Why Creating Doctor Strange’s Dark Dimension Was So Damn Hard

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The thrilling climax of Doctor Strange sees the titular character travel into the Dark Dimension to confront the evil Dormammu. Crafting a CG creature and a suitably alien-like dimension was challenging enough for the vfx team, but director Scott Derrickson also wanted the shots to reflect the surrealist and psychedelic blacklight look by famed comic book artist Steve Ditko. As I discovered from overall vfx supervisor Stephane Ceretti and Luma’s Vince Cirelli, this was not the easiest brief to pull off. Continue reading Why Creating Doctor Strange’s Dark Dimension Was So Damn Hard

SIGGRAPH Asia 2016 preview: facial and speech animation for VR HMDs

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I’ve been to a couple of amazing SIGGRAPH conferences now, and I’m the first to admit that most of the research presented in the Technical Papers is way beyond me. But I always remain fascinated by this part of the proceedings, and every now and then something you see at SIGGRAPH finds it way into some mainstream tech or a feature film, or, these days, a VR application or hardware.

Enter Hao Li, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at USC and now Director of the Vision and Graphics Lab at USC ICT. He’s also the CEO and Founder of AR and face swapping start-up Pinscreen (which I wrote about here). Hao’s area of expertise is performance capture, digital humans, faces and VR. And a combination of all of these.

It’s not surprising then that research he is part of is being presented at SIGGRAPH Asia 2016 in Macao (5-8 December) in the area of facial and speech animation for VR head mounted displays. Actually, the full citation of the paper is:

HIGH-FIDELITY FACIAL AND SPEECH ANIMATION FOR VR HMDS
Kyle Olszewski, Joseph J. Lim, Shunsuke Saito, Hao Li
ACM Transactions on Graphics, Proceedings of the 9th ACM SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition in Asia 2016, 12/2016 – SIGGRAPH ASIA 2016

I had a chat to Hao about what this all means. Of course, for more in-depth info you can read the paper, watch the video below, or attend SIGGRAPH Asia in Macao to see this and many other great technical papers. I’ll be there too, so come say hi!  Continue reading SIGGRAPH Asia 2016 preview: facial and speech animation for VR HMDs

The Trip

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Thrillist asked me to look back at some psychedelic visual effects in movie history, in honour of Doctor Strange’s incredible shots. Here’s my list.

Trolls: the interview

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At VIEW I got to speak with Mike Mitchell and and Walt Dohrn about their film Trolls made at DreamWorks Animation. It’s based on the trolls dolls, but ‘based’ isn’t really a good way to describe it. Here’s the Q&A at Cartoon Brew.