Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Spiders of ‘The Hobbit

The Spiders of ‘The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug’ - NYTimes.com

Along Came a Computer-Generated ...

The Spiders of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’

Clip: 'The Desolation of Smaug': A spider attack scene from the second installment in Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" trilogy.

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The latest installment in “The Hobbit” trilogy is likely to make arachnophobes squirm. That’s the hope of the director Peter Jackson, whose own fear of spiders helped infuse some important scenes in“The Desolation of Smaug” with creepy, crawly discomfort.
Warner Bros. Pictures
The armature of a spider from the film with a covered version below it.
Warner Bros. Pictures
A visual effects translucency test for one of the spider's legs.
The spiders lurking in the forest of Mirkwood are among the perils Bilbo Baggins and his traveling companions encounter on their journey to reclaim the dwarf kingdom of Erebor. Unlike some of the more fantastical creatures in the series, the spiders look and feel more familiar, albeit supersize. They were the visual-effects children of Weta Digital, led by Joe Letteri. He and his team tried to make the spiders immediately recognizable as such, but enhanced to amplify their menace.
The biggest change was to their faces: These spiders have jaws and fangs. “We wanted you to get the feeling that they’re biting you with teeth, that they would swallow you whole if they could,” Mr. Letteri said, speaking by phone from Los Angeles. “But the bodies and heads were based on realistic designs.”
The design evolved from several sources, including a reference photo Mr. Jackson found of a particularly creepy spider. Those designs were fine-tuned in the textures department, which defined color patterns for the creatures and added details, including wrinkles. That department’s supervisor, Gino Acevedo, worked alongside the creatures department to add distinct details, like legs that were translucent.
“We wanted what we called a ‘beer bottle effect,’ ” Mr. Acevedo said, speaking by phone from Weta Digital’s base in New Zealand. “If you look at a beer bottle, it has that amber look and color to it, especially when you hold it up to the light. When the legs were backlit, you saw an internal structure inside with veins.”
The research also included discussions with a spider expert, Phil Sirvid from Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. “We took a bit of a field trip, met Phil and looked at his creepy collection of wild-looking spiders,” Mr. Acevedo said. “He gave us amazing reference images taken through an electron microscope of spider parts, things that you never knew spiders had.” For instance, they were surprised to learn that spiders have pores, which were incorporated into the design.
Mr. Jackson wanted the spiders to look ancient, as if they’d been trudging around in the forest for many years, so Weta aged them with flaky skin, calluses and more.
“We wanted it to look like when you get a sunburn and the skin peels away and underneath is a new skin,” Mr. Acevedo explained. The spiders were also given boils to make them look diseased, and soiled with dirt and mud. “Some of this stuff is so subtle that you don’t pick it up,” he added. “But if you didn’t have it there, the creature would look too clean, or as we call it, ‘CG perfect.’  ”

Sunday, December 8, 2013

KODT Live Action Series Kickstater Live

KODT Live Action Series
*** For Immediate Release 12/8/13 ***

Knights of the Dinner Table Live Action Series now being funded on Kickstarter

If you are interested in helping fund this project, visithttp://www.kickstarter.com/projects/d20e/428504285?token=bd558b5aand make your pledge.

HOODY-HOO!!! Introducing a new frontier for fans of Knights of the Dinner Table magazine. D20 Entertainment has been granted the license to produce a Live Action Series/Movie of KODT.

That’s right! With your help, fans of the comic and geeks of all types will be able to watch the antics of their favorite characters brought to life. B.A. Felton, Bob Herzog, Dave Bozwell, Sara Felton and Brian Van Hoose are all chomping at the bit to jump out of the pages of the comic and onto television, computer and hopefully movie screens. Here’s how it went down.
A few months ago, just prior to GenCon, we at Kenzer and Company were approached by an old friend with an interesting proposal. Ken Whitman (D20 Entertainment ) wanted to do a Knights of the Dinner Table webseries.
Now over the years, Jolly, Dave, Steve, and Brian have been approached perhaps a dozen times about doing such a project. From the guy with a video camera and perhaps more ambition than know-how to a few big name animation studios whose names you would immediately recognize.

As tempting as all those offers were, they came to nothing because of one thing: The Development Team wanted to make sure they had creative input/control. They just weren’t willing to take a check and put these beloved characters in the hands of strangers (especially when one studio exec insisted on changing the Knight’s background from ‘losers’ (her words) to teens who were “heroes” in their day to day lives outside the game).
Giving up complete creative control is just something they’ve been unwilling to do. Unfortunately, most studios weren’t willing to negotiate on that point. So, as the years have passed, and offers have come and gone, the likelihood of a KODTfilm project just seemed to diminish, to the D-Team’s disappointment.

Enter D20 Entertainment.

Not only did Ken Whitman agree to the D-Team having creative control on the proposed project, he insisted on it. That got the ball rolling. Now the ball is in your court. If you want to see your beloved Knights (and possibly other KODT characters) come to life for a webseries, or perhaps even a 90-minute movie (depending on funding) then visit D20’s Kickstarter site and contribute to the KODT movie project. There are exciting rewards for contributing and finally, the fans of this long-running (more than 200 issues now) comic will have a chance to help make this dream a reality.

Kickstarter ends February 8, 2014, however many unique items will be sold out in a very short time so make sure you get your pledge in early.


If you are interested in helping fund this project, visithttp://www.kickstarter.com/projects/d20e/428504285?token=bd558b5aand make your pledge.

For more information bout the KODT: LAS, please contact Ken Whitman at sales@D20Entertainment.com

If you would like to schedule an interview with any of the actors, Kenzer & Company, or d20 Entertainment, please contact Barbara Blackburn at barbara@D20Entertainment.com

Thursday, December 5, 2013

JACK & TOLLERS - The True Story of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. TolkIen

First & foremost, THANK YOU for taking the time to read about our campaign!
Many know that C.S. Lewis wrote THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA.  Most know
J.R.R.Tolkien wrote THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Each of these series have sold
more than 100 million copies, translated into dozens of languages and enjoyed
the world over in cinema.
What most do not know is that Lewis and Tolkien were close friends. Their unique friendship, one that was turbulent, supportive, joyous and raucous, helped create two of the most iconic stories of the 20th century.
JACK AND TOLLERS is the true story of the friendship of Lewis and Tolkien.  It will give you a glimpse into the souls of these incredible Men of Letters. Until now, there has never been a major motion picture depicting their unique friendship.  For the global fan base of both authors and indeed the fantasy genre itself, we are excited to
say that the time has come to move forward into production.
We at Third Dart Studios are making a Teaser Trailer, a vehicle to illustrate our
story to the world.  We are using Indiegogo specifically to allow all those who will journey with us to show in concrete terms how important this film truly is for them. 
Our four levels of PERKS for supporting our project are commemorative by
nature.  We want to not only identify our massive fan base but allow the fans to be part of the film.  Whether it be an appreciate nod as Patron of our project listing your name in closing title sequence or a non-speaking cameo in the film, our primary goal is retain the highest level of creative control.

SIMPLY PUT…  You have the chance to help make this feature film the best it can be.  Joining the growing fan base will ensure that Third Dart Studio will be empowered to tell the story as it really unfolded in history.  We believe that the storyline of JACK AND TOLLERS must reflect, as close as creatively possible, the actual story as it happened.
In all honesty, the true story IS FAR TOO COMPELLING to change and we promise it will both entertain and inform.
Both men endured turbulent childhoods. Both men experienced the horrors of trench warfare during World War One; both men excelled in Academia at Oxford University; both men honed their writing skills and became legendary Wordsmiths for the English language.
And BOTH MEN, above all else,valued FRIENDSHIP.
SCENES from the film include Tolkien lost behind enemy lines during the
Battle of the Somme. While being pursued by German infantrymen on horseback galloping full speed to reach the safety of his comrades, Tolkien turns back just in time to see the infantrymen transform into Wraiths through his fertile imagination.
Jack’s imagination is sparked while reading PHANTASTES by George MacDonald
and during one of many imaginative sequences using cutting edge CGI we’ll step
inside the mind of C. S. Lewis. And of course, Jack and Tollers late night stroll with a friend discussing Myth and Christianity will be filmed on location on Addison’s Walk by Magdalen College, Oxford.
Many people know that C. S. Lewis was a champion of Christianity, yet most do not know that he was an Atheist for nearly half his life and that it was in great part the encouragement of his Catholic friend Tolkien that Lewis again found the faith of his youth.

Help us keep our story true.  Help us make the memory of these two men one that will shine throughout history.  Right now, as we write this, there is a Hollywood studio that is hoping to make a movie about Tolkien’s life. Interestingly enough within the press release it was noted that the studio has not decided whether to include Tolkien’s experiences in World War One or his friendship with Lewis; in the opinion of OUR screenwriters, “Two essential elements of understanding Tolkien’s worldview and literary outpouring.”
We at Third Dart Studios promised the writers of the screenplay that we would reach out to the fan base and assess its strength.  There are many Lewis/Tolkien websites with a fan base of 10 million on a single site.  You probably found our campaign on one of them, and for that we’re thankful. 
But it is one thing to be a fan HOPING for a movie to be made and to be a fan SUPPORTING it for production. Besides the obvious financial support which
will be used for the teaser trailer, script consult, script break out and other
pre-production expenses…you can also support us simply by liking our Facebook
page, commenting on Tolkien/Lewis sites (tell THIRD DART what you hope to see
in the film) and press releases and sharing the news of the film with family and friends.  All funds received ABOVE our goal will be placed in a general production fund for the film.
As stated above social media has great power when used properly which is best illustrated by the will of a strong fan base using crowdsourcing as a tool. 
For example, the 2004-2007 series called VERONICA MARS was a good show on television that never achieved much success other than a small devoted fan base and critical reviews.  Although It was canceled after 5 years, the outcry for a feature length movie was so persistant that 91,000 of their fans donated over 5.7 million dollars towards the production.
If you want our movie shown on the Big Screen and desire accuracy to the memory of these men and their accomplishments, please show us BY SUPPORTING OUR ENDEAVOR.

There's an amazing film on the horizon - - You can be part of history.
See you at the movies!
Third Dart Studios

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Wonderful Visual Outlining The 7 Steps of Good Storytelling

A Wonderful Visual Outlining The 7 Steps of Good Storytelling ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

One of the wonderful things about this learning space (I mean this blog) is that it is built collaboratively around a shared interest.   This is what James Paul Gee called  'passionate affinity learning' . "Passionate-affinity learning occurs when people organize themselves in the real world and/or via the Internet (or a virtual world) to learn something connected to a shared endeavour, interest, or passion. The people have an affinity (attraction) to the shared endeavour, interest, or passion first and foremost and then to others because of their shared affinity ( P. 69 from  "Language and Learning in The Digital Age "). And as much as you learn from things I share here with you I also get to learn a great deal from you. I receive tons of emails of edttech resources, app suggestions, related articles...etc and I must admit that hasn't it been for your help, the content of this blog would not have been as rich and diverse as it is now.

Today's post is one example of this collaborative co-construction of the content of this blog. I was sent this wonderful graphic from one of my readers and I found it very relevant to what we have been talking about in the digital storytelling section here in Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. The infographic below has been designed byCMA and features the 7 steps to the perfect story. Check it out and share with us what you think of it. Enjoy

team work

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