If you just think for a second that all the compositing for Who Framed Roger Rabbit was done optically, it blows your mind. Check out my interview with ILM’s then optical photography supervisor Ed Jones about how that was done, on the 30th anniversary of the film, at Cartoon Brew.
Felix & Paul Studios is behind the ‘Jurassic World: Blue‘ VR mini-series available on Oculus Go, Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR headsets. They worked with ILM on the experience, and here’s a neat featurette on how the mocap was achieved. Look for ILM’s awesome animation supe Glen McIntosh!
I recently got to chat to Solo visual effects supervisor Rob Bredow about the film – you should be able to read various articles around the place, and I’ll post links to them at vfxblog.com. One of the standout sequences in the film is the conveyex train heist on Vandor, and Bredow shared his scouting, shooting, and miniature explosions process for bringing that incredible sequence to life. Check it out at the link below:
How closely were you watching that game of Dejarik in Solo? Now’s the time to take another look…
Pretty much every Star Wars film has fun Easter Eggs. But Ron Howard’s Solo has one of the coolest ‘inside visual effects’ hidden gem played out so far. And it’s to do with the game of Dejarik – or Holochess – that Chewbacca and Tobias Beckett play on the Millennium Falcon (which is at this stage owned by Lando Calrissian).
Holochess should be something that most avid Star Wars-watchers are familiar with. It showed up first in A New Hope, where Phil Tippett and Jon Berg animated stop-motion creatures that were composited as holograms into a scene of Chewbacca playing the game against R2-D2. A brief refrain of the game appeared in The Force Awakens, too. Then, in Solo, Chewbacca loses at the hands of Beckett.
But…something pretty cool happens during that most recent incarnation in Solo.
Let’s start with the actual clip from the film.
Did you see it? Watch it again and look what happens when Chewie gets frustrated and slams and wipes the board with his arm.
That’s right, two of the creatures actually ‘pop off’ as holograms, presumably because Chewie uses his Wookie strength to almost break the Holochess table.
‘Big deal,’ I hear you say. Well, it’s actually a completely intentional thing. That’s because those two creatures that pop off the board were actually two creatures originally intended to be in the game during A New Hope.
Well, here’s what happened, as described by Solo visual effects supervisor Rob Bredow at a recent Visual Effects Society screening and Q&A of the film.
The story was, Tippett had originally built 10 more characters, two more than he needed. Apparently George Lucas came out when they were lining up the shots for A New Hope 41 years ago and he said, ‘Oh it’s too crowded.’ So Tippett took a couple of them off the board and they were never seen again.
But…those pieces were not actually lost forever. Relatively recently, Tippett did find the original designs to the two creatures. What’s more, it turned out he’d given the unused stop-motion models to ILM visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren after A New Hope wrapped. And Muren had kept them, all these years.
Just to be sure, watch this clip from A New Hope, which shows just eight characters on the table.
The discovery of the two missing creatures seems to have happened as Tippett was simultaneously cleaning out his studio and preparing rewards for a Kickstarter for his short film project MAD GOD. His studio accessed the original models, scanned them via photogrammetry and moulded new versions for the rewards.
In fact, that Kickstarter project was all documented last year in a video for Tested, which showed how the new moulds were made and the figures crafted for awards.
Jump to production on Solo, and Tippett Studio – which had already re-made the original eight Holochess characters for a brief scene of Finn activating the table in The Force Awakens – was called upon to make this new Dejarik game between Chewie and Beckett.
That spurned the idea, as a story point, that perhaps there were originally ten creatures to the game on Lando’s Falcon, until Chewie’s meltdown.
Bredow related further on this at the VES event:
Tippett said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if the pristine Lando Falcon has two extra characters on the board?’ And then we realised when Chewie does this [mimes hand thumping], two of the buttons popped off the table. If you watch carefully…two extra characters for two shots. Then they disappear, never to be seen again.
Which just goes to show, it really is unwise to upset a Wookie.
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.
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.
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. This oral history includes a ton of rarely seen behind the scenes images.
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 paint directly on CG dinosaur models. Start reading at the special dedicated page below.
It’s very nearly the 30th anniversary of Ron Howard’s Willow, a huge effects film full of practical fx, miniatures, optical composites, matte paintings…and digital morphing. This was ILM’s big breakthrough into 2D image manipulation. I recently wrote about for VFX Voice magazine, and you can check out that article here.
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. One shot in particular stayed in my memory – an overhead view of the waves crashing between buildings. Christopher Horvath was behind the sims for that shot, and he spoke to vfxblog about how it was made two decades ago. Read the interview here: http://atomic-temporary-105830471.wpcomstaging.com/deepimpact/