When the first trailers for F. Gary Gray’s The Fate of the Furious surfaced, they showcased a stunt sequence involving a submarine and vehicles driving along a frozen lake that seemed outlandish even for what has become a franchise that seems to up the ante with every new film.
‘Visual effects’ is so many things. It’s art and it’s science, and it covers an incredible range of disciplines, including illustration, photography, lighting, modeling, animation, rendering, compositing, coding…in fact, the list goes on and on.
I think it can be hard as a new filmmaker or film enthusiast to just get your head around VFX (frankly, as someone who came into visual effects journalism not as an artist originally, I am always playing catch-up on what others in the industry might consider basic concepts).
Which is why I was excited to hear about the release of The Filmmaker’s Guide to Visual Effects, a Focal Press book by visual effects supervisor and instructor Eran Dinur. Dinur works at Brainstorm Digital on major projects like The Wolf of Wall Street, Boardwalk Empire and The Lost City of Z. He was also at ILM Singapore where he contributed to Iron Man, Star Trek and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Eran knows his stuff, and he also teaches it. His courses at fxphd were some of the most well-loved (trust me, I was there and saw the incredible feedback). Now he’s distilled a lot of this VFX knowledge into a book designed to be a clear guide for filmmakers about where and how visual effects can fit into their productions.
To give you a taste of what’s in the book, Eran has kindly let me publish an excerpt from a chapter about shooting on set, and specifically shooting with green screens. The rest of the book includes discussion about all the important disciplines in VFX, and as I read each chapter I was silently wishing the book had been written when I got started!
Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast is a major, major hit. The film has won over audiences by staying true to the classic Disney tale but also bringing something new to the world.
Helping to make the ‘live action’ film possible was, of course, an incredible amount of visual effects work, including the household characters. These were CG creations brought to life by Framestore, overseen by visual effects supervisor Kyle McCulloch. I had the pleasure of exploring how the characters were made with Framestore’s animation supervisor Dale Newton and CG supervisor Neil Weatherley. This lengthy discussion is aimed at giving a glimpse into just how much work went into the characters. Continue reading The household characters of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – a conversation with Framestore
For the premiere issue of the Visual Effects Society’s new print magazine, VFX Voice, I set out to cover the effects of Ghost in the Shell. I was lucky enough to speak to visual effects supervisors Guillaume Rocheron and John Dykstra, and a whole bunch of artists from Weta Workshop. I was also able to interview director Rupert Sanders about his approach to the practical and digital effects in the film.
It’s hard to write a post that will do the programme for FMX 2017 justice. There are just so many great speakers and sessions planned. If you’re able to head to Stuttgart on May 2-5, I’d say, do not hesitate.
This is one of the CG/VFX/Animation/production conferences where you can actually spend all four days in wall-to-wall sessions, or spend just as much time catching up with colleagues and friends.
If I had to list some highlights, they’d be something like this:
Valerian – ILM and Weta Digital have a sneak peek presentation.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 – Animal Logic and Weta Digital also showcasing their work.
Rogue One – John Knoll’s going to be there!
Animation director’s panel – Kelly Asbury, Peter Lord and more.
Pixar and Disney – pretty much anything they’re doing, from Piper to Moana
Scanline’s Stephan Trojansky on water sims – the studio’s Flowline tools are some of the best
Anything real-time – Epic’s there, as is Unity, and there’s a special automotive thread
Digital humans forum – this is always awesome, and what you get is a lot of frank discussion and research being presented
I’ve got to travel around to a few conferences and events recently and what I’ve found is, there’s nothing quite like hearing and learning directly from artists in visual effects and design – in person.
In Australia, it can sometimes be tricky to have that exposure to the best artists in the field. However, there’s an event coming up – in both Melbourne and then in Sydney – aiming to change that.
It’s called Gnomon Live, and it’s a full weekend event of live demos, masterclasses and panel discussions with a whole bunch of world-class artists speaking on a range of VFX and design topics. People like Neville Page, Tran Ma, Miguel Ortega, Brian Recktenwald and Josh Herman. Plus the big studios – Animal Logic, Luma Pictures, Iloura, Firemonkeys, and more, will be there.
Another of the presenters whose attending is art director Alex Nice from Magnopus, an exciting studio which is crossing the line between visual effects and new forms of immersive entertainment. Nice has previously worked on films like Sin City, The Hunger Games and Hugo, and these days he’s exploring new art direction techniques in AR and VR.