(Source: odt.co.nz) Wellington’s Weta Digital computer graphics workshop is launching a working group aimed at bringing advanced research together with movie production.

The new group, Transfx, is headed by Sebastian Sylwan, who has joined Weta as head of research and development, Variety Magazine reported today.

Sylwan was most recently senior industry manager for film and television at United States software developer Autodesk, where he led work on stereoscopic 3-D.

Weta is already working on an innovative 3-D movie, James Cameron’s Avatar, as well as Steven Spielberg’s Tintin.

Transfx will be partly funded by the Government but mostly by Weta, Sylwan said.

Nine films from seven universities will complete in the animation category at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 36th Annual Student Academy Awards competition. Academy members will view these films at special screenings and vote to select the winners. Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal awards, along with accompanying cash prizes of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000, respectively, may be presented in each of four categories. Winning filmmakers will participate in a week of industry-related and social activities, culminating in the awards ceremony on Saturday, June 13.

The animation finalists are (listed alphabetically by film title):

(Source: news.cnet.com)  Paul Kavanagh, the animation supervisor on the new “Star Trek” movie, one technical element of the film was particularly challenging.

During live-action filming, director J.J. Abrams had done something unusual: In a bid to incorporate a shaky, handheld effect, Abrams would frequently sit behind the camera and literally tap on the back of it with his fingers. But “Star Trek” is jam-packed with computer graphics, and for Kavanagh, it was imperative to find a way to replicate the effect of that finger tapping, even in the purely digital sequences. Not to do so, he said, would have created a visual inconsistency that threatened to disrupt the audience’s experience.

(Source: monstersandcritics.com)  The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has contacted Monsters and Critics about a very special tribute for Dick Smith, considered by his peers to be the “Godfather” of Special Makeup Effects. Courtesy of AMPAS

In the highly specialized and technical craft of film and television makeup, there are a small cadre of pioneers who are credited by today’s Oscar winning geniuses of cinematic makeup as visionaries who advanced the art form with revolutionary technique and ideas.

Dick Smith is one of those artists.

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