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Friday - June 29, 2001
- A.I. Opens - Huge Weekend Expected
- Exploring the Dark Side of Star Trek
- The Squire's Tale
- News Link of the Day - Cinar Pulls Back From the Brink

Artificial IntelligenceA.I. Opens - Huge Weekend Expected
(by Steven Spielberg's AI opened today in 3,242 theaters to mostly positive reviews, although far from unanimous. The PG-13 rated Steven Spielberg movie, trying to follow the vision of the late Stanley Kubrick, is expected to bring in more than $50 million.

Many critics have been giving A.I. rave reviews scattered with mixed reviews and a handful of negative reviews. Here are some samples:

Rave Review Quote: Newsweek
"It’s a movie that makes us ponder the very nature of love—how it’s hard-wired into us, how it blurs the line between the selfish and the selfless. Is love the ultimate affirmation of free will, or its negation? A.I. exhilarates, frustrates and provokes: it’s the most ambitious Hollywood movie in sight."

Mixed Review Quote: USA Today
"The overall story, however, isn't as touching. Both distant and sentimental, it's too cozy for Kubrick and too chilly for Spielberg, who hasn't fashioned a movie this frustrating since 1987's Empire of the Sun. Like that film, this is a movie to be knocked, chewed and gummed, but not dismissed. It's the first 2001 release I've rushed to see twice. There haven't been many this year, and we'll be lucky if we get another one this summer."

Negative Review Quote: Orlando Sentinel
"...the movie (which opens today) doesn't live up to the hype. Instead of being the biggest film of the summer, it could be, for many movie-centrics, the season's biggest disappointment."

A.I. is being released by Warner Bros. domestically and DreamWorks overseas. Parents with small children should be cautioned that this movie is no E.T. as the rating reflects.

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Exploring the Dark Side of Star Trek (New Video Game)
(by Interplay has released a new addition to its Star Trek video game franchise. The newest game is Star Trek: Starfleet Command - Orion Pirates and is immediately available. Starfleet Command - Orion Pirates is a stand-alone expansion pack that adds a new storyline and features to the Star Trek: Starfleet Command series and allows gamers the opportunity of playing as the ruthless Orion Pirates for the first time.

Starfleet Command - Orion Pirates centers around the deadly Orion Pirates, a long-standing element of the Star Trek Universe. A brutal force of privateers and criminals controlling territories of Federation Space, the Orion Pirates consist of eight cartels, each with unique histories, user interfaces, crew voices and identifying logos. The game features a 12-mission campaign plus 26 skirmish missions and three bonus missions based on the classic TV episode "A Piece of the Action".

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The Squire's Tale
(edited press release) “The Squire’s Tale” from Spider Eye (London) is one of the latest shorts to air as part of S4C and BBC2’s Canterbury Tales, an animated series depicting the individual tales. Animators at Spider Eye used Cambridge Animation Systems’ Animo software to bring “The Squire’s Tale” to life.

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales unfolds with each member of a group of pilgrims telling a story during their arduous journey to Canterbury. When it comes to the Squire’s turn, he spins a tale of the King of Sarai in Tartany and his family. At the King’s birthday feast, each member of his family is given a special gift from the King of Arabia and India. His daughter Canacee receives a ring that enables her to understand the language of every bird. This ring comes in handy when Canacee encounters an injured peregrine falcon and uses her other abilities to heal the bird.

Animation, rendering and backgrounds for “The Squire’s Tale” were produced at Jumping Jack Productions Ltd. for transfer to Spider Eye, which provided direction, ink and paint, and compositing. Animators used Animo to produce multiple mattes made from both textures and watercolor artwork that was scanned in, creating the effect of watercolor washes on textured paper. The saturated colors of cross-dissolving watercolor swatches blended seamlessly and combined with multi-planing camera techniques to produce a very lyrical illustration of Chaucer’s text.

Much of the characters’ bodies were left transparent, allowing the individual watercolor backgrounds to appear loosely matted to the characters’ shapes. Defined character areas such as belts, garment patterns and skin tones were created by matting shapes out of watercolor-painted swatches that were scanned into the computer. For moving characters, it was often necessary to create film clips of cross-dissolving backgrounds that were then imported into scenes and matted to the characters in the final composite.

“Working digitally afforded us a great degree of flexibility with the ability to edit and adjust effects to produce the required look,” says John Brooks, producer with Spider Eye. “Animo’s Layer Palettes feature was invaluable for creating the necessary black matte runs to achieve a multi-layered effect.”

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News Link of the Day - Cinar Pulls Back From the Brink

According to the Montreal Gazette:

"Cinar Corp. has begun to turn the corner on the financial woes that have nearly destroyed it. The Montreal film-and-animation house reported a first-quarter loss of $6.35 million on revenues of $24.7 million. That compares with a loss of $51.2 million in revenues of $27.5 million for the corresponding three months last year…"

Click here for the full story.

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