Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New teaser trailer for GODZILLA

Some of my HALO jump shots appear in the trailer. Sometimes when you do previs on a project, you have a feeling the movie will end up being very good. This was definitely one of those projects. See for yourself...

"Little Miss Star Wars" makes BuzzFeed's List of "30 Very Best Pieces of Fan Art of 2013"

Thanks for the heads-up Nick! The fan art on the BuzzFeed list is amazing, and I am grateful to be a part of such a great list. Thank you to everyone that liked and reblogged the piece over the course of the year. If you have not seen the Star Wars piece yet, here is the link to my original post.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Holiday recipes I can't live without

Ok, so this blog isn't entirely all about art and animation. I enjoy cooking, and Thanksgiving is arguably my favorite holiday, so each years I try stepping up my cooking game with a couple new recipe tryouts. If any end up being successful, I add them to the menu the next year (along with another couple new tryouts, and so on). This year I have three very solid appetizers that I'd like to share: mascarpone mashed potatoes, and the best cranberry sauce in the world.

Recipe 1: You've all eaten and probably have all made mashed potatoes before. The "secret" ingredient is usually extra garlic and butter. Time to get more imaginative. Try mascarpone as this year's secret ingredient. The recipe for mascarpone mashed potatoes is on the Food Network site, under cook Giada De Laurentiis. It's fantastic and you won't go back.

Recipe 2: The best cranberry sauce in the world (or as the site calls it, "Cranberry Sauce Extraordinaire") is so delicious I can't imagine any other version. This was the first thanksgiving recipe home-run I found on the Internet a few years back, and it has bowled over anyone who has tried it. If 1 cup of white sugar sounds high, sub it out with extra apples and pears or Stevia. Give it a try. Once you do, you'll look at this stuff as disgustedly as I do:
A vile monstrosity.
3. Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread. This is a tryout recipe for 2013, and the reception last night was terrific, so I wholeheartedly recommend it. The recipe calls for 3 3x7 pans, but I used a 9x9 glass dish and a 5x9 pan (distribute the mix so there's an inch or so from the top of the mixture to the top of the pan). I will make this every year from now on.

This year's other tryout recipe? Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese by Rachael Ray. I can't vouch for it yet, but I'm crossing my fingers that this will fill the mac and cheese spot on my Thanksgiving roster that's been empty for too long.

No matter what's on your menu this Thanksgiving, I hope you have a great time with family and friends.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Empty Streets Movie Soundtrack Now Available

In 2009, I contributed some graphic design work to Empty Streets, an independent short film made by my VFS roommate Paul Booth and other Hawai'i filmmakers. The movie is about the struggles a returning veteran has when he adjusts to life after the military. It was a passion project for Paul, and it is great to see its continued success well after the filmmakers completed their initial push to promote it. The film has played in film festivals worldwide and continues to raise awareness of how difficult it is for our troops to acclimate back to civilian life after the harsh experiences of wartime. As someone who has a sister in the military, this is a very personal cause for me.

I'd like to take this post to promote the project and include some of the print media/graphic designs I contributed to the project, starting with the movie poster:
Movie poster design.
Although the film did not receive distribution, copies of it are available to check out from the Hawaii, Sacramento, and Orange County library systems. I did the jacket design for the DVD, which at one time was going to be a two-disc bundle with the soundtrack (more on that below). I popped the levels on the oranges from the movie poster to help the jacket stand out more. Apparently it worked, because the film is constantly checked out.
DVD jacket design.
Now on to the soundtrack, which as of Veteran's Day 2013 is now available for sale online. 55% of all sales goes to The Veterans Resource Center at Golden West College, with another portion going to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The musicians on the soundtrack include Grammy winners and nominees, as well as several great young talents. Here is the CD album I designed: 

Album design.
If you would like to support the Veterans Resource Center and the Southern Poverty Law Center and pick up some great music, please buy a copy of the soundtrack or some singles from any of these online retailers:


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

DIVERGENT movie trailer and teaser

Divergent is an upcoming young adult novel adaptation about a post-apocalyptic alternate universe set in Chicago (wow, that's a mouthful). I worked as a previs artist on it earlier this year while at The Third Floor. Some of the parts I helped on were included in the teaser and trailer, including the train jumping, hole jumping, and the sequence with the "group punch" shot. It is set to come out 3/21/14.


Trailer 1:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Richard Williams - This Amazing Medium

The Richard Williams "This Amazing Medium" presentation was already underway by the time I arrived at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Despite the two complimentary lots dedicated to Academy events, parking there is always a bear (and who are all these animators who leave work before 7PM, anyway?). As I slid into my seat in the back of the dark theater, a scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves finished playing on the screen. As the clip finished, the lights went up and the master animator took the stage to tell of the films that inspired him when he was a young animator.

This Fantasia clip followed:

Williams then talked a bit about the projects he worked on as a young animator in England. When tasked to create some complicated water effects, he referenced the groundbreaking animated water effects in Pinocchio, and played this clip:

At this point I was fully settled in to the presentation. Pinocchio was the first animated film with which I was completely fascinated, and one of the drawings from childhood I still have is a tracing of the Pinocchio puppet off of a book I had back then. Williams then spoke about working on an intro sequence on the Sidney Lumet picture Prince of the City, and having a conversation with Lumet about the movie Dumbo. "It's the perfect film," Williams recalled Lumet saying, "each sequence is completely self-contained, but each moves the story forward." Then came the Dumbo "Pink Elephants" clip. Williams recalled a quick story about one of the Disney animators encountering a dumbfounded filmmaker who asked the animator: "What were you guys on when you were making that sequence?" The animator's answer: "Pepto Bismol and Aspirin."

Another inspiring animator to Williams was the legendary Tex Avery. Avery, while working at Disney, quickly realized he wasn't talented enough to draw like the animators at the studio, so he decided to go as far as he could in the opposite direction of Disney--toward the manic and hilarious. Avery went on to direct and write over 100 cartoons during the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Williams told a story about an elderly Avery coming on stage at a cartoon film festival just after a solid hour of his cartoons were played consecutively. Rubbing his face in shock, Williams imitated Avery's reaction: "This...this just isn't right! You're not supposed to play this many of them at once! They're crazy enough in just 60 seconds!"

Avery would be shocked at what the Internet has brought us. Forget film festivals, today an animation fan doesn't have to leave home to watch weeks worth of the wildest shorts created in the last fifty years. Next, a clip was played of Avery's "King-Size Canary" (1947), which showed the greedy exploits of a starving and short-sighted house cat:

Next came Richard Williams retelling of his experience with Ken Harris, the Warner Bros. animator who later worked with Williams at his commercial studio in England. He portrayed Harris as extremely talented, but a complainer, since he was the lead animator who always had to train the hired animators to emulate William's complicated hatched animations the studio would become known for.

The animator who made the biggest impression on Richard Williams throughout his career was the legendary Milt Kahl, a member of Disney's Nine Old Men. Williams recounted seeing The Jungle Book for the first time in theaters, and not being particularly impressed with the animation at the beginning of the picture. A bit further into the picture, however, and Williams saw something that completely floored him: the performance of Shere Khan, as animated by Kahl:

In 1968, Richard Williams's studio was hired to create a series of animated sequences for the British war film Charge of the Light Brigade. They were done in the style of 1850s wood engravings. Williams called it "the best job we ever got":

After the release of Charge of the Light Brigade, Williams received a call from Chuck Jones at Warner Bros., who asked if he was interested to make an animated special of "A Christmas Carol:"

(Right after this clip, Williams mentioned that he asked Kahl if he would come work for him in England, but Kahl declined. "If I wanted to work on shit, I'd stay here," was the ornery animator retorted.)

Next up was the fun intro credits sequence his studio animated for the comedy hit The Return of the Pink Panther (1975):

And after that, he arrived at the point in his career for "The Rabbit Job:"

The sequences his studio created for the film were unforgettable:

Williams then briefly mentioned his animated feature The Thief and the Cobbler, which was never released in theaters. The studio worried about its similarity to Aladdin, which would show in theaters around the same projected release date, and it was shelved until it became a straight-to-DVD release.. It was clearly a painful experience for Williams, who showed only the trailer before moving on in the presentation.

After seeing his dream film fall short of its ultimate goal, Williams picked himself up and moved on to continue mastering the craft of animation. While he worked, he would often visit the nearby house of Ken Harris to seek the advice of his longtime friend. Harris was much older and tired at the time, and would go in for naps at midday during their sessions, while Richard continued working in the living room. Harris would often say that he was just too old to help with animation any more, but Williams said with a smile that Harris would come out after his nap, look over the drawings spread out on the floor, stop to fixate on a drawing, then point and quickly proclaim "that's WRONG!"

One day, after finally finishing a particularly difficult sequence, he called up Ken Harris on the phone and proclaimed: "I did it! I can finally animate anything I can think of!" Williams yelled with his fists raised high above his head, smiling like a boy pedaling on a new bike for the first time.  He then lowered his hands, took a breath and imitated Ken's classic response: " long as you think that." The audience howled.

As the presentation started winding down, Williams reflected on when he was a young artist traveling in Europe one year. He had sold a portrait and was living off the money, and would spend his days sketching a troupe of acrobats who were performing in a small town in Spain. He had saved the drawings for decades, and planned on animating them at some point. Over the last couple years he had revisited them, and what followed in the theater was a short film that was part slideshow, part animation. The music was composed by a friend of his years ago, and the blending of it all was very quietly moving and impressive. The crowd heaped its praise as Williams took the stage to present his final piece.

The lights dimmed for a final time, and the screen flashed white. Illustrated in Williams's now-signature style of hundreds of painstakingly drawn hatchmarks, was a soldier on an ancient boat. The camera spun to show the ocean the boat was cutting through, as waves broke in front of the boat. Next, the camera flew off the boat and the wind lifted it toward land. A beach appeared and quickly filled the screen, followed by a field with daffodils, enlarging as the camera settled to inspect them. A rush of wind back from the naval soldier's boat stretched the daffodil apart, spraying the seeds across the screen. A large eye then shot open, and looked squarely into the camera. The second eye moved in from off screen as another man's face appeared. Alerted, he backed away from the daffodils and stood up. Sensing danger from across the ocean, he looked to his left and turned, but before we could see what he was looking at, the film cut out. After the lights went up and the audience finished applauding, Williams explained that it was the first two "chapters" of a 25 part story. I sincerely hope he completes the film, because I was blown away by what I saw.

It was truly special to have witnessed a night celebrating such a storied career. Having never met any of the nine old men, I felt it was as if their knowledge and spirit had returned before us all in the vitality and kindness of a master animator who had learned from them all and who had become another one of the treasured few in history to reach the top of the pyramid of creative self-actualization. At last he had the ability (and the confidence that comes with it) to animate something exactly as he imagined it. It took him a lifetime of drawing, traveling, observing, countless pieces of paper crumpled up in frustration, awards and honors, speeches, late nights and sore wrists, but he had pulled it off and lived to tell the tale. Williams then wrapped things up by reading a prepared statement thanking the people in his life. At the end of the list was his wife and producer Imogen Sutton, whom the crowd applauded. Richard then looked toward us all, cupped his hands to his mouth, and said with a kind smile a note of support for all of the animators who had packed the house, and were already beginning the standing ovation: "Good luck!"

Inside the Academy lobby with a Roger Rabbit painting made by Williams.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Official Trailer #2

New Secret Life of Walter Mitty trailer, with some good Patton Oswalt lines. You catch a glimpse of the street surfing sequence I briefly worked on at 2:25:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Interview with Influx Magazine

Recently I was asked by my longtime friend, fellow Vancouver Film School grad, and producer-director-film critic (he does it all, folks) Paul Booth to do an interview with him for the online film site Influx Magazine. I've included a link to the full article at the bottom.

"Josh Lange has worked on some very impressive video games and he’s been part of some amazing studio pictures. For me, it’s Josh’s integrity and consummate professionalism that made him an ideal candidate for this series. Josh also has a respect for movies of the past and present before Star Wars or the prequel trilogy. We live in a time of cinema, where many people don’t respect the past. Josh knows his stuff.

Paul Booth: What films or life event made you want to make movies? Past just loving movies?

Josh Lange: The worlds and characters of the original Star Wars films triggered an intense fascination and passion in me early on when I was a kid. As my connection to those movies evolved, I began to learn about the methods developed by George Lucas and his visual effects crew to make their groundbreaking special effects. Since the visual effects were what really made those movie stand out, I started looking at other filmmakers with high standards for the field, such as Stanley Kubrick. I was also in love with the films of Walt Disney as a kid, and as my interests began bouncing between art, animation, movies, and visual effects, I started making small films and taking film courses through the local community college while I was in high school. Senior year I was officially hooked, and it was only a matter of time before I entered film school."

Link to the full article on Influx

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer now on Blu-Ray/DVD

Today my second feature film, Jack the Giant Slayer, becomes available to purchase as a Blu-Ray/DVD. I encourage families and fans of fantasy stories to pick it up. I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Now at Proof, inc.

Today I begin work as a previs artist at Proof, inc. in Los Angeles. I am very excited at the opportunity to continue working on exciting feature film projects, and I hope that those who read this will go and see the final product once I am able to announce it. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Upcoming "Shifting Mayas" Art Show

For those in the LA area that love art and the artists that make it, I will have all three of my "8 Bit Legends" pieces, framed and for sale, in the "Shifting Mayas" art show next month (Fri/Sat May 10th-11th). It will be held at the Atwater Crossing restaurant and art space in the Los Feliz/Glendale area. It will be much more than a gallery show; there will be live performances and painting, appetizers, and the full dinner menu and bar of the restaurant will be available. I hope to see you there on Friday night (May 10th). Click here for the Facebook Event page, and check out the flyer below for more information:

Monday, April 15, 2013

300 Sketchbook: Top Chef finalists

Brooke Williamson, Sheldon Simeon, and Kristen Kish.

I'm posting this a lot later than I was hoping, but here are the latest trio of portraits from my "300 Heads" sketchbook. The theme was "the last three finalists of Bravo's Top Chef." From left to right are: Brooke WilliamsonSheldon Simeon, and Kristen Kish (who won).
The portraits were drawn first on paper (reproducing photographs from Chelsea SektnanStar Chefs, and Bravo), then scanned and corrected, then digitally painted over in Photoshop. The background colors were chosen based off the colors of competition ribbons.

WIP shots:

Raw drawing.
Adjusted lines in Photoshop with rotate/transform tools.
Overlay comparison between raw lines (blue) and final lines (black).
Final lines, post-adjustment.
Color flats.
As with all reproductions I do of photographs, I hold no copyright on that material. This is a non-commercial fan art piece.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem to Open at Universal Studios, Hollywood in 2014

Well this is nice to hear. The Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride I worked on--which is running now at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL--apparently is planned to open right here in Hollywood for next year. This means I'll be able to see my work as it was intended! Here's the news article, and here are other times I've written about the VES award-winning ride.

Friday, February 22, 2013

New '300 Heads' sketchbook drawings: Rocket Jump

Freddie Wong, Brandon Laatsch, and Brian Firenzi.

More drawings for my “300 Heads” sketchbook. This week it’s the Rocket Jump guys: Freddie Wong, Brandon Laatsch, and Brian Firenzi. Their web series Video Game High School is a must-see.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer press screening

I finally saw Jack the Giant Slayer this week! Reviews are not out yet, so I'll keep my impressions brief and vague, but I was very happy with how the film came together. I had forgotten just how many previs shots I had worked on for it, but it seemed like dozens. Seeing the final versions of the shots that I worked on is still akin to an out-of-body experience, but I'm getting a bit more used to it with this being my second screening.

The performances were terrific, and the costumes and score impressed me a lot. Overall, it's a gorgeous movie to look at, and paced very well, in my opinion. Now that I've seen it, I can wholeheartedly (and honestly) recommend it, especially to those who were already curious about it. It opens in theaters this Friday, the 1st of March. Look for my name in the credits under the 'Previsualization by The Third Floor' section, on the left-hand side (as Joshua Lange). If you're quick enough to take a picture of it with your cameraphone, email it to joshlange at gmail dot com.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Celine Dion on China Central Television for Spring Festival 2013

(starting at 11:22)

This was something I briefly worked on at The Third Floor, inc. the last couple weeks. It was a new concept to work with, and the way the final came out on their LCD stage was impressive.

Back when the Titanic song came out, I remember working in a music store and selling album after album of the soundtrack. At this point, I think I've heard "My Heart Will Go On" over three hundred times. She puts on a great show, though.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

'Jack the Giant Slayer' interviews, images, and videos

The press embargo was lifted for media reporting website Collider and their site features a "slew" of  blog posts covering the upcoming movie Jack the Giant Slayer. I recommend listening to the audio interviews with Bryan Singer and Ewan MacGregor in particular. Both include mentions of how The Third Floor's previs was utilized throughout the production, such as this excerpt from Singer's interview:

[Collider]: Can you talk about the previz, is there a team that does this?  Are you sitting there designing this in the editing room?  Can you take us through how the previz comes together?
SINGER:  It begins with the story board artist, I’ve worked with a couple of artists, Doug Lefler this one guy Doug’s worked with Sam Raimi for years, he’s a really good guy.  We sit down and talk through story points, talk through the scene and he draws pictures and from those pictures, the team at Third Floor which is this previz company, it’s a whole company, I had been working on this and X-Men: First Class at the same time, they do tons of movies, they’re probably one of the top in their field, I’ve known the guy who runs it since the company only had three people so I always go to them.  They take the storyboards and they embellish them to some degree and they craft it into a sequence and I look at the sequence animated and I go, “Ok, that’s too slow, that’s too fast, or can you speed up this?  Lose that shot, give me a better composition.”  And they do performance capture too, when they do their previz, they put on Moven suits, which are basically suits with a very high-grade sophisticated oscillator that you have in your iPhone, like a military grade version, and then they act out the scene.  Do you have another previz you want to show?  Show that.  [Previz clip plays]  So these are all people in Moven suits, that are acting out the scenes, that’s not a cat, the cat is animated, f----g cat.  You have no idea.  The bane of our existence, the cat’s in water and rain, you’re like come on, come on.  Don’t listen to that.  Stick with the action.
Jack comes out March 1st. I'm looking forward to seeing how the previs I worked on comes together in the final movie.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem wins a VES Award

The theme park ride I worked on two years ago, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, won a Visual Effects Society Award last night for 'Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project.' Congratulations to the 'Despicable Me' team at The Third Floor, inc. and to the team at Illumination Entertainment, including award recipients Heather Drummons, Joel Friesch, Troy Griffin, and Chris Hummel. One of these days I'd love to see the ride in person...

Click here for earlier Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem posts.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

2013 Annie Awards

The Annie Awards were held here in town tonight at UCLA. Wreck-It Ralph received Best Animated Feature, and two projects I worked on at The Third Floor also won: The Avengers, for Visual Effects in a Live Action Production (awarded to ILM); and the Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem theme park ride won for Animated Special Production (awarded to Illumination). Congratulations to the people at those companies who saw those projects through to a successful end! It was a lot of fun to be involved with each of them.

Now I've got to start seeing all those great films! Deadline has the full list of Annie winners here.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Star Wars: Episode VII/Star Trek mashup movie posters

I’ve made two new Star Wars Episode 7 mashup movie posters, done in the same spirit as my last Star Wars/Little Miss Sunshine mashup poster. This time they’re a riff off this Star Trek: Into Darkness poster, since that director J.J. Abrams has been announced to also direct Episode 7:
One of the fun things about making Episode 7 fan art is sitting back and coming up with scenarios that might theoretically occur in the new sequels. There are many unanswered questions for them to address, such as which principle characters will drive the plot, which locations will be used, and which “wow” moments will be created. I tried illustrating two very different directions for these mashups, both involving the silhouette of the Rebel Alliance logo replacing the Star Fleet insignia from Star Trek.
For this first poster, I went to the Star Wars canon from the novels, where Luke Skywalker, now a Jedi Master, returns to planet Yavin IV with R2D2 to set up the new Jedi order at the Massassi temple. I’m fairly certain the Jedi order will begin to be remade in Episode 7, and will continue to grow throughout the new trilogy.

The second mashup features an unknown Jedi padawan, surveying a battle-ravaged Coruscant, where massive fleets of Mon Calamari and Imperial Star Destroyers wage war above the planet’s smoking skyline. I have faith that Coruscant will play a big role in the new films, since it was the home base for the Empire before expanding to the Outer Rim in the original trilogy, and the Rebel Alliance cannot rule with confidence unless they control the city planet. Time will tell if any of these ideas are proven correct.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Oscar Nom for The Avengers!

'Marvel's The Avengers' (couldn't leave off the "Marvel's?") was announced today as garnering a Visual Effects nomination at the Oscar site. Exciting! A good number of people across many companies were involved with its visual effects, so I get a kick to think of all the other people out there who are also happy with this news. Although it's probably an underdog against The Hobbit, since WETA and Peter Jackson were 3/3 for Visual Effects Oscars with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Hobbit was nominated in two other categories this year, I'll be crossing my fingers for it on Oscar night.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Star Wars Episode VII Mashup Poster

Here's a mashup poster I made of Star Wars Episode 7 and Little Miss Sunshine, two movies written by screenwriter Michael Arndt. When he was announced as the Episode 7 screenwriter, the poster idea popped into my head and it wouldn't go away.

The moment I tried to capture was the main characters getting ready to hop into the Millenium Falcon and head out into the next movie (of course, the story for Ep VII will most likely not have them all in it, but I picked them in the absence of any real story details). I wanted to stay as true to the iconic LMS poster as I could, and adjusted the Millienium Falcon's dimensions to better match the VW van. Picking which character would replace which was fun, and certain subtleties were serendipitous, like the similarity of vests between the characters of Alan Arkin and Harrison Ford. Although I included official logos and crew names at the bottom for a more realistic touch, this is of course just fan art and was not made for commercial purposes.

Shout-out to the guys at 8-Bit Cubist for their helpful feedback as I worked on it.
For those who dig it, here are some desktop background versions:
1680 x 1050 (widescreen)
1600 x 1200

For those who liked it, be sure to also check out my Boba Fett Episode VII Facebook cover photo.