Three months before Laika’s 3-D stop-motion feature ParaNorman was set to start production, the company’s breakthrough workflow technology—making puppet faces via 3-D color printing—was spitting out disasters.
“They looked awful,” says Brian McLean, Laika’s director of rapid prototyping (RP, or 3-D printing). “The skin tones were terrible and inconsistent. What you saw on the computer screen was completely different than what printed out. There were some ‘Oh shit!’ moments when we realized we’d jumped head first into shooting this movie using this process, and we now had to figure out a way to make it work.”
By sheer force of will, scientific process, and ulcer medication, McLean’s team solved the system quirks.
The deputy chief scientist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory consulted on the movie Prometheus, in case you didn’t already have a reason to go see this film.
Opening June 8 in the U.S., the prequel to Scott’s 1979 Alien chronicles an ill-fated exploration team that travels to a distant planet in search of humankind’s origin. To ground the plot in scientific plausibility, Scott turned to Kevin Hand, JPL’s deputy chief scientist for solar system exploration, to explain the kind of terrain, atmosphere, or ecosystem astronauts might encounter on a planet outside of our solar system.
“I met with Ridley and his creative team early in the process to see how science could be utilized in plotlines,” says Hand. “They had lots of questions about what it takes for humans to travel to distant worlds, how those worlds might be uninhabitable for humans, the constraints to consider when thinking about alien life, and how it might have adapted to that environment. It became a creative brainstorming session where we bounced ideas and questions off one another. My goal was to help them get the science right while maintaining a plot that tells a compelling story.”
“Within Twitter what we did was expand on that. We started assigning fans different roles within this virtual world. We have district mayors and district recruiters, which really got them active and sharing over Facebook and Twitter. I mean, that’s what Facebook and Twitter are—it’s like your way of identifying who you are and sharing that with your friends. So, by giving them an occupation within their district, we gave them an identity.”
I didn’t know the Winklevii twins from The Social Network were the same actor, just digitally duplicated. Otoy, the company behind that feat, is now offering celebrities a kind of fountain of youth: they’ve developed an image capture breakthrough that will allow actors to play their current age indefinitely.
“"The Lorax waved and doled out hugs. The kids serenaded him with a song. And then everyone was ushered outside to see two cars up close—a Mazda 3 sedan and a CX-5 sports utility vehicle, both specially painted with Lorax scenes and both with what Mazda has termed “Truffula Tree-approved SKYACTIV® TECHNOLOGY."”
The highlight of TED thus far appears to be a promo piece for Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s quasi-prequel to Alien that is coming out later this year. The promo film was presented as a TED Talk from 2023, it stars Guy Pearce (Memento) and is written by “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof.
“My reaction [to the prequels] is a certain degree of weary contempt,” says Moore. “It’s gone beyond anger. It’s almost tragically comical. It’s commerce over art. I’m proud of the work I did on Watchmen, but it’s surrounded by such a toxic cloud of memories. I wish I didn’t have to go through them. I don’t even have a copy of the book in the house.”
Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman directed the massive box office winner Paranormal Activity 3 and now have reportedly signed on to the fourth installment in the home-made fright franchise, and will executive produce a Catfish series for MTV. The directors talk with Co.Create about the evolution of storytelling, branded content, and why they’re not really narcissists.