VFX Archaeology: Part 4 — Nurnies and Greeblies

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series VFX_archaeology

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series VFX_archaeology

Context is Everything

Modern cinema maintains a series of technical terms via oral tradition, that really no longer make sense. How many people really itnow the origin of terms like “Gaffer,” and “best boy?” Yes, those job titles have a clear set of responsibilities, but the origin of the term is sometimes cryptic, or humorous. Visual effects have their own terms as well, developed from a multitude of technical and artistic sources.  Digital visual effects in particular rely on some nomenclature that was developed in the analog era, and truly has little meaning … Continue reading

Rogue One — A Format Wars Story

 

During a screening of Doctor Strange at a Visual Effects Society event, someone asked the film’s Director whether he preferred the 3D version, or the 2D version? He said: “I am torn, as I love the 3D version, but also the Expanded Dynamic Range version as well.”

I gravitate toward stereo3D movies, due to my history of making stereo3D films. I wrote an article about stereo conversion for The Force Awakens, recounting its masterful use of the stereo3D format. In my opinion, Doctor Strange was a tour-de-force example of fantastic stereo3D conversion, so based on the … Continue reading

VFX Archaeology — The Lost Empire Strikes Back

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series VFX_archaeology

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series VFX_archaeology

Exploring the Evolution of a Lost Shot From Script to Screen

TESB_finalShot

[Image from the Empire Strikes Back Blu-ray. Color correction emphasizes blue spill that was normally lost to viewer.]

The near final shot of The Empire Strikes Back (TESB) of the Millenium Falcon flying off into the sunset — or rather the ten thousand sunsets of a spiral galaxy — is one of the most iconic, and oft-printed promotional images from … Continue reading

The Force Awakens, and the State of 3D conversion

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Stereo Conversion is Awe Inspiring and You Should See It.

In a darkened IMAX3D theater I saw Star Wars: the Force Awakens for the second time. My first viewing was at the Motion Picture Academy screening with JJ Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, Roger Guyett, and many others. I was already pretty impressed with the film, and I had a few complaints, but they were minor. As I watched it again, on a gigantic IMAX screen, at twice the brightness of a standard 3D projector, drowned in chest thumping sound, I was … Continue reading

The Missing Millennium Falcon

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series VFX_archaeology

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series VFX_archaeology

Evolution of a Design

 

 

Story update: Joe Johnston on Twitter said that he did not do the original drawing that inspired the illustration in the middle of this article (done  for research purposes only, and not an official StarWars art piece), and that he only used the cockpit and radar dish as elements. This design I saw might therefore be the work of one of the other artists on Star Wars. It could represent an alternate direction rather than a step in the evolution of the … Continue reading

The VFX War: Part 4 —The California Drought

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series The VFX War

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series The VFX War

The Great Dust Bowl 2

CADRGHT_008

There is little to no rain in California. For the last several years the once verdant fields of this great American state (both in size and productivity) have produced fewer crops as water restrictions expand every year. Los Angeles, is a desert, and has always … Continue reading

The VFX War: Part 3 — The Slight Heard Round The World

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series The VFX War

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series The VFX War

Hollywood’s Juvenile Response to Brilliance.

For 2014 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences promises in a Variety article to “get the visual effects presentation right this year.” They are in reference to last year’s global debacle of a presentation after The Life of Pi was played offstage as the vfx supervisors were attempting to honor the artists who lost their jobs making the film — and the director who publicly thanked everyone (I mean everyone) on the show except his … Continue reading

Who Is Watching VFX?

Youtube Analysis Of  VFX Documentary Viewers.

In 2008 I added a Youtube Channel, dedicated to collecting, and favoriting links to documentaries and inspiring visual effects.  I uploaded several of the documentaries that I enjoyed as I was growing up (and had to take a few of them down — thank you Lucasfilm). but it seems to have a reasonably popular following.  When I started doing this there were no channels of this type I could find, but there is now a plethora of content in this realm, and the channel subscriptions follow many of those.  The uploaded content has … Continue reading

Saving VFX: Part One — A Possible Way Forward

Splitting Up to Carry On.

Government kickbacks are not the only concern weighing on the VFX industry. We have innovated our way into solving everyone else’s problems, taking on the burden that used to belong to other departments. VFX have threatened the jobs of other parts of the industry for several years, and these industries have downsized or specialized as a result. Now VFX is at times overburdened with responsibility for the camera, sets, props, hair and makeup, and even actors in a movie — just fix it in post. We have always said we CAN do it, but due … Continue reading

Saving Mr. Binks

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Focusing the Hatred of the Galaxy, a Digital Star is Born!

There are long diatribes on the Internet tearing George Lucas to shreds for the creation of Jar Jar Binks.  Such vile hatred for a character in a movie —an individual that does not exist — is curious.  Normally this level of vitriol is reserved for politicians and rapscallions (though the character was a politician in Episode II and III).  Fans of Star Wars despise this creation, and make it their hobby to eviscerate him.

As I said:  Curious.

Continue reading

Shaping the Message of VFX

Visual Effects Stories Losing Their Fire?

I remember when something unusual happened while making Special Effects, it was bandied about in a good story, either in a magazine, or as an urban legend. When an artist had a particular view of his or her work, they would let it be known that they disagreed with the solution.  When a particular effect failed, you read about it in gory detail.  Now the message is more often shaped by press agents to make the VFX company, studio, or director look brilliant.  This is unfortunate, but a clear reflection of the changing gravity … Continue reading

The VFX War: Part 2 — Fish In A Barrel

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series The VFX War

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series The VFX War

We Are Eating Ourselves.

It’s almost as if someone planned it. A Macivelian overlord sat down one day, scheming how to drive down prices, institute near slave-driven hours (without compensation as often as possible) by arbitrarily putting a date on a calendar, increase their profits, pay for no benefits, accept government kickbacks and free labor. However no such overlord exists, and we have done much of this to ourselves.

We have no industry standard bidding contracts, and we constantly undermine each other … Continue reading

Correcting Star Wars Tennis Shoe Myths — apologies

In 1996 the Internet was still young, and George Lucas was making changes to Star Wars.

As I was an avid Star Wars fan — it was instrumental in my career choice — I created

The Bogus Star Wars Homepage to chronicle it, collecting what the fans were finding, and directing my hopes to what Industrial Light and Magic might do with its new tools. (The page is pretty long in the tooth design-wise, and is a time-capsule of thoughts prior to rerelease) Little did we all … Continue reading

The VFX War: Part 1 — The iPhone Analogy

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series The VFX War

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series The VFX War

 A Quality Product Should Be Its Own Reward

It is hard to realize that the iPhone is not even a decade old. For the most part it works so well, that it fades into the background of our daily lives — quietly doing its job. Now remove it from our lives, and see what effect that has, and our reliance on the technology will be evident.

No one in their right mind would even try (apologies to Samsung).

Modern visual effects using computer … Continue reading

The Story Begins

Welcome to the blog. What is PunkWerks, one may ask?  Officially this is an offshoot site of Agrapha Productions, but it is not directly related to the VFX content the company provides — it is one of the side effects of a life of art.  Those projects and ideas that don’t quite fit in, or never really leaped out.  The work of a PUNK.

Hence the name.  This is a blog, not visual effects.

At launch this is expected to be a place where I can share ideas, observations, and generally fascinating art and technology, found or otherwise.  It is … Continue reading