Brendan Fraser is explaining the art of acting in special-effects movies, and he grabs a plastic water bottle to illustrate his point about pretending.
"It may be a misbehaving cartoon duck," he says, holding the water bottle to his face and squinting as it squirts an imaginary jet of water into his eye. "Or it may be something that's trying to take your head off," he adds, shrinking back as the water bottle moves in threateningly.
What we are watching looks like outtakes from Looney Toons: Back in Action, and The Mummy, two of the special-effects films that comprise half of Fraser's career. More than most actors, Fraser jumps between genres; he's George of the Jungle one day, looking goofy and lost, and then he's the hunky pool boy to Ian McKellen's gay director in Gods and Monsters, or the angry husband of Sandra Bullock in Crash. Both kinds of movies have one thing in common.
"You've got to absolutely buy into it," he says, putting down the water bottle. "And in a way it's collaborative. It's collaborative, and you may not know it."
He gives the example of The Mummy Returns, where he is fighting with a mummy on top of a double-decker bus. Fraser likes to do what he calls "the fighty-punchy stuff" without stuntmen and he was inspired to use a Three Stooges move and stick his fingers into the mummy's eyes. This being another special effects extravaganza, there was no mummy actually there (it's computerized into the film later), so Fraser mimed what might happen.
"There'd be mummy goo on your finger. Gross," he says, shaking off the imaginary yuckiness. The filmmakers thought the improvisation was hilarious, and it stayed in the movie. "There's a sense of spontaneity that you can bring to the work, whether you know it or not," he says.
The trip down special-effects lane comes in the service of Fraser's new CGI performance, as the professor who leads an exploration in Journey to the Center of the Earth, a kids adventure with computerized dinosaurs, man-eating plants, carnivorous fish and other perils. This movie - being released just ahead of Fraser's third Mummy film - is not especially fighty-punchy, but it's very special-effecty: it's shot in digital 3-D.
As Fraser puts it, "What we've done is the first pre-visualized, narrative-drive, live-action, feature-length, high-definition 3-D film ever created."
And 3-D is what is grabbing Fraser's attention these days. Ever since his friend, Canadian comic Dave Foley, bought him a stereoscopic camera for Christmas, he's been hooked on the format.
He suspects he's not alone. Fraser, 39, has been making movies for 25 years, and in that time, he says young people have become, if not blase, at least no longer astonished by visual effects.
"I know I was thrilled when I saw the stained glass man step out of the church window in Young Sherlock Holmes and get in a swordfight," he says. "I mean, that was cool. Wow. Well, the 'wow' factor may have just become an 'eh,' just because they're used to it. It's par for the course. But where do you go from there? Is there a barrier or a glass ceiling or whatever? How do you pierce that?"
The answer is 3-D, he says. "You know why? Because you have to, and this is my favorite part, you have to go to the theatre. Bums in the seats are required to experience - experience! - this film."
Fraser, who also produced Journey to the Center of the Earth, has the expressiveness of a teenager when he talks about movies: he calls himself a "big goof," and it was that quality that persuaded director Eric Brevig that he was the man for the job.
"I was looking for an actor who could bring a sense of fun and not yet feel like he was trying to be funny," Brevig said. "The guy's just a wonderful actor and I knew that he could embody the sense of fun I was looking for in this movie."
He showed his other side, Serious Brendan, when he showed up with a lot of ideas about the screenplay, based on Jules Verne's classic novel.
"You know when you take a tray of watercolours and you run it under the sink?," Fraser says. "That's what the relationships were like. I mean all the colours were there, it's just that they didn't really go together that well."
Despite the fact that Journey is heavy on the effects, Fraser says that, "if you don't care about the people, no matter what whizbang, pyrotechnic, hee-haw saturation of visual effects, you're just watching a fireworks display. And that's fun and all, but they only run about 20 minutes long, and after that you're, 'Where's the keys, it's dark?'"
Knowing the importance of the combination is part of what Fraser terms his "bizarre" talent for special effects movies. The actor, who was born in the U.S. but partially raised in Canada (he attended Upper Canada College in Toronto) says he's learned a lot about doing movies he calls "vis-effects intensive."
"You want to have the audience believe it. And the only way to have them believe it is if you believe it. And that's the general rule of thumb."
"A combination of believing in what you're doing and allowing yourself to behave the way that I did in the fifth grade that got me sent to the principal's office or it's time to sit in the hallway by myself because my imaginary friends were acting up again. I don't know." He goes into a high cartoon voice: "Paging Dr. Freud."
These days, his imaginary friends are in 3-D, and that has upped the artistic ante. Fraser says he loves watching audiences watch Journey: "Grown men leap out of their skin when a T-Rex shows up. Blaaah!," he says, pretending to jump out of his skin. "Like that. Fantastic great fun. And that wow factor is back."
In that sense, Journey to the Center of the Earth is a breakthrough, the first of several narrative 3-D films coming from Hollywood in the next few years. Fraser speaks about it as if he was a pioneer.
"Maybe we'll be remembered with affection in years to come. Who knows? If it takes or if it doesn't. You roll the dice as well as I do. But one thing you can't take away is that barrier, or that glass ceiling, has been pierced by the tip of that spear. It has."
Wal-Mart stores in the U.S. have recently begun stocking the individual "Ultimate Edition" James Bond DVDs with brand new lenticular lens covers.
These new lenticular covers, which feature an illusion of depth; appearing to move when viewed from different angles, each feature the 007 actor in the center with the film’s lead villain and Bond girl located on either side.
The content found on the DVDs has not changed at all as these are the exact same individual Ultimate Edition releases, simply with the new covers attached over the originals.
Here are some of the recent titles you can find on View-Master® reels.
Shrek the Third
When his new father-in-law, King Harold falls ill, Shrek is looked at as the heir to the land of Far, Far Away. Not one to give up his beloved swamp, Shrek recruits his friends Donkey and Puss in Boots to install the rebellious Artie as the new king. Princess Fiona, however, rallies a band of royal girlfriends to fend off a coup d'etat by the jilted Prince Charming.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Good grief! Three reels with 21 favorite 3-D pictures from A Charlie Brown Christmas Story let you relive the humor and fun of this timeless holiday classic that celebrates the real spirit of the holidays. You'll feel like you're a part of the gang.
A computer-generated animated comedy about a lazy, irreverent slacker panda, Po, who must somehow become a Kung Fu Master in order to save the Valley of Peace from a villainous snow leopard, Tai Lung. Set in the legendary world of ancient China, this is the story of Po, who enters the rigid world of Kung Fu and turning it upside down. Po ultimately becomes a Kung Fu hero by learning that if he believes in himself, he can do anything.
Remy, a provincial rat with a wonderful sense of smell, hates garbage and risks death to enter a human kitchen where he discovers real food and the cooking of five-star chef, Anton Gusteau, author of Anyone Can Cook. On the day Remy learns his hero has died, he is evicted and ends up alone in Paris. By luck, he discovers Gasteau's restaurant, down to three stars and run by a frozen-food-hawking chef. As Remy enters, so does Linguini, a clumsy youth hired as a garbage boy. To save the soup that Linguini accidentally fouls, Remy throws in some ingredients; the soup is a success and Linguini's career as a chef is born. 3-D pictures from the Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouillle let you relive the fun, adventure and culinary calamity that turns Paris upside down as Remy chases his dream in a hilarious rat race!
Surf’s up, dude! The wave ridin’, water huggin’ world of Surf’s Up is at your fingertips with 3 View-Master® reels featuring 21 eye-popping 3-D pictures straight from the movie! Join up-and-coming surfer Cody Maverick and his tubular buddies on their quest to reach Pen Gu Island for one gnarly surf-off!
Wilber the pig is in trouble! Join Charlotte the spider in Zuckerman's barn as she “weaves” a plan to save her unlikely friend. Three View-Master® reels with 21 eye-popping 3-D images straight from the movie let you relive the fun and adventure of this heartwarming story of friendship, over and over again!
This limited edition Doctor Who Series 3 boxset was sold exclusively to Amazon.co.uk. It conatins the same DVDs and extras as is in the regular boxset.
However, the limited edition box art contains a shimmering, 3-D lenticular effect cover design with a message from Mr. Saxon - The Master (John Simm) complete with his usual humble demeanor.
As well as the Mister Saxon master sleeve there's also an exlusive image in the brochure inside.
The DVD is sold out and now only available on the secondary market.
Keeping up the BBC Doctor Who DVD tradition, the Doctor Who Series 3 box set is expertly designed with a great attention to detail and is generous with its extras.
The third outing of Doctor Who comes with six discs and features all 13 episodes from the third series as well as The Runaway Bride 2006 Christmas Special.
Doctor Who Series 3 Episode Guide
One of the best places to find View-Master® and other 3-D items for sale is Jefferson Stereoptics regularly held View-Master® and stereoview auctions conducted by John Saddy. The latest collection of View-Master® goodies goes on the auction block on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008, featuring lots 1 through 383. The second part of the auction concludes on Thursday, May 14, 2008, with lots 384 through 746.
Subscribers receive John's catalog several times a year. Cost of the subscription pays for printing the catalog and postage to mail it. Each issue of the printed catalog includes photos of some of the most sought after 3-D items featured in each sale.
Some of the items in the August auctions:
The auction items are also listed and all lots are scanned on John's Web site at www.saddyauctions.com. The Web site is easily navigated by topic. Each item is grouped in areas of interest such as View-Master® packets USA and Canada or View-Master® packets Television and Movies and so on. You will need to register on the site in order to place a bid online.
John grades each item and includes elaborate descriptions, too. Unlike eBay, sniping is not part of the equation in John's auctions. Lots are closed with a very liberal waiting period. Beginning at the closing time, after 10 minutes with no bids or inquiries, all lots are closed together.
You can contact John via an e-mail link on the Saddy Auctions Web site to find out about subscribing to the catalog. Jefferson Stereoptics is located in London Ontario, Canada.
It is nearly impossible to overstate the enormous impact that stereoscopic viewing had on the cultural life of Europe and America from 1850 to the 1930s.
It all started when Queen Victoria was given a stereoscopic viewer and some viewing cards at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London 1851. But it was Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894), the great American poet, physician and essayist, who saw the educational value of stereoscopes, making them much more than just an amusement.
Holmes thought stereoscopes so important that he strongly suggested the establishment of vast stereoscopic libraries to serve as educational institutions. This call sent armies of professional photographers to the ends of the earth to record for posterity: wars and natural disasters, architecture, and art, agriculture and industry, transportation and landscapes and portraits of famous people.
Old stereoscopic views have become extremely important for the same reason Oliver Wendell Holmes thought they would. People will always want to want to see and experience rare and historic views of people, places, objects and events from days gone by so they can better understand them.
A stereoscope is a photographic viewing device that uses human binocular vision to create the illusion of three-dimensions. Two photographs that are nearly, but not quite identical are mounted on an adjustable slide to be focused and viewed through a pair of special lenses.
These devices were popular parlor entertainments in many Victorian homes as well as important educational tools in schools and libraries. Currently, one of the most important collections in the New York Public Library is the Robert Dennis collection of 12,000 stereoscopic views amassed from between 1850 and 1920.
These views include people, fashions, historical and natural event that we would otherwise have only verbal accounts of. These include the Spanish American War, the San Francisco earthquake, the building of the Panama Canal, as well as Native American peoples, landscapes and architecture that have long been lost to the world.
Even after the movies in the 1930s and television in the 1950s eclipsed the importance of stereoscopes, people still found them fascinating enough to make the View Master® , a stereoscopic device introduced at the 1939 New York World’s Fair that used flat reels instead of cards, such a popular Christmas gift for children from the 1940s through the 1960s.
Here are some recent values:
Arthur Schwerdt is the author of The Antique Story Book: Finding the Real Value of Old Things, and co-owner of The August Farmhouse Antiques. Send your comments or appraisal requests with photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
40 million 3-D Glasses Produced in Hannah Montana Promotion
American Paper Optics completed production of more than 40 million 3-D glasses for the DVD release of Disney's Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour, a deal worth about $4.5 million.
The Memphis-based manufacturer of 3-D technology increased capacity and almost doubled its warehousing space just to handle the deal, which included contracts with Disney, Wal-Mart and TV Guide.
American Paper Optics added a $250,000 dye cutter increasing capacity by about 50 percent, almost doubling its footprint from 16,200 square feet to 28,000 square feet and adding about 20 temporary employees.
32 employees worked two shifts, six days a week for 82 days to meet the production deadline.
"We added equipment and 50 percent to our production capacity," says John Jerit, president of American Paper Optics. "That equipment, along with a can-do attitude of production staff, made this project surprisingly smooth. There were days we produced over 1 million glasses."
It was the third largest production deal in the company's 18-year history, with only contracts for Shrek 4-D and Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus 3-D surpassing the demand for the Hannah Montana 3-D glasses.
American Paper Optics produced about 1,922 miles of film for the Hannah Montana glasses, used 68 fifty-five gallon drums of glue and shipped 21 truckloads of glasses.
The great demand, said Jerit, came after the success of the movie in theaters and the fact that producers wanted to include the 3-D experience in the DVD.
"As success of the movie swelled in the month it was in theaters, quotations to Disney grew from 300,000 four-packs for the DVD to over 3.5 million," he says. "After Disney found a major distributor in Wal-Mart, the order took on a life of its own."
Hannah Montana released earlier this year, had the best-ever box-office premiere for a concert film, topping The Original Kings of Comedy released in 2000.
That led American Paper Optics to find multiple clients for the 3-D glasses.
American Paper Optics produced 14 million glasses for the Disney DVD, 25 million glasses were given away inside Wal-Mart stores and 1.9 million for an insert in the latest edition of TV Guide.
Thanks to the insert of American Paper Optics glasses, Debra Birnbaum, editor-in-chief of TV Guide, says the magazine was able to reach younger readers.
"TV Guide has a long-standing relationship with TV viewers of all ages," she says. "We're thrilled to offer our readers the 3-D glasses as a bonus to enhance their TV experience."
American Paper Optics has completed the Hannah Montana order, but Jerit says the company picked up another movie deal, with production already in progress for 3-D glasses for the DVD release of Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D.
Movie executives signed a contract with American Paper Optics for the DVD release, Jerit says, because of the popularity of the 3-D experience.
The Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D movie opened in about 900 3-D theaters nationwide along with more than 2,000 normal theaters. Jerit says 60 percent of the film's gross earnings came from the 3-D theaters. That's success that moviemakers wouldl like to see in 3-D DVD sales.
"Hollywood needs a reason to get people to go back to the theaters," he says. "So they have to create a new experience."
American Paper Optics, which Jerit says one of the few 3-D manufacutring companies in the U.S., is working to complete 9million glasses for the Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D DVD release, helping the company to eclipse more than 1 billion glasses manufactured in its history.
"With the world's crazy appetite for 3-D and our great optical effects, I'll be surprised if we don't sell and manufacture another billion glasses in the next five or six years," said Jerit.
Disney Channel Broadcasts 3-D Hannah Montana Concert
The Miley Cyrus 3-D concert was TV’s biggest show on Saturday July 26.
The debut of Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert in 3-D pulled in 5.9 million viewers from 8 to 9 p.m. on July 26, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research live plus same-day data.
The concert event topped NBC’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which pulled in some 4.8 million watchers from 10 to 11 p.m., as the most-watched show in all of television.
The premiere of the Cyrus concert film, which grossed $65 million at the box office during a limited run this past winter, doubled the total delivery of Disney Channel’s previously highest-rated concert: the Sept. 22, 2006, presentation of the Cheetah Girls show, which drew some 2.93 million watchers.
The Cyrus show attracted 2.22 million kids 6 to 11 and 1.79 million tweens 9 to 14, with reports of tween girls holding parties to see the event.
A 2-D presentation of the film aired on the following Sunday.
Blazer magazine, an Israeli men's magazine similar to Maxim and FHM released a 3-D issue.
The text is in Hebrew. There are several 3-D photos in the magazine but only two of the images feature models.
Thanks to Jonathan Berman for identifying the title of this magazine.
A collection of 30 View-Master® packets sold for $290.85 with 17 bids. They are all in the original plastic but due to the age there are a few that the plastic has torn some. Some of the packs came with stamps from that country and some with a coin.
1. Berlin Germany # B192
A Lobo San Diego Comic Convention figure with 3-D glasses sold for $34 with 16 bids. This new exclusive DC Lobo with his pet Bulldog was highly sought after at the convention and was in mint condition. The item came with a pair of 3-D glasses so you can see the real work done on the awesome packaging. The Logo figure is also wearing 3-D glasses.
An unused pair of Batman 3-D Glasses, taken from the 1950s Batman 3-D comic, sold for $24.75 with eight bids.
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