Inside the mind of Pacific Rim: Uprising’s animation director

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Pacific Rim: Uprising might just be an animator’s dream project; giant Jaeger robots fighting giant alien Kaiju. Whenever I watch a film like that, I always wonder, where do the animators start? Notwithstanding the fact that there’s already a Pacific Rim film out there, and perhaps plenty of other giant fighting robot films, something about Uprising’s animation felt different.

So I asked animation director Aaron Gilman to tell me. He’s now at Double Negative and is a veteran of such other effects-heavy films as Avatar and Iron Man 3 at Weta Digital. We talked about getting started with animating such large characters, finding performances, using motion capture and what Gilman calls his ‘Heft and Jank’ approach. Continue reading Inside the mind of Pacific Rim: Uprising’s animation director

Phil Tippett is speaking at FMX: a look back at his visual effects highlights

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Star Wars, RoboCop, Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers are just some of the projects Phil Tippett has left his indelible mark on. The visual effects supervisor famously navigated a major transition in the visual effects industry from practical effects – in which he had specialised in stop-motion animation – to the digital world we are so familiar with today.

Soon Tippett will be sharing this journey at FMX in Stuttgart, Germany, as part of a Then & Now series of talks I’m co-ordinating at the conference. His talk is called ‘Lessons in Motion: “Star Wars” to “Starship Troopers”, and Beyond’ and will take place on Friday April 27th. There’s also going to be a screening the night before of MAD GOD, Tippett’s return to the world of stop-motion.

Right now, vfxblog has this special gallery featuring Tippett’s work from over the years in film – from humble beginnings through to major effects blockbusters. Enjoy, and hope to see you at FMX. Continue reading Phil Tippett is speaking at FMX: a look back at his visual effects highlights

2001: a 50 year space odyssey

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When I wrote Masters of FX, one of the many highlights was speaking to visual effects supervisor Doug Trumbull. He, of course, was the pioneer behind several of the effects sequences in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which celebrates its 50th anniversary today.

2001 is still one of those films effects practitioners refer to and reference when they’re designing shots or talking about what influenced them, which is pretty incredible for a movie half a century old. Amongst the jaw-dropping sequences in the film, the ‘Stargate’ corridor of lights and shapes engulfing the astronaut still dazzles most viewers. Trumbull created the effect via a setup he designed and called the Slit-Scan machine.

It involved shooting moving footage made of back-lit coloured artwork, chemicals, and high-contrast imagery with the shutter remaining open while the camera was also moved. As the name suggests, the slit-scan photography technique required 60-second exposures and a specialised camera setup to capture the slit and the imagery behind it.

Few visual effects shots remain as awe inspiring and quite frankly as psychedelic as 2001’s Stargate sequence. Luckily, Trumbull didn’t stop there, continuing incredible designs on films such as Close Encounters, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Blade Runner. You can see an excerpt below and read more about the visual effects supervisor’s work in those films in Masters of FX.

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