Wide, Medium and Close Up Shots

Here is a list of some of the common types of shots used in film/video.  When it comes to wide, medium and close-up shots, we are referring to how much of the subject we are able to see.  In the samples below the subject that we are filming is…

Terms
subject – this is the person, group of people, object, etc. that we are focussing on in a shot.

 

Extreme Wide Shot or Extreme Long Shot

  • This type of shot features the subject far from the camera and as a result we see the area and environment around the subject.  In fact, in the extreme wide shot, the subject can be barely seen.
  • WHY USE IT?  This shot is often used to show where the subject is located.  It is often referred to as an ESTABLISHING SHOT because it establishes where the scene takes place.
  • TIPS:  Don’t overuse extreme wide/long shots.  It is tempting to pull back from the subject in order to capture all of the action around the subject.  However, by filming everything in wide you lose the ability to show details that may be interesting or important to your story.

Wide Shot

  • This shot is similar to the extreme wide shot as it shows a lot of the area and environment around the subject but in this case the wide shot moves closer to the subject so it can been seen more easily compared to the extreme wide shot.
  • WHY USE IT?  Wide shots allow the audience to clearly see the subject and the immediate environment and area around them.
  • TIPS:  Similar to the extreme wide/long shots, do not overuse this shot as it robs the audience from the interesting details and features that hold their interest in your film!
Medium Shot

  • This shot now moves even closer to the subject where we see more of the subject and less of the setting and environment around them.  Keep in mind that the look of a medium or wide or close up shot is really dependent on the subject that you are filming or focussing on.  For instance when we are filming a medium shot of a person, you will no longer be able to see the entire body but rather we start to focus on a particular portion of the actor.
  • WHY USE IT?  Medium shots are often used to show a general overview of the subject.  Again, even with medium shots you are still too far to really show any great detail.  However if you intend to use close-ups or extreme close-ups (which I highly recommend) on your subject, medium shots help to prepare your audience for these close up shots.
  • TIPS: As mentioned above, I like to use medium shots to prepare the audience for close-ups and extreme close-ups.  For example, if an actor is going to pull out a ringing cell-phone from her laptop bag.  I may want to show her in a medium shot reacting to the cell phone ringing in her bag and reaching in to get it before cutting to a close-up of her face answering the phone.
Close-Up Shot

  • Close-up shots now bring the camera in close to the subject as we now focus squarely on the subject of interest.  For example, if an actor is talking the close-up shot would show the actors head and face.  We are no longer showing pieces of the environment or even the rest of the actor’s body.  The subject of interest is the talking actor and so we focus on the actors head and face.
  • WHY USE IT?  This is where you can generate interest, action, suspense, etc. in your film.  Facial expressions, an ancient artifact lying on a desk, hands typing on a keyboard – these are ordinary objects and actions that can be interesting to watch if the audience is allowed to see them up close.  Watch any modern day television drama or any recent movie and you will notice how much they use close-up shots.
  • TIPS:  Play with close-up shots and remember that close-ups are not just for the faces of your actors but for anything that you want your audience to see up close.  Newspaper headlines, license plates, computer screens, etc… if you want your audience to see it give them a close-up.  The use of these shots is a huge step forward in making your movies look great.
Extreme Close-Up Shot

  • These shots now take the camera even closer to the subject and we are now focussing on a particular feature or detail of interest such as an actor’s eyes, a hand, a door knob turning, the pressing of a specific key on a computer keyboard, etc.
  • WHY USE IT?  These are great shots to use for added suspense or to basically draw your audience closer to a specific feature or detail in a shot or scene.
  • TIPS:  You can have a lot of fun with extreme close-up shots and again play with these shots!

Final Thoughts

  • To be clear, there are more shots that can be added to this list: medium wide shot, medium close-up shot, etc.  Rather than get bogged down in the definitions of these shots, what is important to take away from this page is to be aware of how close the camera is to your subject.  Be aware of what you want your audience to see and focus on and do not be afraid to use close-up or extreme close-up shots in your work.
  • Zoom in and zoom out – resist the urge to get close-ups by using the zoom in toggle on your camcorder.  If you want a close-up shot (or extreme close-up) bring the camera closer to the subject.  Why?  Standing further away from your subject and zooming in will make it harder to shoot a steady image.  When you zoom in, you also magnify any small movements on the camcorder so your breathing or even heartbeats can cause the image to move.  Great for simulating earthquakes, but not much else.
  • Finally the idea of wide shots, medium shots, close up shots are all relative to the subject and the subject can be anything (person, pet, car, toy, etc).

 

Source: http://www.tvdsb.ca/webpages/takahashid/video.cfm?subpage=128730

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3d Animation Short Film

A small group of cruise-ship revellers find themselves alone on a tropic island. Forced inland, their exploration reveals the mystery that lies at it heart.

25 Best 3D Animation Short Film videos for your inspiration

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Fortune Elephant Dream – 3d animation short film

Octave, young businessman, nurtures a clandestine passion for money games that shut him deep into addiction. Finding out that her husband is at the cccc and that he is indulging in the pleasure of slot machines, his wife hassles him with reproach over the phone to the point of suffocation. Will Octave manage to win the jackpot despite her repeated calls or will he spend all of his money till the very last coin ? Luck or badluck ? For the compulsive gambler, even under a torrent of…

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Ben Towne Foundation – The Mighty T

Ben Towne Foundation, together with The Academy, is proud to release The Mighty T, a charming animated short film that brings to life the cutting edge research that is happening at the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research.

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SALES GOSSES – 3d animation short film

Nous sommes heureux de vous présenter “SALES GOSSES !”, court métrage validant notre 4ème et dernière année à Lisaa Paris. We are pleased to present “SALES GOSSES !”, a CG short film produced for our graduation of our fourth year at LISAA Paris 2013.

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Parametric expression – A study of quantified emotion

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PostHuman – 3d animation short film

Official video for PostHuman – produced by Colliculi Productions. Animated sci-fi thriller short film featuring the voice of Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica). Directed by Cole Drumb. Produced by Jennifer Wai-Yin Luk.

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Breadheads – 3d animation short film

Each frame, background, and effect were carefully hand drawn to bring the world of Breadheads to life for your viewing pleasure.

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Spy Fox – 3d animation short film

When the world is threatened by an evil hammerhead shark bent on flooding the world, it’s up to SpyFox to stop him and save the world! This 60’s spy film inspired short will be sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. SpyFox was produced by Yoav Shtibelman, Taylor Clutter and Kendra Phillips at Ringling College of Art and Design.

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Free Wheel – 3d animation short film

In the late fifties, in the world famous Roller Derby Hall of Fame, the daily routine of an unassuming cleaning lady will unexpectedly go freewheeling, kicking-off her whole new life.

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HUGO Vs LINO Award Winning 3D Animation Short Film

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3D ShortFilm By Kube Animation

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Memoria – Horror short film by Elisabet

Addicted to drugs and living on the streets in denial, Vincent ends up in an abandoned house, where a dark and twisted entity forces him to face his suppressed past.

3d animation short film
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Saturday The 14th – by Kristjan Lyngmo – 3d animation short film

Check out this funny horror movie parody starring a masked man named Mason, created by the talented Kristjan Lyngmo! Mason would really appreciate it if all you wonderful people would cast your vote for Saturday the 14th on CG Student Awards:)

3d animation short film
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Caldera by Evan Viera – 3d animation short film

Through the eyes of a young girl suffering from mental illness, CALDERA glimpses into a world of psychosis and explores a world of ambiguous reality and the nature of life and death.

3d animation short film
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No Light – 3d animation short film

“No Light” an animation short -represents just few problems where a character daily life has been suffered & unbalanced by power shortage living in a situation in country like Nepal. The character starts his day in no light zone affecting his basic needs from water supply, communication, working environment to entertainment & resulting into sleep deprivation.

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Heavenly Appeals by David Lisbe – 3d animation short film

After many millennia of being tortured in Hell, Raymond K. Hessle has finally earned a chance to appeal his sentence of Eternal Damnation. Upon arriving at the “appeals” gate of Heaven he is greeted by the angel who will preside over his case. As Raymond waits at the edge of paradise, he will finally have a chance to prove just how worthy he is.

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Theme Planet Bunny Situation

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Sega Sonic Night of The Werehog Short Movie

Video courtesy SEGA of America is excited to present Sonic in his very first short film Sonic:Night of the Werehog! This stunning film takes Sonic on an adventure to an eerie lonely house on a dark and stormy night. Follow along with Sonic as he faces some mischievous ghouls and see how brave they are when the moon shines and Sonic becomes the Werehog. Will Sonic survive the night or will the ghosts scare him out into the rain?

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Carrot Crazy – 3d animation short film

Senior Thesis film produced at Ringling College of Art and Design by Dylan Vanwormer and Logan Scelina.

3d animation short film
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Crayon Dragon Toniko Pantoja

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Argine – 3d animation short film

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Before Sunrise by Kealan ORourke

A dark tale of shadow creatures that play throughout the night in a fairytale village. But on this night one particular shadow is tired of his mischevious life and discovers something altogether more magical.

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Braxton – Animated Short Film By Brad Warren

This is a short film I did over the past 6 months in my spare time. I’m hoping for a career in feature film or games. The film is inspired by my son, Braxton. The rig is the Animation Mentor “Bishop” character. The music is original, written by my brother, Mattison Warren and can be found on iTunes. See link below.

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History of Greed Women rule again

A man disovers a fruit which is stolen by some monkeys only to leave some seeds. All of a sudden the man has more fruit than he needs until a lady comes along and he gets greedy.

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Bridge’s Story – Aniboom Animation by Tony Hoang

On a beautiful spring day in the forest, a rabbit, some cute birds, a turtle, a grasshopper, and a family of beavers get into some mischievous fun. When Rabbit tries to sabotage the log bridge that Turtle is constructing over the stream, his plan backfires and Rabbit trips and falls into the water and starts drowning. But the kind Turtle rescues Rabbit, carries him on his shell, and brings him safely to shore. When Rabbit starts shivering from being wet and cold, the friendly birds bring him a…

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Source: http://webneel.com/25-best-3d-animated-short-films-your-inspiration

Robin Williams’ 10 Best Movies


10. One Hour Photo

He rose to fame on the strength of his maddeningly energetic comic persona, but Williams started to settle down a little in the 1990s and early aughts, first with dramedies like Mrs. Doubtfire, then with more serious fare, such as Patch Adams and What Dreams May Come. Some of these projects were more warmly received than others, but each of them gave audiences a glimpse of just how deeply Williams could sublimate the frantic restlessness that defined his public image, and they culminated with 2002’s One Hour Photo. Here, Williams plays Sy Parrish, a profoundly lonely photo technician whose desperate, hidden attachment to his customers sends him down a dark path, and it’s a testament to his skill as an actor that even though Parrish is an obviously disturbed and frankly disquieting character, Williams makes it hard not to identify, if not outright sympathize, with his sad plight. Photo was a moderate success at the box office, but critics were nearly unanimous in their praise for its star’s performance. “Sy is a complete character with a physicality, inner monologue and motivation that we haven’t seen from Mr. Williams in a long time,” wrote Joe Lozito of Big Picture Big Sound. “And it’s a pleasure to watch.”


 

9. The Fisher King

Williams reunited with Terry Gilliam, who’d earlier directed him in a small role for The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, for this heartfelt 1991 drama about an abrasive radio deejay (Jeff Bridges) who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a homeless man (Williams) who has a poignant connection to his past. A tale with a decidedly smaller scope than the average Gilliam production, The Fisher King traded its director’s trademark special effects-assisted whimsy for a tale of redemption and simple human kindness — and earned Williams his third Best Actor Oscar nomination in the process. “Working within the constraints of a big studio film has brought out Gilliam’s best,” observed Newsweek’s David Ansen. “He’s become a true storyteller and a wonderful director of actors. This time he delights not only the eye but the soul.”


 

8. Dead Poets Society

It’s a movie seemingly seen by an entire generation, and one that contains some of the most eminently quotable lines in Williams’ entire filmography — so what’s Dead Poets Society doing so far down on this list? Fact is, as much as its cult has grown over the years, this inspirational drama about an embattled English teacher at a private academy was initially dismissed by a number of top critics, including Vincent Canby of the New York Times and Roger Ebert, who called it “shameless in its attempt to pander to an adolescent audience.” Most filmgoers disagreed, of course, helping Poets rack up more than $235 million in worldwide grosses as well as four Academy Awards nominations (including Best Actor for Williams). Christopher Null of Filmcritic agreed with the crowds, saying it all added up to “The best stories and performances, one of the greatest films of the 1980s and a rare classic that should be treasured.”


 

7. Awakenings

Williams netted his fourth Golden Globes nomination for his work in this Penny Marshall drama about the true story of British neurologist Olivier Sacks (played by Williams as the fictional, and American, Malcolm Sayer), whose pioneering pharmacological studies help achieve a breakthrough with a catatonic patient (played by Robert De Niro). Nominated for three Academy Awards — including Best Picture and Best Actor for De Niro — Awakenings wasn’t quite the major Christmas hit it was cracked up to be, grossing just over $50 million during its theatrical run, but it was a critical favorite for scribes like Rita Kempley of the Washington Post, who called it “cause for rejoicing, a literate and compassionate film in this season of chintz and barbarism.”


 

6. World’s Greatest Dad

Though he’d been helming features since the early 1990s, eyebrows still raised when it was announced that Bobcat Goldthwait would be directing Robin Williams in a comedy about a milquetoast high school teacher who pens a phony suicide note for his son after discovering him dead of auto-erotic asphyxiation. It’s every bit the black comedy that its premise would suggest, but World’s Greatest Dad also contains plenty of Goldthwait-style absurdity, including a scene where Bruce Hornsby shows up as himself — and it earned praise from critics like Robbie Collin from News of the World, who wrote, “Beware that poster, with its jolly red writing and Mork from Ork’s face thereon. This is not the Robin Williams of Old Dogs and License To Wed.”


 

5. Moscow On The Hudson

Released during the peak of the Cold War 1980s, Moscow on the Hudson dramatized the plight of a Soviet circus musician (played by Williams in an early dramatic role) who defects to the United States while he’s in New York for a performance. While films that illustrated the basic humanity at the heart of the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union weren’t exactly rare in the 1980s — heck, even Rocky IV explored a similar message — Hudson rose above the pack thanks to its talented cast, not to mention some typically solid work from writer/director Paul Mazursky. Scott Weinberg of eFilmCritic called it “The first good look we got at Williams trying to broaden his horizons” and pronounced it “Well done.”


 

4. Good Morning, Vietnam

It’s almost impossible to read the title of this movie without hearing Williams’ booming voice shouting it. A huge success that earned him his first Oscar nomination and first Golden Globe, Good Morning, Vietnam dramatized the wartime experience of real-life Armed Forces Radio Service DJ Adrian Cronauer, finding belly laughs as well as poignant drama in his attempts to survive the war while finding friendship and battling the hypocrisy of his superiors — all to the strains of one of the decade’s best-selling soundtracks. “Make no mistake about it,” admonished the New York Times’ Vincent Canby. “Mr. Williams’s performance, though it’s full of uproarious comedy, is the work of an accomplished actor. Good Morning, Vietnam is one man’s tour de force.”


 

3. Insomnia

Even Williams’ most manic work has always been limned with a palpable sense of sadness, helping him navigate between comedy and drama since the beginning of his film career — and, as Christopher Nolan discovered with 2002’s Insomnia, making him a natural for bone-chillingly creepy villain roles like Walter Finch, the crime writer suspected by police detective Will Dormer (Al Pacino) of having something to do with the death of a teenage girl. The New York Post’s Lou Lumenick called it “A four-course gourmet alternative to summer popcorn flicks, serving up the meatiest performances Al Pacino and Robin Williams have given in many years.”


 

2. Aladdin

The early 1990s were a busy but critically uneven time for Williams, giving us a Cadillac Man or Toys for every Fisher King or Mrs. Doubtfire. But his largely ad-libbed voice work in 1992’s Aladdin represents the best of both worlds: Williams firing on all cylinders and delivering some of his funniest lines without having to carry the film. “Robin Williams and animation were born for one another,” observed Roger Ebert, “and in Aladdin they finally meet.”


 

1. Good Will Hunting

After earning Oscar nominations for his work in Good Morning America, Dead Poets Society, and The Fisher King, Williams finally scored a win for his crucial supporting work in Good Will Hunting. As the therapist who helps Will Hunting (Matt Damon) move beyond his troubled past, Williams provided an impetus for the film’s touching final act while delivering some of his most sensitive dramatic work. “Even rarer than a breath of fresh air is a breath of fresh Hollywood film,” declared Jay Carr of the Boston Globe, adding, “Brainy and heartfelt and right on target, Good Will Hunting is such a film.”

The top 11 Brazil World Cup 2014 adverts & viral videos

The top 11 Brazil World Cup 2014 adverts and viral videos are listed below.

1. Nike Football: The Last Game ft. Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., Rooney, Zlatan, Iniesta & more. The cartoon format was a game changer for the sportswear giant and could well go down as the most memorable Brazil 2014 commercial.

2. Beats by Dre: The Game Before The Game. The joke doing the rounds after this release was that Beats by Dre had spent the 3 billion dollars from Apple on one pretty glorious advert. This is one of the slickest World Cup ads of all time.

3. Nike Football: Winner Stays. ft. Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., Rooney, Ibrahimović, Iniesta & more. The second of three Nike World Cup adverts, released in April and with over 74 million views on YouTube. The classic Nike format and there is no doubting it still works!

4. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): FIFA and the World Cup. Deserves the widest audience possible for explaining just how many of us feel about the upcoming tournament. Its going to be awesome, but football’s governing body need to change.

5. The Dream: all in or nothing ft. Messi, Alves, Suárez, Özil, RVP and more — FIFA World Cup. Adidas rolled out their biggest stars and the commercial is set to ‘The Dream’, a specially recorded Kanye West track. Over 33 million views on YouTube is pretty good going!

6. House Match ft. Beckham, Zidane, Bale and Lucas Moura: all in or nothing. Considering not one of the four big stars in this Adidas commercial are heading to the World Cup, this is impressive. David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane are pretty much always winners for Adidas.

7. Comercial Mineros – Apoyo Selección camino al Mundial 2014. Forget facing Spain and Holland… The 33 miners trapped for 69 days tell Chile: Nothing is impossible. It may be in Spanish but this Bank of Chile advert deserves a wide audience. Got the be the most stirring World Cup advert.

8. Met Heineken vier je de Oranjekoorts!. Heineken released a terrific advert in Holland a couple of months ago. For many, a commercial that features Dennis Bergkamp as Christ the Redeemer is a guaranteed great watch. And so it proves…

9. McDonald’s GOL! FIFA World Cup – Brasil 2014. The global fast food goliath sought out some of the best freestyle footballers in Rio de Janeiro, and they then watched them entertain locals as they went about their daily lives. The tricks which the freestylers pulled off are breathtaking, and it’s hard to believe that computer graphics weren’t used in some of the more amazing tricks.

10. El Fantasma del 50 ya está en Brasil. The “Maracanazo,” the 1950 World Cup… you will be hearing a lot about these in the coming weeks, if you have not been overloaded already. Back in November Puma pulled out a video of the Uruguay Phantom of 1950 enjoying himself in Brazil!

11. 2014 FIFA World Cup on ESPN — Ian Darke Calls a Date. ESPN have pulled out a fair few adverts that have tickled our fancy in the past few months. Darke is an experienced and classy commentator, as he proves here as well!

Source: http://www.101greatgoals.com/blog/the-top-10-brazil-world-cup-2014-adverts-and-viral-videos-a-definitive-list/

 

New movies coming out this month: June, 2014

June 5
Edge of Tomorrow (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D, p.m. screenings)
The Fault in Our Stars (p.m. screenings)

June 6
Anna (limited)
Borgman (limited)
Burning Blue (limited)
Burt’s Buzz (limited)
The Case Against 8 (limited)
Citizen Koch (NY; expands: June 13 & 20; LA release: June 27)
Dormant Beauty (NY)
Holiday (limited)
Little Boy (limited)
The Moment (NY)
Obvious Child (limited)
The Sacrament (limited)
Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (NY, LA)
This is Not a Ball (NY)
Trust Me (limited)
Willow Creek (NY)

June 11
Burning Bush (NY)

June 13
22 Jump Street
All Cheerleaders Die (limited)
Hellion (limited)
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D)
The Human Race (limited)
I am I (limited)
Ivory Tower (limited)
Life’s a Breeze (limited)
Lullaby (limited)
The Rover (NY, LA; expands: June 20)
The Signal (limited; expansions: June 20 & 27)
Violette (limited)
Witching & Bitching (NY)

June 20
Code Black (limited)
Coherence (limited)
Jersey Boys
The Last Sentence (NY)
Think Like a Man Too
Third Person (limited)
Venus in Fur (limited)

June 25
Yves Saint Laurent (limited)

June 27
Begin Again (NY, LA; limited: July 2; expands: July 11)
Drones (limited)
The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (NY)
Jackpot (limited)
La Bare (limited)
Snowpiercer (limited)
They Came Together (limited)
Transformers: Age of Extinction (2D theaters and IMAX)
Whitey: The United States of America v. James J Bulger (limited)

Making Maleficent Fly

Photo Credit: bestyss.com

Walt Disney Pictures’ Maleficent stars Angelina Jolie, Oscar winner for Girl, Interrupted, and among the smallest handful of actors we can refer to as true movie stars. It retells the story of one of Disney’s most iconic villains, the evil witch from Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty. Its intent is by no means to lighten Maleficent up, as much as to illuminate her. As Angelina told Entertainment Weekly, “It’s about the struggle that people have with their own humanity and what is that that destroys that and kind of makes us die inside.”

Not exactly kid stuff, but the first reaction of audiences has been strong: an extremely rare Cinemascore rating of “A” from the people who’ve seen it, on top of an opening weekend north of $170 million worldwide.

Maleficent is directed by first-timer Robert Stromberg, who had a long career in visual effects before moving to Art Direction, where his first two outings (Avatar and Alice in Wonderland) both earned him Academy Awards. Maleficent screenwriter Linda Woolverton also wrote Alice in Wonderland (the first woman to be the sole writer on a billion-dollar picture), Beauty and The Beast (the first animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar), and collaborated on the screenplay for one of Disney’s talking animal trifles. The Lion King. You may have heard of it.

In addition to Robert and Linda, another member of the team responsible for the success of Alice in Wonderland, now working again with them on Maleficent, is Visual Effects Supervisor Carey Villegas, whose work on Alice in Wonderland in fact netted him an Oscar nomination. Along with work on vfx-heavy franchises including Superman and Spiderman, Carey’s diverse credits include What Dreams May Come, Fight Club, and Cast Away. We spoke to Carey about his work on Maleficent, coordinating the efforts from Digital Domain and the Moving Picture Company, the challenges of making realistic visual effects, and keeping Maleficent the movie grounded while making the character Maleficent fly.

CREATIVE COW: This is a big movie.

[Laughter]

CAREY VILLEGAS: Yeah, definitely, definitely. It’s, for me, I think, just shy of two-and-a-half years on the project, so it’s also a long, long time.

Can you tell me about what happened when on that timeline?

Maleficent VFX supervisor Carey Villegas
Carey Villegas
Disney's MALEFICENT</p><br /><br />
<p>Conceptual Artwork</p><br /><br />
<p>(c)Disney 2014
Conceptual Artwork for Disney’s “MALEFICENT” by Director Robert Stromberg. ©Disney 2014

CV: Sure. I went out to London, January of 2012, after speaking with Robert Stromberg, the director, and Dave Taritaro from Disney, who’s in charge of visual effects over there. There wasn’t an agreement to make Maleficent in place yet, so we just started to have conversations about the script and all the different characters involved. Before we knew it, we just went full-on into pre-production, and just started designing characters and trying to come with techniques for executing the story.

I know you were the VFX supervisor on Alice in Wonderland, which was another very visually rich, world creation, and not just a movie story being told, but a world being built. How would you compare your role on those two?

I’ve collaborated with Robert Stromberg before in his role as art director, on a number of projects over the years, including Alice in Wonderland. Our challenge with that was the same as for Maleficent: how to create these magical, fanciful environments, while still making them feel kind of realistic and believable.

In the case of Alice in Wonderland, we were going for much more stylized feel. That was primarily done within a green environment with very few set pieces. In that way, the film was designed more in post-production.

This time, we wanted to ground it a little bit more in reality — still having the fanciful things that we had in Alice in Wonderland, but to also have more practical things to ground it, starting with more sets and more locations.

What’s the role of effects for a fantasy movie at the more realistic end of the spectrum? That’s a lot of different threads to try to be weaving.

I’ve done a lot of projects with invisible types of effects, for instance, Cast Away. Movies like that aren’t trying to showcase any particular visual effects. You’re just trying to extend the world, make it more believable, and also do things that may not be practical for actors to do, or locations to go to. So when you get into an Alice in Wonderland-style film, or a film like Maleficent, the great thing is that you’re really trying to say, “Wow look at me.”

We’re always striving to bring realism to some of these things that we’re creating entirely on the computer. You can do that in a number of ways, whether it’s performance capture or motion capture, or even if you’re doing traditional key frame style animation. It really depends on the characters.

The key for me on this particular show was that there are so many different characters. For example, there are 15 or 16 different types of fairies, and within each of those classes, there were variations on them. That meant creating 40 or 50 different-looking characters, and all kind of families of characters.

Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning). Photo credit: Film Frame. ©Disney 2014
Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning)

Then in addition to that, we had to create pixies, which was the hardest work in the show, to be honest. They would go from these 21-inch tall, flying, little characters to real actors, and then back to their digital counterpart later in the film. We wanted to make sure that we created them in such a way that they were stylized, but also still had a connection to the real actors playing those roles, like Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville and Juno Temple.

Disney's MALEFICENT..L to R: Thistlewit (Juno Temple), Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), Flittle (Lesley Manville)..Photo Credit: Film Frame..©Disney 2014
.L to R: Thistlewit (Juno Temple), Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), Flittle (Lesley Manville). ©Disney 2014

We also wanted to push the facial animation to the next level, and that’s the primary thing I think we did: raising the bar in terms of the technology that we use, and pushing how we went about that process.

I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about Maleficent as a character, and Angelina in particular.

Maleficent is a fairy, so the first challenge was that we had to give her wings. Because her character starts as a young girl, we also wanted to make sure these wings would work both proportionally with that young girl and with Angelina later on.

It took quite a bit of time to figure out how the wings wanted to be. Were they made out of feathers? What was the texture?

Also, think about when you’re simply talking, you’re gesturing with your hands. We wanted those wings to have that type of quality and motion to them as well, just a natural extension of her gestures, so we knew we had to take a digital approach.

Once we came up with the design, we built a full-scale version of the wings. That served a couple of purposes. First and foremost, as a reference. As a digital artist, it’s great to have something very realistic that you can model, and photograph, and really get the sense of what it will look like.

And then also for Angelina and for everyone on the set, we used them to show the mass of the wings. Fully extended, they span over 12 feet. Just having those here on set, we were able to show, “Here’s what you’re dealing with, and this is the kind of space that they occupy when they’re fully extended.”

Disney's MALEFICENT..Maleficent (Angelina Jolie)..Photo Credit: Film Frame..©Disney 2014v
Fully extended, Maleficent’s wings span over twelve feet.

Once we had the physical wings, we focused on two technical issues. First, you have to make these wings stick to Angelina’s back, and track them properly. That’s really the trickiest thing. Even when photographing her from the front, we have to be able to map the wings behind her back without the use of blue screens or green screens.

The next trick is trying to integrate the wings properly into the scene, and then light them, and to make them feel like they actually are attached to her and belong in the environment.

Disney's MALEFICENT..Maleficent (Angelina Jolie)..Photo Credit: Film Frame..©Disney 2014
Maleficent (Angelina Jolie)

One of the ways we took care of both at once was to create kind of a little backpack device, and Velcro it to the back of Angelina’s costume. I stuck these little pads on her back, and we put these little antenna-like tracking sticks with little orange balls at the end onto those little backpack things, so you could actually see how they would track. [chuckle] It looked kind funny. She had this beautiful costume, and then she has these little sticks with orange balls coming off her back.

We eventually replaced these little pads with the full-scale digital wings. Maleficent has very long hair, so I wanted to make sure that her hair had a place to gather and channel between the wings, so that it would interact with the wings in realistic ways. The pads on her back made that work, which helped us later on with the integration.

What were the other things that you had to do with her besides wings?

The purpose of the wings is to fly, so flying was a huge component of the work we did for Maleficent’s character. We had many different flying rigs for Angelina, whether they were wire harnesses or what we call “the fork rig”, which basically attached a harness at her hips and waist, that we could move her within a space.

We actually moved her quite a bit throughout the blue screen environment, to fly, but there were certain dynamics and certain flying bits that we knew that were just way too fast, or in terms of the acrobatics that was just way too much for any person to accomplish. So we had to do those things fully digitally, with a digital double of Angelina.

There’s still a big physical component to the role. That’s often the case for Angelina.

Oh absolutely, she’s amazing. She did all her own stunts for Maleficent.

Not only is she on point every take, you get such a great variety of performances. She’s able to do that while she’s suspended 20 feet in the air, which is pretty amazing.

She has a great stunt double who’s worked with her for many years, Eunice Huthart, who’s now a stunt coordinator herself. She and Angelina have done a lot of films together, and she was able to work closely with Angelina on very specific approaches to these maneuvers. It was a great collaboration for us. We could just let Angelina and Eunice work these things out, which made it much easier for us to augment in visual effects.

Angelina Jolie on set as Maleficent..Ph: Keith Hampshere..©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved..
Angelina Jolie on set as Maleficent. Photo by Keith Hampshere. ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What was it like for you working with multiple VFX houses?

I had previously worked with Digital Domain on their facial capture system for another project, and when Maleficent came about, I knew that I wanted to capitalize on all of that work. We were pretty much trying to take Clu from TRON to the next level. I knew right away that I wanted to use Digital Domain to do that work.

The other company was pretty clear choice, Movie Picture Company, MPC. They’re just such a massive company with many resources, and they have facilities all over the world. I work with Adam Valdez at MPC in London, and also Seth Maury, who I’ve worked with many times over the years, with MPC in Vancouver. So, it was these three major facilities, in Digital Domain and the two MPCs. Where DD did the Maleficent digital double work, the wings, and the pixie work, MPC pretty much handled the rest.

We did have a couple of houses that we brought in at the very end to just do a handful of shots, including Method and The Senate. I also had a pretty big internal team here in Los Angeles as well who pretty much handled everything else in-between. We did between three and four hundred shots internally.

There’s a portion of the film where Maleficent puts Aurora to sleep with her magic spell, and Aurora levitates into the air and floats. All of that work was done with my internal team as well.

Disney's Maleficent: Aurora (Elle Fanning)..Ph: Frank Connor..©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved..
Aurora (Elle Fanning). Photo by Frank Connor. ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This was one of the films where, because so many of the things are interrelated, every shot, every sequence has elements that would have to be shared across multiple companies. It really made no sense to break it.

Some of these films nowadays work with 15, 16 different companies, and that’s just not feasible when you have a character animation show. All the rigging, all the rendering, and all those nuances are proprietary, or at least very specific to each facility, so we knew that we had to limit how broadly we distributed all this effects work.

Did I hear right, that every shot needed more than one house touching it?

That’s right.

Again, we had Digital Domain doing all of Angelina’s work in terms of her wings and all of her digital doubles. Then there’s a big battle sequence in the beginning where these earth-dwelling fairies that come burrowing in and out of the ground emerge from the moors in this big, forested area. Those characters were all created by MPC. Then we have a lot of the shots that are being shared with Angelina’s cutaways, and shots where she’s directly reacting to soldiers. The soldiers were done by MPC, and Digital Domain did the Maleficent component of it.

Disney's Maleficent..Ph: Film Still..©Disney 2014

Disney's Maleficent..Ph: Film Still..©Disney 2014
Battle sequence comps with the earth-dwelling fairies and soldiers.

There’s a sequence toward the end with dragon that was done by MPC, and interacting with DD’s digital double of Maleficent.

Disney's MALEFICENT..Dragon..Photo Credit: Film Frame..©Disney 2014
Dragon by MPC.

There’s a lot of shared assets there, so it was tricky. When you’re dealing with 1500 plus shots, it took a lot of management to keep it all straight.

So what was the biggest thing that you learned from your experience on Maleficent?

I’m always learning, to be honest.

There were so many things for me to learn on this three-year project, but if I had to say just one thing, I’d say that collaborating with people who you’ve worked with in the past is always great.

In this case, I had many people like Kelly Port over at Digital Domain, and Seth Maury at MPC, and even Robert Stromberg, directing this time, but I’ve worked with him many times as an art director. You learn how to communicate with each other, and what you’re looking for from the technical aspects of things, and also understand each other’s artistic sensibilities.

It’s clear for me on a film like this, where there’s so much involved, that the more of those types of relationships you can keep moving forward, film after film after film, the smoother things go. I can’t imagine not having those relationships on a film like this. It’s just so large, and there’s just so much to do, and that made things a lot easier.

Disney's MALEFICENT..Maleficent (Angelina Jolie)..Photo Credit: Frank Connor..©Disney 2014
Maleficent (Angelina Jolie). Photo Credit: Frank Connor.

So I’ve learned to keep working with people that you know and like.

Last question. How did it turn out?

[Laughs] I think it turned out pretty well.

Over the course of time, story points evolve and maybe something that you thought was crystal clear in the script, once it’s photographed, it’s not as crystal clear as it might be. Or maybe something changes in the edit.

For me, it was just trying to make sure going in what the expectations on me would be, from the studio and from Robert, and keep adapting to the changes. I think I fulfilled their expectations and delivered visually what they were looking for. In that respect, I think it turned out pretty well.

Source: http://library.creativecow.net/wilson_tim/Maleficent_VFX_Carey-Villegas/1

The top 25 must-see movies of 2014

Next year’s full of potentially great films, so to help, here’s a list of 25 movies we’re most looking forward to in 2014…

A quick word before you get into the meat of this: Since we uploaded this list back at the start of November, a number of the films we originally featured have been put back to 2015. Furthermore, some interesting movies have had 2014 release dates confirmed. As such, we felt it right in this instance to update the list. At the very bottom, we’ve left the entries for the films originally included, and the original comments are all intact, too. Just now that some of them refer to the list as it was in its previous form!

So then. These lists of anticipated forthcoming movies have become an annual fixture by now, and as ever, our selection has been tricky to whittle down. In restricting our list to just 25, we’ve tried to create a mix of the high-profile and the less obvious. Movies such as Non-Stop, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Big Hero Six and Edge Of Tomorrow came close but didn’t quite make the cut, even though they have much to offer for their own reasons.

Furthermore, given the number of films competing for space, we’ve left the latest chapters of The Hunger Games and The Hobbit off the list. We’re keen to see both, but we’re wary of taking up slots with movies that have been on an annual cycle.

Then there are films like Hayao Miyazaki’s swansong The Wind Rises, which doesn’t qualify since it already came out in 2013 in most territories – likewise Ari Folman’s animated film The Congress, which isn’t due out in the UK until 2014, but made its debut in Cannes back in May.

So with all this in mind, here’s our pick of the 25 must-see films of 2014. In 2012, we picked Gravity as our top choice. The year before? Prometheus. One of those would go on to work a lot better than the other. Let’s see how we do this time…

25. RoboCop

This much-publicised remake has plenty going against it, not least the weight of history: Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop is rightly regarded by many as being among the best films of the 1980s, with its heady cocktail of graphic violence, black comedy and corporate satire. Now, we certainly don’t expect next year’s Robo remake to better the original, but there’s at least one reason to look forward to it with some sense of optimism: the track record of Brazilian director Jose Padilha.

If you haven’t heard of him, Padhila began his career with the documentary Bus 174, which told the remarkable true story of a man who took a busload of passengers hostage and ended up in the middle of a media circus. His next two feature films, Elite Squad and its sequel The Enemy Within, mixed action and suspense with a thought-provoking account of life and death in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.

Whether Padilha can (or will even be allowed) to bring the sense of realism and intensity of Elite Squad to his RoboCop remake remains to be seen, but we await the results with cautious enthusiasm.

24. Noah

Truth be told, we’re a bit torn on Noah. There are two biblical epics arriving in cinemas next year, with Ridley Scott’s Exodus the other, and we’re in two minds about both of them. Noah in particular has been in the news due to apparent disagreements between its director and Paramount over the final cut. That director? Darren Aronofsky, and it’s his name that sneaks Noah onto our countdown.

Darren Aronofsky is comfortably one of the most interesting directors working in America right now, and Noah marks his belated move into big budget filmmaking (after he pulled out of making The Wolverine). His cast features Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Logan Lerman and Anthony Hopkins, and the scale of the story – and presumably the film – suggests that we’re going to get a big screen spectacle at the very least. However, if Aronofsky gets his cut, then it’s going to be quite something to see what the man behind Pi, Black Swan and The Fountain can do with an awful lot more money to spend.

23. Calvary

The last time John Michael McDonagh made a film, we got the exceptional – and very funny – The Guard. His follow-up, Calvary, reunites him with the star of that movie, Brendan Gleeson, but we’re getting a very different movie here. This one seems a lot darker for a start, although it’s still being described in some quarters as a comedy/drama.

Gleeson headlines as a priest who’s threatened while taking a confession. The crux of the film is that said priest is a good man, who finds himself in the midst of not so good things. In fact, the character’s arguably a reversal of the The Guard‘s Gerry Boyle.

The cast is rounded out by Aidan Gillen, Kelly Reilly and Chris O’Down, amongst others. We’d by lying if we said that it wasn’t the reunion of Gleeson and McDonagh that sold us on the movie, though…

22. Need For Speed

In most instances, movies based on videogames are shot, released and then despatched straight into the nearest cultural landfill site. But while Need For Speed is based on EA’s long-running and ever-changing racing game franchise, it has a better pedigree than most. For one thing, it stars the great Aaron Paul as a street racer on a mission of vengeance across the highways of America, and he’s backed up by a supporting cast which includes Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots and Michael Keaton.

The script’s by George Nolfi, who wrote Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, and both wrote and directed The Adjustment Bureau. And while it’s seldom a good idea to judge a movie by its trailer, the first promo for Need For Speed really does look exciting – and there’s even a bit of drama and artistic lighting in evidence between all the requisite tyre squealings, crashes and bangs.

21. Selfless

Tarsem Singh’s visually ornate movies – The Cell, The Fall, Immortals, Mirror Mirror – could be described as an acquired taste, but his style is immediately recognisable and, whether you like them or not, his films are seldom dull. We don’t know a great deal about Selfless yet, but we do know that it’s a science fiction thriller, and appears to be about a dying man whose consciousness is put into the body of a younger, healthier man (possibly the one belonging to Ryan Reynolds, who’s the star). Unfortunately, that younger, healthier body has a murky past that has something to do with a murderous secret organisation.

Matthew Goode – who was marvellous in Park Chan Wook’s Stoker this year – Natalie Martinez and Sir Ben Kingsley round out the supporting cast. If nothing else, we’re intrigued to see how Singh’s unique, often surreal filmmaking style will affect what sounds like a futuristic action thriller.

20. Muppets Most Wanted

The job doesn’t get easier for the team behind The Muppets. The wide success of the 2011 movie makes this follow-up of sorts an even bigger challenge. After all, how do you top the last film and keep the momentum going?

Jason Segel isn’t on board this time around, but Nicholas Stoller, who co-wrote the last film, shares scripting duties with James Bobin. Bobin is directing once again (before he heads off, it seems, to direct Alice In Wonderland 2, with Johnny Depp).

This time, it’s a crime caper we’re getting, one that sees the Muppets heading across Europe in the midst of a dastardly plan by the world’s number one criminal. We’ll keep the identity of said criminal secret (although it won’t be by the time the film comes out), but perhaps the biggest bone of contention surrounding this new film is the decision to cast Ricky Gervais as said criminal’s sidekick. Gervais is the human lead in the film, and his casting has already proven divisive. From what we’ve seen, he fits his specific role well (he’s hardly reprising the kind of role that Segel took on in the first movie), although it’ll be March 2014 before we see if we’re proven right there.

Alongside Gervais are Ty Burrell and Tina Fey, with plenty of cameos still yet to be confirmed. Walter leads the familiar felted faces who will also be back. You don’t need us to tell you we’re looking forward to this a lot.

19. The LEGO Movie

Chris Miller and Phil Lord are the only directors to have two films on this list, and they’re two of the three helmers of the eagerly-awaited LEGO Movie. Chris McKay makes up the rest of the trio, and between them, they’re bringing the visual style of LEGO to the big screen for the first time.

The film will feature lots of DC characters in LEGO form, with Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern and Batman all present and correct. But the focus will be on a character by the name of Emmet, voiced by Chris Pratt, who finds himself unwittingly recruited to help save the world from a foe with predictably dastardly plans.

The visual style alone lends itself to lots of fun here, but then you factor in that Lord and Miller previously gave the world the first Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs movie, and what a comedy treat that turned out to be. The LEGO Movie is certainly shaping up to follow in its path, and don’t be surprised if this turns out to be a sizeable hit.

Please note: in those three paragraphs we didn’t do one brick joke. You don’t know how much restraint that took.

18. Stretch

Joe Carnahan’s The Grey gave Liam Neeson arguably his best big screen role of the last few years. And whilst Carnahan’s attempts to reboot Daredevil got caught up in rights expiration (bah), his next film nonetheless looks like it could be a 2014 surprise.

It’s called Stretch, and follows a chaffeur who takes a job for a very, very rich man. Said rich man proceeds to make his life a living hell. Patrick Wilson is taking on the role of Stretch, and interestingly, Chris Pine is taking a less pleasant turn by playing the billionaire. Ed Helms and James Badge Dale are also in the cast.

Few directors can blend action, drama and comedy in quite as stylish a way as Joe Carnahan can, and when it works, you get no shortage of value for your ticket price. Stretch might just be the latest evidence of that.

17. Fury

Having first established himself as a writer of thrillers – Training Day, The Fast And The Furious, S.W.A.T. – David Ayer then moved into directing, with the so-so Harsh Times (2005) and Street Kings (2008) followed up by the excellent police drama End Of Watch. With that film proving such a critical and financial success, Ayer now has two films coming up in 2014: the first is Sabotage (formerly known as Ten), an action thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The second – and the one we’re most looking forward to – is Fury, a World War II action drama about the final days of the battle in Europe. Brad Pitt stars as a tank commander in a hopeless situation behind enemy lines, with Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman and Jon Bernthal among his crew. We like Ayer. We like tanks. Both reasons enough to be excited about an increasingly rare entry in the war film genre.

16. Gone Girl

Since he adapted The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher has been concentrating more on the small screen, with the successful Netflix-backed US take on House Of Cards. While he’s been doing that, the promised English language version of The Girl Who Played With Fire hasn’t come to light, and Fincher has instead opted to adapt another novel, the hugely successful, unpredictable thriller, Gone Girl.

The book in question is written by Gillian Flynn, and she’s also penned the screenplay. Fincher has cast Ben Affleck in the pivotal role of Nick Dunne, the narrator of the book and one of its main characters. It’s arguably a far trickier role than the Bruce Wayne/Batman combo he has coming up, although there was less notable controversy when he landed this particular job.

Rosamund Pike co-stars (hopefully in better fitting clothes than she was made to wear in Jack Reacher), alongside Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris, and the plan is for Fincher’s tenth film to be in cinemas around October 2014. Given that even Fincher’s less interesting movies have much to recommend about them, Gone Girl should be a grown-up, uncompromising thriller, from a man who’s very, very good at making them.

15. 22 Jump Street

Who would have thought that a seemingly by-the-numbers remake of an 80s TV show would turn out to be one of the funniest films of 2012? Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs) clearly had a great time making this high school comedy thriller, and Channing Tatum showed off his knack for comic timing alongside Jonah Hill in an improv-heavy, good-natured hit. Can the same team of actors and filmmakers pull off the same trick twice with next year’s sequel? We certainly hope so.

14. The Monuments Men

Delayed from a 2013 release, where it had a whiff of Oscar buzz about  it, The Monuments Men is the latest directorial effort from George Clooney (he co-wrote the script as well). This one’s been delayed for good reasons, too: Clooney wouldn’t have had time to meet the original end of 2013 release date, and so all concerned agreed to put the release back to February 2014, to give him some valuable extra weeks.

Clooney’s uncovered a fascinating story to tell, that of Roosevelt ordering a small platoon of soldiers being sent into Germany in World War II, with the aim of recovering artistic masterpieces deep behind enemy lines.

He’s got some cast, too. As well as Clooney himself, the call sheet features Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin and Hugh Bonneville. And all in a quest to save some cultural heritage. Clooney’s an excellent director on his day – Good Night And Good Luck, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind – and whilst The Monuments Men may have slipped out of awards season, there’s still lots to be interested in.

13. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Marvel has two terrific looking films lined up for 2014, and if Captain America: The Winter Soldier picks up some of the themes we saw so well explored in the first movie, this could be a real highlight. Marvel’s already been talking about the movie as a political thriller of sorts, a tease backed up by the casting of Robert Redford as the head honcho of S.H.I.E.L.D. And it’s also revealed that this is the film that does a good deal of the bridging work between The Avengers and 2015’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

We’re promised a sizeable role for Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow here, and there’s also room in the film for Hayley Atwell, Samuel L Jackson, Toby Jones and Cobie Smulders to make return appearances. Plus, Chris Evans in the title role of course. Meanwhile, Anthony Mackie is Sam Wilson (aka Falcon), and Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Georges St-Pierre and Sebastian Stan are all onboard.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo have the underwhelming movie Me, You And Dupree to their name, but more interestingly, a whole bunch of brilliant Community episodes. Marvel deserves credit once more for working hard to find interesting directors, and count us amongst the many excited to see what the Russos have come up with here.

12. Jupiter Ascending

Ever since The Matrix put the Wachowskis on the Hollywood power list, the filmmaking duo have been using their clout to pursue their own unusual projects. Let’s face it, few other filmmakers could have got the financing and cast together to make an adaptation of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, and while the results weren’t perfect, the movie had some unforgettably striking moments.

Jupiter Ascending sees the Wachowskis continuing to forge their own individual path. It’s essentially a science fiction fairytale, with Mila Kunis playing a Russian toilet cleaner whose DNA somehow threatens the reign of someone called the Queen of the Universe. An eclectic cast has gathered, including Channing Tatum (whose character has “wolf DNA”, we’re told), Sean Bean, Tuppence Middleton, James D’Arcy and even Terry Gilliam, who shows up in a “small but vital part”.

Jupiter Ascending sounds like it could be a work of madness, which is probably why we’re genuinely looking forward to watching it.

11. The Imitation Game

It feels like we’ve been talking about The Imitation Game for years, for it’s certainly taken its time getting itself before the cameras. Originally a project in which Leonardo DiCaprio was set to star, this historical drama about the life and work of Alan Turing – who broke the German Enigma code during World War II, only to later be persecuted, and prosecuted, for his sexuality – now features Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role.

He’s joined in the cast by Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode, with Morten Tyldum – who made the wonderful movie Headhunters – now directing. There have already been accusations levelled at the film regarding how little prominence it apparently gives Turing’s homosexuality, but the producers have been firm in insisting that’s not the case.

We’re fascinated to see how the final film pans out, and if it is indeed a quality testament to a man whose heroic acts were ultimately deemed less important than his sexuality.

10. X-Men: Days Of Future Past

Great though 2011’s X-Men: First Class was, it’s exciting to have Bryan Singer back in the chair for Days Of Future Past, an adaptation of the 1981 comic book run which aims to tie the two timelines in the X-Men cinematic universe. To this end, we’ll have both James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart playing Professor X in two separate epochs, and Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellen playing Magneto.

Having a fight for mutant survival play out across two points in time could prove too much for some directors, but Singer’s The Usual Suspects is evidence that he can handle complex storylines with ease. Among the expected cast, including Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and a returning Anna Paquin as Rogue, there’s also Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde, and the great Peter Dinklage as scientist Bolivar Trask.

If Singer can make another comic book movie as good as X2, we should be in for a real treat. Certainly on the basis of the first trailer, he’s heading very much in the right direction.

9. How To Train Your Dragon 2

There are some terrific-looking animated movies that we simply didn’t have space to squeeze into this countdown – Mr Peabody & Sherman and Big Hero Six chief amongst them. But our animated movie of choice for 2014 is the eagerly awaiting How To Train Your Dragon 2.

The first film was a triumph for DreamWorks Animation, and arguably one of its very best films. And whilst co-director Chris Sanders went off to make The Croods (and is now working on The Croods 2), the other co-director – Dean DeBlois – has been calling the shots on this sequel. In fact, he’s also knee deep too in How To Train Your Dragon 3, which is scheduled to land in 2016.

For the purposes of chapter two, five years have moved on, so when we meet Hiccup and his friends again, they’re late teenagers. But Hiccup is no ordinary teenager – he’s not spending hours locked in his room looking at ‘educational’ YouTube videos – as he finds himself in the midst of a new conflict between humans and dragons. Oops.

We’ve already had a trailer for How To Train Your Dragon 2, and it went down a treat. Here’s hoping the final cut of the film does when we finally get to see it June 2014.

8. Guardians Of The Galaxy

In truth, Guardians Of The Galaxy may not turn out to be the best Marvel movie of 2014. But on paper, it’s comfortably the biggest gamble. Not for the first time, Marvel is taking a property that the mass audience isn’t particularly familiar with, and giving it to a director who isn’t the most obvious choice.

So, we get a space-based adventure, from the man who directed Slither and Super (films we like, we should point out), that includes a talking tree, Bradley Cooper voicing a raccoon, Karen Gillan with no hair, and a cast of characters that don’t easily lend themselves to the shelves of Toys R Us.

Bluntly, we can’t wait. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Benicio del Toro and Michael Rooker are amongst the rest of the cast, and it seems clear that if you were looking for a comic book movie that’s happy to resist the usual template, Guardians Of The Galaxy is looking like your best bet. How will it gel together with the broader Marvel Cinematic Universe? We’re already getting clues and teases for that through mid-credits sequences. But we look forward to finding out more on August 1st.

7. The Raid 2

When Gareth Evans’ The Raid appeared in 2011, its effect felt like a solid punch between the eyes. With some lightning fast martial arts moves from Iko Uwais, a simple high-concept premise – about the storming of a drug lord’s high-rise lair by a group of cops – and some incredibly intense, almost horror-like direction from Evans, The Raid was a truly thrilling action film.

The Raid 2 again stars Uwais – it’s safe to say his former job in a call centre is now firmly behind him  – who this time goes undercover in a Jakarta gang. Only time will tell whether Evans can create the same air of menacing intensity as the previous film, but with characters listed on IMDb with names like Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man, we can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

6. Big Eyes

Tim Burton stormed back into form with the wonderful Frankenweenie in 2012, and Big Eyes builds on that, as he reteams with his Ed Wood writers – Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski – for a biopic that could by one of 2014’s standouts.

Made for a modest price, Big Eyes stars Christoph Waltz as Walter Keane, who came to fame in the 1950s and 1960s for paintings that featured big-eyed children. Only they weren’t his paintings: they were the work of his shy wife, Margaret, who’s played in the film by Amy Adams.

Burton’s film will frame this through the divorce battle that eventually occurred between Walter and Margaret, where the latter accused the former of stealing her work. The last time Burton made a low budget biopic, the aforementioned Ed Wood, the result was his best film, and an Oscar for Martin Landau. Might Big Eyes be the movie to finally get Amy Adams a gong? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s most definitely one of our must-sees of 2014, and – for the first time in a while – a Tim Burton live action film that we’re absolutely aching to see.

5. Birdman

Looking for an actor to play a one-time big screen superhero who’s fallen out of the public eye? We’re curious if Michael Keaton actually had to audition for Birdman, the new film from Alejandro González Iñárritu, and we certainly wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t.

Birdman, billed as a comedy, sees Keaton as Riggan Thomson, once the man who played Birdman, but now desperately trying to put on a Broadway play (in this instance, Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love). Barriers to him doing so? Ego, family, insecurity. On top of the usual stuff.

Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Zach Galafianakis, Naomi Watts and Amy Ryan co-star. But the wildcard here might be Iñárritu himself – it looks, on paper, like a change of tone from the man who brought us the amazing Amores Perros, and films such as 21 Grams and Babel.

If nothing else, the chance to see Keaton in a big, major lead role is comfortably enough to sell us a ticket. It’s been too long…

4. How To Catch A Monster

As if Ryan Gosling wasn’t an enviable enough figure, he’s also turning his hand to directing with How To Catch A Monster. He’s assembled an equally enviable cast for his debut, including Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan, Matt Smith, Eva Mendes and Ben Mendelsohn. It’s described as a fantasy neo-noir, about a single mother and her young son, and the discovery of a path to a city under the sea. If Gosling’s directing’s as good as his acting, this one could be marvellous.

3. Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s a notoriously secretive filmmaker, and like Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, specific details surrounding Interstellar are difficult to come by. According to some sources, the story’s about scientists trying to use wormholes in space to find arable land for a starving planet. Officially, though, all that’s been confirmed is that it’s about the discovery of a wormhole, and a team of scientists’ voyage through it.

The cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck and John Lithgow, and filming has been underway since August in locations including Canada and Iceland. The screenplay, rewritten by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, is based on the work of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, so we should be in for something approaching the more cerebral science fiction of, say, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

If Inception‘s anything to go by, the synopsis and marketing will only give us a vague idea of the final film’s true nature. We can’t wait to see what filmmaking tricks Nolan has in store for us.

2. Godzilla

With 2010’s Monsters, director Gareth Edwards proved that he could make an engaging sci-fi drama on a miniscule budget. And with Godzilla as his second picture, we’ll get to see what he can do with a larger effects department and an entire team of technicians behind him.

The 1998 Godzilla adaptation may have played fast and loose with Japan’s most famous kaiju, but there are signs everywhere that Edwards plans to make his film in the mode of Ishiro Honda’s dark, sombre 1954 original. This is certainly backed up by the cast, which is full of actors capable of bringing the requisite gravitas: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe and David Strathairn are just a few of the most prominent names.

A recently leaked Comic Con trailer fuelled our excitement further, with its ominous soundtrack and images of a devastated city establishing the mighty Godzilla as a truly intimidating force of nature.

1. Transcendence

Since Memento in 2000, cinematographer Wally Pfister became known as a regular collaborator with Christopher Nolan, and since that low-budget classic, the pair worked together on a string of projects, each more grand than the last. Transcendence marks Pfister’s first project as director, and it sounds extremely exciting.

It’s set in a future where scientists are on the cusp of creating a computer intelligence superior to our own, and a terrorist organisation is doing its best to prevent a technological singularity from occurring. Johnny Depp stars as a computer scientist whose consciousness is uploaded to the internet, and Rebecca Hall joins him as his wife and scientific colleague.

“Is it really Will who is interacting with humanity in order to make things better,” reads the intriguing synopsis for the film, “or a sinister clone bent on the termination of the world as we know it?”

The premise alone sounds fantastic, and Pfister’s presence means it’ll be beautiful to look at, too. And while Pfister may have taken on a mammoth task in this potentially expensive, star-laden movie, let’s not forget that he’s spent more than a decade working with one of the finest mainstream film directors currently working. Transcendence could be the moment where Mister Pfister strikes out as a brilliant storyteller in his own right.

Finally: here are the films that we original featured, that have since been delayed to 2015…

The Secret Service

The last time Matthew Vaughn and Mark Millar got together, we ended up with the original Kick-Ass. Vaughn turned down the chance to make another X-Men film (following X-Men: First Class) to helm The Secret Service instead, and the film currently sits on the schedules for November 2014.

There’s an essence of a junior James Bond to the film, as it follows an experienced secret agent who takes on a young apprentice. Colin Firth plays the former, with Taron Egerton tackling the role of the latter. And the cast is rounded out by the likes of Michael Caine and Samuel L Jackson. Furthermore, there are rumours of cameos from names such as David Beckham, Elton John, Adele and Lady Gaga. They’ve not been confirmed, though.

This does look an interesting project, whether they’re included or not. As with Kick-Ass, Millar and Vaughn are keeping the budget low and the level of creative control high. It worked well for them last time, and there are plenty of reasons why it should all work well this time around too.

Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s classic novel has been told and retold many times on the big screen, from James Whale’s 1931 classic starring Boris Karloff, to the 2007 British TV version, which cast Helen McCrory as geneticist Dr Victoria Frankenstein. 2014 will add a further two retellings of The Modern Prometheus to that list: the action fantasy I, Frankenstein, starring Aaron Eckhart, and Frankenstein, penned by Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis.

The latter’s the one we’re most looking forward to, partly because we were so impressed by Chronicle, but also because his description of what he’s written sounds so strange. Landis’ version of Frankenstein, as well as being based on Shelley’s text, is also inspired by the story that has shifted and altered over the course of its retelling. In an interview with Aint It Cool, Landis rightly pointed out that the character Igor, for example, didn’t even appear in the original novel, and only showed up in later Universal sequel – as played by Bela Lugosi.

Landis’ adaptation, then, will itself be a kind of Frankenstein’s creation, with bits of half-remembered story pieced together to create something different. Daniel Radcliffe is set to play Igor, James McAvoy’s cast as Victor Von Frankenstein, and Jessica Brown Findlay will play a character named Lorelei. The film will, Landis says, be about “friendship and science, genius and madness, love and ambition, life and death.”

Mad Max: Fury Road

Poor George Miller. Not only has the director’s fourth Mad Max film spent more than two decades in development hell, it’s also faced all kinds of hardships since it finally went into production a few years ago, from rain storms forcing a shift in locations, and budget overruns to some early 2013 reshoots.

Thankfully, there are signs that the Mad Max: Fury Road saga will have a happy ending, with anonymous sources stating that Miller’s related sequel is actually very good – it’s even said that Warner Bros were so happy with what they saw, they even gave Miller some extra money to go back and shoot some extra scenes to beef up one of Fury Road’s major action set pieces.

The presence of Tom Hardy in the lead role also gives us hope, as does Miller’s persistence in getting his sequel made: Mad Max 2 was a classic film, and with Fury Road picking up straight after the events of that film, we’re hoping the belated follow-up will recapture some of its brilliance.

Tomorrowland

Speculation over the nature of this Brad Bird picture has been raging for quite a while. Once going under the working title 1952, the project was once rumoured to be a Star Wars sequel, a Buck Rogers remake, or maybe an adaptation of an EE ‘Doc’ Smith novel.