‘Thor: Ragnarok’s’ Sakaar chase scene was also a courtship dance


Stuck on Sakaar but looking to get back to Asgard, Thor, Valkeryie and Banner steal one of the Grandmaster’s ships, the Commodore. In a high octane chase scene through the city, they escape Sakaar fighters and exit through a wormhole.

Digital Domain crafted visual effects for the Thor: Ragnarok sequence, overseen by overall visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison. In this special vfxblog, Morrison and DD’s VFX supe Dave Hodgins explain how the exciting chase was pulled off. Continue reading ‘Thor: Ragnarok’s’ Sakaar chase scene was also a courtship dance

What went into those cool title and UI designs in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’?


The explosion in visual effects work in comic book films is perhaps only matched by the explosion in design work also seen in those movies – everything from logo reveals, to main-on-end titles, screen UIs and other designs.

One of the studios behind much of this work is Perception, based in New York. It recently tackled Thor: Ragnarok’s logo reveal, main-on-ends and other design elements seen in the film, which took on a very ‘Kirby’ and sometimes retro feel. vfxblog asked some of Perception’s key creatives how they accomplished the designs. Continue reading What went into those cool title and UI designs in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’?

Behind the scenes of that super-cool Bifrost scene in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’


One of the scenes, as brief as it is, that really caught my eye in Thor: Ragnarok, was the Bifrost journey taken by Thor, Loki and an uninvited Hela. A mid-journey fight ensues, which ultimately sends Thor and Loki to the planet Sakaar.

We’ve seen the Bifrost before, but this time visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison and visual effects studio Rising Sun Pictures made it somewhat more crystalline. They also dealt with what happens when a character strays through its edges, coming up with a technique that included just the right amount of camera shake. Morrison and RSP 2D lead Jess Burnheim break down the work for vfxblog. Continue reading Behind the scenes of that super-cool Bifrost scene in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

Pixar previews their real-time graphics talk at SIGGRAPH Asia

Presto screenshot. Image courtesy Pixar.

One of the featured sessions at SIGGRAPH Asia in Bangkok (27-30 November) is How Real-Time Graphics Helps Pixar Make Feature Films, being presented by senior graphics software engineers David Yu and Pol Jeremias-Vila.

I got the chance to ask them a few quick questions about what real-time graphics and effects initiatives are in use at Pixar, and what their talk will involve at SIGGRAPH Asia. Continue reading Pixar previews their real-time graphics talk at SIGGRAPH Asia

A visual journey through the screen graphics of ‘Blade Runner 2049’


Territory Studio is behind some of the coolest UI and screen graphics you’ve seen in recent films, from Prometheus to Ghost in the Shell and now Blade Runner 2049. What better way to see what they did for the Denis Villeneuve film than just let them show off their visuals. Here’s a look at designs and finals from the film, along with their notes on how they were made. Continue reading A visual journey through the screen graphics of ‘Blade Runner 2049’

Crafting the insane action behind ‘Thor: Ragnorak’s’ end battle


WARNING: Contains some plot spoilers.

Amongst the many and complex visual effects sequences in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok, the final battle on Asgard is perhaps the most epic. Here, the evil Hela (Cate Blanchett), her d-guards and massive dog Fenris take on Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and several other characters, including a giant version of the fire demon fire demon Surtur.

It’s a sequence that involved significant fight choreography, CG character animation, enormous destruction and a surprising twist in Thor’s superpowers. Here’s a look at how Framestore, working with overall visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison, pulled off some of the battle’s key moments. Continue reading Crafting the insane action behind ‘Thor: Ragnorak’s’ end battle

Ian Spriggs on CG portraits and designing characters for Neill Blomkamp


Ian Spriggs is a character artist with experience at several visual effects studios and most recently at Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studios. Here, he has taken on some of the most elaborate modelling and texturing tasks of his career. Spriggs is also well-known for his CG portraits and self-portraits, including one of Blomkamp himself.

I sat down with Spriggs for THU TV at Trojan Hose was a Unicorn, and you can read a transcript of our conversation below, where we dive into his portrait work, coming on board and Oats and crafting the incredible Zygote creature for one of Blomkamp’s shorts. Continue reading Ian Spriggs on CG portraits and designing characters for Neill Blomkamp

Reflecting on ‘Valerian’: concept artist Ben Mauro


At Trojan Horse was a Unicorn in Portugal recently, I got to sit down with Ben Mauro, an art director, concept artist, creature designer and illustrator whose work has appeared in such films as Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Lucy, Elysium, Chappie and the Hobbit films, plus several games and other places.

Our conversation appeared as a live THU TV episode, with Mauro discussing his work in particular on Valerian and generally what it’s like to be on a production all the way through. For vfxblog readers, I was able to present some of Ben’s thoughts here in a Q&A, and show a few of his many designs for Valerian, below. Continue reading Reflecting on ‘Valerian’: concept artist Ben Mauro

vfxblog readers get a discount to SIGGRAPH Asia


One of the reasons I try and get to different conferences is that there often ends up being presentations on VFX and animation that you get early access to or don’t get shown anywhere else.

That’s exactly what looks set to be shown soon at SIGGRAPH Asia in Bangkok, taken place between 27 and 30 November. During the week, in addition to a whole bunch of technical papers and courses, will be featured presentations on films such as Coco, Blade Runner 2049 and Thor: Ragnarok.


For Coco, a large contingent from Pixar will be on hand to go behind the scenes. Framestore is showing its Blade Runner 2049 VFX, which included the Vegas sequence. With Thor: Ragnorak, presenters are coming from Framestore, ILM and Method Studios.

If you’re thinking of heading to SIGGRAPH Asia, vfxblog readers can sign up with a 10% discount. Head to http://bit.ly/sa17reg and use the code EP107010MS71.

Hope to see you there!

Let’s all move to LA, in 2049


Los Angeles in 2049 is an over-populated metropolis, threatened by rising sea levels, and featuring vastly different scale buildings, from sprawling favelas to mile high pyramids. That’s how the city is presented in Blade Runner 2049, which had to show a location 30 years into the future from the original Blade Runner and had the benefit of using modern visual effects to make it possible.

Overall visual effects supervisor John Nelson was tasked with helping to realise much of that imagery. He and director Denis Villeneuve would push for LA views to be crafted via a combination of real photography, miniatures and CG. Some aerial plates were filmed in Mexico City, miniatures were crafted by Weta Workshop, and most of the CG shots and visual effects for LA were completed by Double Negative.

Here, Nelson tells vfxblog about the philosophy behind that approach and some fun details about combining real, miniature and digital. Continue reading Let’s all move to LA, in 2049