VFX Archaeology: Part 3 — Starship Troopers

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series VFX_archaeology

Recollections of BOSS FILM STUDIOS

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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 previously, but I will endeavor to add more detail, to … Continue reading

VFX Between Shots — Get Up and Build Something Real

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series VFX Between Shots

 

With Your Own Two Hands

desk_finalMatWhen 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 of imagination. I would draw cartoons, and animate them with pages of typing paper, colorize black and white photos with an airbrush, and manually layout pages for offset … Continue reading

Lost Concepts: Part 3 — Falling Skies

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Lost Concepts

Concept Art by Johnathan Banta

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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 artists (Neville Page, and Aaron Sims among them) contributed.  As Digital … Continue reading

How We Faked The Moon Landing: Part 4 — The Visual Effects of Magnificent Desolation

To the IMAX Moon and Beyond

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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 on a presentation about the visual effects at LA SIGGRAPH, … Continue reading

Starfleet Shipyards — October 1996

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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 Enterprise up until Star Trek Deep Space Nine, as well … Continue reading

How We Faked The Moon Landing: Part 3 — The Visual Effects of Magnificent Desolation

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Magnificent Desolation VFX

To the IMAX Moon and Beyond
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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 2006. This multi-part article is based on a presentation about the … Continue reading

How We Faked the Moon Landing: Part 2 — the Visual Effects of Magnificent Desolation

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Magnificent Desolation VFX

To the IMAX Moon and Beyond

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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 Effects Society in 2006. This multi-part article is based on a … Continue reading

How We Faked The Moon Landing: Part 1 — the Visual Effects of Magnificent Desolation 3D

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Magnificent Desolation VFX

To the IMAX Moon and Beyond

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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 Play Tone/Tom Hanks, directed by Mark Cowen, with Cinematography … Continue reading

VFX Archaeology — The Lost Empire Strikes Back

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series VFX_archaeology

Exploring the Evolution of a Lost Shot From Script to Screen

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[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 to coincide with the film release, magazines, album covers, and … Continue reading

Road Warriors: Part 1 — A Worldwide Walk With VFX

vfxFranceJoin 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 shoes in many ways are memories. those shoes have walked in my footsteps, and are now … Continue reading

Gorilla VFX: Episode 3 — Fun With Toys and Mirrors

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Gorilla VFX

Simple and Fun VFX Distraction.

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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.  Even Ridley Scott pointed out at the Visual Effects Society … 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

Jason Jue — 1977-2015 — The Sassoon Six Minus One

“I sit on the beach, drink instant coffee, and dive when I can.”
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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

Digital Nimoy — Across the Final Frontier

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 embrace emotion.  Mr. Nimoy gave us an unforgettable performance, and … Continue reading

Lost Concepts: Part 2 — Almost Human dMFX

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Lost Concepts

The Lost Concept Series explores production designs by Johnathan Banta that never saw the light of day — until now.

©2015 Johnathan Banta — for MastersFX

 

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 designs we love (designs which now grace the prequel … Continue reading

Fringe to Falling Skies — The Unwanted Rise of Digital Makeup

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It Came From the 1990’s

Okay, this will take a little bit of back-story…

Early Digital makeup. Early Digital makeup.

In 1997, I started to write an article in conjunction with Digital Domain’s Andre Bustanoby (fresh off of Titanic VFX) for the (now archival) website VFXHQ.  This article was to chronicle what we saw as the beginning of … Continue reading

MastersFX VES Nomination for dMFX

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

Vector-based Particle Emission: A 2D Method for Complex Particle Motion

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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, short, and running out.

Since I was not planning on … Continue reading

Lost Concepts: Part 1 — Almost Human

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Lost Concepts

 

Almost Human Concept Art

Occasionally a sketch can become something else.  I have taken to the iPad for illustration, as many have over the past few years.  it is convenient, and allows me to do more finished work as well as sketch on-the-fly.  Tasked to do some concept illustrations for the series Almost Human, I quickly re-purposed one of my sketches for varying concepts of android design for the (unfortunately) cancelled show.  Here are some of them:

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The unique … Continue reading

The Missing Millennium Falcon

This entry is part 1 of 3 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 current design. That said, this is not to mislead, but now is a … Continue reading