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Framestore NY Flexes its Comedy Chops on Morning Glory

Director Roger Michell ("Notting Hill," "Venus"), producer J.J. Abrams (Felicity," "Alias," "Lost," "Fringe” “Star Trek”) and writer Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada," "27 Dresses") recently premiered "Morning Glory," a romantic comedy set in the hilarious and dysfunctional world of morning television.

Press Release from Framestore NY

New York, NY  - Director Roger Michell ("Notting Hill," "Venus"), producer J.J. Abrams (Felicity," "Alias," "Lost," "Fringe” “Star Trek”) and writer Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada," "27 Dresses") recently premiered "Morning Glory," a romantic comedy set in the hilarious and dysfunctional world of morning television.  Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton star, along with Patrick Wilson and Jeff Goldblum. “Morning Glory” is the first comedy to emerge from the recently launched VFX film division of Framestore NY.

When hard-working TV producer Becky Fuller (McAdams) is fired from a     local news program, her career begins to look as bleak as her hapless love life. Stumbling into a job at "Daybreak" (the last-place national morning news show), Becky decides to revitalize the show by bringing on legendary TV anchor Mike Pomeroy (Ford).  Unfortunately, Pomeroy refuses to cover morning show staples like celebrity gossip, weather, fashion and crafts, let alone work with his new co-host, Colleen Peck (Keaton), a former beauty queen and longtime morning show personality, who is more than happy covering morning "news."  As Mike and Colleen clash, first behind the scenes and then on the air, Becky's blossoming love affair with fellow producer, Adam Bennett (Wilson) begins to unravel. And soon Becky is struggling to save her relationship, her reputation, her job and ultimately, the show itself.

"We were thrilled to help Roger and his team experiment with the editing of their narrative so that the story could move forward with the comedy as the centerpiece of the film," said Sarah Dowland, VFX Executive Producer at Framestore NY film division. “I think that our work on Morning Glory proves that VFX is an amazing tool for comedy as it is for action, fantasy, and genre pics.”

“Morning Glory” is the second feature film where Framestore NY was the lead vendor. The first feature film out of Framestore NY was the summer blockbuster, Salt, starring Angelina Jolie.

“Working on a comedy was definitely a change from our recent experiences,” said Ivan Moran, VFX Supervisor of Framestore NY film division. “On our last feature film, Salt, we were asked to blow up St. Patrick’s Cathedral and expand massive car chases. It was a really fun experience, and a big challenge, to take our VFX skills and apply them to a comedy.  People tend to think of VFX and animation as tools to only build fantasy environments and creatures, but our goal is to use all the tools and experience we’ve developed and apply those skills to films of all genres. In this case we gave Roger Michell flexibility with his storytelling,” said Moran.

By changing even the smallest details - times on clocks, names on tags, re-working monitor inserts and other issues that affect continuity, Framestore could help the director make changes to the comedic timing or pace of a scene. It was also necessary to make it very clear to the viewer whether the scene they are watching was taking place in the television studio or if they were watching footage of the actual morning program. Framestore helped make that distinction by compositing television graphics and borders and animating a ticker for the bottom of the screen. Those visual cues proved very important in creating an authentic world for the characters to occupy.  Since most people recognize what a typical TV morning program might look like, Framestore knew that everything they created had to be completely believable.

Framestore has worked with Roger Michell on previous films, including Notting Hill and Enduring Love, but this was the first time that the director was able to work with Framestore in their New York office while shooting on the East Coast.

"Having an East Coast facility during a New York shoot was incredibly convenient for Roger,” said Dowland. “We completed all 200 shots out of the New York facility and when Roger needed to be in London we were able to pipe the shots over and screen them for him at our amazing Framestore UK cinema.”

“Morning Glory is a laugh out loud film. The performances are fantastic and although the vfx are there, you hopefully won’t be aware of them. It was a great experience for us to use our skills and tools in a different way. Finding creative options is what this project was all about,” says Dowland.

With Salt Framestore NY proved its skill with dramatic explosions and stunts, bringing big action sequences to life. And for their next feature film, The Smurfs, which launches in August of 2011, the Framestore NY film division will get to show off their character animation skills. With new premises opening this month to extend film’s capacity in New York, and with a wide variety of work emerging from the film division, Framestore NY is set to prove it’s a serious player that has successfully transported its unique brand of film vfx, with sophisticated pipelines and experienced crews to the US.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
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