The VFX magic of ‘The Shape of Water’

Recently, I was able to interview several of the effects filmmakers behind Guillermo del Toro’s amazing The Shape of Water. You can check those pieces out at VFX Voice and Cartoon Brew. The film has also been shortlisted in the final 10 movies for consideration for the visual effects Oscar, and will be at the VFX Bake-Off today in Los Angeles.

Now the studio behind the film, Fox Searchlight Pictures, has released a two-minute VFX breakdown. It showcases the digital effects by Mr. X Inc, championed by Dennis Berardi (Senior Visual Effects Supervisor), Luke Groves (Co-Visual Effects Supervisor), Trey Harrell (Digital Effects Supervisor) and Kevin Scott (Animation Supervisor). And it also serves to show the impressive collaboration between Mr. X’s digital work and that of the practical creature effects, led by Mike Hill (Creature Lead Designer/Sculptor) and Legacy Effects’ Shane Mahan (Project Supervisor/Make Up Effects). Enjoy the video above!

Ten things I learned from ILM about ‘The Last Jedi’s’ space battles

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Space battles are synonymous with Star Wars films. The original trilogy is fondly remembered for ILM’s use of motion control and miniatures. These days, like on The Last Jedi, digital ship models, photorealistic rendering and simulated crashes and explosions are of course the norm.

But to ensure the space battles in this latest Star Wars adventure echoed those memorable scenes from the first films, ILM employed several ways to bring them to life, even starting an in-house project to copy – at least to some degree – the look and feel of the original motion control miniature movements.

vfxblog recently visited ILM London to find out more on that process, plus a whole bunch of other things about the scenes in which Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) takes on the Dreadnought, and when Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) launches his spinning attack on the Resistance cruiser.

Continue reading Ten things I learned from ILM about ‘The Last Jedi’s’ space battles

Blade Runner 2049: going deep with DNEG

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Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 is one of the 10 films short-listed for the VFX Oscar. I’ve covered several aspects of the film so far including with overall visual effects supervisor John Nelson, but here is a brand new interview with Double Negative visual effects supervisor Paul Lambert. DNEG was responsible for views of future Los Angeles, Joi the holographic girlfriend of K, and a memorable ménage à trois featuring Joi and K and Mariette.

Check out the Q&A below, plus a befores and afters video breakdown of many of these visual effects and other shots in the film by studios including Framestore, Atomic Fiction, MPC and Rodeo FX. Continue reading Blade Runner 2049: going deep with DNEG

Crafting Crait: ILM’s VFX supe on how Rian Johnson wanted to go ‘redder, redder, redder’

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Scenes of ships darting across a salt flat-like looking environment and tearing up shards of red crystals permeated the early trailers for The Last Jedi. But what was this world, and what was the major battle teased there?

The final film revealed the location to be Crait, the location of an old Rebel base where the Resistance now seeks refuge to send out a message for help. But the First Order launches a swift attack, and a battle along, and even below, its white surface plays out. Here’s overall visual effects supervisor Ben Morris from Industrial Light & Magic on what was required to bring the exciting Crait sequence to life – including its incredibly distinctive redness. Continue reading Crafting Crait: ILM’s VFX supe on how Rian Johnson wanted to go ‘redder, redder, redder’

How to: Rey & Kylo vs. Snoke’s Elite Praetorian Guard

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The moment Rey and Kylo Ren take on Snoke’s Elite Praetorian Guard’s is one of the many highlights from Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi. I’ll have more on how Industrial Light & Magic crafted Snoke soon, but here’s overall visual effects supervisor Ben Morris on how that lightsaber fight scene, which was overseen by ILM London VFX supe Mike Mulholland, came to be, including the curtain of fire surrounding them and the weapons used by the guards. Continue reading How to: Rey & Kylo vs. Snoke’s Elite Praetorian Guard

ILM’s ‘The Last Jedi’ visual effects supervisor on how that Holdo hyperspace scene surprised even him

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In the coming days I’ll have a bunch of coverage of the visual effects of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, based on a visit I made to ILM London just before Christmas. First up is a look at that stunning and surprising hyperspace moment when Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) slams the Raddus – mid-hyperdrive – into Supreme Leader Snoke’s ship, the Supremacy.

The resulting white streak of an explosion is a heart-wrenching moment of sacrifice played out in complete silence. Overall visual effects supervisor Ben Morris from ILM initially thought the sequence might involve a ton of complex destruction effects simulations, but director Rian Johnson had something else in mind. Continue reading ILM’s ‘The Last Jedi’ visual effects supervisor on how that Holdo hyperspace scene surprised even him

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!

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.

 

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