Online digital-effects service Zync Render ascends to Google Cloud

BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — Google Cloud Platform has acquired Zync Render, the cloud-based digital effects rendering service which has been used for such recent features as FLIGHT, AMERICAN HUSTLE, STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS, and LOOPER.

“Rendering” refers to the creation of motion pictures from detailed mathematical descriptions, which have been created by digital-effects artists. To efficiently perform the calculations which create the pictures, many computers are set to work together in networks, called “render farms.” The computers are specially made to do the math and do it as quickly as possible. Large amounts of electricity are consumed, and large amounts of heat are generated.

Many studios have neither the resources nor the desire to create their own render farms; or their in-house rendering may require extra rendering capacity but, for only a very short time, observed Google Cloud Product Manager Belwadi Srikanth.

“Zync and Cloud Platform will offer studios the rendering performance and capacity they need, while helping them manage costs,” Srikanth explained. “For example, with per-minute billing studios aren’t trapped into paying for unused capacity when their rendering needs don’t fit in perfect hour increments.”

Zync Render provides distributed rendering, job dependencies, references, pooled images between multiple host applications, and advanced job monitoring for digital-effects application software including Maya, Nuke, V-Ray for Maya, Mental Ray Standalone, and Arnold for Maya, along with plug-ins like GenArts Sapphire, Furnace, and Ocula.

Zync Render was started in 2011 at Boston, Massachusetts visual effects studio ZERO VFX.

Variety reporters Dave McNary, David S. Cohen win trophy for profile of GRAVITY director

BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — Variety reporters Dave McNary and David S. Cohen received a Maggie award for their September 3, 2013 story, Alfonso Cuaron Returns to the Bigscreen After Seven Years With ‘Gravity’.

The honor — for Best Feature Article — was given at the Western Publishing Association’s 2014 Maggie Awards Banquet at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, May 2.

The other six finalists in the “Consumer publications — circulation under 75,000” category were: Bellingham Alive — “Making Out With Maggie,” Bike — “The Great Game,” C-Suite Quarterly — “Gary Michelson,” Climbing — “No Brainer,” Desert Companion — “To The River, To The Sea,” and Sactown — “Trigger Effect.”

Advertisements injected directly into skull using bone-conduction audio

BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — Advertising agency BBDO Germany proposes to inject advertisements for its client, Sky Deutschland, directly into the skulls of train travelers. A passenger who leans against a window would hear a voice inside her head, exhorting her to download the Sky Go App.

Bone-conduction technology, ordinarily used in hearing aids — and lately in Google Glass headsets — would transmit signals through the glass in train windows, to the bones of the inner ear, producing the sensation of sounds coming from within the head. The signals are otherwise inaudible.

“Welcome to the advertising world of MINORITY REPORT”

“This is how future advertising will look,” the agency threatens, continuing, with minatory candor, “Welcome to the advertising world of MINORITY REPORT.” The 2002 movie shows a dystopia where government and media have direct channels into the minds of their subjects, and where there will be no way to escape the media’s omnipresence. Its director, Steven Spielberg, observed, “The thrilling thing is, that will make us feel we’re part of the medium. The scary thing is, we’ll lose our right to privacy.”

Guided by voices

A description [subscription required] of the project for the 2013 Cannes Lions festival boasts, “Here we don’t rely on any given media channel. We create our own.” The document does not talk about asking commuters for permission. Nor does it address the question of whether a method which mimics auditory hallucination — a symptom of mental illness — would create a favorable impression of the client’s brand.

Although BBDO claims “highly encouraging reactions from commuters,” reactions on YouTube are less favorable. “The last thing you would want if you’re trying to rest or relax with your head against the window! Relaxing music maybe but more advertising — No thanks!” remarks ecodigitography. CSILin is more direct: “Fuck you — If these are installed on the trains in my hometown Aachen (which is shown [in this video]), I’m gonna destroy every transmitter and I don’t care if they sue me. It’s unsolicited advertisement I don’t need. Period.

The technology

Conduction of audio through the skeleton has been around since the mid-twentieth century. A German firm, Audiva, which specializes in bone-conduction audio for persons whose hearing is impaired, has produced transmitters which can be attached to windows.

WANDER MY FRIENDS, comedy feature by Raz Cunningham

WANDER MY FRIENDS ensemble as comic book art

BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — Boston-based filmmaker Robert Angelo “Raz” Cunningham has written and directed a feature, WANDER MY FRIENDS. Billed as “a comedy about comics and their creators,” it chronicles the principals of an independent comic-book publisher as they cope with the challenges which accompany success, including the unexpected arrival of a new and eccentric artistic partner, and the encroachments of a business partner which threatens their independence.

The cast includes Milo MacPhail, Josh Krebs, Melanie Hardy, Raz Cunningham, and Charles Lafond.

The movie was produced for Small Giant Media by Melanie Hardy, on a budget of US$30,000.

WANDER MY FRIENDS is Cunningham’s first feature. Previously, he had worked as production assistant on several pictures, including THE MESSENGERS, WEST 32ND, and MOONRISE KINGDOM. A native of Rhode Island, he was educated in New York, at Marymount Manhattan College.

Raz Cunningham online


 @razcunningham follows @cinemaminima on Twitter

Věra Chytilová 1929 ✠ 2014 filmmaker of the Czechoslovak New Wave; director of exuberant 1966 satire DAISIES | SEDMIKRÁSKY

BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — Filmmaker Věra Chytilová 1929 ✠ 2014 directed the exuberant satire DAISIES | SEDMIKRÁSKY (1966), a high-water mark of the Czechoslovak New Wave of the 1960s. The film’s insouciant contempt for authority; its feminist mirth, and bold treatment of sexual politics — not to mention its radical disregard for cinematic convention — outraged Czechoslovakia’s Communist overlords; they banned the film, and blacklisted her, preventing her from working as a filmmaker for six years.

She resumed feature filmmaking with the charming and numinous FRUIT OF PARADISE | OVOCE STROMŮ RAJSKÝCH JÍME, which was among the official selection in competition at the 1970 Cannes film festival. Among her later features are THE APPLE GAME | HRA O JABLKO (1977), THE INHERITANCE, OR FUCKOFFGUYSGOODDAY | DEDICTVÍ ANEB KURVAHOSIGUTNTAG (1993), and her final film, PLEASANT MOMENTS | HEZKÉ CHVILKY BEZ ZÁRUKY (2006).

Animated GIF clip: Eve from Vera Chytilova's FRUIT OF PARADISE

Věra Chytilová’s career was singular: She graduated from the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague at the age of forty-three, the only woman in the class. She elected to remain in her country after the Soviet Union invaded it in 1968, unlike many of her colleagues, such as Miloš Forman, Ján Kadár, and Ivan Passer, who fled to the West. Her contribution to cinema is exceptional. Viewing her films will continue to be essential to the formation of filmmakers for as long as cinema exists. REQUIESCAT IN PACE

Věra Chytilová



Sixth Lola Kenya Screen Film Festival Ends as Belgium, Madagascar Win Top Prizes

BY OGOVA ONDEGO. NAIROBI, KENYA (CINEMA MINIMA) — The sixth edition of the annual Lola Kenya Screen — audiovisual media festival, skill-development mentorship programme and market for children and youth in eastern Africa — has wound up in Nairobi, with the best children’s film and best youth films going to Belgium and Madagascar, respectively.

Lola Kenya Screen logo Though all the 11 competitors for the Golden Mboni Award for the best children’s film were well-crafted, creative films, Belgium’s LE MAILLOT DE CRISTIANO | CRISTIANO RONALDO’S SHIRT by Vincent Bruno took away the prize in a tightly contested battle.

Italy and Spain had two entries each in contest that also had three entries from Kenya, and one each from Belgium, Palestine, and USA.

Presented for the third time since its inauguration in 2009, the best youth film prize — the 14-Plus Award — went to Madagascar’s DZAOMALAZA ET LE SAPHIR BLEU|DZAOMALAZA AND THE BLUE STONE by Andriamanisa Radoniaina and Mamihasina Raminosoa; the second and third prizes in the category went to LA PLAYA DE BERLIN|CANNON BEACH by Manuel Calvo and MI OTRA MITAD|MY OTHER HALF by Beatriz Sanchis, both of Spain, in that order.

The full list of the awards announced in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, are:

  • Golden Mboni for the best children’s film: LE MAILLOT DE CRISTIANO|CRISTANO RONALDO’S SHIRT, Vincent Bruno, Belgium.
  • Silver Mboni for the second best children’s film: PIZZANGRILLO|LIGHTHEARTED BOY, Marco Gianfreda, Italy.
  • Bronze Mboni for the third best children’s film: VOLTERETA|SOMERSAULT, Alex Morants, Spain.
  • 14-Plus Award for the best youth film: Dzaomalaza et LE SAPHIR BLEU|DZAOMALAZA AND THE BLUE STONE, Mamihasina Raminosoa and Andriamanisa Radoniaina, Madagascar.
  • 14-Plus Award for the second best youth film: LA PLAYA DE BERLIN|CANNON BEACH, Manuel Calvo, Spain.
  • 14-Plus Award for the third best youth film: MI OTRA MITAD|MY OTHER HALF, Beatriz Sanchis, Spain.
  • 14-Plus Award Special Commendation: BIZZAIRE, Martin Ndichu, Kenya.
  • Special Youth Prize: OMBETJA YEHINGA ORGANISATION, Philippe Talavera, Namibia.
  • Best Student Film: JUTRO|TOMORROW, Bartosz Kruhlik, Poland.
  • Most Experimental Film: VOLTERETA|SOMERSAULT, Alex Morante, Spain.
  • Best Documentary: PARADISO, Alessandro Negrini, Northern Ireland.
  • Best Documentary Special Commendation: MBAMBU AND THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON, Lucian and Natasa Muntean, Serbia.
  • Best Animation: GAMBA TRISTA|LOSER LEG, Francesco Filippi, Italy.
  • Best Kenyan Film: ZEBU AND THE PHOTOFISH, Zipporah Nyaruri, Kenya.
  • Best Children’s Rights Film: MUTE, Muayad Alayan, Palestine.
  • 5th Kids for Kids Festival Africa Prizes: MONSTERS OF THE NEW AGE, Brian Saruni, Kenya; VANESSA’S DREAM, Adede Hawi and Daki Mohammed, Kenya; PASSION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, Mueni Muthama, Kenya.

Out of the more than 300 films from 102 countries sent to Nairobi for festival consideration, 44 were selected for the Golden Mboni Award for the best children’s film and 14-Plus Award for the best youth film competition.

In all, the selected films were screened in 10 categories: Golden Mboni Award for the best children’s film Competition , 14-Plus Award for the best youth film Competition, Best Student Film Competition, Kids for Kids Festival Africa competition, Best Documentary Film Competition, Films by Children for Children, Eastern Africa Prism, Wold Panorama, Special Focus (Busan International Kids’ Festival productions, and The Documentary Center, George Washington University).

Held August 8-13, 2011 on the theme “Films for Enjoyment, Learning and Participation in the 21st Century,” the 6th Lola Kenya Screen was supported by ComMattersKenya and ArtMatters.Info. It ended in Nairobi, Kenya, on August 13, 2011.

Detailed information on Lola Kenya Screen — including still photos and video clips — is available online:

Films Made by Children at Lola Kenya Screen Show in South Korea, Australia, Iran, Kenya

BY OGOVA ONDEGO. NAIROBI, KENYA (CINEMA MINIMA) — Lola Kenya Screen productions — HAPPY TIMES by Elaine Nesbitt, MANANI OGRES by Samuel Musembi, Joseph Hongo, Marcus Kang’ethe and Norrick Mwangi, and SANTOS THE SURVIVOR by Rupinder Jagdev — have been selected for the Ready Action! competition section of the 6th Busan International Kids’ Film Festival in Busan, South Korea. Seven other Lola Kenya Children’s Screen productions shall show in the Kids For Kids Festival section as part of the global Kids For Kids Festival programme.

Additionally, Lola Kenya Screen’s most successful production — LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS — that has been to the nook and cranny of the four corners of the globe, has been selected for the Jump Cut screening programme of the 2011 Bayside Film Festival that holds August 17-20, 2011 at Palace Brighton Bay, Bay Street, Brighton, Victoria, Australia.

LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS that was made in Kiswahili in 2007 (and reformatted for TV broadcasting with the help of UNESCO in 2010) by Adede Hawi, Samora Oundo and Karama Ogova has played on virtually every continent. When three non-literate friends decide to learn English in an attempt to impress, little do they know they are scooping red hot coals into their lap. The story is simply told from the children’s own perspective. Realised under the guidance of Finnish Maikki Kantola with the support of the Danish Film Institute, LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS was in December 2010 shown at the Museum of Modern Art in Bogota, Colombia where it was shown to more than 1500 boys and girls. The film has won awards and accolades across the world where it has been screened. It continues to be one of Lola Kenya Screen’s all-time favourites with children in Oceania, South America, North America, South-East Asia and even in the Middle East.

While HAPPY TIMES, MANANI OGRES and LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS are films made by children aged 6-15 years, SANTOS THE SURVIVOR is one of the six short documentaries for children and youth made by practicing filmmakers during a Lola Kenya Screen film production workshop supported by the Jan Vrijman Fund/IDFA. This was one of the many hands-on workshops conducted by Duco Tellegen nd Meike Statema with the aim of sensitising practitioners in the film sector on the need for creating specialised documentary film content for hildren and youth in 2008. Jagdev’s SANTOS THE SURVIVOR has been a favourite on the world film festival circuit. It was part of the Jan Vrijman Fund documentary tour in various film festivals in 2010 after being nominated for best short documentary film at the Africa Movie Academy Awards in Nigeria in 2009.

With more than 32 films produced, Lola Kenya Screen has also been promoting the productions from Kenya through the weekly community screenings that have since October 2011 provided dwellers in Nairobi’s Kibera and Mathare informal settlements with a chance to watch films made by children and youth. Lola Kenya Screen’s productions that address issues such as caring for the environment, exploring and nurturing children’s talent as well as the benefits and threats of technological advancement are part of this initiative.

PASSION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, FACEBOK ERA, HOUSE OF TALENT, BROTHER…BROTHER (THE QUIET KATOTO), LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS, THE UNENDING ADVENTURE, and SANTOS THE SURVIVOR have all been shown in the informal settlements to much acclaim from the audience comprising children, youth, and adults.

Lola Kenya Screen is focused on film 365 days a year through weekly skill-development mentorship programmes in schools, school/community mobile cinema, monthly Lola Kenya Screen Film Forum, annual Lola Kenya Screen film festival, and special audiovisual media outreach programmes. The mobile cinema programme covers the breadth and width of the Nairobi metropolitan area, including the Mathare and Kibera informal settlements.

While Lola Kenya Screen is an initiative that explores, identifies, nurtures, and flaunts creative talent among children and youth, Lola Kenya Screen also champions the need to see the Kenya and eastern African film sector mature into a veritable film industry. Consequently, this Nairobi-based initiative that serves children and youth in the Horn, Great Lakes and Southern Africa is a member of the International Centre of Cinema for Children and Young People (CIFEJ) — an organisation founded in 1955 under the auspices of UNESCO and UNICEF to promote excellence in cinema for children and youth. Lola Kenya Screen organises and presents Kids For Kids Festival Africa, besides identifying with various local and international film initiatives.

Since 2006 Lola Kenya Screen has been showcasing the best possible international productions for children and youth in Nairobi every second week of August. During this time of the year selected participants are given a chance to experience filmmaking; cultural journalism; creative writing; film criticism; media literacy; and event planning and presentation through special, learn-as-you-do mentorship initiatives led by local and international experts specialising in issues related to children, youth, film, mass media, culture, and development.

The sixth edition of Lola Kenya screen is scheduled for August 8-13, 2011 in the Nairobi CBD. The hugely popular skill-development mentorship programmes that form the centre piece of the festival will introduce screen-writing and screen acting to participants. The festival that has become a permanent fixture on the calendar of many film lovers will exhibit more than 250 films from 102 countries.

And — yes — you can follow the progress of Lola Kenya Screen online: