(Source: vfxworld.com) Pixar Animation Studios today announced the release of RenderMan Studio 3.0 and RenderMan for Maya 4.0. Both new versions offer substantial gains in performance, enhanced workflows, and new state-of-the-art technologies for rendering visual effects and animation.

RenderMan for Maya 4.0 provides any user of Autodesk’s Maya with fast and easy access to the core rendering technology developed by Pixar and used to create the stunning visual effects seen in the majority of today’s feature films. This latest release delivers significant increases in performance from a host of core optimizations to the internal renderer, including the addition of unlimited threading. Additionally, RenderMan for Maya 4.0 includes enhanced interaction with Maya’s Render Layers, a new unified interface for RenderMan Controls, and support for Maya Fluids.

(Source: Variety) Darren Aronofsky will direct the Mandalay Pictures adaptation of Max Barry’s Machine Man, reports Variety.

The project, to be scripted by Mark Heyman (who co-wrote Aronofsky’s Black Swan alongside John McLaughlin) will adapt Barry’s story, which originally appeared on the author’s website in serial form with a single page released each day as it was written.

Machine Man, not to be confused with the Marvel Comics character, concerns a tech engineer who, tired of going through life average and unnoticed, replaces parts of his body with titanium upgrades of his own design. He then discovers that he isn’t the only one with plans for his new body.

(Soucre: modernghana.com) Craig Barron, Lisa Zeno Churgin, Caleb Deschanel, Randal Kleiser and Alex McDowell have accepted invitations to join the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Barron, an Oscar®-winning visual effects specialist (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), is head of Matte World Digital, where he has created effects for such films as “Titanic,” “The Green Mile,” “Zodiac” and “Alice in Wonderland.” In 1992 he earned an Academy Award® nomination for “Batman Returns.” Barron is an Academy governor representing the Visual Effects Branch and has been an Academy member since 1994.

(Source: nytimes.com) Warner Brothers agreed to keep Peter Jackson’s production of “The Hobbit” in New Zealand after the government promised to change local labor laws and offered extra financial incentives, Prime Minister John Key said Wednesday.

The deal came after two days of talks between Mr. Key and other government officials and executives from Warner and its New Line Cinema unit.

Filming of the two “Hobbit” movies, which is expected to start in February, had been threatened by a dispute over whether a New Zealand branch of an Australian union could engage in collective bargaining on the Hollywood films, which they have not been able to do in the past.

(Source: forums.cgsociety.org) When Warner Bros. production executives touch down in New Zealand next week they’ll get a welcome they’ll never forget, with lobbying planned from the Kiwi prime minister, cabinet ministers and producer-director Peter Jackson — an industry-wide united front and simultaneous rallies by non-union-aligned actors in five cities up and down the country.

Their desperate mission: keep the $500 million Hobbit films in New Zealand in the aftermath of a month-long, but now-ended, boycott by actors unions across the English-speaking world and amid reports that the studio is paving the way for a move to the UK.

(Friends at the march can be seen in this video)

(Source: scoop.co.nz)  Fifteen hundred film industry technicians, artists, computer graphics specialists, animators and actors gathered at one of Stone’s street’s film sets, at the behest of Weta Workshop founder, Sir Richard Taylor, to discuss the implications of recent demands for a collective agreement made by New Zealand Actors’ Equity, (a branch of Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance – an Australian union directed by Simon Whipp). Members of New Zealand Actors’ Equity. NZAE demands for a change in working conditions to be cemented in a unionised agreement, a departure from the historically contractual agreements practiced in the NZ film industry.The Hobbit films are a yet-to-be-filmed $660 million dollar, two-part prequels to the Lord of The Rings trilogy directed by acclaimed NZ filmmaker Peter Jackson. The production is likely to be moved overseas by its producers, Warner Brothers, with executives heading to New Zealand next week to oversee the change.

(Source: blog.digitalcontentproducer.com) Digital Design Village has opened as a new digital studio to serve the rapidly growing filmmaking industry located in Michigan. The announcement was made today by Arnie Jones, CEO/Founder, Digital Design Village.

Concurrent with today’s announcement, Digital Design Village, and the renowned, Marin, CA-based Kerner Group, have signed an agreement by which Digital Design Village will offer resources for film production, special practical effects production, and post production in Michigan utilizing the Kerner Group’s expertise and technologies. The Kerner Group, formerly the physical effects division of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM,) is an innovative provider of special practical effects and 3D technologies.

(Source: movies.sky.com) Ridley Scott’s proposed prequel to his 1979 horror hit Alien has stalled before production could even begin.

The director is at odds with the studio behind the project, 20th Century Fox, over budgetary and creative differences, according to sources close to the production.

It would seem Scott wants a budget of around $250m to make it a sci-fi spectacular, and is also pushing for an 18-rated level of violence and horror. Fox, however, don’t plan on investing anywhere near that sum, and are keen to get a 15 rating to maximise the audience appeal.

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