From live-action to final shots: a Weta Digital case study on Maze Runner: The Death Cure


“We have a tonne of data, we actually went a bit nuts on the film and we just over-covered.” – Chris White, Weta Digital visual effects supervisor

When I watched some of the b-roll footage for Wes Ball’s latest Maze Runner film, The Death Cure – releasing soon on home entertainment – I was really struck with the nature of the shoot. Lots of sets, and lots of partial sets, that would ultimately be filled in with visual effects. So when I talked to Weta Digital’s visual effects supervisor Chris White about how they approached the VFX in the film, I wanted to narrow in on what it took to take the live action shoot through to finished effects shots.

Here’s a run down of how principal photography was taken through to final shots by the Weta Digital team, focusing on just a few main sequences from the film: the opening train heist, scenes in Last City, the WCKD building jump and the rooftop escape. Plus a special look at some make-up effects enhancement.  Continue reading “From live-action to final shots: a Weta Digital case study on Maze Runner: The Death Cure”

Mandelbulbs, mutations and motion capture: the visual effects of Annihilation


When Alex Garland’s Ex Machina won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 2016, it was perhaps considered a major surprise in the VFX community. But the win also highlighted just how crucial the visual effects were in bringing the story of the A.I. robot Ava, played by Alicia Vikander, to life.

Now Garland and Ex Machina’s Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor Andrew Whitehurst from Double Negative have re-teamed on Annihilation, about a group of scientists who investigate a mysterious quarantined zone called the Shimmer. While there was a larger visual effects effort required for this new film – which involved the Shimmer itself, an array of mutated creatures and an alien humanoid being – the VFX again remain highly integrated into the storytelling and crucial in realizing Garland’s vision.

vfxblog caught up with Whitehurst for an in-depth discussion about making the film and the visual effects (realized by Double Negative, Milk VFX, Nvisible and Union VFX), including shooting in real locations in the UK, designing with Mandelbulb 3D fractals, filming with practical effects and stand-ins for much of the creature work, and delivering a beautifully choreographed ‘dance’ for Annihilation’s stunning conclusion.

***Warning: this interview contains major plot spoilers*** Continue reading “Mandelbulbs, mutations and motion capture: the visual effects of Annihilation”

New mocap video of Andy Serkis as Snoke


Most vfxblog readers have probably already seen ILM’s fantastic Snoke visual effects breakdown here, but Lucasfilm has also just released a clip from the upcoming Last Jedi Blu-ray/DVD that features an unaltered Andy Serkis performing Snoke in his motion capture suit.

Back in January, I wrote a piece for Cartoon Brew on how ILM transformed the actor’s mocap into Snoke. What was interesting – among many other things – about the studio’s work here was that the character went through a bit of a re-design and re-think during production, that even involved untwisting Serkis’ original mocap performance a little to make the character feel more powerful. It evolved into the final CG Snoke we see on screen.

Check out the new clip below: