ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) has just released a Special Effects Sizzle Reel for Marvel‘s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s a fantastic look at the meshing of technology and actors, of how the two are combined to create the incredible scenes of CA:TWS. While no one should hold their breath for a Marvel movie to end up on the Oscar’s Best Picture Nomination list, we should see some nods to the special effects works from both Anthony & Joe Russo‘s CA:TWS and James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy. (more…)
Industrial Light and Magic
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.
Industrial Light and Magic is hoping to win the lone Oscar nod to The Avengers for their work on The Avengers visual effects and has released a special effects reel from the movie to woo Oscar voters.
We are proud to present this video which showcases some of ILM’s Oscar nominated effects work for the 2012 hit film, “Marvel’s The Avengers”. This reel represents a small fraction of the work created by over 200 ILM artists, scientists, and engineers backed up by a world class production team.
The stop motion animations which open and close the reel were done the old fashioned way – by hand, one frame at a time. They were crafted by ILM’s stop motion guru, Erik Dillinger specifically for this reel.
Fans that have already bought The Avengers Box set might be a bit miffed that this video wasn’t included in the behind the scenes features. The video is a great look at the remarkable work done on the film.
It was something of a surprise Tuesday when it was announced that Disney was acquiring Lucasfilm Ltd. for a cool $4.05 billion, and, oh yeah, Disney’s going to release a relatively George Lucas-free Star Wars Episode VII in 2015. Business news hasn’t hit nerdery this big since Disney bought a little firm called Marvel, and now we live in a world where Mickey Mouse, Spider-Man, The Muppets, Indiana Jones and Yoda all sit under the same roof.
Comic book and movie fans love the most recent version of Marvel‘s big green gamma powered machine, the Hulk, but it’s had an abysmal movie run in its past. Ang Lee’s Hulk was embarrassingly terrible while Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk delivered a bit more – thanks in part to Edward Norton, but Marvel Studios and Universal Pictures were both unimpressed with their final box office totals.
Now that we live in a post-Avengers world, we’ve seen what a proper Hulk can act and look like thanks to Joss Whedon, Mark Ruffalo and the many hours of work the wizards in the visual effects business did. With such praise about every aspect of the character’s execution, the Hulk series that ABC and Guillermo del Toro have been “developing” for ages should be a breeze to get going, right?
The movie and television site Screen Rant spoke with Industrial Light and Magic’s Jeff White, one of the Visual Effects Supervisors for The Avengers, and discussed the challenges Guillermo will most likely face for a series based around a different/younger Hulk and Bruce Banner:
“I think we’d have to have a lot of Banner. You know I think from beginning to end we got much faster at doing shots. We learned a lot about the process and about how to light him and how to make him look good. One of the things that was interesting was when we started off we kind of took our typical approach of really art directing the lighting, like rim, rim, rim, you know super stylized. And he really looked fake and kind of popped out. And what we found is that we ended up having to kind of flatten out his lighting to get him to sit in there with the rest of the Avengers. So I think after learning things like that, you know we could – if you’re talking about a TV schedule and how fast you need to turn around production, it would be a matter of, you know trying to build off everything we did for the movie and then, you know get him in there, get him lit. You wouldn’t have time to do the – you know all the really detailed shape, you know per frame corrections that we do.”
Since the Avengers’ Hulk is one of the most sophisticated visual effects of the entire movie, with CGI and motion capture used in a majority of Ruffalo‘s scenes as Hulk, fans are going to expect the same kind of treatment on television. Seeing another actor get painted green and appear once or twice an episode just doesn’t quite cut it anymore, so what kind of quality can we expect?
“I think that would be one of the big challenges. How do you turn that much animation around and still have it be believable? Because there is like animation, then simulation then, you know sort of hand correction after that. And I think where we found the biggest time suck ends up being is all the facial work, getting the eyes to look right and then how much that changes once you start lighting him.”
It all come down to the body type, as The Avengers Hulk was designed specifically for Ruffalo’s body and facial features. Sure, Marvel has the access and knowledge to use the current modeling of the Hulk on TV, but unless Ruffalo signs onto the series (which is highly unlikely) the current character models, motions and emotions are effectively useless. And even with these issues are somehow miraculously sorted out, the main issue is going to be the quality of the character.
White does mention that the TV effects team could possibly “youngify” the Hulk model, saving both the shows budget and visual effects time, but the character would still have to be based on an entirely different actor.
“[Even if you could youngify him], it would still be a challenge because you’d really have to put some thought and design work into it. For us, some of the hardest shots were not Hulk or Banner but what does he look like when he’s half-way there because on one you have a reference of a real guy and on the other you have all this artwork and then half-way in between there’s this weird amalgamation of how much brow and how much cheek and what do his eyes look like. For us, those were some of the more difficult shots was figuring out the half-way in between. Especially because Joss didn’t just want the transformations to be like either a slider or a guy who is a balloon. So that ended up being quite difficult.”
There’s no doubt that should this project go forward, which many of us are hoping, the visual effects team is going to having a taxing amount of work ahead of them. Unless these problems are addressed first and foremost, the conflict between great visuals and what’s practical will always be present.
And seeing as ABC is also currently working with Marvel on the S.H.I.E.L.D. television series, everyone is going to want to stay on their “A” game – that is, if they want another Hulk film once Avengers 2 hits theaters May 1st, 2015.