Visual Effects

Pacific Rim: VFX

Taking a break from Comic-Con, it’s time to look back at a movie that made quite the splash in San Diego last year and is currently in theaters, Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim. At that time, there was but a trailer for the giant monsters vs. giant robots movie, but the buzz was electric. One calendar year later, the film has made it’s way to theaters and has opened much softer than expected by the Warner Bros. accounting department. All the same, it’s a movie I, myself said was more fun “than anything else we’re going to see towering above us on the big screen this summer” in our review. One of the biggest draws of Pacific Rim: the scope of the action and the scale of its participants. Most of which is accomplished via the mastery of the folks at Industrial Light & Magic and Spectral Motion, among others. Under the watchful eyes of VFX supervisors John Knoll and James E. Price, and animation supervisor Hal Hickel, a team of artists created some of the most impressive icons of Summer 2013. Care to know how they did it? Good, because we just so happen to have a video explaining the “Digital Artistry of Pacific Rim.” Watch it for yourself just after the jump.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Descriptions are always helpful, but this is one of those shorts that just has to be experienced. The easy idea here is to attach a camera to the edge of a jump rope and use the revolutions to leap through space, time and person, but it’s more carefully crafted than that. It’s colorful, compelling, and the kind of thing that can be universally appreciated even in its experimentation. Callum Cooper and Klezinski nail it. What will it cost? Only 2 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films.

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Boiling Point

The 84th Academy Awards have come and gone: let the bitching begin! As someone who is more of a genre fan than anything, I’ve never really cared too much about the Oscars, but that sure as hell doesn’t prevent me from complaining about them. Granted, over the years, some great films have won. I’m a big fan of Unforgiven and I dug Shakespeare In Love. I just think far too many good films are ignored in favor of “Oscar movies.” I can’t say that I was particularly impressed with any of the films nominated this year, but there were a few categories were I feel like the little golden man statue when to the wrong film. Luckily, the internet exists and I can complain about it!

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California Institute of the Arts or CalArts as it was known, informally, was set on a hill just off of the 5 freeway in Valencia, California (NOTE: It is still there, I toured it four years ago as a potential college choice for my daughter, but I’m telling a story here, right?). In 1980, when I arrived, CalArts was basically two buildings: The Main School building, and a set of dormitories. Inside the Main building, the schools were cordoned off like “Delos” in Westworld, but instead of “Westworld,” “Medievalworld,” and “Romanworld,” CalArts had the Music School, the Drama School, the Fine Arts School, the Dance School, and the Film School. The Film School, then, was subdivided into three departments: The Disney Animation School, The Live Action School, and The Film Graphics Department. I was in the last of those three. Keep in mind, that there was very little in the way of consumer computers in 1980 and there might have been some people messing with digital graphics at CalArts in 1980, but it was nowhere near what is being produced today. The Disney School was the most structured of the three film schools from what I could tell. Every day, lines of students holding drawing boards and carrying plastic Art Boxes would go through the wooden double doors to attend classes in Life Drawing, Design, Animation, Color Theory, etc. And folks, that is where the structure at CalArts seemed to end.

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Visual effects are an often overlooked and underappreciated aspect of film making. It’s surprising that VFX has traditionally been one of the last things considered in budgeting/schedule and VFX houses often get the bad end of the money stick when it comes down to the last minute studio changes. But this year’s VFX Oscar nominees (Avatar, District 9 and Star Trek) are all great examples of how being mindful of the importance of VFX can gain your film box office and Oscar success.

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Iron Man and Bolt Getting Love from the VES

The Visual Effects Society put their heads together to nominate the best in visual effects from this year. I’m sure you already have some things in mind as for what you would nominate, but be prepared for some surprises too.

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Officially Cool

Some people say that humans that are animated should be merely caricatures of humans, not mirror replicas. This is a video explaining the visual effects company, Image Metrics. Watch, and I will catch you after the video…

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It’s a surprising shortlist for the best visual effects Oscar this year, with some startling inclusions and some even more startling omissions.

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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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