Visual Effects


Industrial Light & Magic has released their Star Wars: The Force Awakens visual effects reel and it is as usual, delightful. There is an interesting mix of practical and computer generated special effects in the reel, and some scenes you thought might be all computer generated, are really real life sets. ILM has been creating visual effects that have delighted fans and won numerous awards. Check out the reel for Star Wars: The Force Awakens after the jump. (more…)


Bigger. When you’re making a sequel to one of the biggest movies ever made, there’s really only one way you can go for the sequel, and that’s bigger. To wit, the superhero sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron. With two motion-capture characters, several people with super-powers and an army of robot fighters, it was a foregone conclusion that the new Avengers movie was going to tip the scale with the number of visual effects it would require, but now there’s a number attached: 3,000. For those keeping score, that’s about the same number of effects shots in Avatar, about 800 more than what was in the first Avengers, and 250 more than what was in Guardians of the Galaxy. (more…)


The sad and untimely death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman hit show business hard last weekend, but it left a couple of logistical conundrums in its wake, like one final, yet reportedly key scene in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, involving Hoffman’s character. But in an interesting turn of events, we apparently have the technology to duplicate our dear departed actors digitally, and insert him into the live-action scene. This, rumor has it, is the way that Hoffman will be able to finish The Hunger Games postmortem. (more…)

For the weekend The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey took in a good haul of $84.6 million and broke the previous December opening weekend record held by I Am Legend at $77.2 million. Though even with the new record it wasn’t as great as some were expecting, and Box Office Mojo is reporting while The Hobbit earned more than both The Two Towers and Return of the King it sold less tickets. Chalk that up to the higher prices of 3D, HFR 3D, IMAX 3D, and ticket price inflation overall. Was it a failure? Hell no. Was it a box office smash? Eh, not quite. But it’s likely word of mouth, which has been more positive than most critic’s reviews, will help The Hobbit continue to perform well throughout the holiday season.

Some are blaming the mixed response to The Hobbit‘s release in the higher frame rate of 48 fps for its slight under performance. Personally, I think that’s pretty dumb considering the movie was still available in the usual 24 fps, in both 3D and 2D, but whatever. The 48 fps has caused a rift among moviegoers and cinephiles and now science is here to explain why.

Turns out, we humans don’t want to accept a movie as fantasy when it all looks too real. The higher frame rate of The Hobbit more closely mimics how our eyes perceive reality, which is something close to 66 fps – if reality was frames of film that is – and can be bothersome because now the movie no longer looks like a movie. I know, it’s all a little confusing, here’s filmmaker James Kerwin, a lecturer on the science of film perception and consciousness at the University of Arizona’s Center for Consciousness Studies, to explain it better,

Most researchers agree we perceive 40 conscious moments per second. In other words: our eyes see more than that but we’re only aware of 40. So if a frame rate hits or exceeds 40 fps, it looks to us like reality. Whereas if it’s significantly below that, like 24 fps or even 30 fps, there’s a separation, there’s a difference — and we know immediately that what we’re watching is not real.

It’s psychological: we need suspension of disbelief, and suspension of disbelief comes from the lower frame rate. The lower frame rate allows our brains to say, ‘Okay — I’m not perceiving 40 conscious moments per second anymore; I’m only perceiving 24, or 30, and therefore this is not real and I can accept the artificial conventions of the acting and the lighting and the props.’ It’s an inherent part of the way our brain perceives things. Twenty-four or 30 frames per second is an inherent part of the cinematic experience. It’s the way we accept cinema. It’s the way we suspend our disbelief.

So there’s the science behind why some of you loved The Hobbit‘s crystal clear picture and others thought everything looked too soap opera-y. Do you agree? Kerwin also believes audiences will adjust to 48 fps over time, do you think it’s only a matter of time before 48 fps becomes the norm?

Finally, there’s been two behind-the-scenes featurettes released since The Hobbit came out about the film’s visual and audio effects. Whatever your final opinion on The Hobbit, you have to admit it features some stunning moments of CGI wizardry as well as sound design. Check ’em out below the cut!


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.

Source: Comic Book Movie