Showing posts with label Netflix Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Netflix Related. Show all posts

25 March 2021

Michael Douglas Shares Life Lessons About His Career, Family, Fatherhood, and the Future in AARP The Magazine's April/May Issue

Michael Douglas Shares Life Lessons About His Career, Family, Fatherhood, and the Future in AARP The Magazine's April/May Issue
Michael Douglas Shares Life Lessons About His Career, Family, Fatherhood, and the Future in AARP The Magazine's April/May Issue (original picture via AARP)
With an award-winning career in entertainment spanning 50-plus years, Michael Douglas is an icon, but he also holds important titles as a father, grandfather, husband, friend and mentor. 
The Hollywood vet recalls powerful advice, pivotal college moments and more in his AARP The Magazine cover story. After a year of what Douglas calls "couch potato-ing," the 76-year-old is looking forward to getting back to work, with no plans to retire anytime soon.

  • Currently, Douglas plays an acting coach who is past his prime, grappling with the question of what actually matters in the long run of life in the Netflix comedy "The Kominsky Method." The first two seasons are streaming now, with the third season in progress.
The following are excerpts from ATM's April/May 2021 cover story featuring Michael Douglas available in homes starting in April and available online now at

Michael Douglas Shares Life Lessons About His Career, Family, Fatherhood, and the Future in AARP The Magazine's April/May Issue
Michael Douglas Shares Life Lessons About His Career, Family, Fatherhood, and the Future in AARP The Magazine's April/May Issue (screengrab from video)

On the importance of honesty:

"If you lie, people lose faith in you and it just makes everything more difficult."

On being mentored by Karl Maiden:

"Those days, when you were the second banana on a police show, usually you were a step or two behind the lead because the focus couldn't hold both actors. Karl was the first guy who said to me, "Come on up." He shared the spotlight, cared about others, said I was the son he never had. A good mentor can save you a lot of pain."

On the lessons he'd like to pass on to his children and grandchildren:

"A work ethic. Courtesy to your fellow human beings. And kindness. Which are traits you have to work at and rehearse."

On collaborating with women:

"My mother was an actress. I spent a lot of time with her backstage at the theater. So I've never been threatened by formidable women. I'm proud that for nearly every woman I've worked with, it's been one of her best roles. Kathleen Turner, Geneviève Bujold way back in Coma, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Annette Bening, Sharon Stone. I try to make the environment as comfortable as possible, give them respect and protection. This season of "The Kominsky Method" will be my fourth time working with Kathleen and there is a wonderful comfort in that."

On continuing to work into his 70s:

"Work keeps you going, keeps you sharp. Of course, these days I'm looking around the set, like, I'm the oldest person here, man. Where did the time go? But I love the whole process. We're not doing brain surgery; we're showbiz."

Michael Douglas Shares Life Lessons About His Career, Family, Fatherhood, and the Future in AARP The Magazine's April/May Issue
Michael Douglas Shares Life Lessons About His Career, Family, Fatherhood, and the Future in AARP The Magazine's April/May Issue (image via AARP)

16 November 2020

Assassin's Creed TV Series: Why It's So Hard To Adapt Video Games For The Screen

Assassin's Creed TV Series: Why It's So Hard To Adapt Video Games For The Screen
Michael Fassbender in the Assassin’s Creed film. (20th Century Fox/Youtube)
The Assassin’s Creed franchise is leaping forward (off the top of a building, presumably) with the release of the 12th game in the series – Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – and the recent announcement of an upcoming Netflix show.
While the games are hugely popular, we will have to hope this new show is an improvement on the 2016 film. It had great actors playing bland characters, and perfectly adequate action scenes but no discernible narrative content. Indeed, Assassin’s Creed provides a classic lesson on the difficulties of turning even an expansive, multi-dimensional gaming world into a story that’s suitable for other formats.

The Assassin’s Creed games use the framing device of a present-day conflict and the dramatically recreated memories of the characters’ ancestors in historical periods. These memories form the main action of the game and its main appeal. If anything, the present-day plot elements seem rather odd and superfluous by comparison.

For instance, in the first game (2007), the player controls a 12th-century Levantine assassin named Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad during the Third Crusade. His 21st-century descendant, Desmond Miles, is forced to experience Altaïr’s life so that the present-day Templars can find prehuman artefacts known as Pieces of Eden. If that doesn’t sound like it makes much sense, well, it doesn’t.

This is no Shakespearean play-within-a-play device with two separate narratives that merely reflect and comment on each other. Rather, the stories directly affect one another – you must go into the past to uncover the secret locations of present-day artefacts.

Incoherent narrative

Assassin’s Creed never really attempts the moral depth and world-shaking decisions of, say, the critically-acclaimed Deus Ex videogame franchise. Deus Ex’s background of warring conspiracies is nuanced enough that the player feels that real choices are being made.

The 2016 Assassin’s Creed movie was bad partly because the entire franchise – despite its many genuinely brilliant qualities of gameplay, atmosphere, and graphics – is narratively incoherent. This might be forgivable in a game built around atmosphere, cool weaponry and stylish moves, but it’s not enough for a viable film.

There are great examples of transmedia storytelling across multiple formats, such as the Marvel cinematic universe, Tolkein’s Middle-Earth or, indeed, Deus Ex. In these cases, each new book, film or game builds on the narrative of the previous ones while maintaining a sense of wonder and the unknown. But the Assassin’s Creed franchise doesn’t bother making the effort, as though its creators Ubisoft believe the occasional media studies experts who suggest that videogames should stay in their lane and not even try to tell stories.

It seems snobbish to assume that video games are just no good at narrative, but it’s almost as reductive to believe they should emulate filmic storytelling instead of embracing videogames’ unique strengths. Interactivity, agency, emotional engagement and immersion combine to provide players with experiences that would be impossible to achieve in purely linear stories.
The structure of games is inherently different from that of films, and this is most apparent when it comes to endings. Writing a narratively satisfying ending for a novel or film is notoriously tough – and even tougher if you also have to give your audience the choice of how to finish the story.

Every time you let the player make a significant yes or no decision in gameplay, you double the number of possible endings. No storyteller wants to have to come up with hundreds of satisfactory endings.

Game designers have a variety of tricks available to reduce that number, giving the illusion of choice while gradually steering the player back onto the main plot. Still, most players will be happier if the series of interesting decisions include more than just selecting tactical options to overcome challenges. They need ethically weighty choices that empower them to playfully explore their value systems.

From winging it to fixing it?

The Assassin’s Creed franchise seems to have been winging it with its worldbuilding since the start, each story building haphazardly on the previous ones. I see three ways forward.

They could continue to ignore concerns about coherence, concentrate on cool stunts and environments, and hope that fans will accept new instalments as merely each new creative team’s take. But the narrative threads sprawl so much that it’s going to be a tough sell.

Assassin's Creed TV Series: Why It's So Hard To Adapt Video Games For The Screen
A still from the very first Assassin’s Creed (2007). (Ubisoft/IGDB)
If the new series is going to be any good, it would be better to bring in a good universe runner. Someone who can work out how most of the universe hangs together and cut out the bits that don’t.

Alternatively, they could start again, with a worldbuilding process not just a story idea. Videogames can tell amazing stories, despite what their detractors may think, but they do need a consistent background in which to set those stories. Creating a believable world first, would only make the next franchise stronger.

About Today's Contributor:

Ian Sturrock, Senior Lecturer in Game Design and Games Studies, Teesside University
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

2 September 2020

3 Celeb Workout Plans Which Will Motivate You Today

3 Celeb Workout Plans Which Will Motivate You Today
Man and woman holding battle ropes (image via
If you have found your workout routine has relaxed dramatically over the quarantine period, you aren’t alone. Since March, people around the world have been quarantined in their homes, watching Netflix, baking banana bread and trying to come to terms with the COVID-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, then, we have all gotten a little less fit, and a little more fat. People on Instagram have been hashtagging the #Quarantine15, referring to the 15 pounds it has become customary to gain while in quarantine.

It’s totally normal that our bodies have changed as our lives have so dramatically. But if you’re ready to get back to kicking your own ass in the gym, here are three celeb workouts which will motivate you to put down the chips, switch off the TV, and get that butt back into some workout gear.

1- Lebron James’ Home Workout

Lebron’s basketball workout has been a popular one for LA Lakers fans to research and emulate. After all, Lebron is one of the most celebrated athletes of all time for a good reason. The guy embodies dedication, excellence and relentless hard work in all he does. Lebron broadcasted on Instagram over lockdown, showing off his workout routine despite being unable to play basketball as normal. Lebron’s home workout consisted of gym equipment because, well, he obviously has a home gym. But now the gyms are back open again, why not watch Lebron’s powerful workout and get motivated to reach his levels.

2 - Khloe Kardashian’s Weight Loss Workout

Khloe Kardashian has undergone one of the most dramatic celebrity transformations ever. Part of this transformation has been from using facial reconstruction surgery to change her look, but part of this has been her weight loss. Khloe reportedly lost 40 pounds in recent years and regularly shows off her svelte physique on Instagram. In addition, the third oldest Kardashian sister has released a clothing line, Good American, which now stocks workout gear. Khloe is serious about this fitness lifestyle.

Luckily, Khloe has also let us in on her workout secrets. Snippets of her workouts are regularly posted to Instagram, and her personal trainer also posted this helpful video with advice and tips on how Khloe got her body in shape.

3 - Beyoncé’s 44 Day Coachella Workout

Beyoncé headlined Coachella in 2019 after giving birth to twins just a few months prior. Her trainer, Marco Borges, designed a 22 day nutrition program which Bey followed for 44 days while rehearsing for her iconic Coachella performance which is now immortalized in the Netflix documentary, Homecoming.

For this diet and workout, Beyoncé worked out daily alongside full days of dance rehearsals and eating a purely plant based diet. No sugar, no caffeine, no meat, no dairy, no processed foods. This plan is now available to members of the program, so you too can sweat, eat and eventually look like the Queen B herself.

21 August 2020

Rebecca & Josh Tickell's 'Kiss the Ground' Available On Netflix September 22 [Trailer Included]

Rebecca & Josh Tickell's 'Kiss the Ground' Available On Netflix September 22 [Trailer Included]
Kiss the Ground - Poster (Courtesy of Big Picture Ranch)
'Kiss the Ground', a powerful documentary exploring soil regeneration and its place as a compelling and effective solution to our planet's climate crisis, will be available on Netflix September 22, 2020. 

Directed by Rebecca Tickell and Josh Tickell (FUEL, PUMP, THE BIG FIX), the film is narrated by Woody Harrelson and features Ian Somerhalder, Gisele Bündchen, Jason Mraz, and David Arquette. The film is produced by Big Picture Ranch.

'Kiss the Ground' is an inspiring and groundbreaking film that reveals the first viable solution to our climate crisis. 'Kiss the Ground' reveals that, by regenerating the world's soils we can rapidly stabilize the Earth's climate, restore local ecosystems and create abundant food supplies. Using compelling graphics and visuals, along with striking NASA and NOAA footage, the film artfully illustrates how, by drawing down atmospheric carbon, soil is the missing piece of the climate puzzle. The movie is positioned to catalyze a movement to accomplish the impossible - to solve humanity's greatest challenge, to balance the climate and secure our species' future.

Initial footage for the film was shot 9 years ago in Africa by Executive Producer Ian Somerhalder, (who grew up in the same town and went to the same high school in Louisiana as director, Josh Tickell). Somerhalder and the Tickells joined forces with the KISS THE GROUND nonprofit organization with the mission to make a movie that showed how to turn deserts back into lush ecosystems while reversing climate change. The result has been an almost decade-long journey to produce a film which includes never before seen footage from around the world showing the reversal of ecological damage and giving a playbook for the restoration of Planet Earth.

"This film represents the culmination of tens of thousands of hours of research by scientists around the world who have finally cracked the code on managing climate change - before it's too late," says Josh Tickell. "Never before has there been a more important message, and the good news is it's hopeful, it's actionable and the film shows us steps we can take right now," says Rebecca Tickell.
The film was a selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival. Producers include Rebecca Tickell, Josh Tickell, Bill Benenson, Ryland Engelhart and Darius Fisher and Executive Producers are Laurie Benenson, Gisele Bündchen, Bill Cameron, John Paul DeJoria, Pedro Diniz, Anna Getty, George Hagerman, RJ Jain, Jena King, Julian Lennon, Michelle LeRach, Melony & Adam Lewis, Craig McCaw, Angus Mitchell, Elizabeth Moore, Stephen Nemeth, Larry O'Conner, John Roulac, Regina K. Scully, Nicole Shanahan, Jon & Susan Sheinberg, Mark Sims, Iris Smith, Ian Somerhalder, and Tara & Brian Swibel.

The Trailer:

  • 'Kiss the Ground' is part of a new crop of true 4k resolution documentaries. Technology to make the film including computers, servers, hard drives and speciality film equipment was provided by Other World Computing, and Black Magic Design.

About Big Picture Ranch

Nested in the Los Padres National Forest in Ojai, California sits Big Picture Ranch - an organic avocado farm which also operates 24/7 as a soup-to-nuts film studio. Founders Josh and Rebecca Tickell are Sundance Award-Winning documentarians. Big Picture Ranch creates content that changes the global narrative around important environmental issues. Filmmakers Josh & Rebecca Tickell won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival with their first film FUEL, premiered their oil spill documentary THE BIG FIX as an official selection at Cannes, and are launching their first scripted feature film, HEARTLAND soon.

About Josh Tickell

The author of four books, Josh Tickell has worked on environmental issues for over twenty years. His career spans a unique mixture of science, journalism and filmmaking. His directorial debut film, FUEL, is the 2008 Sundance Audience Award winning documentary that investigates the possible replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy. His 2017 Simon and Schuster book, Kiss the Ground, How the Food You Eat Can Reverse Climate Change, Heal Your Body and Ultimately Save Our World, was an Amazon Bestseller in multiple categories. Tickell holds an MFA in film from Florida State University's Film School. He is a regular guest on talk shows and gives keynote presentations internationally on sustainability, regeneration and filmmaking.

About Rebecca Tickell

Rebecca Tickell is a director, producer and environmental author & activist. She produced the Sundance Audience Award Winning, environmentally-themed movie, FUEL, and co-directed/produced 'The Big Fix', an 'Official Selection' of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. She spent several years documenting the impacts and root cause of the BP oil spill. While investigating the spill she became ill and was left with permanent damage from exposure to the oil and dispersant in the atmosphere. Her directorial debut (with husband Josh) was the critically acclaimed documentary PUMP, narrated by Jason Bateman. She directed and produced the John Paul DeJoria story, GOOD FORTUNE, the YouTube sensation, THE EARTHING MOVIE as well as the forthcoming documentary THE REVOLUTION GENERATION and the forthcoming feature scripted film, HEARTLAND. As a child, she starred in the Orion (now MGM)'s Christmas Classic movie, Prancer.

About KISS THE GROUND 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Film Partner

KISS THE GROUND is a Los Angeles-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization on a mission of creating awareness around the extraordinary potential of healthy soil. KISS THE GROUND has educated and activated millions through their Media Program, Farmland Program, and Stewardship Program. Their Farmland Program supports transitioning farmers and ranchers with training, mentorship, and soil testing and has a robust scholarship program for farmers who need financial assistance to take part. The Stewardship Program is an education platform, community, and resource hub that was created to educate, inspire and empower individuals to become powerful and impactful advocates for the regenerative movement. KISS THE GROUND has become a premier online educational hub for regenerative agriculture, offering an online "pathway" for anyone to find resources and their unique way forward in contributing to this expanding global movement.

SOURCE: Big Picture Ranch

24 January 2020

The Witcher (Music From The Netflix Original Series) by Composers Sonya Belousova & Giona Ostinelli Available Now

The Witcher (Music from the Netflix Original Series) available everywhere now
The Witcher (Music from the Netflix Original Series) available everywhere now
Milan Records today releases The Witcher (Music From The Netflix Original Series) by composer and award-winning pianist Sonya Belousova and critically-acclaimed composer Giona Ostinelli

Available everywhere now, the album features music written by the duo for Netflix's latest fantasy drama series. Also included on the soundtrack is the now-viral hit "Toss A Coin To Your Witcher," a medieval ballad that has garnered unanimous critical acclaim from NPR, CNN, Vulture, BuzzFeed, Refinery29, Esquire and more, in addition to inspiring countless covers and remixes from fans. 
Of the soundtrack, composers Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli say, "The best part of scoring The Witcher is the constant stream of unlimited creative opportunities this unique and vast universe provides. We wrote and produced songs, folk tunes, dances, and score, collaborated with virtuoso soloists and phenomenal artists, recorded unique historical instruments, many of which were crafted specifically for The Witcher, as well as personally performed and recorded over 60 instruments in order to create over 8 hours of an exciting original soundtrack."

 Video: "Toss A Coin To Your Witcher"

  • The Witcher tells the story of Geralt of Rivia, a mutated monster-hunter for hire, as he journeys toward his destiny in a turbulent world where people often prove more wicked than beasts.

The Witcher (Music From The Netflix Original Series) Tracklisting:

  1. Geralt of Rivia
  2. Toss A Coin To Your Witcher (feat. Joey Batey)*
  3. Happy Childhoods Make For Dull Company (feat. Rodion Belousov)
  4. The Time of Axe And Sword Is Now (feat. Declan de Barra & Lindsay Deutsch)
  5. They're Alive (feat. Lindsay Deutsch & Burak Besir)
  6. Tomorrow I'll Leave Blaviken For Good
  7. Her Sweet Kiss (feat. Joey Batey)***
  8. It's An Ultimatum
  9. Round of Applause (feat. Rodion Belousov)
  10. Marilka That's My Name
  11. I'm Helping The Idiot (feat. Arngeir Hauksson)
  12. The Knight Who Was Taught To Save Dragons (feat. Rodion Belousov)
  13. Ragamuffin
  14. The Last Rose of Cintra (feat. Declan de Barra)**
  15. Late Wee Pups Don't Get To Bark (feat. Lindsay Deutsch)
  16. You Will Rule This Land Someday
  17. The Fishmonger's Daughter (feat. Joey Batey)**
  18. Blaviken Inn (feat. Lindsay Deutsch)
  19. Man In Black
  20. The Great Cleansing (feat. Lindsay Deutsch)
  21. The Law of Surprise
  22. Battle of Marnadal
  23. Pretty Ballads Hide Bastard Truths (feat. Rodion Belousov)
  24. Giltine The Artist
  25. Everytime You Leave
  26. Rewriting History (feat. Rodion Belousov)
  27. The End's Beginning (feat. Declan de Barra)
  28. Gold Dragons Are The Rarest (feat. Rodion Belousov)
  29. Bonfire (feat. Lindsay Deutsch)
  30. Children Are Our Favourite
  31. Do You Actually Have What It Takes
  32. Point Me To Temeria
  33. Djinni Djinn Djinn
  34. Here's Your Destiny
  35. Two Vows Here Tonight
  36. Bread Breasts And Beer (feat. Lindsay Deutsch)
  37. Would You Honor Me With A Dance
  38. Four Marks (feat. Rodion Belousov)
  39. The Pensive Dragon Inn (feat. Lindsay Deutsch)
  40. A Gift For The Princess
  41. You're In Brokilon Forest
  42. Today Isn't Your Day Is It
  43. Lovely Rendez-vous à la Montagne
  44. Blame Destiny
  45. The White Flame Has Brought Us Together
  46. He's One of The Clean Ones (feat. Lindsay Deutsch)
  47. You Lost Your Chance To Be Beautiful
  48. Yennefer of Vengerberg
  49. Shouldn't You Know When Someone Is Pretending (feat. Lindsay Deutsch)
  50. You'll Have To Fight It Until Dawn
  51. I'm The One With The Wishes
  52. Chaos Is All Around Us
  53. The Curse of The Black Sun
  54. Battle of Soden
  55. The Song of The White Wolf (feat. Declan de Barra)**
*Lyrics by Jenny Klein
**Lyrics by Declan de Barra
***Lyrics by Haily Hall

30 December 2019

Dracula: Free Movement Of Vampires A Fitting Horror Story For The #Brexit Era

Bloody and unbowed: Claes Bang as Dracula
Bloody and unbowed: Claes Bang as Dracula. (BBC/Hartswood Films/Netflix/David Ellis)
Fictional vampires tend to reflect the politics of the times that produce them: “Because they are always changing, their appeal is dramatically generational,” says the late American scholar Nina Auerbach in her classic work of criticism Our Vampires, Ourselves. The figure of the vampire, she suggests, always tells us as much about ourselves as it does about vampires per se.

With this in mind, the first episode of the new adaptation of Dracula for the BBC and Netflix by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss is at first perplexing. Unlike Moffat’s previous, modernising adaptations of 19th-century fiction – Jekyll (2007) and Sherlock (2010-17) – the series returns to 1897, the year in which Bram Stoker published his novel.

The setting is high Gothic, featuring a crumbling, eastern European castle (Orava Castle in Slovakia) and a convent full of crucifix-toting nuns. Eschewing the sentimental romance of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 adaptation or the wildly successful Twilight franchise, Moffat and Gatiss appear – initially at least – to take us back to the horror of the original text.

But as the episode progresses the European setting becomes more than just spooky window dressing. One of the most famous arguments about the novel, first made by Stephen D. Arata, is that Dracula enacts “reverse colonisation” – Stoker’s vampire expresses the threat that imperialism might not be a one-way operation. From his home in eastern Europe, the count travels to Britain to buy up its real estate and add its women to his harem, bypassing the need for a passport or immigration documents and threatening British manhood in the process.

‘Brexit Gothic’

Seen in this light, Dracula offers a clear application to our times. In an article for The Guardian on “Brexit Gothic”, Neil McRobert points out:
"When Nigel Farage expresses concern about Romanian men moving in next door, it makes one wonder if he has read Dracula – the story of a Romanian man who literally moves in beside some stuffy British people."
Moffat and Gatiss are too canny to give us a straightforward metaphor for Brexit – and yet there are clear nods to contemporary anxieties in the first episode. Dracula quizzes Jonathan Harker on English language and culture out of a desire to “pass among your countrymen as one of their own”. He will be the good immigrant who assimilates, who blends invisibly with the host culture. There is a moment of discomfort, however, as he promises to “absorb” Harker – this immigrant is a parasite who feeds off its host.

There is no direct correlation with itinerant agricultural workers, however, as Dracula seeks to infiltrate the highest echelons of society. In a warped version of late 19th-century eugenics, we discover that Dracula’s choosiness about his victims is the secret to his vampiric success – consuming only the blood of the best enables him to retain his human qualities. Hence his appetite for the British Empire. “Vampires go where power is,” says Auerbach. “You are what you eat,” quips Claes Bang’s Dracula.

Dolly Wells as Sister Agatha with Joanna Scanlan as Mother Superior. (BBC/Hartswood Films/Netflix/Robert Viglasky)
Moreover, this is a tale of two Europeans. Sister Agatha, the Dutch nun who questions Harker after his escape from Dracula’s castle (a significantly expanded role from the book, played with exquisite exasperation by Dolly Wells), scoffs at Jonathan’s English masculinity when he fails to realise the incongruity of a secret message written to him in English in a Transylvanian castle: “Of course not! You are an English man! A combination of presumptions beyond compare.” British exceptionalism looks set to take a tumble as Dracula reaches England in the second instalment.

Dark humour

The episode displays the acute self-aware characteristic of vampire films, which are what Ken Gelder calls “citational, constantly referring to previous examples of the genre. There are multiple moments when viewers anticipating romance have their expectations rudely shattered. Twilight in particular comes in for some sharp debunking, with Mina playing the role of Twilight’s heroine Bella, appealing to her lover’s higher moral fibre and coming in for a shock as she discovers that true love does not trump bloodlust after all. Instead of Twilight’s lingering shots of gleaming male torsos we get intimate body horror in excruciating close up – a fly crawling across an eyeball, a blackened nail flaking off a finger.

One of the most striking features of Moffat and Gatiss’s adaptation is its humour. Comedy has always been a crucial element of Gothic literature, which continually teeters between terror and laughter. “King Laugh,” a metaphorical figure invented by Professor Van Helsing in Bram Stoker’s novel to explain his own hysterics, is a version of death, leading the characters in a kind of danse macabre. The novel exhibits black humour in the character of the lunatic Renfield, in particular, who calculates how many lives he can consume, starting by eating flies and trading up the food chain.

As I argued in my recent book, Post-Millennial Gothic, a distinguishing characteristic of contemporary vampires is their increasing comic agency. The first self-conscious vampire joke is the iconic one-liner first spoken by Bela Lugosi in Tod Browning’s classic 1931 film: “I never drink … wine.” Moffat and Gatiss get this out of the way in the first few minutes – and even add a callback later in the episode.

There are more zingers to come as Bang quips his way across Europe like an infernal James Bond. When Harker spots him with a glass and queries that he never drinks, I almost expected him to clarify: “Shaken, not stirred.”

The comparison between Dracula and Bond is not a casual one. Bond props up a crumbling British Empire – Dracula aims to infiltrate it and use it to his own ends. They emerge from the same social and historical concerns, two sides of the same coin. Both reflect us back in multiple ways, and neither offers a flattering picture.The Conversation

About Today's Contributor:

Catherine Spooner, Professor of Literature and Culture, Lancaster University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

27 September 2019

Rodeo FX Reveals The Visual Effects Behind The Monsters Of 'Stranger Things 3'

'Stranger Things 3' - The  Mind Flayer
'Stranger Things 3' - The Mind Flayer
Rodeo FX, lead vendor on the record-breaking third season of the Netflix hit series Stranger Things, is set to release three behind-the-scenes videos on October 2 that break down the visual effects that brought all the season's creatures and monsters to life. Inspired by the iconic title creature from The Thing, the Duffer Brothers' vision of the season's terrifying Mind Flayer was modeled and animated by the Rodeo FX team. The team also delivered complex visual effects for environments, matter and substances, including imploding rats and moving goop.

From previs and look development to compositing, the Rodeo FX team worked on the seven effects-rich episodes of the eight-episode season. VFX Supervisor Martin Pelletier led almost 200 artists over 13 months to deliver above 400 shots, hundreds of CG assets, and all the new season's CG creatures.
"After watching the first season of Stranger Things, I remember thinking that I had to work on that show one day," said VFX Supervisor Martin Pelletier. "The third season was such a treat to be a part of. Working with the Duffer Brothers is a remarkable experience. They are really enthusiastic and it's incredible to witness their creative process."
On set in Atlanta, and later at the post-production office in Los Angeles, Martin Pelletier met with VFX Supervisor Paul Graff and the Duffer Brothers on multiple occasions to discuss the artistic and technical challenges of bringing the season's epic monsters to life.

This marks an important achievement for the VFX house, which paved its way in the industry following three Emmy wins for its work on HBO's groundbreaking Game of Thrones. Having established its expertise in creature and animation work on It, Paddington 2, Bumblebee, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, among others, Rodeo FX was tasked by Netflix with raising the bar with new monsters.
"Netflix trusted us with the biggest effects for their flagship show, which was both a tremendous honour and a great challenge," said Rodeo FX President Sebastien Moreau. "I'm incredibly proud of how our teams rose to the occasion and delivered truly hair-raising creatures and effects."
The three making-of videos will be unveiled to the media via an exclusive, live, online presentation by VFX Supervisor Martin Pelletier and Animation Supervisor Yvon Jardel on October 1, at 11:00 a.m. (ET). The presentation will showcase the Rodeo FX's work, as well as feature anecdotes and stories from their team's collaboration with the Duffer Brothers.

Rodeo FX reveals the visual effects behind the monsters of Stranger Things 3
Rodeo FX reveals the visual effects behind the monsters of Stranger Things 3 (CNW Group/Rodeo FX)
Click here to access the online presentation on October 1, at 11:00 a.m. (ET)

  • Martin Pelletier and Yvon Jardel will also participate in a Facebook Live on October 2 at 12:00 p.m. (ET), followed by a Reddit AMA at 1:00 p.m.
  • Stranger Things – Season 3 is available for streaming on Netflix.

Related Videos:

Related Stories:

20 September 2019

Video Game Based On The New Netflix Series "The Last Kids On Earth" Anticipated To Launch In 2021

"The Last Kids on Earth"
"The Last Kids on Earth" (CNW Group/Thunderbird Entertainment Group Inc.)
Atomic Cartoons, Cyber Group Studios and Outright Games are pleased to announce a new partnership to produce The Last Kids on Earth video game. The new Netflix series, Last Kids on Earth, is based on Max Brallier's bestselling books. 

  • The game is anticipated to launch in 2021 on consoles and PC. 
The Last Kids on Earth video game will be created in consultation with the producers of the animated series, which began streaming this week on September 17, 2019. The intellectual property (IP) for the book series was optioned by Thunderbird's Kids and Family Division in 2017, and Netflix acquired the worldwide rights to the TV series in 2018. 

Earlier this year, Cyber Group Studios became the worldwide representative for merchandising, ancillary and second window TV rights when an agreement was reached in February. In May 2019, a Master Toy deal was announced with Jakks Pacific Inc. to develop a range of products, including action figures, activity toys, role-play accessories, vehicles, plush items, novelty items, games, and play electronics. 

  • The toy line is set to hit shelves around the world in 2020.
"We are thrilled to have gamers play as our venerable series leads, Jack, June, Quint and Dirk, and partake in thrilling apocalyptic adventures throughout Wakefield – with both familiar and new monsters and zombies," said Matthew Berkowitz, Chief Creative Officer, Atomic Cartoons and Thunderbird Entertainment. "The Last Kids on Earth is such a captivating series, and it is awesome to see it being embraced by audiences internationally and in many formats. Working with author Max Brallier, and evolving this story into a global franchise with books, an animated series, a video game and toy line, is an incredible experience for everyone at Atomic."

About the Book Series: 

The Last Kids on Earth is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling book series, with millions of copies in print around the world. It follows Jack Sullivan and a band of suburban middle schoolers who live in a decked-out tree house, play video games, gorge themselves on candy, and battle zombies in the post-apocalyptic town of Wakefield. It's a hilarious series filled with wisecracking kids, crazy gadgets, an endless supply of zombies and giant-sized monsters.

The Book Series Trailer:

About the Animated Series: 

The animated Netflix series premiered on September 17, 2019, as a 66-minute special episode. Two additional seasons will begin streaming in 2020, including an interactive episode. 

Both seasons will feature a star-studded voice cast, which includes Mark Hamill, Rosario Dawson, Catherine O'Hara, Keith David, Bruce Campbell, Garland Whitt, Montse Hernandez and Charles Demers, in addition to Nick Wolfhard voicing the lead character Jack Sullivan.

The Animated Series Trailer:

Commenting on the deal with Outright Games, Thierry Braille, Vice President, Interactive and Video Game Division, Cyber Group Studios, said: "We are delighted to come together with Atomic Cartoons and Outright Games to announce a video game based on The Last Kids on Earth. The combination of this wonderful IP and the very promising game design made by Outright Games will deliver an amazing video game which will contribute to expand The Last Kids on Earth universe".
Terry Malham, CEO of Outright, also noted: "After reading the books, and getting a preview of the Netflix series, we jumped at the chance to work with Atomic Cartoons and Cyber Group Studios to develop a video game based on The Last Kids on Earth. It has all the hallmarks of a successful franchise – comedy, adventure, friendship, fun – and we look forward to gamers around the world coming along for the ride when we launch in 2021."

6 April 2019

Melbourne-Based Immersive Tech Studio Create AR Social Experience To Complement Netflix's New Series, 'Our Planet', Narrated By David Attenborough

REWILD Our Planet
REWILD Our Planet
Melbourne-based immersive technology studio, PHORIA, announced the launch of REWILD Our Planet, which uses persistent and social Augmented Reality (AR). In partnership with Netflix, WWF, ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands, Arup and Google, this innovative installation blends location-based AR technology and IMAX-style content into an immersive and interactive experience. 

The exhibition complements Our Planet, an eight-part documentary series narrated by Sir David Attenborough. 
Our Planet showcases the Earth's most fragile ecosystems through cutting edge multimedia storytelling and is available to stream worldwide on Netflix from April 5. 2019.
The Our Planet documentary series captures the impact of human life across Earth's diverse and interconnected biomes, including forest, grassland, ocean and frozen regional landscapes. 

REWILD Our Planet takes on a macro perspective of the same biomes to help users understand their role in restoring these ecosystems. The experience brings to life an unflinching account of how humanity has damaged the natural world and encourages humans to take back control and restore balance by rewilding these environments.

REWILD Our Planet combines 2D storytelling with AR gameplay, supported by sensory sights and sounds. The experience prompts users to physically collaborate with one another to restore damaged biomes, unlocking unique weather patterns and wild animal encounters. 
By rewilding realistic 3D landscapes together, users are able to realise their collective power to take action. Finally, users will leave their mark on the exhibition by placing ongoing AR pledges. 

This one-of-a-kind experience is achieved through PHORIA's software platform CAPTUR3D, whose unique digital twin system creates a virtual clone of each exhibition site. The digital twin system aligns digital information within the physical space, and as a result, it generates a new form of contextual storytelling. 

REWILD Our Planet is the first shared and ongoing AR experience to operate across three cities at the same time. This was achieved by leveraging Google's ARCore software - an Android SDK that brings AR to mobile devices and by partnering with Arup for the structural design of the physical elements of the exhibition that could be scaled internationally. 

To intensify the visitor experience, Arup's acoustics team also created an immersive, emotive soundscape: it adapted the series' master audio score (comprising original music by Steven Price - best known for his Academy Award-winning score for 'Gravity') and added sound effects from nature to enhance key moments in the video. Thanks to these partners, developers like PHORIA can bring these experiences to an even larger user base, helping launch REWILD Our Planet globally.
"REWILD Our Planet showcases how AR has the power to build bridges between people and the places they love," said Trent Clews-de Castella, CEO of PHORIA. "This evocative experience emphasises the connection between human beings and our environment. It generates a sense of presence and interactivity for every individual user. Building this exhibition with Netflix and Google and combining it with compassion-driven narrative from WWF demonstrates how emerging XR technologies will transform the social impact sector for good."
  • Launching at three renowned venues across the globe, ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore (6 April, 2019 - June 2, 2019) Dolby Studio in New York City (6 April, 2019 - 22 April, 2019) and We The Curious in Bristol (UK) (12 April, 2019 - 2 June, 2019), REWILD Our Planet aims to augment the emotional connection users feel to each other and the planet.
"Together, these world first features will generate a shared understanding of our responsibility to protect nature through time. The global activation has been designed to remind users that we are all on the same team and that the effort to rewild the world needs everyone involved," continued Mr. Clews-de Castella.

'Our Planet'
'Our Planet'

About the series:

In the groundbreaking Netflix original documentary series Our Planet, viewers will witness stunning, never-before-seen footage of wildlife and their habitats - while also discovering why the natural world matters to us all and what steps must be taken to preserve it. 
All eight hour-long episodes of Our Planet will become available to Netflix members worldwide on April 5, 2019. The series is accompanied by Behind-the-Scenes content which will launch simultaneously on Netflix. Produced by Silverback Films, Ltd. and in partnership with WWF, the landmark series is narrated by renowned broadcaster and natural historian Sir David Attenborough. 


Related Video:

27 March 2019

Beyond 'Bandersnatch,' The Future Of Interactive TV Is Bright

'Bandersnatch' - Make a choice to see the next phase of the story.
Make a choice to see the next phase of the story. (Netflix)
Make a choice: Do you want to engage with your media passively or actively?
The December 2018 premiere of Netflix’s “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” offered consumers a new way to influence the entertainment they’re watching. Netflix has a growing list of choose-your-own-adventure movies. What viewers might see as a simple choice, such as which breakfast cereal a character begins the day with, could affect the whole show’s storyline. There are other choices to make as well – some of which change the plot, and some of which may not.

Viewers aren’t watching these interactive films just once. Rather, they are watching them over and over again to find each ending and post maps of the diverging plot lines. I think I sat on my couch for nearly three hours straight trying to exhaust all of “Bandersnatch’s” choices as it followed a programmer and designer through the process of game development.

I’ve been teaching and researching game design and development since 2001. I see this type of experience not as just the future of entertainment, but as the expansion of a standard method of storytelling that game designers have been using for decades. Netflix is introducing new technology and new audiences to this type of entertainment, but fiction writers have been exploring similar themes for far longer, creating stories of time travel and alternative realities that let people fantasize about redoing decisions in life.

Controlling your own destiny

There is a kind of game made popular by “Dungeons & Dragons” that provides a way to understand and expand what “Bandersnatch” explores. Role-playing games let players pick characters with multiple traits, such as strength, health and special skills, and work together to achieve story-driven goals.

Fans of “The Lord of the Rings” books and movies will recognize the idea of a team of characters with different backgrounds, abilities and motivations, all trying to work together toward a goal. The adventure is not just in whether they achieve the task, but the encounters, mishaps and even battles that happen along the way. The ultimate outcome depends on the choices players make along the way.
Many role-playing games get people together around a computer to explore a collective adventure.
Many role-playing games get people together around a computer to explore a collective adventure. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Role-playing games started with players gathered around a table, keeping notes on paper and rolling dice to incorporate the role of chance and probability into the adventure. A human game master coordinated everything, keeping track of what was happening and working with players to advance their stories and the overall plot of the adventure.

Early computer games, such as the 1980s-era Infocom text adventures, turned the role of game master over to a game designer, who controlled the choices and their consequences. In the decades since, more powerful computers have let modern digital games offer a great many choices. Teachers have begun to use elements of role-playing games to help students learn.

Illusion of choice

With “Bandersnatch,” Netflix used software to process viewers’ choices and deliver the appropriate video. When watching and “playing,” I wondered if there were too few choices. The show offered only two choices of breakfast cereal, and the viewer couldn’t choose to skip breakfast, make eggs or open the freezer to grab some ice cream. But, there’s a very good reason for these constraints.
Every story decision requires more writing and more development.
Every story decision requires more writing and more development. (Tony Hirst/Flickr, CC BY)
I often tell my students that when they’re creating role-playing games, the problem isn’t giving players choices: It’s deciding what happens next. Giving players lots of options is great, and fun – but with every choice the job gets harder. If there are three kinds of ice cream in the freezer, that’s three different sets of video to show vanilla, chocolate and strawberry – and possibly three different scripts, if the choice actually has consequences.

In game design, we call this a “branching narrative,” where every choice spawns as many new branches as there are options, and the tree gets bigger and bigger all the time. A movie with an enormous number of options would require multiple sets, extra time for actors, huge amounts of special effects work, extended production times and increasing budgets.

Such a complex film would also take viewers huge amounts of time to experience. Digital game players can handle this sort of effort by saving their progress and taking a break, returning to resume play hours later, or even days.

With an interactive movie, would a viewer want several days’ worth of watching? I don’t know if anyone has an idea of how long a typical interactive movie experience should last. My three hours on the couch watching “Bandersnatch” seemed about right – and ran through most of the options.

The Netflix producers borrowed from game designers, and the classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series, to give viewers the illusion of choices when really the alternatives were limited. My own research recommended the same technique: Allow the players some choices, but bring them back to the main narrative thread at key points.

Future of interactive media

There will be more interactive movies. Netflix has built its own software for “Bandersnatch,” which it can use for other stories too. There are already several addictive interactive kids’ shows, including “Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale,” “Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile” and “Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout.”

Gamers are already familiar with this convergence of film, interactivity and branching narrative. Cinematic video games, like “Indigo Prophecy” and “Heavy Rain,” let players make choices in dialog and other cinematic aspects, all of which alter the endings. An academically published game, “Façade,” is considered important not just for showing that scholarly games can be fun to play, but also demonstrating that academic concepts of branching narrative and story can create meaningful play: The player visits a couple’s apartment, and depending on where the player moves and what the player says, the couple reacts in different ways.
Engaging with a couple on the rocks. 'Façade,' by Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern.
Engaging with a couple on the rocks. 'Façade,' by Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern., (CC BY-ND)
I anticipate different genres of shows will explore interactive formats. Imagine playing through historical fiction where you can choose to execute Marie Antoinette or not. I also expect viewers will be able to make their choices in different ways than just pressing buttons on their remotes – perhaps by using voice recognition on their phones.

If artificial intelligence and machine learning systems get better at telling stories, viewers might even be able to suggest new possible choices, with the resulting content generated on the fly while people watch. Of course, there’s a strong overlap with virtual reality, offering immersive escapism, which is, in my experience, a key goal of interactivity.

In the meantime, “Bandersnatch” fans who want to continue exploring choosing their own adventures to direct a story can look for local gaming groups and game stores. “Dungeons & Dragons” and “HackMaster” are regaining popularity lately. So is live-action role-playing, in which people physically act out their fictional encounters. In these environments, players can ask “what if” without running into the limitations of software development and movie production teams. Human players can engage in the full extent of their imagination without any illusion of choice.

The Conversation
Live-action role playing.

About Today's Contributor:

David Schwartz, Associate Professor of Interactive Games and Media, Rochester Institute of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

You Might Also Like