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Digital Media FX - The Power of Imagination

Digital Media FX Newsletter
Vol. 1, No. 9 - July 15, 2001

Table of Contents:

(1) Welcome Message
(2) Rugrats Celebrates a Decade
(3) Problems for Planet of the Apes
(4) New Animated Series - Stanley - Set for Playhouse Disney
(5) Shrek Now Second Highest Grossing Animated Movie
(6) Top News Stories of the Past Two Weeks
(7) A Look at Jurassic Park 3

Welcome Message
Welcome to another edition of the Digital Media FX (dFX) newsletter, covering the world of animation and visual effects. This newsletter is published on or near the 1st and 15th of each month with original animation/FX content, insider news, and sneak peeks at new dFX features.

This issue contains stories on Rugrats celebrating a decade, Planet of the Apes problems, and a new animated series on Playhouse Disney. Plus there's a review of Jurassic Park 3. Enjoy! -- Joe Tracy

Rugrats Celebrates a Decade
(by The 10-year anniversary celebration of the hit Rugrats animated series begins this Saturday with a special episode that ages the Rugrat babies by 10 years. Now the wacky group of kids have new interests - like boys and girls. The episode is titled "All Growed Up," and the kids are now in school dealing with issues that many 10 and 11 year olds face. The episode will be an hour long and airs this Saturday on Nickelodeon.

A few weeks ago the Rugrats received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Problems for Planet of the Apes
(by According to Inside Magazine, Planet of the Apes is cutting its release date tight due to CGI work that is still not complete, a partial remix of the soundtrack, and scenes that had to be reshot just a few weeks ago. The result is that the film will not be ready in time for early press screenings (which have been canceled) and a special of "Making of The Planet of the Apes" has been postponed.

Movie studios bank so much on a set opening date that a movie is often be released even if it isn't up to par. A prime example is Tomb Raider. The filmmakers hired a new composer the last minute, giving him only 10 days to finish and record the score to the movie. Tomb Raider also lacked a lot of composition and balance as poor editing and lack of time for reshoots resulted in a disjointed story.

While delaying a film's release date could result in temporary negative publicity, releasing a film that is not up to par with the original vision can spell disaster after a film's opening weekend and negative reviews that cloud the work of the cast and crew.

New Animated Series - Stanley - Set for Playhouse Disney
(by A new original half-hour animated TV series, named "Stanley," will premiere on Playhouse Disney (on the Disney Channel) this September. It will make its move to the new Playhouse Disney cable channel next year when broadcasting of the preschool station begins. "Stanley" is a new, interactive, learning-based animated series created and executive produced by Jim Jinkins and David Campbell's (Disney's "PB&J Otter") Cartoon Pizza Productions, in association with Disney Channel. Cartoon Pizza Inc. is a newly formed animation production company based in New York.

The series is based on characters from the "Stanley" children's book series and follows the adventures of six-year-old Stanley Griff.

Here is an official synopsis of the series:

"Stanley is an extremely imaginative and creative little boy who is wild about animals. In fact, he loves to make simple drawings of his favorite animals. His supportive and loving parents as well as his teasing, yet affectionate, older brother are privy to only part of Stanley's world. They can't see or hear the conversations he has with his pet goldfish, Dennis.

As Stanley's best friend and closest adviser, Dennis serves as a guide throughout each episode, bringing Stanley to an important understanding or life lesson that adds to his personal growth and self-confidence."

Shrek Now Second Highest Grossing Animated Movie
(by Shrek has become the second highest-grossing animated movie of all time, surpassing Toy Story 2 this weekend. The mega-successful Toy Story 2 finished its domestic box office run with $245.8 million. Shrek's box office total, through Sunday, stands at $247.2 million. Only one movie remains in Shrek's path to ultimate box office glory - The Lion King. The king of the jungle will be hard for Shrek to top as its total domestic box office take (in 1994 while playing in fewer theaters) was a majestic $312.8 million.

To view the top animated movies of all time (including the inflation-adjusted list), click here.

Top News Stories of the Past Two Weeks
( Digital Media FX is updated 365 days a year including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. If you don't visit daily you may have missed some important news. Here is a list of what we consider the top five news stories (in order of importance) of the past two weeks, including links to each story.

1. Aardman Abruptly Halts Animated Feature!

2. Final Fantasy Nosedives at Box Office in Opening Weekend

3. Tom Hanks: "Digital Actors May Replace Human Actors"

4. Disney Loses It's Magic (Opinion Article)

5. Cats & Dogs Nudges Out Scary Movie 2

A Look at Jurassic Park III (Contains Minor Spoilers)
(review by Joe Tracy of Park 3 has been hit with a lot of negative publicity that started severalmonths ago when word was leaked online that the Jurassic Park 3original script was thrown out just weeks before production began, creating a flurry of problems when the time came to begin filming. It also resulted in an "on the fly" script where writers tried to stay a few days ahead of filming while trying to put together a story. Instead of postponing production of the movie (like Aardman did with Tortoise vs. Hare when script problems arose), the studio and crew pressed forward in order to meet a summer 2001 deadline.

The result is a movie with weak character development, story problems, and a weak ending. The movie is one of the poorest examples of director Joe Johnston's work (October Sky, Jumanji). Yet even with all these problems, Jurassic Park 3 manages a better overall feel than Jurassic Park 2 even though both movies still a far cry from the original (which also had its own problems).

Top screenwriters teach their students that the first thing you should work on when creating a movie is the ending. By creating a solid ending, the writer has a direction for the creation of the rest of the story. It seems that the "writers" and director didn't have a direction for Jurassic Park 3 as it mostly just plays itself out to a point where the filmmakers wonder how to end it and throw in a quick "chicken exit" sequence to wrap up the movie. This has become a pet peeve of mine with so many poor endings to Hollywood films this year. It is time for a new slate of writers and directors to invade Hollywood with fresh ideas and solid endings to wrap up well-written (and produced) stories. Yet that isn't likely to happen anytime soon.

So Jurassic Park 3 has a weak story, weak character development, a weak ending, and a script written on the fly like the hastily written (and poorly produced) score for Tomb Raider. So how does JP3 manage to be better than JP2? The answer is in the casting (particularly Sam Neill) and the introduction of new dinosaurs like the flying Pterandons. The Pterandons are quite possibly the best dinosaur villains yet because of their strategic ability to attack from the air. This new element of "dino-fright" plays well in Jurassic Park 3; so does a short (and I mean short) battle between a T-Rex and Spinosaurus.

Jurassic Park 3 also does an amazing job at humor (a few hokey lines aside), making it more lighthearted than Jurassic Park 1 and 2. The humor works too, particularly with scenes relating to a satellite phone. Another impressive aspect of Jurassic Park 3 is the differences between the trailer and movie. The trailer makes you believe one thing for a particular scene, but when the scene plays out, it is a bit different resulting in the preservation of some of the "surprise."

So what dinosaurs will you see in Jurassic Park 3? Here's the list (with the first three being the main focus and main villains):

1. Raptors
2. Spinosaurus
3. Pterandons
4. T-Rex
5. Brachiosaurus
6. Ankylosaurus
7. Compsognathus
8. Parasaurolophus
9. Corythosaurus
10. Stegosaurus
11. Triceratops
12. Ceratsaurus

Jurassic Park 3 opens domestically this Wednesday. The movie is only an hour and a half long. By entering the movie with low expectations you are likely to enjoy it (particularly after seeing a massive amount of bad and disjointed movies like Tomb Raider). This movie should have been postponed, however, to fully flesh out the script and character development. It would also have given ILM more time to create a longer T-Rex versus Spino sequence and would have preserved the solid name director Joe Johnston had built for himself.

Most of all, enjoy the visual effects as, once again, ILM and Stan Winston do an amazing job of bringing history to life:

"If you go completely CGI, you end up with a movie more like Toy Story. If you just go with the physical effect, you are limited by physics. The idea is to combine them, defy physics and do things the audience would never suspect is possible.This was by far the most physical of the three Jurassic movies." - JP3 Special Effects Consultant Michael Lantieri.

Thank you for being a part of the Digital Media FX team through your daily visits to I hope that you've enjoyed this edition of the Digital Media FX newsletter and I look forward to providing you with continued coverage of the animation and visual effects industries.

Best Wishes,

Joe Tracy, Publisher
Digital Media FX - The Power of Imagination

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