Spotlight : April 1996

A Twister Runs Through It

May is upon us, and that means one thing: big summer movies are here. Arriving on May 10 to a theatre near you is Warner Bros.' TWISTER, the big-budgeted action film about tornadoes, directed by Jan De Bont. The film stars Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton, and features cinematography by both Jack N. Green (UNFORGIVEN), and Don Burgess (FORREST GUMP). Burgess signed on originally to shoot TWISTER, but ran into 'personality problems' with director De Bont. Apparently, Burgess and his crew became fed up with De Bont's sometimes dangerous requests to shoot actual tornadoes. Midway through shooting, Burgess and the entire camera and lighting crew walked out... and Green stepped in. De Bont was the director of SPEED and the cinematographer of such beautifully shot films as THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, DIE HARD and LETHAL WEAPON 3.

Industrial Light and Magic handled the visual effects for TWISTER, and the shots that appear in advance trailers and commercials look fantastic. The now famous 'JUMANJI-problem' (a lack of contrast in composited 3D animation elements) seems to be a thing of the past for ILM. Perhaps the compositing crews and the CGI crews worked together on this one... The film looks like a sure blockbuster, and another success for ILM.

Studio Shakeups

There have been a few major shakeups in the effects industry over the past few weeks. DreamWorks SKG, the 'studio' built by Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen, have entered into a new partnership with Pacific Data Images; their first project together will be a computer animated full-length motion picture. Oh, by the way, DreamWorks also aquired 40% of PDI. Does this mean that PDI will no longer create effects for films, and concentrate on CG animation, much like Pixar? Only time will tell. PDI also just completed a major move into a larger facility in Palo Alto, California.

Also, Disney just bought out Dream Quest Images, the house responsible for effects in such films as CRIMSON TIDE and TOTAL RECALL. Because of this big purchase, Disney is dissolving Buena Vista Visual Effects, the short-lived effects company that worked on THE SANTA CLAUSE, among other films. BVVE's final film will be John Carpenter's ESCAPE FROM L.A., coming this summer.

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