Category Archives: Entertainment Industry Coverage

IR Print Interview: KUNG FU PANDA: THE EMPEROR’S QUEST [Dreamworks Theatre – Universal Studios Hollywood]

Coming in June this summer, the newly re-invented Dreamworks Theatre and the release of a specially-made short film: “Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest” are being introduced at Universal Studios Hollywood. It took a year and a half to get to this long- awaited moment where kids from all over the world will be completely immersed in a 360 degree visual and sound adventure. Jon Corfino, Project Director & Show Producer at Universal Studios Hollywood Creative, sat down to discuss bringing together this new experience

What is truly unique about this new Kung Fu Panda attraction?

Jon Corfino: We have spent lots of time and effort to re-create the Dreamworks Theatre. It has a Mission Revival architecture with a touch of Art Deco from the 1920s. Guests line up at the entrance of the theatre and pass a ticket booth meeting a sleeping-on-the-job Pinocchio (from the “Shrek”. Movies). [They will] discover a very lavish outdoor garden with details from the many animated features produced by Dreamworks. In the lobby, they will also experience a mural show with the various familiar Dreamworks characters explaining that it’s time to go on a “Kung Fu Adventure”. The whole point is to immerse guests into the world of Dreamworks with lots of visual illusions projected onto all the surfaces and the walls. In normal time, all of the walls are solid grey, but as you enter this place, an amazing set of visual effects [is projected] giving the guest the illusion you are in fact in a lavish theatre from the Golden Age of Hollywood. What is unique is the use for the first time of the integration of interior projection mapping in order to immerse guests in a 180 degree adventure. It is as if the whole theatre comes to life in front of your eyes. We are also be using 7 Christie 4K boxer cinema projectors and a 360 degree surround sound audio. And, as an extra bonus, we will have sweeping physical effects from water to wind in order for the audience to truly be part of this adrenaline ride!

It’s the perfect illusion?

JC: Absolutely! We have created a total illusion of a world that is not just here but only projected into this reality. This is also the only show where it’s worth sitting a little bit in the back since you are surrounded by an action evolving from the front screen to the side walls. You will see “Kung Fu” fighting right under and on each side of your eyes.

What was the biggest challenge putting together this attraction?

JC: Usually when you have this type of mapped projection it’s done outside on buildings having a specific geometry. Therefore, you can use the angle and the bumps of such geometry [to establish the image]. But here, we have flat walls and we had to create a sense of volume, of depth. We had to do almost a 3D mapping projection. Therefore the task was quite complex. But, at the end, I know we made it work and you will be fooled by what you see. You will believe! Like you believed in the magic we had created in the Harry Porter Castle main attraction. By the way, this is not a 3D attraction because 3D is better used when the action comes at you from the center and front of the theatre. But here, because the action is taking place all around you, it would not have been as effective with 3D and therefore we decided to use the mapping technology of projection instead. This is all about your peripheral vision and about immersing yourself in the Kung Fu Panda world!

Special Thanks To The Universal Studios Team [Athenia Veliz-Dunn & Heather Mann]

By Emmanuel Itier

Fest Track On Sirk TV: SUNDANCE MIX 2018 (Quick Look) [Park City, UT)

IR Print Interview: Jim Parsons For “Young Sheldon” [WBTV Studio Day – TCA Winter Press Tour 2018]

Imparting knowledge and passing on the possibilities in an interesting exercise when the character you play on a major international TV show is that of Sheldon Cooper, played with finesse and specific approach by Emmy winner Jim Parsons. Visiting the set of “Young Sheldon” as part of the Warner Brother TV Day at Warner Brothers Studios during the TCA Winter Tour 2018, Jim sat down to talk about the evolution of the character, his perceptions and the living on of Sheldon’s legacy.

Your understanding of Sheldon has evolved over the years including unforseen aspects of compassion. Can you talk about that?

Jim Parsons: Well, what’s interesting to me is — and again, why I’m not a writer is because I don’t see things like this. But what they touched on, how we’re seeing, of course, [in this show] is how Sheldon evolves into who we know him to be on the adult older show. And I made a joke with [the younger actor], “Eventually you’ll get to be more irritating,” I said today to him. But it’s really kind of the truth about it. It’s like we’re going to see the slings and arrows – I’m sorry – of life and just growing turn him into even more of the person I’m playing. I don’t know. It’s interesting.

And yet there is more a transformation as the older Sheldon has become engaged…

JP: I do agree with that. I think that it’s one of the journeys they’ve really worked to take him on. We’ve had several different episodes, it feels like, where Amy is coaching him in the ways of being empathetic — we’re working on an episode right now, not to give anything away, where he realizes that she doesn’t do certain things that she wants to do because she knows how he’ll react to it. And he doesn’t like it. And so he begins — it’s another example — he starts trying to work on not complaining about what she wants. It lasts for a couple of pages (laughing) I’ll be honest, as an actor, I really thank God for it because it’s one of the fences that they straddle so well as writers is keeping everything true enough to keep the audience there, but moving it along enough to keep everybody working on it interested, I think including themselves. It’s a major gift and the longer we’ve gone on our show, the more evident that’s become.

Now the overarching journey, especially with your — Sheldon’s relationship with his mother in “Young Sheldon” — I mean, obviously that affects how you relate in present time

JP: Well, I feel like, if I’m being honest, the writers keep doing the thinking about it. So not to sound like…

But you inhabit him.

JP: Without a doubt. But so much of the inhabiting process for me is just saying the words out loud in rehearsal. And once you’ve done that, how IT makes you feel to say it, how it affects the person that you’re saying it to…that kind of instructs it along. And I also will say, I’ve tried to be — I don’t overthink this, but I have always tried to be very conscious of — it’s kind of what they teach you in acting 101 — don’t judge your character or whatever. I try to leave myself enough at the whims of him to be able to do kind of a 180 from one script to the next if it’s just not that happening in that week or whatever the mood is that Sheldon’s in. I don’t know. At the same time, I guess, I’m not thinking about it too much.

So they’ve talked about writing the end of the show. Can you see going several more seasons?

JP: I think anything is possible. But that’s the thing. I just think anything in thisv– it’s getting into really odd territory as far as less and less examples [of places] to go. “Well, they did this. And there’s this other show did this.” It’s really getting into a very individual state of how does everybody feel and whatever. And that includes the writers, who we’ve not had some major discussions with. There hasn’t been a cast and producer discussion about the future of our show or whatever. I will tell you that, for whatever reason, they’ve all been enjoyable seasons. But as far as camaraderie goes, the frivolity on the set, and just the jovial atmosphere has never been at a more pitch degree than it is this season. And I don’t know if that’s because they’re always like, “I think the end is near”. Or just because it’s uncertain now where we’ve gone through so many seasons, we’ve been lucky enough to just know certainly what’s going on.” But I don’t know. I think it’s related to some sort of appreciation of each other that you were able — kind of like family — to just kind of take it for granted that they’re going to be there next week. They’re going to be there. And now the weeks are might be getting short. You just don’t know. So because of that, I could see making things go further. It’s really hard to say. And there’s so many people making their own decisions and all.

How has your appreciation for TV evolved?

JP: Well, you know what’s funny is the day and age we are in I feel is, in a good way, overwhelming. I think we’re in a wonderful time in the entertainment industry in general as far as everything goes. But it’s still so in flux, and changing, and moving, and growing. Just the sheer amount of options is just– it’ll be really interesting to see because you can’t help to feel like everything is still evolving.

How much time do you spend on doing the voice-over for the show?

JP: Very little. I can do anywhere from three to seven episodes in a 45-minute period. I mean, even on a heavy episode. What I enjoy about this process [is that] it’s different version of using timing and a different version of putting a pause here or whatever there that will make it funnier, hopefully, or just change it. And when it’s not timed to visual, it’s just less of that.

Can you talk about imparting appreciation to Ian? So he knows sort of what to expect in terms of the impact of Sheldon as a character. You’ve said that you’ve sort of guided him. But how do you maintain that sort of mentorship?

JP: Well, if it’s happening at all, it’s happening as organically as it can, and it’s happening a lot through his mother. Lee Armitage, his mother, and I, we are usually texting and incontact with each other a bit, like quite frequently and not for a pointed purpose. We just enjoy talking. But as you do with relationships, the specific questions get snuck in, not snuck in, but they just come up. Like, “Have you ever been to one of these events before?” And so it just happens very organically like that. There’s no real preparing for anybody for some of the more, oh God, recognizable type aspects of this and the celebrity of it or whatever, just the being noticed. Any preparation, especially with young people, and really, for adults, too, has to happen before. And, in these kids’ cases, they really do have a remarkable set of parents. They’re all different. They’re all unique.

Does that allow the kids to be naturalistic, do you think, in their acting? Or does it have to be nuanced?

JP: I don’t know if that’s a direct relation, but I do, now that you say that, I have to think that, yes, none of them have a kind of like – I don’t know – squeaky little cutesy thing that they came in doing. They all just kind of, as the adult actors do, read the material, say it, and see where it goes.

But as creator Chuck Lorre has, you found the way to make somebody like Sheldon so likable despite some of his characteristics. There’s an art to that.

JP: Well, I think, though, that it’s partly, too, a point of view that a lot of actors come in with to varying degrees and is, in their own special way, seeing what is redeemable about my character? Because coming into it with over-obvious assumption, of course, that my character doesn’t want to do harm. Of course, my character wants other people to like him or her in one way or another. And when you kind of approach it through that, I think that’s really the way around in how things are, if not softened, the audience can be able to identify in like, “I’m a good person, and I say nasty things sometimes!” (laughing). I don’t know.

By Tim Wassberg

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