The forgotten freeze-frame moments from ‘Batman & Robin’

Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

The film might have a notorious place in the history of comic book adaptations, but Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin, released in 1997, is notable for some innovative visual effects work. In particular, the ‘frozen in time’ moments arising from Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) blasting his ray gun on unsuspecting victims capitalized on photogrammetry, stereo imaging and still-new CG techniques.

This was the work of Warner Digital, led by senior visual effects supervisor Michael Fink and visual effects supervisor Wendy Rogers. Lead CG artist Joel Merritt brought to Warner Digital a technique he had already developed to help accomplish the ‘frozen moment’ shots – something that now might be called image-based modelling. With the film now 20 years old, vfxblog went retro with Merritt to find out more. Continue reading The forgotten freeze-frame moments from ‘Batman & Robin’

‘Predator’ is 30: VFX supe Joel Hynek recalls the days of optical compositing, thermal cameras and *that* red suit

Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

John McTiernan’s Predator is perhaps most fondly remembered for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s line, ‘Get to the chopper!’ But it also featured some incredibly memorable optical effects, crafted by R/Greenberg Associates and overseen by visual effects supervisor Joel Hynek.

These included a distinctive camouflage effect wielded by the alien Predator creature (appearing also in a monster suit designed and built by Stan Winston Studio), a heat vision-inspired Predator POV look, and several other optical effects.

Despite the challenging nature of the shots, and the challenging jungle shoot, the work culminated in an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects (the nominees were Joel Hynek, Robert M. Greenberg, Richard Greenberg and Stan Winston).

In this interview, Hynek details the optical compositing tests that led to the eventual camouflage effect, the ill-fated red-suit-in-the-jungle approach to obtaining plates, and the almost ill-fated attempt at using a thermal camera for the Predator POV shots.

Continue reading ‘Predator’ is 30: VFX supe Joel Hynek recalls the days of optical compositing, thermal cameras and *that* red suit

Up close with the practical creatures of ‘Alien: Covenant’

xeno head

Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant made heavy use of practical makeup effects, prosthetics and creatures during the filming process. Two creature shops, Creatures Inc. Ltd and Odd Studio combined to make those effects possible, led by creature design supervisor Conor O’Sullivan and creature effects supervisor Adam Johansen.

In this visual behind the scenes look at the practical effects work in the film, Johansen, one of the founders of Odd Studio, breaks down some of the major creature effects, including for the Neomorphs, the Xenormorph, the face huggers and body bursters, various dummies, and the alien lifeforms in David’s lab. Continue reading Up close with the practical creatures of ‘Alien: Covenant’

The Beast within


Disney were super-secretive about how the Beast was made in Beauty and the Beast. But now, with a making of video of Digital Domain’s work released, they’ve let information out. I talked to some of the DD team and wrote a quick how-to on Thrillist.