Motion capture performance works by using reflective markers attached to the skin that help identify and replicate body movement and facial expressions so that animators can later create a complete digital character. Where filmmakers once relied on prosthetics and heavy layers of makeup, now it’s all about utilizing computers to create lifelike realism. With each innovative film (The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), the technology is perfected just a tiny bit more, to the point that it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the flesh and blood actors and the animated characters they interact with. And at the center of nearly every great motion capture performance thus far is one man: Andy Serkis.
Now Serkis is bringing his one-of-a-kind skills back to the Apes franchise for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Today, a new featurette gives us a glimpse of the master and his fellow mo-cap performers at work, and it’s fascinating to see a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the artists’ process.
That’s them. While this is still a Jim Henson Company show–just like the Fraggle Rock I grew up with and adored–THESE Doozers are CGI, not Muppets. Plus online video streaming service Hulu, who will be featuring the new series, seems to have the preschool audience in mind pretty exclusively. See the trailer and hear more from the Ghost Of Children’s Programming Past after the jump.
The casual movie goer won’t recognize Dennis Muren‘s name, but would instantly recognize his special effects work in movies like Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and many other George Lucas and Steven Speilberg movies. He’s been a tremendously creative force in ILM‘s (Industrial Light & Magic) special effects for many years. If this guy has an opinion on the state of Special Effects in Hollywood today, then those with any sense would consider his opinion seriously.
What’s he got to say?
“In some ways, I think special effects aren’t special anymore.”
“This toolkit has been around for 20, 25 years. Unless we come up with something really new, it’s up to the artists to make best use of the tools they’ve got. If you’re going to make a motion picture, don’t just throw computer graphics in to make everything bigger or more. Don’t have an army of 20,000 centaurs or whatever it is, if the story is better with seven centaurs. They’ve lost sight, making things bigger and bigger. Less personal.”
“A lot of directors like combining them [a variety of different FX techniques]. I would say not a lot of younger directors have had experience with that. Probably is that they won’t be as comfortable with it and it’s easier, production wise, to say just shoot a plate and we’ll get it later. Get it and move on. The time it takes to make a robotic character or a Muppet perform right… there’s a lot of value to that. Seems to have been forgotten.”
What do you think about his comments? Have computer special effects become the crutch supporting poor directing and production values? Have the abundance of huge special effects diluted the magic of what we’re seeing?
Think back to those movie’s effects that really made an impact on you, perhaps that first time you saw Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs, or watching Yoda rummage through Luke’s supplies on Dagobah. Muren makes some important points, when does a special effect become special in the eyes of the audience.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.
There’s been a lot of speculation around X-Men: Days of FuturePastin regards to the the future sequence in where actors and mutants from the first series of X-Men films are expected to collide with those of First Class. Director Bryan Singer is returning, having left the director’s chair to produce the series after X2, and with him comes Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Ellen Page, and possibly others. While out promoting his latest feature, Jack the Giant Slayer, Singer has been fielding questions about who else fans can expect to see make a return appearance as well as what his plans are for the use of CGI in the film.
On the possibility of Halle Berry‘s Storm returning, Singer said to MTV,
I can’t say [whether Storm will be in the film]. I don’t know yet. And it’s not necessarily a deal making aspect at all. I want to make sure it’ll make sense. But I love working with her.
He also mentioned to the Huffington Post it was the same situation in regards to Alan Cumming returning as Nightcrawler, which I’m completely okay with. Look, I’d love to see as many of the original mutants and their actors return as possible, but only if it serves the story. Often the X-Men films suffer under the burden of too many mutants, I don’t want to see them stuff everyone they can into Days of Future Past just to please fans.
Since Singer’s making the press rounds for Jack the Giant Slayer, a very CG-heavy film, he’s being asked about how he’d like to incorporate CGI into Days of Future Past. Obviously, X-Men films have utilized CGI in the past but with today’s ever improving technology more options are open. Here’s what Singer had to say,
A CG Nick Hoult or a CG Ewan McGregor, maybe 20 years from now might be perfect, but it’s a little tough on the eyes when it’s not real. I definitely want to use this technology again, and I might even be using some of it in a different way in X-Men. I don’t want to say how, yet, but I’m definitely using some of this technology on X-Men, which I never used in any of the other X-Men films.
I think we can all agree we’ll see CG Sentinels, there’s no way it’d be cost effective to try and build those things for real. But could we see a fully CGI mutant? Perhaps with an actor using a motion capture suit? That’s a real possibility and it would allow them to include almost any mutant they fancy. But again, I stress that I don’t want Days of Future Past to suffer from the pitfall of too many mutants.
What do you guys think about actors and mutants from the previous films appearing in Days of Future Past? Who could be an option for an entirely CG mutant?
OK, so here’s what we know: A credible rumor has been circulating that Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel will feature a cameo by an actor from a previous Superman film adaptation. Now, while one would assume this to be a quick walk-on of anyone from Margot Kidder to Mark McClure to Brandon Routh, the rumor apparently suggested that fans need to think “outside the box”….
Apparently, the box they decided to think outside of is a coffin.
The theory in question seems to have started on Spanish Supes fan site: Superman Javi Olivares. Here’s the photo that began the bizarre musings:
This is a still from the filming of Man Of Steel in Chicago….the arrow points to an individual some seem to believe could be this secret cameo–let’s take a closer look:
The inset image is the figure the red arrow pointed to–the larger picture is, of course, the late Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent….
Ghoulish scuttlebutt claims that Reeve has been digitally inserted into the above scene. Based solely on the presence of an indistinct figure wearing a grey suit that bears some resemblence to Reeve’s Clark Kent costume.
A number of fans seem to take this as an homage to the man who brought Superman to life for an entire generation….I’m afraid I’m going to have to dissent: It’s morbid and exploitive–and, if it’s true, strikes me as little more than a tasteless publicity stunt.
But my objections are likely moot: The chances that this theory is accurate seem slim to none. Granted, I’m no filmmaker–but if this is a CGI Christopher Reeve, why would he be in what looks to be a Principal Photography still? Wouldn’t he be added in Second Unit or Post Production? Again, I’m a layman when it comes to this subject–I could be totally off base.
In any case, I’m calling this one as pure fanboy wish-fulfillment….and creepy fanboy wish fulfillment at that.
Nope. No one at Sony has yet said that maybe remaking a movie that holds up and is barely 18 years old is using up precious resources that could best be directed elsewhere. So in the spirit of “if it ain’t broke, fix it,” Heat Vision is reporting that the studio has signed writer Zach Helm to pen the new screenplay for the new Jumanji.
Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg (who also wrote the books Zathura and The Polar Express were based on), Jumanji is the story of a boy who gets sucked into a jungle-themed board game for decades only to be freed when two other kids move into his old house and pick up where he left off years later. The film made over $250 million worldwide at the box office, and was a major hit for eventual Captain America filmmaker Joe Johnston. It was also considered, at the time, to be the next great leap in the development of CG after Jurassic Park.
Helm’s previously writing experience includes screenplays for Stranger Than Fiction and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, two movies I happened to enjoy a lot, so hopefully he’ll be able to find a new way to break the story. It’s worth noting that the movie version and the original book version are very different, so maybe that’s easier said than done. Matt Tolmach (The Amazing Spider-Man) and Bill Teitler are producing.
So yeah, I know (nearly) everyone out there hated the 2003 movie version of Hulk directed by Ang Lee. I didn’t, but it’s more or less universally-acclaimed that it was terrible. Regardless, Ang Lee broached the subject recently in an interview with Vulture about his latest movie, Life of Pi.
The ambitious project, based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, involves a lot of visual effects work and CG, especially considering that the main characters include a tiger, a zebra, a hyena and an orangutan. According to Lee, his work on Hulk gave him the ground work and practical experience he need to make Pi. He also talked about his reaction to Mark Ruffalo‘s Hulk performance in this past summer’s The Avengers, as well as a, uh, reconsideration of the work he did with the character almost 10 years ago.
I learned quite a bit about CG from The Hulk, and I wouldn’t have been able to do Life of Pi without that. But it’s easier to create an animal, because there exists a good reference — so a tiger or a hyena is easier than a 2,000-pound rage monster. The hardest thing to do is the weight, not the skin, because there’s no reference for something that size that is agile. And the technology’s improved, so you can have more details with Mark’s Hulk. My problem is that I took the whole thing too seriously. I should have had more fun with it, instead of all the psychodrama! [Laughs.]
So there! Let’s let bygones be bygones now that Ang Lee’s admitted that he dropped the ball on Hulk. You can now go back to your Michael Bay bashing, which is undoubtedly already in progress.
We’re still raving about The Avengers, you’re still reeling from the wave of the awesome The Avengers put out. We’re all just, floating out on an Avengers high right now,’ kay? So how’d they do it? How’d they make such a super fun, totally optimistic, superhero team-up, smash hit? One thing that definitely contributed were the spectacular special effects. Everything from The Hulk to the Helicarrier looked marvelous.
Coming Soon rounded up a few behind the scenes features that talk to Industrial Light & Magic, WETA digital, Hydraulx, and Evil Eye Pictures, all who provided special effects for The Avengers. If you’re one who likes to know all the details about how these comic book characters and their world were brought to life, you must read on!
Studio Daily took a look at the three stages of visual effects: previs, techvis, and postvis with work from companies like Industrial Light & Magic and WETA Digital. You can see examples of some of these intense actions scenes in with their digital effects unfinished above and below.
More behind the scenes SFX goodness after the cut!
A few weeks back, a few shots from the set of J.J. Abrams‘ Star Trek 2 leaked onto the net. These shots revealed Zachary Quinto -who is reprising his role of Spock- giving an intense vulcan neck pinch to actor Benedict Cumberbatch (unrevealed lead villain). Abrams was PISSSSED we saw this. So much so, that the fucker built a wall out of freight containers to avoid any more set leaks.
Well, freight containers be damned. For another mystery shot has surfaced.
Spock in Iron Man armor…
Along with On Location News’ (via MTV) photo of Quinto in a big, red metal suit is the following description:
Looking back, zombie horror effects were pretty simple. All you needed were some deserted location sets, a couple hundred extras, gallons of fake blood, and a few rubber axes.
AMC‘s “The Walking Dead” is leaning heavily on some of the most advanced technology available to transport it’s viewers into a walker filled apocalyptic world gone crazy.
What is truly impressive about these effects is when you can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is CGI. Even though the mutated creatures of “I Am Legend” looked cool, they never flowed into the background well. This just re-inforced the impression that they were creations, taking the viewer right out of the movie zone.
The picture above shoes what was real and what was CGI. While watching this clip this NerdBastard couldn’t tell the difference. That is the mark of great CGI use.
This video just shows the quality of the work going into the show.