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

Volker Engel on Independence Day: Resurgence

1.1 Queen ground interaction sim

A few days after delivering the final effects shots on Independence Day: Resurgence, visual effects supervisor Volker Engel spoke to vfxblog about the significant effort behind Roland Emmerich’s newest film. Around 1700 vfx shots are in Resurgence, many of them massive effects simulations depicting the impact of a new wave of alien invasion on Earth. In this frank conversation, Engel takes us through the early stages of planning, then production and then post-production on the film. Continue reading Volker Engel on Independence Day: Resurgence

Old meets new: the vfx of Independence Day – Part 2

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Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

Under the artful watch of visual and digital effects supervisors Volker Engel, Doug Smith and Tricia Ashford, a crack team of in-house effects artists and several post houses carried out the significant CG, matte painting and compositing duties for Independence Day. Among those was VisionArt, which came onto the production late in the game to help produce dogfight sequences, Alien Attacker shield effects and the final Mothership explosion. Faced with next to no time on these shots, artists at the studio capitalized on Side Effects’ Prisms (pre-Houdini) and developed its own procedural systems, in particular a tool called ‘Sparky’, to deliver the effects on time. In Part 2 of our retro ID4 coverage (Part 1 looked at the Model Shop), vfxblog talks to two VisionArt artists on Independence Day, Rob Bredow, now CTO at Lucasfilm, and Daniel Kramer, now a visual effects supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks. Continue reading Old meets new: the vfx of Independence Day – Part 2

Old meets new: the vfx of ‘Independence Day’ – Part 1

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Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

Roland Emmerich’s 1996 disaster blockbuster Independence Day is about to get a very new sequel which features the latest in cutting-edge digital visual effects. Twenty years ago the director and his prolific effects team were faced with the gargantuan task of realizing big, big shots, a feat they achieved using both CG techniques – at the time still very difficult to accomplish photorealistically – and some of the best miniature work ever done. In this two part feature, vfxblog looks back at the practical and digital accomplishments on the vfx Oscar-winning Independence Day. We start with an exclusive video focusing on the film’s model shop. Continue reading Old meets new: the vfx of ‘Independence Day’ – Part 1

The secrets behind Bad Robot’s vfx for ’10 Cloverfield Lane’

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Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

Dan Trachtenberg’s highly secretive 10 Cloverfield Lane surprised audiences when it was released in March with its tense horror-thriller plot and surprise ending (btw, spoilers!). The JJ Abrams / Bad Robot-produced film mainly plays out in a doomsday bunker until the main character Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finally encounters a mysterious space ship and alien creature above ground. Bad Robot’s in-house VFX unit Kelvin Optical completed these complicated effects as well as many other invisible shots. vfxblog talked to visual effects supervisor Luke McDonald, who also detailed deleted scenes and some unexpected effects duties. Continue reading The secrets behind Bad Robot’s vfx for ’10 Cloverfield Lane’

Animator Tom St Amand reflects on 25 years of ‘The Rocketeer’

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Joe Johnston’s The Rocketeer was released 25 years ago today – on 21 June, 1991. Tom St Amand was ILM’s stop motion animator on the film and responsible for bringing to life an armatured version of the flying character which would then be composited into live action aerial plates. vfxblog asked St Amand to go back a quarter of a century and discuss how motion control, stop motion and optical effects made those dynamic shots possible.

Continue reading Animator Tom St Amand reflects on 25 years of ‘The Rocketeer’