01/31/07 Buy a Part of the Action!
Apparently, with the movie finished filming, a number of costumes and armor pieces from the film are up for sale. Check out Valentine Armouries where apparently you can purchase various pieces for your own collection. Valentine Armouries was responsible for making all the metal scale armour, chainmail armour, helmets, swords, and even the HALGA sword hilt was sculpted by them.
They kindly also let us use their photos for our galleries and you can find the new page here. You can get a good look at a number of these pieces and the detail and craftsmanship that went into them.
01/30/07 ***A bit of a Heads Up***
Tonight’s episode of CTV’s Etalk is supposed to air a segment on Outlander. For all of you that are in Canada you should be able to watch it on your local CTV affiliate around 7:00 PM. Alternately you should also be able to watch the episode after it’s air time online here though you may also have to be in Canada to view it. If you happen to not be able to watch it, we’ll try and find a solution for you.
Also we’ve added a few more pictures to the Cast page.
UPDATE: While we didn’t catch the entire episode of Etalk on air, it doesn’t seem like tonight was the night for an Outlander clip at all, so our source may have been mistaken. As well, there isn’t anything in todays episode online about Outlander. However, the show does advertise stories that will play “later in the week” so keep your eyes peeled as the clip may show up sometime before Friday still.
01/28/07 Todays minor updates include half a dozen or so credits in the Crew section. One of the additions is David M. Breaux Jr. who is listed as lead animator. He joins some of the other talented artist on the film such as lead character animator Scott Johnston, animator Tal peleg, texture artists Sherri Rogers and Bo Mosley as well as numerous other talented artists. You can find David Breaux’s portfolio webpage Here. He has a demo reel so you can check out some of the other work he’s done on films such as the Garfield movies and The Chronicles of Narnia: The lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Here.
01/26/07 Not a lot to report today. Though considering principal photography for Outlander has wrapped, it’s not surprising that some of the stars have headed to warmer climates. Jim Caviezel, who plays Kainan – the alien that crashlands in Viking times on Earth – in Outlander, was recently in Australia to promote his film Déjà Vu. We wouldn’t have refused that promotional tour either after spending 3 months of winter in Halifax. You can find an interview he did there here.
Mostly since the last updates we’ve managed some general site maintenance and additions that most people will (hopefully) never notice. A few things to keep your eyes on: If you hear about who is going to score Outlander, or see any promotional material - either online or in print – including posters or movie trailers, please let us know using the Email link at the bottom of the main page (this one).
01/24/07 Apparently Sci-fi channel recently aired a film called 'Grendel' which they deem a "Re-imagining" of the Beowulf poem. From what we've read it sounds like a rush project to capitalize on the current Hollywood Viking fever. We’re not entirely disappointed we missed it as it sounds pretty awful. Take a look at this review: http://foywonder.livejournal.com/70769.html.
“To sum it up: dopey interpretation of a classic tale presented way too seriously, lead actor with a monotone voice playing a poorly realized hero, and monster action that's pretty much devoid of thrill or chills. Overall, I never felt bored, but I wasn't all that entertained either. I suppose the film could make for an acceptable time waster, though surely you can find better ways to waste that time. GRENDEL’s a film that doesn't earn any praise nor does it deserve copious amounts of scorn. Mockery, on the other hand, that it most definitely deserves. BEOWULF may be an epic poem, but the Sci-Fi Channel's GRENDEL is epic hokum.”
I just hope these cheap "because everyone else is doing it" cash-ins don't spoil the general populations mood for viking period pieces.
Pathfinder looks to be kind of silly as well. Yes, Vikings did come to North America around 1000 A.D. and that could have been an interesting story but this movie opts to go a more fictional route making the Vikings out to be menacing conquerors. It seems that it’s headed to theaters sometime in April. Aint-it-cool-news has some early reviews in which they pan it fairly evenly across the board. At least, despite being historical nonsense, it has a neat look to it. Watch the trailer and judge for yourself: http://www.pathfinderthemovie.com/
More promising are the animated Beowulf movie from Robert Zemeckis, using the style of animation in The Polar Express, and Outlander, of course. Feel free to discuss any Viking movies here.
01/22/07 As we browse the internet for new info on Outlander, a few things bothered us. Mainly it was all the fuss over the video footage of the Moorwen maquette. It isn’t that the footage isn’t neat. But the way it’s touted as the “first look” at the creature is somewhat irksome.
To start with, though there isn’t a 3d maquette present, back in the beginning of December the space channel aired a featurette on Outlander and they also interviewed Patrick Tatopoulos… a full month before the G4 video. In the space channel segment, Patrick points to the same piece of concept art featured in the G4 video as well as a revised one that the maquette is based on. He touches on almost all the same points as the G4 video but is actually more specific in some cases. In both videos he mentions refinements that have happened to the design since.
He's bioluminescent, so when he's in the woods hunting at night, you can't see him unless he wants to be seen. In this world, first of all, the Vikings have no street lights or anything, so whatever is there is the only available light at night, the torches. It's not like Predator. It's not see-through or anything, it simply uses light to lure its prey and what Patrick came up with is pretty cool.
In yesterdays interview with Tal Peleg, an animator working on putting Patrick’s designs on screen, Tal assured us that Outlander still has aces up it’s sleeves regarding the creature. In his words “all the special info is heavily clouded,” and we “will be blown away once [we] see it in the movies.”
Interestingly the maquette is almost as old as the original concept drawings. Tully Summers is a sculptor who works at Tatopoulos studios. According to his résumé he was working on this particular maquette back in 2000 – nearly 7 years ago. Tully is a talented artist in his own right and you can see samples of his work on his web site here though the site itself hasn’t been updated in a while.
Hopefully we can put to rest any fears that this stuff has spoiled the experience of seeing the Moorwen for the first time on the big screen. It looks to be pretty exciting and we at outlander.solsector.net can’t wait.
01/21/07 Outlander.solsector.net Exclusive Interview!
With Outlander having finished principal photography, outlander.solsector.net decided to sit down (figuratively via e-mail) with Tal Peleg, one of the animators working on the computer generated creature effects for the Moorwen. Obviously contractual agreements means he can’t reveal many details about the creature itself but I’m sure you will all find what he had to say insightful and interesting. Often the work of individual animators gets overshadowed by the principal actors, directors, and screenwriters so we were only too happy to help provide some insight into the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. As background, and for insight into the process of creating the Moorwen, we also highly recommend you - the reader – visit his web site and have a look at the Minotaur samples. We’ve also filed this article in the press articles section for future reference.
OSN: How did you become invloved with the production as animator? What special skills do you bring to the table that will help make Outlander a success?
Tal Peleg: Prior to Outlander, David Kuklish (Visual Effects Supervisor) and I carry years of collaborative expertise on past comparable CG shows. Our latest major project was involving a very similar idea of a CG built character and overall concept; the LGF feature, Minotaur. As an animation director, developing the creature closely with Jonathan English (Dir.), and the VFX supervisor, while being one of the only creature animators on the show, I was able to acquire a great deal of both managerial and artistic experience under heavily pressured schedule. The visual effects on Minotaur were carried out by a small team in Double Edge Digital, on an incredibly low budget. As a result, towards the end of the animation work I started compositing shots, extending my coordination with the rest of the CG departments such as compositors, texture artists and lighters. Additionally, I am a self taught animator and a painter. As far as my memory can stretch back, I was passionately painting and animating to a wide varieties of comic books, cartoons and motion pictures heroes. As a child, one of my all-time favorite inspiration bomb cartoons was what is known as La Linea. It was so simple and entertaining that I started animating stick figures on notebooks and thick school books for years to come. Interestingly enough, it actually helped me build strong foundations of timing in animation. Although I had a good natural starting point, constant practicing was always half the job to reach the higher ground of professionalism. Ultimately, my portfolio and professional background have pleased Howard, which ensured me a spot in Outlander as one of the earliest key animators on the film. Of course past the film's release, I plan on following the theme of Minotaur in my site and reveal some of my personal animation work of the Moorwen, but this time with a substantial increase in animation detail, length and character.
OSN: Your work on Minotaur looked very good in the samples on your website. How are you finding the work on Outlander compares in complexity? What all is involved in modeling and rendering each given scene?
Tal Peleg: Thank you for the compliments. Surprisingly, the Moorwen's animation wasn't more complex than that of the Minotaur. In fact, due to striking resemblances in style and physique, we were able to mimic the fundamentals of the R&D of Minotaur onto the Moorwen temp-basic build with few modifications, and skip right into the pre-visualizations phase. This has been a major help. However, Outlander is a heavy duty CG work. The main difference in the shows was the overwhelming amount of CG shots in Outlander as a whole, which required a much larger library of animations and consistency in triple the sequences. In "Ask the dust" (2006), for instance, I worked long months with a team on a mere handful of shots. We had to track in a photo-real matte paintings of an authentic detailed neighborhood in Hollywood that was originally a 3D render with matched lighting settings (which is by itself an incredible amount of work), as well as track in bridges, street lights, tons of electric wires, trains, cars, birds, and even CG people, all while the original shoot was an unstable camera without any blue screens. That is an example of how complex shots can get. Additionally, the Minotaur itself is a far cry simpler creature than the Moorwen. While the Minotaur was overall a basic beast with relatively limited features, the Moorwen carries lots of distinctive attributes that require extreme detail work on many levels, aside from animation. It's a really cool looking creature, people will love its innovative concept (it can easily make a unique action figure). If you had the Minotaur and the Moorwen's clay work side by side on a turn table, you wouldn't be able to tell what's more sophisticated, as they are both super-terrifying and amazingly designed. But once they are fully textured and shaded it's a different story. I have already seen images and video footage of the Moorwen floating around the net, mostly official presentations of the Tatopoulos Studios, where you can see the entire creature from head to toe, but (gladly) all the special info is heavily clouded. I think people will be blown away once they see it in the movies.
OSN: Every film has it's own challenges. What in particular would you point out as having needed particular attention?
Tal Peleg: When David first introduced me to Outlander's screenplay, storyboards and the animatics in late 2005, he pointed out something extremely challenging with the implementation of the final look of the Moorwen. Typically there are lots of challenges involved in a Sci-Fi movie, but this particular one is undoubtedly the biggest challenge of the entire visual effects production. It's not the usual required blue screen dust puffs or puddle splashes that are later composited in accordance with the creature. It's something different, way more interactive and sophisticated. You'll have to wait and see.
As far as animation, the thing that required thorough attention was the development of the creature before and during the shootings. The creation of animation indexes was as important as hitting the pre-visualization deadlines. Building solid characteristics in advance, isn't only essential contractually, but is highly beneficial in the long run for the post production work; to me, the most imminent benefit is the practice. Animators gain good practice by using the rig and building animation, which leads to feedback with the rigging team. Eventually, it narrows down to an approved core look, that can be imported or referenced, and in rare cases it can even be used as a platform for further animation evolvement. Most importantly, having assets of animations approved and ready to import into a scene (like on Minotaur), cuts the work into half the time. Due to the weight of shots in Outlander, this has been one of the top crucial challenges.
OSN: It's our understanding that shooting has wrapped on Ourlander and that SPIN productions has been working hard on the Computer effects since October? Can you comment on the level of work done and how much work there lies ahead before it can be considered complete?
Tal Peleg: Spin Productions has already shifted gears into post production. I cannot comment on when the project will be completed, but I will say that the level of work has been significantly ramping up since October. There is an incredible amount of technical animation, scripts, particles, shading and lighting, tons of compositing and matte paintings. A lot to look forward to.
OSN: Thank you very much for your time
01/20/07 We apologize for the length of time between the last update, though we hope to have lots of exciting things for you in the near future. Some of the minor updates since the last time include adding an IMDB link and character name to the Cast page, half a dozen new entries to the Crew page and a couple of new photos.
One of the new crew links is for a Paul Jones who apparently worked on Kainan’s space age battle armor, which we’ve heard described as a “skin tight crotch and butt highlighting… wetsuit that isn't wet, and is in fact tricked out to look like a space battle suit.” It seems like the outside is covered in some kind of armor panels as it is also describes as a “hard plastic suit” that is apparently really uncomfortable to wear. Well, through the magic of the movies we’re confident it will look a lot more cool than it was comfortable to wear.
Paul Jones Effects Studio’s web site can be found here. There you can see some of his other work on films such as Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Silent Hill.
01/16/07 We’ve done a little minor tweaking since the last update. One of the changes highlights why IMDB entries can’t always be relied on at face value. Part of the problem is the submissions process. While IMDB entries are no doubt accurate for most films, movies still in production are a different matter. In fact, despite being accurate and documented, various ones of our own submissions were ignored. In other instances, there is one actress (as of this writing) listed twice and other actors and actresses linked to new IMDB pages despite they’re already having one under a slightly different name. Case in point: Outlander lists Tony Ianni as the Art director and indeed he is but his IMDB page is actually under Anthony Ianni. Our crew page has been updated to reflect this. For a while Elizabeth Guildford was listed twice under Production management with one of the entries being a typo, though it took over a month for anyone to delete the erroneous entry from the IMDB page whereas it was obvious to us there was no need to include the second entry. To some degree our cast and crew pages still reflect the IMDB pages so keep in mind that some of the info is subject to change as we get more accurate reports.
Also, we asked a friend of ours who reviews music which websites are the best to watch for announcements about upcoming movie musical scores. He suggested we keep our eye on Sountrack.net.
01/14/07 You may have already heard about the French actress Drakaina who got a role as an extra in Outlander shortly after coming to Canada. Well, she kindly dropped us a line to let us know about a gallery she has up of photos from the set. We would also like to thank her for letting us use them in our own galleries. As well she also had some kind words to pass on about her co-star Jack Huston:
“One thing I may add is that everyone is raving about James [caviezel], who is indeed a great and sweet actor, buck Jack… is a very nice guy and very funny too!! He is just a young actor trying to make the best out of his career, and once again he is a very funny guy and I really enjoyed working with him too. He likes what he does and is really trying his best.”
01/13/07 Minor updates: We’ve added at least 8 new entries to the Crew and Cast pages. Some of these are visual effects people working on Outlander at Spin Productions. Almost all the shots of the Moorwen will be computer generated, and other scenes, like in the Viking village exteriors, there will be computer enhancements. This is what executive producer Don Carmody had to say - in an interview - about choosing the village’s location:
“This was actually the first location we looked at in Nova Scotia. We actually went all over looking for other locations but ended up back here. This spot is a natural valley, it’s surrounded by trees and has water nearby. The clean tree line will allow us to add some mountains in the background.”
01/11/07 We recently heard of Mondolithic Studios and their involvement with the Outlander production. Mondolithic is a Vancouver based virtual design and illustration studio run by Kenn Brown and Chris Wren. They are responsible for some very interesting computer based art work, and their work has even appeared on the cover of magazines such as Wired and Scientific American. Their company site seems to have gone through a redesign and is somewhat incomplete, but they also run a blog and posted the following on November 21st:
We have just finished our first round of development work for the upcoming Sci-fi epic ‘OUTLANDER’ that is currently in production up here in Canada… Chris had an excellent first meeting yesterday in which he presented the first round of designs, which were very well recieved and has set a real positive tone for the next couple of weeks of development.
We’ve been speculating about what this means. The first thing suggested was that they are doing poster artwork and was referring to a meeting in which they presented the initial concepts. The kicker here is the date. November 21 is well after shooting started, in fact it’s closer to halfway through the production. Is this related to any other kind of promotional material? Any Ideas?
01/10/07 Today we have something a lot more exciting than the G4 video of the last update. It seems Monday was a busy day for Outlander on TV. MTV Canada aired a 5 minute feature on Outlander. They talk to the director as well as the Lead actors. Making comments are Howard McCain, Jim Caviezel, Jack Huston, John Hurt, and Sophia Myles. Plus we get to see quite a bit of the “Shield Dance” scene that involves a lot of wire work. What’s that, you ask? You’ll have to watch the video and find out! On their site, scroll down to “Browse all shows” and then find MTVe2 in the list. It’s the January 8th episode. Or watch it here.
01/08/07 G4TV has a neat clip up on their site. They visited Patrick Tatopoulos at his studio and talked to him about the Moorwen creature design. There really isn’t much new info there (in fact maybe less about the actual creature than the Hypaspace clip, or the director interview) but the clip does feature a really neat (life-size?) mock-up of the Moorwen that will give you a good idea of what kind of presence the creature will have on film. You can watch the clip at G4 here. Hopefully this link here will take you to the higher res version but the site is giving us grief at the moment.
01/06/07 For those of you following the dealings with ACTRA, we have a slight clarification today. In a press release dated January 3, they stated that unless a deal is hammered out this weekend, they are taking strike action starting Monday at midnight. However, they add that “The many producers who have signed continuation letters with ACTRA will not be involved in this action.” According to Halifax’s The Coast, this includes the producers of outlander. Gary Vermeir, representative of Halifax’s ACTRA branch, said “"If a producer signs it will enable him to continue shooting, to basically get around a work stoppage, and it involves a small increase of fees,"
You might ask “how does this affect Outlander if – as far as we can tell – Principle photography is pretty much complete?” Well, an actor or actress who needs to re-dub lines in studio will still be under ACTRA. Any reshoots involving ACTRA performers are under contract. If they have to do some ADR, for example, for a slight increase in their normal fee they can come to work without hesitation or hindrance.
01/05/07 ALL DONE?
The best we can gather principle photography wraps up today. Despite one or two reports suggesting that shooting continues until the end of the month it seem that today is the day. So Outlander reaches a milestone with (hopefully) all the required footage being shot. As production moves out of the soundstages and onto various editing software and PCs, spin productions are hard at work generating the CGI creature effect. Some other tasks to be completed on outlander aside from editing and Computer effects are various sound design issues, somewhere someone is contemplating what kind of sounds a Moorwen makes. Plus, there may be dialogue that was hard to record on set. So some actors might be brought back for some ADR work. And we also don’t have word yet on who the contenders are to write and record the score for Outlander.
In the mean time I’m sure the cast are having a drink to celebrate right now and are then heading home for some much deserved rest.
As far as site related news is concerned, We’ve added a page to the discuss link to better guide you to the various discussions at Crius.net that might be of interest to Outlander fans. For example We’ve moved a sideways discussion about other Viking movies you might be interested in taking a look at in anticipation of Outlander to it’s own thread. So if you have a comment to make, another movie suggestion, or want to post a review of your own (even if someone else has already) you can do that here.
We’ve also slightly revamped the Archive page to accommodate future growth and ease of navigation, and re-written the brief plot synopsis at the top of the page.
01/04/07 The more we look into the effort that the set and costume designers put into detailing the world of Outlander, the more we’re impressed. Iron Raven Metalwork was also asked to supply forged and fabricated pieces for the village set. Aside from the pieces The Wareham Forge made, apparently even more blacksmiths were required to complete all the work on time.
A number of other expert craftsmen were employed on the film. As we previously reported, a number of wood pieces were made as well as costumes, weapons, and armor –including chainmail and various leather pieces. A lot of effort was put in to make the pieces authentic to the period, and finely detailed. Hopefully, this neat touches, like runes etched into leather armor, or scrollwork on metal pot stands will give the film a wonderful texture, even if the camera never focuses on them very long.
01/02/07 We previously reported on how The Schmitthenner Armory was contacted to make a number of pieces of leather armor for Outlander. More was needed though, and Adam Smith, who is based in Ontario, was asked to make a number of custom pieces for the film as well. Adam has worked on a number of movies and you can see his craftsmanship in such recent films as Resident Evil: Apocalypse. You can find out more about his work at his websites here http://home.ica.net/~spike/sword/film/index.html
and here: http://home.ica.net/~spike/sword/
Another area of filmmaking that requires careful attention is cinematography. But along with a talented cinematographer like Pierre Gill you need talented camera operators. Steadicams allow a certain freedom of movement. As such, François Perrier, who has worked with Gill before was chosen for his almost 20 years of experience in the Job. You can see samples of his work on his website here: http://www.steadiman.nl/. Here’s a bit about what he had to say about being a steadicam operator:
“I refer very often to the steadicam as the 3rd person point of view that brings a scene into motion. By his choreographic movement it can unite actors and the set into one continuing shot. One shot that tells everything! This is what steadicam is all about.”
A few other minor site updates to mention: First, we added 3 more entries to the Crew page. Second, we revamped the Links page slightly and added a few more links there as well. The links page was a bit disorganized so hopefully the new layout clears things up a little. Also, If you have a page we should know about, drop us a line by clicking the email link at the bottom of this page.