Five for Friday: The Week’s Top News
Every weekday, we select headlines from around the web that speak in some way to the art and science of content creation. You'll see them if you're a subscriber to our Daily Fix e-letter, or you can find them near the bottom of our front page, under the heading of "News Reel." Some of them are hard news stories, some of them are about projects and creativity in the business, and others are just funny, intriguing, or touching. Here's a recap.
Tony Scott Dies at 68; A Film Career in Retrospective (L.A. Times)
The week got off to a terrible start with news that director-producer Tony Scott (pictured at top with Tom Cruise on the set of Days of Thunder) had committed suicide on Sunday afternoon in San Pedro, CA. For those of us who literally grew up watching his films — starting with those iconic '80s movies The Hunger and Top Gun, and evolving into jittery, evocative action films like Enemy of the State, Deja Vu, and Unstoppable — it was a gut punch. For everyone who actually knew and worked with the man, it was something worse. The only bright side of the story was that support immediately coalesced among critics, fans, and filmmakers around what had been an undervalued cinematic legacy. We cataloged some of the most thoughtful reactions from writers online at our blog.
New Technique Could Lead to Glasses-Free 3D in Theaters (Wired)
Wired reported on research published in the journal Optics Express detailing a promising new system for glasses-free 3D viewing — long considered the holy grail of 3D technology, especially for home viewing. The system involves a polarization-preserving screen and a physical "parallax barrier polarizer" that allows four different screen views to be broken up vertically and delivered to only one eye at a time. It's not immediately clear how well the system would work as viewers move around a room or cock their heads from side to side, but the scientists involved say they believe it will be useful for next-generation 3D theaters. Wired talked to a University of Arizona physicist who said the technology "is still in its infancy," so you'll probably have to break out those 3D glasses for Avatar 2 after all.
Fear Envelops Visual Effects Biz (Variety)
Variety apparently snuck a reporter into the no-press-allowed business symposium where Digital Domain honcho John Textor spoke earlier this month, and caught him calling on "key filmmakers in our industry" to do the right thing when it comes to hiring stateside talent on VFX films, rather than farming out shots to Canada, Europe and Asia. According to Variety, Textor said that "six to 10 powerful directors" will decide the fate of the U.S. visual-effects industry. (No pressure, James Cameron!) Textor also reportedly pledged support to a fledgling VFX trade association, assuming competing facilities would do the same. (If you don't subscribe, the Variety link may be blocked. The full text of the article is also online at the Chicago Tribune, but without paragraph breaks.)
The Zacuto Fallout Continues (Pro Video Coalition)
Zacuto finished posting its epic Great Camera Shootout 2012 as a three-part documentary earlier this month, and then got comprehensively taken to task by DP Art Adams over at Pro Video Coalition. Over the weekend, he expanded further on his thoughts at PVC as well as DVXUser. (That's just Adams' post. The lengthy thread is here.) The problem wasn't with the tests per se — a patient viewer who watched more than 90 minutes of footage learned a lot about how the different cameras performed, and how much the decisions made by smart DPs influenced the look of the final images. But while Zacuto structured the tests like a good story, complete with eccentric characters, suspense, surprises, and even a plot twist in the third act, bloggers mostly noticed the money shot, in which director Francis Ford Coppola (note: not a DP) declared his preference for the image from the Panasonic DMC-GH2. Adams says that message is already causing trouble for cinematographers who have to convince their bosses that a more expensive pro cinema camera really does outperform the $900 GH2.
Cassian Elwes Distracts Unruly Passenger on JetBlue Flight (Gawker)
Finally, film producer Cassian Elwes (The Paperboy, Margin Call, Blue Valentine), brother of Cary, found himself putting the people skills he's gained in the film business to extremely practical use when he managed the potentially explosive demeanor of a disruptive passenger on a flight from New York to Los Angeles. Elwes is a born storyteller — his long series of posts to Twitter describing the flight is completely riveting. And you have to wonder: is there a movie in here somewhere?