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Tips from the VFX Oscar nominated supes for working with directors


Joe Letteri. Chris Townsend. John Nelson. Stephen Rosenbaum. Ben Morris. They all weigh-in in this piece for Cartoon Brew on how they worked with their director.

An amazing part of this piece is that I was able to speak to three of these visual effects supervisors (John Nelson, Joe Letteri and Chris Townsend) at VIEW Conference in Turin, Italy in October 2017. That’s three Oscar-nominated supervisors at the one event (incredibly, VIEW in 2017 also featured the Oscar nominated animated features The Breadwinner and Loving Vincent).

If you haven’t been to VIEW before, I strongly recommend it – in 2018 the conference is on October 22-26. It’s a small event compared to say a big SIGGRAPH or FMX, but this intimacy is VIEW’s selling point. You actually get to interact with the speakers themselves, and they are presenting on THE big films and projects of the year, as evidenced by the Oscar nominees who tend to be there.

Keep an eye out on for information on what will be coming up at VIEW this year.

Aaron Sims on the secrets of crafting compelling characters


The creatures and characters you see in some of the biggest films and television shows are the result of countless hours of design, research, re-design and skilled artistry. Among the most prolific of creature and characters designers is the team at Aaron Sims Creative, headed up by design veteran Aaron Sims.

In recent times, ASC has worked on designs and visual effects for such projects as The Mist, It, War for the Planet of the Apes, Wonder Woman and Stranger Things 2. To do that, they follow what’s dubbed a ‘Sketch-to-Screen’ workflow involving concept design, key scenes and layout, 3D asset modeling, lookdev, rapid prototyping and previs, rigging, animation, compositing and final rendering.

Sims is going to be talking about that process – and a bunch of other aspects of ASC’s work – at the upcoming CG Futures event in Melbourne on 2-4 March. vfxblog got a special sneak preview of a Sketch-to-Screen futuristic robot project that will be shown at CG Futures, which Sims runs through below.

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

Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

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 visual effects supervisor Jeff Okun and Cinesite laboured for months over the appearance and textural qualities of the sphere, which needed to be other-worldly, ‘perfect’ and non-reflective – all at the same time. In this oral history of the sphere, vfxblog looks back with members of the visual effects team on the film at how the CG creation was realised – even actor Samuel L. Jackson hilariously weighs in.

Note: Okun’s comments are taken from the fantastic documentary appearing on the Sphere DVD called ‘Shaping the Sphere: The Art of the Visual Effects Supervisor’, while Jackson’s words are from those he made during the audio commentary on the Sphere DVD.