Thursday, March 31, 2005

USPS Honors Jim Henson and The Muppets

Jim Henson Muppet Stamps Collector Sheet Image
The United States Postal Service is celebrating creative genius Jim Henson and his beloved Muppet characters with a series of stamps. It has been 50 years since Kermit the Frog made his television debut.

It's a well-deserved acknowledgment of his work and it will be fun to see the cartoons-come-to-life busting out of envelopes across the US.

Hit the link above and scroll down to read more about it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The History of Dinosaur Comics - Part 2

Palaeoblog recently posted Steve R. Bissette's The Paleo Path: The History of Dino-Comics - Part 2. A continuing series on Dinosaurs in Comics that's well worth the read whether your a professional palaeontologist, amateur dinosaur digger, or comic book connoisseur.

Dr. Tran's Magic Talking Card!

Dr. Tran's Magic Talking Card Image
The gang at Long Sausage Productions have brought us another great Dr. Tran collectible: a Magic Talking Card complete with virtual bubble gum! Collect all 1500!

Design: Breehn Burns, Dr. Tran: Jason Johnson, Animation: Keith Holven, Hickory Smoked: Horse Buttholes, Hot Stone Massages: Rick Cortes (Producer)

If you haven't picked up the Dr. Tran DVD, better get your butt on over there and pick up a copy!

Ninja Master Sho Kosugi Returns

Sho Kosugi Ninja ScreenshotAs a young movie nut, I loved Ninja films, and there was certainly no better Ninja actor than the great Sho Kosugi. The star of Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja III: The Domination, Pray for Death, and TV's The Master with Lee Van Cleef, had a screen presence that sometimes outweighed his martial arts character. What young boy growing up in the 80's didn't dress up as a Ninja for Halloween, hoping to stare down candy givers with the same intensity that Sho displayed?

It's cool to hear he'll be returning to a role that made him famous and I'm hoping it's not just a cheesy low-budget production. Check out the story here at

Friday, March 18, 2005

The History of Dinosaur Comics

If you're into dinosaurs, make sure to check out Steve R. Bissette's The Paleo Path: The History of Dino-Comics - Part 1 over at PALAEOBLOG. Sure to be an informative multi-part series, it may reveal some of the illustrated adventures you've been missing!

The Future of Filmmaking

The Abyss Screenshot
Any keen observer will note the future of filmmaking has already been creeping up on us. Pretty soon, it's going to be right in our face. Literally.

A few years ago, Titanic and Terminator creator, James Cameron, stated that he was already working on projects aimed at putting people back in theater seats. Do-it-all Director Robert Rodriguez developed the third film in the Spy Kids series as a 3-D film. Last year, Robert Zemeckis turned the children's tale, The Polar Express into not only a computer graphics fantasy that was shown in IMAX, but IMAX 3D no less. Cameron has even pushed the 3D envelope with Terminator 2: 3D - Battle Across Time and his docudramas Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens Of The Deep. Even the late master storyteller Jim Henson developed Muppet-Vision 3D for Disney-MGM Studios. Not to be left out, Star Wars creator and technology wizard, George Lucas, who made it possible for these guys to tell their stories the way they do, has been pushing to have digital cinema projection and distribution systems in place for the future. So when these filmmakers (who have changed the way visual stories are told) come together, you know you're in for something that's both innovative and exhilarating.

On Thursday, as reported in this article from Reuters, Lucas, Cameron, Zemeckis, Rodriguez, Randal Kleiser, and 'The Lord of the Rings' himself, Peter Jackson (who joined the group by a pre-taped segment) addressed the ShoWest attendees and invited theater owners to invest in digital projection systems. Not content to sit and wait for the industry to catch up with their ideas, they've already begun forging the way we're going to experience movies. One of the really big names absent, was of course, Steven Spielberg, but you can bet he's got something in mind as well.

Lucas is working on re-mastering the existing Star Wars films for enjoyment in 3-D. James Cameron is preparing the Japanese Manga Battle Angel (Alita), as his return to science-fiction blockbuster filmmaking. It's going to be in 3-D and he says he hopes all his future movies will be in the format. Robert Zemeckis has two 3-D features in development, and Robert Rodriguez is developing The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3-D. According to the article, Peter Jackson has already installed a 3-D master suite in his New Zealand production facility.

3D Glasses PhotosSome conversion companies have already been successful in porting existing films for IMAX and 3D release. If it can be done with past favorites, imagine what the filmmakers can do with the technology that is currently being developed. It has the potential to make the stories that much more engaging for the audience. Of course, viewers don't want to wear giant headsets and existing viewing methods which include Anaglyph (red/blue) glasses, Polarized (grey/grey) glasses, and LCD Shutter glasses, are allowing the technology to get smaller in size, but it still hasn't quite caught up with filmmaker's imaginations.

Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D PosterClassics like The Creature From the Black Lagoon in 3-D (a personal favorite) and House of Wax began the experiment years ago, but even back then, they didn't have an exact formula. 3-D was considered a gimmick, and like today, wasn't cheap to produce. Filmmakers created scenes that could make use of the 3-D technology but it really didn't add to the story. Current and future Filmmakers will have to clear that hurdle or audiences will quickly bore and won't embrace the new methods of entertainment immersion. If the new 3D films make us feel as if we're part of the action without noticing the technology, ticket sales should go well.

Technology will never replace story as the fundamental force behind filmmaking, and the reason we go to movies in the first place, but it removes some of the limits placed upon the Writers and Directors in telling a story. The technology Lucas developed at Industrial Light and Magic for instance, allowed Barry Levinson to bring to life a stained-glass Medieval Knight in Young Sherlock Holmes, formed a water-based Alien Pseudopod in James Cameron's The Abyss and a liquid metal morphing cyborg in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, regenerated living dinosaurs in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, constructed time-traveling DeLorean automobiles in Zemeckis' Back to the Future Trilogy, and allowed an angry Bee named Wally to chase Andre - digital forerunners to Pixar Animation Studios' Toy Story heroes, Buzz and Woody. What about the cursed skeleton pirates who came to life in Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl or a memorable character named Forrest Gump? It was thanks to the same digital technology that he was able to take part in famous events and converse with deceased political leaders.

Imagine X-Wing Fighters flying past your head, a Tyrannosaurus Rex eyeing you for a snack, possessed pirates leaping at you from a ghost ship, little green army men marching past your feet, cybernetic killers firing lasers into the audience, or you having to dodge the blow of an Orc sword during the attack at Helm's Deep. Some of these experiences exist today at theme parks or specially-equipped theaters, some of it's on the way, but these guys are bringing it to the masses. With the need to understand both storytelling and technology, I can think of no better group of talent to lead the charge. Hold on to your popcorn, because the adventure is just beginning.

Update: Joseph L. Kleiman from World Enteractive posted a report with a photo of the presentation which you can find by clicking here. 3-D clips that were shown included Disney's Lilo and Stitch, Top Gun, and two portions of the Star Wars saga. Thanks to The Digital Bits for the link.

Further Update: Harry Knowles at also comments on the situation. He addresses the film piracy issue with the possibility of it being reduced, though it relies on the belief that no home 3-D viewing methods (equal to the theater experience) will be available. As we know with the way technology progresses, that is only a matter of time. Pirates may still be able to isolate one half of the film image making it viewable on standard definition equipment, but only if the film relies on separate images for each eye.

Jurassic Park Screenshot - Brachiosaurus

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

G4TechTV - Feng Zhu

Feng Zhu G4TechTV features a text and video interview with Concept Artist Feng Zhu.

Feng recently worked on Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith for George Lucas and in the interview, he teases us with some unseen concept art from the upcoming film.

In addition to his video game development roles, he's been busy putting together a series of training videos for The Gnomon Workshop.

You can also see more of Feng's work at

Monday, March 14, 2005

Boarding: Stories & Snow

Boarding: Stories and Snow Summit Image
From March 24-28, 2005, The Banff Centre will hold a Storyboarding Summit featuring guest speakers from Pixar Animation Studios, Sony Imageworks, as well as other independent producers. There will be workshops on Storyboarding as well as opportunities to learn to Snowboard or Ski at nearby Sunshine Village.

The event is fast approaching but it has taken a while to finalize all details. Please pass the information on to friends, associates, relatives, and others you think might be interested.

You can download the PDF with more details right here.

Register online by clicking here.

For additional information, please contact:

Lindsey Aufricht
Special Events Coordinator, Accelerator
Program, Banff New Media Institute
Banff, Alberta, Canada

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Dr. Philip Currie Joins the University of Alberta

Dr. Phil Currie Time Magazine PhotoCongratulations goes out to our good friend, Dr. Philip Currie, one of the world's leading Palaeontologists. Starting October 1, Dr. Currie will become a professor with the University of Alberta's Palaeontology program, here in Edmonton.

Along with his many accolades, Currie was recently chosen as one of three Canadians to receive the 2004 Michael Smith Award for outstanding achievement in the promotion of science in Canada. The award was presented by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada on November 22 of 2004.

While this is great news for the University of Alberta and Edmonton, it is sad news for the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. The world-class museum and research institute loses not only another world-renowned expert, but also an engaging representative of the facility.

We wish Dr. Currie the best of luck in his new role!

You can read the story in the Edmonton Journal here.

Photo courtesy of Time Magazine.

Update: CBC also has a report on Currie's new position and how it could lead to more dinosaur finds. You can read more at this link.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Mulder, Scully, and Kimball?

C.W. Oberleitner at offers a story about a link between legendary Disney Animator Ward Kimball and UFOs.

You can read about the intriguing connection in this story.

Thanks to for the link.

King Tut Not Murdered Violently, CT Scans Show

King Tut Golden Funerary Mask PhotoRecent CT scans performed by Dr. Zahi Hawass and his research team seem to conclude that the 19-year-old ruler of Egypt, King Tutankhamun, was not murdered violently. A blow to the back of the head had been suggested as one possible cause due to findings in X-rays performed in 1968 and 1978 which showed a bone fragment in Tutankhamun's skull.

However, the discovery of a break in the left thigh is causing the team to differ their opinions on whether the fracture happened before or after death. An open wound from the break could have caused a life-threatening infection and been the real cause of death, but the fracture may also have come from the embalmers, which doesn't seem likely, given the great care they put into preparation of the bodies. A stronger possibility is that the break occured during Howard Carter's original excavation in 1922 when the mummy was removed from his tomb. This seems a more likely scenario given the damage that happened to many mummies during that time period.

Artistically and scientifically, I've always held a fascination for ancient cultures, notably the Egyptians. The dedication poured into everything from the grand scale of their architecture to the colorful, detailed art of murals and funerary masks is nearly unmatched by anything we see today. The discovery of King Tutankhamun's remains by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon was also exciting for the fact that so many artifacts were found along with the mummy. Even more remarkable is the fact that centuries after the demise of the Ancient Egyptian culture, we continue to make new discoveries about their lives.

You can read more about the recent CT scan at National Geographic.