Sony Pictures Imageworks is in development on three new projects to use its patented proprietary Imagemotion(TM) performance capture technologies, it was announced today by Yair Landau, President of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment. They include two projects from Sony Pictures Animation, Neanderthals and an untitled feature from Jerome Chen, the Academy Award®-nominated visual effects supervisor on The Polar Express and Beowulf.
Additionally, Imageworks is presently in discussion with Avi Arad, Ari Arad and Seaside Productions with Steven Paul to participate in the production of a movie based on the bestselling author James Patterson’s Maximum Ride. Arad, a producer of the “Spider-Man” movies for which Imageworks has created the visual effects and animation, recently optioned the science-fiction thriller Maximum Ride to be developed as a performance capture feature. In this bestselling series, six children with altered DNA, 98% human and 2% bird, have wings and extraordinary powers.
The new projects will be developed using Imageworks’ proprietary Imagemotion(TM) performance capture system. In keeping with Imageworks’ philosophy and history of providing technological ingenuity and creative solutions to the movie industry, Imagemotion performance capture enables filmmakers and performers to fully explore their creative vision. “Each of these projects is unique in their approach to moviemaking and Imagemotion affords the filmmakers tremendous creative freedom,” says Landau.
Since its first application on The Polar Express, Imageworks has continued to refine the capabilities of Imagemotion performance capture technologies, increasing its power and flexibility. Imagemotion has been the basis for all-CG productions such as Monster House, photo-realistic digital characters in movies such as Spider-Man 3, and highly stylized films such as Beowulf. By utilizing Imagemotion, directors are given the flexibility to fully explore their creative imagination, which may reach beyond the physical limitations of human beings.
“The core of our business is Imagination,” said Tim Sarnoff, President of Sony Pictures Imageworks. “Developing Imagemotion was a lengthy and complex process, and we couldn’t be happier with the results of our efforts as filmmakers embrace its possibilities.”
“Imagemotion is extremely liberating,” said Debbie Denise, Sony Pictures Imageworks’ Executive Vice President of Production Infrastructure and Executive Producer. “Each filmmaker finds their own unique way to apply the technology. Imagemotion allows filmmakers to capture the magic and spontaneity of performances, with the subtle nuances and movements that bring characters to life. All of this can now be accurately recorded and applied to these digital creations.”
Sarnoff said Imagemotion performance capture continues the Imageworks heritage of project inspired innovation, developing tools, techniques and technology to help filmmakers bring their visions to the screen. “Our business is predicated on our ability to produce what has not been done before, from our earliest performance capture work on ‘Hollow Man,’ and the lifelike fur and cloth that we created for ‘Stuart Little,’ to more recent breakthroughs such as our proprietary lighting tools and the ‘Sandstorm’ software that helped to create the Sandman character in ‘Spider-Man 3.’ Devising ways to turn the impossible into something believable that can emotionally connect with the audience is what we enjoy doing, and we do it well.”
Neanderthals, previously announced on the slate of Sony Pictures Animation, is an original project from Jon Favreau, currently being developed by Favream and Jay Redd. Favreau, now in production on Iron Man, rose to fame as screenwriter of Swingers, starring Vince Vaughan and Favreau. Jay Redd was the visual effects supervisor on this year’s Academy Award-nominated animated feature Monster House. Redd came to Imageworks to be a sequence supervisor on Contact, and since has worked on Stuart Little, Stuart Little 2 and The Haunted Mansion.
Jerome Chen, one of Imageworks’ original employees, is currently the senior visual effects supervisor on Beowulf, for director Robert Zemeckis. Following Beowulf, Chen will be developing an untitled thriller to mark his feature directorial debut. Chen has been a pioneering visual effects artist throughout his career. Among his other achievements are the effects and animation for Contact, Stuart Little, Stuart Little 2 and The Polar Express. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Stuart Little.