Are you planning for FMX yet?

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I first heard about FMX in 2011, just as I started writing full-time about visual effects. I went there – it’s in Stuttgart – and was immediately hooked. There’s a ton of super-cool visual effects, animation and CG presentations.

You could go to JUST THOSE all week if you wanted to. But why the conference is even better is the breadth of other things going on: recruitment, AR/VR/tech demos, in-depth software/hardware talks, screenings – and maybe the best thing: people. I’ve made a whole bunch of friends there who I probably see only once a year. And you get to meet a lot of industry members and artists. It’s worth it just for that.

Six-odd years later, I’m now on the Program Board for FMX, and I’ll be running a track at the conference in April 2018 called ‘Then & Now.’ I’ll talk more about what this will ultimately involve soon, but the first announced speaker in that track is the amazing Phil Tippett. That might give you a bit of insight into what Then & Now is all about.

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Things start at FMX on April 24, 2018, which is definitely not very far away in terms of planning ahead. Find out more about some of the announced sessions in this press release, and keep an eye on fmx.de for more announcements.

Hope to see you there!

Titanic’s VFX producer on how James Cameron brought her onto the movie, and how she made it *into* the movie

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It’s now 20 years since James Cameron’s Titanic was released. Back in 1997, somehow the film made it through an incredibly challenging shoot, a tense studio environment, constant media scrutiny and a gruelling post-production schedule to become the then most successful box office hit of all time.

But Titanic was not without its challenges, especially in terms of visual effects. New ways of realising digital water, digital extras and combining these with live action and miniatures was ushered in for Titanic, principally by Digital Domain. In addition, a whole army of effects vendors also contributed to the film.

Helping to oversee that mammoth VFX effort was visual effects producer Camille Cellucci, who in this deep dive interview, shares with vfxblog how the director specifically asked her to work on the film, what VFX production meant 20 years ago, and how she managed to wrangle an appearance in Titanic itself.

Continue reading Titanic’s VFX producer on how James Cameron brought her onto the movie, and how she made it *into* the movie

Breaking down the beautybot

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Earlier this year I caught up with Imageworks visual effects supervisor Mark Breakspear to discuss his studio’s work on Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The home entertainment release of the film is now here, and Imageworks has shared with vfxblog a fun look at the beautybot effects.

Watch Breakspear and animation director Max Tyrie talk about the complex artistry behind the beautybot from The Golden Circle, in this video. The film is out on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on December 12.

 

The secrets behind the life (and death) of Titanic’s propeller guy

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Illustration by Aidan Roberts.
A man falls from the poop deck, hitting the bronze hub of the starboard propeller with a sickening smack.

That line from James Cameron’s script for Titanic, coming deep into scenes of the chaotic sinking of the famous cruiseliner, might sound simple enough. But it would turn out to be the basis of one of the blockbuster film’s most memorable shots.

The man who strikes the starboard propeller, and then continues to spin wildly before slamming into the ocean below, forever became known in movie lexicon as ‘the propeller guy’. Bringing him to life and, sadly, death, would require a gigantuan effort from Titanic’s visual effects crew – principally Digital Domain – which combined live action, miniatures, digital doubles and digital water to realise the final ‘sickening’ moment.

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of Titanic, vfxblog talks to key members of the VFX crew to uncover a few remaining secrets about propeller guy, including how animator Andy Jones tackled the shot on his first ever feature film, how the elements making up the final scene were composited in an early version of NUKE, and the surprising truth behind whose face was used for the digital victim. Continue reading The secrets behind the life (and death) of Titanic’s propeller guy

‘Flubber’ turns 20: how ILM made the shape-shifting green goo come to life

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Twenty years ago, the film release schedule was awash with CG and VFX-heavy projects. Industrial Light & Magic, which had had a hand of course in a number of these, further demonstrated a diverse visual effects skill set with its work on Flubber.

Brand new challenges for the studio came in the form of Flubber itself, which had to be both a transforming piece of sticky goo and a character with major personality, while also being reflective and translucent. ILM’s artists solved these issues in several ways, including taking advantage of Softimage’s MetaClay tools.

Philip Edward Alexy was a lead technical animator at ILM on Flubber, and he shared some memories of the show with vfxblog. The show was overseen by visual effects supervisor Peter Crosman, and by VFX supervisors Tom Bertino and Sandy Karpman at ILM. Alexy also shares some rare crew shots and behind the scenes stills from during production. Continue reading ‘Flubber’ turns 20: how ILM made the shape-shifting green goo come to life

SIGGRAPH Asia tech papers preview: 3D avatars from a single photo

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Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of reading about and watching the results of digital human and faces research led by Hao Li. He is, simultaneously, CEO & Co-Founder of Pinscreen, Inc., Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southern California, and Director of the Vision and Graphics Lab at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies.

Most recently, Li and his collaborators have been demonstrating tools to produce 3D human avatars directly from facial scans and even just single photos. Their latest research, titled ‘Avatar Digitization From a Single Image For Real-Time Rendering’, is being published as a technical paper at SIGGRAPH Asia in Bangkok (27 – 30 November). I had a quick chat to Li on what the research is all about, and where his startup Pinscreen is up to. Read on to also find out how to get a discount to SIGGRAPH Asia. Continue reading SIGGRAPH Asia tech papers preview: 3D avatars from a single photo