OK, what is this Megascans thing?

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A few months ago I started hearing about Swedish company Quixel’s Megascans and that it had been used by MPC on The Jungle Book for some of the intricate plant and jungle life textures on that film. But it was still unclear exactly what Megascans, a material library based on real-life scans of mostly vegetation and other organic surfaces, ‘was’. So at SIGGRAPH I asked Quixel founder Teddy Bergsman. Overnight, Megascans has just been launched in public beta, which seemed like a good time to run this interview – hope you enjoy! Continue reading OK, what is this Megascans thing?

From 20 years ago, Dr. Moreau

This week will be the 20th anniversary of the release of The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), a film plagued with problems. The original director Richard Stanley was replaced by John Frankenheimer, who then faced dealing with the eccentric stars Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer, and even Stanley himself who snuck back on set in an animal costume.

But one even more fascinating aspect of the production was its mix of Stan Winston-crafted creatures and digital visual effects by Digital Domain at a time when so much experimentation was going on in what could be convincingly created in CG on film.

I wrote about the often hilarious challenges the effects team faced at fxguide last year, after make-up and creature effects artist Shane Mahan and visual effects supervisor Kevin Mack shared their experiences on Dr. Moreau in a panel at Trojan Horse was a Unicorn. Check out it for a lot of fun details and imagery.

Off the wall with the makers of cineSync and Frankie

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Some of the most-used apps in visual effects and post-production are ones that audiences rarely get to see. I’m talking about Cospective’s cineSync, a mainstay in teleconferencing reviews, and Frankie, the company’s browser-based solution. I don’t often have the opportunity to cover the use of these tools, so I thought I’d have some fun with the team, who are based in Adelaide. Here they answer my questions about their favourite content right now, what they’ve heard about their tools in production and some blue sky ideas for where the tools could find other, more unconventional, uses… Continue reading Off the wall with the makers of cineSync and Frankie

Massive’s Stephen Regelous on future AI, competition and a Massive app?

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When Massive (Multiple Agent Simulation System in Virtual Environment) was first revealed to the world in 2001 as part of the release of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, it stunned audiences – and the visual effects community – with its use of fuzzy logic to aid in crowd animations. Developed at Weta Digital by Stephen Regelous, Massive then became a product on its own. Regelous has continued to build and grow Massive and recently at SIGGRAPH he showed off a new Parts Library and the new 3ds Max integration. vfxblog sat down for a demo of the latest software and a chat with Regelous about the state of AI and where Massive is ‘at’, particularly in an environment with new crowd simulation competitors and perhaps new opportunities away from film and TV. Continue reading Massive’s Stephen Regelous on future AI, competition and a Massive app?

Who ya gonna call (to do vfx)?

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John Bruno (far left) examines the Onion Head puppet used in Ghostbusters.

Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters is out this weekend and takes the franchise to a whole new level. The original films were masterclasses in using visual effects to help tell the story – and telling jokes too. For my book, Masters of FX, I got to talk to both Richard Edlund, the original film’s visual effects supervisor and John Bruno, the visual effects art director. Here’s some excerpts from the book about how they made Slimer, Marshmallow Man and the Gozer Temple effects from the 1984 film.  Continue reading Who ya gonna call (to do vfx)?

John Knoll’s Death Star hobby project because, well, he’s John Knoll

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“…a fun hobby project that may or may not see use in an upcoming film…”

If you were lucky enough to be at the Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 event in London on Friday or watching the livestream, then hopefully you saw what I think was one of the most insightful panel presentations that’s ever been presented on Star Wars. The highlight, for me, involved ILM visual effects supervisor and chief creative officer John Knoll showing off his ‘personal hobby project’ in re-creating the Death Star and the trench run graphics. Well, he said they were hobby projects but they also did coincide with early production on Rogue One (the story for which was Knoll’s idea).

Continue reading John Knoll’s Death Star hobby project because, well, he’s John Knoll

T2 is 25: Robert Skotak’s liquid metal effects

T2Mercury-3James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day is 25 years old. Soon on Cartoon Brew, I’ll have a full-length piece tracing the effects work by 4WARD Productions for the nuclear nightmare sequence, thanks to an in-depth conversation I had with 4WARD’s Robert Skotak. But first, a special preview and a look behind the scenes at some other work 4WARD produced for T2 – the T-1000 re-assembly sequence in the steel mill, where the pools of liquid metal start to re-form.  Continue reading T2 is 25: Robert Skotak’s liquid metal effects