A man falls from the poop deck, hitting the bronze hub of the starboard propeller with a sickening smack.
That line from James Cameron’s script for Titanic, coming deep into scenes of the chaotic sinking of the famous cruiseliner, might sound simple enough. But it would turn out to be the basis of one of the blockbuster film’s most memorable shots.
The man who strikes the starboard propeller, and then continues to spin wildly before slamming into the ocean below, forever became known in movie lexicon as ‘the propeller guy’. Bringing him to life and, sadly, death, would require a gigantuan effort from Titanic’s visual effects crew – principally Digital Domain – which combined live action, miniatures, digital doubles and digital water to realise the final ‘sickening’ moment.
On the eve of the 20th anniversary of Titanic, vfxblog talks to key members of the VFX crew to uncover a few remaining secrets about propeller guy, including how animator Andy Jones tackled the shot on his first ever feature film, how the elements making up the final scene were composited in an early version of NUKE, and the surprising truth behind whose face was used for the digital victim. Continue reading The secrets behind the life (and death) of Titanic’s propeller guy
Twenty years ago, the film release schedule was awash with CG and VFX-heavy projects. Industrial Light & Magic, which had had a hand of course in a number of these, further demonstrated a diverse visual effects skill set with its work on Flubber.
Brand new challenges for the studio came in the form of Flubber itself, which had to be both a transforming piece of sticky goo and a character with major personality, while also being reflective and translucent. ILM’s artists solved these issues in several ways, including taking advantage of Softimage’s MetaClay tools.
When Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was released, I got the opportunity to talk to both overall VFX supe Scott Stokdyk and ILM supervisor Philippe Rebours about the Big Market sequence. Now with the film set for home entertainment release, there’s a snippet of one of the featurettes available on the Big Market sequence. Check it out below.
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
My recollection of music videos from the 1990s to early 2000s is that they were almost like the ultimate VFX showreel. Of course, this was at the same time that CGI was making headways in feature filmmaking, with music videos taking advantage, too, of advancements in digital effects, particularly compositing, to help tell their stories, often in quirky and unique ways. What better way to stand out amongst the crowd in music video promos.
One promo directed by Michel Gondry that has always stayed in my mind is Come Into My World by Kylie Minogue, released in 2002 and now celebrating its 15th anniversary. In it, Minogue strolls around the same Parisian intersection four times, each loop bringing a further duplication of the singer and the people around her.
To make that possible, the clip was filmed with a motion control camera on the street, with the meticulous rotoscoping and compositing led by Michel’s brother, Olivier Gondry. The two had been regular collaborators on some of the most memorable music videos from that time, including The Chemical Brothers’ Star Guitar; at that time their post production company was called Twisted Laboratories. I recently got a chance to chat to Olivier, now an accomplished commercials director himself, to revisit how Come Into My World was made. Continue reading Olivier Gondry on the making of Kylie Minogue’s ‘Come Into My World’
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.
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.