July 2007

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07/29/07       A fantastic new article was recently printed in the July issue of Markee magazine.  They sat down with outlander’s editor – David Dodson – to have a chat about why he made the switch to editing feature films in High Definition.  It’s an interesting read if not somewhat technical.  Also he confirms that Outlander boasts more than 500 effects shots and that the visual effects “reshoots” were in fact pick-ups – that is, an extra underwater sequence not filmed previously.  Read the article here or here.

         “It's a $50 million movie that looks like a $100 million movie,” says Dodson.  “With 500 VFX shots and the pace of production I felt it was essential to have the most information possible in the off-line,” he explains. VFX house Spin, in Toronto and Vancouver, “would send us QuickTimes of VFX shots in progress. We couldn't afford to film them out and evaluate them on a daily basis, and it was pretty clear that SD would slow us to a crawl: There was no way to really understand what we were seeing. So I petitioned to off-line in HD.  When you're dealing with a lot of very emotional moments with great actors being able to see them better and read the subtleties of their performance gives me an advantage in any scene I'm cutting,” he reports. “I'll never go back to cutting off-line in SD.”



07/28/07       Status Update: 

The IMDB has updated the status of Outlander to “Completed.”  It’s really hard to say how accurate this is as barely a week ago Spinpro was still advertising positions to work on outlander.  It could be that the cut of the film is now locked down and that the effects are still being worked on, but we’ll wait and see.  Well keep out eyes open and let you know of any developments here.

With that said, we’ve also added a few more names to the crew page.  Marco Cantaluppi is a Compositor working at Spinwest in Vancouver.  You can see his demo reel at his website here. 

More curious is the listing of Peter Hartwig as cg supervisor at Duckling Visual Effects.  Most likely to get the movie done on time various effect shots were contracted out to different CG studios around the globe.  This is common practice on big summer blockbusters like Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean.  So to help save time it’s possible that the production approached the Denmark company to complete some of Outlander’s reported 580 visual effects shots (though we’ve also heard numbers ranging from the still impressive 300 to 480 range as well).



07/27/07       MovieScope Magazine finally updated their site with their interview with Don Carmody.   Back in October they interviewed him in Newfoundland.  The article originally appeared in the November 2006 issue of the magazine.  You can read the whole article here.

         Q: When you read a script for the first time, what are the elements you’re looking for?

         A: Personally, it all starts with “Is this a movie that I’d want to see?” The only time I sort of break that rule is when I’m doing horror movies because I actually don’t like to watch them. They scare me. But with other movies, it’s like, “Hey, I’d like to see that, that is really cool.” When I first read Outlander, I thought, “Now this is a movie I’d pay ten bucks to see.” It basically goes from there. And then it’s about getting the script into a shape that rings true to me, because invariably there are always problems with dialogue or a character’s motivation. I always ask, “Does it all ring true?” And again, that’s entirely subjective because the writer that wrote it clearly thought everything worked. I, as a producer, try to have a broader based knowledge of it—but do I have a better sense of how an audience might feel about it? So far I’ve been pretty good in that regard, since most of the movies I’ve produced have been quite popular.



07/20/07       We’ve also gone and added more names to the Crew  page again.  Some of the names are various people working on the computer generated effects. One is some kind of film editor who apparently consulted on the film.  One of the digital artists is Arturo Revilla who’s position as a matchmove artist at spin productions means he’s responsible for tracking the camera to use it to set up the shots within the environment created for animation.  For some examples of this kind of work, check out the samples on Arturro’s website here. 



07/19/07       We’ve finally gotten around to adding a backlog of photos to our galleries.  In the various galleries we’ve added more than thirty pictures of extras and of the Viking village.  Also,  Warren – who has a number of times contributed photos for the site – managed to get for us another picture from the Newfoundland shoot.  So thanks goes out to Warren for the photo seen below which can now be found in our Newfoundland on set gallery.  Many of the extras endured cold soggy days on set yet many who stuck it out enjoyed themselves none the less. 



07/16/07       A curious bit popped up on the Outlander IMDB page recently.  Under filming locations, they list Mardalsfossen, Norway.   Mardalsfossen is apparently one of the ten tallest waterfalls in Europe.    In all likelyhood, the filming done in Norway is aerial establishing shots.  Many films use a similar technique when filming a movie set – for example – in New York in Los Angeles.   Individual scenes are doctored to look like New York streets but any time they cut away to a cityline they’ll use actual footage shot by a second or third unit actually in new York.   Much of the scenery filmed in and around Lark Harbour in Newfoundland remarkably resembles the scenery In and around Mardalsfosen so It’s quite likely that is the intent here as the movie is set in Norway around the beginning of the Eighth century A.D.  

Interestingly, a number of aerial shots were supposed to have been shot In Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland as well.  Below, the first two shots are from Newfoundland in Lark Harbour and Gros Morne.  The second two are in and around  Mardalsfossen, Norway. 

Also, we’ve updated our shooting locations gallery to reflect the new info.  100_1629

400px-Mardalsfossen_Waterfall_Norway_2004  norway


07/12/07       A little while ago we reported on some visual effects work being shot on stage in California for Outlander during may and the first week of June.  About all we know about the reshoots are that they involve pyrotechnics, and submerging a replica of part of a spaceship into a large tank to film underwater scenes.   It’s a little confusing because this stuff doesn’t sound like stuff that was planned for the shoot in eastern Canada to start with.  It’s quite possible they watched the rough cut and decided it would be a great Idea to spice up the movie with more explosions and effects work.

Interestingly it now also appears that Kainan (Jim Caviezel) was called back to shoot some of these scenes as well.  Jim is in Italy right now attending the Giffoni film festival. Our Italian is pretty rough, but here’s the quote from a press release about the event that you can find in its entirety here:

         L'attore, 39 anni, già protagonista di "The passion" di Mel Gibson, ha da poco finito le riprese di "The Outlander", il film di Howard McCain che, mescolando storia, leggenda e fantascienza, racconta la caduta sulla terra, in Norvegia, al tempo dei vichinghi, di un alieno insieme a un mostro che, come lui, viene dal futuro.

The closest English translation we came up with is “The actor, 39 years old, previously the protagonist of Mel Gibson’s “The passion”, has recently ended the resumptions of “Outlander”, the Howard McCain film, mixing history, legend and science fiction, that tells of the fall to earth, in Norway, in time of the Vikings, of an alien and a monster that, like he, comes from the future.”    

Admittedly we’ve heard the future stuff before a few times but rest assured Kainan and the Moorwen are from another planet, not from another time.  Still it would seem that they’re suggesting Caviezel recently finished reshoots which would fit into the timeline of the Visual Effects reshoots we had heard about before.  Interesting…

If you can shed some light on this for us, or are simply better at Italian than us, then by all means drop us a line at



07/10/07       The Case of the Evolving Teaser Trailer

One confounding detail – at least until three days ago – regarding a credit at the IMDB Outlander page was that of Dennis McHugh.  He’s listed as “visual effects director of photography: teaser only.”  What exactly that means is more clear when we are already familiar with the Teaser in question and notice that parts of it also appear in his showreel on his website. 

With that in mind, we were able to go back and improve our custom cut of the Teaser to clear up some  more of the dark and murky video from the Sound Design build. Plus, we cropped out the black bars so that they’re added by your software now, which improves the effectiveness of the bitrate, resulting in a better picture quality for the same file size.    The same links have been updated for the new version too but you can download the latest version HERE as well.  (Note: Right-Click the link and choose save-as from the menu)

Click HERE to Download the Outlander Teaser (16.4Mb DivX - AVI extension)


07/09/07       Some interesting developments regarding the Teaser we reported on in the last update.  We came across another trimed version of the same trailer that had exceptionally greater video quality but lacked any sound whatsoever.  And for kickers, the thing has apparently been online since 2005. 

It most likely was developed at the same time Ninthray Studios was doing all the concept art, animatics, and storyboards for the film.  If you’ll recall - in the UGO interview - Director Howard McCain, said “Last summer, right before the New Zealand thing collapsed, we hired them and spent about ten weeks just doing concept artwork and storyboarding for the entire movie and we did animatics for it, and everything. We did characters, props, buildings, everything. It was an amazing film, an amazingly expensive one.” 

Animatics are essentially a way of running through the entire film in rough 3D animation to get a feel for how a film will play out.  This Teaser apparently dates to about that time, though it’s hard to say what their intent was had production not been delayed for a year and a half, and then shifted continents.

You can watch the soundless quicktime file HERE.  Or, someone put in some extra effort to bring us another version of this:  Essentially it swaps out the middle portion of video from the sound design version for the new higher quality video.  But you may have noticed that the sound design version had uncompressed PCM stereo surround audio at 48000kHz.   That means that most of the video’s 33MB file size was actually the audio.    You can download the custom version HERE which clocks in around 14.5MB using mp3 technology for the audio track.  If you have trouble playing the videos you may need the latest divx codec which you can get here.



07/07/07       Theatrical Trailer Soon?

That’s the question we’d all love answered.  Two weeks ago David Kitchen described the post-production CG work on Outlander as having entered “crunch time.”  If this is any indication that things are on track, you can be certain the pressure is mounting to have the film ready by fall.  In an earlier interview, executive producer Don Carmody mentioned that they were hoping to release the film in October of this year.  If that’s the case it only makes sense that Ascendant Pictures would try and have a theatrical trailer ready for the big summer blockbuster season. 

With that in mind, we recently came across the website of a Jared Neal who lists himself as Sound Designer for the Outlander theatrical trailer…  And what’s more, he has a teaser of sorts up on his site for the movie.   It doesn’t appear to be the actual Trailer almost certainly contains temporary and unfinished footage.  He describes it as a “sound design build” so the actual images are likely not final.  Despite the crappy quality of the video compression, the clip looks neat and sounds  great.  Check out the clip HERE! (Note: right-click and save-as)

         There is a legend 1500 years old.  It tells of a battle fought between the greatest warriors of the age: the Vikings and an evil so powerful it threatened to destroy them all.  It came upon them in the shape of a demon that fell from the stars.  Outlander - Sometimes the legends are true.

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