Digital madness: Contagious?

Really interesting front-page Variety article today about how an increasing reliance on CGI is straining studio tentpole movie production schedules:

The kind of sturm and drang that’s swirled around “Green Lantern” is actually par for the course on most visual effects-heavy tentpoles these days — and the problem’s growing.¬†Such pics now routinely fit the description of a “troubled” project, with “troubled” the new normal.

Traditionally, big studio movies never miss their release dates. This is different from the videogame industry, where high-profile AAA titles, under pressure to raise the bar technologically as well as artistically, can be granted extra months or even years if the publisher feels it’s worth it.

Game makers have long admired Big Filmmaking’s ability to meet schedules no matter what. But with the shift to digital, film post-production is acquiring the atmosphere of a “normal” game studio at crunch time:

[Studio] management practices are still catching up to the reality of tentpole production, where effects have to be built before the picture is tested, then vfx have to be added and/or changed as the picture comes together and in response to audience testing, all while marketing demands shots for the campaign.

All of Hollywood seems to be still figuring this out, and as a result, the tentpole pattern is now well established:

  • A movie demands you’ve-never-seen-this-before visual effects both for marketing and story;
  • Ambitious plans and a short schedule leave little margin for error;
  • Inevitable schedule problems trigger urgent meetings among studio execs, vendors and filmmakers to get the project back on track;
  • “911” emergency calls go out to almost any vfx shop in the world that can take on some last-minute work;
  • Everyone runs a harrowing race to deadline despite all the extra help.

Collapse, rest, repeat.

As a videogame maker, I always assumed we were just crazy to begin with. But is the madness in the craftsman, or his tools?

Posted on Apr 26, 2011 in Blog, Film, Games, Making Games | 2 comments

2 Add a Comment
Share this post:

On a plane

This was today, JFK to Burbank.

Posted on Apr 22, 2011 in Blog, Sketchbook | 0 comments

0 Add a Comment
Share this post:

Moving Pixels Rewinds Time

Moving Pixels at PopMatters have posted a great hourlong podcast all about playing (and replaying)¬†The Last Express: “Playing on trains and playing with time.”

You can download it from their blog, or hear it here:

Posted on Apr 11, 2011 in Blog, Games, Last Express | 0 comments

Designer coffee queue

Sunday morning in Silverlake. Gotta sketch them fast cause the line moves pretty quick.

Posted on Apr 7, 2011 in Blog, Sketchbook | 1 comment

1 Add a Comment
Share this post:

Electronic Arts submission letter

Been finding all kinds of cool stuff in my garage archives, which my assistant Aaron is helping me finally get organized, digitized and 21st century-compatible.

Like this submission form I filled out to submit my game Karateka to Electronic Arts back in 1984, when I was a junior at Yale.

I’d almost forgotten I’d sent Karateka to EA as well as Broderbund. It boggles my mind to think of the ways my life might have been different if they’d said yes.

Posted on Apr 4, 2011 in Blog, Games, Karateka, Old School | 4 comments

4 Add a Comment
Share this post:

At Musso & Frank’s

Posted on Mar 27, 2011 in Blog, Sketchbook | 0 comments

0 Add a Comment
Share this post: