Saturday, March 13, 2010

D&M Innoventions : Microsoft Courier vs Apple IPad

D&M Innoventions series are each week-end on Disney and more and the goal is to introduce some amazing technologies. If you like Epcot, Tomorrowland and the spirit of the Future, then this article is for you!

Since yesterday it is possible to pre-order on the Apple web site the awaited IPad which will be released in the U.S on April 3 and at the end of April in other countries. I am always not happy that no webcam is included on the device, even if it will probably be the case in the next version. However, except if you're really in a hurry to get Apple's tablet, i strongly suggest you to wait until the end of the year.

Why? Well, not only the IPad V2 will be better as it's always the case, but also because Microsoft is working on its on tablet concept, it's called "Courier" and it looks damn' good! Think about it as an "infinite diary" where you could collect any theme park pictures you'd like when you surf on the web, or even shoot pictures with it when you're at Disneyland (a camera will be included) and share them, etc... all this with an AMAZING user interface. If you use each day a diary or a Filofax AND need a mobile device to read your emails, go on internet, note ideas, take pictures on the go, read ebooks, etc...then Microsoft's Courier will be for you. It's going to revolutionize the diary concept, and boy do we need it! But if you're looking for a device to look movies or play video games, then the Apple IPad will be a better choice.

As you know, normally I'm a Mac addict, the kind of Mac addict who doesn't even want to hear the word "Microsoft"! But it seems that this time Microsoft has designed a product that I would be pleased to order! So, this "Courier" looks great and we have now more details about it. Courier will be under an inch thick, will weight a little over a pound, and will not much bigger than a 5x7 photo when closed. But as you may have already understood Microsoft tablet will open like a book with two screens inside, so i think we can say it's more a "booklet" than a "tablet".

And why Courier will have two screens, you ask? Well you'll understand in a minute on the videos why this dual screens is a great idea but here is more details from Engadget: "The dual 7-inch (or so) screens are multitouch, and designed for writing, flicking and drawing with a stylus, in addition to fingers. They're connected by a hinge that holds a single iPhone-esque home button. Statuses, like wireless signal and battery life, are displayed along the rim of one of the screens. On the back cover is a camera, and it might charge through an inductive pad, like the Palm Touchstone charging dock for Pre.

Two screens, a mashup of a pen-dominated interface with several types of multitouch finger gestures, and multiple graphically complex themes, modes and applications. (Our favorite UI bit? The hinge doubles as a "pocket" to hold items you want move from one page to another.) Microsoft's tablet heritage is digital ink-oriented, and this interface, while unlike anything we've seen before, clearly draws from that, its work with the Surface touch computer and even the Zune HD."

Frankly, if Microsoft succeed to create a "booklet" which works as shown on the videos below I predict a big success to this new device. So, the best is to have a look at the real thing - not totally "real", though, as what you will see on the videos is CGI animation, not the final product which is expected to be released this fall. Important note: these are new videos, not the one released last September, and they show new details on the amazing Courier UI. So, even if you've seen the previous videos, don't miss these new one! Let me know what you think about it in the comments!

Pictures and videos: copyright Microsoft, Engadget

Friday, March 12, 2010

James Cameron announces new release of Titanic in 3D for 2012, new Avatar version coming back in 3D theatres this fall

3D fans will be happy to learn that James Cameron has announced in a USA Today interview that Titanic will be released in a new 3D version and gave an estimated release frame: "We're targeting spring of 2012 for the release of a 3D version of Titanic, which is the 100 year anniversary of the sailing of the ship" Cameron said in an interview about 3D technology at theaters and in the home.

He added that Avatar may return to 3D theaters this fall with extra footage and also talked about the awaited 3D Blu-ray of Avatar: "We're not officially announcing it right now but I'm hoping for fall. The wildcard is that we might be re-releasing the movie this fall. It's kind of gjavascript:void(0)otten stomped out (in theaters) because of 'Alice in Wonderland.' The word we're getting back from exhibitors is we probably left a couple of hundred million dollars on the table as a result. The question is the appetite still going to be there after the summer glut of movies. We're going to assess that. We're talking about maybe adding in additional footage and doing something creative."

You can read the full Cameron interview on USA Today HERE.

Text from USA Today

Pixar announces " Day and Night " animated short

Pixar has announced today on his Facebook page the next Pixar animated short coming with Toy Story 3 and give details about it. It will be called "Day and Night", you can see the two characters on the picture above and here is the synopsis:

"When Day, a sunny fellow, encounters Night, a stranger of distinctly darker moods, sparks fly! Day and Night are frightened and suspicious of each other at first, and quickly get off on the wrong foot. But as they discover each other's unique qualities and come to realize that each of them offers a different window onto the same world the friendship helps both to gain a new perspective."

No need to say that i'm dying to see what Pixar can make with such a great theme. Answer next June when TS3 will be released!

Picture and text: copyright Disney - Pixar Animation Studios

Breaking News: Disney shut Robert Zemeckis Image Movers performance capture studio

It's a major news: Disney is going to shut the Robert Zemeckis Image Movers "performance capture" studio. Yes, the same one that was used for the making of "A Christmas Carol" and "Polar Express". The closure of the facility in Marin County, north of San Francisco, will be completed by January and result in the loss of 450 jobs, AP announced.

And from Variety: "Move is also a blow to the Bay Area's filmmaking community, which has seen vfx shops The Orphanage and Giant Killer Robots close in recent years as vfx work flows to locales with tax incentives and lower labor costs.

Announcement came as a shock to employees, who had seen no belt-tightening before they were told IMD would be closed.

Zemeckis was close to former Disney Studios topper Dick Cook and IMD was set up while Cook was running the studio. IMD recently moved into a state-of-the-art facility in renovated airplane hangars at the former Hamilton Landing Air Force Base in Novato. Disney has not decided what will become of that plant.

IMD had pitched itself to artists as a long-term career opportunity and a place to settle, have a family and enjoy good quality-of-life. It has also been among the minority of vfx and animation shops where artists are repped by a union, the Animation Guild, and receive union benefits.

Disney's history of closing successful vfx and animation facilities has earned it considerable ill-will among vfx artists and animators. In the 1990s the Mouse acquired respected vfx studio DreamQuest Images, which did "Dinosaurs," then shuttered and disbanded it. Disney opened an animation studio in Florida, which delivered the hit "Lilo & Stitch," then closed that as well. The "Lilo & Stitch" helmers moved on to DreamWorks Animation, where they recently completed "How to Train Your Dragon."

Here is excerpts of the Associated Press article, you can read the full article HERE:

"To further cut costs at its movie studio, The Walt Disney Co. said Friday that it will shut a San Francisco-area facility used to capture the performance of Jim Carrey for his digitally animated character, Scrooge, in "A Christmas Carol."

The facility was built by ImageMovers Digital, a company co-founded by "A Christmas Carol" director Robert Zemeckis and partially owned by Disney. Motion-capture technology in that facility was used to make the movie; Carrey wore sensors as he acted out scenes, and the data were used to recreate his character on the screen.

Before it closes, the complex will continue to be used by Zemeckis and his team to complete production of "Mars Needs Moms!," a 3-D movie set for release in March 2011.

"Given today's economic realities, we need to find alternative ways to bring creative content to audiences and IMD no longer fits into our business model," Walt Disney Studios president Alan Bergman said.

In a statement, Zemeckis said he was "incredibly proud" of the ImageMovers team and the work it accomplished.

Disney said it hoped to come to a new long-term production deal with Zemeckis and his ImageMovers partners, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey, including one for a future project called "Yellow Submarine."

Disney's studio has been paring costs and decreasing its movie slate, most recently putting a halt to "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," "Wedding Banned" and "Wild Hogs 2."

Text: copyright Associated Press & Variety

Thursday, March 11, 2010

International Toy Story 3 Poster released , and more

A short Toy Story 3 topic today! Last Thursday the official Toy Story 3 poster was released - the one below - but it seems that the "international" version - the one above - will be much different.

Also released recently a series of visuals of the "new" characters appearing for the first time in Toy Story 3. Have a look below to discover them!

All Pictures: copyright Disney Pixar

A Tribute to Tom Scherman - The making of Disneyland Paris Nautilus

Today is the first part of an article in tribute to Tom Scherman and a fantastic insight in the making of DLP’s unique Nautilus. As you will see, we all have to thanks Tom as without him probably the almost-real-size Nautilus of Disneyland Paris would have never been built.

Let’s begin by the beginning. We all have found in love during our youth for a particular subject. But sometime, it can take incredible proportions and have effect during your entire life. Take me, for instance: I was around 14 when i saw for the first time David Lean’s movie “Lawrence of Arabia” , and i fall in love so much with the movie - and then most of David Lean’s movies - that 45 years later i ended directing a documentary filmed on the real locations of the movie, documentary who was part of a 3 dvd set collector’s edition - exclusive to France - , also made the conception of the box, and even organised a press event for the release of it in the midlle of the Wadi Rum desert with all journalists sleeping under bedouins tents at the exact location where the Auda’s character played by Anthony Quinn had his huge camp in one of the movie’s most famous sequence!
A little bit crazy, isn’t it? Yes, i agree , but it was fun and exciting...

Why do i tell you all this? Because - to come back to Tom Scherman - in his case , it was not Lawrence of Arabia that he found in love with, but “20000 leagues under the sea” , and even more specifically, the Nautilus. So much that at the age of 19 , he built his first model of the submarine, and here is a rare picture shot by his brother Rowland Scherman.

Later, he will even re-designed his own home in a Nautilus way!

But If somebody would have told him when he was 19 that more than 35 years later he would have help to built a real one in a Disney park , in France , the country of Jules Verne - and even better, that this Nautilus couldn’t have been built without him - i doubt that he would have believe it !

So, in the early 1990’s when the imagineers decided to build for Disneyland Paris a real-size Nautilus they had a big problem: Harper Goff, the original designer of the submarine passed away , and took most of his secrets with him in his grave!
Fortunately, a wonderful man who - litteraly - devoted his life to the Nautilus knew everything about it, and of course, it’s Tom Scherman. As the passion of Tom for the Nautilus last all his life, he became friend with Harper Goff and had all the “secrets” of his making. In fact he ended to knew so much the submarine that he could draw almost any part of it . So, with the help of Tom , the imagineers were going to be able to built a real Nautilus, and the works begin.

Tom provided for Tim Delaney , show producer of DLP’s Discoveryland hundreds of drawings , help them on the models and of course during the building itself.
He also built for the DLP two other models, one that visitors were able to see in the “Visionarium” attraction pre-show - now closed - and another smaller one which is still in the “Discoveryland” room on the first floor of the “Walt’s” restaurant in Main street.

So, let’s have a look first of how Tom’s work begin , with some of his drawings, incredibly detailed.
Here is Tom’s shetch for the “treasure room”

One for the passage way to Nemo’s cabin

He did many different sketches for the famous diving room

For some of its elements like the load ring or the diving well

And even more details like the ring support or a vertical pipe

And not to mention the diving suit rack

By the way, Tom also did the diving suits that anyone can now see inside the diving chamber!
Of course he provided drawings for Nemo’s grand salon

For the grand window and other Nautilus windows

Some details for the salon viewport iris control

And of course for Nemo’s pipe organ

When you leave Nemo’s grand salon, you’ll find on your left a window with seaweed behind it, here is Tom’s sketch for it

Here are two sketches for the passage way between the grand salon and the pump room - the pump room is located at the end of the walk through

And here is one sketch for the pump room door itself

He knew so much the Nautilus in details that he was able to provide incredible detailed sketches on some elements like these below

Mind you, imagineer Tim Delaney did also some great artwork , specially for the outside of the Nautilus

As you saw above Tom built detailed models, and then, it was time to built the real thing. Of course, all of the Nautilus was not recreated, and the imagineers decided to re-create one “floor” with the most famous rooms.

Believe it or not, but all the inside decors of the Nautilus were built in California inside one of WDI facility. Then every piece were put in huge boxes and sent by boat to Paris through the Panama canal! So, i suppose we can say that at least for once a Nautilus will have go through the Panama canal!

And how do you built a real-size Nautilus decors? Well, thanks to these photos that Tom sent to me the 1st april 1994 and that i found back recently, we will have a close look of how it looks during its making. All the photos were shot by Tom during the making ( except, of course when he his on the picture ) .
So, it began by a kind of metal “skeleton”

Here is the one for the grand salon window ( on the right is the diving room )

And a little bit later...

Here is Tom at the beginning , in what will be Nemo’s cabin

A picture of the staircase in the map room

And two of the map room almost finished

Here are two of the diving room

Here is Tom during the making of the grand salon as well as a picture of a part of it , finished

The next picture show the pump room

....And Tom in the middle of it

Everything seems to be on its way for a big shipping through the atlantic ocean

So, how is the final result? It’s a wonder , and if you never came to DLP, here are some pictures of how it look. The Nemo’s room

....the map room

....the diving room

....the unbelievably gorgeous grand salon where guests can experience an attack from a giant squid !

Nemo’s pipe organ - Captain Nemo’s bust appear regularly in the mirror!

.......and the machine room , last one on the walk through

When you go out of the submarine , you have a fantastic view on Discoveryland

Tim Delaney and his crew are here standing on the top of it before the Nautilus lagoon was filled with water

And once all was over, the marketing dept of DLP enter in action and did these publicity shots with a mise-en-scène of a fake Captain Nemo

And Tom? Well, for a man who have designed the inside of his home like the inside of the Nautilus and devoted a big part of his life to it ,re- creating a real one was undoubtedly an achievement. Some months after the opening of the attraction, Tom unfortunately passed away - i suppose that he is now chatting with Harper Goff - but before he left, one of his dream became reality - finally, 35 years or more after his first vision of the Nautilus he was standing on a real one. One he helped to built, and we all thank him forever.

Don't forget to check the next article about eFX gorgeous Nautilus replica, click on "older posts" below to read it!

Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this article on D&M english forum on Mice Chat

All artwork and photos : copyright Disney Enterprises