Showing posts with label Oscars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oscars. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Designers Nominated for Oscars

While the general public clamors for the Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director Oscar nominees, designers look at categories like Best Animated Film, Best Cinematography, Art Direction, Set Design, Costume, Makeup, Special Effects, Editing and the other categories for designers and visual thinkers.

The nominees for Best Art Direction this year include a sure winner - Laurence Bennett for "The Artist" (left) - and a strong contender in Rick Carter for "War Horse" (right) who was also nominated for "Avatar" and "Forrest Gump" in previous years.

Movies are a visual medium requiring strong visual communication skills and should be part of a comprehensive visual education program whether approached from production, history, criticism or aesthetics. The Academy Awards nominations in January and awards ceremony in February provide an excellent opportunity to highlight the design of films and the film designers who are among the best in the world.

Many people mistakenly think that watching movies is a passive activity compared to the active thinking associated with reading but recent brain research proves that old way of thinking is wrong. Visualization is an active function of the brain which calls upon long-term memory and predictive abilities activated in numerous locations in the brain.

Have your students look at the list of Oscar nominees and research nominees in each of the design categories. Who do you think will win? Who do you think should win? What can we find out about their past work and how they go about their work?

Click on the heading above to see the list of other Oscar nominees.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Halloween is the Time for Costume Design

Lesson Idea for Costume Design: Create a costume out of cardboard, paper and cloth that transforms the shape, size and configuration of your body. Make a costume in which you look taller or shorter, have more or fewer arms and legs, and the head is not where you would expect it to be.

These costumes (left) will give you some ideas. Can you figure out the construction tricks that make the optical illusions? Also look at the animal costumes designed by Julie Taymor for the stage production of the Lion King. The giraffes, hyenas, and other animals have extensions on arms and legs that change the shape and posture of the human body into a magical new form. The details of patterns, creative design and exquisite craftsmanship also contribute to the overall effect (right).

October is the perfect time to teach costume design just in time for Halloween. The knowledge and skills students develop are applicable to fashion design as well as costume and makeup design for stage and film. When the Academy Awards come out early next year, do another lesson motivated by the nominees and winners in the make-up and costume design categories for movies. Learn about some of the top costume designers and how they work.

Students will be tempted to choose costumes based on characters from popular culture and these are understandably very appealing because the originals were designed by some of the best designers in the industry. Students can also be imaginative and think of unusual costume ideas of their own. Costumes can be made from inexpensive materials that are easy to work with.

Click on the heading above to see a video with a Disney costume designer showing how to make your own pirate costume. The trick to a good costume is attention to detail, craftsmanship, and design.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

David Rockwell designs Oscar set for second time

Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic, the producers of the upcoming 82nd Academy Awards, want to keep this year's show moving along at a fast pace so that influenced the design of the Oscars set by production designer David Rockwell (left).

Rockwell has configured a set for the March 7 show that has multiple presentation areas whose pieces will be able to quickly transform. Instead of one central platform that doesn't allow for simultaneous action, the stage will have three circular turntables spaced out from one another, each enclosed by curved walls that will showcase images or film clips (the model is shown on the right).

To frame hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as well as the presenters, open screens with what Rockwell described as "modern decorative patterns" will be used to create lighting designs as backdrops. In contrast to last year's production, where the flooring was black, the upcoming show will feature a floor that is white. (Topaz and brown are also part of the show's color scheme.)

Rockwell is keeping some aspects from last year's show such as the Swarovski crystal curtain to border the stage. (Click on the heading above to see last year's stage). The stage will again be on two levels, so that the audience can feel closer to the action. Rockwell is also building on a reconfigured seating structure that was introduced last year to bring the audience and the performers more closely together, by strategically placing faceted mirrors whose reflections contribute to a sense of connectedness.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Costume Design at the Academy Awards

The nominations are out for the Academy Awards and there are five nominees for Achievement in Costume. Costume design is a tricky category because we sometimes forget that, in movies, everyone on the screen is in costume even if they look like the man next door. It takes careful consideration to make someone look "normal" in a film. Just think how much time and effort we put into creating the "costumes" that we wear when we step out of the house.

We are often drawn to the more extravagant costume dramas when we think about the category because we are more conscious of the fact that the characters are in costume. Colleen Atwood designed the costumes for the movie "Nine" (left). She has been nominated for an Oscar 8 times and has won twice before. Rob Marshall and Tim Burton like to use her on their movies.

Sandy Powell did the costumes for "The Young Victoria" (right). She also has won twice before with 8 nominations. Martin Scorcese and Todd Haynes like to use her talents in their movies.

The other nominees are Janet Patterson for "Bright Star"; Catherine Leterrier for "Coco before Chanel"; and Monique Prudhomme" for "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus".

Academy Awards Include Many Designers

Most of the attention at the Academy Awards is lavished on the actors but several of the Oscars are given out to designers. Film is a visual medium that relies on the visual skills of directors, cinematographers, art directors, editors, animators, costume designers, makeup artists, documentary filmmakers, and many others. Some designers, like storyboard artists, lighting designers, and model makers, don't get individual awards but help the art directors on the entire production. If you stay to watch the credits of most movies today, most of the names and roles identified are designers.

Categories of Academy Awards that require strong visual skills include:

Best animated feature film of the year
"Coraline" (Focus Features) Henry Selick
"Fantastic Mr. Fox" (20th Century Fox) Wes Anderson
"The Princess and the Frog" (Walt Disney) John Musker and Ron Clements
"The Secret of Kells" (GKIDS) Tomm Moore
"Up" (Walt Disney) Pete Docter

Achievement in art direction
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg
Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" (Sony Pictures Classics) Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro
Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
"Nine" (The Weinstein Company) Art Direction: John Myhre
Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
"Sherlock Holmes" (Warner Bros.) Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood
Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
"The Young Victoria" (Apparition) Art Direction: Patrice Vermette
Set Decoration: Maggie Gray

Achievement in cinematography
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) Mauro Fiore
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (Warner Bros.) Bruno Delbonnel
"The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment) Barry Ackroyd
"Inglourious Basterds" (The Weinstein Company) Robert Richardson
"The White Ribbon" (Sony Pictures Classics) Christian Berger

Achievement in costume design
"Bright Star" (Apparition) Janet Patterson
"Coco before Chanel" (Sony Pictures Classics) Catherine Leterrier
"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" (Sony Pictures Classics) Monique Prudhomme
"Nine" (The Weinstein Company) Colleen Atwood
"The Young Victoria" (Apparition) Sandy Powell

Achievement in directing
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) James Cameron
"The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment) Kathryn Bigelow
"Inglourious Basterds" (The Weinstein Company) Quentin Tarantino
"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" (Lionsgate) Lee Daniels
"Up in the Air" (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios) Jason Reitman

Best documentary feature
"Burma VJ" (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
A Magic Hour Films Production Anders Østergaard and Lise Lense-Møller
"The Cove" (Roadside Attractions)
An Oceanic Preservation Society Production Nominees to be determined
"Food, Inc." (Magnolia Pictures)
A Robert Kenner Films Production Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
"The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers"
A Kovno Communications Production Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
"Which Way Home"
A Mr. Mudd Production Rebecca Cammisa

Best documentary short subject
"China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province"
A Downtown Community Television Center Production Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill
"The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner"
A Just Media Production Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher
"The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant"
A Community Media Production Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
"Music by Prudence"
An iThemba Production Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett
"Rabbit à la Berlin" (Deckert Distribution)
An MS Films Production Bartek Konopka and Anna Wydra

Achievement in film editing
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
"District 9" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Julian Clarke
"The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment) Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
"Inglourious Basterds" (The Weinstein Company) Sally Menke
"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" (Lionsgate) Joe Klotz

Achievement in makeup
"Il Divo" (MPI Media Group through Music Box) Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
"Star Trek" (Paramount and Spyglass Entertainment) Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
"The Young Victoria" (Apparition) Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore

Best motion picture of the year
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox)
A Lightstorm Entertainment Production James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
"The Blind Side" (Warner Bros.)
An Alcon Entertainment Production Nominees to be determined
"District 9" (Sony Pictures Releasing)
A Block/Hanson Production Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
"An Education" (Sony Pictures Classics)
A Finola Dwyer/Wildgaze Films Production Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
"The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment)
A Voltage Pictures Production Nominees to be determined
"Inglourious Basterds" (The Weinstein Company)
A Weinstein Company/Universal Pictures/A Band Apart/Zehnte Babelsberg Production Lawrence Bender, Producer
"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" (Lionsgate)
A Lee Daniels Entertainment/Smokewood Entertainment Production Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers
"A Serious Man" (Focus Features)
A Working Title Films Production Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers
"Up" (Walt Disney)
A Pixar Production Jonas Rivera, Producer
"Up in the Air" (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios)
A Montecito Picture Company Production Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers

Best animated short film
"French Roast"
A Pumpkin Factory/Bibo Films Production Fabrice O. Joubert
"Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty" (Brown Bag Films)
A Brown Bag Films Production Nicky Phelan and Darragh O'Connell
"The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)"
A Kandor Graphics and Green Moon Production Javier Recio Gracia
"Logorama" (Autour de Minuit)
An Autour de Minuit Production Nicolas Schmerkin
"A Matter of Loaf and Death" (Aardman Animations)
An Aardman Animations Production Nick Park

Best live action short film
"The Door" (Network Ireland Television)
An Octagon Films Production Juanita Wilson and James Flynn
"Instead of Abracadabra" (The Swedish Film Institute)
A Directörn & Fabrikörn Production Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellström
A Gregg Helvey Production Gregg Helvey
"Miracle Fish" (Premium Films)
A Druid Films Production Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey
"The New Tenants"
A Park Pictures and M & M Production Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson

Achievement in visual effects
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
"District 9" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
"Star Trek" (Paramount and Spyglass Entertainment) Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton

Rick Carter Was Production Designer for "Avatar"

The nominations for Academy Awards have been announced and, in the category of Art Direction, Rick Carter's work on "Avatar" will be hard to beat. Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg designed the film with Set Decoration by Kim Sinclair.

Rick Carter is one of Hollywood's most celebrated production designers, whose credits include "Forrest Gump," "Jurassic Park," "War of the Worlds," "The Polar Express," and now James Cameron's "Avatar." In the photo on the right Carter (on left) is shown working with director, James Cameron (right).

Carter (born 1952) is an American production designer and art director. Other films he worked on include Amistad, Artificial Intelligence: A.I., Cast Away, What Lies Beneath, and Back to the Future Part II and Part III. Many of the films that he has worked on are directed by Steven Spielberg or Robert Zemeckis.

Click on the heading above to see the trailer for Avatar showing the incredible production design by Rick Carter.

Research is Key in Period-Piece Design

Sarah Greenwood (right) has been nominated for an Academy Award for her production design of the movie "Sherlock Holmes" (left). The Oscar she has been nominated for is Best Achievement in Art Direction for the richly designed period-piece film which she shares with set decorator Katie Spencer.

Greenwood has been nominated before. In 2008 she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Art Direction
for Atonement (2007) also shared with Katie Spencer. In 2006 Greenwood was nominated Best Achievement in Art Direction for Pride & Prejudice (2005) (also with Katie Spencer).

Greenwood is called upon to design films that are referred to as period pieces which try to capture the look and feel of specific places and periods of time in history. In Sherlock Holmes, for example, Greenwood's researchers found actual photos of the construction of London's Tower Bridge which she used to design the pivotal final scene for the movie.

Click on the heading above to see the trailer for Sherlock Holmes which shows Greenwood's rich design for the film.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Leader in 3D Animation Wins Academy Award

Ed Catmull (right) won the 2008 Gordon E. Sawyer Award (an Academy Award), which is the highest award given at the SciTech Oscars. This is an award honoring an entire career.

Catmull worked on the inception of 3-D animation and become the first Chief Technical Officer at Pixar, one of the top animation studios in the world. Dr. Catmull is co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. Previously, he was vice president of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm, Ltd., where he managed four development efforts in the areas of computer graphics, video editing, video games and digital audio.

Steve Jobs founded Pixar, and John Lasseter is one of the creative forces behind Pixar's success. Catmull directed the technology that made animated films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo possible. Other Pixar animated films include The Incredibles, WALL-E, Monsters, Inc., A Bug's Life, Cars, Ratatouille and Up.

Click on the heading above to go to Pixar's site to learn how they make their films and what it takes to get a job there.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Oscar Nominees for Visual Effects (VFX)

Eric Barba of Digital Domain, Paul Franklin of Double Negative, and Ben Snow of Industrial Light & Magic are not names known to many outside the film industry but they helped design the visual effects for three of the top films of the year.

The 2009 Visual Effects Oscar nominees are:
* Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron, visual effects supervisor for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
* Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin for “The Dark Knight”
* John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan for “Iron Man.”

This is the first Oscar nomination for Barba and Franklin, and the third for Snow (“Star Wars –Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and “Pearl Harbor”). Industrial Light & Magic is George Lucas' production company.

For the film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, several design companies took on different tasks. Digital Domain created a modeled, animated, lit, rendered, tracked, and composited, CG (computer graphic) version of an aged Brad Pitt using Brad Pitt’s performance as a basis for the animation.

Benjamin has a digital head during every shot in the first 52 minutes of the film using 325 head replacement shots in all. Another effects company, Asylum, created several watery environments. Lola “youthenized” Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Matte World Digital created establishing environments and changed existing locations to give the film the correct period details.

Click on the heading above to see the Computer Graphics Society's coverage of the nominees.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar Nominees in Design Announced

The nominations for Academy Awards were announced on January 22, 2009 and the Oscars will be presented on February 22. Among the Academy Awards in the areas of design are Best Animated Feature Film, Best Animated Short Film, Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup, and Visual Effects. Some big jobs like storyboarding are essential to films but don't have their own awards.

If you sit through the credits at the end of any film you will see that most of the names are those of designers even though they aren't the ones who get the top billing. Nominated films like The Dark Knight, Revolutionary Road, Changeling, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Wall-E, and Ironman depend heavily on the talent of designers.

Click on the heading above to see the complete list of nominees and have your students learn about some of the people who design the films that have been nominated. See what other films these people have also worked on.

Monday, November 3, 2008

David Rockwell to Design Oscar Set

Each fall, from around Thanksgiving through Christmas, many of the best movies of the year are in theatres because the industry believe this gives them a better chance of winning an Academy Award. When the nominations are out early next year we will be covering the Oscars for design categories like Costume, Art Direction, Animation, etc.

But the news right now is that David Rockwell has been chosen to design the fabulous set for the 81st Academy Awards that will be broadcast by ABC on Feb. 22.

Rockwell has never designed a set for the Oscars but is familiar with the Academy's venue, since his design firm, the Rockwell Group, designed the Kodak Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center where the awards ceremony is held.

Rockwell Group's credits include set design for the upcoming Broadway productions "Catch Me If You Can" and "Houdini," as well as the sets for the stage productions of "Hairspray," "Legally Blonde," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and "The Rocky Horror Show." The firm also did production design work for the 2004 film "Team America: World Police."

The Rockwell Group is the 2008 recipient of the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Interior Design. Their other projects have included a freestanding building for Cirque du Soleil at Walt Disney World in Florida; the Elinor Bunin-Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center in New York, and the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, scheduled to open in 2009.

Click on the heading above or go to to see the Rockwell Group's website.