Going back to ‘Pleasantville’: when doing a DI wasn’t so easy

In 1998, Gary Ross’ Pleasantville became the first major Hollywood feature to go through what’s now known as the digital intermediate, or DI, process. The film needed that process because its characters, stuck in a 1950s black and white existence, would slowly start to escape their repressive world as they begin experiencing colour. Getting there…

The CGI tidal wave in Snake Eyes that no one got to see

This week is the 20th anniversary of Brian De Palma’s Snake Eyes, a film perhaps not thought of for any major VFX moments. But, in fact, the movie nearly did feature a key CG water sequence in what was still the early days of fluid sims. This was for the original ending, which involved a…

The made-in-Maya short that’s now more than 20 years old

Do you remember Mel the cowboy? Then you’ll hopefully remember Ruby’s Saloon, a fun Alias|Wavefront demo short produced around the time that Maya was being made and released. I tracked down some of the ‘product specialists’ behind the film for this new oral history. (And if you also remember Chris Landreth’s Bingo, stay tuned for…

Super Mario Bros.: the other huge VFX film from 1993

Three members of the VFX team behind 1993’s Super Mario Bros. tell vfxblog about the more-than-slightly chaotic production and shoot, the advent of Flame for VFX production, getting their heads around scanning film, and that time they weren’t meant to see some Jurassic Park VFX dailies. www.vfxblog.com/supermariobros

On the 20th anniversary of The X-Files Movie: ‘splosions!

In my book, Masters of FX, I profiled 16 visual and special effects supervisors about their bodies of work. One of those was Ian Hunter, who, through Hunter/Gratzner Industries and New Deal Studios, has contributed a wealth of practical, miniature, and other effects work for large scale films and other projects. Hunter supervised the miniature…

Jurassic Week: mocap’ing dinos

vfxblog’s Jurassic Week coverage continues with this look at a few innovations introduced by ILM in Jurassic World; an iPad app for visualising the dinos during on-set photography, and a workflow for motion capturing raptors and the scariest dinosaur so far. Check it out below. https://vfxblog.com/jurassicmocap/

Jurassic Week: JP3 shines

Jurassic Week continues with this in-depth look at the several tech breakthroughs made by ILM in Jurassic Park III, including with ambient occlusion, virtual sets, flesh sims and simulated plants. Read the dedicated page, below. https://vfxblog.com/jurassicpark3/

Jurassic Week: the Dinosaur Input Device

Next up in vfxblog’s Jurassic Week is a brand new oral history on the making of the Dinosaur Input Device. It was this dinosaur-shaped stop-motion armature fitted with special encoders that kept Tippett Studio in the game during the making of Jurassic Park, after its original stop-motion dinos were scrapped in favour of ILM’s CG….

Jurassic Week: the history of Viewpaint

This week vfxblog is celebrating Jurassic Week, a whole week of Jurassic Park-inspired articles to celebrate the imminent 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park and the upcoming release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. First up, a look at ILM’s secret weapon in bringing its photoreal dinosaurs to life: Viewpaint, a 3D texturing tool that let artists…

Retro vfx: Godzilla is 20!

In vfxblog’s ‘Man-in-suit, miniatures, mechanics and modern CG: looking back at 20 years since Godzilla’, we chat to visual effects supervisor Volker Engel about this massive 1998 release and its use of practical, miniature, animatronics, puppet and CGI effects – all at once. The Q&A has some fun new facts about the teaser trailer for…

Remembering this killer ILM shot from Deep Impact, now 20 years old

20 years ago, the first of 1998’s asteroid films, Deep Impact, was released. In some ways it used visual effects rather sparingly to showcase the result of a partial meteor hit on the Earth. Massive waves hitting New York were a feature of the film, and these were realised as CG water sims by ILM….

Dark City at 20: a conversation with colorist Peter Doyle

Filmed in Sydney and released 20 years ago this week in 1998, Alex Proyas’ Dark City surprised many by instantly becoming a neo-noir sci-fi classic. Fans of Proyas’ earlier works, including The Crow, were perhaps not surprised at the director’s adept skills in crafting a film around a dark sun-less world run by a mysterious group…

‘We tried a million things’ – the oral history of Sphere’s sphere

Barry Levinson’s 1998 film Sphere, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week, brought with it a diverse array of visual effects straddling both the practical and digital worlds. Its central ‘character’, the sphere itself, was a CG creation by Cinesite, and proved to be one of the toughest design challenges on the movie. Overall…

Tracking nightmares: behind Blur’s half-digested Billy shots in Deep Rising – from 20 years ago

“We said, sure, we can do it! And we did it, although it was very, very painful.” – David Stinnett, Blur Studio While it may not have made a splash at the box office when it was released 20 years ago, Stephen Somers’ Deep Rising certainly contained some considerable ‘out-there’ practical and CG creature work. Most…

Retro VFX: Cloning Freddie Prinze, Jr.

In 2005, a new show called Freddie starring Freddie Prinze, Jr. briefly made it onto US television screens. While the show’s one and only season may not have been that memorable, its opening titles were pretty cool – they featured a number of ‘Freddie’ clones getting up to mischief in one continuous shot. Back then,…