What happens in Vegas


In the third act of Blade Runner 2049 we arrive at a stark orange-y Las Vegas, now a wasteland where the replicant and Blade Runner K (Ryan Gosling) has sought out the old-school Blade Runner Deckard (Harrison Ford).

Much of the visual effects work in that sequence was handled by Framestore (overseen by visual effects supervisor Richard Hoover), who worked with overall supervisor John Nelson on creating the distinctive Vegas buildings and incorporating the orange-y feel that had been inspired by Sydney dust storms.

Nelson tells vfxblog – from a conversation at the VIEW Conference in Turin, Italy – more about how that sequence was brought to life, including early discussions about whether the Vegas strip could have been made with miniatures, and some of the challenges of working with that colour scheme. Continue reading What happens in Vegas

More Joi: how the giant ‘Blade Runner 2049’ hologram shot was pulled off


As a follow-up to my earlier coverage of Double Negative’s ménage à trois hologram work for Blade Runner 2049, overall visual effects supervisor now shares with vfxblog how Dneg also carried out the stunning giant hologram scene also featuring Joi.

This time, actress Ana de Armas is playing Joi as a hologram advertisement as she sizes up to a dejected Ryan Gosling as K. The sequence involved a greenscreen shot for de Armas, and a separate shoot with interactive lighting for Gosling. Dneg then weaved its hologram magic for the final shots, as Nelson runs down here. Continue reading More Joi: how the giant ‘Blade Runner 2049’ hologram shot was pulled off

How ‘Blade Runner 2049’s’ virtual ménage à trois was made


The ménage à trois between K (Ryan Gosling), his companion hologram Joi (Ana de Armas) and Mariette (Mackenzie Davis) in Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 is a stunningly realised sequence. It involves the real human Mariette interacting with K, while also ‘merging’ at times with Joi.

The sequence involved significant visual effects planning and execution, undertaken by overall visual effects supervisor John Nelson and Double Negative, with Paul Lambert as Dneg’s VFX supervisor. In the first piece of my coverage of Blade Runner 2049, John Nelson breaks down how they made these amazing shots possible (Nelson recently spoke at length about the visual effects of Blade Runner 2049 at the VIEW Conference). Continue reading How ‘Blade Runner 2049’s’ virtual ménage à trois was made

VIEW preview: ‘Guardians Vol. 2’ VFX supe Christopher Townsend talks shot iterations


It’s not very long until the VIEW Conference in Turin, Italy, which kicks off 23 October. One of the amazing things about this event is the high calibre of speakers – we’re talking major visual effects supervisors, animation directors and leaders in VR and other creative content industries.

Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor Christopher Townsend is one of those incredible speakers whose keynote on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be a highlight of VIEW. His talk, which will also be presented with Trixter animation supervisor Simone Kraus, is affectionately called, ‘The making of a really colourful movie’ – which is exactly what Guardians Vol. 2 is.

When the film came out, I had a chance to chat to Chris about supervising the VFX – and one thing I asked him was in reference to a post from the director, James Gunn, on a shot that had been approved that was in its 749th iteration. I thought I’d share some of Chris’ thoughts about the iterative nature of VFX. Continue reading VIEW preview: ‘Guardians Vol. 2’ VFX supe Christopher Townsend talks shot iterations

Beautybots and robot dogs: just another day in the life of Sony Pictures Imageworks


Sony Pictures Imageworks is behind a whole range of shots in Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle, from robot dogs, to the beautybot (inspired by Claudia Schiffer), the surrounds of Poppy’s diner environment, a robotic arm, the destruction of the Kingsman mansion and that crazy one-shot fight scene at the end.

Visual effects supervisor Mark Breakspear tells vfxblog how working on some of these hilarious shots was different from the usual VFX assignments – a bag of weed transforming into a forest environment was one of many challenging tasks Imageworks had to pull off, for example. And that was nothing next to mincing one of the bad guys… Continue reading Beautybots and robot dogs: just another day in the life of Sony Pictures Imageworks

Learn the (VFX) secrets of ‘mother!’ with visual effects supervisor Dan Schrecker


When I was interviewing visual effects supervisor Dan Schrecker about the VFX of Darren Aronofsky’s mother!, I was still getting my head around the movie. I knew I loved it, but I wasn’t clear on everything that had happened (I don’t think you’re meant to be, by the way).

The result, though, from talking to Dan, was that as he guided me through many of the sequences that VFX had had a hand in, I found our discussion almost as gripping as watching the actual film! Suddenly, major plot points and thematic elements became obvious, and I enjoyed hearing about the problem solving involved in simply getting mother! made.

I hope in reading this Q&A you might find that too. Of course, I suggest you see the movie first – not just because of obvious spoilers but because a lot of what Dan and I talk about probably won’t make sense otherwise.

In the interview, Dan describes how the visual effects requirements evolved through planning, production and post. There’s a great story about using VR to plan the shoot in the house, and other anecdotes on specific VFX design decisions and changes made along the way. Here’s your last chance to back out now, so again, beware of spoilers… Continue reading Learn the (VFX) secrets of ‘mother!’ with visual effects supervisor Dan Schrecker

“That gives you goosebumps” – the VFX perspective on THU with Rise FX’s Florian Gellinger

Florian Gellinger from Rise FX.

It can be hard sometimes to nail down exactly what Trojan Horse was a Unicorn is. Of course, that’s its appeal – it’s an ‘experience,’ as co-founder André Lourenço describes it, for all kinds of creatives in digital illustration, design, concept art, 3D, CG, games, animation…and visual effects.

To that end, visual effects supervisor and Rise FX co-founder Florian Gellinger was one of this year’s Knights at THU. It was his first time attending, and I cornered him for a brief Q&A on the final day for his thoughts – as a ‘VFX person’ – on the week that was. Continue reading “That gives you goosebumps” – the VFX perspective on THU with Rise FX’s Florian Gellinger

Here’s a way to be part of Trojan Horse even if you’re not in Portugal

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Trojan Horse was a Unicorn or THU is about to kick off in Portugal. If you’re a regular reader then you might know I’ve been the last two years to this design, animation, concept art and VFX event (although listing those things doesn’t really fully cover what THU is all about – I think of it as the BEST motivational event for creative people I know about).

Not everyone can go to THU, partly because it always sells out ridiculously quickly. But one innovation they’ve been bringing for the past 2 years is THU TV, a mix of livestreaming interviews and coverage, and catch-up shows, direct from the event in Troia.

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This year, I’m going to be hosting some of those interviews. They’ll be a mix of casual chats and conversations with people from design, animation and VFX (I’ll post the schedule when I can). Some other fantastic presenters, Christopher Nichols from Chaos Group, and Haje Jan Kamps of Techcrunch LifeFolder fame, will also be hosting sessions. And you can watch them by signing up to a THU TV ticket right here: http://trojan-unicorn.com/tickets.

It’s 59.90 Euros for live coverage of 5 days of THU Talks and Masterclasses, live talkshows (that’s the thing I’m part of), and VoD on Vimeo after the event.

I think THU TV is a pretty great way to stay in touch with what’s happening in the creative industries, learn some new things, be inspired, and feel like you’re there at THU in spirit even if you can’t be in person.