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Saturday - October 13, 2001
- FX - Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers
- Sega Cancels Shenmue 2 for Dreamcast!
- Friday Box Office Results
- News Link of the Day - Cinar Board Endorses Sale to Gullane

FX - Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers
(by GVFX, Canada's only full-service visual effects production company, has been named the sole creator of visual effects for the upcoming television movie, Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers. This newest installment in the Babylon 5 movie series will apparenlty have more visual effects shots than any past B5 movie. There will be over 300 visual effects shots created by GVFX.

Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers stars Dylan Neal in the lead role of David Martel and Andreas Katsulas in his familiar role of G'Kar. Writer and Executive Producer J. Michael Straczynski and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Savela discussed design concepts for the B5 movie in May of this year with GVFX. Straczynski approved GVFX Vancouver Concept Artist Chris Wren's detailed sketches and 2D and 3D artists in the Toronto studio set to work.

GVFX 2D compositors and 3D artists have worked to create feature film quality effects including a crystalline city and explosive mines that propel through space. Approximately eighty shots make up battle sequences and an additional eleven shots portray the tail of a comet. GVFX also worked on a 'character transformation' effect and enriched the 'jump point', a signature effect of the Babylon 5 series where ships move in and out of hyperspace.

Emmy-nominated GVFX Compositor Sean Stranxxx created star fields and nebulas for the galaxy using Hubble telescope images as reference for the most realistic look of the telemovie.

3D artist Kyle Yoneda created icy rock masses that break and collide giving the effect of flying inside the tail of a comet.

"There is very little reference for imagery of comets up close, if any," says Yoneda.

For the comet, he worked with particle systems. Using an 'Emitter' he shot grains of sand that look like gas or steam to control the textured geography. Kyle utilized 'Volume Shaders' to texture the inside of an object rather than the surface. 'Paint Effects' is a Maya tool that allowed Kyle to paint in 3D space. Describing effects the tool generated, Kyle says, "Paint strokes in 3D turn into plasma-like bands of energy."

Low-resolution models were created to map out geography and assist the GVFX crew with timing and movement of 3D elements within the galaxy.

Senior GVFX Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Savela points out, "Looking at the sequence from one side you can say, I want a camera right there." Once the desired camera angles are worked out, the high-resolution models are imported into the 3D world.

Miriam Sirois, the actress playing the female lead, Sarah Cantrell, was able to prepare for certain sequences by viewing low-resolution animatics created by the GVFX team. Assisted by Visual Effects Coordinator Sarah McMurdo, Savela supervised on-set production in Vancouver over May and June where Miriam Sirois was filmed in an exciting flying sequence. A new effect called the 'Holotable', a holographic communication system, was also introduced into the telefilm.

Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers is the new full-length television movie based on the popular Emmy-award winning Babylon 5 series, directed by Mike Vejar, produced for The SCI FI Channel and Warner Brothers International, and Executive Produced by Douglas Netter and J. Michael Straczynski.

The two hour movie is scheduled to air in January, 2002 on SCI FI.

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Sega Cancels Shenmue 2 for Dreamcast!
(by After months of promising faithful Dreamcast owners that Shenmue 2 would still be delivered for the system, Sega has backed down. In light of its recent deal with Microsoft, Sega has canceled Shenmue 2 for Dreamcast in the U.S. and has announced it will be exclusively available for Xbox on U.S. shores.

The original Shenmue received critical acclaim and even won the 1991 Animatasia Award for "Best Animated Introduction for a Video Game".

Sega failed miserably in the hardware console market with many blaming the company's lack of loyalty to consumers as a main reason. From Sega CD to Saturn to Dreamcast, Sega often abandoned support for one platform to quickly introduce another. By contrast, Sony still delivers strong support for the Playstation even with the introduction of Playstation 2 last year. Now it is out of the console business altogether, focusing on software production.

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Friday Box Office Results
(by There were no major animated or visual effects films in the top 10 on Friday.

Here are Friday's Top 5 Movies

1. Training Day - $4.1 Million
2. Bandits - $3.7 Million
3. Corky Romano - $3.1 Million
4. Serendipity - $2.8 Million
5. Iron Monkey - $2.0 Million

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News Link of the Day - Cinar Board Endorses Sale to Gullane

According to The National Post:

"The board of Cinar Corp. has voted to accept an offer for its animation assets from British suitor Gullane Entertainment PLC. Cinar management had entertained hopes of selling the beleaguered company as a whole, but it now appears likely to be auctioned off in three parts.

Gullane's bid for Cinar's entertainment division, which includes such titles as Wimzie's House, Caillou and the Emmy-award winning Arthur series, is said to be worth about $120-million and could be presented at a shareholders' meeting as early as next month..."

Click here for the full story.

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