What it’s like to attend the ‘other’ Oscars or: How I learned a whole new story I hadn’t heard before about ‘Speed’

89th Academy Awards, Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards

“This isn’t like the other Oscars, or as I like to call them, ‘the dumb Oscars,’ where at the end of the night, 80 per cent of the people in the room are losers. You guys are tremendous. Those guys are sad.”

That was actor John Cho, of Star Trek and Harold & Kumar fame, presenting at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Scientific and Technical Awards, which I was lucky enough to attend last night in Los Angeles.

More on the incredible work that Cho and his presenting partner and This is 40 and How to be Single actress Leslie Mann did last night at the Sci-Techs, but first a note about how this all relates to Speed (yes, really). Continue reading What it’s like to attend the ‘other’ Oscars or: How I learned a whole new story I hadn’t heard before about ‘Speed’

Ken Ralston, people

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Last night at the VES Awards, vfx supervisor Ken Ralston was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. A few days earlier I’d been able to chat to him about his career, about some specific films like Roger Rabbit and Polar Express, and about his take on the current state of the industry. Check it out at Cartoon Brew.

The race to finish Dante’s Peak…20 years ago

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Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

Today, many of the visual effects in the 1997 disaster flick Dante’s Peak would probably be done completely digitally. Pyroclastic flows, exploding buildings, bridges and cars being swept away by a torrent of ashen river – these are things that can be done with complex effects simulations, CG elements and masterful compositing.

But two decades ago, the techniques were still in their infancy, and a hybrid approach to realising such shots involving miniatures, practical effects and then augmenting with digital techniques, was just emerging.

c4cygjcvmaagyl_Dante’s Peak, directed by Roger Donaldson, took advantage of this approach by incorporating some of the most convincing miniatures ever put to screen – especially for the river and bridge scene – and using nascent digital effects tools to add even more layers of realism. The work was realised by Digital Domain as well as a host of other modelmaking studios and digital effects houses.

To celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary, vfxblog spoke to overall visual effects supervisor Patrick McClung, then at DD, about the hybrid effects in Dante’s Peak, how the decisions about miniatures were made, and how the only slightly related Volcano film heavily influenced production. Continue reading The race to finish Dante’s Peak…20 years ago