Volker Engel on Independence Day: Resurgence

1.1 Queen ground interaction sim

A few days after delivering the final effects shots on Independence Day: Resurgence, visual effects supervisor Volker Engel spoke to vfxblog about the significant effort behind Roland Emmerich’s newest film. Around 1700 vfx shots are in Resurgence, many of them massive effects simulations depicting the impact of a new wave of alien invasion on Earth. In this frank conversation, Engel takes us through the early stages of planning, then production and then post-production on the film. Continue reading Volker Engel on Independence Day: Resurgence

Photogrammetizing Phil Tippett’s very awesome stop-mo puppets

GibbyIt was announced a short while ago that Phil Tippett and his studio were contributing to an AR game called HoloGrid: Monster Battle. Then they had a successful Kickstarter for the game, so it’s definitely happening! Also, they used photogrammetry to capture Phil’s various stop motion puppets for use in the game – here’s my behind the scenes look at that at Cartoon Brew.

Old meets new: the vfx of Independence Day – Part 2

Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

Under the artful watch of visual and digital effects supervisors Volker Engel, Doug Smith and Tricia Ashford, a crack team of in-house effects artists and several post houses carried out the significant CG, matte painting and compositing duties for Independence Day. Among those was VisionArt, which came onto the production late in the game to help produce dogfight sequences, Alien Attacker shield effects and the final Mothership explosion. Faced with next to no time on these shots, artists at the studio capitalized on Side Effects’ Prisms (pre-Houdini) and developed its own procedural systems, in particular a tool called ‘Sparky’, to deliver the effects on time. In Part 2 of our retro ID4 coverage (Part 1 looked at the Model Shop), vfxblog talks to two VisionArt artists on Independence Day, Rob Bredow, now CTO at Lucasfilm, and Daniel Kramer, now a visual effects supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks. Continue reading Old meets new: the vfx of Independence Day – Part 2

Old meets new: the vfx of ‘Independence Day’ – Part 1

Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

Roland Emmerich’s 1996 disaster blockbuster Independence Day is about to get a very new sequel which features the latest in cutting-edge digital visual effects. Twenty years ago the director and his prolific effects team were faced with the gargantuan task of realizing big, big shots, a feat they achieved using both CG techniques – at the time still very difficult to accomplish photorealistically – and some of the best miniature work ever done. In this two part feature, vfxblog looks back at the practical and digital accomplishments on the vfx Oscar-winning Independence Day. We start with an exclusive video focusing on the film’s model shop. Continue reading Old meets new: the vfx of ‘Independence Day’ – Part 1

The secrets behind Bad Robot’s vfx for ’10 Cloverfield Lane’

Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

Dan Trachtenberg’s highly secretive 10 Cloverfield Lane surprised audiences when it was released in March with its tense horror-thriller plot and surprise ending (btw, spoilers!). The JJ Abrams / Bad Robot-produced film mainly plays out in a doomsday bunker until the main character Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finally encounters a mysterious space ship and alien creature above ground. Bad Robot’s in-house VFX unit Kelvin Optical completed these complicated effects as well as many other invisible shots. vfxblog talked to visual effects supervisor Luke McDonald, who also detailed deleted scenes and some unexpected effects duties. Continue reading The secrets behind Bad Robot’s vfx for ’10 Cloverfield Lane’

Animator Tom St Amand reflects on 25 years of ‘The Rocketeer’


Joe Johnston’s The Rocketeer was released 25 years ago today – on 21 June, 1991. Tom St Amand was ILM’s stop motion animator on the film and responsible for bringing to life an armatured version of the flying character which would then be composited into live action aerial plates. vfxblog asked St Amand to go back a quarter of a century and discuss how motion control, stop motion and optical effects made those dynamic shots possible.

Continue reading Animator Tom St Amand reflects on 25 years of ‘The Rocketeer’

Battle of the vfx

Two of the nicest artists in vfx – Steve Kullback and Joe Bauer – are featured in this Variety video hosted by David Cohen on the Battle of the Bastards ep in Game of Thrones.

The enduring allure of the Hollywood monster


French filmmakers Alexandre Poncet with Gilles Penso are obsessed with movie monsters. But when the duo searched the Hollywood landscape for a film that chronicled the fascinating world of creature effects and model making in sci-fi, horror and fantasy films, they simply could not find a good one. So they did what any intrepid documentarians would do – they made that film themselves.

The result is Creature Designers – The Frankenstein Complex, an insight into some of the most revered monster makers around; artists such as Rick Baker, Mike Elizalde, Alec Gillis, Chris Walas, Tom Woodruff Jr., Greg Nicotero, John Rosengrant, Richard Taylor, Phil Tippett and many others. A number of Hollywood directors who share an equal love of movie monsters also lend their considerable weight to the doco, including Guillermo del Toro, John Landis and Joe Dante. Even Kevin Smith is in there.

Enjoy vfxblog’s Q&A with the directors and their journey in making the film. Continue reading The enduring allure of the Hollywood monster

The SIGGRAPH 2016 production sessions are huge


It’s amazing sometimes to think how accessible SIGGRAPH is as a conference. SIGGRAPH is a research conference, first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean only researchers can learn and participate. In fact, one of the best parts of the computer graphics event is the mix of sessions and experience, many based on recent releases of massive feature films and games. That’s exactly what the Production Sessions are about. Here’s a run down of what’s in store, starting on Sunday 24 July in Anaheim.

Continue reading The SIGGRAPH 2016 production sessions are huge