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 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 presentation about the visual effects at LA SIGGRAPH, the following June. Here is an overview of the work:   Part 1: Prep and Landing —Preparing… Continue reading

VFX Archaeology — The Lost Empire Strikes Back

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series VFX_archaeology

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 to coincide with the film release, magazines, album covers, and posters must start as soon as pictures are ready, whatever their… Continue reading

Gorilla VFX: Episode 1 — Couch Clouds

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Gorilla VFX

The title is not spelled wrong. Guerrillas are crafty, live by the seat of their pants fighters on the front lines. Gorillas are rough,  hit-it-with-your-fists solvers of problems. Both of these are distinct VFX mind-sets we embrace. This series explores solutions to problems that are a little unorthodox, but effective.  What’s outside the frame is Masking Tape.  Smash away! The Wild Blue Yonder From Closet Junk. The fun part about being a VFX artist was once taught to me by a camera technician at the ILM camera stage.  “What’s outside the edge of the frame is murder!”  (Or something along… Continue reading

BOSS Film Studios – The Last Watch

Information and title updated 03/20/2014 A patch from the old Boss Film Days. The 65MM in the title says it all.   I was there at the end. Richard Edlund’s BOSS film studios  (named after his favorite shotgun, but originally BOSS FILM CORPORATION **) was a powerhouse of creativity. It followed in the tradition set by Doug Trumbull’s Entertainment Effects Group, which Edlund purchased to form BOSS when he left Industrial Light and Magic: 65mm image acquisition and compositing. On the heels of the visual effects revival, Edlund and his team produced two benchmarks of visual effects, namely 2010: The… Continue reading

Digital Makeup Joins The Stage February 2, 2014

Todd Masters and Johnathan Banta At The Digital Days Conference. The Digital Days Conference kicks off Saturday Feb 1, 2014. Todd Masters and Johnathan Banta (spelled wrong on their website) of MastersFX join a panel Sunday to talk about the convergence of practical and digital effects. Join us as we talk of the crossing between digits and digital.   UPDATE: The time of the panel has changed to SUNDAY FEB 2, 12.45pm – 2.15pm EA Theatre: The Bigger Picture This is the time the online program shows: Sunday     1:30pm-3pm Theatre: The Bigger Picture Integrating Practical & Digital FX –… Continue reading

Halloween Photogrammetry

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Photoscan Software in Action — Where Have You Been All My Life? Just for Halloween: 3D pumpkins! AgiSoft’s Photoscan is a stunning development for visual effects production. It is at its root designed for virtual map making, but is agile enough for full-body scans in action poses. Yes, there are other services out there from Autodesk that do similar things, but this is $180, with a free stereo version available, and no concern about uploading images to a “free” service (and all the image property rights that may entail). You can eventually go up to $3500 for the pro version,… Continue reading

The British VFX tradition — Poppa Day to Alien

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Great British VFX Documentaries Online. From Poppa Day to Matte Painting in the 60’s and 70’s, Dennis Lowes webpage is an amazing documentary resource of visual effects in Britain. Want some in-depth information on the making of Alien you did not know? He has multiple interviews on video with images to back it up. His videos introduce us to a great collection of talented people, and disciplined work, from which we all can learn. Great education, motivation, and fun, and there is more than what is shown in the images below (including some of Dennis’ own work if you are… Continue reading

Matte Paintings — The Lost Art

They used to be called SPECIAL effects, and thats what matte paintings were — alchemy. What else would you call a mixture of paint, glass, and photography with magic as the result? A few years back I slammed together an outline of a book, and invited several matte painters from the Glass pane days to consider documenting the craft for a generation who is rarely taught any art technique, but surviving on raw talent. There was sluggish response at first, thinking that digital artists have little desire to learn the old ways — no longer deemed relevant. I disagree with… Continue reading