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Friday - July 13, 2001
- Final Fantasy has $5 Million Opening
- Alias/Wavefront - "Maya Used in Final Fantasy Movie"
- Disney's Pepper Ann Being Added to Toon Disney
- News Link of the Day - Final Fantasy's Reality Needs Work

Final Fantasy has $5 Million Opening
(by Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within took in $5 million in its opening Wednesday. The single day opening numbers that are respectable, but far from spectacular. Wednesday openings are usually reserved for "event" movies which make closer to $10 million or higher on opening day due to overwhelming demand.

Analysts are predicting that between Friday and Sunday, Final Fantasy will bring in $23 - $25 million. Final Fantasy is playing in a low 2,649 theaters.

Final Fantasy opened to largely negative reviews. One of the few exceptions was well-known critic Roger Ebert who usually gives any animated movie a big thumbs up, including last year's Titan A.E..

Final Fantasy must bring in big numbers if it wants to make back the $150 million that went into creating the film. Some added bonuses will be increased interest in the Final Fantasy video games even though the movie and games have very little in common.

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If you're looking for the second set of stills from Osmosis Jones, click here.

Alias/Wavefront - "Maya Used in Final Fantasy Movie"
(by Alias/Wavefront is publicizing the use of its Maya software in Square Pictures Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within movie. According to Alias/Wavefront, "Maya software played a pivotal role in allowing Square USA to create a 23-digital-person cast... Maya was the only commercial 3D software package used by Square on this project, and it served as the hub of their pipeline for creating the film's hyper-real 3D human characters as well as all the backgrounds and effects."

According to Final Fantasy producer Jun Aida, "Alias/Wavefront has been key to the success of this production, both in terms of the technology and support they have provided. We brought Maya in at the conceptual stage of the project in order to convince the director, Hironobu Sakaguchi, of the feasibility of this film. Using Maya we produced characters so life-like that he agreed to take on the project. Two and a half years later the result is a CG film so unique that it could be said to establish a new cinematic genre."

The 107 minute-long futuristic action/adventure film consists of 1,300 computer-generated shots and stars a cast of eight digital leads with 15 secondary characters.

According to Alias/Wavefront, "Each character is finely detailed down to the freckles and pores of their skin. Each is also slightly flawed -- asymmetrical and blemished -- thereby adding to their humanity. Moreover, throughout the course of the film's compelling, complex story, each digital human expresses a full range of motions -- and more difficult still -- emotions.

The entire length of the Final Fantasy film project for Square, including the initial R&D phase and proof of concept project, was four years. During the height of production, close to 200 Maya artists were involved in the making of the film, creating effects, sets and of course the polygonal characters. The Square team began by using NURBS models for their characters and environments, but eventually chose to switch to polygonal models because of their flexibility and the fact that fine details could be added by way of Maya's subdivision surfaces. The incredibly lifelike character animation was achieved through a combination of motion capture and keyframing. Some of the most difficult aspects of the animation, hair and cloth for example, required the writing of custom tools. The Square R&D team found themselves turning to the Maya API (Application Programming Interface) and MEL (Maya Embedded Language) for solutions."

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Disney's Pepper Ann Being Added to Toon Disney
(by Toon Disney, Disney's 24-hour all-animation network, is adding the "Disney's Pepper Ann" animated series to its lineup this fall.

"Disney's Pepper Ann" joins "Disney's Doug," and "Rupert" to round out Toon Disney's new fall schedule, which will begin airing Labor Day weekend.

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News Link of the Day - Final Fantasy's Reality Needs Work

According to The Honolulu Bulletin:

"One of the neat things about animation is that it can be tweaked to death. Don't like that color, that angle, that lighting, or that expression? Redraw it, rerender it, re-imagine it. That's why animated films are so good at conveying a rush of information: All the distractions are edited out, erased by the process.

What's not so cool is that this can make a static film, one in which any element of visual surprise or of storytelling verve have been hammered away, flattened…"

Click here for the full story.

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