Context is Everything
Modern cinema maintains a series of technical terms via oral tradition, that really no longer make sense. How many people really know 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 in current technology, but are understood in context.
Reading a modern visual effects … Continue reading
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
Recollections of BOSS FILM STUDIOS
A recent post of one of my photos from Starship Troopers on social media erupted into a lengthy discussion about the BOSS Film work, some of which has heretofore received little mention. Following is a summary of that discussion, beefed up with a little bit of research from extant sources. You may have read some of these recollections … Continue reading
With Your Own Two Hands
When I was a kid, I built things with my hands. Clay, wood, paper, tape, wire, and film combined together were enough to make a movie. If you had a motion picture or still camera, you could forge the materials of this world into worlds … Continue reading
Concept Art by Johnathan Banta
As part of any creative process, there are a lot of abandoned avenues and choices. When a final design concept is approved, all other art is shelved and a final creation guided from approved art. It is an evolution, sometimes directed, and occasionally as a last resort. For television work especially, design and manufacture of these creations happens under a very tight timeline. The TNT series Falling Skies was no different in this regard, and several concept … Continue reading
To the IMAX Moon and Beyond
Moon Flight Science!
On September 23, 2005, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon in 3D released on giant IMAX screens. It is a 4K stereo3D experience of the Moon landings, and speculative missions from the past and future. The film was honored with the first Visual Effects: Special Venue award by the Visual Effects Society in 2006. This multi-part article is based … Continue reading
In October 1996 the best place for any devotee of Star Trek to be was the Starfleet Shipyards. These are not the in-cannon fabled shipyards of Mars, nor are they the near earth orbit construction dry-docks. They are definitely not a large ground-based construction facility in Iowa. The Starfleet shipyards were in Marina del Rey California, in the backyard of BOSS film studios at the shops of renowned model maker Greg Jein.
Greg Jein is associated with almost every incarnation of the USS … Continue reading
To the IMAX Moon and Beyond
Filming on location is not an option.
On September 23, 2005, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon in 3D released on giant IMAX screens. It is a 4K stereo3D experience of the moon landings, and speculative missions from the past and future. The film was honored with the first Visual Effects: Special Venue award by the Visual Effects Society in … Continue reading
To the IMAX Moon and Beyond
We didn’t have their giant rockets, so we faked it later.
On September 23, 2005, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon in 3D released on giant IMAX screens. It is a 4K stereo3D experience of the moon landings, and speculative missions from the past and future. The film was honored with the first Visual Effects: Special Venue award by the Visual … Continue reading
To the IMAX Moon and Beyond
The Moon landings were real — we faked it later.
On September 23, 2005, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon in 3D released on giant IMAX screens. A 4K stereo3D experience of the Moon landings, and speculative missions from the past and future — which at the time was IMAX’s widest opening stereo3D film with 70 prints worldwide. Produced and narrated by … Continue reading
Exploring the Evolution of a Lost Shot From Script to Screen
[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 the film. Due to the amount of time it takes to preduce the material … Continue reading
Join VFX. See The World!
I love my Skechers Midway tennis shoes. Older, used pairs of the shoe sit in the back of my closet in vain hope for a re-issue of the particular model — eventually I face reality and have to throw them out. I really like how the shoe looks, but the old shoes are more than just footwear; the … Continue reading
Simple and Fun VFX Distraction.
We all love high end Visual Effects, but anyone who loves them as much as those who do it for a career, sometimes enjoy the simplicity of doing things the film school/garage band way. As kids we devoured Cinemagic, and Cinefex magazines, and hand back-wound super-8 mm cartridges, to try and do visual effects like the pros. That was how the pros did them. … Continue reading
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
Writing Code For VFX Solves Problems, and Motivates Others
It is my supposition that everyone in the visual effects business should learn to program, even a little bit, as it opens … Continue reading
“I sit on the beach, drink instant coffee, and dive when I can.”
On April 5, 2015, The Digital Makeup Initiative, Stereo VFX, and Stereo Conversion Communities lost one of its pioneers. Jason Jue, VFX supervisor, compositor, and avid diver passed away. Those who knew him grieve with his family, and are all taken aback by the sudden happenings that pulled him from this world. What I can say most about him is that he was my good friend.
Jason was the third employee of Sassoon Film Design (Santa Monica, CA). Jammed into a one room office … Continue reading
The Digital Legacy of One of the world’s first 3D scanned actors.
I’d hoped to have written this before it happened.
You never know how much you appreciate something, or someone until they are gone. I was one of the generation raised in a world where the name SPOCK meant something more than how to raise children. The character that Leonard Nimoy created on Star Trek gave was an ideal of logic, and personified our struggle to overcome or … Continue reading
The Lost Concept Series explores production designs by Johnathan Banta that never saw the light of day — until now.
There is always so much work that goes into an entertainment property that no one ever sees. Were it not for the books that chronicle the preproduction of Star Wars, the world would have never seen many of the concepts that led to the … Continue reading
Digital doodle on custom made background. This was an exercise in creating an ink-stained paper look from scratch with digital paintbrushes.
It Came From the 1990’s
Okay, this will take a little bit of back-story…
Early Digital makeup.
In 1997, I started to write an article in conjunction with Digital Domain’s Andre Bustanoby (fresh off of Continue reading
Digital Makeup Shines at VES Awards
The Visual Effects Society has nominated Hemlock Grove as one of its finalists for best visual effects in a television program. It is an achievement to have digital makeup effects (dMFX) nominated for such a prestigious award, and hopefully a trend for the community at large for acceptance of the craft. It is an honor to be part of that crew, and to be nominated by our peers.
Below is a press release about the work, and a link to a video showing some of the many shows in 2014 involving the dMFX, and MFX teams in the united … Continue reading
Drew this in 2011 inspired by an involved process starting with a new client. It’s funny how often this rings true.
Using Motion Vectors as Fluid Forces
I was stuck. The particular scene In front of me required that a character from existing footage be combined with tentacles of my own making, repositioned to come out of water at the edge of screen, combined with a sky matte painting, and fling water off of its body at every flick or tiny movement. Time was as usual, … Continue reading