Tag Archives: cgi

Green Screens of Old and Green Screens on the Cheap Science, Technology & Curiosity 08 MAY 2015

If you aren’t aware as to what Green Screen or Chroma key compositing is (which is great if you don’t, because of course, this technique is meant to be seamless), our old friend Wikipedia gives quite a good rundown:

“Chroma key compositing, or chroma keying, is a special effects / post-production technique for compositing (layering) two images or video streams together based on color hues (chroma range). The technique has been used heavily in many fields to remove a background from the subject of a photo or video – particularly the newscasting, motion picture and videogame industries. A color range in the top layer is made transparent, revealing another image behind. The chroma keying technique is commonly used in video production and post-production. This technique is also referred to as color keying, colour-separation overlay, or by various terms for specific color-related variants such as green screen, and blue screen.

Chroma keying can be done with backgrounds of any color that are uniform and distinct, but green and blue backgrounds are more commonly used because they differ most distinctly in hue from most human skin colors. No part of the subject being filmed or photographed may duplicate a color used in the background.”

These days computers and algorithms are the kings of this trick, but of course, this is something that has been done in film long before computers ever became mainstream. British presenter and tech personality Tom Scott produced this well oiled little video explaining some of the technique that those video pioneers relied on in the past to get the Green Screen job done:

Given the advanced state of the technology and multitude of commercially available computer software such as Autodesk Smoke, Final Cut Pro, Pinnacle Studio, Adobe After Effects, these days it is quite possible and in fact relatively easy for the average home computer user to create green screen videos – simply by using the “chromakey” function in conjunction with affordable green screen or blue screen kits.

In fact, as Australian comedian Sam Tucker (of Samtime News) goes on to show, you can do your own green screen pretty easily on the cheap:

Cheap but effective! (In other words, if you are a Youtuber, what are you waiting for!)

woman in high heels and a bikini armed with machine guns in front of a green screen with a fan

Related Link: Tom Scott || Samtime News || Wikipedia

Review: Rango Animation | My Reviews 13 APR 2011

Rango just kind of snuck up on me, I have to admit. I had no idea that a film like this was even being developed in the first place, and when it did catch me by surprise by all of a sudden appearing on the circuit with Johnny Depp attached as the lead voice artist, well let’s just say that my curiosity was piqued. After all, when does Mr. Depp ever attach himself to projects that aren’t entertaining?

And after watching it with Chantelle, I have to say it turned out to be quite the entertaining project after all!

While certainly not for kiddies (though there is enough slapstick littered throughout to at least keep the little ones guffawing out aloud every now and then), Rango turns in a well written and engaging Western story, some exceptionally entertaining and well developed characters, and most striking of all, simply superb CG animated visuals, combining to produce something that is both wonderfully unique and thoroughly entertaining all at the same time!

Basically, it takes one pet chameleon with some big existential problems and a passion for acting (Rango), takes him out of his comfy life and thrusts him deep into a dusty old Wild West cowboy scenario where a town is on the verge of collapse thanks to a shortage of water and more importantly, on the verge of anarchy thanks to a lack of a decent sheriff!

Needless to say, this is exactly what Rango needs to reinvent himself, and what follows is a proper adventure in which the out of his depth chameleon attempts to restore law and order for the citizens, save the town by solving the water mystery, try and solve his own existential issues while he is at it, and in the process, find some meaning to his life and maybe even a little to love to go with it!

It has all the hallmarks of a classic Western yarn, even if it does revolve around critters no bigger than your boot and one particularly nasty shooting snake. The plot might be as formulaic and easy to predict as all heck, but the charm and manner in which it is told makes for a thoroughly enjoyable film.

The highlight is of course the wonderful CG animation that produces some of the most lifelike visuals seen yet in a computer animated film (just watch the flowing sand), combined with some simply stunning anthropomorphic character design which map typical Western archetypes flawlessly onto the movie’s lovable cast of critters.

And of course, the strong lead from Johnny Depp just adds that extra layer of awesomeness to what is already a polished film.

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Bee Movie My Reviews 19 JAN 2008

Bee MovieHold on to your honey!

Barry B. Benson is a bee who just graduated from college and is somewhat disillusioned with the rather bland, job-for-life career choice in making honey that he has before him. However, a naughty trip outside the hive leads to a rather exciting meeting with the very human Vanessa, a florist in New York City. Slowly he gets to know her and just when everything appears peachy, Barry makes a horrid discovery: humans are actually stealing and eating the bees’ honey!

So just what is a wronged bee to do in modern day America? Sue us for all our honey!

Bee Movie (a play on the term B-Movie) is the first motion-picture script to be written by comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who co-wrote it with Spike Feresten, Barry Marder, and Andy Robin. The cast and crew for the movie include quite a few veterans of Seinfeld’s long-running sitcom Seinfeld, including writer/producers Feresten and Robin, and actors Michael Richards (Cosmo Kramer), Patrick Warburton (David Puddy), and Larry Miller.

The movie was is produced by DreamWorks Animation, fresh off their Shrek the Third outing, and is directed by Simon J. Smith and Steve Hickner. And for an animated movie, you couldn’t ask for a more star studded voice cast, featuring amongst others: Jerry Seinfeld, Ren’e Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, Megan Mullally, John Goodman, Chris Rock, Kathy Bates, Eddie Izzard, and Patrick Warburton.

The story of Bee Movie comes straight out of modern day American society: If you think you are being wronged, sue the pants off someone. However, try as they might, one can’t help but feel that it doesn’t really translate into much of a kiddy story, which is exactly one of the problems that I have with the movie. And viewed as adult entertainment, Bee Movie doesn’t have all that much to offer either unfortunately. There isn’t enough humour to make it perfect for adults to enjoy as was the case with the smash hit Shrek and Shrek 2, while the storyline and lack of cute character aren’t really enough to make it a smash hit with kids. Instead, Bee Movie kind of straddles the two demographics which is a huge problem for any movie that is trying to make a killing for itself.

The writing on Bee Movie is very Jerry Seinfeld style, from the puns to the general feel of the situations, and because Seinfeld himself voices the main character, you can’t help but sometimes feel that you are in fact watching an animated episode of Seinfeld (though maybe this isn’t such a bad thing for all those grieving Seinfeld fans out there). The pacing of the story is pretty quick and you almost feel rushed along as the movie hurtles from start to finish. Still, the situational comedy that you have come to expect from Mr Seinfeld is all there and you will be forced into a chuckle more than once. Of course, as with all movies aimed at kids, there is a message to be learned from this story, though I am not quite convinced that it is the most wonderful stories to be told. Telling someone to not do something for themselves and be an individual and rather fit in with the crowd and do things as they always have been done because that is how it is meant to be done is perhaps not the most motivational of messages out there. – :)

Still, although rushed, Bee story does tell a interesting story and manages to bring something new to the world of storytelling in animated movies, perhaps a lot like the atrociously bad Hoodwinked! did a couple of years ago. Unfortunately I really don’t see any kids falling in love with this one, young or old and I’m pretty sure that apart from Seinfeld diehards, there aren’t going to be too many adult fans either.

On the graphics side of things, Bee Movie certainly doesn’t disappoint. DreamWorks have done a good job in producing a fun, colourful and brightly lit world for the story to explore and in terms of the animation itself there certainly is nothing to complain about. The visuals lean towards a slightly cartoony look which fits the story and feel of the movie perfectly in my opinion. Of course, a person has to realise that these types of graphics are pretty much the norm nowadays with everyone doing it as well as the next guy, you can’t really base your film’s success on the graphics itself as earlier movies in the CGI genre have done.

In terms of voice acting talent though, Bee Movie can do no wrong. An absolutely stellar cast of stars lent their voices to this movie, and no one put a single foot wrong. Okay, you have to be a Seinfeld fan for his whiney voice not to get on your nerves, but apart from him everyone else was spectacular. Chris Rock and Eddie Izzard stuck out for me, but if there was one voice that stood out the most, it has to be good old Patrick Warburton, a man who has now become synonymous with all animated, loud-mouthed buffoons ever to grace out screens! Heck, if you want to talk celebrities, even Larry King played a caricature of himself in this movie!

The music for Bee Movie was composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams, this being his second animated movie composition, the first being his score for Over the Hedge. Nothing spectacular that blows your mind away, but it does the job and does it well. The soundtrack itself is also filled with a host of classics that will instantly put you in a good mood anyway.

All in all, Bee Movie isn’t a great movie or a movie that stands out of the crowd, but it certainly isn’t a bad movie and the fast pacing means that it holds your attention for its entire duration without ever feeling too long or boring. Cute, colourful graphics and two levels of humour means that both you and your kids can safely sit down and enjoy it, so in that respect it achieved exactly what is set out to do’ entertain you (and steal you hard earned bucks).

If you are looking for wholesome family fun, Bee Movie won’t lead you astray, but in my opinion this might be one better left to DVD rental night.

Bee Movie1 Bee Movie2 Bee Movie3
Related Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0389790/