“Bob had said to Meryl Streep: ‘Whatever Ken asks you to do, no matter how silly, just go with it. You can trust him.’ Because she must have been thinking, ‘What am I? What is this stupid thing?’ – Death Becomes Her visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston.
By the early 1990s, ILM had already been innovating in digital visual effects in a major way with films such as The Abyss and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Then came along Robert Zemeckis’ Death Becomes Her. It would be released in 1992 and go on to win the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, thanks to more innovation from ILM and practical creature effects by Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc.
One of the coolest things at SIGGRAPH is Real-time Live! The event has actually changed quite a lot since its inception to include game engines, VR, real-time rendering, real-time sims and more. Check out this preview I wrote for Cartoon Brew.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At FMX I got a chance to sit down with Valerian vfx supe Scott Stokdyk. We went through how the film was made, including a look at the video-vis director Luc Besson shot with his film school students. See the story at Cartoon Brew.
One of the toughest things about covering visual effects can be getting great VFX imagery to display with a story. There’s often a lengthy approvals process, and sometimes film and TV distributors just want to keep certain things under wraps. That can make it hard to produce interesting stories; in visual effects, behind the scenes images and videos tell so much of the process.
But lately, I’ve started noticing that many actors, directors and filmmakers have been posting a bunch of fun on-set and often VFX-related pics and clips to their social media accounts. We’re talking actors on greenscreens, in mocap suits, being scanned, or otherwise interacting with the teams behind the visual effects shots they’ve been working on.
What I love about these postings, too, is occasionally they’ll hint at the VFX work to come, often months down the track. It’s fun to compare the original posting with what made it into the movie. So, come with me as I explore some behind the scenes frivolity on several upcoming and recently released films and shows.