palomar Sky Survey revealed it had the same size and brightness 16 years ago. Jurasevich thinks it was overlooked because it is very faint.

"It's a beautiful example," says Adam Frank of the University of Rochester, New York. "Spherical ones are very rare." One explanation is that the image is looking down the throat of a typical cylindrical nebula. However, it is still remarkably symmetrical, Frank says.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Today I pushed my mate down a hospital corridor so he could record the sound of it

Im helping my mates the Sound Boys get some sound recordings for their post-production work on Rubins.

Today it was hospital sounds, so I arranged them access to a hospital and we recorded all the sounds that we might need, like heart monitors (modelled by me lol), and trolleys (gathered by pushing Quinney down a corridor on one so he could record it).

Not a bad days work lol

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Breathe in 3D

Im going to be doing locations on a short film in September. I actually like doing shorts, and I credit them with getting me to meet all the people who would later give me the leg-up in paid work. Plus, its also fun working on films! lol Thats why I do it!

But since I've been working pretty much fulltime on feature films since November last year, I havent had the time to commit myself to getting involved with anyones projects. I am in pre-production on Lipstikka at the moment, so don't have much time to do anything else.

But at the moment I am helping on two, not one, shorts over the coming months. One, called The Golden Boy I am just making a few calls for. I wont be able to do the shoot, so my friend Sam who I worked with on Rubins will do it for me. More on that as it unfolds.

But after Lipstikka finishes I have been asked to do locations for a short called Breathe. I might have passed until I saw the concept art, and the fact that they are going to shoot in 3D. Yes, thats 3D. The new snazzy James Cameron sort of 3D. Needless to say I was intruiged! And they are doing it live action. More on this later.

At the moment I am tucked into Lipstikka full pelt. I had my phone stolen last week (plus ipod) and it took a week for a new one to turn up and get activated. It didnt help that the postman delivered it to the wrong address! So after not being very productive for a week, Ive been flat out trying to sort things out, and on Friday I felt I was finally getting somewhere. Thank god for that! I find myself looking for schools and homes again, but also a Thames river boat. So Ive been acquainting myself with the laws governing filming on the river (which there are many).

So note to self. I'm not in nice, tranquil Yorkshire anymore; but in the big city. And they eat country boys like me alive! lol. Must take care!

African signs

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tim Burtons - Alice in Wonderland

Master storyteller Tim Burton is bringing his version of Alice In Wonderland. Starring Jonny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, and newcomer Mia Wasikowska as Alice herself.

Can't wait!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Minority Report

My mate Terry showed me this clip on Youtube. The future is here. Watch and drool lol

Monday, July 06, 2009

James Camerons Avatar

James Cameron (Aliens, Terminators, The Abyss, Titanic) has nearly finished his new film called Avatar. Like the previously mentioned films, this film will be a quantum leap forward in film special effects.

It tells the story of man meeting a new alien race on a far off world, and has been described as "Poccahuntas" in space. An Alien/Man love story.

"Avatar is set during the 22nd century on a small moon called Pandora, which orbits a gas giant, and is inhabited by the tribal Na'vi, ten foot blue humanoids that are peaceful unless attacked. Humans cannot breathe Pandoran air, so they genetically engineer human/Na'vi hybrids known as Avatars that can be controlled via a mental link. A paralyzed Marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) volunteers to exist as an Avatar on Pandora, falling in love with a Na'vi princess and becoming caught up in the conflict between her people and the human military that is consuming their world."

But thats not the exciting bit. It is the level of photorealism that JC has brought to his film. Clips that have been seen have been described a literally "jawdropping". Think how cool Gollum looked in Lord of the Rings.... then square it.

I will let some other people tell you more about it.

"by GForce05 Jul 3rd, 2009
06:53:59 AM
Sweeeeeeeet. I'm going to read it right now. I'll let you know what I think. Anyway, people who are talking shit about Avatar on here don't seem to understand what Cameron is trying to accomplish. He takes on projects that are almost impossible to film. They are always beyond the cutting edge. He challenges himself with every single project. He makes movies that are almost always the most expensive for their time, drawing ridicule through production, because everyone knows that if he fails, it'll be his head on a plate for the kind of money he's blown, but he produces, every time. The Abyss was absolutely brilliant. It was one of the most expensive films, if not the most expense film, when it was first produced. Cameron actually rented out a nuclear silo and filled it will millions of gallons of water to get his shots. Go back and watch the trailer. It was made in 1989, and it could have been made tomorrow. There is absolutely no time stamp on it. It is an action movie with brilliant acting, and incredible tension. It was way ahead of its time. If you don't understand what makes the movie brilliant than I seriously question your taste, and therefore understand why you don't understand "Avatar". With Avatar it would appear that Cameron is trying to make the first photo-realistic CG world. This hasn't been done yet, not as far as I am concerned. I can always spot the CG. The fact that so many people have come on here saying, "looks just like beast from xmen, big deal" proves that Cameron is succeeding. The banner is a CG image, and it would seem that people who come to this talk-back without prior knowledge of Avatar have no clue. They just don't seem to understand why anyone would be excited about a guy painted blue! The Avatars and Na'va are human-like so that the audience has an in. Pandora will be like Earth, only more extreme. Like a dream, or nightmare, depending on how you look at it. It seems like it will have the aesthetic quality of a photo-realistic Disney anime, but for adults, haha. It's going to be beautiful, sexy, cutting edge, and daring. Cameron isn't going the usual route with his marketing plan. He is appealing to all the geeks directly, at E3 and Comic Con, and letting word of mouth do the rest. He's brilliant."

"I've just returned from a preview screening of James Cameron's hugely anticipated movie "Avatar" at the Cinema Expo in Amsterdam and I'm still feeling the after effects of this jaw-dropping experience. First off, I'm really not a fan of the so called 3-D craze, that's currently taking Hollywood by storm. Before the "Avatar" screening, Fox showed us "Ice Age 3" in 3-D and although the movie is pretty entertaining, I don't understand why it has to be in 3-D. What is the added benefit? I just got a headache from the whole experience. For some reason or another, my eyes just can't get used to the 3-D experience. With it comes the fact that 3-D until now has been used as a gimmick.

Would "Avatar" change my mind? With anticipation I directed my attention to the 20th Century Fox show reel. After some pretty disappointing clips from other movies like "Gulliver's Travels" you could feel the tension in the theater. Then it appeared on the screen: AVATAR. After a brief introduction from cast members Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver, we were asked to put on the 3-D glasses (really uncomfortable, especially if you already wear a pair). Most of the scenes were from the first half of the movie.

In the first scene we see Sam Worthington's crippled ex-marine Jake Sully, who just arrived on the planet 'Pandora.' He's in a wheelchair and just rolled in to hear Colonel Quaritch, played by the impressive Stephen Lang, talk to the troops. He's giving a classic speech that every military leader gives at the beginning of a battle. Jake listens as an outsider to this speech. A melancholic smile appears on his face. Although the scene is in 3-D, I haven't really noticed it. Finally a director who doesn't feel the need to stick it in the audience's face with cheap tricks like pointing objects at the camera.

In the second scene Sigourney Weaver's Dr. Grace Augustine explains to Jake how the process of transporting your mind into an Avatar works. Although the scene is mostly exposition, we've got a good look at the lab and more importantly we get a first glimpse of the Avatars, the Na'Vi lookalikes. These tall blue creatures lie in water tanks, waiting for their human to 'jump' in their bodies. Besides Weaver and Worthington, the scene introduces Joel Moore's character Norm Spellman. As is usually the case with Moore, his character is the comic relief.

It's the third scene where my heart begins to pound like crazy. Jake and Norm will inhabit their Avatar for the first time. They enter some sort of capsule and - flash – their mind enters the blue creatures, now lying on hospital tables. And not before long Avatar Jake wakes up. And it took my breath away. I thought--just like you guys--that I've seen it all with Gollum, or The Hulk, but Cameron has done it again. These creatures seem so real, that within minutes you forget you're watching an enormous and very blue CGI character. Even the eyes are totally convincing. The characters have real personalities and a soul.

In the fourth scene the Avatars of Jake, Norm and Grace explore the jungle of Pandora. The surroundings remind me of a planet that appears briefly in "Revenge of the Sith." A lot of massive colorful flowers and plants grow everywhere. Jake's unbridled enthusiasm works on Grace's nerves. And not before long they have their first confrontation with some creatures. Some sort of rhino with a flower sticking out of his head looks like he will kill Jake, but he's not scared and he let's out a scream. The 'rhino' runs away, but not because of Jake. A more dangerous creature – a wolf? – jumps at Jake from behind.

In the next couple of scenes Jake meets Na'Vi Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). Jake finds himself alone at night in the jungle with only a torch as protection against some evil looking dogs. Eager to fight them, Jake says: 'What are you waiting for?' When one of the 'dogs' attacks him he slams the torch in the creature's face. A fight ensues that Jake can't win by himself. Lucky for him, there's Neytiri who with her trusty bow and arrow helps Jake chase away the creatures. Just when Jake wants to offer his gratitude, Neytiri knocks his reached out hand away and says to Jake that killing these creatures is a bad thing. When the scene fades out to black, my mind begins to work overtime. How the hell is it possible that I never once felt like I've been watching a movie where almost everything comes out of a computer?

The most beautiful scene follows directly after the one I've described above. When Jake wants to take his torch with him, Neytiri takes it from him and throws it in the river. Like magic the flowers and plants – even the grassy soil - begin to glow in the night. The beauty completely takes my breath away. Meanwhile we get to learn more about Neytiri and her people. Everybody who knows the story of Native American Pocahontas and John Smith, will recognize a lot of similarities. Before you can sing "Colors of the Wind," Neytiri guides Jake through her world. Mysterious flowing and glowing seeds from a mystic tree appear out of nowhere. To Neytiri's surprise Jake attracts them. She has a look in her eyes like he's the 'chosen one.' And of course she's right. Jake has to lead the Na'Vi into battle against the massive army of Colonel Quaritch.

In the next scene we meet the Banshees. The Na'Vi ride these fierce looking creatures when they hunt. After some exposition, where Neytiri explains to Jake that a Banshee first has to respect you, before you can ride it, she takes flight and another gorgeous scene unspools.

The last scene wasn't completed. What we saw, was sort of a video-game version of the mother of all battles. Countless numbers of Na'Vi riding their Banshees attack Quaritch's fleet. I can't wait to see the battle fully rendered.

Overall I was really impressed by what I saw. The effects are in a league of their own. After some disappointing or even pointless 3-D movies, "Avatar" may be the first movie where 3-D is properly utilized."

London Pride 2009

As I was in London this weekend I thought it was probably a good idea to go and watch Pride. I've never actually been to one, and although didn't have a calling or anything, thought it was probably good that I attended at least one once lol

I roped in my friend Dean and his boyfriend to show me around, and they were perfect hosts. The parade was actually a blast, and I was very impressed to see members of the armed forces walking by.

Then onto Trafalgar Square for the big concert, which was actually a lot of fun. I particually enjoyed the performance from the stage musical Avenue Q which I have been interested in for a while, but had to leave when the politicians started pontificating for the pink vote lol. Bloody hypocrites.

Then onto Soho for a few beers before getting some food. All in all a good day :)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


I start my next film as Location Manager in a weeks time. Its a low budget psychological thriller called Lipstikka. It is a twisty tale on the nature of memory and how different people recall a certain traumatic event.

It is a joint Israeli/UK production with 3 weeks in the UK and 1 week in Israel. Again I wont be going abroad! Damn lol

Principle photography starts on 16th August. Should be a blast! Wish me luck :)

Nikes World Cup promo

I'm currently doing a few days on a really big advert that Nike are doing for next years World Cup. I'm not doing the locations (for shame), but just helping out a friend of mine who is working on it. Doing driving and other running around stuff.

Its really interesting to be working on such a high profile advert. Its budget is actually bigger than the whole budget for Rubins. Which is pretty good going for a 3 day shoot! lol (Rubins was a 35 day shoot in 2 countries).

But this can be explained when you realise that it is going to star Wayne Rooney, Christian Ronaldo, Franck Ribery, and some others. Not sure if I am going to be able to meet any of these guys. The shoot goes to Germany and Italy, but theres no chance of me going there. But if Im lucky I may get to go to Manchester and meet Rooney and Ronaldo.

Filmmaking with these sort of budgets is fun! Me wanna do more! lol