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Academy Explores “The Development of the Digital Animator” On May 21

Computer-generated motion picture animation from “Vertigo” to “Toy Story” to the 3D spectacles of today will be explored during “The Development of the Digital Animator,” the latest installment of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Marc Davis Celebration of Animation, on Monday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Several pioneers of digital animation will revisit the long path from laboratory to cineplex during a panel moderated by animator and historian Tom Sito.

When “Toy Story” burst onto the scene in 1995, computer-generated imagery was, for many, a bold new technique in animation. However, its lengthy and meticulous development can be traced back to its first public exposure with the mesmerizing title sequence for “Vertigo” (1958). Of equal importance to the technical developments were the influential animators and designers who devised artistic uses for engineering advances.

Scheduled panelists include:

Rebecca Allen, an experimental filmmaker
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Radio City unwraps new Christmas film

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular in New York has a new version of the 70mm 3-D film that has opened the show since 2001.

Synthespian Studios produced about 47 seconds of new material, and some of the original sequence was enhanced. The new film begins with Santa and his reindeer bursting out of the clouds on a journey that leads to Niagara Falls before swooping down the Hudson River and under the George Washington Bridge to link with the old version at the Statue of Liberty.

Synthespian's Jeff Kleiser and Diana Walczak -- who also created the 2001 version -- directed, working closely with the show's director-choreographer Linda Haberman.

Kleiser -- whose visual effects credits include "Tron" -- noted that the 3-D is presented using 70mm film in order to accommodate the large screen at Radio City, which is 70 feet wide and 30 feet high.

Kleiser and Walczak are developing a 3-D feature based on "Corkscrew Hill", an animated 3-D theme park ride located at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia.

Busch ride wends way to film

Busch ride wends way to film
Plans are in the works for Corkscrew Hill, an animated 3-D stereoscopic theme park ride at Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg, Va., to become the basis of a 3-D CG feature film.

Visual effects innovators Jeff Kleiser and Diana Walczak -- who wrote and directed the ride for Busch Entertainment -- have taken the ride idea and extended it to a developed feature-length script. Plans would call for Kleiser and Walczak's Synthespian Studios to produce in partnership with Busch Entertainment. Kleiser and Walczak also would co-direct.

Kleiser and Walczak's visual effects credits include Clear and Present Danger and Stargate. Kleiser's resume also includes work on the 1982 groundbreaking effects film Tron.

"We're a few weeks away from bringing (the script) to Hollywood and passing it around to see if we can find people to help us make it," Kleiser said. "The idea of presenting 3-D stereoscopic feature films is finally going to go mainstream. Jim Cameron, my brother Randal, everyone's talking about going stereo."

The animation for the film would be produced by Synthespian, but Kleiser said the team already is preparing to handle that work at multiple sites, domestic and abroad.

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