Saturday, July 16, 2011

First Look at Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" Dwarves

You probably know that Peter Jackson's new upcoming movie is called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. No, it's not a sequel of Lord of the Rings although you'll still be in the same world - the Hobbit world that is. In this new adventure Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit, journeys to the Lonely Mountain accompanied by a group of dwarves to reclaim a treasure taken from them by the dragon Smaug.

Time Magazine just posted these five exclusive pictures, the first one of the Hobbit dwarves, beloved by Tolkien fans. Have a look at the pics below, and then jump to the Time website to discover who is who.

Pictures: copyright James Fisher / Warner Bros. Pictures

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"The Adventures of Tintin" Trailer 2 !

A new trailer of "The Adventures of Tintin" was released, and this one shows more the different characters. To say that this adaptation, directed by Steven Spielberg, of Hergé's legendary Tintin comic book series is awaited - specially in Europe - is an understatement. The debate on how the animated characters are faithful or not to the one in the books is going to begin, and no doubt that this debate is going to be hot in the next months, particularly in France and Belgium where Tintin was hugely popular all along the last half of the 20th century.

In the meantime, have a look to this new trailer and let me know what you think of it, and read HERE my previous article for more details and pictures of the movie.

Picture and trailer: copyright Sony Pictures

" Winnie the Pooh " Review - Edited with the new Owl's Cold clip

The new Winnie the Pooh is released today July 15th in the U.S. The movie was released in France April 13th and i did a review of it last April; For my American readers i repost today this review which includes also my - very good - opinion about the "Ballad of Nessie" short which is played with the Pooh movie.

So, did i liked Winnie the Pooh? Well, yes and no. First, i have to say that the animation is extremely good. It's great to see the different characters alive again, drawn the same way as they were in 1968. Whether it is Winnie, Piglet, Owl, Eeyore, Tigger, Christopher or all the others there is no difference with the original animation. Disney animators did a great job and also used the principle of a children book with characters walking through the pages, just like in the original movie. And i don't want to spoil anything but you'll see how the "letters" of the book are playing an important part in the story.

But - as there is a "but" - the story itself, in my opinion, is not as good as it was in the first animated film. In the original movie there was three different chapters, each one with a different story. It's not the case here. Warning: Spoilers from now! The beginning is a bit weak and looks too much as it was in the first movie - with Winnie desperately looking for a Honey pot - but after a few minutes the real story begins. Christopher has disappeared and a message deciphered by Owl seems to indicate that he is the prisonner of a kind of monster. Winnie and his friends are decided to capture the monster and to set free Christopher...but everything is not gonna work as they've imagined.

Basically the whole movie is the story of a misunderstanding. Disney animators are playing with the (voluntary) absurdity of the situation and sometime it works and it's fun, sometime you think that it would have been better with more "madness", if they had pushed the "absurdity" of the situation to the end. But we must not forget that Winnie the Pooh is a movie for very young children which probably mean some limits in the storyline for a perfect understanding by 3-4 years old kids.

Talking about the story, the other problem is the length - not of the movie which is quite short as it last 62 minutes only but of the story itself. As i've said, in the original movie you had three different stories of approximately 20 - 25 minutes each, and in my opinion it worked better. Here, it's not that the story is bad, it's just that the story is not strong enough to last one hour or 55 minutes if we except the beginning of the movie.

So, is Winnie the Pooh as good as the first and beloved original film? In terms of animation, definitely yes. In terms of storyline, the original movie was i think better. And from what i've heard from the others journalists who were at the press screening i'm not the only one to have this opinion. However, if you're a Winnie the Pooh fan don't miss this new animated as you'll find back a big part of the charm of the original film. Also, when you will watch it in theatres, definitely stay until the end of the credits as there is a not-to-be missed scene at the very end! In the meantime, have a look below to a clip that Disney just released!

And here is a different clip, just released, with Owl.

We also had the good surprise to see the short animated "Ballad of Nessie" which will play in theatres in front of Winnie the Pooh.

The Ballad of Nessie is a great short in the grand Disney tradition of short animated films - it looks like a Disney short who could have been done 40 or 50 years ago. Here, not only the animation is perfect - excellent animators like Andreas Deja worked on it - but the story is very good. There is a genius idea in the storyline and don't worry, i'm not going to spoil it. The Ballad of Nessie has a lot of charm and although it's not totally fair to compare it with Winnie the Pooh as they don't have the same length, "Nessie" is probably more "perfect". Personally i enjoyed more "Nessie" than "Winnie" but it's only my opinion and you will tell me what you think of both when they will be released in theatres.

Finally, a little gift for you and specially for those of you who have children with this children "activity kit" which should be given in theatres to young kids. But if you wish, you can download it right now here:

Pictures and videos: copyright Disney

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cars 2 Paris screening contest: And the winners are...

Editor's Note: The Cars 2 Paris special screening with John Lasseter is now over and the names of the lucky winners are right HERE. Thanks to all who have participated to this contest!

Discover the Tours Departing Daily web site, and its gorgeous pictures of the Disneyland Resort

I am extremely pleased to introduce to you today the Tours Departing Daily web site. Chances are that you already now this great web site which opened last year, but if you don't, let me tell you that you will be in heaven when you'll discover the hundred of gorgeous - and i really mean GORGEOUS - pictures that Kevin Crone, Michaela Hansen and Matthew Hansen are posting on Tours Departing Daily.

There is a lot of great photographers shooting each week great pictures of the Disneyland resort - and Andy Castro from Mice Age is one of my favorite - but the pictures posted on Tours Departing Daily are not only beautiful, they are also a totally different experience. First, all of them are HDR pictures and, as they explain on the site, "HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Our eyes are capable of seeing a huge range of light and color, moving from bright sunlight to deep shade. A single picture is incapable of portraying such a range. HDR photography combines multiple shots so that the final product more closely resembles what we see in person and our experience of being there. After we've got our shots, we spend a lot of time editing them before posting them to the blog".

For sure they do spend a lot of time with picture editing. What fascinates me in Kevin Crone, Michaela Hansen and Matthew Hansen pictures is not only how they are perfectly framed or how the colors are unique - not to mention the amazing sharpness. No, what fascinates me is that these pictures shouldn't exist. I mean, take the Jungle Cruise picture below, the Main Street Christmas photo on the top or the Main Street Cinema facade above, it's normally impossible to get this lighting perfection on a single shot. You would have to come with tons of additional lighting to get it, simply because on a normal shot you would have the Jungle Cruise building with a good lighting but the jungle trees will be too dark, or in the shadow, etc... But here, thanks to HDR magic and their close-to-perfection editing work they succeed to deliver a picture which even transcend Disneyland's natural beauty.

Another good example is this other Main Street picture above which is, in my opinion, incredible. By the way, click on each picture include in this article to fully enjoy their beauty.

Even with an extremely low lighting, like this picture of the Haunted Mansion portrait gallery, they succeed to deliver not only a great shot but also a picture which is interesting, in the artistic meaning of the word.

You will also find on Tours Departing Daily fantastic pictures of Disney's California Adventure, whether it is this magical picture of King Triton's Carousel...

...or this other one of Grizzly River Run with its incredible lighting.

Make no mistake, Kevin Crone, Michaela Hansen and Matthew Hansen are true artists and another sign of this is that they don't put any logo or watermark on their pictures. They obviously know that readers will download their favorite pics, but their love for beauty is stronger than any commercial consideration and i don't doubt that, as true artists, they've understood that they're here to share their creations with the rest of the world.

As i'm sure that some of you are interested to learn more technical infos about "how they do these amazing pictures", here it is: Kevin Crone and Matthew Hansen are shooting with a Nikon D90 and Michaela Hansen with the new Nikon D7000 which, by the way, had excellent reviews when it was released recently. The Nikon D7000 is a 16M Pixels camera, and this explain the incredible sharpness of the pictures. The pictures are shot in auto exposure bracketing mode, i.e that the camera is shooting three different pictures, one with a normal exposure, one a bit under exposed and one a bit over exposed. Then they use a software called Photomatix specially created for HDR pictures which, according to Kevin, is doing a fantastic job. Of course, in addition to all this, there is Kevin, Michaela and Matthew genuine talent, their natural sense of framing or colors, etc... and all three are spending a lot of time on each picture until they consider that "this is it", it couldn't be better.

I like also their sense of "classical beauty". Take the picture below for instance. Some of you might think that it is may be too red, but in fact it's not. But it's the framing and how the lady cast-member appears in the picture which gives to this picture a wonderful and perfect "classical" feeling. Well done, Kevin!

All of the pics that you've seen above are night pictures so you may ask how they succeed with day light pictures. Well, they're doing great too. Have a look to the Tomorrowland pic below - enlarge the picture to see it better - and you'll see how great the composition of the picture is.

The HDR also helps to deliver amazing - almost surreal - pictures like this one of the Disneyland monorail and each time the result is really interesting.

So, you understand now why i strongly recommand you to jump right now to the Tours Departing Daily web site and to put it in your bookmarks. Believe me, soon you will be addict to their stunning pictures and will need your daily shoot of Disneyland beauty. Good news, that's exactly what Kevin, Michaela and Matthew deliver each day on Tours Departing Daily.

All pictures: copyright Tours Departing Daily

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Imagineering video reveals more about WDW Little Mermaid attraction

Since the opening of Star Tours 2 and the Little Mermaid at DCA, and more recently Goofy Sky's School, there was not a lot of news coming from the Imagineering. And suddenly WDI released today this new video showing the making of the WDW version of the Little Mermaid attraction, presented by Imagineer Chris Beatty. Great shots of Imagineers at work, of the WDW Little Mermaid model, and also new renderings which reveal new details on what will be this new version of the ride. As usual the video editing is quite fast so we're going to "stop the time" to have a better look at these interesting pics thanks to home made screen captures. Click on each to see them in bigger size.

As i keep repeating to anyone talking about the Little Mermaid attraction, the WDW Magic Kingdom version will be the best one. Not only because the budget will be higher than the DCA version, but also because WDI Imagineers will have much more room available than they had at DCA to build the "perfect" attraction with Eric's Castle, a long themed queue decor, and much more.

You've seen above a new version of the rendering showing the entrance and below is another brand new one showing the whole Little Mermaid area.

Also new, the rendering below shows what is probably an early concept-art.

One of the most interesting rendering released in this video is the one below. It shows a scene of the queue decor, probably interactive, something that will be unique to the WDW version as they didn't had the room to build one like this at DCA. In fact, WDW fans can expect a long and great queue decor, going from the cave that you see below to right under the castle, and even under the castle kitchen with another scene called "captive lobsters". In that scene - and if WDI plans didn't changed - guests will see the bobtail dog from the movie standing near "captive lobsters" waiting to be cooked by the castle's cook. The dog and the lobsters will probably be audio-animatronics and guests will also see the shadow of the cook, up the stairs leading to the castle kitchen supposedly above the guests.

And if you wonder where will be the entrance of this highly themed queue, this next one will tell you exactly where it will be.

Another highly interesting new rendering is this next one showing the ride boarding room. Even if the galleon is still at the beginning of the ride, it's obviously a totally different boarding room than at DCA, inside a cave with also what probably will be a retro projection effect of the sea and seagulls - but what we see can also be the outside. All these new details looks pretty exciting, aren't they?

Another new rendering, but this time showing the ride opening scene that we already know is the one below.

Let' move to the model shots as there is some great one in the video, too, as you will see on the five next pictures.

The video also include some shots of ride scenes model like this one for the "kiss the girl" scene... well as others showing WDI Imagineers working on the Little Mermaid model.

As i've said, WDW fans can be "happy happy" as this time they will get the best version of a ride, and we'll probably know more about it at the next D23 convention. If you didn't watched yet this great Imagineering video on the Disney Parks web site, i'm sure you're dying to see it, so here it is below!

Pictures and video: copyright Disney

Click HERE for direct access to the TDS Wallpapers HD iTunes page or READ my article first HERE.

"My Yard Goes Disney" TV show brings a Disneyland touch to American backyards

What if Disneyland was coming in Your backyard? That's the principle of the new "My Yard Goes Disney" TV shows. Basically, the show propose to a family, generally coming back from a Disney Park or Disney Cruise Line vacation to bring a Disney theming to their backyard. The children of the family leave the home for a week and will have a biiig surprise when they will be back. You'll note that the title of the show is "My Yard Goes Disney" and not "My Yard Goes Disneyland", may be because the backyard transformation - and although some WDI Imagineers participate at the show - is closer to a nice Disney playground than a real Disneyland experience.

Still, i'm sure that some of you would be pleased to have the Disney guys knocking at your door to transform your backyard. If you don't live in the U.S chances are that you've never seeen this new Disney show, so have a look at the videos below. And if the show reminds you another famous one in which an american family leaves his home for two weeks, just to find a gorgeous new house when they're back, it's probably not a coincidence...

Here is two short "My Yard Goes Disney" trailers...

And here is - in two parts - one full show in which a family sees his backyard transformed with elements inspired from Animal kingdom or the Jungle Cruise. If you like the show you can watch more full shows on Youtube HERE.

Pictures and videos: copyright Disney

Tokyo Disney Sea Wallpapers HD application, now available for your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch !

5/24/2012 : Important Editor's Note about the HKDL and TDS Iphone - iPad Apps: We have a problem since 10 days on four of my iPhone - iPad applications, including the one about HKDL and TDS. I noticed the problem only last monday when i received some mails from customer who have bought the apps. What happened is that the server of the programmers who did the program of the apps had crashed. They are trying to put in place a new one and we hope to have it working by the end of the month. When i learned about this i was not happy, of course, and all the apps created with them are for now not anymore on sale on the iTunes Appstore until the problem will be resolved. I will post a message here to let everyone know when it will be working fine again. Again, deeply sorry about this problem and hope everything will be fine soon. If not, everyone who have bought the app since May 1st will of course get a refund. Thanks for your comprehension and patience.
Note : Below, the presentation of the TDS Wallpapers App. For the HKDL Wallpapers App presentation click HERE.

The new TDS Wallpapers application was released almost a month ago and it seems that everyone loves the Tokyo Disney Sea high-res pictures include in the app! Here is some reviews from other web sites:

"Tokyo DisneySea may very well be the most beautiful
and well designed Disney theme park of all time, and now iPhone
and iPad users can take a piece of its beauty wherever they go"

"APPsolutely Beautiful..."
Blue Sky Disney

"These TDS images are stunning. We recommend getting this great
app soon while it is still at the introductory price of just $0.99!"
Mice Chat

"Breathtaking...The TDS Wallpapers iPhone app captures the beauty
of Tokyo DisneySea!"
Disney Report

If you own an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and have not downloaded the app yet, the app is at $1.99 only on the Appstore. Here is a presentation of the TDS Wallpaper app:

Since i've done the Disneyland Paris "From sketch to Reality" book i don't count all the people who asked me to do the same kind of book about Tokyo Disney Sea. I would love to do it and may be it will happen someday, but for now i've designed this great application which is a tribute to TDS which is largely considered as "the most beautiful theme park in the world".

The application works great on all iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, it includes hundreds of gorgeous high-res pictures of TDS and and is available now on the iTunes Appstore for the very low price of $1.99 or 1.59€, which should be an affordable price for everyone.

The app is called in the Appstore "TDS Wallpapers HD" and the app features include:
1. NEW user interface. Categorized Wallpapers. Ability to sort the wallpapers by land.
2. Optimized wallpapers for each iOS devices. Fast wallpaper download.
3. HD Pictures designed to take full advantage of the new iPhone 4 and iPod Touch retina screen! Looks gorgeous on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch screens!
4. Ability to save each picture to enjoy them offline
5. Save your favorite pictures in the favorite section
6. Caption for each picture and Wikipedia link for each land or attraction for full infos about each site
7. Ability to zoom in each picture. Simple swipe to advance / revisit the pictures
8. Share with your friends on Facebook!

You will find in the app fantastic pictures of each land and here are some examples: First, on the menu page - picture above - you'll have the choice between ten buttons designed as scrolls and depending of your choice you'll access to "all pictures" or pictures of each land. If you choose this last option then the first land will be Mediterranean Harbor with either pictures of the Renaissance Fortress and Galleon...

...or the great Venitian area, and many more...

The app includes day and night pictures and the night pictures are awesome! Here is two night shots of Mysterious Island, one with Mysterious Island volcano in the background...

...and the other one, a close shot of the Nautilus.

Approximately half of the photos were shot by me when i was invited at the press event, one week before the park opened, which means that the park was absolutely brand new, and the other half by a good friend of mine who is a brilliant photographer and a big TDS fan, too. Next examples pics are about the Arabian Coast with great view of the land...

...or closer shot on the Arabian decor. I remind you that these are just examples and that there is many pics for each land.

Considering that it is a wallpaper app we did the best possible picture choice so whatever the picture you'll choose to put on your device front page they will look great. Next land is Lost River Delta and you'll find many outside pictures of the land but also great pics of the unique Indiana Jones ride queue decor.

Some examples of the pictures you'll find in the Port Discovery section with this large view of the land...

...or the TDS elevated tramway arriving at Port Discovery station.

The Cape Cod part of the park is also present in the app with day or night pictures like the one below.

No need to say that American Waterfront and its gorgeous decor have dozens of pictures in the app whether it is the S.S Columbia...

...the amazing architecture of TDS Tower of Terror...

...or the great American Waterfront elevated tramway.

In addition to the day pictures the section also include fantastic pics of the land at night like this one...

...or this one of the S.S Columbia.

Depending of your computer screen the pictures above will look probably good but i can assure you that it's nothing in comparison of how they look on an iPhone or an iPad screen thanks to the screen devices technology. And for each picture you'll find a Wikipedia link for more details on each land or attractions, not to mention the other features listed above.

TDS Wallpapers HD is also a GREAT app for those of you who are planning to visit the park and there is links to the TDS site for your reservations, if needed.

TDS Wallpapers HD is now available on the iTunes Appstore for $1.99 or 1.59€ and you will find it HERE. One last important thing: after you've downloaded the app thanks to leave a comment on iTunes, as we know good comments are always needed and welcome. Thanks by advance, and enjoy the app!

Pictures: copyright Park Lane Editions