‘We’re making a movie about emojis’ – so how do you animate those things?

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One of the appeals of being an animator must be new character challenges – finding the right movement, finding the personality, finding the ‘voice’, even when the characters appear to be quite simple. That challenge was awaiting Sony Pictures Imageworks for The Emoji Movie, and I talked to anim supe Sacha Kapijimpanga for Spark CG Society about finding a solution.

Quickshots: ‘Valerian’s’ multi-world oner

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Weta Digital’s Valerian visual effects supervisor Martin Hill discusses that insane ‘oner’ of Valerian (Dane DeHaan) dashing through multiple worlds.

Martin Hill: What’s happening in that sequence is, Valerian’s trying to get from one place to another as quickly as possible – that being a straight line. He’s just travelling in a straight line as fast as he humanly can with his exoskeleton power suit, or armour.

Essentially, anything that we could get in camera we would. There was a particular sense of movement that Luc wanted through the shots where the gravity was a bit different, he had his power suit on and so he wanted a particular gait we knew we couldn’t really get.

We did shoot Dane bounding against a blue screen for that shot. We shot him running towards the wall, and then we decided, on the day, at what point we would take over and go digital for performance reasons only. Then, halfway through the sequence, there’s a big orbit around his head where it’s back on Dane and then we’re just filling in the rest of the uniform and his body.

One of the big challenges was, we needed to create all these different worlds and they all needed to be distinct and they all needed to be their own things. What was very important was making sure that they all looked like they were still part of the same cinematic universe. That really boiled down to working with the art department, working with the set designers, costume designers and Luc and making sure that we didn’t have the same themes running through all the environments. The same is true for the characters. A lot of it comes down to colour pallet and composition.

Designing Baby Groot

Marvel has released a short featurette from its Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 Blu-ray/DVD focusing on designing Baby Groot, and it includes comments from overall vfx supe Christopher Townsend and the concept art and practical build required for on-set shooting. Check it out below.

Seven years of dragons

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What the VFX teams have been able to do over six series of Game of Thrones is incredible – and there looks like some even more amazing CG dragon work to come this series. For Thrillist, I talked to BlueBolt, Pixomondo and Rhythm & Hues about their dragon VFX so far.

Why ‘Air Force One’ has some of the most talked about visual effects in history

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Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

When Wolfgang Petersen’s Air Force One was released 20 years ago this week in 1997, it would be one of Boss Film Studios’ very last visual effects projects before founder Richard Edlund shut the effects company’s doors. The studio spectacularly delivered and destroyed a number of intricate miniature aircraft for the show. It also dived into several CG plane shots, including the scene of Air Force One crashing into the ocean, one that was perhaps not as spectacular.

That means that Air Force One is unusually remembered for both its intense and immensely watchable air-to-air sequences realised with models and live action photography, and for the final CG watery plane crash that did not meet the expectations of the filmmakers and the audience.

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Richard Edlund.

For the film’s 20th anniversary, vfxblog spoke to Edlund – the film’s overall visual effects supervisor (James E. Price was Boss Film’s VFX supe on the show) – to discuss the approach to the models and miniatures, the rise of digital compositing, the end of Boss, and that final crash shot. Plus, the interview includes a bunch of unique behind the scenes CG model frames from Boss’ digital aircraft.

Continue reading Why ‘Air Force One’ has some of the most talked about visual effects in history